Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amends

Season #3, Episode #10: Amends

"Your Christmas will be his wake."


A couple years ago, I began watching my first episode of Buffy in my friend's living room with much disinterest. But I was almost immediately hooked by the same impulse that makes me want to revisit every generic alt rock band I heard on Q101 at the age of five and wear see-through lace tops in the 21st century. There's a reason that this video is my happy place.

So it was only an added bonus that the appeal of Season One included a little more than 90s nostalgia. Sure, there's humor, and B-movie humor, and some chills, with lovable characters, etc. But underneath all the goofy dialogue there is a comfortable, well-worn coming-of-age story about teenage girls and their doomed bad boy lovers. As much as I thought Angel was one-note and David Boreanaz couldn't act, I was drawn to his plotline, always. The best episodes of the first two seasons, in my opinion, all revolve around Buffy and Angel.

And kudos to Whedon and co. for coming up with a way to transition Angel from token brooding boyfriend into the more nuanced world of Season Two. Having seen all seven seasons, I still think bringing Angelus back was the most brilliant plot development the show ever invented. But now that it's Season Three, we watch with painful awareness that Angel is only on the show because of his spinoff potential. Buffy's arc included Angel, but extends far beyond him. So what to do with a somewhat-developed character who started as a trope?

Amends gives us a small hint at what Angel might become in his future spinoff. Actually, the episode is kind of a trailer for Angel the Series, which will be almost a complete departure in terms of tone and theme. And it is really great, and you should all watch it, seriously.

The episode opens with a flashback, which means David Boreanaz attempting to affect an Irish accent. Also, Irish Angelus looks kinda like Josh Brolin, no?

In this flashback, Angelus kills a dude in Dublin on Christmas. In present day Sunnydale, Angel wakes up from a terrible nightmare of said flashback. He runs into the street and has an awkward run-in with Buffy, who it appears he hasn't seen for a long time. But who should he see staring morosely in the distance but the Irish dude he just dreamed about killing? It's so distracting, he doesn't even notice Buffy's terrible new bangs.

It's almost Christmas vacation, and the Scoobies are feeling the holiday blues. Buffy will spend Christmas with Joyce, moping apart from Angel. Willow misses Oz dot com. And Xander plans on spending Christmas night lying in his sleeping bag in his backyard, which Cordelia rudely tells everyone is because he wants to avoid his family's drunken Christmas fights. At last, we offer Xander some mitigating back story!

Cordelia may not be ready to play nice, but Oz and Willow want to make Amends. Oz announces that he's willing to give it another shot, and it's actually quite sweet despite the fact that his character barely even exists when he's onscreen.

At the Christmas tree lot, Joyce suggests that she and Buffy invite Faith over for Christmas. Buffy is none too pleased, and spends about five minutes eerily creeping up to the center of the lot where one imagines she is about to find a heap of corpses, but actually finds a bunch of dead trees.

Cut to a creepy montage that invokes the likes of Season One with it's Gregorian chanters and bones and candles. A bunch of Voldemorts with Xs for eyes worship at an altar. But it turns out this is just another one of Angel's dreams, and another opportunity to fulfill David Boreanaz's shirtless scene quota.

Angel goes to ask Giles for help interpreting his creepy visions, but Giles tells Angel that he is complete scum and how dare he even show his face!! Considering that the show goes to great lengths to differentiate between Angel with and without a soul, Giles' behavior seems a bit petty, but since there is no real life example of this soul lore, none of the characters will ever be able to react to it in a way that makes much real world sense.

Anyway, Giles agrees to let bygones be bygones, but only if Angel doesn't mind having a crossbow pointed at him at all times. Angel tells Giles that he has to understand why he was freed from an eternity of suffering in hell, but gets distracted when the specter of Jenny Calendar appears in the room, invisible to Giles.

Shirtless scene #3 involves another flashback/dream to a fancy Christmas party in ye olden times. Angelus (and his mustache) corners a maid, who believes he is trying to rape her, when really he is about to do the symbolic vampire-y equivalent. Dream Angelus stops suddenly when he sees Buffy staring at him in disbelief. Cut to Buffy waking up with a start. We are to understand that Buffy appeared in Angel's dream because she was also having the same dream at the same time. Just go with it, y'all.

