Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/read

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by DevilEyes, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Great. That's a very Jossian message. But I want to nitpick about their guide:

    Shouldn't that be "with a mockney vampire"? :)

    A few other Buffyverse-related things:

    A recap of Joss' panel "Conversations with Joss Whedon": http://leakynews.com/sxsw-drop-in-joss-whedons-panel-liveblogged/

    RedemptionCast has a new Q&A with Tim Minear, and he was previously a special guest when they were reviewing AtS episode Hero. (aka goodbye Doyle :weep: ). http://redemptioncast.blogspot.com/

    E!online UK has a really strange and random Ultimate Fan Battle where they're putting any pop culture phenomenon with lots of fans vs any pop culture phenomenon with lots of fans, with no rhyme or reason. Buffy beat The Beatles in the first round (! and :techman: since besides being a fan of Buffy, obviously, and I'm not a big fan of The Beatles) and is now up against Nintendo (!) in the second round. Angel had the misfortune to go against Star Wars in the first round, no need to tell you how that one ended. Firefly is now up against Star Wars in the second round. I'm glad that Twilight was out in the first round - it lost to Ellen DeGeneres (!). I voted for Ellen even though I've never seen her show. I bet that a lot of people were voting against Twilight rather than for Ellen. Ditto for my votes for whoever/whatever is up against the dreadful pop stars like Justin Bieber, Britney etc. http://uk.eonline.com/news/the_awful_truth/ultimate_fan_battle_vote_in_round_two/299838

    SyFy UK recently aired "Top 20 Greatest Buffy episodes" as voted by the viewers, which then aired on SyFy, with Anthony Stewart Head introducing the episodes. Here's a video of him doing the introductions, with a couple of anecdotes and a bit of singing:


    These were the results (they treated two-parters with the same title as one episode):

    20. Lovers Walk
    19. Prophecy Girl
    18. Conversations with Dead People
    17. Normal Again
    16. Halloween
    15. Graduation Day
    14. Restless
    13. Grave
    12. Innocence
    11. Amends
    10. Passion
    9. Dopplegangland
    8. Fool For Love
    7. The Wish
    6. Chosen
    5. The Gift
    4. The Body
    3. Becoming
    2. Hush
    1. Once More, With Feeling

    The order of the first 2 is really not a surprise, but I would chuck a few of these episodes out and replace them with others. Several of my favorites weren't even on the list, and I have no idea what Amends and Lovers Walk are doing there - I've watched them recently and they're really good, but not that good. However, fans had the choice to vote only for one of the 20 episodes that SyFy chose (I don't know how they picked those 20). Still, Amends really shouldn't be above episodes like Restless, Innocence, Conversations with Dead People or Prophecy Girl.

    Speaking of interviews and panels with writers, Nerdist.com has been putting up podcasts of their 'writer's panels'. http://www.nerdist.com/podcast/nerdist-writers-panel/ Lots of Whedonverse people were there (Marti Noxon, Tim Minear, StevenDeKnight, Jane Espenson, Drew Greenberg, Doug Petrie, Ben Edlund, Zack Whedon, Liz Craft & Sarah Fain, and David Fury was not just on one of the panels but did an individual interview as well). Lots of Trek people, too (Robert Hewitt Wolfe - who was on the latest panel, Thompson & Weddle, Michael Taylor, Naren Shankar).

    And here's something really, really old that I've discovered very recently thanks to a friend from my LJ f-list: this site http://web.archive.org/web/20040212014742/http://www.thesuccubusclub.com/archives.html has a bunch of podcasts of a radio show about BtVS/AtS from 2002-2004. A few of those were interviews with ME writers done while the shows were still on air. They're extremely interesting to listen to now - for instance, listen to Steven DeKnight (interviewed right after Seeing Red aired) start his interview by saying "I'm a big fat liar!" and admitting that he blatantly lied to the fans that Tara wouldn't die when they asked him, and then go on to blatantly lie about Spike's intentions at the end of season 6. :D It's also fun to see the writers disagreeing on a bunch of stuff - for instance, Fury thought that vengeance demons didn't have souls, while Drew Goddard thought they did.
  2. Wereghost

    Wereghost Part-time poltergeist Rear Admiral

    Oct 21, 2009
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    This may be of interest too: What Angel's really been up to since his show was cancelled. ;)
  3. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    3.08. Lovers Walk

    This season so far has been rather lackluster, but this episode is a big improvement. It used the magical trick for making everything more exciting: Spike is back - if just for one episode. It's a very funny episode that first introduces us to Pathetic!Drunk!Spike, but it’s also the episode with a lot of relationship pain. Spike comes back to Sunnydale, moping over his breakup with Drusilla, wreaks havoc, (un)intentionally makes Scoobies reveal some things to each other, starts feeling better about himself and leaves everyone unhappy. The love quadrangle finally gets a resolution, which is a real relief – and much as I dislike this storyline, it’s rather well resolved.

    The title is actually Lovers Walk, not Lover’s Walk. See the original script. According to Wikipedia, „the introduction to Rhonda Wilcox's Why Buffy Matters says, "the script apparently does not carry an apostrophe, by the way--making for a short, sad, declarative sentence for a title."

    The episode opens with the Scoobies learning the results of their SAT tests: Buffy had a great result, Willow did very really but as an overachiever she feels she’s failed, Cordy did quite good, too – but she’s good at hiding her academic success from her peers so she wouldn’t appear nerdy, and Xander did as badly as everyone expects him to. Cordy thinks it’s great because Buffy can leave Sunnydale and never come back.“What moron would want to come back here?” Good question. Why do people even want to live there? The prices of real estate must be ridiculously low. Still, it doesn’t explain why rich families like Cordy’s would want to live there.

    But Buffy isn’t happy she got a good result – it makes her think about her future, which is something she never did up until this point, since she never thought she had one. This statement carries more weight than „Buffy didn’t think she had a great academic future“; as a Slayer, she’s expected to die young, and this must always be in the back of her mind. Her mother reminds her she always says she wants normal life, away from Hellmouth and vampires, but Buffy isn’t enthusiastic about it. Buffy isn’t happy with the suggestion that Faith might take over her Slayer duties while she goes off to college – and this is the explanation I’m sticking with. But the way the episode cuts to Angel after Joyce asks Buffy is anything is keeping her in Sunnydale, and their later conversation, seems like we’re supposed to think that Buffy has a problem leaving Sunnydale because of Angel? Which doesn’t make sense. He’s a vampire who has no job and no residence, who’s moved to Sunnydale to be near her – he can sure move again, since there’s nothing keeping him there. He’s just squatting in the big vaguely Gothic mansion that we know from S2. Maybe that’s why people want to live in Sunnydale, even homeless unemployed folks can live in big, lavishly furnished mansions. :lol:

    Willow and Xander are feeling really guilty about their cheating, particularly when their significant others show signs of love (Cordy has pictures of Xander on her locker room door, while Oz gives Willow a little PEZ witch). Willow decides to do something drastic about it, and decides to use magic and buy a de-lusting spell in a local magic shop. When Xander finds out, he objects to it, but not on the grounds that it’s wrong to use magic to violate people’s minds, but that it’s dangerous and unpredictable. At least he’s learned something from his experience with the love spell gone wrong in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, even if it wasn’t the right lesson.

    And then things go really, really wrong thanks to Spike.

    He’s introduced before the credits, in a way that parallels his introduction in season 2: back then it was set up with the warnings that trouble is about to come; this time the setup is Cordy’s line “What kind of moron would ever want to come back here?”. He knocks down the Sunnydale sign with his car, just as he did in School Hard, and mumbles the same line, “Home, sweet home”. But instead of his badass introduction in that episode, this time he falls out of the car, very drunk. This episode is the first time Spike is used as a comedy character – he was always funny, but in season 2 it wasn’t his primary role, and he was just the one making jokes, often about Angel. This time he’s a joke himself – this is the beginning of Spike as the Wacky Neighborhood Vampire that we’ll see throughout season 4.

    With his violent mood swings, however, his portrayal in this episode reminds me more of season 5 Spike – as when he’s stumbling through the mansion, tenderly stroking one of Drusilla’s dolls and talking to it as if it’s Dru herself: “Why did you leave me, baby? We were so happy here” only to smash it the next moment, shouting “YOU STUPID, WORTHLESS BITCH!” (This makes me think of his behavior with the Buffy mannequin in season 5.) After a few scenes of Spike stumbling drunkenly through the mansion and mumbling how he’s going to show Angel who’s a “cool guy”, he manages to fall through the door and fall asleep, and wakes up with his hair on fire. He then goes to a magic shop to ask for curse to give Angel blisters or leprosy (!) and after overhearing Willow asking for a recipe for a spell, gets the idea to use her to cast a love spell for Drusilla for him. After killing the magic shop owner for food (those magic owners can’t catch a break – the previous time we saw one, in Passion, he was killed by Dru), he kidnaps Willow and Xander, who just happened to be there. This episode, for the most part, strikes a good balance between Spike being silly, sentimental and dangerous, and the best example is the scene in which Spike tells the terrified Willow what he needs from her, then goes on to talk to her about Dru and literally cry on her shoulder, and then suddenly gets the desire to bite/rape her (vampire biting often has sexual connotations, but this time they’re explicit in Spike’s wording “I haven’t had a woman in weeks… except that shop owner”, and Willow panics and protests that she’ll do the spell but “there won’t be having of any kind”).
    And somehow he’s still likeable… and incredibly sexy. :drool: It’s funny that Angel, who is himself a very attractive guy, has been shirtless or naked in almost every episode this season (this is actually the first episode this season in which Angel has his clothes on the entire time), but no episode of season 3 has made me hot and bothered until (fully-clothed!) Spike came back.

    Some of the hilarious moments: when Spike goes into Buffy’s house to find the ingredients for Willow’s spell and ends up drinking hot chocolate with Joyce and using her as a shoulder to cry on (this time not literally). Spike seems to really like Joyce’s motherly attitude – it makes sense that he was a momma’s boy as a human. Another funny moment is when Angel appears at the door asking be let in, trying to warn Joyce about Spike, and Spike taunts Angel, pretending like he’s going to bite Joyce. Joyce’s confusion is understandable – the last time she saw Spike, he was Buffy’s ally, and the two of them were planning to kill Angel. How is she supposed to know which one is ‘good’ and which one evil on any given day – when Buffy is not telling her about what’s going on in her life? Or for that matter, when Buffy didn’t ask Willow to disinvite Spike (She calls him on not keeping his promise, but was she really relying on him to do so?). Spike blackmails Buffy into not staking him by telling her she won’t find out where her friends are, and they agree to go to the magic shop with him so he could have Willow do the spell for him first. Buffy keeps arguing with Spike and mocking him, which makes them look more like two kids than as mortal enemies – another thing in this episode that sets the template for season 4. Yet another one is the show deriving humor from Spike’s habit of making casual or nostalgic remarks about the people he murdered in the past, such as when he says he gave Dru beautiful dresses with beautiful girls in them, or when he reminisces about the happy memory of him and Dru killing a homeless man. (I’m quite fond of this fanfic that makes the point of fleshing out these people from Spike’s stories – just to keep things in perspective. It’s easy to dismiss off-screen deaths of people we’ve never met.)

    In lots of ways, Spike’s character didn’t change that much; he underwent a huge development throughout the show, but essentially, he’s a romantic, he’s passionate, he loves fighting and violence, and he follows his heart. His views about love are remarkably similar in S3 and in S6 – it’s just that the way the show treated him changed. The same things that are portrayed as funny and amusing in LW when it's about him and Dru, supporting character and wacky vampires, and then those same views seem deeply disturbing as we watch his relationship with Buffy in S6. (Though he did show some progress – in S6 he was offended by the idea he would use a love spell on Buffy.) He’s disappointed that Dru didn’t do something passionate like cut his head off and set him on fire („I mean, is that too much to ask? You know? Some little sign that she cared?") „You always hurt the one you love“, as he’ll say in S6, right after Buffy smashed his face. At the end of Lovers Walk, he decides that he is going to get Dru is to be the man she fell in love with – tie her, torture her until she likes him again. Presumably, without her consent - since they're not in a relationship now. That idea isn't that far from trying to get Buffy to want him again by raping her to make her 'feel' it again.

