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Old February 24 2011, 06:52 AM   #16
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I am huge buffy fan I just finished watching buffy on logo of channels and then it gets picked up by the chill network. as soon a I finished the tv series I began reading season eight loved it a little dissapointed with the ending . also picked up tales of the slayer hardback graphic novel which was awesome . I also finished angle on tnt loved the show agin dissapointed how the show ended in a cliffhanger . read after the fall very enjoyable . Loved all the spike material that has been released .
I just recently got a barns and nobel nook and have begun reading the buffy and angel books on it . I know there not cannon but I realy don 't care .

currently reading tales of the slayer vol. 2
currently watching supernatural season 5

now does anyone know when the buffy and angel series will be released on blu-ray
because this last christmass I got both box sets .
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Old February 24 2011, 04:05 PM   #17
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Ooh Buffy rewatch! I was doing my own rewatch but stopped at season 3 last year, and my sis is currently rewatching. All of this Buffyness will have me watching again I'm sure.

I really like the Witch episode. Not in a Top 10 kind of way, just because it's season one and everything is so fresh and new. It's funny seeing Amy how she was before bad things became of her.
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Old February 24 2011, 04:31 PM   #18
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

bUffy is also on chill channel and is currently on season six episode " tabula rasa "

on logo buffy is on season 2 episode " becoming part 2 " season 3 start friday on logo. I love the first epsiode " anne " great way to start a season .

now for angel it is on tnt season 1 episode " she " and then tomarrow " I've got you under my skin " .

it's fun to watch how the technology changes in buffy seeinig the old fashioned lap tops and seeing cell phones on angel change greatly .


curently reading tales of the slayer vol. 2
currently watching supernatural season 5
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Old March 6 2011, 01:59 PM   #19
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

SFX has the results of a Whedonverse gender-bending art competition here. Thought I'd include it in this thread rather than give it its own.
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Old March 6 2011, 04:44 PM   #20
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I'm currently going through a Buffy re-watch with a friend of mine, who has only seen a couple of random episodes over the years (but oddly enough, he's seen most of Angel in reruns and really liked it). I've watched the series many times over, but I haven't committed to re-watching the entire series in a long time. It's an interesting experience for me. I still remember bits and pieces from many episodes, but I've forgotten a lot of the little moments, or plot points from certain episodes.

We recently finished season 1. Indeed, a lot of it is filler and isn't the highest of quality. I've always considered the first season to be the weakest. It's pretty much primer. It introduces the major characters, establishes the relationships, introduces the world of vampires and demons. But there is a noticeable difference in the writing and the style of the show beginning with season 2. That's where things pick up. And indeed, we've just started season 2 and I see the difference.
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Old March 6 2011, 05:44 PM   #21
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Loving your reviews, keep it up!
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Old March 6 2011, 05:57 PM   #22
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I actually just started watching Buffy for the first time myself, since I'm a Whedon fan and it just didn't seem right never to have seen Buffy and Angel. I borrowed the DVDs from my sister.

I just finished 'The Pack,' so I'm a few eps ahead of you, but I've enjoyed reading your detailed reviews. Keep up the good work.
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Old March 6 2011, 06:13 PM   #23
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Locutus of Bored wrote: View Post
I actually just started watching Buffy for the first time myself, since I'm a Whedon fan and it just didn't seem right never to have seen Buffy and Angel. I borrowed the DVDs from my sister.

I just finished 'The Pack,' so I'm a few eps ahead of you, but I've enjoyed reading your detailed reviews. Keep up the good work.
I envy you, I'd love to have it wiped from my memory and enjoy it again for the first time. Now, much as I loved it, I know it too well to get the full enjoyment I used to out of it. There is something to be said for following Buffy et. al all the way through from the beginning.

Wait till seasons 2 and 3. That's where for me Buffy was at its best.
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Old March 14 2011, 04:30 PM   #24
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

This has been quite a break, but I've been busy with moving into another apartment these last couple of weeks, and I had to wait to have my Internet reconnected. And on top of that, even my computer needed some fixing for a while...


1.04. Teacher's Pet


This is is exactly the kind of episode that you don’t want to show your friends if you want to get them to watch Buffy. It has all the cheese of season 1, but with very few redeeming qualities, not even that many witty lines. Good season 1 episodes use monsters to highlight a real life problem (like being bullied or ignored at school or having over-competitive parents or coaches), but this one is about… predatory women looking to mate and find a father for their babies?

It also doesn’t help that the vampire from the B-story is one of the least scary monsters in the show, and that “Ms French”, the femme fatale teacher/praying mantis, is really slimy and smarmy to the point that she has 'you can't trust her' written all over her, which makes Xander look all the stupider for falling for her seduction. (And why is she speaking in a British accent, BTW? It’s fortunate that Giles is on the show, or it would look like another case of the Hollywood British Baddies cliche.)

I'm not too fond of Xander playing the role of Horny Drooling Idiot Teenage Boy (all the more so since these are the moments when it hits you that Nick Brendon looks a bit too old for the part). Way too many bad teenage comedies cliches there (see Worst Lines). It was funny to find out that Blaine, the guy bragging about his 'conquest' was a virgin, but I don’t get why Buffy was so surprised that Xander was a virgin, and the scene in which Xander and Blaine get ridiculed for their virginity (despite the fact that both Buffy and Willow were the same age and virgins as well at the time) seems like an example of a gender double standard. It would make more sense if they had heard a lot from Xander bragging about his alleged sex life, but as far as we know he only vaguely and unconvincingly tried to do it once to prove himself in front of Blaine when Buffy and Willow weren't even present.

Buffy keeps being the one to think of the solutions to all the mysteries, which is usually great, but at this point I started feeling it was too much - she is the brains and the leader and pretty much perfect, while everyone else's contributions were minor; I started yearning to see some flaws and quirks of hers, which we fortunately get to see more later on. I don't like Giles' characterization in this episode, he is more of a fussy librarian than a mentor and doesn't even seem very useful. The only new things we find out about him are a bit of info about his past friends that doesn't matter much, and... that he's interested in women. (As if Xander's drooling idiot act wasn't enough, we also get Giles making comments about Ms French's attributes throughout the episode.)

There is still some good stuff in this episode - like Xander's hilariously unrealistic fantasies (I think this is the first time we see a character's fantasy on the show). There's some development in the shipping area: Xander says (to Ms French) that he loves Buffy; he is obviously jealous of Angel; we get the first hints that Willow has a crush on Xander; and there's also a little bit of romantic tension between Buffy and Angel, who seems to have dropped his cheeky attitude here and is in full broody mood. Flutie is really good in this episode - I'm realizing in this rewatch how funny he was, he was a bit like a high school David Brent/Michael Scott. I think he just got overshadowed in my mind by Snyder, who was even funnier and more memorable. And it was nice to see a good and supporting teacher (Dr Gregory, the biology teacher) who was aware of Buffy's intelligence (he judged rightly that she was "smart and thinks on her feet") and could have made her high school experience better; so of course, he had to get killed in a gruesome way right after the first scene. His faith in her seems to have meant a lot to Buffy since she cried over his death. (Season 1 Buffy is so much more open with her feelings than the hardened later seasons Buffy, who will need days to be able to turn her grief over her mother's death into tears.)

Other things I noted about this episode, besides having the first character fantasy scene, is that it's the first episode that uses a science lesson to propel the main plot (in a similar way that, for instance, psychoanalysis will be used in "Beer Bad") and that it features the first case of the Xander Demon Magnet trope, as well as an example of Xander Damsel in Distress. It's an ironic inversion of Xander's fantasies where he is the hero who saves Buffy, while Buffy is scared and acting like a classic damsel in distress. He may be in love with Buffy, but he doesn't really seem comfortable with her strength, fighting skill and courage, and fantasizes about a more traditional scenario where he could play her swashbuckling hero. Other silly moments for Xander include accusing Buffy of being jealous when she warns him about the teacher, and acting as if a) he has already told Buffy how he feels about her or asked her out, b) she has already rejected him, and c)there is reason to think that she is secretly attracted to him; neither of which is the case. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for him when he asks if it's so incredible that an attractive woman could want him. His insecurity might actually work as an explanation why he acted so gullible.

