Buffy Diaries: Thoughts of a First-Time Buffy Viewer by Emma Grant
Summary: I started watching BtVS on DVD in August 2006, and I was immediately hooked. I watched obsessively for months, and I kept a record of my thoughts and predictions, episode by episode starting with season 2. I added in Angel when I started that series, and generally watched both shows in order of when the episodes were aired. Read my reactions to the episodes at the links below. They get longer as I move forward in the series, because I found I had more and more to say!
Categories: Meta, Other writing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Angel (Series) Characters: None
Series: None
Chapters: 19 Completed: No Word count: 87372 Read: 495391 Published: 08/12/2007 Updated: 08/12/2007
Story Notes:
Originally posted: August - November, 2006

1. Season 2, Episodes 5-8 by Emma Grant

2. Season 2, Episodes 9-16 by Emma Grant

3. Season 2, Episodes 17-22 by Emma Grant

4. Season 3, Episodes 1-8 by Emma Grant

5. Season 3, Episodes 9-15 by Emma Grant

6. Season 3, Episodes 16-22 by Emma Grant

7. BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 1-4 by Emma Grant

8. BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 5-8 by Emma Grant

9. BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 9-15 by Emma Grant

10. BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 16-22 by Emma Grant

11. BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 1-6 by Emma Grant

12. BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 7-11 by Emma Grant

13. BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 12-17 by Emma Grant

14. BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 18-22 by Emma Grant

15. BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 1-6 by Emma Grant

16. BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 7-8 by Emma Grant

17. BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 9-13 by Emma Grant

18. BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 14-17 by Emma Grant

19. BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 18-22 by Emma Grant

Season 2, Episodes 5-8 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Part 1: Episodes 5-8: Reptile Boy, Halloween, Lie to Me, and The Dark Age.
Tonight I watched S2 E5-8: Lizard Reptile Boy, Halloween, Lie to Me, and The Dark Age.

Mmmm, this is fucking good stuff. I can see why people can completely get obsessed with this fandom, because wow, there is so much good stuff here.

Angel: Okay, this will probably sound naive as hell, so humor me for now. I know things go bad between Buffy and Angel later, and I have a vague idea of why, but for now? I want to slap Buffy, because she is acting like a total twat where Angel is concerned. Her insecurity thing? Oh, please. She's hot, and she's the frickin' Slayer, and Angel talking to any girl makes her insecure? He must be utterly desperate not to have given up on her already. What was with that scene at the end of Halloween when they were clearly making out in Buffy's bedroom? Hello? Fade to black, WTF? Since when do people make out in a darkened bedroom and it fades to black and that's ALL that happens? But moreover, they're kissing like they haven't been freaking out about each other for the last, what, eight episodes? I feel like I missed a bit of plot on that one. And then next episode she's all "Waah, he was talking to Drusilla! *pouts*" Gah, it makes me want to hit some sense into her. But I have to say I find Angel's puppy-dog adoration for Buffy really sweet.

Spike: I know we'll get to know him better, but right now, he's just a really cool bad guy from what I can tell. I'm waiting for the sparks to fly between him and Buffy, Xander, Angel, etc. He's remarkably up to date on pop culture for someone his age, which I find quite entertaining, The Malfoy thing is pretty funny, though.

Xander: I wanna take him home. My god, he's so adorable! *snugs*

Buffy: The big thing I like about her is the grrl power. She generally takes care of herself and everyone around her. The guys occasionally smooth things out and lend a helping hand, but in the end, it's Buffy who saves the day. No damsel in distress, that one. Love it!

Willow: I like the way she's slowly coming out of her shell. It was cool when she yelled at everyone in The Dark Age -- I was all w00t over that. So... she became a ghost in Halloween because of her costume, but why didn't she lose herself like Buffy and Xander did? I was a bit confused by that. I really like Allyson Hannigan, but is she like the Julia Roberts of her generation? Can she play any other character? I keep expecting Willow to break out with, "This one time, at band camp..."

Okay -- here is where the people under 30 are probably gonna go WTF and the people over 30 will go Hell yeah!

Giles: Is. So. Fucking. HOT. ZOMG SO HOT!!! I have always had a thing for geeky guys, you know? That Clark Kent thing, where they're all sensitive and then they take off the tweed jacket and the glasses and the button-down shirt and OMFG they are HOT underneath??? Yeah, so, I kinda wet my pants watching The Dark Age, because the sight of Giles, hair a little mussed, a couple of glasses of scotch down, face scruffy and stubbly cause he hasn't shaved for a while, the top couple buttons of his shirt undone with chest hair peeking out and OMG he has a tattoo under all that and... I just wanted to kiss that little spot on his neck where the stubble ends and the skin is soft and where you can just brush your lips against the rough stubble if you move a centimeter up and he smells just a little like aftershave left over from this morning but probably more like sweat because he's had a hard day and it's that really manly scent with the pheromones in that makes you just---

Umm... yeah. Giles. *coughs*

Oh god.


And with that, I think I'll... go to bed. Sadly, alone.
Season 2, Episodes 9-16 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 9-16: What's My Line, Ted, Bad Eggs, Surprises, Innocence, Phases, and Betwitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.

It really feels like this show was hitting its stride during this sequence of episodes. I should also say that the writing is surprisingly good in general, much better than I ever expected. The plotlines are often predictable if you really stop and think about the genre and what you ought to expect to happen, but are predictable in that really pleasant way that makes you feel all satisfied that everything worked out as it should, if you know what I mean. Something that I'm really loving is the way the show takes little ordinary things from the American high school experience and completely twists them around. That is brilliant, I have to say. I also love the way everything in each episode fits together so tightly. Every scene is important, and every little mistep a character seems to make turns out to be significant to the plot.

I'll go episode by episode this time.

What's My Line?

This was an interesting sequence, on many levels. The highlight for me had to be the Spike/Drusilla/Angel interaction, though -- oh, man. I love the way we're being subtly set up for the future of these three, first of all. Second, the way the writers have started to hint that vampires might care about some earthly pleasures other than drinking blood in the Spike/Drusilla interaction was just fantastic. This is something that's been going on between Spike and Drusilla for a while, but it's a gorgeous way of making vampires interesting characters. When Drusilla had Angel tied to the bed and was "playing" with him and Spike came over to watch and then Angel taunted him about not being able to satisfy Drusilla? I squeed SO MUCH. The possibilities for kinky threesomes almost distracted me from moving on to the next episode there.

The whole Kendra plot was fantastic, and added a lot to the canon. That was quite a brilliant move by the writers. I had been thinking about the ramifications of Buffy's "death" and was excited to see this come out of it. I happened to spoil myself by reading the summaries for season 3 and 4 on the backs of the DVDs when they arrived in the mail (I was looking for when Band Candy was coming up, honest!) so I know this isn't the last time she'll meet another slayer. Also Xander/Cordelia hate-snogging? So cute!


This one surprised me -- I didn't expect John Ritter to turn out to be a robot! It also really hit a chord with me, though -- my mom dated an abusive asshole who had her snowed when I was about 16, and this took me right back there. That and the amount of time Buffy spent grounded in the previous episodes was so familiar. I spent a good deal of my high school years grounded because my mom just didn't trust that I was mature enough to make my own decisions about things, and like Buffy, there was no way in hell I was going to tell her what I was really up to -- even though, looking back, it would probably have helped her understand me. On another topic, the X-laced cookies were funny!

Bad Eggs

Here is one of those episodes where they take a high school ritual and twist around completely. I love it! I also liked the cowboy vampires, hee! The moment when Buffy climbed out of the dead monster at the end, covered with slime but triumphant as ever, rocked like a rocking thing. That was one of those moments where I went "w00t!" at my TV.


Spoilers are a funny thing. I knew this was coming, but not because anyone spoiled me. There were just enough hints floating around in various places that I sort of put it all together without even realizing I had. I don't think that was a bad thing, though. It gave me a chance to let go of the Buffy/Angel relationship and then really enjoy the ending of it, if that makes any sense. I thought Jenny turning out to be one of those Gypsies was a bit of a WTF moment, but those happen surprisingly infrequently in the show, so I can let it go. The ring exchange between Buffy and Angel and the lead-up to the Big Night was really lovely. And awww on Buffy's first time! How sweet -- at least until it all goes to hell. Hmm... will that ring be important later? (Rhetorical question, FWIW.)


I had been waiting to get to this one for a while, because I knew for some reason that it was one of the important points in the series. I also knew beforehand that Angel was going to lose his soul and break Buffy's heart, so that wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise for me was how much Angel's turning improved the show. It changed the dynamics of almost everything, which is really such a brilliant move by the writers. There was only so much Buffy/Angel schmoopiness they could have had, and Angel's role as the friendly vamp was going to get old and stale. But throw a completely evil Angel into the Spike/Drusilla dynamic, and holy fuck! Spike becomes more human somehow, Buffy has to stand on her own two feet, and everyone has to reevaluate their own roles. I loved Giles's reaction to finding about what had happened between Buffy and Angel; he really demonstrated his respect for her as an individual and as a friend.

I loved the whole Judge storyline, and thought the resolution of that was fantastic. When Buffy picks up the bazooka gun and the Judge says, "What does that do?" -- oh, dude. I just loved Angel and Drusilla's "Holy shit" expressions as they leaped out of the way, hee! That was great. Possibly better was Buffy kicking Angel in the balls in lieu of staking him. That was a gorgeous moment, because it really put Buffy back in the game.

The writers seemed to be simultaneously dropping hints that Angel still loves Buffy somewhere deep down, while also showing us (via the Judge) that he is utterly evil now. I wasn't sure why the deliberate confusion was there, but maybe it's important later. Are they implying that love is something that isn't a human emotion, that it goes deeper than that somehow? And maybe here I'm thinking too much as an HP fan, with the whole Love is the Ultimate Weapon that will defeat Voldemort because he is so evil he's incapable of love thing. Maybe it's just more complicated in the Buffyverse, which is very, very intriguing. Or maybe the HP idea isn't so far off after all? (Rhetorical, again...)

I thought it was really interesting that the Judge saw the scraps of humanity in Spike and Drusilla, and nothing in Angel. And this was totally the episode where I could finally start to see how there could ever possibly be anything between Buffy and Spike. Drusilla's just psychotic, but Spike is clearly completely taken with her, to the extent that she clouds his judgment. That's quite interesting, and what a wonderful little bit of characterization!


Werewolves! I love that Oz is a werewolf, actually. I can't decide if that werewolf costume was cheesier than werewolf!Lupin, hmmm. I have to say my favorite part of this episode was Xander's complete unsettlement when he accidentally pushed Larry to admit he was gay. I love that they played it like it gave Xander something to think about. Buffy bending the asshole hunter's gun with her bare hands? Priceless. And awww, Willow/Oz! Oh, and Larry's Buffy/Willow comment, LOL!

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Oh, Xander! This was a fun episode. This was also a great example of how no matter what the characters get themselves into, it usually turns out to be a spot of luck, as Buffy's rat moment saved her from Angel that night, which was a good thing. Xander being the object of everyone's affection was hilarious, and I totally squeed at Angel's "If it's any consolation, I'm feeling very close to you" line. (Damn but this show is quotable!) The highlight again was the Angel/Drusilla/Spike stuff, though. I loved the parallel between Spike and Xander here, both giving jewelry to the women they love, only to be immediately made to feel like a fool for it. I have to confess that I really, really like evil!Angel a lot. I love the way his presence has changed the vampire power dynamics, and I'm just sort of stunned by the implications of it all for Buffy. Not to mention the utter slashiness of it all. This wasn't the episode where Angel kissed Spike, but I can't remember where that one was now, so I'll just squee a little here about that. The Spike/Angel is thick in the air, isn't it? YUM.

Well, that's the Buffy update! MDH is back now, so my Buffy watching will have to slow down. I have also been neglecting some HP writing this week... I have fics due for challenges and I really need to get those done. But Waah! Wanna watch more Buffy!
Season 2, Episodes 17-22 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 17-22: Passion, Killed By Death, I Only Have Eyes for You, Go Fish, and Becoming.
First, I'm amazed that people are actually reading these posts of mine. Though I have to admit, it says a lot about this show that watching someone else watch it for the first time could be that interesting. I'm realizing that people lovelovelove this show and these characters with a passion that is unlike anything I've seen in fandom before. Maybe I just don't get "out" online that much, but my god it's nice to know this obsession I'm sinking into rather rapidly is such a damn good one. And that there is so much company to be found along the way!



I had been looking forward to this episode because several people had commented that it was one of their favorites, and I wasn't disappointed. I really, really like Angelus as a character, and I love the tension between him and Buffy. It's such a great twist on the show. This one seemed to be narrated by him as well, which I was a little confused by, as that hasn't happened on an episode before IIRC.

I guess the big thing from this episode for me is that it was shown to be possible for Angel's soul to be brought back. (Which is a bit of a duh, considering that there will be a whole series about him in the future.) It was an interesting writing choice to show that to the audience so soon after he was turned, but to keep it from Buffy and everyone else -- and then to kill off the only person who knew. That's such a little gem for the audience, and it will presumably be a while before anyone else figures it out, but yet we now will be waiting for it. Great writing!

I didn't see Jenny's death coming at all, but in the context of the paragraph above, it makes perfect sense. It had been hinted that in the past Angelus was an incredibly cruel vampire, and I love that we're starting to see little hints of that. The taunting, the leaving of little hints about one's fate, the drawings, the flowers -- you really get a picture of him as someone who enjoys the chase more than the kill. He's systematically torturing everyone around Buffy, all in an effort to get her to act out in the way he knows she will, because he knows her so very well. I love it!

It's also interesting to me that Giles and Buffy have both been gutted by Angel at this point. They have that in common, which could end up being a strength for them. I'm wondering what will happen if/when Angel gets his soul back. It's hard to imagine Buffy would ever be able to forgive him. A few episodes back, Kendra asked her how she could just overlook his past cruelty. The truth was that Buffy really didn't understand what he was capable of. Well, now she does, and I can't imagine her being able to overlook it again.

Killed By Death

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. It seemed more like a "Monster of the week" kind of show, but then there was all that gorgeous Angel tension! The scene between Xander and Angel in the corridor in the hospital? Holy shit, the subtext was practically erupting there! There just have to be Xander/Angel fics based just on that little moment. If not, I may write one. Dude.


I Only Have Eyes For You

Two big points here. First, Principal Snyder knows the school is on a hellmouth, and the mayor apparently does as well. That's quite interesting. I thought something was probably up with him, because all "high school is hell" stuff aside, he really seems to have it in for Buffy. He wants her out of there really badly. My guess at this point is that he's some sort of demon himself. Heh, for those of you who know the answer, that probably sounds really lame.

The other big thing about this episode was, of course, the Buffy/Angel moment. I didn't see it coming until Giles commented that there weren't any men in the school for the "scene" to be acted out, and I did one of those *gasp* things, because it was suddenly completely obvious what had to happen. And oh, what a gorgeous little moment of angst that was! I really liked Angel's scrubbing himself off afterwards and complaining of having been violated. That was pretty funny.

Oh, and Spike can walk and he's plotting something! Whee!

Go Fish

This one was a bit monster-of-the-week-ish, but it was all worth it to get a glimpse of Xander in a speedo. Dear god, the man is built. I've been admiring those shoulders for quite a while now, but wow was it ever nice to get to see almost the whole package. I loved the fact that Cordelia completely wigged out over it too. Hee!


I'm writing this after just finishing watching it, and I feel completely, utterly gutted by it. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have seen this as an actual season finale and then to have to wait months to find out what happens next. I only have to wait until tomorrow, and I don't know if I'll make it that long.

There is so much I want to say about this episode, and I fear this is going to be tl;dr as a result. But I guess if you cared about that, you wouldn't have made it this far, huh?

The first thing to say is that all of the flashback scenes were really interesting to me. It was cool to see those little pieces of the past, but even better to see how Angel got to Sunnydale in the first place. The idea that he'd basically been a homeless bum for a century, and then seeing Buffy and wanting to help her turned his life around -- that left me all a-flutter. Of course, then I wondered how he'd pulled himself together so quickly and acquired a cool, well-furnished apartment and stylish clothes and all on a few months' notice and probably a very small budget, but hell, these things don't matter so much. (Maybe Whistler helped him with that?) Though the bum thing does help explain the brooding and the utter lack of social skills, I have to say. It also made the borderline pervy peeking through little Buffy's window bit rather fun. I haven't seen the movie since I saw it in the theater, so I have no idea how close the Buffy-in-LA scenes were to what we saw there.

The rift between Spike and Angel had been coming for a while, and Spike going to Buffy for help was just frickin' awesome. His whole speech about how much he likes the world and doesn't want it to end was quite interesting. It makes me wonder just how much of a demon he is. I guess there are different degrees of demonicness in vampires, as we've certainly seen already. Heh, that bodes well for the future seasons. Still, the sight of Spike sitting in Buffy's living room with her mom, all awkward, was just fantastic. I have to wonder if the fact that Buffy invited him in will be a factor later?

And Buffy's mom finally knows she's a slayer, though her reaction was patently stupid. That bothered me, but I guess the writers wanted to take everything away from her. Sometimes characters get sacrificed in the process. Oh, and more evidence here that Principal Snyder knows what's up. It can't be good.

My inner Buffy/Angel shipper was pretty much fucking shredded by the ending of this episode. What glorious angst to have his soul come back right at the end, just to torture her a little bit more! (And her friends did that to her, yeow.) I'm a complete angst whore, and that shit brought me to my knees. I can't manage to be so cruel as a writer, though I really love to have it done to me. Guess that makes me an angst bottom, huh?

Did Buffy know that only Angel's blood would close the hell gate thingie again? I wondered about that part. Well, obviously we haven't seen the last of Buffy or of Angel. I do wonder if his soul is back for good (should he find his way out of hell) or how the whole soul thing will figure in to the process of him coming back. I also wonder where Spike and Drusilla got off to, as they obviously aren't going to keep that promise to get out of the country and stay out.

I don't know this will happen for a fact, of course, but I would really, really like to see more canon Buffy/Angel stuff. I just need it, in a way I haven't needed a het pairing in a frickin' long time. That, or David could show up on my doorstep wearing nothing but an artfully placed bow. Either way, I'm good. Though I think I'd prefer the first one, oddly enough.

And geez, now I want to go back and watch the first two seasons again with all of this in my head! Of course, the siren call of season 3 is far too strong for that. But it's now 2:00 am, and MDH has been asleep for 4 hours, and... I should really go to bed.

My god, I'm completely obsessed now, aren't I?
Season 3, Episodes 1-8 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 1-8: Anne; Dead Man's Party; Faith, Hope, and Trick; Beauty and the Beasts; Homecoming; Band Candy; Revelations; and Lover's Walk.
These entries are going to get longer and longer, I'm afraid. I just have a lot more to say as time goes on. And wow, so many people's LJ names are starting to make sense to me now! ;-)

A request: The whole point of these posts is that I have never watched this show before, and so as a newbie I will ask rhetorical questions and make guesses about what's going to happen. I would really appreciate it if people commenting here would try to refrain from spoiling me about things to come. I can understand that it's tempting to drop little hints when you know something I don't, but I would appreciate it if you would please let me learn it all on my own, just as you did. Thanks. :-)



I have to ask: When this originally aired, did people flip the fuck out when David's name appeared in the opening sequence as a regular cast member, or did people already know at that point that Angel would be back? The camera work in this episode was a step above what we saw last season, especially that long continuous shot on the first day of school. There was some fantastic ensemble acting in that sequence. I guess that's either a sign of a bigger budget or the production team getting better and better at what they do.

This seemed an odd way to start off the season, but I guess it had to cover a lot to make up for the way season 2 ended. I loved the fact that Buffy was so tough in this episode, and I hope that's here to stay. It's been interesting to see the character grow up so far. And yay, she went back to Sunnydale!

Another note, looking back after watching FH&T: It seems like the weird demon dimension Buffy fell into was supposed to parallel Angel's exile into another demon dimension. And the fact that the gateway is sealed after Buffy and gang escape is interesting too...

Dead Man's Party

Aw, Angel dreams! *sniff* And he's appearing in sunlight in all of these dreams, which is pretty telling.

I know it was necessary for them to deal with Buffy's leaving and return, and the fact that no one really knows why she disappeared (is she ever going to tell them?), but gah, this is the kind of angst that annoys me. Xander? Such a prick, my god. Of course, it's great that Buffy didn't just come back to a warm welcome and then go on as if nothing happened, because that would have been bad writing. I guess I'm saying I might just skip this episode in the future. I just want to get on with it!

So at this point, do the people in the town have an inkling about the whole hellmouth thing? As much as people die and disappear and turn into demons, you'd think they'd start to notice. A group of zombies crashing a party seems like something that would make the local news. Maybe not.

Oh, can I just say Giles threatening Snyder was hot? Guh!

Faith, Hope & Trick

Whoa, did the music under the opening sequence change? And is it just me, or is Willow behaving very differently? This was a nice episode, and it seemed like the big point of it was to give Buffy a chance to get some closure. It's interesting how many of the recent plotlines seem designed to allow Buffy to see herself from the outside and learn something from it. Buffy getting back in school seemed a bit anticlimatic. Though seriously, Snyder didn't have a legal leg to stand on.

I'd been wondering when Faith would show up (she's one of those characters I'd heard a lot about), and wow, here she is! I liked the contrast they presented between Faith and Buffy, but it was also interesting to me that Faith was a lot of talk. When it came down to it, she was a scared kid running away, and she clearly needed to impress everyone around her. I thought it was quite a character point that Buffy didn't rise to the bait and basically just tolerated her. Everyone else going gaga over her struck me as odd, though. I was a bit reminded of Ted's cookies.

The plot with the really old vampire was fun, and all that snarky dialogue was a relief after the heaviness of the last two episodes. Trick's comments about how white Sunnydale is were especially funny. I'd been wondering about that myself...

It was interesting that Giles had to trick Buffy into telling him what really happened with Angel. I thought Willow's reaction to that revelation was pretty much slapworthy. That was quite a weak, "Sorry" there.

And Angel -- OMG Angel!! When Buffy went back to put the ring down, I was quite squee-ish, indeed. When it faded to black, I was all, "Dammit!" (cause I'd been waiting for fingers to appear and pick it up or something) but oh, then it faded back in again! And I must remember to thank ALL the little gods there are for such a lovely shot of David's bare ass. Holy shit, that was gorgeous! So now the question is, good or evil? Brooding, sweet, insecure, but really hot Angel? Or evil, demonic, snarky, sadistic, and even hotter Angelus? Either way, I'm excited!


Beauty and the Beasts

All right -- I'd read the episode summaries on this DVD, so I knew this was the episode where Buffy would find Angel again. I was quite excited about this one! I thought SMG's acting in this episode was particularly good. When Buffy saw Angel, her reaction was spot on, IMO. I also have to say that the whole part where she was keeping him chained up half-naked was pretty hot. (Where did he find pants, anyway? Her finding him naked would have been so much better...)

I was surprised that Buffy didn't tell anyone she'd found him, though I can't say I blame her entirely. That's going to be an issue at some point, I'm sure. But still, it's interesting that she believes she can take care of this herself, at least for the time being. And... how is she going to feed him?

The obvious teen-issue-of-the-week emphasis here was a bit 90210ish, but it was clever to have two red herrings. At some point they just ought to make new featured characters who appear on the show wear red shirts, because geez! But hey, two shows in a row with black characters -- color me impressed. The new werewolf costume was quite an improvement, though it's interesting that they just stuck that change in there with no comment. And didn't it take him longer to change before?

Of course, this episode's moment of awesomeness for me was when Angel burst in to help Buffy out against the Incredible Hulk guy, just like old times. How the hell did he find her? Anyway, that was quite a teary moment there when he recognized her. At that point, I thought, "Oh shit, Buffy -- what now?" Because she can't just walk away from that, yet he's not really himself again. Apparently he's been suffering in hell for centuries, and that's just got to fuck a person up in a serious way. The irony of the girls being forced into counseling at school while Angel was half out of his mind chained up in a castle was not lost on me. But oh man, what a beautiful tragic figure he is! And clearly still a vampire. And also clearly not all there -- which shall prove to be interesting, I think.


Can I just say how much I love Trick? He's got the snarky lines that make this series so awesome. I hope he sticks around for a while, because he's fun.

I know it's just because I'm watching these so much faster than they were in real time, but I'm a bit heartbroken that Buffy doesn't seem to be that interested in Angel's return. I want her to be dealing with that instead of running for frickin' homecoming queen. It was just a couple of days ago that she killed him, from my perspective. Anyhoo...

Cordelia really impressed me in this episode. The way she stood up to the redneck vampire at the end was awesome. And how perfect that there was a tie for homecoming queen and neither Buffy nor Cordelia won it! I'm starting to recognize that as a classic Joss thing to do.

And ooh, Willow and Xander! I'm betting we'll see more of that...

Band Candy

Okay, I just need to go on the record and say that this is possibly one of my most favorite episodes yet, purely for the Giles hotness factor. One word: EYELINER. Okay, another word: BICEPS. HOLY FREAKING FUCK. *dies*

That was about twelve kinds of fuckin' awesome! The actors must have had SO much fun with this one! I loved the way the irony played in here, that the adults in Buffy's life are treating her like a child, and yet she's far more mature than any of them realize. And when the tables are turned, she steps up and takes charge. It's sort of a teenage fantasy, in a sense. I remember being that age and my parents not letting me have the space I needed. And so I went behind their backs and did what I wanted anyway, and my god the drama it all caused. They didn't trust that I knew what I was doing, and they really should have. So man, I really, truly sympathize with Buffy here. Love it!

Okay, where the fuck did Angel learn Tai Chi? That was a bit odd. At this point, he's just appearing briefly in every episode because it's in his contract, I'm guessing. I hope they will deal with that issue soon. And oh, evil mayor, blah blah blah. I was a bit distracted by the hotness that was GILES.

So back to Giles. OMG GILES!! I just needed to point out again how utterly hot he is. In general, but here? OMG HOT. The accent! And the earring!! And OMG Joyce/Giles!!! That was probably the best ending to an episode EVER. I want me some Giles-centric porn now...


So, Angel's really Angel again, and everyone knows he's back now. Xander's still a prick, and I'm starting to feel weirdly sorry for Faith. It also seems that Buffy is one very lucky slayer to have Giles as a Watcher. All of the other Watchers we've heard about so far have been very strict and unpleasant types. The fact that Giles lets Buffy have a life is apparently quite unorthodox.

There were a lot of cool dynamics in this episode, though, and it's quite amazing that the characters have been developed so much and so vividly. I love the fact that nothing is simple in this show, and there's always a lot of stuff that isn't resolved or is flat out misinterpreted. As weird as it sounds, it makes the show that much more realistic.

At this point, I'm a bit confused about the status of Angel's soul. Is it like it is before, where he can't be happy or he'll lose it again? They both seems to be operating under that assumption, even though it hadn't been made explicit until this episode. I'm hoping we'll find out more about that sometime soon.

God, how much would it suck to be doomed never to be able to have the one person you really want, even though they want you too? Ah, but that's the stuff of great tragedy, isn't it?


Lover's Walk

Wow, three relationships down with one shot. Ouch! I think I need a hug now. Or some porn.

God, the Angel/Buffy stuff is tragic. So, so tragic, and yet so beautiful, somehow. I'm starting to understand why he leaves for LA. And I guess my question about his soul is answered. Ick, that really is horrible -- destined to never be happy, and then to have to stay that way to prevent himself from being unspeakably evil? My inner angst whore is having an orgasm, I tell you.

Oh, Willow and Xander. That speech that Willow gives at the end about wanting to have it all is something I could really relate to. Been there. And then poor Oz and geez, Cordelia getting run through by a piece of rebar??? That seemed a little over the top, but I guess Sunnydale is a dangerous place, huh? The cut away from the funeral was funny, though it didn't work on me so much because I know she ends up on Angel's show.

And Spike -- wow, he's an interesting character! The drunkeness, the whining over Drusilla, the telling of his sob story to anyone who would listen, Joyce comforting him over tea -- so funny! I loved him standing behind Joyce's back and pulling faces at Angel. He was the most interesting part of this episode. On one level, he was there for comic relief, but there was also quite a lot being said about vampires and what the possibilities are. Every time Buffy says she hates him, I have a little Harry/Draco moment. Hee!

And oh, dude, the Buffy/Spike/Angel threesome threeway fight? I was dying, I tell you. DYING. I need me some porn with those three, stat. Seriously. And I thought it was interesting that Spike and Angel both stayed human-looking during the whole thing. I guess it's easier to tell the good guys from the bad that way, but I have to wonder if it had any significance. And LOL, the violence got Spike over his lovesickness! I'm so glad the episode ended on that note of him leaving town, smoking, and singing at the top of his lungs, because otherwise it would have been horribly depressing.

Oh, and a question I asked above about the town not noticing the hellmouth activity seems to have been answered in this episode. So the mayor has sold his soul to some demon in exchange for political success, and he's using the police to cover up all the supernatural activity. But to what end? Hmmm...


In conclusion: porn.

And wow, I got through that set of episodes much more quickly than I expected to! MDH is jet-lagged and has been going to bed early this week. He's also learned that if he just says "Buffy!" at random moments, I make a squeaking sound. He seems to like that. ;-)
Season 3, Episodes 9-15 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 9-15: The Wish, Amends, Gingerbread, Helpless, The Zeppo, Bad Girls, and Consequences.
General notes:
1. What is it with Buffy's hair? It changes dramatically about every other episodes. No one else's hair changes like that. But I guess that's pretty realistic for a teenager.
2. For the record, I love the Angel flashbacks. The little clip where he was drunk and fell off his chair was priceless. I love Angel in general. I love Angel with a pornstache, even, and that usually creeps me the fuck out.
3. I have ordered the first season of Angel on DVD and I'm planning to watch it concurrently with the fourth season of Buffy, as several people have suggested. It's going to be Halloween before I get through all of this good stuff. Yay!
4. And when I'm done, I will go back through and watch all of the episodes that have commentaries! That will be fun. Something to look forward to, and to alleviate the depression I know I will feel at running out of canon at long last.


The Wish

Okay, here I need to start by saying that I've seen this one before. It, along with the original pilot (with Fake!Willow) and Once More, With Feeling were the first three entire episodes of this show that I ever saw. So I had seen very little of the show when I saw this one, and really didn't know much at all about the characters or who was whom or what was going on.

So here's the thing: this time, knowing what comes before and what's going on and who all of these people are? I CRIED. Yes, there were tears. Actual honest-to-fucking-hell tears, streaming down my face, because OMG this episode is fucking amazing like that.

Before, all of the Xander/Cordelia and Willow/Oz angst was completely lost on me. I didn't even notice Cordelia clutching her belly, or the girls who were mean to her, or even the guy teasing her about being Xander's cast-off. I didn't get it.

And so seeing Xander and Willow as vampires, and then seeing them as a couple on top of that, was lost on me that first time. I didn't really know who the Master was, even though phaballa turned to me while we were watching it and said, "He's this nasty uber-vampire Buffy killed at the end of season 1". I didn't know who Angel was, so everything wrapped up in Willow torturing Angel meant nothing to me. When the van turned up with Giles, Oz, and whoever those other people were, I didn't know who any of them were. I didn't even know the other two people were random.

When Buffy saw Angel in the cell and he recognized her and said he'd been waiting for her but she never came, I didn't know why he recognized her, or even why it was significant. When so many people died -- Xander, Willow, Angel, Oz, and even Buffy herself -- I really didn't get it. I didn't get how horrifically meaningful it really was.

But now I do. I have to say that watching this episode again, knowing what I know now, was a completely different experience. It fucking made me cry this time, because now? I get it. God, I get it. I'm sort of baffled that this has affected me so much, because the first time I saw this it was just entertaining. I can't believe it.

When Buffy showed up and was cool to Giles, this time, I got that Giles is special, and that Buffy's strength is in her friends, and how she is doomed in this AR the moment she says that she works alone. Because that's the whole point of this show, in a way. It doesn't matter how powerful you are, or what your destiny is. What matters is your relationships with other people and the mark you leave on them, because no one can do this alone.

Fuck. *goes for a kleenex*

On a lighter note, it was interesting that Willow and Xander were the right-hand vamps of the Master in that reality. The kiss between those two? HOT. Holy shit, tongues!


And I thought the last episode was a tearjerker? *wipes eyes* Fuck.

Okay, that was angsty. Possibly one of the angstiest things I've ever seen in my life. And oh man, does Angel wear it well. The bit at the end with the two of them on the ridge overlooking the city just killed me. God, it just did, because it felt like something shifted there, that they both acknowledged how much they loved each other, but also that it can't ever happen, and they can live with that. They have to live with that, because neither of them is quite ready to die with it. And that is just fucking twisted and awful and amazing and wonderful, isn't it?

When it started to snow, I lost it. I haven't really got it back yet either. I think I'm going to have to stop now, because that tore me up way too much.


Okay, now that a day has passed, I can talk rationally about this episode.

Several interesting things to note here. I thought it was interesting that Willow and Oz are on the road to making up, while Xander and Cordelia are absolutely not. Oz is such an interesting character, IMO. He's amazingly mature for an 18-year-old boy, and he seems to have it together better than any of the other kids on the show. Willow playing Barry White to seduce him was priceless!

The whole concept of the First is very interesting, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that will be very important in the future. The idea of there being something that's more evil than anything we've seen before is very intriguing. And it makes sense in this universe that evil is more than just vampires and demons, but that there's some sort of underlying evil out there from which all of this other evil springs.

And back to the main theme, I'm wondering what will happen between Buffy and Angel after this. Will they really be able to be friends?


Witch hunts and book burning! Two big themes that relate right back to the American high school experience, oh yes. And wow, we finally saw Willow's mom! I was starting to wonder if she had any parents. And can I just express a little eyerolliness that her mom was a stereotypical academic?

The progression of events was really interesting, and frighteningly realistic. I mean geez, think about current events. Change witch to "terrorist" and dark materials to "shampoo" and it says a lot about the direction our country is going in. With Mayor Bush in the White House...


Oooh, Angel action. And then Buffy stroking the phallic crystal? Priceless! There were lots of great lines in this one, too. Buffy joking that she had a date with an older man who liked her to call him "Daddy", and the Angel saying, "Oh, your father! Wait... you do mean your father, right?" Hee! It was interesting too that he told her that he fell in love with her back when she was 15, and it didn't come across as remotely pervy.

OMG! I just realized it's been about a "year" since they had sex and he lost his soul. Wow.

The whole concept of brutal Slayer quals was really interesting. And of course, Buffy came through -- though it was interesting that Giles didn't. I really wanted to see some Giles tears in there, and I thought I was going to get them a couple of times. I wonder who the new watcher will be?

I was almost sorry to see Zachary get staked. He was pretty funny. I loved the whole bit about the mommy issues, heh. Oh, and Xander and Oz talking about what kind of kryptonite kills Superman, and the Buffy going, "Back to reality!" was funny.

The Zeppo

Aw, Xander! I hadn't been liking him so much lately, but this episode really gave him a chance to shine. It was interesting that it was almost completely from his perspective, to the extent that the whole Hellmouth opening thing was secondary. The viewer only sees snippets of that as Xander does, and they make about as much sense to us as they make to Xander. That was a clever bit of writing.

The gang of dead guys was a funny touch ("Have you been taping Walker, Texas Ranger for me?"), and of course Xander would get caught up in the middle of all that. It was also interesting that they turned out not to be the big baddies of the episode. For a while there, I thought that bomb going off might help the situation, but probably not -- it probably would have blown the Hellmouth right open. And so Xander being there to get the guy to diffuse the bomb turned out to be a big part of what saved the day. The whole sequence of him running around the school was fantastic. I'm betting there were some Marx Brothers tribute moments in there that I missed.

And bwahaha, Faith deflowered Xander!! That was pretty cool, especially the Up With People reference and then her kicking him out afterwards, not even letting him get dressed first. I can start to see the show making fun of itself a bit, like when Xander interrupted the big emo moment between Buffy and Angel ("I love you!" "I can't watch you die... again!"), and when he left, the music picked up right where it left off, and their faces went back to being anguished. Xander being sent for doughnuts, and then Giles being upset that no one had saved him a jelly doughnut. Buffy about the car: "Is this a penis metaphor?" And the gang at the end sitting around and talking about what they'd done to save the world and how no one would ever know -- and Xander just smiled. Perfect. I love this episode!


Bad Girls

LOL on the Mayor keeping baby wipes in his cabinet of horrific objects! This episode was just full of little funny touches like that, and that's what I love about this series -- the details. Like when the Mayor pulls out the checklist at the end and crosses off "Become immortal", which is right before "PTA meeting". Heh.

At first I thought Buffy had to be under some sort of spell, and I thought maybe it had something to do with the amulet. But I guess it was just a bit of rebellion. Perhaps brought on by Wesley? My god, what a wanker. It's funny that Giles seems really cool and tough in comparison. Wesley shitting his pants when they were up against Jabba the Hutt would have been funny if he weren't so anxious to sell out one of Buffy's friends to save his own neck. Wanker.

It's interesting that the Watcher Council is like this bureaucratic bunch of people removed from the reality of the life of the Slayer. Buffy and Giles were doing well, but of course, it wasn't regulation, so it had to be fucked with. The fact that they're both rebelling is awesome, though, and adds an interesting layer to their relationship.

The whole Buffy/Faith dynamic in this episode was interesting. And HOT. I have to admit, I was waiting for some snoggage on the dance floor there. I'm really liking the Buffy/Angel relationship right now too. They seem to have settled into something they can both live with, even if they each occasionally push the boundary a little. And it seems that the other knows when to push back so they don't go too far. I'm enjoying it so much that I'm terrified it won't last much longer...

And of course, Faith finally went too far and staked an actual human. I wonder what the repercussions of that will be? Considering the title of the next episode, I'd say I'm about to find out.


Oooooh... That basically sums up my reaction to this episode! I have no idea what to think about Faith at this point, but Buffy certainly is playing Luke Skywalker here, with her whole, "I know there's still good in her!" routine. I don't know if she's right or not. I'm also not sure why she's latched so hard onto the idea of saving Faith. Maybe she sees something of herself there.

More Angel love in this episode. Those chains in his castle seem to be quite useful. What ever happened to his apartment, anyway? I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop where Angel is concerned, but for now they're letting him become more and more of a complex character, and I'm happy about it. Wesley, on the other hand... *smites*

So why did the Mayor not think they had enough evidence to go after the slayers? It sure seems like they did. They even had them on video in the dead guy's office. Of course, if they prosecuted them, that would open a whole 'nother can of supernatural worms, and his Evilness knows better than that.

So is Faith really interested in working for the Mayor, or is this part of a plot to get inside and help Buffy and friends, make amends? She seemed to know who Trick was, so she probably could put two and two together there. Time will tell, I suppose.

And aw, no more Trick. I liked him! Well, maybe Spike will be back soon. ;-) Oh, and another fantastic moment was when everyone figured out that Xander and Faith had done the deed. The look on Giles's face was particularly funny! Aw, but poor Willow. :-(
Season 3, Episodes 16-22 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 16-22: Doppelgangland, Enemies, Earshot, Choices, The Prom, and Graduation Day (1 & 2).
Someone requested I insert a one-line synopsis about each episode to remind people what happened, so I'm just using the ones from the DVD case. Flawed and badly written as they are. :-P


[While casting a magic spell to help Anya regain her powers, Willow and Anya inadvertently summon Willow's evil twin, a vampire from an alternate universe.]

So Faith's back with no fanfare, eh? I mean, I know the last thing she did was save Buffy's life, but then she disappeared again, and this is apparently no big deal? She's back to training, as if nothing happened. That seems like a bit of an oversight to me. That and the fact that she's working for the Mayor just for good stuff like apartments. I guess I never really thought she was that shallow. Guess I was wrong.

It was interesting to see Anya again, and that she's trying to reinstate her powers. I wonder if that will go anywhere. Well, now that everyone knows what she's up to, perhaps not. It was interesting that this episode intersected with The Wish. It was also interesting that Willow didn't want her counterpart killed (though ironically, she sent her right back to the Wishverse to die instantly).

It was fun watching Allyson act both roles, especially when Willow was trying to be vamp!Willow. That was fun to watch, and she did a really great job of having her character try to pretend to be another character under duress.

And lulz on this bit:

Willow: "And I seem to be... gay."
Buffy: "Oh, no -- the personality of the person has nothing to do with the personality of the vampire."
Angel: "Well, actually... *pauses* Uh... no, nothing at all."

All of the Willow/Willow action was priceless. Heh. Funny because I know enough about this show to know Willow is at least bisexual, but also interesting because of what that possibly implies about the sort of person Angel really is/was.

One question I still have after this episode is why did the Mayor send vampires after Willow? They were clearly surprised to find her counterpart instead, and it seems that bit of a plan was foiled there. Hmmm...


[With the help of the Books of Ascension, Faith and the Mayor plot to steal Angel's soul, then get him to kill that other Slayer -- Buffy.] (That last comma is entirely inappropriate, and actually changes the meaning of the last part of the summary.)

Serious lulz on the Buffy and Angel go to the porno cinema opening! So... what's their deal at this point? Do they consider themselves a couple? They seem to, but there's that whole tortured thing going on too. And does "pure happiness" mean sex with someone he really loves, or what? It seems like it, but that's a bit too hokey. Does that mean he could have sex with someone he doesn't like and it would be okay? What if he wanks thinking about her?

Yes, these really are the things I wonder about.

This was a really interesting episode. I started to wonder halfway through if it was all a ruse to corner Faith (when Angel sees the Mayor's hand heal, there's a little moment where his expression of surprise is just too Angel), but I was convinced that it was wishful thinking on my part right up until the moment it was revealed. Well, it became pretty clear when he was hanging back and letting Faith monologue about the Mayor and the ascension. I mean seriously, why would he want to wait around for her to talk that long? The writing on this show is far better than that. So when she said, "I'm the best actor", I said his line before it even came out of his mouth. It was just what had to be happening.

Knowing it was an act, though, all of that Buffy/Angelus dialogue takes on a whole new level of meaning, like the "chains" comment, even as he's pretending to tie her up. The bit that stands out most to me is when he says, "I never really thanked you for sending me to hell." From what I can tell, that's something they've never really talked about, and her reaction to him saying that was really interesting. I couldn't help but wonder why he would say it then. In general, I wonder about him, and what he's feeling about everything that's happened. He's in love with her, but he has so many reasons to want to distance himself from her. I've always thought that men fall harder then women do, and I can almost see that in his character, like he's knows it's hopeless but he can't help himself. She could walk away from it, but he really can't. (Not yet, anyway.)

I have to admit I really like the idea of Angel being able to play Angel so easily. And it was interesting that it upset Buffy so much -- I mean, she's seen both sides of him, and she knows they're both in there, doesn't she? Or maybe the problem is that she doesn't want to believe it. I guess that's why she said she needed a break in the end. Or maybe she's feeling guilty about everything that's happened, and is wondering if she'll ever really be able to know him like she wants to. And aw, the "Are you still my girl?" line was nearly heartbreaking. Waah, I know we're heading towards him leaving Sunnydale, and I know that's how the show has to go -- not just because it really does, but realistically, this Buffy/Angel thing isn't going to go anywhere and the show needs to move on. But I'm sad for it. Already. :-(

The Cordelia/Wesley stuff is funny, especially since there's really no attempt by either of them to keep it a secret. All the jailbait lines are cracking me up, partly because I'm wondering if it's foreshadowing. And sort of hoping it is, to be honest.

I have to admit I loved seeing Angelus again, if only for a short while. He's just so interesting as an evil demon that it's too bad they can't keep him in check like that. The lines with Faith were a lot of fun: "I knew you'd like to be on top" and "Right now I just want you to keep wriggling". Hee! Fun stuff.

So, Faith is basically evil now and knows all about the Mayor's plan. She also knows exactly how to manipulate Buffy, which is bad in one sense, but good in another -- because now, she thinks she knows Buffy's weakness. Buffy is able to suck it up and be tough when she really needs to, and Faith doesn't know that yet. I have no idea where this is all going!



[After slaying a telepathic demon, Buffy is bombarded with the thoughts of everyone around her -- including one student who appears to be planning mass murder.] (Oh, please let me insert a little "those of" in there!)

So, who hasn't ever wished they could hear what other people were thinking? That was a lot of fun, particularly when people were thinking random things. I loved the fact that Xander kept thinking about sex, and Oz has all these deep thoughts that never seem to make it out of his mouth, and that Cordelia basically thinks exactly what she's about to say and nothing more. Oh, and that Angel couldn't be read at all -- nice touch, because it really forces Buffy to trust him. She needs to do that, and she doesn't need any magical powers to reinforce her trust in him.

Buffy: "That was funny."
Angel, totally deadpan: "I'm a funny guy."

Absolute favorite line, though was Buffy to Joyce: "You had sex with Giles? On the hood of a police car? Twice?" Perfect! And heh, I knew it!

It was also interesting that there were several red herrings, and that in the end the killer turned out to be the lunch lady, just as Xander joked. Is he The Ron of this series or what?

Buffy seems not to be hiding the Slayer thing too much, or at least, people don't seem to notice her physical feats.

I loved the fact that it was Angel who went after the demon and cut out his heart, and then brought it to Buffy's house in the frickin' daylight. Then fed her the goo and held her through it all. Aww. *sniff* You gotta love a guy who'll do that sort of thing for you.

Buffy's comment to Giles at the end was hilarious: "If you're not too busy having sex with my mother!" and then Giles walking right into a tree. Hee! Actually, I really like Giles/Joyce. I'd like to see more of that. Or at least read some fic about it. ;-)


[The mayor imprisons Willow after Buffy and Angel steal a box containing demonic energy, which the Mayor needs for his Ascension Day.]

Hee, the couple angst between Buffy and Angel at the beginning was fun. I like how they've settled into a comfortable relationship. It comforts me, especially knowing they haven't got much longer.