When Angel wakes up, Jenny Calendar has arrived at his creepy palace to taunt him. Angel repeatedly apologizes for what he did, but Jenny assures him that she doesn't want him to feel bad--she just wants him to see himself for who he really is. Also, Jenny begins morphing into the various different people Angel killed. Whaa?

Buffy runs to Giles, who begrudgingly agrees to help figure out whatever is wrong with Angel. Touchingly, Xander asks if he can help Angel too, and makes Amends with Buffy for being such an unfathomable douche. Willow comes in to see what's the haps, and the group gathers to research in the library just like the good old days.

Meanwhile in Angel's lair, the neverending parade of Angel's victims continues, this time including a father who congratulates Angel on the artful way he murdered his two children. The maid tells him that he's a special beast because of the way he takes pleasure in killing. When Angel appeals to Jenny that he was once a man, she asks him to take a look at what kind of a man he was via flashback. It seems he was a bit of a drunken fratboy, but in ye olden times.

The creepy spirit does a bit of a good cop/bad cop number on Angel, at once telling him that he was a worthless creature with no talent except cruelty and stroking his neck, telling him it will all be okay. This is all to say that Angel is a trembling mess. Then he and Buffy both fall asleep and dream about boning.

Jenny takes this opportunity to tell Angel that he obviously wants Buffy, and if he would just let himself have her, that he would be free from the pain of having a conscience. Who would ever suggest that Angel do such a stupid thing?

Giles discovers Who in the library. The spirit is called The First, or the world's first evil. It is an intangible, pure distillation of evil that depends on the aforementioned Voldemorts to exact physical damage on earth. In the meantime, it just tries to drive people crazy and make them do evil stuff. The First is a great idea in theory, as it turns the entire concept of evil into an entity that pervades all and can't be fought. (But as we'll see in Season Seven, it is a terrible, terrible idea in practice.)

This is all a bit serious and doom and gloom and boring to read about. Willow offers some levity as she tries to make Amends with Oz by putting Mountain Dew on ice and playing some Barry White and offering, "I'm ready to, with you...we could do that thing." Luckily, he says no. But it's still pretty cute.

Back at the Summers home, Joyce asks, "So Angel's on top again?"

Faith interrupts this awkward moment by showing up to celebrate Christmas with the Summers after all. She even brought crappy gifts. Buffy runs upstairs for some decorations, only to find a very disturbed and confused Angel. Jenny eggs him on, saying, "She wants you to taste her," and promising if he does, he'll be left alone. Buffy's attempts to bring Angel back to reality fail, and he dramatically shouts, "Leave me alone!" and jumps out the window. And yeah it's kinda hilarious.

Buffy divines that The First is camping out beneath the Christmas tree lot with all the dead trees, and goes to have an epic battle. This pisses off The First, who appears as Jenny Calendar to tell Buffy all about evil and how it is everywhere and in every thought and in every thing ever. Though this is kind of an intimidating idea, Buffy is not at all impressed...and since The First can't be fought, Buffy simply runs off to find Angel and rescue him from certain death.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Angel decided that rather than killing Buffy to rid himself of The First, he would kill himself instead. He realizes now that The First somehow managed to bring him back from hell to do its bidding, and that his reason for existing is to do evil. Buffy finds him standing on a ledge reflecting on all the little kiddies nestled snug in their beds, and desperately asks him to come inside before sunrise.

Okay, maybe I'm just a huge sap, but I think the following scene is one of the most effective moments in the series. It's hard to describe, so here's a Youtube video. Please try to ignore all the comments about how they are soo much better than Bella and Edward.



The scene works for me on a few levels. First, as a culmination of the events of the episode; The First tries to drive Angel to kill Buffy, and then to suicide, by making him doubt the possibility of redemption. Second, it works to set up the themes for Angel the Series--which, in my humble opinion, does a better job on the whole of relating supernatural plotlines to the real world. His recent foray into the world of Angelus, and the events of this episode, force Angel to realize that a deep part of him desires to give into his baser impulses. He wants to take comfort in Buffy and sometimes doesn't care about the consequences. At the same time, he wants to redeem himself, but feels that it is futile. The line between Liam the Irish Guy, Angel, and Angelus is not as clear cut as Buffy and Buffy would like it to be.