Another thing we see for the first time and that we'll see many times later: Xander commenting on another man's attractiveness with a mix of jealousy and fascination (seeing Angel for the first time and saying that Buffy didn't tell him what an attractive man he was) is something we'll get to see often in later seasons (he'll make similar comments about Oz, Riley and Spike).

Best lines:
Flutie: We all need help with our feelings, otherwise we bottle them up and before you know it, powerful laxatives are involved. I really believe if we all reach out to one another, we can beat this thing. I’m always here for you if you need a hug, but not a real hug, because there is no touching, the school is sensitive to wrong touching.

Buffy: Factoid three: her fashion sense screams ‘predatory’.
Willow: It's the shoulder pads.
Buffy: Exactly.

Honorary mention goes to Xander asking what kind of girly name is Angel.

Worst line:
Xander: No, no, this is the most beautiful chest… dress I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 1.5 - one of the worst episodes of the show



1.05. Never Kill A Boy on the First Date

If I was giving additional points for episode titles, this episode would get a higher score.

This time the Buffy’s Slaying, the Master and his minions are the B-story while Buffy's attempts to date are the A-story. The prophecy of the Anointed One is very well done in this episode, the fake Anointed One is a good and quite scary character with his ‘religious’ fanaticism (vampires having something like their own evil religion is consistent with season 1 and Master-lead vampires; this will pretty much disappear in season 2 when we meet very different and non-traditional vamps), and the twist of the real Anointed One being a child is a good one. Appearances being deceiving is one of the recurring themes of the show. ("Gingerbread" will also play with the idea that the tendency to see children as innocent and good by default can make people blind to the evil hiding in the shape of a child.) Of course now we know that this storyline went nowhere and that the Anointed One was probably the lamest villain on the show, which makes the scary prophecies about him ring hollow, but I'm not going to hold it against this episode.

On the other hand, the A-story introduces a theme that will run throughout the show - Buffy’s difficulties of reconciling her romantic life with her calling. The purpose of this episode was obviously to establish the dangers and difficulties of Buffy dating a "normal" human (before having Buffy get involved with Angel only 2 episodes later). However short-lived and fleeting this story was, on rewatch I think Buffy did really like Owen (unlike for instance Scott Hope in S3, who – IMO – she only dated because she thought of him as ‘safe'), even though Angel was her main love interest, as we are reminded when Angel makes another appearance in the episode and Buffy is clearly interested in him but blows him off because she is disappointed that he seems to only want to talk to her about her “work” rather than being interested in her for herself. Buffy at this point only sees slaying as her job and is very far from thinking of it as a part of herself. Owen saying that Buffy is like "two people" introduces a theme of Buffy being split between her "Buffy, ordinary girl” persona and her Slayer persona, which she'll struggle a lot to reconcile throughout the show, with the Slayer part of her personality becoming stronger over years. We'll later see Buffy having a problem with a “regular” human boyfriend (Riley after losing his supersoldier powers in season 5) because of his feelings of inadequacy - that he can’t keep up with her; with Owen we see the opposite problem: not only he isn’t threatened or freaked out by Buffy's dangerous 'job', he likes it and is all too happy to throw himself in because he finds it exciting – which makes Buffy realize that she has to break up with him for his own good, because he would get himself killed. (Incidentally, I think this is the last time Buffy breaks up with someone until Spike in season 6 - Scott Hope, Angel and Riley all broke up with her, not to mention Parker).

It's not surprising that Buffy was attracted to Owen - he's exactly the kind of guy smart and secretly romantic girls fall for in high school (he reminds me quite a lot of a guy I used to have a crush in high school): brooding, mysterious, poetic, looking older and more mature for his age, which is all incredibly attractive to many girls at the time when most high school boys act very immature and tend to put on silly and unconvincing macho acts. (Even though the same kind of guy might start looking a bit dull when you get a bit older.) With Owen we get another idea of the things Buffy is attracted to in men – obviously Angel also has a "certain Owenosity" – he can rival Owen for brooding, and he's also older-looking, mysterious and a romantic soul. But in many ways, Owen is most like another one of Buffy’s later boyfriends, as he is a poetic, reclusive guy who turns out to be a major adrenaline junkie who gets off on danger and dreams of transforming himself into “danger man”. Owen’s line “I never thought that nearly getting killed would make me feel so…alive” sounds very much like Spike’s line from “Fool For Love”: “Getting killed made me alive for the first time.”

Cordelia is still a stereotype and particularly OTT in this episode with her aggressive come-ons to Owen and her jealousy and bitchiness to Buffy. I don't find it too surprising that Cordelia was after him too, she and Buffy seem to have a somewhat similar taste in men (both are attracted to Angel and Owen) and in high school, girls like Cordelia are tend to go after any guy who is considered attractive by other girls, especially if it’s a girl they have a rivalry with. Speaking of jealousy, this is the first time Xander speaks to Angel, and his dislike for Angel is obvious. Xander is jealous of Angel, and they are both jealous of Owen in this episode. This is also the first time Cordelia sees Angel, and she is immediately attracted to him (but at this point, he still doesn't pay attention to her.) Her line on seeing him: “Hello, salty goodness” will be repeated in AtS S4 "Spin the Bottle”, when Cordelia, after losing her memories and reverting back to her teenage self, gets a glimpse of Angel. There’s an ironic moment here: Cordelia saying about Angel: “That boy is gonna need some serious oxygen once I’m through with him”. Actually, he doesn't and hasn't for 200 years!

The characterization of Giles is much better in this episode than in the previous one, for once he really seems capable, and a good mentor to Buffy, rather than just an awkward and fussy librarian. The relationship between him and Buffy gets a nice development here, in this episode it shapes up as a real mentor/student relationship, and there are signs of him as a father figure as well. For most of the episode, Giles is trying to get Buffy to do her duties while she’s trying to find time to have some fun and go on a date, but later on she choses her duty over dating, and they end up relating better to each other in their last scene. We learn about his background which is also important for the show's mythology: his father and grandmother were also Watchers (which confirms that Watchers, unlike Slayers, can be of either gender); being a Watcher was nothing something he chose, he was 'chosen' in a way, just like Buffy, learned about it when he was even younger (10 years old) and just like Buffy, did not want to accept his calling at first. But unlike the Slayers, the calling of the Watcher runs in the family and is a job passed on from one’s parent (and unlike the Slayers, the Watchers are "ordinary humans" with no magical superpowers).

There's another 'subverting the expectations' moment when we're lead to believe that Giles is being sexist and has prejudice against Emily Dickinson for being a woman, but it turns out he has prejudice against Americans... Which, uh, is better? Well, marginally so, I suppose…

I had forgotten that Master said “Here endeth the lesson” to his minions in this episode, because the exact same line was later used by Spike to Buffy in "Fool for Love", and Buffy to the Potentials in “Showtime”. Did Spike meet Master at some point? Quite probably - but he never seemed to care much about him or his minions, then again maybe he just thought the line sounded cool.

Best lines:
Willow (about Owen): He can brood for 40 minutes straight. I've clocked him.

Xander (to Owen): You should probably know that Buffy doesn’t like to be kissed…Actually,. she doesn’t like to be touched...
Willow: Xander…
Xander: In fact, don’t even look at her.

Giles: Two more of the brethren came in here. They came after me. But I was more than a match for them.
Buffy: Meaning…?
Giles: I hid.