Ah, an episode that really moves the plot forward! The theme of choices being made was an interesting one here. Every character had to either make a choice or face a choice made, and that added some really interesting layers to the story. I was particularly impressed with how Willow's and Buffy's decisions to stay in Sunnydale for college made sense. So often TV shows come up with remarkably contrived reasons to keep people around. And UC-Sunnydale? That made me laugh. I think you have to get the California university system to know why that's funny...

The Mayor is a really interesting bad guy. I like the combination of batshit crazy, evil, and Ward Cleaver. It's really endearing. It's also interesting that Faith is looking more and more fucked up as time goes on. That girl has some serious daddy issues.

This episode seemed to be Willow's chance to shine, and that she did. Her standing up to Faith would have seemed OOC, except that in the context of this storyline, it worked. Buffy and gang's immediate decision to exchange Willow for the box seemed a bit out of the blue to me. It was almost as if they made the decision that fast just because Wesley wanted to sacrifice her, as if they were rebelling. Of course, it was important for the plot that they get her back, and that she get her hands on the Books of Ascension so that they will now have an idea of what they're up against. It seems a bit weak in the writing department, but I'm not sure how else they would've done it. They accomplished quite a lot with that single storyline.

I also found the Mayor's monologue about Buffy's and Angel's future relationship bizarre. I mean, I know this is what they need to hear to set his move to LA in motion, but did they have to hear it from the Bad Guy? And in the middle of a prisoner exchange? That seemed a bit odd.

And OMG, billions of face-sucking spiders are going to be released??? That sounds like a nightmare I had once. And Cordelia has a job, apparently because she wants to buy that dress she keep fondling. I'm betting we'll hear more about that soon.

So in short, there were LOTS of interesting things happening here, but many of them felt like a bit of a stretch, almost as if the writers were trying to do too much in a single episode. This season seems to be one episode short, so maybe that's why. It feels rushed. Hmmm.



The Prom:
[Buffy battles three fearsome hell-hounds that another classmate has programmed to attack students during Sunnydale High's senior prom.]

Okay, since we're on the last three episodes, I was expecting tears. I even brought a box of kleenex along, because me + hormones + angst = a fucking good cry. I got one, and strangely, it felt so much better than the ones from the end of season two. Of course, I'm not done yet. *coughs*

I have lots of thoughts on this episode, and I think I'm just going to list them, more or less in chronological order.

• The couple talk at the beginning of the episode was sweet, with Buffy wanting a drawer and hinting that she could move in. Though it totally felt like we were being set up for something sad, waah.

• The whole bit with Anya asking Xander to the prom was hilarious. Even more hilarious was the fact that he said yes. And then had to endure all of her gory demon stories for the evening!

• I was totally convinced that the wedding dream was Buffy's, just as I imagine I was supposed to think. Finding out it was really Angel's dream was just as bittersweet, and that he then dreamed that he could walk into the sun and she couldn't -- it was a beautiful metaphor for his fears. Nicely done. And made me cry, oh yes!

• And then the break-up scene and the aftermath: wow, so good. So real. It reminded me of being Buffy's age and finding out that my boyfriend was moving away, and that it was basically over. And while I understood that he had to leave, my god how awful it was. When Buffy said, "this can't be real," it took me right back to being 17, I swear. And her grief with Willow -- ouch, man. Especially that she recognized in the end that he was right. Ouch.

• Giles's reaction to hearing Buffy and Angel had broken up was perfect. I love the relationship between those two. I've read a little Buffy/Giles fic, and it all kind of made me go "Ew", because I can't see him as anything other than a father figure for her. What really cemented it for me was Helpless, when she found out her dad wasn't coming to take her to the ice show and wanted Giles to take her. And he would have, under other circumstances. She needs a daddy. *sniff*

• Interesting twist for Cordelia that her family is suddenly poor. I know she's going to be on A:tS, so I guess this is part of the setup for that. I really loved the implication that Xander paid for her dress, without it being explicitly stated. That was all we needed, and it was a lovely moment as a result. It was great that he did it out of genuine affection for her, with no expectations. It seems that Xander has his moments of maturity after all.

• Cordelia/Wesley was a lot of fun to watch, especially when he first saw her and basically choked. And then when he asked Giles if he should ask her to dance, Giles was all, "Get the fuck on with it already!" The actors are probably about the same age, so the whole jailbait thing has been highly amusing.

• Where does Angel get money to buy blood and rent tuxes and stuff? I mean, it wasn't that long ago that he was homeless and living off rats. What, did he sell a book deal? He sure as hell doesn't have a job.

• The whole hellhound subplot was so "sub" that I wondered what the point was, except to delay Buffy's entrance to the prom and provide a little drama. It got resolved so quickly that I was convinced something more was going to happen. But I guess it can just be easy for Buffy sometimes, huh? And why didn't anyone wonder where a high school student got four hell-hounds? That seems a bit odd. Like something to look into. I guess they have other things on their minds...

• Buffy's classmates giving her an award was so, so sweet. I thought it brought some nice closure to the school years for the show. The other students couldn't have been so dumb as not to notice what was going on, after all. I loved the line about the class of '99 having the lowest mortality rate of any in recent memory. Heh. You'd think people would wise up and move away, you know? I guess someone has to win the Darwin award.

• When I was a senior in high school, I was dating a 25-year-old guy, and when prom time came around, he asked me about it one day. He looked really uncomfortable, and said that if I really wanted to go, he'd take me. Of course, I was so over high school at that point and the idea of going to a prom was not remotely attractive, so I laughed it off and said I wasn't interested, that I'd rather go out for an elegant dinner, then go back to his place and drink wine and have a glorious night of sex. Which is what we did, and it was great. But a little part of me regretted not going to the prom. If nothing else, I missed the chance to show off my hot 25-year-old boyfriend.

But anyway, I felt for Buffy in all of this, that she wanted that night to be perfect and then had to go alone. Of course, I knew Angel would show up. He just had to, because they had mentioned so many high school movie cliches by that point that this one just had to be in there. It had to be like all those Molly Ringwald movies, you know? And he came, and they danced, and there were tears. Oh, yes.

Now, on to the finale in two parts. *readies tissues*


Graduation Day:
[(1) To distract Buffy and keep her from interfering with the Mayor's ascension, Faith shoots Angel with an arrow whose poison can only be cured by the blood of a Slayer. (2) Buffy, her friends, and all the students of Sunnydale High prepare to face off against the Mayor and his hoard of vampires in a seemingly hopeless effort to save their town.] (Okay, hoard? Who writes the copy on these? Didn't anyone with a thesaurus bother to proofread the summaries? And "curing poison"? What the hell does that mean? Geez.)

I expected this one to be a tear-jerker, but it was more of a "Hell, yeah!" Interesting.

Giles out of the tweed? So very hot. My god that man can wear a sweater. Poor Amy is still a rat! And aw, Willow and Oz finally do the deed! None of the scoobies graduates from high school a virgin, how sweet.

The whole subplot with Angel was really interesting. At first, I thought the Mayor had to have set Faith up. I thought he must have known that the only cure for the poison was Slayer blood, and that he would have assumed they would come after Faith. But then he was surprised that Faith had been attacked. Or maybe his confidence in her abilities was too high? Maybe he knew they would come after her and just assumed she would win easily. I wonder if she's really gone? Even with the head injury, Slayers heal extra well, don't they? The Slayer Deathmatch was fun, though.

I had guessed that Buffy would have to sacrifice herself to save Angel early on, and though I'd hoped she'd catch Faith, when she went back to the castle alone, I assumed she'd do it. I just didn't think Angel would give in. It was interesting that they filmed it as a metaphor for sex, with the shot of his tattoo reminiscent of the sex scene back in season 2, and her legs wrapped around him, and the muffled moans and heavy breathing. There was a certain amount of eroticism to that scene that sort of caught me off guard. It also hammered home the point Angel made last episode when he said Buffy deserved a man who could make love to her. This is all he can give her, really, and it sort of cemented the end of their relationship. Handy that she could have all of her blood replaced so easily, though. I don't think that's medically possible, but considering that this is a show about vampires and demons, I'll suspend my disbelief.

The resolution of the Cordelia/Wesley storyline was hilarious. I think I wrote a scene like that in a fic once. *scratches head*

I LOVED the fact that Buffy's plan was hidden from us until it happened! That was great fun to watch unfold. When the whole graduating class stood up and stripped off their robes to reveal these medieval-ass weapons strapped to their chests, I was seriously a-squee! I was on my feet by the time Angel and whoever all he had with him rounded on the vampires from the other side. Oh, man, that was glorious! And again, there's the message of the show: strength in numbers. Like it said in that book that was mentioned, everyone had to overcome their differences and come together. Just like the Sorting Hat said in OOTP!! Isn't it cool how much overlap there is between great stories, even while they're totally different? And Giles didn't have to die, even.

The themes of coming of age and rebirth through the fire were pretty strong here, and all well-executed. Buffy quitting the influence of the Council was a great touch, and it was interesting that it came across as a reasoned decision, and not simply youthful rebellion. (Again, like Harry in HBP telling the MoM he was Dumbledore's man.) Giles supporting her was awesome, and it signaled that he sees her as a adult now. The school being destroyed was a great image of the past being completely behind them and the future being wide open -- this show is going to change, they're saying, and expect it all to be different next season. And then Angel disappears into the fog. *sigh* That moment didn't hurt me like I thought it would. I guess I was well-prepared for it after all of this.

Was that the longest frickin' eclipse ever, or what? Again, I can suspend my disbelief, but still. You know?


Ah, season three, how I adored you. I'm sorry it's over. I think this was my favorite season of the three I've watched so far. There was just so much character development and world-building in it. The characters really grew up, which was fantastic. I'm now torn between watching DVD extras and going on to season 4...

From here on out, I'm going to be watching episodes of Angel at the same time, so I'll be posting about season 4 of Buffy and season 1 of Angel together, at least as long as it makes sense to do so.
BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 1-4 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 1-4: [BtVS] The Freshman, Living Conditions, The Harsh Light of Day, and Fear Itself.
[AtS] City Of, Lonely Hearts, In the Drk, and I Fall to Pieces.

BtVS: The Freshman [While Willow blossoms in the college environment, Buffy has a difficult time adjusting, and her Slaying suffers because of it.]

And season 4 begins! I can see why people thought it got off to a slow start after watching this, though I thought it was a great transition. I liked the fact that Buffy was completely unsettled by this new place, because that's something a lot of people experience when they make the transition from high school to college. It seemed very realistic to me, and this episode being told from Buffy's perspective only heightened the anxiety. All of her friends were moving on with ease. All of the adults in her life were just assuming she had moved on, but she hadn't. Giles felt not a bit of weirdness at her seeing him with a sleepover guest, and her mom had started using her room as storage -- and Buffy was left reeling, wondering how everything had changed so quickly.

As a side note, I've been wondering for a month now who Kristine Sutherland reminds me of, and I finally figured it out: Susan Sarandon. Which gives the Giles/Joyce in Band Candy a whole new level of meaning.

Whoa, Allyson is skinny. Like, scary skinny. And that is the biggest frickin' dorm room I have ever seen. My current bathroom is about the same size as my college dorm room was. Why aren't Willow and Buffy rooming together? You generally can pick your roommates, IME.

They pretty much hit all the college cliches: party scene, students protesting (and funny that it was never said exactly what they were protesting), mean professors, crazy roommates. Takes me back.

I found it funny that these stoner vamps had never been seen before, especially considering UC Sunnydale is, you know, in Sunnydale. They seem to have missed out on the last three years. Sunday was hot in that Joey Lauren Adams way, and I was actually sorry to see her get dusted so quickly. I was excited at the prospect of a cute female nemesis for Buffy. And loved the Spicoli!vamp, totally stuck in the 80s. He never de-morphed, which seemed odd.

And Xander wins my love for turning up right when Buffy needed him and getting her back on track. I loved him misquoting Yoda. And: "When I'm all alone, I wonder, what would Buffy do? Of course, when I'm all alone in the dark, I sometimes wonder, what is Buffy wearing?" Hee! And he stripped? I sure hope we get a glimpse of that at some point! ;-)

So, predictions: I think the cute TA Riley and the psych professor are going to be important characters. Enough of a big deal was made about them both that something must be up. And ooh, the camo guys going after the vampire at the end might be connected to those two. Just a guess. :-P


A:tS: City Of [Angel moves to L.A., unaware of his purpose in the City of Angels. There, he meets Doyle, his half-man, half-demon spiritual advisor, who gives him much-needed direction. ]

First episodes can be a little awkward, because they have to establish backstory and get things set up for the episodes to come. There's just a lot to cover in a short time, and this one was no exception. Perhaps the awkwardness was particularly prominent here because Angel is so familiar to me as a character now and it was weird to see him in a different place, with different people, and no Buffy. I liked him drunk (or pretending to be?) at the beginning, though the alley fight was a bit Batmanish. I know it was necessary, but it was still a little weird. And then in comes Doyle, who we must immediately be shown is not human, and who then becomes Captain Backstory. After all of that, I was worried.

But then the show got going, and I started to like it. Damsel in distress, lots of action, and surprise, the bad guy is really a vampire. Cordelia was fun, especially when Russel had her trapped and she figured out he was a vampire. She was almost Willow-like there, with that sudden leap, except that she was instantly confident she was right. And when Angel showed up, I loved her gleeful boasting: "You don't know who he is, do you? You're about to get your ass kicked!" That was fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing where it all goes. I'm also looking forward to seeing Angel develop more as a character. And wear lots of those thin v-neck sweaters that make me want to lick between his shoulderblades. Or wear nothing at all, for that matter...

Oh, and the kicker: He was who called Buffy! OMG!!! That was cool.



BtVS: Living Conditions [Everyone wonders what's wrong with Buffy when she insists that her annoying roommate is evil.]

The whole roommate from hell theme was really fun here. Even better that she turned out to be an actual demon! That was funny, and I really didn't see it coming. I thought the demons were after Buffy, of course, but no! The naughty little demon had to be captured and brought back. That was a great line: "You're in a lot of trouble, young lady!" Heh.

And whoa, Dementor demons? Who speak Huttese? Or am I just mixing up my fandoms that much?

I loved the fact that the demon roommate loved Cher, labelled everything, played the same song over and over, and was unnaturally perky. That was a nice touch. And that Xander and Oz were scared of Buffy, heh. And yay, Buffy and Willow are roommates now. All is right with the universe.

Another appearance by the camo guys. I'm going to guess that one of them is Riley. That may be completely wrong, but that's my guess. And what was with that girl Oz stared at? For a moment there, I thought it might be another werewolf.


A:tS: Lonely Hearts [Angel brushes up his pick-up lines while tracking a monstrous serial killer that is hunting at a happening Los Angeles singles bar.]

The show is getting going. Cordelia's cards were funny, especially that no one could figure out the drawing was of an angel. The Kate character struck me right away, because the actress either is or really looks like someone on Law & Order. So when she turned out to be a cop, I was pretty pleased with myself. I'm not sure if it's the same actress or not, but she had that L&O vibe about her, certainly. I hope she'll keep turning up, because I like her. Potential platonic love interest for Angel. He has a thing for blondes who kick ass, right?

Angel: "I help-... I'm a veterinarian." WTF? He sure pulled that one out of his ass.

Kate: "You can go to hell."
Angel: "Been there, done that."

It's interesting that we haven't heard about his experience in hell yet. I'm wondering if we will. Aw, and Doyle likes Cordelia.


BtVS: The Harsh Light of Day [Spike is back, searching for a gem that will make him invincible; Buffy is distracted by her first attempt at getting back into the dating pool.]

Just as I was starting to wonder when we'd see Spike again, voila! He's so much fun. "Back to the location of many spectacular kickings of my ass" was funny. And Harmony's a vampire -- you know, I noticed her getting bitten a couple of days ago when I watched Graduation Day, and I was wondering what happened with that. It was pretty funny that she was such a whiny girlfriend. Buffy running into them at a frat party was priceless.

Poor Buffy has the worst luck with sex. She hasn't even had enough of it for it to be fun, I'm guessing. I was happy to see her get some, but the moment the guy said "I'll call you", it was pretty clear what was coming. I wish she wouldn't just become a total doormat over a jerk, but I guess all girls have to go through that phase. It just looks extra weird on her, because of the whole ass-kicking thing.

Oooh, a jewel that makes vampires invincible? Interesting idea. Sunnydale sure has quite a collection of odd stuff hidden about. It was weird that Buffy and Spike could have a knock-down dragout in broad daylight on a crowded campus and not attract a crowd. It's also interesting that she's giving the ring to Angel. There's a lovely opportunity for crossover.

The whole Xander/Anya storyline was a lot of fun. Poor Xander has just about as bad luck with women as Buffy has with men. I like Anya's comments about the weirdness of being a demon trapped in the body of a teenage girl, though. That's pretty funny!



A:tS: In the Dark [Angel receives an unexpected visit from Oz who delivers a gift from Buffy, a mystical relic that renders the owner unkillable - not by stakes, not fire, not even sunlight. But Oz is followed by Angel's arch nemesis, Spike, who is determined to fight Angel to the death for this awesome power.]

Nice continuation with the last Buffy. I think this is the first episode of the show where everything felt like it was falling into place. Nothing felt stilted here, and it seems like Angel's character is growing.

The scene with Spike on the roof making fun of Angel was priceless. Though I have to say, Spike's really one to mock the use of hair styling products, considering. And Oz! So much fun to see Oz in this one.

Angel's reaction to finding out that Buffy had sent the ring was interesting. I wasn't really sure what to make of it. I was convinced that Angel would end up wearing the ring, and that it would be something they would need for the show, so the ending of this one surprised me. Though upon reflection, he really had to destroy it -- the danger of it falling into the wrong hands was just too great. And I also got the sense that Angel doesn't trust himself that much. That ring, in Angelus's hands, would be about the worst thing that could happen.

It was great to see the Spike and Angel interaction here. I enjoyed that quite a lot! There's some lovely slashy chemistry between the two of them, and I can only assume that continues, since I know Spike eventually becomes a regular on the show. It's funny how torture is such a theme of these shows. This was about the most we've seen of actual torture. I guess they do what they can, considering that it's TV. Loved the Nazi guy fondling Angel's chest, and then Spike getting annoyed. Mwahahaha!

It was a really sweet moment to see Angel standing in the sun, and I thought that whole scene was very well done. It really was clear what it meant to him, and David played it so well. And then the sun sets, and that's his day in the sun. It was interesting that he admitted at the end that the guy almost broke him.

I'm liking this show more and more.


BtVS: Fear Itself [The gang finds themselves in a real-life house of horrors at a Halloween party, in which a Fear Demon feeds on their individual fears.]

The Halloween shows are always a lot of fun, and it's interesting that they stick with the theme of human-made trouble for them. This was a great episode, and really had a lot of the elements in it that I love about this show. I was surprised that no mention was made of Oz's trip to LA, but I suppose they avoid the subject of Angel as much as possible around Buffy.

There were a lot of fun moments in this one. Xander calling Oz "Master" was hilarious, as was "Mi casio es su casio." I love how completely blunt Anya is with Xander. It's a great twist on her character that she's totally falling for him! It's almost bizarre, yet somehow it works. All of their Halloween costumes were great, Oz's in particular. And yet another appearance by the camo guys.

Speaking of (and going with my theory above), I like the little moment between Riley and Buffy. I've seen enough references to the pairing around to guess that they hook up at some point (see how easy it is to be spoiled?), and if he's one of the camo guys, that could be interesting, because it would mean he's involved in something out of the ordinary. Assuming it's not evil, at least, that would make him decent boyfriend material for Buffy. We shall see...

The haunted house coming to life was interesting, and I found myself wondering how that episode played outside the US. I'm not really clear on how big a holiday Halloween is in other places, but that haunted house and party are so completely typical of the way teenagers and young adults celebrate. Where I grew up, there was a haunted house that ran every year for the month before Halloween, and it was out in the middle of the woods. It was the scariest fucking thing ever, and we loved it. I remember going one year with a couple of friends (one whom Willow reminds me of immensely) and the room with the Texas Chainsaw massacre guy freaked her out completely. He had what seemed to be a real chainsaw, and it was deafening, and there was a strobe light so you couldn't really see what was happening, and he somehow isolated her from us and cornered her. When we got to her, she was in a little ball on the floor and screaming her head off. I think I may have hit the guy to get him away from her -- I can't really remember. Anyway, it took many drinks afterwards to calm her down. Good times.

The ending of this episode was priceless, and classic writing for this show. Buffy charging ahead before Giles had finished: "Destroying the mark... *smash* ... is NOT one of them" and then the demon appearing, but being teensy. That was hilarious, especially when they all made baby talk at it. And then Buffy squashed it with her shoe, hee! That was great.

Giles with a chainsaw was great. And Anya doesn't like bunnies, huh? That seems random.


A:tS: I Fall to Pieces [Angel is called into action when Doyle's (Glenn Quinn) visions lead them to a young woman who is being stalked by a demonic neurosurgeon who uses his bizarre ability to manipulate the human body to terrorize others.]

I am really liking this show. It's hitting a rhythm now, and it's great. The characters are fleshing out and the stories are compelling. And did I mention that David is hot? Hee, even Doyle thinks so: "Okay, maybe I'm a little attracted."

This was a creepy villain, to say the least. I liked the fact that we saw Kate again, and I also liked Angel playing mind tricks with the bad guy. He was sort of two-dimensional on Buffy, even though it seemed like there was a lot there beneath the surface. I'm really enjoying seeing it all come out here.

Cordelia and Doyle bickering was cute, as was Angel's sudden concern that he was too intimidating and ought to wear light colors. The humor of this show is really subtle compared to Buffy, but I like it. It works really well.

And did I mention that David is hot? The last shot of him with the blue shirt and holding the potted plant... *swoons*
BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 5-8 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 5-8: [BtVS] Beer Bad, Wild at Heart, The Initiative, and Pangs.
[AtS] RM W/A VU, Sense and Sensitivity, The Bachelor Party, and I WIll Remember You.
1. Why did people not like this season of Buffy? It's awesome! There are lots of great episodes, and interesting things are happening, and the gang is really getting to grow up, with all the good and bad things that brings.
2. My list of favorite episodes is getting quite long now.
3. I went to the Buffy Singalong downtown Sunday night and Beer Bad was selected as the warm-up episode, a day after I watched it for the first time. It was interesting to watch it again, and I saw quite a lot more in there than I did when I didn't know what was coming. That's gotten me excited about the prospect of watching the entire series again when I'm all done.
4. I've now seen Once More, With Feeling twice, and though a lot more of it made sense to me this time, it's hard to say that I'm spoiled for much more than a few future relationships and a Buffy death. I have no idea how things will unfold. Based on my experience with The Wish, I fully expect that episode to mean something completely different to me when I get to it in sequence.



BtVS: Beer Bad
[Buffy drowns her sorrows by drinking with some upperclassmen, but Xander grows concerned when they start to get in touch with their primordial roots.]

The title alone cracked me up. I was getting a little annoyed at the (okay, admittedly realistic) way that Buffy has been pining over Parker. Her fantasies at the beginning were funny, though they really reminded me of Xander's fantasies about Buffy from way back in S1.

The singer that Oz noticed -- I'm wondering if she's the same girl he stared at back a few episodes. The hair is the same. Anyway, she definitely has something that he notices, so I'm guessing she's either a witch who has cast some sort of spell on him or she's a werewolf too. He's just not the type to wander, so there has to be something to it.

Buffy drinking beer with the guys was funny, especially when it became clear that there was something wrong with it. It's interesting how many people in Sunnydale have some connection to magical folk. (The opportunities for HP crossovers seem wide open here.) The idea of turning faux intellectual college guys into cavemen is pretty funny, I have to say. Very Good Will Hunting. I'm tempted to say something about the ridiculous inaccuracies in the way the "cavemen" were represented, but hello -- total fantasy anyway.

God, Parker is SUCH a player, and how hilarious that Willow saw right through it and totally called him on it. That was fantastic. Who hasn't had a fantasy of doing that to the guy who dumped your best friend? I also loved the fact that Buffy clubbed him in the head not once, but twice. Even better that she was still out of it when he finally gave her the fantasy apology, because if she were herself she probably would have accepted it. Clubbing him in the head was far better a response.

What is it with impaired Buffy going after Xander? That's happened at least twice now, and both times, to his credit, Xander has resisted. Good boy.


[Doyle helps Cordelia find a new apartment. The apartment's current tenant, a ghost, is none to pleased.]

I am so in love with David Boreanaz. Madly, utterly, completely in love. Okay, so it's really Angel I'm in love with. Right. Still.

I really like this show! I like it so much more than I expected to, which is really interesting. This episode was great because it gave us a chance to learn more about Doyle and Cordelia, something I hadn't realized was missing until I saw it. Cordelia was such a brat on Buffy, and though I thought she was funny, I really didn't get much of a sense of who she was. This episode started out with that same premise of her being completely self-centered, and then really gave her a chance to shine.

I loved her crashing at Angel's place and making him crazy, and poor Doyle thinking it was something more. The peanut butter thing cracked me up. And the line about his hair: "Do you have mousse? Of course you do." I hardly noticed his hair on Buffy, and now I'm wondering why I didn't. Well, I almost didn't notice it this time cause he was, you know, wet and naked and stuff. They do that a lot on this show, don't they? Smart.

Cordelia's fierceness about her new apartment was fantastic. That's a girl who has set her priorities. The ghost story was really interesting, as was the subplot with the demon debt collectors after Doyle. The resolution of both of those was great, really well-written. I loved the fact that Cordelia finally pulled it together and drove the ghost out in the end, but I was a little confused that the ghost of the son is still there. Didn't he get his issue solved so he can move on?

I may have mentioned this before, but it's interesting to me that most of the supernatural folks in this universe are able to do magic spells. The first time I saw Angel doing a spell back in season 3 of Buffy, I was surprised, but it seems like something that's kind of common. You just get your ingredients together and say the right words, and voila: magic.

And I'm sort of thinking about Angel/Doyle at the moment, I have to admit. ;-)


BtVS: Wild at Heart
[Oz and Willow's relationship is up in arms when Oz is powerfully drawn to a female werewolf.]

First of all, I have to say AHA -- I was right! Verucha was a werewolf!! *preens*

And of course, it was all bad for Oz and Willow. *sigh* The show hadn't dealt with the werewolf issue for a while, so I'm glad it came up. Still, it was sad to see them say goodbye. I don't know if he's gone for good, or if we'll see more of him. But poor Willow is about to need Buffy quite a lot, I think. She's almost exactly in the position Buffy was in a few months ago. I wonder if she'll handle it differently.

And won't someone find Verucha's naked body with the throat ripped out and wonder what happened? Sometimes people die a bit to easily on this show.

It's interesting to see Giles so lonely. I hope he finds something to do soon, because he seems like he's going a little stir crazy. Xander giving Willow advice was interesting as well. That's something I find fascinating about him -- when it comes to himself, he does nearly everything wrong, but when it comes to his friends, he has the ability to see right through their situation and know what they should do. And sometimes they're smart enough to listen to him.

So Buffy has now run smack into the masked camo guy (I still think it's Riley) in the woods. I also think Professor Walsh knew exactly what she was looking at when she saw the werewolves. And OMG, the camo guys have Spike! That's pretty interesting. Poor Spike never gets a break, does he? I wonder if they're torturing him. He probably likes it. Of course, I'm now wondering if Buffy is going to end up rescuing him or something. Hee!

There sure are a lot of vampires on campus, aren't there? Have the camo guys been dealing with them all along, and what will they say when the find out who Buffy is? Is anyone patrolling the cemetery these days?



A:tS: Sense and Sensitivity
[The entire police precinct is forced to take sensitivity training, after they use excessive force to bring down a crime lord. The classes renders the precinct useless, and leaves Angel as a lone defender.]

This whole episode was really a lot of fun. I loved the beginning, setting Angel up as fairly clueless and insensitive, leaving Cordelia and Doyle to clean up after him without even a thanks (what is it with fandoms and tentacles?), only to have him under the weird spell by the end. I like Kate. I really like Kate. I like that Angel likes Kate too. And even though she was under the influence, she asked him out! So sweet! I mean, I know he can't really have a relationship or anything, but still. One can hope at least for some great UST. Even Kate's dad is rooting for that pairing.

The whole concept of cursed sensitivity training is just brilliant. No one likes to sit through those forced seminars at work, and how funny that this one was a setup to incapacitate the police!

Okay, the Hawaiian shirt? Holy shit, that was funny. Actually, it was a little too funny, like they were trying too hard, but I can forgive them for the time being. And when the bad guy asked Angel about his parents: "My parents were great. Tasted like chicken." (I had forgotten he killed his own parents, but I'm pretty sure that was mentioned early on in Buffy, wasn't it?) But seriously, the best part was Angel spewing all the feel-good jargon, and then Cordelia and Doyle being completely freaked out by his sudden fluffy hugginess. And Angel not wanting to morph, because he felt they were too judgmental about his being a vampire. And "Painbow?" Okay, not so funny. Of course, the anger could still come out when necessary, which was convenient to incapacitate the bad guy.

And the nice thing is that it seemed in the end that even though everyone recovered, they all ended up a bit more sensitive than they'd been before. Well, except for Kate's dad.



BtVS: The Initiative
[Spike is imprisoned in an underground demon-research facility; Riley realizes he has a crush on Buffy.]

Oooh!!! I was right about Riley and Professor Walsh too! Though I guess it really was pretty obvious. Heh. Still, two for two, yay.

The beginning of the episode was cute, with the guys all talking about Buffy being hot while she was being a complete dork. The whole episode was a lot of fun, though, really full great dialogue and interesting revelations. The underground demon detainment center was really interesting, though pretty brutal. It's weird to hear the people calling vampires "it" and treating them like animals, almost disturbing. I mean, they are generally demons, but Angel's not and... I've grown very fond of Spike. Buffy just dusts them, but the experimentation and all seems almost cruel. I can't believe I just wrote that.

I really enjoyed Riley's fumbling attempts to talk to Buffy, and it was cute to see him and Willow working together. I love that he's totally awkward around her and then is this secret demon hunter guy. He's like the female version of Buffy, hee! Watching them fight was fantastic. Did he see her at the end? I wasn't sure if he did or not. I'm sure the show will be flirting with them figuring out who the other is for a few episodes, which should be a lot of fun.

Spike's impotence -- I was starting to cry, I was laughing so hard. "I'm sure it happens to lots of vampires." "Not to me, it doesn't!" That was hilarious! And Willow getting miffed that he couldn't bite her, because she's just not the girl that guys want to bite, but more the sister or friend type. Oh, man. *wipes eyes* The idea of the implant is pretty interesting. That's going to be a source of frustration for Spike for a while. I always thought Spike was interesting, but wow -- this is really going to be fun!

Second funniest thing in the episode: Xander and Harmony fighting. OMG, so funny. I loved how they slow-mo'd it and everything, so you could see every bit of the girly slapping. I nearly choked during that scene!

Oh, and I see Spike is now in the opening credits as a regular cast member, which means we'll be seeing a lot more of him. Cool! Though I'm sad to see Oz go.


A:tS: The Bachelor Party
[Doyle's former wife appears in town, with her new finance, seeking Doyle's approval to re-marry.]

Okay, so I peeked ahead at the next episodes for both shows (yes, bad Emma) and I see that we're being set up for Buffy and Angel to see each other again. Hoo boy. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. I anticipate tears. My tears, to be precise, and plenty of them.

This episode was interesting on several levels. First and foremost, we learn more about Doyle's backstory, which is a good thing. We get to see him as something more than a sidekick who gets flashes of plot point. The whole theme of the episode, though, was of relationships past and what went wrong for all three characters, and that was really interesting. I'm enjoying seeing these three interact, because they're all very different people, yet complementary in interesting ways. They're all broken, but in different ways, and they're all strong in different ways. They're the Trio, all over again. Angel is Harry and... ;-)

Angel playing the dad to Cordelia's date at the beginning was really sweet. Cordelia's subsequent lament about now finding herself interested in men of substance was fun, and that little knowing smile on Angel's face was priceless.

The introduction to "demon culture" was weirdly interesting. They reminded me a lot of the Mayor with their Cleaver-like ways (KFC?) and propensity towards strange bits of nonchalant violence. The ritual eating of the first husband's brains thing really is classic Joss, totally WTF. As was the "that's racist!" remark. Interesting that Doyle is so reluctant show his demon side, even though it makes him so much stronger. He could have saved himself a lot earlier.

What is it about Angel morphing and bursting through a window that gets me hot? I still wonder where he gets his money. Doyle's pointed remarks about old money made me wonder if we might find out at some point.

And oooh, Buffy vision at the end. How shall I ever make it to tomorrow night to find out? Geez, how did people make it a while week to find out?



BtVS: Pangs
[Angel secretly arrives in Sunnydale to protect Buffy; Buffy tries to have a perfect Thanksgiving.]

Xander in a wifebeater? Hah! Though seriously, very hot.

I was expecting a little more drama from Angel being back, so it was really interesting that he stayed hidden from her. It was kind of weird to see him back with these characters too. And hee, everyone kept asking him if he was evil again, and it annoyed him. Of course it had to be Xander that let it slip at the end that Angel had been there.

So much love for Spike in this episode! I think I really like him "neutered". ("I can't chase the other puppies any more.") Biting as a metaphor for sex is pretty funny. How funny that Harmony kicked him out, and then he had to go to Giles and Buffy for help, in the daytime, no less! The very idea that he spent Thanksgiving and an entire battle tied to a chair was hilarious. And they sat him at the table, OMG!

Buffy's obsession with having a perfect Thanksgiving meal was fun, almost as fun as Giles and Willow sniping at each other constantly. And poor Xander! I now get that Chumash tribe reference from Once More, With Feeling.

It's interesting how comfortable all of the actors seem in their roles this season, more so than they were in the last season. It really makes a difference in the way the episodes feel. Even though this one didn't really move the plot forward significantly, I really liked it for all of the little character moments in it. And it also added Spike to the mix for the first time, which is really significant, I think. I don't know if this is what his dynamic with the gang will be in the long run, but it worked really well and I'm looking forward to more.


A:tS: I Will Remember You
[Buffy visits Angel in Los Angeles. While she and Angel battle with demons, Angel's humanity is restored.]

If you are my age, you may remember an HBO movie from the 80s about a school for orphans on Venus, which was depicted as a planet where it rained constantly and no one ever saw the sun. There was one girl in the school who was born on Earth and remembered the sun from when she was a toddler, but no one believed her. So there was one day when the sun would come out for an hour, the only time for 100 years, and the other kids cruelly locked this girl in a closet for that hour so she couldn't see the sun. While they ran around in fields of flowers and felt the sun shine down on their faces for the one hour they would ever get, she sat in the dark, with only a tiny beam of sunlight coming through a crack in the door to let her know the sun had come out at all. When I was a kid, that movie killed me. It absolutely left me gutted every time I watched it, because here was a girl who had experienced something before she knew to appreciate it, and then her only other chance to have it again was taken away by the cruelty of the world. She was the only one who really knew what it was like to see the sun every day, and she knew what she was missing when she was shut out of it. That movie spoke volumes to me even though I was all of ten, and I get teary just thinking about it.

Well, I'm probably just teary because I just watched this episode. I had seen mention of this episode around without really knowing what it was about, so I had a sense that it was something significant. As soon as I saw the summary, I knew it was going to be hard to watch. Actually, it wasn't that hard until the end. It was almost like fan fiction for a while, with Angel becoming human and spending a day in bed with Buffy and getting to do so many things he hasn't been able to do and... God.

Of course he had to give it up. He had to, and I'm thankful that Buffy doesn't remember, but for this to be one more thing that Angel has to carry around is just horrible beyond belief. I'm feeling gutted now, not so differently than I felt at the end of season 2. He was the sacrifice both times, once by her doing and once by his own. She sent him to hell, and he's just sent himself right back, because in both cases, it was the right thing to do. It's beautiful and painful and so angsty I can hardly stand it. And I love angst, really, so this was amazing.

There's something about tragic doomed love that just kills me, maybe because then I get to make it right in my head, you know? It can't ever be in canon, not in a way that would be satisfying, but in my own mind I can invent a hundred ways to make it work. And because it's not canon, because it's just my fantasy, it then works. It's better than getting a happy ending in canon, because then it becomes my own ending, if that makes any sense.

And that, in a nutshell is why I write fan fiction. And read it, for that matter. I guess I can go read all those post-IWRY fics now.


Edit Wed. morning: Okay, I frickin' dreamed about this one last night. I also remembered some other things I'd wanted to say about this, especially how interesting it was to see Angel react to being alive again. I thought the heartbeat moment was great, and how it must be weird for him to hear the sound and feel it after so much time. The moment when he realized he was hungry and started eating everything he could get his hands on was fun, too -- "I love chocolate... ugh... but not with yogurt, apparently." The scene in his kitchen with Buffy was gorgeous, with the two of them trying not to give in but it being just too much, along with the implication that he wasn't used to that surge of hormones and pretty much lost control of himself. The table... just... guh. And then the lovely cut to him naked in the kitchen, looking for ice cream and things, and then Buffy's peanut butter request and him dripping ice cream on himself and her licking it off...

Okay, so I could watch that scene over and over. Someone must have uploaded it to YouTube.
BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 9-15 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 9-15: [BtVS] Something Blue, Hush, Doomed, A New Man, The I in Team, Goodbye Iowa, and This Year's Girl .
[AtS] Hero, Parting Gifts, Somnambulist, Expecting, She, I've Got You Under My Skin, and Prodigal.
Lots of new episodes for this post! I spent a good chunk of Sunday watching, so I made a lot of progress.



BtVS: Something Blue
[A spell by Willow goes awry, causing Giles to go blind and Buffy and Spike to fall in love and get engaged.]

After that last episode of Angel, I needed to go to bed with something a little more uplifting on my mind, so I decided to watch one more episode. I'm glad I did, because this one was a lot of fun.

Even the opening scene was fun, with Buffy and Willow patrolling in the cemetery (answering my question from several episodes back about whether or not anyone still went there) and having a heart-to-heart talk about relationships, only to be briefly interrupted by a quick slay.

Here's another episode where Spike was a standout character. Chained in the bathtub, watching soaps, Buffy feeding him pig's blood through a straw, and him generally being a nuisance -- how fun! It's interesting that for all of his sarcasm and not being human, he has an uncanny ability to see people for who they really are.

So clearly, the best part of this whole episode was the Spike/Buffy stuff. That was fantastic! Watching them be a sickeningly sweet couple was one thing, but Buffy turning into a bridezilla was even better. "For the invitations, should we call you William the Bloody or just Spike?" And they still fought constantly, even while under a love spell! I loved everyone's horror at the whole thing -- Giles being blind but distressed that he could still hear them kissing, Xander's "Can I be blind too?" line, and their mutual disgust when the spell was broken mid-snog.

That really was just what I needed! And poor Amy is still a rat. She missed her whole senior year of high school, didn't she?

It's interesting that demons can be made from humans, and that it seems to be a free choice people make. That says a lot about Anya. It was funny when the demon (LOL, he was the something blue) just shrugged when Willow said no and gave her a calling card, with "If you change your mind, just give us a chant!" Too funny.

Here is a cracktastic Spike/Xander version of this episode.



A:tS: Hero
[Angel and Doyle come to the aid of a group of mix-blood demons, from an army of pure-bloods bent on eradicating them.]

OMG. Doyle? But... Doyle? I don't understand why they killed him off. What the hell? I liked him. He was just starting to get really interesting as a character. What was the point of that?

I was surprised that Angel told Doyle what had happened with Buffy, because I really thought he'd carry that information around on his own. He doesn't open up to people like that. It seemed out of character. And Doyle believed him pretty easily, too, which made me wonder if the only reason for that happening at all was because Angel would never have told Cordelia, and for some reason Cordelia needs to know. That seems... a bit contrived. I love this show, but I have to say this episode has shaken my faith a little. I knew something was fishy when Cordelia accepted the fact that Doyle was half-demon so quickly and practically asked him out. It was too much like he was getting everything he wanted at the end.

Besides those things, the concept of demon Death Eaters was interesting. The Nazi references were a bit overdone, as was Angel's hair when he was undercover. It was funny, but one of those moments where I think they were trying a little too hard. Still, there were some interesting things in here that I liked. Cordelia's determination to make the business work is really fun. She's almost fanatical about it, and it seems to be coming from a serious desire to be successful at something. I also find it interesting that Angel doesn't hesitate to use threats and coercion to get things done. He seems to be a "ends justify the means" type of guy, which is definitely interesting for a hero type. And his tears when he made the decision to sacrifice himself... god. And he was looking at Doyle while he was teary, almost as if that was who he really had to say goodbye to. *sniff* And Doyle kissed Cordelia (there was a weird bit of blue light involved in that kiss) and then... sacrificed himself.

I can't believe he's dead.

I went to look for Angel/Doyle fic and learned that Glenn Quinn died in 2002! Ack. That's horrible! He was just a year older than me, and he died of a drug overdose. God, how depressing.


BtVS: Hush
[After the residents of Sunnydale lose the power of speech, Buffy battles strangely silent assailants alongside an incredulous Riley.]

Interestingly enough, this episode completely snuck up on me. When I watched Something Blue, I didn't see this title on the same menu for some reason. So when I popped the Angel DVD out and the Buffy DVD in, and saw this was the next episode, I nearly flipped out! I've heard so much about this one, and I was really looking forward to it.

I have to say that this is one of maybe three times that I've gotten to the end of an episode and immediately wanted to watch it again. I'm really tempted, but it's midnight and I know I ought to go to bed. There's so much to say about this one that I'm not really sure where to begin. I wondered if this might be the episode where Buffy and Riley would finally learn each other's secrets, but I was surprised that so many important things happened here, things that were easier to deal with nonverbally than verbally -- Xander showing Anya he really cares about her, Buffy and Riley fighting together, Willow and Tara meeting each other and discovering a surprising strength when they work together, Giles being able to take charge and organize a mission with only overhead transparencies and bad drawings, and Spike still managing to be snarky and underfoot without ever uttering a word.

I think what struck me most about this whole episode was that it was startlingly easy to follow what was happening in the story. Little tiny gestures made complete sense and conveyed so much. It was easy to read lips when necessary. Facial expressions said more than a page of dialogue could have. The occasional written phrase clarified things nicely. That was really amazing to watch. I usually take notes while I watch these (yes, I'm a dork), but I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. My notes are a jumble of scratches made in the dark.

Other things that piqued my interest:
• Spike eats? I didn't know vampires could eat. I mean, doesn't food hurt them? Eh, I'm confusing this universe with Underworld, I think. Angel doesn't eat, though. Oh hell, they have no heartbeats or circulation, but they can bleed and get erections. Apparently, it isn't supposed to make sense.
• The awkwardness between Buffy and Riley has been a lot of fun. I like the fact that they're so similar, only him without the destiny part (AFAIK, at least). That will either bode well for them, or it will mean trouble. Still -- aw, kiss! That was sweet. And again, it said more than words could have at that moment.
• Spike wandering about Giles's apartment was interesting, sort of like a roommate from hell. Or a pet vampire, heh. I'm kind of liking him having to stay hidden, and I wonder what will happen when Riley finds out what Buffy does -- and maybe comes face-to-face with him. I'm really interested to see if a clash of vampire-hunting cultures happens. For that matter, once Buffy has the inside scoop on the facility, they won't need Spike any more. What will happen to him then?
• Ooh, creepy bad guys! It reminds me of those dreams you have where you're dreaming you're on the verge of waking up and you know someone is in the room with you, but you're paralyzed and can't wake yourself up or make a sound.
• I loved Willow's interaction with the Wicca group. That was pretty funny. And what a way to introduce Tara! I know who she is cause I've seen OMWF; I just have no clue what gets them from here to there. I'm imagining this might put a strain on Buffy and Willow's friendship, though.
• The slide show in the classroom was fantastic, with Giles being overly dramatic with his slides and bad drawings (the bloody heart-cutting-out scene was hilarious), Willow being Hermione, Anya watching it all and eating popcorn, and Buffy going from all business ("How do I get my voice back?") to being horrified that Giles's drawing of her made her look fat. The sheer number of things going on in that scene was amazing, and it really demonstrates how well this cast is working as an ensemble at this point. They really inhabit those characters now, which is just glorious to watch.
• Buffy and Riley fighting together was great fun! I liked that it took the two of them to get it done, but in the end, it was Buffy who ran the show and saved the day.
• The ending, with its awkward silence and neither of them knowing what to say, was perfect.

In short, wow. That was really, really amazing. I may have to watch it again after all.



A:tS: Parting Gifts
[Angel and Cordelia pursue a demonic bounty hunter.]

First episode without Doyle, sniff! It was weird that he's still a cast member in the credits but didn't appear in the episode, not even in a flashback.

The Oracles are a little cheesy, in that 1960s low budget Star Trek original series sort of way. Queer Eye for the Vampire or something. I find the creativity of demon make-up pretty good on the show, in general, though. The baddie on this show was kind of fun. I figured he was the bad guy from the start, because that's how these things work. The bad guy is very often someone other than who you're supposed to think.

The first thing he said to Angel was interesting: "You're the guy, right? The vampire with a soul?" How do people know that? The bit about vampire stereotypes irritating Angel was funny.

And aha, Cordelia has Doyle's power! I wondered what that blue light was all about. I have to say her stalking in and kissing Angel was pretty cool. His reaction was funny, too, like it took him a moment to go, "Wait, this is Cordelia!"

I had wondered if Wesley would show up this season. I knew he'd be in the show at some point (saw spoilery icons, which is entirely my own fault since the show's been cancelled for years now), and once I'd gotten past Doyle's death, I wondered if this would be a good time for him to show up. When the motorcycle appeared with all the shots of feet and hands and walking but no face, it was clear they were trying to keep this person's identity secret as long as possible -- and so it just HAD to be Wesley. Hee! You know, as much as I despised him on Buffy, he was sort of endearing here. And Cordelia kissing him and finding it a bit more interesting than before -- heh. That was funny. And he's still a complete spaz, bless him. He redeemed himself by the end, though. It was funny to watch him dropping hints that he'd like to stay, and both Angel and Cordelia ignoring him until the last possible moment, knowing he wasn't going anywhere.

