“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 5×13 – Blood Ties

I really don’t want this season to end. It’s been terrific and exciting, and I can’t remember the last time we even had a standalone weekly villain. How great is that?

Dawn’s arc reaches its highly anticipated climax when she finally finds out that she is “the key” – something the monks created and brought into the Summers home while incorporating her into everyone’s memories. Michelle Trachtenberg gives a truly heartbreaking performance in Blood Ties, and while some of her actions were worrisome (cutting herself, setting her bedroom on fire, etc.), it’s all realistic within the show’s world. While I have promised myself to stay spoiler-free, I couldn’t help but read more about Dawn and I’m shocked that many fans find her irritating, annoying and one of the worst characters on the show. Are we watching the same thing, fellas? Because I happen to find this entire storyline absolutely incredible.

Granted, this episode wasn’t perfect by all means. Glory is a formidable foe for sure, but her tactics are starting to get a little old. There were a few twists in here (how did Ben suddenly become Glory?!), but the fact that Willow and Tara were able to take her down with one simple spell felt way too anticlimactic. This is supposed to be the season’s Big Bad. We can’t have her disappear from fights just because the episode is about to end!

Seeing Spike constantly show up by Buffy’s side certainly needs a little getting used to, but it’s interesting how the writers are developing this relationship. He had some of the best scenes this week, particularly when paired up with Dawn in an amusing, lighthearted moment at the magic shop, but I am wary of where this Spike/Buffy thing is going. Is it just for laughs or are we actually supposed to believe the writers want to pursue this?


Favorite Scene

Gotta love Dawn breaking down in front of Buffy and Joyce in her bedroom. It’s perfectly written and performed by all three actresses, and it really broke my heart.

Bits

– Good lord, the CGI was horrendous when Glory was squishing her fingers into one of the knights’ brains. What’s with all the cringe-inducing light?

– Loved seeing the troll hammer again!

– I’m actually more interested in the Knights of Byzantium now. They’re certainly strong, powerful and don’t care about dying.

– Does Ben have powers? How can he cause such damage to Glory’s minion?

– Fantastic visual: Buffy jumping and spinning in mid-air during her final fight with Glory (which, by the way, was awful).

Quotes

Xander: We’re going up against a god. An actual, mightier-than-thou god.
Willow: Well, you know what they say. The bigger they are–
Anya: The faster they stomp you into nothing.

Dawn: This is blood, isn’t it? It can’t be me. I’m not a key. I’m not a thing.

Buffy: Mom and I know what we feel. I know I care about you. I know that I worry about you.
Dawn: You worry about me because you have to. I’m your job. “Protect the key”, right?
Buffy: I worry because my sister is cutting herself!
Dawn: Yeah, how do you know? Maybe this is just another fake memory from my fake family.

Joyce: Honey, you’re gonna be late for school.
Dawn: I’m not going. Blobs of energy don’t need an education.

Spike: She probably would have skipped off anyway, even if she never found out. She’s not just a blob of energy, she’s also a fourteen-year-old hormone bomb. (sighs) Which one’s screwing her up more right now, spin the bloody wheel.

Spike: You’ll find her, just in the nick of time, that’s what you hero types do.

Buffy: What did you do to her?
Willow: Teleportation spell. Still working out the kinks.
Buffy: Where’d you send her?
Willow: Don’t know. That’s one of the kinks.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 2×12 – Blood Money

Too much Wolfram & Hart, not enough Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn – and that’s never a good thing.

It’s not that Lindsey and Lilah aren’t interesting, but they’re extremely incompetent as both lawyers and adversaries to Angel that it’s almost laughable and unentertaining to watch. Sadly, every one of their scenes was a bore, and while I understand we can’t have a perfect episode every week, I’m hoping the show finds a better way to write these awful lawyers into the main storyline in the future, or else we’ll have another Kate on our hands.

Another problem with Blood Money is that it was too overstuffed. There’s Anne, an intriguing new character who I actually hope sticks around, and Boone, an old friend of Angel’s who repeatedly switches alliances in the span of one hour that it became a bit of a convoluted mess in the end. It’s also absolutely unacceptable that both Darla and Drusilla were completely MIA throughout this entire episode.