    Lovers Walk also first casts Spike in the role of “truth-teller” – when he says “Love isn't brains, children, it's blood...blood screaming inside you to work its will." It’s a great line and it’s true that love isn’t something you can choose to feel or not feel. But it’s really just a part of the truth - it’s not all that love is. This makes me think of a future exchange in Seeing Red where Spike says “great love is wild and passionate and dangerous, it burns and consumes” while Buffy insists that this kind of love doesn’t last and that real love involves trust (which was a notable change from her old views of love – in S2 she told Angel “I love you, I don’t know if I trust you”). It’s only after he gets his soul back that Spike will start realizing that love can also be constructive and that it’s not all about passion and people hurting each other.

    He gives Buffy and Angel the famous „You’re not friends“ speech, making them realize that they’re lying to themselves. However, I find it funny that some fans use this speech as ’evidence’ that B/A will always be in love with each other. Spike’s opinions are just that, not gospel truths. He’s right about some things, and wrong about others (especially when he’s biased, and in this case, he’s projecting his Drusilla issues – he’s disappointed that she said she wanted to remain friends with him) – and it’s impossible for him to always have been right about everything, since he changed his opinions so many times. He’s right that Buffy and Angel were still very much in love, and being friends with your ex you're still in love with doesn't work. But that presuming that two people will always be in love is a bit too much. He also talks about his and Drusilla's “eternal” love, and we know how that turned out.

    The Mayor has a brief appearance and we learn two things: that he has sold his soul – which he mentions casually as a joke during a game of golf – and that he thought of Spike as just an amusing nuisance in S2, but he doesn’t want a “loose cannon” to endanger his super important plans this year. He orders Mr. Trick to solve the problem – which he does by sending a bunch of vampires (including at least one of Spike's former lackeys) to kill Spike. Spike, Buffy and Angel end up fighting the vampires together. (This remains the only time the 3 of them ever fought on the same side.) At one point Buffy even warns him about a shelf that was about to fall on him. Spike openly enjoys the fun of the fight, and it’s what makes Spike regain the confidence and good mood. He leaves after confirming where Willow and Xander are.

    This is the first out of the many occasions when we have to wonder “Why didn’t Buffy stake Spike?” – apart from the obvious Doylist answer that he had the Popular character immunity. My fanwank is that she knows him too well to see him as a non-person the way she does the nameless vamps she stakes all the time, so it would be uncomfortable to stake him at times such as after they’ve just fought together or after having received relationship advice of sorts. But I have no explanation for the even more puzzling question “Why didn’t they disinvite him from Buffy’s home?” IIRC, he was still able to come to her house without an invitation in S4.

    Meanwhile, Oz and Cordy rush to save Willow and Xander, only to catch them kissing. The soap opera trope of being caught kissing, usually by the people who least want to see it, strikes again. They kissed because they thought they were going to die, but I think that Xander’s excuse that it’s OK to do it in “impending death situations” is a load of bull. (Yes, people in the verse often get romantic in the face of death, but it only happens with couples that already have romantic feelings for each other.) Shocked Cordy runs away and falls, accidentally impaling herself on a piece of rebar. The show plays with the viewers’ emotions cruelly with a fake-out made to make them think Cordy died – there’s a cut to someone’s funeral, until we see it’s just some random funeral (it’s Sunnydale, there’s certainly no shortage of funerals), and Cordy is in hospital, getting better.

    In the end, everyone is unhappy: Willow realizes that she really just wants to be with Oz, while Xander is only interested in getting Cordy back. Buffy realizes that she and Angel were never and can’t ever be friends, and decides to make the final break with Angel. As in I Only Have Eyes For You, she tells him “Tell me you don’t love me” but this time it’s to make the point that they can’t be friends while they’re in love with each other. It’s a really touching and fitting ending to their relationship.

    … Except it’s not, since the two of them go on to get back together soon and break up a few more times until the end of the season. :rolleyes:

    Spike badass-o-meter: How does this episode work for the theory about Spike’s “badass decay” in later seasons, usually identified as “after he fell in love with Buffy”? We’ve seen in my 2 reviews that Spike had very mixed results in this area in season 2. In this episode, he reached the nadir – I don’t think he’s ever, in all of BtVS and AtS, been as pathetic as in the first 30 or so minutes of LW (except for season 4 Doomed, the episode where he wanted to stake himself because of the chip). He spends crying and whining to everyone about his cheating girlfriend who dumped him. Buffy calls him “a shell of a loser”. He becomes ‘badass’ only in the end when come when he gets the chance to fight.

    Best line:

    Spike: I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.

    One of the most memorable and most quoted lines in the show – but usually quoted with missing the point. Every time I see it mentioned, it's to bring up how Spike is "love's bitch" while ignoring the more important part of the quote: "man enough to admit it". In that scene, he's calling Buffy and Angel on trying to deny that they're in love. The episode revolves around love and people doing stupid, bad and wrong things out of love. The whole point of this episode is that they're all love's bitches, but most of them don't want to admit it. (This line reminds me of another one from a few episodes ago – Dr Platt’s advice to Buffy, in Beauty and the Beasts: „Love becomes your master, and you’re just its dog.“ Buffy did go on to became a person who kept her feelings much closer to the chest and at least tried never to let herself be love's dog again.) Spike is different because he embraces those emotions instead to trying to fight against them. It's that juxtaposition of „bitch“ and „man enough“, with pride in what others might find shameful, that sums up Spike's character. He’s reckless with his heart, and it doesn’t always end up well for him, or for those around him.

    Angel/Angelus: Spike certainly thinks they’re one and the same, since he’s accusing Angel of driving Dru from him, says that the last time he saw Buffy and Angel, they were fighting each other to the death. His reaction to the info that Angel has his soul back is to ask him when he became all soulful again. Angel is still a bit of a dick to Spike, telling him that Dru is just fickle and doesn’t care about him; the former is true, but I really don’t think the latter is.

    Nicknames: Spike’s nicknames for Angel: “Peaches” and “great poof”.

    Fashion watch: Spike’s clothes never change – he’s still wearing the duster and black and red shirt underneath. Willow wears pink angorra sweater that Spike finds her attractive in, as he told her later in The Initiative after another, unsuccessful kill/rape attempt.

    Pop culture references: Spike sings “My Way” and later leaves Sunnydale playing “My Way” by Sid Vicious (actually, because of copyright issues, it’s by Gary Oldman playing Sid in Sid and Nancy). Angel is reading La Nausée ("Nausea") by Jean-Paul Sartre, one of Joss’ favorite books. Disappointed with her SAT results, Willow compares herself to Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel from The Simpsons.

    Ooh, kinky: Drusilla liking to be tied up and tortured is consistent with S2 (remember her line about the branding iron in What’s My Line II). But I suppose the sign of Spike going ’soft’ might have been that he was just doing it when she wanted him to. But soulless vampires don't have the same ideas about consent that we do (see also: Angel/Darla in Reprise), so it might work on Dru.

    Foreshadowing:This is the first time we see Willow's disturbing tendency to use spells changing people's feelings and/or memories to make her life easier. Cordy will indeed leave Sunnydale and never come back.

    BtVS does a lot of what someone called ’retroforeshadowing’ – rather than deliberately foreshadowing something in the future episodes, the writers look back and build on something that came before. A lot of the Spike scenes in LW feel that way. BtVS also often has line callbacks, and Spike's last line in this episode gets a most awesomely meaningful callback in season 6:

    Lovers Walk
    (Spike's last words in the episode before walking away, after he's decided to get Dru back by finding her, tying her up and torturing her)
    Spike (smiling): Love's a funny thing.

    Seeing Red
    (in the 'conflicted Spike' scene in the crypt after you-know-what)
    Clem: Love's a funny thing.
    Spike: Is that what this is?

    Rating: 4
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  4. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    3.09. The Wish

    I love alternate universe stories, and this is one of the best AU episodes I’ve seen. A great AU story is not just fun but reveals something important about the characters, and about how much circumstances shape who we are and what our lives can be. The Wish is a very revealing episode, to a greater extent than I was aware the first time I watched it.

    Some people think this episode is overrated, because it’s a standalone that isn’t directly connected to the main arc of season 3, and because 2/3 of it are AU events that none of the characters remember (except Anya). I disagree: the purpose of the episode is for us to see what Sunnydale would have been like without Buffy, and what Buffy would be like if she didn’t have friends and ties to the world. The Wish shows a Sunnydale as a hellish dystopia, a town ruled and terrorized by vampires, and much darker versions of the characters we know. This is actually very relevant to the season – one of its main themes are community and ties between people – and to the show as a whole.

    The first 15 minutes of the episode are set in the normal world and deal with the fallout of Lovers Walk. Willow, Xander and Buffy are moping together over their breakups. Willow’s and Xander’s mutual attraction seems to have disappeared, but their friendship is another relationship that has suffered and is never going to be the same – Xander learns this when he tries to innocently touch Willow’s hand the way they used to do before, but Willow makes it clear that it’s not OK anymore after what they did. They are only interested in making Oz and Cordy forgive them and take them back. Willow is less unsuccessful – Oz has told her that he needs time to sort out his feelings. I love the matter-of-fact way Oz replies when Willow keeps stalking him at school and asking him to let her talk to him again: “Look, I'm sorry this is hard for you. But I told you what I need. So I can't help feeling like the reason you want to talk is so you can feel better about yourself. That's not my problem.“ Willow can indeed be self-absorbed and obsessed with the need to make everything ’right’ immediately. One of the things I love the most about Oz is that, no matter how much he loves her, he’ll always tell her openly when she’s going about things the wrong way.

    Cordy’a reaction is very different - she burns Xander’s photos and wants nothing to do with him. Her pain is not just about being betrayed by Xander, but about being humiliated in front of her peers. I wonder how the Cordettes and others at school even found out about what happened with her and Xander. If they know who Xander cheated with (it’s not clear if they do), we don’t see Oz subjected to any humiliating comments about his girlfriend cheating on him – but it may be simply because Oz doesn’t care what other people think anyway, so it wouldn’t be a source of pain for him, the way it certainly is for Cordy, who is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to caring about her status. She is very sympathetic here; we feel her humiliation as the former “Cordettes”, now lead by Harmony, with typical high school cattiness, pretend to be her friends, only to mock her, telling her that Jonathan is the right guy for her and that maybe he won’t cheat on her, at least not immediately. We see this from Cordy’s POV, but spare a thought for the constantly bullied Jonathan, who is insulted even worse by being shown as an embodiment of an undesirable male that a woman would be insulted to settle for. Another moment that drives home how low Cordy’s status in school has sunk is her conversation with a jock that she’s just using to make Xander jealous, but who tells her that he can’t allow his status to sunk by being seen with a “Xander Harris castoff” but that he’ll be happy to date her in secret. Cordy is mortified, but this is the same way she treated Xander a year ago. Cordy’s and Xander’s games, as they are both trying to make the other think they’re over them, almost make me root for the couple again (or I would, if I didn’t already know that it goes nowhere).

    Even though Cordy isn’t hanging out with the Scoobies anymore, Buffy makes it clear to Xander that she’s not OK with “us vs Cordy” attitude, and tries to comfort her, explaining that friendships have helped her deal with her own relationship pain. But Cordy is focusing on the wrong things – even though Buffy the only person to offer her genuine friendship and understanding, and even though she saves her from a vampire once again, Cordy instead blames her for incidentally pushing her into a dumpster while saving her life, which resulted in her being mocked by the Cordettes again. For all her character growth, she still doesn’t realize that being mocked by her former friends pales in comparison with dying. With that amazing human ability to blame completely wrong people for their troubles, she blames Buffy for all that’s gone wrong with her life, even explaining her attraction for Xander as a result of Buffy having made him “marginally cooler by hanging out with him”. That’s interesting – Cordy always calls Buffy a freak, but this is an admission that she actually finds her cool. I think that a lot of Cordy’s resentment of Buffy is because she secretly admires her. Meanwhile she’s turning to the other person who seems to be trying to be a friend but who’s actually just pretending because she has an agenda – Anya.

