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05 June 2014 @ 09:59 pm
BTVS Reviewed: "Anne"  
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BTVS, Season 3, Episode 1

"Anne"

Writer: Joss Whedon
DIR: Joss Whedon

Blurb: Now living in the big city, Buffy helps a woman whose boyfriend has mysteriously disappeared, while back in Sunnydale her friends battle the forces of evil on their own.

My Blurb: Welcome to the start of the season 3 reviews for Buffy. Before we dive in, be ready to read unpopular opinions about our heroine in these first episodes. I tend to be solidly on Joyce's side about Buffy's running off [which I don't blame her for in the least after BECOMING] without calling somebody to let them know she's alive and okay. This is apparently a minority view with many [most?] holding that Joyce caused their rift with her ultimatum. Hmmm... we'll talk more during "Dead Man's Party".


Scene 01: We open on a slow pan of the headstone of one Andrew Hoelich. Andrew, alas, is not resting peacefully as we see a pair of hands thrust up through the fresh dirt of his gravesite. Yes... poor Andrew was the victim of a vampire, who didn't just leave his body deaders.

Even more alas for Andrew!Vampire, he crawls out of his grave only to be confronted with a pair of legs standing over him.

BUFFY!!

Oops... no... not BUFFY!! Not even Buffy. It's instead Willow with a snark!smile and a... uh... wittism?

After inviting "big boy" to "come and get it"... and then obvs thinking better of it after he growls hungrily at her, she's joined by Xander who begins wrestling with him. Oz rushes from a bush... with his stake stuck in his pocket. After he finally manages to wrestle his stake into stabbing position, Andrew uses Xander's grip to leap up and two-feet kick Oz across the face, before executing a neato-keen back flip over Xander's head, breaking his grip.


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Xander and Willow follow Oz to the ground in a tumble of their own. This leaves Andrew to rush off away from the "hunters".

But have no fear... Oz in on the case! He lifts his [mighty long] stake and over the shoulder throws it at Mr. Hoelich's retreating back. Which he then promptly bounces off of another fancy tombstone not even close to Andrew... oopies, again.


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Oz complains how that never really works as our erstwhile anti-vampire gang pull themselves together. Oz asks after everyone's condition. Xan complains about the super-agile acrobatics used against them. Oz points out that Andy was on the gymnastics team, which Xander considers 'cheating'.


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Xander then turns to Willow and comments on his problems with the "come and get it big boy" opening gambit line. Willow admits that it may not have been a shining line, but she says that witty plays on words throws the vampire off, as used by Buffy.

It becomes quite evident that Buffy has not returned from her bus ride out of Sunnydale after sending Angel to Hellsville. Willow has instituted a rule forbidding talking of Buffy in past-tense.

Discussion turns to the start of the new school year. Oz seems a bit off for some reason on the subject, but Willow tries to put his mind at ease that she'll only be busy until 3pm, and that's usually the time he's been getting up, anyway. Xander is more disturbed at how eager he is to see Cordelia.

As our trio leave the cemetery, Willow wishes out loud that they knew where Buffy was....


Commentary: Such a long opener scene! But it is made of glorious win. Every single one of them is adorkable to near fatal levels.

It's also a nice way of showing us that Buffy has disappeared without a word, reminding us that we saw her on a bus out of Sunnydale after the Angel deal went down. And, that the gang have no idea what happened to her or Angelus at the mansion.

This is an excellent opener for a relatively weak beginning to the season [things don't really pick up until the mid-point, as far as I can recall]. And anytime that you have Seth and Alyson in the same scene both being cute... well... BIG GRIN.




Scene 02: [I know, you were expecting Credits & Music weren't you? I told you this was a long episode intro.]

We cut to Buffy before sunset. She's on the beach walking toward the ocean waves coming in wearing a summery-dress. As she's closing her eyes and just being, she's joined by a pair of arms that wrap around her middle from behind. She places her hands over the newcomer's. The man joining her is a snuggling Angel... who is not bursting into flames, strongly hinting at DREAM-TIME.

Buffy asks how he found her there and he assures her that even blind, he'd see her. She asks him to stay and he further assures her that he'll never leave... before whispering in her ear, "Even if you kill me".