What salvages the show is once again Angel, and by extension David Boreanaz. He’s getting much juicier material now that the character is letting loose, and it’s both fascinating and mysterious to watch. Will we ever get the old Angel back? And will we ever understand what even caused this sudden change?


Favorite Scene

Although I found that Anne playing Cordelia and Wesley’s embarrassing videos at the party extremely cheesy and cringe-worthy, I still kind of enjoyed seeing Cordy practice acting with just a coat rack. I hope the writers develop her acting dreams a little more soon; I want my Cordy to become a star!

Bits

– What a fantastic teaser with Angel bumping into Anne, which doesn’t turn out to be by accident at all when he returns home and reveals that he’s been stalking her due to her involvement with Wolfram & Hart.

– I love the idea that Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn want to start their own firm, ditch the old logo and forget about Angel. I honestly hope they go for it!

– Awesome continuity with Wesley and Gunn making fun of the Angel Investigations logo, which doesn’t resemble an angel at all.

– How weird was it that the Angel/Boone fight was done off-screen in the end? Missed opportunity if you ask me.

Quotes

Merl: What do you want, man? I ain’t inviting you in.
Angel: (enters anyway) Demon lairs. No invitation necessary.
Merl: Yeah, but it’s polite.

Boone: Angel and I have a history together. An unfinished history.
Merl: Yeah? That’s nice. What, did you guys go to college together?

Rating
C+

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 5×12 – Checkpoint

This season is shaping up to be one of the most consistently solid seasons of television.

I’m still fascinated by Dawn’s arc, and while it’s not front and center this week, it largely looms over Buffy’s head. The arrival of the Council watchers to Giles’ magic shop also added a great sense of urgency to the proceedings, as Buffy has to go through a review to prove herself worthy of her slayer duties.

Additionally, I couldn’t think of a better twist to bookend this hour: Buffy finding out that Glory is a god. The cliffhanger makes the season even more thrilling, made even better with Buffy’s simple “oh” response. Even though I’ve loved this show since the second half of season two, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about seeing how everything ties together in the end. Color me impressed.


Favorite Scene

Buffy gives a spectacular speech in the end to the Council, proving once again why Sarah Michelle Gellar is perfect for the role, and why Buffy is truly a fantastic main character. Wow.

Bits

– Buffy’s professor was certainly and unnecessarily mean! What a jerk.

– I love Joyce admiring Spike’s “neglected” home. Remember when these two had an oddly amusing relationship?

– There are still too many people mentioning Riley. I get that he was important in Buffy’s life, but I can’t remember the show being this hung up on Oz when he took off! Shame.

– Anya hiding her ex-demon persona from the Council was one of the funniest running gags of the episode.

– So, who exactly were those knights fighting Buffy? Felt a bit random to me.

Quotes

Giles: They can appear to be a bit hard-nosed, but, well, essentially, their agenda is the same as ours. They want to save the world and kill demons.
Anya: Kill the current demons, right? Current demons.

Travers: Miss, excuse me? You work here?
Anya: (quickly) Yes, I do. Ever since I moved here from southeastern Indiana, where I was raised by both a mother and a father.

Buffy: Spike! Why did you do that?
Spike: Not for money, if that’s what you’re thinking. Your heartfelt gratitude’s plenty.

Travers: I think your Watcher hasn’t reminded you lately of the resolute status of the players in our little game. The Council fights evil. The Slayer is the instrument by which we fight. The Council remains, the Slayers change. It’s been that way from the beginning.
Giles: Well, that’s a very comforting, bloodless way of looking at it, isn’t it?

Joyce: (to Spike) I love what you’ve, um, neglected to do with the place.

Buffy: See … I’ve had a lot of people talking at me the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I’ve finally figured out why. (looks Travers in the eye) Power. I have it. They don’t. This bothers them.

Watcher 2: I don’t want a sword thrown at me, but civilians? We’re talking about children.
Buffy: We’re talking about two very powerful witches and a thousand-year-old ex-demon.
Anya: Willow’s a demon?!

