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.
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.
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!
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. :-(
Author's Chapter Notes:
Episodes 9-15: The Wish, Amends, Gingerbread, Helpless, The Zeppo, Bad Girls, and Consequences.