harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

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Watchers Review

A new review for WaTchers: The Virtual Series... episode 12Modus Operandi 

Story by: SpikeMe4Now, CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: David Zahir
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, David Zahir, Chantal, CN Winters, Mytryk

Teaser: During the last episode, Willow broke up with Kennedy at a rather nice restaurant. We open this one with Kenn in a lesbian bar, talking to another red head. There's some flirting going on, but Kennedy doesn't really seem into an encounter... which is born out when she later leaves the bar alone.
Across from the bar in an alley, a creepy man (played by Jeffrey Combs) is watching the bar with interest. He has a knife, and begins to stalk a woman. Fortunately for her, a friend catches up with her and they get into a car, unrealizing that she has escaped being killed. This leaves our bad guy still in the alleyway when Kenn leaves and he attacks her!
Being a Slayer, Kennedy holds her own despite the fact that the man is superhumanly strong until he starts with some mojo. Summoning a bank of fog into the alley, Kenn chooses to retreat to get backup.

Our bad guy tracing sigils into the air and summoning a blanketing fog.

Act One: Back at the  Council HQ, Willow and Ro are engaged in a chess game with Andrew as commentator. It appears that Ro is a bit more clever than Will and is clearly on her way to victory (causing Willow to be a bit bitchy). The game is interrupted, however, by Kennedy and her report of the super-powered guy with the knife who tried to carve her up.
As Willow, Ro and Andrew work on the information provided by Kenn about her attacker, it's very clear that there is a whole building full of tension between Kenn and Will... which isn't really a surprise. Fortunately, Ro is good at keeping everyone on subject as they try to pin down the possible identities of the man in the alley.
I like this research scene because everyone is written well, but more so, because Andrew is actually able to contribute. Another thing that was kind of neat is that there's embedded links in the story. Clicking these leads to pages of information that Willow is looking at describing a series of mutilation deaths in the thirties matching the description of the deaths described in Andrew's newpaper research. It's a neat touch that makes WaTchers not just a fanfiction story.
The next morning, Giles is just getting caught up on what is happening and is a bit put out that he wasn't informed sooner. As Ro points out however, if any organization was that dependent on one person, it wouldn't last long... there was no reason to interrupt his evening, especially since he was on a date with Becca Montague. Still, Giles seems bothered that they investigated this new threat without him. In the meantime, with the all night research, there is something to report. Willow updates him, Vi and Rona on several similar murders that happened in the Cleveland area in the 30's, although that's not very concrete evidence of what is happening currently. 
Kennedy has more to add when she sees the latest victim of this butcher... the red head who she'd been chatting with in the bar the night before. Tamara Lewis has been found "horribly mutilated".
Later, Robin joins in research, but there's simply isn't enough details from Kennedy's encounter to narrow down the list of suspects until an offhand comment by Andrew leads Ro to Spring Heel Jack and Jack the Ripper!
As the gang is discussing this newest idea, our butcher is adding organs from Tamara to a tube filled with flourescent green liquid. Machines surround him in the room, and from behind a curtain is the weak voice of a woman whom he calls 'mother'. As 'mother' weeps, he describes the strong "whore" he fought with the night before and decides he needs to seek her out again for her 'useful' strength!

Act Two: In the lobby of the Council, Ro conducts a briefing on what they suspect... that a killer who returns every 100 years is behind the recent murders of three women (including Kennedy's acquaintance). Once known as 'Spring Heel Jack' and then a century later as 'Jack the Ripper', he's now in Cleveland. Marsha, the junior Slayer under Willow's watch asks if they should engage if they run into him, but Willow puts the kibosh on that plan. The Juniors are to help in research, as only the Senior Slayers will be sent out to put a stop to "Jack's" activities... a plan that the junior contingent isn't happy about as they are still riding high on their defeat of Eemia at Halloween. In the meantime, the Senior Slayers are teamed up and sent out to make themselves the target of a serial killer....
As the HQ team get down to trying to find any way of tracking down their murderer and dealing with him/it, Faith and Kennedy are again teamed up. As they often do while patrolling, the two of them begin talking with Faith wanting to address the recent split between Kenn and Wills. Faith knows Kennedy very well and is seemingly the only one who can get Kenn to talk about the things that's she hurting over. Their heart to heart is interrupted though by, not the serial killing Jack, but a newlywed pair of vampires.
The interesting thing about this scene is the way that the Kenn/Faith relationship parallels Faith/Buffy with Faith on the opposite end of things this time. As Kennedy begins beating on the male vampire, completely losing control of herself instead of just staking and moving on, Faith steps in to end things and confronts her:

(Faith to Kenn):  "What if I'd been in trouble? What if I did (need help) but you were too busy using Mister Cow-Eyes as an undead punching bag?"

I seem to recall Buffy making a point very similar to this to Faith, which even Faith has to acknowledge:

"Deja-friggin-vu," she muttered, shaking her head.

How's it feel to have this shoe on the other foot, Faith? We don't get to find out, as we cut to the Council where Giles commiserates with Willow about her dumping Kennedy and how hard it is on both young women. They are also continuing research duty on the "Jack" problem....
Out on patrol, Faith and Kenn get a list of bars to check out from Ro. What neither realize is that Jack is a lot closer than they think! He's stalking Kennedy, but on finding that she's with another "strong whore", decides he needs to plan things out so that he can harvest them both!