Buffy looks disturbed....


Commentary: This scene was filmed gorgeously and David and Sarah continue with their chemistry. I was even going to screen-cap it, but I've already got the three above and I can't be capping everything!


Scene 03: As you can imagine, it was in fact a dream. Buffy wakes up lying in her bed. As per in Sunnydale, her hair and makeup remain flawless despite her telling Angel that wasn't the case way back in Season 1's "Angel".

From outdoors, sounds of a busy street comes from the open window. She looks out on a cityscape at night as a police cruiser goes by with its lights and sirens going.


Sudden Cut to Black, Music, Credits


Scene 04: The following day, we find Buffy working as a diner waitress. She's quiet as she serves two trucker types who joke around with her sleazily. As she's walking away, one of them pats her ass and we get a close up of her as she stops and turns her head back. We're expecting that ass-slapper is about to have his face ground into his breakfast plate. But, no. Buffy is demoralized and just keeps walking to her next table without a word.

Oh, and Buffy is wearing a nametag identifying her as Anne, not Buffy.

Her new table contains two young lovers, one of which looks very familiary. The young guy pulls out a handful coins and asks what they can get for it. The girl wishes for cake, but the guy tells her they need to eat healthy and asks for a slice of pie.

The girl offers they shouldn't have blown their money, but the guy is like "totally worth it". The referenced money having gone toward his and hers matching heart tattoos with each other's name on their forearms. We find out he is Rickie and she is Lily, although she appears to be Chanterelle to me.

Rickie offers to Lily that they're forever, which echoes Angel-dreamy's comments on the beach, causing another moment of disturbia face from Buffs. Lily suddenly asks if she knows Buffy, which she denies. Lily/Chanterelle asks where she's from, but Anne/Buffy rushes off to get their slice of possibly-no-peaches-involved peach pie.

Lily's staring after Anne is interrupted by Rickie's adoring gaze.


Scene 05: Buffy rushes up to her coworker at the register and suddenly claims a case of the not-feel-wells and asks for a cover so she can rush out.


Scene 06: Back in the school library, activity is buzzing as everyone is preparing for the new year with unpacking textbooks. This includes many, many dayplayers. This does not stop Rupert and Willow from discussing the gang's anti-vampire activities in a completely normal tone of voice. No one seems to notice [I love Sunnydale].

Willow assures Giles that their not getting killed is a part of the Buffyless Scooby Gang mission statement. Giles then rushes off to answer the ringing phone in his office.


Scene 07: This leaves Willow free to greet Cordelia. Cordy is all about describing her summer in Mexico as dreadful and then worrying over her hair and whether and Xander met any monsters to be attracted to over the summer.

Willow extricates herself from the conversation, when she spots Oz come to greet her for her first day back at school. It's um, actually not as sweet as it sounds. Seems Oz isn't there to actually see her off on her first day, as to repeat his senior year due to a case of incompletes-and-not-attending-summer-school-either-itis.

He describes this as a funny thing, but one must wonder at Wills possibly not finding this all that amusing.


Scene 08: We follow extra rushing down the hallway, which leads to... BECOMING HANGMAN TEACHER telling him to slow down. With summer over, it's time to be somber again.


Scene 09: We rejoin Willow and Oz walking down the hallway past HANGMAN TEACHER, and yes -- Wills is in fact, not amused at Oz' story of Summer-School-Skipping. Oz still holds out for Wills finding it cute, but she's not looking like she's going to go with that.

Xan rushes up to interrupt this development to ask for Cordelia. He assures them that when he and Cordelia meet there will be heat.

After checking with Willow about his hair, he rushes off.


Scene 10: Which leads to Larry telling a classmate that it'll be Sunnydale High's year for football championships, if they just have less mysterious deaths.


Scene 11: In the background, we rejoin Willow telling Oz that she's trying to reach cute about his repeating class but it's a struggle. He offers to negotiate down to eccentric.


Scene 12: Behind them, we join the epic re-meeting of that timeless love affair: Cordelia and Xander.

It's a complete anti-climactic, non-heat production, "hey, nice summer?" sorta meeting.

Xan awkwardly rushes away.


