Story by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: Suika and CN Winters
Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by: Kate
Sound Department: Steff
Art Director: Chris Cook
Artists: Chris Cook, CN Winters, Cynthia Taz, David Zahir, Chantal, Mytryk
Teaser: A good start to this episode as we again find ourselves in the company of Gretz (number two and successor to his jefe, Seward the Master Vampire, seen last episode). He's in a secret meeting with Bonnie the not-so-real-estate agent (she's more of a lawyer) who gives the vampires a special mission (apparently on her behalf of the Presidium) to capture Jeff, the boy wizard of the Council's coven and one of Willow's students. Why they would want him (rather than say Willow) we aren't told, but clearly the vampires will be expected to commit hari-kari with a stake if they fail to deliver the young man.
Later that evening, in the Council Lounge, Willow and Ro are playing a game of Chess. Andrew comes in and offers them pizza, but is casually rebuffed. Sighing, he leaves. Ro questions Will about how her and Kennedy are in the aftermath of the "give Xan his eye back" ritual that we saw last episode. Willow's reply, "Not bad…not good though, either," was her only comment, and she seemed saddened by just thinking about it.
According to Willow, all she gets from Kenn is "I am fine" even though its obvious that the Slayer is NOT fine with what happened. There seems to be concern among the Council staff as Ro reports that both she and Giles tried to talk to her about it, but also got nowhere. Ro still supports what Willow chose to do, but can also see Kenn's point of view. As she shares with Willow, "You're a Wiccan now and don't feel bound to the Judeo-Christian fundamentals of life. She's not so it's gotta be tough on her, Will."
This is small comfort, however, as Kennedy won't just TALK to her about it.
Andrew tries to share his pizza with Jeff next, but he's on his way out for a date. They do make plans to catch "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" the following week, however.
Act One: The next morning and Andrew is having a rough start to the day. He's managed to ruin Ro's sweater, dull one of Faith's favorite knives, ruined an omelette, failed to have breakfast ready for the Slayers (30 of 'em, now, not including Faith and Kenn) and failed to tell Giles that the Aston needed servicing. Everyone is treating him pretty crappily, too, and seem to be underappreciating him for all he does as the "den-mother" of the Council. Willow tries to make him feel a bit better, but shoots down his suggestion of hiring an extra hand for the kitchen.
Later in the day, Andrew's day continues to suck as loneliness is making him feel isolated from the rest of the Council with everyone else busy with meetings and training. Jeff again can't do anything as he has another date. With no company and no help in the kitchen, Andrew decides to kill two birds with a spell and summons himself a companion.
Andrew's mauve colored demonic companion (Lacey Chabert).
Act Two: The act opens with Andy and Mora (she of the above picture) in a candle-lit, romantic setting in the coven room. They are sharing a bottle of wine and you know...
... playing Battleship, as you do in these situations. Mora has finally gotten herself into Andrew's lap and is nipping at his earlobes when they're interrupted by Willow, Ro and Giles who want to know what the heck is going on.
Elsewhere on the streets of Cleveland, Jeff comes under attack by Gretz and his vampire gang. Fortunately for the young man, he's assisted by a cruising by Brell and the attempt to abduct him is aborted. We also find out that Jeff's mom teaches Demon Lore at the Council and we'll meet her in a later episode (she's played by Katey Sagal). With Jeff and Brell back at the Council to report the attack, Gretz gets the job of reporting their failure to Bonnie.
She orders them out of the lair by sunrise and gone, or she'll be far less forgiving (what happened to the commit hari-kari idea?). In the meantime, she also reveals that the mysterious 'Engineer' of the Presidium has arrived and what's more he's overseeing the final construction of something.
Back at the Council, Ro, Willow and Giles try to figure out where Mora came from and how to send her back. This leaves Andrew a bit put out as he feels he doesn't have any friends in Cleveland, except Mora... making Wills feel a bit of guilt over how they've been neglecting him since the Council opened its doors. As Willow is promising Andrew to hire some help for him so he's not overwhelmed and assuring him that he has friends in the Council, Bonnie is meeting with something big, ugly, and demonic.