Act Three: Andrew is heading up the Junior Slayer research effort, though Marsha and friends seems more interested in grossing themselves out by checking out old photos of one of Jack the Ripper's victims from 1888. Thankfully, Andy is able to get them back on track by reminding them that this is what they are working to prevent.
I'm afraid its too late coming, however, to save the fourth victim... a woman who ends up "contibuting" a set of lungs to Jack's collection. 
As Jack carves up his latest trophy, Kenn and Faith are in a bar from Ro's list. Now, ostensively, they're trying to draw him out by making themselves attractive targets, but in actuality, it appears that Kenn is more interested in just getting drunk. Which she proceeds to do while Faith isn't noticing. She's also interested in getting laid... and thinks that her partner in Slaying might make a great candidate for a little overnight fun. Something that Faith isn't very thrilled about. It's a good thing that she's grown as a person, or Kenn would probably end up with a mouthful of fist after she sucker-kisses Faith on the mouth!
Kennedy isn't done making an ass out of herself quite yet, though. When Faith drags her back to the Council to report that they're "fishing expedition" was a bust, the drunken Slayer is quick to run her big mouth to Willow... especially when she's confronted for getting drunk while on duty. When Wills asks her what the hell she thought she was doing, this is Kenn's less than tactful reply:

"I was thinking about having a few drinks and getting laid since my girlfriend gave me the gift of break up for Christmas. Too bad it's non-returnable. And since Ms. Virtue over here won't give me the time of day," she said waving haphazardly toward Faith, "that means I'll be bunking alone tonight."

Before this can devolve an further, Ro tries to get things back on track by asking Faith if anything suspicious turned up. She's just been out of the room to check with the police radio, and reveals the unfortunate victim without lungs has just been found.

Kennedy's reaction to this is to run for a good upchuck in the bathroom. And she manages to throw a few "bitch" comments at Willow through the door to boot. Yes, if Will thought this was going to be a smooth break-up, Kennedy's making sure to correct her on that score. At least Faith is still looking out for the drunken young woman though, like a true friend, without getting into the middle of things too much.

Elsewhere that same night (though the picture sure looks like morning), Jack returns home... not knowing that Vi and Rona have followed him. And as Rona says, "I think its got 'Lair' written all over it, myself." They take off to report into HQ, while Jack is delivering his newly acquired lungs to the strange container and telling his mother how he's found out that Kennedy is a Slayer. "Do you know what that means? Extraordinary strength and healing powers. How nice!", he shares with her.

Act Four: Even, later that night, its time for Kennedy to face the music, and its not going to be pleasant. Willow has already decided that the least that can happen is suspension for Kenn. In addition, because news travels so fast, she's also provided a very poor example for Marsha and the younger Slayers, which has just added to Willow's disappointment. Further action is delayed as Vi returns to the Council to report what her and Rona found, while Rona is watching Jack's place to make sure he doesn't go out killing any more that night. The posse rounds up, but not without words between Willow and Kennedy and Faith. Still, Kenn is the only one who can positively ID their suspect, so the gang gets on the move.

The gang prepare to storm Jack's hideout.

Elsewhere (and there's no explanation for how he got around Rona), Jack is meeting with Bonnie as we discover that he's something of an 'advanced scout' working for the Presidium. Because of his loyalty to them, he informs her that he intends to harvest the Slayer called Kennedy. To this, Bonnie gives the Presidium's blessing... with one important proviso... the Watchers are NOT to be harmed. Now isn't this interesting: they don't care about the Slayers, but they want the Watchers left alone... and they also didn't kill Jeff, one of the Council's magic-users. Hmmm... their plot thickens.

While Jack is making his deal with Bonnie, the Slayers and Watchers are investigating the inside of Jack's hideout and making inroads into understanding why he has been harvesting. I won't divulge this here, but it's related to the pic below. I'll just say, that he hasn't been killing just to kill and that the final confrontation between Jack and the Council doesn't go so well for him.

The woman behind the curtain... and Jack's reason for organ harvesting.

The Good: The character work is outstanding in this episode, especially where it concerns the fallout for Willow, Faith and Kennedy following the Will/Kenn breakup. It's easy to sympathize with everyone and Faith shows again that she isn't the same woman she was in Buffy or even in Angel. Kennedy's flaws make her a "real" person and her fiery response to being dumped feels very much in character. Everyone has a chance to contribute in this episode, including those that have been neglected like Vi, Rona and Robin. The "Jack the Ripper" cliche is side-stepped by giving him more development and a real purpose behind his grisly activities. He's also really creepy because of the spot-on casting. The Presidium angle is interesting... Jack is "scouting" for what exactly? What is the Presidium using him for? Why are they 'protecting' the Watcher contingent? We get some great dialog and we see Willow actually being a Watcher with Marsha.

The Bad: Just the picture of the bad guy's lair. Clearly showing a house in daylight, when it is indicated in dialog to still be night threw me for a minute. I'm not entirely convinced that the Presidium would need a Jack the Ripper to help them for any particular reason... like with the vampires from the previous episode, it seems like an unnecessary link to the season's "big bad". I wasn't absolutely clear that Jack could teleport, but its the only explanation for his getting to Bonnie's high rise. I also think the timeline for this episode is a bit wonky.

Verdict: Again, some outstanding writing is done for our main players and the monster-of-the-week was more than just the usual "Oh, no... Jack the ripper has somehow appeared in modern times" trope. The complex responses from Kennedy to her being dumped by Will is "true to life" and makes her a 'real person'. And I loved the parallels from Buffy/Faith to Faith/Kennedy! However, some aspects (see 'The Bad') remain a bit muddled and confused. I give this episode a solid 3.25 out of 5.



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