    Recurring characters introduced: Anya is first introduced in this episode, as a new student who hangs out with the Cordettes (Anya describes it s Harmony following her around) who befriends Cordy, but who is really vengeance demon Anyanka, described by Wishverse Giles as the “patron saint of scorned women”. But judging by her comments about the Wishverse (“I had no idea her wish would be so exciting”) she cares more about doing some carnage than about the women whose wishes she grants. It’s funny to see Anya bond with Cordy by bashing Xander, since they’re Xander’s former and future girlfriend, respectively. Anya was meant to be a one-time MOW, and her portrayal of someone who has no clue how humans behave clashes with her characterization in this episode. She’s doing perfectly well pretending to be human and even exchanging fashion tips with Cordy.

    The introduction of vengeance demons is a big addition to the mythology: their powers are far greater than those of most monsters we’ve seen so far – including being able to change the fabric of time and erase certain people or events from existence. On the other hand, their powers are limited by what other people wish, and they can lose them really easily – Giles smashing Anya’s amulet was enough to not just reverse the effect of Cordy’s wish, but to strip Anyanka of her powers. (You’d think she’d be more careful not to let Cordy keep on wearing it!)

    The Wishverse
    From the moment Anya, to Cordy’s shock, goes into demon face and grants her wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, the rest of the episode almost all takes place in the new alternate reality, which has apparently replaced the old one. Cordy is at first overjoyed to learn that she’s still super-popular – Harmony and the Cordettes are sucking up to her, the same jock feels honored she’s even going to think about his invitation to go with him to a school event – but there are warning signs: Harmony and the others are dressed very conservatively, the event the jock invites her to is called the Winter Brunch, the classroom is half-empty, the teacher and students can’t wait to run away home before sunset, and the school holds something called the Monthly Memorial. Since the moment Harmony tells Cordy that Xander and Willow are dead, the episode feels more and more sinister. The town streets are empty, there is a curfew, everything is closed – it’s like a ghost town.

    In this universe, Buffy wasn’t there to stop the Master from rising (in Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest) and he is practically the ruler of the twon. He lives in the place we know well, the factory, while the Bronze is a favorite vampire hangout, where they keep humans in cages when they aren’t draining them. Willow and Xander have become his closest and most vicious disciples, a particularly twisted and cruel vampire couple. Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brandon are amazing as the evil versions of their characters. The best part is that they are still recognizable as Willow and Xander. Vamp Xander is a leather-clad macho guy – Xander probably wishes at times he could be that kind of confident, sexy tough guy, minus the evil part – but he reminds me somewhat of what Xander is like when he stops joking and when he’s really angry or determined. But we’ve already seen evil Xander, and vamp Xander is a lot like the hyena-possessed Xander from The Pack, so it’s vamp Willow who is the real revelation: she has the same cutesy mannerisms, but she’s incredibly creepy and sadistic. With her red-black corset and her legendary catchphrase “Bored now”, she’s the star of the episode so much that Joss later wrote Doppelgangland just to bring her back.

    Giles never became a Slayer’s Watcher, but he became the leader of a group of good guys fighting the vampires, known as “the White Hats” (a callback to Giles’ speech from Lie to Me) – him, Oz, Larry and a girl called Nancy, who gets killed later on. Angel went to Sunnydale and waited for Buffy, but when she didn’t come, he tried to stop the Master and was captured, held as a slave, or a pet – Willow calls him a “puppy” - and tortured for fun by Master’s lackeys. Master probably wanted to punish for betraying his species, and he could kill two birds with one stone by giving him as a toy to his disciples. It’s interesting that the Master, the embodiment of vampire traditionalism in season 1, has decided that the future lies in the use of contemporary human technology and in mass production, “a truly demonic concept”: the big event is the opening of the new plant that drains humans, allowing for a much quicker production of blood. I imagine that must be unsatisfying for the vampires who enjoy the hunt, or derive great pleasure from draining their victims. But the Master mentions that he lost the thrill of the kill long time ago – and here he represents the type of evil that’s all about the wide-scale power and the contemporary industrialized society where people are treated as meat (something we saw in Anne, where humans were used as expendable work force, and similarly dehumanized). He is another demonic patriarchal father figure who holds political power over the community, just like the Big Bad of season 3; the Mayor is just a lot more polished, charming and human-looking, and therefore more insidious. However, the plant doesn’t seem necessary if the vampires don’t find a much larger number of victims, so I always took it as a sign that Master was planning to expand his influence outside of Sunnydale.

    Cordy dies halfway through the episode, and the focus shifts to Giles and Buffy. Giles remembers what she Cordy about the existence of another world and about Buffy making the difference, and decides to call Buffy’s Watcher in Cleveland to ask for Buffy to come to Sunnydale. This proves not to be the solution; it’s more important that Giles realized how important the amulet was and took it with him. Wishverse Buffy is a cold, hard, cynical person, a lone hero without friends and human connections (“I don’t play well with others”). She has a scar on her face, and she is psychologically scarred. She’s openly contemptuos of Giles and Angel, mocks Angel’s offer of help and is very unimpressed with his idolization of her, asking him if he’s trying to get into her pants. This Buffy is in some ways similar to Faith, but there are differences, too: Faith enjoys her powers and loves to have fun; Wishverse Buffy doesn’t seem to feel joy in anything, she isn’t trying to appear cool or be liked by anyone, she is only interested in slaying and dresses in a perfunctory way (the way it would’ve made sense for Kendra to dress, based on her personality), but isn’t a rule-follower or a believer in her duty and isn’t even close to her Watcher. Her personality is summed up in this exchange:

    Buffy: World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn't change that.
    Giles: I have to believe in a better world.
    Buffy: Go ahead. I have to live in this one.

    There are some people who criticize Buffy’s character for her supposed “weaknesses” seen in her investment in/dependence on her love interests or her friends; but The Wish makes it clear that lonely, self-sufficient Buffy is ultimately a weaker and less successful Slayer: she ends up losing to the Master quite easily. The ‘girly’ normal world Buffy was at first transfixed by fear and thrall, but she had a friend to save her, and she came back stronger and defeated him straight away.

    Some questions:

    The Wishverse has its own history, and Cordy was a part of it; if it was a Cordy who, like everyone else, had no idea about the other world, how did she turn into the Cordy who came straight from the normal universe, wearing the same dress, and remembered everything? Or does everyone in the new world just have fake memories, except for her?

    What is the Mayor’s role in this Sunnydale? It seems the Master is just in control of Sunnydale and the world wasn’t overrun with vampires; does that mean that what Buffy stopped in The Harvest wasn’t an actual apocalypse? Why is everyone in town still living there? Can’t they run away during the day? How much does the outside world know about what’s going on in Sunnydale, and if they don’t know, how come they haven’t found out? Why doesn’t the US government react? Why didn’t Giles call other Watchers or Buffy before, why did he need Cordy to tell him that Buffy would change things? Or are things as bad in the rest of the world?

    Darla and Jesse are probably dead, but how did it happen? Did Jesse sire Xander, or was Jesse just food and never sired, since they didn’t need to use him as bait? Did Willow sire Xander or the other way round? This brilliant fic about Willow siring Xander gives a very plausible scenario how it might have happened. I think that the more likely scenario is that Willow and Xander were sired much later, not at the time corresponding to the pilot: Xander refers to Cordy as an old crush, which means that he developed feelings for her at some point (there was no Buffy for him to fall in love with), but they presumably never hooked up, since she never started hanging out with the “losers” because of Buffy.

    Is Oz still a werewolf in Wishverse? That had nothing to with Buffy; on the other hand, maybe he didn’t hang out with his extended family much in this reality, so didn’t get bitten by his cousin.

    Did Spike and Dru come to Sunnydale? I can’t imagine Spike ever being willing to accept Master’s authority, so probably not.

    What happened to Joyce? If Buffy had had a healthy relationship with her mother, I don’t think she would have turned out the way she did. There are many different speculations in fandom – that Joyce was killed by a vampire, that she was murdered by the Council who blamed it on the monsters, or that Buffy was in mental hospital and ran away from it and never came back home. This great fic, mostly focused on a particularly twisted Wishverse Spuffy dynamic, has a scenario about Joyce’s death that would explain why Buffy is so damaged.

    Character death: Cordy dies first, killed by Willow and Xander (there’s a metaphorical parallel with the way they were ‘bad guys’ and hurt Cordy in the normal reality). During the fight at the factory, Angel is staked by Xander, and dies calling out Buffy’s name; of course, she doesn’t bat an eyelid over the death a temporary vampire ally she’s just met. Xander is staked by Buffy. Willow gets impaled on a plank by Oz. Finally, Buffy and the Master push everyone else out of the way to have their big showdown; Master kills Buffy easily, breaking her neck, fulfilling the prophecy “The Master will rise and the Slayer will die”. Out of Buffy’s three deaths on the show, one was a suicide while the other two times she was killed by the Master. All deaths are reversed when Giles smashes Anyanka’s amulet.

    Best scene: The fight at the factory, with the slow-motion deaths of most of the main cast set to one of the best musical scores in the show (“Slayer’s Elegy” by Christophe Beck) is such a great, moving scene that it feels profoundly sad– it’s not just that they all die, it’s that they never had those relationships and those people never meant anything to Buffy, before she ends her short, sad life. Somehow that gets me despite the fact that all the events are quickly reversed.

    Someone has put this scene on YT, though a few very important seconds are missing – Giles’s reply to Anyanka: “You trusting fool, what makes you think that the other world is better than this one?” “Because it has to be”.


    Best line:

    Xander: And they burst in rescuing us, without even knocking? I mean this is really all their fault.
    Buffy: Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic.

    (This is a line I like to quote in appropriate situations.)

    Fashion watch: In the normal worldWillow is following in Buffy’s footsteps by wearing Overalls of Pain, while Cordy is overcompensating, wearing even more glamorous clothes than usually – red leather jacket and skirt to school, bright red dress to the Bronze, and a bright blue dress next day to school, which she ends up in the Wishverse with. Harmony describes it a “come-and-bite me outfit”; humans dress in drab clothes, because they believe that vampires are attracted to bright colors. This seems as naïve as the idea that you won’t get raped if you don’t dress “provocatively”. Giles is not wearing tweed, but sweaters. Vampires wear the usual vamp fashion –Xander wears a black leather jacket, and Willow is rocking a black and red corset, dark red lipstick and heavy makeup.

    Ooh, kinky: Lots of kink in Wishverse, and not in a good way. The squick factor is really high (though the sexual connotations of the killing and torture are only subtextual but still obvious). The way Willow and Xander both drain Cordy at the same time makes them look like a serial killer couple raping and killing their victims together. And they’re making Giles watch it. Willow enjoys torturing her “puppy” Angel’s and licks his face while she’s doing it, and Xander loves to watch Willow torture Angel.

    Shirtless scene: We see Angel’s bare chest when Willow is torturing him, and later he shows Buffy his burn marks to prove that he hates the Master.

    Pop culture references: Lollopalooza: Xander calls his and Willow’s present condition “Guilt-a-palooza”. Cordy calls the Wishverse “Bizarro land”. Anya sarcastically calls it “the brave new world”, a phrase from The Tempest that is better known as the title of Aldous Huxley’s anti-utopic novel.

    Foreshadowing: The line“Bored now” is so much more loaded after you’ve seen season 6. Vamp Willow has more in common with human Willow than you’d have thought at first.

    Ironic in hindsight: it’s amusing that one of Cordy’s wishes that Anya can’t grant at the end of the episode is that “Xander never knows the touch of a woman again”.

