Monday, December 8, 2008

BtVS: 2.18 Killed By Death

Alisa says:
Here we have another break in the intensity of the season arc with a Buffy Needs Some Rest episode. Buffy gets sick - which is a bit weird because she's the Slayer; she never gets sick. But, the break works because otherwise, Come On! Someone kill someone already! The fight scene in the beginning of the episode between Sick!Buffy and Angelus reminded me of how she didn't just kill him when she had the chance last episode.

I think though that I'm not the biggest fan of the break in intensity episodes. I noticed random things like the fact that the creepy music for the monster roaming around in the hospital is the music that use for the menu on the DVDs. I also noticed the great credit shot, right at the end after Buffy kills the monster.

This episode does have some awesome moments though. The confrontation between Xander and Angelus where Xander has no chance of stopping Angelus, if he really had to, but that fact doesn't get in the way of him trying to protect Buffy and will damn well go down trying. We see that Xander is a hero. Or a hero in the making.

Verdict: "Tact is just not saying true stuff."

Rachel says:
I dunno, there's something really horrible in the mundanity of Buffy having the flu. And as you may have gathered, I prefer these off-arc episodes. There's only so much you can do with Buffy vs Angelus given that they can never kill each other - otherwise the show would've had a much shorter run!

For this week's monster we get the Kinderstott who is just the right amount of yuck. He almost looks like an elderly person (surely the most terrifying real life thing that kids ever face) but then has the nasty teeth and eyes that eat you. Which is what old people threaten to do to kids. "Oh, you're so adorable I could just eat you up!" It really hits the buttons in what is scary for a kid. Not to mention that it's something the adults can't see and don't believe in.

Other neat scenes in this episode are Cordelia distracting the security guard, Willow's "Frogs! Frogs!" moment and the sequence where we get a little peek into Buffy's childhood. I know I had never thought of her as a little girl before this.

"I feel fine. I mean, the world's spinning a little bit, but I like it. It's like a ride."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BtVS: 2.17 Passion

Rachel says:
This was the first Buffy episode to make me cry, and it turns out, it still does. Not Jenny's death per se, but Buffy and Willow's response. So heartbreaking. The other standout sequence is the chase between Angelus and Jenny. The camera angles, editing and low lighting all create a superbly creepy and scary run through the school culminating in the horrible neck snap.
The scene in Giles apartment, where he thinks Jenny is waiting for him upstairs (and I suppose she is) is brilliantly portrayed by Giles, almost to the point where you think there has been some mistake and Jenny really is waiting for him. *sob*

"You know, I think there may be a valuable lesson for you gals here about inviting strange men into your bedrooms."

Alisa says:

I think this episode raises the stakes for the audience. It's here, at the climax of this episode, we learn that all the rules don't apply in Jossverse and that all bets are off - anyone can die, even a main player. And so too, Angelus kills Jenny in an almost anticlimatic, off-hand way, such that I think it becomes all the more shocking and heartbreaking. He doesn't break a sweat. He doesn't stalk and play with her (much). He just does it. Dramatically and with a gorgeous backdrop of the night, framed in that window. And he glorifies in it too but more so because of the anticipated effect on Buffy than for the kill itself.

This episode is about passion and the bookend narration is by Angelus. I think this works beautifully to use the change in POV to show that we, the viewers, should expect the unexpected. That this is not all going to go the way we want it to go. Evil, Angelus may be, but as Willow points out, he is still obsessed with Buffy. Sort of the dark to the lightness that went before.

Even having watched this episode many times before, I still cried in that moment that Giles calls Buffy to tell her what has happened. And it works well. Despite watching it from afar, removed, with Angelus looking through the window, it's still very powerful and desperately sad. And there is a really great shot of Buffy as she sinks down to the ground, absorbing the enormity of what has happened and you can see the realisation dawn to her that this is *real*.

I want to finish by saying how rightly it depicts how CREEPY it is for one's Vampire to sit and watch one sleep. (*cough* Bella Swan *cough*)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shiny Issue 4

The Fix have given Shiny 4 are really great review. Thanks for the heads up.

Of Bren MacDibble's "Being Bella Wang", Smith writes: In this short tale, MacDibble expertly evokes an exotic locale full of magic, as well as vivid, interesting characters with a strong bond.

Of Michael Merriam's "All the Leaves Your Bed”, she says: Merriam deftly skirts the well of sentiment that could so easily have drowned this story, and takes it to surprising places. There is an image near the end that is simply breathtaking.

And of Rhonda Parrish’s “Skitter Skitter,” - Parrish does a great job with teen exasperation as Chloe describes their progress, often talking in the purple clich├ęs of teen writing... The rest will please readers who like the illogic of go-for-the-grue horror.

Take advantage of our special promo and purchase Issues 4 and 5 for the special price of $5 and get Issue 4 in your inbox now and Issue 5 very very soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

BtVS: 2.16 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Alisa says:
For a very long time I used to say this was my least favourite episode of the whole series. Hated it even. But having just rewatched it twice in recent weeks (let's not talk about bad notetaking), I think in truth, it's quite a fun little episode. We have Xander subverting the gender stereotype and being the lovelorn teenager who convinces Amy to cast a love spell to get Cordelia to love him (and take back the breakup which she so heartlessly delivers on Valentines Day). Course, as is a must in Jossverse, the spell goes horribly wrong and every girl but Cordelia, including Buffy, Willow, Drusilla, Joyce, Miss Calendar and even Amy, comes after Xander with lovelust. I love the moment that Cordelia finds out he cast the spell for her -
"Would've worked fine, except your hide's so thick, not even magic can penetrate it!"
It's funny because it's true - you can always rely on Cordelia to avoid the glamour and see the world as it is and not for how others want her to. So often the spells miss her - like the one on the previous Halloween with Ethan's spell on the costumes for example. And she proves her true colours at the end of the episode when she tells Harmony where to stick it and stalks off after Xander. Yay!

I think my favourite bit (apart from Buffy's, "I seem to have a slight case of nudity here") is where Oz comes up to hit Xander because Oz had listened to Willow cry for an hour on the phone the night before ... over Xander. But that's just cause I have the Oz Love.

So why did I hate this episode for so long? I think it's because Buffy is hardly in it. She was guesting on Saturday Night Live the week they taped it and so they did all her bits on the Monday and she took off. In retrospect, she actually appears for a good half of the episode, and these days I am less Buffy obsessed so it didn't bother me as much. Though I will say that it's a very distinct break in the Angel-goes-psycho plot-line and for me I think I always felt jarred by the standalone nature of this episode after so much season arc.

Rachel says:
Just plain fun. They went all out with this, ramping up the absurd to hilarious levels. It's never scary - even with all the chasing and the axes and the kitchen knives - because it is just so crazy. Although it's painful watching Buffy debase herself in such a way, mega points to Xander for coming through.
I love that Angel gets chased away from Xander by Drusilla and it's good to see Amy again- she's starting to turn bad!! A real cheer-er upper which is refreshing after all the arc-heavy angst of recent episodes. We even discover that Oz's band's name is Dingoes Ate My Baby - suitably wrong but a little thrill for us Australian fans.
"And you know what? I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

BtVS: 2.15 Phases

Rachel says:
This episode works on every level for me. Oz has the horrible discovery that he's a werewolf, and it's a genuine surprise to the rest of us too. The fake out with Larry is wonderful, I just love his speech to Xander in the change room.

Buffy is clearly still cut up by Angel, but is able to (or the writers were able to) put it aside long enough to get on with the job. Saves us all dying of boredom, which is a real danger when characters rant and wail endlessly.

The werewolf costume still looks great, so many years later. I guess we've reached the pinnacle in dog suit technology (furry joke not intended). The Oz-wolf morph is also worth a mention, although the tech used is obvious, it's convincing.
"Welcome to the mystery that is men. I think it goes something like, they grow body hair, they lose all ability to tell you what they really want."

Alisa says:
One of the things I love about Buffy is the constant self-referential and in-jokes. This episode opens with Oz looking at the cheerleading trophy that has Amy's mum, the witch, trapped inside it - her eyes follow you where ever you go. There's also a really cool foreshadowing moment for the rewatcher when Oz defends Willow to the bullies by saying she is an evil mastermind. Uh-huh. If only you knew.

This is an okay episode that brings Oz into Buffy's circle in his own right. I like how nonchalantly he finds out and deals with being a werewolf - almost but not quite like it's not a big deal.

Monday, November 24, 2008

BtVS: 2.14 Innocence

Alisa says:
Or the loss of ...

Oh poor sweet innocent Buffy! That has got to be the worst feeling to have lost your virginity to the love of your life and for him to not be there when you wake up in the morning nor be contactable and when he does finally show back up ... well to be less than gentle, loving and kind.

Stilll.. mmmm yummy topless Angelus in black leather pants. Yummy.

The best moment in the episode is when Angelus rises, drains the hooker and then blows out the puff of smoke from the cigarette that she was smoking. Does it *get* any hotter? I ask you!

This is a contretemps episode - all the stakes (ha!) are raised and it represents a real pivotal point in the series.

We learn the essential catch in the Buffyverse - that if Angel experiences one true moment of happiness the curse the gypsies put on him is lifted and he loses his soul. Again. And how utterly romantic and beautiful that for him, that moment of happiness was making love to Buffy.

Our characters have all pretty much paired off. Poor Willow walks in on Xander and Cordelia and discovers what we have known for episodes now - that he would rather be with someone he hates than we with her. My heart breaks along with hers every single time! But, we see that even though Willow is not yet ready to give up Xander, the adorable Oz loves her anyway - Willow kissage!! And I'll wait! Awwww ....

