Connor Macgregor Reviews...Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Angel

Tools    







1x13 - She

INTRO: She is argueably a low point for Angel. An episode that feels outdated, slightly sexist, and in a way, anti-buffy.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Cordelia throws a happenin' soiree. While Wesley attempts to mingle, Angel spends most of the time brooding in the kitchen. The next morning, Angel officially hires Wesley, and Cordelia receives a vision of a murder in an ice factory. Angel locates the corpse and encounters a demon named Tay, who tells him his mission is to stop the bringer of chaos. Angel tells his findings to Wesley and Cordelia, and they get right into the research. That night, Angel pays a visit to the corpse's office and encounters a female demon. She sends him a powerful jolt then leaves. Angel recovering quickly, jumps into his car and follows her to a museum. There, he discovers the demon (guest star Bai Ling) is attempting to help other females escape their homeland via a portal in the museum. Back at A.I., Wesley discovers Tay is a Vigorie, a herbivore species from Oden Tal that enslaves its female members of the race. Back at the museum, the rescue is a bust after Tay and his cronies burst in. Angel and the demon (who soon introduces herself as Jheira) manage to get rid of them, but not before they take the runaway captive. They unmake her by removing her 'ko.' Jhiera later explains to Angel that the ko is located in the spine and controls a female's physical and sexual power. Meanwhile, Cordelia and Wesley pay a visit to the California Flower Mart to spy on the Vigories. They discover the demons know of Jheira's whereabouts and report back to Angel. We soon learn the other female runaways are at a spa called Palm Ridge. Angel figures out the location, and together they high-tail it to the mansion to warn Jheira. After assisting the escape of the women, Wesley and Cordelia are trapped by the Vigories. Jheira abandons them, but they manage to fight on their own. Jheira pays one final visit and Angel warns her not to hurt any more civilians.


THOUGHTS: Iíd thought Iíd seen the worse with Beer Bad, but then She came around.

This for me is a very outdated and at times baffling episode to get through, one with a very awkward and cringe fest element to it regarding the episodeís story. The idea of woman freezing themselves to prevent themselves hurting other people is not an idea that would fly today in modern tv shows. It was a big hinderance to my feeling to the episode, and one that gave me not a major discomfort, but definitely in my head a season low point.

There were on the other hand some other good points. Angel with some detailed art knowledge was a cool moment as he disguised himself as a tour guide for an art gallery. But aside from that, the ending of the episode was somewhat anti climatic and is therefore overall a very low point for Angel.

RATING: 61% - B



OK, I'm going to have to rewatch these two episodes. As with Buffy, I've not seen these for at least 10 years, but I can't remember these episodes as problematic. If anything, I remember really liking the Cordy demon pregnancy episode. Very interesting.
__________________
5-time MoFo Award winner.





4x13 - The I in Team

INTRO: The gears change and Season four goes in a completely different direction with this episode being the instigator of that.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
While Willow and Xander try to introduce Anya to the challenges of poker, Maggie Walsh applauds Buffy's latest training exercise with the Initiative's top agents. In less than a minute, Buffy manages to overcome Riley's squad with nothing but her own two hands and feet.

At the cafeteria the next morning, Buffy and Willow tell each other about the previous night. After Riley walks in, Willow makes sure that Buffy remembers their planned get-together at the Bronze later that evening. Meanwhile, Giles pays a visit to Spike's new home in the cemetery. Giles tries to motivate him towards joining their cause, but the only thing that Spike is interested in is the money that Giles owes him. Swearing off any future relations with the good guys, Spike orders Giles to leave. Later, Riley accompanies Buffy on her first trip into the Initiative laboratory beneath the surface of Sunnydale. Upon stepping out of the elevator, Buffy marvels at the vastness of the facility. Maggie Walsh greets them and escorts them to the central testing area, which is called the Pit. Buffy notices an unfamiliar pair of demons that are being observed by scientists, and Riley tells her about the difficulty of their capture. By the armory, Maggie shows Buffy a communication camera headset prototype that also reads the heart rate of whoever is wearing it. After the tour, Maggie issues a pager to Buffy in order to alert her to any future missions. Once the Slayer is gone, Maggie enters the restricted-access 314 lab, where Dr. Angleman is working on their secret project: a hideous biological weapon that they are creating out of various demon body parts. Named Adam, his completion is not too far away.

Meanwhile, Tara gives Willow a gift in the form of a rare Dolls-Eye crystal. When Tara explains that it once belonged to her grandmother, Willow respectfully turns down the offer. Tara then invites Willow to hang out at her dorm room later that night. Having made prior engagements with Buffy and the others, Willow regretfully turns down a disappointed Tara once again. At the Bronze, Buffy arrives late with Riley, whose friends tag along. Willow wonders if Buffy needs to slow things down and be more cautious, seeing how they still know very little about the Initiative and how Ethan Rayne's 314 warning factors into any of this. Before their conversation gets very far, the incessant beeping of the pagers pulls Buffy, Riley, and the others out of the Bronze and back to the laboratory. With Xander and Anya off on their own, Willow heads over to Tara's dorm.

During the mission briefing, Maggie and Dr. Angleman explain the squad's objective. They must capture a Polgara demon, which defends itself with bone skewers that extend from its arms. Dr. Angleman makes it perfectly clear that they must leave the demon's arms unharmed, which prompts a series of curious questions from Buffy. Afterwards, Riley assigns Forrest and Graham to head the Beta team, while Buffy accompanies him on the Alpha team. Out on patrol, Graham spots Spike walking through the woods. Failing to capture him with a net, Graham fires a tracking device into Spike's back as he makes his getaway. Distracted by Forrest's call on the radio, the Polgara demon takes Riley by surprise. Buffy rushes in to attack, while Riley and another agent ready their tasers. A drop kick to the demon's chest by Buffy gives them the opening they need, and soon the Polgara demon is stunned into submission. Stimulated by the fight, Buffy and Riley spend the night together in bed, consummating their relationship under the watchful eye of a hidden surveillance camera in the ceiling of Riley's room. Unbeknownst to either Buffy or Riley, Maggie Walsh sits in a secret room, watching their lovemaking on a monitor.

Pleased to wake up next to Riley in the morning, Buffy revels in her newfound happiness. When Buffy asks Riley if he knows anything about 314, the ringing of the telephone immediately breaks up their moment. Reporting in for duty, Riley stops outside the restricted-access security door. Curious about what Buffy said, he peers through the window and sees another door with the same number inscribed on it. Interrupting Riley's investigation, Maggie orders him to lead the Beta team in recapturing Spike. Once Riley leaves, Maggie informs Dr. Angleman that Buffy is apparently aware of their secret experiment. While Maggie prepares their back-up plan, Dr. Angleman completes the amputation of the Polgara demon's left arm. On the surface, Spike retreats to Giles' apartment for help. When Xander identifies the object in Spike's back as a tracking device, they conclude that the Initiative will be on their doorstep in no time. Meanwhile, Buffy returns to her room and finds that Willow's bed hasn't been slept in. Willow arrives shortly, but another series of beeps from Buffy's pager prevents the two from going into any detail regarding the events of the previous night. After Buffy takes off, Willow gets a call from Giles, who requests her assistance. At the apartment, Willow recites a spell that ionizes the surrounding atmosphere, thus obscuring the tracer's signal. As soon as Giles successfully removes the tracking device, Xander flushes it down the toilet, bringing an abrupt end to Beta team's mission.

In the Initiative lab, Maggie briefs Buffy on a basic reconnaissance mission. After notifying her of a possible hostile roaming the sewers, Maggie equips Buffy with the com-cam prototype and a taser. Soon after beginning her mission, Buffy detects the target heading towards her from up ahead. When two axe-wielding demons step around the corner and confront Buffy, she immediately recognizes them from the Pit at the Initiative laboratory. Realizing that something is up, Buffy aims her taser and pulls the trigger. Instead of firing an immobilizing bolt, the weapon short-circuits in Buffy's hands, forcing her to drop it. In an instant, a steel gate drops behind Buffy, sealing off her escape route. As Buffy engages the demons in hand-to-hand combat, Maggie watches the struggle via the com-cam headset. During the struggle, Buffy's headset is knocked off her head and falls to the ground. The view from the camera, along with the terminated heart rate, leads Maggie believe that Buffy has been successfully eliminated. Back in the sewers, Buffy lures one of the demons into taking a careless swing with his axe. Buffy dodges the weapon, which sinks into the chest of the other demon. With one down and one to go, Buffy disarms her opponent, sending the axe into the nearby water canal. However, the demon strikes back, knocking Buffy to the ground before retrieving his axe. Noticing that the taser is still short-circuiting, Buffy grabs the sabotaged weapon and throws it into the canal. In seconds, the demon is electrocuted to death.

When Riley returns from his failed recovery mission, Maggie informs him that Buffy is dead. Unable to comprehend what he's hearing, Riley is overwhelmed with grief. Suddenly, his eyes fall on the set of monitors behind Maggie, which show Buffy adjusting the com-cam to a suitable angle. Maggie's act is cut short by the sound of Buffy's voice, and she turns to hear the Slayer threaten her with payback. Realizing his boss' deception, Riley leaves the premises, refusing to acknowledge Maggie's orders to stop. Back at Giles' apartment, Spike vows to stay in Sunnydale until something is done about the implant in his head. Buffy arrives shortly afterwards, and she tells the others that the Initiative is not what it seems.

Inside the 314 lab, a furious Maggie Walsh paces around the motionless body of Adam. She declares her intent to get Riley back and get rid of the Slayer once and for all. Suddenly, a sharp pain rips through Maggie's chest. When she looks down, she recognizes the tip of a bone skewer protruding from her chest. Moments away from death, Maggie slowly looks over her shoulder to see Adam standing behind her. As Maggie drops to the floor, Adam looks down at her now-lifeless body and affectionately says, "Mommy."


THOUGHTS: The I in Team is the turning point in the season arc in which various developments occur, characters are killed, and new big badís are established. Quite a rapid change but still makes for a change rather than a big bad established early on. And I think that is partially what makes Season Four as a whole quite a different season to the other three. The safety nets of high school are gone, and the Scobby Gang are embracing and battling an entire new world and society, with new challenges and changes to adapt to.

With these developments comes the sudden death of Professor Maggie Walsh, due to the actress adruptly leaving. This in turn introduces Adam, a hybrid of human, demon & cyborg who serves as the villain for the rest of the season. The episode overall feels a bit all over the place. In a way, it almost doesnít feel like Buffy anymore, and more of a merger of science fiction, supernatural and teen drama. I know two of those genres have always been attributed to Buffy, but here the way its set up and utilised feels a bit wrong and thus the showís identity is sort of scrambled almost. In a way, this is a problem to be addressed for the Season four review as a whole.


RATING: 76% - B+





4x14 - Goodbye Iowa

INTRO: Goodbye Iowa continues straight after The I in Team in which a new big bad is established, loyalties and values of characters are tested, and the stakes get much more serious.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
After Buffy details the events in the sewers, Spike suggests that Riley is probably in on it. The others offer their own opinions, but Buffy refuses to believe that Riley knew anything about Maggie's plot. As far as Maggie's reasons go, they surmise that Buffy must have been getting too close to something, such as the significance of 314. Deciding that all of their lives are in danger from the Initiative, Buffy orders the gang to stay in Xander's place for the time being. Just as Giles objects to this course of action, Riley arrives at the apartment to see if Buffy is okay. Buffy tries to explain what happened to her, but Riley has trouble buying the fact that Maggie or the rest of Initiative is hiding something. However, Spike's presence distracts Riley from the subject at hand. Finally recognizing the vampire, Riley turns the tables on Buffy, demanding her excuse for harboring a known target of the Initiative. Spike takes off, leaving Buffy and her friends to focus Riley on the more important matter at hand. Still in denial, Riley leaves on his own.

