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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E08 “Lovers Walk”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone just spent a whole weekend off her meds because she forgot to pick them up before the pharmacy closed. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it. WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

I’m excited to recap this episode. Despite the fact that it used to be one of my favorites, I haven’t watched it in years. Usually, this is because I’m watching Buffy with my daughter, who only wants to see certain episodes over and over again. I know “Hush” and “Buffy vs. Dracula” by heart because of this. So I’m wondering if this episode will be as good to me now.

The episode opens with Willow and Xander discussing their SAT scores. Willow only got 740 on the verbal, and she’s calling herself illiterate and all kinds of dramatic nonsense. Xander attempts to comfort her, but Cordelia and Oz just happen to show up, and of course it’s time for the guilty excuse making.

You know what would be funny? If Cordelia and Oz were fooling around together, too.

Anyway, they’re planning a double date when Buffy comes up, looking disappointed by her scores. But she actually did really well, and that’s a problem, too. As the Slayer, Buffy didn’t really bank on having a future, and now she’s got the test scores to get a really, really good one.

Cordelia: “Well, I think this is great. Now you can leave and never come back! Well, I mean that in a positive way. Get out of Sunnydale? That’s a good thing. What kind of moron would ever want to come back here?”

Cut to the Sunnydale sign, at night time. Spike’s giant car once again crashes into the sign, but his exit this time is a lot less, “Ooh, no, big villain,” and a lot more “drunk who made it home from the bar by the grace of God alone.”

SIDEBAR: Has anyone been watching along with me? I’m absolutely thrown today, because I think Netflix switched to the remastered HD versions of the episodes. I say that because they’re suddenly super sharp and crisp in a way that they definitely have not been during this watchalong. Did anyone else notice this?

After the opening credits, Spike is drunkenly wandering around the burned down factory, singing Frank Sinatra and crying over Drusilla, who has left him. He smashes one of her dolls in a rage.

At school, Xander is trying to convince Cordelia to go bowling with him and Oz and Willow. Xander notices that Cordelia has pictures of them together up in her locker. She agrees to go bowling, and Oz gives Willow a little Pez dispenser witch. So basically, this scene is just to hammer home how shitty Willow and Xander are to their significant others who appreciate them.

In the library, Giles has an Oregon Trail game’s worth of camping supplies, getting ready to go on the fabled Watcher retreat we’ve heard about throughout the series.

Buffy: “Giles. You pack like me.”

He, like everyone else, is super impressed with Buffy’s SAT outcome.

Buffy: “Yeah. She saw these scores and her head spun around and exploded.”

Giles: “I’ve been on the Hellmouth too long. That was metaphorical, yes?”

Now, this is the part where Buffy expects Giles to tell her that she has to stay in Sunnydale and live her destiny or whatever. But he also sees this as an opportunity for her to get away from the Slaying for a while. After all, there’s still Faith to hold down the Hellmouth, right?

Okay, can I just say for a minute here that I’m totally bummed at the way everyone just assumes that Faith has nothing going for her aside from killing vampires? Yes, there needs to be a Slayer. That’s been made obvious at this point. But it seems unfair that everyone looks at Faith like, “Well, she isn’t going to do anything with her life.” She hasn’t been given the same support that Buffy has. She hasn’t grown up the same way Buffy has. She’s had none of Buffy’s advantages, so who’s to say Faith isn’t capable of greatness, if she’d just had the chance?

HEY! MAYBE THAT’S WHY SHE TURNS EVIL, HUH?

Buffy is shocked that Giles is on the pro-no-more-Slayer kick, but he says they’ll discuss it when he gets back from the retreat. He also asks her if she’s planning on seeing Angel, and she’s assures him that nothing is going to happen. But like, obviously Giles is not thrilled at the idea of his Slayer hanging around with the guy who brutally tortured him.

Willow tells Xander it’s a mistake to go bowling as a foursome, because the “sexy” sport might reveal the fact that Willow and Xander have been cheating on them with the smoochies. Xander tells Willow that he wishes he wasn’t attracted to her, and Willow asks if he has any suggestions for how to pull that off. So you know the witchy-witchy is going to happen.

Let me make a note here about the writer of this episode. It’s Dan Vebber, who wrote only two episodes of Buffy, this one and the stand-out “The Zeppo.” I just had a conversation the other day with another author friend and we agreed that every television show ever should have at least one episode a la “The Zeppo”, which we get to later in season three. He also writes and produces one of my favorite shows, American Dad! (and yes, it’s Seth McFarlane and yes, it’s got lots of problematic stuff, I acknowledge all of this and absolutely do not defend it or my horrible taste), and worked on one of my favorite episodes, where Stan internalizes his own hatred of fat people and Roger dresses up as Lestat to pretend to be the president of the Anne Rice fan club. He’s also written for Futurama, Daria, and The Simpsons.

That all got away from me because I was thinking of Roger in his Lestat costume.

