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21 November 2009 @ 04:10 am
Swap Meet - A Watchers Review  

Watchers Review



Story by CN Winters, Humaira, David Zahir
Written by CN Winters (additional writing by Susan Carr)
Directed by CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by Sharon Kierein and Angie Wilson
Sound by CN Winters, CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artists – Chris Cook, David Zahir, Humaira, Robert, CN Winters

Starring: Thora Birch, Felicia Day, Lindsay Felton, Norika Fujiwara, Stephanie March, Carly Schroeder and Elijah Wood
Guest starring Brad Dourif as Brell and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers

Season 2, Episode 4


Scene 01: We open on Skye and Dawn in the latter's room in the Slayer dorm building. Dawn is complainy because it's her birthday and she's ready for sex, now that she doesn't have to answer to Willow, but Skye is serious about their getting in studying. They're interrupted by a phone call from Willow, summoning them to the conference room.


Scene 02: Minutes later, Dawn arrives to a surprise party to celebrate her new adulthood. Willow and Giles surprise her with the unannounced visit by her sister.





Commentary: I love the Xander line here, "Hey! No crying allowed. This is a birthday party and although for the Summers women that usually means fear mixed with a bit of mayhem, let's try to break with tradition and just eat cake!"
Dawn opens her gifts and we get some lesbian humor regarding Halle Berry and her portrayal as Catwoman.

Scene 03: In the other dimensional realm of Vor, 'The Lover' of the Presidium watches the events going on in the Council with interest.

Commentary: As I'm sure we will remember, they were the big bad of S1 and though their invasion attempt was defeated, they weren't completely vanquished. In S1, it was 'The Engineer' who was our most-seen villain, but 'The Lover' was introduced as his superior.

We're introduced to a powerful being of the Presidium who is the superior of 'The Lover'. This being, 'The Unmaker', is revealed to be such a powerful force that his very attention distorts images in the magic view screen and lances 'The Lover' like tendrils of energy.

They are studying the humans as they've been the only ones who have been able to turn back one of their assaults. 'The Lover' in particular finds us fascinating in a detached way, while 'The Unmaker'is only interested in discovering our weaknesses and how to exploit them to defeat the Council on their next attempt to invade Earth's dimension.

Commentary: Vor and the Presidium were great creations and while it's annoying to have to keep typing 'The _____' everytime, I really like that we don't get some made up name for these foes. I also liked how the description of 'The Unmaker' was handled. If you think of WATCHERS as filmed episodes, this would definitely sent a chill up the spine.

Scene 04: The next day, in the Coven room, Becca peeks in on Willow to see how she's doing... and to tell her about Rowena's rape. Ro had asked Becca to tell Willow about it, scared of receiving pity. But, because Willow had to rush to Boston and then Becca had to leave town, she wasn't able to tell her about it before it was revealed by the magic chess board last episode.

Becca tries to make Willow understand that Rowena is trying hard to tear down the walls that this event caused her to erect (and we'll find out that Jordan Tyrell only hardened these walls during their disastrous marriage) but she's also dealing with not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable again.

Commentary: While this scene is done well, it's really because of Becca. I have to agree with Willow that she's being childish by being hurt that Ro didn't reveal all to her first. It really comes across as selfish, but at least Willow realizes it herself. Unfortunately, it also acts as a reason to continue to drag feet on the 'will they or won't they' nature of their relationship....

Becca also mentions that she bought 'junk' at a swap meet, and considering the episode title, it will probably have something to do with this episode's mystical hi-jinks.

Scene 05: At the same time in the gym, we see Kennedy sizing up the Slayers during wrestling matches.

Scene 06: Also at the same time, in the library, Skye leaves Jeff and Dawn alone to get a drink.

Scene 07: At this moment, Faith and Robin are in their suite. Faith is working on the Slayer patrol rotations while dialog tells us that Robin has some new Watchers that will be ready to being patrolling as well inside of a month.

Commentary: It's funny to see Faith like this, as 'a suit' organizing the Slayers activities like this, but WATCHERS have really allowed the character to grow (which I've complimented before, so I'll try not to keep belaboring the point, but I just love this series' representation of Faith [not to mention Kennedy]). When you compare this Faith with Buffy S8's 'dark Slayer', well... I'm disappointed to say that I find Joss' to be less interesting. That's two characters (the other being Kenn) that Watchers beats BTVS with its own characters.

Scene 08: In the kitchen (yes, same time), Andrew, Buffy and Tracey are working on lunch. When the girls leave, Andy takes the opportunity to ask the just arriving Xan about how to get a certain girl to notice him in 'that way'. Which surprises Xan, as he'd assumed that Andrew would have a boyfriend at some point, but he's pleased to take him under his (it must be admitted - defective) wing on helping him land Tracey's interest.

