harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

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A Watchers Review

Watchers Review for Lessons Learned


Season 1, Episode 19


Story by Coll, CN Winters and Susan Carr

Written by CN Winters and Susan Carr

Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr

Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr

Edited by: Kate and Amazonchyck

Sound Department: Steff

Art Director: Chris Cook

Artists: Chris Cook, David Zahir, Sarah and CN Winters




When last we were with our crew… oh, so long ago… sorry about that, we ended with Faith’s discovery of a band of homeless Slayers in Cleveland. While the ragtag group of girls were helping, in their own way, to keep the vampire population down – they unfortunately were also mugging people. Faith has invited them to join the Council, but is butting heads with the group’s nominal leader, Julia (Becky Wahlstrom). She’s making more headway with the second-in-command, Mia (Norika Fujiwara). We also received flashbacks of Faith in Boston with her original Watcher, as well as Robin’s back story.


Finally, we’ve had a bombshell by Kennedy when she tells Andrew that she thinks she needs to leave the Council. She’s feeling guilty over the amount of screwing up she’s done lately… first by providing her blood to a vampire-chick who used it to give herself and her fang-gang a free power-boost and then by taking new recruit Lori out without sufficient backup, leading her to be gravely injured via vamp-bite.

Teaser: We begin, as we so often do, with a meeting in progress at the Watchers Council. Giles is leading the meeting of the senior staff (minus Faith, who is out ‘patrolling’) in a discussion of what to do with the street urchin-Slayers, assuming they can get them to come in. These girls, obviously, are used to seeing to themselves… throwing their power around and not really heeding authority. Giles’ plan, which stirs some controversy (and, as I recall, was the subject of much discussion on the fan-boards, as well) is to make these new Slayers into a sort of ‘special ops’ team. The idea being that they’re used to kicking ass and the Council may meet foes in which more… forceful… intervention is required, including a more human enemy, perhaps. You can see why Willow and Ro are not very thrilled with the suggestion, but Andrew and Xander see merit.


As Giles is setting up the controversial idea of a more “black ops” set of Slayers, Faith is fighting off some vampires. Julia, somehow fascinated with Faith even as she continues to deny any interest in being a ‘Council puppet’ is in the shadows. Her and Faith share some more words, with Faith realizing that she has changed, but not in the negative way that Julia thinks. She chose her changes for herself and she’s happy with who she’s become now, thanks to Giles and the Council. And, if she gave it some thought, she’d probably have to admit it’s thanks in large part to Buffy as well… not to mention Angel. But, we don’t get into all of that here.

  Julia - a real pain in the ass!

The most important part of this opener, is the Black Operations Slayer idea. Because, I’ll give you a tiny spoiler here and let you know that the Council does goes through with the idea… and it leads to both some good and some really bad.


Act One: At the breakfast table the next morning, conversation turns to the mysterious Presidium. You’ll recall that this group of demonic conquerors are very busy, while our Council remains in the dark about their ultimate plans. So far, they’ve managed to kill a Slayer (Rachel) and Andrew’s demonic gal-Friday. They also kidnapped and tortured Jeff (Elijah Wood) for mysterious reasons. Brell’s (Brad Dourif) family had escaped from a dimension already overrun by this group. In addition, they’ve manipulated the Council into setting up shop in Cleveland for reasons unknown via Bonnie (Stephanie March) the faux real-estate agent.


We get a quick update on Tram and his family, who the Council helped to smuggle to safety as they fled from their conquered dimension as a favor to Brell, their ally. Rowena, coming from the Old Council, is taken aback for a few moments to learn that there is an entire network for the benevolent demon community, which the Council is happy to help support in their efforts.


Conversation quickly turns to the upcoming visit by the Slayers, assuming they’ll show. If they do come by, as promised, the gang needs to be ready to impress them and convince them to stay. As everyone is well aware, a gang of Slayers left to their own devices will be a distraction for the Council. They’ll need to spend valuable resources protecting the population from super-powered muggers when they should be focused on the vampires and other evil demons.