Xander gets to show how he is useful and that he is an important and valuable member of the Scoobies in his own right. He comes up with the plan to destroy the judge and how to get the weapons they need to save the day.

Buffy: Thanks for my present.
Xander: Thought you'd like it.

I love the rewriting of old for new and the idea that old and mystical works should be read within the context and time in which they were written:
The Judge: No weapon has been forged to destroy me.
Buffy: That was then and this is now.
Yeah, an uzi will probably get the job done. The looks on Angelus' and Dru's faces when they realise whats in Buffy's hand is priceless as is the way they throw themselves out of the way.

But what I love most about this episode is how the stakes are so rapidly raised between Buffy and Angel. In one episode she goes from being in this starcrossed lovers type of innocent and deep and true love to suddenly finding herself in a highly abusive and somewhat twisted relationship. And how many of us don't have our own (perhaps scaled down) tales of the same woe. Or at least who hasn't had the "but I thought he liked me, why did her turn" experience in high school? Buffy's ex-boyfriend is going to torture and ruin her and enjoy it. She goes from this broken, soft and hurt little victim in the beginning of the episode (and understandably so, she just shared something so intimate with the one man she loves and who she thought loved her) to working her way up to killing him. Give me time And I love the way Giles switches from parent to friend in this episode, to reflect her passage, perhaps from innocent to young adult,
"You won't get guilt from me. You'll get nothing but respect."

Rachel says:
I get very angry at this episode. I know Whedon is only making his characters suffer because that makes for good television, but it still rankles that Buffy has sex and then must be punished. And killing a prostitute and smoking is hot for you, Alisa? It's an effective character moment, I'll grant you... but hot??

Gellar outacts nearly everyone in Innocence with her wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth. Boreanaz does not yet have the evil Angelus side quite up to speed, but we will see this more convincingly in later episodes.

Relationships are breaking all over - Willow and Xander, Giles and Jenny. It's really not a very great joy to watch, except that really, they are all getting together too - Willow and Oz, Xander and Cordelia. And then we get to the

Rocket Launcher.

Two things make it work - the dolly shot up to Buffy standing on the concession stand and Drusilla's reaction. Otherwise we would be paying more attention to the ridiculous layout of this shopping centre set, and notice that the launcher looks like a supersoaker on steroids.

I also think that the fight scene between Angel and Buffy after the Judge has gone down is kind of an anticlimax. Well, it's a post-climax because the best bit was the explosion, naturally. So why this petty bickering and groin-kneeing under the sprinklers?
"We're going to destroy the world. Want to come?"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BtVS: 2.13 Surprise

Alisa says:
Things never go well on Buffy's birthday. This year the Scoobies are planning a surprise birthday party, but Drusilla has a surprise all of her own as she collects all the bits and pieces of the Judge and assembles him. We see Buffy's secret fear that Angel will get dusted as she dreams one dream after the other that he does. I'm all down with the smoochies and hot and intense Buffy/Angel moments which inevitably lead to the big crescendo - they finally make sweet sweet vampire/slayer loveage. And then we are left on the terrible cliffhanger - which if I recall correctly is where Channel 7 left us for about 6 months when they initially screened it in Australia!

Other important moments include the implication of a duplicitous side of Jenny Calendar - suddenly she is not as she seems. Whose side is she on and what are her intentions? It seems that she is out to make sure that Angel and Buffy are kept apart!

For me, this is one of my most significant episodes. Firstly for the final consummation of Angel and Buffy's love. That seen is *hot* and *sexy* - or so I thought way back when I first watched it. Now it actually seems a bit tame. And sweet, maybe. Ugh! I hate this rewatching thing! Nothing is the way it first seemed. Also of course this is the lead up to the horrible horrible next episode for Buffy.

Rachel says:
Drusilla is in top form in this episode in contrast to Buffy falling all over her man, which is kinda pathetic. Angel is a little creepy older boyfriend-y. Erk, yuk yuk. I can't help thinking that the scene at the dock is Angel leaving to go to war with his knapsack on his shoulder.

Do Drusilla and Buffy share a birthday? Why is this never mentioned again? There's something in that you know - Angel siring Dru and then Buffy is the love of his life. Something astrological.

The Judge, well he is just neat-o. And blue, which is a nice change from green for a demon.

Oz also gets more love from me in this episode, he is just so ridiculously cool.
"See I like that you're unpredictable."

Monday, November 17, 2008

BtVS: 2.12 Bad Eggs

Rachel says:
There's nothing really wrong with Bad Eggs, but nothing too special either. The Gorches I find very dull and one dimensional as villains. However, the scene where Buffy tracks the hatchling in her bedroom is a great piece of suspenseful television. There should be more of that.

Being not much of a mushy fan, I find the quantity of smoochies in this episode to be painfully over the top.

"I see your 'gyegh!' and raise you a 'gnyaah!'"

Alisa says:
See, my verdict is: "mmmmm" just for all the Angel/Buffy smoochies alone.

This episode had me at its broody, dark, forbidden kisses in the cemetery. Other highlights for me were Xander boiling his egg and showing that sometimes there are rewards from breaking rules and taking shortcuts, and also the bonus cameo of Jonathan - I'd not seen that one before! I also love the bit where Buffy is fighting the vampire and they both turn to fight off people under the spell before turning back to fight each other. I just love the ridiculousness of that.

I also think the way she kills the creature - hacking it to pieces from the inside- was grrl power AWESOME! I just love it when, after she kills the gross monster of the week, she throws the pick up out of the hole, climbs out after it and finishes off the vampire. That moment, which was just a little world-weary, made me think - she's a vampire slayer, why does that mean she has to wear the weight of the world and all the other demons on her shoulders as well?

And then extra "awwwww" for the final scene of Angel leaning in Buffy's window for some nigh-night smoochies. Where, though, is the attraction for a 270 year old vampire to be with someone so young and so unworldly and so naive, especially at this point, so early in her slayer career? I spose we could argue that her youth and passion and lack of world-weariness is attractive to him - that her innocence is appealing? Or that he can see in her, even this early in, that she is the most powerful slayer ever born.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BtVS: 2.11 Ted

Alisa says:
I hate this episode for so many reasons. I hate Ted. I hate the idea of Ted - where did he suddenly come from? Joyce has been secretly dating him and Buffy never noticed? It feels so contrived. As does the episode climax and unravelling. I hate it. I hate Ted and his stupid cookies and mini golf.

Bah! Onto the next ep!

Rachel says:
I hated this episode too when it first aired, but I have grown to really quite like it. I was surprised how much my impression of Ted has changed. I was so drawn in by the character that first time I saw it, I so believed he was a human bad-guy, that I was angry, really angry when his secret was revealed. I'd been duped as badly as if I'd been eating his cookies!

But it truly improves on multiple viewings and it's largely due to the late John Ritter's performance. He's so dreadful and horrible as a human character and yet, once you discover his robotic secret, it slots together so nicely. I love the way Xander follows him around begging for food treats for the whole episode, and the scene where he discovers the cupboard's contents is so creepy because you don't see anything but his reaction, which is played perfectly.

This is amongst the best of Buffy because it hits where it hurts most - her mother.

"What? Freud would've said the exact same thing. Except he might not have done that little dance."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sneak Peek Inside Issue 4

Bren MacDibble makes her second appearance at Shiny with this story, set against the exotic backdrop of Bali, it's a little bit SF, a little bit Fantasy. Here's a taste of it.

Being Bella Wang
by Bren MacDibble

I'd felt her presence ever since the plane touched down in Bali and still I jumped at my name.

“Sienna!” A frail figure swanned across the green, hips jutting through a lime silk slip-dress.

A row of black shadow puppets danced across the hem at her knees. Her chest was
impossibly bony. The silk gaped, unfilled, and her sinewy feet were bare on the fine grass.

“Juliet?” She’d always been thin but this was the wasted body and disaffected pose of one of the starvation cults.

I dropped my putter and hurried towards her. She stretched out her hands, and when I took them they were cold, bizarre in the mugginess of a Balinese morning.

I pulled her to me, whole again after so long apart. She was stiff in my embrace and returned it with just one arm to my back, then pulled away. It hurt. She seemed shorter than me now, beyond the height given to me by golf cleats, but that was
impossible. We were genetically identical.

“Sienna, you softy,” she said. “How goes the golfing life?”

“It’s good enough I suppose.” The old arguments came back to me.

“I hear you’re the favourite for the junior strokeplay tomorrow. The Mother must be
pleased.” Juliet had never regarded the original Bella Wang as a mother, just as The Mother.

“She’s here you know.” I nodded at the clubhouse.

Juliet’s cool pose broke and she glanced towards the clubhouse.

I enjoyed a moment of evil glee until I saw her face in profile.

Monday, November 10, 2008

BtVS: 2.10 What's My Line Pt 2

Alisa says:
"I knew this 'I'm the only one, I'm the only one' thing was just an attention-getter."

This episode is huge. It's a crucial episode because we discover the existence of a second slayer in the form of Kendra. I'm going to totally skirt around the totally crap fake accent that she never ever manages to pull off.Oh oops! I did mention it after all. It's godawful! But anyway! The very important, critical information is that Buffy died "for a minute" and a second slayer was called. I couldn't care less about Kendra, I mean yes, sure she's a crossover actress from Dawson's Creek but other than that, there was very little of interest about her. However, this is such an important plot twist for whole the series because it brings us Faith and it also leads us into the final season, which I won't spoil now. I will only point out the genius that is Joss and the awesomeness of his plotting to have sown seeds so early for such a payout later. Or ... he makes good use of happenstance.

Other important things that happen this episode include Xander and Cordelia kissing for the first time. And Whedon can't quite resist playing the comic via the climatic, dramatic background music for what is otherwise Xander finally in a romantic light. Plus, then he gets to hose Cordie down in a naughty wet shirt contest moment. And still, ew! The gross bug man!

Now is this the first Jonathan moment? When he gets taken hostage by the fake policewoman or am I just getting excited about spotting a new one for me? Also in this episode we see a bit more of the Spike/Dru/Angel dynamic and we learn that Angel was Drusilla's sire.

This episode is such a pivotal plot point for all our characters. Kendra works to come in and hold a mirror up to Buffy and highlight the contrasts in her behaviour to that expected of a vampire slayer. For me there were a lot of small nuggets of dialogue like: "He is a vampire, he should die" and "There's a handbook? How come I never got a handbook?" which work so well to show how different Buffy and her approach is to that of all the Slayers who have gone before her ... and perhaps will follow after her? After all, she even changed how it works - now there is more than one Slayer. So too, Kendra serves as a reminder that Slayers are young girls for a reason - they don't tend to outlive their youth.

Oz takes a bullet for Willow. That sentence deserves a paragraph all of its own.

Drusilla's strength is restored by taking the lifeforce from Angel. Interestingly, whilst Spike moves heaven and earth to set this ritual up to restore her strength, he is yet again symbolically castrated by Angel because it is he who provides what Dru needs and Spike merely watches on. Finally, there's the awesome gothic ending which is just exquisite.

I like this episode a lot. Much happens in it. There is much revealed and much progress with the storyline and the character developments. I like too the themes that surface. For me, I am left with the moment of Kendra saying goodbye to Buffy: You talk like its a job but a slayer isn't a job, it's who you are. This job vs calling struggle runs throughout the series and I think Buffy uses the job image when she struggles against that which constrains her but ultimately being a Slayer really is who she is.

Rachel says:
You've pretty much said everything there is to say about this episode, and I can't disagree with much of it. I like Kendra more than you do and I believe her accent is accurate for the location she is supposed to come from (Jamaica?).

The really weak part of this storyline though is the weakness of Angel His being locked in the cage with the flimsiest of locks, to his patheticness at the hands of Drusilla. I can't believe he didn't get angrier, or at least sardonic and broody. He kowtows to her and it's horrible! Also, "lifeforce", Alisa? He's dead! Undeathforce, perhaps?

This is the third appearance of Jonathan, after Inca Mummy Girl and Reptile Boy. He's becoming popular with the writers!

"So I'm wonderin', do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like is the hippo goin', 'Hey man, where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity.' And, you know, the monkey's just, 'I mock you with my monkey pants!' And then there's a coup in the zoo."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sneak Peek inside Issue 4!

Here's a sneak peek inside Issue 4 with a little excerpt from Michael Merriam's story, "All The Leaves Your Bed":

The Tree knew it was dying.

The Tree was a victim of its own success. It had survived season after season, weathering blazing heat, freezing winters, droughts, powerful winds, vicious hail storms, a tornado, a lightning strike. War. But after a mere sixty years, its roots had broken into the decaying sewer system underneath it, crushing the already cracked and leaky lines.

It was poisoned. Anyone could see the dying branches, the slowly weakening trunk folding in on itself, the leaves that never reached their peak. Even if the humans came along and repaired the damage, it was too late. If the poison did not kill the Tree, they would simply cut the Tree down, as they had so many of his fellows during the Great Illness.

The Tree needed someone to pass its spirit to lest everything it had felt, everything it had learned and experienced in its lifetime, be lost.

It considered the small furred and feathered creatures that inhabited its branches, but quickly dismissed them: they had neither the capacity for memory nor the greatness of spirit the Tree required. The Tree gave serious thought to passing its essence to one of the feral cats that roamed the night but decided those creatures’ inherent mystery might prove incompatible with its own spirit. The local canines were all too domestic and reliant on their human masters for the Tree's taste and it disliked them for their crudeness and lack of propriety: they always relieved themselves on his trunk. No, a dog would never do.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Shiny Issue 4 - live!

Happy Halloween!

Issue 4 has finally been released and has been sent out to all subscribers and features:

"Being Bella Wang" by Bren MacDibble
"All the Leaves your Bed" by Michael Merriam
"Skitter Skitter" by Rhonda Parrish
Reviews by Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts

To purchase your own copy, click on the button on the sidebar and have it emailed now to your inbox for just AUS$3.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BtVS: 2.09 What's My Line Pt 1

Alisa says:
I dunno. On rewatching this episode, it was kinda forgettable enough that I forgot what happened in it when I sat down to write this commentary up. But actually the moment where Buffy and Angel are ice skating is unforgettable for me ... I just always forget it happens in this episode! Ahhh ... for me it is always about that moment - Buffy and Angel so desperately trying to pretend or find or make something about their relationship "normal". But really, there is nothing more surreal than a Vampire Slayer ice skating round an empty ice rink with her Vampire Boyfriend. My heart kinda breaks a little every time for them because it's so sweet and innocent and one of the only and first and last innocent moments that they get. Before it all turns horribly wrong and ... you know ... Buffyverse-esque!

Well .. that and the bug guy. Ew! What is it with the bug guy? Yuch!

Rachel says:
I agree the ice skating scene is excellent. It's so poignant that even Buffy's childhood pastimes aren't immune to her present calling.

This episode feels like the coming together of several threads - the insanity of Drusilla is really played up, as is the animosity between Cordelia and Xander.

One of the best moments has to be Buffy thinking that everyone is out to get her. Haven't we all felt like that at some point?

The dialogue in this and the following episode is some of the best of Buffy, and are the first episodes written by Marti Noxon.

"'I aspire to help my fellow man.' Check. As long as he's not smelly, dirty or something gross."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shiny Wordle

Here's what I got putting the Shiny blog through Wordle!

Stay tuned - Shiny Issue 4 is so very nearly out!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

YA Connection

YA Connection is a YA blog carnival. Definitely worth a read for new books, book reviews and what YA things are happening round the traps!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BtVS: 2.08 The Dark Age

Alisa says:

This episode features one of the most memorable Buffy Library scenes for me with her working out to blaring music whilst Giles' "ears bleed". Does she really have to keep up her fitness? And would step aerobics really do it for her? These are the probing questions that come to my mind.

I must admit to having very little interest in Ripper as a character and as a villain. So I'll just note the things *I* was watching during this episode. Is this the first time that we've seen the use of the cage in the library for keeping captives? And on that, *why* does the Sunnydale High School Library have a cage at all? Is it for locking up all the secret and naughty books? And also, I think this is the first episode that we see eyeflashing to depict possession! or evil! It became a bit of a spotter thing around me and my friends parts when mainlining a lot of Buffy in one go. (As did the Jonathan/Random Guy and Credit Shots - if you've noticed in my writeups so far)

Around now there was also a bit of a wardrobe trend of dressing Buffy in shoestring straps with visible bra strap. They had to put a stop to that when SMG started getting lots of letters from men in jail who "enjoyed" the show, shall we say? Yep, nothing but high class commentary from me, all day every day!

Rachel says:

Hmm, I think there was some eyeflashing way back in The Pack, but I never knew the bra strap thing. Kinda wish I didn't now.

But how awesome is Ethan in this episode? Remorseless in so many ways - spilling the beans on Giles' past, and giving a young girl a tattoo to save himself from a demon. I think he might be my favourite baddie.

The ending is a little deus ex machina with Angel running in - I mean, what does he care about Jenny? But I love it anyway.

Lots of tasty tidbits on Giles' past make this a bit more than a monster-of-the-week episode.

"I hope you're not taking this personally, Buffy, I actually kind of like you. It's just that I like myself a lot more."

BtVS 2.07: Lie to Me

Alisa says (belatedly):

Your heart stinks of her...

There's some great comic moments in this episode coupled with some hints of the darkness that is to come.

Ours is a forbidden love

First I must squee about Ford - whee!! aka Max from Roswell but with new! shiny! earring! That makes him *evil* right? Can Jason Behr ever be anything but a holder of secrets?

Secondly - how 'bout the spooky, spooky opening sequence with Angel and Druscilla? We get the sense that Angel knows Dru just like we already know that Dru knows Spike. Things look like they're gonna get messy.

Ford: He looks older than her.
Xander: You're not wrong.
Ford: Woah! Cold Hands.
Xander: You're not wrong.

Xander laughs and then .. wait ... is that double meaning/subtext there, or is it just me? And can I say, when I watched these the first few times round, I never saw such naughtiness. Five years hanging round the places I hang on the 'net have totally ruined me for straight text, now. Yes, yes, pun intended!!!

So, in this episode, everyone is lying to everyone else. Why is it though, that all the live boys that Buffy gets involved with are such dodgy people? It just makes me root all the more for Angel really. And is this the first time Buffy says she loves Angel?

Giles: Buffy, you're not by any chance betraying your secret identity to impress cute guys are you?


I love the bit where Angel is walking through the crowd complaining that these people "know nothing about vampires, the way they look, how they dress" and someone wearing exactly what he is walks past. Love love love the comic timing!!

What about my reward?

I found the ending really interesting on this viewing. Buffy hands Ford over to Spike: we'll come back later for the body. Buffy doesn't kill people. After all, she's the good guy. The fact that she doesn't is the stark contrast between her and Faith. Yet, by end of this episode Buffy's white hat status is just that little bit less white.

Nothing is simple any more.

Lie to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

BtVS: 2.07 Lie To Me

Rachel says:
This is a great episode for exploring the grey areas between good and evil. Not only with Ford, but how can we forgive Angel the suffering he caused Drusilla in the day? There are some beautiful moments between her and Spike here too. "I'll give you a seed if you sing."

I like the way Lie to Me pokes gentle fun at goths, goth nightclubs and the obsessions that some have with vampires. Which I'm certain BtVS never fueled. No, certainly not.  "You look like a ninny."

It's nice to see Chanterelle before she goes on to play Lily/Anne in later episodes and in Angel.

There is nothing really to complain about in this episode aside from some poor make-up, but there isn't anything that makes it outstanding either. I think Lie to Me works better if you recast Ford as Pike (Luke Perry's character in the movie), as I know a lot of people did, but that's probably stretching for references where none were intended.

"The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

BtVS: 2.06 Halloween

Alisa says:

Continuity issue with the vamp showing up on the video camera in the first scene - I'm sure in Angel there were issues about whether he would show up on video footage ?

So we're still all with the Buffy angst - oh I am a Slayer and I don't get to have any fun. Wah wah wah. And it's Halloween which amusingly in Jossverse is the one night that the evils take a break - it seems this is the only time it's tacky to wreak havoc. According to Buffy, Halloween is the time to dress up as the opposite of what you are and "have a little fun". We see Xander dress up as a soldier and Willow end up as a ghost. Cordelia is a sexy cat woman which I think is her subscribing more to "Halloween is a night to dress up slutty" rather than Buffy's "Come as you aren't". Buffy dresses up as a fair lady from the 1700s - the kind of girl who faints at danger and waits to be rescued by a nice strong man.

So of course the plot twist comes in the form of Ethan - an old friend of Giles' who I always think acts more as a plot device than ever realising the potential that his character could have been. Ethan sets a spell in motion to play, since all the demons are at home watching TV - everyone really becomes the costume that they dressed up in and hilarity, of sorts, ensues. Of course Buffy is totally useless and Xander gets to be the hero that saves the day.

And then we see that of course Buffy likes being Buffy and Angel likes her that way ... awwww

Verdict: "Who is that *girl*?"

Rachel says:

This is the first of the Buffy episodes that broadcast originally (in the States at least) around the time of Halloween each year. Like most dramas, BtVS doesn't react to the outside world apart from the mega-holidays that coincide with screening schedules (the other being Christmas).

This episode keeps a good hold of the tone between humorous and threatening. Gellar's Southern accent is a nice touch although her ongoing "Am I a real girl?" angst is starting to grate.

There is a very intriguing insight into Giles/Ripper's past, but I agree that Ethan is little more than a plot point. It also makes a lie of Giles' earlier claim (in Witch) that he had never cast a spell before.

Other revelations include Cordy learning that Angel is a vampire. "The cuddly kind. Like a Care Bear with fangs." To me this highlights the fact that she never discovered on screen that Buffy is a vampire slayer. During the episode "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" she thinks Buffy is in a gang, after that it is assumed she has learnt somehow of the whole slayer/vampire/demon thing.

Spike and Drusilla return in top form, solidifying their characters - Drusilla has a vision and Spike demonstrates his natural skill in commanding ragtag groups of demons. And yes, the second appearance of Crumpet-Oz!

I find this very satisfying, light Buffy.

Verdict: "Well, this is just... neat."

Friday, July 4, 2008

BtVS: 2.05 Reptile Boy

Alisa says:

Another kind of throw away episode apart from a few lines of important dialogue for metaplot advancement. Some college guys are part of a secret society that's really just minions for some kind of weird and gross reptile creature. As usual with such demons, they need some sweet virgins to sacrifice and our unsuspecting boy-crazy Cordelia and rebellious havoc-wreaking Buffy get abducted to be fed to the ... reptile boy. It's mostly a stand alone episode that feels much like filler except for us really getting the feeling that Buffy wants to be with Angel and is annoyed that he's holding out and also she's gettin' a bit fed up with the whole being a Slayer who has no fun. Course ... as usual the "having fun" bit backfires. Well it wouldn't be Buffy without that kind of a moral ending, would it?

Verdict: "And you! You're gonna live forever and you don't have time for a cup of coffee?"

Rachel says:

I agree that it's a filler episode, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. It sets up camp (no pun intented) in the frat house genre of teen movies without apology, and mostly gets it right. This is a good long look at Buffy as a teenager.

More than I think we've seen before Buffy is wanting to belong to the crowd, seeking acceptance, even love (from Angel) with Cordelia and the frat boys providing the necessary, if hackneyed, peer pressure. Then comes the spectacular backfiring. Not only does Buffy let down Giles (the "father") and all her friends, she nearly gets eaten.

Reptile Boy is unsubtle in its theme, but effective, and nails the behaviour of the teenage girls and the frat boys. The limited special effects are artfully disguised by dim lighting and careful camera work.

Thankfully it's not Xander dating the monster for once.

Verdict: "Who needs a social life when you've got your very own Hellmouth?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BtVS: 2.04 Inca Mummy Girl

Rachel says:

"Who's that girl?"
"No, the eskimo."

The chief attraction of Inca Mummy Girl it that it includes the first appearance of the indie-girl's bit of crumpet, Oz. Which you almost miss entirely on the first viewing, but is so delightful subsequently.

This is a more obvious and straightforward mystery episode than most. It's so blatantly Buffy playing Nancy Drew or the Scoobies playing Famous Five that they even include the reference to a crime club. It is nice to see Giles and Buffy do some planning and action together, but the plot is so obvious that it is near-painful to watch them running around and filling in time before they can reveal the clear culprit.

As an aside, is anyone else even slightly disturbed by the number of kids who go missing from Sunnydale High with nary a police investigation? No? I'm just saying, there could be a memorial wall or something.

Verdict: "Typical Museum trick. Promise human sacrifice, deliver old pots and pans."

Alisa says:

I didn't miss the first appearance of Oz on the first viewing - I loved how smitten he was with her. It's especially lovely after all the angst Willow's been through over Xander, we know that she has someone very cool and desperately in love with her coming her way!

I agree with how painful this episode is - the plot is very dull and there is very little good dialogue to get you through it. I do love the scene with Buffy training with Giles though. And the appearance of Oz and his band (who play a really great song).

Rachel - I love how there is only ever the one reference to the mortality of Sunnydale Highschool students but that is in many episodes time.

Finally, something I did pick up on this reviewing - the VERY FIRST APPEARANCE of Jonathan. For a very long time, my friends and I called him Random Guy cause he is always the random bystander and here we see his very first guest spot as the almost final victim! Yay Jonathan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

BtVS: 2.03 School Hard

Rachel says:

The most unfortunate part of this episode is the character of Sheila. Not only does the actor give a pretty uninspiring performance, but the character is so poorly thought through and one dimensional. She's an unconvincing foil to Buffy. Buffy is such a teacher-pleaser in this episode that it's hard to believe she and Sheila can be lumped together for detention even by Snyder. Acting aside, we don't even see Sheila actually do anything bad, except get eaten.

And why was that character so thin? Because all the character development went into the first appearance of everyone's favourite evil couple, Spike and Drusilla. From the first moment you can just tell that these characters are going to be fun and I love knowing what they go on to become.

Without these two this would have been a very silly episode. Buffy trying to integrate her many lives (oil, and water, and a third unmeshable thing) through the mechanism of parent-teacher night was not a terribly interesting storyline. Not only does Spike liven up the scene, he break the rules by not waiting for the night of St Vigious, showing that he is badder than the bad guys. He's so convincing, so genuinely evil he can afford to show that he cares about Drusilla.

There are some clumsy logical errors -- Buffy has time to put her jacket on to save a vampire victim, but not grab a stake? Whoops! -- and Cordelia being crowbarred into the scene in the library to justify her screen credit would have let this episode down badly if not overshadowed by Spike. It is he who holds the episode together. He's such a dynamic character that even Angel pales next to him when they face off. It was inevitable that he and Drusilla would hang around a while to cause more damage.

Verdict: "It's time we had a little less ritual around here, and a little more fun!"

Alisa says:

Hmmm ... I think my favourite bit in this episode is the frigging Annointed One getting his comeuppance - it's so quick and painfree that it almost seems anticlimatic. Almost ... but I hated him, so .. yay!!! I like that Spike whisks in and so effortlessly deals with the remainder of last season's Big Bad. But I must admit that the rest of this episode is a bit meh for me. I mean... I think Spike and Drusilla ride in with such promise about how evil and unremorseful they are going to be, and I guess they are in a way, but knowing where both their character arcs go, I dunno, I felt that this beginning somehow was never really followed through with, in the end. The other thing about Buffy is - it's always the Devil you know that wreaks the most havoc.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 Commentary

Our Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 1 Retrospective all in one place

Welcome to the Hellmouth
Ben says/Alisa says

The Harvest
Ben says/Alisa says

Ben says/Alisa says

Teacher's Pet
Ben says

Never Kill A Boy on A First Date
Ben says/Alisa says

The Pack
Ben says/Alisa says

Alisa says/Ben says

I Robot, You Jane
Ben says/Alisa says

Talent Show
Ben says

Ben says/Alisa says

Out of Mind, Out of Sight
Ben says/Alisa says

Prophecy Girl
Ben says/Alisa says

Rachel's Season Summary

Thursday, May 29, 2008

BtVS 2.02 Some Assembly Required

Rachel says:

After the dismal previous episode this one is a gem. In the vein of Season One's "Witch", we see that in Sunnydale it is not always the demons that are the problem. A very satisfying episode that looks at the pain of loss, matched with a wacky subplot of the early relationship between Giles and Jenny Calendar.