Loved this bit of dialogue:
Wesley: "I'm a rogue demon hunter."
Cordelia: "Wow, great. What's a rogue demon?"

Okay, Angel speaks Korean? And he can cook? I mean, I know he's lived a long time, but... Nah, I'll buy it. Why not? The demon spa was funny.

Cordelia was great here, though I have to say her dialogue at the end was very Buffy-like. "And sometimes after a long night of demon-hunting, we get eggs!" When did she get a tattoo?


BtVS: Doomed
[Buffy and Riley struggle with the knowledge of each others' secrets; the gang must head back to high school to stop another apocalypse.]

Buffy and Riley talking in the beginning was fun, especially her surprise that he didn't know who she was. "Look it up. Slayer comma The." Her insistence throughout the episode that she wasn't interested in a relationship was just too strong. I knew it couldn't last.

I now see where quite a lot of Spike/Xander fic must have started. Spike living in Xander's basement and doing his laundry was just too funny. Spike in Xander's clothes was even better.

The Initiative people are really bothering me with their speciesist attitudes towards demons and vampires. I hope that issue gets dealt with. *sniff*

Giles: "It's the end of the world."
Everyone: "Again?"

Spike discovering that he can hurt demons and not cause himself pain was fantastic. I wondered what they were going to do with him, and here's a way for him to become a scoobie, hee! I loved his excitement at the end, ready to go out and kill something. What a cool way to channel his violent tendencies.

The whole Buffy/Riley storyline was interesting, and Buffy was so, so right that he is completely naive about the whole demon-hunting thing. He thinks he knows what he's doing, but he doesn't. I hope he's willing to learn -- otherwise they have a rocky road ahead of them.


A:tS: Somnambulist
[Suffering from nightmares, Angel discovers he may be committing the murders he dreams about.]

New opening credits, with Wesley now an official part of the cast. It's interesting that three characters from BtVS are now the main characters on this show.

This episode was interesting on many levels. Seeing Angel doubting himself and worried that he still had Angelus in him somewhere was a nice touch. Not that I don't like broody!Angel, but hey -- he has to open up sometime or the show isn't going anywhere. I love the flashbacks, and I hope we get to see more of them. It's interesting to learn where he came from and how that shaped who he is now. Not to mention that I like to see him with longer hair and in the period costumes, cause you know, hot.

Okay, Penn was hot. I think it was the little glasses that did it for me. He sort of had this Elijah Wood look going, now that I think about it. I am finding myself wanting to go look for some slashy goodness concerning those two back in the day. (Ooh, found some! Pretty good too, if you don't mind the punctuation errors all over the place.)

It's really interesting to see Cordelia growing in this series. I like the developing friendship between her and Angel, especially the fact that she can see right through a lot of his shit and then has no problem telling him off. He needs friends like that. Cordy and Wesley chaining Angel to the bed: OMG priceless.

Fun line:
Wesley: "Where's you get the police radio?"
Angel: "Police car."

There's that ends justify the means thing again! And the Up With People reference comes from Penn this time. One of the writers of this show was an Uppie. Or didn't get cast and is a bit bitter about that, heh.

And now Kate knows he's a vampire, and she doesn't seem too happy about it. The moment right before she staked him was eerily reminiscent of Buffy putting a sword through him at the end of season 2. I'm sure that was on purpose. How could it not have been?



BtVS: A New Man
[When Giles is turned into a demon, he turns to an unlikely source for help while an unknowing Buffy hunts him down.]

Aw, Giles! It was hard to see him feeling pushed aside and unneeded, though I can totally see why he would feel that way. The people he's closest to are a generation younger than he is, and in a sense, he's really quite alone. It was fun to see him drunk, though. The chemistry between him and Ethan is a lot of fun. And LOL on Ethan being so bad at being a bad guy. His monologuing just gets in the way. It was really sweet that Buffy knew the demon was Giles by his eyes alone at the end. And then he chastised her choice of boyfriend, which is such a fatherly thing to do. Hee!

The Buffy/Riley relationship is really interesting. I like him, and I really like the fact that he's dealing well with finding out just who Buffy is and what she can do. She's stronger than him and has so much more experience, and though he seems intimidated, he's not running the other way. I loved the bit where he was proud of having killed or captured 17 demons. *snort* I was disappointed we didn't get to hear Buffy's number, but it's almost better that way. Oh, and Riley seems to have become a regular. Interesting!

I'm curious to see where this whole Initiative plot is going. They seem to be presenting it as technology is bad and hurting the natural balance of things, which I think is really interesting. And ooh, what's 314? I have a feeling Buffy is not going to fit in with the commando guys very much, nor will she (nor her friends) approve of what they're doing.

Spike and Giles were hilarious! Spike understanding the demon language Giles spoke was funny, as was his sneezing at an offer of $100, but oooh, $200 seemed like a great deal. There was so much funny dialogue between the two of them that I could quote the entire scene. "I'm just supposed to help you out of the evilness of my heart?" And Spike was measuring crypts, looking for a place to live! Oh, man that was funny. Those are the little details that I love about this show, these small things that just make the whole universe so fun and vibrant.


A:tS: Expecting
[Cordelia wakes from a disturbing dream to find herself pregnant with something unnatural.]

For about a minute, I thought there might be some mpreg. That would have been funny. The beginning of this episode completely freaked me out. What was the point of repeating that scene from The Bachelor Party verbatim? I liked the gay line, though. Mmmm, Angel/Wesley... so many new pairings to explore!

And aw, poor Cordy and her luck with men. So... was she a virgin? It's never exactly been clear to me that she was in a sexual relationship of any kind before. When she listed "sex is bad" among the things she'd learned at the end, I wondered it again. Though she made the most adorable pregnant woman ever, my god. The scene where she was drinking blood from Angel's fridge was funny, especially Angel's line: "I don't think I ever realized how disgusting that was."

I loved how protective Angel and Wesley were of Cordelia in this episode, like Angel telling the bartender "I'm family" and then kicking lots of ass on her behalf. And then the two of them being so excited to see her come back that they were almost giddy. That little smile on Angel's face at the end completely melted me. Completely. Yum.

Speaking of yum, here's a Wesley/Angel fic set right after this episode.


BtVS: The I in Team
[The gang worries about Buffy's involvement with the Initiative; Walsh sends Buffy on a dangerous mission.]

God, I love this show. So, so much. There's just so much to love, you know? The characters, the stories, the dialogue, the... everything, I swear. After every season I've watched, I've wondered if I could possibly love the next season as much. I've been apprehensive about every new season, and then? I've loved it even more than the last. Same thing is true here. Love it!

Great lines:
Xander: "Magic at the poker table qualifies as cheating."
Anya: "Yes, we've enjoyed spanking."
Willow: "Everyone's gettin' spanked but me."

I loved Buffy kicking the camo guys' collective asses in the beginning. And wow, the Initiative is part of the US military? And Riley is in the army, pulled put of Special Ops? So he's not really a psych grad student, then. Hmmm.

I loved Buffy asking ten million questions, and then insisting she be allowed to slay in whatever she wanted to wear, and then chatting Riley's ear off while they looked for the demon. So, so Buffy!

The sex scene intercut with the battle scene? HOT. OMG so hot. And ew, Walsh watching? :-P

I cannot believe Walsh thought she could get rid of Buffy so easily. I loved Buffy getting right back on the little camera and telling her off, and in front of Riley, no less. Mwahahaha! I was ready to write all about how Walsh was going down, and then her Frankenstein demon killed her. Gee, I was hoping for more of a battle. Well, maybe she's not dead just yet.

And aw, Willow and Tara! How sweet. It's interesting that Willow is hiding Tara from everyone else and acts really freaked out and guilty about it. I wonder how all of that will go. So was it obvious when these episodes first aired that Willow was attracted to Tara, or was that a surprise? Maybe it's the slasher in me, but the chemistry between them seems glaringly obvious.


A:tS: She
[Angel helps a princess from another dimension save women in her world from a destructive patriarchal society.]

I wondered which episode had the dancing in it! Hee! That was tremendous fun, and there was even more of it in the credits, to my delight. And you know, Dennis the ghost is really growing on me. He's rather sweet.

Question, to add to the pile topped by where Angel gets his money from: How does Cordelia get addresses out of her visions?

Oooh, Bai Ling, women being persecuted, mucho sexual tension... As we say in Texas, yeeha! Angel taking a cold shower after the princess encounter was absolutely priceless. I really like seeing him flustered. It's interesting that he gets put into so many situations on this show that get him flustered. I love the fact that for all of his strength and knowledge and power and general bad-assness, he's sort of sweet and vulnerable and a wee bit vain. That was apparent on Buffy, but so much more developed here, and I LOVE IT.

I also love how much he can be like Buffy: impulsive, acting on instinct at times and not thinking things through, living in the moment more than is probably wise, but having it work out anyway. "Here's the plan: We go in. I start hitting people hard in the face. We'll see where that takes us."

Wesley is such an interesting character on this show. He's just as inept and dorky as he was on Buffy, but on this show it manages to be endearing rather than annoying. And dude I need me some Angel/Wesley porn stat.


BtVS: Goodbye Iowa
[Buffy discovers the Initiative's secret weapon; Riley becomes disoriented and paranoid after the death of his mentor.]

This was a seriously plot-forward episode. Walsh is really dead (which seems a bit of a cop-out to me, but hey); Riley's vitamins proved to be something more than they seemed (wondered why they highlighted his having to take them); Riley himself seems to be more than he seemed; and the Frankenstein demon would appear to be the big bad for a while. And with the voice of the computer from 2001? *shudder*

Oh, Riley. Poor Riley, so lost and freaked out and fevered and curled into a fetal position on the bed, and geez, Buffy, could you have worse luck with men? Still, I like him, and I hope she can help him.

This episode was so serious, but there were still lovely little moments of levity, like the gang hanging out in Xander's basement, Anya being super-possessive of Xander, Buffy's lack of ability to suspend her disbelief at cartoons ("That would never happen!"); Buffy taking charge while wearing her yummy sushi pajamas. And poor Spike! He didn't get a break this episode. Even his TV bought it. Xander, upon seeing the Initiative's facility: "Can I have sex with Riley too?" Hee! It was nice to see Willy the bartender again. I'm glad he's still around. Buffy's pretty hot when she's pissed off, I have to say.

I'm wondering what's going on with Tara too. The only reason I can think of that she would have screwed up that spell is if she is a demon herself and has something to hide. Hmmm.


A:tS: I've Got You Under My Skin
[Angel and Wesley acts as exorcists to save a child, from a 10,000-year-old demon.]

Aw, Angel misses Doyle. *sniff* I love the fact that those two were so close. It only makes me sadder that he's gone. It was funny that Cordy couldn't cook, and that her family brownie recipe came from the housekeeper. I saw the house number in her vision that time, so I guess that answers the question I had earlier about where she gets these addresses from. It's still funny, though, that the show makes LA look about the size of Sunnydale. As if you could really drive the distances they drive in the time that's implied? Or better, that Angel could go on foot through the sewers to get from LA to Irvine? Puh-leeze.

The possession storyline was interesting here, especially because in the end it was the demon who was trapped in an evil human, and not the other way around. The "What soul?" line was chilling. That really hits on a theme in both Angel and Buffy -- that the bad guys aren't always bad and the good guys aren't always good. The world is a much more complicated place than that.

It was interesting that the nun took one look at Angel and saw right through him, and wasn't afraid. It was also interesting that Angel was the one who did the exorcism in the end. I thought Wesley would manage to find the strength, and I was a little disappointed that he didn't. What was that stuff about being locked in a closet under the stairs? Seemed like a bit of an HP reference.

I had to laugh when the dad criticized the roast and Angel said, "It was good. It was full of roasty goodness", and then looked a bit taken aback that such Buffyspeak had come out of his mouth.


BtVS: This Year's Girl
[Faith wakes up from her coma and goes after Buffy, seeking revenge and armed with a mysterious gift left behind by the Mayor.]

The Faith dream at the beginning was weird. Was the little sister remark a reference to Dawn? And WTF is up with Xander's wardrobe? No man in his right mind, gay or straight, would wear that horrible sweater vest.

This episode seemed oddly placed, almost as if the writers were all, "Hey, we have one more plotline to work in and we've forgotten about it until just now!" So there's a monster demon on the loose that they really need to take care of before it dissects anyone else, but then Faith pops up and whoa, gotta deal with this one? What the hell?

Anyway, yes, more Faith, and she's as evil as ever. And the mayor has left her with some kind of super weapon that she uses on Buffy to apparently switch bodies. Oh, but she conveniently destroys the weapon afterwards so it can't be reversed. I'm guessing the helicopter guys are somehow associated with the Council and have come to take care of Faith once and for all -- except that it will really be Buffy, oh noes. In the meantime, Faith will live Buffy's life and alienate all of her friends, fuck Riley, etc., until at some point the real Buffy gets free and kicks her ass. There will be some magic (by Willow maybe?) to switch them back, and Faith will either be dead for good or will be incapacitated in some way that will allow her to come back at some point. Spike was conveniently given a description of Faith in a scene that served no purpose whatsoever, so he'll probably play a part in all of this.

Well, that's my guess, anyway. I'm really hoping that the story isn't as predictable as that, because if it is, I'll be disappointed.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'll love it anyway.


A:tS: Prodigal
[Uncovering Kate's father's involvement in a demonic criminal plot, causes Angel to ponder this relationship with his own father.]

Flashbacks! I've been waiting to see more flashbacks, and here they are! It was interesting that the girl who played Angel's sister has the exact same eyes that David does. And yay, more Darla! It's interesting that she almost seemed a throwaway character on the first season of Buffy. When Angel staked her then, there was no sense that it really meant anything. That's something that's quite interesting about these shows for me -- it's clear that there are lots of layers, and that the experience of watching an episode the second time is quite different from watching it the first time.

And it was seriously cool to see Angel climbing out of his grave and dealing with being a vampire for the first time. Though why were they breathing? Eh, vampire canon is so confusing. I thought Darla's comments to him about how who they were as humans shapes who they will be as vampires were quite interesting. I've always wondered what led Angelus to be such a nasty vampire. And the implication that he took the name from his sister is quite interesting. I hope to see more of those!

Ah, Kate. I thought it was interesting that Angel has serious daddy issues, and that he was really projecting those onto Kate. I like Kate, and I'd really like to see something more between her and Angel, to the extent that it's possible. The show is certainly hinting at it left and right. I loved this line of Angel's about Kate: "Ever since she ran me through with a two by four, it's been weird." And all of the references to Angel being gay crack me up.

The bad lawyers are all vampires, ooh! I didn't see that one coming, though I should have. And aw, they killed Kate's dad. That was interesting, that Angel couldn't go in until he died because of the inviting thing.

Where did Angel get all those weapons and books, anyway? He's got a stock of supplies that would make Giles proud. You'd think all those books about demons would be quite rare. Well, I guess you can get just about anything in LA.
BtVS Season 4; AtS Season 1 , Episodes 16-22 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 16-22: [BtVS] Who Are You?, Superstar, Where the Wild Things Are, New Moon Rising, The Yoko Factor, Primeval, and Restless.
[AtS] The Ring, Eternity, Five by Five, Sanctuary, War Zone, Blind Date, and To Shanshu in LA.
Wow, I finished season 4 of Buffy!



BtVS: Who Are You?
[While Buffy is mistakenly kidnapped by the Watcher's Council, Faith wreaks havoc in Buffy's life.]

Okay, so the story of this one turned out pretty much exactly like I predicted. And I have to admit, I liked it anyway. I was wondering how anyone or anything would finally break through the walls Faith had built around herself, and in the end, what it took was being Buffy for a day. At first, she had fun being Faith in Buffy's body, but in the end she really wanted to be Buffy. She saw what Buffy had and what she was responsible for, and she seemed to understand what she could have been. She even beat herself and called herself names. And that had to shake her up a lot.

From an acting perspective, it was interesting to watch the two actresses play each other's characters. They got lots of little gestures exactly right, and it really was quite convincing. It was also interesting that Faith-as-Buffy saw lots of things that Buffy would never see. She saw Tara and Willow's attraction for each other ("So, Willow's not driving stick anymore!"), she saw Spike's attraction to Buffy, and she saw how much Riley loved Buffy -- even before he said it. I have to admit that Faith-as-Buffy coming on to Spike was a lot of fun to watch (someone posted that bit to YouTube here), particularly Spike's reaction to it. She nailed him, picking out exactly what he wanted, and he freaked. Heh. Though it was interesting that Faith tried to read Riley and got it wrong.

How is it freaking possible that people didn't see Tara/Willow coming after this episode? I mean, besides the fact that Faith saw it, the tension between those two is amazing. And holy shit, the spell scene, with both of them panting and moaning and then Willow falling back and arching up like she was coming? How could anyone miss the hotness of that? And Tara saying, "I am, you know -- yours." I mean, hello?

So in the end, yes -- I think I liked this. It wasn't done in a gimmicky way at all. It really pushed the characters forward and revealed a lot of interesting things. I just hope Buffy doesn't freak out too much about the damage Faith did in her absence. It would be just like her to freak out about the fact that Riley slept with Faith and be all emo for a whole episode. Ack.


A:tS: The Ring
[Cordelia and Wesley try to save Angel from a group that stages gladiatorlike boxing matches.]

The demon database was a fun touch, as was Wesley and Cordelia bickering like an old married couple. And wow, Angel walked right into a trap. I have to admit he looks pretty good in a wifebeater. I like the way he's so preternaturally cool under stress. That's a nice touch in a superhero, you know?

This was a nice episode for Wesley. He had a couple of moments of really coming through, which was interesting. He's not consistent about it, but he can get things done in a pinch. And Cordelia can be downright devious, which is pretty amazing. She's learning a lot from Angel.

I have wondered this before, but how do so many people know Angel has a soul? That's a little worrying, because it seems like the sort of thing that could be used against him at some point. If Wolfram & Hart can figure out how to take it away from him, they would have a powerful ally in Angelus. They have to be thinking about that. Otherwise, they'd just kill him and be done with it.

The gladiator ring was an interesting storyline here, again picking up on the theme of demon rights. It's a battle that almost seems ludicrous, but one Angel seems happy to fight. For someone who has seen and done so much, he certainly has a righteous streak. I guess that's what makes him, as Doyle said, "The real deal." Still, it's disturbing to see people regarding Angel as just as much a demon as they do the... well, demons. But that's the point, isn't it?

The ending was funny:
Wesley: "And we set all the captives free!"
Cordelia: "Actually, didn't we set a bunch of demons free?"
And then everyone has this "Ah, shit" look on their faces. Hee!


BtVS: Superstar
[Buffy must put aside the turmoil she feels about Riley and Faith's night of passion to investigate why a former nerd is suddenly a superhero.]

Hmmm. I'm not sure if I really liked that episode or not. It kinda freaked me out. Of course, it was an interesting concept. The cheesy dialogue, the 80s action TV show music, the fawning over Jonathan. Seeing him in the credits was weird. I think I threw up a little, once or twice, especially when Buffy said the bit about knowing how Riley felt when he put his arms around her. Ew, over-the-top fluff.

It was interesting that the whole alternate universe thing seemed to serve the purpose of getting the cast through some of the post-Faith awkwardness, though. Jonathan was able to say things to them that it would have taken them weeks to figure out how to say to each other. It was also interesting that Adam knew something was wrong, and also that it would work itself out in the end.

Nice little Buffy/Spike moment there too, with him trailing a finger down her cheek, down her neck, and down further until Jonathan stopped him. I'm becoming a shipper here. I can feel it. :-P

After a while, everyone fawning over Jonathan was a little funny. Like Giles having a swimsuit calendar, and Anya practically coming on the spot when Jonathan played the trumpet. It was also interesting that it was Buffy who figured it out in the end. She's never been presented on the show as a particularly clever person, so that was a surprise. And they all kind of remembered it, which was strange. I mean, no one remembered the Wishverse. That doesn't really make much sense, now that I think about it...


A:tS: Eternity
[Angel rescues a young television actress from a stalker.]

Wow! This was a cool episode.

Cordelia really is a bad actress, bless her. And geez, what a spaz. Faking a vision, fawning over the client just because she was famous, and giving away far too much information. I had to back it up at one point to make sure she actually said the word "squee". Which she did. But you know, her dorkiness is really quite endearing. I like her.

This was another example of Angel letting his defenses down around a beautiful woman, which is really quite interesting. It seems to be his Achilles heel, which is a bit scary. And hello, the fact that a drug could turn him into Angelus, if only temporarily? Whoa. That was pretty fucking scary. And an interesting plot twist, Quite brilliant on the part of the writers, actually. Though I'm a little bit confused about the whole soul thing now. I mean, in a regular vampire, there's no soul, yet they retain memories from what happened before. And when Angel's soul was reinstated, he remembered everything he had done as Angelus. So is it that the human is possessed by a demon, and in Angel's case, his soul was given the power to dominate the demon? If this gets cleared up in the future, that's good. If not, feel free to give me theories.

Anyway, I was wondering if we'd see Angelus again, and under what circumstances. I have to say I admire Wesley and Cordelia for sticking it out and fighting him. It would be weird to have that Jekyll and Hyde thing going on, and he needs to be able to trust that the people around him can handle it. He's really lonely, isn't he? The tears just at being close to someone and feeling that human contact -- ack.

They really presented the LA acting scene as brutal, and I couldn't help but wonder how much of that was coming from direct experience of people involved with the show. The fact that the woman was in her 20s and contemplating plastic surgery was horrifying enough, but the implication that becoming a vampire would be an attractive proposition was a pretty clear indictment. Well, she got to see what a real vampire is like, didn't she?

Angel chained up to the bed was funny. It was even funnier that they just left him there. And Angelus said "y'all" at one point, which I found a bit odd. Considering that DB is from New York and the character is from Ireland -- WTF?


BtVS: Where the Wild Things Are
[When Buffy and Riley rouse a supernatural force, they are held hostage by ghost-children who have returned to exact revenge for past abuses.]

That was a fun episode I have to say, coming from the Star Wars and Harry Potter fandoms, the idea that you could have a bit of canon that revolves around one of the canon couples fucking for eight hours straight is pretty mind-blowing. Not to mention orgasmic walls, people randomly jumping each other, and so on. This fandom must have a serious amount of smutty fic. That must have been an interesting shoot for SMG and Marc. And there were condoms, which was a nice touch.

It was interesting that this episode seemed to focus so much on Xander's and Anya's relationship. It seems like they need to move to another level, and they really needed something to happen to make them work together and trust each other.

In addition to all the general randiness, there were lots of fun little moments in this one, like Spike and Anya commiserating over losing their powers, Spike going to the Initiative's party and no one realizing he was a vampire, and of course, Giles busking in the coffee bar! The best part of that was the looks on everyone's faces. And of course, Willow and Anya immediately got squeeish, which was fun. Was it ever mentioned before that Willow used to have a crush on Giles?


A:tS: Five by Five
[Looking to make a fresh start, Faith moves to Los Angeles. She is approached by representatives of Wolfram & Hart, to put Angel out of business, permanaently. Wesley is forced to confront his own failure as Faith's Watcher.]

When Faith left Sunnydale in a box car, I wondered if she'd find her way to LA. I also wondered what the impact of her experience of being Buffy would be on her ultimately. I don't know where the character is going, ultimately, but I keep hoping she'll be redeemed somehow. It was interesting that in the last season of Buffy, Angel saw a lot of himself in her. And so it was interesting that this was a big theme of this episode as well.

I need to pay much closer attention to the flashbacks. Not only are they really interesting from a character standpoint, but they tie in very well with the plot of the episode. In this one, it was really fascinating to see Angel dealing with being cursed, and trying to cope with the memories he had of all the things he'd done, and even trying to goad people into killing him. And so he knew what Faith was doing by the time they were in that alley, and how cool that he just let her take it out on him until she spent herself of all that self-hatred. That was interesting, and it really shows how perceptive Angel is, what a study of human nature he's done.

Wesley was impressive in this episode as well. It's interesting that he is sometimes the clown to Angel's straight man, and sometimes he's the tortured soul making amends for his past mistakes. I'm glad Wesley had a chance to redeem himself for what he did in Sunnydale, because that needed to happen. I was hoping that the show would deal with that elephant in the room of the past tension between Wesley and Angel, and deal they have. Not that it's over yet, of course. I have no idea what will happen to Faith next. If she's smart and can find a way to forgive herself, she'll let Angel help her.


BtVS: New Moon Rising
[Oz returns to Sunnydale and is captured by the Initiative during a full moon; a conflicted Willow tells Buffy about her new relationship with Tara.]

The opening of this was really sweet, with Tara wanting to get a cat and it clearly being an "our cat" situation. I have been wondering when the Willow/Tara thing was going to become clear, and as soon as Oz showed up, it was... well, clear that it was going to have to happen.

Oh, poor Willow. What a situation to be in, to finally be moving on with her life and being with someone new, and then Oz comes back, and wow, he's "cured". It's interesting how the Willow/Oz relationship paralleled the Buffy/Angel relationship a bit in that both people really cared for each other, but it just wasn't going to work, and then the guy bailed, leaving the women to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives. And them both guys were "cured" (albeit Angel's wasn't permanent and Buffy doesn't remember it), forcing everyone to make some tough choices. *sigh*

The Initiative capturing Oz was frightening, though it was going to take something like that to get Riley to see the place for what it really was. And I'm also glad Buffy was able to tell him about Angel at last, even though it was off-camera and we don't know yet how he reacted. Still, the fact that he now accepts that there are shades of grey between human and demon is promising.

I should mention that I find it funny that the bad guy is turning out to be the US government. That's a nice touch. And I'm not sure what's going on with Spike just yet. What exactly did Adam want him to do? Is he going to betray Buffy and company to get his chip out, or will they be able to make him a better offer in the end? Or will Buffy find a way to defeat Adam before Spike gets a chance to choose sides? That would be interesting.

Spike is a really interesting character. I hope we get to see his past life in flashbacks at some point. It's funny, but I suspect he wasn't all that different as a human than he is as a vampire.



A:tS: Sanctuary
[Buffy arrives in Los Angeles seeing vengeance on Faith, but Angel believes it's his mission to save Faith.]

This one picked up the Faith story where it left off before, of course. At first, I was totally with Cordelia and Wesley on this. I thought Angel was too blinded by his own past to see Faith for what she really was. And this is weird coming from me, because I don't give up on people as a rule. I just thought that in this case, it really was a lost cause. It turns out that it wasn't, but that redemption still had quite a price.

Of course, it did strike me as interesting that part of what the bad Watcher Council guys were complaining about was what Buffy did to them, not Faith. The Council is an interesting beast, and I'm not sure what to think of them. They almost have this bureaucratic Ministry of Magic thing going on, where adherence to the rules is the most important thing, with independent thought frowned upon. The line about there being so many alchemists on the board of directors was funny, though. It makes me wonder what the relationship is between witches and wizards and the humans who keep watch over the whole system.

It was sweet how Wesley stuck up for Angel in this. I was thinking, "Aw, Wesley loves Angel!" And ouch, why did Buffy have to show up? She always manages to hit Angel right where he hurts, and I hate it. I mean, I know she doesn't know about what happened in IWRY, but god -- does she have to be so cruel? I like Buffy, but I wanted to punch her at the end of this episode. And Angel didn't know about Riley, of course.

I loved the whole Angel/Buffy thing, but now that it's over, I really want them both to get on with their lives. In particular, I want Angel to get on with his life, somehow. I know he won't ever be happy really, but I would like to see a time when the sight of Buffy doesn't shut him down.

I was surprised that Faith turned herself in, ultimately. I doubt we've seen the last of her or of her drama, but I feel like something shifted there.


BtVS: The Yoko Factor
[Riley spars with Angel when Angel visits Sunnydale; Spike conspires with Adam to bring Buffy to her knees.]

I can just feel the end of the season coming! Tension, revelations, imminent breakups of relationships -- it's all part of the deal.

The theme of mistrust was a really interesting one in this episode. I've been commenting for a while that Spike really is a good judge of character and knows how to see right through everyone's facades, but this was the episode where that really showed. He knew exactly how to stick it to all of them, and he also knew that tensions were just high enough that he didn't have to push very hard. He hit every one of them right where it hurt, and he did it with stealth. It's amazing that none of them figured it out. And what he set rolling, they ran with.

The Riley vs. Angel stuff was really interesting. I was surprised that it hit Riley so hard that Angel's feelings for Buffy were what did him in. I'm getting the feeling too that Buffy was Riley's first. On one level it's hard to believe, but on another level, it makes sense. Still, it was really interesting to see those two fighting. (And I fully intend to go look for Angel/Riley hatesex fic later tonight.) It seemed a bit out of character for Angel to be such a bitch to Riley, but he's not exactly rational where Buffy is concerned. I loved Buffy shoving them across the room, though, and threatening them with bodily harm if they started up again. And them completely believing her.

I was happy to see that Angel and Buffy smoothed things out, though. It was big of him to come up to apologize to her, especially when I think she owed him an apology even more. It shows how much he still loves her, and that makes me happy. In a twisted sort of way. Riley's jealous line cracked me up: "Oh, he's all billowy coat King of Pain, and girls really [love that]".

Poor Forrest. I have a feeling all of Riley's friends are going to die. I'm also getting a bad feeling about Riley's fate.

Giles being drunk was fantastically funny. "Fort Dix! [*lulz, spews*]" And wow, Willow is out to everyone now, though it takes a back seat to the immediate troubles. I'm still surprised none of them saw through Spike's manipulation of them.

And what happened to Riley? Why did he go to Adam? I'm still worried about the whole Adam and Riley are brothers thing...


A:tS: War Zone
[While tracking a millionaire's blackmailer, Angel encounters a group of street kids, who are waging a war against vampires, who have trouble trusting a vampire, even one with a soul.]

This was a really cool episode, one of the coolest in a while. We got introduced to this interesting gang of vampire hunters, led by a really cool guy -- Gun(n?). I get the feeling he's going to be around more in the future. He had a dramatic entrance, and something really significant happened to him, and in the end, Angel reached out to him. So yeah, I'm guessing we'll see more of him, which is very cool.

The idea of a turf war between a gang of vampires and a gang of humans was quite an interesting concept. I hadn't thought about the parallels before, but vampires jump people in much like gangs do, and there's really only one way out. That was quite a perceptive play for the writers to make.

The bit about the demon brothel was fun. You know you're in LA when even the demons have boob jobs. The one doing the tail thing on Angel was pretty hot. I never thought porcupine quills could look so good, but damn. The bit where Angel and Wesley were looking at the demon sex pictures was funny, especially when Angel glanced at the photo Wesley was holding and said, "It's upside down." So yeah, he'd spent some time looking at them, huh?

I love the little details here, like Cordelia being able to sniff out money, Angel being bad-guy tough (god, that's hot) and then forgetting he has a cell phone. I was also VERY interested that he told the other vampires that his name was Angelus. That's an interesting choice for him to make. It's also assuming that the others would know who he is, which I find quite intriguing. Considering that he hasn't been on the scene for over a hundred years, would the younger vamps get it?


BtVS: Primeval
[Adam's plan to craft a master race of human-demon hybrids unfolds while Buffy is at odds with Giles and the others; Adam captures Riley.]

Wow. Seriously? Wow.

This was a really awesome episode, and I'm completely baffled as to why this was not the season finale. What the hell? The baddie is defeated (and by that I mean both Adam and the US government) and we have another episode to go? Did I miss something?

I'm glad the gang made up and figured out that Spike had manipulated them, though I have to wonder what's going to happen next? I mean, they all have their own little existential crises, but will that take up the next whole episode? What, will Spike get his chip out like Riley did, the hard way?

That was cool, btw. The spell thing they did to give Buffy superpowers was cool, even though I was a little lost during all of it. It seemed like the idea was that they all pooled their strength, and that was what made it possible for her to be all Neo and defeat Adam at last. Was that it?

I guess it could take a couple of episodes to deal with the fallout from all of this. In the meantime, let me say that Giles in a sweater, well-fitted jeans, and wearing an earring is HOT. So hot, OMG. The hangover at the beginning was funny. It was also kind of classic Buffy that Willow and Buffy made up while rappelling down the elevator shaft. The group hug at the bottom was totally made by Xander's "Oh god, we're definitely going to die, aren't we?"

As usual, the military brass was idiotic and short-sighted. This, people, is why we are failing so miserably in Iraq. And ooh, the government is going to keep their Big Brotherly eyes on Buffy and gang. Wankers. Still, the ending of this was way cool, and I'm intensely curious as to what could happen in the remaining episode of the season that would top it.


A:tS: Blind Date
[Angel helps Lindsey crack the secret files of Wolfram & Hart to save children from a demonic assassin.]

Three words: Slashiest. Show. Ever. Holy fuck, man. I thought the Wesley/Angel was tight, but the Angel/Lindsay action? Dude. Wow.

There's been an interesting amount of tension between them for a while now, but in this episode I was literally waiting for something to happen. When Wesley showed up in Angel's office, I was rather excited, and even better was Angel's feigned disinterest at his presence. And then they did the whole Mission Impossible thing and broke into W&H's vault and... Wow. That was fantastic!

I loved the way they used Gunn there, and the powder Angel used on the demon, and the tense mind reader scene -- I mean my god, if everyone's work had mind readers, we'd all of us be shot, wouldn't we? I have to say that I really like the fact that the big bad on this show is a law firm. That just cracks me up.

I have to say, when Lindsay's boss listed all the things Lindsay had done and said, "Did I leave anything out?" I was all, "Yeah, the part where he fucked Angel!" Cause dude, that was totally in the subtext. And then at the end, it looks like Lindsay is going to go back to W&H, which is just perfect, because now they'll be enemies! OMG the hatesex! There must be fic out there with that in it. I'm going to find it, because hey -- Christian Kane and David Boreanaz? Kill me now. Just... yeah. *melts*

Okay, and if I can get past the hotness, there were other interesting things here, like Cordelia talking to Willow on the phone for help breaking the firm's cryptosystem, and Angel showing up in a prophecy. Oh, and Angel wearing that thing that was almost a turtleneck, except that the zipper was down just a bit. I have such a thing for men in turtlenecks. I keep telling my husband this, but somehow the fact that every instance of wearing a turtleneck gets him a blow job keeps getting overlooked when he makes his wardrobe choices. But I digress.

Okay, so I'm not getting over the hotness just yet. Does it really matter?

I'm having a little trouble finding Angel/Lindsay fic that's set in season 1. Found this, but that's all. *sniff*



BtVS: Restless
[A primordial spirit haunts the dreams of Buffy, Giles, Willow and Xander, making them each face their innermost fears.]

Okay. Huh? That was bizarre. I think I need a little time to process it all. But I'm not sure why this would be a good way to end the season. It's really weirdly anticlimatic, not to mention that most of it made no sense.

Of course, I'm guessing at this point that a lot of it will make sense later, that many of the things they were dreaming about are predictions of what's coming. Two references that seemed pretty clear were Giles singing a plotty song predicting OMWF and Tara's "Be back before dawn" line predicting, well, Dawn. I'm sure there were other things that I'll get later.

Willow's dream was interesting, especially the part about her being afraid everyone would learn who she really was. I wasn't sure if that meant the lesbian thing or if it meant her power as a witch, or something else altogether. That dream of suddenly finding yourself about to go onstage in a play you've somehow missed all rehearsals for is one I seriously have all the time. *shudder*

I think I liked Xander's dream the best though, with him being fascinated by Willow and Tara, and then the whole threesome thing. Not to mention Joyce coming on to him. Actually, I was wondering if his "Buffy's mom" lines at the end were a reference to "Stifler's mom" in American Pie. And what was the deal with him watching Buffy in the sandbox, and Giles saying he was going to train Spike to be a watcher?

Giles's dream was interesting, with wee Buffy in pigtails and overalls, skipping through the graveyard, and all of it being part of a sideshow. I'm still not sure why Olivia was crying.

I love the fact that Buffy was the one who stopped the whole thing with her insistence that this was just a dream and she was going to ignore it. "You're not the source of me" was funny. That theme of Buffy not being alone comes up again and again in the show, which is very interesting. It seemed like it was her insistence on finding her friends that pulled her out of it in the end. She didn't get lost in her own issues like the others did.

The camera work in this was really interesting, and all of those continuous shots that went from set to set were fun to watch. You could probably map out where all the sets are in relation to each other just from this episode.

And of course, there was quite the ominous ending: "You think you know what's coming, but you have no idea." Ooooh. I guess season five is going to be interesting, then?

Edit: People are jumping on me about my reaction to this one in comments, yikes. I know it's difficult to look back and imagine what these episodes might look like for the first time if you know the universe and have really spent a lot of time thinking about it. But please try to remember that I am a newbie here, and there is no reason to expect that I will just "get it" the first time through. That's kind of the point, right?


A:tS: To Shanshu in LA
[A wild demon is summoned to wreak havoc and raise a powerful force against Angel.]

Okay, so that? Is how you end a season. Holy freaking hell!!

Lots of Star Wars references in this one -- from my perspective anyway. You have Darth Demon, who came in to shake everything up, slay the oracles to cut Angel off from the Force PTB, hurt the princess and the rogue Cordelia and Wesley, and try to isolate him from everything that's important to him. Followed by a climatic sword fight, in which he rips the mask from his enemy's face and destroys him. The slain Yoda oracle comes back as a blue ghost to give Angel help, Angel enlists Lando Gunn in the fight, and dude, someone even lost a hand! And in the end, The Trio is back together and mending their wounds, all appreciating each other that much more and cautiously optimistic about the future. See? It's totally Star Wars.

And ooh, prophecy stuff! So Angel might get to earn the right to be human again some day. The smile on his face when that sank in was so, so sweet. And Darla was the demon they raised??? I did NOT see that one coming. Oh, I am SO glad I don't have to wait three months to find out what happens next!

BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 1-6 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 1-6: [BtVS] Buffy vs. Dracula, Real Me, The Replacement, Out of My Mind, No Place Like Home, and Family.
[AtS] Judgment, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, First Impressions, Untouched, Dear Boy, and Guise Will Be Guise.

BtVS: I'm excited about starting both of these new seasons. I have no idea what's going to happen in general. I have a feeling that the Buffy/Spike arc is going to get started, and I think Dawn pops up at some point, but other than that, I have no idea what to expect. A lot of folks have said this is one of their favorite seasons, so I'm excited about that. I really liked season 4 because it took the characters in so many new and interesting directions. I'm hoping that feeling will continue.

A:tS: Eeee, we get to see what's up with Darla! I'm so excited! I'm clueless as to how all of this is going to go, and at this point, I have no idea if Darla is a demon or a vampire or a human. Because of the way she was naked and shivering and disoriented when she appeared at the end of the last season, I'm going to guess they brought her out of some hellish dimension, similarly to the way Angel was brought back. And so that means she's probably exactly who she was before, an evil vampire. And she probably has an axe to grind with Angel, since he was the one who staked her.



BtVS 1: Buffy Vs. Dracula
[Buffy is shaken by the awesome power when she comes face to face with the greatest vampire of all time, Dracula. Meanwhile, Xander becomes the dark one’s emissary and leads his friends into peril.]

Wow. Seriously? Wow. That was quite a way to start the season!

It was really cool to see that Buffy is, as always, struggling with issues related to being the Slayer. It was also interesting to me that the show started off with the theme of her being restless (nice tie in to the last episode) and slaying almost for the rush of it. The beach scene was fun. "Buffy slayed the football." When did she get a tattoo?

And hee, Dracula! That was fun, especially how starstruck everyone was by him. (And he was kinda hot, I have to admit.) I loved Spike's, "Poncy bugger owes me eleven pounds." It was particularly funny that Xander was the one who was manipulated into serving him, eating bugs and everything. The "Master... bator" line seemed like a nod to Rocky Horror. And his utter fury about these things always happening to him at the end of the episode was interesting. I wonder if that means his character is about to take a turn of sorts.

The biting-as-sex metaphor was really interesting in this show. It's also interesting to me that in general, male vampires sire female vampires and female vampires sire males. I know it's not a hard-and-fast rule by any means, but it seems pretty clear that they're playing on the sexual aspect of it. (Which makes me think all sorts of fun Angel/Penn thoughts, but I digress.) So the biting scene between Dracula and Buffy here was very erotic, and not even remotely subtle about that. Even Riley's reaction to finding out about the bite mark that Buffy had been hiding like a hickey was spot-on jealousy. It was also interesting that Dracula saw the scar on Buffy's neck from where Angel bit her and seemed a bit jealous that he hadn't been the first.

The tie-in with the last line from Restless was very cool, and I'm wondering what effects there will be from Buffy drinking Dracula's blood. At that moment, it seemed to give her a bit of clarity, but I'm sort of hoping it isn't that simple, that maybe she'll wind up with a bit of a dark streak or something. It was funny that she had to stake him a couple of times, and even then it wasn't clear that he's actually dead. An unkillable vampire is a pretty cool idea. Though also scary.

I was worried at the beginning about Giles saying he was leaving. For some reason, I thought he really might go. So when Buffy told him she wanted to start training again at the end, I burst into tears. God, I love the relationship between those two, and I want to see it strengthen.

And hello, Dawn has appeared? I didn't think that would happen until later in the season, wow. I guess the explanation for that is coming in the next episode. I hope?


A:tS 1: Judgment
[Angel protects a pregnant woman being hunted down by Demons after he inadvertently slays her guardian. Meanwhile, Angel struggles with the discovery that he may not always be eternal and Darla recovers from her resurrection from Hell.]

And another fantastic season opener! The beginning sequence was perfect, with Cordelia and Wesley both interrupting things they were doing (and doing well) to answer a page from Angel, and then the three of them storming into that health club to save the day. Loved it! The scene in Cordy's apartment that followed was fun. You could really see how much the three of them have developed as a team, and the dynamic between them was great fun to watch.

It seemed pretty clear that the theme of this episode was Angel struggling to figure out how to be patient and let the future and his destiny come to him. When he went to seek it, he made a mistake that threw him off in a big way. It was interesting that the demon he accidentally killed was like himself: determined to conquer his own nature, helping people, even living underground with a lot of lit candles. And was apparently Buddhist, which I thought was an interesting touch. I like the episodes where Angel is all introspective, though. It always means he grows as a character.

I'm wondering if the pregnant woman's child will be something that becomes important later. The jousting and battle scene was interesting. Angel sure gets run through with swords a lot. Anything that leaves his clothes in shreds is fine by me, though.

I have to say that the demon karaoke bar was hilarious! It had this great Star Wars cantina feel about it, and OMG, the singing! As soon as Angel protested singing ("Three things I don't do: tan, date, and sing in public." Why wasn't dancing on that list?), I knew he'd be back up there at some point. And OMG, Barry Manilow? That was hilariously bad. I don't know if DB can sing IRL, but I think it takes talent to fake being that bad. It was also fun to see the outtakes from the singing over the credits, like they did with the dancing last season.

And we saw Darla! I hope we get to see her and Angel interact soon. *bounces*


BtVS 2: Real Me
[Buffy's slaying is hampered by sibling rivalry with Dawn, who gets kidnapped by a vampire gang led by Harmony.]

All right -- let me get this straight. Dawn has just been plunked into the Buffyverse with no explanation, as if she was here all along. And everyone remembers her as always having been around, sort of like the whole Jonathan thing. And that's just... it? I have to say that's pretty annoying. And she's a regular cast member, which means we have to see her every frickin' episode? I don't know what I expected, but I thought there'd be some sort of explanation for her appearance.

I know, I know. I should just trust that Joss knows what he's doing. I do. Really, I do. *sigh*

The entire episode seemed to be centered around establishing that Dawn is an annoying little shit, which was possibly not the best-spent hour of my life. I got hopeful when that crazy homeless guy came up to her and made a Miss Muffet reference and then told her "You don't belong here". I thought, something might come of that, but alas, no. I guess I'm going to have to be patient.

Harmony and her minions were certainly a highlight of the episode. She is really quite funny as a vampire, and Xander's and Buffy's reactions to Harmony's threats were funny. "Harmony has minions?" followed by laughter. The one vampire calling the other one "sirewhipped" for stealing her a unicorn for Harmony was funny too. Buffy dispatched all of those minions with little trouble, which was cool.

So Giles is going to buy the Magic Box and run it. Well, they do need a new place to hang out, I suppose, and this will be a good way for them to be able to get new and interesting things that will help them with the slayage. I'm glad Buffy is taking her Slayer training more seriously. The beginning scene with her and Giles training was very Empire Strikes Back.

And Dawn's line at the end was perfectly ominous: "She still thinks I'm nobody, just her dumb little sister. Boy is she in for a surprise." I don't know how much of this fighting between Buffy and Dawn I'm going to be able to take, though. I hate that shit.


A:tS 2: Are You Now or Have you Ever Been?
[In the 1950s, Angel aids a woman hiding from her past inside a hotel with a long history of death and mayhem. In the present day Angel hunts down a Demon responsible for the carnage.]

Oh, what a lovely episode this was! One of the great things about immortal characters who've been around for a while is that the possibilities for where they've been and what they've done are nearly endless. How cool is that?

I really didn't expect the guy in the hotel room that the bellhop was so afraid of to be Angel. That was a surprise. But wow, it was so amazing to see what he used to be like, before he met Buffy and turned his life around: completely isolated, unfeeling, antisocial, aloof. And a smoker, which was like, whoa. I think the moment I really realized just how different he was was when he heard the gunshot in the next room and didn't even blink. He didn't care.

Another feature of this episode that was really interesting was the time capsule we saw, with a black family being turned away from the hotel, the McCarthy hearings on TV, the gay couple having to hide, and the damsel in distress fleeing for her life after being rejected by society for being mixed-race. The weird thing is that when she said she was "passing", I thought, "Oh, she's really a man!" That was seriously the first thing that popped into my head, especially after the gay couple in the corridor. And then she said "for white" and it took me about as long as it took Angel to understand what she meant.

