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Author's Chapter 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.