It also manages to be truly icky - both the girl made of parts and the resurrected footballer.
The plot clips along at a neat pace, the jokes are funnier, and information is revealed at the right points. Although it is becoming painful the way that Angel is hanging around for no good reason. It seems where Cordelia can be written into the action almost smoothly, Angel cannot, and vice-versa. He is the awkward hanger-on here.

Particularly sweet is Xander's selfless rescuing of Cordelia from the fire, laying the foundations for a future something...

Verdict: "Grave-robbing? That's new. Interesting!"

Alisa says:

I *know* you meant to say gross and disturbing

Heh. I have to disagree with you again and say I think I really despise this episode. It's too long for its main plot and I just can't engage with the motives of the bad guys in this one. I find it a totally forgettable plot but the episode has some really great scenes and one-liners - always the bit with Cordelia scrounging round in the bin and Angel stumbling upon her. And of course "Love makes you do the whacky". And Xander to Willow at the end " You ever feel like we're playing musical chairs and the music has stopped and we're the only ones left standing" - "All the time".

Other moments for me are the awkward Ms Calendar and Giles getting together, the nice repartee between Buffy and Xander, Willow and Buffy leaning back against a headstone talking about the "sexy dance" from the previous episode whilst Giles and Xander dig up the grave and the "What are we hoping for? Body or no body?" followed by the credit shot of everyone peering into the grave.

It occurs to me in rewatching this episode, that it's just as well Cordelia is shallow - how else would she cope with being the bait or the victim all the time? It kinda makes me love her - the way she burns her clothes and bounces back.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

BtVS: 2.01 When She Was Bad

Rachel Says:

I didn't want to start off this series of reviews by being all negative, but this is a poor example of Buffy. Not only is the main character behaving completely unlike herself, the inconsequential plot is laden with melodrama and the jokes are beyond awful. There's a cheesey training montage backed by what sounds like the dregs of an 80s hair band and even worse soap-opera music at the end.

The weird dream is an interesting point, but fails to elicit an emotional response after the initial viewing, and then doesn't really lead to anything. It is not as portent-ful as Buffy's dreams are supposed to be.

Cordelia does get some great moments and lines -- confronting Buffy in the alley and mistaking the Three Musketeers for the Three Stooges -- even though the actor, Charisma Carpenter, is obviously hampered by a bad cold.

Nevertheless this is our first look at Buffy as a dark and withdrawn character. She turns away from her friends in her time of crisis, which becomes a recurring theme. She becomes more withdrawn until she snaps and is forced to make talcum powder of her enemies. Although it plays badly here, it is an interesting early taste of what is to come in later seasons.

If this had been your first experience of BtVS you would not be blamed for never returning.

Verdict: "I hate that girl."

Alisa says:

I didn't hate this episode nearly as much, or even at all, as you did. I think in part that’s because I went straight from Season 1 into Season 2 in the one hour. There was a lot of continuity that worked for me that way.

There’s so much bittersweetness in this episode. The opening scene of Xander and Willow doing what they would be doing had Buffy never come to Sunnydale makes my heart ache - the cute thing with the ice cream on Willow's nose and the very almost kiss? This scene leaves me wondering - if Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, would Xander and Willow have gotten together? They would, right?

Cue Buffy back from summer holidays visiting her dad - new haircut making her look more grownup, reflecting the whole 'coming of age baptism' she had in the Season 1 finale. There's a new edge to her. And there's also something up with her.

As an aside,I also really liked the scene with her parents discussing her well being. I liked that Buffy was clearly more important to them than whatever happened to their relationship. You never really see her parents interact again. And we know that Buffy never really gets to feel that collective love from her parents. It's very noticeably missing in the rest of the show.

Quickly we are back to Buffy and her atitude towards being the Slayer:
Buffy: You're the Watcher, I just work here

But we also get a bit of an insight into what's up with her:
Giles: Fair to say that you stayed in shape
Buffy: Whatever they got coming next, I'm ready

But I liked the contrast to the Buffy in the final scenes of the Season 1 finale where here there's also a new sense of fragility and mortality about Buffy. We see that in the dream sequence: I’ve killed you once, shouldn't be too difficult to do it again.

Being the Buffy/Angel fan that I am, I love the angst of their miscommunicated: "I've missed you" and I love the bit where Angel checks in with Buffy because he thinks she might be angr with him. I love how for someone so OOOLD as Angel, we still get snippets of adolescent from him.

The line by Buffy to Cordelia: "You won't tell anyone I'm the slayer and I won't tell anyone you're a moron" is so out of character that it is so memorable for me. It jars because it's so harsh and unexpected. And I love that even so, Cordelia is still the one that kicks some sense into Buffy. No matter how hard she fights it, Cordelia is in the gang.

But for me, this episode is always have THAT sexy dance with Xander in front of Angel. It harks strongly back to the moment of the dead/undead contrast between Xander and Angel set up in Season 1 finale. It's so extremely hurtful to both Angel and Willow. And Xander ultimately. And it's also I think the only time we ever see Buffy choose Xander over Angel, and much as he wants it to be true, you can see even he struggles to believe it.

Buffy: Xander, did I ever thank you for saving my life?
Xander: No
Buffy: Don't you wish I would?

Unlike you, Rachel, I liked some of the silly jokes:
Undead American.

And I love the joke for Snyder:
S: Some things I can just smell it. It's like a sixth sense
G:That would be one of the five

I love the underlying theme of friends having your back that runs through the whole show.
Willow: What about the other half of the note .... the bit that says PS this is a trap

Ultimately this is a major part of why Buffy is ongoingly successful and where one of her strengths lays but it just takes her a while to get it.
Buffy: This is Slayer business, a little less from the civilians please.

Finally, I love the moment near the end where Buffy asks Angel: "You think you can take me?... Go on! Kick my ass." It reminds me of the scene in Season 4 where she and Riley see who is stronger by beating each other up. Why does she keep goading her men to hit her? It's a bit off.

I think this episode is a good start for Season 2. It's got light and dark, bitch and snark. It picks up where we left off but it also sets up a lot of angst for us in the coming season. I can't wait!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shiny Blog welcomes Rachel Holkner!

Welcome aboard to Rachel Holkner who has joined me, Alisa, in the Buffy retrospective from Season 2 onwards. Rachel thought it best to give a brief introduction by way of a summary of her thoughts on Season 1, below.

Rachel and I are working on a new format for the episode by episode commentaries and are aiming to post the first episode for Season 2 later this week. In the meantime here's a quick "Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

BtVS Season One - Overview

I thought I'd start reviewing Buffy with an overview of Season One. Ben and Alisa have already done a great job hashing over each episode individually, but for completeness sake I wanted to start at the beginning.

I remember very distinctly watching the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had never heard of the movie, but had seen the show advertised and it looked like my cup of tea. There was nothing much on TV at that time that suited me, I was living in a lousy share house, fumbling through a mediocre university course and I needed a new escape. So, all excited I curled up on the floor on the night it premiered (the couch was fourth-hand and too lumpy to actually be used), scooting up close like I was a kid again watching Saturday morning cartoons.

It was unfortunate that I had built it up so much because no show could survive that kind of expectation*. Although BtVS would turn out to be exactly what I (and millions of others) needed to see, the first episode is not typical. In fact it has a distinctly different mood to even the second episode. Welcome to the Hellmouth does a fine job of introducing this new and complicated world, vampire lore, the destiny of the Slayer as well as introducing a dozen brand new characters. But it's distinctly Californian, something the writers quickly chose to move away from, thank goodness, and make the show more universal with it's own distinct voice.

We learn some important lessons in the first couple of episodes, not least of which is that anyone is fair game. Creator Whedon has been known to take this to extremes of late. Another important lesson being that high school is as ridiculous and amusing as it is terrifying.

The next few episodes begin to explore the world around Buffy and vary in tone and quality. Witch is a great early episode showing that it's not always demons behind the weeks' horror. Teacher's Pet I find fairly weak, Never Kill a Boy... also, but it shows how desperate Buffy is to be normal despite her impressive calling. I love The Pack, the gang of high school kids is believably nasty, the way they work as a team to magnify their cruelty is something I still cringe at. Angel I find largely forgettable, even though it contains the first kiss and the crucial revelation of Angel's vampire-ness and curse. The Three are a threat so briefly, but then there is Darla's ingenious attack on Joyce. Is it wrong that I find that so clever?

I Robot, You Jane works very well largely because we've already all fallen in love with Willow. She brings out the protective instincts in all of us in the early seasons. The introduction of Jenny Calendar is also timely, the lack of teachers at Sunnydale High was becoming noticeable.

The next three episodes, The Puppet Show, Nightmares and Out of Mind, Out of Sight are my picks for Season One. Although they are each standalone episodes they work well as a trilogy of sorts. Each takes a new fear and exploits it in a different way. Each has an unexpected and effective twist and each has an introduced character that we can sympathise with as well as be scared stupid by. These episodes are where BtVS really finds its feet and strides confidently.

The final episode, Prophecy Girl is a mixed bag. The Master has been a presence throughout the season, but I'm not convinced that he makes a truly convincing villain. The Anointed One is far more creepy in my book - at least he can directly confront our heroine! Yes, this episode is dramatic and scary, but it is hampered by clumsy dialogue. But it works in the end. We're rooting for Buffy the whole time as she tries to escape her destiny by quitting (although we knew she wouldn't really) and in the end she brings out the best in everyone around her.

Season One Verdict: "We saved the world. I say we party."

*Firefly excepted.