The point I was going to bring up is that the writing here is so good because the Pez thing reminds the viewer that Willow is a witch, while imparting that information for someone who’s never seen the series, as well. And then when the witchy stuff happens, it’ll be like, “Oh, that’s why the Pez. I understand now, and this foreshadowing was a comfort to me.” This guy is a really good writer, and they should have kept him around for more than just two episodes.

Back at the Summers residence, Joyce is enthusing about this college’s design program and that college’s history program. Which all sound a lot like shit Joyce is interested in. Do you know your daughter at all? Joyce just wants Buffy to have a normal college experience.

Joyce: “You belong at a good, old-fashioned college with keg parties and boys, not here with Hellmouths and vampires.”

Buffy: “Not really seeing the distinction.”

It’s almost like Buffy’s seen season four before the rest of us have.

Joyce has been talking to Giles about Buffy’s possibilities for the future, too, but Buffy isn’t digging the fact that everyone is so enthusiastic about her leaving town for good. She still feels a responsibility to be the Slayer. So, as much as Buffy wants a normal life, maybe Slaying has become her normal, and she’s reluctant to give it up? That makes total sense to me. I’m kind of wondering why it wouldn’t make total sense to Giles, of all people, but then I remember the whole “I wanted to be a fighter pilot” thing from the heartfelt conversation in season one. Still, it has to be hard on Buffy to see her family and friends so psyched for her to be “normal”. It probably drives home the fact that everyone sees her as “not normal”.

Joyce asks Buffy if there’s really anything keeping her in Sunnydale, so we immediately cut to Angel. He’s reading Sartre, which is hilarious to me, because of course he’s going to be reading something angsty and existential, right? Does this guy do anything other than brood? Spike is outside, still drunk, shouting at Angel through some a boarded up window. Somehow, Angel doesn’t notice this, and he doesn’t notice when Spike passes out in the tai chi garden area. Spike wakes up on fire, screams a lot (and apparently Angel doesn’t hear that, either), and retreats to his car with blacked out windows.

At a magic store, Spike asks the sales person for curses of leprosy. She’s explaining to him that they don’t exactly have leprosy lying around, when Willow walks in. She asks for a list of ingredients, and the sales lady assumes she’s looking for a love spell. As Willow clears up the misunderstanding and the woman explains which ingredients would work better, Spike lurks in the back and listens. Willow gets everything she needs for like, sixteen dollars, which is perhaps–even in a show about vampires and Hellmouths–the most outlandish fictional thing that happens in the entire series.

Anyone who’s ever been to a new age store will probably back me up on that.

The shop lady goes back to help Spike, but he’s got a better plan now, and he eats the lady.

At City Hall, The Mayor is practicing his putting and joking about selling his assistant’s soul for a better short game. The nervous aide tells The Mayor that Spike is in town, tearing shit up. The Mayor tells the guy to go ahead and deal with their Spike problem, then manages to sink his next putt. So I guess the assistant gets to keep his soul, then.

I love The Mayor, by the way. He’s so cheerful, even when he’s kidding with terrified staffers about selling their souls. He might actually be the best Big Bad.

At the mansion, Angel is making a fire in the fireplace while Buffy looks over college stuff. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your afterlife, Angel, but maybe you need to let the not-as-combustable actual human being sitting right there tend to your fire needs. Also, not to tell either of you how to live your love lives, but let’s have a romantic fire just as friends, shall we?

Buffy basically tries to get Angel to beg her not to go off to college and leave. I don’t think it’s purely a “oh, Angel, please tell me you love me and that we will be together forever” kind of thing. I think she just wants to hear one person say they want her to stay around. Which honestly, considering how this season has gone so far? I mean, Buffy came home from running away and everyone was basically like, “This is all about me and also everything was fine when you were gone!” and then Faith shows up and everyone is like, “Ooh, shiny new Slayer!” Now people are like, “Leave and never come back, Buffy!”, so no wonder she’s feeling a little shitty about this.

So when Angel pulls the “Yeah, I think you should leave,” business, she does. She just grabs her stuff and is like, “Bye, mom’s waiting.” Good for you, Buffy.

Willow has Xander meet her at the Sunnydale High chem lab, under the pretense that she’s going to help him with the class. She starts working the de-lusting spell without telling Xander that’s what she’s doing–a.k.a., she acts like Willow doing magic at any point in this show. I don’t know if this was intentional foreshadowing of how reckless her magic gets and how she never asks for anyone’s consent before working magic for/on them, but if it was, then brafuckingvo, Joss Whedon. I’m just going to throw this under #21 anyway, because intentional or not, it’s an integral part of Willow’s character that continues to develop throughout the show.

Xander is justifiably pissed at Willow’s attempt to dupe him into the spell. He reminds her that love magic has a history of being very, very bad for him. They argue, and Xander calls a halt to the entire spell casting plan, just in time for Spike to show up. Xander and Willow try to fight Spike, but it doesn’t go so well, ending with Xander unconscious and both of them kidnapped to the burned out factory. Spike has a whole bunch of stuff for Willow to do a love spell to help him get Drusilla back. He’s distraught over Drusilla leaving him, and he’s desperate to the point of threatening to murder Willow if the spell doesn’t work.