That seemed to be the thing that inspired him to help her, though -- he saw something of himself in her, just like he later did with Faith. I got the feeling that was the first time he ever tried to help anyone. And of course, it backfired and made the demon stronger, and so he gave up and walked away at the end, leaving all of the people to the demon. Wow. And how interesting that he went back to right that wrong fifty years later.

And the woman was still there, which was horrible because she had already told him she couldn't bear to go to jail because she couldn't stand the thought of being trapped. But she spent the rest of her life in that hotel room. And when Angel freed her, she just died. So horribly tragic.

I thought it was interesting at the end that he decided to lease (or buy?) the building. I guess that money he'd hidden is still good? Even buildings get a second chance with Angel. That's pretty cool.

How interesting that damsels in distress have always been his weakness.


BtVS 3: The Replacement
[Confusion reigns when Xander is split into two Xanders, each representing different sides of his personality.]

This was a really nice episode. Minimal Dawn presence, and a great focus on Xander. It made me think a bit of The Zeppo back from S3, in that we got to see a side of Xander we don't see so often. And in this case once again, he was literally on the outside looking in.

The demon splitting him in two was really interesting. Oddly, that was the first thing I thought had happened. In my notes, I wrote. "Did he get split into his cool and dorky parts?" And when the gang all started talking about one of them being a demon trying to take his place, I decided my first impulse was wrong. And so when it turned out that was actually right, I was pleased, heh. This was a clever way to get Xander to expand his vision of what he could be, of course. Cool Xander was willing to take risks and had the confidence to do things ordinary Xander would never be able to do. That might have been just the kick he needed to get moving with his life.

Lots of fun dialogue in this one:
Giles: "I'm not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me."
Buffy: "I've got it covered from A to Z. Axe to... ze other axe."
Giles: "Oh dear lord. ... I said, oh dear lord."
Giles, after hearing Anya ask if she could take both Xanders home and have sex with them: "Let's all just pretend we didn't hear the disturbing sex talk."

And aw, Riley at the end was almost heartbreaking. He loves Buffy more than anything, but he knows she doesn't love him the same way. I really, really feel for him. I suppose this is the beginning of the end of their relationship?

Edit, 9/25: I looked up the summary for this episode and saw that some of the scenes with two Xanders had Nicholas Brendon's twin brother in them. Hee! He apparently had almost no lines, though, and Nick did most of the actual acting of the two Xanders.



A:tS 3: First Impressions
[Angel encounters an amorous Darla in his dreams. Meanwhile, Cordelia vows to protect Gunn after she experiences a vision depicting him in mortal danger.]

Very sexy episode. Just the idea that Angel was having all of these erotic dreams was just... guh. All of the Darla/Angel bits were awesomely hot, even though she's apparently taking over his life through the dreams and weakening him somehow. The teasing with ice cubes, her stripping him and straddling him on the couch, and the bit towards the end where she was clearly moving south (with a nice cut to him squirming in bed), were all very lovely eye candy -- and then she really appeared in his room! I'm thinking I need some lovely Angel/Darla smut now. I have to say, though, that the fact that he looked so happy with her in his dream was really quite sad. He's so lonely, poor boopsie. I have a feeling he's going to have a hard time dealing with her, considering what she really is. If she actually is what she really is. Or... whatever.

The storyline with Cordelia and Gunn was interesting here. At first I thought Cordelia was the one who caused all the trouble, that she had misinterpreted the vision and just by trying to help him she nearly got him killed. It wasn't until the end that I realized she actually was right about him, that he needs to let go of some of his anger and find other ways to channel it, or he'll self-destruct. And did I sense some Cordy/Gunn sparks there?

The scene where Angel tackled Wesley while naked was fun, especially since Wesley seemed a bit distracted by it. And then the whole thing with the pink motorcycle helmet was funny. You'd think Angel would be pretty secure in his sexuality after all this time. Of course, he had to fix his hair again when it came off, I noticed.

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next with Darla. This should be really interesting!


BtVS 4: Out of My Mind
[The physical aftereffects of Riley’s being used as a lab rat by the Initiative threaten his life; Spike takes advantage of the situation.]

It feels like the story is really getting rolling here. The tension between Buffy and Riley was really high, even from the beginning of the episode. I thought it was really interesting that both Riley and Spike were in the graveyard at the beginning, both annoying Buffy equally, almost as a metaphor for how the men in her life are always going to interfere with slaying. It's funny how something funny always happens to Spike when he tries to be uber-evil.

Spike's obsession with Buffy really seemed to be coming to a head in this episode, and I was starting to wonder if something would happen. I mean, he basically spent the entire episode talking about how much he hated her, plotting to kill her, making Harmony help him in his plan to kill her, trying to kill her and failing, and then ranting more about how much he hated her until I thought for sure Harmony was going to be the one to tell him he seemed to care about Buffy just a little too much. The dream sequence at the end was frickin' awesome, and Spike's reaction to it was perfect. Being in love with Buffy is absolutely the worst thing that could happen to him. And so of course, that's what has happened. Hee!

I love YouTube! Spike's dream here.

Oooh, what's wrong with Joyce? When she turned to Dawn and said, "Who are you?" I wondered if she was having some moment of clarity, and then she fainted. I'm guessing we haven't seen the end of that. There was pleasantly little Dawn in this episode. Yay.

I'm not sure what's going to happen with Riley. It sounds like he's going to self-destruct and break Buffy's heart. He wants to be at her side so badly and he just can't do it. The quickie heart surgery was a little odd, as well as the fact that he's all "fixed" now and back on his feet. That seemed weird. And LOL on the neurosurgeon not taking Spike's chip out. I almost felt sorry for Spike for a moment there.

Harmony is like the worst evil thing ever. I love it!


A:tS 4: Untouched
[Angel attempts to help a girl with telekinetic powers before she falls into the hands of Wolfram and Hart. Meanwhile, Angel is somewhat off his game due to nocturnal visits by Darla.]

Can I just say that the title of this episode alone gave me naughty thoughts? Naughty thoughts that didn't really come to fruition, but still.

So Angel's dreams are being controlled by Darla directly, which means he's probably not actually sleeping at all. His growing crankiness is actually kind of funny since Cordelia and Wesley seem quite capable of handling it. Cordelia standing up to his attempts to be the leader was cute. She seems to know exactly when to call his bluff and when to back down, which is really interesting.

The topic of this episode was something new, a human who had developed a psychic power from a trauma. She was an interesting character too, really dark and unbalanced. Angel seems to be pretty good at handling people like that. The antipathy between Angel and Lilah was great, but I'm missing Lindsay. I think I like that antipathy better. Is it just me, or does Cordelia seem to have some feelings for Angel that go beyond friendship? She was watching Bethany very carefully, almost jealously. Of course, the sniping between her and Wesley at the beginning of the episode was pretty much screaming sexual tension.

Or maybe I'm just obsessed with the possibilities for smut. Huh.

There were some fun lines in this one.
Angel: "Do you know how hard it is to think straight with a rebar through your torso?"
Cordelia: "Yes, I do. Benefits of a Sunnydale education."

Angel: "I've lived a long time, seen a lot of horrors. And some fashion trends I pray to forget."

Angel: "I was having a nightmare."
Bethany: "It looked like a happy dream. Or maybe the covers were just rumpled."

Bethany (hitting on Angel): "I thought it would make us happy."
Angel: "You wouldn't like me happy."


BtVS 5: No Place Like Home
[Buffy discovers more about her newly arrived little sister, and the girls are distressed when Joyce suddenly becomes ill without any explanation, medical or supernatural.]

All right, five episodes in, we finally get some answers about Dawn. Thank heavens, because that was going to make me crazy. It's interesting that Buffy is the only one who knows, and I'm sure it's going to stay that way for a while. I'm also guessing that Joyce's headaches are due to the whole thing, maybe the difficulty of having her memory altered.

There were lots of little interesting bits in this one that reminded me somewhat of the Jonathan episode, just in the way that Buffy was the one who noticed something was a bit "off", like Buffy being intensely jealous of the attention Dawn was getting from her mom, saying "my mom" as a slip of the tongue, and wishing she was an only child. It's been fairly un-Buffy-like to have that much nasty tension between her and another person, almost OOC, so I guess it makes sense in retrospect. It also makes a little more sense now why Buffy and her mom were hovering over a 14-year-old as if she were 7, and not leaving her alone for an instant. So now Buffy knows, and she also has to protect Dawn. What if that means losing her mother? It's all so ominous.

And now I'm wondering how many people's memories were affected. I mean, would it have affected Angel too? I still don't like Dawn very much. I feel a little sorry for her now, but I don't really like her.

I'm having a feeling that Glory isn't dead just yet. She looked an awful lot like the vampire Sunday from the beginning of season 4. At least now we know where the crazy guys came from, and why they seemed to know something about Dawn and Buffy.

Giles's shop seems to be doing well, though I was wondering if that had something to do with the orb Buffy found. And the bell ringing when Buffy walked in -- was that something from Restless? It seemed awfully familiar. And ooh, Anya said something about the Hand of Glory requiring a seven-day background check! I should think so.

Spike standing outside Buffy's house and smoking a pack of cigarettes was probably the cutest thing ever. And he was almost nice to her, but she hit him first. Loved the use of the five words she allotted him: "Out. For. A. Walk. ... Bitch." And "I never liked you anyway and... you have stupid hair!" What, he's regressed to being 12? It's so cute. I can't wait to see how all of that plays out. Poor Riley seems like a dead man walking at this point. Yikes.


A:tS 5: Dear Boy
[Darla attempts to drive Angel over the edge in hopes of getting him to embrace his dark side, but when Angel sees Darla in his waking life, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn fear he has gone off the deep end and may revert to his evil ways.]

And now we see what W&H really want -- Angelus. I don't know whether to laugh or just be bewildered that they think they could control him even if they did get him. I wonder if we're headed that direction. That would set him back from his whole becoming human destiny quite a bit.

Poor Angel, going crazy from his dreams. I was really starting to wonder why he hadn't said anything, especially since it was becoming a serious problem. I figured he didn't want the dreams to stop. Of course, the moment he realized she was actually alive, he really went nuts. I guess you can't blame him. It's not every day that someone comes back from the dead, especially not someone who's incredibly dangerous.

Him sniffing Cordelia's hair was pretty funny, along with her yelling, "Personal bubble!" And the fact that he could just sniff Wesley and say, "You had sex with a bleached blonde last night." (I was quite tempted to leave off the "e" there...) And the singing? OMG, Wang Chung?

The revelation that they brought her back as a human was really interesting. And yet, she still remembers her life with him as a vampire -- and I'm even more confused about the whole soul thing. Anyway, it was interesting that even though she'd been playing games with him all this time, he was the one who did the mindfucking at the end. And ouch, he never really loved her -- she seemed to take that harder than she should have. I wonder if he's right, if she'll freak out about all the stuff she's done once she's had time to process it. She's apparently been around for a few months by now, though, so I'm not so sure.

I'm constantly impressed by Cordelia's and Wesley's loyalty to Angel, even when they think he may have gone bad. It's like they'll all stick together, no matter what. They'll kill him before they abandon him. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is to have them?

And yay for more flashbacks! And Drusilla! It's interesting that he made her a vampire just so she would suffer from her madness forever.


BtVS 6: Family
[Tara’s family makes a surprise visit to Sunnydale for her birthday, threatening to reveal a shocking secret that could endanger all of their lives.]

I was glad that Buffy told Giles about Dawn. That was a very good thing for her to do, because keeping a secret like that to yourself is just too much. It reminded me a bit of Angel confiding in Doyle the episode after IWRY that he'd become human and shared a day with Buffy. (And I'm still intrigued that Cordelia knows, and Angel doesn't know she knows. I really hope something comes of that at some point.)

Aw, poor Tara and her redneck family! It was good to finally know what the deal was with her, though. I got the feeling that maybe Joss had left that door open in case they'd decided they wanted her to really be a demon, and when they decided she wouldn't be one, they had to clean it up a bit. The whole "You're a demon and we're taking you away to lock you up for your own good" bit seemed also to be a metaphor for your family not accepting that you're gay. In fact, it's interesting to me that Tara's and Willow's relationship hasn't attracted any negative attention. I'm wondering if that's a conscious effort on the part of the writers to normalize it as much as possible (like a lot of us do in slashfic, you know - create a world where there is no homophobia for our characters to live in), or if it's something that will come up in the future.

Spike fantasizing about Buffy during sex was priceless, OMG! Especially the "I'm coming! I'm coming right now!" line, with a cut away to him actually coming. I'm shocked that made it past the censors! Not that I'm complaining or anything. I also like that the moment Spike realized Buffy was in danger, he ran over to help. At first I thought she might never see he was there at all because of Tara's spell, which would only cause another huge fight between them, but in the end, it worked out. No one seemed to blink that Spike was there, which I thought was funny. No one seemed to notice either that they'd had no trouble seeing Tara even while the spell was going, so she couldn't have been a demon. Of course, Spike hitting her to settle the dispute was a nice touch. And very sweet.

And of course, the moment where the whole gang stood up to Tara's family and claimed her as one of their own was lovely. They bicker amongst themselves, but they will turn into a solid wall against a common enemy, which I really love. Their loyalty to each other is part of their strength, I think. And once again, Spike shows that he's good at seeing through people's fronts and understanding what their real motivations are. He nailed exactly what Tara's dad was doing.

Riley getting hit on by a vampire was funny, especially since he knew what she was straight away. (Though I can't help but wonder what the point of that scene was. To show us how much he's trying to understand Buffy's world? Or are we being set up for something else?) I also liked the line early on where Buffy said, "This means I owe you a big favor. There may be outfits.", and he looked like Christmas morning. I'm going to miss him. I really like him, and he's about as normal and stable a boyfriend as Buffy is ever going to get. And I'm worried that it will end very badly. It really seems to be ending; it's just a question of how much longer he'll last.

Willow and Tara at the end were so sweet. Will we ever get to see them kiss? How idiotic is it that we can see Spike having an orgasm but not see Tara and Willow kiss, because "ew, lesbians"? That is seriously fucked up.

And when I say fucked up, I mean that I would like to see both of those things onscreen, and not neither. Thank you.


A:tS 6: Guise Will Be Guise
[Angel meets with a Swami in hopes of ending his obsession with Darla. Meanwhile, Wesley assumes Angel's identity and plays bodyguard to a wealthy businessman's daughter.]

Fun episode! I feel like I say that a lot about this show, but it's really true. I just adore the dynamic between Angel, Wesley, and Cordelia. I particularly like Angel and Cordelia together. She's the only one who is completely unafraid to stand up to him and tell him he's being an idiot. And when she's too stubborn to back down, he gives in. She always wins in those situations, and it's great!

The scene in the karaoke bar was the first time I was really worried about Angel, though. I mean, he's been having a rough time for a while, but his confession to Lorne was startlingly candid. He's not that honest with Cordelia or Wesley -- though I think he would have been with Doyle. *sigh*

Angel: "I don't have to sing."
Cordelia: "Oh, thank god! I mean... good for you cause... you don't like doing it."

The interaction between Angel and the fake swami was interesting. First of all, is LA anywhere near a frickin' swamp? Where the hell was that supposed to be, the Blue Bayou at Disneyland? But besides that, even though the guy was faking he really said a lot of things that made sense. It was funny that he picked on Angel's vanity, with the car, the clothes, and the hair -- "Of course, when you're fighting the ultimate evil, you'll want [hair gel] with some hold." But he was right that Angel projects a particular image in an attempt to cover what's happening on the inside -- that battle with the demon. His advice that Angel should accept that it's part of him and move on was actually very sound.

The advice he gave Angel for getting over Darla was funny: "So here's what you do. You go out and find yourself some small blonde thing. You bed her. You love her. Then you treat her like crap and you break her heart. Believe me, your inner demon will be thanking me." Angel's look of embarrassed horror was actually pretty funny. I also liked the fake swami saying, "You're deeply ambivalent", and Angel replying, "I am, and I'm not."

And wow, Wesley posing as Angel was a lot of fun! I hoped when it got rolling that he would gain some strength from it, and it seems like that happened. And of course, the fact that he wasn't really Angel allowed him to help the daughter in a way Angel never could have, by really being there for her. Angel is a lot of great things, but a wonderful listener and confidant he is not. The bit at the end when the demon rejected her for not being a virgin was funny. And of course it wasn't Wesley who'd deflowered her, but still.

Poor Angel -- does everyone know about the curse and how it gets broken? That can't be a good thing, for his pride if nothing else. His saying "I'm not a eunuch!" four times in the middle of a battle was funny, but sort of sad really. For a guy with vanity issues, that's a harsh thing to hear.


Themes in both shows: I probably should have done this before, but I didn't think about it until the other day. I'm hoping that looking for common themes will help me understand more about what's happening on both shows.

Episode 1: Both Buffy and Angel seemed to be a bit out of control at the beginning, careening toward their respective destinies. Something needed to happen to set them back on track, and in both cases, it was something dramatic and involved a power bigger than either of them, not just ordinary demons. And between the pregnant woman Angel was protecting and Dawn (whom Buffy is to protect) the theme of protecting the innocent and of birth seems to be big.

Episode 2: Probably the only real connection I saw between these episodes was the change of locale. The cast will be getting a new place to hang out in both shows, and we got our first glimpse of those places in these episodes. Oh, and also that in both, there was an attempt to tell a story about the main character from another point of view. So we saw Buffy and the gang from Dawn's POV (narrated by her diary entires) and we saw another incarnation of Angel narrated by the story that Wesley and Cordelia constructed.

Episode 3: It may be a bit of a stretch, but the commonality here seemed to be about characters being torn in two directions, distilling them down to some of their basic needs -- Xander literally and Angel figuratively. And while Xander's problem was resolved, Angel's wasn't.

Episode 4: I saw a lot of similarity between Riley's and Bethany's struggles to deal with what was wrong with them. Both had been violated by people (parent figures) they trusted, and both of them had the bad guys trying to bring them into the fold. They were both struggling against that to the point of endangering themselves. Both of them also seemed desperate to feel loved (even though Riley's desperation was largely imagined), and both of them dealt with it by striking out at the main character.

Episode 5: The theme here seemed to be revelations. Buffy finds out that Dawn isn't really her sister and Angel finds out that Darla is more than just a figment of his imagination. And both Dawn and Darla are just humans, though humans who signify quite a lot and have a power neither Buffy nor Angel possesses. And I thought it was funny that Glory and Darla both were blonde and wearing slinky red dresses. That couldn't have been an accident.

Episode 6: Characters in both shows were having to face some sort of truth about themselves. For Angel and Tara, it was dealing with the fact that an integral part of themselves is/might be evil, and being uncertain how that would affect everyone around them. For Wesley and Riley (and possibly Spike) it was about struggling to become something new, to get past old failures and difficulties and push forward, become stronger.
BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 7-11 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 7-11: [BtVS] Fool For Love, Shadow, Listening to Fear, Into the Woods, and Triangle.
[AtS] Darla, The Shroud of Rahmon, The Trial, Reunion, and Redefinition.
BtVS 7: Fool For Love
[When Buffy forces Spike to recount how he was able to kill two Slayers, his flashbacks reveal his first meeting with Drusilla.]

I'd heard so many good things about this episode, so I was really excited to see it! I suppose the most interesting thing about this one was all of the Spike backstory we got to see. So, what follows is me rambling about Spike, mostly. ;-)

Somehow, I had always imagined that he wouldn't have been so different as a human than he was as a vampire, and interestingly enough, I don't think I was wrong about that. I just didn't know that much about him before. The things that have always stood out to me about Spike are his sensitivity to what the people around him seem to be feeling and that very defensive sort of bravado, the kind that is there to keep people out and cover the fact that you're insecure about where you stand, to strike out at them before they can hurt you. A lot of his actions in the series can be traced to those two things and now that I think about it, it seems that he was not so different as a human. He was just young and naive enough to let people walk all over him. And so, so desperate for affection, my god.

I have to say that JM played the backstory parts very well, to the extent that he was nearly unrecognizable as William. (Very Wesley or early Giles, actually.) I loved the implication that William had faked a posh accent to get in with the upper class crowd, but once he became a vampire he spoke just as commonly as he'd been raised, because it didn't matter any more. That says a lot about the character and possibly about the amount of desperation he was feeling just before he was made a vampire. The visual of that was interesting too, as if that experience actually freed him from the bounds of his place in society in a way that nothing else could have. Yet, he wasn't really freed from that need to be approved of and loved, for whatever reason.

I really liked seeing the dynamic between Spike and Angelus. In addition to be extraordinarily slashy, it seemed very clear that Angelus was constantly about an inch away from killing him -- and that Spike liked pushing his buttons and challenging him, like the son who is determined to best his hardass father and then revel in the victory. Angelus's possessiveness of Darla and Dru was a nice touch (calling them "my women"), as was the way he ruled the group with an iron fist. I hope we will get to see more flashbacks with the four of them, because that was twelve kinds of awesome.

The eroticism of this episode was amazing as well, from the way they lit Spike in the Chinese scenes (OMG the demonic sunken eyes!), to the hair and make-up and rock star imagery of the slow-mo scene before the burning city, to the only-just-cut fuck with Dru in the middle of a battle with a dead slayer on the floor feet away. I think I like him with that unruly mop of brown hair, actually. And I can't remember exactly when Angelus was cursed, but I thought it was before 1900 somehow. I guess I was wrong.

Seeing Spike at different points in time was fun, I have to say. The whole punk rock thing with the slayer out of a Blaxploitation flick was fantastic! The within-series flashback with Drusilla (and OMG the chaos demon!) was also interesting, because it implies that Dru broke up with him for a more complicated reason than what we were led to believe. Spike just has a thing for slayers, and something about Buffy has him obsessed to the point of being unable to get on with his (un)life. Very cool, that.

It was also interesting to see Buffy struggling in this episode, and in a way we haven't seen her do before. She was quietly rational about her weaknesses, and wanted to learn how Spike had killed those slayers with a sort of detached fierceness that made me stop and stare at her a few times. His point that all slayers have a death wish really struck me, because yeah -- that's the only way you stop being a slayer, isn't it? You're almost doomed to die in battle, and it could happen at any time. Yikes.

The sexual tension between the two of them was amazing, as was the way the second slayer battle flashback on the subway was intercut with the present, making it clear that Spike had really drawn Buffy in and gotten into her head in a way that few are able to do. Her response to his almost kissing her was more about her, it seemed, than it was about him. Her rejection of him at that point was out of fear, I thought -- not because she wasn't interested. She was quite interested.

And ooh, using the same line as the woman who'd rejected him way back when -- ouch. It was a strange choice to have him cry there, and I think it might have been better if they'd pulled it back a little. That's a moment where welled tears would have been more powerful than a little sob. Of course, maybe the point was that he really hasn't changed at all from the man he was, and that everything he's done for the last century has just been posturing because he's never really gotten over that one woman rejecting him. He just really seems to be needed, and he doesn't have that with Dru gone. Harmony doesn't really need him, and he doesn't respect her enough anyway. He also has a history of fixating on women who are a bit out of his league, I suppose. I think what really broke my heart was that he thought Buffy needed him for a little while there, that he had something she could only get from him. It was clear that he was stalling for time, trying to stretch out the experience as much as possible, relish every moment of feeling important -- and in the end she pushed him to the ground and shattered that fantasy in the cruelest possible way. (Not that I blame her -- she has no reason to think he has anything other than malice in his heart.)

The ending was what really made this episode, I have to say. He really did seem like this was it, that he was going to kill her for making him feel the way she'd done, and the moment he saw her crying, he totally melted. Him sitting next to her on the stairs and sort of awkwardly patting her on the back said so, so much.

Oh, Spike. What are you in for?


A:tS 7: Darla
[Angel is desperate to rescue Darla from the clutches of Wolfram & Hart. Flashbacks reveal what a dangerous and powerful relationship they shared as history weirdly seems to be repeating itself.]

Eee, crossover goodness! It was so, so cool to see the same flashback scenes again, but this time from Angel's perspective instead of Spike's. It was also fantastic to see Darla get made into a vampire, and OMG the Master was her sire? Dude. (Did we know that already?) And wow, she was a prostitute as a human and apparently was dying from something nasty. The theme of her preferring her existence as a vampire to that of her existence as a human was really interesting. It must have been a pretty awful life as a human.

The scene where Angelus was snarky to the Master was gorgeous, and made me think back on The Wish when Angel was the Master's prisoner. You could probably read in a bit of retribution there for what Angel had taken away from him. I loved Angelus taking Darla away by being a general bad-ass, showing no fear or even respect for the Master, and then asking her which face she'd rather spend eternity looking at. The bad boy thing gets us every time, doesn't it? The bit where she said, "the blood is still hot in his veins" and he pressed against her from behind and said, "you noticed" made me squee loud enough to scare my cat. I remember Faith saying that slaying made her horny, and apparently for a lot of vampires, the kill is quite an aphrodisiac. With the exception of that one 12-hours-of-sex-with-Riley episode, it doesn't seem to be that way for Buffy, in general. Spike seemed surprised by that, didn't he? Maybe that's part of what makes her so powerful.

Anyway, I'm getting the sense that part of what made Angelus legendary was that he was such a maverick as a vampire, and insisted on living as a human, walking among humans, and living with the comforts humans enjoy. Oh, and the "bump" scene on the street where William ran right into him was great! I saw that in the Buffy episode and so it was fun to get to look at it from the other perspective. I love that Dru made Spike a vampire because she was basically dared to. "You could just take the first drooling idiot that comes along!" Darla didn't seem to like Dru very much, which was funny. Dru calling her "Grandmother" was even better. Watching those scenes with the four of them again was really, really fun.

It also explained a lot about the fight between Angelus and Spike in one of the flashbacks in Fool For Love, where Angelus was furious that Spike had attracted so much attention to them and driven them underground, the very place Angelus had defied the Master to leave. I'd thought his utter disdain for Spike there was just him being angry that his leadership was being threatened, but now it seems more like Angelus never really liked Spike in the first place. He seemed to see Spike as just an annoying twit, something to keep Dru occupied while he was fucking Darla. (And Darla seemed to agree, from what I can tell.)

And wow, Angel went back to Darla after he'd been cursed and tried to fit in with the gang again, hoping to make it like it was before. His reaction to Spike killing the slayer was so interesting and different to watch with that new bit of knowledge. (And I'm glad to know my timing of the curse wasn't that far off.) Poor Angel. He had nowhere to go and nothing else to exist for, but he couldn't do it. And again, the scene with the four of them walking through the burning city, but this time knowing what Angel was thinking -- OMG. That was a fucking amazing moment right there.

I thought it was interesting that he was surviving by feeding on thieves and murderers and such, people he could feel less guilty about killing. That reminded me of Louis from Interview With the Vampire, who said that he hated taking innocent life, but that innocent blood tasted so much sweeter than the blood of criminals.

So, back to the present. The W&H folks are really slick, so slick that they even fooled Lindsay. I guess they saw that he was too close to Darla and decided to use that against him. Poor Lindsay, so easy to manipulate, and then never quite knowing which side he should be on. Oh, and there was more squeeing from me when Darla told him, "It's not me you want to screw -- it's him." Oh, yes. Yes, he does indeed want to fuck Angel. Heh. And ooh, we got a little bit of Angel/Lindsay interaction too!

And in the end, Angel was stunned that even though Darla had been given the one thing he wants more than anything -- the thing he had for a single blissful day and gave up, the thing that will hopefully be his destiny -- and she doesn't want it. She would give it up in an instant to be a vampire again, and it was like her spitting in his face to say it. That was such an amazing moment, because it really defined who he was and who she was, and just how different they were as people. Even though they'd spent 150 years together, they didn't know each other that well.

Mmmm... angst. How I love it so!

What a pair of amazing episodes. Wow.


BtVS 8: Shadow
[In order to protect her sister, Buffy must face a horrible beast that has been conjured by the powerful demon Glory to help seek out "The Key."]

Riley seems to be on his way out. I really, really feel for him, because I really like him as a character and all of this is probably going to go so badly. He thinks he's being shut out of her life, and while I don't think it's intentional, he's not imagining it all either. Buffy has relegated him to her errand boy pretty much, and doesn't need him at a time when someone normally would be leaning heavily on a partner for support. She's so used to standing on her own that she doesn't seem to realize she doesn't have to be the strong one in a situation like this. And he's just standing there helplessly, wanting so badly to be a pillar of strength for her, but she doesn't seem to want or need that from him.

Even Xander and Spike contributed to his sense of distance from her, though Spike did it completely intentionally. And as an aside, Spike in Buffy's room and sniffing her clothes just killed me. And OMG, he pocketed a pair of lacy panties on his way out? Naughty boy! But still, he knew exactly how to twist the knife in Riley, and he did it with pleasure. I don't blame Spike, though -- that's just him. Spike's bragging about never having been uninvited to the house was interesting. Is that really true? I'm guessing he might find himself uninvited pretty soon if he keeps coming in at odd hours and messing with Buffy's stuff.

The moment it cut to the shot of Riley sitting at the bar at Willy's, I wrote in my notes, "OMG he wants to be a vampire", because that was the only thing that made sense at that point. And how interesting that he was that desperate to be what he thinks Buffy wants, that he would go to that length. Those two need to communicate with each other, but so many things are getting in the way. It didn't help that Dawn told him, "she doesn't get all worked up like that over you," referring to Angel. Ouch. It's interesting to me that being bitten is almost always depicted as fairly erotic, something the victims almost enjoy. The only exception to that rule on the show that I can recall was one Mr. William the Bloody, who was all, "ow... ow... OW... OW!"

And yikes, what's going to happen to Joyce? It doesn't look good, and I can't imagine that Buffy will be able to find some way to save her. People just die sometimes, and not even Buffy can stop it. I can't help but wonder if the brain tumor is connected to Dawn's appearance.

And then there was a bunch of stuff with Glory and the scabby monk and a big Godzilla lizard, which wasn't all that well-animated compared to other things they've done on the show. It was sort of a cheesy model much of the time. But that wasn't really the part I was paying attention to anyway.


A:tS 8: The Shroud of Rahmon
[Angel poses as a flashy vampire hoodlum, and with the help of Gunn prevents a mind-altering shroud from falling into the wrong hands.]

The structure of this one was really odd for this show; episodes usually proceed in a much more linear fashion. So the fact that they started with the ending made me wonder what it was they were trying to accomplish. I suppose it set us up to maybe think Angel was going to turn and that he would kill someone, and that maybe Wesley was going to take the fall for it.

I imagine episodes like this were probably fun for DB in that he got to play someone other than Angel. It seemed that the Las Vegas vampire got disposed of a little too easily, and it was weird that the bad guys accepted Angel as him without any suspicion. Not to mention that they accepted Gunn as the driver with no questions, and then didn't really look too closely at Angel and Gunn whispering to the side about what was really going on. I guess we're meant to think they weren't such good bad guys. You'd think they would've done a little research into how dangerous this thing they were stealing was.

Anyway, the big issue here is that Angel seems to be sliding downhill fast. All the stuff with Darla has left him unbalanced, and now he's bitten Kate -- who bless her heart, always manages to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and is lucky to still be alive anyway. It was interesting that he regained enough presence of mind to stop himself from killing her and to dispose of the shroud. It seems that something has shifted between Kate and Angel, though. I'm curious as to how that bite is going to affect both of them.

And how did Cordelia get out? Wesley was worried about her in the "beginning", but they didn't resolve that part.


BtVS 9: Listening to Fear
[As Buffy and Dawn help their mother prepare for brain surgery, an extra-terrestrial demon fixates on a disoriented Joyce and infiltrates the Summers’ home.]

There were a lot of things going on in this episode, so many that I can't imagine watching this one out of sequence. I don't think it would make much sense. You have Riley apparently going out and looking for vampires to bite him, just for the sheer pleasure of it (and how interesting that they filmed that like it was a blow job), a little advancement of the Glory plot, and a lot of Joyce disintegrating.

As a little personal aside, I've seen that kind of mental disintegration in a loved one, and it was really hard to watch Buffy have to deal with it. One moment, they're there with you and you're having a normal conversation, and the next, they're counting their peas into a carefully folded napkin and asking you to sneak it upstairs to Ginny, who was sent to bed without supper. It's incredibly distressing to see someone who was an important adult in your life be reduced to that, so when Buffy broke down at the sink, I was right there with her.

So Riley called in the feds to help with the alien, and they ultimately were not much help at all, as usual. Oh sure, they'll take the body off and dissect it, but really? They wouldn't even know what it was except that the gang figured it out first. I guess Riley wanted to help in some way. I'm wondering if he'll go back to the military. He seems to be flailing at the moment, not really fitting into Buffy's world, but not really belonging anywhere else either. If he doesn't get turned into a vampire first, that is.

It was interesting that it turns out Ben is a demon of some sort too, at least in the sense that his job seems to be to clean up after Glory. I should have suspected him before, dang it! He was just too perfect and nice and present to be just a doctor at the hospital.

Spike rummaging through Buffy's basement looking for pictures of her was interesting. What, is he building a little shrine to her somewhere? That would be both sweet and creepy, in that obsessive serial killer sort of way. But he was there in time to help her stab the alien, which was good. It was also interesting that there was a closeup shot of him holding out a hand to her, and her taking it. It seemed like such an interesting little detail to get a shot of its very own, and it made me stop and think. I'm guessing it was intended to be significant, like it's showing that something has shifted between them. It also looked like they stayed like that, hand-in-hand for a moment, though it was hard to tell. And of course, Riley bursts in and there's Spike again, everpresent in Buffy's life, which is only going to make him more crazy.

The ending was hard to watch. The fact that Joyce knows Dawn isn't real and made Buffy promise to take care of her really killed me. That's probably a sign that things aren't going to go so well. Or maybe they will, and Joss is just tormenting the viewers?


A:tS 9: The Trial
[Angel is still haunted by flashbacks of his 150-year love affair with Darla and has Gunn help track her down, but he soon discovers that he is faced with an impossible choice: watch her die from a terminal illness or use his dark powers to turn her back into a vampire and give her eternal life.]

It was nice to see something shift in this Darla storyline. I love angst and all, but it needed to move somewhere new. So poor Darla is dying of syphilis all over again, and the only way to stop it is for her to become a vampire. I loved the mulleted dweeb of a vampire she picked up in the bar, who didn't have a clue how to make another vampire. Actually, I've been wondering for a while now where all those new vampires come from. I mean, when we saw Angel, Darla, Drusilla, and Spike made, it was to be brought into a group. They had a place. All those vampires that Buffy stakes every night don't have anyone waiting for them when they crawl out of the grave. They have no mentors, no one to guide them. So are there vampires who just go around making other vampires willy nilly, without it meaning anything to them? I can see how that sort of thing would piss Darla off.

It was nice to see some Lindsay/Angel interaction, even though Lindsay was a prick again by the end. Ah, but he's invited Angel in now, hasn't he? I love it when those two slam each other onto tables by the throat...

The concept of the trial was very interesting. And my, my -- he had to do the whole thing shirtless. What are the odds of that? ;-) But seriously, how amazing that Angel had to choose between his own life and Darla's at the end, and like the romantic he is, he chose to die. And he did save her, really, because she understood what being human meant and saw what he was willing to sacrifice for her to have it. And wow, his rage when the man couldn't cure her was pretty intense.

And ooh, they brought Drusilla in to turn her again! Dru had a line back in Darla about how she could be Darla's mommy, and that really stuck with me even though it didn't make much sense at the time. The imagery of her pulling Darla to her breast was interesting. And poor, poor Angel, losing her just after he'd managed to save her. Of course, I can't help but wonder if she'll be the same Darla he knew. I guess we'll find out.

Cordelia: "You were just soul-less bloodsucking demons. They're lawyers."
Angel: "Yeah. We're amateurs."

Gotta love a good lawyer joke!


BtVS 10: Into the Woods
[Buffy is thunderstruck when Spike informs her of Riley's furtive nights spent in the dark embrace of a vampire.]

Oh, man. My inner angst whore is still quivering from that one. I was wondering when things were going to go bad for Buffy and Riley at long last, and I should have seen it coming the moment she said their night together was perfect. That's a sure sign of impending doom.

I'm glad Joyce is better, though I'm sort of surprised it all worked out. Well, I guess she isn't exactly home from the hospital yet. I'm not going to count those chickens.

Spike standing outside the window and listening to Buffy and Riley having sex was funny, in a twisted sort of way But when Riley got out of bed and headed to the vampire brothel with Spike on his tail, ooh -- that wasn't going to end well. It was interesting that Spike woke Buffy up in the middle of the night to take her there, that he knew she would need to see it with her own eyes to believe it. (And the little moan he made when he turned around, knowing she was naked right behind him, was fantastic. I think I like him smitten.)

So here's the whole biting-as-sex metaphor again. There was no question in Buffy's mind that this was infidelity, and that thing they say about hell hathing no fury? Holy shit, was she ever mad. Not that I blame her, but wow. And of course, she was missing the big picture, as I feel like I've been saying for a while now. That fight they had near the end was so symptomatic of what's wrong with their relationship that I was shocked at its honesty. She shuts him out, he acts out in an attempt to get her attention, she gets angry at the accusation that she's shutting him out and then shuts him out more, he acts out more... It was going to implode at some point. And she wouldn't even hit him. It was as if she thought he wasn't worth the effort of getting worked up, and that stung him more than anything, cause she'll kick Spike's ass for less than that.

There were bright spots, of course. Riley and Spike commiserating over who had it worse was funny, especially when Spike started to really think about having sex with Buffy, and decided maybe Riley was the lucky one after all. And Xander -- OMG, Xander! He can be such an amazing guy, and he's the only man in Buffy's life who can really stand up to her and not be afraid of losing her love. What he told her was absolutely right, and I was amazed that she listened. And of course, she was too late to stop Riley from leaving. There were tears, oh yes. And then Xander went back and told Anya how much he loved her, and I was a real mess.

But it hurts so good, you know?


A:tS 10: Reunion
[Angel goes on a frantic search after Drusilla turns Darla back into a vampire, and he must catch them before she rises again and the two go back to their old ways and paint the town red. Meanwhile, as Angel goes off the deep end, his staff worries they are the only ones standing between Angel and real darkness.]


Okay, let's back up for a moment. Angel's been going slowly downhill for a while now, and I've been waiting for him to hit bottom. He's been more an more of a twat lately, and it looks like he's still sliding. I knew he couldn't stake Darla. She'd only have to look all tortured and he'd melt and think he could save her all over again. And in fact, that's just what happened when he had the chance.

There were some fun lines in this one:
Gunn: "You had me at 'Everyone gear up'." (Nice play on "You had me at hello.")

Holland: "You don't kill humans."
Angel: "You don't qualify."

Darla, looking around the wine cellar: "When we get a place of our own, we have to put in a people cellar."

I was surprised at how strong Darla was, far stronger than it seemed she was before. I wonder if there will be an explanation for that at some point. Drusilla was just as batshitloco as ever, which I love. The street scene with Darla and Dru was fun, especially when Darla killed the asshole in the truck. I don't know why I'm rooting for them, but I am.

So when they crashed Holland's party and it was clear they were on the hunt, I was quite excited. I was almost disappointed when Angel showed up, because I thought that would mean no carnage. Holland and his cronies really deserved to get a taste of what they've unleashed into the world.

The scene where Angel was standing in the doorway and staring at the two of them made me think of the flashbacks to the past when it was just the three of them. I had a moment of "wow, they really are immortal". They were "his women", as he called them, vampires he used to consider his responsibility, and now here they are again. But this time, he's not responsible for them, is he?

So when Holland pleaded with him to help, saying all of those people were going to die, and Angel said, "And somehow, I just don't seem to care," I was all 0_0!!! Because that is so not him. And my god, he barred the door and basically damned all of those people. And he didn't regret it a bit.

So I'm thinking one of two things is going to happen here. One option is that Darla and Dru will make vampires out of all those people and will cause Angel more trouble than he bargained for. Though I think it's more likely that they just killed all those people. So the other possibility I'm thinking about is that Darla wants to hurt the people that hurt her and who have it in for Angel, because she feels some sort of connection to him still. I'm imagining that Angel will eventually regret his actions, no matter how it all turns out.

I'm betting that Lindsay survived the massacre somehow, though, I'm pretty sure he's on the show in future seasons. But as a human or as a vampire, I don't know. He seems like a good candidate for Darla to turn, since she doesn't have Angel anymore. He would be a good replacement for Angel, even though he'd despise being in Angel's shadow.

And then, the kicker: this time when the gang stood up to him, Angel fired them all. Dude. Just... dude.


BtVS 11: Triangle
[Emotions are charged between Willow and Anya when they are left in charge of the magic shop and Willow accidentally conjures an enormous troll.]

This had the filling of a filler episode, but it was still fun. I don't mind those so much, I guess because I don't have to wait a week to see the plot move forward. Actually, the rest of the gang had been absent so much from the last few episodes that it was good to see a story focused on them. And no Riley in the credits. *sigh*

Though I have to say that there was a lot of weird OOCness here. Buffy was weirdly cheery and then weepy (which isn't like her at all); Willow and Tara nicking supplies from Giles while he's gone; Giles turning to the Watchers' Council for help; and since when have Willow and Anya bickered like that? It just all seemed a little off somehow, and I kept waiting for the catch.

Still, the troll was fun. He had the best dialogue, OMG. I wish I had written more of it down, because it was hilarious. And he was an ex of Anya's? Ha!

Ah, poor Spike, still clueless about how to win Buffy's affection. Well, I suppose at this point there's no way he could win Buffy's affection, but the fact that he's trying so hard is endearing. Him practicing on his Buffy doll and getting all violent on it, and then turning into a kitten when faced with her for real was kind of sweet. I loved how he kept his arms around her for just a little longer than was strictly necessary when she fell on him during the fight. And aw, he was trying to be good, wasn't he?

Buffy: "You want credit for not feeding off of bleeding disaster victims?"
Spike: "Well... yeah."
Buffy: "You're disgusting!"
Spike (baffled): "What does it take?"

And ooh, Dawn overheard them talking about her in the end. That can't be good.


A:tS 11: Redefinition
[After firing his staff and cutting himself off from all help, Angel begins intense physical and mental training to become strong enough to stop Darla and Drusilla before they destroy the City of Angels. Meanwhile, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn try to continue the fight for the innocent on their own now that Angel's gone commando.]

I wondered how much of this episode would be centered around the fallout from Angel firing Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn. I'm not exactly sure where all of this is going. Angel is either about to go off the deep end, or he knows what he's doing and is trying to protect them. I'm inclined toward the latter just because I can't see him turning his back on these people he cares so much about for no good reason. And being Angel, he wouldn't just come out and say what he's up to. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's certainly the direction I'm leaning in.

It was interesting that the three of them all found each other again, and in the karaoke bar, of all places. Followed by bickering, drinking, blaming each other for all of it, getting wasted, and then topping it all off by "singing" We are the Champions with their arms around each other in that way you can only love your friends when you're shitfaced. I was glad they all ended up saving that girl together, because it showed how committed they are to what they're doing. It wasn't about supporting Angel; it was about doing something they all believed in.

Darla and Drusilla trying to round up their army was fun, especially since Angel foiled their plan by slaughtering all the potential baddies before they even got there. That was pretty crazy, but even crazier was his sitting there and waiting for them, smoking what really looked like a joint. It was interesting that Dru was going on and on about flames and pain, without knowing she was talking about what she was going to experience when Angel set them on fire. But Darla's bafflement at it all was especially chilling, especially when she said that it was neither Angel nor Angelus who did that. So... what does that mean? If you interpret the title literally, it might mean that he's changed somehow, in a way no one expected. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I kind of liked the old Angel.

And Lindsay and Lilah are now competing with each other for their lives. That should be interesting. I wonder if Lindsay will be a good toy for Darla?

Oh, and loved this bit, right before they went in to see the head honcho W&H guy:
Lilah: "If anyone's going to go down in here, it's gonna be you."
Lindsay: "If that's what it takes."

Angel's last line was ominous: "Let them fight the good fight. Someone has to fight the war." Oooh.


Themes in both shows:

Episode 7: The connection here was clearly on fleshing out the backstory on Spike, Angel, Darla, and Drusilla, and showing it from both Spike's and Angel's perspectives. There was also the theme of powerful women being the downfall of both of them. And in both cases, Spike and Angel ended up killing those women. Ooh, what does that say about what's in Buffy's future if Spike ever does get his chip out?

Episode 8: The only common theme I can see here is that both Riley and Angel are watching their lives spin out of control because of a woman they care about. And there was biting without killing.

Episode 9: I'm not sure if there's a common theme between these two. Imminent death? But that's always a theme on both of these shows.

Episode 10: Buffy and Angel both drove away people they cared about in these episodes, people who ground them in ways they don't seem to realize. And in both cases, their friends were brutally honest about what they were doing wrong -- and while Buffy listened and tried to fix the situation with Riley, Angel pushed Cordy, Wes, and Gunn out of his life. Somehow I think Buffy is going to come out better in the end.

Episode 11: Other than lots of OOCness from the characters on both shows, I'm not really sure if these episodes had anything in common.


OMG, I'm halfway through season 5! But... it's going by too quickly. What will I do when it's all done and there aren't any more episodes to watch? *wibbles*

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll start writing fic, like I always do... ;-)
BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 12-17 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 12-17: [BtVS] Checkpoint, Blood Ties, Crush, I Was Made to Love You, The Body, and Forever.
[AtS] Blood Money, Happy Anniversary, The Thin Dead Line, Reprise, Epiphany, and Disharmony.

BtVS 12: Checkpoint
[The Council of Watchers possess insight into Glory, but are less than forthcoming with the information, and are also threatening to deport Giles if Buffy doesn't perform well on a test of her Slayer skills.]

I hate the Council, really I do. I'm a little ticked at Giles for calling them, but mostly I'm full of hatred for their attempt to come in and shake everyone down. Their threats against Giles, their adherence to bureaucracy, closing the shop down while implying Giles didn't now what he was doing and OMG, the women bringing the men tea? That just pissed me off.