Commentary: Which is all neato-keeno directing by Joss trying to pull a West Wing- walking & talking - sorta thingie. But, it's actually a little too "look at me, directing" for it to work for me. I enjoy the scene for what it is, but it really wasn't necessary. It felt a bit too self-conscious to me, except that I do like how we're now cutting from the scene of almost hyper-activity to the next scene with Buffy again, definitely not being hyperactive - at all.

The editing makes the previous skipping around a bit more tolerable for me, where I was thinking that Joss was letting his ego in a bit too far on trying to be annoyingly clever.

Having the previous scenes continually skipping back to Aly and Seth also helped to alleviate some of the self-consciousness of our auteur because they both remain so damned adorable, it's sick.



Scene 13: Back with Lonely-Buffy, she's in her tiny apartment sitting on her bed with a can of unopened soup and staring at the carpeting. Sad piano notes play.


Scene 14: Later that day, Buffy trudges to her job with no life to her steps. She passes by a man passing out flyers to the street kids, which would seem utterly for background, except something seems to twinge her consciousness about it, which makes me want to go back and take a closer look.

She also passes an elderly woman sitting in a door way, who creepily and pathetically repeats that she (the elderly woman herself) is no one. She looks afraid at Buffy as she passes by.


Scene 15: Back at Sunnydale High, Giles is on the phone in his office. He excitedly rushes out into the library to tell Xander and Willow that he has a lead about a girl fighting off vampires in Oakland. He's preparing to rush to the city to investigate it, but Xander points out this would be his 10th lead so far.

Wills and Xan try to be supportive, but Xan offers that he hates seeing Giles repeatedly get his hopes up just to have them dashed when it turns out to be a dead end. Xander tells Willow that he believes Buffy will be found when she's ready to be found.


Scene 16: That night in L.A., Buffy/Anne is walking along the street. Behind her Lily/Chanterelle calls her new name but when she doesn't respond, she calls out to Buffy. This stops our Slayer. Lily asks her not to be mad and assures her that she won't tell anyone who she really is, or nothing.

Lily reminds Buffy of when they first met back in Season 1's "Lie To Me" and thanks her for saving her and friends from Spike/Dru.


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They walk together after Buffy is sure that Lily hasn't told anyone who she really is. Lily offers that she knows what it's like to need to be lost.

It becomes obvs that Lily is homeless and wandering without a real identity. Buffy asks her about her actual name from home, but Lily clams up so they move off the topic. Lily asks if Buffy has some money and they could go to a rave for the cover charge. But, Buffy declines - she just isn't ready for a crowd of people around her. She offers Lily some cash for her and Rickie to go though, but Lily doesn't want to appear to be a beggar.

They're interrupted by an old guy pushing between them and wandering into the street. Lily tells him that was rude and he turns enough to stare at them funnily. When Buffy asks if he's okay, he offers, "I'm no one" before wandering into the road.

Buffy sees a pick up bearing down on him and intervenes, shoving him aside and getting hit herself. As she tumbles onto the pavement, we cut to black.


Scene 17: When we return, a crowd is beginning to form. Buffy shrugs it off, of course and when everyone insists she should wait for an ambulance, she bolts leaving a lot of confused looks in her wake - including Lily's.


Scene 18: As Buffy rounds a corner, she spots the Flyer-Guy we saw for a brief moment earlier. Knocking the papers from his hand, Buffy stops to help him collect them. His name is Ken and he's interested in helping street kids. He tells Buffy that even though he can see she isn't starving, he also recognizes the look in her eyes as somebody who had to grow up way too fast. He offers her one of his flyers - for a place where she may find what she's missing. He warns her that the streets of L.A. aren't kind to someone as young as her, as they tend to age people fast.

He talks about the despair that drains the life out of the kids who have no place to go.

And we segue into a montage of street folks.


Commentary: I'm not sure about this scene, honestly. On the one hand, of course, it is setting up Ken for a return spot later in which we'll get a new twist on everything he's saying to Buffy right now. And they try to justify it by having Buffy looking lost and lonely -- but... well, as Ken himself pointed out, Buffy hardly looks like she's living rough with her flawless make up, clean and shiny hair and her obvs having a job. It really doesn't feel like she'd be somebody that Ken would be giving a spiel to, except of course she's the Slayer and he's a future victim-or-monster.

