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...
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?
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. ;-)
Author's Chapter 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.