Sunday, August 25, 2013

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer - 1.08 - I, Robot…You, Jane - Retro Review

Hey guys. Welcome back to the Buffy Roundtable. Today's discussion is I, Robot….You, Jane, which despite its terrible title has a lot of good points. Today we had John and Dahne for the discussion. We both thought the episode was a fun standalone but the technology aspects were distracting now that 16 years have passed. Thanks for joining the conversation. Can't wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Participants: John and Dahne

Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.

Technology and Introducing Jenny Calendar:

Dahne: Looks like it is just the two of us right now. Diana usually joins in when she can.
John: Alright then, shall we begin?
Dahne: So what did you think overall of this episode?
John: Well, first of all, I totally thought we were doing Angel this week. I had positive things to say about Angel and to be fair, I do have positive things to say about this episode. Unfortunately, this is also one of those incredibly awkwardly dated episodes. You?
Dahne: I like this episode. It is one of my favorite "bad love" episodes but I agree that it is very dated. Any episode about technology is bound to be.
John: Absolutely. That kind of ruined some of the magic for me, but overall, I thought it was very well written. In particular, Willow has been getting funnier - as well as more chances to shine as a dramatic actress.
Dahne: Being a Willow-centered episode was a plus, but one of the biggest plusses for me is the introduction of Jenny Calendar.
John: Yeah, absolutely, it was great to see Ms. Calendar. I wonder if she was supposed to wind up recurring. Introduced as a technopagan for a stand-alone episode, but then retconned into member of the Roma clan involved with Angel somehow.
Dahne: I don't think originally they expected her to become Roma. I will say that the retcon actually worked for me though. Usually they don't blend seamlessly but because Jenny was still such a mystery as a character I could buy that she had a large back story we didn't know about yet.
John: Yeah this retcon definitely works.
Dahne: I also loved the idea that a monster could be locked up in a book and then released into the world when read. Being a book nerd who also loves computers I thought the debate between Giles and Jenny was interesting.
John: I was totally on GIles' side for a while, but then Jenny pointed out how accessible the internet is versus books - she mentions them being for snobbish old white men or something - and I suddenly felt like I got her.
Dahne: That was a powerful argument for the technological age and one that has a lot of truth into it. As a librarian I get a lot of "real" books versus e-books debate but there is room for both.
John: Oh, you're a librarian!? Cool. I've been working at a circulation counter part-time for the last 3 years. Giles' ending monologue about how books smell nice spoke to me.
Dahne: Me too. There is nothing like the smell of a classic bookstore to bring back great reading memories for me. This was also the first show I had seen which incorporated the supernatural with the information age so that was a bonus when I first watched it.
John: Yeah, I suppose it must have been pretty novel to have the book "read" by the scanner, only for the demon to be released INTO THE INTERNET. Which sounds silly now, but must have been interesting at the time. Mostly though, it was cool that the demon was both a literal computer virus and also a catfish-style "bad love" as you put it.
Dahne: True. One of my favorite lines is: Giles: "Couldn't you just stop Moloch by entering some computer virus." Jenny: "You've seen too many movies." I liked how he was presented as a virus but that they didn't go all cheesy to stop him.
John: I guess what felt dated to me - besides references to technology such as "e-letter" - was the presentation of the subject matter. This whole scenario, minus the hyperbolic turns out he was a demon twist, totally happens today. Probably with more frequency. But the presentation of the discussion was clearly one that was happening for society for the very first time, which I found slightly unnerving.
Dahne: Good point. It was the first time I can recall hearing about internet safety on TV except for the "after school special" type movie. Nowadays it is on every TV show with pre-teens and teens. I teach an entire unit about it too. The novelty of the subject has definitely worn off. Another thing I found interesting on first watch that may be dated today is how shocking it was to realize how much information there was about us stored on the internet, which anyone with talent could access. I never really thought about traffic lights or health information being stored digitally or how much havoc someone could create with that kind of access until I saw this episode in 1997.
John: Yeah, eh? They had a whole discussion about how he could hack his way into possession of nuclear launch codes. It was a slightly heavy-handed way to remind us of all the possibilities.
Dahne: The nuclear launch codes was cheesy for sure. Way over the top.

Guest Characters:

John: Hahaha, this episode did not lack for melodrama. Also, that tirade Fitz went on at the beginning of the episode sounded like what adults think teenagers think about the internet. "The printed page is obsolete. Information isn't bound up anymore. It's an entity! The only reality is virtual. If you're not jacked in, you're not alive." Like. Wow. Holy crap. Also, is jacked in even a thing?
Dahne: Fritz was a big negative for me. I knew people into computers big time in the 90's but none of them ever sounded so militant about it.
John: Definitely an odd combination of poorly written and poorly acted character.
Dahne: I actually didn't think Chad Lindbergh as Dave was particularly well-acted in some parts either although that character grew on me during the episode.
John: Agreed about Dave, although was it just me or did they call him Dave because of 2001: A Space Odyssey. There was a very Hal-like moment right before Dave was murdered.
Dahne: I thought the computer voice was pretty movie directed also. I think they were deliberate choices that added to the fun.

Teen Trio:

Dahne: Another scene that I really liked was when Buffy and Xander are trying to cheer up Willow and they
all laugh only to get stopped by how depressing it is that what they are saying is true. It was well acted by all three of them.
John: Yes! That was a fantastic way to end the episode. And I agree about their acting. I particularly enjoyed Xander's forced laughter.
Dahne: I think that ending scene really brought home how different their lives were going to be and how much more they would have to weigh their choices being on a Hellmouth. It is somewhat encouraging to know now that they all would find people that made them happy. At this point in the series, it did not look like that would be the case.
John: I mean, I suppose people were already love triangling, or at least hoping that Xander would notice Willow or something, but yeah, it certainly was a good way to drive home the point that A) finding love as a teenager is HARD and also B) these kids don't live normal lives.
Dahne: I was never into love triangles but I do know people who had that as a main focus for awhile but then stopped when Oz came into the picture.


John: I wasn't a huge fan of Willow's odd rant while smashing him with a fire hydrant.
Dahne: I wasn't crazy about the emphasis on how much Willow changed because of her relationship with Malcolm. I get that it was a "high school as hell" theme but I hated the idea that she would start losing interest in things that mattered to her in order to spend more time with her boyfriend. Although I certainly know that is a typical reaction for a while in a relationship.
John: Especially given how she had never had a boyfriend before and felt that her friends were holding her back. I definitely had some experiences like that with friends in high school, but it was still odd to see Willow of all people stop believing in her friends. To be fair though, it didn't last long. There was one confrontation with Buffy and then she stopped listening to Malcolm.
Dahne: Exactly. I guess it is a way of growing into yourself by going through that first relationship and truly finding what matters to you. You are right that it didn't last long and that was cool. It showed that while Willow may be infatuated, she didn't check her brains out at the door.


John: Also, can we take a moment to acknowledge that, for a self-styled technopagan, Ms. Calendar did not know how to type. I found that somewhat amusing.
Dahne: Bwah! That was one of the best nitpicks about this episode. I also liked how Buffy walked into the computer room and did not see Dave's giant hanging body in the corner. How does that happen?
John: The magic of television :P?
Dahne: Plus the whole Slayer as fast as a car thing always stands out to me. I mean she is the Slayer but come on. Sometimes the nitpicks add to my enjoyment of classic episodes because they bring back some of the nostalgia too.
John: Agreed. Although! Remember how Buffy was able to jump that fence super easily in the pilot? This episode, they only showed her descent, implying that she had to jump up and then down.
Dahne: True while poor Xander couldn't do either gracefully.