(A bit of a tangent, but I was struck by the fact that this episode and The Wish are both pretty dark, but in completely different ways. The Wish presents a grimy, bleak portrait of the world, whereas Amends is far more internal. This is a split between the two TV series as well; Buffy follows a cast of characters trying to keep it together when the world is at stake, while Angel explores people who try to fathom their purpose in a world where very little is at stake.)

But on a more immediately satisfying level, this is just a powerful depiction of a fight between people who love each in a very dysfunctional way. One tries to pull the other out of a dark place, and can't. They're stubborn, they fight, they hit each other, they cry. Buffy tries to appeal to Angel by forgiving him and telling him that she loves him in spite of the terrible things he's done to her. They struggle, but they know it's over. It's full of the melodrama of Season One, but here, it's honest and it hits hard. (And SMG is just sooooo good.)

What the video doesn't show is that out of nowhere, it begins to snow.

This is played off as a bit of a miracle--not only does it rarely snow in Los Angeles, but this prevents the sun from rising and Angel from dying. The episode ends with a montage of the Scoobies reacting in awe to the miracle of snow. I guess many people consider this to be kind of a copout, but I think it's a bittersweet reprieve for Buffy and Angel. They think it's the end of the world and wear themselves out fighting until they have no more energy, and then the next day begins. The sun still rises, or in this case, it doesn't rise.

Damn you, Joss, for getting it so right sometimes.

Favorite moment: Not a moment, but kudos to Robia LaMorte, who agreed to reprise her role as Jenny Calendar even though she had since found religion and wasn't too happy about portraying the purest form of evil. And she gives a great performance, going from pissed off as hell to sensual and nurturing at the drop of a hat.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Wish

Season #3, Episode #9: The Wish

"I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."


The Wish opens where the sad montage of Lover's Walk left off--Buffy, Xander and Willow lamenting their failed relationships. But while they still have one another, poor Cordelia is left all alone in her fancy bedroom setting pictures of Xander on fire and making scarily huge flames.

After getting all the sad out of her system, Cordelia puts on a bad-to-the-bone sexy outfit to wear to school on Monday, only it is a maroon leather knee-length skirt with a matching maroon leather jacket and maroon top with maroon lipstick and looks like the regrettable part of the 90s.

She's confronted by her friends, clad in pastel, who suggest she may want to turn to dorky Jonathan as a rebound. A random beefcake jock guy refers to her as "Xander Harris's cast-off." Queen Cordelia has been dethroned.

The only person on Team Cordelia is the new girl in town, Anya, who appreciates Cordelia's fashion sense and newfound hatred of men. They take to The Bronze to wear more terrible outfits together and make Xander feel like crap. Happily, it works.

Buffy sees right through Cordelia's act and decides to check up on her in the alleyway. At this exact moment, a vampire shows up and shoves Cordelia into a trash heap, just in time for Harmony and co. to come out of The Bronze and LOL at her expense.

Cordelia realizes that her fall from grace began the moment Buffy Summers showed up at Sunnydale High--the vampires, the peril, the terrible dating decisions. She confides in her new BFF that she wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, at which point Anya's face gets all gross and she says "Done!" in a Satan voice. Whoops!

And here we begin the episode proper, everything up to this point serving as an excuse for a "what-if?" parallel universe fan fiction-esque episode. Anya is a vengeance demon who specializes in granting the wishes of scorned women, and per Cordelia's request de-Buffifies Sunnydale.

At first, Cordelia is A-OK with a Buffy-less Sunnydale High. Her old friends still worship her as queen, and hunky beefcake guy begs to take her out. But why is everybody dressed for a funeral, and why is there a town curfew? Why do they act like she's just suggested a murder-suicide pact when she wears a bright-colored dress and asks to go to The Bronze?

Turns out that despite sitting atop a Hellmouth for all of eternity, Sunnydale took a quick turn for the worse over the past three years without Buffy. Everything closes before sundown, the town center looks a little nuclear fallout-ish, and there are leaves everywhere. Worst of all, Harmony informs Cordelia that Willow and that geeky Xander guy are both dead.