I did enjoy the interviews of Buffy's friends, though. It was fun to watch everyone squirm and try to present the best possible picture, but of course saying things in ways that make them all look like they don't know what they're doing. Willow and Tara talking about their relationship was funny, as was Anya going overboard to keep the Council people from finding out she was a demon. I thought it interesting that they interviewed Spike too, and funny that they were afraid of him, keeping him at arm's length with crosses. Do they not know about the chip? And it was cute that the one woman was a little starstruck by Spike, having written her thesis about him. The look Spike gave her was hilarious.

(Edit: Check out a fan-created version of Lydia's thesis here. Thanks to slinkhard for the link!)

Glory showing up in Buffy's house and talking to Dawn was wild. I have to admit that Dawn is starting to grow on me. I wasn't sure she would, but... yeah. I'm prepared to take back everything I said about her in earlier posts. *twitch*

I was really surprised that Buffy took Dawn and Joyce to Spike for protection. I'm not sure when she started to trust him, but for some reason she really does. Spike seemed almost touched by it. I love Joyce and Spike together! How funny that they watch the same soap. And Joyce's "I love what you've neglected to do with the place" was funny.

The scene where Buffy stood up to the Council was really, really fantastic. She was so grown up, so confident and so right. And she even got Giles his job back, hee. That was a great moment. It almost seemed like a big turning point for her character.

And Glory is a god, huh? Oooh.



A:tS 12: Blood Money
[Angel threatens to expose Wolfram & Hart's criminal activities when he discovers that they are stealing large contributions that were made to a teen shelter, but an old adversary has other plans for Angel.]

Wow, Anne! Anne from Sunnydale, and from Anne! I'm just so proud of her for getting her life together and doing something positive with it! I wonder if her connection to Buffy will come out at some point?

This episode was full of layers, which was interesting to try to unravel. First, demon guy Boone seems to be trying to hunt Angel down, but turns out to be working with him. Then Lindsay and Lilah think Angel is going to publicly humiliate them by exposing their crime in public, but it turned out the whole point was just to distract them while the money got stolen. (And yeah, that was pretty humiliating. Possibly more for Cordelia and Wesley than anyone else. OMG Wesley stripping?)

But the biggest thing for me was at the end when Boone had the sack of money from the auction and it became clear that they had stolen it. At that point, I had lost so much of my trust in Angel that I really thought he was going to keep it. So when he took it all back to Anne, it kind of surprised me. And she took it, even though some of it was literally soaked in blood. I suppose that despite Angel saying before that it was "blood money", it was intended for the charity in the first place, so that wasn't such a big deal. Still, it seemed creepy.

It was interesting to see Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn still pushing on without Angel, fighting monsters we don't get to see and bickering with each other over what their new agency will be called. I hope their estrangement from Angel doesn't last too much longer. I miss the gang.

And I loved the fact that Joss got a dig in with the woman at the fundraiser asking the actress, "So this thing with making your character gay, is that all about ratings?" Hah!


BtVS 13: Blood Ties
[Dawn's entire world crumbles around her after she learns that she is the Key, and dealing with the truth proves to be even harder than anyone had anticipated.]

I had been starting to wonder how much longer Dawn's identity would remain a secret, so I was pleasantly surprised that Buffy told everyone what she really was. And of course, that made the birthday gift from Dawn incredibly poignant, when everyone in the room knew that it was a photo of something that never happened -- everyone except Dawn, that is.

When she snuck out of her room to run away, I wrote in my notes "Wouldn't it be better if Dawn knew?" I loved the fact that Spike went with her to break into the Magic Box. You could just see the wheels turning in his head: Buffy's not going to like this, and if I just let Dawn go off, she'll blame me. But if I go with Dawn and keep her out of trouble... Buffy will still blame me. But maybe she'll be grateful I took care of her little sister... That and Spike just seems to like being in the thick of things. What did he steal from the counter?

I have to say that Michelle's acting in this episode was pretty stunning. She really played it well, so well that she had me in tears more than a few times. When she showed up in the living room with blood running down her wrist, and when she screamed at Buffy and Joyce to leave her alone -- god, that was exactly right.

It was interesting that Glory didn't know what Dawn was even when she was standing right in front of her, and that Dawn used the opportunity to pump her for information. When Glory was just about to do the brain suck thing on Dawn, I was wondering if it would even work. I'm still wondering, actually. It would be interesting if Dawn was the one who killed Glory once and for all. Cause despite that hurtling toward the earth in flames thing, I sort of doubt Glory is actually dead. That would be far too easy, what with the god thing and all. And what exactly is Ben, anyway? He said Glory couldn't touch him. Are he and Glory one and the same being, just expressing different forms? I guess we've never seen them together. I just wasn't sure what happened when he changed into Glory. I think we were meant to think they're actually two sides of the same coin or something, but I wasn't sure.

There was some nice Buffy/Spike interaction in this episode. I love the fact that he doesn't back down when she yells at him, and he tells her when she's wrong. Angel and Riley wouldn't do that, to the detriment of both their relationships, but Spike doesn't put up with Buffy's shit. And even better, when he tells her the truth, she really seems to hear it. I was glad she essentially apologized to him (for blaming him for Dawn finding out the truth about herself), and that he accepted it in a way that was almost gracious. It makes them a good team, and they seem like they trust each other now.

And it was cute that Spike wanted to give her that battered box of chocolates he'd been practicing on, but ended up standing outside the house and stalling. And it was funny that Glory called him Buffy's boyfriend too.


A:tS 13: Happy Anniversary
[Angel and Lorne must join forces to stop a brilliant, yet twisted physicist who is determined to stop time in order to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him.]

So we finally get a little insight into what Angel's problem has been of late: he's drowning, yet again, under the weight of what he's done and how far he would have to go to redeem himself. And I was right before, it seems he did push his friends away to protect them.

It's interesting that he seems to be able to open up to demons in a way he can't with humans. He told Lorne more than he's told anyone since Doyle. It's like he just doesn't believe Cordelia or Wesley would understand, so he doesn't even try to open up to them.

Could Lorne be any gayer? I love it! I especially liked him using his voice as a weapon. That was pretty funny.

I have to say I found the whiteboard full of math highly entertaining. I had to freeze the video on the white board and take a look at it because I'm a geek like that (STFU) and what they had written made a little bit of sense, but it was like they had just fucked it all up somehow, like someone had copied it down from somewhere and didn't really know what details were important. It looked like they were trying to allude to some sort of Lorentz transformation and I saw something about a Hawking Hamiltonian, but there was so much missing that it looked like they'd just jumbled together as many symbols as possible that look complicated, yet are recognizable to anyone who's had calculus.

So then I did a quick google search, and look what I found:

Downloaded from here.

I tried to make a screencap from the episode showing the whiteboard, and I couldn't do it. (My software can't seem to penetrate the DVD's security.) Anyway, I wanted to show a side-by-side comparison of that image from the web and the whiteboard from the episode, because it looks like whoever set up the whiteboard on the set used that very image and then copied it down only partially, and even got some things wrong. It's pretty funny what parts they screwed up. Oh, and the demons added in stuff from that image to correct the physics grad student's math, Funny, you'd think he could have just looked in a textbook to get the equation right...


It was interesting that the guy who nearly stopped the world not only didn't know what he was doing, but that he was doing it to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him. Angel's response to that was perfect: "The guy's a disaster at love. Nearly destroyed the world. I can relate."

It sounds like he may be about to call up the gang and ask them if they want their jobs back. I'm starting to think they'll say no.


BtVS 14: Crush
[Buffy is appalled by Spike's admission of love for her, but Drusilla is waiting in the wings, intent on returning Spike to his killer ways.]

I was hoping from the title that Spike's feelings for Buffy would come out in this episode. I guessed it wouldn't go well.

Poor Spike. That's really all I can say, because even though I know that they eventually do get together, I think it's a long way off. So he has a long time to follow Buffy around like a slightly unpredictable and violent puppy dog.

I didn't know Harmony was still around. I'm surprised Buffy hasn't just dispatched her already, since she's clearly "alive" and well and probably killing people daily. But oh, man, the roleplaying was hilarious, especially Harmony's bad impression of Buffy, while wearing that sweater of Buffy's that Spike had nicked. I have to wonder how dumb Harmony is not to get what that was about.

Here is another episode where I liked Dawn. Her interaction with Spike was a lot of fun to watch. It was also interesting that Dawn was the one who saw Spike's feelings for Buffy, when none of Buffy's friends did. I was surprised that Buffy hadn't figured it out sooner, but I was glad that Dawn was the one to tell her. And then Buffy spent the rest of the episode demonstrating that she feels something for Spike that makes her really uncomfortable. It might just be loathing, but whatever it is, it's strong. And I'm enough of a Harry/Draco shipper to know that this is starting one long subplot of hatesex foreplay.

Buffy confronting Spike about his feelings was interesting, especially her insistence that what he was feeling for her could not possibly be love because she didn't think he was capable of it. That was an odd statement for her to make, I thought, even though she justified it with the absence of a soul thing. I mean, she saw what happened to Spike when Dru left him, and how much he was reeling from it. Did she not think that was real? Or is she just in denial that it's possible for Spike to care about her, because that throws an unexpected wrench into her world? If Spike had a soul, would she feel differently about the whole thing, or would she be just as freaked out? See, I think her reaction is more about her than about him.

And ooh, Buffy found the serial-killer shrine. Sweet, yet creepy.

The scene at the end with Dru and Buffy tied up and Harmony yelling at Spike was really interesting. Here he was, faced with the three women he's had in his unlife in recent memory, and all of them make him crazy in different ways. And yet, he can't walk away from them. If he really were some sort of monster -- if he were anything like Angelus was -- he would have killed all three of them and gotten on with it. But he couldn't do it, and that really says a lot about him. Even though he threatened to kill Dru, I don't think he would have done it. He just wanted Buffy to see how much he really wanted her, and as usual, he overestimated how much Buffy would care about that.

I think that's the thing that's so poignant here: Spike cares about Buffy so much and knows her incredibly well. He's been stalking her for all intents and purposes, but he studies her and obsesses over her to the extent that he really seems to understand her. And she has no clue what he's really like. She always assumes the worst about his intentions, she hits first and asks questions later, and she has no clue what's really important to him. In a way, his realization that he wasn't even a blip on her radar hurt more than any punch she's ever thrown, or any mean thing she's ever said. And the look on his face when he realized he'd been uninvited to her house -- ouch. That was not so different from the look on his face when the woman in the flashback rejected him back in 1880.

And it makes me wonder if he's about to go and do something just as desperate and dangerous as he did then. Oh, and as an aside, it's interesting that he can feed on someone who's already dead, even if he can't do the killing.


A:tS 14: The Thin Dead Line
[Unbeknownst to Gunn, Cordy and Wesley, Angel investigates a squad of zombie police officers who assault everyone in their path---a case also brought to the trio by Anne.]

The title is a clear reference to The Thin Blue Line, which you can read a summary of here. The themes of that film were definitely reflected in this episode, to interesting effect. And of course, the episode also kept in that tension between security, freedom, and justice and ended on an ambivalent note with the gang leader remarking that the streets were now safe for him to do business again and Kate noting that crime really had been way down in that area with the zombie cops cracking down. I was impressed that the show didn't take a stand either way. They just showed the people caught in the crossfire, and didn't sugarcoat the rest of it.

The other big theme in this episode was Angel actually working behind the scenes to help Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn, without them knowing it. I'm sure they'll all make up eventually, but it won't be easy. You'd think Angel would've learned by now that he can't just push people away like that, even when he thinks he has their best interests at heart. You'd think he would learn not to treat people he cares about that way after a couple hundred years.

It was good to see Anne again, and I'm still waiting for someone to say something about Sunnydale when they're all together, just so they all realize the connection they really have.



BtVS 15: I Was Made to Love You
[Buffy must stop a heartbroken young woman — a robot who was manufactured to be the perfect girlfriend — from destroying the city.]

April the perfect robot girlfriend seemed like a great metaphor for Buffy about her own relationships with men. She spent the beginning of the episode wondering what she was doing wrong and how she could be a better girlfriend, even going so far as thinking that she should cut back on slaying so she could be more the type of girlfriend a guy would want. Xander was absolutely right when he told her that the right guy would love her for who she is, but she wasn't ready to believe it, of course.

Ben and Glory do indeed seem to occupy the same body and sometimes even the same clothing, which is quite interesting. It's probably a good thing Buffy didn't go out with him. Finding out her new boyfriend was also Glory would really have set her off dating for life.

I think I said something after the episode with two Xanders about wondering if that experience was going to change Xander, and it really seems like it did. He's just more solid now, somehow, like he's grown up and found his place in the world. I'm sure having a better job and moving out of his parents' basement really helped with that, but still, it's almost remarkable how much he's grown up. At this point, he comes across as more mature than Buffy and Willow, which is really interesting.

Ah, Spike -- I don't know whether to laugh at him or feel sorry for him. Though he got a few good zingers in at the Bronze: "If looks could stake" and "Looking for your next ex?" Buffy won't even give him the time of day, and her friends are, as usual, standing like a solid wall behind her. He tends to do desperate things in circumstances like that, and the fact that he asked Warren to build him a Buffy at the end was pretty crazy. Well, I guess everyone else has had a doppelganger except Buffy, haven't they? Somehow, I doubt this is going to work out for Spike.

And holy shit -- Joyce? I was wondering when the tumor was going to come up again, but I really didn't expect her to just die. I've known people who died of brain tumors, and it was long and lingering and horrible, and they had surgeries and went into remission, but it always came back. That's what I was expecting, and I didn't think it would be so sudden. Of course, it may not have been the tumor at all. Maybe it was Glory making good on her promise.

But Buffy broke my heart there: "Mom? Mom? Mommy?"


A:tS 15: Reprise
[Angel learns of the impending visit of Wolfram & Hart's "senior partner," an evil and merciless demon from hell, and he plans a kamikaze mission to destroy the powerful beast that will sacrifice his own life in the process.]

The concept of W&H having its 75-year review and everyone freaking out about it was quite interesting. All the lawyers in the karaoke bar, LOL. And the demons were all "Ew, lawyers!"

It's interesting that Lindsay is taking care of Darla. I can't decide if she's playing him or if he's helping her. Lindsay taking a shower as soon as he gets home from W&H is pretty interesting. There are always these little hints that he's not completely comfortable with the whole evil thing.

It was also interesting that Lorne said anything that could manifest in this dimension could be killed. It made me think about Glory and gave me a little hope that Buffy would be able to dispatch her at some point.

What is it with blondes stabbing Angel through with swords?

And whoa, Angel seems to be hitting bottom here. The way he stomped into Cordelia and Wesley's new office and just took the book, without even saying anything -- he was being an incredible ass. He's almost unrecognizable, and I'm really wondering when that's going to change. The realization that he's already in hell was pretty harsh for him, though. He had started to see the world in terms of battle he'd won, and here he finds out he can never win, and so he thinks it's all pointless. Though I really loved that the elevator to hell played such cheerful Muzak.

Of course, everyone was hitting bottom here: Cordelia about to go off to certain death on her own, Wesley being dumped by Virginia and struggling to heal from his own almost-death, Kate losing her job and sounding as if she were trying to kill herself.

And then Angel just walked away from it all, and practically raped Darla, (though in the end she really was into it, so I guess it doesn't count as non-con). Can I just say that was one of the hottest sex scenes ever? Maybe it's because we don't ever get to see him as a sexual being, but that? Holy shit. The moment where she slid her hand inside his pants and pushed them down and there was just the briefest glimpse of asscrack? I had to back that one up a few times. And the look on his face when he came -- holy fuck. Though you'd think it would be a bigger deal after all that time. I guess it's TV though, so I should be happy with that. Oh, and I am. Believe me.

It ended in a way that seemed designed to trick us into thinking he's about to lose his soul again. I just don't buy it, because I think it's not about sex. He never really loved Darla, and he doesn't love her now. He fucked her for a completely selfish reason, to get off and to feel something for the first time since she started haunting him in his dreams. That has nothing to do with happiness -- it's exactly the sort of thing that makes you more miserable than you were to start with, usually.

So I don't think Angelus is back. But I do think maybe Angel is, and that would be a great thing.

And I'm wondering about that ring. Could Buffy use it to get rid of Glory? She once sent a ring to Angel, so maybe he could return the favor.


BtVS 16: The Body
[Buffy and the gang are overcome by grief when tragedy strikes and they are robbed of someone they hold dear.]

Aneurysm. I hadn't thought of that, somehow.

Stepping aside from the content for a moment, this was an amazing episode technically. The washed out color, the shaky hand-held shots, the lack of music, even the removal of sound in many cases, really emphasized the emotions here. When you're shocked like that, you don't see or hear things. Everything becomes a blur, and you sort of exist from moment to moment. The fact that they were able to capture that here is really incredible. And when there were sounds, like the crack of Joyce's rib, to the sound of the zipper on the body bag, or Xander's fist going through the wall, they were jolting. And that's so real -- those things stick with you.

I once saw a man get run over by a bus. The tire just went right over his thighs and crushed them, and he screamed in a way I can't ever forget. Sounds matter at a time like that, and particular ones stay with you.

The long hand-held shot in the beginning was fantastic, and I couldn't help but think it was better for SMG that way, because where else would you get that sort of momentum? On top of that, it gave the scene such a feeling of immediacy, like it was happening as you watched and not just a TV show at all. Scenes throughout were edited in sharp ways, and the angles were weird, and it was so quiet that it created a mood of shock and grief that you could really feel. And when Buffy opened the back door and there were sounds of children playing, of life going on -- the sun really doesn't have a right to shine when you're feeling that, but it does anyway, and it's so fucking weird.

The fact that they cut in Buffy's what-if thoughts was amazing, along with weird random memories of her mom with the whole gang, the whole family.

It was interesting that Buffy didn't really seem to break down until Giles got there, until she had to tell someone she knew that her mom was dead. That seemed to be the moment it hit her. Watching Dawn going about her everyday school life and knowing that Buffy was going to walk through the door at any moment, and then showing her screaming through the glass so that it was silent, so you were an outsider looking in just like everyone else. The silence of it was more powerful than it would have been to hear it.

Everyone else's reactions were amazing, with Willow freaking out about what to wear and Xander trying to keep it together and Anya trying to understand what was going on. Her speech about not understanding death was so poignantly childlike, but she was saying what they were all thinking, but were too grown up to say. We all think that, but know it isn't proper to talk about.

And Xander got a ticket for double-parking. Life goes on.

The scene at the morgue, with no one knowing what to do or say, and the doctor having to come out and tell them there was nothing anyone could have done. And Dawn wanting to see the body, and locking herself in with the corpses, and of course there was a vampire and Buffy had to slay a damn vampire right next to her mother's body -- because life goes on and that's what she does.

I thought it was interesting that this was the episode where we finally got to see a kiss between Willow and Tara, and I wonder how they managed to get that past the censors. I guess they could hardly argue that it was sexual in that context. And when Xander pulled his hand out of the wall and it was bloody, Tara said "it hurts" and he smiled, it made me think of the line from the last episode when he said, "I'm alive -- I can tell by the pain."

It was interesting to me that the episode ended where it did, with Dawn reaching out to touch Joyce's face. And god, the ending credits were jarring. That was one time they could have cut the music, you know?

And there was no Spike in this episode, was there? He would want to know that Joyce had died. I hope they'll tell him.



A:tS 16: Epiphany
[After an empty night of passion with Darla, Angel surprisingly wakes up with his soul still intact and has an epiphany. His moment of clarity brings him back to the land of the living and while he tries to reunite with his crew, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn aren't ready to forgive him, even when their very lives are at stake.]

I knew it! I was right and Angel is back! It was interesting that this episode started off exactly as the last Buffy episode did, with the part before the opening credits being the last minute of the previous episode.

And ha, Darla thought he'd turned, but he didn't, and pretty much for exactly the reasons I predicted in my comments on the last episode. The conversation between them seemed to be a twist on the conversation between Buffy and Angel back when he lost his soul, with Darla asking if it wasn't good. He was just as blunt in kicking Darla out as he had been to Buffy, but this time it came from another place altogether. That was a very interesting bit of writing!

It was interesting that fucking Darla was what gave him the clarity he needed. It was also interesting that Lorne knew the moment he walked in the door, saying: "Keep your pants on ... I see we're late with that advice." And Lorne checking out Angel's ass and wishing for leather pants? *dies*

It was a bit weird that Angel snapped out of it all so quickly, and that he was suddenly trying to get back on everyone's good side. But I have to say that I really adore him all awkward and sweet like that. He made me melt, even if his friends (rightly) weren't as easily convinced. The awkward tension between Angel, Wesley, and Gunn in the car was kind of fun. Besides, Angel's been such a dick lately that I was sort of enjoying watching him squirm. This was a funny bit of dialogue:

Gunn, referring to Angel's epiphany: "What, you just wake up and bang?"
Angel: "Sort of the other way around."

Poor Cordelia, impregnated by demons again. And poor Lindsay, so in love with Darla that he can't see past his own nose. His rage over her sleeping with Angel was kind of crazy, but pretty realistic. He was never going to be enough for her, and he needed to find out sooner rather than later that she was using him. He tried to kick Angel's ass, but in the end he wasn't going to win. Though it was sweet that Angel left a thank you note on his truck.

Whoa, did I just write that?

I was so, so glad to see that Kate and Angel had made up by the end. I'd been having a hard time with her hatred for him, and I'm relieved that they might be friends again. And whoa -- he could enter her apartment uninvited? When he kicked the door down, I wondered about that, but I thought I must have forgotten that she'd invited him in before. Did she uninvite him at some point? that sounds vaguely familiar. Either that or she was actually dead and he brought her back. But it's an interesting thought that maybe it was something more, and I need to think about what that means for Angel. For example, does it mean that he might get to be human just a little bit at a time, rather than all at once, and this is the first sign of that?

Kudos to Angel for going back to Gunn, Wesley, and Cordelia and asking them if he could work for them. He has a long way to go to earn their trust again, but I hope they see that he's sincere about it. The team seems to be getting back together! Yay!

When the phone rang at the end, I was sure it would be Buffy. I can't imagine she wouldn't tell Angel that her mom had died. But it wasn't.


BtVS 17: Forever
[Buffy is comforted by Angel, who comes back to Sunnydale after he hears of Joyce's death. Meanwhile, Dawn decides to perform a spell to bring her mom back to life.]

I figured this would be a grief episode. It did a good job of showing how people deal with all the arrangements, all the choices to be made, and how hard it is to think straight at a time like that. It was also good to know that Spike knew, even if he wasn't welcome to pay his respects.

The funeral scene reminded me of a dream of Buffy's back in the beginning of season 3, I think, where she was at a funeral standing before a coffin and Angel was there, only he was human and he stepped out into the sunlight.

Every time I think I can let go of the Buffy/Angel ship, something happens to rip my heart out all over again. I can't not love them together, because it's just the most perfect doomed relationship there is. I had really hoped he would come (and so I squeed when I saw his name in the opening credits), and when he showed up beside the grave and said he was sorry he couldn't come sooner (because it was daylight sooner, duh) and took her hand and she didn't even look up before she thanked him for coming because really, she knew he was coming and was practically waiting for him and he knew he'd find her there and -- oh, god, them sitting together in the graveyard all night, just talking and him holding her, and then this:

Angel: "I can stay in town as long as you want me."
Buffy: "How's forever? Does forever work for you?"

And... and... and then they kissed and it was so sweet and there were many, many tears on my part. I can't even begin to express how much that whole scene tore me up, and how much the longing from both of them killed me, how they can barely be in the same room together without wanting each other, and how that hasn't changed even after all this time. And oh man, all the times that they made out in the cemetery under the guise of patrolling, or snuggled against gravestones, and she probably never thought about the fact that people were buried there, people with families who were grieving for them, you know? I mean, she's spent so much of the last few years patrolling in that cemetery, and now she has to walk past her mother's grave every night. Vampires crawling out of their graves will just have to signify something different now. They would just have to.

And my god Angel still remembers that he had one day with her as a human being and he knows that she doesn't know, and how horribly angsty is that? I still hold out hope that she will remember someday. Right before the time turned back in IWRY she said over and over, "I won't forget" and god I just want her to remember that someday, somehow, just so he doesn't have to carry it alone. It's not that I want to wish that pain on Buffy -- I just don't want him to be the only one who knows. Well, I guess Cordelia knows, right? Cordelia knows for a reason, I'm sure.

Okay, wiping the tears and moving on. Glory and Ben are siblings, which is interesting. And despite Ben's stabbing of the scabby priest, he managed to live long enough to let Glory know that the key was a human being. It's nice to know Ben was trying to defend Dawn, but that thing about how the road to hell is paved always rears its ugly head.

Speaking of good intentions gone awry, Dawn trying to resurrect Joyce from the dead reminded me a lot of Willow's spell to forget Oz, and with almost similarly disastrous results. Was that why Willow helped her, because they're somewhat similar in that regard? I thought it was interesting that Spike helped Dawn do naughty things again in this episode. He seems genuinely interested in protecting her, but he seems to think that the best approach is to let her do dangerous things while he stands by to make sure she does them as safely as possible. In one sense, that flies completely in the face of logic, but in another way, it makes perfect sense. It could be interpreted as showing that he thinks people have to learn the hard lessons in their own way, and that no one can really stop Dawn from doing what she is determined to do. Of course, it could also be that he just wants to be in on the action, wherever it is and whoever's doing it. It was cute that he called her "Bitty Buffy" when he got frustrated by her.

The guy they visited for info seemed to be more than met the eye. Or maybe I'm just paranoid at this point. And Dawn managed to pull off the spell and raise Joyce, and god, for all of her yelling, Buffy wanted her mom back too, didn't she? It was good that Dawn was the one to rip up the picture, because Buffy had just lost it and wanted Joyce back, and once zombie!Joyce had come through that door, Buffy would have been lost. It was good to see Dawn do the right thing.

And yet again, the episode ends on horrible grief. I know that's realistic, but man. It's killing me.



A:tS 17: Disharmony
[Cordelia's featherbrained friend-turned-vampire, Harmony, turns up in Los Angeles anxious to join in the fight against a vampire cult leader.]

Poor Angel. I know he was a complete prick to everyone, but I feel bad watching them torment him. I can't help it. He's so adorable when he's atoning.

Oh, Harmony! I am way too fond of her. It was interesting that Cordelia didn't know she was a vampire, but I guess the Sunnydale team doesn't necessarily give updates on the local action.

The scene in Cordelia's bedroom where Cordelia thought Harmony was coming on to her was priceless! Again, there's the sexual metaphor for biting, and played to great effect. It's interesting that every time Cordelia calls Sunnydale, she calls Willow. I guess I never pegged the two of them as being that close. Of course, Cordelia had no idea that Willow is currently in a relationship with a woman, so I guess they couldn't be all that close. I thought it was clever that you had to be watching Buffy to know what Cordelia heard on the phone, because we only saw her reaction to Willow coming out to her. I'm guessing that the vast majority of people who watched Angel while it aired also watched Buffy?

The idea of a vampire pyramid scheme was funny, if a bit bizarre even for this show. When we first saw the green robe with the little triangle snake symbol on it, the first thing I thought was "Slytherin vampires?" I guess it's good to know vampires are just as susceptible to being scammed as humans are.

And Angel was right about Harmony, of course -- she did indeed turn on Cordelia the first chance she had. I was surprised Cordelia didn't stake her, but also a little glad. I would have missed her, you know?

And oh, the ending of this one was fantastic, with Wesley lecturing Angel about how to regain Cordelia's friendship, and then being interrupted by Cordelia running in and squealing with delight because Angel had bought her clothes. That part was so funny, especially the grin on Angel's face. It was almost OOC, to the extent that I wondered if that was a take where DB got a little cracked up, but in the end they decided to use it anyway. "You have the most amazing taste! You have like, a gay man's taste!" Bwahaha! Love it! Oh, and the moment where she sang "la-la-la" and they both did a little dance while grinning at Wes -- I had to back it up and watch that again, because I was laughing too hard the first time through!

Ah, Cordelia. No matter how much she grows, some things about her never change.


Themes in both shows:

Episode 12: In both of these episodes, the main characters were being tested by outside forces. Okay, so that happens a lot, but the outside forces in both cases had questionable intentions. It wasn't clear if the Council and Boone were good guys or bad guys, and in both cases they turned out to be more of a light grey. And both Buffy and Angel gained a sense of strength and focus right at the end which surprised me.

Episode 15: Both of these episodes showed people sinking to new depths and acting out in desperation. April and Spike were willing to do anything to deal with their unrequited affections, and the episode ended with the bombshell of Joyce's death. Everyone on Angel was in deep trouble at the end, and the episode ended with the possibility that we'd lost Angel again.

Episode 17: Trust seemed to be the common theme here, or rather issues with trust. Dawn and Buffy didn't trust each other when they should have, which almost led to disaster, and Spike trusted Dawn a little too much. None of Angel's friends are ready to trust him again, and Cordelia misplaced her trust in Harmony, which almost led to disaster. In the end, everyone seemed to be trying to make things right, though.


OMG, the last stretch of this season is next! *bites nails*
BtVS Season 5; AtS Season 2 , Episodes 18-22 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 18-22: [BtVS] Intervention, Tough Love, Spiral, The Weight of the World, and The Gift.
[AtS] Dead End, Belonging, Over the Rainbow, Through the Looking Glass, and There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb.

BtVS 18: Intervention
[The Scoobies mistake Spike's custom-made romance with his Buffybot for the real thing; Glory's minions kidnap Spike in the belief that he is the Key.]

Now everyone's had a double running about and causing havoc! Even Giles, if you count that first episode Wesley appeared in.

The Buffy robot was actually kind of fun, especially the shots through her eyes looking at Buffy's friends with weird bits of trivia about them. Like Anya's "likes money" and Willow's "gay (1999-present)". I really wanted robot!Buffy to look at Giles and Spike too, just so I could see what would have been in the file for them. And she was programmed to say "Angel's lame", which totally cracked me up. Spike seemed to like his toy, but you could tell he really wanted to pretend it was real, and that it wasn't completely right even for him. Though Spike with messy hair was kind of cute.

Okay, the scene with her riding him in the cemetery? "Oh, Spike, you're the big bad!" How they hell did that get past the censors? Xander's horror at the whole thing was pretty funny. I have to say that it's interesting that of all the sex we've seen on the show, this is only the second instance I can recall that didn't depict the missionary position. The other was Faith/Xander. Isn't that weird?

And Buffy's vision quest tied nicely back into Restless, with the desert and the first slayer. (It wasn't all that remote, though -- you could see a car going by in one shot, off in the distance.) "Love will bring you to your gift" was interesting. I know that the finale for this season is called The Gift, and at this point I have no idea what that might be. Well, the first slayer said "death", but that made about as much sense to me as it did to Buffy. And when Buffy said no, that death was not a gift, she said, "You have your answer". I've been thinking about what that might mean, but I'm really not sure.

Unless... Well, I know Buffy dies sometime between now and OMWF (lots of spoilers there, of course), so maybe that is what it means, that Buffy is going to die and that she'll consider it a gift in the end? Bah, I have no clue. At the rate I'm watching these, though, I should find out what it means by the weekend, so I guess I can be patient. ;-)

I really didn't doubt that Spike would protect Dawn. I just couldn't imagine him spilling that secret, no matter what. I just worried that Buffy wouldn't find out for a long time, which would lead to lots of the sort of angst that I don't like so much.

Buffy's indignant shock that her friends hadn't even suspected robot!Buffy wasn't real was funny. "You guys couldn't tell me apart from a robot?" And this bit, of course, was glorious:

Xander: "No one is judging you. It's understandable. Spike is strong and mysterious and sort of compact, but well-muscled."
Buffy: "I am not having sex with Spike! But I'm starting to think that you might be."

I also found it interesting that Buffy's doppelganger was a robot, because in each case of one of the main characters comig face to face with another version of themselves, the doppelganger revealed something about the character that they hadn't seen in themselves before (and that we hadn't seen, in some cases). Willow's doppelganger was a vampire, which showed that Willow is capable of a lot more dark things than anyone would have guessed. She seems to be moving in that direction now, so I wonder if that was intended to show us (and maybe her) that she was capable of being so dangerous? In addition to that, would Willow have been as open to the idea of a relationship with Tara if she hadn't realized that her vampire self was gay? Xander didn't have a doppelganger so much as he was split into two parts, but it seems that the experience of being very cool and mature in one of those incarnations enabled him to be more that way when he was put back together. But Buffy's doppelganger was a robot, a tool created by another being, whose role was to take orders and carry them out quickly and efficiently. I can't help but wonder if that was intended to show us something about how Buffy feels about being the slayer and not feeling like she has any control over her own destiny. Even though she stood up to the Council a few episodes back, there's an extent to which the slayer really is just a tool, an instrument of TPTB. We didn't see Buffy struggle with this here, but I can't help but wonder if it will come up as the season goes on.

Other fun stuff: The scabby guys being referred to as "hobbits with leprosy"; robot!Buffy telling the real Buffy, "Yes, he's evil, but you should see him naked!" and Buffy looking like she actually thought about it for a second; and the scabby monk guy saying, "We will bring you the limp and bleeding body of Bob Barker!" I am really going to miss those guys when they're gone. They and all of their euphemisms for Glory crack me up!

At the end, when Buffy walked into Spike's crypt dressed as the robot, it was pretty obvious that it was the real Buffy there to get the dirt on what Spike had told Glory, so it was interesting to watch Spike talk to her with his guard down. I don't think he's ever just been that open in front of her (even before she rejected him a few episodes back), and it was all the more amazing because Buffy could see that it wasn't an act. When she kissed him, I was surprised, because she didn't have to, as she was just about to reveal herself. And it wasn't done in a cruel way, either, as a "see what you can't have" thing. It was probably just the only way she could think of to thank him. Of course, it may have been because his lips were the only non-bloody spot free on his face.

The last line was lovely, though, with her basically thanking him for protecting them and saying, "I won't forget it." Did she learn a lesson from the vision quest after all?

One more thing: in the last episode of Angel (last post), Angel told Cordelia that Harmony would turn on her because she's a vampire and that's her nature. When Cordelia said Harmony was her friend, Angel said she wasn't, and reminded Cordelia that Harmony no longer had a soul. And in the end, Angel was right about Harmony. So what does that say about Spike?



A:tS 18: Dead End
[Angel and Lindsey must grudgingly work together when Cordelia's disturbing vision leads the gang to a grotesque Wolfram & Hart body shop where parts are harvested from live humans. Back at Wolfram & Hart, Lilah fumes and frets over the extra attention that her partner's receiving.]

Some seriously slashy moments in this episode. Yep, this one was pretty much all about the Angel/Lindsay.

It was weird that Lindsay got a hand transplant (evil hand!), and also that while he and Angel ultimately freed the spare parts victims, the issue wasn't actually resolved. Well, I suppose they needed a reason for Lindsay to leave W&H, and this was it. I really liked him on the show, though, and I'm not sure why he's leaving. I'm hoping he'll be back, if for no other reason than to fuel my slashy fantasies. I loved that Angel was so jealous of his singing.

Poor Cordelia, struggling with the visions. I wonder where all of that is going. Though I do like the fact that Angel is always the one to catch her when she collapses. I find it really sweet. Oh and this bit melted me:

Cordy: "I love you."
Angel: *smiles*
Cordy: "And you oughta do that more often."

The scene where Lindsay was packing up his truck and Angel was there to say goodbye was fun. I can just imagine a fic about that scene that takes a slightly different path and has the boys say goodbye in another manner altogether. Someone must have written that. And there simply must be a slew of Angel/Lindsay/evilhand fic out there. Right?


BtVS 19: Tough Love
[While Buffy is preoccupied with being her sister's keeper, Glory sets out to grab the person whom she now believes to be the Key — Tara.]

This episode answered a question I'd been wondering about, which was who actually had custody of Dawn with Joyce gone. I was worried there would be some horrible sort of battle about that, but I suppose that wouldn't have advanced the plot so much. Still, poor Buffy, having to be a parent when she isn't really all that grown up herself. Did she actually earn any credits at school this year? It doesn't seem like it.

As an aside, I couldn't help but notice that Dawn's math textbook was Key Curriculum's Discovering Geometry, which is one of my favorite geometry texts. :-D

Eek, Glory sucked Tara's brain? I didn't see that coming! I'm pretty sure she gets it back eventually, but still, that's horrible. The scene with Dawn crying to Spike about how she's the cause of all of these bad things was interesting. I was intrigued that he reached out to touch her and then drew his hand away again -- I'm not sure why. But later when Buffy insisted that she'd stopped Willow and he told her he would have gone after Glory if Glory had hurt "someone he loved" (and stared at the floor while he said it), I sort of melted a little. I don't know what to make of Spike in a lot of ways, but I really adore him at this point. He's such a grey character, and I think that's amazing.

And Willow really did go on a kamikaze mission, didn't she? She is quite powerful now -- and yet can't manage to de-rat Amy. Will Amy ever be human again? At this point, I'm imagining that happening in the last scene of the very last episode of the show, in season 7. That would be funny.

Poor Tara, having to be spoon-fed and restrained.

And now Glory knows Dawn is the key. Yikes. Well, there's only three more episodes in the season, so it was bound to happen soon. We seem to be about to start hurtling toward the finale. I'm still not sure what the gift is. Well, other than "death", but what does that mean?



A:tS 19: Belonging
[Shaken up when a mystic portal deposits a rather violent Drokken demon at his club, The Host takes news of the unexpected man-eating guest to Angel and company. Their only clue to finding it is Cordelia's vision, which leads them to a library with a missing librarian. Meanwhile, Gunn heads to his old neighborhood to help with a vampire problem, and Cordy's spirits take a hit when her acting gig doesn't go so well.]

The title really nailed the theme of this episode: every single character had to deal either with where they came from and where they are now, along with the resulting alienation. It made for a nice character study in what otherwise seemed like a filler episode. (At least, it felt like a filler episode until the very end.)

Cordelia is still trying to be an actress, but is less and less certain that it's the best path for her, so she's transitioning to finding her herself on a new path. She's not sure where she belongs, and seems to think that the only thing she has to offer Angel et al is the visions. And if she didn't have those, what good would she be? The scene where the director was being a dick to her was stunning, and I'm sure it's completely realistic for an actress. I was glad to see Angel stick up for her, because she needed to hear that she's worth more than that. He seemed a little surprised by how good she looked in a bikini, which was funny. Actually, the bit back in the office when he was telling Wesley and Gunn about it was great: "He's got her wearing this flimsy swimsuit that covers like... nothing." And then they all looked dazed for a moment while they pictured it. You know, I always thought Charisma Carpenter's boobs weren't real, but they sure seem to be.

Wesley's phone conversation with his prick of a father really made me feel for him. He seems to be struggling with his role as the leader of the group. He doesn't seem to be completely confident that he can do it, and I'm wondering how that will play out. I'm imagining he'll either give leadership back to Angel at some point, or he'll be in a situation where he has to rise to the occasion. Or maybe both.

Angel's age came up quite a lot in this episode, which struck me as interesting. I suppose he's isolated himself quite a lot in recent years, but that feeling of just not feeling able to relate to the people around him was quite evident. He's also coming across as desperately wanting to be needed by the group, particularly by Cordelia. It's like he wants to protect her, but mostly wants her to want him to protect her. He hasn't quite cottoned on to the idea that the women in Joss's universe don't need a man to protect them. But what he really wants is for the group to need him again, and there were lots of little moments here where you could see he was feeling like an outsider. The moment with him on the beach set was sweet. And I still want to know where he gets his money. Is that ever revealed on the show? If it is, don't tell me when or even give me a hint as to what it's about, but it's bugging the crap out of me.

Gunn is stuck between two worlds in a way, and not sure about where he really belongs or where he can do the most good. He probably blames himself for his friend's death, when the reality was that there probably wasn't much he could've done to prevent it. But he has to decide where he really belongs, because he probably can't do both. That's a tough moment in life.

And finally Lorne, who seems to have left his own Xena-like dimension because he was "different". That's a big honking metaphor, isn't it? His cousin was funny, though. Joss and his writers seem to have a thing for that Vikingesque dialogue.

And wow, Cordelia winds up in the other dimension! Somehow I think she will team up with the missing Fred and they'll find their way back. I'm wondering if Fred has become some sort of Xena warrior woman in this dimension.

What happened to Darla, by the way? She seems to have disappeared completely, and Angel doesn't seem a bit concerned about it.


BtVS 20: Spiral
[When Glory finds out who the real key is, Buffy and company flee. Meanwhile, the Knights of Byzantium have their own plans to deal with Dawn.]

Another aptly-named episode. Things are always darkest two episodes before the season finale, and this one is no different. Just as things seem impossibly bleak, something happens to make them look irrevocably doomed. And yet I have faith that our heroes will prevail, somehow.

So Glory can be defeated, apparently. And Ben is not a god but a human, created not unlike Dawn was, to imprison her. And the only way to kill Glory is to kill Ben. Of course, there's also the other option of destroying the key, which would render Glory powerless. So here Buffy is faced with a horrible choice -- one innocent person must die no matter what, so should it be Ben, thus getting rid of the Beast once and for all, or Dawn, thus removing the possibility that the key will ever be used by some other nefarious being to open the gates of hell and end the world as we know it? There are pros and cons either way.

Of course, I happen to know that Dawn is still around for the musical episode, so I have a sense of which one Buffy will choose. Of course, it may not be her choice -- but Joss likes to see her suffer, so I imagine it will be up to her in the end. Then there's that Gift of Death hanging about, of course. Or maybe Ben will see the light and will kill himself, heh. But of course, Glory has Dawn now and there's no telling what's happened. What if the key doesn't work any more because Dawn is human now? That would be too easy an ending, wouldn't it?

Spike really impressed me in this episode. I like the weird friendship that seems to exist between him and Buffy now. She trusts him, and oddly enough she's the only one who does. None of Buffy's friends want him around, but Buffy defends him. That's just fascinating, really, but also scary -- because Spike would die for Buffy, and I think she would let him and not lose much sleep over it. For once, I'm far more worried about Spike getting hurt in all of this than Buffy. It seems that Buffy hasn't told anyone else what she learned about Spike when she was posing as robot!Buffy.

This episode also seemed to be a tribute to westerns, with the whole fight on top of the Winnebago like all those movies where the heroes battle it out on top of the moving train. And I wouldn't be a proper Texan if I didn't notice the resemblance of their holing up in the abandoned gas station to The Alamo. I also couldn't help but notice that it was the women who did the fighting in this episode while the men were in the supporting roles, and were quickly injured and incapacitated.

Poor Giles! I imagine that when this aired people worried he might not make it out of this season alive.

And Buffy's collapse at the end was a long time coming. She's never been pushed that hard, and she's never lost so much in so short a period of time. This makes that trial the Watcher's Council put her through way back in season 3 look like a cake walk. Eeek, what happens next?



A:tS 20: Over the Rainbow
[Cordelia is transported to a dimension where humans are sold into slavery by demons, and the others follow only to be mobbed by angry villagers.]

I think the thing that strikes me the most about this episode is how much Angel is acting like Buffy would here. The situation seems hopeless, and it certainly doesn't seem to be in the interest of the greater good for the whole group to run off to another dimension to save one of their own, but he'll risk everything and do it anyway. That's exactly what Buffy would do in a similar situation.

Poor Cordy, captured, sold as a slave, tortured... and then apparently revered as a god of some sort? I guess I'll find out next episode exactly what she was doing dressed like a Vegas showgirl and sitting on a throne, but it looked pretty interesting.

Wow, the Korean guy from Lost is a lawyer for W&H! And it was funny that the phone psychic friend of Lorne was a real psychic. And they drove Angel's car through the portal -- that was clever. Having the top down seemed like a stupid move, until it became evident that it was a Plot Point.

Aw, Angel can be in the sunlight in Lorne's home dimension. It was sweet to see him so excited about that. (I suppose that was easier for the writers to deal with than having to worry about him burning up in the other dimension.) I wonder if he's still really a vampire? His strength and other abilities seem intact so far.

This march toward the end of the season is so much lighter than what's happening on Buffy that it's nearly jolting. Maybe it won't remain that way, but still.

Fun lines:

Cordy, to her new owner: "I'm not a cow! I'm... an American. I have rights."
Gunn, on xenophobia: "Why they afraid of Xena? I think she's fine."
Angel, on the Tower of London: "It wasn't that bad."

I think my favorite bit was Angel and Wesley pinching each other's cheeks in the car and grinning like schoolboys. That was kind of yummy. And they don't have the book, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they get out of this situation and back to Earth.


BtVS 21: The Weight of the World
[Willow psychically enters Buffy's subconscious in an effort to reach the Slayer, who has been rendered catatonic by Glory's abduction of Dawn.]

This episode made me think of lot of Restless, I guess because a good chunk of it took place in Buffy's mind. It was also strangely quiet for coming so close to the end of the season. I'm not sure if it's the calm before the storm or if the ending of this season is just going to be quiet and not involve a huge battle.

It's interesting to see the role Spike plays in the group changing over the last two episodes. At the beginning of the previous episode he was a complete pariah to everyone but Buffy, but now they all seem to accept him. I guess it was going to take an experience like the one they all went through in the abandoned gas station in the desert for that to happen. It feels a bit sudden, but I suppose everything is weird right now for all of them with the impossible-to-defeat enemy on the verge of destroying reality as they know it and Buffy basically incapacitated.

And with all that going on, I feel kind of guilty about seeing a ton of Spike/Xander in this episode, you know? There's much more important things to think about, but I'm just sitting here squeeing at all that slashiness. I have to say I loved Spike lighting up in the hospital right in front of the "No smoking" sign, cause that's just so IC. And "This is so going to be worth it" and slapping the back of Xander's head, and then they both grab their heads in pain, simultaneously.

It was interesting that Glory's confusion magic didn't work on Spike. After all, vampires usually aren't excluded from stuff like that on the show. I'm guessing it was convenient for the plot this time? I guess that explains why Dawn didn't say anything about seeing Ben turn into Glory before.

I knew that weird demon looked familiar -- it's Joel Grey! And I wonder what the box Spike and Xander took from him does. And he's not dead, so... hang on... there were three hellgods from Glory's dimension, right? Was he one of them? Hmmm.