Dahne: I did like that Xander got to punch out the scientist and played an important part in rescuing Willow though. It is especially touching here because this is only a couple episodes after The Pack. He was an intricate part of the team.
John: A fact he was able to point out in episode. That was definitely fun. I think I like competent helpful Xander over hypercompetent Army Guy Xander. That was kind of a cheap way to give him a "thing". I liked that it wore off and that he was always just this guy who cared about his friends.
Dahne: I was fond of Army Xander because it did give him some special knowledge and a bigger part later on. However, I too preferred how he was more seamlessly integral to the group in these episodes. They didn't have to try to keep him from becoming obsolete and his loyalty was shown as a real strength.
John: Yeah, that's fair. I certainly liked Xander as a character and enjoyed seeing him take on a more important role within the group. I guess I had a love-hate relationship with Army Guy.
Dahne: I had a love-hate relationship with Witch Willow so I get where you are coming from.


Dahne: I was looking at this episode from an "impact" standpoint but besides the introduction of Jenny, I
really couldn't think of much. I just like it as a fun, one-off episode.
John: I agree. I thought it had lots of amusingly written moments and discussed some big themes, but didn't really leave much of an impact story wise.
Dahne: It doesn't help that it followed Angel which had a huge impact on the overall story.
John: Lol, yes, absolutely. Like I said, I had LOTS of positive and useful things to say about Angel.
Dahne: Angel is one of my favorite episodes so I'm sorry you couldn't make it to that roundtable as well. There was a lot to talk about with it.
John: Of course, Ms. Calendar being introduced like this was awesome. I loved how much she and Giles didn't get along. It didn't even necessarily seem like they were initially being setup to get together in a love-hate kind of way. They legitimately did not seem to like each other.
Dahne: I would agree somewhat except for that ending scene when they were definitely flirting. Her whole "that's not where I dangle it from" made me certain they were heading in that direction.
John: Oh, yes, as the episode wore on it started to become apparent, but those first few scenes were legitimate fights about legitimate issues. Not flirtatiously pleasant disagreements.
Dahne: True and I think they were good discussion points at the time the episode aired. Now only the biggest Luddite would argue that computers were not important sources of info.

Social Issues and Theme:

Dahne: So any social issues you would like to bring up?
John: Hrm. Nothing stuck out to me as particularly problematic this episode. I think they handled the issues explored well if at times melodramatically. You? Or anything in particular you wanted to discuss theme-wise?
Dahne: Mostly I think we talked about them. There were salient points about cyberstalkers and the problem with divulging personal information on the internet that are still relevant today. It did make an interesting point about how the internet can makes slaves of us all that I think is actually more of a problem now then it was back then. Mostly when I watch this from a theme standpoint these days I think, "Beware the cloud."
John: Lol, yes, absolutely. I have concerns about technology, but at the same time, the concerns Giles had are concerns I find hilarious. Probably because I grew up in the 90s. So I guess we'll see what comes of "the cloud".
Dahne: I love how it shows how our technology fears have changed but they are still there.

Favorite Lines:

Dahne: The last topic of discussion then is favorite lines. Although it is outdated I still really love: Jenny: "Oh I know our ways are strange to you but soon you will join us in the 20th century with 3 whole years to spare."
John: Willow had all of my favourite lines this episode. In particular this exchange was expertly delivered: Willow: "Xander, you wanna stay and help me?" Xander: "Heh, you kidding?" Willow: "Yes... it was a joke I made up." I guess it doesn't translate well, seeing it written down…Alternatively, when Willow senses Buffy's judgment: "You're having an expression."
Dahne: My other favorite lines are when Buffy and Xander start feeding off of each other until they are both in a panic.
John: Ooooo, also, this: Malcolm: "Right now, a man in Beijing is transferring money to a Swiss bank account for a contract on his mother's life. Good for him."
Dahne: I loved that Moloch line. It makes me laugh every time but also feel a little guilty because I am laughing. I agree Willow was great in this one too.
John: They've been upping the banter as the season has worn on. I remember the same thing happening with Firefly, although Buffy was certainly much funnier off the bat.
Dahne: That's one thing I always remember most about Buffy - the quick wit. It still makes me listen more closely after umpteenth rewatches. One I normally wouldn't like but for some reason find funny here is: Jenny: "You here again? You kids really dig the library don't you?" Buffy: "We're literary." Xander: "To read makes our speaking English good." Buffy: "We'll be going now." I love Buffy's expression.
John: It's all in the delivery ;). I guess to end the quotes, this was one of the funniest things I've heard all week. I did a legit spit-take: "THERE'S A DEMON IN THE INTERNET!"
Dahne: My ending quote would be: Buffy: "She certainly looks perky." Xander: "Yeah color in the cheeks, bounce in the step…I don't like it. It's not healthy."


Dahne: So, last thoughts?
John: I don't know. I guess I wound up liking this episode more than I thought I would and that's becoming apparent to me as we have this discussion. When we started watching S1, this was the episode about which I was the most concerned.
Dahne: I'm glad that you discovered more to love about the episode. It has always been one of my favorites but I've discovered that there is less meat to this episode than I originally thought.
John: These actors are going to become great. It's starting to show.
Dahne: They did a great casting job on this show. I think of how many shows have teenagers that bring the show down. In Buffy, the entire show was on the teens' shoulders and that's part of what made it great.
John: Even when the actors were finding their way, the writing was largely spot on. Then the actors found their way. Except Anthony Stewart Head. He was amazing from day 1.
Dahne: Agreed. Anything with ASH in it is already better. Any last words on this episode?
John: Oh hey, there was no Cordy this episode! I didn't even notice! That's too bad, she's hilarious.
Dahne: Funny, I didn't miss Cordelia either until you mentioned it and usually she's one of the snarkiest so I always notice she's there.
John: Alright, good chat :). See you next week. For the doll episode xD. That should be... fun. I don't remember much, but I suspect that it was odd.
Dahne: Thanks so much for the discussion. It's been fun. Next time is The Puppet Show, which I don't like much at all. Here's hoping everyone else likes it better.

Screencaps and more at Buffyverse DBWikipedia, SyFy, Journey Through the Verse,  Angelfire, Chad Lindberg Fansite, Non Modern Blog, Goodbye Piccadilly, Buffy Screencaps, Little Trouble Grrrl, Spectaculackular Moosketeer, Tumblr, Grange 85Eserehtstherese. Mocking Sarcasm, Giles Jenny Tumblr, Currybet, and Mixtress Rae.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Teen Wolf - 3.12 - Lunar Ellipse - Recap

Note: In exciting news, enough people respond to Teen Wolf threads on SpoilerTV now that starting in January we will have favorite scene polls for it. Keep discussing and promoting SpoilerTV in Teen Wolf circles because the more people we have the greater the discussion. Plus I want a STV Teen Wolf Twitter button. :-P

Previously - werewolves are powerless in lunar eclipses, Argent kept Allison and Isaac from fighting Blake and then was taken, Blake had all 3 parents at the nematon, and Allison/Stiles/Scott willingly "sacrificed" themselves to learn where the nematon is located by taking a hypothermic bath.