Emerging from the underground lab and onto the surface for the first time, Adam slowly takes in his surroundings. Adam soon comes upon a lone young boy in the woods. When the boy's curiosity falls on the bone skewer in Adam's left arm, a knowing grin forms on the face of Maggie's creation. The next morning, Buffy and the gang greet the new day with a news report on the television regarding the brutal murder and mutilation of a young boy in the woods. When the reporter mentions a skewer as the probably murder weapon, Buffy assumes that Maggie sent the Polgara demon after her. Meanwhile, Dr. Angleman enters the 314 lab and tries to find his way in the darkness. Slipping on a pool of blood, Angleman immediately spots the body of Maggie Walsh. On the surface, Forrest grills a returning Riley with inquiries regarding the previous night. Taking Forrest into his room for privacy, Riley admits his conclusion that Maggie tried to have Buffy killed. However, Forrest won't believe that Maggie's reasons were anything but legitimate. Forrest goes on to express his feeling that Buffy probably deserved whatever Maggie had in mind for her. Just as their debate begins to heat up, Graham interrupts the scene with news of Maggie's death.

The sight of his murdered mentor is almost too much for Riley to bear, as Forrest attributes her fatal wound to the act of a wooden stake. Seriously disturbed by this accusation, Riley challenges Forrest. Dr. Angleman breaks the two apart, demanding a moment of respect for their fallen comrade. Riley and Forrest listen as Dr. Angelman mentions the recent escape of the Polgara demon. Angleman then informs Riley and the rest of the team that the government has ordered them to cease all operations until further notification. Knowing that Dr. Angleman has no real authority over them, Riley orders his troops to patrol the entire town of Sunnydale and permanently eliminate the Polgara demon. At the cemetery, Forrest and Graham inspect Spike's crypt, but they leave without locating the vampire's hidden resting place. Buffy, in the meantime, arrives at the crime scene to search for any traces of the Polgara demon's trail. Riley arrives shortly and informs Buffy of Maggie's death. Back at UC Sunnydale, Willow stops by Tara's room. After they discuss the spells they performed all-night recently, Willow suggests that they perform another spell, one that would conjure the goddess Thespia to locate any demonic energy in the area. After constructing a basic map of the town on the floor, Willow pours a handful of the potion into her hand and Tara's. While Willow blows her portion onto the map as the spell requires them to do so, Tara stashes her handful of the potion under her bed. When Willow opens her eyes, she believes that the spell was a total failure.

Meanwhile, Buffy pays a visit to Willy's bar, hoping to get some information on the whereabouts of the Polgara demon. However, Willy hasn't heard anything about the demon since it was originally captured by Buffy and the Initiative. As Buffy turns her line of questioning to the Initiative and 314, Riley walks in and immediately spots Buffy. Further confused by Buffy's apparent socialization with demons, Riley demands answers from the Slayer. Buffy notices the uncontrollable trembling in Riley's hands, which forcefully grab her by the shoulders. When a woman tries to leave the scene, Riley draws his gun and levels it at the frightened patron's head. Buffy and Willy try to talk him out of it, but Riley cannot manage to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, anymore. Finally, Riley lowers his gun and slumps onto the counter, allowing the terrified woman to make a hasty exit. After Buffy brings him back to Xander's apartment, Riley struggles to understand what is happening to him. As Riley declares the loss of everything he's ever held to be true, Buffy notices a crimson rash on his hand. Riley's nails continuously scratch at the rash, and Buffy pulls his hands apart. Pulling a scarf from her hair, Buffy wraps the garment over Riley's wounded hand before getting him to rest. By the laundry machines, Giles and Anya tell Buffy of the inconsistencies between the young boy's murder and the documented behavioral patterns of the Polgara demon. Suspicious of Riley's deteriorating physical condition, Buffy believes that there is more to it than grief. She asks Xander to accompany her on an investigation of the Initiative laboratory.

After Buffy passes the retinal scan and gains entrance to the main elevator, she changes into a scientist's lab coat and glasses while Xander wears the fatigues he's been keeping in his basement. As they roam through the facility, Buffy and Xander overhear a conversation between Dr. Angleman and another scientist. According to them, the Initiative soldiers have been fed performance-enhancing chemicals unknowingly through their food. Since Riley dispatched the team that morning, the soldiers have been experiencing severe withdrawal. Most of the soldiers have returned to the lab, but Dr. Angleman insists that they find Riley soon, due to his vital importance to their project. Back at Giles' apartment, Riley abruptly gets out of bed and asks for Buffy. When he realizes that Buffy has infiltrated the Initiative, Riley gets dressed and heads for the stairs. Willow tries to block off his exit, but Riley shoves her to the floor and heads up the stairs. In the lab, Buffy and Xander follow Dr. Angleman through a security door and confront him inside the room. When Dr. Angleman tries to warn Buffy that her presence has probably been alerted to security by now, Riley appears with news that the security monitors are currently off-line. Buffy turns her attention back to Angleman, who confesses that Maggie was responsible for the attack on the Slayer. When Dr. Angelman begins to reveal the details of Project 314, Riley decides that he's heard enough and doesn't want Maggie's memory to be tainted by these accusations. Buffy tries to convince him that she's only after the truth, but Riley's psychosis has reached the point where he believes his own girlfriend is responsible for everything that has happened recently. Before their argument can escalate, the body of a soldier hits the floor not too far from where they are standing. Buffy, Riley, Xander, and Dr. Angleman look up to see Adam, who has returned to his place of creation.

Dropping down to the floor below, Adam pulls from his pocket a stack of computer disks that he retrieved from the lab. Inserting them into a disk drive in his chest one by one, Adam recalls files that detail his own existence as a "kinematically redundant, biomechanical demonoid". After inserting a disk labeled "Finn", Adam tells Riley how the two of them are connected in the eyes of the late Maggie Walsh. While Maggie literally constructed Adam with various parts of humans, demons, and machines, Professor Walsh was also responsible for creating Riley. Although Riley has a true biological family in Iowa, it wasn't until he met Maggie Walsh that he started his path to becoming the soldier that he is today, due in part to the chemicals that he was fed daily. When Adam offers to disclose the full scope of Maggie's plan for the two of them, Riley puts a stop to the back story by aiming his gun at the creature. In a blinding instant, Adam shoves the gun aside, knocks Buffy to the floor, and sends Riley flying across the room with a thunderous punch. After flooring Xander easily, Adam extracts his bone skewer and drives it through a fleeing Angleman, who dies instantly. Riley makes another attempt to fight, but Adam quickly stabs the soldier's torso with his bloody skewer. Down for the count, Riley can only watch as Buffy tries her hand at fighting Adam. Unfortunately, her blows have virtually no effect on Adam, who crushes her to the floor once again. As the rest of the Initiative squad tries to bust into the room, Adam escapes through a ceiling vent. Just as his feet disappear into the shaft, the rest of the team barges in, completely unaware of the departed Adam. Riley confirms Buffy's story that Adam was responsible for his own injury as well as Dr. Angleman's murder. While the troops launch a search for the creature, Forrest orders Buffy to back off and let them take Riley to a military hospital.

Elsewhere, Spike waltzes in to Willy's bar for a drink. However, Spike gets a greeting in the form of a severe beating from several of the demon patrons. Disgusted with Spike's apparent alliance with the Slayer, the demons threaten the vampire outcast with a merciless death if he doesn't wise up soon. The next morning, Buffy and Willow try to figure out what to do about Adam, while also wondering about Riley's fate. Buffy fears that her boyfriend is completely alone in the Initiative infirmary, but such is not the case, for Riley still has her scarf wrapped around his hand to motivate a quick recovery.


THOUGHTS: This is a decent episode, but one that I donít find particularly stands out among the pack. Itís nice to finally have Riley take centre stage and have the chaos around his job and love life intertwine and clash, with a choice of direction in his life and a chance to find some self confidence in himself. Itís a fun and fascinating dilemma to watch, one with an ending that makes Buffy all the more torn and hurt about where to go next. Adamís introduction is also good, watching him go through The Scoobies like nothing and his monologues are also good. But sadly there is this continuing sense of disarray throughout the story, as the behind the scenes changes become much more noticeable and therefore affect the plot drastically.

RATING: 72% - B+





1x14 - I've Got You Under My Skin

INTRO: Time for Angel to take on an exorcism story. I'm surprised Buffy hadn't done this already, but I guess this was a story more suited for Angel.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Angel accidentally calls Wesley 'Doyle' while he is arguing with Cordy, who has just made inedible brownies. We later learn Angel feels pangs of guilt over Doyle's untimely death. Suddenly, Cordelia receives a vision about a young family. When Angel and Wesley visit the residence, they notice a boy sleepwalking in the street. Angel saves the boy, named Ryan, from an ongoing car. When Angel goes inside the house to get cleaned up, Wesley takes a look around and deduces one of the members of the family is possessed by a demon. Meanwhile, to show their undying gratitude for Angel's bravery, the family invites him over for dinner the following evening. Wesley informs Angel about the demon presence and the next day, they create a brownie recipe that will reveal the demon's presence. During desert, Ryan puts on a demon face and Angel brings the family AI to exorcize it. While Cordy stays with the family, Wesley and Angel go to the local church to find the priest to exorcize the demon, but they soon learn from the nun that the priest died six months earlier. Wesley decides he will perform the exorcism and begins the ritual. The strength of the Ethros demon is such that he will most likely kill whomever is performing the exorcism because of its need to inhabit another body, so Cordelia travels into town to purchase a box to contain it. However, the box is too small, and the Ethros demon escapes after its expulsion. Angel and Wesley track him and kill him, but not before learning Ryan was evil before the demon ever entered his soul. They go to the house and rescue Stephanie, Ryan's sister, from a fire he had started. Ryan is taken into police and social services custody, and the family thanks Angel for his work.


THOUGHTS: This episode takes the exorcism story and provides its own take on it, with various twists & turns throughout, which leaves the sense of more morbidness than at the start. The family is very likable and itís a brilliant story about this troubled and scared family in which one of their own is possessed by a demon. And the team provide that support and help that they so desperately crave. The ending of the episode is terrific and a moment of darkness but also hope in a strange way that the character at the centre will find solace if they can. Other notes include the fact that even after so many episodes, Angel still has Doyleís death on his mind after a moment where he blurts out Doyleís name in the heat of the moment. Nice to know that this isnít something that is just swept under the rug.

RATING: 86% - A-





1x15 - The Prodigal

INTRO: Prepared for a lot of flashback scenes, severing of relationships and father figure troubles.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Angel has a memory of an altercation between him and his father in 1753, but his mind quickly returns to the present when he kills a demon who escaped from a moving subway train. When Kate enters on the scene, he tells her to cover up the truth to her fellow officers. Though she is disturbed by the demon factor, she becomes distracted after seeing her father enter the station. Later that morning, Wesley identifies the deceased demon as a Kwaini species and remarks it is atypical for this type of demon to be violent. They deduce the demon had an incentive to attack one of the passengers. Angel then tries to obtain a list of passengers from Kate, but she's unwilling to give it to him. Despite this, he manages to locate the passenger in question and follows him on one of his deliveries: to Mr. Lockley's apartment. When Angel confronts Mr. Lockley, he denies any involvement. Angel, reminded of his painful past with his father, has another memory from his past: he meets Darla and is sired. Back at A.I., Wesley conducts some tests and discovers the Kwaini demon was addicted to a substance similar to street PCP. Angel deduces that Kate's father is somehow involved with the drug trafficking. He then has another memory, this time of his own funeral, his first meeting with Darla as a vampire, and his first kill. That afternoon, Kate approaches Angel, gives him a list of the passengers and tells him she wants to be involved with the case. She changed her mind after having a conversation with her father. Suddenly, two Kwaini demons attack Wesley and Cordelia, seeking more of the drug. While this is happening, the drug traffickers pay a visit to Mr. Lockley. Meanwhile, Angel has another memory of killing his entire family. Angel tries to save Mr. Lockley from the traffickers but can't enter his apartment because he was not invited. Standing by the door entrance, he watches the vampires kill Mr. Lockley. After his death, Angel enters in and kills one of them. Kate arrives and is devasted by the death. She obtains the address of the traffickers and manages to slay one of the killers. As the rest of the gang prepares for attack, Angel bursts in and slays the lot of them. He has one final memory from his past: Darla informs her that he will carry the painful memories of his father for a lifetime.