As to the montage... well, it's a nice thought to bring attention to the homeless kids, but it's really too cheezy-whip to work for me.



Scene 19: We drift-fade to The Bronze back in Sunnydale for this week's musical guest performance who is singing a semi-relevant song.

Xander and Willow are there, where Xan says how happy he is, sarcastically, for showing up for "depressing night". Willow wonders what "she" is doing, and Xan offers that she's probably talking to her friends about her affair with Pedro the Cabana Boy. A look lets him know that Wills was probably wondering about Buffy.


sc_19 Just because I'm finding him so adorable right now.


Oz joins them with drinks. They discuss the fact that their slaying isn't going well without the Slayer present. When Xan spots Cordelia looking flashy in her red dress across the room, he says he has a great idea for beefing up their kill numbers: BAIT.


Scene 20: The following morning, we go to the Summers' home. Joyce is making out bills, when a knock comes at the door. She has a brief moment of hope/fear before answering. Standing at the door is Giles. He updates Joyce on his bust in Oakland.

Joyce offers that she appreciates his going as she's barely able to leave the house, afraid that Buffy will call and she'll miss it. Rupert tries to impress on her how capable Buffy is and that he truly believes she's in no danger. Joyce just wants to talk to her daughter, as the last time they spoke, it was to fight. Rupert tells her that she mustn't blame herself for Buffy leaving Sunnydale, and Joyce reponds that she doesn't ... she blames Rupert. She accuses him [rightfully] of having this entire relationship with her behind Joyce's back, influencing and guiding her [all true] and she feels like Giles took Buffy away from her.

Giles takes a moment to form a response to that. He tells Joyce that he didn't make Buffy who she was, but Joyce asks him exactly who Buffy is... Giles doesn't actually have a ready answer to that one, since Joyce isn't referring to her calling.


Commentary: I really like this scene, as Joyce has spent much too long in the background being unable to support Buffy's struggles or to give an opinion on how this affects her and the relationship with her daughter. It was important, I think, going into this season that we start getting some of Joyce's viewpoints. And though we all like Giles immensely, Joyce isn't wrong that he has developed this entire Mentoring relationship all behind Joyce's back and influenced her daughter without any of her mother's input.

I also like that Joyce directly references the fight in BECOMING. I would've liked it better if there was the explicit mention of Joyce's ultimatum, but it's good that it isn't being forgotten about, even though I'm also of the strong opinion that Buffy's running out of Sunnydale had zero to do with that and everything to do with being unable to cope with a Slayer calling that forces her to send her boyfriend to Hell.



Scene 21: Back at the diner, Lily interrupts "Anne" while she's refilling the sugar containers. Lily is worried because Rickie is missing. Buffy refers her to the usual places for help: asking around, calling the police, etc. but Lily wants her help. Buffy resists, even though Lily tells her that helping people is who she is.

With Lily admitting she has no idea what to do, Buffy sighs.


Scene 22: And goes with Lily on her and Rickie's usual haunts. In this case, a blood bank where they receive a small stipend for donating blood. The nurse on duty goes off to check the sheet to see if he's been in to donate in the last day-ish.

Buffy suggests they split up to cover more ground faster, and Lily nods her head... before asking if she can come with Buffy. After she gets that sorted out, the nurse offers that Rickie hasn't been in. She offers that she'll tell him they're looking if he does stop in.

The glance of Buffy's suggests that something in nurse's manner is causing a Slayer twinge. The look of the nurse following them out and the musical sting suggests that Buffy's instinct is correct. It's saying "I'm involved in something and I'm regretting it".


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Scene 23: It's night time when Buffy checks out an abandoned building... one of those Lily mentioned as being a place where you can crash. Buffy finds an elderly gentleman who has apparently killed himself with drain-cleaner [though far too cleanly]. But the weird thing is that the body is sporting the identical tattoo that Rickie had with Lily's name.

[And, if I'm not mistaken, this is also the guy who brushed by Lily without recognizing her and almost got creamed by a truck -- now, apparently a suicide by vehicle attempt.]

Buffy's all WTH??