Starting with a blank white screen threw me at first, but then Scott, Stiles, and Allison popped out of the baths into a white room of warehouse proportions. Insert Wizard of Oz joke here. It's silent, but at the end is the nematon. Wind rushes in, making the place even more foreboding. Of course knowing they will have "permanent darkness" in them and this acid trip will turn Beacon Hills into the next Sunnydale is foreboding enough. Scott pauses at the nematon to stare at his tattoo again, flashing back to episode 3.01. They sure got a lot of mileage out of 2 black bands and a vocabulary lesson. He equates his tattoo with the nematon's tree rings, but since the tattoo is basically 2 circles I don't find anything mystical here. However touching the nematon starts the first of 3 flashbacks to the series premiere. It's interesting to see how much more mature Scott looks than he did pre-werewolf. While his present-day self watches his former self be bitten by Peter, he backs right into the nematon. Next Stiles flashes to the same night, watching his dad catch him. He also backs into the nematon. Finally, Allison flashes to that night, where she is in the car with her mom. Mama Argent espouses the family's cover story in private security and I honestly forgot Allison did not know the family legacy then. She certainly took to hunting quickly. The conversation and car skids to a halt when Scott runs in front of them. Allison forces her mom to go back to check on Scott and she finds his inhaler in the woods. As a wolf howls in the background, Mama Argent tosses the inhaler by the nematon and herds Allison back to the car. Connection to each other and the nematon firmly established, the three emerge from their ice baths in the present day to a stymied Deaton, Lydia, and Isaac. The 3 were under for 16 hours. Say what? Are you kidding me? I can stretch belief a lot but no way I believe they didn't breath for 16 hours. Magic or no, that's ridiculous. Quite frankly I'm not sure why they mentioned it. They could have gone multiple ways to explain time passing to make the episode more urgent.

Speaking of being out for awhile, Cora now takes care of Derek who is considerably weaker after sacrificing his alpha power to save his sister. I'd rather she had died. Since Cora is actually nice to Derek this episode, Peter brings home the hard truth. Peter: "The moon is rising Derek. You drained your battery all the way to the red and there is a fully charged alpha on her way to rip you limb from limb." Wouldn't want Derek to have it easy for 10 minutes this season, right? Things aren't rosy at DumbleDeaton's clinic either, as Stiles, Allison, and Isaac try to talk Scott out of going with Deucalion again. Scott thinks they need Duke to stop Jennifer, besides Scott "made a deal with Deucalion." Stiles: "Does anyone else think that sounds a lot like a deal with the devil?" (Raises hand.) I do Stiles. Allison wants DumbleDeaton to talk Scott out of it, but he thinks Scott's right. Say what? He pulls the enemy of my enemy philosophy, but I'm with Isaac. Isaac: "So we're going to trust him? The guy that calls himself Death, Destroyer of Worlds. We're going to trust that guy?" Ha! No truer words. DumbleDeaton says to use Duke as bait. Sounds very risky. Conversation stops as Ethan drops by to ask for Lydia's help in saving Derek. Not sure how Lydia can help, but anyone putting Lydia in the action is okay by me. Back at Chez Nematon, Argent's supersonic dog whistle is running low on power and a phantom itch attacks. They seem in good spirits but it's an act as Melissa and Sheriff debate how Blake will kill them. Melissa: "Is she actually going to come down here and slash all of our throats?" Sheriff: "Nah, she'll come down, strangle us with a garrote, and then slash our throats." Much better Sheriff. The wind interrupts their banter, as dirt starts flooding the cellar. Love these parent scenes. Here's hoping they get more air time and no one dies!

That seems to be Ethan's plan too. He tells Derek they know about the lunar eclipse so Kali and Aiden are coming right away. Was it supposed to be a secret? If I knew there was a day I would be left vulnerable, I'd mark it on the calendar. Peter clearly thinks it's Derek's cue to flee. Derek: "You want me to run." Peter: "No, I…I want you to stay and get slaughtered by an alpha with a psychotic foot fetish." Bwah! Oh Peter, never change. Peter: "Of course I want you to run. Sprint, gallop, leap your way the hell out of this town." Cora agrees but Derek isn't sure until they consult Lydia. Aha! She does have purpose. She says it feels like standing in a graveyard, which pushes Derek to take their advice. He and Cora flee. Arriving at Derek's, Kali finds Derek gone but Ethan and Lydia in his place. Lydia snarks about werewolf chores to Kali's displeasure. Kali: "Who do you think you're talking to?" Lydia: "Someone in desperate of a pedicure. I'd be happy to give you a referral." Bwah! Lydia, Peter, and Stiles rock the snark. Kali menacingly approaches Lydia, but this time Aiden calls a halt. Kali questions Aiden's loyalty after he insists Lydia isn't a threat. Lydia: "Oh God, is this about to get really violent?" Ethan: "Probably." He has no idea. Blake crashes through the ceiling. It is on! Blake: "So, who wants to go first?" Blake easily takes down Kali, but Aiden interrupts the kill. He fares no better. The Alpha Twins shed their shirts as per their 'topless at least once an episode" contract. Since they take forever to merge, Blake simply pulls them apart and knocks them out. Back to the Kali-Blake fight which is far more interesting. Kali says she doesn't care about Blake's internal strife, but since Blake clearly has the upper hand, she probably should shut it. Blake summons all the glass shards in the room as Kali screams, "I should have ripped your head off." One power thrust later and Kali is dead. The Alpha Twins merge and try one last time to take out Blake but she snaps their neck, leaving Lydia alone with Darach.

Meanwhile Team Fight decides to use superior werewolf smell to track their parents. Bad plan since these superhero traits only work every third episode, then mysteriously disappear. No matter because Scott's FBI dad, who also tends to disappear, waits at Allison's. I presume they have a warrant because they certainly have Argent's guns. Deadbeat Dad (DD) tells them to have a seat, but they aren't giving answers. Still won't keep DD from wasting precious time. That must mean it's time for an Icebreakers mint. DD admits he is clueless but finds the choice of missing parents intriguing. Isaac: "Mine are both dead." Ha! Love the delivery. Scott dramatically looks at Argent's light bombs as his dad blathers on in the background before finding much needed attitude. But it's Allison for the win. She spouts the Argent firearm dealer cover story before skillfully naming the weapons on the table. Impressive! When she gets to the "smoke grenade with a pull-ring igniter," she tear gasses the Feds. Woo hoo! Smart, Kick Butt Allison is on fire tonight! Love it! Bet you didn't see that coming, DD. Scott, Allison, and Isaac run. At the same time, Stiles tries to navigate his way through a Darach-designed fog to no avail. He hits a tree and is knocked unconscious. No! I like Stiles-filled stories. It would have been awesome if he came to Lydia's rescue as Blake stalks toward her. Lydia asks what she wants and Blake says to scream. It captures Derek and Cora's attention and they head back while Team Fight heads to the forest. Worry over Stiles not answering his phone has to wait because they are late for an appointment with Duke and a cheestastic CGI city scene. Ha! No one else is coming to the party but Duke overconfidents enough for everyone. Scott sends Isaac and Allison to find Stiles and the nematon, while he and Duke distract Blake. Isaac questions Scott but he says he has a plan. Hmm, wasn't it just yesterday when he said their plans never work. Oh well.