Worst lines: I can’t think of any.
But I guess in-universe, Buffy’s “It’s not you, it’s me” breakup line is pretty bad... although here it is actually true, in part at least (it really is about her, but it’s also about him being so reckless and not understanding the gravity of the life and death situations the way Xander or Willow do).

Foreshadowing (?):
Buffy worrying that her love life could get someone close to her, specifically Giles, killed.
Willow and Xander pretending to be dating: “We knew it was going to happen eventually, so why fight it”.
Buffy fighting the fake Anointed One while yelling “You killed my date!” is pretty awesome moment - we see how she gets strength from her emotions. Xander makes a decision not to tell her Owen is alive so she would stay as determined – which may be seen as foreshadowing his big lie in the season 2 finale.

Rating: 3
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Last edited by DevilEyes; March 14 2011 at 07:07 PM.
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Old March 14 2011, 06:46 PM   #25
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Locutus of Bored wrote: View Post
I actually just started watching Buffy for the first time myself, since I'm a Whedon fan and it just didn't seem right never to have seen Buffy and Angel. I borrowed the DVDs from my sister.

I just finished 'The Pack,' so I'm a few eps ahead of you, but I've enjoyed reading your detailed reviews. Keep up the good work.
Then maybe you shouldn't be reading my reviews, they're full of spoilers for the entire show! I'm only spoiler-tagging stuff from the comics.
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Old March 25 2011, 03:35 AM   #26
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I've finished season 1, now I just have to find time/stop being lazy and write about episodes 6-12 from the notes I took.


1.06. The Pack


I always liked this episode, one of my favorites in S1 besides Prophecy Girl, Angel, Out of Mind, Out of Sight and Nightmares. It does very well something that S1 does best, use supernatural to comment on common real life high school issues. In this case, bullying. Bullies are shown to be similar to hyenas: the four students were already a "pack" before they got possessed by hyena spirits, they just took it to the next level when they were possessed. It is much more interesting to see Xander' s transformation. This is also the first episode in which a main character goes evil. The possession story feels like an excuse to show Xander's dark side; at the core it's a story about having a friend start hanging out with a bad crowd and becoming a jerk and a bully.

One of the best scenes is the slow-motion wordless scene where the pack, with Xander as a leader, is walking through the schoolyard, and everyone is looking at them. The music in that scene ("Job's Eyes" by Far) is perfect, it really creates the feeling of danger and dread. I think this is the first time a song by a band is simply used as musical background in a scene without it being played in-universe (usually it's a band playing at the Bronze or someone playing a song), which is a bit more unusual for the show but does happen occasionally.

Another strong scene is the one in the gym when the game of dodgeball turns ugly and the pack starts ganging up on the nerdy Kyle, their earlier victim/target. I didn't find it unrealistic at all that the coach didn't do anything - from my high school experience, it's very common to see teachers not lift a finger to stop obvious bullying between students. The coach in this scene is not the same guy we'll later see in "Go Fish", but they have the same mentality - instead of being shocked, this guy is also impressed with the hyena-students' brutality to other students (“God, this game is brutal. I love it!”). The show portrays school coaches in a very dark way (we'll get to see more on the subject in Nightmares and Go Fish, the latter is built on the idea that athletes are encouraged or made to be inhuman so they could perform better). One might compare hyena possession to the effect of steroids. The hyena-possessed students not only have more confidence and aggression, they also seem to have enhanced senses (Xander's super-hearing) and physical strength (Giles says that they can individually match Buffy), similar to supernatural beings such as vampires whose strength come from demonic sources.

The unfortunate pig Herbert the mascot served well as a red herring - from the moment he was introduced it was easy to guess he would get eaten by the pack, but I don't think many people would have guessed that Principal Flutie will meet the same fate. That was a real surprise the first time I watched the show. Flutie was a good character and quite funny, more so than I remembered. But I think Snyder was even funnier and a really great and enjoyable 'love to hate' character. He was much worse for the students, but even more fun for the show.

Nick Brendon is excellent playing a much darker, meaner version of Xander. Although Xander is not himself, it is not a simple possession, in which a person's body is under control from another being (say, Cordelia/Jasmine); but rather, it seems that the influence of the hyena spirit is drawing out Xander's suppressed aggression and making him act on his darker urges (including acting on his attraction for Buffy by trying to rape her), and in the end, regular Xander still remembers everything, even though he pretends not to in front of Buffy and Willow to make things easier for himself. I was struck by how much Hyena!Xander's behavior with Buffy and Willow was similar to the behavior of soulless vampires in later seasons. Xander insulting Willow in a particularly cruel way and enjoying her pain reminded me of Angelus and his emotional torment of Buffy in season 2, as well as some of Spike's gratuitous insults to Buffy in season 4 and 5. Xander might not see Willow in a romantic/sexual way at this point, but maybe, besides just talking pleasure in being cruel, he's trying to distance himself from a girl he has tender and very human feelings for. The way Xander acts around Buffy is a lot like season 5/6 Spike at his most sexually aggressive (calling Buffy "Slayer", telling her that she likes men being dangerous and mean, saying things like "When are you going to stop pretending we're not attracted to each other"...). Hyena!Xander can also be deceptive and manipulative - he's very good at pretending to be regular Xander (a bit like Angelus pretending to be Angel in season 4 of AtS) so much that he almost fooled Willow. Almost, since Willow shows that she's a tougher cookie and not so easily duped, not even by someone she cares about so much.

This is the first time in the series that Buffy gets sexually assaulted (and the second episode that features a sexual assault - Xander was one of the victims in "Teacher's Pet" and is the perpetrator in his second centric episode) and while she's shocked, she keeps her cool and is relatively undisturbed by the experience after fighting him off. It's interesting to compare her reaction to her much more vulnerable behavior in season 6. But there are plenty of differences in circumstances that can explain that - in "The Pack", although it's also by someone she's close to, she knows that Xander is not being his normal self, and also she hasn't had an intimate relationship with him with a lot of messy and complicated feelings involved.

Shippy developments: At the beginning of the episode, Willow and Buffy have another talk about boys, and we get an explicit confirmation of Willow's crush on Xander. Buffy says that she remembers the feeling (who is she referring to - Pike? Ford? Maybe Jeffrey?), but hasn't felt it for a long time (what about Owen? Has he been forgotten already, or does she just mean that the attraction wasn't that strong?) before admitting that she's attracted to Angel, but doesn't see a relationship with him because he's rarely around and just talks about Slaying. I can see why Willow calls Angel "mysterious older man", but why does Hyena!Xander call him "dangerous and mean", when he still had no idea that Angel was a vampire or had a dark past? Did he just assume that because of the mystery and the leather jacket, or maybe the animal spirit allowed Xander to instinctively feel the demon in Angel? Hyena!Xander also seems aware of Willow's feelings for him, but regular Xander seems clueless (as we later see in "Prophecy Girl") - maybe he is aware of it on a subconscious level but doesn't want to think about it?

The climax with the parallel scenes of Xander assaulting Buffy and the other four pack members killing and eaten Principal Flutie was well done, but it's a bit of a cop-out that he wasn't with them. It would be harder to have an upbeat ending if one of your main characters had committed murder and cannibalism, even if he wasn't really responsible for his actions. I was thinking of giving this episode a 4, but the ending took half a point from it. An attempted rape is a serious matter, and even if Buffy and Willow are acting like everything is OK now that Xander is back to normal, the fact that Xander remembers everything means that he should feel disturbed by the things he did in his hyena state, maybe even look for some counseling. Instead, Giles smiles promising to keep his secret, and everything is soon forgotten. Not to mention those other 4 kids who killed and ate the principal and presumably also remember it; they aren't facing any punishment since the act is officially attributed to wild dogs, but how are they coping with it? They may have been jerks and bullies before, but murder and cannibalism is something else. This is a typical problem of season 1, lack of follow-up and upbeat endings even when they're not quite appropriate.

