Friday, March 30, 2012

As far as punishments go, this is fairly abstract.


So, yeah, this episode isn’t on a lot of “favorites” list, and I can totally see why.

I mean, there is the overall ookiness of the body snatching scorpion things, and then there are cowboy vampires and it’s just really hard to enjoy the subtext because the text is kinda boring? Or maybe I mean lazy? I don’t know. It’s one of those.

Still, the episode is a pretty good setup for the ones that come immediately after it because it deals primarily with responsibility in general, and sexual responsibility in particular.

Side note: I don’t know how an egg is supposed to in any way help you understand the responsibilities being a parent would bring, but it’s the metaphor I’m given. Seriously, if taking care of a baby is as easy as taking care of an egg (put it in the fridge; don’t put anything on top of it; take it out when needed), then my mother seriously overstated her role in my development.

Since I know that is not true, I’m just gonna chalk this up to “we were too lazy/broke to spring for the creepy robot babies.”

Unfortunately for Buffy, she doesn’t do very well on the responsibility front in this episode. She doesn’t do what her mother asks because her Slayer duties get in the way, she ends up shirking her Slayer duties in order to make out with Angel, and she ends up killing her egg because it was full of creepy scorpion-y evil.

… Bad mum?

Still, while Buffy necessarily fails at satisfying her mother (Joyce can parent! Who knew?), she does manage to save the day again.

She’s also prodded into thinking about the future. Not just by the incomprehensible egg experiment, but by Angel himself.

Angel and Buffy’s relationship is so very much a young relationship. It’s almost like it’s driven purely by Buffy’s fantasies (and, if Angel keeps taking his shirt off, my own… Hubba).

As such, real world concerns aren’t really a part of it. It’s mostly just “make out and damn the consequences.”

However, there are problems with this line of thinking—not least of which is… How the heck is this relationship supposed to last?!

This isn’t even my aversion to happy endings (unless they’re Disney) talking, this is just practical thinking; Buffy hasn’t even told her mother she’s with Angel, problem one. Angel can’t afford her a “normal” future, problem two. Angel has a disturbing habit of infantilizing Buffy, problem three. Oh, and they’re natural enemies, problem four.

Buffy’s most pressing problem is doing things without thinking of the consequences, which in this world? Pretty much means you’re asking for trouble. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Plus, it’s something that kids do, and well… This is a series about growing up. I’ll give you a second to do the math. Remember to carry the two.


Stray observations:

  • Was there a reason for cowboy vampires ever at all? Anyone? Bueller?
  • “Let me guess. You were distracted by a boy.” “Technically.”
  • “Honestly, don’t you ever think about anything besides boys and clothes?” “Saving the world from vampires?”
  • You know, Joyce, I’d be more squarely in your corner about the whole “Buffy needs discipline” thing, except you never notice the strange things in her drawers, the random drops of blood that must be in her clothing now and then, her bruises, or strange robot men sneaking into your daughter’s room.
  • Ha, Buffy’s afraid to be a single mother. I wonder if those issues will show up later in the series…
  • “What’s the matter, your egg keep you up all night?”
  • Is it an accident that Buffy and Willow are more protective of their eggs than Xander? It’s probably not, huh?
  • Buffy and Angel make out against a headstone that says “In Loving Memory.” It’s probably just a coincidence, right?
  • Hey, can we have more skittery creepy villains? I can never get enough of those, and it’s not like I need to sleep again ever. Thanks in advance.
  • “It’s an egg, Buffy. It doesn’t emote.”
  • This is a bezoar. You’re welcome.
  • “This is all your fault!” “How?!”
  • How does a gas leak explain anything?! Jesus, Sunnydale, a little logical thinking, please.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What does that really tell you about a person?


So, Ted. Ted, Ted, Ted.

I’ll be honest—not a fan of Ted. Oh, not ‘cause it’s a bad episode, or anything… I just think other episodes did some of what Ted was trying to do, but better.

What Ted does do well, sort of, is deal with real-world issues. Specifically, what it’s like to have an abusive step-parent. I assume, anyway… I thankfully have never had to deal with step-parents at all, much less abusive ones.

The genius of this episode is how slowly Ted’s true nature is revealed. I was totally on the “what the heck is up with Buffy?!” bandwagon up until Ted takes miniature golf way too seriously (sure sign of evil, by the way—taking mini-golf way too seriously). The way you notice that he’s making all the decisions; consistently interrupting Joyce in order to steer the conversation his way; the way he threatens physical violence.