At Derek's, Blake works on a plan of her own. She tries to sweet talk Derek with the dead alphas, but he isn't that dumb so she switches gears. If Derek fights alongside her, she won'tt kill the parents. He can be her guardian instead. Derek and I are both stymied since Blake seems to be doing well on her own and Derek's still weak from saving Cora. Honestly, I think she just wanted company. She blathers about Duke at his strongest but since the whole plan hinges on the lunar eclipse taking away his power it makes no sense. How can Derek lure Duke to Blake anymore than she can do it herself? Blake clarifies that the lunar eclipse is only 15 minutes long and she needs Derek to distract Scott while she goes for Duke. Okay, it makes more sense now. Derek's in to save the parents, whom Isaac and Allison try to find to no avail. Allison asks Isaac if he can smell them but this isn't the one in three episode where that actually works. Luckily he hears the nifty dog whistle. Three steps to the left later, and bingo. Nematron. They rush down the stairs where Allison has a nice reunion with her dad, only to get trapped when the whole thing starts caving in. Perhaps it would better to untie the ropes instead of chat. Cora feels similarly as she tries to convince Lydia to leave Derek's place. Frankly it's probably the safest place to be this night so I'm not sure why Cora is so freaked. Perhaps it's the 3 dead bodies. Er, make that one. SuperWolf separates into the Alpha Twins and suddenly they're alive. Seriously, did anyone think their abs wouldn't be seen in January? This is Teen Wolf. Off to DumbleDeaton's they go. Deaton's amazingly strong because he hoists one of the twins onto an examining table like a sack of potatoes. Still the diagnosis is grim. (Yeah right.)

In a tip to poignancy, Scott arranges for Blake to meet them in the Distillery of Broken Dreams via her product placed AT & T phone. It all started here for Deucalion so why not end it here too. Bonus points if Duke and Blake take out Gerard before killing each other since he started it all. What? I can dream. See Blake, I said texting kids on the first day would come back to haunt you. So will not carrying a knife because by the time Isaac, who doesn't use his claws, and Allison untie the parents, an avalanche destroys the stairs and the roof collapses. Buried alive is never good. Of course if they were smart, they would hoist Allison through the opening but then we'd have missed Isaac grunting as he werewolf lifts the ceiling so everyone can stoop a little longer. Meanwhile, Scott appears genuinely stunned when Derek arrives with Blake at the distillery. Scott: "What are you doing?" Derek: "This might be hard to believe but actually trying to help you." Duke: "Ooh, brother against brother. How very American this is." Ha! No time for Derek to explain because Duke hasn't given his weekly monologue yet. He throws aspersions on Blake, but it's a pot/kettle scene. Neither wins humanitarian points, but Duke goes full on leathery werewolf during it so score. He's downright creepy. Even Blake looks terrified and she's no picnic herself. For some reason, Derek charges Duke, which goes as well as expected. Shockingly though, Blake's druid magic has no effect on him either. He grabs them both by the throat and throws them. Not sure why he doesn't just slash their throats since the lunar eclipse rapidly approaches. He is clearly winning but stops to try to force Scott to kill Blake. The sound of his roar sends Scott to his knees, while both Duke and Darach make pitches for Scott's allegiance. Duke says killing Blake will make Scott an alpha which makes absolutely no sense in Teen Wolf lore. Scott refuses on the grounds that the parents are still alive. Duke: "Who's going to save them? Your friends?' Scott: "My pack." Scott stands with yellow eyes and even Deucalion looks a little shaken.

Back on the other fronts, things aren't going well. DumbleDeaton continues frantically to heal the Alpha Twins. Isaac continues to struggle under the ceiling. Stiles and Peter continue to be AWOL from the action. The latter is a real tragedy. Deep sigh as we head back to Duke who takes a page from Kali's playbook and tries to literally force Scott to claw Blake to death. Before he can succeed, Scott quotes Gerard, reminding us that "Deucalion isn't always blind." Hello lovely light bombs. Gerard may be sadly absent in person but his corrupted spirit is alive and well in the distillery. They incapacitate Duke long enough for the eclipse to start. Uh oh, now Blake has the upper hand. She sends Scott flying before pummeling Duke bloody. Sadly Derek stops her before she finishes. In a moment of brilliance, Derek convinces Blake to restore Duke's eyes so he sees what he did to her, the price she paid. She focuses her energy on Duke's eyes but the cost of repairing them depletes her strength so much that she can no longer kill him. Blake pleads for Derek to do it instead but he quotes his mama. "I'm a predator. I don't have to be a killer." Thalia's spirit is far more welcome than Gerard's. Derek tells Blake to release the parents but she beats the pulp out of him, leading to a major question. If no werewolf has any powers right now, how can she beat up Derek but can't touch Duke? Hmm, must be because Derek is contractually obligated to get beaten up every episode this season. Either way it makes NO SENSE. The power of love and black-and-white flashbacks keep her from killing him but the eclipse quickly passes, ending her window of opportunity. It however doesn't stop the nematon prison from crumbling. Just when they cannot hold the ceiling any longer, Stiles enters with a baseball bat to prop the whole thing up. Maybe now Isaac can werewolf toss them and the rope out. No? Oh well, back to the evil show-down.

For protection, Blake encases herself in a magic bubble and threatens to kill the parents for the strength to kill Duke sans eclipse. This of course doesn't go over well with Scott and leads to my least favorite scene in the season so far. Scott palms the shield and, by the power of his obvious moral superiority over everyone else, pops her evil bubble and in the process becomes a "true" alpha. The whole premise makes me want to vomit. I have real problems with this plot point on multiple levels. One, I dislike the boy king story line that has become one of the biggest clichés in genre storytelling. Two, I really dislike that Derek became a beta at the same time Scott becomes an alpha. This structure caters to the worst of boy king scenarios. Third, Teen Wolf canonizes Scott as the purest, most morally wholesome, most awesomest, super special werewolf that ever did live. After all he's a "true" alpha, something so rare even Deucalion stopped other pursuits to rush after Scott. To set Scott so far above everyone else makes him unbelievable and ultimately hard to relate to. Fourth, this episode pointed out twice that by "sacrificing" himself, Scott and the others would have a permanent darkness inside them. If that is true, how is he still pure enough to qualify as the saintly true alpha? Fifth, only Scott could stop Blake, not Derek and not Deucalion. Deucalion is supposed to be the most powerful werewolf around and I'm supposed to believe Scott is suddenly more powerful than him? I think not. The idea of other werewolves kowtowing to a relative newbie like Scott feels completely unearned and makes it hard to like Scott. Sixth, it also risks making other characters obsolete, or worse sidekicks, in the face of Scott's apparent strength. If Scott is more powerful than Blake AND Duke, he really doesn't need others to help him. In fact, they risk devolving into pawns used against Scott. Honestly, this scene encompasses all my fears for this show and makes me nervous about the rest of the season. I have no desire to watch King Scott and his lackeys. I'd rather enjoy all of Team Sane kicking monster butt together with ALL of them contributing and rescuing each other. Making Scott so powerful makes that difficult to remain plausible.

