Saturday, February 26, 2011

Prophecy Girl

Episode #12: Prophecy Girl

"You have fruit punch mouth."

This episode centers on Voldemort, who is prophecized to kill Harry Potter. Harry is young and doesn't wanna die, but he valiantly goes to his death match and somehow finds a magical loophole that allows him to defeat Voldemort.

In the previous episode, Angel delivered a codex to Giles with some prophecy about The Master. In this episode, Giles deciphers the codex and just can't believe what he sees! What is it, Giles?? Right before he turns to the camera and say, "Hello, dear viewers! I have just discovered that the codex reads..." he's interrupted by an earthquake! This, along with kittens birthing snakes and blood coming out of faucets and other creepy happenings, show that the end of the world is nigh. Well, this is according to Jenny Calendar, who Giles decides to believe because she's so so impossibly hot.

Angel comes back to talk with Giles about the codex, and Buffy overhears the dark secret: "Tomorrow night, Buffy will face The Master and she will die!"

Giles can't believe it. Angel can't believe it. But Buffy REALLY can't believe it, and there's a long scene in which Sarah Michelle Gellar Acts.

Actually, I found this whole sequence quite moving. What would a sixteen-year-old do if she found out she only had one more day to live? She goes home and begs Joyce to go on a trip with her, but can't explain that the reason is she's going to die the following day. Surprise--Joyce bought her a fancy dress for the Spring Fling! They bond. Rose gets a 'lil choked up.

Because the end of the world is nigh, Sunnydale's vampires are getting a little crazy and kill a group of teens at school. This leads to several creepy shots of Willow and Cordelia discovering their mutilated corpses.

Willow's shaken up, and Buffy realizes that she cannot avoid her sacred calling™. She sets off to confront The Master in her beautiful new Spring Fling dress, but first she has to knock out Giles because he just can't let her go. Seriously, Buffy? Your last moment with Giles and you spend it punching him in the face? So not cool.

The Anointed One finally shows us his reason for being a character on this show: it's his job to lead Buffy to The Master by tricking her, because, you know, he's a little kid and how could he be evil? But Buffy already knows that he's The Anointed and goes to The Master willingly, so really, what is the point of this kid?

I've pointedly neglected to mention the fact that Xander has been moping this whole episode because he asked Buffy out and this was her reaction:

When he finds out that Buffy is headed to The Master, he forces Angel to take him there too because he loooves Buffy so much and must make a valiant attempt to save her life because he loooves her and cares more about her than Giles or Willow because he's suuuuch a good guy. Ew.

Back at Sunnydale High, Giles, Jenny Calendar and Willow prepare for the Apocalypse. Once The Master is free, the Hellmouth will open. It turns out that the Hellmouth is located...IN THE SUNNYDALE HIGH LIBRARY/SCOOBY HEADQUARTERS! Wow, what a coincidence!

The Master kills Buffy per prophecy. He takes a big 'ol bite and then she falls face forward into a pool and drowns. And who should come and save her but...Xander! Seriously, Joss Whedon? Did this need to happen? He gives her mouth-to-mouth because Angel can't breathe, and you know he's probably so totally turned on, and then she comes to.

So, like Harry Potter, Buffy fulfills the prophecy by dying but then comes back to life so that she can go back to Sunnydale High/Hogwarts and have an epic battle with The Master Part Two and kill him. Then the Hellmouth, which is apparently a monster and not a location, emerges and has many, many heads, and they have to kill it too. After lots more killing, Buffy is teary-eyed and looking a bit Carrie in her fancy dress as a melancholic piano rendition of the theme song plays. Then Giles gets a bit teary-eyed too when she tells him that she died, saying, "I should've known that wouldn't stop you." Jesus Christ Giles, always trying to make me cry :'( :'(

Anyway, the group decide to head to The Bronze for the dance. "I'm hungry!" says Willow. "I like your dress," says Angel. And that, friends, is the end of season one.

Favorite moment: Cordelia drives her car through Sunnydale High and into the library to avoid vampires. Guess witch-induced blindness wasn't the only reason she failed her driver's test in episode 3.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight

Episode #11: Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight

"You've got all those weapons. I was kind of hoping you were in a gang."

Ms. Probably Doomed Teacher delivers a Probably Metaphoric Lecture about Shylock and the social outcast, which Cordelia doesn't appreciate. He's like, so selfish! Social outcasts don't care about her pain? This seems like an irrelevant introduction to the next scene, in which Cordelia's date for the May Queen dance, Mitch, gets beaten by a flying phantom baseball bat. Or is it irrelevant??