The Engineer isn't seen, but is heard with this passage: The towering figure at the lectern turned slightly, and spoke. Bonnie almost fell back a step as the terrible voice washed over her.
Ooh..., he orders Bonnie to bring him the failed vampires while at the same time, she informs the Presidium that she has arranged for a Vutch demon to gather Jeff from the Council.
Act Three: Meanwhile, Faith and Robin left after the Teaser to introduce themselves to another Slayer who they want to invite to the Council.
Robin and Faith in Niagara Falls... on business, of course.
As Robin and Faith walk along the river, they share their views on marriage. We find out that Robin's been married before, but it didn't work out. Coincidentally, also in Niagara is Xander (played by Kelly Donovan). He asks after Willow and Kenn and how they are doing since the sexual healing spell, which leads us to...
... Willow dropping in on Kennedy for a chat.
Kennedy reads Willow the riot act for sleeping with Xander.
(Ken gives it to Willow): "Maybe if I had more time to adjust then it would have been better. But you just threw it at me. You didn't give a rat's ass about how I'd take it and y-you just freakin' did it! So right now I'm really pissed at you, okay? So just back off and leave me the hell alone!"
Well... despite Willow trying to understand Kenn's feelings, the argument doesn't go well toward patching things between the two of them. Will still feels justified in healing Xander, Kenn still feels betrayed despite being able to see Willow's viewpoint: her head agrees with Will, but her heart is another matter entirely. The important thing, though, is that they ARE talking, at last and it looks like they'll be okay... maybe.
Act Four: Robin, Faith and new Slayer Anne arrive at the Council just in time for the attack by the Vutch demon.
A Vutch demon attacks the Council to grab Jeffrey.
As the demon attacks, Andrew, Faith, and Robin are easily sent flying. Mora tries to help but gets herself knocked down as well. When Willow attempts to retailiate, she finds that her magic isn't working and is clobbered to the floor.
With Jeff ordered to retreat upstairs, the Slayer Squad arrives to engage the demon. Rachel's best blows seem to hardly affect him however. Thankfully, Faith and Kenn are able to reach the demon with swords which seems to do a lot more good. The Vutch is quickly sliced and diced into four quadrants.
But oops... that wasn't good. As the gang are pulling themselves together, new demons are generating from the remains of the one... now they have four Vutches to deal with!
The fight against the Vutch goes even less well....
Mora can't allow Andrew to be shish-kabobbed.
As one of the demons carry Jeff away, the others provide cover leading to another Council death and serious injuries among our cast. Meanwhile, Jeff comes face to face with the 'Engineer' who activates a strange device causing Jeff to scream....
The Good: The Council's recognition of Andrew's value was long overdue. Yes, he's the comic relief for the most part, but he stayed to fight in Sunnydale and he keeps things running smoothly within the Council while everyone else is saving the day. The fighting between Kenn and Willow is handled well and is entirely in character as far as Kennedy being the type who wouldn't be able to simply accept and forget that Willow had sex with someone else, no matter what the reason. The Presidium arc carries on and the attack of the Vutch was exciting and exacted a price from both Andrew and the Council.
The Bad: With such a powerful demon contact, why did Bonnie waste time (and valuable story space) with the vampires? They'd already proven that they weren't entirely controllable and sending vampires against the Council just seems dumb (even if its just against one member), when there are more powerful resources to be tapped. And why did she give them the option to leave after making it clear she'd expect them to dust themselves if they failed?
Verdict: Most of this one is involved with several subplots (Andrew's place in the Council, Willow/Kenn's difficulties, Faith & Robin meeting Xander, Jeff's stalkers) but its well written and holds together well. Bonnie remains an interesting character, though it would be nice to know why she's helping the demonic Presidium. I'd give this one a 3.25 stars out of 5, with a half-star going completely for the Vutch attack in Act Four; that was some excitingly written stuff.
BTW: Remember my "Snow-rant"; well somebody up there was annoyed because I'm sitting at work with a mini-blizzard going on outside. Trying to drive home tonight ought to be a LOT of fun (he says with heavy sarcasm).... *sigh*