    Rating: 5

  5. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    3.10. Amends

    Amends is an episode that was really necessary in season 3. Since Angel's mysterious return from hell, Buffy and Angel have both been avoiding the elephant in the room - Angel’s crimes in season 2, and the question what could have brought him back. This is a very dark, intense and emotional episode about guilt, forgiveness and redemption, and a great character study of Angel (setting him up as an interesting protagonist for a spinoff). The climax of the episode – Buffy trying to convince Angel not to commit suicide – has great acting but a mix of great and weak writing. However, what keeps this episode from being a classic is that it has the corniest ending of a BtVS episode ever: the MYSTICAL CHRISTMAS SNOW that convinces Angel his life is worth something.

    Now, since this is the show’s only Christmas episode, this was, in a way, to be expected. But I could do without the divine (?) intervention, which takes away from the humanism of the show, and I’d rather not have Touched by an Angel (!) in my BtVS. :vulcan:

    Forgiveness is the big theme of the episode, but one person not willing to forgive is Cordy, who’s taking a chance to taunt Xander with the fact that she’s going skiing in Aspen, while the rest of them are stuck in a particularly warm Sunnydale. To hurt Xander, she reveals that the reason he’s sleeping outside is to avoid his family’s drunken Christmas fights – an explicit confirmation of the hints we’ve had before of Xander’s dysfunctional family life. Xander is bothered because he says he didn’t want her to share it with others; it’s interesting that he used to confide in her about things like that – but not Willow or Buffy? Surely Willow must know about his crappy home life in general from before? The relationship between Cordy and Xander seems to have been closer and deeper than just making out and antagonism. Despite his embarrassment, he is happy that she’s even talking to him now. He wants her back, but realizes it’s too late now. Another real development for Xander’s character is that he offers Buffy help with researching what’s wrong with Angel, and admits for the first time that he was a jerk to Buffy regarding her relationship with Angel.

    Willow is preoccupied with finding a way to make Oz forgive her – and she’s much more successful. Oz is finally ready to talk and tell her how much he was hurt and that he isn’t sure he can believe things can ever be over between Willow and Xander (we know how wrong he was, there will be nothing romantic between Willow and Xander ever again) but he misses her and is willing to give their relationship a shot. When Willow confides that she doesn’t know how to make Oz trust her, Buffy gives some insightful relationship advice: “Xander has a piece of you that can’t touch – I guess now it’s a matter of showing Oz that he comes first.” That would also be a good advice for herself to follow in the future. (The shooting script has a few lines that didn’t make it to the final episode and that confirm where Buffy was drawing the insight from: “Xander was your first love…that’s hard to let go”.) Willow takes the advice a little bit too literally and decides to make amends to Oz by losing her virginity to him, so she prepares the setting for the most exaggerated romantic night possible, with candles, Barry White and a sexy dress. Cue another classic Awesome Oz moment: just like in Innocence when he refused to kiss Willow, Oz recognizes that she is trying too hard, and tells her that sex is something he wants to happen when they both really want it, not because she’s trying to prove something to him.

    Faith and Buffy also make up, thanks to Joyce, who has one of her best moments when she suggests that they invite Faith to Christmas dinner. Finally someone does something to make the girl feel included and wanted. Incidentally, Joyce is very embarrassed when Buffy suggests that they invite Giles, who is also spending Christmas alone; the awkwardness between Joyce and Giles after what happened when they were “teenagers” in Band Candy continues. Faith is still living in the same crappy motel room, still barely hides the resentment she’s felt since Revelations, and at first refuses the offer out of pride and pretends that she has a big party to go to – but later changes her mind. Warm family Christmas evenings are something she probably hasn’t had in quite a while, if ever.

    But the focus of the episode is on Angel and his guilt and self-loathing. He is haunted by dreams and later visions of his victims. The best scene of the episode is a long overdue confrontation between Angel and Giles. Angel goes to his house to ask for help, which results in the most awkward meeting ever, what with Angel having tortured Giles last season and killed the woman Giles loved. Giles may accept on the rational level that Angel doesn’t deserve to die because he knows this version of Angel isn’t entirely responsible for crimes he committed while soulless, but he still isn’t able to forgive him – which is far more realistic and human than if he were OK with him just because Angel is feeling guilty. He that point by threatening Angel with a crossbow, even though he wouldn’t really use it and does let Angel in and talk to him and later doesn’t protest when Buffy asks him for help in figuring things out and saving Angel. The most poignant moment is when a vision of Jenny suddenly appears besides Giles, and Angel is the only one who can see her, making Angel unable to deal with it anymore. It’s almost disappointing that it’s not a guilty vision conjured by Angel’s mind, but as it turns out, a disguise by the First Evil, who is trying to drive Angel insane and get him to kill Buffy.

    I love the flashbacks (despite the terrible Irish accent, this time with an addition of a terrible mustache), the dreams and visions – which all blend in Angel’s mind – a reminder of just how horrible Angelus was, taking great pleasure in others’ suffering. The First chose a few victims from his past to morph into and haunt him with: Jenny; Daniel, a gambler in Dublin, 1838 who was about to get married; a maid in England, 1883; a modern day businessman in a suit, whose children Angel(us) killed and then arranged as if they were sleeping, for their father to find them, before he was killed himself. The scene with Angel(us) about to bite and kill the maid disturbingly looks like a nobleman or merchant about to rape a servant who can’t say anything to her employers because they wouldn’t believe her or care, and when she is worried about her son, he mentions he’s going to kill him, too, for “dessert”. The flashback is actually a dream – shared by Buffy (I have no idea why Angel and Buffy are sharing dreams, unless the First is powerful enough to make it happen – we’ll see this later with Buffy and Faith, but they have the Slayer connection). Or rather, Buffy is literally in Angel’s dream and gets to watch him about to kill the maid.

    All this complicates things between Angel and Buffy, who are trying to stay away from each other as Buffy decided in Lovers Walk, but instead they get to share dreams while Angel is at the breaking point, tempted by the First to give into his desire for Buffy and “lose himself” in her, and then kill her. We see that in the dream scene (another shared dream) where Buffy and Angel make love until he goes into vamp face, bites and kills her. I’m not sure how the First expected it to go down in reality (it’s unlikely that Buffy would have consented to sex with Angel despite the danger) - or maybe it just expected Angel to go insane, give in to the demon and kill Buffy while she’s at her most vulnerable while worrying about him. Angel’s behavior towards Buffy becomes obviously strange and erratic, which tips Buffy that something is seriously wrong. She tries to find out what is going on and save him, while fearing that she’d have to kill him again, which must be her greatest nightmare. One of the very few lighter moments involves Buffy and Xander going to see Willy the Snitch - and it’s amusing to see that the Slayer walking into Willy’s bar is like a cop walking into a shady bar (the vampires quickly leave and try to away from her, and she doesn’t ever bother to go after vampires who are just sitting in the bar, the way that a TV homicide detective ignores the well-known petty drug dealers). After learning that Willy has heard about things going on in the underground – literally - she proves to be a smart cookie once again when she figures out where to find the lair of the First and its minions, the Bringers, tears the place down and confronts the First in Jenny’s form. The First isn’t something you can slay, so she fights it the only way one can – not allowing it to intimidate her or shake her spirit and trying to give Angel faith in himself. (I love the way Buffy reacts to First’s speech “I’m the things that darkness fears blah blah” with snark: “OK, I get it, you’re evil.” The First: “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.” - “Lemme guess – is it… evil?” :D)

    Scared that he’ll end up turning evil and killing Buffy, Angel decides to kill himself in a way that’s the easiest for a vampire – by waiting for the sunrise on the high hill over the ocean, the Kingman’s Bluff (the same one where the crucial scene of season 6 finale takes place on). This is where Buffy finds him and desperately tries to stop him – arguing, hitting him, and pleading. Buffy normally looks so tough despite her size, but this is one of those moments of emotional vulnerability when she suddenly looks like a tiny little girl, young and in tears, and Angel like a big, scary man, when he throws her on the ground. But he is the weak one, as he realizes better than anyone: the line “It’s not the monster in me that needs killing, it’s the man” is the crucial one that explains so much about his personality. He hates himself not just because of what he did as a soulless vampire, and he doesn’t blame just his vampire nature for everything; he hates himself because deep inside he feels that, as a human, he was a weak, useless man (“a drunken, whoring layabout, and a terrible disappointment to your parents” as the First describes him). “You were a worthless being before you became a monster” told him the First, echoing his deepest insecurities. A part of him believes what the First tells him, that cruelty is the only thing he ever had a talent for. And as a souled vampire, he wasted most of the 100 years lost and confused, and he still doesn’t know if he can be a good, worthy and heroic person.

    Contrary to the popular opinion that Buffy idealizes Angel, she doesn’t try to argue that he has shown himself to be a great guy in the past; she pleads with him to do it because she loves him (despite wishing she could stop, because it’s too painful and because it gives him the power to hurt her so much) and she argues that he has the potential to be someone better in the future, and he has to try: “You have the power to do real good, Angel, to make amends. But if you die now, then all you ever were was a monster.“ He was her first love, and a source of great trauma, and the pain and guilt for sending him to hell only made it harder to let go; on some level, maybe it’s not just about saving his life; it’s about saving his soul (not literally) – she needs the only love she’s had up to that point to be a source of goodness and hope, not just badness and destruction.

    Buffy’s speech that it’s cowardly to give up and commit suicide and that the real strength is in living and fighting every day, makes me think of her line in The Gift to Dawn: “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live for me” and the crucial scene of Once More, With Feeling, where Buffy is the one trying to commit suicide because she can’t go on, and Spike stops her and urges her to live on, while Dawn repeats Buffy’s own words from The Gift.

    The snow that suddenly starts falling (for the first time ever in Sunnydale), after a period of scorching heat, doesn’t have to be mystical in nature – but the episode is clearly built around the idea that it is. It is hinted that some sort of higher power might be responsible for it and that it might have brought him back from hell, rather than the First, as Angel assumed. The ending with Buffy and Angel walking home together is meant to convey hope. But I find it disappointing that Buffy’s impassioned plea, and her argument that real strength is about living and fighting every day, might not have been enough to give Angel the will to live – it was only the apparent intervention of a higher power that changed his mind.

    Best lines:
    Angel: It’s not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy, it is the man.

    Angel: Buffy, please… just this once… let me be strong.
    Buffy: Strong is fighting. It’s hard and it’s painful and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do. And we can do it together. But if you’re too much of a coward for that, then burn.

    Worst line:
    Oddly enough, the same scene and the same speech by Buffy contains a line that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me:

    Buffy: I know everything you’ve done, because you did it to me.

    The problem is that this isn't true: he didn't actually do the tenth of what he did to some others and that he is capable of, and that he might have even planned to do. However great the Angel-goes-evil plot in season 2 was, there was some contrivance in the fact that he didn't get to do a fraction of what we know he did to Drusilla. And that's because 1) Joss didn't want to kill off main cast members or Buffy's mother yet, and 2) he wanted the Buffy/Angel romance to continue – and if it had been Joyce's dead body he left, rather than just pictures of her, I don't think that there would be many people rooting for Buffy to get back with Angel, or that it would have been convincing that Buffy would want to get back with her mother’s killer. Something similar would’ve been the case if he had killed Giles, Willow or Xander – and he had opportunities to do all of these at some point, and didn't just due to luck (and again some contrivance – he had an invitation to Willow's house and could have done much worse to her than kill her fish). Jenny was the perfect victim from the storytelling point of view – important enough for her murder to resonate, but not enough for fans and Buffy to not be able to get over it. He tortured and broke Drusilla in different ways. but primarily by killing everyone she loved. He didn't, however, get to kill anyone Buffy loved. His torture of Buffy might have been his main goal, but it was twice removed: he killed someone who was loved by someone that Buffy loves. And a lot of people that Buffy didn't know or barely knew. The most awful thing for Buffy was that she felt responsible for the deaths of all those people, including Jenny, and for the pain it caused Giles. But the people who were hurt the most, aside from those who died, were Giles and the families and loved ones of the other vicrims. He didn't actually do all he did to Buffy, he did it to bystanders, and while she may know it intellectually, she didn't feel what it's like. (That’s why I feel more discomfort about Buffy forgiving Angel that I don't feel about Buffy forgiving Spike for the AR, because she had to forgive Angel for the things he did to others, and I'm not sure if anyone has a right to forgive someone for things they did to other people.)