But don't mistake Mitch for dead! When the Scoobies arrive on the scene, Principal Snyder exhaustedly says, "There are no dead students here this week."

Giles thinks the phantom bat was wielded by an angry ghost, who Buffy hears laughing and feels pass through her. She's a girl, and she's not cold! She's not a ghost, she's an invisible student!

Buffy goes back to school after hours to investigate and poignantly watches Cordelia getting her May Queen dress fitted to the tune of a plaintive flute. You see, Buffy used to be May Queen at her old high school back before her sacred calling and yadda yadda wants to be a normal teenager yeah. But who is playing that flute? Flashbacks show us that Invisible Girl is played by Clea Duvall in a rare break from her typecasting as hardened lesbian/drug addict. Here she is just hardened flautist.

Buffy goes to discover the source of the music and discovers Clea's little love nest with her scratched-up yearbook. And yeesh--she brings it to the Scoobies in the library where they discover that everyone signed it, "Have a nice summer!"

Flashbacks reveal that Clea just wanted to be part of the crowd, but everyone ignored her. She wanted to answer questions in class, but the teacher didn't call on her. Let me be the first to say, :'( :'( :'(
Giles sez: Clea turned invisible because of quantum mechanics. She was perceived as invisible, and she became so! And that is quantum mechanics!

Her ultimate goal is to attack Cordelia, who she holds responsible for all of her first world problems. Cordelia senses that someone is after her and enlists the Scoobies to protect her, but she cannot be convinced to skip the May Queen dance. Cue Clea pulling her through the ceiling while she changes into her dress, Giles and co. being trapped in a basement chamber full of poisonous gas (which seems to happen a lot to this group), and Buffy and Cordelia tied-up in May Queen thrones while Clea mutilates the queen's face. "It's less fun if you're not awake!" she tells Cordelia. "We should start with your smile--I think it should be wider!" Yeah, it gets a little twisted. My mama still won't watch this episode.

Oh hi Angel! He rescues Giles, Willow and Xander as they pitifully try to escape the basement. Guy has an uncanny ability to sense of people in mortal danger. They escape just in time for Buffy's big showdown with Clea! They enter The Matrix so that Buffy can have a slo-mo moment, feeling the movements of the wind, closing her eyes, her sparkly scarf waving slowly...and then a bunch of guys with suits burst in and carry a cloaked Clea away!

Wait, what?

They take her away to a farm where she can run free with all of the other puppies. But actually, it turns out the FBI take all invisible teens to a correctional facility where they learn how to be assassins. Okay, Joss Whedon. That is a really clever ending to the episode and a productive use of your creative energy.

Favorite moment: There's an inexplicable scene in the library with Giles and Giles alone. But he's not alone! He gazes at the bookcase glass, but does not realize Angel is right next to him! They exchange a smoldering glance, Giles starts to feel a bit funny, and after a long pause, he says, "A vampire casts no shadow!" Thanks for letting us know, Giles.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Episode #10: Nightmares

"There are a lot scarier things than you. And I'm one of them."

Ahh, a typical day at Sunnydale High. One wonders--why are there still so many students at Sunnydale High? Haven't most of them died by now, or transferred to other schools due to the vast amounts of death? Xander lightens the mood by charmingly perving over the teacher (LOL! so cute!!) until he is interrupted by THE ANOINTED! He lurks eerily in the doorway and watches as spiders crawl out of a student's book and all over his face. Eww.

But wait! All the sudden, we're back in The Master's Lair with The Anointed, who apparently isn't creepily lurking at Sunnydale High. What? Who was that other kid then? What's happening?

Confession: I can't tell children apart.

The Scoobies go to interview Spiderboy and ask if he's doing okay, and he reveals that he LOVES spiders; he collects them! Now he imagines that spiders hate him, and has nightmares about them crawling out of his book. Poor fella! He used to have the biggest spider collection in the Tri-County area!

But he's not alone! (Well, he's alone in the loving spiders thing.) It seems all of Sunnydale High are either:
1. Living their worst nightmares, or
2. Being attacked by a gigantic demon while taking a smoke break.

Buffy and Giles discover that the gigantic anti-smoking demon's first victim was the creepy lurking child from the beginning. Their discovery is interrupted by Giles suddenly losing the ability to read, and Buffy's father coming to tell her that he doesn't love her and that she caused her parents' divorce. Their conversation is actually quite sad. But if you find yourself hoping for more of this emotional depth, cherish the silliness while you can. Oh boy, let me tell you--by season six, you'll be yearning for demons on the Internet.

