Season 2, Episode 11
Story by Zahir al-Daoud
Written by Zahir al-Daoud
Produced by Susan Carr and CN Winters
Directed by Zahir al-Daoud and CN Winters
Edited by DragonWriter17
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Zahir al-Daoud
Artist – Zahir al-Daoud
With Felicia Day as Vi, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Lindsay Felton as Skye.
Guest Starring Christian Bale as Troy, Mia Kirshner as Cassandra, Jaime Pressley as Romana, Katherine Isabel as Teela, Neve Campbell as Camille and Seth Green as Oz.
Scene 01: We open in an herbalist's shop. Outside the weather is dreadful - cold and rainy. Within, the old proprietess receives two mysterious visitors. They're after a very rare flower which blooms only once every several years (bringing to my mind, "Werewolf of London", which is going to be appropriate obviously, what with Oz on the poster). The old woman has nervously sized up her visitors and has been reaching for something under the counter.
As the rough trade looking woman of the pair demands the rare bloom upstairs and fangs out, the old woman pulls a cross to ward her off. She's shocked, and left at the visitor's mercy, however when the tall, silent man simply grabs it out of her hand with no ill effect. He crushes the warding symbol as the vampiress laughs at her....
Scene 02: At that moment in a car on the way to the same herbalist shop, is Willow accompanied by Mia. Willow explains that it is she who had the herbalist attempt to raise a specimen of Diana's Favor. We further find that the bloom is every three years... or "every once in a blue moon"... and that the flower (assuming you can get it to bloom at all) can be used to cure a case of lycanthropy.
Mia asks after her intentions and Willow explains that she knows an 'old friend' who could use a werewolf-cure. But she's worried. Since the Persephone's Knot spell that stripped and then returned her magic, she hasn't been up to par. She's hoping that with the coven, they'll be able to work it.
Commentary: There are a couple of interesting things to note here: First, as already explained, Zahir must be familiar with the "Werewolf of London", a b & w Universal film that I've reviewed HERE. Second is that we're being reminded quite specifically that curing a werewolf is no easy task - in keeping with Oz' failure to find his own cure in BTVS: New Moon (though he thought briefly that he had succeeded) and Three - we have a werewolf and vampire pairing, whom I always assumed would be natural enemies (even before 'Underworld') so I find a partnership between them to be an interesting development. Lastly... you should never be a mystic/herbalist/supernatural/fortune telling shop clerk anywhere - it wasn't just Sunnydale... see also Becca's book store.
Scene 03: Willow and Mia enter the store to find the old woman lying dead on the floor. As Willow rushes upstairs to check on her flower bloom she needs, Mia notes the crushed crucifix and realizes that no vampire did that, despite the clear bite wounds on the throat of Mrs. Corman. Before she can give it much more thought, or stake the corpse - Willow exclaims from upstairs that somebody has stolen the rare bloom.
Commentary: I find Mia interesting in this short scene - I'm pretty sure this is the first time that we've seen a Slayer ready to send a stake through the heart of a corpse on the off chance that they may have been turned. I'm not sure what exactly to make of it - but I have a feeling that this is trying to tell us something about either Mia herself, or about her training as one of the more militant, special operations members.
Scene 04: New scene - and we're with Andrew in the video shop run by the bulky, tentacled demon, Reteesk. A woman approaches Andrew and lightly flirts with him. She's introduced as Cassandra and after some bonding over werewolf movies, she invites him out for coffee - but as they head out, Reteesk mutters that vampires are shameless....
Commentary: Note the werewolf connection - this is like a visual homage to the aural homage to werewolf songs in "An American Werewolf in London", not to be confused with "Werewolf of London".
Scene 05: At the Council HQ - Xan and Ro are having a discussion about his personal life when Oz and his, up 'til now unknown, wife arrive. Willow and Mia arrive shortly after to report the Diana's Favor flower theft. She had sent a telegram to Oz asking him to come so she could attempt to cure his werewolfism. We find out here that his wife is also infected and her name is Camille.
Commentary: We get a shout out to Veruca, but I don't really like the way it happens. It's not out of character for Willow to put her foot in her mouth and Oz certainly could fluster her - but for her to ask if his WIFE is like Veruca? Well, that just seems a bit too tacky to be quite believable - it wouldn't be like Oz for him to marry somebody who believed the wolf should be able to follow its nature and hurt people if it feels like it, and Willow would know that without it even being spoken. I also don't like my first impression of Camille here - I think it's a combination of having Neve Campbell playing her and the fact that she comes off as a bit whiney and needy in her first few lines.
Scene 06: The gang are left with questions that are going to need answers if Oz and his wife are to be cured. They hit the library for research mode and try to work out if there is any other reasons for the bloom, other than curing lynanthropy that would interest a vampire in such a flower.