Scene 09: Back in the gym, Kenn dismisses the Slayers.

Scene 10: In Giles' apartment, Becca arrives and seems a little irritable.

Scene 11: While over at Willow's, Ro knocks on her door.

Scene 12: Back in the kitchen, the Council's generally unwelcome guest tries to get a bottle of water. A barrier stops Bonnie from opening the fridge, which annoys her.

Scene 13: Back to Willow's apartment, where Ro has been given entrance. within, Ro glances at Willow's research to find her looking into how to approach dealing with the aftermath of a rape. I like this part of the dialog, so I'll quote:

She moved closer and looked at one of the titles on the table. "If She Is Raped: A Guidebook for Husbands, Fathers, and Male Friends," she read aloud. "You're doing this for me?"

"I'm doing this for us. They don't have a book titled 'When your indecisive, prospective girlfriend's been raped, a female view'. I had to take what I could find," Willow muttered.

"It was a long time ago, Willow. I'm past the self-help stage," Rowena answered.

"I just found out and I'm not. And I'm not convinced you are either."

Commentary: I like the way Willow is being proactive here in trying to understand how a previous attack might have affected Rowena, but I'm not convinced of the logic of the argument here. Willow states that Ro blew her off because she was afraid (due to the rape), but I just find it odd that Willow doesn't consider that she's just reluctant because she's an otherwise straight woman who is suddenly interested in a woman... couldn't that have as much to do with not being comfortable with the state of things as a tramatic event that occurred years ago? I get that the writers are showing the trauma that a sexual assault has years after the fact and Ro has my complete sympathy - but it also feels like the writers are suggesting that if only Ro hadn't suffered that horrific event, she'd be in bed with Willow already and that part (assuming I'm not misconstruing, which is possible) I'm not buying. Unless "I thought I was straight" women are much more blase' than guys when it comes to same sex attractions, I think the point would have been easier to accept at face value if we were seeing Ro and Xander in this situation -- like the writers have discounted just how jarring the fact that Ro finds herself attracted to Willow could be on its own. Comments CN?


Scene 14
: In Giles' apartment, Becca confides in him that she's moody and edgy. She puts it down to the fact that Ro wanted her to tell Willow something and didn't get the chance before Willow found out another way. Giles, though, already knows about the previous assault at the Old Guard, as Robson provided that information when Giles had asked him for any information on file for Ms. Allister (this would have been sometime around S1, Ep 5 probably).



Giles says, "I suspected that's why Rowena avoided [Willow] this summer, but I didn't say anything."

Commentary: See the above comment - I guess I just wouldn't have made that leap that one has to do with the other in this circumstance.

Scene 15: Willow and Rowena have the heart to heart that they've been needing since the end of last season.

Commentary: I really like this interaction between these two characters. Willow is much more mature here which goes a long way toward 'redeeming' her pettiness from last episode. I also like the mature way that sex is discussed here and we get more details of Rowena's prior life (which I mentioned we needed more of last episode also). It's a really good follow up to the revelations that came out into the open regarding Ro in 'Check Mate'.



Scene 16
: A funny scene between Bonnie, the fridge and Skye. And it's always nice to see Bonnie knocked down a peg considering what she was party to in S1... plus, they really need to show us more of Bonnie interacting with everyone as she's sort of important to the Presidium arc and it was strange when she was just left to wander the Council without the audience seeing her around.

Scene 17: Ro and Willow share their first, deep kiss.

Scene 18: As Ro and Willow are drawing together, Becca is worrying that she's made things worse for them. While she discusses the situation with Rupert, she is rubbing a cloth over one of the antiques she acquired... and suddenly, they both find themselves in each other's body!

Scene 19: In Willow's apartment, the two ladies also undergo a switch.

Commentary: I also like that Willow-in-Ro immediately reacts with panic that she has 'morphed again', recalling the BTVS: S7 episode, 'The Killer in Me' in which she took on Warren's form.

On the other hand, I could have done without being reminded of that episode... *smile*

Scene 20: In Giles' apartment, Becca is handling the sudden case of weirds less well than Rupert.

Scene 21: In Willow's room, Ro tries to deal with a distraught Willow who thinks this is another one of her unintentional magic-gone-awry deals.

Scene 22: In Xander's workshop, Xan-in-Andy and Andy-in-Xan have a mutual freak out.


Scene 23
: In the kitchen, Bonnie realizes very quickly (she's one smart woman with exceptional survival instincts) realizes that she's just found an out to her problems. Meanwhile, Skye-in-Bonnie's body finds out just what the spells against her were designed to prevent....



Scene 24
: In the lobby, there is general pandemonium as everyone has found themselves switched with whomever they were near when whatever happened happened. Jeff and Dawn have switched, as has Kennedy and little Slayer, Marsha. Faith and Robin have also undergone a body switch.

But did I say everyone? Buffy and Tracey walk through the lobby to find everyone looking bewildered, but Giles-in-Becca quickly realizes that she and Tracey haven't done the body swap.

Thankfully, the chaos settles down once Giles' calming voice is heard, even if it is Becca using it. And, with only a little thought, the actual Becca remembers the vase she was polishing. Giles goes to retrieve it, complaining about Becca's 'death trap' heels.

They also quickly come to the conclusion that Bonnie has Skye's body and is in the wind.

Scene 25: In the infirmary, Skye-in-Bonnie commiserates with Dawn-in-Jeff over their circumstances. Buffy goes out to find and retrieve the missing Bonnie-in-Skye.

Scene 26: Marsha-in-Kennedy rushes off to find the Slayers on patrol (Vi) and brings them back to the Council.

Scene 27: Buffy talks to Willow-in-Ro's body and they discover that Bonnie has hit an ATM machine (uh, gliding by the fact that Skye's body shouldn't have her ATM card, though). Buffy also mentions getting back into the Slayer gig, just as a part time deal, and still in Europe. She mentions maybe talking to Robson (in London) which pleases Willow.

Scene 28: In the library, Vi is brought up to speed and dispatched with the rest of the Slayers including Marsha-in-Kennedy to find Bonnie-in-Skye. In the meantime, Giles-in-Becca head out to "be a shop proprietor again, he answered wryly."

Scene 29: At Becca's shop, we get some fun as 'Robert', the bookstore clerk who assists Becca makes a move on her and explains that Giles is only after a green card. Giles-in-Becca fires him after he doesn't get the hint to butt out of 'her' personal life.

We also get a surprise visit from Brell, and he has a book to deliver to the Council, but being a demon, he recognized Rupert's true self in Becca's form.



Brell's book has come from his occupied home dimension (previously overtaken by the Presidium) and contains the information that his people have been able to collect about Vor. It should be extremely helpful in determining how to stop them should they make another attempt at Earth (which we've already learned they're planning). Brell also hopes the Council can find a way to free his people.


Scene 30: Out on the street looking for Skye's body, Faith has a run-in with prejudice when she-in-Robin's black skin tries to return a dropped wallet only for the woman to assume that "he's" trying to rob her. She realizes that she'd never given much thought or notice to how people perceive him when they've been out together.

The 'afterschool moment' is undercut by Mia and Robin-in-Faith's sense of humor. Robin finds dealing with Faith's hair getting in his face constantly less amusing, but Mia and Faith-in-Robin find that part funny.

Scene 31: In the Presidium Citadel, Vor dimension, 'The Lover' is finding the current doings at the Council fascinating but her companion, 'The Flayer' is bored. And, tired of the delays. He wishes for his army to get to the conquering.

'The Flayer' is quick to point out that 'The Lover' is wasting time, but she just as quickly reminds him through force that she is in charge, not he. She assigns him the task of taking over another Hell dimension - a place called Oz... just kidding - it's actually called Galas, but it would have been funny to see a battle with the flying monkeys.



Scene 32
: In the meantime on Earth, Bonnie-in-Skye buys a plane ticket to Tokyo. But when she realizes that an APB must have been put out for Skye's face, she makes a run for it only to be stopped by Buffy.

Commentary: This is a really short scene, but its funny! It would be great if Buffy and Bonnie got stranded on a desert isle for an episode....

Scene 33: Rowena and Willow in each other's bodies have a discussion about their relationship in regards to letting everyone else in on it, sexuality and defining 'gay' when it comes to self-definition.

In addition, in another 'grown-up' move, Will gives Ro express permission to 'explore' her body as a means of getting comfortable with herself and this new attraction.

Scene 34: In Faith and Robin's suite, she-in-his-body is also interested in some 'research' and they go to bed.

Scene 35: The next morning, Jeff struggles with a naked Dawn body during a shower.

Commentary: This is written as comedy, but uh... no. Not very funny. And not buying the "she'd want me to shower" excuse after 1 day either. I think Dawn would be happy to be stinky for a day or three until it just couldn't be avoided!

Scene 36: While at the same time, in Giles' room, he is trying to figure out what to put on Becca's body. But when Becca mentions the memory of an incident involving bumping her head on a Jeep due to snow, they realize that there is a very serious problem developing with the body switching. Becca is starting to access Giles' memory - and worse - she's accessing them as if they were her own!

Not only have they switched physical bodies, but now they're memories are beginning to merge....

Scene 37: Thankfully, before things turn too serious, Willow-in-Ro is able to locate their magic vase and provide the answers to how this has happened, why Buffy and Tracey didn't switch and how to reverse the spell they're all under.

Commentary: I like the solution. It all has to deal with honesty and giving insight into other's people's thoughts and feelings and unexpected little resentments are brought to light that each party didn't realize were there.

Scene 38: Outside Giles' room on the terrace, he and Becca stand uncomfortably side by side. Each knows how to reverse the spell cast, but they'll now have to figure out exactly which 'issue' is THE issue keeping the spell in effect, while of course, not permanently damaging the relationship by voicing all of the constant little irritations we all experience everyday with the people we love (especially since so many of our resentments could be US - too tired that day, stress at work making us short tempered, etc.).

Becca-in-Rupert's mind immediately goes towards the wedding and if he's having doubts. Giles assures her that he's ready to marry her and she also tells him that she feels the same. Next, Rupert mentions Jenny Calender and wonders if its worry about her death, if she stays that is eating at them. But, when they both agree that they worry but both are committed to taking that chance and enjoying life together anyway - nothing happens.

That's also not the 'insight' they're supposed to be gaining.

Scene 39: Robin and Faith go through hair in the tub, his not praising her for quitting cigarettes because she told him not to remind her of it but now she wants affirmation, and her eating habits all for naught.

Finally the real issue - the one Faith has been struggling with since they first met actually - gets talked about.

And the spell gets broken. Robin doesn't think Faith is dumb and she needs to believe it this time.

Scene 40: For Dawn and Jeff, the issue is their mutual attraction and the tension it causes between them when they're both trying so hard to play the 'good friends' role.

Scene 41: In an amusing scene we jump in on Andy and Xander AFTER they've already switched back, so we don't know the actual cause of the problem between the two of them... but Andrew is on item number 23 of his list....

"Oh, somebody shoot me," Xander says.

Scene 42: Returning to Giles and Becca - her issue is that she's been feeling run down and a bit sick (which Giles realizes due to his being in her body right now) but hasn't said anything to him. She thinks that maybe she's suffering from 'the big M' ... menopause ... and keeping this from him has caused her to feel badly. (And, I'm just going to lay this out there now - she's not suffering menopause).

Scene 43: Skye and Bonnie's switch was the most puzzling and the one I couldn't grasp since they've had so little contact. It actually turns out that Skye feels badly for tormenting Bonnie earlier in the kitchen and they couldn't switch until Bonnie was able to forgive that little slight.

Skye shows some sympathy toward Bonnie here as well and offers her the one friendly face she'll likely see as long as she's forced to stay at the Council... which makes what happens far later tragically ironic and I just now realized it!

Commentary: Hopefully, I'll remember to come back and reference this small exchange when the time is right, now that I've noticed it.

Scene 44: Willow and Ro's issues are the same that we have seen since the season started - Ro's fear and running away and Willow's resentment, anger and fear that she'll do it again the moment that they run into any trouble that they will as every relationship runs into rough patches.

With Rowena's promises that there won't be any more secrets and her declarations of love and commitment, the spell is reversed, finally. And not a moment too soon, as Ro 'remembered' her bar mitzvah and Xander's father's drunkeness.

And we close with Willow and Ro getting much closer in the dark....




The Good: I liked the plot on this one and the mechanics of the magic vase spell.

It was nice to see Buffy and Bonnie again, and I like the incorporation of the Presidium and 'The Lover'.

The introduction of 'The Unmaker' was excellent - including his moniker!

I like the mature way that Rowena's past is being dealt with (with the caveat mentioned in Commentary) and the way Willow steps up to assure her throughout the story that she'll take things a step at a time until Ro is comfortable.


The Bad: Nothing strikes me as badly done this time out.


The Score: While the episode does spend a bit more time on the Ro and Willow relationship than I really want to see, the episode holds together well and a lot of the character interaction when the gang is broken up into couples is really good. I'm not very invested in the hinted love triangle between Jeff, Dawn and Skye so I remember wincing when I first read this one and realized that was where we were heading. I always enjoy the Giles/Becca scenes and we get a lot of them here and Faith and Robin remain a good, strong couple that is nice to watch.

For the writing and couple interactions, 3.5 out of 5.