Spike: “She wouldn’t even kill me. She just left. She didn’t even care enough to cut off my head or set me on fire. I mean, is that too much to ask? You know? Some little sign that she cared?”

Spike is going through something. Majorly. And he goes through it right up until season five, when Dru comes back and they get together again for like, an episode. And why is this such a horrible, painful thing for Spike?

Because #19. We saw that Spike was willing to make a truce with Buffy to save Drusilla. We saw the way he doted on her and how it bothered him when Angelus used her affection to toy with Spike. And during all of that last season (I’m only just realizing that I didn’t comment on that until now), he didn’t blame Drusilla for his jealousy. He blamed Angelus for going after Dru. So, Spike really does love her. So, whether or not a vampire has a soul doesn’t seem to have any effect on whether or not they can still feel human emotions.

So, Spike ends up pouring his heart out to Willow, who’s a literal shoulder for Spike to lean on. But that shoulder is made of delicious Willow meat, so eventually his thoughts turn to eating. And raping. Spike says he hasn’t “had a woman” in a long time, and the implication is that he’s not just going to eat her, he’s going to rape her. Which is a definite #27, and especially troubling since this is a fan-favorite character, and it’s not the only time he intends to rape one of the main female cast members.

Willow tells him that she’ll do the spell, just as long as he doesn’t kill her or rape her, and he agrees, but warns that if the spell doesn’t work, he’ll kill Xander, instead. There are missing ingredients and a spell book she needs, and Spike doesn’t have them. She tells him that she left them somewhere, then we cut to the library.

In the library, Buffy is jumping rope without a bra on. I know, I know. But I’m weak. I’ll totally scourge myself later. Oz and Cordelia run in, and Cordelia has the most beautiful hair anyone has ever had, ever:

Buffy and Oz stand beside Cordelia in the chemistry lab. Cordelia's hair is a high-volume cascade of the most perfectly non-perfect curls in the universe. She has more hair than a princess.

Do you see what I mean about the resolution, or is it not clear from screenshots? Alternately, my habit of sniffing Sharpies has done something to me. Someone tell me whether or not I’m right and they did switch to the high-def remaster, or if I need to stop getting kicked out of art stores.

Anyway, they take Buffy to the chem lab, where they find the spell stuff and no Willow or Xander. Apparently, they were all supposed to meet for the bowling date in the lab. What kind of school is Sunnydale, that everything and all the classrooms are wide open all the time? I guess it’s the same kind of place where a student can hang out in the library after hours jumping rope, no questions asked.

Buffy sends Oz and Cordelia off to find Giles. Hey, hang on a second. Oz says that the site of the retreat is forty minutes away. Either the Watchers are really into camping on the Hellmouth, or they came all the way to the greater Sunnydale area for their retreat specifically because that’s where he is. Or maybe it’s because that’s where the Slayers are. But now that I think of it, it’s a little weird that they came all this way and never met the Slayers. They’re forty minutes away, for cripe’s sakes! The Watchers are ridiculously inconsistent and nonsensical. You know what? They need a number. #34: The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.

The phone in the library rings, and Buffy answers, hoping it’s Giles. Instead, it’s her mom, calling to see if Buffy will commit to a discussion about college. Before Buffy can tell her that it’s really not the time, she hears Spike’s voice in the background.

Buffy is on the phone, and she looks horrified.

Joyce is fine. In fact, she’s in my favorite Joyce scene at the moment, making hot cocoa for a tearful Spike and counseling him through his breakup. That’s when Angel arrives at the back door. He can’t come in, because of the spell Willow did to rescind his invitation, so while Joyce orders him to leave, Spike gets to do this:

Spike stands behind Joyce, taunting Angel by making a goofy vampire face and a claw hand.

Joyce: “Get out of here!”

Spike: “Yeah. You’re not invited!”

Joyce: “He’s crazy, he’ll kill us!”

Spike: “Not while I breathe. Well, actually, I don’t breathe…”

Angel: “Joyce, listen to me!”

Joyce: “You get out of this house or I will stake you myself.”

Spike: “You’re a very bad man!”

Buffy manages to sneak up on Spike and slam him onto the counter. Joyce is like, whaaaaaaat because she doesn’t understand stuff:

Buffy: “You took Willow?”

Spike: “You do me now and you’ll never find the little witch.”

Joyce: “Willow’s a witch?”

Buffy: “And Xander?”

Spike: “Him, too.”

Joyce: “Wait, Xander’s a witch? I–”

You’re out of your element, Donny!

Spike tells Buffy and Angel they can follow him and he’ll lead them to Willow and Xander, but if they interfere, they’ll never find them. So they go along after Spike. He also calls Angel a “poof” at this time, which I’m flagging #23, because “Angel is gay” is Spike’s go-to insult in this series, and in Angel.

While Oz drives the van to the Watcher retreat, Cordelia imagines that Columbian drug lords have kidnapped Xander and Willow, when Oz stops. He smells Willow, somehow over the stench of gasoline that his Ford Econoline undoubtedly gives off, and they switch directions.

