“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 6×14 – Older and Far Away

I’ve always loved the concept behind “bottle episodes”, but I find them much harder to succeed in a 40-minute drama than a 20-minute sitcom. Older and Far Away does mostly take place at the Summers house after the entire gang is trapped inside no thanks to a vengeance curse by Anya’s old friend, but it doesn’t balance the comedy with its more dramatic moments quite well.

I wish there was more focus on Dawn’s emotional well-being. She’s been feeling left out, depressed and miserable ever since Buffy came back from the dead and refused to hang out with her sister, but the way everyone treated her this week was a bit of a stretch (especially with Buffy ignoring her birthday gift to drool over whatever Xander built her). The fact that they turned her into someone who’s been stealing stuff (from the Magic Box and retail stores, apparently) is a nice callback to that time last year she stole an earring from one of the girls, but it’s still unfortunate they had to do this to her character. I love Dawn and she deserves a lot better than being someone who’s simply acting out.

Thankfully, Halfrek was a hysterical demon played to perfection by Kali Rocha (she was briefly Dr. Sydney Heron on Grey’s Anatomy in season four). Her final scene as she fails to disappear provided the hour with a lot of comic relief.


Quotes

Anya: I don’t know why people get so turned off by slug.
Xander: Honey, slugs get turned off by slug.

Spike (to Buffy): Say, you ever think about not celebrating a birthday? Just to try it, I mean.

Xander: You wanna try poker?
Clem: Still say it’s weird without the kittens.
Buffy: No kittens!

Buffy: We do not joke about eating people in this house.

Xander: You know, sometimes we do something that seems like a good idea at the time, like, say invoke the power of a musical amulet? And it turns out, you know, not so much.

Rating
B-

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 6×13 – Dead Things

Buffy and Tara’s scene at the end is one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve seen on this show so far – and that’s saying something when we had an episode like The Body last year. Buffy’s entire speech about her confusion with Spike is beautifully written and masterfully performed that I had to write that entire scene below in the quotes.

The rest of the episode was a bit mediocre for me. What The Trio do to Katrina in the beginning is singlehandedly the most horrifying thing I have ever seen on television. I’m actually pissed she wasn’t brought back to life by some spell just so she could beat the living crap out of those nasty guys.

Thematically, Dead Things is as nuanced and brilliant as any Buffy episode, but I couldn’t quite believe Buffy would be so selfish to Dawn and want to confess for a murder (that she wasn’t even 100% sure she committed). After losing their mother and after everything these two have been through, I would think Buffy would start looking after her sister a little more.


Quotes

Tara: Buffy, I promise, there’s nothing wrong with you.
Buffy: There has to be! This just can’t be me! It isn’t me. (starts crying) Why do I feel like this? Why do I let Spike do those things to me?
Tara: You mean hit you? (realization breaks) Oh, huh. Really.
Buffy: He’s everything I hate. He’s everything I’m supposed to be against. But the only time I ever feel anything is when… Don’t tell anyone, please.
Tara: I won’t.
Buffy: The way they would look at me… I just couldn’t…
Tara: I won’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t do that.
Buffy: (crying) Why can’t I stop? Why do I keep letting him in?
Tara: Do you love him? It-It’s okay if you do. He’s done a lot of good and he does love you. And, Buffy, it’s okay if you don’t. You’re going through a really hard time, and you’re–
Buffy: What, using him? What’s okay about that?
Tara: It’s not that simple.
Buffy: It is! It’s wrong. I’m wrong. Tell me that I’m wrong please. (breaks down) Please don’t forgive me, please. Please don’t. Please don’t forgive me…

Rating
B

“Angel” 3×13 – Waiting in the Wings

This one had a very soothing ambience to it, and it was beautiful to watch. That comes as no surprise since Waiting in the Wings was written and directed by Joss Whedon, who hasn’t written or directed anything for this show since the pilot.

The premise is nothing short of brilliant: when the entire Angel Investigations team dress up for a ballet performance, Angel realizes that this is exactly the same show he watched over a hundred years ago, right down to the performers. That’s when the dual realities kick in, and watching Cordelia and Angel in full-on makeout mode was just exquisite. I’m sorry, Buffy, but I might be rooting for these two now.

