Author's Chapter 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!
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!