Buffy, Angel, and Spike are walking through town when Spike suddenly gets a headache:

Spike: “My head. I think I’m sobering up. It’s horrible. Oh, god, I wish I was dead.”

Buffy: “Well, if you close your eyes and wish real hard–”

Spike: “Hey, back off!”

Angel: “Buffy, we still need him to find the others.”

Buffy: “Need him? He’s probably just got ’em locked up in the factory.”

Spike somehow plays this off, even though he’s super unconvincing. Buffy can’t take the chance with her friends, so they keep following Spike, who regales them with a tale of killing a screaming homeless man with Dru. They get to the magic-shop-turned-crime-scene, where Spike lashes out at Angel and Buffy for destroying his relationship with Drusilla, and Buffy calls him pathetic.

Spike: “The last time I looked in on you two, you were fighting to the death. Now you’re back making googly eyes at each other like nothing happened. Makes me want to heave.”

Buffy: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Spike: “Oh yeah. You’re just friends.”

Angel: “That’s right.”

Spike: “You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love ’til 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. Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.”

Ouch. Harsh truth from Spike. Also, more evidence for #19, because of everyone in the room, he’s the only one who doesn’t have a soul and the only one who’s truly in touch with his feelings.

Back at the factory, Willow is trying to break down the door when Xander wakes from his head injury. She fills him in on the fact that no matter what happens, they’re going to die, and they end up all cozy and kissing.

Which is exactly when Oz and Cordelia show up to rescue them.

Willow is like, on top of Xander, they're kissing, and Oz and Cordelia are standing there looking hurt and horrified.

Oh my gosh, look how sad Cordelia looks. How dare you, Willow and Xander! HOW VERY DARE YOU HURT MY PRINCESS LIKE THIS!

Everybody in the situation is horrified, but perhaps no one as much as Cordelia, who turns and runs, only to crash through the staircase. Xander rushes to help her, but things are like…bad.

Cordy's midsection, covered in  plaster dust, impaled on a piece of rebar.

Impalement bad.

Fun trivia: Charisma Carpenter, who plays Cordelia, has actually been impaled before. She’s also been through some other horrific shit, but the impalement is what applies here.

Spike, Buffy, and Angel are lugging supplies back to the factory when they’re surrounded by a bunch of vampires. They used to work for Spike, but now they want to kill him for reasons unspecified. Possibly just because he acted like Spike acts a time too many. Realizing that if Spike is killed in the fight, they can’t find Willow and Xander, Buffy and Angel fight with them before running into The Magic Box.

“But Jenny,” you might say, “that store is way smaller than The Magic Box, and there isn’t a step down and the cash register is on the wrong side!” But oh ho, dear reader, it is The Magic Box, as it is shown in the same location in Sunnydale. I meant to illustrate this with a crystal clear screenshot, but my internet connection is the pits at the moment and and it now looks like not watching in super high definition, but on a VHS that got left in a car on a hot day. So fuck it. Just trust me, the magic shop is The Magic Box. At some point they must have remodeled.

While the fighting is going on, back at the factory, Oz has gone for help and Xander is trying to help Cordelia, who is lying motionless, still impaled on a pipe.

In the magic shop, One of the vampire accuses Spike of having gone soft. It’s almost like he’s been watching the entire episode with us. This sets Spike off and he’s suddenly all fight. They send the vampires screaming away with holy water bombs, which looks incredibly silly. But the important part is, Spike is back to his old self:

Spike: “Oh, sod the spell. Your friends are at the factory. I’m really glad I came here, you know? I’ve been all wrong-headed about this. Weeping, crawling, blaming everybody else. I want Dru back? I just gotta be the man I was. The man she loved. I’m gonna do what I should’ve done in the first place. I’ll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her, ’til she likes me again. Love’s a funny thing.”

Clearly the concept of vampire love is a lot different than human love. Or maybe not. So…that’s scary.

At the factory, Xander begs Cordelia to hold on, but she’s fading. Her head tilts to the side, she gives a last, weak breath, her eyes close, and she falls limp. The music swells sadly, and we cut to:

A shot from above of a cemetery, with mourners gathered around a casket.

followed by:

Buffy and Willow, walking past the funeral, super casual.

Buffy: “So, Cordelia’s gonna be okay?”

Willow: “She lost a lot of blood. None of her vitals were punctured.”

Cordelia is fine! The funeral is unrelated! We’ve all been had!

I remember the first time I watched this. I was so upset, like, HOW COULD YOU KILL CORDELIA I WILL NEVER WATCH THIS EVER AGAIN! Then I was like, “Damn it.”

It’s such a freaking good “gotcha”, any writer, for any medium, has to hate it on principle because they didn’t think it up.

Willow tells Buffy that she’s never felt so bad in her life. She didn’t know what she wanted, but now she wants Oz back. I partially feel for her, but partially feel like, good, Willow. Let this be a lesson to you.