Scene 24: Lily is pacing Buffy's cramped apartment when she returns. Buffy breaks the news, which Lily doesn't handle well as Rickie took care of her and Lily has shown that she's pretty useless on her own. Buffy interrupts Lily's daydream about all of the plans she was making with her boyfriend to explain the weirdness with his advanced age.

Lily handles this information even less well, accusing Buffy of bringing something with her that killed Rickie. Buffy doesn't really handle that gracefully, reminding Lily that she didn't want anything to do with her problems in the first place and telling her that if she can't just deal she shouldn't put that off on Buffy. This drives Lily to rush out.

And it leaves Buffy with a moral issue: Go back to hiding from her calling, or give in and find out and stop whatever caused Rickie's case of aging.


Commentary: I want to put a kudo in here for Julia Lee here for her portrayal of Chanterelle/Lily. It would be really easy to just get sick of her character because she's so absolutely needy, but Lee keeps her on this side of irritating by making sure we see the vulnerable person whose just a lost, confused soul looking for somebody to save her.


Scene 25: Lily runs into Ken, who tries to get her to understand that hope is just as real as despair and offering to help her with whatever has gone wrong for her. Lily mentions Rickie and Ken immediately recognizes who she is. He claims that Rickie isn't dead at all and he's been talking about her. He invites her to Family Home for respite and to see Rickie.

Since we know Rickie's a deader, Ken is obvs our bad guy.

Lily goes off with him, alas.


Scene 26: Over at the Blood Bank, Buffy has obvs not been able to let Rickie's mystery go. She breaks in to look around some.

Buffy finds Rickie's file, and sees that it is marked as "candidate". For some reason, nurse is hanging out in the office with the lights out, and she wanders in now to see Buffy going through the files. She ignores Buffy's question about candidate status and threatens to call the police. Buffy casually reaches over and yanks the phone off the wall. She asks again about candidate's meaning.

Nurse, it turns out, gives the names of healthy donors to somebody mysterious but that is all she knows. Buffy demands to be told who the names are going to, but I think we know.


Commentary: There are two things I want to bring up here. The first is Buffy's leap to something maybe being in Rickie's blood that caused him to age, so that she could make her way here now struck me as particularly convenient. Considering that Buffy's thing is the supernatural monsters-of-the-week gig, for her to suspect the blood bank just doesn't make sense to me.

Having said that, I totally overlook it because this scene is way-awesome. From the nurse confronting Buffy about what she's doing in there and having Buffy casually respond that she's breaking into her office and going through her private files to the way that she reached over and yanks the phone off the wall with zero effort just fills my face with grin-time.

Plus, of course, it's the hint of the return of Buffy reclaiming her Slayer-ness despite her attempts to run from it.

The tea-cosy line was a little ridiculous, though.



Scene 27: Over at Family Whatever, Lily has been changed into a burlap sack by the looks of it. Ken explains that she's to participate in a cleansing and then she'll see Rickie who is very excited.


Scene 28: Meanwhile in Sunnydale, the gang has recruited Cordelia somehow to act as baity-bait in an attempt to lure the escaped Andrew out of hiding. I note that Oz is the only one of our crack commando team to actually have a stake ready to go.

Everyone gets into a hiding position, including Cordy who follows Xander. He complains that she's to act baity. She wants the plan clarified, so he tells her that the vampire attacks and kills her and then they all rejoice. She bitches that everything is a joke to him, but he claims only their relationship is.

They go on arguing about the state of their coupledom and what may or may not have happened over the summer while they were apart, while Willow rolls her eyes. No one notes that Andrew is creeping up on the annoyed, but otherwise oblivious Willow.


Scene 29: Back at Family Whichever, Ken is leading Lily to the cleansing chamber. He has Lily kneel at a pool of water that we don't see, but that Lily mentions looks kinda dirty. Ken meanwhile, has been giving a spiel about washing away the past sins... blah... blah, he's a bad guy, who cares.


Commentary: I do have to give the actor, Carlos Jacott a kudo. Ken has such creeper vibes right now, that I'm grossed out by him, despite his not doing or saying anything obviously bad-guy-er yet.


Scene 30: Meanwhile Buffy is also at Family House/Home/Sanctuary and is rambling about her sin and how she needs to be saved from herself.