Best/funniest lines:
Giles: Xander's taken to teasing the less fortunate?
Buffy: Uh-huh.
Giles: And, there's been a noticeable change in both clothing and demeanor?
Buffy: Yes.
Giles: And, well, otherwise all his spare time is spent lounging about with imbeciles.
Buffy: It's bad, isn't it.
Giles: It's devastating. He's turned into a sixteen-year-old boy. Course, you'll have to kill him.

Worst lines:
Giles: Testosterone is a great equalizer. It turns all men into morons.
- Yes, it's similar to the best lines above, but those were funny. Didn't Giles notice that two out of five pack members were girls?

Pop culture references: The X-Files (Buffy to Giles: “I can’t believe that you, of all people, are trying to Scully me!” I love that line.)

Denial Buffy (aka Buffy protesting too much): about Angel: "Some girls might find him attractive..." This time, however, she quickly realizes she's not fooling Willow and adds "... OK - if they have eyes."

Character death: Principal Flutie - in an episode in which he was more likable than usually.

Main character goes evil: 1

Foreshadowing:
Willow tells Xander that he would end up in a poor job as the guy working in the pizza place – which is similar to where Xander will be at the start of season 4.

Rating: 3.5
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my Buffy/Angel rewatch

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Old April 6 2011, 03:46 AM   #27
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

1.07. Angel

An important episode that significantly develops the show’s mythology, the character of Angel, starts the Buffy/Angel romance, and introduces the Angel(us)/Darla relationship that would be explored on AtS. It was written by David Greenwalt, who would later become the show-runner when Angel gets his own show.

Up to this episode the B/A relationship was just a flirtation/attraction to a mysterious, handsome older guy (although we will later learn in “Becoming” flashbacks that Angel was obsessed with her since he first saw her, after learning from her about Whistler), but Buffy said she didn’t see him as someone she could have a relationship with because he only ever showed up from time to time to give her cryptic advice about slaying. In this episode, they start getting more serious when Angel helps her fight off “The Three”, a trio of badass vampires sent by the Master to kill her – which is the first time she, or we the audience, see him fight, and she is impressed with his fighting skills – and then they end up spending a platonic night together in her room, with him sleeping on the floor. A few episodes earlier, Buffy realized that a relationship with a "normal" boy would not really work; now we see what she really wants in a relationship, to be with someone who knows what she is and accepts her and that she wouldn’t have to keep secrets from, but who is also strong enough to be there for her and fight by her side without her being worried that she would get him killed. Ironically, the reason why Angel fits that bill is because he is a vampire (since there are no male Slayers, that’s Buffy’s best bet at finding a man who is more or less her equal in fight). She might also be drawn to him because he is lonely and an outcast even more than she feels she is; we already knew that he had no friends (“The Harvest”) and he now reveals (after she starts asking him personal questions) that his family is dead and that he hasn’t had a lover in a very long time.

The reveal of Angel being a vampire was well done. When you already know what he is, you can spot little clues, e.g. his strength when fighting the vampires which hinted he wasn’t a regular human, the fact we’ve never seen him in daylight, or that Buffy yelled at him to come with her into her house, right before he explained to her that the vampires won’t be able to come in because they need an invitation; even his remark that it would be inappropriate for them to get involved because he’s older than her gains a new meaning when you learn the age difference is over 220 years. He technically doesn’t tell any lies in his answers – saying that his family was killed by vampires, which makes Buffy assume that he’s a demon-hunter bent on revenge. (Ironically she will be later be in a relationship with a human demon hunter she first mistakes for a normal college boy. She basically mistook Angel for someone like Holtz, or Wood). The reason why Angel goes into vamp face during their first kiss is probably because of the link between the vampire's demon and their sexuality - he has gone long without either having any sexual intimacy of any kind, or having fed on humans, and the kiss must have awakened his bloodlust. Later on when Darla offers him to drink from unconscious Joyce, it’s obvious that his vampire impulses are a very strong temptation he has to fight.

It’s interesting that, despite her initial shock, Buffy remains open-minded about Angel and, despite Giles’s information about his dark past, doesn’t think he should be dusted without a proof that he is dangerous/evil: up to that point he has only been helpful, she hasn’t seen him do anything wrong, he helped her fight the Three and got wounded, and he spent the night sleeping on the floor of her room without trying anything (Buffy was at first impressed that he was a ‘gentleman’ and didn’t try anything sexual – but after learning what he is, suddenly it becomes all the more impressive that he didn’t try to kill her/drink from her). Willow remains a Bangel shipper (and will remain so for the next few years) and finds it all very romantic (and maybe she’s also happy to see Buffy with someone other than Xander), while Xander represents the view that Angel should be dusted because he’s a vampire - which is the ideological stance that Giles taught him, but Xander is far more passionate in this view than the relatively detached Giles. Xander’s black and white view of vampires must be influenced a lot by what happened with Jesse – he was told that he had to kill his friend, and that there was no hope for Jesse once he was turned, even though he still wanted to save him, before he ended accidentally staking him. But it’s probably also influenced by his jealousy and dislike of Angel that was obvious long before he learned Angel was a vampire, and it’s a big question (still hotly debated in fandom) how much one or the other out of these psychological motivations played a role in Xander’s behavior over the next couple of seasons. It’s only after Buffy comes to wrongly believe that Angel has tried to kill her mother that she decides to go after him and kill him, despite admitting that she has feelings for him and might have fallen in love/be falling in love with him. Buffy’s slaying is normally not driven by personal reasons – she sees it as her job – but the sure way to make it personal and make her more determined is to hurt or threaten someone she loves, which happens with Darla’s scheme. And in this case it’s also personal because she had feelings for and trusted Angel and he seemed to betray her trust; which is why tells Angel: “I've killed many vampires, but I’ve never hated one.” (Which is, BTW, the first time Buffy tells anyone in the show that she hates them. Another interesting fact is that the second time she will tell a vampire that she hates him, it will be to Spike, in “Becoming part II”).

I think this is the first time we see Buffy with a crossbow, and other medieval weapons she carries to her fight with Angel. Darla on the other hand is using guns, which vampires normally don’t do, even though it would work well against Slayers. But Darla is too determined to kill Buffy, while not risking Angel’s life, to be concerned with what vampires usually consider proper. Angel, on his part, might be having a death wish – he asks Buffy to not go soft on him. The fight scene is Western-style showdown between the two women, with Darla firing two guns at Buffy. Buffy fails to kill Darla, missing her heart, but Angel does not – which has a metaphorical meaning, since Darla is emotionally attached to Angel and obviously shocked when she realizes that he’s killed her, something she didn’t expect.

Mythology: It is confirmed that a vampire can’t enter a building without an invite (a common belief in vampire lore) and the mythology about vampire's "soul" and "demon" is established. Buffy is still wearing the cross Angel gave her for protection against vampires, and in the last scene the cross burns into his flesh while they kiss. Apparently in Buffyverse crosses aren’t a source of incredible fear for vampires as in some other vampire fiction, they are more akin to what a hot iron would be to a human.
We learn about Angel’s age, his curse by the Gypsies, as well as his background (that he was born in Ireland and killed his family after he was sired) and his relationship with Darla. In Giles’ books it is assumed that he got his vampire name because he was handsome (“angelic face”) – but the real story, which we will only learn in season 1 of AtS, is far more chilling. The soul is clearly described as moral conscience, while the demon seems to be what drives vampires to bloodlust, violence and sadism. Giles repeats the Watcher’s Council’s stance that a vampire is not a person, and Angel says about himself: “I can walk like a man, but I’m not one”, but the choice of words is questionable since vampires (not just Angel, but also the other, soulless vampires) clearly have a mind, feelings and will of their own. Early in the episode, before Buffy learns he’s a vampire, Angel explains that vampires are made when a demon invades a dead person’s body – but I don’t think it’s just the body, but rather their spirit, if Angel’s subsequent behavior is anything to go by. I don’t think he was implying that the dead person – their spirit, personality, memories – is gone, and if he did, he soon contradicts it in the rest of the episode, which brings me to:

Angel/Angelus: This dichotomy is still a subject of so much debate, and has been treated in very contradictory ways on the show, that I think I need to keep the score of how it was presented in each episode where the issues comes up. This episode suggests that they’re one and the same, and that Angel is the same entity as he was as a human as well: he keeps talking about his past crimes in 1st person singular, rather than something done by a demon who is not him, and also says he killed his family (rather than the family of some dead human guy who has nothing to do with him). Darla also treats him as the same guy she had a relationship with in the past (which remains the same in all her appearances on AtS).