Scott threatens to kill Blake if she doesn't release the parents, but Duke slashes her throat before she can comply. It does keep the Cellar of Impending Doom from collapsing further so points to Duke for that. The nematon survivors celebrate life, but there's more good news. The Alpha Twins are well again too. As Cora helps Ethan, Aidan smirks at Lydia, "I knew you liked me." Aww. Lydia is all smiles. About time something good happened to her. Meanwhile Saint Scott calls Stiles, who delivers the superb news that all 3 parents survived as well. Yeah! I would be heartbroken if any of them died. Scott is coming to get them and Stiles tells him to bring a ladder. But before Scott can rescue them all, he has to LET DEUCALION GO!?!?!? Are you kidding me? He killed more than Blake and is completely psychotic. He kills for fun! This makes less sense than all else combined and leads to the 2nd biggest problem. I haven't read SpoilerTV comments about the finale, but I'm certain someone mentioned that both Kali and Blake died but Duke and the Alpha Twins survived. Now I'm not one to call shows sexist or to look for hidden agendas but even I call foul. Deucalion was worse than Blake in the evil department and to give him a pass is unconscionable. It also highlights a curious trend. In season 1, Peter and Kate were the bad guys. Peter returned from the dead; Kate did not. In season two, Gerard, Matt, and Jackson were the bad guys. Matt died, Jackson transformed, and Gerard is alive. In season 3, Blake, Duke, and Kali were the main bad guys. Duke is the only one left alive. I'm not a fan of keeping evil males around, but killing evil females off. Even worse because I can't stand 2 of the biggest offenders. Derek apparently believes Duke is the Grinch, whose his heart has grow three sizes that day. I see no evidence of this. Scott and he threaten that they will stop Duke if he continues his evil ways. The fact that Duke actually seems nervous about this makes me eye roll even more. Bah! Blake and Duke should have taken each other out.

Good thing the Argents are awesome! Allison confronts her dad about his no-hunting stance, apprising him of the new "Beacon Hills as actual beacon for evil" twist. Argent pretty much says it isn't their problem, but Allison disagrees. She wants him to train her to be a better fighter and I'm all for that. She even changes the family code: "We protect those who cannot protect themselves." Like I said, awesome! They are back in the family business again! Sadly, Derek and Cora are not. They left town and Scott doesn't know if they are coming back. Like the fandom would stand for Derek's absence for long! This was the finale's biggest shock for me. In voiceover, Scott is torn over wanting Derek to return and wishing him well elsewhere. He doesn't feel the same about his douchey FBI dad who sticks around. Bummer! Still it's hilarious when Mr. Moral Superiority closes the door in his dad's face. Have to laugh at Melissa's self-satisfied smirk too. Scott monologues about the "heart of darkness" and tells DumbleDeaton that Stiles and he feel it every day, but the love of friends saves them. Aww. In montage, Aiden flirts with Lydia, Ethan and Danny hold hands, and Isaac and Allison laugh. Hello love triangle. So bad to see you. Happily Stiles breaks in to pat Scott's back before his face transforms into something far more complex. I'm intrigued but far more puzzled that the epilogue feels more like a series' end than a hiatus. It's too mellow, NOT Teen Wolf at all. DumbleDeaton breaks Scott's reverie to ask about Blake, who mysteriously vanished from the distillery. Now we're back to Teen Wolf finale goodness. In flashback, Blake heads to the nematon. Right as she is about to draw from its strength, Peter hauls her hand away. Blake: "Of course it's you, everyone else suffers but somehow you come out on top." Yes, yes, yes! I have wanted him to be the master manipulator turning these events to his advantage all season long. She rightly supposes Peter wants to kill Scott to take back his alpha status. Peter counters, "Again? Again." He slits her throat, yelling, "I am the alpha. I've always been the alpha." It's scary and impressive and awesome in the way that Teen Wolf does best, leaving me once more eagerly awaiting the end of hellatus even as it begins.

This episode would have been a solid A+ episode if it weren't for three things. 1. Scott's bubble popping scene. 2. Letting Deucalion go. 3. The 16 hours underwater thing. Other than these and some glaring logic gaps, I was thrilled and on the edge of my seat the entire time. The pacing was breathtaking as always and the character moments for the most part seemed genuine. I adore Peter as the ultimate villain and I hope he keeps playing it subtly until the last season when he can be the final Big Bad. It fits perfectly with his character and would give the final season a more personal touch. I am also relieved that all 3 parents made it out alive. I thought they would but had some niggling doubt as the beginning. Another positive aspect is the Argent's father-daughter relationship. I like them bonding through training and it's almost positive Argent will play a bigger role in the future. I still think he should be the human leader of the wolf pack. He's smarter than all the rest of them combined. I am less thrilled about Scott's dad although it could lead to interesting drama, not so much between Scott and him but between Sheriff and him. Now that Sheriff knows the truth, how will he work with someone who doesn't? In fact, how will it change him period? I'm far more interested in the new dynamic between Stiles and Sheriff than any love triangle with Scott, Allison, and Isaac.

Grade: B+

Best scene - Peter kills Blake and reveals his true nature
Worst scene - Scott pops Blake's bubble
Best action sequence - Blake vs. Kali fight
Best villain of part A - Peter
Best cameo - Mama Argent
Best moment - tie - Stiles pops out to ask Ethan what he wants with Lydia / Alison reunites with her dad
Most Valuable Player - tie - dog whistle emitter stake and baseball bat
Most Improved Character - Allison for quick thinking and getting her dad back in the hunt
The "Say What?" Award - Scott, Stiles, and Allison were underwater for 16 hours.
Best use of continuity - the distillery
Worst use of continuity - the never-ending symbolism of Scott's tattoo
Best special effect - tie - Duke's werewolf form / Blake raising the glass to kill Kali
Biggest shock - Derek and Cora leave Beacon Hills
Biggest mistake - letting Deucalion go
Biggest fashion faux pas - Lydia's sudden urge to dress like the Amish
Best understatement - Isaac: "You guys were out a long time."
Smartest plan - tie - Allison tear gases the FBI / Derek gets Blake to use her energy to give Duke sight again
Worst turn of events - Stiles knocks himself out
Best turn of events - Derek and Cora come back at the sound of Lydia's scream

Best lines:

Derek: "I'll be fine in a few hours." Peter: "I sincerely hope so because a few hours is all that you have."
Stiles: "Does anyone else think that sounds a lot like a deal with the devil."
Isaac: "So we're going to trust him? The guy that calls himself Death, Destroyer of Worlds. We're going to trust that guy?"
Melissa: "Is she actually going to come down here and slash all of our throats?" Sheriff: "Nah, she'll come down, strangle us with a garrote, and then slash our throats."
Derek: "You want me to run." Peter: "No, I…I want you to stay and get slaughtered by an alpha with a psychotic foot fetish. Of course I want you to run. Sprint, gallop, leap your way the hell out of this town."
Scott: "Stiles, I'm not smelling your dad's boxers….Socks? Okay I'll smell the socks."
DoucheDad: "You too Isaac." Isaac: "How do you know my name?" DD: "Your name's one of the few things I know."
Kali: "Who do you think you're talking to?" Lydia: "Someone in desperate of a pedicure. I'd be happy to give you a referral."
Lydia: "Oh God, is this about to get really violent?" Ethan: "Probably."
Isaac: "Mine are both dead." DD: "Save the clichéd teenage apathy for your high school teachers."
Derek: "Stop talking to me like a politician. Stop trying to convince me of your cause."
Scott: "What are you doing?" Derek: "This might be hard to believe but actually trying to help you."
Sheriff: "I always said aluminum was better than wood."
Derek: "Like my mother used to stay, although I'm a predator I don't have to be a killer."
Aiden: "I knew you liked me."
Allison in French: "We protect those who cannot protect themselves."
Blake: "Of course it's you, everyone else suffers but somehow you come out on top."
Peter: "I am the alpha. I've always been the alpha."