I mean, coping with your parents dating when it’s taken most of your life to come to terms that they’ve had sex at least once is bad enough, but then this dickhead comes along and threatens to slap you?!

And I’m sorry, Joyce, but I have some issues I have to address with you.

First of all, I don’t give a fuck how many rohypnol cookies you ate, not telling your daughter you’re even dating is pretty remiss. Especially when you’ve mentioned before that you’d like to be closer to Buffy.

Oh, and letting Ted just wander around your house and let him sit creepily in your daughter’s room in the dark—that’s not weird to you at all? I’d chalk it up to the “happy” pastries, but I vaguely remember you letting Giles into Buffy’s room before (though granted, Giles isn’t evil), and not even checking to make sure that Angel was gone in Angel (ditto). You, madam, can on occasion be the worst. Mother. Ever.

It hurts, because given your previous behavior, I think you’d disbelieve Buffy even if you weren’t under the influence of baked goods.

I wanted to be on your side, Joyce. But you failed. You failed so hard.

I mean, when Angel points out to Buffy that you dating is not about her (brilliance), I was nodding sagely, agreeing in my soul.

I wanted you to be happy, Joyce.

But not at the expense of your relationship with your daughter. Fuck.

I’m glossing over the whole other half of the episode, because I just—I view it as a misfire.

Ted’s backstory was rushed and tacked-on, and just not very satisfying to me, and while I get why Ted had to turn out to be a robot, it kinda felt like the groundwork laid by the abusive stepfather storyline is overshadowed by it. That, and they tacked on the “what if Buffy murdered a person?” thing, which was not only overshadowed by the robot business, it was invalidated by it.

… I don’t know. Maybe I’m just still pissed about that “it doesn’t look like he hit you very hard” line.

Seriously, fuck that line.


Stray observations:

  • I love that the Scoobies have conversations about the power dynamics of The Captain and Tennille.
  • Also love that horror tropes are used to introduce Ted, and that it turns out we were right to fear and distrust his metal ass.
  • Haha, Buffy works out her problems at work!
  • “Vampires are creeps.” “Yes, that’s why one slays them.”
  • “I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming, uh, the text.”
  • I also giggled at “clean clown.” I… should be shunned.
  • Poor Giles. I hate Jenny just for making him feel worse about making puppy eyes.
  • Angel knows about loneliness. It is right that it should be  so.
  • Uh… why are Buffy’s grades a topic of conversation between Joyce and Ted?
  • Ted B.? Hmm…
  • The fight between Ted and Buffy before we even know Ted is a robot is uncomfortable for me. :(
  • Buffy breaks out baggy clothes when she’s feeling vulnerable.
  • Okay, Cordy brings up a question that gets answered later in the series: does Buffy, as a “superwoman,” get to skirt the rules?
  • “I guess you should know, since you helped raise that demon that killed that guy that time?” “Yes. Do let’s bring that up as often as possible.” Cordy being part of the gang warms my heart.
  • Yes, Jenny. Talk about your relationship in a park, at night, in Sunnydale.
  • “Daddy’s here”? Ew. Soooo ew.
  • “Don’t I always tell you what to do?” Yes, Ted, and it bothers me.
  • “Uncle Teddy? This house is mine.”
  • “I just wanna learn stuff.”
  • (Source)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It’s a little more complicated than that, John Wayne.


I’ll admit it—I like this episode more than its first part. A lot of it’s due to the dynamic between Kendra and Buffy, and how the show’s own mythology is subverted AGAIN in just the second season!

I mean… Do shows usually do this? Like, establish something and then just completely throw it out of the window when you’re least expecting it?

I mean, first there was the whole secret identity thing, which got scrapped in the first episode (!), and then there was the whole “the Slayer dies early” thing which was done and done in Prophecy Girl, and now the Highlander clause of Slayerdom is kaput!

Fuck. I just—I just love this, okay?

I also like that Kendra’s and Buffy’s approach to Slaying is so different. Kendra’s very much Old Guard, and Buffy is… well, Buffy is Buffy Guard.

Kendra is quite clearly what the Council expects—she’s a tool for fighting evil. That is what she exists for and that is what she does. To the exclusion of everything else. Including family. That is the most horrifying thing ever. Why not just build a fucking robot?!

It’s tough to see Buffy jealous of this girl because she has so much in comparison to her. We’ve seen her complain about not having a life so much that when Kendra shows up, it’s like… huh.