Even the villains were actually terrifying with their Scream-like masks and relentless laughs, but the Wesley/Fred/Gunn subplot was very unexpected and random. I hope we don’t see more of this love triangle in the future, even if it finally gives Gunn a little more to do than be the team’s funny sidekick.

And the ending wasn’t the most riveting either with Groosalug making a shocking return from Pylea just as Angel is about to ask Cordelia out. It’s a very melodramatic ending, but I’ll reserve my judgment about this storyline until I see where this goes next.


Bits

– So many raunchy scenes, all very unlike this show! My favorite: Angel hiding his boner with his coat. Hilarious!

– Lorne singing to little Connor was kind of sweet, wasn’t it?

– I like that Cordelia keeps calling Angel “her champion”. Even when she does so sarcastically.

– That’s the amazing Summer Glau as the ballerina (her first ever TV appearance)! Soon enough, she would star in Joss Whedon’s Firefly (which I have yet to watch).

– This episode was really one of the wittiest hours of this show, and I came to that realization even before noticing Joss Whedon’s name in the credits.

Quotes

Wesley: Coming to destroy the humans that killed her mate.
Cordelia: But not for another month or so. I’ll file her under ‘pending’.

Cordelia: Do we get dressed up?
Angel: Of course!
Cordelia: I’m in.

Fred: My god, you’re so pretty.
Gunn: You know there’s not a lot of people who could say that to me and live. But the way you look, there is no way I can fight you.

Cordelia: There will be no visions tonight.
Angel: How can you be sure?
Cordelia: I had a vision.

Angel: Back in the day, I’d always get box seats. Or I’d just eat the people who had them.
Cordelia: Don’t let’s reminisce.

Angel: I mean, nothing’s changed. These are the same dancers I saw before.
Fred: That’s impossible. We’re watching the exact same troupe you saw in 1980?
Gunn: I think he said 1890.
Fred: Oh, okay. That’s much more impossible.

Angel: So, somebody wanna tell me how we’re watching a show starring people who should have died sixty years ago?
Cordelia: Well, it’s a puzzler. Are there snacks?

Cordelia: Dancing vampires. Who’s not scared?
Angel: Not it, I’d know. I’d sense it.
Wesley: Even all the way back there… (Angel looks at him) with the panoramic view?

Wesley (to Cordelia): How will the dancers keep time without your rhythmic snoring?

Lorne (singing): Go to sleep / lullaby / you’ve been fed and you’re sleepy. / You’ll be with uncle Lorne / who in no way resents not being asked to go to the ballet. / And is certainly / not thinking / of selling you to the first vampire cult that makes him a decent offer…

Rating
A

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 6×12 – Doublemeat Palace

This one hit close to home.

I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this season as it repeatedly keeps testing the show’s characters and pushing them to find their purpose in life. Buffy’s adventures this week might have seemed a little too crazy for some, but they’re so thematic and well-plotted, which makes this episode less flawed than it’s supposed to be.

Doublemeat Palace has a very eerie vibe to it with the fast-food joint employees oddly staring into deep space most of the times, making Buffy all the more suspicious about some otherworldly creatures being part of the meat process. It all becomes way too gross and nasty at one point (as if I needed another reason to hate fast-food) and it provides the hour with a whole lot of unnecessary repulsion.

What this episode does right is that it explores Buffy’s uncertain future yet again. I love Spike telling her that she’s not happy there and that she deserves better because Buffy’s reaction is simply that of a bored, speechless kind. She doesn’t know where she belongs yet (which hurtfully hits close to home), and the fact that they end up having sex later by the dumpsters is so tasteless, but it’s important to show us just how confused and routine-like Buffy has become lately. It’s just a brilliantly written storyline for anyone who’s going through the same thing.

Willow’s subplot is just as thematic this week. We’ve all had that one friend who we knew wasn’t good for us, and Amy is that person for Willow right now. I love that she finally lets her go at the end. While I would have loved seeing this show explore Willow’s dark side even more this season, I don’t think I can handle all the negativity that it would have brought along with it. It’s time to redeem this character already.