Rating
A-

“Angel” 2×11 – Redefinition

It fills me with joy to see this show have such an incredible sophomore season. Angel has ditched the procedural format altogether now, focusing on a much more coherent and compelling narrative.

What makes Redefinition stand out among other Angel episodes is how game-changing it is, often reminding me of Alias‘ Phase One. The writers don’t rush to reset the status quo; instead, every character is already trying to settle into their new position. Angel has gone rogue, firing Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn, and has gone off to fight the “war”. His first act is certainly unforgettable, setting his previous teammates Darla and Drusilla on fire, and leaving them to ponder whether that was really Angel, Angelus or someone entirely new. Audiences are left to guess as well, and it’s only a matter of time before we can truly learn what’s caused this huge change in our protagonist’s behavior (or do we call him anti-hero now?).

Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn have some of the best scenes as they find themselves singing “We Are The Champions” at the demon karaoke bar. I love this trio so much, and I’m fascinated how well they work together, even without their boss. Is it bad that I’m secretly hoping Angel never hires them back again?

Meanwhile, Lindsey and Lilah go head-to-head after they realize they’re the sole survivors of the Wolfram & Hart wine-tasting massacre. Dru and Darla asking for an alliance is a bit of a convoluted stretch, and this subplot definitely drags a little, especially in the end when both Lindsey and Lilah are appointed co-vice presidents. But I’ll take this subplot over anything Kate-related any time!


Favorite Scene

Angel setting Dru and Darla on fire was awesome. These three are so darn amusing to watch!

Quotes

Cordelia: One thing you can say about Angel: at least he’s consistent. It’s always some blonde driving him over the edge.

Cordelia: What happened to “this was just a side gig”?
Gunn: Hey, I got a rep to maintain, alright? I can’t have you all seeing through my brusque and macho exterior.
Cordelia: Oh, heavens forfend!

Gunn: If I had to listen to you two day in, day out snipe, snipe, snipe, bitch, bitch, bitch… I figure you all got off easy because I would have killed you.

Cordelia: You, Mr. Big- Mojo-guy, are supposed to give us guidance now.
Wesley: She’s right. We came, we sang, we…fought the urge to regurgitate.
Cordelia: So spill already. (to Wesley) Not you.

Darla: I mean, for God’s sake, can’t a woman wreak a little havoc without there being a man involved?

Rating
A

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 5×11 – Triangle

This episode was so much better than it had any right to be.

First, it’s worth noting that Triangle is without a doubt the wittiest hour of television I have ever seen, even though I doubt it ever makes the list of people’s favorite Buffy episodes. That’s a shame, though, because every single exchange is jam-packed with rich material ranging from laugh-out-loud hilarious to positively entertaining. The sharp script brilliantly incorporates Buffy’s post-breakup storyline with Anya and Willow’s banter, and there’s just simply not a single second that isn’t delightful. I’m in awe.

Of course, what helps make Triangle even more entertaining is the troll demon. He’s probably the most amusing villain this show has introduced yet, even if he’s absolutely ridiculous and irritating. The episode also delivers a couple of nifty twists, all of which are meant for laughs. What a fun, lighthearted hour.

Anya continues to prove why she is the most interesting character in the Buffyverse right now. Unlike the extremely slow character development Cordelia’s been having on Angel lately, I love how this show doesn’t hold back on exploring Anya’s past, such as the brief scene where it’s revealed she dated the troll over a thousand years ago. She has a lot of backstory that’s undoubtedly amusing to dig into, and I honestly wish we can explore it all.

In addition, it’s always refreshing when Willow lets loose, and it was fun to watch her and Anya bicker every chance they get. I just wish they’d do something about Tara; she’s been awfully useless since, well, forever.

Finally, I love the final scene where Buffy, Giles and Joyce are discussing some slayer-related issues. It’s an extremely touching moment (maybe because they’re drinking tea?) that culminates in a perfectly realistic twist as Dawn overhears that she’s special. She doesn’t know everything yet, but hearing this will only add to her already existing suspicions. I can’t begin to imagine what’s next for my favorite storyline of the year!