The suggestion comes up that the girls may respect a show of force more than merely words and high ideals. Nothing too violent, but simply a show that they aren’t the top of the food chain just because of their Slayer powers. Willow is tapped to show them there are other forces, but she’s not thrilled with the idea. Using magic to be flashy isn’t part of the Wiccan way, which Willow is committed to these days.


With things pretty much planned out, Faith leaves the table to work out. We note that her and Robin didn’t even exchange a greeting during the entire discussion. Not good.


In the Exercise Room, Faith finds Kennedy and tries to get the younger woman to talk about what’s been going on lately. At first, Kenn tells her there isn’t anything to talk about, as she’s got it pretty much figured out for herself. But Faith is nothing, if not persistent. And, though Andrew hasn’t talked to anyone of Kenn’s decision to leave the Council soon, Faith is two steps ahead of ‘em both:

  Faith has Kennedy's number.

Faith (to Kennedy): "Then let me take a guess," Faith said. "Right now you're feeling pretty useless. You've been suspended so many times, you don't know if you're coming or going. Your stupid, thoughtless actions have gotten yourself and others hurt. So maybe you're thinking that the Council would be better off without you."


When Kennedy doesn’t immediately respond, Faith pushes further:


"I know where you're at, Ken," Faith said softly. "I've been there. And I think you need to open up a little…maybe because right now you're feeling insecure. But I can tell you that the life you have here is better than being out there alone. You're making a difference here. You're needed here, even with all your dumb mistakes."


With this, Kennedy admits that her fear is getting someone killed with her screw-ups. It’s a fear that Faith can easily relate to… as a flashback is about to reveal.


We are taken back to Sunnydale and the whole Mayor deal. These memories and what she did for him still haunt her. And it was way worse than anything that Kennedy has done, because the pain Faith caused was deliberate. She hasn’t forgotten for one moment where she’s come from.


After a very short telephone scene between Giles and Becca, just there to reinforce that they’re almost too cute to stand (almost… fortunately Becca is a great character and well… you can’t have too much Giles-cuteness), Mia and the Slayer-girls arrive.


Act Two: Although Mia and over half of the street-Slayers have arrived at the Council, Faith is bothered by the lack of Julia. She really identifies with her, you see, and she really hoped that she was going to show.


Another thing about Faith is her lack of confidence in her own intelligence. She’s always felt out-classed by Robin, and we see that here again when she specifically reminds him that she isn’t stupid, even though he never suggested she was. In fact, Robin seems to respect her mind far more than she does, herself. But Giles gives her the chance to shine here as he places the introduction of the entire Council to these girls squarely in her hands, even though she at first tries to demure. When she’s put on the spot though, she shows she has a good head on her shoulders:


"Alright, here's what we're gonna do. Let's break up into groups so we can cover more ground. But start with a general tour first, especially of the kitchens and the dorms to show them we can offer them three squares and a warm, clean bed at night. Red, you dazzle them with the mojo like we talked about. Giles, you explain the history of the Slayers, but please try not to be too boring. Ro, you too, but emphasize more the Watcher/Slayer relationship. Let them know they'll have someone who cares for them and watches their back. Robin, be a general and talk about tactics and strategy. These girls have been coming up with their own, so I think they'll listen to that. Xander and Andrew, you guys stick with demon-y stuff and weapons research. And just where the hell is Kennedy?"


What follows is a basic tour of the Council layout. We see the kitchen, meeting Tracey again. We see the weapons room and the gym. And the “lost girls”, as Andrew calls them, get to check out the dorms.


In the workout room, Kennedy shows a move or two to Mia, and immediately there’s some chemistry going on. Mia slyly enquires into Kenn’s sexual preference with a “you’re family, aren’t you” which Kenn denies to respond to… except for a small smile and a blush.


Meanwhile, in another practice room, Willow is also impressing. It becomes obvious that none of the young Slayers have some up against magic before and they’re not quite prepared for realizing that sometimes their muscle isn’t going to cut it by itself. Wills is more than happy to show ‘em differently, despite her earlier concerns.


As Willow impresses, Ro is also showing off the Council’s benefits. This involves going into the curriculum and educational opportunities that we haven’t gotten a lot of chance to see in the series. Marsha, Willow’s junior Slayer, is studying math and encourages the others to join the Council, explaining that she’s learned so many different things. Ro seconds this, explaining how the Council is interested in the girl’s minds… not just in their fists.