It is, of course, an act to gain entrance for some snooping. It is, of course, a spectacularly bad performance.

When it is obvs that she isn't convincing the door guards to let her through, she resorts to more Slayer-type actions to get in.


Commentary: This scene is wonderful and Sarah is hilarious as the very poorly-acting Buffy trying to talk her way in "undercover". It may be the only laugh out loud scene that I found in this episode that has blended comedy and drama close to evenly.


Scene 31: In the cleansing room, Lily is leaning ever so slowly over the pool. It looks much less like dirty water and much like an oil spill. Despite this, Lily goes ahead and reaches her hand into it.

Behind her and Ken, Buffy breaks into the door. He tries to ask Buffy to wait while Lily is having a private moment, but she cuts to the chase and asks him how he is making "them" old. Lily asks them what is going on, when with a scream she is yanked into the pool and disappears. Buffy rushes forward, but Ken grabs her. They struggle and end up both going into the pool of oil, coming out elsewhere.


Scene 32: As everyone pulls themselves together, Buffy notes that the oil slick in the pool is actually a rectangular doorway floating in mid air above them. Ken, meanwhile, bitches about his face... which he tears off to reveal that "Ken" was a mask and he's not just a bad guy, but an obvs demon of some sort.


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Buffy grabs Lily's hand to take off. Ken yells for his guards, whose faces are far more grody than his for whatever reason. They march after the fleeing Buffy and Lily...


Scene 33: ... only for the two girls to come to a large factory floor where slave labor is being used. So, the mystery of the missing, healthy kids is solved. But, alas, there isn't anywhere for Buffy/Lily to run.

Ken catches up to them and welcomes them to his world, sarcastically expressing that he hopes they like their stay. He clobbers Buffy into unconsciousness with a club.


Commentary: The staff in charge of the set deserve kudos here for this location. It's grimy, and hot and noisy... and a weapons forging factory with steel smelters and clanging hammers ringing out. It's just a very detailed and "real" environment to have filmed in. This is exactly what the Initiative Labs in S4 should've been like -- if more clean and sterile looking -- rather than the budget-set we'll see.


Scene 34: Back over in Sunnydale, Cordelia's and Xander's fight is continuing with both of them expecting the other to have ended up cheating with somebody else over the summer... which, of course, just reinforces the audience's WTH-ing over these two being together in the first place.

Their argument is interrupted by a tackle sound and a brief scream by Willow. Oz awesomely grabs the attacking Andrew!vamp and tosses him off of the struggling Willow. His attempt to stake our vampire though, is met with a toss to the ground.

Meanwhile, Willow has rolled out of the way of the action. Xander rushes away from Cordelia to engage the vampire in hand to hand with Cordy yelling worriedly after him. They end up on the ground to, with Andrew sandwich-ed between them and with Xan's stake pointed into Andrew's chest. The vampire is dusted. Fortunately, he takes Xan's stake with him as Cordelia falls forward into the now empty space.


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With the two of them suddenly in each other's arms, they begin furiously making out.

[And yes, Joss of course uses an awesomely cheesy, big musical cue for this moment.]


Scene 35: Meanwhile, Buffy is also laying on the ground, but she doesn't have a warm body pressed against her and is not getting any smoochies.

She's in a large cell with Lily, who numbly claims that she always knew she'd be in Hell someday. Buffy denies they're in the Hell she means, but Ken is there to dispute the assertion. He claims that in his realm, they'll lose any semblance of hope which is Hell in a nutshell. He tells Lily that she's right that she has always been heading where she's ended up, just like Rickie who he goes on to say remembered her name long after he'd forgotten his own.

Ken explains the deal: Time moves differently there on about a 100-year to one Earth-day cycle. He forces the kids to work into their old-hood where they either die [like the skeleton in the cell with them] or they're returned to Earth to live out their final few weeks/months having been left broken shells, anyway.

Buffy tries for a moment of defiance, but Ken cuts her down psychologically as pathetically running away from whatever she used to be and wanting to disappear. He adds a congratulations that she has now gotten her wish.


Commentary: And of course, for us, this episode ends up more interesting in retrospect because it introduces things about the enigmatic fate of Angel, who Buffy sent into a Hellgate in BECOMING. Since I think it isn't much of a spoiler that Angel comes back considering he had his own show and now comic, all of these little tidbits about Ken's dimensional physics come back: The amount of time Angel spends in his other-realm and the type of hopelessness and despair that he'll suffer [not to mention his more physical tortures] that will explain his animalistic return to Sunnydale.

We'll also get the time differential later in Angel with the discovery of Pylea, Fred Birkle and especially the aging of Connor from baby to sullen teenager.



Scene 36: Sometime later, the "new recruits" are marched to the balcony over looking their new home to gaze on the type of hard labor they'll be performing for the next several decades. Buffy is still suffering the effects of her head bashing.

The new group of kids are given the welcome spiel by Head Guard as he tells them they are nothing now and will work to live. He asks first recruit what his name is and when the kid tells him, he gets killed by head bashing. Head Guard moves to the next and asks for Lily's name - who is smart enough to answer "no one", which is the correct response. It's also the easy response for her, since Lily was never who she was anyway -- and as has been shown throughout the episode, doesn't have a firm identity of her own.


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Does anyone think that Buffy will be "no one"?

When asks she says with a small smirk, "I'm Buffy. The vampire Slayer, and you are?"

Now, apparently Ken and his ilk don't know who the Slayer is, because Head Guard attempts to hit Buffy with an over the head hammer blow which will never work because Buffy has fighin'-skills. Which she now shows.

After taking out the three guards assigned, she leads the captives back toward the freedom gate.


Commentary: Yes - I do grin involuntarily at Buffy asserting her identity even though the moment is so obviously telegraphed and I know I'm being manipulated to cheer on cue. Dammit, Joss - you play me like a fiddle.


Scene 37: Buffy has gotten the captives hidden under some stairs. She tells them that they can't get away without meeting resistance and so enacts a plan where she'll draw all of the focus onto herself, while Lily leads the dayplayers to the gate room. Lily complains of being left alone, and rather than turn to a dayplayer who looks like they will actually be brave, she insists that Lily can do this task because Buffy says she can. Lily nods [yeah, that should do it -- I feel saved already].


Scene 38: What follows is a mad dash through the plant floor for Buffy leading the demons away from Lily's escape group. Rather sadly, not one of the slave group working the floor even stops their work to watch, and not one will therefore be freed.

Buffy races through the crowded floor, until she finds a place to make her stand against the so-far few guards actually on her heels. She gives a pole swing/kick to one. Another tries to bash her with a work hammer but fails.

We get a few fight moves that will be in our opening credits.

Meanwhile, Ken comes out to see what the ruckus has been about and is appalled to find that somebody dares to fight back.

Ken sees his people getting their asses kicked despite landing a few solid blows against Buffy and rushes to find something to stop her.


Commentary: And here, I'm going to issue a kudo to the new stunt work in this episode. We see a much more dynamic fighting style than we saw in the first two seasons with more gymnastics and in this episode at least, much more brutal hits and flying bodies. It may also be the music going on, but this whole fight felt more exciting and fast paced than what we're used to seeing and I liked it immensely.


Scene 39: In a corridor, Lily is encouraging the shufflers along when she's grabbed by Ken with a big, ol' knife.

Buffy meanwhile is being pummeled by the surrounding demons, but still managing to hold her own thanks to Slayerness.

She goes on another run, but is caught up short by the sight on the overseeing platform of Ken holding Lily at knife-point. She glares, but allows herself to be manhandled. Ken blah-blahs about how resistance isn't allowed. He tosses Lily aside and threatens to reward Buffy's show of guts by slicing her open and playing with them. He warns that she'll be a lesson to everyone else about the price of rebellion.

Meanwhile, meek little Lily walks up behind him, and looking like she might want to pee herself, she shoves him forward -- right off of the platform and crashing to the floor below. Even Buffy is stunned for a moment, before she remembers that she should kick more ass... and does so.

Buffy pulls herself up a chain and escapes with Lily...


Scene 40: Where they find the rest of the escapees barred by a heavy metal gate. Even Buffy's Slayer strength is pressed to get it lifted, but she manages. As Buffy, the last one, gets her way under the gate Ken shows back up to tackle her.