    Angel/Angelus: Angel at one point tries to defend himself from the visions’ accusations by saying “It wasn’t me” and “a demon isn’t a man. I was a man once” but otherwise feels guilt over all his past crimes (“You can never understand what I’ve done”). The whole episode doesn’t make any sense unless Angel, Giles and Buffy all consider Angel and his soulless self (at this point the name “Angelus” is still not used) one and the same person. Giles holds Angel responsible for killing Jenny, and Buffy talks about things he did and never tries to argue that it was someone else.

    Recurring characters introduced: The First Evil, in the form of Jenny and other dead people, makes its debut, together with its creepy eyeless high priests, the Bringers aka Harbingers. The First makes about an equal amount of sense here as it does in season 7. It tries to get Angel to kill Buffy – I get that – but afterwards it seems to be OK with Angel just killing himself (it grins and says to itself “It will do”). So what did it really want to achieve? Maybe it just likes torturing souled vampires that Buffy is having a thing with at the time? If Buffy’s or Angel’s death was what it wanted, why didn’t it try again? And why haven’t we heard from it in 3 and a half years between Amends and season 7?

    Mythology: The First is supposed to have existed long before everything else, before demons or humans. Unlike the monotheistic religions, in the Buffyverse it’s the evil that existed before the good. It’s not clear if there is a Good equivalent to the First Evil, though the ending hints that the snow might be a sign from some higher power, which, based on what we later see on AtS, it was probably the Powers That Be. However, the PTB seem to be a neutral power rather than a force for good.

    According to Giles, Acathla had acolytes, and one of them wrote about demons, demon dimensions… and his garden.

    Buffy’s ILYs: Buffy’s fourth declaration of love to Angel (“What about me? I love you so much”) is offered in an emotional outburst while she’s trying to stop him from committing suicide. (The first one was elicited by Angel in Lie to Me, and the other two spontananeous ILYs were in Innocence – when he was dumping her – and in Becoming II, before she sent him to hell.) She doesn’t have a habit of telling ILY on everyday occasions: it is almost always in a life and death situation.

    Fashion watch: Buffy wears a white jacket throughout most of the episode, while Angel is in a black coat. Willow dresses in a sexy red dress when she’s trying to seduce Oz. Faith wears light lip gloss, rather than her usual dark red one (because she’s less ‘dark’ in this episode, I suppose).

    Shirtless scene: Angel is shirtless in two scenes – when he wakes up in bed, and in the sex scene with Buffy.

    Ooh, kinky: The dream sex scene itself isn’t kinky, it’s missionary and as vanilla as the one in Innocence – until it ends with Angel biting Buffy. Gotta love the accidental double entendre Joyce makes when she asks Buffy “Angel’s on top again?” shocking Buffy, until she realizes her mom is talking about the Christmas decorations.

    Destroying the English language: Xander says he hasn’t been the “mostest best friend” to Buffy.

    Pop culture references: Willow tries to use Barry White’s music to seduce Oz. Buffy says that the prophecies from one of Giles’ books (“A child shall be born of man and goat and have two heads...”) sound like something from the UK tabloid The Sun, which is probably why Giles enjoys reading it.

    Foreshadowing: Oz tells Willow that seeing her with Xander made him feel the way he never felt before when there wasn’t a full moon – which foreshadows season 4 New Moon Rising, when Oz will actually turn into a werewolf out of strong emotions of jealousy of Tara. Angel will eventually bite Buffy and almost kill her, in a scene that looks a lot like sex, in Graduation Day II, after Buffy makes him drink from her to save his life.

    Rating: 4
  6. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

    Jun 9, 2001
    Mr. Adventure
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I don't really notice in most shows but I found myself doing the "fashion watch" while going through Buffy. Buffy has a hell of a wardrobe, no wonder she had to pull long shifts at the Doublemeat Palace.
  7. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Heh. It's an example of the TV trope known as Unlimited Wardrobe. Even Xander has a different dorky shirt each time.
  8. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Boy, it's been a while - I bet a lot of you don't even remember I was doing this rewatch. I had really good reason for this hiatus this time, due to having been extremely busy these last 3 months with work - I had a huge translation job with strict deadlines, so lots of things got put on hold (frak, I didn't even go to the beach once this summer, despite the scorching heat). I finally finished it yesterday morning (on the deadline date!) so now I'm getting back to "normal". :)

    However, since there have been such big breaks in my rewatch (I can't believe I started it last February and didn't get further than mid-season 3 :eek:) due to various circumstances, I've decided Ithat over the next couple of weeks I'm going to do a marathon of the Buffy episodes I've already reviewed - to remind myself and get a bit of continuity before continuing with the rewatch.

    I'm also going to do something I said I wouldn't, and start with watching the 1992 movie (which I've seen just once many years ago, a few years before I saw the show). I didn't plan to include it in the rewatch, since 1) it's not canon, 2) it sucks, but it'll be fun to see it again, see how it all started and compare it with the show, and compare it with the way Joss' script was adapted in The Origin comic, which he has approved as "pretty much canon". I won't do a proper review of the movie, but I'll post a few thoughts. Then I'll marathon season 1, season 2 and the first part of season 3, and post just a few thoughts - any new things I've noticed, has my opinion on anything changed in the meantime or not.

    And then of course, I'll continue with reviews as usual, starting with 3.11. Gingerbread. Hopefully on a more regular basis than I've been posting so far.
  9. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 1, 2001
    Seven of Five
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Yay! Good to see you again.
  10. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Buffy movie revisited + the canon version of Buffy’s origins in „The Origin“

    Today is the 20 year anniversary of the release of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. (Note: Well, it was when I started writing this, when I finally get to post this, it will still be 31st July in the Western hemisphere, so it still counts... :alienblush:) Perfect time to revisit the way it all started.

    I remember seeing the movie on TV a few years before I started watching the show, and finding it a mildly funny but average, not very good and mostly ordinary teen comedy that tried to poke fun at vampire movies. I was always struck by how different the show is to the movie. Rewatching it now, after a long time, my impressions are the same, only more negative, because I can now see how much potential it wasted. This becomes especially obvious when you compare it Joss Whedon’s original script, which is available online, and which I read last week for the first time. A much better movie could have been made from this, and one that would have been a lot more in the spirit with the TV show. On the other hand, if the movie had matched Joss’ intentions, maybe he wouldn’t have felt compelled to take his idea to the small screen... So maybe it’s better it worked out this way.

    The movie was declared not canon by Joss, so nothing from it actually has any bearing on the show and the comics continuity, but Joss has never filmed another version of Buffy’s origin story.

    I will also revisit the only canon version of Buffy’s origins is the 1999 Dark Horse comic The Origin, which gives a more faithful adaptation of Joss’ original script, much closer to the spirit of the show, and attempts to reconcile the story with the TV show continuity (including scenes based on the flashbacks from the show), since there are quite a few discontinuities between Joss’s script and the movie on one side, and the show on the other. Joss has said this about this comic:

    "The origin comic, though I have issues with it, CAN pretty much be accepted as canonical. They did a cool job of combining the movie script (the SCRIPT) with the series, that was nice, and using the series Merrick and not a certain OTHER thespian who shall remain hated."

    First off, a reminder if you don’t remember, here’s a synopsis: Buffy starts off as a cheerleader in Hemery High school in LA, one of the vapid, shallow valley girls. She hangs out with 3 equally shallow friends (bitchy Kimberly – played by Hilary Swank, particularly airheaded Jennifer, and another girl called Nicole who doesn’t get fleshed out much), a bit more bookish Cassandra (who later becomes one of the vampires’ victims) and has a shallow, vapid and casually sexist jock boyfriend Jeffrey (who hangs out with a blatantly sexist jerk, Andy). They have a couple of somewhat antagonistic encounters with Pike and his friend Benny, who are supposed to be lower class/poor punks types, but it’s pretty clear from the start that a meet-cute romance is being set up between Buffy and Pike. (I like the sound of that.) Meanwhile, a really old and powerful vampire (who’s referred to in the script by other characters as a Vampire King), Lothos, has arrived in LA with his minions, and they are starting to turn the locals – mostly high school students – while Lothos wants to kill another Slayer. Yes, Lothos is supposed to have killed several Slayers at least – which, at the time, might not have sounded like such a feat, but after having seen the show where Slayers were made to look almost as superwomen and where killing two Slayers is a huge feat, is almost incredible. Someone else who’s arrived in LA is Merrick, a Watcher, who’s looking for the new Slayer. When he first tells her she’s the Chosen One, Buffy is at first incredulous, as you’d expect, but he manages to quickly convince her, since he knows about her Slayer dreams. She’s reluctant to accept her new role, but she manages to kill her first two vampires the night when Merrick first takes her to the graveyard to patrol. Gradually, she becomes more and more involved with slaying and in the process alienates her friends and boyfriend, but also gains new friend/love interest/sidekick in Pike, who’s meanwhile learned about vampires being real because his best friend got turned into one. After Merrick’s tragic death, Buffy has a crisis and almost decides to quit and go to the school dance instead and be just a regular girl, which Pike disagrees with. At the dance, where Buffy is shunned by her friends and dumped by her boyfriend (or rather, learns that he’s already left her a break-up message on her answering machine) but gets to dance with Pike who’s decided to show up – but then the vampires attack school during the dance. Buffy kills a bunch of vampires, with the help of Pike and a few other students, fights with the arrogant Lothos and kills him. In the end, Buffy has grown way past her old friends and old lifestyle.

    I’ve noticed that Joss recycled some of his original ideas for Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest: the way Buffy kills Amilyn, Lothos' main henchman, in the script (but not in the movie nor in The Origin), is very similar to the trick she plays on Luke in The Harvest. As far as the things that did make it to the movie go: there are also similarities such as Pike/Xander having to kill his best friend who's become a vampire; some of the original arguments between Buffy and Giles are a bit like those between Buffy and Merrick; Gary Murray the school counselor is a proto-Flutie; and Lothos is a bit like a mix between the Master and a non-ironic version of Dracula, with a bit of Luke's early rhetoric. We have vampires attacking the school on a big night again in School Hard.

    I can’t remember, did anyone on the show ever use a pencil to stake a vampire? This is how Buffy finally manages to surprise and kill Lothos in the script version of their confrontation, after he’s cornered her in the school corridor; script direction says that there’s almost something like respect in his eyes as he’s turning to dust (and Lothos, up to that point, has been very contemptuous and dismissive of Buffy and other Slayers).

    Differences between the movie and Joss’ original script

    Joss Whedon wrote the original version of the script for Buffy when he was 25. According to this old article (linked today on Whedonesque – thanks, Whedonesque!), „The project began gathering steam last fall, when producer Rosenman "flipped over this weirdly funny script by a 25-year-old with red hair flowing down to his ass.“ “ (See evidence of the latter.)

    The same article describes the Buffy movie as a mix between Wayne’s World, Heathers and Beverly Hills 90210. Well, that’s true - but only if you take out Heathers...

    The script is well worth reading – it’s really not cheesy and campy the way the movie is, and it’s not a comedy: it’s much darker and it’s a horror/action teen drama with some humor in it. In other words, similar to the show. However, the people who made the movie obviously didn’t take the story seriously at all and figured it had to be a broad cheesy teenage comedy. You can see it as soon as the open narration about the Slayers starts – similar to the one in first 2 seasons of the show – delivered in a mocking, campy voice, while we see a brief scene of Kristy Swanson with a silly expression, in what is supposed to be one of her dreams about past Slayers. There are a lot of changes between this version of the script and what finally got filmed. But even when there were no changes in the dialogue – and in the majority of the scenes, they kept the original dialogue– the directorial choices, acting, music, choreography, even hairstyling and costumes, made all the difference.