At the hospital, Xander arrives with flowers for Cordelia. He tries to apologize to her, but she tells him to stay away from her. He leaves, and Cordy cries alone in her hospital bed.

Buffy goes to see Angel at the mansion, and things are awkward. She tells Angel that she’s not coming back:

Buffy: “We’re not friends. We never were. And I can fool Giles. And I can fool my friends. But I can’t fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason. What I want from you, I can never have.”

Okay, but…you never really fooled Giles or your friends. You can apparently fool yourself about fooling them, but they’ve been saying this since the moment they knew Angel was back.

Angel tells Buffy that he can’t accept them being apart, and she tells him he has to.

Angel: “Look, there’s gotta be some way we can still see each other.”

Buffy: “There is. Tell me that you don’t love me.”

When he can’t, Buffy leaves, and Angel sits down to be gloomy. Which is his hobby.

I guess I would feel more busted about Angel and Buffy breaking up if their will-they-won’t-they dance didn’t end up dragging this whole season down.

The episode ends with a montage of everyone being sad and alone, until we cut to Spike driving away from Sunnydale singing the Gary-Oldman-as-Sid-Vicious version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

I like this episode. It brings Spike back during the Great Spike Drought Of Season Three, though I do feel like, “I got in a fight and now I’m all better” is kind of a lazy way to send him off again. I know that it’s an action show, so there has to be at least one fight scene, but I think it would have been more convincing if he just spent the whole night with Angel and Buffy and decided that no, he’s not anywhere near as pathetic as they are. Being empowered by the deus ex machina arrival of some vampires who want to kill him with no clearly drawn motive is disappointing.

Also disappointing? Buffy’s potential leaving of Sunnydale is never again addressed in the episode. What’s set up to be a pretty serious problem for her gets pushed aside when the angst of the other characters and her love story arc pushes it to the background. It’s not even touched on briefly after the kidnapping/love spell plot begins.

Perhaps the thing I love about this episode most of all is the absence of Giles. Because you see, Giles has been on his camping trip. And he has allllllllllll of this drama to come home to. Hope you’re well rested, Giles!

46 Comments

  1. Sushi
    Sushi

    “They used to work for Spike, but now they want to kill him for reasons unspecified.”

    I’m pretty sure they were sent by the Mayor? At least, that’s the implication I got after he said to go deal with the Spike problem.

    August 19, 2016
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Oh shit, you’re right! I do these over a few days, and by the end I’d sort of forgotten about that scene.

      August 19, 2016
      |Reply
  2. Cassie
    Cassie

    +5 for the Lebowski reference.

    August 19, 2016
    |Reply
  3. Ceiros
    Ceiros

    So I’ve been sick the past week and I killed time by rereading all the recaps, and I officially have a suggestion for a new # to add to your themes: Buffy is the repository of all responsibility. So she not only blames herself for things that really aren’t her fault but everyone else puts the responsibility on her too.

    Like when Angel goes bad, it’s pretty clear that she completely blames herself and no one sits down with her and says, “you couldn’t have known, it’s not your fault for doing something millions of teens do every day aka having sex with your boyfriend.” Blame the people who created a curse with such a stupid method of ending! Blame Jenny for never dropping a hint (though I can’t tell if she knew before her uncle showed up).

    And of course this continues with Buffy’s return at the beginning of this season (“How dare you run away after you were kicked out of school, accused of murder, and thrown out of your house! Don’t you ever think about MY feelings?!?!”) and goes into *SPOILERS* season 5 with Riley’s departure. Buffy is blamed for being emotionally unavailable because she doesn’t call Riley when she’s dealing with her mother’s life-threatening illness etc. Yeah, bad Buffy! And it’s not just Xander’s little speech, but it continues into the next episodes and Buffy completely buys it as her fault. Even in season 6 As You Were, still Buffy’s fault. ARGH.

    Okay, I will stop diatribing, but I do think this theme really fits and shows up a lot. I’ve just picked some of the points that make me want to launch a remote at my TV.

    August 19, 2016
    |Reply
    • Omg, yes! Which is why I didn’t completely enjoy this show. I watched for the first time as an adult feminist and I could not ignore all this and completely enjoy the show.

      August 19, 2016
      |Reply
    • Kokairu
      Kokairu

      Completely agree, I knew something regarding the series didn’t sit quite right with me. See also: her depression in season 6 and subsequent choices.

      August 20, 2016
      |Reply
      • Mel
        Mel

        Wow… I already felt sorry for Buffy during Season 6. Now having read your take on it I think you’re right – people lay so much responsibility on Buffy, and blame her when things fall apart. No wonder she doesn’t exactly show gratitude when Willow brings her back. To her it’s done; it’s over and now she can finally rest and let another Slayer pick up the slack. Which brings me to my next question that I’d just LOVE to ask Joss about if I ever met him: the second time Buffy dies, why isn’t another Slayer called? I know the Scoobys used the sexbot Buffy to try to fool the vamps in town into thinking she was still alive, but that surely wouldn’t fool the powers-that-be, who knew Buffy had died the first time – even though it was only a few minutes – and activated Kendra?!

