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!
[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...
[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.
[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?
[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*
[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!
Author's Chapter 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.
[AtS] The Ring, Eternity, Five by Five, Sanctuary, War Zone, Blind Date, and To Shanshu in LA.