Bits

– I also loved that “paralysis” was another theme that this episode delved into. When we’re so uncertain of where we’re going or what we want to be in life, it can certainly feel like we’re paralyzed, and the fact that the show wrote that into the villain’s strength was kind of neat.

– That training video was both disgusting and hilarious.

– Doublemeat Palace has several long shots, unusual camera angles, and an odd pace, which adds to the episode’s eeriness. Kudos.

– Buffy mentions that time she waitressed during the summer in L.A. A shoutout to 3×01 Anne?

– Anya’s subplot with Halfrek, her demon friend, was very unfinished. Anya is now questioning her entire relationship with Xander – as she probably should be – but this subplot came to an abrupt finish.

– I didn’t see the Wig Lady twist coming!

– Dawn’s realization that her sister will never be a lawyer or a doctor felt very real.

– I’m actually surprised Buffy decided to take the job again, even if she so desperately needed the money. A lesser show would have made this a one-episode deal.

Quotes

Anya: But supervillains… want reward without labor, to make things come easy. It’s wrong. Without labor there can be no payment, and vice versa. The country cannot progress. The workers are the tools that shape America.
Buffy: Good to know. I was kinda feeling like a tool. And now I know why.

Spike: That why you took this job? Prove something to yourself? A normal job for a normal girl? Good way to drive yourself crazy, that is.
Buffy: I’ll be fine.
Spike: Buffy, you’re not happy here.
Buffy: Please don’t make this harder.
Spike: You don’t belong here. You’re something… you’re better than this.
Buffy: I need the money.
Spike: I can get money. Walk with me now, come on.
Buffy: I…I need to go help Gary with the fries.
Spike: You gotta get outta here, this place’ll do stuff to you! This place’ll kill you!

Dawn: Buffy’s never gonna be a lawyer, or a doctor. Anything big.
Xander: She’s a Slayer. She saves the whole world. That’s way bigger.
Dawn: But that means she’s gonna have like crap jobs her entire life, right? Minimum wage stuff. I mean, I could still grow up to be anything. But for her … this is it.
Xander: Okay, but maybe you’ll be a lawyer or a doctor, and you can use all your money to support your deadbeat sister.
Dawn: Oh, that’s terrifically better. Thanks.

Rating
B

“Angel” 3×12 – Provider

Extremely, extremely disappointing.

Not only is Provider shallow and inexplicably dull, it’s also just very derivative. The theme this week is very straightforward: money isn’t as important as family. They beat us over the head with it with horrendous irritating creatures, exposition-heavy dialogue and an underwhelming climax. I was just so relieved when the episode came to an end.

If there’s anything that makes this episode watchable, it’s the opening teaser and the final shot. The hour opens with the gang making a website and spreading out flyers to promote Angel Investigations before they realize Wesley printed out the wrong number on the flyers, leading to a hilarious stare-on, and it all ends with Angel, Cordelia and baby Connor snuggling adorably in bed together discussing college funds.

Other than that, make sure you skip this one because it’s a forgettable, unwatchable standalone episode.


Bits

– That was Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Sam Ryan! I think I’ve had enough of JDM this week after being traumatized by The Walking Dead‘s seventh season premiere.

– The running gag that the demons didn’t understand English was creative at first, but it got real old – real quick.

So, did the show forget what happened to Cordelia last time?

Quotes

Wesley: It’s an exciting arena.
Lorne: One I’m sure we can all download at I’ll-never-know-the-love-of-a-woman.com.

Harlan: Whoever heard of a vampire out to make a buck, right?

Rating
D-

“Angel” 3×11 – Birthday

What a game-changing hour.

I want to love Angel as much as Buffy and it’s certainly earned my trust and respect with several epic episodes, but the writers haven’t done Cordelia Chase any justice since the pilot. Charisma Carpenter is an incredibly talented actress, so it’s a shame if this show doesn’t really appreciate that.

Birthday is Cordelia-centric, so naturally I knew I was going to love it. Add to that the fact that it explores an alternate reality and I’m sold. I’ve always been fascinated by time travel and stories about alternate worlds ever since I was a kid. The idea that a character can go back in time and get everything he/she ever wanted and still not be satisfied with the kind of life they’re living is old and unoriginal now, and yet I was still riveted by Cordelia Chase, the star of her own show (appropriately titled Cordy! – yes with an exclamation mark). Her encounter with a one-armed Wesley, the stranger fan Gunn and isolated Angel were all extremely fun to watch, especially as it leads to the Cordelia/Angel kiss that eventually helps her realize she needs her visions back.