        August 22, 2016
        |Reply
        • shel
          shel

          I always took it as Buffy’s turn as slayer had already passed on when Kendra was called… so the line of the “active” slayer goes Buffy-> Kendra-> Faith… Buffy coming back to life doesn’t matter because she’s out of the line already, so her dying again later doesn’t activate another slayer because she has already done that with her first death. It’s a one shot deal, you know?

          August 22, 2016
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  4. Debbie
    Debbie

    Yay! All I wanted for my birthday was a Buffy recap and you delivered!

    August 19, 2016
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    • Leigha
      Leigha

      Amen!!! Mine too! And I’m totally in my 5th netflix restream.. I’m a total Nerd.

      August 20, 2016
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  5. candy apple
    candy apple

    I love how Spike, later in the series, refers back to how hot he thought Willow looked in her fuzzy pink sweater. I love continuity.

    Also, Angel didn’t torture Giles, Angelus did. Giles of all people should know this. It was Angel’s body, directed by the demon that took it over, to perpetrate terrible things. Not Angel. That said, I still hate Angel for being Angel, but I don’t hate him for the things Angelus did.

    August 19, 2016
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    • Mel
      Mel

      Yeah… It was Giles who had an extra Orb of Thesulah (that he was using as a paperweight, lol) to give Willow so she could do the spell to give Angel his soul back. So he should have known that it wasn’t Angel torturing him, but Angelus. That always kind of irked me about the whole Angel-soul-having arc. That someone as intelligent as Giles could have difficulty differentiating between a vamp and the human they were. That said, Angel before he was turned was no prize either. He did redeem himself though, not that he ever got any credit for it. And no, I’m not an Angel fan.

      August 22, 2016
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    • oblomov
      oblomov

      They’re always kind of unclear on how solid the line between a soulless and ensouled version of the vampire is. In Angel the show they go so far that they literally depict Angel and Angelus as two different entities fighting over the same body but then there is never such a clear line between Spike with a soul and Spike “soulless”.

      August 26, 2016
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  6. annie
    annie

    I’m so glad you got a good screen recap of the faces Spike was making behind Joyce. This was one of my favorite episodes simply because of that scene. Was this also the one where he’s pouring his heart out to Joyce and she states that he looks familiar and he replies with something like “Oh, you plunged an ax into me a while back. you were all ‘Hands off my daughter! Ahh'” and then he sort of chuckles?

    August 19, 2016
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      That was in the…I want to say second to last episode, if not the last episode, of season two. “You hit me with an ax once. ‘Get the hell away from my daughter’?”

      August 19, 2016
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      • Mel
        Mel

        Yeah it was in Becoming (S2) but I can’t remember if it was Part 1 or 2.

        August 22, 2016
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  7. Ilex
    Ilex

    You made my day by posting this, Jen!

    I also love American Dad, problematic though it is. So there is no judginess from this quarter!

    August 19, 2016
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  8. Mary
    Mary

    Spike and Joyce’s relationship moments, whenever they happen, make an episode for me.
    I don’t know if it’s just me being swayed by coming to the Buffyverse late and having already started Bones and therefore loving David Boreanaz a lot, but I can not hate Angel as much as everyone else does. Especially in Angel, I think his character gets expanded there and is better? But I also have yet to finish Angel, it’s been like 3 years and I’m stuck in season 2. I watch a few episodes every month.

    August 19, 2016
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    • Vivacia K. Ahwen
      Vivacia K. Ahwen

      Mary– Thank you. Had been beginning to believe I was the only person here all about Angel. Srsly. Or rather, Angel/Buffy lovey-business. Angel was the only character (not sure if it was about the actors themselves, or just the writing?) whom she had ANY romantic chemistry with, whatsoever.

      August 20, 2016
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      • shel
        shel

        Angel has always been my favorite love interest for Buffy… but I do always prefer the dark haired tortured soul type vampire… and that whole first and forbidden love thing 🙂

        I do also like Spike as a character, but I could have done without his turn to the good side… or his affair with Buffy.

        August 20, 2016
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        • Mel
          Mel

          Agreed. Some of it was quite humorous, like when he realised he had a crush on her and was horrified, but I would have preferred that he turned good on his own terms, not because he had the hots for the Slayer. Kind of makes his whole speech to Angel about having being the Slayer’s lapdog (in season 2 – Innocence, I think it was) just a bit ironic, considering what was ahead.

          August 22, 2016
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      I don’t hate Angel, but I never saw the relationship as the fantastic romantic thing everyone else seemed to at the time (I watched the original run). I am obnoxiously practical though, not a romantic bone in my body, so mostly I see the flaws rather than the “dreamy” side of things.

      Angel is a little too angsty for my liking. Spike is a blast but I didn’t like his relationship with Buffy either. I do like the development of Spike in some aspects, particularly re Joyce as time goes on. Angel is better in his own show, although the whole Connor storyline was bleh in my opinion.