Cordelia seems to accept Xander's death quickly and is more concerned that she's not allowed to have a car in a world without Buffy. But once the sun goes down, she finds both Xander and Willow in the street...only they're now vampires.

I take it that vampire Willow has many fans--so many, in fact, that she'll get her very own episode later in the season (Doppelgangland). And maybe I just don't get the appeal of vampires, but watching Alyson Hannigan be "bad" inspires more secondhand embarrassment than anything. Like, she whimpers like a puppy and licks Xander's face, and it is terrible.

Giles turns up in a blue van to rescue Cordelia. Apparently in Buffy's absence, Giles assembled a different set of Scoobies that includes himself, a random girl, oaf Larry and Oz. So in this alternate universe, vampires take over Sunnydale in three years and not only does nobody move to another city, but the only four people to take an interest in stopping them include roid rage Larry and a mute slacker?

For a fun fanfic romp, the tone of this episode is awfully bleak, from the grey color palette to the terrible slasher film dialogue; Larry says of a passed-out Cordelia, "She'd rather look good than feel alive." On the other hand, Xander and Willow have some fun going to The Bronze, which has been taken over by Nine Inch Nails fans and a traveling circus troupe. Humans dangle from the rafters in cages. And no Dingoes Ate My Baby :(

Xander and Willow head backstage to find none other than The Master, the villain from Season 1! Xander tells him that Cordelia mentioned bringing Buffy to Sunnydale, which makes The Master all nervous like.

Cordelia comes to in the library, and gives Giles a sad face when she insists that he's supposed to be Buffy's Watcher. But before he can give us some exposition on his failed Watcher hopes and dreams, Xander and Willow show up and kill Cordelia. Bet you weren't expecting to see that!


Xander and Willow debauch, and so on and so forth. Willow gets her rocks off torturing a chained Angel with matches. And Xander likes to watch.

Giles may not be Buffy's Watcher, but he's still Giles. He leaves a message for Buffy (who is in Cleveland, of course) and repairs to his books, where he finds a picture of the locket that Anya used to grant the wish. Long story short, Buffy turns up in Sunnydale with a big scary scar on her face and a chip on her shoulder.

Before we get to the slam bang finish of the episode, let me just say that The Wish does a quick and dirty job of reinforcing the importance of Buffy to Sunnydale and vice versa. First of all, it revives the long-absent idea that vampires are actually dangerous and it's important for a Slayer to exist. It goes without saying that Sunnydale without Buffy is no good on a level of basic health and safety, but by showing us what would have happened without her, we also understand the positive effect of Giles and the Scoobies on Buffy. Without them, she's surly, nihilistic, and wears ugly cargo pants. The invention of a parallel universe is kind of a cheap way of accomplishing this--proving what the series is by showing us what it is not--but it works awfully well.

So yeah, the slam bang finish. Buffy like so totally does not even have time for Giles, so she heads to kill The Master in hopes of catching the next flight back to Cleveland. She runs into Angel, and doesn't even find him dreamy. He tells her that The Master is at the grand opening of his new blood factory, at which a state of the art machine punctures a human and drains them alive. This is some icky stuff. For a somewhat goofy fan favorite, it ranks up there with the creepiest.

In the ensuing slow-mo fight scene, Xander stakes Angel, Buffy stakes Xander, Oz stakes Willow, and in the final chilling moment, The Master snaps Buffy's neck. We see all of our favorite characters annihilated one by one, plus Xander.

Luckily, Giles is still hard at work, and manages to summon Anya thru a magic spell. Just before he smashes her locket and undoes all of the wishes she granted (just go with it), they have this deeply meaningful exchange:

Anya: How do you know the other world is any better than this?
Giles: Because it has to be.


Sure enough, we cut back to Sunnydale High, where Cordelia joyfully wishes terrible things upon all of the Scoobies, with Anya powerless to grant any of them. Our Scoobies gab on the quad to jangly 90s alt, none the wiser.