Favorite Scene

Honestly, it’s so hard to choose one. Every line I picked below is fun for completely different reasons!

Bits

– Marc Blucas is no longer listed as a regular! Can we party now?

– Loved Buffy and Dawn’s heartwarming scene in Buffy’s room talking about Riley. Their sisterly bond is endearing.

– Spike having conversations with the Buffy mannequin that still looks nothing like Buffy: mighty hilarious!

– Buffy had pigtail buns this week. How can you not laugh at that sight?

– Willow using merchandise from the magic shop to create a spell while Anya takes a note of every price: TOO funny!

– The troll making Xander choose whether he kills Anya or Willow gave me huge Arrow vibes. Remember when Deathstroke had Oliver choose between his mother and his sister? Ah, good times.

– Anya pissing off the troll in order to distract him from Buffy…must I mention “hilarious” again?

– Brilliant visual gag: Buffy placing the hammer as a souvenir on a glass-topped case seconds before it breaks down and smashes into pieces.

Quotes

Anya: If you ever decide to go, I want a warning. You know, big flashing red lights, and-and-and one of those clocks that counts down like a bomb in a movie? And there’s a whole bunch of, of colored wires, and I’m not sure which is the right one to cut, but I guess the green one, and then at the last second “No! The red one!” and then click, it stops with three-tenths of a second left, but then you don’t leave. (pause) Like that, okay?
Xander: Check. Big bomb clock.

Buffy: I killed something in a convent last night.
Xander: In any other room, a frightening declaration. Here, a welcome distraction. Tell us about the killing, Buff.
Buffy: Pretty standard. Vampire staking. Ooh! But I met a nun, and she let me try on her wimple.
Xander: Okay, now we’re back to frightening.

Anya: (to Willow) Hey! Don’t float the merchandise!

Willow: Fleabane. (measures some stuff into her mortar)
Anya: Fifteen cents. (writes down in her notepad)
Willow: Salamander eyes… (puts them into the mortar)
Anya: Ten bucks for twelve. Bargain. (writes)
Willow: Bindweed. (puts it in)
Anya: Ooh, that’s a pricey one. (writers)

Buffy: The professor spit too much when he talked. It was like being at Sea World. “The first five rows will get wet.”

Tara: Willow says that things always happen for a reason.
Buffy: But you ever notice people only say that about bad things? But not for me, the furrowed brow.

Willow: Put the top up, the pages are all blowy!
Anya: Well, I don’t know how to put the top up, I only just figured out what the left pedal does. (turns to smile at Willow) It makes us stop! (slams on the brakes)
Willow: You don’t know how to drive?! Why didn’t you say you don’t know how to drive?
Anya: Well, I couldn’t know if I could until I tried, could I?

Xander: (to Anya) You dated him?!
Buffy: You dated a troll?
Willow: And we’re, what, surprised by this?

Buffy: You want credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims?
Spike: Well, yeah.

Xander: No. You are one crazy troll, I … I’m not choosing between my girlfriend and my best friend. That’s insane troll logic.

Anya: How can I help?
Willow: Uh, distract him from Buffy. Uh, piss him off.
Anya: I don’t know how.
Willow: Anya, I have faith in you. There is no one you cannot piss off.

Anya: Hey, Olaf! You’re as inadequate a troll as you were a boyfriend! Uh, you’re hairy, and unattractive, and even women trolls are put off by your various colors! Your menacing stance is merely alarming! And your roar is less than full-throated!

Anya: Hey, good job.
Willow: You too! Very irritating.

Rating
A

“Angel” 2×10 – Reunion

Drusilla and Darla were so over-the-top incredible in this episode, it’s such a shame they weren’t introduced much earlier in the show. Their scenes were absolutely delightful, and I can’t wait to see them unleash more evilness in the upcoming episodes.