    Kristy Swanson isn't bad until you compare her to Sarah Michelle Gellar, she has no spunk and charisma and badassery that SMG so easily instills into the character. Swanson is physically much bigger, but tiny SMG is a much bigger presence in every other way. Luke Perry (Pike) is just being Luke Perry, i.e. has the same dull expression throughout. The worst of all is Donald Sutherland (Buffy’s first Watcher, Merrick), who looks bored throughout the movie, probably waiting to finish shooting the dumb teen movie and collect his paycheck – he even looks bored in his death scene!

    The music is dreadful – the songs are all very mainstream, in a bad way (unlike the much more interesting choices on the show); the score is more 80s than 90s, and occasionally sounds like elevator music - especially in above mentioned Merrick’s death scene.

    The movie removed almost everything that was even a little bit darker and more serious. Gone are the opening scenes from the script, showing some of the Slayers from the previous centuries, including the scenes of Lothos killing Slayers. Instead of being really scary, the vampires in the movie are just ridiculous. Lothos’ henchmen Amilyn, in particular, is quite scary in the script, but a complete joke and an OTT comedy character in the movie – he even gets a comedy protracted death that goes on and on. Script!Lothos is a truly intimidating figure (and a vampire who’s supposed to have killed several Slayers has to be!), but in the movie, despite being played by Rutger Hauer, a guy who knows how to be scary, even he is made into a bit of a joke. In one of the many eyeroll-worthy cheesy moments that the director/script doctors/whoever thought was a good idea to add, Lothos plays a violin to hypnotize Buffy (?!) and in another, he dies saying „Oops“. :rolleyes:

    But the worst of all is Buffy’s fight with the vampires outside the gym, which could have been great (and is in the comic), and which is described like this in the script:

    ...and in the movie, it looks like this: Kristy Swanson goes out of the gym, makes several somersaults for no reason at all and comes up against one of the vampires, and all the vampires stand in a circle and attack her one by one, waiting until she’s finished with the previous ones, like in the awful old martial arts movies. :lol: She also starts her fight with Lothos by making a few somersaults for absolutely no reason.

    The Buffy's and Merrick's relationship far less antagonistic in the movie – he shows that he’s grown fond of her by telling her she is „truly exceptional“ while in the script (and in the comic) he criticizes her for being „vacuous“ and for not paying attention, lectures her that being a Slayer is not just about super-strength and argues with her, asking her if she thinks she’s special – he buried five girls who trained much harder than she did. They certainly form a bond, but they do it in the typically Whedonesque snarky manner (a bit like Buffy/Giles in season 1). One of the best moments (which, fortunately, made it to the comic) is when Merrick realizes that Buffy is not paying attention to his lecture about vampires and is looking into her notebook instead, and says „I have huge antlers growing out of my buttocks“, confirming that Buffy isn’t really listening , and then hurls a stake right through Buffy’s notebook. And in very Jossian fashion, those two still come to really care about each other. In the script (and the comic), he gives his life largely to protect her, and Buffy's attempt to have a eulogy on her own after his death is really poignant:

    None of that is in the movie.

    Other big changes include:

    • Merrick’s death: in the movie, Lothos kills him because Buffy was too much in „thrall“ to react, and then dies in her arms. In the script, Buffy wasn’t even there until the end (and she never seems in much of a danger of being hypnotized by Lothos), as she was busy killing vampires in another place, and Merrick kills himself with a gun to prevent Lothos from turning him and using him against Buffy. (Although maybe this isn’t explained as much as it is in the comic.)
    • The movie removes the dark moment when a bunch of students, including Buffy’s (ex) friend Kimberly, decide to practically throw Buffy to the vampires to save their own skin: since the vampires (many of them formerly students who were turned) were outside yelling „We want Buffy“, the students yell in panic that she should go out so the vampires could have her and leave them alone. What they didn’t realize is that the vampires are going to attack the gym anyway, breaking the windows. In the script, after the fight is over, Buffy silently walks away from the students who wanted to sacrifice her (with the exception of Pike, who was fiercely on her side, and a few others.)
    • The script ends with: a news report about the attack (described as an attack of a gang of „crack-crazed gunmen“) that had a death toll of 12; followed by a scene showing Buffy’s ex-friends and ex-boyfriend gossiping about her and how „crazy“ she’s become; and a scene with Buffy and Pike going to an old castle – presumably to look for some old vampire to slay. The movie, on the other hand, ends with a protracted news report – which completely lacks the mention of any casualties, are we supposed to think that no students died? – followed by a bunch of stupid jokes (and then some more of Amilyn’s protracted death scene).
    In their thorough mainstreaming of the script, they also removed pretty much everything that could have been consider somewhat edgy:

    • Every single reference to teen sex (including a scene in which Buffy, while looking for vampires, finds her ex-boyfriend Jeffrey, who’s just dumped her, and his new date Jennifer, Buffy’s ex-friend, clumsily having sex in his ca);
    • A few instances of bad language (but OK, that was to be expected);
    • Coach’s speech before the game that happens to contain a casual reference to homosexuality („So I don't care about your minds. Maybe you're tired. Maybe you're worried about your grades. Maybe you dog just died or you've suddenly found that you're attracted to other men. I don't care!”
    • Pike’s off-hand mention/joke that his guidance counselor mentioned prison as the possible future for him
    • Pike and his friend Benny’s punk style looks. In the script, Pike is described as having spiked hair, a taste for long coats and black, and wearing Doc Martens, while his friend Benny has a shaved head, suspenders and also Doc Martens. In the movie, they are... Luke Perry and David Arquette looking like Luke Perry and David Arquette usually do, and not really visibly different than Buffy's boyfriend Jeffrey and the other jock guys. (Joss seems to like introducing punk-ish looking characters from time to time: Spike, Satsu and Simone in the comics.)
    One of the small changes that particularly pissed me off is how they filmed the scene near the beginning of the movie which we first see Buffy kissing her boyfriend Jeffrey, and his friend Andy acts like a complete sexist ass and asks „Jeffrey, dude, can I borrow her?“ In the script – and the comic – she just normally comes up to Jeffrey and they kiss, while Andy and Jeffrey’s other friends and Buffy’s friends are standing near by. In the movie, she runs and leans into Jeffrey’s car to kiss him – he’s in the driving seat – not bothered that her butt is practically lying in Andy’s lap (since he’s in the front seat). I guess they just couldn’t show a high school boy being blatantly sexist without giving the audience the opportunity to say „Heh, it’s the bimbo’s fault for hanging her ass in front of his nose“?! :scream:

    So, as we’ve established, the movie sucks big time. Nothing I haven’t known for years. The only difference is that, having read the script, I can vouch it really wasn’t Joss’ fault.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  11. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Now we’re going to take a look at the differences between the script/the movie on one hand, and the show on the other. While the huge difference in tone is all due to the execution and script changes, there are a few things that don’t match with the show because Joss later changed his mind. Of course, the discontinuity doesn’t matter, since neither the movie nor the script are canon.

    Discontinuity between the movie/the script and canon

    Several things from the script and the movie that Joss changed for the TV show:

    • Vampires don’t dust when staked – except, for some reason, Lothos (maybe because he’s 800 to 900 years old). This is something that Joss decided for the TV show, in order not to have Buffy leaving a bunch of dead bodies around.
    • Vampires can float.
    • Vampires don’t show in photos.
    • Buffy doesn’t burn down the gym during the big showdown with the vampires.
    • A lot is made of Buffy’s need to preserve her secret identity – Merrick insists that vampires mustn’t know who she is, or they would he hunting her rather than the other way round. Which, come to think of it, makes sense – but was completely different on the show, where every vampire and demon knew who she is and, with rare exceptions (like Spike or Mr. Trick and the participants of his Slayer Fest ’99), it only made most of them want to stay away from her. That’s actually one change that I’m not sure the show ever properly justified. It’s almost unbelievable that no vampire or demon ever targeted Buffy’s family and friends in order to get to her, except briefly Angelus (who nevertheless didn’t do much on that front). There is a reason why Bruce Wayne thinks he needs to wear the mask to protect those he loves. See my comments on The Origin.
    • Buffy’s parents are portrayed as neglectful and almost always absent; her mom pays so little attention to her that she mis-remembers her boyfriend’s name. (This is more like the family background Willow has on the show – except that her parents are also stricter. Willow’s mother Sheila seems to constantly ignore her, and can’t properly remember the name of her best friend Buffy.)
    • (More in the script than in the movie) Buffy’s family also seems richer, more in Cordelia’s league (at least this is my impression – for instance, at one point she mentions a trust fund from her grandfather that she spent on shoes) than on the show, where they’re firmly middle-class types.
    • (Script element; not mentioned in the movie, IIRC) Merrick says that the Watchers are all from one coven in a small English village. This is very different from the powerful (but really incompetent and stuck up their own arse) organization we first see in season 3.
    • (Script element; not mentioned in the movie) Slayers have superpowers even before they are called: Buffy is mentioned to have had amazing gymnastic skills as a younger girl.
    • (Script element; ignored or changed for movie) Script!Buffy is not a virgin. Her boyfriend Jeffrey is spending the night with her – he’s by her side when she wakes up from a nightmare; and during a school football game, one of the students starts talking to Merrick (and annoying the hell out of him) and gossiping about Buffy, saying that people are talking that „She’s had sex“. This was probably a part of Whedon’s idea to subvert the cliche of the blonde who dies in the alley – in movies, teenagers who have sex usually die. But this didn’t make it to the movie (Buffy is waking from her nightmare alone), I assume as a part of the overall removal of any reference to teen sex; and of course, it also isn’t in The Origin (where Buffy also wakes in her bed alone), for a different reason – because it would clash with canon, since canon!Buffy only lost her virginity in season 2.
    • Merrick first approaches Buffy in the football field (script) or in the school gym (movie). In the flashback in Becoming I, he approaches her right in front of the school.
    • Buffy is dating a school jock called Jeffrey, until he dumps her because she’s been busy with other things and he’s „got needs“in his own words (but she has other things to worry about, and has been falling for Pike anyway, so it’s no tragedy). But, in the flashback in Becoming I, Buffy is talking to her friends about a boy called Tyler and saying he’d have to beg her on his hands and knees to go with him to the dance... which he’s supposed to do after practice, so she’ll wait. (See my comments about The Origin below.)
    Although it’s not discontinuity, I wonder why the show and later canon comics never mentioned Buffy dreaming about the lives of the previous Slayers. The only Slayers who seem to pop up in her dreams are the First Slayer and Faith. A lot more was made of the Slayer dream connection to the previous Slayers in Dana’s story in AtS Damage, in the Tales of the Slayers, in Fray, and in season 8 issue The Chain, but none of those are about Buffy. How interesting would it be if Buffy ever had Slayer dreams of being Nikki Wood, for instance?

    And now let’s look at how this is resolved in The Origin.

    The Origin comic revisted: canon version of Buffy’s origin story

    This 3-part comic, written by Christopher Golden and Brereton based on Whedon’s script for the movie, restores most of Whedon’s original script, attempts (for the most part, successfully, though there are a few problematic spots) to reconcile it with the show canon, and – unlike the movie, is very close to the tone and spirit of the TV show.

    I reviewed The Origin comic before – in the very first post on this thread. A few words in addition to this:

    The only big problem I have with the comic is with the artist drawing green, pointy-eared vampires. That aside, the art by Joe Bennett is very good. They obviously wanted to make a complete break with the movie, so none of the characters look like their movie counterparts. Of course, Buffy looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar rather than Kristy Swanson, Joyce and Hank look like they do on the show (in the movie, Buffy’s parents both have dark hair and look ridiculously tanned and a bit trashy) while Merrick looks like Richard Riehle, who played him in the show flashback. But the other characters, who never appeared on the show, are all given a new look: Pike has white hair and a goatee and doesn’t look like Luke Perry (in later, non-canon Dark Horse comics, he looked different and had brownish hair, but didn’t look like Perry either); Lothos has long red hair and looks nothing like Rutger Hauer; Jeffrey is blond, while movie Jeffrey was dark-haired, each one of Buffy’s friends has different hair color and hairstyle than their movie counterparts, etc.