Besides justifying the importance of Buffy and the Scoobies, this episode does the work of fan fiction, taking people we already know well into a foreign scenario to deepen their characterization. If Willow were a vampire, would she lick Xander's face? Without Giles, would Buffy be an unfeeling killing machine? Somehow, the reactions of these characters to their new predicament seem totally believable. A treat for the more fannish fans on Whedonesque, but also a clever way of wrapping up some of the angst from Lover's Walk--no matter what, a world in which the Scoobies are together is better, just because it has to be.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lover's Walk

Season #3, Episode #8: Lover's Walk

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


There is a very, very low chance that you noticed I failed to include a "favorite moment" in my review of Revelations. Come Season 3, there aren't nearly as many random moments that stick out above the rest. It's all quite arc-y. I reserve to right to name a favorite moment but 9/10 times I have to pick one from everything I've already written, and that's just no fun.

At the beginning of our next episode, the Scoobies receive their SAT scores and derive meaning out of the figure "740 verbal" that, I, a lowly Midwesterner who took the ACT, do not understand. Cordelia reveals herself to be secretly brilliant, and Buffy has something called a "1430 composite," which I assume is a good thing. Buffy had never considered her future possibilities before, or that she may even have a future. Could this score be her one-way ticket out of Sunnydale?

Speaking of leaving Sunnydale, who should crash into the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign again but Spike! Remember Spike, the impotent lovelorn "villain" from Season 2? Well he's back to bop around, drop some truth bombs, get crunk, and make his graceful exit over the course of one glorious episode.

Well, glorious in one way. Not so glorious in that this is the episode that brings the Xander/Willow romance to a head. Xander too-emphatically suggests to Cordelia that they go on a double date with Oz and Willow, but Queen Cordelia doesn't understand why they should waste a date with a loser couple. And yet she doesn't mind spending her time with Xander. Not only that, but she reveals that she has pictures of the two of them in her locker. Meanwhile, Oz gives Willow a cute witch Pez dispenser. Lay on the guilt thick, y'all.



But Xander and Willow, after a lifetime of friendship, inexplicably have the most sexual chemistry ever and simply cannot be near one another because it's like those bodies are magnetized. Or so I imagine, as I can't see too well from inside of my vomit bag.

Back to Buffy's SAT. Giles thinks that Buffy should consider the possibility of college, what with Faith around to do the heavy lifting. But I seem to remember this get-out-of-Slayer-free card being pulled roundabout the time Kendra came into the picture, and we all know how that turned out.

Buffy should be ecstatic that her mother and Watcher both think she can go to college and have a Normal Life©. But, Jane Espenson notwithstanding, Buffy doesn't give a damn about a normal life (quoth I Only Have Eyes For You). Indeed, when Joyce asks Buffy what could possibly stop her from wanting to leave Sunnydale, we cut to Angel reading New Moon by the fire.

Buffy goes to discuss her future college plans with Angel, hoping that he'll be like "NooOooo Buffy please don't leave, I'll just cry and cry!!" but instead he says "Oh...well...you should go...it'll be best...for you..." and she is like "Oh yeah really Angel! Fine well in that case I have homework to do BYE"

Lest you forget, Spike is still around. He spends much of the episode drunkenly wandering around Sunnydale, visiting his old lair (and Drusilla's abandoned creepy doll collection), Angel's new digs, and...the magic shop, where he asks about supplies for a nasty revenge spell. But when he overhears Willow come into the shop and ask for ingredients for a love spell (or, in her case, an anti-love spell for her and Xander), he changes his plan. Beginning with murdering the shop keeper. Oh yeah, I forgot he was supposedly vicious!

Spike breaks into the Sunnydale High science lab to kidnap Xander and Willow and force them to make him a love spell. As he explains to a petrified Willow, moments after threatening to shove a broken bottle into her face, Drusilla up and left him for a Chaos demon in Brazil, but said they could still be friends. He then turns all vamp-like again and says, "You know, I haven't had a woman in weeks." One thing that impresses me about this creepy encounter is that Spike's character remains consistent throughout his entire time on the show. He is always hopelessly, pathetically devoted to a woman, to the point that he is psychotically obsessed and abusive, right down to the double-entendre conflating sex and murder.

Cordelia and Oz discover something's not right in the science lab and get Buffy on the case. But before she can run to the rescue, she gets a phone call from Joyce--and she hears Spike talking in the background.