Creepy lurking boy's name is Billy, and he cryptically warns Buffy about "the ugly man" who comes after him whenever he hides. Billy is also the astral projection of the actual Billy, who is currently in a coma because he got beaten up by his baseball coach. Yeah.

Willow wanders into the school basement and you think she's about to confront The Ugly Man, but she suffers a worse fate:

She's the world's finest soprano and has to perform onstage! Hey, at least this isn't a reprise of her Oedipus Rex performance.

Meanwhile, Xander's worst nightmare is that he'll walk into Sunnydale High, find it deserted and covered in swastikas, and follow a candy bar trail to his sixth birthday, where a clown tries to kill him. It's funny, because I have dreams like that almost every night! He happens upon Willow and Giles, who want to run, but Xander (in a rare show of competence) turns around and punches the clown in the face. It seems that facing your fear, triumphing over adversity, etc. are the keys to defeating The Ugly Man. Or something.

Things get super complicated when they all end up in a cemetery, and Giles tries to make all of us cry by revealing his worst nightmare: that Buffy's dead :'( :'( :'(
But she's not really dead--she's just a vampire! This is her worst nightmare, I think. Or is it Giles'? Or is the correct spelling "Giles's"? The eternal question.

[Buffy the Vampire Vampire]

Buffy tells Billy's astral projection to be like Xander (ugh) and face his fears. Then their nightmares are over, Billy wakes up from the coma, his mean baseball coach goes to jail, the giant wasps that inexplicably took over Sunnydale disappear, Rose looks up "astral projection" in the dictionary...

Favorite moment: Cordelia's worst nightmare: her hair is frizzy, she's seen the softer side of Sears, and she's being dragged to chess club against her will.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Puppet Show

Episode #9: The Puppet Show

"There are things I will not tolerate: students loitering on campus after school, horrible murders with hearts being removed, and also smoking."

Giles gets roped into running the Sunnydale High Talent show auditions and is none too pleased to listen to Cordelia bulldoze through "The Greatest Love of All." And the Scoobies get roped into the talent show PRINCIPAL SNYDER in his television debut! One can only imagine the kinds of job candidates the school received after the last principal was eaten by students, and Snyder is not about to let those meddling kids get away with it again.

Mark Zuckerberg shows impressive skill at ventriloquism, and apparently the ladies at Sunnydale High are so starved for non-demon dates that they find his dummy act swoonworthy.

In the meantime, something is slithering about attacking students, stealing their vital organs, and shouting, "I will be flesh!" in a way that invokes both, "Enemies of the heir, beware!" and, "I'm a real boy!" Hmm...what could it be?

The Scoobies find out that the culprit is a demon that periodically feeds on the hearts and brains of humans in order to maintain its human form. They set about interviewing the Sunnydale High talent asking them if they noticed anything fishy, and the number one suspect becomes Mark Zuckerberg. Why? He's, you know, skulkin' around, talkin' to his puppet...

Pedo dummy peers into Buffy's window and climbs into bed with her, and yet none of the Scoobies believe her story. Xanders says: "It was a cat!" Willow says: "Dummies just give you the wiggins!" You at home are saying: "The wiggins?"

Mark Zuckerberg gets separated from his dummy (via theft-by-Xander) and is going through some serious withdrawal. All the while, Buffy snoops around school to find out Morgan's dark secret, but at every turn she runs into...PRINCIPAL SNYDER!

[He's just so cuddly!]

After escaping the wrath of Snyder, Buffy happens upon Mark Zuckerberg sans brain. She's knocked unconscious by a booby-trap chandelier, and wakes up to one of the Top Ten Images I Didn't Realize I Never Ever Wanted To See Until I Saw Them:

Puppets and knives. Bad combo.

They duke it out, and then have the following exchange:

Dummy: You win. You can take your heart and your brain and move on!
Buffy: I'm sure they would've made good trophies for your case!
Dummy: It would've been justice.
Buffy: Except for one thing: you lost! You'll never be human!
Dummy: Yeah, well neither will you.
Buffy and Dummy: ...What?

It turns out that the dummy is not a demon, but a demon hunter! (And yeah, try saying that ten times fast!) Luckily, if you're one of the 248823492 people who refuse to ever watch this episode because of all the loving screen time showered upon stalking, potentially murderous anthropomorphized dummies, Joss Whedon scrapped the Dummy the Demon Hunter spin-off.