Vampires and love: Another controversial subject – can soulless vampires love. Different vampires will later be shown to have very different opinions on the subject. Darla in this episode clearly thinks they can and believes that she and Angelus loved each other and says that she still loves him – she says the saddest thing in the world is “to love someone who used to love you”. Oddly enough, later in season 2 Angelus claims that he cannot stand love, and on AtS Angel and Darla can’t seem to agree if they used to love each other or not. In season 2 of AtS Angel says he wasn’t able to love Darla because he was soulless, and in "Lullaby" Darla agrees with him that she “never loved anything” and thinks she wouldn’t be able to love her baby once she gives birth, because she doesn’t have a soul and the only thing that allows her to love her son is that she is influenced by his soul. (Spike, Dru, Harmony, and James and Elizabeth from “Heartthrob” wouldn’t agree.) But maybe the inconsistency can be explained as a matter of semantics: how one defines the word “love”, and whether the selfish, possessive kind of love is considered “love” or desire/passion/obsession etc. while “love” is taken to be synonymous with “good” love.

Darla is a much stronger character in this episode, and her characterization is much closer to what we later see on AtS. She isn’t trembling in fear in front of the Master as she did in “The Harvest”; she’s more determined and proactive (because she has a personal reason to want Buffy dead) and her dynamic with him is more equal, so much that the Master remarks at one point that it almost looks like she’s giving him the orders now – but he’s not angry about it. She is also more obviously cruel, and enjoys taking the lives of vampires rather than just humans. We first learn how close Darla and the Master were ("she was my favorite"). The Master is being more emotional and approachable than usual – he is being almost fatherly to Darla as well as to the Anointed One (whom he calls “Colin”), who is his protégé and even gets asked for an advice. Later he cries over Darla's death and gets to be comforted by the Anointed One. The Anointed One and the Master (and to an extent Darla/Master) are mirroring the mentor/student relationship of Buffy and Giles. Once again we see how strict the hierarchy of the Sunnydale vampires is (very different from the more self-centered and rebellious vampires we'll meet later). These vamps are not amoral, they have their own morality, tradition and even religion of sorts, which is the inversion of human morality/religion. The Three offer their lives for failing in their mission, and get executed by Darla. The Master tells Colin that taking a life (which he usually does to his minions when they fail him) is always a serious matter, but of course only when the lives of vampires are concerned, rather than not puny and irrelevant humans – which is the mirror image of the Watchers ideology that Buffy lives by (with the distinction between killing a human vs dusting/slaying a vampire). The Master says about Angelus: "He was to have sat by my right hand”, which is another example of vampire tradition as an inversion/parody of Christian religion (together with things like the prophecies, rituals and the title of Anointed One), with the Master in the role of God the Father (“The Master” is similar to “Lord”, after all).

Continuity check: We learn that Darla is 400 years old and that the last time Angel saw her she wore a kimono – but the latter doesn’t really fit with the flashbacks we’ll later see on AtS: the last time he saw her, they were in China and she was wearing Western clothes. This episode makes it seem like Angel was the one who rejected Darla, but later we see that she rejected him for having a soul, that he tried to go back to her and couldn’t convince her he was still evil enough for her taste. Angel says that he never fed on a living human after he was souled, but the flashbacks will contradict that as well: he did feed on criminals while he was still with Darla. Darla blames Angel for becoming “one of them” because, among other things, he lives above the ground – but later we see that Darla used to live with him above the ground for hundreds of years, before their relationship ended and she went back to the Master and the traditional ways. The Master seems to have a lot of respect for Angelus and says he wanted him to be his right hand, but we later see that they never got along because Angelus rebelled against the Master immediately. But maybe the Master was impressed with his evil deeds, and expected him to eventually come back to the fold, like Darla did?

Other things worth mentioning:
- This episode features the first meeting of Joyce and Giles, who are going to have a very interesting and rocky relationship;
- First hints of Xander/Cordelia tension;
- In school, Buffy has particular trouble with history (which is really the subject that would be most useful in her calling); Giles says that the reason is that Buffy lives very much ‘in the now’ and doesn’t care about the past.
- We see Angel’s tattoo for the first time – it’s a griffin, a mythical hybrid animal, which hints at Angel’s own hybrid nature (man/monster).

Best line:
Willow (being told by Buffy that she should speak up to Xander about her feelings for him): No, no, no! No speaking up! That way leads to madness, and sweaty palms.

2nd place: The Master gets to be funny:
The Master: I am weary, and their deaths will bring me little joy.
(Darla executes the Three.)
The Master: Of course, sometimes a little is enough.

Worst line:
Darla (shooting at Buffy): Come on, Buffy, take it like a man. (?)

Character death: Darla. But she’ll get better. You’d think that dusting a vamp means is the end of them, but people in Buffyverse tend to come back.

Oooh, kinky: Darla says “You’re hurting me… That's good, too” – the first time we get a hint of someone being into BDSM - which we later see many vampires in Buffyverse are (and not only vampires). She’s dressed in a schoolgirl outfit (which is ironic as she’s feigning youth and innocence, the opposite of what she really is) and mocks Angel for being into schoolgirls now.

Buffy protesting too much/Buffy bad liar: her very desperate attempt to convince Angel that she wasn’t writing about him in her journal: “Hunk can mean a lot of things, bad things even…” –all the more amusing since it turns out Angel didn’t even read her diary.

Shirtless scene (the first one in the show): Angel.

Pop culture references: The Master, mentoring the Anointed One, uses the line: “With power comes responsibility” – Spiderman’s motto, which could also be Buffy’s.
Xander quotes a line from the song “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”: “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly”, but he probably forgot what the song was about, since he uses that quote to mean that it’s natural for Buffy as the Slayer to kill Angel since he’s a vampire, but in the context of the song that line meant that love is something that comes naturally and doesn’t depend on reason and decisions. Ironically, he almost sounds like a B/A supporter there while the supportive Willow ends up listing the problems of the Buffy/Angel relationship known up to this point: the fact that unlike her he’ll never age or die a natural death, and that they can’t have children (which will be echoed by the Mayor in season 3).

Foreshadowing:
In this episode, Buffy wrongly believes that Angel has tried to kill someone she loves; in the future, the nightmare scenario will come true and he will hurt people close to her, more than once.
Willow tells Buffy that you can’t change your feelings for someone by killing them, and Buffy replies “It’s a start”. Buffy will kill Angel in the season 2 finale, but this won’t change her feelings for him. Angel kills Darla in this episode – but when she comes back on AtS, it will become obvious that he still very much has feelings for her.
Darla rhetorically asks Angel if he thinks Buffy would ever kiss him while he’s in vampface. Ironically, Buffy will do exactly that in "What’s My Line”.
At one point, it seems that Cordelia has a shocked reaction was because she heard Xander asking Buffy how she can be in love with a vampire – fortunately she was talking about something else, but there’s additional irony since Cordelia will also fall in love with a vampire (the same one, actually).
Giles’ description of Buffy as someone who "she lives in the now" is in sharp contrast with season 8 Buffy, who is described as being “stuck in the past".