Best wishes to all for surviving the hellatus.  This will be my first real Teen Wolf hiatus so I am very thankful that we get episodes again in January.  Hugs to get through it.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer - 1.07 - Angel - Roundtable Review

Welcome back to the roundtable review of season 1 of Buffy. Today we had 3 participants (Diana joined us part way through) so we are back to the regular format. Yippee, especially since this is such a great episode. All 3 of us loved it so today is a highly positive roundtable. Please join in the conversation in the comments below.  Also, the pictures don't match the conversation in this one because it's been very hard to find ones that come from this episode since the title is Angel.  Sorry.

Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.

Participants: Diana, Genevieve, and Dahne

Intro/Buffy and Angel:

Dahne - Glad you are here. I am really looking forward to discussing this episode.
Genevieve - Right I'm all ready. Love this episode!
Dahne - I love this episode too. It's the first big mytharc episode and it really paid off for me. I was absolutely shocked when Angel turned out to be a vampire when it aired.
Genevieve - Absolutely, and I think that it was placed so well to build up the mystery around Angel and establish the characters before seeing them in such emotional circumstances and really getting the mytharc stuff going
Dahne - Things like that just never happened in the 90's.
Genevieve - Haha, how times have changed!
Dahne - Agreed. If they had introduced him as a vampire in the first episode, it wouldn't have been shocking but now she had time to develop feelings for him and that packs quite a punch.
Genevieve - Yes, exactly, such a great twist and the fact that everything is against them and their relationship is so unlikely is so poignant
Dahne - I am not a shipper at all, but Buffy and Angel's relationship was one I was 100% behind, mostly because it made for a great narrative and never took away from either the other characters or Buffy's role as a superhero. It made both characters more human and grounded.
Genevieve - Yes, their chemistry is insane; I think, for me, they are one of, if not the, most believable TV couple ever.
Dahne - I agree and that's hard to say about the tale of a vampire and a slayer. They were more believable than most human relationships portrayed on TV these days.

Darla/The Master/The Anointed One:

Dahne - I also think it's funny how Darla was shaping up to be such a main character and then they kill her in this one. I thought it was over for Darla, but then seasons later...hello again. That was unusual in the 90's too.
Genevieve - Yep, oh Darla, I loved the shock of that too. I definitely found Darla to be a much more intriguing villain than The Master and 'Colin'
Dahne - The Master was always too cartoonish for me. I liked the Anointed One as a concept but I have to admit that Spike killing him was the highlight of his role for me.
Genevieve - Yes. The first scene with them in the episode was just awkwardly hilarious for me, now we know why the Anointed One looks so grumpy all the time, the only fun he gets is pathetically throwing stones into a pool!
Dahne - BWAH! The Master wouldn't even spring for cable.
Genevieve - Although on The Master/The Anointed One I did quite like their last scene with the contrast between the master throwing a childish hissy fit and Colin being all ‘she was weak’ and leading the master away by the hand
Dahne - That Master and Anointed One scene is also in my favorites. I thought the kid was a decent actor in many scenes if not all.
Genevieve - Oh, and just one more highlight for The Master in this episode, the line: ‘Their deaths will bring me little joy [Darla stake The Three]… of course sometimes a little is enough’
Dahne - Ha!

Favorite Scenes/Lines:

Dahne - I have Buffy and Angel fighting against the 3 as one of my favorite scenes in this episode, but I also liked how uncomfortable they were in her room. Her "do you snore?' was priceless.
Genevieve - That was brilliant, definitely one of the lines that served to really humanize their relationship. I did enjoy them fighting together but I have to say Angel's 'good dogs don't bite' was such a cringe-worthy battle line! Buffy showed him how to do bitchy fighting talk later with her response to Darla's ‘do you know what the saddest thing in the world is?’, ‘that hair on top of that outfit?’
Dahne - Agreed. The dog comment is in my "things that didn't work" list but the Buffy snark was top notch in this one. I thought many other characters had fabulous lines too. The dialogue was overall snappy and quick.
Genevieve - Absolutely, a couple I noted down were Buffy: ‘Hi honey, you’re in grave danger, see you next month’ and 'Reconstruction began after the construction which was shoddy so they had to reconstruct’ and Xander: ‘Whoa, let’s stop this crazy whirligig of fun, I’m dizzy’
Dahne - Xander's is one of my picks as well. Two of my Buffy favorites were: Buffy: "Goodbye stakes. Hello flying fatality." and Buffy: "Giles, 21st century. I'm not going to be fighting Friar Tuck." A few other favorite lines:
***Xander: "You're in love with a vampire. What? Are you out of your mind?" Cordelia: "What?' Xander: "Not vampire. How could you love an umpire? Everyone hates them."
***Willow: "So he is a good vampire. I mean on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being someone who's killing and maiming every night and 1 being someone who's not."
***Joyce: "I…I…I know she's having trouble with history. Is…is it too difficult for her or…or is she not applying herself?" Giles: "She lives very much in the now…um, and history of course is…is very much about the…uh, the then."
***Xander: "Ah the post-fumigation party." Buffy: "Ok so what's the difference between this and the pre-fumigation party?" Xander: "Much heartier cockroaches."
***Willow: "It's a lot of fun. What's it like where you are?"
Genevieve - Haha yes! This was a great example of the show's overall tone with such a great mix of humour and drama. The dialogue in general was top notch this episode. Some really interesting examples for me were Buffy saying when she's with Angel ‘it's like the lights dim everywhere else.’ There's definitely some ambiguous symbolism going on there highlighting the fact that her love for Angel is occasionally blinding for Buffy as well as an escape.
Dahne - Great point. It's this blindness that really sold season 2 for me and made it so heartbreaking. Of course it also led to one of my least favorite scenes in this episode which was Buffy offering her neck up to Angel mid fight.
Genevieve - Yes definitely for season 2. And another line I felt had significance for the show going on was ‘Now I’m affecting those nearest and dearest to me’, although said in jest here this became one of Buffy's biggest worries throughout the later series. I kind of disagree with the neck scene; I loved Angel's hurt expression there
Dahne - I was good with the Angel reaction but it felt way out of character and much too soon in their relationship on Buffy's side. It kind of foreshadows the suicidal Buffy we get in season 6, my least favorite season by far.