Anyway, the dummy's actual name is Sid, and he dons his Armani tux and lights up a cigar to tell his sordid tale to the Scoobies. He was cursed to inhabit the body of a dummy and needs to kill the six organ-harvesting demons to break the curse. But, sad face, his human body died long ago, so being released really means performing his next act at the great (ventriloquist) gig in the sky.

But the talent show must go on! Giles rushes to the auditorium to gather all the talent, only to be coaxed into a guillotine by the demon-disguised-as-student-magician. C'mon Giles, put your thinking cap on! So Buffy arrives on the scene and the demon is quickly dispensed of. Sid is released from his dummy body and transcends to A Better Place. And as Buffy cradles the dummy's lifeless corpse, the demon lies in the guillotine, beheaded, and Giles, Willow, and Xander stare dumbfounded...the curtain rises, and the talent show begins!

And who should be sitting perplexed in the audience but...PRINCIPAL SNYDER! He says, "I don't get it. What is it? Avant garde?" Aaaaand, roll credits.

Favorite moment: As the credits roll, the Scoobies perform that dramatic scene they were preparing behind the scenes for the whole episode. It's Oedipus Rex, of course!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I, Robot...You, Jane

Episode #8: I, Robot...You Jane

"The one guy who really likes me, and he's a demon robot. What does that say about me?"

Remember back when the Internet consisted of Prodigy and chat groups about kittens and the invention of AOL blew everyone's mind? And the dangers of being online and flirting with a 6-year-old or an FBI agent and what are viruses? Well, this episode will tug at your heartstrings hard if you miss the innocent days when people thought this Internet thing would fade out with POGs and acid-wash jeans.

The episode begins with an atrocious, ten-year long Italian intro in which a scaly horned green demon coos, "Amore!" to his dreamy Italian minion, only to be exploded by a bunch of monks who trap him in a book.

Centuries later or whatever, Buffy discovers the book. She's in the library with Giles and impossibly hot computer teacher Jenny Calendar, who is helping them scan books into those newfangled inventions called computers. Jenny and Giles argue about books (books) vs. the Internet (Kindles) when some rando jumps out of nowhere and snarls, "The only reality is virtual! If you're not jacked in, you're not alive!" Jenny says his name is Fritz. Uhh, yeah. Okay.

Willow announces that she's fallen in love with Malcolm, who she met on the Internet. Buffy suspects that Malcolm is probably a circus freak, so she decides to do a little bit of snooping. Meanwhile, Fritz and his simpering friend are REALLY into some new project of theirs, and not just to impress the super super hot Jenny Calendar. No, they spend their nights chanting, "I'm jacked in! I'm jacked in!", carving letters into their flesh, and eerily staring at Buffy. Uh oh, what could all this mean!!

Long story long: Things start to get real creepy when Fritz tries to electrocute Buffy in the girl's bathroom. Simpering friend has a sudden burst of conscience and warns Buffy to get out of there, but not before her Steven Madden's get toasted.

[And I bought these on sale!]

Simpering friend yells at the computer, which starts speaking aloud and telling him that he promised him love. This sounds familiar! The computer then begins reading a suicide note as written by simpering friend, and Fritz appears creepily lurking in the back. THIS HAPPENED! They staged the poor fella's homicide-as-suicide, and oblivious "What is the Internet?" Buffy happens upon his hanging corpse!

Giles and co. realize that Malcolm (aka "Moloch the Corrupter") is actually the Italian demon, and that Willow scanned him onto her computer. If "Teacher's Pet" gave us The teacher is a giant praying mantis! and "The Pack" gave us THE KIDS. ATE. THEIR PRINCIPAL., then this is the episode that I will forever think of as, There's a demon on the Internet!

Jenny Calendar reveals that she knows about the demon on the Internet because, wait for it...SHE'S A TECHNO-PAGAN! "There are more of us than you think!" she says. Of course, yeah! So sure!

She and Giles cast some cyber-incantations while Buffy, Xander, and Willow confront Moloch, who is a gigantic effing robot. Poor Willow--first she goes after Xander, and then she goes after this:

And it's still not clear which is worse!

Favorite moment: This moment comes to you courtesy of the lovely Alison Goldstein. When Giles and Buffy discover that there's a demon on the Internet, they logically try to delete it off of Willow's computer. When Buffy drags it into the trash bin, Moloch appears onscreen and yells: