Today we're reviewing Episode 4, Season 1 of WaTchers: The Virtual Series. Now eventually I plan to review BTVS, Angel, Buffy Season 8, and Angel: After the Fall... but for now: Untimely Arrivals
Story by: David Zahir, CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: Susan Carr with additional writing by 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, David Zahir, Mytryk, Cynthia Taz, Coen and CN Winters
Teaser: The episode opens with Rowena Allister making an small ass out of herself... well, not really I guess. But it's all, 'old Council... our policy... grimace-face, frown'. Fortunately she also actually manages to crack a joke in there and things are relatively light hearted. That is until Vincent DeVeer and James Tyrell show up anyway. James, representing the Old Council's new leadership, reports that the Cleveland Council has been ordered to shut down operations. Willow is to return all assets to London and all Slayers are to be re-assigned. He's a far bigger ass. Two really nice things about the opening: We hear from Buffy indirectly (so she's not just ignored or forgotten by her closest friends) and we have WaTchers theme: Expedia est Potentia.
Knowledge is Power. (way cool!)
Act One: The opening of this act is actually part two of the teaser in a way. Tyrell and Giles are facing off over who is going to be THE Council. And while our sympathies naturally lie with our heroes (and Tyrell is entirely unsympathetic, so that's easy) he does make a rather good point if you're seeing things from the outside. I quote, in part...
"From Ms. Allister’s reports, you’re perverting the sacred traditions which have endured throughout the millenniums. You’ve put a convicted felon in charge of molding the impressionable minds of young girls, you have a murderous witch calling herself a Watcher and sleeping with a Slayer, and you allow the most experienced Slayer in history to just wander around without a care in the world."
He goes way too far though when he back-handedly insults Willow for calling on the "Pagan Gods" to save Tara after she was shot by Warren. A despicable, low blow.
In the meantime, Andy, Robin, Kenn and Faith use the Council's video surveillance cameras to spy on the meeting. Kenn and Faith are both ready to kick Old Council ass, if need be.
The best part of all of this is the way that Willow and Giles burst out laughing when Tyrell mentions that Buffy will be 'assigned to the Cleveland Hellmouth' with Ro as her Watcher. I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't being such a stuffy jerk... nobody "ASSIGNS" Buffy to do anything. And can you imagine her actually following the orders of the Old Council after everything she went through with Travers... I thought not. You can see why Rupert and Willow burst out in gaffaws.
Wow, this act feels long... anyway, Ro goes someway to redeeming herself by openly arguing with James Tyrell over his decision to fight with the Cleveland Council. It's already obvious that she is sympathetic to what Giles and Willow are trying to do and doesn't understand why things are happening the way they are. While the Old Council plays its games, Ro further cements her status with the Cleveland branch by getting friendly with both Andrew and Kenn.
We also discover a body... one compeletely turned to salt!
Act Two: Tyrell strikes! Well, actually he annoys... but still it's a strike(!) of one kind, anyway. First the new Council's computers are disrupted by a virus and then he sics the IRS on them. That's just the lowest... I mean... The I.R.S. people! How much more evil can you get?!
There's a quick humorous bit here as Giles tries to get the IRS woman dealt with and out of their way:
"This is Robin Wood, our financial officer," Giles said by way of introduction.
"I am?" Robin questioned Giles. Then he turned quickly to the agent, noticing the arch of Ms. Franklin’s eyebrow.
"I am!" he said again with much more confidence. -- lol
Of course, there isn't really time to deal with these mundane matters, we have Hellmouth activities afoot... remember? Body turning to salt?
So why does Giles suddenly and apropo of nothing ask Willow to marry him?!
It's far too hilarious (with a serious undercurrent, he needs to protect his green card from INS should Tyrell send them next)... it's really a must read.
This act ends on another chilling note after the humor of the earlier parts as Ro is not so subtely threatened by James when her father's fishing boat is "mysteriously vandalized". As James tells her on the phone when she calls him for help,
"Rowena, remember something my dear. The true Council is very powerful and no one is untouchable… no one. It’s best you fall in line, my dear."