The biggest shock of the hour happens in the final two minutes. After Dru and Darla hold everyone from Wolfram & Hart captive at a celebratory wine tasting, Angel busts into the place, ready to save the day (and the humans). In an epic, jaw-dropping twist, he reverts, walks away and shuts the door behind him, leaving everyone to die by the hands of our evil duo. It all culminates in an even more shocking cliffhanger after Angel tells Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn what he did, then fires them all! What in the world is happening here?

Despite those epic two minutes in the end, Reunion dragged a little halfway through. After an incredibly staged three-way fight between Angel, Drusilla and Darla, characters blurt out unusually exposition-heavy dialogue. It didn’t help that Kate appears in this one, even if for only a few seconds. Nope, still can’t stand this horrendous character.

It certainly feels like Reunion had a lot of table-setting to do, and now there’s a lot riding on the next couple of episodes, especially after those two explosive cliffhangers. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint.


Favorite Scene

I loved Drusilla and Darla finally reuniting in the middle of the streets. Their dresses, the lighting, the random truck driver honking before Darla growls at him… It’s all pretty impressive.

Quotes

Gunn: Ok, I’m still trying to get this family tree straight. Darla sired Angel.
Wesley: Correct.
Gunn: And Angel sired this Drusilla?
Wesley: Back when he and Darla were together, yes.
Gunn: But before Angel got his soul back, right?
Wesley: Certainly.
Gunn: Now these lawyers, they brought Darla back as human. Now this Drusilla-vamp goes and bites Darla?
Wesley: So it would seem.
Gunn: Making her a vampire again.
Wesley: That’s the cosmological upshot, yes.

Gunn: The granddaughter remade the grandmother.
Wesley: Oh…yes.
Gunn: Man, somehow that weird me out more than the whole bloodsucking thing.

Drusilla: She’s dead.
Lindsey: Oh. Of course.
Drusilla: Shh, just for now.
Lilah: (to Lindsey) Think maybe now you’ve got a shot with her?

Cordelia: How’d it go?
Angel: Everyone gear up. Grab something sharp. We need to move fast.
Cordelia: I’m gonna guess not great?

Rating
B+

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 5×10 – Into the Woods

I have to commend the writers for doing something different this time because Into the Woods was heavy on the romance and the drama, low on the action and suspense, and it was still an enjoyable episode packed with a whole lot of momentum.

First, it boggles my mind that Sarah Michelle Gellar never won an Emmy throughout Buffy‘s entire run. Although I initially had my doubts about her performance (especially during that atrocious first season), SMG has proven herself Emmy-worthy over the past five seasons. No one will probably recognize her performance in Into the Woods particularly because there are far more superior episodes out there, but this was the first time we see Buffy go through a spectrum of emotions throughout one hour. From excitement about her mother’s recovery (really, was that it?) to heartbreak about finding out Riley has a morbid bloodlust inside of him to sheer devastation after letting him go, Sarah impeccably portrays what it’s like for a strong, powerful woman to go from having it all to losing it all.

Her seven-minute long breakup scene with Riley isn’t perfect by all means, but it does have some of the smartest writing I’ve ever seen. There’s a bit of “real-world” context into the fight, as if Riley simply hired a prostitute for a sexual encounter, but it goes deeper than that because he willingly turned himself into a vampire. It’s an odd, often-comical scene, that’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to analyze. I really don’t know what to make of this entire subplot now, and while I’m happy to finally see Riley go, I’m just a little disappointed we didn’t get to see more of him as an actual vampire.

Of course, the stakes weren’t that high because Riley is a poorly written character, always has been. Therefore, Xander’s entire monologue about this guy being a once-in-a-lifetime thing that she’s throwing away is particularly hard to stomach. It’s emotional and heartwarming both at the same time, but it still doesn’t reach the poignant climax the writers were hoping for.

Thankfully, now that that’s out of the way, the show can focus back on Buffy, Dawn, Glory and hopefully revisiting Joyce’s condition; I would hate if they brought up the brain tumor only for it not to be that important in the long run.


Favorite Scene

Buffy and Riley’s long breakup scene is definitely a thing of beauty. Again, I’m still having a hard time accepting it for what it is (the first 3 minutes are particularly dull), but the sum of its parts is beautiful.