    I really like the way they portrayed Merrick in the comic – he is passionate, stern and determined, a very strong figure – completely different from Donald Sutherland’s bland, sleepwalking through the role version. Pike is also a lot more animated and likeable. The vampires are scary and the fights are well drawn.

    The comic restores most of Joss’ best lines and moments from the script, and adds some new ones (Buffy: „Don’t think of me as late – think of me as time-impaired!“) though, unfortunately, they also added a really dumb joke (when Amilyn has his arm ripped off, he seems more concerned about his jacket – „This was real leather“). There’s also one screw-up: the inscription on the newly sired vampire reads „1972-1990“, even though it should be taking place in 1996. But this is nitpicking now.

    Let’s see what the writers of the comic did about the continuity issues:

    • Buffy burns the gym down. She does it because it’s the only way to kill a bunch of vampires that have attacked the school: she tricks them into the gym, locks the door with a bike chain and sets the gym on fire.
    • Most of the aspects of the script that don’t fit with canon are left out.
    • Merrick warning Buffy about her secret identity is still a part of the story, but Buffy basically says „Ah, screw that“ (not in those words) after Merrick’s death.
    • A brief scene with Buffy’s parents is included here as well – and Buffy seems to be unsatisfied and to think that they aren’t spending enough time with her (which we only see in her bitter comment to herself that they’re „real quality timers“), but there are no moments of Joyce being clueless, and we don’t know if Buffy’s parents are really neglectful, or if Buffy is seeing her parents as more neglectful than they really are. On the show, it was established that the problem with her parents was that they didn’t get along and argued a lot for years – but never that they ignored Buffy.
    • The scenes from the Becoming I flashback are included: Merrick approaching Buffy in front of the school, and their conversation is word for word taken from the show.
    • The Tyler/Jeffrey issue: they tried to solve this, and I’m not sure if it works. To reconcile it, they changed the dialogue for a part of Buffy’s conversation with her friends. She says she got over Tyler long time ago, and one of the girls adds that nobody would pick Tyler over Jeffrey anyway, and it’s Jeffrey that Buffy says she is waiting for after the practice, not Tyler. But this creates a bit of discontinuity with the show, what about that? There is a way to fanwank it:
    • The entire comic is framed as Buffy’s narration – so one could say that her memory may not be entirely accurate. (Maybe she and Jeffrey were over before she met Merrick, but she conflated two different timelines and thought he was still her boyfriend and that it was the night of the vampire attack that they broke up.) Buffy is telling Xander and Willow about her days in Hemery High and how she became a Slayer.
    • The last LA scenes we see are taken from the script, but with some changes: Buffy’s gossiping ex-friends mention that she was expelled from school. We also see Buffy and Pike going to the castle. However, it’s actually a castle in Las Vegas – a change I don’t like, since it’s just Dark Horse’s blatant attempt to set up one of their later (non-canon) comics, Viva Las Buffy, which is about the adventures of Buffy and Pike in Las Vegas.
    The comic doesn’t explain what happened to Pike and why he and Buffy went separate ways; when Xander asks Buffy about it (he even says that Pike seemed like a good match, which is really unlike season 2 Xander! Though I guess he might have said it just because he’d prefer anyone to Angel - and Pike does seem like a guy Xander might like),
    she just says it’s a story for another time.

    Pike was clearly created as something of a Whedonian perfect guy – he’s the only teenage boy in the movie/script/comic who isn’t sexist (Pike’s friend Benny is just as bad in that regard as the jocks Andy and a rather good fighter for someone with no superpowers, he has no problem accepting Buffy’s strength and leadership – in fact, he accepts it and likes it much more readily than Buffy herself, which is a source of strife for a while. (Canon says nothing about the reasons why he and Buffy split, but in the comic Viva Las Buffy, he leaves because he realizes he’s just a liability for Buffy. In another non-canon comic, Note from the Underground, he finds Buffy in Sunnydale a few years later, he helps her but is confused with all the things that have happened to Buffy since, and ends up telling her friends stories about Buffy’s LA past.)

    In my earlier review, I gave the comic 3-, which might have been too harsh – I now think it’s closer to 3.5. One thing I really like about this early Buffy story is that the Slayer was still clearly portrayed as the underdog.The feelings that the Slayers were up against the odds was much stronger in the script and The Origin, when the vampires were not established as being weaker than Slayers. This kind of got lost as the show increasingly started making the Slayers look like almost invincible, unbeatable superwomen (culminating in the utterly ridiculous „Troll Hammer“ moment in season 5) that almost all vampires (except for trill seekers) run from, which doesn’t fit with the idea that they all die very young. And, it also takes something away from Buffy’s heroism and the gravity of her story, IMO, if her task is portrayed as not being incredibly difficult and dangerous.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  12. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I got the answer from [​IMG]mefistopheles on LJ - there were two times when someone staked a vampire with a pencil: Willow in Choices (season 3) and Dawn in All the Way (season 6). That explains why I didn't remember it, I haven't seen either of those episodes in quite a while. I had a feeling Joss wouldn't pass the chance to use such a great idea. :cool:
  13. Wereghost

    Wereghost Part-time poltergeist Rear Admiral

    Oct 21, 2009
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    ^ There's a pencil-staking in Band Candy, too. Excellent reason to rewatch it.
  14. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I rewatched it a few months ago but I don't remember the pencil staking. When did it happen?
  15. Ethros

    Ethros Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 4, 2001
    1123 6536 5321
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    ^ It's from Season 3's Choices IIRC, when Willow is snooping round the Mayor's office and levitates a pencil behind a vamp's back, and stakes him with it
  16. Wereghost

    Wereghost Part-time poltergeist Rear Admiral

    Oct 21, 2009
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    In the pre-credits sequence in the graveyard, when a generic vamp interrupts Giles and Buffy's study session.
  17. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Buffy season 1 revisited

    So, I’ve finished my re-rewatch (!) of season 1. I expected it to go faster, but there were a lot of distractions – from unexpected work, to the fact that, well, it was hot summer weather and most days were being spent on a beach, and a lot of nights out in the city. My impressions were mostly the same as the last time, which is no surprise since the last rewatch was just over a year ago. I took notes of the few things I didn’t notice before or didn’t include in my previous reviews, but most of it were fun minor things, from fashion choices to various details to mistakes you only notice after you’ve watched the show a few times.

    You can check my previously posted reviews and ratings (out of 5 stars):

    1.01. Welcome to the Hellmouth (3.5)
    1.02. The Harvest (2.5)
    1.03. Witch (3)
    1.04. Teacher’s Pet (1.5)
    1.05. Never Kill a Boy on the First Date (3)
    1.06. The Pack (3.5)
    1.07. Angel (4)
    1.08. I, Robot, You Jane (2)*
    1.09. The Puppet Show (3)
    1.10. Nightmares (4)
    1.11. Out of Mind, Out of Sight (4)
    1.12 Prophecy Girl (4.5)
    Season 1 overview (3.21)*revised rating

    It’s the weakest season of BtVS, but it’s still pretty good on its own and better than many people give it credit for. The two-part pilot is pretty strong, except for the very unsatisfying ending to The Harvest, with the lighthearted upbeat scene that’s completely out of place since Xander has just lost out of his best friends. I still think that failing to ever reference the Jesse storyline and how it affected Xander was one of the show’s biggest failings. The good news is that the comic season 9 has recently had a Jesse reference, with
    Xander telling someone in a similar situation about the time he had to stake his best friend
    – which is one of the best things the otherwise unimpressive season 9 has done so far. Although it’s worth mentioning that Xander never actually brought himself to do it and stake Jesse – he was spared that moment of decision since someone accidentally pushed Jesse onto his stake. We’ll never know if Xander actually would’ve been able to go through with it on his own.

    There is a lot of cheesiness early on, and if someone saw episodes like Teacher’s Pet, they might have decided that BtVS is just a crappy, silly show and moved on. But the show gets notably better midway, with The Pack and Angel, and ends strongly with Nightmares, Out of Mind, Out of Sight, and the show’s first great episode, the season finale Prophecy Girl. Sarah Michelle Gellar is really amazing in that episode, particularly in the very emotional scene in the library right after Buffy learns that she’s supposed to face the Master and die. (“I quit!... Giles, I’m 16 years old. I don’t wanna die.”) (Such a difference to The Gift, when she… well, I wouldn’t go as far to say she wants to die, but she doesn’t exactly not want to die.) I don’t think I’ve noticed before that Joyce even more explicitly, and unwittingly, inspires Buffy to fight the destiny when she says: “Is it written somewhere that you can’t go (to the school dance)?”

    One of the things I somehow used to miss before is a bit of personal info about Giles (there isn't a lot of that in the show), that he has a friend who went insane while researching the praying mantises from Teacher’s Pet, and that he calls to a lunatic asylum for advice. I wonder how common it is for Watchers to go insane.

    It’s almost painful to see how downtrodden and without confidence and self-belief Willow is these early episodes – she often seems like she really feels she should get someone’s permission to exist, as Cordelia would say (“Excuse me? Who gave you permission to exist?”) This kind of inferiority complex doesn’t happen just because you’re bullied at school, it has to stem from the relationship with the parents; when we see her mother in season 3 and learn how much Willow’s parents actually ignore her (while at the same time being very strict about following the rules), it explains a lot. There’s a very telling moment in Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest, when Giles asks “Buffy?” as someone is entering the library, and Willow answers– “It’s just me”. She slowly starts gaining more confidence, but at first she seems only able to stand up to people when they speak ill of Buffy, as if she doesn’t feel she has the right to protest when someone is disparaging and insulting her personally. An early sign of non-superpowered badassery happens in The Harvest, when Willow fights at the Bronze and actually confronts Darla to save Giles. She also shows hidden strengths in I Robot, You Jane, The Pack and Prophecy Girl – but the biggest growth comes not in her fighting the vampires or confronting Moloch, but in rejecting Xander’s offer to be his substitute date for the dance after Buffy turned him down, because it’s the first time she actually stands up for herself.

    When Buffy mentions Giles to Willow in the pilot, Willow starts gushing about how cool and great he is, which, together with the fact she has a photo of herself and Giles in her locker door, gives credence to her revelation in season 4 that she used to have crush on him. Speaking of little details you notice only after seeing the episode a few times: Props on Willow’s locker door include a big logo of Nerf Herder, the band that provided the theme song for the show. Buffy’s locker door has a picture of Michelangelo’s David, a big picture of a smiley and a red rose. The funniest detail is that the “text” in Marcie’s textbook under the headline “Chapter 1: Assassination and Infiltration – Case Example 1: Radical Cult Leader as Intended Target” actually consists of the lyrics to “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by The Beatles, written as prose. :rommie: I usually don’t notice mistakes in the show (such as boom mikes in the shot) but I notice this time that in Angel you can see the reflection of Darla’s face on the bookshelf. Then there's Buffy's school file in I Robot, You Jane, which not only gives a different birth date than the one later displayed on her gravestone in Nightmares and The Gift, but lists her as a senior.

    Anti-smoking moments abound (this seems to have been a thing in the 90s, think of The X-Files). In Nightmares, a girl goes to the boiler room to smoke, and gets attacked by the Ugly Man – with the camera zooming on the poster “Smoking kills”. Fortunately, there’s also some subversion in the same episode with Snyder’s line “There are three things I I find it funny that the poster Buffy was using for target practice in Angel, when she was planning to kill Angel, was one with a hot, cool-looking dark-haired guy who smokes and an incription “Smoking sucks”. That must be the worst anti-smoking poster ever – the message one is likely to get seems more like “Smoking makes you cool, look at this guy!” :vulcan:

    Last year when I rewatched season 1, I was surprised to recognize Marcie Ross as Clea Duvall. This time, when I watched The Pack, I thought “Hey, that’s August from Once Upon a Time!” Eion Bailey played Kyle, one of the group of bullies.