Dahne - We were talking in an earlier roundtable about how Darla was a foil for Buffy and I like how they used that here as well. Darla was always one of my favorites because she was smart. I loved how she got Buffy to think Angel bit her mom but even more that she used a gun. Not sure why more vampires didn't.
Genevieve - I also thought Darla using guns was quite bizarre, if not sensible, but I only just realize watching it this time that she probably uses them, at least partially, because she wants to save Angel. It added a little more to the tragedy of her character along with the surprised and heartbroken (honestly not a pun) way she said Angel when he staked her
Dahne - I thought it was brilliant because that is the easiest way to take out a slayer. I'm actually puzzled about why it's not first choice for vamps. I agree about Darla's story as tragedy, especially as we come to know more about her. I like how she is the love interest Angelus chose while Buffy is the Angel side. It sets up a great parallel.
Genevieve - Yes definitely agree with the parallel, it's the Buffy supernatural version of him visibly getting over his ex and proving to Buffy that she was the one for him now
Dahne - Another great high school as hell metaphor! I love that about Joss' writing.
Genevieve - I just love how they succeed in making every one of the three sympathetic in some way, we've mentioned Darla's heartbreak and Angel's line ‘You have no idea what it’s like to have done the things I’ve done, and care’ is really a great summary of his story at this point

Diana Joins In:

Diana - Here I am!
Genevieve - Hi Diana
Diana - "Angel" is one of my favorite episodes!
Dahne- Hi Diana. Glad you could make it.
Diana - Yes, I'm glad too!!
Dahne - We're talking about the complicated relationships between Angel, Buffy, and Darla. This is one of my favorite episodes too, and not just of season 1. What's your favorite part of this episode?
Diana - The one where Angel finds Buffy's diary! A very awkward scene though lol
Dahne - That was brilliantly funny and reminded me that Buffy really needed to learn how to lie.
Genevieve - Haha, the diary scene was very funny, ‘When I said his eyes were penetrating I meant… bulging!’
Diana - Hahaha, Buffy then blushed lol she had a serious crush on him

Buffy and Angel, part 2:

Dahne - This was the first episode that I really liked Angel because they did give him the back story we needed to make the character seem sympathetic instead of stalker creepy.
Genevieve - Yes, and this totally qualifies the stalkery Angel of the previous episodes as he was clearly trying to help keep Buffy safe but stay away from her as much as he could because it's so difficult for him to resist her
Dahne - I like how they combined being so awkward, which anyone who dated in high school can relate to, with the serious chemistry the two had. I also loved that Angel, although he had been alive for centuries, still was visibly nervous too. That also helped sell his character to me.
Diana - Their conversation is brilliant haha yes Angel had 240 years but he looked like a teenager in that scene with Buffy!
Dahne - I often question David's acting choices in season 1 but I agree he looked very much like a teenager there and it sold the scene for me.
Genevieve - Yes, and the last scene with them is one of my favourite Buffy scenes of all time, the cross burn, the painful line, the fact that it's not just the woman who is in danger from this relationship but the man too. The moments where they try to resist their attraction are brilliant and when they give in each time it really is telling of the fact that their relationship is going to become dangerous but they just are powerless to stop it
Dahne - That cross scene was well shot and the music enhanced the whole feel. I too like that we saw that both of them were going to share in everything, including the pain the relationship was going to bring them both.
Diana - I'm a Bangel shipper, I must confess lol as much as I also love Spike, but Buffy\Angel was my first ship ever!! (it was 2000 when Buffy first aired in Italy lol)
Dahne - I really didn't know about shipping when Buffy aired, except outside the context of Mulder and Scully from the X-Files, but I will say that Joss Whedon did a bang up job in keeping the Buffy and Angel relationship as an integral part of the plot without forgoing the pace, other characters, plot, or overall mytharc. That is something no one else has been able to do as successfully in my opinion and it may be one of the reasons why I tend to be anti-shipping.
Diana - Speaking of ships, it's interesting that Joss Whedon said, at the end of season one, he didn't know where Angel and Buffy relationship was going... maybe because he didn't think Buffy would have had such a big success?
Genevieve - Yeah maybe, and David was very much untested when he got the role, didn't a casting person just spot him walking his dog?

Buffy/Twilight/Harry Potter:

Dahne - Stalker in context actually worked for this series in a way that it never worked for me in the Twilight series. I think it's because Buffy was thoroughly able to take care of herself and Angel was more of a partner.
Genevieve - Yes Dahne. And Buffy being able to take care of herself was so apparent in that scene where she finds Angel 'biting' her mother and doesn't start crying or run to her side but throws him out of the window and remains steadily calm as she threatens him, the situation in Twilight would be very different I'm sure.
Dahne - She also remains an integral part of the fight with the 3 and she gives as well as she gets with Darla before Angel takes her out. It is rare there is a true partnership in high school relationships on TV even still today and I think that's why people rooted so much for these two to make it.
Diana - Well Buffy is a Heroine with a big "H", that was Joss Whedon's intention when he created the show: the blonde ones are not the stupid ones eheh
Dahne - There's a reason why both Buffy and Hermoine are 2 of my all-time favorite fictional characters.
Genevieve - Someone should really make a pic or gif of Buffy punching Spike alongside Hermione punching Draco :P
Diana - hahaha I'll check on Tumblr if there's one Genevieve!
Dahne - Ha! If you guys do find that gif, I want a copy. That would be brilliant.
Diana - Uhm I can't find one at the moment...

Sarah Michelle Gellar:

Genevieve - I think Sarah Michelle Gellar was absolutely fantastic in this episode too, she sold everything brilliantly, so strong but fragile at the same time. Only looking back on it do I realize quite how brilliant she was in this role
Dahne - SMG was fabulous and the fact that she was never nominated for an Emmy as Buffy was a testimony to the snobbishness of those awards.
Genevieve - That is shocking


Dahne - 10 minutes left. So anything you want to add or anything you did not care for? The background they gave about Angel set up a lot of mytharc and I loved hearing about how he and Darla tore up Europe. This one also did a great job at laying out the vampire lore as far as vampires having no soul and being demons at the core. My only big criticism of this episode is that some of the vampire lore doesn't make sense. For instance, if vamps cannot come in without being invited, how did that vamp's arm go in to block the door? Also how do "The 3" maintain 3 if they die anytime they fail? I also want to know how Joyce did not hear 2 sets of footprints on the stairs when they were going up? I know I would have had my supersonic mom ears on.
Genevieve - Haha, the mom ears is a very valid comment, I think we're supposed to assume that this is the first time The Three have ever failed
Dahne - Hmm, score an even bigger one for Angel and Buffy if they were the first to beat The 3. That's impressive.
Genevieve - I have very little negative to say about this episode. I think it's a great representation of the series as a whole and this was probably the episode that I really fell in love with the show
Dahne - I didn't realize that Joss had no idea where season 2 was going to go in season 1. It flowed brilliantly together and I judge all other TV seasons against Buffy season 2. It is about as perfect as any show has ever done in one season.
Diana - Yes, you can find that abstract of Joss saying this on Wikipedia :)
Dahne - Basically, this was the episode that proved to me how great Buffy could be and how thoroughly they knew their characters. Of course, it then went on to be even more awesome than I could ever have imagined.
Diana - I quote Dahne.
Dahne - For the 7th episode of season 1, everything gelled really well and I found myself wanting to know more about Angel's past. From this point I was hooked in a "must see this every week" way. I thought many of the episodes before were great but this one blew me away.
Genevieve - Spot on with this episode making it a must-see every week
Dahne - Any last thoughts?
Genevieve - Haha a couple of extremely random notes I had written down were that the bartender looked weirdly like Freddie Mercury and this episode saw the introduction of Angel's batman-style evil/Angelus voice :P So not really any important last thoughts, haha
Dahne - I thought Angel's Batman voice combined with Darla's high-pitched whisper voice was laughable to be honest.
Diana - Haha like these comments about Angel's voice!
Genevieve - Haha Batman voices are always laughable
Dahne - Agreed. Thanks so much for joining the roundtable today guys. It was great discussing such an awesome episode with you. Here's hoping you can join next week for I, Robot...You, Jane.