Bits

– The opening teaser cutting off just as the doctor is about to tell Buffy how her mother’s surgery went should have been my first clue that this was an unusually melodramatic hour.

– Spike’s obsession with Buffy turned a bit stalkerish this week, but I’ll allow it because I was genuinely smiling when he tried hard not to look at her while she got dressed. Are these two endgame? Now that would be a huge plot twist.

– When Buffy is leaving the vampire whore house, I love how she sends one of the vamps flying into a wall with just one small punch. Talk about badass.

– I need more Dawn scenes! She was hardly in this one.

– Still don’t care about Xander and Anya. She honestly deserves someone much better, if only for her colorful personality.

– Xander telling Buffy to run after Riley was actually more poignant than the breakup that preceded it. Although, I could have lived without the soapy “chase after him right as he’s moving away” scene at the end.

Quotes

Dawn: When I was younger, I used to put chopsticks in my mouth like this (puts chopsticks in her mouth so they stick out like long fangs), and then Buffy would chase me around the house yelling “I’m the slayer, I’m going to get you”.
Anya: That’s disturbing, you’re emotionally scarred and will end up badly.

Buffy: (to Spike) Every time you show up like this, you risk all of your parts, you know that?

Anya: I’m sorry, Willow. Thank you for making time in your busy life to come in here and get in the way of mine.

Anya: I made this one guy spontaneously combust, and he set his whole village on fire.
Xander: Can you stop being scary for a minute and listen to what I’m trying to tell you?

Buffy: Fine, tell me about your whores! Tell me what on earth they were giving you that I can’t.
Riley: They needed me.
Buffy: They needed your money. It wasn’t about you.
Riley: No, on some basic level, it was about me. My blood, my body. When they bit me, it was beyond passion. They wanted to devour me, all of me.
Buffy: Why are you telling me this?
Riley: It wasn’t real. I know, it was just physical. But the fact that I craved it…that I kept going back, even if it was fleeting, they made me feel like they had such hunger for me.

Buffy: What else do you want from me, Riley? I’ve given you everything that I have, I’ve given you my heart, my body and soul.
Riley: You say that, but I don’t feel it. I just don’t feel it.
Buffy: Well, whose fault is that? Because I’m telling you, this is it. This is me. This is the package. And if it’s so deficient that you need to get your kicks elsewhere, then we really have a problem.

Buffy: I don’t even know who he is anymore. I mean, I thought he was…dependable.
Xander: Dependable? What is he, State Farm?

Rating
B+

“Angel” 2×09 – The Trial

This show has been on a roll lately! Not a single weak episode this season so far, a far cry from the countless forgettable standalone-ish hours last season.

Of course, the ending makes The Trial even more powerful and game-changing than anything this show has ever produced. Bringing back Drusilla–in an epic, bone-chilling slow-mo sequence–to turn Darla back into her evil vampire self is a brilliant move from a writing standpoint. Angel, Dru and Darla have a tremendous amount of history, and I’m honestly on the edge of my seat now. I don’t know what the back half of this season is going to be like, but I can tell it will be terrific.

The trials themselves were also thrilling. I loved the constant flashbacks to Angel and Darla’s time back in 1765 France, juxtaposed by their current relationship and status quo. However, it was obvious Angel wasn’t going to die, regardless of the several times he offered to sacrifice himself to save Darla. It was indeed convincing, knowing Angel and all, but I’m not very fond of episodes that make it seem like they’re about to off their main character. It will never happen, so don’t try to raise the stakes this way.

I’m still awfully fascinated by Cordelia (even though I’m still not used to the new haircut). She adds so much comic relief to every hour, making the show feel a lot more grounded, and I’m glad I’m starting to love the Host as well. Let’s see these two in the same subplot, writers! The possibilities are endless.


Favorite Scene

The ending is one of the smartest fakeouts I’ve seen all year! As much as I loved Drusilla on Buffy, I feel she was awfully underutilized there. Let’s hope she gets to do a lot more on Angel, especially with Lindsey and Wolfram & Hart involved.