Scene 07: In the kitchen, Xander sees Andrew who's excited about a date he has set for the woman in the video store, Cassandra. He rushes out again before Xan can mention Oz and Camille's arrival.
Scene 08: With the moon having risen, Oz and Camille work on meditation to keep the inner wolf locked up, but Camille doesn't have the required strength of focus. She apologizes as her body continues to shift. Oz chooses to join her rather than leave her alone - he relaxes and also immediately wolfs-out. The guest room becomes very active - and loud.
Scene 09: While Oz and Camille are giving into their passion, Andrew is flirting with his. Unfortunately, at Andrew's new friend's apartment, he discovers that she is a vampire - and she has minions with her, including the blonde from the opener, Cynthia - who quickly bites him deeply into his neck!
Commentary: I liked the way this scene was written. We're given some very major clues that Andy is in trouble, and he sees them himself, but he doesn't put them together. I always feel a bit sorry for Andrew - the guy finds it so hard to catch a break, romantically. I do wonder though why Tracey hasn't been mentioned - Andrew's interest in her has been pretty obvious, but he has suddenly forgotten about it without a word of acknowledgement....
Scene 10: Andrew wakes up a prisoner, but not a vampire. In a cage next to his is a werewolf and Andy's "date" of the evening before. The sunrise is imminent and Cassandra is joined by the Cynthia and another, red-headed, minion. As the werewolf shift shapes back into the muscular man from the teaser, he and Cassandra start making out - obviously on more friendly terms than she was with her date, Andrew.
Cassandra sends Cynthia and Red-head to fetch a digital camera and the valuable flower bloom. In the meanwhile, to Andrew's discomfort, Cassandra and Troy passionately kiss - ignoring his presence.
Scene 11: That morning at the Council, Dawn, Skye, Jeff and in a bit, Kennedy are listening in at a door....
Within the room they're attention is glued at are Camille, Oz, Willow and Rowena. We learn more of Oz and Camille's history, including the fact that she was a part of a pack that would gather before the full moon in order to hunt together - and stymie the werewolf hunters. But the humans were better able to organize and they were attacked. Some of the wolves, including Camille were able to get away - and Oz, who'd been in the area tracking down rumors in the Everglades of a wolf-girl, was able to find her before the hunters.
As Camille's background is wrapped up and Willow is sympathizing with her, Giles comes along in the hallway. A disappointed glare is enough to send the other four on their way. He briefly considers listening in himself, but shakes his head and walk into the dining room.
Giles mentions that they usually have a heartier breakfast than oatmeal, but Ro says Andy hasn't gotten up yet, so they scrounged....
Scene 12: At the old foundry the mysterious werewolf and vampires are calling their temporary home, Cassandra is working at her laptop - the room shrouded in thick drapes to protect from that hurtful sunlight, while Troy, the werewolf, hovers in the background.
Scene 13: At the Council, Vi and Xander find Andrew not at home. Xan mentions his 'hot date' and Vi mentions that she had looked for Xan the night before and he must have had one, too. He mentions that he went out to dinner with Alex, but denies it was a hot date. Vi sounds skeptical (and a bit jealous).
Scene 14: A little later in the library, the gang has received a video file. The message is from Cassandra and she informs them that she needs to have Willow perform a werewolf cure spell for her, in exchange for releasing Andrew relatively unharmed. Willow tells Giles that even she wanted to cooperate, she can't do a spell of that magnitude anymore - not by herself, anyway.
As this exchange is going on, Ro returns from elsewhere in the library - she has identified their foe... Cassandra had been trained as a Watcher, as her parents had been before her. But she was never called as a Watcher, because her destiny lay elsewhere... Cassandra was a Slayer.
We also find out that because she'd been trained as a Watcher, she became aware of what was in the Opus Obscurum - and carried the knowledge over when she was turned. This is why she knows about the flower, the ritual to strip someone of their werewolf-ism and that a witch is needed.
Commentary: This scene is well written, plot wise, and I really like that the Opus has been brought back into play... and that the Persephone's Knot spell continues to have effects on Willow. This is all very good writing and plays on the plots of past stories, including the very beginning episodes of WATCHERS.
Scene 15: In his cell, Andrew tries to forge some sort of bond with Troy and Cassandra. He wants to convince them that they can get the help of the Council without resorting to force, but he doesn't get very far.
Commentary: I've complained in the past about Andrew's nerdiness crossing into actively annoying territory, but when it's used lightly it is very in character and can even be amusing. I like Andrew here trying to compare Cassandra and Troy's romance to Han Solo and Princess Leia... of all things....
Scene 16: Kennedy and Faith return from their scouting mission to find out about anyone that may have been interested in herbalists (they started investigating when the Flower was stolen), but the rest of the crew are ahead of them because of Cassandra's video file. They get caught up on what is happening.