Which is why I love so much that not only is Kendra influenced by Buffy at the end of the episode, but that Buffy is made to realize that being a Slayer is just as much a part of her as being a high school student, or being a daughter and friend. It’s what makes her so good at the gig.

I realize that this review is mythology-heavy, and it’s sorta necessary that it is, sorry. However, a comparison to the “real world” problem that is finding out you’re not as unique you thought can be made. Buffy is no longer unique, that’s true, in one respect. She shares a job title with someone. That’s it. It’s not a comment on how well either Slayer does their job, or who’s best suited, or how they affect each other’s futures.

And I like that Buffy deals with it realistically—she briefly wonders how it would be to just quit and be normal 24-7. But then she realizes that no one can really do what she does how she does it. She is still unique. That, and the whole part I mentioned above where Slaying is who she is. Insert any personality trait/identity issue into “Slaying,” and voilĂ , instant metaphor!


Stray observations:

  • I don’t understand this sun sickness Angel suddenly has…
  • “I swear on my mother’s grave—should something fatal happen to her, god forbid.”
  • “I—I have to ask. Has either of you girls considered modeling? I have a friend with a camera. Strictly high-class nude work. You know, art photographs… But naked.”
  • Hmm, Spike is jealous of Angel. How… intriguing.
  • I love that there’s a handbook, and that it would be “of no use” in Buffy’s case.
  • “I sort of test well, which is cool—except then it leads to jobs.” Right  there with you, Oz.
  • “Who sponsored career day today? The British Soccer Fan Association?”
  • Oh, by the way, it is all kinds of awesome that something we find out in Lie to Me (Angel is Dru’s sire) is a major plot point in this episode.
  • (Same source as before)
  • Yay, Spike lives!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It’s “Happy birthday, Buffy!”


So, as some of you lovely people know, on March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on the then-fledgling network, the WB. Since then, it’s been a part of pop culture consciousness, helping pave the way for serial television with a story to tell (others did it before, but Buffy did it well!), as well as shaping the life of your humble blogger.

I was 13 when Buffy premiered, close in age to the heroine herself, and as such, I grew up with the show just as surely as I did with my family and friends.

First, Buffy entertained me, and then it taught me.

I’m not gonna say that the themes and subtexts I find in the show now I found then, because that’s a bold-faced lie, but they simmered there, beneath the surface, and the structure of the show made it so that as I grew, my understanding grew, so much so that now Buffy is as much my narrative as it is Whedon’s.

That sounds a bit presumptuous, I know, but when I say Buffy belongs to me, I mean that Buffy’s story is the story of my life, albeit without supernatural elements.

Buffy and I share common threads: we’re both children of divorced parents, we both had a really small circle of close friends, we react to things similarly, we had disastrous first relationships (and a really shitty other relationship), we don’t fit into a cookie-cutter mold, we made our own families.

But the great thing about Buffy is that it’s not the story of just one person. Sure, there’s only one name in the title, but the story isn’t just about her. The diversity of stories in Buffy means that its themes are as universal as it gets. There’s something for everyone, despite silly people calling it a “teen show.” There’s nothing wrong with teen shows (well, not all teen shows), but it’s a very limiting way of describing Buffy, and inaccurate, besides.

Buffy grows up during the series. Her problems get more complex (as the baddies get simpler—go figure), and her worldview changes. This show isn’t just about kicking ass, it’s about becoming.

And that’s why I love this show, and why I will always love this show. Buffy is funny, smart, cheesy, ridiculous, strong, painful, and necessary. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy birthday, Buffy.


Many happy returns.

Do the words “sealed” and “fate” ring any bells for you?


The time has come, Buffy; you’ve gotta think about the future. It’s kind of tough to do, because you’ve got a point about the whole “sealed fate” thing, but then, it’s tough not to do because everyone else is thinking about the future.

Including your friends and your mom. Possibly even Giles.

It’s one of those annoying rites of passage things: Career Week. In which you find out what job you could have, if you allowed a stupid test to dictate your entire life based on nonsensical multiple choice questions. It’s like taking one of those online quizzes where you find out what Hogwart’s house you belong in (I got Gryffindor, but I’m totally a Slytherin. YOU KNOW NOTHING, SORTING HAT).

However, Buffy should be thinking long-term, because hello! High school ends at some point. And after that… what? Even if there’s no college, she has to get a job. The Slaying will be constant, but what about the other stuff? I mean, is she gonna hang around the Bronze until she turns into one of those scary women that think they’re cougars but are actually wildebeests? This is not a thing to strive for, Buff.