      August 22, 2016
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      • Casey
        Casey

        I agree to an extent, though I do feel like the show gives a lot (perhaps too much, based on some of the other comments on these recaps) of time to the flaws of the relationship. I always felt like it was doomed from the start, and that was the awful part: that they fell in love despite he knowing he shouldn’t — it’s not really fair to expect a 16-year-old girl to have a clear head about vampire-human relationships — and stayed in love despite her cutting them off more than once. It was like herpes or something: it just kept coming back despite their best efforts.

        Okay, admittedly “herpes” isn’t the most romantic simile, but I bought it on my first watch and still do, despite some of the dickish things he does.

        August 31, 2016
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  9. To me the best Big Bad is, and always will be, Glory. She’s just too damn funny and too damn scary.

    As a gay man, I don’t mind Spike calling Angel ‘gay’ because he’s shown to be a bad person (at this stage in the shw, anyway). Yes, he’s funny but he’s morally reprehensible. There’s an episode of Angel, though, where Wesley gets really annoyed at some guy calling him a ‘ponce’ and that just pissed me off. Wesley should be better than that.

    August 19, 2016
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    • Kokairu
      Kokairu

      Yes re Glory, she’s a fantastic Big Bad. Really truly terrifying.

      August 20, 2016
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      • Mel
        Mel

        I sort of agree re Glory although for me, the Big Bad in Season 7 was the worst because it could be whatever it wanted. Glory kicked ass and looked good doing it, but she wasn’t the only enemy who’d managed to best Buffy in a fight. Remember Sunday, the vamp from the first episode of season 4 when Buffy was feeling lost in her first few days at college? She routinely kicked Buffy’s ass and was just a normal vamp. She caught Buffy in a weak moment, and for me, the entire fifth season was a weak moment for Buffy. She found out her sister wasn’t real, she lost Riley then her mum, Tara got brainzapped, and they all had to flee Sunnydale before Glory caught up with Dawn. The hits just kept on coming. No wonder she went catatonic toward the end. For me the most terrifying Big Bad was The First – but my favourite was the Mayor.

        August 22, 2016
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  10. Quint&Jessel
    Quint&Jessel

    Angel gets better in his own series. Still prone to brood, but able to be funnier. I wish Cordy + Angel had happened.

    Spike seems to genuinely like Joyce, and vice versa. He does seem to be more human than the humans at times! I occasionally wonder if that’s why getting his ……. back doesn’t affect him adversely for long.

    Buffy does get hammered by the people about her, but is that because they see her internal strength and figure she can take it?

    August 19, 2016
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    • Casey
      Casey

      I know this is kinda late, but despite knowing what your comment is supposed to say, I read it as “getting his groove back.”

      August 31, 2016
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  11. Quelaag
    Quelaag

    “The Watchers are ridiculously inconsistent and nonsensical. You know what? They need a number. #34: The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.”

    I think it’s more like The Writers have no clue what The Watchers are supposed to be. They seem less like a well-developed group of characters/organization, and more like a convenient plot device.

    August 19, 2016
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  12. CleverSobriquet
    CleverSobriquet

    The Mayor is totally the best “Big Bad!” Glory is pretty great too, though, in my opinion.

    Also, did you know Charisma Carpenter was a Mord-Sith (sort of like a deadly dominatrix) in an episode of Legend of the Seeker? And she was in a mockbuster of 50 Shades (Bound) that deliberately called out the actual series? Charisma Carpenter is wonderful.

    I, uh, think I wanted to say something else, but I’ve gotten distracted by Charisma Carpenter’s awesomeness…

    August 20, 2016
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    • CleverSobriquet
      CleverSobriquet

      ETA: I haven’t actually seen Bound, and have been assured that it’s not exactly unproblematic, but that it does criticize Fifty Shades’ abuse, and Charisma Carpenter is amazing in it.

      August 20, 2016
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      • CleverSobriquet
        CleverSobriquet

        Sorry about wonky sentence structure and word use. Running on very little sleep.

        August 20, 2016
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  13. Leigha
    Leigha

    In light of my favorite movie: (The wedding date): “I don’t even know ya hunky funky, but I love you already!!!!” I seriously do with your in detail recaps and all!
    But to the point, Giles in love with Buffy? I seriously feel as though it’s a father/daughter senerio? If you have time do tell where you feel that cause I’d live to discuss it!

    August 20, 2016
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  14. Leigha
    Leigha

    Absolutely remastered. 2nd unrelated in a way, Underworld, the first movie has also Rhona from Rise of the Lycans replaced the blonde Sonya in the original movie release and DVD collections.

    August 20, 2016
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  15. Kokairu
    Kokairu

    I *love* The Zeppo, can’t wait for you to recap it. Agree that every series should try an episode like this, only one I can think of that has is an episode of My Little Pony from last year (“Slice of Life”). Are there ones from other series that people can think of?