This is the best episode so far – it feels like a season 2 episode. There’s a noticeable rise in quality in the second part of season 1 which starts with “The Pack” and “Angel”.


Rating: 4
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my Buffy/Angel rewatch

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Old April 6 2011, 04:02 AM   #28
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

1.08. I, Robot, You Jane

This is the first Willow-centric episode, and the fourth episode centered on the love life of one of the Scoobies. Like Xander in “Teacher’s Pet”, Willow gets a love interest who turns out to be a dangerous demon and has to be gotten rid of at the end of the episode. At the same time, a real long-term romance is set up with the introduction of Jenny Calendar. It is one of the weakest episodes in the season, but I think it’s not as awful as its reputation suggests – despite the cheesiness of the robot and the ‘historical’ flashback, and being at times a little too on the nose with its debate on the dangers of Internet and new technologies.

The demon Moloch the Corruptor, the main villain of the episode, has the name of an ancient Semitic god known for demanding human sacrifices, children in particular. (This is incidentally the episode with the first ‘historical’ flashback we get in the show, which is inaccurate since it is supposed to be from the Middle Ages, but it’s set in 1418 Italy, which was very much in the Renaissance.) This Moloch is a charismatic leader who seduces his followers, found among teenagers and young adults, with promises of power, knowledge or love, demanding their love and devotion and killing them once he gets it. While the episode first seems focused on the dangers of Internet dating/friendships (Willow meets Moloch online, under the assumed identity of “Malcolm”, and falls for him), including child abusers who look for their victims in chat rooms, the demon trapped in a book and then transferred to the computer and gaining new power through Internet, is an obvious metaphor for dangerous populist ideologies, which can spread through books (such as, say, “Mein Kampf” or “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”), but even more so through the Internet, which generally involves less censorship or control and a more wide audience. The debate about computers and the Internet – with two opposing views represented by Giles and Jenny - ends on a more balanced view: new technologies are in itself not any more ‘evil’ than the old books, but printed word is not obsolete in the computer age. Giles explains his love of books through his love of their physicality, their smell and touch; Moloch ends up confirming this view – despite the power he can have through the Internet, he wants to also be corporeal again, to be able to touch.

Xander shows jealousy over Willow’s relationship with ‘Malcolm’, and Buffy calls him on it. Even though Xander says he is not interested in Willow in a romantic way, he is used to being the main man in Willow’s life. This jealousy will resurface in a stronger way when Willow starts dating Oz.

I’m still not sure if the development of Willow’s sexuality in the later seasons was completely believable in the light of the early seasons, but I do think that it was more convincing than it would have been if Buffy or Xander had had a “gay now” storyline (apparently, Whedon planned to make either Willow or Xander gay, and Seth Green’s departure in season 4 was one of the factors that decided who it would be), and a scene in this episode that shows the difference between Buffy’s and Willow’s attitude to men and dating is one of the moments that can be used to support the later development of sexuality. She was not a very sexual character in the early seasons, her first crush was on her childhood friend, and one may say that her crushes/relationships were more about being drawn to someone’s personality than about physical attraction. This is certainly the case in this episode – she falls for a “boy” she has never seen, based on their interaction online, while Buffy is unable to understand how one can fall for someone if they don’t know what the person looks like (the worst thing she can imagine is if Willow found out Malcolm had a hairy back ). Willow and Xander both got seduced by dangerous people because they longed to have someone pay attention to them, but in Xander’s case it was a hot teacher who showed sexual interest in him, while Willow fell for a guy online who seemed sensitive, intelligent and interested in her – which may fall into the gender stereotype, but in this case it seems to be more about the difference in personality. For Buffy, it’s a combination of both – physical attraction plays a significant part in her interest in men, but personality is as important: she is drawn to mystery and to the aura of maturity and confidence (which is why goofy Xander doesn’t stand a chance), and, like Willow, she wants to be accepted for what she is. (Although it has to be said that at this point Willow still seems to think that beauty equals goodness and that you can tell the book by its cover - she says Malcolm can’t have a hairy back because “he doesn’t look seem someone who has a hairy back”.)

Moloch is an early example how romantic rhetoric can be dangerous and destructive and how it can be used to used to seduce and mislead, which is something we’ll see more of later (most notably in season 8), all the more so when it’s combined with big promises of power, specialness and happiness (he promises to give Willow the world, which is very similar to what Darla told Liam as she was about to sire him, and it also recalls Drusilla/William, and, again, season 8). Willow rejects his possessive, controlling and immoral ‘love’ as something that isn’t love at all, which is another one of show’s frequent themes – if selfish love should be considered love. It’s worth mentioning that Willow saw through ‘Malcolm’ before she knew he was a demon (as soon as he started acting suspicious and tried to turn her against Buffy), showing once again that she is not gullible or blinded by her feelings, just like she did with Hyena!Xander.

Recurring characters introduced: Jenny Calendar. The (mildly) belligerent sexual tension between her and Giles is set up from the start, and here they also represent two different attitudes towards modern technologies – Giles is an old-fashioned lover of books who distrusts or despises computers and Internet, while Jenny, computer science teacher, identifies as a techno-pagan.

Best scene: The ending – Buffy, Willow and Xander compare their love lives and the fact that their love interests all turned out to be demons:
Buffy: "Let's face it. None of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal
relationship."
Xander: "We're doomed!"
Willow: "Yeah!"
(They all laugh and then suddenly stop and freeze, looking unhappy.)

Best lines:
Buffy: "This guy could be anybody. He could be weird or crazy or old or...he
could be a circus freak--he's probably a circus freak!"
Xander: "Yeah, I mean we read about it all the time. You know, people meet on
the net, they talk, they get together, have dinner, a show... horrible axe murder."
Buffy: "Willow, axe murdered by a circus freak!"

Giles: "I'll be back in the Middle Ages."
Jenny: "Did you ever leave?"

Other observations: You know that the episode was shot in 1997 when a character replies to “I met him online” with: "On line to what?"
Xander mentions his uncle (is this the first mention of the infamous Uncle Rory?) who used to work “in a floor-sweeping capacity” in the computer lab.

Continuity check: Buffy refers to Angel as “The one boy I had the hots for since I moved here” – so Owen has indeed been completely forgotten, or is she saying she wasn’t really attracted to him?

Inconsistencies: Buffy’s birthday in her school file is 24/10/1980, but later we learn that she is born in 1981 (according to the inscription on her grave in both “Nightmares” and “The Gift”).

Pop culture references: The title refers to “I, Robot" by Isaac Assimov, “Tarzan”, and an episode of “The Outer Limits”. A monk in the episode is called Thelonius – a pun on the name of the jazz musician Thelonius Monk. Buffy compares herself to Spiderman (“My spider sense if tingling”). The name of one of Moloch’s student minions is Dave, which may be a reference to "2001 Space Odyssey” – Dave is the name of the astronaut who discovers that the computer HAL has gone mad and killed everyone else on the ship. The other minion is called Fritz, which is a possible homage to Fritz Lang. One of Lang’s best known films, “Metropolis”, features a fantasy scene in which the main character, after an accident in which several workers were killed, sees the factory machine as the monstrous Moloch devouring humans. Another one of his famous films, “M”, is about a pedophiliac serial killer who kills children, who is at one point marked with the letter “M” on his clothes. In this episode, Fritz carves the letter “M” into his arm.