Remember that the last time Joyce saw Spike, he had just struck a deal with Buffy to get rid of Angelus and seemed sorta friendly. When we cut from Buffy frantically rushing home to rescue Joyce, we see Spike seated at the Summers table crying on Joyce's shoulder about Drusilla and the Chaos demon. Much hilarity ensues when Angel drops by and tries to rescue Joyce, only she still thinks he's evil and he can't enter the house. Will somebody please give poor Joyce a clue?

Oz and Cordelia, stalwart and true, drive around town looking for their true loves. Oz stops abruptly in the middle of the road and says he senses Willow nearby, leading to this delightful exchange:

Cordelia: You can smell her? She doesn't even wear perfume.
Oz:
[Sniff] She's afraid.


Spike leads Buffy and Angel to the magic shop where they'll pick up the remaining ingredients for the love spell, head back to Willow and Xander, make the spell, and split up. Call me crazy, but in Season 2 Buffy and Angel would just stake the guy and head along their merry way. But they must have known Spike had too much spin-off potential to die.

At the magic shop, Buffy makes fun of poor Spike for being "a shell of a loser." But using those argumentative skillz he learned on the playground, he lashes out at Buffy and Angel for being glue when he is rubber and whatnot. He laughs at their attempt to just be friends, saying, "You're not friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love until it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends." Well, it'd be a whole different problem if they shagged, but pretty spot-on beyond that. And with this, Angel's irrelevance on the show only deepens.

Back in the love dungeon with Willow and Xander, the two hostages reflect upon their imminent deaths and decide to make out one last time. And if only they would watch the TV show, they'd know that Oz and Cordelia would inevitably find them at this exact compromising moment. And that Cordelia would run away in horror, fall through the wooden stairs, and get impaled on a random metal thingy.

I thought this was seriously the end of Cordelia, and all because of EFFING XANDER. The next scene shows a funeral in a cemetery. And then brilliantly, Buffy strolls past with Willow and says, "So Cordelia's gonna be okay?" You guys.

But even though Spike rediscovered his lust for violence and skips town, everything isn't okay, as evidenced by this sad montage.


Oz won't speak to Willow, even though she like totally realizes now that Oz is all she really wants. Xander visits Cordelia in the hospital, only to have her tell him to GTFO. (Well, actually, that's okay by me.) And Buffy tells Angel that she won't come back to visit again because Spike was right--they're not friends. They can't give what the other needs. They really, really can't be together. And next month, stay tuned for Angel's spin-off series!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Revelations

Season #3, Episode #7: Revelations

"I realize this is gonna sound funny coming from someone that just spent a lot of time kicking your face, but you can trust me."


Once upon a time, I deluded myself into thinking that I would do some rapid blogging and review Amends in time for Christmas. It's now January 8 (how??) and I'm still about three episodes behind. At this rate, I'll review Amends some time like April, squandering the one and only Buffy Christmas episode. But I won't dwell. It's 2012 and I resolve to knock these out two a month with an option on surprising myself with three.

Revelations opens my favorite way--at The Bronze with Dingoes Ate My Baby. We get many loving shots of Oz in a horrible checkered vest, giving false hope that this episode will be Oz-centric and maybe give him a personality.
But no. When the set is over, we see it was only a way of transitioning into relationship woes, with Willow and Xander flailing about, clinging onto Oz and Cordelia, protesting too much. I'd almost forgotten about this :(

Willow tries to deflect by saying that Buffy has been acting strange lately, and wonders if she has a new "honey." Enter Buffy, who tells the group that she is seeing somebody tonight--Faith. "Really, we're just good friends," she says. I remember watching this moment (or a similar moment) with audio commentary, and the writer of the episode said, "Oh, some of that latent homoeroticism between Buffy and Faith that fans love so much!" Which takes some of the fun out of it. But I'm just saying, by Bad Girls, things aren't so latent anymore.


At the cemetery, a pushy British lady (who I keep thinking is Embeth Davidtz) turns up to critique Faith and Buffy's slaying. She's Faith's new Watcher, Gwendolyn Post.