THOUGHTS: This is another big episode in Angelís character arc, and one that continues to disintegrate the relationship between himself and Kate Lockley. Itís an episode rich in development, arc building, and potential foreshadowing. Kate is back along with her father, and I like that this fraught relationship between father & daughter is somewhat improving. However, near the episodeís end, it is tragically cut short and Angel & Kateís relationship is permanently severed. Kate is seen very much as a cold figure. A lonely bitter woman who now feels more isolated and alone than ever after furthering herself deeper into the world of the supernatural. There is also further flashback scenes of Angelís family life, the aftermath of being sired by Darla, and his early days as Angelus. All of them are sad, heartbreaking, horrific and informative. A way of learning more of the monster that embodies the man.

RATING: 91% - A





4x15 - This Year's Girl

INTRO: Faith is back to cause mayhem again as she takes in not one, but two two-parters in Buffy & Angel. But first, she needs to wake up...

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
In a sundrenched dream, Buffy visits the comatose Faith through some sort of telepathic connection she shares with her fellow slayer. Just when they seem to be getting along, Faith motions her stomach. The knife Buffy stabbed her with still protrudes, dripping with blood. Meanwhile, in Xander's basement, Buffy, Willow and Giles discuss how to destroy the unstoppable Adam, while Xander works on repairing the faulty blaster that Professor Walsh gave Buffy. The Slayer, however, seems equally concerned with the condition of the injured Riley who is in the questionable care of the Initiative. Just then, Riley wakes up in the medical unit of the underground headquarters. As he attempts to leave to see Buffy, Forrest intervenes. It appears that their standoff can only result in a fight. Meanwhile, as Faith lies in her own intensive care unit, she dreams of a pleasant picnic with her deceased father figure, Mayor Wilkins III. The serenity is disrupted when Buffy appears and murders the Mayor with the same knife she stabbed Faith with. That night, Xander and Willow go on patrol with Buffy in search of Adam. Instead of finding the demon-cyborg, they come across one of his morbid biology projects. A red, horned demon is strung up between two trees with his chest cavity splayed open for dissection. Back in Xander's basement, he and Willow listen to Buffy's plans to liberate Riley from the Initiative headquarters. Surprisingly, Riley shows up at that moment and embraces Buffy.

Still dreaming, Faith sees Buffy chasing her through a rain drenched cemetery. When she falls into an open grave, Buffy jumps in after her. After an unseen battle, Faith alone emerges from the six foot hole. Back in reality, her eyes explode open as she awakens from her coma. Disoriented, the groggy Faith rips out her IV and wanders down the barren Coma Ward halls. She comes across a teenage visitor who she forces to tell the date and explain what happened on Sunnydale High graduation day. With ambiguous intentions, Faith storms out of the hospital unnoticed by the staff. Meanwhile, alone in Buffy's dorm room, Riley and the Slayer share a tender moment of affection. Riley explains that he is afraid to leave the Initiative, no matter how corrupt they may seem. He feels that without the soldier in him, he's got nothing. Buffy reassures him that he's much more than just a soldier. Meanwhile, at the hospital, doctors and FBI agents search the hospital frantically for the missing Faith. The teenage girl she encountered is found unconscious and badly beaten. The head nurse makes a secretive phone call to an unknown organization telling them to mobilize a team.

Faith wanders the streets of Sunnydale planning her next move. After seeing the bombed out structure that was Sunnydale High, she secretly visits Giles' house. Through the window, she watches Buffy, Xander, Willow, Riley and Giles receive word of her escape. Buffy makes plans to confront Faith before continuing her mission to destroy Adam. With this knowledge, Faith is one step ahead of Buffy and surprises her by showing up on the UC Sunnydale campus while Buffy and Willow chat during a class break. Faith dispenses with the pleasantries and shatters Buffy's hope for peace by announcing her plans for revenge. In the middle of campus, a fast and furious fight ensues that is cut short when the police show up looking for Faith. The Slayer-turned villain takes out both cops on her way out of the situation. Later on, Willow and Tara go on recon around the campus in search of the elusive Faith. Willow describes Faith to Tara as a slutty primadonna who throws around Boston slang like "wicked" and "five by five". Giles and Xander take over the recon that night, armed with the blaster that Riley fixed. Instead of Faith, though, they come across Spike smoking a fag in an alley. When they ask his help in locating Faith, he tells them that when he finds her he'll tell her where they are and then watch her kill them all. He can't believe they would seek his help for nothing in return.

Back at the hospital, a helicopter lands and three mysterious suited men exit to meet with the head nurse. Faith encounters a demon in an alleyway who says he has a package for her from a mutual friend. Instead of inquiring about details, she breaks the demon's neck and opens the package, which contains a video tape. On the tape is the Mayor who explains that if she's watching, it means he's dead. He tells Faith to open the accompanying package. Inside is a bizarre metallic trinket that was forged by an evil accomplice of the Mayor's. He tells her that with the object she's going to go out with a bang.

Buffy and Riley sit in Buffy's dorm room discussing Faith. Buffy explains that Faith is tougher than Riley can imagine. Meanwhile, Faith shows up at Mrs. Summers' house and punches her out. When she comes to, Faith is holding her hostage in her bedroom, while trying on her makeup. Without warning, Buffy comes crashing through the window and tackles the unsuspecting Faith. The two Slayers erupt into a brawl through out Mrs. Summers' house, destroying doors, windows and tables. In the heat of battle, Faith slips the Mayor's metallic token into her palm and grabs Buffy's hand. Feeling its awesome power, the two gladiators are jolted momentarily. As they snap out of it, Buffy throws Faith a right cross that finally puts her down. When Joyce enters, she notices something different and almost evil about her daughter. She doesn't think anything of it when Buffy says she's "five by five".


THOUGHTS: Faith is once again back in Buffy, finally waking up from her coma after being placed there at the end of Season three. The dream sequences she has in the build up to this are wonderful, with The Mayor making a return in these dreams and a psychotic Buffy appearing to stalk her through the dreams themselves. She wakes up and there is a eerie sequence with her leaving the hospital (as well as the final dream image of her in the rain, emerging from the grave Ė Brilliant shot!). Most of the episode is very much in her perspective, with the main cast all acting very much a supporting cast in this episode. The final fight scene with Buffy & Faith is great, taking place back at the Summers residence with a returning Joyce who has been very absent in this season. With that ending of the fight comes a cliff-hanger, which leads into the next part which is a fascinating episode in itself.

RATING: 92% - A



Buffy's always at it's best when Faith is involved. She's such a great foil for Buffy as well as being a superb character thanks to the writing and portrayal. Without doubt my favourite Buffy character. Even more than Willow.



The great thing about Buffy/Faith is that they are two sides of the same coin, and mirror each other very well. I so noticed a lot of lesbian subtext between thw two which is quite fascinating and fun to analyse.





4x16 - Who Are You?

INTRO: Buffy & Faith switch bodies...and it's great.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Police and paramedics are on the scene at the Summers' house, investigating the aftermath of Buffy and Faith's battle. Faith is brought out on a stretcher as a detective thanks Buffy for somehow knocking her unconscious. When he calls Faith a kid though, Buffy becomes defensive and retorts that she's tougher than he thinks. Faith has obviously transferred her spirit into Buffy's body with the Mayor's amulet.Back in the living room, Joyce can't understand why her "daughter" is acting so cold and shallow. She can't even bring herself to hug Joyce. Faith, in her new body, retires to take a bath and explore herself. She looks in the mirror and practices acting as Buffy-like as possible. For the most part she overdoes it though and ends up looking foolish. The real Buffy wakes up in the hospital in Faith's body. When she tries to go save her mother, the police restrain her and load her full of sedatives. Back in Tara's room, she and Willow discuss their "relationship". Willow explains that she hasn't introduced her to her friends yet because she likes to have something that is just hers. Tara reassures her that she is hers. Meanwhile, Faith goes through Buffy's room and tries on her clothes. When she comes across Buffy's wallet, she orders a flight for 10 am the next morning. Joyce informs her that Giles and the gang are waiting to meet her at Giles'. Faith decides she wouldn't mind seeing what her enemies are up to and leaves to head over. The real Buffy is simultaneously waking up again, this time in the backseat of a police car. Suddenly, the police car is rammed by an armored truck and the cops knocked unconscious. The same men who met at the hospital after Faith came out of her coma, jump out of the back of the vehicle. They smash the police car window and drag the girl they think is Faith, out. The stone-faced men inform her that she is under arrest in the name of the Watcher's Council.
Back at Giles' house, Faith enters and greets the unwitting gang. Giles informs them that "Faith" has been extracted to England by a Council Retrieval Team. When Willow announces her repulsion of Faith, Faith does everything she can to act natural and restrain from killing Buffy's friend. That night, Faith takes advantage of her new sexy body, by cutting a rug at the Bronze. She runs into Spike who just assumes it is the same old Buffy. But instead of her normal righteous self, this Buffy rubs against Spike, titillating him. She tells him she could "have him" if she wanted and then leaves him frustrated, angry, and thirsty for revenge. Elsewhere, a group of marauding vampires enter their lair to find Adam waiting for them. When one of them attacks, Adam easily defends himself, tearing the vamp's head clean off. He tells the other four bloodsuckers that he has a plan to help them unite.Under the guard of the Watcher Retrieval Team, Buffy tries to convince the men that she's not Faith. The less-than-professional soldiers just mock and spit on her. Back at the Bronze, Willow and Tara arrive to hang out. Willow sees "Buffy" and decides to finally introduce her to Tara. Faith decides to have a little fun with Tara when Willow leaves them alone to get a drink and mocks the apparent feelings she has for her Wicken companion. Suddenly, Willow returns and points out a vampire leaving the club with an oblivious girl. Faith, forced to act as Buffy would, leaves in pursuit. She slays the vampire in the parking lot with a broken pool cue and helps the girl to her feet. When the shaken young lady thanks her sincerely for saving her life, Faith seems to feel good about it for a split second. When she returns inside, Willow announces that she is taking her friend home because she isn't feeling well. When she mentions Riley, Faith decides to leave too and pay Buffy's boyfriend a visit.
When Willow and Tara arrive at Tara's room, they discuss "Buffy's" behavior. Tara feels that the energy she gave off was fragmented and Buffy couldn't have been her normal self. The two Wickens decide to perform a ritual that opens a passage to the netherworld where Willow could visit Buffy's body on an astral plane and investigate her inner self. Meanwhile, the outer self of Buffy is busy turning Riley on. When Faith gets a little too kinky though, Riley starts to suspect something is wrong with his normally conservative girlfriend. Before he can question her, Faith seals his lips with a more romantic kiss. Later, when they rest in a post coital embrace, Willow and Tara's ritual begins to take effect. Surrounded by a ring of energy, Willow's spirit leaves her body and enters Buffy's. Faith rolls out of bed and questions the other inhabitant of Buffy's body. Riley watches confused as his girlfriend argues with herself schizophrenically. Faith seems to finally suppress Willow's intrusion and return to bed.
In a subterranean cave, Adam lectures to his new pupils. He wants to use his small vampire posse to spread the word of his coming apocalyptic attack on humanity. The next morning, Faith leaves Riley's room before he wakes up. On her way out the door, Forrest confronts her about disturbing Riley while he recovers from his injuries. When he criticizes her profession by calling her a killer, Faith finds herself defending what Buffy does. Confused about why being called a killer offended her, she storms out the door to catch her flight. At the shipyard, Buffy makes a flight of her own. When one of the guards reaches a tranquilizer gun into her room, she grabs it with her feet and kicks the guard in the head. After a couple more slick moves, she jumps into the driver's seat of the armored truck they picked her up in and drives it through the front of the shipyard warehouse. When she shows up at Giles' house in Faith's body, her ex-Watcher is understandably shocked. To prove it is her, Buffy lists things that only she could possibly know about Giles, like the fact that he had sex with her mom. Just then Willow and Tara show up. They show Buffy and Giles a Katra they conjured which is a small, glowing green orb they have in a charm box. Willow explains that all they have to do is bring Buffy and Faith together to employ the Katra which will switch their spirits back to their rightful bodies. Suddenly they notice a breaking newscast on Giles' television. A group of citizens are being held hostage in a church by unknown assailants. At the airport, Faith is watching the same newscast.
Inside the church, the vampires that Adam took under his wing are the ones tormenting the frightened Sunnydale locals. When Faith shows up outside, she runs into Riley who still thinks she is Buffy. When she tells him she wants to go inside and do some slaying, Riley tries to stop her from entering alone. Faith shrugs him off and goes in anyway, driven by some force to help the innocent people inside. She takes on Adam's followers in a grueling fight that rumbles throughout the church. After slaying three of them she is pinned down by the leader. Out of nowhere, Buffy stakes him from behind. But rather than thanking her, Faith attacks Buffy. After a knuckle-splitting flurry, Buffy is able to grab Faith's hand and switch their bodies back with the power of the Katra. Faith, now in her original body, jumps up and runs out of the church. Later, in Riley's room, Buffy explains to him what happened. She is angry to find out that Riley unknowingly slept with Faith, but relieved with the knowledge that she probably won't be returning for a while. Meanwhile, somewhere far away, Faith somberly rides across the countryside in the boxcar of a train she apparently hopped leaving Sunnydale.