Although there are no disasters during the tour… they also get no commitments.


Act Three: At the very end of the last act, Ro tells Giles she needs a favor and is worried about Kennedy… again. So, now we find that Giles has taken Ro’s place in their sparing session in order to talk to the Slayer.


It’s a nice scene, especially when Kennedy is hesitant to spar with Giles in fear of hurting him.


(Giles to Kennedy): "I've been beaten up by a Slayer before and I've been tenderized for years now," he teased. Still not looking too sure, Kennedy hit him a few times but didn't seem to put much power behind it. "No offense," he teased, "but you punch like a girl."

Kennedy gave him a disgruntled look and put more force behind her strikes. He watched her for a few moments with a slight grin and began to shake his head. "You're opening yourself up for an attack with how you're standing." He took a pose and showed her. "Like this," he instructed.

Ignoring the order, Kennedy kept her current stance. "I've been fighting this way for years and Jacobs couldn't get me to change either. Might as well give up since this works for me."

Kennedy took a step forward, ready to swing but Giles moved at the last second and smacked her across the face. Startled more than hurt, she jumped back.

"I'm a chaos demon with arms like a club. I just broke your neck," he says dryly.




Of course, despite my joy in seeing Giles show Kenn a thing or two about how to fight, there is another purpose to this little ruse. As he tells Kenn, she is a natural born leader and that is why she is Faith’s second. What’s more, he has always been impressed with her and he expects a lot from her… like training future Slayers alongside their Watchers and taking more of a leadership role in the organization.


The real point of this encounter though, it to buck up Kennedy’s spirits and to point out, logically, that she did the right thing regarding taking Lori out on patrol. Lori had already fought vampire before, and Kenn didn’t go far from the Council. She should have been able to handle things, but sometimes, shit happens (my words, not Giles’).  But he also acknowledges that Kennedy, as a human being, is not perfect and yes, she does sometimes react out of impatience and without thinking things through first. She just needs to learn from the mistakes, rather than planning on running away and avoiding further development.


In addition to convincing Kennedy to stay on, though, this scene really points to a great connection between Giles and Kenn. She really does need something more than a Watcher, but more of a mentor. And Giles admits that he misses the interaction between Watcher and Slayer that he no longer has, now that Buffy has moved on with her life. This is certainly an interesting dynamic between these two characters and I love this whole scene between them.


A little later and the gang discusses the street-Slayers again. There’s definitely ongoing tension between Faith and Robin, which everyone clearly sees. If the two of them would just talk things out about what Faith, in particular, is feeling about this whole thing, they’d be okay. But, as we know, Faith isn’t much of a sharer when it comes to the touchy-feelies.


On the subject at hand… Giles has picked out Mia (quite correctly) as the way in to the other girls. He was able to recognize her as the only natural leader of all of the groups of girls (and of course, Julia wasn’t an issue, since she didn’t show up).


With a plan in place… Faith should try to convert Mia and she’ll bring the others around… Faith and Willow have a talk about what it might mean for security. Although Faith wants to trust the girls, as Slayers, she also can’t in good conscience open up the Council to being robbed. And, she’s already seen Julia with a bunch of wallets.


Willow takes the opening to bring up the tension between her and Robin. And thank you!! Finally, somebody asking what is going on!


Willow is also smart enough and observant enough to get that Faith is feeling a lot of stirred up emotions by relating to what these new girls have gone through. And more, she gets that maybe Faith is just trying to create tension because Robin is really getting close to her and with their lives, Faith is maybe afraid of losing him after getting invested. Things that Willow can certainly relate to in her own way.


She leaves Faith with something to think about. While I’m ready to just grab the Slayer and shake her until some sense falls out. Robin and she are great together, as Watchers as developed them and she needs to get her head out of her ass… HMMPH.


We leave Faith and follow Will. Willow and Ro have a ‘date’ to go see Becca perform with her band later. Of course, Ro has no clue that Willow is seeing this as a possible DATE, and so she invites Xander along with them.