I'm not sure what's happening with Ben, and I'm a little confused as to why he would trust that Glory won't just kill him in the end.

Willow was great in this episode. It was nice to see her standing up and taking charge, and then bringing Buffy back. Her being in Buffy's mind and trying to get her unstuck was interesting. It was also interesting that Buffy seemed to know that she was going to have to kill Dawn, and she was retreating from reality so she wouldn't have to face it. Of course, I know that Dawn is still around in the next season, so clearly there must be a way around it.

I had a weird thought while watching this about what's happening over on Angel -- those guys are stuck in another dimension with no way to get back, and if Glory is successful, the barriers between dimensions start to break down. This is probably far-fetched, but I'm starting to wonder if that might actually be a way that Angel and the gang can get back to their reality. Of course, I was wrong about Fred being all Xena-like in the other dimension, so this is probably pretty far off-base too. I seem to keep looking for opportunities for crossovers between the two shows, don't I?



A:tS 21: Through the Looking Glass
[Angel and friends work overtime to survive in a foreign dimension. Cordelia discovers her dirty duty as Princess of Pylea is to mate with a creature called the Groosalugg. She's unable to escape the palace with Wesley and Gunn, and the priests keeping watch over her also prove to be less than trustworthy.]

Wow, so many highs and lows of emotions here. This episode almost contains the entire range of emotions that I've ever felt watching this series, which is pretty amazing.

There were moments so funny I thought I was going to hurt myself laughing, like Lorne's relatives being hillbillies; his mother looking more like his father and his father not being visible at all; his cousin Numfar doing the ridiculous Dances of Joy and Honor (Edit: perseph tells me that Numfar was played by Joss himself! Clip here); and Lorne's voice being such a horrible sound that his relatives fell to the ground in pain, writhing and screaming "It burns!" LOL, and Angel seeing his reflection and being so enamored of himself that he couldn't stop staring, and then obsessing about his hair until he had to be dragged away from the mirror -- that just killed me. I love how vain and shallow he can be at times, and I swear it's part of what makes him so charming as a character. He's just enough of a storybook Prince Charming in that way, and it's such an adorable character flaw. Cordelia stealing treasure from the castle as they were trying to escape; finding out she was going to have to mate with some demon; "What is it about me? Do I put out some kind of komm shuck me vibe?"; and her demon mate turning out to be a hot Hercules look-alike hunk. The comedy in all of those scenes was fantastically done.

And then on the other side, Angel being separated into human and demon so distinctly that he became literally a monster, and then was so horrified by what he saw in his reflection that it shut him down. And now he doesn't want to continue, because he can't face what he really is. He was just as incapacitated at the end of this episode as Buffy was at the beginning of the last, but he doesn't have anyone who can pull him back like she did. I'm not sure if Fred is going to be able to help him, but she may be the only one who is available. Though at the end, she seemed more interested in keeping him for herself than in helping him pull himself together and get back out to fight with his friends.

And uh... under what circumstances has Wesley spent so much time staring at Angel's bare back that he can recognize Angel's tattoo on sight, in a split second, on a completely unfamiliar body and in the heat of battle like that? o_0 It's kind of odd. I'm just sayin'.

And there's some connection between this place and W&H, as seemed to be shown by the books (cleverly, "Wolf, Ram, and Hart"). But if what Holland told Angel was right when they were on the elevator to hell, W&H is everywhere, because they represent the evil that exists in the universe. It makes sense that they would be in this dimension too, and I'm betting that they're those weird covenent guys whose faces we haven't really seen yet. I guess Angel didn't tell Wesley about what he learned from Holland, did he?

Cordelia's actions seem to have resulted in Lorne's death, which was a dark way to end the episode. I can only assume he's really dead, which is horrible because I really loved that character. I suppose it was a way to show the characters and the viewers that despite all earlier humor, this is a dangerous place, and very bad things will indeed happen there.

Are they really going to pull it all together and get back home in the final episode?



Thoughts before watching both season finales: I've actually been putting off watching these. I could have watched them last night, but I'm starting to feel like it's all going too fast, and I want more time to think before I find out what happens. I'm also apprehensive about both of these episodes coming up. Based on the way things have been going this season, I don't have that sense of excitement about finding how they are going to wrap up all of the plot lines, defeat the baddies, and end on a hopeful note, like I did in the other seasons. Because deep down, I'm not sure I believe that's what will happen here. I think there will be some resolution, but I'm not sure everything will be resolved, and I'm guessing some things will be resolved in ways that make everyone's lives worse.

So I don't have such a good feeling about this at the moment, and I'm almost dreading finding out what "the gift" means, and who else is going to die, and how Angel is going to pull it together again, and everything. I still have a suspicion that Buffy is going to die here and that it won't be as simple to bring her back as it was back in season 1.

Well, on the bright side, I won't have to wait four months to find out what happens next, will I?

BtVS 22: The Gift
[Buffy must square off against a true god when Glory prepares to use Dawn to break down the walls between the dimensions and unleash Hell on Earth.]

Oh, boy. So I was right about the dying part.

The moment she said, "Dawn is made of me", I knew that was what was going to have to happen. That, and the fact that everyone in the episode had a chance to say goodbye to Buffy and make their amends in whatever way they needed to. And she got to say hers as well, and in the end she really seemed at peace with what she had to do. The ending, when they were all staring at her body and it was starting to sink in that she was dead -- that was sort of beautiful to watch. From Giles's stunned disbelief to Spike's disintegration into sobs, with the voiceover of Buffy's goodbye over the music, it was all beautiful. And then ending with a shot of the tombstone, wow.

Maybe this isn't killing me like it should, because I know she isn't going to stay dead. But I can't help but wonder what people thought when they watched this when it aired. Did they know the show would be back for a sixth season? Did people think Buffy was dead for good?

It was interesting how this episode tied in so many things that happened over the season, with the glowing orb thingie from back at the beginning playing a role, Tara's Glory-induced madness and Willow's zeal to cure it becoming important, and even the Buffy robot being a crucial part of the plan.

It was also great to see Spike get reinvited to Buffy's house and that he got to tell her that he loved her even though he knew she wouldn't love him back. Of course, now I'm worried that he said that to the Buffy robot and not the real Buffy. Could the robot have invited him in, though? And is it just me, or are they making Spike look cuter every episode? He's always looked a bit rough and wiry, but in the last couple of episodes they seem to have softened him a bit. His make-up isn't as harsh and his hair is messier and not so plastic-looking, and he looks weirdly younger than he has before. Overall, he just seems more human, for lack of a better word. When he was standing on Buffy's doorstep, he almost looked like he did as William, sitting on the couch all those years ago, professing his love to a woman who was about to reject him. Was that meant to be a parallel? The apprehensive look on his face was the same, and then it melted away into something almost boyishly happy when Buffy said, "Come in, Spike." And when he said, "I know I'm a monster, but you treat me like a man", I wanted to hug him. I really hope that was the real Buffy. I think it had to be. Joss doesn't seem to twist the knife like that, even when he could.

Another interesting Spike note was when he was on the tower defending Dawn and Doc asked him why he was doing this, saying, "I don't smell a whiff of a soul about you. Why do you care?" I'm really, really curious to see that question answered. It was also interesting that this was the first episode where Spike was completely a part of the team, and no one questioned that at all. They all trusted him. How did Buffy talk to Spike at the end, to tell him to go up the tower? It sounded like she was talking through the pipes and he could just hear her because his hearing is better than the humans', but I wasn't sure if it was meant to be anything more than that. Either way, it was very cool that he was the only person who could help at that point, and he didn't even think -- he just went, and he was prepared to die to do what Buffy asked him to do.

And oh, Xander, proposing to Anya. I knew they got engaged at some point (because that's in OMWF), but it was a total surprise to me that he proposed to her then. I lovelovelove them together. I think they're the one couple in this series that I really, really want to work out so badly that I will feel betrayed if it doesn't.

I was so, so glad that Giles stepped in to kill Ben. There aren't enough words to express how relieved I was that he did that, because it had to be done and Buffy was never going to do it. That sort of moral ambiguity is really interesting. And that brings me around to yet another of the big themes here, that it took all of them to fight this battle. They all had a role to play, and everyone contributed something significant.

And Willow brought Tara back, which also made me cry. I was crying at a lot of things here, but probably not for the right reasons.

I guess that brings me back around to the ending, to the last shot. I loved the epitath: "She saved the world a lot". So now, how are they going to bring her back?


A:tS 22: There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb
[Angel, Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn and the Host find getting out of the foreign dimension to be increasingly complicated. Figurehead princess Cordy is trapped in the palace by the ill-intentioned priest Silas, who is also responsible for the Host's recent beheading.]

This finale seemed somehow anticlimatic after the Buffy finale. Everything seemed to get resolved much more easily than I expected it to, especially Angel's freak-out over seeing what his demon really looked like. That had shut him down at the end of the last episode, but he got over it fairly quickly here. Maybe it isn't over yet, but it seemed like it was too easy.

I was SO glad that Lorne isn't really dead. How strange that decapitation doesn't kill him. It seems to kill almost everything else.

Wesley really shone in this episode. I love how he can rise to the occasion and take charge, even though he only seems able to do it when Angel isn't there. He was nearly ruthless in this episode, and it made me think quite a lot about Giles in the last Buffy episode. He knew some sacrifices had to be made, and he knew that some people wouldn't be comfortable with it, so he just assumed that responsibility. He even lied to Angel because he had to, because he knew Angel would be too afraid of himself otherwise. It was also interesting to me that the only person he let see what he was doing was Gunn.

I loved Cordelia in this episode. She seems to dredge up strength from places you didn't know existed at times, and this was one of those times. She had a chance to lose the visions, and she said no -- they're part of her now, and she sees them more as a gift than a curse. I thought that was a big moment for her. I cheered when she cut off the priest's head and then freed all the slaves and completely reorganized the government, leaving the dim-witted Grooselugg in charge. Somehow, I think she'll continue getting mileage out of the whole princess thing for a while. I also loved Gunn explaining the complexities of race relations to a bunch of people who really didn't have a clue what he was talking about.

And then they got back with relatively little trouble, Lorne back in one piece, and having rescued Fred to boot. It seemed like it had all been too easy. But then, of course, there was Willow waiting for them, and it was almost a relief to know that someone came to tell them Buffy was dead. It had been weird to see them off fighting in some other dimension for the last couple of episodes, and that brought them right back down to earth again, back to the reality of the world they work in every day.


Wow, and that was the end of season 5! I can't believe I only have two seasons of Buffy left to watch. *wibbles*
BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 1-6 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 1-6: [BtVS] Bargaining, After Life, Flooded, Life Serial, and All the Way.
[AtS] Heart Throb, That Vision-Thing, That Old Gang of Mine, Carpe Noctem, Fredless, and Billy.

BtVS 1 & 2: Bargaining
[The gang resolves to bring the Slayer back from the dead — and succeeds, despite being hindered by a band of biker demons. Meanwhile, a grieving Giles (unaware of the Scoobies' plan to resurrect Buffy) leaves Sunnydale.]

I'm not sure if this was aired in two parts or one, but I watched it as all one 'cause that's how it was on the DVD. I suppose I expected them to stretch out the beginning of the season a little longer, and that it would take longer for them to bring Buffy back than it did. I guess they needed to get going on it, or perhaps they thought there wasn't much point in keeping her dead for the first few episodes. But this double episode definitely has momentum, as if we're being dropped into the middle of something that's been going on for a while, just before the climax.

It's interesting that they kept the Buffybot around in an attempt to conceal Buffy's death. It was also interesting that they didn't bury her in the cemetery, but out in the woods somewhere, and that they buried her themselves. (Don't you need a permit for that? I'm sure you do in California.) And that they were keeping it all going, trying to do the slaying and keep life without Buffy as normal as possible. I hadn't thought about what might happen if it got out that the Slayer was dead, so it was interesting that the demons came rampaging in as soon as they figured it out.

Spike and Dawn seemed to be bonding over Buffy's death, but maybe that was because they were the only ones who didn't know about the resurrection plans? Spike's extreme discomfort with the Buffybot's adoration of him was really interesting, especially since that was the reason he had it made in the first place. There's a sense in which I think that moment alone shows just how much he changed in the last season, just what falling in love with Buffy did to him.

When Giles left, the emotions on their faces in their airport scene were so very real that it seemed like they were really saying goodbye to Tony, especially when Tara gave him the little monster finger puppet and said, "Grr, arrgh." That seemed a bit too inside not to mean something. And on top of that, he's no longer a regular cast member, so I'm wondering if he's leaving the show. I know he's in OMWF, but after that, I have no clue.

There were a lot of dark themes in this episode, and I was glad they played it as uncomfortably as possible. It's interesting that the idea of raising the dead was present in Forever, but it was acknowledged all around as something not to be trifled with. I worry about the door that Willow seems to have opened in herself here, and I worry that Xander was the only one who seemed ready to back down from the plan. Did Willow really believe that Buffy was trapped in some sort of demon dimension, or was she just telling herself that?

And god, poor Buffy, coming back to life and being trapped in a coffin (who hasn't had that nightmare?), having to claw her way out of the grave like a vampire, and then coming out to the town burning and assuming she was in hell. It looked pretty hellish, and the situation couldn't have been much worse. When she was standing on the edge of the platform of the tower and trying to figure out what had happened and where she was, I really hurt for her. I thought it was an interesting choice to have her escape from her own coffin. It's a classic fear thing for her to face, but the similarity of it to what is experienced by the vampires she stakes every night was really interesting, as if the point was that this isn't really the same Buffy as the one we knew before. She's something else now, and perhaps will feel more akin to the vampires and demons she hunts than to her friends and family.

There was some humor in this, but not quite enough to lighten the mood. And there were some fun lines, but I don't feel like writing about them. Maybe I'll come back and edit them in from my notes later, but at the moment I just feel weird. :-P

[Edit 10/10:] I'll throw a fun quote: "Did you see your life flash before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?"

And now I know where this icon comes from.


A:tS 1: Heart Throb
[On a routine patrol, Angel stakes a female vampire he recognizes from his past, but a moment too late. Her grief-stricken lover, Angel's old fighting buddy, is out for revenge for the present killing and a betrayal Angelus committed over 200 years ago.]

I realized after the fact that this one was aired before Bargaining, so I should have watched it first. I also noticed that starting this season, the Angel episodes aired the day before the Buffy episodes did. I'm not sure if it will make a difference, but I'm going to watch them in order of air dates anyway.

I wondered how Angel was going to handle Buffy's death, and it was interesting that we didn't see much of that. I'm not sure if the message is that he's accepted it and moved on, or if the show just didn't want to spend too much time dwelling on it, knowing she was coming back. I'm guessing the latter, though I can't help but be a little disappointed.

It was kind of funny, though, that he went all the way to Tibet or wherever only to battle demon monks and realize he should've gone to Vegas after all.

The storyline with the vampire lovers who'd been together for 250 years was interesting. I love the flashbacks because they show just how evil and ruthless Angelus really was, that he had no conscience at all. It's also interesting to me that they contrast that with other vampires like James and Spike, who were capable of a sort of emotion that almost goes beyond what humans can experience. It was interesting that it took that vampire to really make Angel think about why he wasn't falling apart over Buffy's death, and that it disturbed him in some ways, but not in others. I'm still not sure what to make of that. In some ways it makes sense, because he hadn't been close to her for a long time and besides, it's not as if he's had to deal with a loss like that before. We're meant to think he's only ever loved Buffy, and so he's never known what it was like to lose someone like that. He wouldn't necessarily have any ideas about what he should or shouldn't feel.

Cordelia's concern for Angel is really sweet, and gah, it's pushing shipper buttons for me. What's with Wesley's hair this season? Has Alexis lost weight, or was he always that skinny and now is just wearing clothes that show it? I'm not sure I like Fred at this point. Perhaps she'll grow on me, but right now I find her annoying.

Oh, and OMGWTF DARLA IS PREGNANT??? 0_0 Okay, so... WTF?? I'm not sure if we're meant to think Angel is the father, or Lindsay, or if it's one of those weird demon things or what. Because... she was very pregnant, and not enough time has passed from when she and Angel had sex for her to be that big. At least, I don't think so -- it's been what, five months? She was way more than five months pregnant. Okay and hello, vampire? I thought that wasn't possible. So I'm guessing she was either pregnant before she turned or it's a demon thing. So... what the hell is she going to have? This is going to be interesting.


A:tS 2: That Vision-Thing
[Angel must align himself with the dark side to prevent a psychic hacker from killing Cordelia with visions that are leaving her burned and scaly.]

This was a scary episode for Cordelia: just when she's getting to the point of being able to accept the visions as part of her life, they manifest themselves physically. And of course, W&H is behind it all.

One of the big themes that keeps popping up on both shows is the importance of friends and family. Again and again, characters choose to save someone they love, even if it means sacrificing other people in the process. It's a strange sort of adherence to one's values, but it does make sense. In both shows, there's no point at which good wins over evil, it seems. There's just survival, and without friends and family, even survival becomes meaningless. So that becomes the important thing. In the long run, it hardly matters what will happen, or if you're putting your resources in the wrong place by saving someone in need today at risk of endangering many people tomorrow. Keeping your friends and family safe supercedes everything else.

I'm sure Lilah has plans for this guy Angel freed from whatever hell he was trapped in, eternally on fire for some sins that were apparently too horrible to contemplate. Angel looked at him as if he recognized him, but I certainly didn't know who he was meant to be. Skip the demon (with his 20-minute commute to guard duty) was fantastic! I lived the civil banter before they started fighting, and the fact that Angel wasn't willing to let the bad guy pull Skip into his firey cell, but just knocked him out long enough to free the guy.

I was also glad that Angel dispatched the guy who could tap into the visions. And I loved him threatening Lilah. Heh. I like grey characters quite a lot in general, and I'm fascinated that he would unleash some unknown horror onto the world in order to save Cordelia, and then would kill the brain guy without thinking very hard about it, just to make sure it won't happen again. Not to mention that he killed or at least incapacitated several innocent good guys along the way and didn't seem to waste too much energy feeling bad about it. He felt awful about killing the good demon in the beginning of season 2, but now it's different. Now his friends are more important than anything else. There's some serious moral ambiguity in there. I'm wondering if that loyalty to his friends isn't going to become problematic for Angel at some point.

I miss Lindsay.

All the interaction between Angel and Cordelia in this episode was great. I don't know if I'm wanting to ship them or if I would find it incestuous. I just like them caring about each other, a lot. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

And whoa, it looks like Darla believes Angel is the father of her baby, and that it's a pretty fierce pregnancy that no one has been able to stop. And now she's heading back to LA. So I'm guessing Angel's not going to be able to hide the fact that he slept with Darla much longer. It's not like it's anyone else's business, but the others aren't going to be happy when they find out he didn't tell them about that. Not to mention that he's going to freak out quite a lot when he sees Darla and finds out what -- or rather, that -- she's expecting. Oooh, what if this is connected to the fact that Angel didn't have to be invited into Kate's apartment? Hmmm...

I'm looking forward to the next episode!



A:tS 3: That Old Gang of Mine
[Angel comes face to face with Gunn's ragtag crew of vampire hunters, and not only do they view Gunn as a traitor, they want to reduce Angel to a pile of dust.]

Well, the theme to this one was certainly in-your-face race relations, with Gunn's old gang indiscriminately killing demons just because they're demons, with no regard for what their motives are or who they are, what they do, what side they're on. Even the language was designed to bring up old racist talk, like, "The only good demon is a dead demon" and "A monster-lover ain't no better than a monster". And the fact that black folks were saying those words? Ouch. Though the point seems to be that it's human nature to be racist or speciesist or whatever, and the fact that you've been discriminated against doesn't necessarily make you immune. It's a conscious choice to be tolerant and accepting of others.

I guess it was time for Gunn to make that choice, and of course, the writers weren't going to make it easy for him. He had to stand up for the principle, to say that the right thing to do was to think before acting, to learn something about a being before you just kill it for no better reason than that it's a demon, and that you don't just assume the worst of someone because of what they look like on the outside. And that was a really, really hard thing for him to do.

It's always interesting to me that Angel seems ready to die in situations like that. He doesn't seem to worry about the consequences, as long as he takes a stand. I'm not sure you could even say that he has faith that it will work out or that he can trust his people. He's just not afraid to die for the right reasons.

Fred is probably going to grow on me. She's clearly got guts, otherwise she wouldn't have survived on Pylea as long as she did. And it was funny that she chose to sing "Crazy" at Caritas. AS an aside, can I just say that I resent that this show falls squarely into the popular media trap of portraying all scientists and mathematicians as lunatics? I mean, when was the last time you saw a scientist who was a good guy on a show like this? That gets really old, I have to say. *sniff*

And eek, Caritas got destroyed. That was really, really scary to watch.

And I wasn't quite sure what Angel was going to have to do to pay back the sisters for lifting the spell. I mean, I can imagine, but... was that really what they meant to imply?

Two words about DB at the beginning: leather pants. Holy fucking hell.

I love how tough Wesley can be when he needs to. And then the ominous line at the end, when Angel told Gunn, "You'll prove that you trust me when the day comes that you have to kill me -- and you do." Eep.


BtVS 3: After Life
[As Buffy adjusts to life after resurrection, a shadowy presence menaces her sidekicks — a side effect of the spell cast by Willow to bring the Slayer back.]

This arc is so, so painful, and I'm ridiculously grateful for the way they're handling it. I love the fact that the show has gone in this direction, that the gang has done something they shouldn't have, and there are consequences to be paid. Willow's denial about what she's done to Buffy is nearly ridiculous, but it goes to show you what you can talk yourself into when you need to.

Spike fucking broke my heart in this episode. The look on his face when he saw Buffy again, and the fact that he knew exactly how her hands were cut up, and he knew what not to do or say -- and when she asked "How long was I gone?" and he said "147 days", I really lost it.

Later on when Buffy went to patrol, I figured she was going to find Spike, because she seemed to know he was the only one who could begin to understand. His telling her how he'd relived what had happened every night since, and every time he'd imagined way to save her -- that was just perfectly done, and it said so much about him. I don't know why he's different from the other vampires we've seen, and I don't know if that becomes clear later on, but at the moment it's hard not to completely love him.

And Buffy lied to everyone in the end, told them what they wanted to hear. And then told Spike the truth. The harsh honesty of that scene was so amazing. I'm not a bit religious, and I don't think you go anywhere after you die. I think you just cease to exist. But even that, to not exist for a while and then to be made to exist again would bring the pain of life into sharp focus, and I can only imagine that it would be beyond disorienting. So add to that even a vague notion of an afterlife where you're at peace and everything is good, and being ripped away from that -- by friends, as Buffy noted -- is hard to imagine. And her words to Spike at the end, that her friends can never know the truth, were so haunting.

It's such a brave step for this show to take, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. I have my tissues ready.


A:tS 4: Carpe Noctem
[An old man swaps places with Angel and secures eternal life as a boyishly handsome, albeit bloodthirsty, vampire in Los Angeles; leaving Angel dying to get his body back.]

So the sex thing is going to come out soon, isn't it? Everyone thinks that Angel can't have sex, but that isn't it at all, and I have a feeling it's going to be weird when they find out about Darla. It's still funny to see him get all offended when it's implied that he's asexual -- and yet he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to explain.

Another body-switching episode! It was interesting to watch the old man figure out what Angel was and what he was capable of. Of course, it's a wonder he didn't go for a walk in the daylight and get himself killed before he did a little reading. The scene with Lilah was wow, especially when it was clear that she was very interested. There's something about sex on tables and desks that always gets me. It's that whole thing of not being able to wait another second to rip off clothes and go at it. That seems to be the way Angel often has sex, doesn't it?

Aw, and poor Fred. She needs to get over him pretty quickly, though.

The scene where Marcus thought Angel was gay was pretty funny, especially when he looked down at what he was wearing and said, "Obviously". And then took one look at Wesley and assumed Wesley had to be Angel's boyfriend. That was just too perfect, and I loved the fact that Wesley played right into it. It was also interesting that it took them all a while to figure out that wasn't Angel, and that it was suddenly obvious to Cordelia when Fred said it wasn't a blonde he'd almost screwed on the desk.

Still, it was an interesting perspective on the choices Angel's made over the years to see someone rather ruthless and desperate in his body, someone for whom to be forever 27 and to look like that and have the power Angel has was a dream come true. It was interesting that he was baffled that Angel didn't use that power for selfish reasons any more, with no understanding of what it really means and no knowledge that he actually did that for a long time with no soul and no conscience, and now he has to pay for it. It was a nice way to bring that back into perspective, and there wasn't even a flashback needed.

And wow, the call from Willow at the end that Buffy is alive, and the way he jumped up and ran to the phone -- just after Fred had talked about the heartbreak of love and how it was probably better that he didn't know it. So Fred had never heard about Buffy until that moment, huh?



BtVS 4: Flooded
[A trio of young wannabe-big-bads (including Jonathan and Warren) cause trouble, while Buffy shoulders grown-up responsibilities such as running a household. Also, Giles returns.]

I always wondered how much it cost to clean up that house after every episode where it got trashed by demons. I guess now we know. Actually, it's interesting to see finances become an issue here, because that's one of those big hurdles of life that everyone has to face at some point.

I thought it was interesting that Anya suggested Buffy charge for her services, because she's sort of the Cordelia of the show and it was Cordy's idea for Angel to charge. Buffy's reply was funny: "That's an idea... you would have." And Xander being the one to mediate the Spiderman argument between Anya and Dawn, LOL.

I'm getting the sense that when Anya accused Xander of only proposing to her last season because the world was about to end, she was actually right. He seems really uneasy about making it public, and he's running out of excuses. I don't doubt that he loves Anya with all his heart, though -- it seems to be more normal jitters about marriage and the responsibility it entails. Which is totally understandable. I mean, geez, he's 20 right?

Can I just say that I love the idea of Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew as bad guys? They were introduced as if they're going to be the baddies for the season, and if that's true I'm guessing it's going to be a lot of fun. They're just so deliciously geeky. Warren seems to be the one to watch, though. The other two don't seem like they have much malice in them. Loved the Star Wars references, as well as the correct use of the word "parsec".

It was great to see Giles again, and I'm so relieved that he seems to sense there's more going on with Buffy than meets the eye. I was also really pleased that he stood up to Willow. She needed to hear that, and no one else was going to say it. When she threatened him at the end, and then melted again, it was a bit chilling. I'm worried about where all of this is going for her.

I love Spike. As always. I also love that Buffy can confide in him. I think he loves that too.

When the phone rang at the end, I knew it had to be Angel calling. And Buffy dropped everything to go meet him... I'm hoping we learn more about that on the next Angel episode. *goes to switch the DVD*


A:tS 5: Fredless
[Angel goes into full detective mode when Fred's parents unexpectedly arrive in Los Angeles to bring Fred home, but their appearance inexplicably sends her into a tailspin and on the run.]

First, I need to say that I feel seriously cheated by the lack of Angel/Buffy interaction. It was like they realized they had to deal with it somehow, but really didn't want to get into it. It's not like I expected some huge snogging session or anything -- I just wanted to see them together and know they were both okay, especially after the way she rushed off. *sniff* There must be fanfic that dealt with that. Right?

This was a nice episode otherwise, and I like the fact that Fred's ambiguity was dealt with at last. She was annoying me before because I just didn't see the point of having her around, except as a crazy girl to follow Angel around like a lovesick puppy. (I think I found that most annoying, because that's a pairing I just can't seem to wrap my brain around at all. If Angel's going to hook up with any woman at this point, I'm rooting for Cordelia.)

So it looks like Fred will stay and become part of the group, and that she actually has something to offer.

There were some cute moments in this episode, like Angel being scared by his cell phone ringing, and Lorne in a bathrobe. I also liked Angel's enthusiasm for getting doctored by Cordy at the end. "Up next -- multiple stab wounds?" "Oooh, that's me!" That was cute. And Spiro Agnew was a demon? That made me laugh!


BtVS 5: Life Serial
[The Slayer struggles to readjust to life in Sunnydale by attending classes with Willow and working with Xander, while the Geek Trio test her abilities with a secret campaign of harassment. Also, Buffy gets drunk with Spike.]

This episode was SO much fun, just exactly what I love about this show. It was funny and tightly written, and yet there was character development and important things happened. This is one of those episodes I could watch again and again.

Buffy trying out all the different jobs was funny in that Lucille Ball sort of way. The class she went to at UC-Sunnydale was interesting, and I have to say that in my almost-ten years of teaching college, I have never had a class that sharp or engaged. That's depressing. The construction guys were obnoxious, but it was funny that they were so intimidated by her. Anya's uber-control of the Magic Box is pretty funny, and there was no way it was going to work out that Buffy would work there. More on that in a moment.

The Ubergeek Trio is cracking me up, I swear. They're definitely dangerous, but they're so hilarious about it that it's hysterical. And OMG, how sad is it that I get every one of their geek references? I kind of love the fact that fanboys are being picked on here, because those kinds of fanboys are the ones who get on my nerves. They think the fangirls are the weird ones with our fan fiction and art, and that all we care about is hooking the characters up in every possible permutation. And okay, that's probably true, but we're better than them. And... they smell funny. :-P But still, it's interesting that the message here is that even though these guys are ubergeeky, you shouldn't underestimate what they're capable of.

I'm also finding it funny to see what they're getting away with here on a new network. Buffy's "What the f--" and Anya's "She wanted a sapphire... ding-dong", along with the Ubergeeks' Beavis&Butthead-giggling over "magic bone" were all a bit over the line from what was on the show in the past. I like it! But then, I'm a perv.

The Groundhog Day rut Buffy was stuck in until she figured out how to break the cycle was hilarious. Oh, but getting drunk with Spike was definitely a highlight. And he was all, "Hey, you should see what my dark world is like", and it turns out he plays poker for kittens with a bunch of cheating demons. Buffy: "The only person I can stand to be around is a neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker!" The kittens were adorable, and I don't want to know what Spike intended to do with them. Spike also seemed to like showing Buffy off. I giggled when he called her "my lady". I'm not sure she realized he thought it was a date. It was funny to see her drinking tequila from the bottle, though, and making the same horrible face every time -- but always taking another drink anyway. Gah, tequila hangovers are the worst. *shudders* Reminds me of grad school.

Jonathan glamoured as the demon was funny, and mostly because he totally fled the moment Buffy hit him and then cowered in pain -- even though she was so drunk he nearly missed him altogether.

And oh, Giles -- I had wondered if he was going to help Buffy out financially. I love the fact that he's a father figure for her in so many ways. She's lost so much of that in her life, and I'm glad she has him, for now. The ending was a little ominous.

And okay, what's with the tight lips on the whole Angel/Buffy meetup??? That's going to make me crazy. What the hell? It's not fair to do that, not after everything that's happened. *pouts*



A:tS 6: Billy
[Angel and Cordelia both knew there would be consequences when he freed the partially demonic (but totally evil) Billy from a fiery prison in hell in order to save her. Those fears are realized when a wave of violence against women is traced back to Billy, whose mere touch has the power to bring out the worst in otherwise good men. The crew rushes to prevent another brutal attack, unaware that Wesley has already been infected---and he's alone in the hotel with Fred.]

Whoa. The Cordy/Angel vibes are getting intense. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? I lovelovelove the UST between them, and I'm both excited and worried about the hinting I'm seeing on the show that something might happen between them. I would love it, but... Could it really happen? I know Angel is doomed to be miserable in the romance department, but Cordelia really deserves to be happy.

Cordelia was amazing in this episode. I love how the show has let her grow slowly into such a strong and focused woman. Her determination not only to take care of Billy once and for all, but also not to let Angel do it alone -- wow. She didn't even flinch, and she would've killed Billy if Angel hadn't stopped her.

I wondered how bad Billy would have to be to have gotten his own special spot in hell. Now I see. It's hard to believe he's really dead, but it would be fitting that he was killed by Lilah. I hated Lilah last season, but now I'm starting to like her. WTF?

Angel's weakness really is damsels in distress, isn't it? Maybe it's because of the time he came from that he seems to feel an obligation to protect the women he sees as under his care, even peripherally. Or is it because he raped and pillaged his way across Europe for more than a century, and this is how he thinks he should repay his debt? Or is it that both of those stem from a love of and fascination with women? (Not that this will stop me from slashing him, cause he is SO deliciously slashable, my god.) It's old-fashioned, but in a weirdly charming way. And of course, the women he falls for are the ones who don't actually need his protection. And there again I see him falling for Cordelia, because she really can take care of herself.

Fred impressed me in this episode. I figured she'd grow on me, much like Dawn did, and it's happening. Ack, poor Wesley is never going to forgive himself, is he? And how interesting that Gunn could resist it long enough to give Fred a chance to protect herself against him, but Wesley couldn't. I wonder what that says about Wesley? It certainly says volumes about Gunn. Oooh, suddenly I'm finding myself wanting to ship Fred/Gunn! Hee!


BtVS 6: All the Way
[Xander finally announces his engagement to Anya. Dawn sneaks out on Halloween and gets into a dangerous situation with a teenage vampire. Willow does a spell on Tara which alters her memory.]

Halloween is always interesting. Something always happens, even though Giles always warns that demons don't come out on Halloween. (Which they don't usually, but something weird is generally caused by humans in these episodes.) OMG, this make six Halloweens I've seen on this show! There's only one left! *wibbles*

I've seen Dawn steal things at least twice now. What is it with her and stealing things? The whole thing with her trying to be a rebel and sneaking off with her friend was cute. It's such a teenage rite of passage, you know? My mom used to always scold us for that and say, "Do you think I'm stupid? I'm not, you know. Been there, done that, and did it better than you because I didn't get caught." That's funny 20 years later. At the time, not so much.

Poor Dawn, learning that hard lesson about teenaged boys, but with a vampire. We all had to go through it -- the boy who snogs you senseless and tells you how beautiful you are, just before he unhooks your bra. And you're all, whoa -- is this what I want? Maybe that was just me. Still, Buffy's indignation that her sister had been parking with a vampire was pretty funny, considering. Dawn was absolutely right to point out the irony there. (And wasn't Buffy's first kiss with a vampire too?) And ack, he practically told her he was only interested in her because she was Buffy's sister. That's the last thing a little sister wants to hear. But she staked him. Good for her.

And Xander and Anya's engagement is now out in the open! Poor Xander -- he's freaking out. And I kind of get that, actually.

Oooh, the Willow/Tara tension has ratcheted up. I know that the next episode is OMWF, which I've actually seen twice, and so I was sort of surprised that there was only that hint at the end that maybe Willow has been up to stuff that we haven't seen. I guess I was expecting there to be a lot more buildup to their breakup. But now that I think about it, it's almost more powerful that we didn't see it until now. There's a sense in which we're almost seeing things from Buffy's POV in these episodes, so if more has been going on, we're in the dark too. That's interesting.
BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 7-8 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 7-8: [BtVS] Once More, With Feeling and Tabula Rasa.
[AtS] Offspring and Quickening.
Note: I had so much to say about these two episodes of Buffy in particular that I decided to go ahead and post this much now. Else this was going to be a monster post. :-)



A:tS 7: Offspring
[As the crew researches a prophecy predicting the imminent arrival of a being who may have a profound impact on the world, Darla arrives at the hotel---pregnant and angry, looking for the daddy. Cordelia, hurt by Angel's dishonesty, takes Darla's side in the matter. Baffled by how the pregnancy is even possible, Angel and company turn to the Host for some insight.]

I love the episodes that start with flashbacks! And whoa, did they have sunglasses back in the 18th century? That guy who was hunting Angel and Darla (Holtz?) certainly had a cool pair on.

Okay, the Angel/Cordy vibes are getting serious now. The Xena-like misleading sexy dialogue between them at the beginning was completely intended to make me think naughty thoughts. Not that I can't think naughty thoughts on my own, but hey. It was interesting that this was the first time it seemed that Angel realized his attraction for Cordelia. It was sweet, but sort of weird too.

When Darla showed up, it was very interesting that Cordelia seemed hurt that Angel had slept with her. Despite the fact that she seems oblivious to the mutual attraction between them, it really bothered her that he hadn't told her about that. It was funny that she was mad at him for a while for getting Darla pregnant, thinking back to her own demon-spawn pregnancy. It's interesting that both Cordelia and Angel have had this experience of suddenly being on the verge of parenthood, like a day before it's happening, and having it be a complete surprise.

It was also interesting to me that Angel didn't give a shit about Darla or the child until he realized it had a heartbeat. He was ready to kill her, and then it all changed. I felt a little weird about that, and I can't really put my finger on why.

This looks to be an interesting story arc, though. And Holtz is back, cool shades and all.


BtVS 7: Once More, With Feeling
[A mysterious force impels the Scooby Gang to burst into song, revealing their true feelings. Buffy admits that she was pulled out of heaven, and she and Spike share a kiss.]

This was one of the first Buffy episodes I ever watched, back last spring when phaballa convinced me to go to a Buffy Singalong at a local movie theater. I had so much fun that night that I bought the season 1 DVD set and spent the next few months trying to talk MDH into watching it with me. Eventually I gave up on him and started watching it on my own, and sometime in those first dozen episodes, I got hooked. I mean, the show wasn't that engaging in the beginning of season 1, but because I'd seen OMWF I had some ideas about where it would all go, and that was what kept me watching. I knew the fandom for the show was large and devoted, and I knew it was worth getting obsessed over. Two months later, I think "obsessed" pretty much captures it.

So finally getting to OMWF tonight was a bit of a watershed moment for me. After this, I know very few spoilers. I mean, I know Buffy and Spike have some sort of relationship, but really that's about it. I have no idea what happens to any of the other characters. So this is the point at which everything is wide open, and I have no clue where it's going. And it's exciting!

It was interesting to watch the buildup to this episode, because even though I'd seen the episode twice, and even though I know all the words to the songs and could totally sing along with the whole thing, there were still things in it that surprised me. One reason for that was that I only knew the song lyrics. When I saw it at the movie theater, I really didn't hear any of the dialogue because everyone was yelling at the screen. So I actually didn't know what happened between the songs.

But on top of that, I had imagined what I thought happened before this episode based on what I did know, and I guessed wrong about some things. I was surprised that this episode happened so early in the season, because I thought a lot more happened before it. I thought Willow had been playing with Tara's memory for much longer than the show seems to be implying (though it's still not clear to me that she only did it the once). I also thought something big had happened between Buffy and Giles, based on the line in Walk Through the Fire when she says, "And why I froze, not one among them knows". I had been imagining that she was in some sort of life or death situation and had literally frozen, maybe thinking that dying would be a way out, and that Giles (or maybe the rest of the gang) had to step in to save her. I was surprised that nothing like that happened, and I have to admit I'm still a little confused about why Giles is thinking of leaving.

I think I'll go through some of the numbers:

Going Through the Motions: I love how this is choreographed. It works really well as an opening number, too. It's interesting that the timing of the numbers edited into the episode is a little different than how they are on the soundtrack.

"Did anyone... burst into song?" And I had missed before that Giles asked Buffy what she sang about and she evaded the question.

I've Got a Theory: I looked for Xander to look guilty in this number, but I couldn't see it. Bunnies kills me every time, and makes me think about how the host at the singalong here dresses up in a bunny suit and terrorizes the crowd at this point.

Aw, Dawn sang about math at school? I would've liked to see that. ;-)

The Mustard is just fantastic. Especially the kettle drums!

Under Your Spell: I like how this is edited into a sex scene in that sly way Willow/Tara action has been portrayed all along. "You make me come... plete." In the theater, everyone yells "come!" after the last "you make me" cuts off.

I'll Never Tell: Emma has a nice voice, and this number is really cute. I want to learn the crazy dance. So... did they hear each other's fears about getting married? I'm still not sure.

Xander and Anya talking over each other to Giles was funny, as was, "The police are taking witness arias". I love The Parking Ticket and think it's one of the best moments in the episode -- but what did we miss Xander, Giles, and Anya talking about while listening to that?

I now get why when Spike offers Buffy a drink she replies, "A world of no". Something else I didn't notice until this viewing is that Spike looks disgusted with himself when he starts singing. Even though he claims not to have sung anything up to that point, he's in quite a hurry to get Buffy out the door before he lets something slip that he doesn't want to say. So he clearly understands something about what's going on.

Buffy: "What else would I want to pump you for? I really just said that."

Rest in Peace is a lot of fun. Great bridge. And I love the way his eyes roll over her when he's on his knees. So naughty!

Dawn's Lament & Ballet: I skip these on the soundtrack, but they're fun to watch. And wow, Dawn has a whole jewelry box full of stuff she's stolen? That's interesting.

What You Feel: The first time I saw this, I remember being really struck by the difference in the largely untrained voices of the cast and the sheer talent of Hinton Battle. And at that time it wasn't a good sort of difference, though now I see it differently. The cast definitely had some preparation to sing the soundtrack, and for the most part, they're technically sufficient -- but their voices just aren't spectacular (even ASH's -- I think he way oversings his numbers, and he should know better). But of course Sweet would be great, because this is what he does. The rest of the cast are singing just like ordinary people, which is exactly the point. If they sounded like pop stars, it would actually take something away from the episode, I think.

Standing: I loved the "training montage from an 80s movie" line, and I really love this scene. I like the slow-mo knife-throwing especially. I'm not sure what it is about that that really gets me. It's almost like it's a moment when he's literally realizing he has nothing left to teach her.

Under Your Spell (Reprise): Tara's and Giles's voices carry a lot of the music in this episode, which I think means more than just that the two of them have solid voices. They're supporting characters for everyone else, almost the heart and soul of the scoobies, and so it makes sense that we see and hear them most prominently in the group numbers. And so it also makes sense that this number is a duet about the two of them thinking about leaving. Tara's "If I could trust that it was just this once" line was what always made me think the mind control had been going on for a lot longer -- and for all I know, it has.

Spike: "Someday he'll be a real boy."
Buffy: "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday."

Walk Through the Fire: I'm still confused about why Giles makes Buffy go to rescue Dawn alone. Like I said above, I had expected Buffy to fail in some spectacular way prior to this episode, but that didn't really happen. It doesn't seem like Giles to say, "We're not going to help you rescue Dawn." But then they all go anyway, and so... It seemed it bit artificial to me.

It's funny that I didn't notice the ending scene took place at the Bronze before. And Buffy's casual offer to take Dawn's place was something I had missed. When Sweet says, "What if I kill you?" and she replies, "It won't help," it really struck me how much she's finished with it all.

Something to Sing About: "She needs back-up -- Anya, Tara" is funny. I think this is one of my favorite songs, because it really captures the spirit of this episode. The first time I saw this, I remember wondering why Willow was crying when Buffy told them she'd been in heaven. Of course, I get that now, but it's interesting how I was WTF about that before and now am almost wanting to see Willow be more torn up about it. I LOVE that it's Spike who stops her in the end. Everyone else just watches, and no one wants to step in and do anything. They're just going to watch her burst into flames -- I suppose because they think at that point that they've done enough to interfere with her fate. And who better than Spike to tell her she just has to get on with it. I imagine that being immortal would give you a certain amount of perspective.

The ending of this still seems a bit odd to me. The fact that it was Xander who invoked Sweet just... I don't know why that doesn't seem to make sense. There wasn't enough explanation of it for me to really buy it, I guess. And then Sweet left with no big fuss, but they kept singing. It just seems like they could have wrapped that up better.

Where Do We Go From Here? Despite my last comment, I think this song was a great way to end, because it showed that everyone is now uncomfortably estranged from everyone else after having revealed their fears. And of course, we end on the kiss between Spike and Buffy. :-D

I watched the featurette about the making of this episode on the DVD, and that was a lot of fun.



A:tS 8: Quickening
[As Angel and the gang try to figure out what exactly is inside Darla---who's now having contractions---news of her pregnancy causes near pandemonium at Wolfram & Hart. Meanwhile, the demon Sahjhan tries to bring a newly resurrected Holtz up to speed on what he missed over the last couple of centuries.]

Closer and closer to this baby being born. It's interesting that everyone is expecting it to be some sort of crazy demon and is ready to kill it -- because that just tells me it's probably going to be a completely normal baby. Well, completely normal except that it's going to completely throw their world into chaos, most likely. I'm curious to see where this storyline is going, and I can't help but worry for Angel. He seems to be grasping at anything that makes him feel human, and the prospect of having a child is certainly a very human thing. But knowing what he's willing to do to protect people he cares about -- yikes. This sounds scary. And wow, for once W&H is not behind it and seems to be just as freaked out about it as everyone else.

One of the things that I think is interesting about this show is that there are often situations where there aren't just two, but three or four sides to a story. As a result, it's hard to know who to trust, or that letting the bad guys battle it out is the best course of action. Or even who to root for. I was thrilled that the time-transported vampire hunter wiped out all of W&H's thugs (including the vulturey OB/GYN) but... what will he do to Angel? Considering that Angel and Darla slaughtered his children back in the day, it seems that this guy wouldn't hesitate to return the favor. And is that why the demon brought him through time? Does that guy want Angel dead, or is he more worried about the child? And what's the deal with the vampires who want to worship the baby? They were oddly easy to defeat, I thought. There are a lot of possibilities at this point, and I have no idea what direction all of this will go.

So is sonogram reading part of standard watcher training?

The impact of all of this on Darla is interesting. She seems to be trying to cling to being a vampire and not caring about having a baby, but it's less and less convincing. The repeat of "Are you going to do it or am I?" from the flashback was chilling. And something changed for her after she realized the baby she was carrying was human, though it isn't clear if that's a good change or a bad change yet. I loved this:

Darla, in labor: "... the pain!"
Angel: "You like pain."
Darla: "This is different."

It was intended to be funny, but it was almost a sweet moment between them, you know? And wow, nice cliffhanger!



BtVS 8: Tabula Rasa
[Despite Tara's misgivings about her overindulgence in magic, Willow does a spell that goes awry and gives the Scoobies amnesia. This is the last straw for Tara, who breaks up with Willow and moves out.]