Screencaps by Reverse of Shade, Angel FC Pages, Slayerettes, Return to Nothingsville, Buffygasm, Lol Library, Tumblr, and Gamespot

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer - 1.06 - The Pack - Review

Since no one could make the roundtable this week but I promised to post on Buffy after last week's absence, I decided to review this episode instead. The discussion will have to be in the comments section this time. So, what did you think about this episode? What were your favorite and least favorite scenes? Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.

Plot Synopsis (includes ending): Xander enters a restricted hyena pen to stop the resident mean kids from hurting Lance, the typical science geek. After Lance skedaddles, the others are inadvertently possessed by hyenas and form a pack. The mean kids and now Xander harass random students and display weird sniffing habits. Buffy and Willow realize something is wrong right away but sadly cannot put the hyena spirits back into the hyenas before Xander hurts Willow's feelings, tries to assault Buffy, and with the rest of the pack, eats a live pig. Yuck! At least Xander was unconscious when the mean kids ate the principal. Bye Flutie. Buffy will miss you. Getting Giles on board, the team realizes the zookeeper wanted the hyenas' power but couldn't work the ritual. He takes Willow hostage and releases the spirits from the pack. Xander saves Willow while Buffy fights the zookeeper and ends up tossing him into the hyena pen, where he is promptly eaten. The next day, Xander is overly apologetic but claims not to remember anything. Giles knows better than that.

Impact: The biggest impact of The Pack is that it showcases a main character going evil for the first time. It becomes a common and usually popular story line. I love how they give the actors a chance to stretch by having their characters change suddenly. Who can forget Angelus, Vampire Xander, and Evil Willow? This episode also ends Principal Flutie, leading to the far less tolerant Principal Snyder.

Favorites: I confess that this is one of my favorite episodes in season 1 because it is immensely relatable (who hasn't dealt with bullies) and yet offers such a different Xander that all characters respond differently to him. Some of the best scenes were actually the most painful. When Xander insults Willow in front of the others, the pain on Willow's face is heartbreaking but it also includes some of the best acting. Likewise the dodge ball game was a powerful example of show not tell. When the pack turned on Lance, who was on their own team, instead of Buffy, we learned more about the pack than in any of the dialogue. It was brutal but powerful. (Just a reminder - The golden rule of dodge ball for kids who don't like gym is get hit first so you can sit out the whole time. Even better, pretend to get hit.) My favorite scenes of course were with Xander post-possession. I loved how he helped save Willow from the zookeeper and the school scene afterwards had me agreeing with Buffy: "This is definitely the superior Xander. Accept no substitutes." The end reveal with Giles that he remembered exactly what happened helped build a budding mentorship between Xander and Giles.

This episode also excelled at small moments. Buffy's impressive double-legged jump kick during her workout was amazing, as was the small hyena moments from the pack. The sniffing, scratching, and head tilting helped sell the story. I also enjoyed the Mr. Flutie moments. I only wished he had stayed a little longer. Snyder got on my last nerve in the beginning although he eventually grew on me. Shooting from the pig's point-of-view before Buffy captured it was an interesting directorial choice. I liked how frantic it felt, which is odd since I am not a fan of handheld camera projects. However one of the best parts of the episode though was how well Willow and Xander knew each other. Anytime the two of them were on screen together, it was powerful.

Least Favorites: While I thoroughly like this episode, some things are odd. What teacher puts all the mean kids on one team? Even one as sadistic as this guy would spread them out. Also, why did Buffy not sense Xander right behind her? Her spidey senses have been going full blast but suddenly nothing? Even I would sense someone in my personal space like that. Also, Willow researched hyena behavior but didn't realize they hunt by scent. The whole "hiding in the classroom" scene made little sense to me. Speaking of Willow, how exactly does she know Xander's blood pressure? I don't know my own much less my friend's. That comes off as stalker creepy instead of nerd adorable. The clothes were also hideous in this episode. Is Buffy planning a museum heist? What's up with the black cap? Although these are all nitpicks, they stand out in the rewatch.

Three scenes are also in my least favorites. First, the slo-mo walk through school is all filler. Second, they ate Principal Flutie. That's disgusting to a degree most shows don't go, especially in the 90's, but it also spent more time than necessary showing how ineffectual Flutie was. It's hard when a character's portrayed as weak and pathetic before their death. I wish there was more honor in his. However the worst scene was Xander sexually harassing Buffy. It made me absolutely uncomfortable, but in ways they probably did not anticipate. The dialogue was atrocious and awkward. Xander: "The more I scare you, the better you smell." Really? How did Nicholas say that with a straight face? Add the "dangerous and mean" guys being a turn-on speech and the entire scene was a turn-off to me.

High School Metaphor - One of my favorite things about Buffy is the "high school as hell" metaphor Joss Whedon uses brilliantly. This episode is a beautiful example. Obviously it depicts bullies preying on people they see as weak. However using hyena spirits also demonstrates that people change in a pack mentality with Xander representing the "good kid" who falls in with the "wrong crowd" and does things he normally never would do. It shows the power the pack has over the individual, for good or evil. I particularly liked Giles and Buffy's conversation. Giles: "Individually they're almost as strong as you. As a group…" Buffy: "They're tough but I think they're getting stupider." By linking mob mentality to idiocy, Whedon makes a strong case for staying true to who you are and befriending people who appreciate you for you. That's a good reminder for anyone at any age.

Best References:

2. Buffy: "Oh great, it's the winged monkeys."
1. Buffy: "I cannot believe that you of all people are trying to Scully me. There is something supernatural at work here. Get your books. Look stuff up."

Worst Reference: Buffy: "No, no, but it's safe to say that in his animal state, his idea of wooing doesn't involve a Yanni CD and a bottle of Chianti." Is there a teen out there who would woo with Yanni? No teen would actually say this.

Best Lines:

5. Xander: "Buffy this is not just about looking at a bunch of animals. It's about not being in class." Buffy: "You know you're right. Suddenly the animals look shiny and new." Xander: "Gotta have perspective."
4. Bully: "You ever wonder why nobody popular wants to hang out with you?' Buffy: "Just thankful."
3. Buffy: "What is it with those guys?' Willow: "They're obnoxious professionally." Xander: "Well every school has them. See, you start a new school, you get your desk, some blackboards and some mean kids."
2. Willow: "You saved my life." Xander: "Hey nobody messes with my Willow." Buffy: "This is definitely the superior Xander. Accept no substitutes."
1. Buffy: "Well it shouldn't be too hard to find a new principal…unless they ask what happened to the last one."

Grade: B+

Screencaps by Buffyverse Database, Snarksquad,  Buffygasm, Brendon Daily, and Tumblr Buffy Quotes.

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