THOUGHTS: Who Are You presents a fascinating idea between Buffy & Faith Ė A body switch dilemma. This could easily be an idea poorly executed, but here itís fantastic. With Sarah Michelle Gellar & Eliza Dushku mimicking each other wonderfully, especially Dushku. But there are some issues throughout the episode. There is a very eerie and toxic sequence with a sex scene between Faith & Riley. With Faith in Buffyís body, and Riley lacking the knowledge of the switch, some question whether Faith raped Riley in this scene, as well as violating Buffy in some fashion. It raises some interesting topics of discussion here as to the seriousness of Faithís crime. Also the last act of the episode is quite lacklustre, with the battle being quite weak and not as exciting or dramatic as the last episodeís one. But still, the episode itself is eventful and good to watch.

RATING: 87% - A-





1x16 - The Ring

INTRO: Angel decides to get into the fighting ring in a bid to save demons...for once.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
As Wesley and Cordelia exchange banter, Angel is paid a visit by a strange man, claiming his brother Jack was kidnapped by demons affiliated with a bookie. While Cordy and Wesley consult their demon database, Angel pays a visit to the bookie. The bookie refers him to a place in beechwood canyon. Angel goes to the canyon and gets information from the bookie, then begins investigating an underground fight club. We later learn the man who pays a visit to Angel, is the organizer of the fight club, and Wolfram and Hart is a major sponsor. Angel soon discovers he was set up in a trap. He is expected to fight other slave demons to the death. The next morning, after Cordelia and Wesley get suspicious about Angel's whereabouts, Wesley pays a visit to the bookie and obtains the address of the fight club. That night, Angel kills a demon, but his heart isn't into the battle. Wesley and Cordelia spot him in the ring, and Wesley explains the meaning behind the slave bracelets which Angel and the other demons are wearing. They rush back to AI to find a way to open the bracelets. Meanwhile, Jack pays a visit to Angel and tells him of his disappointment in his fighting and Angel threatens to kill him unless the slaves are set free. His brother decides to kill Jack, rather than agree to Angel's terms. Angel is knocked out, and later wakes up in the offices of Wolfram and Hart. When he finds out the associate from W&H; has ulterior motives, he returns to the fight club and learns his next opponent is Trepkos, the toughest demon in the lot. The next morning, Wesley and Cordelia successfully make a key to unlock the bracelets. That evening, Angel begins to fight Trepkos. The battle is brutal. Cordelia and Wesley break into the slave area with the special key, but it falls into the hands of one of the demons. While Angel and Trepkos continue to fight, the demons set themselves free. After Angel has the opportunity to kill Trepkos, but doesn't take it, Trepkos walks away. The demons burst in and a giant battle ensues. One of the demons slips a bracelet onto the fight's organizer, Trepkos throws him into the air, and he promptly disintegrates. The demons are set free.


THOUGHTS: The Ring is another filler episode of sorts, with some fun little twists & turns throughout the story as well as genuine peril for Angel. For one thing, the circumstances Angel is in are serious and scary, with very little opportunity to escape. The villains in this episode are absolutely horrid, and some of the most despicable in the series so far. Their deaths while satisfying were somewhat anti climatic and would have liked personally to have seen them suffer a lot more. This episode also features the debut of Lilah Morgan, who will be a companion for Lindsay for the rest of Season 1 & 2, before venturing on solo in the rest of the seasons. Truly a delicious villain in many ways.

RATING: 75% - B+





4x17 - Superstar

INTRO: Buffy meets her match, in the form of....Jonathan?

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
At the cemetery, Buffy, Willow, Anya and Xander battle two acrobatic vampires. Buffy manages to stake them both with some help from her friends and decides to check out the tomb they came out of. The gang follows her into the dank chamber where they encounter a nest of vampires feasting on a body. Greatly outnumbered, they decide to retreat before their presence is noticed. Needing help, they go to the one man that can aid them. After walking into a lush mansion, they approach a massive desk and ask the person concealed behind the chair for help. The chair swivels around to reveal Jonathan Levinson, the Sunnydale High geek, looking suave and dangerous. At Giles' house, Buffy, Willow, Xander, Anya, Jonathan and Giles discuss their plan of attack on the vampire nest. Jonathan has all the answers and the group decides they should pretty much stick behind him. When they enter the tomb to do battle, vampires rush at the gang from all sides. Buffy manages to kill two of them but Jonathan emerges as the real hero, dusting vampires right and left with a crossbow while kicking and flipping his way across the room. When the group emerges from the tomb, there's plenty of paparazzi waiting to score a candid photo of the leather-clad Jonathan. When Spike appears on the scene, Jonathan is quick to confront him. With no need to attack the harmless ex-vamp, Jonathan settles for giving him a good tongue-lashing and swaggers off.
That night at Tara's, Willow details the night's action as they make a collage on the wall. Tara is intrigued by Willow's tale and asks how Buffy is doing with Riley since he inadvertently slept with Faith. Willow assures her that they'll get over it as she puts the last cut-out Jonathan head on their tributary collage. Meanwhile, in Riley's room, Buffy and Riley attempt to smooth out their crumbling love life. When Riley tries to give Buffy a kiss, she just can't get Faith out of her head and has to leave. She decides to get some sage advice from Jonathan whom she meets at a diner. Between signing autographs for starstruck fans, Jonathan explains to Buffy that her hang-ups with Riley are in her head. If she wants everything to be alright with him, she needs to let herself love him. Later, Colonel George Haddoway introduces himself at the Initiative Headquarters as the new Commander In Chief until someone else is appointed to take over command. In briefing the soldiers on Adam, he introduces Jonathan to give his perspective. Jonathan, in military fatigues, shows the men a blueprint of Adam's body. He explains that there is a cache of Uranium 235 that will keep him alive forever. Cutting his head off or stabbing him in the heart will not stop him; his body needs to be annihilated.
After the meeting, Jonathan gives Riley some advice on how women want to be treated. He explains to Riley that Buffy needs to be reassured that Faith meant nothing to him and her sexual maturity can't compare to Buffy's sensuality. That night at Jonathan's mansion, a young woman is trying to catch a glimpse of her idol from the backyard with binoculars. Suddenly she is attacked by a bony, wolf-like demon that she barely fends off for the time being. Meanwhile, at the Bronze, Buffy, Riley, Xander, Anya, Willow and Tara enjoy drinks and discuss Jonathan. Suddenly he hits the stage in a white tuxedo and sings a lounge song dedicated to Buffy and Riley. This inspires the troubled couple to reclaim their love for each other. Suddenly Karen, the fan who was attacked by the demon at Jonathan's estate, comes running in having narrowly escaped its slashing claws. The gang takes her back to Jonathan's where she describes it in detail. When she draws a symbol she saw on its head, Jonathan begins acting suspicious. He tells everyone that it is nothing more than an animal from the nearby woods that he will take care of on his own.
Meanwhile, Adam and one of his followers gather information at a house they invaded. When Adam sees Jonathan on television, he tries to explain to his vampire soldier that reality has been changed. Everyone is under a spell except himself because his molecular structure is more in tune with the surrounding world than any human, demon or member of the undead. Across town, when Tara enters her building on her way to bed, she is attacked out of the blue by the same demon that was outside Jonathanös house. She is instantly pinned beneath the howling beast but manages to whip together a spell that shoots dust in its face. With her attacker distracted for a moment, she bolts out from beneath it and bounds into a janitor's closet. A few hours later she is found by a student huddled up in shock, and brought to Willow and Buffy's room. When Buffy comes home, she shows the symbol that Karen drew to the still rattled Tara. Tara states that it was present on the demon's head that attacked her. Buffy begins questioning Jonathan's bizarre lack of compliance to help find the creature and calls a meeting at Giles'. When the gang gets there she explains that it seems impossible that Jonathan has done so many great things, including coaching the US Women's soccer team to an Olympic Gold. She explains a theory that they could be living in an alternate universe that could be created by a spell like the ones Anya used to create. She shows them a photo in a Jonathan Swimsuit Calendar in which the same symbol from the demon is displayed on his back in scar tissue. Suddenly Jonathan walks in and questions their inquisitive glances. When asked about the scar, Jonathan gives a bizarre explanation that seems to satisfy everyone but Buffy. Buffy asks Jonathan to go on patrol with her to put the demonös reign of terror to an end.
At the cemetery, Buffy and Jonathan come across Spike, lurking by a tomb. To extract information from him, Buffy threatens to put an embargo on the butchers that supply Spike with blood. The reluctant Spike discloses the location of a vampire lair that was recently invaded by something powerful. Knowing that this is probably the handywork of their demon, the Slayer and the hero leave in pursuit. Meanwhile, back at Giles', Willow finds Jonathan's symbol in one of the Watcher's medieval tomes. It says that the bearer of the symbol has performed an augmentation spell, affecting how everyone perceives him or her. She immediately figures out that Jonathan must have used it to make himself a para-god. It continues that, with the spell, comes a force of evil to counter the power of its conjurer. The only way to end the spell is to kill its evil spawn. It dawns on them that the demon Buffy and Jonathan are after is obviously the spinoff of the augmentation spell and Jonathan will probably do anything he can to prevent it from being destroyed. Meanwhile, in the cavernous lair that Spike pointed them to, Buffy and Jonathan come across the demon. Rather than helping it kill Buffy, Jonathan realizes that the charade is going to hurt people he actually cares about and helps her fight it. When it has Buffy on the edge of a vast pit, Jonathan attempts to sacrifice himself, tackling the demon into the pit. At the last second Buffy catches his ankle as the demon plummets into darkness and Jonathan is returned to his normal self.
The next day the gang sits on the front lawn of campus, marveling at the fact that they have full memory of worshipping the high school twerp. When Jonathan shows up to apologize, Buffy explains that people aren't necessarily as mad at him for creating a demon that endangered lives, but for treating them as sock puppets in his game. Jonathan leaves remorseful, but before he does he tells Buffy that he did mean what he said about letting herself love Riley. That night, as Buffy and Riley sink into a passionate kiss, their relationship is restored.


THOUGHTS: Superstar is another fun episode in the Buffy series. One that takes the idea of male fantasy and plays around with it. Jonathan takes centre stage in this episode (as well as the opening credits also) and has the cool factor to him, while in turn decreasing Buffyís power. The gags are relentless and so good to watch, with all the extra props used to convey Jonathanís influence and popularity throughout. It also immediately picks up from Who Are You? With a sort of hungover factor to it, whilst Buffy & Riley try to move on from those episodeís events. Itís a strong episode with a lot of fun to it, as well as teasing what is to come for Jonathan in later seasons.

RATING: 91% - A





1x17 - Eternity

INTRO: Eternity deals with the theme of immortality and status, and allows us just briefly to see an enemy that will always linger in Angel's shadow.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Angel saves an Actress from getting run over by a car. She's impressed that he has never heard of her & goes to see him about some scary fan letters (a la "The Bodyguard"). She soon discovers that he is a vampire. Turns out, the whole stalker thing was a ploy for media attention to get an upcoming TV role. It doesn't work, though, she loses the part because she's too old- (a la Hollywood) then the idea sparks. Who's gonna live forever- young & beautiful. To induce Angel into making the blood exchange, she slips him a drug (a la Robert Downey, Jr.)- to make him happy. Of course- as Cordelia likes to constantly remind everyone- when Angel gets happy, bad things happen. Angelus is awakened. Wesley figures out that because this isn't "true happiness"- it's just a temporary chemical effect- it'll wear off. However, that good news still doesn't save the actress & the rest of the Angel Investigations team from Angel's current high. After saying some hurtful stuff to Wesley & Cordelia, Angelus is knocked out. Wes & Cor chain Angelus up until he's Angel again. & oh, for an hour or so after he's Angel again.


THOUGHTS: Eternity is much more morally grey here than any of the other Angel episodes. For one, itís themes of eternal youth and fame are twisted here to create a guest character who feels frustrated yet addicted to her celebrity status, an addiction heightened when she comes across Angel. This in turn sees two significant persons return to the show. The first is the agent guy we saw in the pilot who complimented on Angelís beauty. How in this episode, he comes across more manipulative and unpleasant, disintegrating all the charm and sophistication inherited from his other appearance. And the second is the brief return of Angelus, thanks to a happy pill. It makes the final act so much more intense and scary, and at the same time, making this episode all the more memorable.

RATING: 83% - A-





4x18 - Where The Wild Things Are

INTRO: I'm well aware that in some circles, this is regarded as one of the worst episodes in Buffy. But if I'm frank, I really enjoy this episode despite its subject matter.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
While on patrol, Buffy and Riley tag-team a vampire in the cemetery. Suddenly a blue, horned demon joins the vampire to form a tag-team of its own. While Riley serves the vampire a stake, Buffy makes fast work of the howling demon. Afterwards, Buffy and Riley are too turned on from fighting to report back to Giles. They choose instead to head over to Riley's for some "tension relief". Later that night, Riley wanders through the Initiative house, driven by an unknown obsession. When he arrives in the bathroom and turns off the dripping shower, he can finally go back to bed. The next afternoon, an ice cream truck pulls up to a curb in a quiet neighborhood. Behind the wheel is Xander, with Anya riding shotgun to keep her boyfriend company on his new job. Anya begins questioning his virility because Xander wasn't in the mood for sex the night before. The defensive Xander tells her that he'll have sex with her right then and there in the back of the van. When he starts unbuttoning his shirt, the only thing that stops Xander's kink is the fact that ten children and a parent waiting for ice cream are staring at him. Meanwhile, Buffy, Riley, Willow, Tara and Giles meet in a study room. They discuss the bizarre pairing of demon and vampire in the previous night's battle. Giles explains the rarity of an alliance between these opposing members of the undead. Before their discussion can get too theoretical, Buffy and Riley's hormones force them to leave for a pre-class quickie. Again that night, back in Riley's room, the horny couple copulates while other members of the Initiative stoke a fire in the living room downstairs. As Buffy and Riley's passion reaches a crescendo, a fireball erupts out of the fireplace and engulfs one of the unwitting soldiers. Forrest is barely able to smother the flames with a wall banner before his friend is seriously burned.
The next night, Anya walks through downtown Sunnydale when Spike jumps out of an alley and grabs her. He tries to scare her into giving him money but Anya is far from frightened. When Spike asks why she isn't with Xander, he has obviously hit a sore spot with her. Over at the Initiative house, the young militia throws a raging party packed with college kids, including Buffy and her friends. Willow asks Xander where Anya is and he tells her that he just isn't in the mood for his girlfriend tonight. Meanwhile, Anya is at the Bronze having drinks with Spike. They both reminisce about the days when they had the power to make people do whatever they wanted. Tortured with thoughts of Drucilla and Xander respectively, they wish they were still evil enough to maim them both. Back at the party, one of the soldiers tries out some sleazy lines on a girl he's hitting on. When he puts his hand on the wall, an orgasmic sensation rushes through his body. After getting the girl to do it, he starts getting his friends to touch mysterious spot. Meanwhile downstairs, Xander flirts with an attractive girl named Julia, who digs his sense of humor. On the stairway, Willow and Tara discuss horseback riding. When Willow puts her hand on Tara's knee, Tara stands up disgusted and tells her to get away. The confused Willow tries to apologize but Tara runs into the bathroom. Just then, Anya and Spike show up at the party. Xander walks up and expresses his anger at Anya for trying to make him jealous. When Spike pokes fun at Anya's distressed boyfriend, Xander announces the arrival of Hostile 17 to the party. When none of the Initiative pay any heed to the scene, Spike realizes that they don't recognize him anymore and heads in to mix it up. Anya has had enough of Xander and breaks up with him on the spot. The infuriated couple goes their separate ways to enjoy their newfound single life. When Xander sees Julia in a spin the bottle game, he decides to join in. On his first try, the bottle lands on Julia who he gives a little peck on the cheek. Julia grabs Xander in a bizarre fit of passion and starts sucking on his face. When she snaps out of it and releases the liplock, she runs into a bathroom embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Willow enters the bathroom that Tara ran into. The room is empty, but when she opens the shower curtain, she finds a little boy drowning himself in the tub. As Willow grabs a hold of him, he disappears. When she turns around, the pasty-faced boy is standing there staring at her. Downstairs the bottle from the spin the bottle game starts spinning like a top until it explodes. While these bizarre events unfold throughout the house, Buffy and Riley's love-making grows more and more intense. Xander, Willow and Tara all meet up and run to Riley's room to get Buffy. The door is entwined by living roots that grow and multiply sporadically. Suddenly, the house is rocked by an intense earthquake that causes the party-goers to flee. One girl runs right at Anya but passes through her like a ghost. Forrest and another soldier jump in the hidden Initiative elevator and head for the underground base to find out what is going on. Xander, Willow, Tara and Anya all regroup outside the front door of the house. The earthquake has stopped and the house is now deserted. When Xander tries to rush back in to find Buffy, he is ejected by an invisible force. The gang decides they need Giles to tell them what's going on. They rush to the coffee house where Giles told them he would be spending some adult time. When they arrive, they are shocked to find him in the center of the room, entertaining people with a song on his guitar.
Back at Giles', Willow finds an old newspaper article detailing the use of the Initiative house as an orphanage back in the 50's. When they discover that the Mistress of the house, Mrs. Holt, is still living in Sunnydale, they decide to pay her a visit. The sweet old lady that begins telling them about her "children" turns out to have a deep rooted psychosis. Apparently she would punish the children for, what she considered, their impure hormonal thoughts. To cleanse the girls she would cut their hair off and to cleanse the boys she would hold them underwater in the bath. After Giles gives Mrs. Holt an earful for emotionally damaging children, the group storms out. In the hallway, Giles explains to them that whatever is going on at the house is a result of the energy released from the deep emotional trauma and spiritual damage to the children. The people they were seeing, like the girl who ran through Anya and the boy in the bathtub, were poltergeists rather than ghosts. They were released by the damage done to the children's souls so many years ago. The anomaly must have been caused by the intense sexual energy of Riley and Buffy lately. Giles explains that since Riley and Buffy are the catalyst, they will die if the poltergeist leaves before their sexual energy runs out.
Tara takes Willow and Giles to her room to conjure a spell that will distract the poltergeists. This will buy Xander and Anya enough time to find Riley and Buffy. While the two Wickens and the Watcher concentrate, the poltergeists of the children suddenly appear around them. This allows Xander and Anya access to the house through the front door. As they make their way up the vine-covered staircase towards Riley's room, Willow, Tara and Giles lose the spell and the children disappear. Xander and Anya are instantly thrown from the staircase to the living room below. Xander's body is dragged through space to the bathroom. He is thrown into the bathtub and held underwater as the children appear around the tub looking in at him. Anya picks herself up and charges back into the vines, even as one tears through her hand. She fights her way to the bathroom and pulls Xander out of the water. Together they rush back into the living vines and battle their way through. The vines coil around them and slash at their faces like a snake pit. When they finally reach Riley's door and smash it open, Buffy and Riley separate to cover their naked bodies. This severing of the sexual coupling instantly evicts the poltergeist and causes everything to turn back to normal. The next day in the cafeteria, Riley and Buffy explain that some supernatural force was driving them to constantly make love and they had no idea what was going on outside the room. When Willow says how horrible that must have been, Riley and Buffy share a glance of disagreement.


THOUGHTS: Where The Wild Things Are is all about sex. Nothing more, nothing less. It also goes for another take on the Haunted House format, done previously in Fear Itself. Only here, I think its done fairly better or more fun. Based around the context of sex, this in turn makes it quite a controversial episode, but I like it none the less. I find it at times quirky, awkward and fun to watch all the silly reactions to things like walls that can cause orgasms and what not. Thereís also Riley & Buffyís never ending sex session which is the centre of the episodeís continuing hauntings within the house. Another few things to add is the reveal of Willowís crush on Giles which I found so cute to watch, as well as Gilesís singing in the cafť. I do like this episode, though I can understand some to be quite taken aback and not enjoying it as much as others. But itís a plus for me either way.

RATING: 87% - A-





4x19 - New Moon Rising

INTRO: Oz returns for what will be his final appearance in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (no, he doesn't go to Angel), in what I believe to be a far superior episode than Wild at Heart ever was.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Willow and Tara stroll through campus and discuss getting a pet cat that they would share. As they hold hands, their smiles indicate that they feel perfectly comfortable with one another. They meet Buffy, Riley, Anya and Xander at Giles' house to discuss demon activity. They can't explain why Buffy is finding almost zero activity on her patrols. Giles thinks that Adam must have something to do with it, but their discussion is cut short when the door swings open to reveal Oz. Without any explanation as to where he's been, he tells Willow that he'll meet her at her place later to talk. When Tara sees how speechless Willow is, she decides to leave herself. That night on patrol, Buffy and Riley come across a tentacle-headed demon that they make short work of. Afterwards, Buffy tries to explain to Riley the complications of Willow and Oz's relationship. When he finds out Oz is a werewolf, he asks why Willow would be stupid enough to fall for someone who tries to eat her once a month. Buffy is appalled and calls him a bigot for being insensitive to the complications of love. Meanwhile, Oz shows up at Willow's room. He brings her outside and points to the sky. Willow looks up to see a full moon. She hugs him joyously and asks what he did to change back to a human. He tells her that he'll explain later, he has something more important to discuss. Since Xander told him that Willow doesn't have another guy, Oz was hoping he could try to mend their severed love for each other.
Out in the cemetery, three members of the Initiative are attacked by a fast-moving enemy that manages to floor them instantly. Before it takes off, one of the men looks up to see that it is a werewolf. The next morning, after talking all night, Oz gives Willow a blanket he acquired on his world travels. He explains that in Tibet he met a Warlock that trained him how to quell the werewolf within him and be free of its full moon powers. Oz invites Willow to sleep next to him for a while, but Willow decides she would rather go to a more friendly breakfast. While she freshens up in the bathroom, Tara comes to the door. When Oz answers, she decides to leave and come back later. Meanwhile, in Riley's room, Buffy wakes up still upset about Riley's comments the night before. She tries to explain to him that there are different variations of demons and believe it or not, some are good. Riley is beginning to understand her when Forrest shows up. He announces that Willys died and Graham can barely walk after the werewolf attack. Buffy goes home to find Willow sitting on her bed alone. She asks how it went with Oz and Willow tells her it's complicated. Without saying it outright, she announces her romantic feelings for Tara. Buffy at first feels weird about her friend's new revelation, but is quickly supportive. Meanwhile, Spike wakes up in a tomb with Adam standing over him. After punching him in the stomach to no avail, Spike realizes Adam has him beat. The human-demon hybrid explains to Spike that he has come to help him. Back at UC Sunnydale, Willow shows up at Tara's and tells her that nothing happened between her and Oz the night before. Tara says she'll stay friends with her no matter what happens. Willow tearfully embraces her, confused about just who she wants to be with.
When Oz runs into Tara later in the halls, he tells her he's coming back to school. Before Tara can excuse herself, Oz smells Willow on her. His werewolf instincts tell him instantly that they are emotionally involved in some way. As Oz gets angry, he suddenly begins to transform into a wolf. Before it takes his body over completely, he warns her to run. Tara ducks into an empty lecture hall with Oz in wolf form, hot on her heels. As he lunges at her something knocks him out of the air. Riley, Forrest and other members of the Initiative rush in, having just shot Oz with a tranquilizer. Before Tara can explain to them that it's a human, they haul it back to the base. Back at the tomb, Adam offers to remove the chip from Spike's head if he helps him get to Buffy. He just has to help them out a few times to build their trust, and then set them up for a trap. Meanwhile, everyone meets at Giles' to come up with a plan to liberate Oz. In the headquarters of the Initiative, Oz wakes up trapped in a steel cage. He is put back to sleep and wakes up again strapped to an operating table. As Initiative scientists run tests on him, Riley tries to convince them to take it easy. He is finally escorted out of the room for his sympathies. When an electric shock turns Oz back into a werewolf instantly, they determine that negative stimulation causes his transformation. Back at Giles', Buffy decides to infiltrate the headquarters with Xander and Willow. Suddenly Spike shows up and announces that he can show them the back way into the compound. Meanwhile, Oz wakes up naked in a cell, bruised and beaten from the tests. In an unexpected turn, Riley shows up and gives him some clothes. As they try to escape, a squad led by Forrest stops them before they can even get up the stairway.
Riley is put in a cell and approached by a Colonel. He tells his soldier that ever since he started going out with the Slayer, it has made him a traitor. The Colonel tells him that if he doesn't help the Initiative take out Buffy and all of her friends he will go to the grave in disgrace. Meanwhile, Anya and Giles cut the power to UC Sunnydale, including the Initiative compound, while Spike shows Buffy, Xander and Willow the secret entrance. They catch the sleeping Colonel off guard and force him to lead them to Riley and Oz's cells. By using him as a hostage, they are able to march right through the compound and release their friends. Back outside, Riley and Buffy go to the bombed out remains of Sunnydale High for shelter. When Riley admits he was wrong about Oz, Buffy tells him there's more he needs to know. She begins the complicated task of explaining her relationship with Angel. Meanwhile, Oz tries to sort things out with Willow in his van. The only thing that can make him upset enough to turn into a werewolf is her. Since Willow is happy with Tara, he knows that the best thing for both of them is if he takes off again. They share a tearful embrace and Willow leaves. She shows up at Tara's room with a candle to light the still powerless dorm room. To Tara's shock, Willow tells her that Oz is gone and they can finally be together uninhibited. As Willow blows out the candle, the two Wickens embrace.