    I think in addition to the Watchers council being useless, their mentality is that of an exclusive and prestigious “club” and all that matters to them is that they’re exclusive and prestigious. By being coverse with their activities and not involving the slayer much (despite the fact that it’s what they exist for), they further drive home to both her and Giles (who is evidently a bit of a black sheep to them) that they’re the ones with the power. The only important role I ever remember them serving as a collective mind is to get the full details on Glory in S5.

    I think this is further reinforced in The Episode That Jenny Won’t Speak Of (handy you referred to it as this as I can’t remember what it’s called). Big time. I have more thoughts on this but I’ll wait for the recap…

    August 20, 2016
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      I totally agree, and it was never so obvious (their elitist attitude) than when they tried to hold the information they had about Glory over Buffy and Giles in Season 5. It’s one of my favourite moments in the entire series when Buffy stood up to them and told them that in no uncertain terms that they were going to cut the shit and give over the information they had. She finally realised that without her, the Watcher’s Council were nothing. She had all the power. The look on Quentin Travers’ face was priceless. That was when she truly came into her own as the Slayer IMHO.

      August 22, 2016
      |Reply
  16. Eneya
    Eneya

    Yeah, just a tiiiiny nitpick. Sartre is not angsty. 🙂

    August 20, 2016
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  17. Siona Larsen
    Siona Larsen

    Watched the commentary for episode one of Buffy and Joss mentioned the first two season were shot on 16mm and they finally switched to the better 32mm in season three. Thus the better quality you see

    August 21, 2016
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  18. Anon123
    Anon123

    Sorry to hear about your meds, hope you’re okay. :-/

    ” . . . [S]pike didn’t blame Drusilla for his jealousy. He blamed Angelus for going after Dru. ”

    Can we really say that’s about love, though? Because now that you’ve pointed this out, I’m not sure. This also strikes me as depriving Dru of her agency, so, sexism with a possible side of mental-ableism. See also: Women being obligated to enjoy all come-ons from men. Spike blaming Angelus is a little like, “How dare you flirt with her! Now she’s required to have sex with you!” (And if this is just more characterization for Spike’s awfulness, rather than the writers’ opinions coming through, I need the show to call that out–especially since Spike’s often so much more overtly villainous.)

    Anyway, I like #34, but I think a proper sense of irony now dictates that you should follow *Rule* #34 (and #35). That’s right, you have to make porn of the Watchers being terrible at their jobs. Good luck. 😛

    August 21, 2016
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    • LJones
      LJones

      Spike blaming Angel was all about him slut shaming the latter, just as many tend to slut shame women in adulterous situations.

      October 21, 2016
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  19. Hollykim
    Hollykim

    “I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it”
    And the character sums himself up in 14 words

    August 21, 2016
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  20. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    I think the Mayor is the best Big Bad. He has been doing some serious planning and I admire the long term big picture plans. Glory came off as more petulant.

    I didn’t like the cheating done by Willow and Xander, it came across as contrived for the sake of story drama. I do like how the different ways the couples deal with the fall out plays out though. The continuity references to this episode in later seasons is a nice touch as well.

    August 22, 2016
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      I didn’t like the cheating by Willow and Xander, either. I don’t know if it was contrived or not, but it felt way too real for me. Willow had a crush on Xander, from all accounts, since the onset of puberty. But she was pretty much Friend-zoned right from the start and had to put up with him drooling over everyone else – even her other best friend, Buffy, and their ‘mortal enemy’, Cordelia – BUT her. Then, when she meets Oz and forms the first real relationship she’s ever had, with a decent guy who worships the ground she walks on, Xander isn’t number one on her list of priorities anymore. So suddenly he sees what’s been in front of his face the entire time, and realises he can’t have it. And of course, now he wants it. Typical male behaviour. Trust me, I know.

      August 22, 2016
      |Reply
  21. Kate
    Kate

    Yep. That’s the remastered version. The original version was 4:3 aspect ratio until season 4, and those screencaps are 16:9.

    August 23, 2016
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  22. “I want Dru back? I just gotta be the man I was. The man she loved. I’m gonna do what I should’ve done in the first place. I’ll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her, ’til she likes me again. Love’s a funny thing.”
    Did E.L. James watch this?
    All jokes aside, the whole cheating arc pissed me off so much. I think the writers wanted an excuse to break up Xander and Cordelia before graduation and this was just the unfortunate consequence.

    August 24, 2016
    |Reply
  23. LJones
    LJones

    Spike, Buffy, and Angel are lugging supplies back to the factory when they’re surrounded by a bunch of vampires. They used to work for Spike, but now they want to kill him for reasons unspecified.

    They were probably ordered by Mayor Wilkins to get rid of Spike, who was regarded as too chaotic to hang around Sunnydale by the former.

    Also, Angel didn’t torture Giles, Angelus did. Giles of all people should know this. It was Angel’s body, directed by the demon that took it over, to perpetrate terrible things. Not Angel. That said, I still hate Angel for being Angel, but I don’t hate him for the things Angelus did.

    Angel and Angelus are one and the same – with or without the soul. I don’t believe in this compartmentalizing one’s personality shit.

    October 21, 2016
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