Act Four: Cluelessly, Xander flirts outrageously with Ro as Willow not so secretly steams. Of course, he is completely oblivious, but we get the feeling that Ro is starting to realize that there is something she missed.


A triangle!


Of course, Willow has never even asked if Ro is interested in a ‘date-date’, so Wills is being a bit peevish about this whole thing. What’s worse, is she’s being peevish in a passive-aggressive way, which is really annoying, I have to say. Completely in character… but irritating.


Elsewhere – Robin has had just about enough with Faith’s sudden withdrawal and finally grows a pair. Thank you again, Watchers writers! It’s about time he stops being a doormat. And yes, I know Faith is going through some stuff and sometimes you just need space to clear your head, but she’s really pushing it in my humble opinion. Besides, I want to see them reclaim that Cutest Couple crown *grin


Faith let her defensive stance drop. "Damn it, I'm sorry, Ace. I've been a bitch lately."

"Yeah, you have," Robin said firmly.


Hah! Love this scene. Love it.


And, best of all, it gets ‘em back on the same page with each other! What’s more, Faith also finally opens up to Robin about her going back to school and about her fear of failing again. This is what they’ve been needing to do… talk! To each other, even!


Of course, we need to wrap up our two-parter with Mia, Julia and the street-Slayers here, so their heart to heart is interrupted by the sounds of fighting. When they find the source, it’s Mia and Julia going at one another. Mia has decided with “her contingent” to join up with the Council, but Julia isn’t having it. Unfortunately, Faith immediately steps in on Mia’s side and the conflict quickly escalates into violence (they are Slayers, after all).


As can be expected, Robin and Faith hold their own for awhile due to their experience, but then they get overwhelmed. Mia jumps in and it’s a free-for-all.

  Faith and Julia have had enough of one another.

I think you can guess who wins.


Much later – at Becca’s party, Xander and Ro are dancing all nice and close. Willow is slamming back Root Beer Schnapps and moping.


Faith takes Willow out on the dance floor and gives her some advice on stepping up to the plate and taking her shot… before Ro really falls for Xan and her chance slips away. Of course, Will has no clue whether Ro would even swing that way, but as Faith points out, if she doesn’t take the lead she isn’t going to find out, ‘cause Ro sure isn’t going to go there first. And can I just say, there is something really sexy about Faith and Willow slow grooving. And this scene is written so ‘right on’ with their ‘voices’ that it’s another one I love.


Of course, this situation isn’t resolved in this one scene, but Willow does get in a dance with Ro. The question is will Ro choose Xander, Willow, or neither. And can Willow and Xander’s relationship survive being interested in the same woman? (My thought: Absolutely.)


We jump to the next morning, but we don’t know what did or didn’t happen with our love triangle. Instead we get a scene of Julia, again watching Faith, this time with an angry and hateful look on her face before she races off on a motorcycle. Obviously we haven’t seen the last of her.


At least Robin and Faith are back on track. The crown remains with Becca/Giles, though. And the Council gets new recruits, one of which, Mia will be an interesting addition.


The Good: Definitely the Kennedy/Giles scenes mentioned in the review. And the Faith/Willow scenes were also great in the last act. The whole Faith arc was well done, and I liked that, again, Faith isn’t a static character. She’s changing and evolving and she knows and appreciates where she’s going. It’s nice that Robin and her have finally talked about what bug is up her butt and come out better for it. The upcoming love triangle with Xander/Rowena/Willow has possibilities and should make for some messiness, which is always good drama wise. We get a mention of Lori, Vi and Rona and get a quick scene with Marsha. It’s always nice when the secondary and tertiary characters aren’t forgotten.


The Bad: Nothing jumped out at me as being badly done. I’ll only say that by the last act, the story seemed to be lagging a bit. This seemed like a really long read (especially when adding part I).


The Verdict: A good story with a fine arc for both Kennedy and Faith. There was enough for all of the major players to do, but both stories seemed to take longer than absolutely necessary to get through. Still, I like the growth for Faith, Robin and Kennedy. And, we have the seeds of another arc started with the love triangle around Rowena Allister… 3.5 stars out of 5.





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