In addition to worry over Andrew - Giles is concerned that there is an untranslated passage in the Werewolf-stripping ritual that he feels Cassandra may know the translation to, because she had the Opus for longer than anyone at the Council and probably had it translated with all of the time she had possession of it. It worries him that they don't know what the complete ritual has to say.
Scene 17: In the guest room, Oz and Camille wait. She's upset because she lost control of herself the night before. Oz is sympathetic, especially to her observation that hope can be the cruelest thing in the world. This is something he has experience with.
Scene 18: Cassandra calls with instructions and proves herself to be well up to date on the current incarnation of the Council, Oz's presence and the ability to wield computer technology to keep Willow from tracing the call. There is a bit of tension as the Council has to convince her that Willow's condition won't allow her to perform the necessary ritual without coven support - but Cassandra proves reasonable, if cold. She allows the coven, Oz and his wife to accompany Willow - but also informs them that the first sign of trickery will result in Andrew losing his eyes.
Commentary: This is another well crafted scene. I actually find myself liking Cassandra... it's too bad she's evil. She has far more personality that Camille.
Scene 19: Interesting scene with Andrew and his captors. Not in the actual scene itself - it's just the usual bad-guy taunting from the minion-vampires, Teela and Cynthia...
Commentary: ...the interesting this, is I believe they give us a hint as to Cassandra and Troy's actual plans... and it doesn't sound like it is only to cure Troy. In fact, the way that Teela says that "after tonight, we won't be just vampires!" you have to wonder if Cassandra's plan is to change them all into some sort of hybrid. I mean, it sort of makes sense - although I thought that the plan would be for Troy to lose him werewolf-ism and then be turned into a vampire. But this way works too, each of them (Cassandra and Troy - I don't think that either of them care a whit about Cynthia or Teela) will share a part of the other (and they have clearly been almost obsessive in their attention to one another so far) and with Cassandra's background of already being a Watcher/Slayer/Vampire - why not add one more ability. That still leaves the question about how Oz and Camille will be affected, though, and why Cassandra was so upfront about them being able to participate - I suddenly question her 'generosity'.
Scene 20: Oz and Camille wait. She's whiney - he's cool. I remain confused about why they're together.
Scene 21: In another Council room, the gang get ready to move out. Giles has arranged a backup group - which he anticipates Cassandra expecting - but he has also called in the Black Ops team to provide a backup to the backup. He also tells everyone to expect to find Andrew dead or turned - just in case - while Rowena tells them that although Cassandra seems to have gotten less violent, according to her research, in the last century, she also has proven more erratic.
In other words, although she seems to be somewhat reasonable for a demon, things could spiral quickly out of control at any time....
Scene 22: The primary team with Willow, the coven members and the werewolves arrive at Cassandra's. In a second van, Xander and his team waits. In a third van, Robin along with the Black Ops team starts to move toward the scene.
Scene 23: In a blast room of the old foundry that Cassandra has chosen as a base of operations, everyone prepares for the ritual casting. She has set this room up in advance and with a magic work lowers the heavy blast door. This immediately raises Willow's suspicions as to why she would need her if she can do magic, but Cassandra brooks no discussion. Already, Troy has changed into a fierce 7 foot tall wolf (pointing to WATCHERS using Oz's first appearance wolf as canon, rather than his later... man on all fours in a bear rug ... look). Camille is holding onto her human form with a struggle, while Oz is keeping his cool - for the moment, at least.
Scene 24: As the ritual is happening, Vi, Xander, Faith and Kennedy enter the foundry. They're sneaking around and trying to find the source of the werewolf cries they hear (Troy) when they're taken by surprise by Cynthia and Teela - both holding a pair of machine guns. They fire point blank at our secondary team!
Imagine everyone's surprise when no one falls over dead. (I thought it was Xan's magic eye having a vision - it was expressly mentioned several times - but no... nice misdirect.) As the two vampires are berating each other for somehow missing, Vi calmly walks over and dusts Teela. They take Cynthia prisoner, who reveals that Troy - Cassandra's boyfriend and werewolf - gave them the machine guns to use.
Obviously, Cynthia and Teela were not a part of whatever Cassandra has planned.
Commentary: I find this section of this scene amusing - one for Cynthia's reaction to realizing after the fact that her gun was loaded with blanks - and Faith's offhand comment about the vampire/werewolf interracial coupledom.
Cynthia drops the secret plan - and it is as I had thought when I first read this one from her earlier comments - Cassandra wants to combine vampire and werewolf powers in one super-package. Vi then stakes Cynthia after she reveals where Andrew is tucked away. Xander goes to free him, while the others find the werewolf howling and stop the vampire's plan.