Foreshadowing (?): The last scene (with Buffy, Xander and Willow saying that they’re never going to ever have happy, normal relationships) is very fitting for the episode that starts the Giles/Jenny romance, which will end tragically. It’s also quite prophetic, though some of them will have happy relationships for a while, but even then the ‘normal’ part is questionable, since so many of the Scoobies' love interests will be demons, vampires or werewolves. Willow’s comment that Malcolm can’t possibly have a hairty back since he doesn’t seem like that kind of person becomes ironic when we know that in about a year Willow will have a boyfriend who gets very hairy once a month!
There’s a lot of irony in Buffy saying "OK you have a secret, that's not allowed" to Willow, since she will herself be keeping many secrets from her friends in the following seasons. And while Buffy is making an excellent point when she asks Willow how much she really knows about the “wonderful” Malcolm, there’s some irony in the fact that Buffy doesn’t really know Angel that well.

Rating: 2.5

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1.09. The Puppet Show


Not an especially deep episode, but a funny and enjoyable one. It plays with the popular horror trope of Evil Dummy, but here it is a well used red herring – Sid the dummy is set up as the villain until late in the episode when we learn he’s a cursed demon fighter. The Scoobies rushing to save Giles is so well done that it actually feels suspenseful even though you realized that it's very unlikely that Giles would actually get beheaded by the guillotine in this episode (and even when you’ve already seen the episode). The most memorable part of the episode is the funny ending – or rather, the endings, since this episode has a rare additional ending that runs over the credits.

The episode does introduce an interesting dilemma for the Scoobies, when they come to mistakenly believe that the killer might be a regular human. At this point in the show, the characters still had a very black and white view of demons, exemplified by Giles: "A demon is a creature of evil, pure and simple. A person driven to murder is more complex." Later on they will learn that even the demons are not nearly that simple, but human villains will continue to be treated differently, because they are not the Slayer’s jurisdiction, and the human justice system is equipped to deal with them, which is not the case with supernatural threats. And there’s another reason why the idea of the human killer is more disturbing to them – it hits closer to home, and it means that the threat is not that easily recognizable – as Willow put it, “It could be anyone.” The villain in this episode turns out to be a demon after all, but in the next two episodes (“Nightmares: and “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”) the main villains are actually humans (even though it initially appears that they are demons).

Giles is more relaxed and friendlier with the Scoobies in this episode, joking with them and even following Xander’s advice at one point. Cordelia seems to consider the word “Buffy” synonymous with “freak” (she says she wouldn’t want to be considered some kind of “Buffy” and later later mocks Buffy that she and the dummy could tour in the "freak show").

Recurring characters introduced: Principal Snyder, a really great love-to-hate antagonist character in Buffy’s high school years. If Flutie was the caricature of a liberal headmaster constantly concerned with appearing PC and friendly, but unable to actually understand the students at all, Snyder is a caricature of a conservative, authoritarian one who hates kids (he even says it outright) while at the same time is a complete sycophant to the people in power (as we see later with the Mayor). In retrospect, it seems that the Mayor put Snyder in that position so he could provide a cover-up for any supernatural incident in the school, and possibly to keep an eye on Buffy. Armin Shimerman is as great and funny in the role as he was playing lovable rogue Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who was pretty much Snyder’s complete opposite. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if Snyder’s character is that exaggerated – everyone has probably had this kind of stern, authoritarian, always angry teacher or principal at some point. He reminds me a lot of a teacher from my high school, whose popular nickname was “SS”. Giles in this episode calls Snyder “Our new Fuhrer” (a reference to fascism/Nazism for the second episode in a row).

Best scenes:
1st place: At the end of the episode – the curtain suddenly goes up to show the frozen tableau consisting of Giles, Xander, Willow with an axe, Buffy holding a dummy in her arms, and the beheaded demon in the guillotine.
Snyder: I don't get it. What is it? Avantgarde?

2nd place:the second ending – the equally awkward and embarrassing spectacle of Buffy, Xander and Willow performing Oedipus Rex on stage for the talent show. Willow running off from the stage, apparently improvised by Alyson Hannigan, is great because it’s both funny and in character for Willow (whose stage fright we get to see more of in the next episode, “Nightmares”).

Best lines:
Snyder: There are things I won’t tolerate: students loitering on campus after school. Horrible murders with hearts being removed. And smoking.

Cordelia (talking about the murder and making everything about herself again): All I could think was, it could be me!
Xander: We can dream…

Giles: I say it’s a welcome change to have someone else explain these things.

Pop culture references: The Shining, Usual Suspects

Foreshadowing (?):
Oedipus Rex is about the impossibility of fighting destiny: Greek tragedies were based on the idea that human life has already been determined by higher powers, the gods, and trying to change one's fate only contributes to its happening. This theme is central in the season finale, “Prophecy Girl”. Fate and prophecies play an even bigger role on AtS, much more so than on BtVS.
There's a lot of dramatic irony when Snyder says that Flutie was eaten because he was such a bleeding heart liberal: Snyder will get eaten too – by none other than the authority figure he was serving.
Sid first mistook Buffy for a demon; we will learn in season 7 that Slayer powers are of demonic origin.
Willow saying anyone could be the villain, even her, sounds different after you've seen season 6.
Some moments from this episode will later get referenced in “Restless”: Giles as the producer of a play (in Willow’s dream), which recalls Giles working on the talent show; Giles having the top of his head cut off (in his own dream).
For the talent show, Cordelia sings (horribly off-key) “The Greatest Love of All”, about self-love. In season 4 of AtS, amnesiac Cordy will sing it to Lorne to remember who she is.

Rating: 3
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my Buffy/Angel rewatch

Last edited by DevilEyes; April 6 2011 at 01:25 PM.
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Old April 11 2011, 05:38 PM   #29
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Over 1200 views but so few comments? Is everyone just agreeing with me on everything? Maybe I need to wait till season 6 for some serious controversy/debate...

1.10. Nightmares

Most of season 1 episodes featured monsters as metaphorical representations of real life high-school problems. In this episode, the fears of the characters are literally made real, while the real monster/villain of the episode is (for the first time in the show) a regular human – and a very prosaic one, not a serial killer or mastermind criminal but an over-competitive and abusive a little league coach who beat up a child and put him in a coma because of a lost game - and instead of being slayed, he gets his comeuppance by being handed to the human authorities and sent to jail. It’s not the first or the last time that the ruthless competitiveness of parents or coaches who push or abuse children or teenagers in order to fulfill their ambitions has been the theme of the show (“Witch”, the dodgeball scene in “The Pack”, “Go Fish”). It’s interesting that the previous episode, “The Puppet Show”, had a demon villain that the Scoobies mistook for a human, while this one has the opposite – the apparent (but imaginary) villain for most of the episode was “The Ugly Man”, a monstrous-looking representation of the coach, with his inner ugliness embodied by his horror-movie looks, created by the mind of Billy, the little boy in coma whose mind created the nightmares.

Of course, the most interesting part of the episode are the nightmares themselves. “Your worst fears made flesh” is hardly a new concept in SF/F (and will be used once again on the show in season 4 “Fear Itself”) but it gives an opportunity for both entertaining scenes and revealing character moments. Some of the character’s fears are quite trivial and are there to provide some fun (Cordelia’s greatest fear is to have awful hair, be dressed as a dork and be dragged by a bunch of nerds into the chess club; a ‘tough guy’ has his mom suddenly visit him in school and embarrass him in front of his friends), others, like most of Buffy’s nightmares or Giles’s biggest nightmare, which we see later on in the episode, are far darker and more serious. Some of the nightmares turn out to be more complex and revealing than they first appear – this is the case with Wendell, a school boy who appears only in this episode, whose fear of spiders turns out not to be a case of arachnophobia, but a result of his feelings of guilt over the deaths of his pet spiders that he loved, even though it was his brother who was responsible that they burned. (Wendell could have an interesting chat with season 8 Buffy, who seemed to suffer from a similar case of self-blame, if #10 “A Beautiful Sunset” and “Always Darkest” are anything to go by, only more serious since it wasn’t about pet spiders.) Willow’s stage fright is quite common, but fitting for her, with her shyness and insecurity; Xander’s first nightmare of being naked in front of a bunch of people is also very common dream (which shows the feeling of being vulnerable and exposed), while his fear of the clown who was at his 6th birthday and scared the hell out of him when he was a child seems both trivial at first glance, and unoriginal (scary clowns are also a popular theme in fantasy/horror) – however… Later in the show we learn that Xander's home life was far from happy and that his family was dysfunctional and his father abusive (and there’s a little hint about that at the end of this episode – his remark that he knows from experience how ruthless it can be in the little league and that he’s only surprised that it wasn’t one of the parents who beat up the kid). Xander being afraid of a clown from his childhood hints that he hasn't gotten over his childhood issues (Xander is acting especially childishly in those scenes – he is lured to the clown by a trail of chocolates, as in a fairytale)... and how fitting is it that his boogeyman is a clown (someone that should be funny on the surface but is scary and disturbing underneath, in Xander's view), when Xander himself is someone who uses jokes to hide his own demons?