I told you he was a real piece of work. It's also a major miscalculation on his part. You see, not only does Ro still have the mysterious and valuable book (which we learn here is called the Opus Obscurum), but we can see Ro make her decision to side with our Council.
Act Three: Ro comes through for the new Council with an answer to the "people turning to salt" problem. And she reveals that the demon responsible must be killed by someone wearing a pink toga and wielding a weapon made of gold ... now which Slayer are they going to get to play dress up?
It's not all humorous demon fighting in wacky outfits though. Kennedy attacks Ro after she's received a phone call from her father... her sister has been kidnapped! (More tactics of the London Council? That's my guess....)
The big thing in this segment, in my opinion, is the explanation of the book. We find here that Ro has...
"The entire compendium of early Watcher lore going all the way back to the original Slayer? The book you were assigned to locate while the Bringers were carving up your Potential? That book."
This is revealed by the lawyer, DeVeer, who we know is working for Bonnie, not the Council. Apparently he's not adversed to helping out the Londoners though... or is he after the book for other reasons. Well, no matter, Ro plays dumb even though Vincent isn't buying it.
We meet a new character in the ever-expanding WaTchers-verse as well... a 'good' demon, Brell. He happens to be the cousin-in-law to Clem from Sunnydale. We also get a shout out to Angel and Lorne from the series, Angel.
- Brell would be the blue guy with the horns (Brad Dourif)
Brell gives the Council some needed information on the evil demon while Kenn and Faith escort Ro to the Council as well. She's lost her rooms, thanks to Tyrell's interference. He really is pissed with her for not "towing the line".
During this whole scene we learn some interesting factoids. Both Giles and Ro are fencing champions. Ro will show this much, much later in a fantastic episode set on an island that I can't wait to review... but its a far way off yet.
Act Four: More trouble as a mysterious fire starts in the Slayer's dorm wing. While Rona, Willow and Giles are dealing with the fire department, DeVeer and the police, Ro, Kenn, and Faith are on their way to slay a demon... in pink togas with a gold, fencing foil/award thing. Only in the Council, people, only in the Council :-)
Faith, the Pink-Toga'd Slayer.
For Ro's help, Giles invites her to stay with the Cleveland Council, over Willow's objections. But the episode ends on a not so great note... at least for Giles:
"Mr. Giles," Agent Ford began. "You are hereby placed under arrest for violation of title 18, part 1, chapter 75, section 1546 of the US Immigration Code, specifically fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents. Penalty subject to not more than 15 years imprisonment or deportation. Would you like to contact an attorney, sir?" Oh-oh!
The Good: Great bad guys in the Old Council. Really, James Tyrell is the super-Travers and the way he chooses to attack the Council is both mundane and yet oh, so effective. The dialog is strong throughout, especially the way that Ro is trying to be so reasonable throughout and yet finds herself being insulted by the Clevelanders and threatened by the Londoners. Giles pulls out a bit of Ripper to get Kenn's sister back, which may or may not do any good, but is always good reading. DeVeers is infuriating, but perfectly embodied in the pics of James Spader used to represent him. The b-story with the demon pales next to the Council-intrigue, but isn't boring and that screen-cap with Faith in a Toga is too much fun. It's great how WaTchers went way back to Giles' work visa in order to put him in hot water... just what is he doing in the country, anyway? We know, but it must seem like straightforward fraud to the U.S. authorities.
The Bad: Well, Rona and Vi... they honestly need more exposure. It's all Kenn and Faith, all the time at this early point in the series. I can't really think of anything 'badly done' per se, although I'll reiterate that the Act One does feel a bit draggy.
Verdict: An important start to a mini-arc regarding Ro and the Councils battles for control. This eppy acts as a part I to next episode and really needs to be read as part of a greater whole. I still give this one a 4.0-star (outta 5) just for the balance of humor and drama and the strongest plot of the season, thus far (and yes... it is only the 4th episode, after all, still this is a strongly written entry).