What’s upsetting is just how overstuffed this episode with. Instead of splitting it into a multi-episode arc, the writers cram so much plot into 40 minutes that it becomes all a little jarring to watch, ripping this hour of its true potential. We don’t spend more than two fascinating minutes with Cordy the superstar actress before she has an epiphany about the hotel, and when that happens it’s all extremely predictable: she finds the room, the writing on the wall and the address of the weekly villain’s next victim. It baffles me, really, why we couldn’t see this spread out over a few hours because there’s a ton of material here to work with.

And then there’s that ending. Unlike many other shows that have done the alternate-reality episode (I’m looking at you, The Flash and Grey’s Anatomy), Birthday actually provides a risky, game-changing twist at the end: in order to go back to her previous life, Cordelia had to become part demon, and that’s where this episode brings us to an astounding character point as Cordelia says “demonize me already”. I’m so excited to see where this goes next, and I’ll be ready to hate on this show and its writers if they mess this up.


Bits

– Loved the shoutout to Doyle. This has to be the first time we’ve ever seen him since his death in early season one.

– How awesome was that Wonder Woman cake?! Very fitting, too.

– Even before the show got to the alternate reality part, I was enjoying Ghost Cordelia. Very reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, one of the most traumatizing books I’ve ever read (and no, the movie was not as good).

– The “Cordelia is dying” storyline is horrible and extremely rushed. I don’t ever want to hear about it again.

– Skip is one of this show’s most amusing demons, I must admit. Can we make him a regular please?

– The Cordy! opening theme song is a thing of beauty. I’m going to watch it on repeat now.

– That scene between Cordelia and her assistant Nev proves to me that Carpenter needs to star in her own sitcom ASAP.

– The Hyperion Hotel looked absolutely stunning, Why can’t Angel Investigations have nice things too?

– Wow, they even used the same Hyperion bellhop from season two’s Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?.

– Very touching moment at the end with Angel hugging Cordelia. I’m honestly rooting for these two now.

– I’m very disappointed we don’t get to find out what Angel got Cordelia for her birthday.

– The final shot is brilliant with the gang astounded as Cordelia floats in mid-air while casually and very calmly has another vision. Hey, it beats having a tail or horns.

Quotes

Skip: Is this you? Most people go astral, their spiritual shapes tend to be an idealized version of themselves. You know, straighten the nose, lose the gray, sort of a self-esteem kind of thing. You’re pretty confident, aren’t you?

Cordelia: This is a mall.
Skip: We just figured you’d be more comfortable here.

Skip: Actually, this is more a construct of a mall. You know, like in the Matrix.
Cordelia: You’ve seen the Matrix?
Skip: Oh, I love that flick. When Trinity is all ‘dodge this’ and the agent just crumples to the–(Cordelia sighs) and I’m not really instilling any awe anymore, am I?

Tammy: Look, you want my advice, you listen to our man Skip here. He won’t steer you wrong, this one.
Skip: Aw, get out of here. (turns serious) Really, get out. I’ve got work.

Cordelia: I want something. Hypo-something. Hypothermia?
Nev: (into phone) Josh, let’s get a large tub of ice water to Miss Chase’s dressing room, pronto.
Cordelia: No, that’s not it.
Nev: (into phone) Canceling ice water.
Cordelia: Hyper…hyperbaric?
Nev: Josh, make it an oxygen tent.
Cordelia: No, that’s not it either.
Nev: Canceling tent.

Skip: We’ve been over this. I respect what you’re trying to do. It’s noble and heroic, and all that other Russell Crowe ‘Gladiator’ crap.
Cordelia: You’ve seen–?
Skip: Didn’t love it.

Cordelia: Demonize me already.

Rating
A-

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 6×11 – Gone

We’ve all had that recurring dream/nightmare: what if we became invisible for a day? Gone explores that in a way that, sadly, lacks depth or emotional resonance and instead infuses some unnecessary comedic moments into an unexciting hour.