THOUGHTS: New Moon Rising for me is a better swansong for Oz than Wild at Heart was. For one, itís just a much more entertaining and intriguing episode to go through, and it fits better as a farewell to Oz, not feeling anticlimactic and sudden. Everything with Oz/Willow/Tara is great with Willow struggling so hard to decide her future, and avoiding any dangerous conflict. Itís good stuff and poor Tara is hurt, confused and unsure of herself as a result. The farewell scene is significant and nicer than the one in Wild at Heart, with both characters more secure in themselves and complete. Itís a lovely farewell to Oz as a character, and allows Willow to move on. The Subplot with Riley is underwhelming for me, portraying him to be a bit of a moron and Buffy is just given such lame stuff to do in this episode as a result.

RATING: 81% - A-





1x18 - Five by Five

INTRO: Faith is back! And this time she's in LA for the second half of her four-episode guest stint, following her body switch on Buffy. And this is things really change for her.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Cordelia's visions lead Angel to a gang member who Angel takes to testify against some no-doubt evil guy who is represented by Wolfram & Hart. So Wolfram & Hart decide to get some revenge. Upon finding out that the rogue slayer, Faith, is in L.A. reeking bruises on the populous, the firm offers the girl cash for the kill. Faith agrees after hearing who they want her to ax. Faith attempts to kill Angel a few times, telling Angel that they are playing a game. When he doesn't want to play, Faith kidnaps Wesley. After a round of torturing, even Wesley, who beforehand had insisted that Faith was good underneath, gives up on Faith. Angel enters and a fight ensues, after a few rounds of Faith not killing Angel, Angel figures out what Faith really wants and refuses to give it to her. When Angel refuses to kill Faith in the fight, Faith starts breaking down- crying "I'm bad" and "please just kill me". Wesley who had broken free and obtained a knife, drops the knife upon seeing this, and Angel then holds on to Faith as she cries.


THOUGHTS: The first of a truly memorable two parter and it continues from Who Are You? With Faith arriving in LA, making an impact with the very first scene. A real air of eeriness and danger that would spill over the entire episode. Wolfram & Hart hire her to take out Angel, therefore really starting a war with the vampire with the whole city as the battleground. And with Faith, she goes all out to get under the vampireís skin. Taking out Cordelia with a elbow to the face, and kidnapping Wesley to torture given how he treated her in Buffy Season 3. With that comes a truly terrific final act, with Angel & Faith brawling all over the apartment Faith is residing in, down into the rainy alleyway. Itís terrific, with epic fight chorography and emotion right to the very end of the episode. The final image is truly iconic, and one that becomes a key moment for Faith in her long term character arc.

RATING: 98% - A





1x19 - Sanctuary

INTRO: Part two of the Faith two-parter may be better than Five by Five, in that the storm passes and the aftermath begins.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below

This episode picks up where the last one left off. Angel takes Faith back to his place & tries to get her to understand that it's not going to easy changing & that she can never truly make up for what she's done- but by going through a lifetime of guilt she will save her soul. Buffy comes in, having heard that Faith was in LA, & isn't happy that Angel's helping Faith. Faith tries to apologize, but Buffy doesn't let her. Angel steps in, trying to get Buffy to understand that Faith doesn't need this now. Buffy hits Angel, so Angel hits back. Meanwhile, Cordelia has taken a paid vacation & Wesley is out playing some darts as The Watcher's Council Special Operations Unit show & offer Wesley reinstatement into the Council in exchange for Faith. Although Wesley has faith that Angel knows what he's doing with Faith, Wesley goes along with the Council guys in order to warn Angel that they are coming. They show just after Buffy arrives &, because Buffy has been up against these killers before (when she was in Faith's body), she helps take care of them. Buffy & Faith end up on the roof yelling about the past. Buffy yells that Faith tried to take everything away from her & that she believed in Faith more than anyone. & Faith counters that with that, on the other side of the rivalry, Faith just felt pain, hate, & inadequacy- which was hell. Then the Watcher's Council guys come in & start shooting- one of them in a helicopter. Angel jumps up to the helicopter & takes that guy out. When it's over, Faith is gone. Meanwhile, Kate, the cop, has taken to some of the more supernatural cases, & therefore has assigned herself to Faith's case. When Wolfram & Hart can't kill Faith or Angel, they go to Kate & tell her where to find the wanted girl. Kate shows up as Angel gets off the helicopter & Kate arrests him for aiding & abetting. Buffy & Wesley go with Angel down to the police station & they all see what's already there: Faith, who confesses to what she's done. Afterward, Buffy & Angel argue & Angel tells Buffy that she can't be doing this vengeance crap in his town, because here it's about redemption. Faith, right now, isn't Buffy's business. In response, Buffy hits Angel with that she's in love with someone new. The episode ends with Wesley & Angel talking about how now Faith has a chance to find peace.


THOUGHTS: Following the action packed Five by Five, Sanctuary is the aftermath and a brilliant one at that, literally beginning perhaps half an hour after the events of Five by Five. Everything is calm, the air of chaos passed, and the bruises beginning to sting on all sides. I love it. I love Faithís shock, Angel taking charge of the situation, and Cordelia & Wesleyís reluctance to help. It all plays very well, and Wesley gets torn between his former life and his current set up with Angel. With that comes other characters into the situation: Kate Lockley who follows up on Faithís previous crimes when she discovers she is in LA; Wolfram & Hart who are frustrated with Faithís sudden change of conscious; and Buffy, who has unfinished business with Faith after Who Are You? With all these elements, it builds to a very dramatic last act with helicopters, guns, and a showdown of absolute epic proportions. And finally, in the end of it all, Faith finally does the right thing. Truly brilliant and a highlight of the season, and one of my personal favourite episodes that finally establishes Angel in his own right.

RATING: 100% - A+





4x20 - The Yoko Factor

INTRO: Three more episodes left of Season Four and this has a lot of surprises - Spike teaming with Adam, The Scobbies falling out, and Angel Vs Riley of course!!!

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
Colonel MacNamara talks about Riley's defection with an unidentified military or government official over a live video link. To the Colonel's surprise, the man in the video monitor wants to get Riley back, and Buffy may be the key. Meanwhile, Spike warns Adam about the threat that the Slayer brings, but Adam only welcomes the challenge as part of his 'plan.' He convinces Spike to distract Buffy's friends so that Buffy will have to fight alone when his plan comes to its fruition. Spike happily agrees. After a physically and emotionally exhausting trip to LA, Buffy returns to her dorm room to find it empty. Meanwhile, Xander visits Riley at the burned out remains of Sunnydale High to drop off some clothes and offer some human companionship. In true Xander form, he inadvertently lets Riley know the facts behind Angel's curse, and the fact that Angel and Buffy had sex to set the curse off. Riley doesn't take the news well, despite Xander's attempts to comfort him.
Back at his house, Giles is deep into a solo rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" when Spike suddenly announces his presence. Spike offers to steal files with information about Adam from the Initiative in exchange for amnesty from the stake and a large amount of cash. Giles agrees to the offer, but Spike will only take the word of the Slayer, not a retired librarian who is no longer a respected authority figure. As Spike leaves, Giles lets Spike's words sink in and wallows in feelings of inadequacy. Tara and Willow discuss future class schedules and living arrangements in Tara's dorm room. As Willow decides on taking a chance on Drama class, Tara asks Willow where she plans on living next year. Willow expresses her doubts about living with Buffy the following year. The next morning, Riley shows up at Buffy's door in Xander's clothes. The two share an uncomfortable moment when Riley inquires about Buffy's trip to LA. When Riley figures out that Buffy is not ready to talk about it with him, he leaves abruptly. Meanwhile, Xander and Anya bring Spike some supplies to help him break into the Initiative. Spike uses some fake rumors about joining the Army to get into Xander's head, and before long, Spike has Xander believing that his friends think of him as a useless member of the group.
On patrol later in the day, Buffy runs into Forrest outside the mouth of a cave. The two reluctantly agree to patrol the cave together after Forrest expresses his dislike for Buffy. Just as Forrest accuses Buffy of ruining Riley's military career and Buffy learns that she may have been Riley's first serious Girlfriend, Adam interrupts their growing squabble. Adam quickly proves to be too much for both of them, and kills Forrest when he tries to fight back. Realizing she is outmatched, Buffy runs out of the cave, but falls in her haste and knocks herself unconscious on some rocks outside the cave. Later that night, Spike delivers the 'stolen' disks to Giles' house. He gives the disks to Willow to encode and demands his money from Giles, who is well into a drinking binge after Spike's last pep talk. Spike immediately moves in on Willow, telling her that Buffy and Xander have been talking about her and Tara's relationship as a just a phase in Willow's "trendy" behavior. Willow is noticeably distracted from her work decoding the encrypted disk, and begins to doubt her friends' loyalty and honesty.
Back at the Initiative, Colonel MacNamara and another officer discuss the overcrowded state of the Initiative's holding cells when an emergency call for help comes over the radio. Riley intercepts the mayday call on his radio and goes to the scene to help the endangered soldiers, only to find that Angel is the culprit. The two engage in an acrobatic fight when Angel expresses his intent to see Buffy, but both fugitives must flee the scene when backup from the Initiative finally arrives. When a bruised and beaten Buffy returns to her dorm room, she receives an unexpected visitor in Angel. Before Angel can explain the purpose of his visit, Riley bursts into the room wielding a pistol. As Buffy tries to make sense of the situation, Angel and Riley exchange childish quips and blows until Buffy shoves them apart, threatening to put them both in the hospital if they continue bickering. She and Angel step out into the hall and Angel explains that he came to Sunnydale to apologize for leaving things on such a bad note in LA. After a moment of mutual understanding that their lives have naturally separated, Angel leaves, but not before expressing his disapproval of Riley. Amused, Buffy returns to a distraught and confused Riley.
Spike returns to Adam's lair, drunk in his apparent success of breaking up the Scooby Gang. When Adam questions the level of Spike's success, Spike makes the analogy of the "Yoko factor." He explains that everyone blamed Yoko Ono for breaking up The Beatles, when in actuality, they just naturally grew apart, just as the Scooby Gang is. Feeling that he has fulfilled his part of the agreement, Spike asks for the chip to be removed from his head, but Adam has one more thing in mind for Spike. Back in Buffy's room, Buffy tries to explain the purpose of Angel's visit and Riley expresses his true love to Buffy, regardless of her past with Angel. After reaching an understanding, Buffy tells Riley about Forrest's death at the hands of Adam. Back at Giles' house, Spike's plan starts to take effect. As Willow, Tara, Giles, Xander, Anya and Buffy try to figure out how to face Adam, everyone's insecurities and suspicions about the rest of the group begin to surface. Minor accusations and old fears turn into a huge venting session, and Buffy eventually storms out of the room claiming that she doesn't need her friends anymore. Spike's plan is successful - the Scooby Gang has broken up. Back at Adam's lair, Adam receives a welcome visitor who he has been expecting: Riley.