Prophecy Girl

So, the finale episode for Season 1. I've been putting off posting on this episode and I think it's mostly because I have so much to say about it but also because it would have to be up there as one of the most important episodes of the show for me (along with The Gift, Hush, The Body and I'm sure a bunch of others which I'll point out on the way). For me it's such an important episode because it sealed the deal - I was well and truly hooked on this ride by this episode. It wraps up the season - whether Buffy likes it or not, she's the Slayer and will rise to the occasion. By this episode, the Scoobies have formed a tight group. And in this episode, Joss Whedon does something that augers great great writing lies before us - he breaks the rules and kills off the main characer. You can't do that! And yet, Joss shows us that yet he can and he will and he will do it over and over and over. And he'll tease and taunt us - sometimes its the end and sometimes not and he will always leave us guessing till the very end. But the best thing about Joss is he never takes it back ('cept for that ep in Angel, but we'll get there ...)

Joss breaks all the rules, he keeps us guessing and he does it with a brilliant sense of humour.

So, the prophecy: the Master shall rise and the Slayer shall die.

Such a serious episode which opens with an ominous earthquake heralding the final days of drama and stuff and then the Master looks at the Annointed One and quips: What d'you think? 5.1?

This episode is filled with lots (more) of angst and some climax moments that we have been stumbling towards all season. Xander finally bites the bullet and puts his cards on the table with Buffy, only to be rebuffed. It's horrible and we watch and admire his bravery but squint to look away, knowing he will be turned down. Willow too gets her moment when Xander then turns to her and wants to take her to the dance instead of Buffy. We applaud Willow when she declines and wince knowing how hard that must have been to do since she really would love to go with him. It's time for me to fall hard for Willow - so strong in character, she wants Xander on her terms or not at all. Go girl power!

Buffy will face the Master and she will die - the discussion between Angel and Giles about the prophecy is the first of many instances where they try to shield Buffy from the horrible truth. They do it because they love her but in so doing, they underestimate her strength and power and wits. Again and again she thwarts the prophecies and rises to whatever challenge comes her way.

I love the bit straight after their conversation where Buffy finds out about the prophecy and tries to avoid it - she's still so young here and in a way a childis response in that she tries to run away from something that she doesn't want to have to deal with. Later on in the series, she has accepted her duty and just gets on with it. But later in the series, she has experienced the rest of this episode ... But here we see how Buffy always views "being the Chosen One" as a job and not as a birthright or a part of her makeup. It's something she shows up to do and chooses to do and therefore, at any point she has an exit or an option to decline.

Buffy: Read me the signs!
Tell me my fortune!
Giles, I'm 16 years old... I don't want to die.

Oddly, early in this episode Joyce gives Buffy her prom dress. It's an odd moment almosy the only one in the whole series where she's cool and clued up. But it also makes her one who dresses Buffy up in her "virginal sacrifice" look for the rest of the episode.

One of the memorable scenes for me is the moment where Willow realises, I think, once and for all that this is serious and real and seriously real.
Willow: I've seen so much. I thought I could take anything. This was difficult ... I'm trying to explain it so you understand ... I go to that room everyday. When I walked in, it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun. What are we going to do?
Buffy: What we have to do - and yay she's back! And she's the Buffy that we come to know and love - dong the right thing, doing what has to be done even whilst knowing it means she could/will get killed in the process.
(Willow: Buffy I like your dress)

I love Ms Calendar and so I love that this is the episode where she finally is let into the fold:
The part that gets me, though, is where Buffy is the vampire slayer. She's so little.

Ms Calendar: You fight the Master and you'll die.
Buffy: Maybe. Maybe I'll take him with me.

I love the little wave out to the Trekkies amongst us, I guess cause I am one, with the following quote:
Xander: I'm sorry, calm may work for Locutus of the Borg here,
(indicates Giles) but I'm freaked out, and I intend to stay that way.

And the slight begrudging of letting someone else into the circle:
Willow of Ms Calendar: How come she's in the club?

One of the most iconic images is Buffy as she heads off on her own to meet her destiny in white dress, leather jacket (Angel's), cross around her neck and armed with the crossbow.

When Xander goes to Angel for help to find Buffy after she leaves to take on the Master on her own we root for him for being so brave or for how deeply his love for Buffy is.
Angel: You're in love with her.
Xander: Aren't you?
I'm never really sure which it is and it has me wondering if his love for Buffy is his motive throughout the series. At this point in the show, it certainly feels that way and standing here and looking down the barrel to all that happens, it feels creepy. But I think perhaps with his falling for other girls, that must move to a platonic love because it never really feels that way later.

I love the odd moments that Joss Whedon chooses to break the fourth wall and to be self conscious and make fun of himself, like in this remark from the Master:
Oh good the feeble banter portion of the fight

And his use of humour in the oddest moments. Xander has been avoiding Angel all season because of his jealousy over Buffy. That makes this scene work so well:

Xander: You were looking at my neck.
Angel: What?
Xander: You were checking out my neck! I saw that! (starts following)
Angel: No, I wasn't!
Xander: Just keep your distance, pal.
Angel: I wasn't looking at your neck!
Xander: I told you to eat before we left.

I love the running comments on Buffy's dress all the way through. Even the Master has a go:
Master: And by the way...
She falls face down into the pool of water.
Master: I like your dress.

And she's dead. Joss actally kills off the lead character in the show named after her. Up till this point, you're sure somehow the prophecy is wrong. I mean, Buffy *can't* die, obviously. It's *her* show. And then ... she is! And what does it mean? It means all bets are off - and you always remember, throughout the series. And the other thing we learn to remember is not to take the text at face value:
Xander finally gets to kiss Buffy - by giving her the kiss of life. Just like everything in this episode, things read one way but the act means another. You can never ever get comfortable and think you know where things are at in Buffy. I really love the interesting contrast between Xander and Angel in this scene. Whilst Xander gives Buffy the kiss of life, Angel can only ever give her the kiss of eternal life (or death).

Straight after this shocking scene, we get some comic relief with Cordelia driving her car to the library. Through the school. Who pays for all the reconstruction of the school buildings after each season finale?

And then we have the climax for his scene and for the season:
Xander: No. You're still weak.
Buffy: (stops) No. No, I feel strong. I feel different.

Has her death and her revival changed her? *Is* she different? Cue the cool theme music and Buffy strutting through the streets and suddenly her virginal white dress looks wayyyy sexier. Suddenly she's more confident than we've ever seen her. Perhaps her rebirth *has* changed her. Perhaps she has finally realised that fate and destiny are hers for the taking and that prophecy is in the eye of the beholder.

Buffy: I may be dead but I'm still pretty.
Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.

The Master's death has to be the best, most inventive, think-on-your-feet slaying of the whole series. And in a way, kind of anti-climatic - the final fight scene is not 3 minutes long.
Buffy: You're that amped about Hell... (grabs him by the neck) Go there!
And the Master gets impaled (but doesn't get dusted).

In the final scene we see that 1 (Slayer) became 4 (Watcher and two best friends), which became 6 (The Scoobies).

Buffy: Oh, sorry. It's just been a really weird day. (smiles)
Xander: Yeah! Buffy died, and everything!
Willow: Wow! Harsh.
Giles: I should have known that wouldn't stop you.

And ... after all the drama:
Buffy: Sure! We saved the world. I say we party! (looks down at her
dress) I mean, I got all pretty.
Angel: By the way, I really like your dress.
Buffy: Yeah, yeah. Big hit with everyone.

And so we are left with the dress as the final image - the virgin sacrifice which Buffy was and made but which threw the tradition on its head. Our virgin throws on a leather jacket, comes back from death and slays the monster.

And I guess that probably sums up the show pretty darn nicely.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shiny Competition Announcement

Unfortunately, due to a lack of submissions, we are declaring the Shiny Short Story Writing competition null for 2008.

Thank you to those entries and interest we did receive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shiny Submission Guidelines Update

Shiny is now closed to submissions. Thank you for your support over the last two years.

Shiny is looking for fresh, entertaining stories between 2000 and 8000 words long. The style and substance of Shiny stories should be up there with the best current YA fiction, and should (for the most part) feature teenage protagonists. We're mostly interested in stories with speculative elements - science fiction, fantasy and horror - but we're open to non-speculative stories that would appeal to genre readers [as with, for example, So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld, Boy Proof by Cecil Castelucci, or "Anda's Game" by Cory Doctorow]. We prefer a contemporary setting and/or feel to our stories, but will not let this restrict our choices. Shiny is aiming to appeal to teenagers, but also to the wide body of adults who read and enjoy Young Adult fiction. We look forward to reading your submissions!

Who: the editorial board consists of Alisa Krasnostein, Ben Payne and Tansy Rayner Roberts
How: send your submission in rtf attachment to Keep an eye on our blog at for more about what we're looking for.

Payment: AUS$50 per story

Rights: First International e-rights, and exclusivity for three months after first publication. We are not looking to reprint stories that have been previously published in print or online.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Out of Mind, Out of Sight

There's two things about this episode of Buffy that make it memorable for me. The first is the idea that someone could become invisible because to everyone else, they are already so. I quite like the idea of that. But also, I just really really relate to feeling so invisible that you may as we already be. And who can't relate to that? We've all been there at some point in time. It's just a really good high school moment, I think, taken to it's sort of (?) logical conclusion. And I often think back to Marcy when I'm in a social situation where I feel invisible, or wish I was.

Course I wouldn't beat someone up with a bat if I were invisible. *That's* a bit crazy.