It was a bad move. Buffy is pushed clear, while Ken ends up with the gate crashing down on him, it's pointed metal shards skewering him through the calves.


sc_40


As the kids are helping one another up through the gate to Earth, Buffy grabs a bladed mace. She shows Ken her impression of Gandhi... "well, you know, if he was really pissed off".


Scene 41: After escaping, and with Ken's death, the portal seals itself up behind the survivors. Poor missing folks.


Scene 42: Later, Buffy hands her middle name, her apartment and her job over to Lily [uh, I'm not sure that's the way it works... at least on the job front]. She's obvs decided to go back to Sunnydale and face both the music and her destiny-crap. Lily worries over not being very good at taking care of herself, but Buffy tells her it just takes practice.


Scene 43: Speaking of Sunnydale. We find Joyce is cleaning her oven when there is somebody at the front door. Joyce startles with a look of hope, before she tampers it down into disppointment at herself for her reaction. But of course, this time, it is Buffy waiting to find out if she'll be let back in.

Joyce's answer is a wordless, tight hug.


Commentary: Perfect end to this episode.



The Good: I really like that Joss took a page from the S1/S2 transition and again had Buffy still reeling from what happened in BECOMING, instead of having everything resolved over the summer.

The opening attempt at slaying by our Scooby Gang was highly amusing, especially Oz' epic stake-throwing fail.

I liked depicting Buffy's hiding from who she is after her trauma by representing it through the two trucker guys. You can feel yourself waiting to grin at Buffy's breaking an arm for that ass pat, and the fact that she just lets it go without even a word really tells you in shorthand exactly where she's at right now emotionally.

I really like Joyce calling Rupert Giles out on the two year relationship he had with her daughter all behind her back, while forcing her daughter to hide everything she was dealing with from her.

The small scene with Buffy confronting the nurse over her files was so very good. I found myself wanting the nurse to push her luck, but she was smarter than that.

I also liked Julia Lee in a role in which it wasn't easy to keep the audience on her side, but that she handled very well.

I absolutely loved the fight coreography in this episode.

Ending the episode with Joyce holding Buffy tightly at the front door was perfect.



The Bad: As much as I'm trying to give Hollywood convention a pass, Sarah just looks way too fabulous for the "little lost girl" act they're trying to have Buffy play. They could have at least had her go without her makeup and with some dark shadows under her eyes for her role in this episode.

I really don't find Buffy's leap in logic to Rickie's fate being related to the blood bank somehow to be credible, even with Slayer instincts. There was just nothing there for her to work with.



Other Thoughts: Even though I liked the Scooby Gang scenes, in total it felt to me like we cut back to Sunnydale for the gang's antics too many times for too long a period. This felt to me like the sort of episode that should've been overwhelmingly focused on Buffy, with the gang having glorified cameos at most, so it ends up feeling unbalanced.

And while the following our characters through school and swapping back and forth between them and background conversations was technically well done, it felt too much to me like Joss showing off.

I did like the brief visits with people we saw in S2 though, like Larry. And of course, Chanterelle/Lily/Anne [which is even cooler when she shows up again on Angel and we get to see what became of her], but obvs her just happening to run into Buffy in L.A. just before her boyfriend becomes a victim of the supernatural is just too twee for words.

I'm going to put "Ken" in this section because there were times when I liked Carlos' creeper-vibe, but then there were other parts -specifically after Ken's real face is revealed- where the acting really went over the top and was too cartoonish for me.


The Score: So, looking above, you'd think that I'd love this episode. I actually don't. It's good... but there is something off with it that I can't articulate. The pacing is a bit slow, I think, after the battle royale in Ken's hell dimension. But that doesn't explain why I don't like this episode more than I do.

I can only guess that it has something to do with the over-use of the Sunnydale location, when I wanted much more focus on Buffy herself, especially a more developed sense of the Slayer's emotional defeat prior to her finding her voice again while facing off against Head Guard. It may have something to do too with the off-the-scale adorkableness of the Scoobies when contrasted with Buffy that doesn't quite work out for me. I'm not sure, honestly and none of the reviews I've read have given me a clue as to why I can't get more on board with this episode. Despite the elements that I really liked, I can only issue this episode a...

3.50 out of 5 stars




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