Quotes

Wesley: What’s he doing down there?
Cordelia: How should I know? He barely says “good morning” and “get me a glass of blood” anymore.

Cordelia: I thought you were gonna be a man and talk to him about this.
Wesley: I was a man! I said…things.
Cordelia: Like what?
Wesley: Like, did he prefer milk or sugar in his tea? It’s how men talk about things in England.

Cordelia: So you were doing your laundry?
Angel: Yeah, there is an old washer and dryer in the cellar. Don’t you just love it when they’re still warm from the dryer? Wrinkle-free, right after you iron it for about 15 minutes.
Wesley: It’s good to see you taking a domestic task.
Cordelia: Yeah, you seem all calm and homey. Are you on drugs?

Cordelia: You’re planning on sleeping over?
Darla: I’m dying.
Cordelia: So, just for the one night, then.

Cordelia: (to Angel and Darla); You were just soulless bloodsucking demons. They’re lawyers.
Angel: She’s right. We were amateurs.

Cordelia: Sorry about the drying, but if you try to escape, we will hit you.
Wesley: On the head.
Cordelia: With very large and heavy objects.

Angel: (to Lindsey) Look at you, a few short months with her and you go all schoolboy. I was with her for 150 years.

Host: Ooh, ground control to major Tom, we may not be able to save this bird.
Angel: I’m gonna save her and you’re gonna help me.
Host: I sense pain and anger. Are you still testy from the last time?
Angel: When you sent me to that swami who was dead, and his imposter tried to kill me?  Why would I be testy about that?

Rating
A-

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 5×09 – Listening to Fear

What a difference a year makes.

Around this time last season, Buffy was starting to become a bit of a chore to watch. Besides Hush and the epic finale, the entire fourth season is already a blur to me now. The lame episodic structure coupled with an atrocious Big Bad meant a weaker, less exciting season of television. Thankfully, this year Buffy is proving once again why it’s one of the most important shows in history.

I must sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating that Dawn’s entire arc is one of the best storylines I’ve seen in recent years. It’s been brilliantly executed with a perfect mix of mystery and caution, and having Joyce’s brain tumor somehow helping her figure out the Dawn secret is so darn clever. I nearly bawled at that final Joyce/Buffy scene. Epicness.

Which brings us to a truly devastating storyline. I never once imagined the writers would dare to kill off Joyce, even though she was hardly integral to the show’s mythology last season, but it’s starting to look like we’re heading towards a gut-wrenching death soon. With the tumor messing up Joyce’s brain repeatedly throughout this hour, Buffy maturely taking over as head of the household and Glory still causing trouble for our Scooby gang, there’s an overwhelming feeling to this season and our characters. And that’s exactly why it’s so thrilling to watch.

The Queller demon, the slimey, creepy creature from space, was a bit of a dud, but I still loved the symbolism behind this week’s villain–the alien represents the malignant tumor growing inside Joyce’s brain–proving once again that this show has one of the best writing teams. And I wouldn’t mind more of these freaks of the week if Buffy continues to connect some of its standalone cases to this season’s compelling arc (Joyce’s illness) in a way that’s still subtle and intriguing.


Favorite Scenes

Buffy and Joyce’s final exchange has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve ever seen, especially as it ends with Joyce being rolled away into surgery.

Bits

– Even though I’m still not invested in Tara and Willow as a couple, it was heartwarming watching them stare at the stars, of course right until the “meteor crash” happened.

– Look, it’s the university library! Have we even seen this place since The Freshman?

– I don’t even know what Riley was doing this week, but it does not look good.

– So, what exactly is the connection between Ben and Glory?! Him mentioning that he’s been “cleaning her mess” his entire damn life was certainly a jaw-dropper. Siblings, perhaps?

– Buffy sobbing while doing the dishes and listening to some random Spanish music was also very emotional. I love that she throws water at her face in the end to stop herself from crying any more.

Quotes

Joyce: Listen, you two, I know this creamed spinach is pretty delicious, but I promise, I won’t be offended if you go out for some real food.
Buffy: You kidding me? This is the good life. Relaxing in bed while people bring you food on trays.