Gwendolyn pisses everyone off from the get-go by doing such audacious things as trying to be an authority figure to Faith and dissing Giles's book collection because he doesn't have Hume's Paranomal Encyclopedia. Huh! Who knew! She makes some snobby comments about Americans being so stupid, in what I think is an attempt to remind us of Season One Giles and show how much he has acclimated to the Scoobies. Indeed, Gwendolyn tells Giles that she has come to Sunnydale to serve as Faith's Watcher, warn them about new demon in town who wants to steal some mystical glove, and to keep an eye on Giles, who the Council fear has become "too American." Oh no you didn't!

Buffy joins Angel for some erotic interpretive dance or else maybe Tai Chi, which results in them almost accidentally making out. Only a few episodes ago, Angel was a feral creature spat out from a hell dimension, but is now the same old Angel as ever. We may not be far into the season, but his place on the show already seems a bit dubious--what can they do with him that they haven't already done? How does he fit in with the goings-on of the season?

Giles sends Xander to find Buffy and warn her about some piece of news about that magic glove thingy. But darn the luck, he just so happens to spot Angel and Buffy making out in a crypt! I guess the reason they couldn't kiss earlier was that they had to wait for Xander to find them in a compromising position.

Angel shows Buffy the magical glove, which he retrieved from some tomb. When she tries to grab it, he stops her and tells her that once you put the glove on, it cannot be removed. "So, no touching. Kind of like us," she says. Groan.

The Scoobies stage an intervention at the library the next day to confront Buffy about her Angel problem. If you're anticipating a grand Xander meltdown full of slut-shaming and waaaahhhhh, ten points! He pulls the Jenny Calendar card again, shouting, "But it's all your fault that this woman died who I had no real relationship with but whose name I will toss around to make you feel badly about yourself, why do you love Angel and not me????" Much more moving is Giles' appeal to Buffy as he tells her in private, "Angel tortured me for hours, with pleasure. You have no respect for me or the job I perform."

He may be showing shades of an inferiority complex due to Gwendolyn Post, but if you remember the trauma of Passion, it's not difficult to understand why Giles would be a teensy bit pissed off.

Gwendolyn turns up at Faith's motel for a little pep talk. Faith may still have a problem with authority, but her new Watcher promises to make her a better slayer, congratulating her on the Spartan living that has turned her into such an effective killer. This is a small, but highly important scene in which Gwendolyn plays on Faith's insecurities--a lack of material possessions and social life, which distances her from Buffy--to make her a more devoted Slayer. In the same breath that she praises Faith, she insults Buffy and Giles for their slacker methods and for holding secret meeting with all of Buffy's friends, from which Faith was excluded.

Faith finds Xander pouting at The Bronze. They're both feeling put-out by Buffy, and when Faith finds out that Buffy lied to her about Angel, it's the last straw. Ruthless Spartan killer that she is, she leaves to slay Angel.

Back at the library, Giles tells Gwendolyn that the magical glove is safe and sound, and that he found a way to destroy it. Gwendolyn is like, thanks buddy! And then whacks him over the head!

Apparently Gwendolyn is not so much a Watcher as a power hungry crazy lady who wants the magical glove so she can destroy stuff.

Faith and Xander find Giles in the library, but due to his being unconscious, they get the wrong end of the stick and think Angel is the culprit. While Faith runs off to kill Angel once and for all, Xander sticks around to wait for the paramedics, and also so he can be a condescending douche when Buffy turns up. As the paramedics wheel Giles away, he says, "Destroy the glove! Use living flame!" Really Giles? You couldn't be like, "Oh and btw, Gwendolyn is actually psycho!"

Gwendolyn shows up at Angel's crypt and, not knowing he's a vampire, tries to whack him over the head too. Faith, of course, turns up and sees Angel lookin' all like a vampire and assumes the worst. Though Angel doesn't help his case when he menacingly tells Faith, "You're not getting that glove!" rather than, "Oh, hello Faith! It turns out your Watcher is psycho. Please let me destroy the glove." Apparently getting whacked over the head by Gwendolyn makes people quite inarticulate.

What we take away from the final showdown is not that Gwendolyn is evil, but that Faith was quick to associate herself with someone who allowed her to antagonize Buffy. So in the end, after Gwendolyn gets electrocuted by lightning and the glove is destroyed, Buffy makes a peace offering to Faith. But Faith, embarrassed to have put her "faith" (lol!) in the wrong person, doesn't learn that she should trust Buffy, but that she shouldn't trust anybody.