"Clean Slate" -- the title is interesting in and of itself. I watched this, and it made me think so much about Restless that I went back and watched that one again, and then watched this one one more time. It just seemed like there was a hell of a lot going on here, and I wanted time to think about it before moving on.

So before I get into the big thing that happened in this episode, I want to talk about some of the stuff I found interesting in the beginning. I was genuinely surprised that Buffy was pushing Spike away here after kissing him at the end of the last episode. But now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. It would be a bad idea for her to just throw herself into a relationship with Spike at this point when there's so much she has to figure out about why she's back and how she feel about it. At least, it would be a bad idea if you're actually rooting for that ship, which I totally am.

Spike: "We kissed and it was all Gone With the Wind with the rising music and the rising... music."

I was thrown by the random shark man at the beginning, and then when I rewatched Restless, there was that bit in Xander's dream about a shark "with feet and much less fins... and on land". I don't know if there's a connection, but I thought it was interesting. That "Time is what turns kittens into cats" line really stuck with me, and I have no idea why.

I was disappointed that Willow could barely go a day without using magic, but horrified that even after Tara had confronted her about what she'd done, her first instinct was still to do a spell to erase it from her memory again. And not only that, but to erase what she'd done to Buffy. I suppose it's human nature to want to be able to take back your mistakes, but what really bothers me is that she's only taking them from others -- she still knows what she did, and she doesn't seem to feel a bit guilty about it. It seems that part of the difference a soul makes in a vampire is that it gives them a conscience -- so what does that say about humans who seem to not have one?

But on to the effects of the spell, because that's what this episode was really about. I'm thinking that the idea of a clean slate could be interpreted in two ways here:
(1) One way would be to think of it as looking at what is left when you take away all of a person's experiences. What parts of their personality are innate? If they don't have any frame of reference to figure out what's going on, what do they do? How do they react? How do they relate to others? This one is particularly appealing to me because I think it follows nicely from OMWF, where everyone had laid parts of themselves bare and weren't sure how to proceed with each other. So the question becomes, what if none of that was hobbling you -- what would you do then?
(2) A second way to look at it would be that the spell Willow performed somehow showed us who each of those people really is deep down, what they really want and how they really feel about themselves. This one is also interesting from a perspective of analyzing characters, though it doesn't seem as satisfying as the other one does in terms of how it adds to the larger story arc.

(1) Now that she knows her friends know what she's been through, she seemed to be having trouble being around them at all, as if she couldn't bear to be that vulnerable. So removing the memory of all of that pain and self-doubt was really stark, because she was left as a sort of bubbly and upbeat person, with a tendency to be a leader and protect others. The fact that she was actually excited about discovering she had superpowers made me think about all of the discussion in the last three seasons about what it really means to be a Slayer. She reminded me of Faith for a moment there, all "Hey, look what I can do, cool!" But we've been shown that it isn't that simple, of course. When the spell was broken, you could see the moment it all came crashing back down, everything she'd experienced. It was almost like being brought back to life again, I imagine, and reliving the loss. It literally knocked the breath out of her.
(2) Deep down, we might be able to say that Buffy really loves being the Slayer, that it's absolutely the essence of who she is, and that it ultimately makes her happy. Her reaction to learning that Spike was a vampire was interesting -- she screamed and ran. Yet later, she spent a good minute sitting on top of him in a rather intimate way, and listened when he tried to figure out who he was. And she never said she wouldn't stake him -- he said that. Of course, she didn't hesitate to save him from the vampire early on: "Stay away from Randy!"

(1) It was interesting that she was more than happy to assume Xander was her boyfriend, but as soon as she was close to Tara, she realized she was gay. Or at least attracted to Tara. She also became so much like her pre-witch goofy self that it was almost stark how much she's changed.
(2) The pull between Tara and Willow was so immediate and magnetic that it made me wonder if there is something more there than just attraction between them.
In Restless, I was struck by everyone in her dream telling her how everyone could see who she really was, and that it was clearly a bad thing to reveal. When I first watched it, I thought it had to be something more than the gay thing, because that wasn't an issue on the show at all. I had guessed it might be about Willow becoming dark, and now I really think that's true. It interesting that in this episode at the end, everyone looked down at the crystal and just sort of stared at her in horror, as if they were really seeing what she was capable of for the first time. But no one wants to say anything.

(1) The first person he noticed was Willow, and he barely spared a glance for Anya. He stepped up to fight when he was in the sewer with the girls, even though he wasn't the one with the superpowers. His first instinct there was to fight. Of course, he fainted dead away earlier. Was this the first time it's been mentioned that his name is actually Alexander? That was a surprise for me. I'm not sure why.
(2) It would be tempting to conclude that he hasn't really ever gotten over Willow and still carries a torch for her.
I noticed some interesting things when I watched Restless again, with respect to Xander. First, it was interesting that he was the only one of the characters who watched himself in the dream. Second, he was fascinated by Willow in the dream, in an overtly sexual way. (And in Willow's dream as well.) Third, there was a lot of talk that implied he might not survive the series. I somehow hadn't heard it before, but Snyder told him his time was running out and that despite his claim that he was the "comfortador", he was really just a whipping boy. He was also concerned in his dream about not being able to make it for "Anya's big day", which I assume means the wedding. And he got his heart ripped out by the first slayer. I can only begin to speculate about what all of that means, but I wanted to make a note of it here.

(1) Giles was one of the characters who didn't seem that different without his memories. Does that mean he's better able to filter out the weight of the world than the younger characters? His skepticism about magic was funny, though. The two relationships that emerged here were the ones with Spike and with Anya, and I thought both were really interesting. He seemed so willing to accept the fact that Spike could be his son (even though he was a bit affronted by the age difference) and that he was engaged to Anya. In fact, he was almost happy about both of those things, and made genuine efforts to relate to them accordingly.
(2) I think that Giles wants to have real connections and relationships with people, and one of the reasons he's leaving is because he's realized he won't ever have that in Sunnydale. He said Spike was like a son to him in Restless, and he dreamed about being Buffy's father, and that Olivia was pregnant. In OMWF, he sang about wishing he could be a father to Buffy, but he's knows it isn't possible. He was eager to see himself in a relationship with Anya and even to patch up what he assumed was an imminent breakup. I don't think that implied anything about how he feels about Anya -- I think it was more about a relationship that he really wants.
As an aside, I noticed that he told the first Slayer in Restless that she didn't have a Watcher -- and that made me think about what will happen to Buffy without him.

(1) It was interesting that Anya didn't even look at Xander during this part of the episode. With no memory of ever having been a vengeance demon, she seemed to seize her role as owner of the shop. It struck me that she seems concerned primarily concerned with the material trappings of life and not with relationships very much at all.
(2) So is Anya really capable of loving someone else? She was more concerned with the shop and with being in control of what was happening around her than anything else. It was funny that she kept making bunnies, and that she was still terrified of them. And she whapped Giles on the head with the book and said she was taking vengeance on him. In Restless, she told Xander in the dream that she was thinking about getting back into vengeance, and she seemed unconcerned that he was going to have sex with Willow and Tara.

(1) Tara didn't change very much, from what I could tell. That could imply that Willow has messed with her memory so much that we haven't seen the effect of her experiences on her as much as we have the others. But she still looked right at Willow and smiled as if she'd never seen anyone so wonderful in her life.
(2) Tara really, really loves Willow, probably more than Willow deserves. And Tara loves in a very pure way, with no jealousy or negativity. The pain on her face when the memories came back was pretty awful.

(1) Dawn also didn't seem to change much, but I suppose she hasn't had much life experience to be shaped by.
(2) It was funny that Dawn and Buffy still annoyed each other, and that was what made them realize they were sisters.

(1) First, I should say that it was Spike's appearance in that suit that made me think to go back and watch Restless. Without any knowledge that he was a vampire, he assumed he was human, and that in and of itself was very interesting to me. It wasn't until he was directly attacked by another vampire that he morphed at all, so just being around the scoobies wasn't enough to bring out his evil side. It was also interesting how easily he accepted that Giles was his father -- with all of his eye rolling, he seemed to be relieved to have a connection. And of course, in Restless, he was quite excited about Giles taking him under his wing. But when he finally figured out he was a vampire, that was when it really got interesting. Without much knowledge of what vampires are and do, he decided he must be one of the good guys. The whole bit about being a vampire with a soul who was trying to redeem himself was funny, of course, and even funnier when Buffy said, "A vampire with a soul? That's lame." (It struck me that "lame" was the same word the Buffybot used to describe Angel.) And that's hardly the simplest explanation, is it?
(2) So that makes me think about what this might say about Spike and what Spike really wants. He seemed so desperate to make a connection with Buffy here and to convince her that he was on her side. And of course, he said, "I don't want to bite you", which seemed so, so honest and true. He was not the slightest bit evil here, almost just a dorky guy who really, really wanted to hang out with the cool kids, even though he clearly doesn't belong. And he also seemed like he wanted to be a good guy. That description of Angel may not have been a coincidence -- it could be that he envies Angel on some level, and actually wants to be more like him. Or is it that he thinks if he's more like Angel, Buffy will finally love him? So where's that demon, really?

In Restless, Giles said he was going to train Spike to be a Watcher, and that connection between Giles and Spike was reinforced in this episode. And that made me wonder about the role Spike might now take in Buffy's life. He does have a lot to teach her (as evidenced in Fool For Love), and she seems to need to be pushed by someone. Spike can certainly push her. So in some sense, I'm wondering if Spike is going to serve as some sort of Watcher for her now. That's assuming that Giles is really gone, of course.

And then the ending -- Tara is leaving, Giles has left, and everyone seems more alone than ever. Spike reaching out to Buffy and getting rejected yet again was nearly heartbreaking, and I have to say I feel a bit cheated that we didn't see the moment when she changed her mind. So now is she ready to try, or is this just another moment of weakness she'll deny later?
BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 9-13 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 9-13: [BtVS] Smashed, Wrecked, Gone, Doublemeat Palace, and Dead Things.
[AtS] Lullaby, Dad, Birthday, Provider, and Waiting in the Wings.

A:tS 9: Lullaby
[As Darla violently begins childbirth, Angel faces the responsibility of becoming a father and the possibilities of what miracle or destruction this new being may bring to the world. ]

I love the way there are all of these things going on, and all of them are slowly starting to fit together. like Angel and Darla having to face Holtz and what they did to him, and Holtz being faced with the fact that Angel has a soul now. I'm not exactly sure what Holtz's role will ultimately be in all of this. He doesn't seem too freaked out about being 200 years in the future, though I suppose that would distract from the story too much to be a big plot point.

Holtz still claims he'll show Angel no mercy, and I'm not sure what he means by that. And yeow, he threw his own child into the sunlight when he realized she was a vampire, not so differently from Gunn staking his own sister. It's one thing to watch anonymous vampires get staked, but it's another altogether to imagine having to stake a loved one, you know?

Poor Darla has been in labor for quite a while now. Wesley trying to show her how to breathe was funny, especially when she screamed "I don't breathe!" back at him. When it started to become clear that the baby wasn't going to be born the usual way, I wrote in my notes that I guessed Darla would have to be staked if the baby was going to survive. I thought she'd ask Angel to do it, or that Holtz would do it in the end -- so I was completely surprised that she staked herself. It happened so fast -- and then there was a (not quite newborn, but hey) baby left where she'd been.

Darla staking herself to save the baby reduced me to sobs, I have to say. I mean literally, I was sobbing. I love the idea that Angel really did save her in some sense in that he gave her the chance to feel what he feels, and to love someone more than herself. The idea of losing that and the baby seemed to be too much for her to bear. So when she staked herself, partly out of a desire to give the baby a chance, but also to prevent the monster she was from coming back -- wow. There were tears.

There was also a lot of Christian imagery in that scene in the alley. I was really struck by the image of Fred with Angel's coat over her head, looking down at this baby in a way that seemed designed to evoke a Virgin Mary image. And there's the miracle child, and they were in an alleyway in the rain -- all of it seemed like it was very intentional.

And then when Holtz let them go in the end, I didn't know what to think. That was absolutely the most vulnerable I've seen Angel on this show -- there he was, holding this baby that's an absolute miracle, possibly the one thing that will ever make him feel human, and he's just seen Darla sacrifice herself for it -- and then there's Holtz, crossbow in hand, ready to dust him and not really understanding what's happened or what purpose Angel serves in the world now. The look on Angel's face was amazing then, something between terror, resignation, and hope, like suddenly he's afraid of so much more than he was before. And that rings true with what I've heard people say about becoming parents, that there were moments when the enormity of what they'd done hit them, and they were terrified that they couldn't (or wouldn't be able to) raise a child. And in Angel's case, it was literally something to fear at that moment.

I have no idea how this is going to change things.


BtVS 9: Smashed
[Spike discovers that his chip now allows him to hurt Buffy; it seems Buffy came back wrong somehow. Willow reverts Amy to human form and the two party with magic. Buffy and Spike have sex.]

W00t! That's the first thing I have to say after watching that... twice. And then watching the ending about a dozen times...

Lots of things happened here. First, Amy is no longer a rat! I'd wondered a while back when Willow was going to figure out how to do that. I mean, she could do so many other things, but deratting Amy was proving too difficult? I thought it was interesting that Amy thought she'd been gone for only a few weeks. I suppose that's a good thing, because otherwise she'd really be freaked out about having been a rat for so long, having experienced every moment of it for three years. It's interesting that she seems like someone who's going to be a bad influence on Willow. Willow needs someone to reign her in, not encourage her. And I'm worried that Willow doesn't seem remotely remorseful of what she's done. She told the gang what happened between her and Tara was a little thing, and then she goes off with Amy to play with the folks at the Bronze until they're bored? That's not a good sign.

I thought it was interesting that Tara was taking Dawn out as if she were a visiting divorced parent. Dawn really seems to be clnging to the hope that Tara and Willow will get back together, and I'm not sure they will. Not unless Willow really changes the path she's on, or else does something even more desperate. When the scoobies were looking through the books at the Magic Box and Xander found something in the D&D manual, I was really intrigued that the others brushed it off. Knowing that the Trio is behind what's going on, I have a feeling that information might have been important.

Loved the Trio again, as usual. I'm clueless about what they're planning. Getting the diamond was apparently the end of phase 1, but it's unclear to me what they need that diamond for. And geez, a priceless diamond on loan from the British Museum is being protected only by Rusty Rent-a-cop?

Ah, but the big thing in this episode was Spike, and the revelation that his chip doesn't prevent him from attacking Buffy anymore. It was interesting that after what we've seen of Spike in the last few episodes, we were shown that he really is still a demon. Given the chance, he would absolutely kill and eat people, and he wouldn't feel a bit of remorse about it. So he really isn't redeemed in any sense of the word, just sort of caged. I still think he wouldn't kill Buffy though -- when he said he didn't want to bite her in the last episode, I think he really meant it.

So when he attacked her, I read that as an act of desperation. He can't just wait for her to come around, and he's frustrated that he's been effectively emasculated by his chip. If he isn't dangerous, he thinks, why would she want him? And in a way, he was right. She didn't even seem to take him seriously until he was a threat again, and then she couldn't resist him. He seemed so desperate to have some sort of contact with her, and she had brushed him off over and over -- but she can't ignore him now. And she didn't.

So what does that say about Buffy? One thing is that the chip problem seems to indicate that there's more going on with her than was apparent before. She isn't completely human somehow, but I'm not sure what that means. It has to have something to do with her coming back from the dead, and there were certainly lots of hints dropped early on that it was more dangerous than any of them realized. It will be interesting to see if she believes it, and how it will affect her. But another thing I find interesting is just how caged she seems to be herself. Part of her wants to just let go and be 21 and live her life, but she's still the Slayer and she can't really be free of that responsibility. And so she seems to feel horribly guilty every time she forgets about that responsibility just a little bit. Getting into a relationship with Spike symbolizes her abandoning her responsibility in a lot of ways, and that seems to be part of why she's been pushing him away so hard, despite the fact that she's clearly attracted to him. And so it was interesting in this episode that she had to kick his ass before she could let herself give in to her desire for him, as if that would mean she hadn't forgotten who she was. She'd done her job and knocked him around, and then so what if she fucked him into the floor for good measure? Something like that, anyway.

So, the sex scene. Good grief, that was one of the hottest things I've ever seen! Wow. I've read so many HP fics where fighting turned into sex, but that was probably the first example I've seen on film that really worked for me. The first (several) times I watched it, I thought she was wearing pants, which is obviously problematic for the wallsex they were having. So I went back further in the episode and looked, and realized she actually had a skirt on. Heh. Clever on the part of wardrobe. The bit with the zipper sound and her settling on him and the looks on their faces was just... gah. Wow.

I went looking for a YouTube clip to link to, and found the original version of the ending. Holy shit.

And then two sets of dailies from filming that scene: one and two. It must be really, really weird to film a sex scene, you know? I mean, you go to work every day with these people, and you get to know them, and then one day you have to simulate sex with them, in front of other people you work with? I can't even imagine how weird that would be.

And one more thing that I thought was interesting about this scene was that the sex was entirely initiated by Buffy. She was in control of every bit of it, and there was never a moment where it looked like she was being pushed to do something she didn't want to do. And that is very interesting to me, because it says something about Spike. Well, maybe it just says that he'd kill her before he'd violate her, but still, it shows where his priorites are.


A:tS 10: Dad
[Still trying to figure out how to be a good father, Angel's problems multiply when he and the gang are trapped by several groups of enemies bent on kidnapping his son. Barricaded in the hotel, the group prepares for an inevitable attack. Meanwhile, Holtz goes about recruiting new help for his quest to destroy Angel.]

It was interesting to see Angel being so, so protective of the baby. I have to say that the baby talk parts were actually kind of disturbing. I was thinking about the fact that DB's RL son was born around this time, so I wondered how much of the baby-comforting behavior was coming from his own experience. The way he was holding the baby was also interesting to me, because that was exactly how I held my nephew when he was born. I remember just wanting to stare at his face for hours on end.

Cordy: "You don't have a woman's touch. Whatever your taste in clothing may indicate." The running gay joke is funny, and I'm not sure why they're still doing it. Is it just a bone they're throwing to the fans?

It was kind of sweet to see Angel so bewildered, but also completely fierce about protecting the baby, to the extent that he wouldn't let anyone else touch it for a long time. And trying to take care of everything, even though it's hard to imagine he's had any experience with babies... ever. He said he knew how to change diapers (and wondered where the pins were and how to work the velcro), but seriously, my dad doesn't know how to change a diaper. I have no reason to believe that a drunken playboy from the 18th century would have a clue. Did they have diaper pins back then? I know my grandmother used diaper pins on my dad, but she remembered when she was a girl and taking care of nieces and nephews that they had to fold diapers in a particular way to keep them on without pins.

I didn't see the trick they played on the W&H guys coming at all, though I'm glad they finally know that W&H has been spying on them all this time. That was really clever. I'm wondering where the baby was hidden during all of that -- in the janitor's closet, where there wasn't any surveillance?

It was pretty freaky that W&H has so many files on Angel and everything about him. I can't help but think that's not the last time we'll see that information used.

And aw, now the baby has a name. I'm thinking "Connor" must be an important name to Angel for some reason.

And what is Holtz doing, trying to train a Slayer?


BtVS 10: Wrecked
[Buffy's tryst with Spike leaves the Slayer shaken. Willow nearly gets Dawn killed after going to see a warlock for a dose of magic, and thus decides to go told turkey on the magic.]

So it seems that Willow has finally hit bottom. I thought the magic-as-heroin metaphor was a little over the top, but in a sense, Willow needed to see it that way before she realized just how deep in she was. But the whole drunk-driving thing was a bit movie-of-the-weekish for my taste, I have to say.

It was interesting to see Buffy struggling with what happened between her and Spike. She seems to be really uneven at the moment. I'm standing behind what I said in the last episode that she feels torn between her duty as the Slayer and her feelings for Spike, and thinks that she has to choose one or the other. But it's also interesting that she seems to see her own battle against what she feels for Spike as the same sort of addiction Willow is struggling with. Her moods swing so much where he is concerned that I'm wondering if there really is something wrong with her, like she's got some sort of force in her that she can't control. Of course, she's got a lot going on, and her self-identity is bound up in this, so I suppose I can't fault her too much.

I would feel sorry for Spike in all of this, but somehow I don't. He seems to accept the crumbs she tosses him, and when she pushes him away again, it's not clear that it really hurts him. Maybe it does, and he's just hiding it very well, but it almost seems like he sees her differently now. Either that, or he thinks it's inevitable that she'll come around to his way of seeing things, and he's willing to wait for it. I know he loves her, but it's pretty twisted. It's almost like he hates himself for loving her, more than he hates her not loving him back. So he takes her shit, because he doesn't think he really deserves her love anyway. Something like that.

Spike is right, though -- Buffy needs him. She needs him more than she knows. And she thinks she's got some sort of dangerous addiction to him, but I worry that there's more danger in pushing him away.

I like how the boundaries are being pushed in the dialogue and the editing this seaaon, like Spike saying, "I knew the only thing better than killing a Slayer would be f-[ucking one]", and all of the just barely concealed nude shots. That's pretty clever, the sort of stuff that utterly violates the spirit of the rules, if not the letter. Very South Park.


A:tS 11: Birthday
[A powerful vision knocks Cordy out of her body, leaving her physical self in a vegetative state, but a guide on the astral plane offers her a new lease on life. Unfortunately, it's a life without her friends, who are busy trying to figure out how to get her back. Angel sets out to speak to the Powers That Be, who can presumably revive Cordy and mend her vision-ravaged brain.]

I am now officially in love with Cordelia. I mean, I've liked her a lot for quite a while, but after this episode, I'm head over heels. I wanted to see what Angel got her for her birthday that fit into such a small box, you know? Small boxes are good.

When she was separated from her body, I thought it was just part of another thing that would help them solve a crime. When it looked like she was really, seriously in danger, I got worried. But at the same time, I was struck by how much she was concerned that the gang go to that address from her vision and help the person. I kept hoping the others would say something nice to her while she was out of her body and listening, but the more they didn't, the more I was actually relieved -- because that told me she wasn't going to die.

It was interesting to see her briefly possess Angel, I have to say. Hoo boy, I can imagine some naughty fics there, which would totally violate the spirit of this episode. But that's what fanfic is for, right?

And Skip was back, yay! I like Skip. Him talking about The Matrix was funny. It was an interesting revelation to learn that TPTB didn't give Cordy the visions, and that Doyle shouldn't have done it at all because humans aren't capable of handling the stress. Even more interesting was the fact that she'd been living with them for two years, longer than should have been possible.

Seeing her living in an alternate universe where she was a big star was interesting, and I honestly would've liked to see a little more of it. But what really struck me about it was thinking back to The Wish, when she also got a chance to see what the world would be like if one thing had happened differently. In both cases, the world was a much worse place and people Cordy cares about were the worse for it, but her response to it this time was completely different. Even with no memory of who she was in the other life, she still went to help the girl in danger. And that transition from bratty schoolgirl to genuine hero has been so natural and gradual that it's nearly stunning.

The implication that even Angel couldn't handle the visions as well as she had, despite not being human himself made me stop and think. It not only says something about how strong Cordy is, but it also says something about what Angel's weakness is. He's carrying enough regret and guilt for an eternity of suffering, and he can't handle a heck of a lot more than what he's got.

And when Cordelia kissed Angel and took the visions back, I was pretty much crying, because that's her destiny and she was going to meet it no matter what -- and the world is a better place for it. So she chose to make it right again, even though that meant becoming part-demon, and she accepted it without even knowing what that would mean. And wow, that's huge for Cordelia. Considering where she started and how afraid Doyle was for her to find out about him, and now she's part demon too. I'm looking forward to learning more about the implications of that.

One more thing about Skip: it was very cool when he said it had been his honor to be her guide. I took that to mean it had been some sort of test, and one she passed with flying colors. And uh... how did Doyle pass the visions to Angel in the AU, anyway? I mean, the way we've seen so far has involved kissing. I'm just sayin'. ;-)


BtVS 11: Gone
[A social services worker threatens to take guardianship of Dawn. Meanwhile, the Geek Trio accidentally turn Buffy invisible with a ray gun.]

I have to admit that I'm not sure what to make of this episode. Buffy really seems to be struggling here to decide what she wants, and I get that. But why would being invisible take the pressure off? It was almost like she had turned into Willow for a little while and was just fucking with people, doing all sorts of things for selfish reasons, with no fear of consequences coming back to her. Okay, so maybe that does make sense, now that I think about it. If she's invisible, she can't really be the Slayer any more, and so all of the obligations she's been struggling with become basically moot. She could just be herself, something she really can't do in view of friends and family.

And now I know what the diamond was for and how it fit into the Trio's plan for Sunnydale domination. And even better, the scoobies now are on alert that the Trio are potential threats -- though I'm not sure they take them so seriously yet. It was funny that none of them knew who Andrew was until he said that his brother was the one who'd released the hellhounds at the prom.

I adored the Buffy/Spike interaction in this episode. Him fondling her in the kitchen at the beginning was a surprise, because hello -- they weren't showing anything but oh the implication! And then a few minutes later when he fished the lighter out of her pocket, she clearly thought he was going to touch her again. It's just interesting to me that she's so very attracted to him that she basically can't resist him when he's that close. In retrospect, I guess I can see why she's been thinking about her relationship with him as an addiction she has to fight.

It was funny that one of the first things she decided to do when made invisible was go pay him a visit, and pretty much jump him. I liked the implication that he realized it was her when she went down on him. And oh man, the scene when Xander walked in on them! Talk about violating the spirit if not the letter of the rules again. It's funny how much you can get away with by just implying naughty things. And there was a nice little glimpse of JM's package under the sheet when he turned around. Heh.

Invisible Buffy toying with him with Xander standing in the room was quite an interesting statement, because it's almost OOC for her. But there agin, I think the message is that being the Slayer and being responsible for Dawn is really too much for her to deal with right now, and what she'd rather be doing is having fun and not worrying about the fate of the world and everything else. Given the chance, she'd be just as irresponsible and playful as anyone would. And so in the end, I don't think it was OOC at all.

I'm having a hard time believing that Xander had no idea of what was going on there, because he isn't stupid. And it was interesting to me too that Spike told Buffy to go. He seems not to be too worried now about how things will work out between them, and at the same time he doesn't want to settle for anything less than a real relationship with her. That seemed to surprise her, but it was a cool moment. After the last few episodes, I figured they were probably going to continue with the casual hookups, but I'm starting to doubt he would accept that. And after this episode, she can hardly turn around a pull an act like she did in the abandoned house. Well, I suppose she could, but it wouldn't make much sense.

One thing I've noticed about the show recently (though this has been true all along, I think) is that the gratuitous nudity is always of male characters. We've seen an awful lot of every male on the show (a hell of a lot of JM -- does he have any body fat at all?) in situations where they were clearly being depicted as sex objects. But IIRC we haven't seen any of the female characters that naked. It's striking because it's such a reversal of what you typically see on TV and film.

The bit with the case worker threatening to take Dawn away was a little scary, and I have a feeling that isn't over. Buffy is really going to have to pull it together soon.



A:tS 12: Provider
[Unprepared for the flood of business brought in by advertising, the Angel Investigations crew splits up to cover more ground---and ends up being spread too thin for its own good. Also, Fred is offered big bucks to solve a demonic puzzle; Angel goes to work for a high-paying businessman; and Gunn and Wesley protect a woman whose zombie ex-boyfriend is stalking her.]

The Angel/Cordy vibes are ratcheting up here. The two of them being parents to Connor is so sweet. There was a scene in the beginning filmed as if they're both looking down into the crib at him, Angel looking over her shoulder, and it was just unbearably sweet.

It was funny to see Angel suddenly so interested in making money in this episode, while Cordelia was the one who kept reminding everyone about their mission to help people. That's quite a reversal from season 1, and it's pretty amazing that it seems so utterly natural. Great writing, there.

We keep getting these little glimpses of what Holtz is doing, but not enough to really move his story arc forward. I'm guessing he's going to prove to be the big enemy for the rest of the season.

So Fred's head was almost pastede on yay. That was actually kind of funny. When the demons produced the suitcase full of money early on, I wrote in my notes, "Did they just sell Fred's brain for $50,000?" And aw, Wesley and Gunn are both interested in Fred. That seems like it might be messy. But yay for Fred!

I was shocked that Cordelia took the baby into a battle, but I guess she didn't have much choice. She also didn't know exactly what she was getting into, I guess. It all worked out, but her standing there holding the baby really brought hom how dangerous the lives they lead can be. Is that really the best way to raise that child? I'm worrying about that, actually.

I loved the scene at the end when Angel was trying to be noble and kept getting distracted by the large pile of cash on the floor. It was good when Cordy pointed out that they really had earned it, since Fred was almost beheaded. So how far does $50,000 go towards rent and all of their salaries? Not so far, I'd imagine.

I didn't like Angel as a mercenary, so I was glad that only lasted for one episode. Of course, he did the right thing in the end, as he always... usually... does. And I love that he still can't work his cell phone!

But seriously, the scene at the end with Angel and Cordy and baby Connor all in bed and drifting off to sleep while planning his future? Massive "awws".


BtVS 12: Doublemeat Palace
[Buffy takes a job at a burger joint, and suspects that something demonic might be going on. Anya gets a visit from an old demon friend who questions her relationship with Xander.]

That was perhaps the single most depressing episode of this show ever. I mean, it was funny and interesting, but watching Buffy realize this is what her life will be like was pretty awful. I worked fast food in high school for one summer, and after that I swore I'd never do it again. After watching this episode, I kinda never want to eat fast food again either.

It was funny that you were supposed to think they were grinding up the employees and putting them into the burgers. It was so over the top that I figured early on it couldn't be that. I really lol'd at Buffy's Soylent Green moment and Xander eating the burger and thinking he'd eaten human flesh, because at that point it just had to be something completely unexpected. And I have to say I didn't expect the little old lady to be a demon, so that was a surprise. It was cool that Willow was the one to rescue Buffy, and also that she didn't use magic, even under pressure. So she can do it, even though Amy is no help.

I'm getting worried about Xander and Anya. They're both having doubts about this marriage thing, and sadly, they're probably right about it. I love their relationship, but they probably ought to back off on the long-term commitment for a while, I'm thinking. The scene with Anya and the other vengeance demon was pretty funny though, especially the giggling over the ring. And the conversation between the two of them was hilarious, because they both talk the same way!

I wanted to hug Spike for trying to talk Buffy out of working at the Doublemeat Palace, because he's right about what it will do to her. And besides, she's probably not patrolling much working that job. But I'm really glad she turned down his offer to help with money, because the last thing she needs is to feel beholden to him. And geez, she didn't look too happy about the wall action in the alley out back. Not that we haven't all worn that face during sex before. I mean let's face it, sometimes you have sex when you aren't really in the mood, hoping it will make you feel better, but because you're not in the mood, it doesn't really work out like you hoped. And before I get more TMI, I'll leave it at that.

It was an interesting choice in the end that she asked for her job back. And it was so realistic that it was depressing. The ending stuck with me, with the manager telling her she wanted Buffy to want to be there for years, and Buffy realizing she really didn't have any other options. Just, ouch. Giles got paid to be a Watcher, so why can't the Council pay Buffy to be a Slayer? It's a lot more important than flipping burgers, I think.


A:tS 13: Waiting in the Wings
[Angel takes the gang out to the ballet, but becomes suspicious when the ballerina is one he saw a century ago. When Angel and Cordelia sneak backstage, they find themselves consumed with passion.]

And just when I thought Angel might finally tell Cordy how he felt about her, it all comes crashing down. I should have known better, but it still got me.

The idea to base an episode around the story of Giselle was really fantastic. It's been a while since I've seen it, but its Wiki entry gives a good synopsis. I had forgotten about the vampire connection, actually. What I'd remembered about it was the theme of the leading man being forced to dance over and over until Giselle freed him. So it was interesting, of course, to see the story intertwined with this one.

I loved that even as Angelus, he liked ballet. "I saw this company's production of Giselle in 1890, and I cried like a baby. And I was evil!" That was pretty funny, as was Gunn's resistance and then utter infatuation once the performance started. They all looked so nice dressed up, especially Cordelia. Humina! It was funny that she fell asleep during the ballet though, and wasn't really enjoying it at all. I guess you can take the girl out of Sunnydale, but... yeah.

It was AWESOME to watch Angel and Cordy acting out that scene in the dressing room, I have to say. I have been waiting for a bone to be tossed my way. I figured at that point that it was a Something Blue sort of thing, and that it wasn't going to mean much after the fact, but I still backed that up a few times.

Cordy: "Get the door."
Angel: "It's kinda hard."
Cordy: "I kinda noticed."

And then he had to take his coat off so he could hide his erection with it! :-D And then they went back, which was even more fun, especially the part where he was on top of her and clearly pressed himself against her and she moaned a little bit... Okay, I need to go look for smutty fic now.

Another funny line of Angel's, when Lorne read him at the beginning and told him he knew how he felt about Cordelia: "There will be no coming together." I love double entendre like that, especially coming from him. There's something almost innocent about Angel (even though I know he really isn't). It's hard to explain, but he usually seems so repressed that it's amazing when we get those little hints of sexuality. The sex scene in season 2 with Darla was so amazing in that way, and it's all the more erotic for being something so rare.

Ah, but the end -- I'm happy for Fred and Gunn, but poor Wesley. And then just as Angel was going to tell Cordelia how he felt, Groosalugg shows up? Gah, rip my heart out all over again, Joss. You know I love it. :-P



BtVS 13: Dead Things
[Buffy finds out that she didn't really come back wrong. Warren kills Katrina and frames the Slayer for it. Buffy violently takes out her emotions on Spike.]

This started in a weirdly kinky and ominous way, with Buffy and Spike having pretty rough sex (and then she hides under the rug like she doesn't want him to see her naked, LOL). The implication that she's into much rougher stuff than has been seen before was kind of wild, with Spike commenting on his bite marks, and then holding up the handcuffs. And OMG, him fucking her against the railing at the Bronze while they're watching her friends below, and then taunting her about how dark she's become???

Do you know what the HP fandom would give for canon like that? Holy fucking hell.

But it means more than that, you know? The really interesting thing here was the revelation that Buffy has only been letting herself have this weird relationship with Spike because she thinks there's something wrong with her, that a nice girl wouldn't like the things Spike's been getting her to do. Or that she's been getting him to do -- it isn't clear which way it goes, IMO. I can only guess what they've been doing, but the implication is just that it's pretty BDSMy. Is she really that sheltered that she's freaked out about that? Of course, it's mostly because it's Spike, and poor Buffy isn't sexually experienced enough to understand that regular people like sex in all different flavors. And in her defense, I suppose I should point out that most regular people don't figure that out until they're much older than she is now. Vanilla sex alone seems pretty kinky when you're in your late teens and early 20s. It really isn't until you're a little bit older that you start to understand the excitement of pushing the envelope. *coughs*

Okay, aside: I remember being about 18 or 19 and hearing my younger sister talking about a girl she knew who'd taken her boyfriend off into a bedroom at a party with a bottle of chocolate syrup. My sister and her friends were all "Eww, gross!" but I remember thinking it sounded like fun -- and wondering if that made me a freak. And geez, that's nothing, you know?

Anyway, we also got a glimpse here of what Warren is capable of. The fact that he killed his ex after trying to rape her, and then tried to frame Buffy for it, was really an eye-opener. Suddenly the geek trio's exploits don't seem so harmless. And it was interesting that the only one of the three who really seemed unhappy with that was Jonathan. I'm going to cling to the hope that the kindness Buffy has shown Jonathan through the years is going to make a difference here, and that he'll turn against Warren at some point. If he doesn't, it wouldn't make sense, because it would mean that Buffy's faith in humanity is all for naught.

Buffy had me in tears at the end when she was sobbing to Tara about her confusion over her feelings for Spike. She'd really been counting on the fact that it was because she'd come back wrong, but it isn't really that. On some level, this is who she really is, and she has to know she's in love with Spike. I can completely understand why that would freak her out, and I don't know where she's going to go from here.

And what about Spike? Where does he go from here? I mean, she beat the shit out of him and told him she didn't think he could ever really love her because he didn't have a soul, and she basically told him that was what would keep her from seeing him as someone who was truly capable of love, and so without that assurance, she would never love him back.

So... now I'm wondering how far Spike might be willing to go to win Buffy's love. I mean, he knows it's possible to be cursed with a soul. He probably also knows Willow can do it. If not Willow, there are others who can. Does he love her that much that he'd change who he is for her?

In case it isn't obvious, those are rhetorical questions. If I'm right or if I'm wrong, please don't tell me!
BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 14-17 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 14-17: [BtVS] Older and Faraway, As You Were, Hell's Bells, and Normal Again.
[AtS] Couplet, Loyalty, Sleep Tight, and Forgiveness.

BtVS 14: Older and Faraway
[Dawn feels like the odd-girl out on Buffy's birthday, leading to a fateful wish that leaves the Slayer and her friends trapped in the Summers' home with a demon.]

Buffy's birthdays are never that good, are they? I think she's 21 now.

The fact that Xander and Anya set Buffy up with a guy was pretty funny. I have a hard time imagining her managing a relationship with an average guy at this point. Her life is just too crazy for most people. Even having two non-in-the-know people at the party made things pretty weird, because most of them had to be careful about what they said.

It was interesting to hear Buffy's relationship with Spike being referred to as "closeted", though I think that's a pretty good metaphor. It's interesting that Tara is the only one who knows, and now Spike knows that she knows. I'm reminded that Spike was one of the first ones to figure out Tara and Willow were together. And she's not being judgmental about him and Buffy, which is so Tara.

Spike: "I had a muscle cramp. Buffy was helping."
Tara: "A muscle cramp? In your pants?"

The look on Buffy's face when she realized Willow had given her a vibrator of sorts for her birthday was pretty funny. So was the smirk on Spike's face.

And eek, Dawn's actually been shoplifting for a while. I'm curious to see how that will affect things. It's interesting that she was always trying to get them to leave her alone last season, and now she's in the opposite position, desperate for attention. That's really typical for a teenager, though, so it works for me. I didn't recognize that Anya's vengeance demon friend was the guidance counselor until she showed up on the porch during the party. And wow, that's a wicked spell, trapping people in a house together forever? It was funny that she was trapped too, though, and that was why she ultimately broke it and released them.

Her point about the pain Dawn was feeling being so obvious it was a billboard was a nice touch, though. They all needed to hear that, I think. It seemed that the point of this episode was to get everyone in the same place and make fight together. They've all been quite scattered lately, wrapped up in their own issues. Of course, that might mean they'll need to stick together to face what's coming, and this could be a wake-up call for that.

And whoa, the vengeance demon knew Spike? And called him "William"? I hope there's a story behind that!

Edit: cheshyre points out that Halfrek was intended to be Cecily, and that Peter David even went on to write a comic about it. For more information, go here and here.


A:tS 14: Couplet
[Exacerbating the tension caused by the office's two latest couplings, Cordy asks Angel to help her achieve the next level of intimacy with Groosalugg. Meanwhile, Fred and Gunn discuss the new wrinkle in their relationship and track an alleged cheating fiancé, whom they promptly lose during a brief make-out session.]

Oh, Angel. I didn't expect him to really be able to get together with Cordy, but still, ouch. I was surprised that after everything that's happened, Cordelia still thinks of Angel as being asexual. You'd think that him getting Darla pregnant would be evidence that he doesn't have to be celibate. But what's interesting about it is that she's completely dismissive of his sexuality, almost in an emasculating way. It's something that clearly hurts his feelings, but he doesn't seem too anxious to argue about it with her.

I also thought it was quite interesting here that Cordelia was in a position that Angel can really understand, of not being able to have something she really desires because she might lose something that's worth even more. Cordelia never recognized that, and again, Angel made no effort to tell her he understood what she was feeling.

It did provide for some funny moments, though:

Cordy, admiring Groo: "I'm just so... and he's such a... grrr! Dontcha think?"
Angel and Wesley, looking really uncomfortable: "Well, yeah, sure, he's attractive and all..."
Cordy: "There's gotta be other things we can do to relieve the tension."
Angel: "Jogging! Jogging is good."
Cordy: "I guess we could actually komm... without any shucking..." (Best. Line. EVER.)
Angel: "No, that's a slippery slope!"

It was hilarious that he was delighted that Groo and Cordy couldn't do the deed, but of course, he was the one she asked for help. And she gave Groo a makeover so he'd look like Angel? That was interesting. The demon brothel scene was also interesting, because it showed Groo as really, really innocent, to the extent that Angel practically had to hold his hand. Either that or really, really stupid. And what was it about the pillow fighting couple that stopped Angel in his tracks? It seemed random, but it can't be. There has to be something more to it. I liked Groo asking Angel for advice about Cordy, and it was sweet that Angel came around in the end, because he knew it was what would make Cordy happy. I went "Aww!" when he sent Cordy and Groo off with money, telling her to take a holiday with him and enjoy it. He wants her to be happy, and he seems to know that it probably won't happen with him. *sigh*

The demon tree as a internet predator was pretty funny. And it was interesting that trying to feed off of Angel weakened it so much.

Fred and Gunn are so, so cute, but I still feel sorry for Wesley. Of course, since he and Angel are both sort of heartbroken about being left out of the office couplings, they could probably keep each other company. Ya know? ;-)

The scene at the end really killed me, I have to say, with Angel holding Connor and saying that he wasn't really alone, and then the pan down Wesley's translation of the prophecy. I just can't imagine that Angel would be able to kill Connor -- at least not while he's a baby. Maybe something will happen to Connor later that will put Angel in the position of having to kill him (like Holtz killed his daughter when he found out she was a vampire). Or maybe Angel isn't really Connor's father... that would almost be worse.

And can I just say that I'm a little unhappy that there are babies in this fandom at all? I mean, fandom is not supposed to be about babies. That's why I'm in fandom to a large extent, because it helps me not think about babies. And then this storyline comes along. It's actually really been hard for me to watch, and it's not over yet.



A:tS 15: Loyalty
[Angel is concerned about Wesley's erratic behavior when the book man's greatest fears are secretly confirmed - the prophecy is true and he is given the three signs to look for before Angel devours his own son. When an earthquake shakes Los Angeles, all three signs come true.]

The theme of this episode was pretty clear from the title, but there was also a big theme of trust that I saw here. Does Wesley trust Angel, really? Does he put more faith in a prophecy, or in his friend? Does he really believe that Angel is a good man and that he's not Angelus, or did Holtz sway him when he said Angelus was still part of Angel? I'm not sure Wesley knows the answer, and it seems to be tearing him apart.

I have a bad feeling about all of this, generally. The first part of the episode was emphasizing how happy Angel is to be a father and how much he's looking forward to seeing Connor grow up -- which seems to me to be a big flashing neon sign that it won't happen. Add to that Angel's reaction to Holtz's spy, who told her story about her son becoming a vampire and her watching him burn, and it seemed even more ominous.

Everyone all around was questioning their own loyalties -- Lilah to W&H, Holtz to his destiny, Wesley to Angel, Gunn and Fred to the company. Everyone except Angel, that is. He was unaware of it all, and only thinking about Connor. His loyalty to his son is pretty damn firm, as is his loyalty to his friends.

And therein lies the mystery for me. Prophecies have been shown to be tricky things in both shows, and things rarely play out exactly as they are written. After all, the prophecy about Connor said he wouldn't even be born, and in the end, it depended on how you defined "born" whether or not that was true. So I'm thinking that words "father", "son", and "kill" might mean something different here than what they seem. There's also the possibility that Wesley missed something in the translation, like he did with the Shanshu prophecy. The big talking hamburger (OMG, that was bizarre) didn't say anything about Angel specifically -- he said "the vampire will devour the child". I know we're meant to believe that was Angel, and maybe it really is, but it isn't clear.

So there are a few possibilities that come to mind:

(1) Angel is not really Connor's father, so the "father" who might kill him could be someone else. That missing tube of blood (and its replacement) has me a little worried. Of course, two things could happen there:
(a) The results of the wrong blood test could lead them to think someone else is going to kill Connor, and distract them from the possibility that it will be Angel.
(b) W&H and/or Lilah & Sahjhan will learn something from the blood sample that implies that Angel isn't really Connor's father, and they may or may not share that. Even if they do, Angel and/or Wesley may not believe them until it's too late. Umm... how many possibilities does that make?

(2) "Kill" means something other than bite and suck blood until dead. It could be that some action of Angel's sets events into motion that cause Connor's death while he's helpless to stop it -- but he doesn't actually kill him. That would be pretty horrible to watch, I think, because that would give him so much pain to deal with afterwards.

(3) Another vampire either kills Connor or turns him into a vampire, leaving Angel with no choice but to dust his own child. Not only does he believe strongly that vampires are irredeemable, but it seems that a creature that was eternally a newborn would have no life of any sort. It's almost impossible to imagine that Angel would be able to do that, and yet I don't think he'd let anyone else do it. This is the worst possibility I can think of, really.

(4) A fourth idea is something I was wondering about when Connor first showed up. What if Connor might be someone who could give Angel a moment of pure happiness? What if being completely happy with his son is enough to turn him into Angelus? And if that happened, would Angelus kill Connor? I'm not sure if he would or not, and I'm not sure how feasible it would be to have Angelus emerge at this point.

(5) And finally, the most bizarre idea I've had: Groo is Connor. I know, this one ranks up there with "Ron is Dumbledore", but that made a lot of sense at the time, right? I started thinking about this when Groo showed up a couple of episodes back, mostly because I was wondering what the hell he was doing there. At first I thought it was just to throw a wrench in the Cordy/Angel relationship, but then I started to wonder if maybe he came to their dimension for some greater reason. Here's my evidence:
(a) A big deal has been made about Groo's resemblance to Angel, both through Cordy's makeover and Angel's earlier observation that Groo could do everything he could, plus a few more things.
(b) He was a human in his dimension, yet had some powers other humans didn't have. He was raised by a non-human family and told Cordelia he didn't know where he'd come from. In fact, now that I think about it, it's pretty bizarre that we learned so much about his backstory at that time. It wasn't necessary for the plot. And that leads me to believe there might be another reason we needed to know it.
(c) Like Connor, he played an important part in the prophecies in the dimension he came from, and that dimension's W&H were extremely concerned about his destiny.
(d) With the presence of Sahjhan, we know that there are beings who can time travel at will, forwards and backwards. And Sahjhan is very interested in Connor too.
(e) We've already seen something like a father/son dynamic between him and Angel, with Angel helping him and Cordy's relationship along, Groo asking Angel for advice about Cordy, and Angel sending them off with a wad of cash and his blessing.