    Some of the lines worth a mention:

    “For I am the king of cretins - all the lesser cretins bow before me!” – Xander in Witch (This line is, incidentally, the source of the username of one of the prominent members of Buffyforums.)

    “Can you vague it up for me?” “You’re like a textbook with legs” – Buffy snarking at Giles

    “What’s your childhood trauma?” – Cordelia to Buffy

    “Excuse you.” – Cordelia when she Buffy when they bump into each other.

    “Well, I know that I'll miss thee intellectual thrill of spelling words with my arms." - Amy on cheerleading

    “He’s gone binary on us.” – Buffy about Moloch the Destroyer in I, Robot, You Jane.

    Buffy even uses the term “pop culture reference”:

    Buffy: My spider sense is tingling.
    Giles: Your… spider sense?
    Buffy: Pop culture reference, sorry.

    Something I haven’t noticed before is that Giles used the term “Slayerettes” as a nickname for the non-Buffy Scoobies. The term “Fang Gang” is also used – but it’s Buffy referring to the Three (the vampires sent by the Master to kill her in Angel.) Buffy makes up a couple of ironic nicknames for herself: “That’s me, Destructo Girl”, “What am I, Knowledge Girl?” Buffy also ironically asks if she should make “I’m a Slayer, ask me how” buttons. I wonder if there was ever such a button either as official or fanmade merchandise? :-)

    Xander’s and Angel’s “You were totally checking my neck!” conversation in Prophecy Girl wasn’t the only subtextual/funny slashy moment in season 1: it almost made me laugh to see how much the scene with Luke kneeling and sucking the Master’s blood from his hand in The Harvest looked like a blow job – even Joss commented on it in his DVD commentary. :)

    Speaking of things that sound suspiciously like double entendres… Giles lectures Buffy about slaying: “You’re wasting too much time and energy. You should plunge and move on, plunge and move on…” Sounds like something Faith might say. ;) Slaying really does seem phallic, what with the sharp stakes and penetration, which is an inversion since Slayers are women. Until Buffy gets hot for certain vampires and lets them penetrate her in a different way – inversion of an inversion?

    It’s incredible how thin David Boreanaz was back then. SMG looked great with a more natural hair color than the uber-blondeness of seasons 2 and 3, and had a fuller figure compared to how thin she became in later seasons – pretty much the opposite of Nicholas Brendon. Only Alyson Hannigan remained the same, except for her ever-changing hairstyles. During Xander's first shirtless scene, I was thinking that he's way too buff for a 16-year old geek... Not surprising, since the actor was 26 at the time. I wonder if a lot of fandom animosity towards Xander and anger at his immature behavior wouldn’t be there if he had been played by a skinny, pimply teenager; it's easy of forget just how young he’s supposed to be. Although all the actors are older than their character's age, as it's usually the case on teen shows, I think Brendon and Charisma Carpenter (both 26) are less convincing as 16-year olds than SMG (20 at the time) and Alyson Hannigan (who looked much younger than 23.

    What particularly strikes me while watching season 1 is that and Buffy she seems much more mature than the Buffy we see in the current comics, which is largely because of Georges Jeanty’s habit of drawing her as a child-woman, but also to the current writing which makes her look like a pale shadow of Buffy, without her strength and spunk. Season 1 can switch between being a bubbly, ditzy-looking teenager one moment and being remarkably mature the next moment.

    Fashion watch: They were sure trying to attract male viewers with those really short skirts and long boots Buffy is wearing in every episode. Her outfits certainly changed a lot throughout the seasons, whether it was the decision of Joss and co. or just SMG insisting on wearing less revealing clothes. But, to be fair, though I don't know Californian schools, I don't find those outfits outrageous as some fans do, since I remember how a lot of girls (me included) used to dress in my high school. It's still funny that she's always wearing those very short skirts and nothing underneath while Willow wears sweaters and tights. Makes you wonder, what season and what temperature is it supposed to be? However, Buffy’s outfits while slaying are practical - we don't get the ridiculous sight of her slaying in skirts and high heels, which tends to happen with many action heroines.
    Xander and Willow tend to wear shirts with weird designs, such as Willow’s duck shirt, Xander’s shirt with mushrooms and Xander’s hypopothamus shirt. At one point, Willow wears a Scooby-Doo T-shirt. Buffy herself has a couple of T-shirt with what looks like cartoon drawings of women with 1950s hairstyles . Amy goes from standard valley girl clothes to a hippy look, with a baggy shirt with a peace sigh, by the end of Witch, when she’s free of her mother’s influence; she’ll switch to a Goth look by season 3.

    Altered states: Buffy and Cordelia under Catherine’s spell in Witch; Catherine swapping her body with her daughter Amy in the same episode (the first body swap in the show – the second one will lead to a much better storyline in season 4); Xander possessed by the hyena in The Pack; Buffy hypnotized by the Master in Prophecy Girl.

    Noncon/dubcon/sexual assault: 2 so far – and both involve Xander, but the first time as a victim and the second one as the perpetuator: the Insect Lady trying to “mate” with Xander (and having “mated” with others; Hyena!Xander’s attempted rape of Buffy. Some even consider the Master biting Buffy as a metaphorical sexual assault, but I will stick just to non-metaphorical ones (or else we’d have to count every vampire attack as sexual assault).

    Sunnydale High body count: 10 students (Jesse [The Harvest], Dave and Fritz [I, Robot, You Jane], Emily and Morgan [The Puppet Show], Kevin and 4 other students [Prophecy Girl]; 1 teacher (Dr Gregory, the likeable biology teacher killed by the Insect Lady); 1 former student (the Extreme Dead Guy in the locker in the pilot). Out of these, Dave’s death was listed as suicide, and Jesse is probably listed under missing persons.

    Giles gets knocked out: 3 times - Witch, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, Prophecy Girl

    Buffy figures it all out: The Harvest, Witch, Teacher's Pet, The Pack (where she’s sure that something’s wrong with Xander long before Giles recognizes it), Nightmares. The only time Giles figures it out is in Out of Mind, Out of Sight.I’ve noticed before that Buffy is most often the one that figures out the mystery or the solution, despite the commonly held view that Giles and Willow are supposed to be the clever ones (which even the characters in the show hold, see The Puppet Show where knowing the square root or other is regarded as the ultimate proof of intelligence); in fact, Giles mostly just provides knowledge and exposition.

    Cordelia in distress: Welcome to the Hellmouth (saved by Buffy), The Harvest (saved by Xander), Witch (saved by Buffy), Out of Mind, Out of Sight (saved by Buffy again). It’s only in Prophecy Girl that Cordy gets to be the savior for once – saving Jenny and Willow by driving them in her car to the library. She and Willow do scream a lot in that episode, but they also kick ass when they need to. Bets Cordelia moment from season 1 is when she bites the vampire’s hand, saying: “Let’s see how you like it!”

    Bands at the Bronze: Dashboard Prophets in Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest, and Velvet Chain in Never Kill a Boy on the First Date.

    The opening voiceover (“In every generation, a Slayer is born…”) made its debut in Angel, spoken by an unknown, cheesy-sounding male voice. I liked it much better when it was replaced with Giles’ voice in season 2, and even better than that when it was scrapped altogether. The picture quality isn’t that great early on, and those early episode are incredibly dark – literally. As the show got metaphorically darker as it went on, it also got literally lighter.
  18. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Finally, some musings on the show’s portrayal of high school. I’ve recently discussed it with a friend on LJ how realistic, or not, is the portrayal of high school life on BtVS. As someone who’s not an American and didn’t go to a US school, there are a lot of things in BtVS Sunnydale High that are completely alien to me, or that I only know about from US teen shows/movies, so I can’t really judge how accurate it is. We didn’t have the US school sports culture, since there are no organized competitive school sports (just physical exercise classes where you get to play basketball or volleyball or something) or official popularity contests (Homecoming Queen etc.) and all those school dances: there’s just the prom, after graduation, and that’s all; and the idea that everyone has to have a date at prom is also something alien to me. There are also other differences related to the school system. A line like "We had four classes with her last summer" is a weird one for me to hear; in my school, we didn't pick and choose different classes to go to; you're in a class, which comprises about 35-40 students, and you have all the classes that this class has. (The only difference between the classes is, however, in the foreign language classes you get to attend.) I also wonder if the school principals really interact with students so much in US high schools; ours were barely ever seen. On the other hand, class has one teacher assigned to them as the "head of the class" (a rough translation) who interacts with students the most, talks on their behalf with the other teachers, deals with things like student conduct, absences and students that are failing classes – something that US schools don’t seem to have.

    However, there are lots of things in BtVS portrayal of high school that are universal and do resonate a lot and make me think of my high school experience. The bullying, for starters; the way that certain students form cliques, and groups of students who bully others, like those in The Pack. Someone like Cordelia is also instantly recognizable (even though she's an exaggerated version, a lot of things she says are way OTT), the "cool" people ("popular" would be a misleading word - in fact, most people hate them, but they act like they're in charge) who are usually rich, dress up in expensive clothes and are considered sexy (partly due to looking older than their years - this is something that teenagers find appealing) and who have their cliques of friends/sycophants, and spend a lot of time mocking other people. There are also people like Willow, who could be called "nerds", though it's not the same stereotype - e.g. we don't have the cliche that liking SF or comics makes you a nerd - but people who are bookish, shy and tend to dress conservatively, like their parents are choosing their clothes (which they might be); boys who cover their insecurity with jokes and try to act the role of the class clown, since they don't think they can be the hot manly men; students that nobody notices (the "invisible" ones); and there are those that are considered crazy, weird or freaky due to their personality or attitude. When people assign a certain role to you, it's generally hard to get rid of it. And though there aren't any official popularity contest, you always knew that there was an unofficial hierarchy, such as, who are considered the hottest girls, or hottest boys. On my first week of high school (that's when we were 15-16), the boys in my class even had a vote between themselves for the Hottest Girl in Class, and one of them (the "class clown" boy) announced the results to the class during the break. There was a lot of competitiveness and jealousy between girls - things like Cordelia being jealous of Buffy and frustrated when boys would be more into Buffy (as in Never Kill a Boy on the First Date) because a "weirdo" isn't supposed to challenge and best her in hotness stakes, is something that mirrors my "relationship" with the Cordelia of my class, though in our cases it lasted much longer and was much worse and never got better.

    Finally, here's a couple of songs used in BtVS season 1. See you next when I re-rewatch the first 11 episodes of season 2.

    Dashboard Prophets - "Ballad for Dead Friends" (from The Harvest)


    Velvet Chain - "Strong" (from Never Kill a Boy on the First Date)

  19. Ethros

    Ethros Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 4, 2001
    1123 6536 5321
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I've just dipped in this thread, but out of interest, why are you rewatching Season 1 when you're only half way through Season 3?

    No offence but it's taken you 19 months to get that far?

    If as you say in the opening post that you intend to watch all 144 eps of Buffy and 110 of Angel, at that rate you'll be done around... 2019?
  20. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    LOL I certainly hope it won't be at that rate...

    I've already explained why I'm rewatching it again from the start. It's exactly because it's been so long and it feels like I've seen those season 1 and 2 episodes ages ago. I'm going to try to marathon season 2 and the first part of season 3 in the next weeks and then continue with the regular reviews. I'm hoping it will be at least 2 episodes a week.

    Sure, it would be great if I could watch 5 episodes a week, like Mark from Mark Watches blog, but he doesn't do anything else for a living and makes money out of his "reviews" which mostly consist of "OMG WTF WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING TO ME", "I'VE GOT ALL THE FEELS" exclamations.