It was tonally jarring how aloof Buffy was acting after The Trio made her invisible. While the bit with the social services lady was supposed to be funny and amusing, I just found it troublesome. After spending the first half of the season with a depressed, grown-up Buffy, it’s surprising to see her get silly again. This surely felt like an episode from the early seasons.

Then there’s The Trio. When this show can give us villains like The Master, the Mayor and Glory, it’s hard not to hate on three college kids who are just trying to have fun. Heck, even Riley and The Initiative are looking pretty good compared to these three. Nothing about their mischevious adventures is interesting because all three characters are horrendously shallow and one-dimensional.

I hope the show reverts back to exploring adult themes such as growing up, even if it’s hell-bent on keeping The Trio as this season’s Big Bads.


Bits

– Good lord, the hair this week just killed me. It was so obvious SMG was wearing a wig in the first scene, but then to hear the character mention she wants to get a haircut? Hysterical.

– Spike and an invisible Buffy fooling around while a confused Xander stands there was admittedly hilarious. I love how suddenly raunchy this show has gotten this year.

– Wow, Buffy mentions Marcie, the invisible girl from season one! I’m binging this show and I barely remembered her.

– I’m starting to feel bad for Dawn. Was she sneaking out of the house at night again? And how can Buffy be oblivious to all this?

Quotes

Buffy: It’s magic clearance. Everything must go.

Buffy: So you three have, what, banded together to be pains in my asses?
Warren: We’re your arch nemesis…es.

Rating
C

“Angel” 3×10 – Dad

Another strong, engaging episode. Season three has not disappointed so far.

One of the best things about this show is how serialized it is while still changing the status quo every now and then. It’s always risky to introduce a baby into a show later into its run, but while others might have jumped the shark with that particular arc, Angel seems to be embracing its newest addition with stronger, tighter episodes.

I love bottle episodes more than anything. Dad isn’t exactly a bottle episode, but it certainly feels like it because most of the hour is spent inside the hotel where the gang is trapped while vampires and Wolfram & Hart killers plan to break in and take Angel’s newborn baby. The added twist that Angel wasn’t really leaving the gang but was just tricking the lawyers who were watching through the security cameras was brilliant and certainly something I didn’t see coming.

Holtz continues to be an oddly fascinating villain. It’s amazing how we’ve known and seen Lilah from Wolfram & Hart since the first season, but she still isn’t as fully-realized as Holtz is. Say what you want about tragic backstories being a cliched and overused trope in television, but they most certainly work with the proper writing and performances.


Favorite Scene

So many good moments in this one, but I thought Angel and Lorne singing to the baby was hilariously amusing.

Bits

– Loved the big board of enemies! I don’t like dry humor, but this show is brilliant at these kinds of jokes.

– The running gag that the law firm had so many files on Angel was also just terrific. But was that records-filing lady a robot or something? Why were her eyes flickering and why didn’t Lilah find that weird?

– Sahjahn had several witty lines this week! I love it when Angel embraces its silly side.

– Holtz’s scenes with Justine were a bit random and unrelated to the main plot, but I did enjoy that sequence at the graveyard, which looked a whole lot like something from Buffy.

– I wish the car chase sequence was filmed better. Very poor editing.

– Heartwarming last scene with the gang at the hospital after Angel names his son Connor and Gunn bringing in a stroller.

Quotes

Gunn: There’s blood over here.
Wesley: Not to mention some bastard’s blown a gaping hole in the lift.
Angel: Sorry. My bastard.

Sahjahn: We don’t need some deep, dark plan for Angel. You put a stake in him, you watch him go poof! It’s a classic.
Holtz: Step one is getting rid of these minions.
Sahjahn: No. Step one is poof. And then there are no more steps. And we can’t get rid of the Grapplars. I signed a two-week contract. Trust me, you don’t wanna piss these guys off.
Holtz: They’re soulless beasts bred only to maim and kill.
Sahjahn: Ah! Maim and kill. Two more words I like. You’re gonna need these guys, unless your plan is to kill Angel with candy clowns and marshmallow pies.

Cordelia: Are you gonna circumcise?
(the baby cries)
Gunn: I think he heard you.