Dawn: This girl at school told me that gelatin is made from ground-up cow’s feet, and that if you eat Jello there’s some cows out limping with no feet. But I told her I’m sure they kill ’em before they take off their feet. (Suddenly nervous) Right?
Buffy: (to Joyce) You’re the one who insisted on teaching her to talk.

(about the nurse-call button)
Joyce: I bet it’s not even hooked up to anything. Just like the push buttons at the crosswalk that are supposed to make the signal change.
Buffy: I’m sure someone’s on–what, the push buttons aren’t hooked up to anything?

Riley: Heard I missed out on some fun.
Xander: Oh yeah, fun was had. Also frolic, merriment, and near-death hijinks.

Joyce: I was pretty out of it, and I had…not a dream exactly, more like I had this knowledge. It just came to me like truth, you know? Even though it didn’t seem possible, even though I shouldn’t even think such things.
Buffy: What?
Joyce: That Dawn… She’s not…mine. Is she?
Buffy: (looks down) No.
Joyce: She’s…she does belong to us though.
Buffy: Yes, she does.
Joyce: And she’s important. To the world. Precious. As precious as you are to me. Then, we have to take care of her. Buffy, promise me. If anything happens, if I don’t come through this–
Buffy: Mom…
Joyce: No, listen to me. No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you’ll take care of her, that you’ll keep her safe. That you’ll love her like I love you.
Buffy: (crying): I promise.
Joyce: Good. Good. (hugs her) Oh, my sweet, brave Buffy. What would I do without you?

Rating
A-

“Angel” 2×08 – The Shroud of Rahmon

This season continues to be consistently better, even in this odd and often confusing hour.

There’s no doubt that David Boreanaz has proven himself to be quite a charismatic actor, but the show didn’t give him much of a chance to get out of his comfort zone last season. Luckily, The Shroud of Rahmon does exactly that, and Boreanaz’s colorful performance in his impersonation of this amusing Jay-Don character is absolutely flawless. Angel keeps us guessing every step of the way, and it’s mighty fascinating to watch these teases play out.

Of course, including Gunn into the main storyline did wonders for this hour. He plays off of Angel quite well, and it provides him with several badass moments spread out across the episode. I just love Gunn now, possibly even just as much as Angel.

The only weak link in what’s been so far a very good season is Kate. I’m absolutely sick of her coming in Angel’s way every chance she gets, and her empty threats become more laughable week after week. Luckily, the writers give us one hell of a twist with the Angel-bit-Kate fakeout, but it’s not enough to save this horrible subplot. I can’t believe we didn’t get any Darla this week, but plenty of Kate. This must be fixed, soon.

Finally, how can I not mention Wesley and Cordelia’s hilarious banter? Their first scene discussing Cordy’s unappealing short black hair is hilarious, and it was extremely delightful to see them clumsily make their way into the Museum of Natural History. It all culminates in that epic moment Cordelia tells Wesley she gave back everything she stole while the dazzling necklace wrapped around her neck is in plain sight.


Favorite Scene

– I love the cliffhanger ending revealing that Angel did indeed get some enjoyment out of biting Kate. His bloodlust is back, people!

Quotes

– Cordelia: Angel’s day is packed: brood about Darla, brood about Darla, lunch, followed by a little Darla brooding.

– Angel (to Kate): You get stuck between me and Darla, it’ll be the last thing you ever do.

– Angel (to guard): Don’t tell me. (reads his nametag) You must be Bob, the security guard. (to Spiny, a creepy-looking creature) And you’re a great big monster, aren’t you?

– Cordelia: Okay, two words I don’t like right off the bat: tomb and unearthed. People, you’ve got to leave your tombs earthed.

– Wesley: I don’t think he’s coming down.
Cordelia: Hmm.
Wesley: I don’t think recent events did him a lot of good.
Cordelia: Again, a hearty “hmm”.

– Cordelia: So, on top of everything else, we may have reawakened his bloodlust?
Wesley: Yes.
Cordelia: Hmm, full day’s work then.

Rating
B+