Commentary: Vi seemed a bit too hard here with Cynthia - I think I would have preferred if Mia had plunged this stake....
Scene 25: In the former blast furnace room - the ritual takes effect with violet light and a whirlwind. Oz, Camille, Troy and Cassandra all begin to change as the coven participants are blown around the room like paper dolls....
Commentary: This scene is another one that is really well written. I really like the description of what is happening and the Cassandra and Troy picture is really bold and well done.
Scene 26: Back at the Council, Ro finds Giles and shows him another video clip that had just arrived a few minutes earlier. It is also Cassandra. She tells them that by this point the ritual cannot be stopped and tells them that "both of them" got what they wanted.
Commentary: At first glance, I thought she meant the Council and she got what they wanted. But Giles' "Oh, dear" made me realize that she meant her and Troy got what they wanted. Even in context though, I'm not sure about Giles' reaction. There isn't any way he could suspect that Cassandra isn't talking about Troy being stripped of his curse and he should be glad - it means that Oz and Camille should have gotten what they were after, too....
Scene 27: In the blast room - Camille rises up - and she is fully werewolf-ed. Oz, humanized, calls her name and she hesitates attacking Skye. Willow groans as she gets up and it distracts the werewolf into threateningly moving toward her. Willow tries to cast a defensive spell, but nothing happens. Fortunately for her, Robin outside gets the blast doors raised which again distracts Camille-wolf from attacking. As Oz shouts a warning that the werewolf is his wife, Faith and Mia draw their tranq guns - brought for this mission - and shoot her, sending her to nap time.
Faith shouts for the location of the other two werewolves, but when everyone looks for them, they see... two, ordinary looking, wolves....
Scene 28: In the Council, Cassandra's recording continues:
"…five centuries of the same dreariness," Cassandra continued in her recording, "dozens of languages, hundreds of things to try, thousands of people to meet or kill, and they all turn to dust. Even as a vampire I couldn’t escape it, the human condition. Worry about the past, worry about the future, worry about how the past and the future affect the present." She sounded sick and weary. "No more. From now on, we will live. Really live. Live in ways and with such purity that the rest of you can’t even comprehend. I almost pity you, still burdened as you are with the garbage of civilization and sentience. But soon, I won’t be ‘almost’ anything. By now, I’ll be myself – pure and unencumbered. I’ll be really alive and in love and free." There was a strange smile on her face now, and she seemed enraptured by a vision only she could see. Suddenly, she turned again to the camera. "So, goodbye, you pathetic creatures. All of you. And good riddance."
Commentary: I think I might be in love with this ending. Cassandra's whole plan - to make her and Troy just regular wolves - who could live without the burden of sentience, but still lovers... that just made me grin.
Scene 29: The gang call animal control to take care of Cassandra and Troy, while Faith helps Oz carry the unconscious and back to human Camille out....
Scene 30: ... what they don't see is a woman up in the scaffolding, tucked away, and watching them with burning hatred in her eyes....
The Good: Cassandra. She made a complex, sort of honorable, kind of romantic, figure for a vampire.
The plot. This story was really well constructed from beginning to end in that there aren't any scenes where I thought, "this is dead wood - let's move on".
Oz! C'mon, including Oz is automatically a good - the fact that he's not given any out of character dialog-heavy scenes is a plus.
Callbacks. As I've said before, I love continuity, so anytime bits and pieces are mentioned from past stories, I'm happy for it.
The artwork. Some really nice jobs done on the artwork in this one. There wasn't any that I said, "Oooh, I don't think that should have been included" like in some past stories.
The Bad: I was going to say 'nothing for this section', but I've re-read scene 05, and it really sticks in my craw that Willow would ask if Oz's wife is like the murderous, unfeeling, just let the beast do what it wants to do Veruca... I just don't see Willow either jumping to that conclusion about Oz's choice of a partner nor that she'd be brash enough to say it aloud even if the thought had crossed her mind for a split second.
Other Thoughts: There are a few odds and ends, Giles' sudden worry when he doesn't seem to have any reason to be for one. For another, Vi's uncharacteristic hardness (as I see her, anyway) in Cynthia's sudden staking for another. I'm also not sure why Cassandra's background had to include 'Slayer' - it didn't come into play at all. Everything she accomplished, she did so using her vampire or Watcher-trainee past. It has the feel of being just one detail too much to play up her threat, but it was an unnecessary detail. There is also one dangling plot point - but it may be answered in the next episode - Why wasn't Oz and Camille changed into regular old wolves, too?
The Score: I liked this one, even though I didn't much care for Oz's choice in brides. His role could have been beefed up a bit, too, but as this is leading into another story involving him, we'll see what he's given to do there (Camille is definitely one of the faces featured for 'Bad Blood' on the next poster). I'll give this: 4.0 out of 5