The second thing about this episode that I always think back to is that scene after Cordelia has engaged Buffy's help and she talks about how she can feel so alone even when she's surrounded by people. And that she sees people being so busy rushing to agree with her that they never really listen to hear what she has to say. Such a contrast to Marcy yet the endpoint of feeling alone is the same. I too can relate to feeling alone even when in the thick of things and I like that Cordelia can take a step back and see things from a distance. For me, this glimpse at her is a foreshadowing of her character to come.

I also love the bit where Cordelia comes to Buffy - in the hopes that she's in a gang. I love that even though Cordelia is so self obsessed and has been blowing Buffy off (as we see in the beginning of this episode), there's lots of things about Buffy that she's noticed and noted. And whilst this too foreshadows Cordelia's eventual joining of the group, I like that just *someone* else is paying attention at Sunnydale High. I was starting to worry!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Prophecy Girl

Ben says:

Let me introduce you to the Joss Whedon recipe:

1) Introduce us to a bunch of characters
2) Make us love them.
3) F*#k them up.

Over the season we've grown to care about Buffy, Willow and Xander, both as individuals and as a group. this season finale has little of the build up of later ones, but Whedon compensates by taking an axe to our favourite characters' feelings and relationships. We care about all three of our leads, but it's impossible for all three of them to get what they want. The scene where Xander asks Buffy out is heartbreaking, more so because we know how inevitable her answer is. But at the same time our feelings are dragged through the wringer for Willow, who is forced to watch it all and then be asked to be a pawn to make Buffy jealous.

And then of course Buffy herself is thrust into a situation which encapsulates one of the central conflicts of the first season: the choice between being The Slayer and being an ordinary teen. Buffy tries for a while to hang onto the notion that she has a choice, but of course there is no choice at all; like growing up, there is no way to unlearn once you've seen the world as it is. There's no way to close your eyes, to go back to the innocence you once enjoyed.

All of our central characters are given some nice moments, and there is real poignancy at several parts of the episode. We see Buffy moved by Willow's hurt, we see Xander's love overcoming his jealousy, we see Buffy accept her destiny with all the pain it entails. And the victory takes us back to the things we learned in episode one; that what makes Buffy more than any old slayer is the friendships she has formed. It means a lot more now that we've been through a year's worth of adventures, as we've seen the dynamic between the four central characters grow. It's the difference between knowing something and feeling it.

Anyway, it's a fitting end to the series. There wasn't much of an arc in this season compared to those to follow. The big bad is fairly simple, and there aren't a lot of character curveballs. The first season is really about the developing closeness between Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles, and it's that dynamic which makes this episode work, and makes it a fitting finale.

I give it five dead Buffys.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is Young Adult SF/F Too Explicit?

That's the topic of discussion over at the Mind Meld. Check out what Ellen Datlow, Gwenda Bond and others have to say on the matter here

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Buffy: If you feel so alone, why do you work so hard at being popular?
Cordelia: Well it beats being alone all by yourself.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Ben says:

This season sure pulls out some fantastic metaphors for teenage life. In this episode, Cordelia is threatened by a girl who has been ignored, looked through, brushed aside, so often she became invisible. Who has never known how that felt?

In this episode, though, it’s pushed to extremes. The flashbacks of Marcy’s life are truly heartbreaking, and the fact that even the nice kids like Willow and Xander don’t remember her make the story even sadder. Marcy is probably the most sympathetic psycopath so far.

There’s not quite the same level of drama as the last two episodes, but there are some nice moments, including a rare glimpse into the human side of Cordelia, even if Whedon undercuts it (believably) later on. On the whole, it continues the impression that the show has kicked into gear. It doesn’t really feel like the penultimate episode, but then it’s a short season.

I didn’t entirely buy the use of the X-Files type FBI agents who turn up at the end. It’s clever, but it didn’t feel entirely believable in terms of the Buffyverse. If the FBI are that interested in supernatural occurrences, surely they’d be turning up a lot more often.

There’s not a lot to say about the episode really. It’s a simple, effective metaphor. There’s a little interplay between Willow and Xander that give us a taste of Buffy not quite belonging. I can’t remember if this thread is taken up in later episodes. I guess we’ll find out!

Anyway, we’re about done with Season 1! Roll on the finale!

This one gets three and a half Harmonies rolling down the stairs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Alisa says:

This episode is always an uncomfortable one for me to sit through because it's about fear, and core fear - the fear you don't want anyone else to know grips you in the middle of the night. What if suddenly everyone could see, nay experience, what you feared most? There's some kind of fear in that too - the being stripped naked and judged by what you fear. And the two fears that I really relate to in this episode are Buffy's - becoming that which you most hate (whatever that may actually be) and Willow's. In fact, when I was learning to get over my own fear of public speaking, I once gave a speech that included this very thing - Willow's fear of singing in public from this very episode.

I love this episode but it's not one I enjoy sitting through - there's spiders and clowns and permanent night and *shiver*

New Moon

So, I'm about 200 pages into Stephenie Meyers' New Moon, the sequel to Twilight. Gosh this is a totally different book to the first one, isn't it?

Don't check the comments if you don't want to be spoiled.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Willow: So why is this happening?
Giles: Billy.
Xander: Well, that explanation was shorter than usual. It's Billy!

Ben says:

Wow. This is a classic Buffy standalone, and really a great example of what the early seasons are all about.

A mysterious young boy appears and suddenly everyone's nightmares start coming true.

Simple idea, but it's used here to great effect. Wheden and Greenwalt explore some of the absolute archetypal teenage (and indeed adult) nightmare scenarios: forgetting the history test, turning up to class naked, fear of spiders, fear of clowns, fear of turning up to sing soprano and not knowing the words (or how to sing). There's barely a stone of subconscious paranoia left unturned and there are some great laughs along the way.

But like the best Buffy episodes, this one pulls the rug out from under us, and it gets really dark and sinister, with the gradual revelations regarding Billy's attack, as well as the escalating danger to the others. The moment where Giles encounters Buffy's grave is movingly done, and the finale with the "Lucky nineteen" thing still chills me. It's here that Buffy does what it does best; provides an intersection between the comfort of the fantastic and the horror of real life.

One of the highlights of season 1 for my money, it gets five Singing Willows.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Talent Show

Buffy: Could I have a little support here? I'm not just some crazy person. I'm the slayer!
Xander: The dummy slayer? (awkard silence) There's nothing funny about that.

Ben says:

Okay, let's say this up front. Buffy is right: Ventriloquist dummies are creepy. Any episode with a live puppet who has some kind of control over its master is already several steps ahead in the spooky stakes. Poor old Morgan does such a good job or portraying the fear and confusion created by Sid's life, it's impossible not to feel the freakiness.

This isn't just a scary episode, it's also one of the funniest so far. Any episode that opens with Cordelia singing The Greatest Love of All is gonna have to work hard to top that, but there are some classic lines in this episode. My favourite:

Willow: It could be anyone! It could be me. It's not, though.

And Giles's facial expressions during the auditions alone are worth watching the entire episode for.

We also meet Principal Snyder for the first time, and what a fantastic first episode he gets, describing his predecessor's attitude as "The kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten". This is just one of many awesome lines that Snyder gets. There is also something undeniably sinister about him here. He is set up quite clearly as a fearsome and unpleasant force at the school, and a thorn in Buffy's side.

There are a few clever twists, and we get to see Giles in danger again, which always raises the stakes (Giles or Willow in danger = Ben on edge of seat). And Sarah Michelle Gellar manages to create poignancy out of a scene with a plastic doll... I am actually realising more so this time around than the first time I watched, what a fantastic actress she is.

And I love the ending. "I don't get it. What is it, avant garde?" followed by a very funny rendition of Oedipus the King.

What's not to like about this episode really?

I give it four spooky dummies.


Is anyone out there a fan of Stephanie Meyers' Twilight series?

I just finished Twilight and would love to debrief!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shiny 2008 Writing Competition Form

Below you can find the form for entry to the Shiny Writing Competition for 2008. Contact the Shiny editors if you have any problems with it or you can't email this into us - for postal or fax information --

I Robot You Jane

Alisa says:

The final scene of this episode pretty much sums up what I love about it:

Willow: "Malcolm. Moloch. Whatever he's called. The one boy that's really liked me and he's a demon robot. What does that say about me?"
Buffy: "Doesn't say anything about you."
Willow: "I mean, I thought I was really falling..."
Buffy: "Hey, did you forget? The one boy I've had the hots for since I moved here? Turned out to be a vampire."
Xander: "Right, and the teacher I had a crush on? Giant preying mantis."
Willow: "That's true."
Xander: "That's life on the Hellmouth."
Buffy: "Let's face it. None of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship."
Xander: "We're doomed!"
Willow: "Yeah!"
(everyone laughs then everyone goes silent)


And that's kinda what Buffy is all about really - the awkwardness of high school, and well, my life, where nothing ever seems to come off just right and everybody else is having the life that you kinda want.

But for me, the main plot is a side issue. I feel bad for Willow that this is the most attention she's ever received from a boy and that maybe that is the reason she is so easily caught off guard by this demon. But ... the rest of this plot is kinda ... yawn ... after the first time you see it.

To me, this episode is all about Miss Calendar! Who rocks! It's about time that another adult joins the circle - it was getting a bit creepy with Giles hanging out mainly with our trio in all his spare time. Surely he needs adult conversation once in a while? Like, about taxes or whatever. And the coolest scene is where he gets up the courage to stammer "there's a demon in the internet" and she calmly looks back, unblinking, and replies "I know". Plus, she's kinda hot.

Of course, her own background story, which is soon to be revealed, does dampen the impact of her being all wiccan and down with the hellmouth and all that on subsequent viewings.