THOUGHTS: I think The Yoko Factor is solid, yet lacks the real tension that most episodes do to build up finales. You get Angel showing up for post Sanctuary awkward talk following the conclusion of that episode. He has a bout with Riley which is fun, as Riley ends up acting like a doofus due to that situation. On the other side is Spike, helping with Adam to lure Buffy into a deadly trap by manipulating the scoobies in various ways, causing them all to fall out as a result. Clever and well executed by Spike, as it culminates in a fun argument scene with the gang. Despite that being said, the episode overall feels very jumbled and all over the place, with several plot threads just mashing together without any thread, so it all just comes across very cluttered and messy as a result.

RATING: 76% - B+





4x21 - Primeval

INTRO: Primeval is in many ways the unofficial finale, tying up all the season four arcs an episode early, with the initiative & adam arcs all concludng in spectacular fashion.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
While Buffy visits an empty Sunnydale High School, Riley wonders why he has paid a visit to Adam's lair. While referring to Riley as his brother, Adam explains that Professor Walsh implanted a behavior modification chip in Riley's central nervous system, and that he has activated to carry out his 'plan.' When Riley professes his intent to stop Adam, Adam tells Riley to sit, and Riley dutifully carries out his order. Adam continues to explain that Professor Walsh planned for Adam and Riley to be part of a master race that is better than both demons and humans. Spike makes an uninvited entrance, demanding the chip be removed from his head. Adam tells him that he must draw Buffy into the Initiative before he has met his part of the bargain. His plan is to have Buffy kill as many demons as possible before he kills her. Riley tries to voice his real opinion, but is quickly silenced by the behavior chip when Adam orders him to stop talking. When Spike realizes that there might be a hole in his plan to separate the Scooby Gang, he leaves Adam's lair to correct the situation. Willow and Tara stop by Giles' house to pick up her laptop and the disks, and Willow shares an awkward moment with a hung-over Giles. With the previous night's events, none of them know what to say, and their exchange seems like the beginning of a long goodbye.

Buffy sits alone in her dorm room, thinking about the night before. She gets up and finds an old picture of Willow, Xander and herself, and has a quiet moment of reflection before assembling her weapons for the battle to come. Over in Xander's basement, Anya arrives to find Xander still lying in bed. Xander won't go to the unemployment office because he has been thinking about what Buffy and Willow had said the night before, and he is coming to believe that he is a loser with no future. Anya lies down beside him and tells him that no matter what his friends think of him, she still loves him. Buffy returns to the cave where Adam killed Forrest and finds Adam's lair, but Adam is not there. Adam, meanwhile, leads Riley into a secret area of the Initiative where he says the new race will begin. He tells Riley that Professor Walsh hid her secrets very well. Riley is shocked to see a scared, but re-animated Professor Walsh limp over to assist a re-animated Dr. Angleman operate on a body in the corner of the vast underground space. Realizing that Adam has killed Walsh and Angleman as part of his plan, he fears that Adam has the same planned for him. Just as Adam assures Riley that his fate is much greater than Walsh's and Angleman's, Forrest sits up from the operating table, brought back to life with a face made partly of yellow demon skin.

Still patrolling the caves, Buffy runs into Spike, who inquires about the information on the disks that he gave to Willow. When Buffy tells him that they haven't been decoded, Spike tells her that even though they have had a falling out, they should still concentrate on decoding the disks. Knowing that Spike wasn't around to see their "falling out," Buffy begins to put things together. Just as Buffy begins to realize Spike's plan, Willow gets closer to decoding the disks in Tara's dorm room. Just before Willow has figured out how to break the code, the disks begin decoding themselves, spitting out information about the Room 314 Objective. As the disks decode, Buffy calls on the phone. Soon after, Buffy, Willow, Giles and Xander all meet in the middle of campus. Buffy explains to them that Spike instigated their battle of words by spreading rumors to each one of them individually. While they all realize that Spike had tricked them into their squabble, the doubts about the strength of their friendship remain. After an uncomfortable moment of silence, Buffy figures out that Adam was planning on releasing demons in the Initiative to kill the soldiers, then using Spike to lure her in to kill the demons, leaving him with hundreds of parts with which to build his new race of human-demon hybrids. When Xander asks if Adam is worried that Buffy will get in the way of his plan, Buffy realizes for the first time that Adam may be too powerful to fear her.

Back in the secret Initiative lab, Riley sits bound in a chair, while Professor Walsh prepares him for his 'operation.' When he tries to talk to her, Forrest informs Riley that she is merely a walking corpse, but that he is more alive than he has ever been, and that Riley will be joining them soon. As Riley tries to tell him that they will never control him, Professor Walsh injects him with a clear liquid. Back at Giles' house, Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles try to figure out how to defeat Adam. Willow suggests casting a spell to paralyze Adam, but the spell must be recited in Sumerian by an accomplished wicca in close proximity to the subject. Xander sarcastically surmises that they need someone with the strength and speed of Buffy, the magic expertise of Willow, and the linguistic skills of Giles. To Xander's surprise, Giles tells him that's exactly what they need. While they break into the Initiative house, Giles explains to Buffy, Xander and Willow that while an "enjoining" spell is powerful enough to defeat Adam, it is also very dangerous.

As Buffy and Willow rappel down the elevator shaft into the Initiative compound, Buffy apologizes to Willow for what she had said. She tells Willow that she has been too wrapped up in her own life lately to be a good friend. Willow apologizes for keeping Tara a secret from Buffy and everybody else, and as the two embrace, they fall to bottom of the shaft. Xander follows them down, and when he lands, they gleefully embrace Xander, and tell him that they missed him. For the first time in a long while, the Scooby Gang is happy to be together, and ready to do battle. But when they pry the doors to the initiative open, they are greeted by a bevy of soldiers wielding guns. Adam and Spike watch Buffy and the gang being escorted through the halls by Initiative soldiers on closed circuit TV. When Adam sees that Buffy's friends are still with her, he orders Forrest to honor his agreement with Spike to remove the chip by tearing off his head. Spike puts his cigarette out in Forrest's eye, and narrowly escapes a gruesome death.

In the Initiative control room, Buffy tries to tell Colonel MacNamara that Adam is planning an attack from within his own compound, from a secret lab built for the 314 Project. Unaware of any of these activities, the Colonel tells her that every inch of the compound is under surveillance, and that a tic couldn't get in without him knowing about it. Just as he professes his control over the situation, the power goes out, and a soldier at the controls informs everyone that backup generators are not responding, locking them all in the compound. From his secret control room, Adam opens the containment units, and the demons immediately pounce on two unlucky Initiative doctors. Buffy urges the Colonel to let her go and escape with his men, but he orders his men to take the infirmary and leaves two men to keep Buffy and the Scooby Gang under arrest. Buffy immediately dispenses of the two soldiers, and Willow takes the reigns at the control console. As they look into the monitor, they see the fierce battle going on throughout the Initiative compound. Blood and carnage are everywhere as the demons massacre the doctors and soldiers. Amidst the melee, Spike suddenly returns to his old self, the behavior chip somehow disabled. In a flash of fury, Spike manhandles a small battalion of demons en route to his escape from the compound. Back in the contol room, Willow uses the schematics of the compound to try and find a way out. Instead she finds a system of air ducts that supposedly lead to nowhere. Buffy speculates that the air ducts must lead to Adam's secret lab, so the Scooby gang sets out to find it.

Armed with only stun gun, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles run through the main operations room of the Initiative, knocking demons out of their way right and left. Willow narrowly misses being shot by a panicking Initiative soldier, and Xander saves Buffy by blasting a demon with the stun gun. Miraculously, they make it through the explosive battle unscathed, and enter into a small laboratory. They move a cabinet in the corner to reveal a secret door that leads to Adam's secret lab. Buffy pauses at the door and tells Willow to barricade the door behind her. Xander tells Buffy that he is still uneasy about Buffy going in alone, but Buffy assures him that with the magic spell, she will not be going in alone. With that, Buffy goes in, and Willow barricades the door. When Buffy enters the secret lab, she finds Riley bound in his chair. She asks Riley to tell her what is going on, but he is unable to speak. Adam comes out from the shadows and orders Forrest, Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman to kill Buffy. Forrest grabs Buffy from behind and Walsh approaches with a medical saw.

In the other room, Willow, Xander and Giles perform the enjoining spell as Buffy breaks free from Forrest and sends Professor Walsh to the floor with a swift kick. Buffy tries to take Forrest out, but Adam has made him too powerful and he throws her to the floor, breaking a bottle on the arm of Riley's chair. As Forrest wails on Buffy, Riley grabs a piece of the glass and cuts into his chest, painfully beginning to remove the behavior modification chip. As the spell in the other room progresses, Buffy gains some momentum, which is quickly crushed by Forrest, who slams her down onto an operating table and holds her down. On her way down, she breaks an electric cable coming down from the ceiling. As Walsh and Angleman approach Buffy, Riley rips the behavior chip from his body and gets up and tears the life-giving tubes from Walsh and Angleman, sending them to the floor, dead once again. Riley begins his rematch with Forrest as Buffy runs off to find Adam sitting at his system of closed circuit monitors. Buffy manages to break off Adam's trademark bone skewer, but to her surprise, his left arm mutates into a gattling gun and he opens fire in the small room. As Buffy dives behind one of the consoles, Willow, Xander and Giles complete the spell, and their powers rush into Buffy's body.

Adam destroys the console with a single mortar shot, but Buffy rises from the rubble with magical, yellow eyes, speaking in Sumerian. Adam sends a long burst of machine-gun fire at Buffy, but the bullets are stopped by an invisible force field just inches from her. Back in the other room, Riley and Forrest are engaged in a fierce battle. Forrest throws Riley into a stack of Hydrogen tanks, causing them to leak. Riley picks one up and pushes Forrest back with it. Forrest grabs the tank and raises it over his head near the broken power line to hit Riley, who ducks behind one of the operating tables. As he swings forward, the hydrogen gas ignites, and Forrest is blown into tiny chunks of burning flesh. Back in the other room, Buffy uses the combined powers of Willow, Giles and Xander to ward off Adam's mortar attack. Buffy collapses Adam's weaponry telepathically, then in a blistering display of power, forces Adam against a wall, pierces Adam's chest with her hand, and pulls his Uranium power supply from his chest. Adam is no more. As Riley looks on, Buffy levitates Adam's power supply from her hand, and dissolves it into thin air.

With their work done, the spell wears off and all Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles collapse with fatigue. A demon crashes through the barricaded door and almost gets to Willow, Xander and Giles, but Spike comes up from behind and snaps its neck. Giles scolds Spike for helping Adam with his plan but fatigue and the fact that Spike just saved their lives prevents him from doing anything about it. Buffy and Riley emerge from the secret lab, and the whole team goes to work securing the compound. Meanwhile, in a secret government conference room, the same powerful Government official who had spoken with the now deceased Colonel MacNamara proclaims the Initiative a failed experiment to harness the powers of the otherworld, and orders it burnt to the ground.