Of course, all these questions get a little more interesting at the end of the episode:

Why, hello #2!

This episode is a little hard to review on its own, especially since the questions asked in this episode are dealt with a little more completely in the next, but guys. Seriously, guys. GUYS. SERIOUSLY. There are two Slayers!

To be continued…


Stray observations:

  • Seriously, career fairs are bullshit.
  • “Now you know what it feels like, Stealth Guy.”
  • “I lurk.” 
  • Wait, wait… Why not police? Or some kind of self-defense teacher? The words “like a glove” come to mind.
  • “You know why? I am immature. I'm a teen. I have yet to mature.”
  • “Note to self: Religion, freaky.” Amen, sister.
  • Why would a religious sect even have a book of unspeakable evil—oh.
  • Okay, can we talk about how beautiful Bianca Lawson is? Her skin is flawless! Either her makeup artist has powers over Earth and Sky or she bathes in the blood of virgins.
  • ACK! No! No worms! Ever!
  • Does Angel pay rent? Does he hit up Ikea and Pier One on the weekends? Go antiquing? Does Angel have a bathroom? Is that a Tempur-Pedic?!
  • Hi, Willy!
  • Really? That tiny lock is gonna keep Hulky McBeeferton trapped?
  • Will has frog fear, really? May I present people’s exhibit #1? And of course, people’s exhibit #2: What we have here, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is a filthy liar!
  • “You must be number two.” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Um… the hills are not alive.


Oh, god was I upset when I first saw this episode! Probably for the same reason that Buffy was: this was not the Giles I’d gotten comfortable with. This was not tweed underwear Giles, who wishes math had more math in it. This was drinking-alone-not-being-stern-and-British Giles. And it scared the ever-living fuck outta me.

This episode is a continuation of the Lie to Me, in a way, because as I said in that review, everybody lies, and Giles is no exception.

I bet you thought I was talking about the lie he tells Buffy at the end of the episode at her request, but ha! I am more crafty than that, and you shall bow to my supremeness. Actually, I guess the craftiness belongs to Joss Whedon, Dean Batali and Rob Des Hotel for coming up with this story in the first place, but you should still bow to my supremeness because


In a general, fits-with-the-growing-up-theme way, we can see this episode as that moment when you find out your parents are just as fallible and human as the rest of us, but I really prefer to consider this episode from a Giles-centric perspective. For one thing, it is Giles-centric, and for another, it shows that we never stop growing up. Not even when we think we’re done.

As kids, it’s pretty easy to assume that adults have all their shit together, and sometimes as we get older we really start believing that assumption. And that’s just when life gives a hearty pirate laugh and says “NAY!” while kicking your ass:

And Giles learns something: We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.

For Giles to continue to grow, he has to reconcile the mistakes he’s made in the past before they destroy those he cares about in the present. And this episode handles this brilliantly. Not only can it be seen in an abstract way, but hell, Eyghon could be a metaphor for addiction and its effects. And there is that whole “sins of the father” factor, too, with Buffy very nearly becoming a victim.

This episode actually ends kind of bittersweetly (I’m making it a word, dammit!) because Giles is a little worse off than he started; Jenny isn’t sure she trusts him, and it looks like that relationship is a no-go for now, but he still has to soldier on. He doesn’t have much choice—much like Buffy herself. And now they have something else in common, and a stronger bond.

My heart… you guys don’t even know.


Stray observations:

  • “You’re welcome.” Right there with you, Janitor Guy…
  • Yeah, sorry, that workout music is noise.
  • “And the rest is silence.” With that line, Giles simultaneously quotes Shakespeare and alludes to the BtVS movie!
  • Amy Yip at the waterslide park.”
  • “Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?” Oh, sassy Giles…
  • Okay, this episode is awesome for quoting: “Isn’t the point of computers to replace books?”
  • Is it me, or does the car the vamps roll in look like Angel’s car?
  • Also, “delivery day”? So much ew.
  • Although… aren’t vamps that steal bagged blood just an eensy bit better than the nasty, kill-bitey ones?
  • “Okay, the first thing we’re gonna do is—Buffy.” “…Did I fall asleep already?” Seriously, Xander?
  • Uh… How does Cordy know it was a homicide?
  • Ethan Rayne. I love you, Ethan Rayne: “It’s one of my virtues… not really.”
  • Giles studied History! Is everyone Buffy meets a History major?!
  • How much is Buffy’s allowance that it covers tattoo removal?!
  • “I’m so used to you being a grown-up, and then I find out you’re a person.” <3 <3 <3