Buffy’s first nightmare is extremely common as well – failing a test, which is generally taken as a manifestation of the fear of being unprepared (it’s interesting that it’s again history that she’s failing – one would think it’s exactly the subject that could help her in her calling). It gets a lot more serious when Buffy’s father comes to see her and tells her that she was a great disappointment to him and the reason her and Joyce divorced, and that he doesn’t want to see her anymore. It’s heartbreaking to watch even though it’s obvious that it isn’t real: the Hank Summers that appears in Buffy’s nightmare is apparently just a representation of him, not the real Hank who appears at the end of the episode. It’s not that uncommon for children to blame themselves for the divorce of their parents, but it turns out to be a very revealing moment for Buffy, since abandonment issues are going to plague her throughout the show, all through season 8 – the feeling that people, men in particular, are always leaving her because there is something wrong with her, which she will trace back to her father in “Conversations with Dead People”. (In “Nightmares”, we learn that Joyce and Hank’s explanation for Buffy was that they had just grown apart, but in CWDP Buffy says that she thinks it was really because Hank cheated on Joyce.) It doesn’t look like a coincidence that a nightmare involving abandonment by her own father, Buffy’s next nightmare is meeting the Master over ground (who is a dark paternal figure, a cruel, authoritarian and evil “father” ), being buried alive, and then becoming a vampire, the very thing she is fighting against. Buffy hasn’t really met the Master (and won’t until "Prophecy Girl"), she’s only seen him in her prophetic Slayer dreams. It is a little weird that one of the things Imaginary Master says to her is that she’s prettier than the last Slayer – of course, it doesn’t matter than the real Master probably didn’t meet the last Slayer since he was underground for so long (who is a product of her subconscious mind, just like Imaginary Hank was – the reality bends to the imagination, a graveyard appears in the middle of the street and it is night around Buffy while it’s daytime in other parts of Sunnydale), you have to wonder where that came from – was it a reminder of past Slayers that died, Buffy’s need to get some sort of compliment from a ‘father’ figure, is she even seeing the monster she fears as some sort of latent sexual threat. (Did I just use the words “The Master” and “sexual” in the same sentence? The sound you’re hearing is me and Buffy screaming “ewww” in unison. ) For Buffy’s other father figure, Giles, one of his fears is losing the ability to read – which isn’t trivial since it means, for him, being useless and unable to perform his duty and help Buffy – and his biggest nightmare is her death – and the touching speech he gives over her grave confirms how attached he has become to her and that he feels that protecting her is his duty.

The Master has a small but interesting scene where he’s mentoring the Anointed One and teaching him about overcoming one’s fears – and demonstrates it by grabbing a huge cross and holding it for a while (again we see that crosses are not mortally dangerous to vampires – it burns his flesh for a while but then it stops; we don’t get an explanation why they have this effect in the non-religious Buffyverse world, the Master only says that the cross is a symbol that “confounds him”). Ironically the villain is the one to introduce the ‘lesson’ of the episode: Xander defeats the clown as soon as he tells him he’s not scary, Buffy doesn’t resolve her fear of the Master in this episode (it only happens in the season finale) but she faces and defeats the Ugly Man, who at first “confounds” her because he’s something she hasn’t had to deal before: everyday human evil; and Billy wakes up and stops the nightmares by finding the strength to accuse his abuser, the coach.

Other observations: Willow’s family life seems to be no better than Buffy’s, or maybe worse – her parents don’t fight, but instead just keep their resentment inside and stare at each other. Willow and Xander both have dysfunctional families, which is a good way to explain why they’re spending so much time with Buffy and Giles and why we never see their parents.
The episode ends with Xander admitting he still found Buffy attractive as a vampire and calling himself sick – which is interesting considering how much he would criticize Buffy throughout the show for her attraction to vampires. Earlier on we see that he has a crush on yet another teacher (he’s not just into demons but also into older women – another similarity with Buffy?).
Willow has a picture of herself and Giles on her locker door (a hint that she had a bit of a crush on Giles, which she will admit in season 4?), together with a poster for Nerf Herder (the band that plays the Buffy theme song).
The Master is dressed in a Nazi-like black uniform, and we get yet another mention of fascism (Xander says he’s not afraid of spiders but would be if a bunch of Nazis crawled all over his face).

Recurring characters introduced: Hank Summers, Buffy’s elusive dad, who will appear rarely through the first couple of seasons and then later disappear from Buffy’s life.

Best lines:
Buffy (to the Ugly Man): “There are a lot scarier things scarier than you – and I’m one of them!”

Funniest lines:
Xander (referring to Wendell's love for spiders): "It's platonic, right?"

Inconsistencies: Buffy’s birth year is now 1981, according to the inscription on her grave. Apparently the info from her file (seen in "I Robot, You Jane") was wrong.

Pop culture references: Several references to children’s movies and TV shows: The Muppet Show (Willow is using “to Gonzo” as a verb), Disney’s Cinderella (Imaginary Master quotes the song: “A dream is a wish your heart makes” in a much darker context), The Wizard of Oz. Willow compares Cordelia to Evita Peron.

Buffy destroying English language: She says “asteroid body” instead of “astral body”. Xander thinks “arachnids” are people from the Middle East.

Shirtless scenes: Xander, during his nightmare. (Total so far: 2: Angel 1, Xander 1.)

Foreshadowing: Giles’s remark “That would be a musical comedy version of this” now makes you think of “Once More, With Feeling”, which will have a callback to “Nightmares” (one of the theories in OMWF was that a kid was dreaming and they were all stuck in his wacky Broadway nightmare).
Willow's nightmare will get a callback in Willow's dream in season 4 finale "Restless".
Buffy's father will indeed stop visiting her in later years.
Buffy’s grave we see in the nightmare foreshadows the end of season 5, while Buffy digging her way out of her own grave foreshadows her resurrection in “Bargaining”, when she had to do exactly that. Her death (?) at the hands of the Master in her nightmare foreshadows the season finale.

Buffy’s biggest fears don’t seem to have changed much from season 1 to season 4 (“Fear, Itself) and even season 8 (her dream in the Whedon-written supplemental e-comic “Always Darkest”): abandonment (by her father in “Nightmares”; by her friends in “Fear Itself”; by her lovers); the guilt/self-blame (her father tells her it’s her fault; in
and the fear that she will become or is becoming a monster herself or that this is where she belongs (being buried alive and becoming a vampire in “Nightmares”; getting stuck with the bunch of zombies and unable to move in “Fear, Itself”;


Rating: 4
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Treason, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

my Buffy/Angel rewatch

Last edited by DevilEyes; April 12 2011 at 01:59 AM.
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Old April 11 2011, 08:36 PM   #30
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Great thread!! Thanks DevilEyes.
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