THOUGHTS: With Primeval, the season four arc comes to an end, concluding the Initiative & Adam arcs respectively. And with that comes some sense of relief, after what has been a very inconsistent season with big faults. But that can be discussed more in the retrospective. This episode though is solid and entertaining, one with great action sequences and clever strategy to finally beat Adam once and for all. After the fall out of The Yoko Factor, the Scooby Gang come back together again and discover Spikeís manipulation. From there, the scoobies take the fight to Adam and sow the seeds for taking down the Initiative base. The episode feels epic with the big battle scenes in the base, with explosions, tension and heightened anxiety. As well as Buffy using a special form of magic to fight Adam is impressive too. Once the episode ends, I felt very much a sigh of relief that season fourís long arc of college dorms and science zombies was over.

RATING: 84% - A-





4x22 - Restless

INTRO: In one of the most unusual finales in Television, Restles concludes Season Four with a lot to the future, a sense of the characters journeys so far, and a step forward to the next stage of the Buffy story, via the characters thoughts, dreams and fears.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Spoilers" spoilers below
As Buffy and Riley stand in the doorway of Joyce Summers' house, Riley tells Buffy that while he must go to a debriefing, he is in no danger of being put away for disobeying Initiative orders. Willow, Joyce and Giles look on as Xander appears from the kitchen with a bowl of popcorn. Riley says his good byes to Joyce and the gang, and everyone retreats to the living room. Giles asks Joyce to join the gang in their Videofest, but Joyce declines, saying she is too tired. As Joyce takes a personal bowl of popcorn up to her bedroom, Xander pops "Apocalypse Now" into the VCR, claiming that they have enough videos to last them all night. But before the FBI warning on the tape is over, Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles are fast asleep, physically and mentally drained from defeating Adam.
Inside Willow's dream, she sits in Tara's room, painting a message in a strange language on Tara's back. Tara is concerned that they haven't found a name for Miss Kitty yet, but Willow is not worried. Tara tells Willow that everyone will find out about her, but Willow tells her that she doesn't have time to worry about what her friends think because she has to prepare for her Drama class. Willow gets up and opens the curtains and looks out into the arid dessert outside. Willow senses that something is out there, but she can't see it. Suddenly she finds herself walking through the halls of UC Sunnydale. As she turns a corner, she is joined by Xander and Oz, who inquire about her choice to take Drama class. She barely notices Oz, who informs her that he has always been there. Before she can open her locker, the bell rings, and she goes to class. She wanders into the backstage of a theater, where a bunch of people are hastily assembling their costumes for a play that is about to start. An orchestra can be heard tuning behind the curtains. Dressed as a Swedish mountain girl, Harmony approaches Willow and tells her that she is so excited to start the play. Buffy comes from behind the curtain, dressed as a 1920's flapper, and tells Willow that her whole family is out in the audience, and they look angry. A cowboy-clad Riley tells Willow that she could have a better part if she would have arrived on time.
Confused, Willow tries to tell them that this is only the first drama class of the semester. As she tries to make sense of it all, Giles, the director of the play, comes in to rally the troops. He tells the cast that everyone Willow knows will be out in the audience, and that if they go out there and lie like dogs, this will be the best presentation of "Death of a Salesman" that they have ever seen. As they break from the huddle, a creature catches Willow's eye, but she can't make it out. A man next to her tells her that he has made room for the cheese. Confused, she turns around and walks into a corridor of curtains, where Tara waits for her. She tells Willow that everyone is starting to wonder about the 'real' Willow, and when they find out, they will punish her. As Buffy curses all males onstage, Willow tries to figure out who is following her, and as she turns around, Tara is gone. Suddenly a creature attacks Willow from inside the curtain, but Buffy rescues her and pulls her into an empty classroom. Buffy looks at Willow's clothes and tells her that the play is over, and she should take off her costume. When Willow tries to explain, Buffy rips off her clothes, leaving Willow in a young schoolgirl's costume. Suddenly, the classroom is full of Buffy's peers, and Buffy sits down and joins them as they mock her. As she starts to read her book report, the creature attacks her again, pouncing on top of her. She screams for help, but no one in the classroom seems to notice. Back in the living room, the Willow in the real world squirms in agony in her sleep.
Xander 'wakes up' into his dreamworld back in Buffy's living room. Giles and Buffy watch a distorted version of "Apocalypse Now" while Willow writhes in her sleep. Xander walks up the stairs to go to the bathroom, and Joyce greets him at the top of the stairs, dressed in a sultry red nightgown. She asks Xander to come in and lay down with her, reassuring him that she has learned a lot about boys. Xander accepts the invitation, but heads for the bathroom first. As he steps into the bathroom and unzips his fly, he notices that he is being studied by a large group of Initiative doctors and soldiers. Uncomfortable, he leaves and walks across the hall, walking into another door that leads into his basement bedroom. Someone or something is trying to open the door at the top of the stairs, and Xander tells himself that that is not the way out. Suddenly, Xander finds himself walking through a park, and he comes across Buffy, Giles and Spike. Giles and Spike swing together on a swing set, Giles training Spike how to be a watcher. Buffy plays in the sandbox, and Giles asks her if she should be playing there. Suddenly, Buffy sits in the center of a vast desert. She tells Xander that she is way ahead of him, and refers to him as his brother. After a long silence, Xander makes a comment about always moving forward, then looks off in the distance to see himself selling ice cream to children out of his ice cream truck. As he moves to the front of the truck it is already in motion, and he sits down next to Anya. She tells him that she wants to get back into vengeance. As he tries to explain that society has rules about vengeance, he turns around to see Willow and Tara, both dressed very provocatively, making out in the back of the truck. Without moving their lips, they tell him that he is interesting and invite him to come back with them. Anya tells him to go ahead, so he climbs into the back of the truck. As he climbs over a box, he ends up in his basement bedroom again, calling for the girls, who are nowhere to be seen.
The knocking at his door begins again, this time a little more fierce. As he turns around, the same man from Willows dream holds up a plate full of cheese slices, telling him that they will not protect him. As the door breaks down, Xander runs from his bedroom into the halls of UC Sunnydale. The halls are washed in green light, and no one notices Xander, or the creature chasing him through the halls. He runs into Giles, and Anya, who start speaking to him in French. He is picked up by a group of students, and suddenly he ends up inside the "Apocalypse Now" movie, walking through the forest in military camouflage. He ends up in a dark POW camp kneeling next to another one of the prisoners, Principal Snyder. Snyder tells Xander that he is a whipping boy, raised by mongrels to be a sacrificial lamb. Xander stands up to relieve a cramp and finds himself in Giles' courtyard, the creature from Willow's dream hot on his tail. He runs through Giles' house, into the halls of UC Sunnydale, through the door of Buffy's dorm room and a dark hallway, ending up back in his basement. The knocking at the door has become very fierce, and Xander whispers that that is not the way out. The door flies open and Xander's father walks down the stairs, scolding him for being ashamed of his family. As he gets close to Xander he shoves his fist through Xander's chest, pulling out his heart. As Xander looks up, he sees the creature from Willow's dream. Back in Buffy's living room, the 'real' Xander lurches in his sleep.
Giles' dream begins with him trying to hypnotize Buffy, who merely laughs at his old-fashioned ways. Suddenly, Giles finds himself walking through a macabre nighttime Fair in the cemetery with Buffy and Olivia, who pushes a baby stroller. A pigtailed Buffy runs ahead, begging to play the midway games. She finds a game where she throws a ball at a wooden vampire figure, and misses. After Giles coaches her she hits the vampire and jumps up and down. Spike calls over from his crypt, urging Giles to come over before he misses everything, and Giles obliges. When he enters the crypt, Olivia sits in the corner, crying over an overturned baby stroller, and Spike poses for bunch of Paparazzi. As Giles tries to figure out what to do with all of this, he runs into the Cheese man, who is wearing slices of cheese on his shoulders and forehead. Appalled, he walks out of the crypt and into The Bronze, where Xander and Willow study Giles' books on the old library furniture. Giles comes in carrying another book, apologizing for his tardiness. Despite boasting a gaping chest wound, Xander seems to be more annoyed by having to attend Anya's comedy act, which he professes as his real reason for being there. As Anya tells jokes on the stage, Willow and Xander tell Giles that something is following them. He suggests that their old selves are following them. Suddenly Giles jumps onto the stage, and bursts into song, singing about how the spell they performed with Buffy must have released some primal evil. As the crowd gets into the music, he sings for Willow to look into the Chronicles for a reference to a warrior beast. A burst of feedback brings the song to a halt, and Giles traces the microphone cord backstage to find the source of the problem. He crawls back on his hands and knees until he finds a watch in the wires, then freezes as he realizes the creature is right above him. He tells the creature that he knows who it is, and that he can defeat the creature with only his intellect. As he tells the creature that it underestimates his powers because it never had a Watcher, the creature scalps him, and the 'real' Giles convulses in his sleep in Buffy's living room.
Buffy 'wakes up' into her dreamworld in her dorm room. Anya, her roommate, begs her to wake up but she rolls over to go back to sleep. For a split second she sees the creature above her bed, before waking up again in her old bedroom. She stands next to Tara, asking her if she had come there to tell her something, then realizes that she needs to find her friends because they are not there. Tara tries to hand her a tarot card, but Buffy refuses. Tara tells Buffy that she doesn't know who she is to become, that she has even begun. Buffy leaves to find her friends and Tara warns her to return before dawn. Wandering through the halls of UC Sunnydale, she finds Joyce living inside a whole in one of the walls. Buffy asks Joyce to get out of the walls, but Joyce tells Buffy that she is happy living in the walls, and that she should go find her friends. Distracted, Buffy walks away and into a government map room, where she finds Riley and the whole human form of Adam sitting at a conference table. Riley informs her that his debriefing went well, that they made him the Surgeon General and that they are drawing up the next plan for world domination with coffee machines that think. Buffy disagrees with their plan of world domination, but Adam retorts by telling her that they are the same, they just go about their natural aggression in different ways. Buffy asks Adam what his name was before he was changed and he tells her that not a human alive would know. Suddenly, the alarm sounds, and Riley and Adam run off to build a fort.
Buffy sees the bag at her feet and tries to tell them that she has weapons, but they have already left. She bends down to look in the bag, and finds that it is full of mud. With the mud on her hands, the only thing she knows to do is spread it across her face. As her mask nears completion, Riley interrupts her, telling her that now that she is not looking for her friends, she must go it alone. He leaves, and the sun bursts into the room, and Buffy walks out into the same arid dessert that she appeared in before. Tara comes out to speak for the creature, a primitive young woman who Tara identifies as the first Slayer. She professes that Slayers do not walk on the earth, and work alone, only to slay. Buffy tells her that times have changed, that she needs her friends and that she wants them back. The man with the cheese pops in without saying a word, and Buffy says that she's just going to wake up. With those words, the two Slayers engage in furiously fast fight. As they roll down a huge embankment, Buffy shouts out that the fight is OVER and wakes up out of her dream in her living room. As she gets up, the first Slayer jumps at her, and she realizes she is not out yet. The Slayer tries to stab her but Buffy just ignores her and sits down on the couch. As Buffy begins to give her hair care advice, Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles snap out of their dreams simultaneously.
Sitting at the dinner table, Giles surmises that they must have stirred the spirit of the first Slayer with their spell. They all agree that the Slayer's spirit was not good for sleep. As Buffy gets up to go take a shower, she tells the rest of the group that they were lucky enough not to have dreamed about the guy with the cheese. As Buffy passes by her bedroom, she looks in and hears Tara's voice repeat: "You think you know. What's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun."


THOUGHTS: Restless has often been described as a coda of sorts in the whole of season four. This is a finale that consists of four separate long dream sequences, with a lot of foreshadowing for future seasons, with a very visual poetry style to it. Itís unique and definitely something not seen in TV a lot. I like the way its all filmed and how the scene transitions are all very well connected, yet from a narrative sense doesnít make much yet. Its terrific, and often very trippy and strange, yet also very relaxing and almost very ASMR. Each of the dreams are also very different yet unique to the characters. They each give insight into the characters fears, wants, regrets, beliefs, desires & goals. Fascinating writing, and very informative and reflective overall. The teases to the future are vague, but if youíre a fan of the show, youíll definitely notice and perhaps get excited as to whatís to come.

RATING: 100% - A+