So yeah, my crazy theory is that Connor grows up to be Groo somehow. Add to this the multiple mentions of Angel wishing he could see Connor grow up and the fact that Angel and Groo were "destined" to fight to the death in Groo's dimension, back at the end of season 2. Angel was about to kill him and didn't do it -- he backed away from it at the last minute, which led to the overthrowing the W&H folks in that dimension. So in this scenario, that "father will kill the son" prophecy could actually be about something that already didn't happen. (That, or Angel might kill Groo, which I think is really unlikely.)

I guess I'm holding out a ridiculous hope that Connor won't die and thus Angel won't have to live with that horrible guilt, and maybe Angel will realize Connor needs a more normal existence and he'll be adopted by some lovely family where he'll grow up safely and never know where he came from. And I think Angel would let him go if it came to that. But somehow, I doubt that's going to happen. *sniffles*

I don't know if I'll find out what will happen anytime soon, or if this is what the end of the season will be about. It was weird not having Cordy around. It occurred to me that Holtz's crew doesn't seem to know about her existence, and so she might turn out to be a secret weapon. And then there's Groo, who I'm convinced will play some sort of role, whether he's really Connor or not. I'm looking forward to seeing if one of my guesses about what's going to happen was right.


BtVS 15: As You Were
[Buffy is jolted by the reappearance of Riley, who needs her to help him — and his new wife — track a demon egg nest. It turns out that Spike is guarding the eggs.]

Poor Buffy. Not even the vampires want to bite her after she's been working at the DMP. That was pretty funny, actually. Ah, but it doesn't stop Spike from wanting to take a roll in the grass, apparently. He's the only one who hasn't mentioned the burger joint smell, ASAIK.

I am ready for Anya and Xander to get the fuck married already. My god, was I that single-minded when I was planning my wedding? Talk about your Bridezillas. Ack.

Willow to Dawn: "When I was little I used to spend hours dreaming about what my wedding to Xander would be like. Now when I look at the two of them, I can't help but go 'nya he he'!"

And then things pretty much went downhill for Buffy. She wasn't readmitted to UC Sunnydale, she can only manage to feed her sister fast food, the guy she's screwing is a vampire, and then Riley shows up. Married. Yeow. I don't think it could get much worse than that. I guess the social services lady could've showed up again. :-P

There were still a lot of funny lines in this episode, though:

Riley: "I've got some big stories to tell you too."
Buffy: "Did you die?"
Riley: "No."
Buffy: "I'm gonna win."

Willow to Buffy, about Riley's wife Sam: "Just so you know, I'm prepared to hate this woman any way you want. [...] Let me carry the hate for the both of us."

What a great friend! I've missed her so much. It's nice to have her back again. And of course, there was utterly nothing to hate about Sam. She was pretty much perfect and sweet and thoughtful and strong and everything that's difficult to dislike. And perfect for Riley too.

And eek, Riley walked in on Buffy and Spike in bed and not only didn't react, but was there to search for the missing demon eggs, which it turned out Spike really was hiding? The look on Buffy's face at that point was one of OMG I am such a pathetic blind loser. At that point, I figured she was done with Spike. Even though she'd come in before and wanted to hear him say that he loved her, and even though she clearly feels something for him, she realized that in the end, it doesn't matter that he loves her. He won't stop being a vampire, and the only reason he isn't out biting people is because of his chip. He'd do it again in a second, given the chance. And she really can't go down that road, can she?

The fact that she called him "William" when she broke it off with him said a lot, IMO. It was like she'd stopped thinking of him as just a vampire when she was with him, almost like she was separating the part of him that loves her from the rest. She seemed to be recognizing that what he feels for her is real, but because of what he is, they can't ever have a relationship.

So where do they go from here? I'm not sure. I don't think it's over, but I think something really big is going to have to happen to get her to change her mind. Both of them are pretty damaged people, so there are a lot of possibilities for what it could be. But after all the Angel speculating I've done, I'm out of speculation for the night.



A:tS 16: Sleep Tight
[Angel's angry behavior and sudden cravings for human blood frighten Wesley enough for him to kidnap the baby to keep him safe. Unfortunately, Wesley's plan to protect Connor falls apart when Holtz factors into the picture.]

Well, I didn't have to wait as long as I thought I would, and LOL, none of my guesses was right! I suppose I should've known it would be something I couldn't think of. Though I can't help but notice that Connor isn't actually dead. So I can hang onto my Groo-is-Connor theory for a little while longer. I kind of need that at the moment, even though it's just wild speculation on my part. As much as I would like for it to be true, I really doubt that it is. But PLEASE don't tell me that it's wrong, okay? I want to hang onto that hope for a little while longer.

Let's get this funny line out of the way -- Angel to Wesley: "You look like hell. And not the fun one where they poke you with hot irons all day. The hard core one with Nixon and Britney Spears." Heh.

It's kind of scary to think that drinking human blood would make such a difference in Angel. Actually, is that inconsistent? He used to keep bags of human blood in his fridge back in the early seasons of Buffy. Or was it just that there is something special about Connor's blood? Sahjhan did say something about the W&H people not knowing what to look for in Connor's blood. I thought it was interesting that W&H (or Lilah, at least) was pushing the prophecy along by lacing Angel's pig's blood with Connor's.

But that brings up a more general comment I have about this show, actually. We've seen so many references to prophecies, but it seems like everyone in this series uses them as a sort of almanac and tries to manipulate events in order to make things turn out to their advantage. That seems to be a statement about free will in a lot of ways. Even in a universe where supernatural things exist, nothing is set in stone. But people being what they are, if no one intervenes all of these bad things can happen. This wasn't the first time that an individual's action has thwarted a prophecy (or at least seemed to -- I don't know the whole story yet), and I'm sure it won't be the last. On the other hand, knowledge of the prophecy seems to be key to making people aware of possibilities. Understanding that bit of the prophecy that predicted Angel would kill Connor was the source of both Wesley's and Lilah's actions, and possibly Sahjhan's and Holtz's as well. But it's not clear whether those actions set into motion the events that made the prophecy almost come true, or whether that was what would've happened if no one involved had ever known about that prophecy.

Wesley scared me a bit in this. It's interesting how much he's changed and what he's capable of now. He can be so tough, mentally and physically, and in some ways he's taking on the same sort of shit that Angel does. He seems willing to sacrifice himself to do the right thing, no matter what the cost to himself. That's incredibly heroic, but also frightening. When he knocked Lorne out and lied to Angel to take Connor, with the idea that he would disappear and never come back, it was almost shocking. And yet, if he'd been successful, maybe things would have been different. But he played right into Holtz's hands, so he probably wouldn't have been anyway. When Justine approached him when he was running with Connor, all I could think was "Don't fall for it, Wesley". But he did, and she slit his throat, yeow. Somehow I doubt he's dead. From a narrative perspective, he needs to be around to create even more angst for Angel. :-P

You'd think people would learn to stop singing around Lorne when they're up to no good.

Holtz surprised me here. It seemed that he changed his mission when he learned about the child, and that the whole time he was raising that army, he was intending to sacrifice them. Why did Connor mean so much to him? Did he think it was his destiny? He really intended to take Connor away and raise him. I'm sure he meant it, because when he told Angel that, Angel believed him. I think Angel was in a place where he knew he couldn't protect Connor much longer, and that Holtz could. I thought that was partly a test on Holtz's part -- if Angel really had changed, he would let his son go. And so he did.

But why did Holtz take Connor and jump into the portal? And where did they go? Sahjhan said it was some hellish dimension, so one argument could be that Holtz sacrificed himself and Connor to save the world (sort of like Buffy did). But that makes me think that it isn't over and that neither of them are dead or lost forever. (Still clinging to the possibility that Groo is Connor. STFU.)

I was surprised that Angel had no idea who Sahjhan was, nor why Sahjhan hated him. I suppose we'll find out more about that at some point, but it sure seems like it's something that happens in the future, something Angel is going to do. Of course, now Angel has a reason to hate the guy... Argh, time paradoxes suck.

The look on Angel's face when he began to realize what had happened, that Connor was really gone, was pretty fucking horrible. I can't imagine where he goes from here.


BtVS 16: Hell's Bells
[On the day of his wedding, Xander gets cold feet after he's shown a disturbing glimpse into the future. Xander bails on the wedding, leaving Anya heartbroken. Anya is offered her old job back, as a vengeance demon.]

Ah, the wedding episode. I'd suspected this wedding was never going to happen, and I'm sorry that I was right.

You know what? Weddings suck. I had one of my own, and though it was pretty small, there was so much about it that was difficult. In retrospect, MDH and I sometimes wish we'd just gone to Vegas or something, because it would have been a whole lot cheaper. Every wedding I've ever been in has had its share of horrible bridesmaid dresses, bad weather, and bickering families. Marriage itself is great, but weddings? Not so much.

And this one had it all -- drunk and obnoxious relatives, fights breaking out, truly fugly bridesmaid dresses, thunder and lightning, and then a runaway groom. Of course, Xander had been freaking out about this for quite a while, hadn't he?

Buffy to Xander: "You're glowing. Oh my god, maybe you're pregnant!"
Xander: "Maybe I am."

Oh, Anya's squee about getting to be with her best friend forever -- that was how I felt on my wedding day, though absolutely terrified at the same time. The theme of Anya struggling with her vows the entire episode was interesting, because it seemed like she was working through her own nervousness about it. And then when she finally got her vows right, when she realized why she wanted to marry him, it was too late. The shot of him walking in the rain intercut with her saying how much he'd taught her about love was just ouch.

I was a little suspicious of the old man from the start -- all he did was show him those memories, and he didn't say anything that made it clear he was really Xander. So when he turned into a demon at the end, it all kind of clicked. A vengeance demon taking revenge on Anya. The irony.

But the demon had a good point that it hadn't taken much prompting to get Xander to call it off. He's really terrified of turning into his father, and he's probably right that it could happen fairly easily. It's weird how hard you have to work not to turn into your parents, isn't it? MDH and I both struggle not to turn into our respective mothers. Every now and then I'll hear him say something, and all I can think is that he sounds like his mother. I'm afraid to tell him, though. And I'm sure he's thought the same of me quite a lot.

Spike trying to make Buffy jealous was actually really sweet, especially since it was completely clear that he couldn't be remotely vindictive about it. I'd thought things were going to disintegrate between them after the last episode, but now I'm not so sure. She clearly cares about him, despite all the reasons not to, and he knows it. His remark about how nice it was to see her happy for once was quire sad, because it means that he also knows he didn't make her happy. Ouch again. The fact that she'd cared that he'd tried to make her jealous by bringing a date made him happy, because it seemed to mean that she felt something other than loathing for him. Despite everything she's said about him not being anything but a monster (though she's even called him "incompetent" at that), she sees something almost human in him, and she cares about it.

The episode left off with Anya being made the offer to come back and be a vengeance demon again. I really have no idea what she'll do.

So did Xander do the right thing by walking away from the wedding? Was that a selfish act or a selfless one? Did he do it out a fear or out of courage? I'm not sure how to answer those questions.



A:tS 17: Forgiveness
[Angel is a man out for revenge to get back at Wesley for kidnapping Connor and turning him over to their enemies. While Fred and Gunn try to reason with him, Angel conjures dark magic and risks ripping right through the fabric of reality to find his lost son.]

After the last episode, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this one. I didn't know if this would be an unbearably sad episode with Angel trying to get over losing Connor or if it would be the beginning of a quest to try to find him. The latter seemed more likely, seeing as we're six episodes from the end of the season.

I think the most interesting thing here was the revelation that Sahjhan was the one who rewrote the prophecies, and that the real prophecies said that Connor would grow up to kill him. This gives my Groo-is-Connor theory a little boost, because if no one knows what happened to Connor or who he even is, then Sahjhan can hardly know to interfere with him. Prophecies can come true in very clever ways, after all. This could be one of them. I don't care if I'm wrong. I may just have to write a fic like that, because I really like the idea. :-D

I also can't help but wonder why W&H's white room oracle told Angel to make Sahjhan solid again. There has to be something in it for W&H. Though since Justine put him in the jar, he can't be all that dangerous. Of course, if the rare and expensive jar is broken, they're up a creek and he'll need killing. I'm wondering if Holtz knew about all of this. He had the jar around for a reason, and he must have known something about what was going on. Maybe he knew what Connor's destiny was and decided that his mission would be to make sure it happened.

It's fascinating to me how much Angel walks the line between light and dark. When something happens to hurt someone he loves, he attacks first and asks questions later. It's always shocking to me, because I think of him as having a really strong moral center -- but he really doesn't, and episodes like this give a much-needed reminder. He seems to cling to the people in his life, and when that gets messed up he loses sight of the big picture. He really is still Angelus deep down, and he always will be. That makes him much scarier than Spike will ever be, even if he gets that chip out. Spike's human connections are also his weakness, but they literally weaken him. They actually incapacitate him and make him less dangerous. Angel's connections make him incredibly dangerous, and the soul seems to have little impact in that area.

I didn't think he'd be able to forgive Wesley so easily, so when he went into Wes's hospital room hat in hand, I was about to call it OOC. And then he went the other direction altogether. I found myself wondering why he just didn't bite him if he wanted to see him dead.


BtVS 17: Normal Again
[A demon's venom causes Buffy to hallucinate, convincing the Slayer that she's a normal girl in a mental ward, that her parents are alive, Dawn never existed, and her Slayer life is a delusion.]

This was an awesome episode! I like a good mindfuck better than just about anything, and this was a really good one. I feel like I need a cigarette now, you know?

I loved that the episode could be interpreted in several different ways. It could have been some effect of the demon's venom that it just opens up some fear in the victim's subconscious mind and drives them insane with it (and gets them to kill all their friends in the process); or it could be that it shifts the victim back and forth between one reality and an alternate one; or it could be that the venom in this case was enough to break through a real psychosis that Buffy is actually suffering, that she's really living in a fantasyland and the demon's venom just happened to be enough to knock her out of it.

And of course, the third option is the one that's really intriguing. I loved the fact that the doctor in the institution basically explained away all of the weird stuff that's happened on the show as Buffy's imagination, from the insertion of Dawn to her death and resurrection, and even the appearance of Warren at al as villains. It was almost like the writers were thumbing their noses at criticism about the direction the show was going (and from what I understand, there were sections of the fandom that were extremely critical of the show during the last couple of seasons) and saying, "Hey, if you think that's bad, how about this? None of it ever really happened. So please to STFU." That's pretty funny, actually.

Every time I've thought Buffy has hit some sort of bottom, things have gotten worse, and that's really been throwing me for a loop this season. I keep thinking that what happened in each episode was finally it, and that she would turn a corner in the next episode and start working back towards being better again, and every time she's tried, she's been thrown some new curveball that sinks her even lower. And with my sense of irony fully operational, I really want to say that this seemed like it was really a brand new level of bottom, and that she turned a corner. I mean, she had to face the fact that everything she's been doing for the last six years might have been in her head, that none of it ever really happened. She's been through so much, and for all of it to have been for nothing? Yeow. No wonder she briefly chose the other world, the one where she's in an institution -- I'm not surprised that sounded more appealing than the life she's living now. And by the end of the episode, I wasn't sure which one was real, and considering that I've been obsessed with this show for nearly six seasons, that's really quite impressive.

Spike keeps telling her she just needs to live her life, and in some ways she's really trying. But in other ways, she's not trying at all, and I keep thinking that Spike is the one who'll finally help her break through that. I thought it was interesting that Spike gave her an ultimatum of sorts here. It's unclear to me what the status of their relationship is. I want to think they're friends on some level, but I'm not sure. I feel for Spike that he gets pushed out of her life over and over by her friends, who generally don't know that they had a relationship. It was also interesting here that Spike basically told Xander he knew he was nothing more to Buffy than somebody to fuck -- because we haven't seen much of what Spike is feeling about this. It's been clear to me that he's not said much to Buffy about it because he doesn't think he'll ever get anything more from her. The moments where she seemed to be opening up to him in previous episodes made his face light up with hope, only to be crushed again. It's not that I blame Buffy, really -- but the two of them need the same thing, really. I would really like to see them get it. And knowing this show, I doubt they ever will. Or they'll get it in such a way that they won't actually really get it.

And in the end, Buffy chose to be the Slayer, even knowing it might not be real. I guess one could argue that there's not a lot of choice between a world where you're suffering immensely because of the pressures of being a Slayer and all the tragedy that brings, and a world where you're suffering immensely because you've been in an institution for six years. But people tend to choose the evil they know, don't they? And at least Buffy's in control of something here. She has power, and she has friends who mean the world to her, and she has an important cause to fight for, one that can't be won without her. In the real world, not many people have that, which is why shows like this strike a chord, I think.
BtVS Season 6; AtS Season 3 , Episodes 18-22 by Emma Grant
Author's Notes:
Episodes 18-22: [BtVS] Entropy, Seeing Red, Villains, Two to Go, and Grave.
[AtS] Double or Nothing, The Price, A New World, Benediction, and Tomorrow.

AtS 18: Double or Nothing
[Angel puts his soul on the line when a repo man comes to collect on Gunn's past deal to sell his soul. Meanwhile, Cordy is back from vacation and tries to console Angel over the loss of the only child he will ever have, and Fred tells Wesley that the prophecy was a fake and all was lost for nothing.]

Someone always has to be in mortal peril, don't they? There's never just an episode where they sit around and have fun together. Maybe that stuff happens between episodes, and since it's the boring part that doesn't advance the plot, we don't really get to see it.

I have to say that having Cordelia back felt like a tremendous relief. I hadn't realized the extent to which she anchors the show, but man, having her walk through that door was amazing. She seems to be the only one who can bring Angel back to reality, who can ground him in any way. Without her there, things went haywire, and she stepped through the door and it felt like it would all be all right somehow. Of course, Cordy being back meant that it was time for Angel to start to accept that Connor was really gone. It was like it wasn't going to be real to him until Cordy looked him in the eye and acknowledged it, sort of like how Buffy didn't realize Joyce was dead until she had to face Giles. Cordy just sitting with Angel was so touching, and it was exactly what he needed. He just needed someone to be there and not say anything. She knew what not to say, and sometimes that's the most important thing of all.

I really like Groo, and not just because I think he's Connor. (Though I definitely watched the scenes with him and Angel together very closely.) The way he talks is hilarious, and I love how he's trying so hard to be helpful. He's incredibly sweet and innocent, and he only wants to help. I love that about him. He had some great lines like, "Hail to you, potential client!" and "It is good that he [Gunn] has such a fine woman [Fred] to take care of his weapon." (Lorne: *snort* "I'm not touching that one!") and how he didn't know that the business card the demon left behind was important.

It was interesting that Gunn had sold his soul to a demon to buy his truck. The choice of "Gangster's Paradise" in the background of that scene was a little over the top, but the lyrics actually fit the situation pretty well. I love me some Fred/Gunn -- oh, yes, I do. And of course, they got Gunn out of it in the end, which was interesting. The whole "selling your soul" thing is such a big part of mythology, and so I liked the way it was turned on its head here. It wasn't something set in stone at all, but was just another demon to be slain. I also liked the fact that in the end, the crowd turned on the demon, so Angel and the gang didn't even have to finish the job.

I loved the implication that Cordy and Angel had a plan all along that no one else knew about, and they used the whole "What happens if Angel loses his soul?" issue to cover it up. It was the only way to get a weapon close to the demon, and very smart. I suppose you could also look at it from the perspective that it really was worth gambling his soul to keep his family together. They're all he has, and he's reminded of it even more now than before.

So what's going to happen to Wesley? I'm not sure what's coming next for him.


BtVS 18: Entropy
[Anya, secretly a demon again, attempts to get vengeance on Xander but fails. She finds comfort by sleeping with Spike, but the Geek Trio's cameras reveal the tryst to the gang. Meanwhile, Willow and Tara arrange a coffee date.]

The title of this one was really intriguing to me, because I thought the writers must have been trying to make a statement with it. So I've been playing around with the idea of the cast of the show (Scoobies + Anya, Dawn, Spike, and the Trio) as being a sort of closed system, with its own brand of entropy. And what might that sort of perspective tell us about what happened in this episode?

My layman's interpretation of entropy is connected to the second law of thermodynamics, and though this isn't exactly precise, the idea is that in a closed system (meaning energy is neither added nor deleted) the total amount of energy will spread itself out over time under certain temperature conditions. One big consequence is that the flow of energy only goes in one direction without the addition of energy to the system. The classic example is that something hot cools down in a cool environment. It takes a lot more energy for something cold to cool off a hot environment -- energy has to be added to the system in order for that to happen, and that happens through work, which adds heat (which is one reason why your air conditioner has to vented to the outside). You sometimes see this paraphrased as "heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a hotter body".

So here's my weird interpretation: this has to do with Spike and the impact he's able to have on his environment. Sure, it's cheesy, but he definitely is cold-blooded while everyone around him is warm-blooded. Spike alone can't seem to have much of an impact on people. Buffy can brush him aside without much trouble, yet she has had a tremendous impact on him. Even in this episode, where he has sex with Anya, he's dismissed. He's just a tool for others to use, and he doesn't have much of an effect on the system. Everyone else, on the other hand, has had a great impact on him. It's clear that he's "warmed up" through contact from all of them. He's changed -- he said it himself at the beginning of the episode, and I'm not sure they believe him, but it's true. They've effected him greatly, but he hasn't really had such a big effect on them.

So Anya's a demon again, but no one seems to know it except for Hallie. It was kind of funny that she was trying to get everyone to make a horrible wish about Xander, and then none of them would. Dawn even told her flat out that she wasn't going to say "wish" again while there were vengeance demons lurking about. Anya and Spike getting drunk together and commiserating was hilarious because they've totally done it before. But this time, they were both desperate and would up getting physical. That was interesting to me on a lot of levels: (1) they're the only non-human regulars on the show, and it seems like it ought to have happened before. (2) Who hasn't been in that situation, where you're pissed off at someone who's left you or doesn't notice you and you hook up with someone just because you can (and often, because you're really drunk)? I certainly have. (3) It just happened to be caught on video and everyone saw it, emphasizing in a very painful way that the sexuality of the non-human characters is something that catches everyone by surprise. It was funny that the scoobies were trying to uncover all the video feeds just as fast as the Trio was trying to shut them down, and then suddenly, they all stopped to watch Anya and Spike getting it on. If it had been Xander and Anya, would they have stopped to gawk?

I was glad that Buffy finally told someone though. It seemed that Willow figured it out just like she figured out way back when that Buffy had slept with Angel. It was fitting that Buffy told Dawn, because Dawn is her sister and theoretically the closest person to her.

Oh, but Xander. When Xander went off on Spike, calling him every name Buffy had ever called him, it was almost like Buffy was seeing a mirror held up to herself. She heard how horrible those things were and how vicious they sounded, and then she heard Xander say that someone who would stoop to sleep with someone like Spike was no better. The look on her face was part guilt and part shock, like she'd never thought it through until that moment. She'd had so much faith that her friends would understand, and that they'd see her as above Spike somehow, and not on the same level as him. But when Xander lit into Anya, you could tell that for Buffy, it was all about her. I was surprised that Spike was the one who said something in the end -- I really thought Buffy would be the one to do it.

And aw, Tara and Willow seem to be back together now! I can't help but wonder if Tara is making a mistake in trusting Willow again so soon.



AtS 19: The Price
[Angel must pay for using powerful dark magic in his failed attempt to bring back his son, and the hotel becomes infected with deadly slug-like creatures who invade Fred's body, leaving Wesley as Gunn's only hope to turn to save her. Meanwhile, Cordelia experiences a new and shocking power and they learn of the coming of The Destroyer determined to kill Angel.]

All right, so Groo isn't Connor. Damn. But Connor seems to be back, and it doesn't seem to be a good thing. Eeek! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Oh, but let me talk about this episode first. The shrimp things completely grossed me out. Shrimp kind of weird me out anyway, but ones that possess you and suck all the moisture out of your body? *shudders* It seems like the spell Angel cast is going to have more unintended consequences.

Cordy's vision of Angel being tossed across the floor hasn't seemed to come to pass yet. Maybe I missed it, but I sure didn't see it. I'm assuming that's still to come.

I have yet to figure out the politics of W&H. They have to protect Angel and torment him at the same time. It's like he has carte blanche with them in a lot of ways, yet they'll eventually collect that debt. I can't believe I'm rooting for Lilah in the Lilah/Gavin rivalry. Yeow. I love all the bizarre shit W&H folks do, though. Lilah having to use some magic tarantula to type the password to an email was pretty crazy.

It's odd that there is an entire wing of the Hyperion that no one has been into yet. And a ballroom? Whoa. That's a lot of space not to have spent any time in. I wonder if we'll be seeing more of that. And wow, there are kitchens down below.

It was good to see Gunn go to Wesley, but a little weird that Wesley was so hostile. Doesn't he understand why they're pissed at him? You'd think he'd get that, but he was nearly ready to let Fred die out of spite. I do have to admit he's really hot with a beard, though. And I usually don't go for the beard thing. Stubble yes, but actual facial hair, no.

I wasn't quite sure what happened to Cordy, but it seemed like something that might come in handy later. And aw, Groo is feeling insecure about his relationship with her. Poor guy. I really like him, but I have a feeling he's not going to be around much longer. He and Cordy seem to be bickering a little bit. When he confronted Cordy about what he perceived as her feelings for Angel, she sure didn't do much to reassure him.

So is Connor "The Destroyer", or was it that creature we saw? I'm inclined to think the former. And I'm now thinking that Holtz's plan all along may have been to raise Connor to go back and kill Angel. Ouch. The kid's only been gone for a week or so in Angel's dimension, and now he looks to be about 15. This is going to be interesting!


BtVS 19: Seeing Red
[Willow and Tara reconcile. Warren acquires a pair of demonic orbs that imbue him with strength and invulnerability, and he faces off with Buffy but loses. He comes back with a gun, and shoots both Buffy and Tara.]

Whoa... That shift in momentum is always a bit heady as things start happening to propel the show toward the end of the season. Wow. A lot happened in this episode. That stuff I said about entropy for the last episode makes a lot of sense to me now, because an awful lot of energy is about to get dumped into the system as things get revved up.

Spike: I was wondering when he would finally, really hit bottom. It seemed like he was falling more and more, but I didn't realize until this episode that he didn't get it. He said in the previous episode that he doesn't hurt Buffy, and that should have been a big red flag. But I totally missed it. And I think that's interesting, because everyone else missed it too -- everyone but, ironically, Xander. Even Spike thought he wasn't capable of hurting Buffy because he loves her, but because his chip doesn't affect his actions towards her, he is entirely capable. And it took something like this for him to realize it. I was surprised that Buffy had as hard a time fighting him off as she did, but it needed to be that way, I guess. It was interesting that he wasn't the one who stopped it -- she finally shoved him off. It was sort of horrifying to think that he would have actually raped her, and he seemed pretty stunned by that as well.

His confusion afterwards was pretty interesting, because it wasn't the same self-loathing that he's been feeling. It was almost an epiphany about himself, a realization that he really is just a soulless thing like everyone has been saying. His words were quite powerful there, that he's neither a monster nor a man -- and so he's left with nothing. It's worse than being a vampire, and that's quite interesting. At the end, I think we were meant to think he was going to go and get his chip out once and for all, but it can't be that simple. I have a feeling that he's about to embark on something much more difficult than that chipectomy he's been wanting for two years now.

Willow and Tara: Gah, I should have known that all that happiness couldn't last. It was great to see them have their glorious happy few days together, and it was sweet to see Dawn so excited about them getting back together. I really didn't see that one coming, but I suppose that was the point. They were well on their way to a happy ending and boom, Warren walks in and starts shooting. The saddest thing about that is that he wasn't shooting for Tara at all -- she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. So at this point, I'm going to guess that Buffy survives (she's going to come back for the last season, after all, and they won't bring her back from the dead again) and Tara dies, even though it isn't clear at the end of the episode. Tara looked like she got shot through the heart -- and she got to have such a perfect couple of days, which seems to be a blinking neon "death is approaching quickly" sign on this show. Willow really seemed to lose it there at the end, and I have no idea if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Xander and Anya: I thought it was interesting that they both wound up in bars telling their bizzare stories to complete strangers. And it was kind of funny that Anya is so self-absorbed that she can't even manage to be a vengeance demon at the moment. No one knows she's a demon again, do they? I was pissed at Xander for being such a twat to Buffy about the Spike thing for most of this episode, and then I realized that he was right all along -- and he was the only one who could see it. *sigh*

The Trio: Still crack me up, though they're definitely dangerous. I loved Andrew's crush on Warren, because it really explains why he would stay loyal to someone who is so obviously evil. I also loved the fact that Jonathan helped Buffy in the end. I was really hoping he would! But Warren, dude -- Warren is far more evil than anyone could have known, and it's interesting that he's capable of some pretty heinous shit. It's actually interesting to compare him to Spike, since Warren seems to be in possession of a soul and is far more dangerous than Spike ever was. And wow, does he ever have issues with women.

Let the ride begin. I'm hanging onto my sunglasses and I'm strapped in tight!



AtS 20: A New World
[Mere months after Angel's infant son was carried off to a virtually unreachable Hell dimension, the heartbroken vampire's prayers are answered...sort of.]

I loved the way this opened with slow motion fighting -- it was an interesting choice, and it made me think about that classic sci-fi thing of the hero being able to slow down his perception of time so that he can handle everything that's being thrown at him. In this case, literally.

So wow, that was Connor? How cool! I'm not terribly disappointed my theory about Groo was wrong, because this is actually so much cooler!

I think it's hilarious that Connor not only went from being an infant to being a teenager overnight, but became the worst kind of teenager -- angry, rebellious, defiant, and impulsive. Granted, this kid has a good excuse, having grown up in hell. But still, it was pretty funny. It seem to be quite a statement about parenting. It's also interesting that he seems to be quite a lot like Angel. He's strong and skilled, and he has a protective streak that can get him in trouble. When he's protecting people, he seems to lose his moral compass a bit (and I do believe Connor has one, considering that Holtz raised him -- albeit a bit warped). He has good intentions, but with a bit of a scary twist. And when he and Angel were having it out in the crack house, it seemed like the point was to show them as being very much alike. Angel seemed to fall into the role of strict father rather easily.

The scene with the (extraordinarily perky) drug addict was fun. I felt like a but of a perv, but I think that was the intention. I mean, they did have the kid strip down naked and then get kissed by a girl. I was disappointed that stopped when it did. I'm not sure why she stopped kissing him to go shoot up, especially since she made it sound like she was going to go pop in a diaphragm or something. And then she dies of an overdose, ouch. That seemed a bit over the top preachy for this show, actually.

So at this point, I'm wondering who "the Destroyer" is meant to be. Connor said he was looking for his father, but he seemed to mean Holtz and not Angel. And whoa, what happened to Holtz? Did he turn into some sort of demon to survive? It seems that we're meant to think he spent the last 16 years or so preparing Connor to kill Angel, but I'm not yet convinced that's what's going on. And LOL, when I first saw him I thought it was Sahjhan at first. I keep waiting for him to pop up. I just doubt we've seen the last of Sahjhan, and we still don't know why he considers Angel his mortal enemy. I mean, there's the whole thing about Connor growing up to kill him, but I don't think that's enough.

The tension seems to be mounting between Groo and Cordy. He's even learned to be sarcastic, which is kind of funny. I don't know how that will end, but I imagine not so well. And aw, Cordy was his first? That's unbearably sweet.

And poor Wesley is still holing up in his apartment. Interesting that W&H made a play for him -- or at least, Lilah did. It was also quite fascinating that she labeled him as the "Judas" of the group, and that he really seemed to think about it. I do think he was wrong not to tell anyone what he was doing Wesley is very smart and very strong, but he can also be incredibly arrogant. The single biggest message of both of these shows seems to be that friends and family are the most important thing you've got in the world, and the characters who forget that even for a moment are the ones who suffer.


BtVS 20: Villains
[Tara's sudden death pushes Willow over the edge. After magically saving Buffy from her own wounds, Willow — consumed by anger and dark magic — hunts down Warren and tortures and kills him.]

So we've been gearing up for Warren to be the big bad of the season, and with just two episodes to go, Willow dispatches of him. That makes me think that we've been intentionally distracted, and that the real danger all along has been the possibility of losing Willow. As I said just above, the message of the show really seems to be about sticking together and protecting each other, and here is a case where Willow has lost sight of that completely. I'm assuming that Buffy and Xander can find a way to bring her back, but I'm not sure how. It seems like she's gone off the deep end, and Riley's wife ominously told us that people don't come back from that.

It also struck me as really odd that she left Tara's body on the floor to go exact her revenge. That doesn't seem the act of a person in love, somehow. It seems callous to do that, and then not even to bother to tell anyone else that Tara was dead until she had to. The fact that she left her there for Dawn to find was fairly stunning, actually.

I have to admit I was kind of thrilled to see that misogynist twat Warren get his come-uppence from a witch. Heh. At least up until the part where she started torturing him. And when she said "Bored now" and skinned him alive, my jaw fell open, because the message seemed to be that she's now become just as evil as her vampire alter ego. And wow, so powerful. I like the fact that there is a big emphasis on that power having a price, though.

That said, it was still fun to see Warren running scared through most of the episode, I have to say. First, the vamps in Willy's bar laugh at him and anticipate the Slayer ripping him a new one, and then that crazy crackhouse wizard (Rack?) was getting a contact high from all the rage Willow was projecting about Warren. Putting a robot of himself on the bus was clever -- though I have to wonder what Warren was doing with a robot of himself. I mean, all of the other robots he created were for very specific purposes.

The conversation between Buffy, Xander, and Dawn about what to do about Warren was interesting. Xander seemed to be saying that Warren was no better than a vampire and deserved whatever Buffy could do to him, while Buffy showed the most spine she has in a long time by standing her ground and saying no -- dishing out justice to humans is not her jurisdiction. It was an interesting conversation about the morality of being the Slayer, and it felt different than Buffy's earlier self-torment about being a killer at heart. Her power may come from a dark place, but as long as she doesn't overstep her bounds, she seems to be able to keep herself balanced.

And how the hell did Spike get all the way to Africa that fast? The demon he confronted in the cave seemed to have different intentions than Spike, I fear. These trials that he's talked about sound pretty interesting, and somehow I think a chipectomy is not what's waiting for Spike at the end. I have a suspicion that he's going to wind up with a soul, whether that's what he went there for or not. It would be an interesting step for his character to take -- simply getting his chip out would just send him right back to where he was at the beginning of season 4.



AtS 21: Benediction
[ After a violent reunion, Angel finds himself battling vampires with his now teenaged son Connor by his side. Meanwhile, Fred and Gunn distract Connor so Angel can confront Holtz for stealing his son.]

Fred: "So he survived an unspeakable hell dimension. Who hasn't?" That almost sums up this entire series, you know?

So, Connor punched through into our dimension because he wanted to confront and kill Angel, and then Holtz followed him there. The psychic who sealed the breach seemed to think whatever came through was a horribly dangerous beast, and every shred of evidence is pointing to that being Connor. Yikes.

I'm still not sure what Holtz's deal is. Did he raise Connor to hate Angel, knowing all along that Connor would eventually want to come back and kill him, and thus exact his revenge? His sending Connor back to Anegl seemed such a noble gesture, something that a person who was truly at peace would do, but then he had Justine kill him and make it look like it was done by a vampire. So was everything he said to Connor and Angel a lie? Has this whole thing been a set-up to get Connor to kill Angel for him?

It was so great to see Angel and Connor happy together for just a little while, I have to say. Seeing as the next episode is the finale, I figured it wouldn't last, but for those few moments when they were fighting back to back and then teasing each other in the alley, it was so, so glorious. And now W&H and Wesley know Connor's back, which makes me wonder what's coming next for them.

I'm really feeling for Groo now. He disappeared for an entire day and Cordy never even noticed he was missing. And when he finally came back, she thought he was Angel. Ouch. I think he's on the way out, and I actually will be sorry to see him go.

So what kind of demon is Cordelia, anyway? We've only seen good side effects so far, and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. The way she can flit in and out of visions is interesting, and the cleansing thing she did to Connor was pretty cool. I'm just... worried. Because it's never that easy, you know? There's always a price to be paid, and I'm not sure when that will happen.

I'm also completely freaked out about the ending of this episode. I love angst, but the sort of angst where the people involved are angsting about things beyond their control. Misunderstanding-angst is actually something I don't like so much. I mean, in small doses, it's fine, but when it leads to horrible things? Waah. I'm terrified about what's going to happen in the final episode. They're setting me up to think Connor is going to flip out and think Angel killed Holtz, and that's the sort of thing that could completely destroy any chance they have at a relationship. And if that's the sort of vengeance Holtz has had in mind ever since he saw Connor "born" in that alley, this would be it. So I'm just hoping against hope that this will end well, somehow. But you know? Not so hopeful.


BtVS 21: Two to Go
[Buffy and Xander must protect Jonathan and Andrew, who are next on Willow's list. The Slayer is no match for Willow, who has drained Rack of all his powers. Giles arrives to test Willow's conviction that she's unstoppable.]

So Willow has basically become the big bad. Yeow. I have to say that it's really admirable that Buffy and Xander are trying to protect her from herself. It's an interesting approach -- and typical for this show -- that Buffy isn't trying to save Jonathan and Andrew because it's the right thing to do, but because she doesn't want to see Willow cross a line she won't be able to come back from.

It's also interesting to me that Anya is still working with them. It says a lot about how much she's changed in the last few years that she's not taking the side of Willow in this, who is actually out for vengeance. It seems like she's not behaving much like the vengeance demon she is. It's also interesting that she's gained some very useful powers and seems to be using them for good.

Xander is showing amazing strength in this, considering taht it's also clear taht he feels completely useless. He's not giving up, and I think that's what I adore about him as a character. He has so much heart, so much more than anyone else. And though he's often painfully blunt, what he says when he's dead serious is generally true. He's like Ron Weasley in that way, I guess.

I'm glad Jonathan has finally grown a spine, and I wished that Buffy et al would have given him a chance to help. I know they don't think there's any reason to trust him, but I think they're wrong about that. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Something funny, in a sea of not-funny:
Xander to Andrew: "You've never even had a tiny bit of sex, have you?"
Anya: "The annoying virgin has a point."

Spike is getting closer to his destiny, whatever it is. I loved all the slashy vibes in his fight with the firey-handed guy. When Spike first saw him, his reaction was fantastic, like he practically had to stop himself from drooling. And then after he'd killed him, he referred to him as "Loverboy", heh. I'm wondering if we'll find out his fate in the last episode, or if that will happen at the beginning of the next season.

And then of course, there's Willow. Seeing her attack Dawn was pretty shocking, and then fighting with Buffy -- it's hard to imagine that they'll be able to bring her back from that. And at this point, I honestly don't know if they'll be able to. It's hard to imagine the show going on without her, but I've learned by now that anything can happen. She's almost as powerful as Glory was, and that's immensely scary. And of course, there's a price to be paid for such power, isn't there? I'm not sure yet what that will be. It's interesting to think that power could be that intoxicating for someone as strong and centered as I always thought Willow was.

And OMG Giles walked through the door at the end, just as she was saying no one could stop her! I have no idea how this is all going to end!



AtS 22: Tomorrow
[The joyful reunion between Angel and his now teenage son Connor is short-lived when the enraged Connor comes seeking revenge against Angel for murder. Meanwhile, just at the moment when Cordelia and Angel are finally ready to face their feelings for each other, she is sent a message from the Powers That Be concerning her future.]

So first I should say that I was so nervous about watching this finale that I put it off for four whole days. I just didn't want to know what was Connor was going to do to Angel. I guess I should've known it would be far more cruel than just going back and trying to kill him. Of course, when Connor showed up at the Hyperion, with that evil gleam in his eyes and kind words rolling off his lips, I knew it was going to be awful. So yes -- giving Angel exactly what he wanted was the most cruel thing to do, and then to use it against him. I suppose I thought it would take longer, but Angel and everyone fell for it so fast that it was almost better that Connor turned sooner rather than later.

I was sorry to see Lorne go, and I'm wondering if he's gone for good. I hope he'll come back now and again, but I suppose he's fulfilled his purpose.

And Wesley and Lilah? Whoa. That was interesting. He really can't sink much lower, can he? Somehow I think she isn't quite as callous as she wants him to think.

Oh, Groo. I knew it was coming, but it was still hard to see him have to be the one to tell Cordy she was in love with Angel. And then he left. I have no idea where he'll go. Actually, he should go to Vegas with Lorne. He could do some good there, I'm sure.

And oh, Cordy! Just as she figures out what she really wants, TPTB step in to take her away. But she's a good person and her heart is in the right place, and so of course she chooses to go. It's hard to imagine TPTB would take her away like that, though. I mean, she's so needed where she was. I'm hoping against hope that she'll be back, but that scene at the end with her ascending and Angel descending (strapped and welded into a coffin of sorts, down to the bottom of the ocean) had to be the biggest fucking cliffhanger ever. That just can't be it, you know?

Angel is going to get free or be freed somehow (because hey, there are two more seasons), but of course, the question is how long will it take. I don't think we've seen the last of Cordelia, because that ascension thing happened for a reason. It must be that she'll be able to do something bigger now and help in a way she couldn't before. Maybe she'll even be the one to rescue Angel, which would be very cool. And I also think Connor's and Justine's stories aren't over yet. Oh, and there's still the matter of Sahjhan trapped in that jar and ready to cause trouble. Oooh... if Connor can't kill Angel, might he get Sahjhan to take him to a place where he can? I have no idea how that would play out, but it would be interesting. I still think that prophecy about Connor killing Sahjhan is going to come true sometime. Maybe next season...


BtVS 22: Grave
[Giles faces off with Willow, but she drains him of his powers. This much power causes her to feel all the suffering in the world, so she decides to end it — the world, that is. Xander finally gets through to her, and he saves the day by doing so.]

For most of this episode, I was yelling "Giles!" and absolutely terrified that he was going to die in this episode. He was absolutely ready to die to save Willow from herself, but I'm glad he didn't have to in the end. The idea that witches in Devon felt Willow's presence was really interesting. This was the first time it had become clear to me (and maybe it was the first time it was mentioned in the show as well) that there's a light side and a dark side to magic. It seems quite a lot like the Force in that the Dark magic is fed by fear and anger, while the Light magic is connected to all living things. Add in the fact that the dark magic is disfiguring, and that people can sense each other's presence and it really seems like they were borrowing heavily from Star Wars here.

Giles cracking up at the idea of Buffy sleeping with Spike was fun. They needed a moment to not be freaked out about everything. And he noticed that she cut her hair! It was almost the first thing he said when he saw her. The scene at the beginning where Buffy and Anya both buried their faces in Giles's shoulder and just clung to him was so sweet. Sometimes a girl needs a daddy, you know? It was also interesting to hear Buffy tell Giles that she had thought she was done and really didn't know why she was back. There's a sense in which that really sums up Buffy for the whole season.

It was really clever that Giles had come there with the plan of letting Willow take that borrowed magic from him, because he knew that was the only way he could hope to bring her back. And the idea that she was suddenly connected to all of the pain in the world reminded me a lot of Cordy in the last season, when she was suddenly opened up to all the pain in the world. It was interesting that it affected Cordy and evil!Willow so differently. Cordy wanted to save the world -- the experience gave her a focus that changed her completely. But Willow wanted to destroy it. That's very interesting.

When Anya told Buffy that she wouldn't be able to stop Willow, I figured it would have to be Xander. He was the only one left, seeing that Dawn was down the hole with Buffy. And wow, that was a great moment for Xander. It was such an interesting idea that he knew he could only stop her by appealing to what was left of her humanity. Him saying "I love you" over and over while she kept attacking him, was really wrenching. It was almost a Christian metaphor in a lot of ways, and though that sort of thing usually makes me uncomfortable, it really didn't here. And then it worked (or at least seemed to) and wow -- Xander saved the world! I was hoping he'd get a chance to shine, especially after he's spent a good chunk of the season feeling useless.

The only thing in this episode that didn't quite sit with me was Buffy's epiphany about Dawn. It was just too contrived, I thought. There have been so many situations where it was life or death, and I wasn't convinced that this one would make her change her mind about Dawn so radically, or that this would be the moment that she'd finally decide she wanted to live after all. I mean, I can squint at it and it makes sense, but that whole scene felt rushed to me somehow.

And bwahaha, I WAS RIGHT about Spike!! That was an awesome way to end, after everything that had happened, with him telling the demon, "Give me what I want, so Buffy can get what she deserves," and the demon replying, "Very well. We will return your soul." So going back to what I wrote about Tabula Rasa, I had said then that the whole idea of a clean slate could be interpreted as revealing something about what the person really desired or wanted to be. This seems to be a confirmation that what Spike really wanted, whether he was aware of it or not, was to have a soul and be more human again. That deep down he doesn't really want to be a monster anymore. This is going to be very interesting!

It seems like this season was about finding out who you really are for all of these characters. They all took a journey, and they all had to face their inner demons -- and some were worse than others. Every single character had to face something difficult, and in every case they would much rather have just avoided it. And in many cases, they did until they were forced to deal with it.

So that leaves me wondering where the show goes from here. I'm guessing that now that they've all seen the bottom, they'll have to put themselves back together again. And I'm guessing that the road is going to be rough, as always.


So wow, that's it for these two seasons. I can't believe I only have one season of Buffy left to watch! I'm going to be slowing down my watching of them because I REALLY need to get to work on writing my holiday exchange fics. And I'm not exactly in a hurry to have Buffy be over either...
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