It's kinda like Trent Jamieson's "Small Change"

Thanks to Rachel who sent us in this link to a blog post about another house that had a mysterious room behind a book case.

Check it out here

I can't decide if what was behind the bookcase is more or less creepy than in Trent's story.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Robot, You Jane

Jenny: Wrong and wrong, snobby. You think the realm of the mystical is limited to ancient texts and relics. Since bad old science made the magic go away? The divine exists in cyberspace, same as out here.

Ben says:

Finally! A Willow story! After a couple of Xander stories it's about time Willow gets some play.

Willow gets herself an internet boyfriend, but her buddies suspect something is not right.

Buffy's overprotective nature is easy to identify with. Willow is just so adorable in these episodes that we immediately feel afraid for her, both physically and, in terms of her recent hurt at Xander's lack of attention, emotionally.

Xander's jealousy is cute, and Buffy has him pegged; "You got used to being the belle of the ball."
There's kind of a dark side to their protective sides too, though. Willow is clearly a little hurt that everyone assumes her love interest must be a psycho, and that's understandable too. Willow wants to believe that she's loveable.

Also, Jenny Calendar! I'd forgotten she appeared this early in the series. It's good to see her interplay with Giles. It would have been easy to give Giles a straw-man opponent in the arguments over technology, but Jenny gives as good as she gets.

Giles: It's been so nice talking to you.
Jenny: We were fighting.
Giles: We must do it again some time.

Jenny, too, is more than she seems, as we discover later in the episode. It's a nice surprise.

Again, this episode suffers a little from being quite linear and predictable. The sense of menace grows but there are few real surprises. Or perhaps I've seen it too many times.

The notion that a scanner can release a demon instead of a human reader is a cool one though.
And as the stakes grow the threat seems scarier. And anytime Willow is in danger the level of drama is immediately raised.

I didn't think the story made as much as it could have of some of the interplay between the scoobies, but then I guess not every episode can. And Willow gets a nice moment of hurt and anger at the end. Also, the final bonding moment between the three leads sharing their doomed relationships with monsters is classic.

I give it three ghosts in the machine.


Willow: So he is a good vampire. I mean, on a scale of one to ten.

Ben says:

Since Alisa has declared her own bias, I'll declare mine.

The first time I watched Buffy season one I hated the Buffy/Angel bits, for two reasons.

1) Any time a show has two leads who are *obviously* going to get together, I don't want them to.

2) Angel is a bit of a romantic lead cliche. "Oh, I'm so dark and mysterious, dangerous with a past, older than you, and I have a terrible secret, and did I mention I work out? And oh man, now my shirt's chafing me, mind if I take it off?"

Yawn. Excuse me while I fetch my barf bag. Why not just rope Tori Spelling in as a romantic interest for Xander and we can flush the whole series down the toilet?

Of course, having seen the rest of the series, I now know that Whedon has more interesting things in mind for Buffy and Angel, and this episode is a lot more interesting when you know some of the things that are being set up here.

This isn't a bad episode. The romantic storyline is set up early and pretty quickly undercut by the revelation of Angel's vampireliness. Gellar gets some good chances to play hurt and she does it well. After Buffy's recent troubles with boys, this one comes as a kick in the teeth, and Buffy's mixed feelings are complex and believable. "What it a joke? To make me feel for you?"

We get some nice interplay from the scoobies, with Xander demonstrating confusion and jealousy and Willow slipping into confidante mode. There are, as Alisa has already listed, some snappy one-liners between the four leads.

This is also the first sense we get of the danger that Buffy's mum is placed in through her lifestyle.

We actually get some nice stuff with the Master, for the first time, really. His place as villain of the season is starting to emerge. Darla is a great character here, serving as the embodiment of Angel's dark past. She's also probably the most threatening vampire we've encountered so far, and helps to give a sense that Buffy's job is going to be tougher than thrust and move on.

I got a bit annoyed with the coincidences; Buffy walking in on Angel holding Joyce, the misunderstanding when Joyce talks about Buffy's "friends". It all got a bit English farce for me at one point.

Despite my Buffy/Angel reservations, the scene where Buffy and Angel confront one another is quite poignant, with their acceptance of life's complexities, chiefly because Sarah Michelle Gellar acts it so strongly.

And the ending is quite nice. So all up, a better episode than I remembered it. Not one of my favourites, but a good arc-building ep with some nice moments.

I give it three tortured souls.


Alisa says:

Okay, I probably should have declared this upfront. I'm a massive Buffy/Angel fan. I mean *massive*. Enormous. The biggest. I love love love love them. And I'm also reading Stephanie Meyers' Twilight right now. So ahh ... yeah that may colour your view of me. I'm a hopeless romantic.

So ... sigh ... now we come to the first big Buffy/Angel episode. Yummy!! OMG - when they are in the kitchen and we see Angel's eagle tattoo? Okay, I'm also a David Boreanaz fan. Mmmmm..... But seriously, all that topless close up action and tension whilst Buffy is finding a bandaid. Yeah, you had me at "take off your shirt". Aside: they just encountered The Three and Angel is hurt - would a bandaid *seriously* sort that out?! But nevermind...

Willow: How is it that you always know all this stuff? I never know this stuff.
Giles: Yes well you weren't here researching it from Midnight to 6am
Willow: No. I was sleeping.

Plot - oh yes, there is one. The Master is grumpy cause there is a Slayer in town messing with all his plans. He sends The Three to take her out. They fail. Then Darla hatches a plan to set Buffy and Angel up so that Angel wil take out the Slayer.

This episode also brings us the first Buffy/Angel kiss and Angel's big revelation. Xander (You're in love with a vampire? Are you out of your mind?) gets a chance to be the moral compass by being the one to point out that Buffy has to kill Angel (although he's somewhat biased in terms of the outcome).

Other memorable moments include the Bronze pre- and post-fumagation parties (What's the difference between this and the prefumigation party - more partier roaches); some early Cordelia/Xander time (It's not true what everyone's saying. You don't look like a hooker in that dress.) And Xander's offer for Buffy to stay at his house till it all "blows over".

One of my all time favourite scenes is the one of the weapons training in the library:
Goodbye stakes, hello flying fatality!

I'm not going to need pads to fight you.

And some really great one-liners:
Buffy: 'A' stands for Ahmed, a charming foreign exchange student.

Cordelia: This is a knock off! This is exactly what happens when you sign these free trade agreements.

The Master: Angel, he was the most vicious creature I ever met. I miss him.

Willow: It is kinda novel how he'll stay young and beautful forever. Although you'll get wrinkly and die. Oh! What about the children?

But there is just so much jam packed into this episode.

Did you think she would look at your face, your true face, and give you a kiss?
For me it hits home what this episode is about with Darla's taunting of Angel. There's so much double speak in that - firstly, the revelation of his secret - his true face - it's the most personal thing you can ever show someone else, who you really are. And it's such a powerful YA theme - high school so often a time for awakening self awareness and the defining of one's identity. And the awkwardness that comes with being an adolescent and not really wanting to be different. That line always reminds me of a scene in Babylon 5 where it's the Minbari tradition to watch one's beloved sleep in order for them to reveal their "true face". But of course there's the other double speak here for "give you a kiss" which also means the bite of a vampire.

In this scene with Darla, we see so much of Angel's past revealed and we begin to see how tortured he is. But it's not till his showdown with Buffy at the end when he just wants her to end it for him (I did it with a song in my heart) that we discover he is in excruciating mental anguish: you have no idea what it's like to have done the things i've done and to care. Which of course makes him all the hotter - to both Buffy, and me!

There's two other great things about this episode I want to touch on. First, it marks the first in the long Buffy tradition of donning the BLACK LEATHER and using the crossbow for all the serious showdowns and duels. Here, both Buffy and Angel don the black leather pants and frankly, it looks *awewsome* in the darkened warehouse against the red pool table. This is also the scene I was thinking of earlier (post from a few back) with Darla and the guns and the staking.

The second thing I want to touch on is that this for me is the first episode where we see the group as a solid entity. When Giles discovers that Darla was involved in the drinking of Buffy's Mum he leaves the room and says to Willow and Xander: We have a problem. The "we" is really touching here because it was Buffy who was the target and Buffy who is on the vengeance gig but the other three are in, no questions asked. This is important, I think, because from the next episode on they start allowing others to know their secret and to join their group.

But still ... you can't beat the heart breaking final scene as Buffy and Angel agree that they cannot continue and that they both have to walk away. Gets me everytime to see Buffy's cross burnt into Angel's chest, over his heart!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Pack

Alisa says:

I think what I like about this episode is the theme which runs through so much of the Buffy series - the desire to be accepted, to be cool, to be popular. We've seen Buffy wrestle with her own secret desire to be normal, to not be the Slayer. Here we see Xander's inner yearnings for acceptance, to be part of the pack. What I like most is the parody of the cool group. Their pack behaviour becomes a caricature when they turn into a pack of hyenas - preying on the weak for their own amusement, and eventually, survival.

You can't help but think that Joss must have had some pretty horrible high school experiences, the way he really goes to town with the portrayal of the cool kids - showing them to be stupid, pack-like, unable to think on their own and looking like mindless idiots with the hysterical laughter after picking on someone they see as below them on the pecking order.

But there is a very dark message, as always, that comes with this fun - how easy it is to become that which you hate. That you should be careful what you wish for and that very easily the prey can become the hunter (and the hunter, the prey).

What I also like in this episode is that it gives Buffy and Willow a chance to develop their own friendship, without the input of Xander. It's the beginning of their steadfast friendship, and importantly we begin to see that whilst this is a friendship of three, it's also based on the foundations of strong friendships between the members of the trio.