Gunn: What are you doing?
Wesley: Trying to imagine myself as John Wayne in Rio Bravo. You?
Gunn: Austin Stoker, Austin on Precinct Thirteen.
Cordelia: If we live through this, trade in your DVD players and get a life.

Linwood: All that sturm and drang about Angel running out on them? Just a performance.
Lilah: He did a good job. Who knew Angel had the acting chops?
Gavin: Are you kidding? It was one-note. Felt forced.

Rating
A-

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” 6×10 – Wrecked

I couldn’t finish this in one sitting, not because it’s a terrible episode per se, but good lord it was depressing.

Wrecked seems to be even more depressing and dark than anything we’ve seen this season, especially with how it deals with Willow’s magic “addiction”. It’s incredible to see just how much she’s changed over the course of this show, but putting Dawn’s life in danger just to “get high” was a bit uncharacteristic for sweet ol’ Will.

However, I still appreciate the length the writers go here to show just how far Willow has gone to the dark side, and her conversation with Buffy at the end, while a little on-the-nose with the Buffy/Spike comparisons, is emotional and wonderfully performed. Both of these women are changing drastically this season, and it’s fascinating to watch.

The pace was frankly very slow. We spent the first half hour being introduced to Rack, the powerful warlock, and the second half just waiting for Buffy to find Dawn. In addition, the research happening at the Magic Box is extremely dull, especially since we know there isn’t a demon that can freeze people and that this is actually the work of The Trio.


Favorite Scene

Buffy and Willow’s final conversation is just as dark and gritty as the entire hour, and yet it still has that odd season-two feeling to it that makes it heartwarming.

Bits

– Willow using magic to animate Tara’s body-less outfit just so she could hug it was so overwhelming to watch for some reason.

– Dawn loves to watch the trailers before the movie. I like the way this girl thinks.

– Buffy looking away while Spike was getting dressed was kind of funny. And this episode definitely needed some chuckles!

– Okay, all Amy does is cause trouble. Go away, rat lady!

– Buffy holding a stake at the end wasn’t the most riveting cliffhanger. There’s no way she kills Spike.

Quotes

Dawn: What if they’re all in a ditch somewhere? Ditches are bad. Mom always used to talk about the ditches.

Anya: Martha Stewart isn’t a demon. She’s a witch.
Xander: Really?
Anya: Of course. Nobody could do that much decoupage without calling on the powers of darkness.

Rating
C

“Buffy The Vampier Slayer” 6×09 – Smashed

Wow, what an ending!

After going back and forth on it for so long, Buffy and Spike finally have sex in the episode’s closing moments, and boy was it interesting. After a very long fight in which Spike realizes his chip doesn’t affect him when he hurts Buffy anymore, the two engage in a full-on makeout session. It’s a brilliantly shot sequence with the house crashing down around them inaudibly while they continue to make out.

The rest of the hour is very low-key, however. I can’t believe Willow finally turns the rat back into Amy (remember her from season two’s Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered?), but it ends up being a bit of an uninspired twist. The two have a lot of fun at The Bronze, messing around with magic and turning people into silly things, but it felt like this subplot was missing a climax. And can we talk about just how far Willow has crossed the line now? Wow.


Favorite Scene

The final Buffy/Spike is certainly mesmerizing and unlike anything this show has done so far. Let’s see if this couple grows on me.

Bits

– Hilarious opening with Buffy being disappointed that those two guys scaring the couple weren’t vampires but just regular human robbers.

– So much has happened since Amy was a rat! I loved the Snyder callbacks the most.

– Why did The Trio steal that diamond ring? I’m not sure if that was answered and I missed it.

– I’m very intrigued by the possibility that Buffy might have returned from the dead ‘slightly not human’. Hmm.

Quotes

Willow: Uh, Amy, three things we have to talk about. One, Larry’s gay. Two, Larry’s dead. And three, high school’s kinda over.

Amy: It’s crazy, all the things that’ve happened since I went away.
Buffy: No kidding.
Amy: Snyder got eaten by a snake. High school got destroyed…
Buffy: Oh, Gatorade has a new flavor. Blue.
Amy: See? Head spinning.

Rating
B