harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

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WATCHERS Review -S 1, E 21

Watchers: The Virtual Series

Episode 121: Child’s Play


Story by Cynthia Taz, CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by Gelfling21 (with additional writing by CN Winters)
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, Libbi, Chantal, CN Winters



Guest Starring:

Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy Madison, Brad Dourif as Brell, Elijah Wood as Jeff, Indigo as Rona and Felicia Day as Vi and Stephanie March as Bonnie.



Teaser: We start with Becca and Giles in the hallway outside her apartment. It’s obvious that they are wrapping up their date and at first Becca seems distracted. We quickly find out why… she’d decided that tonight should be the night. There is a quick discussion of Giles being unprepared (condom-wise, though it isn’t said that bluntly), but she has already prepared.


Elsewhere, at a local bar & grill, Willow and Xander are sizing up women and comparing who’s hot in the joint. Faith is with them, and with some good natured eye-rolling points out that the two of them have the same taste in women – at least the physical type that draws their attention. When Will and Xan talk about how a woman looks pretty hot from the back, Faith teases them by excusing herself and going up to talk to the lady.


With a hitch of her thumb, it’s obvious she’s talking up Will and Xan, to their mutual discomfort. It’s okay though – it turns out the woman they noticed is just Rowena Allister. Now, we know that Willow is feeling some interest for Ro. She realized the fact back during episode 17 – Scarecrow. Ro and Willow also nearly kissed before being interrupted a few episodes later, however, Rowena has never evinced any interest otherwise in other women and in fact told Sheila Rosenberg that she wasn’t a lesbian.


There’s some teasing from Faith regarding both Xander and Willow’s obvious mutual interest in Ro, especially since Rowena seems utterly without a clue about it all.


The scene is relatively amusing in a light weight way as Faith continues to kid around with her teammates. What they don’t know is that nearby, Amy Madison is keeping tabs on them (or really, on Willow – she’s been Amy’s focus since being de-ratted).



Act One: It’s the following morning and we’re back at the Council. Faith, Willow and Xander are shocked to discover that sometime during the night, they’ve grown YOUNGER… like back to High School days younger.


Elsewhere, Becca’s phone rings and we find her and Giles have indeed spent the night together for their first time. It’s Willow on the phone, but Giles puts her off for an hour so that he and Becca can spend a bit more time together.


It’s a gently sweet scene and it’s also wonderful to get a sense that Giles is finally finding a ‘civilian’ life after how much he has sacrificed in his duty to first Buffy, and now the Cleveland Council.


With the main players meeting in the kitchen, Willow and Giles quickly realize that the only person who’d be interested in regressing the original Scooby members to high schoolers would be Amy. They quickly break up to begin investigating where they might find her, and whether they can locate a counter-spell.


In the meanwhile, Becca and Giles have to part for the day. He to do Council-stuff and Amy-investigating and her to get the book store opened.


In the meantime, there’s more on the Council plate. Rowena expresses some concern that Robson may be too disorganized in London to properly ‘Watch’ the Slayers in Europe.


As Giles and Ro are discussing the matter, an innocent phrasing of words causes Ro to turn on him with consternation. Though, he is confused, it’s obvious to us that Rowena has, in fact, noticed Willow’s obvious interest – well, there was that near kiss after all – and is disturbed by the fact that she’s actually had ‘thoughts’ about it. She also re-iterates that she is not a lesbian… though Giles wasn’t suggesting any sort of relationship between the two women. And – it sounds a little too much like “thou dost protest too much”.



It’s later in the evening and Faith and Kennedy are battling vampires. In the meanwhile, there’s growing evidence that although Willow and Xander’s memories aren’t being affected by their de-aging, they’re powers are. For one, Xander’s eye has returned to its normal brown (i.e. pre-magical replacement) and for another Willow’s magical abilities are quickly fading! She’s already being reduced to barely being able to float a pencil… and, repeat – Faith is OUT FIGHTING VAMPIRES!


Both Faith and Kennedy figure out that things are going downhill fast, just before Ro contacts them via radio ordering Faith to return to the Council building immediately. Alas… even as they’re trying to get back, they’re ambushed! A half dozen vampires start to crowd around them, and Faith’s Slayer powers have already waned!



In the Council library, Willow, Xander and Giles realizes that the former Scoobies aren’t just de-aging to high school, but are continuing to grow ever younger the longer the enchantment goes on.



Act Two: In act two, we being in the Presidium’s secret lair. Bonnie the faux-real estate agent/probably lawyer/definitely traitor to humankind is being berated by one of the demons. It seems that Bonnie was supposed to be in charge of Amy Madison’s activities on behalf of the Presidium’s plans. However, Amy has gone rogue to carry out her own plans against Willow and the others.


We also find out that the Presidium demon, Larmin, was responsible for the attack on Kennedy and a rapidly de-powering Faith. He sent the ten vampires to remove Faith before the Council could find a way to restore her. Obviously, they failed, thanks to Kenn and Bonnie takes no small amount of delight in pointing out Larmin’s own failures.


There are three crucial bits regarding this scene: 1) The Presidium is worried about Xander’s “do-goodism” because of his past ability to save the Slayer (Prophecy Girl) and his ability to stop the end of the world (Grave) – this shows that the Presidium knows an uncomfortable amount of information about the pasts of the gang. 2) They’re quite worried about Willow’s powers not being returned… there’s a few assumptions we can make at this point. Whatever they’re planning (and it looks like an invasion), Willow’s magic is important to the overall plan… which explains why they told Jack the Ripper in Modus Operandi not to harm the Watchers. It also explains why they kidnapped Jeffrey for a test run of their magic-sucking machine in Love Hurts and Dark Force Rising. I think we can see that they’re expecting Willow’s magic to tear open a portal large enough for their full invasion force to enter Earth’s dimension. Finally, 3) Ms. Madison has pissed off the wrong guys. The way the scene ends, it seems very clear that Bonnie’s orders include her elimination… could this be the thing that turns Amy around? Will she be forced to seek protection from the very Council that she’s attacking now?



At that moment, in the Council Coven Room, Jeff has led an attempt to break the spell that is currently de-aging Faith, Willow and Xander. The attempt is a failure and Willow tries to buck up her coven, saying that whoever is casting this spell (they’ve conjectured it’s Amy, but she hasn’t shown her face yet) might be as powerful as her, so it’s no wonder the anti-spell failed on the first try. This does nothing to comfort Jeff.


The rest of the scene just makes it clearer that the de-aging is continuing. The England covens haven’t been able to find a counter-spell yet and Amy is still not be located.



Rowena is having a especially difficult time with the thought of losing her three associates (the assumption is if things don’t stop, they’ll de-age into oblivion eventually). And she goes on the hunt, herself, for Amy Madison.


While things aren’t rosy for the gang, a surprise visitor just may be able to help them out of their jam, even if they can’t find Amy.



Act Three: Rowena hits the diners, stores and assorted businesses around town with a photo of Amy Madison. She runs into Brell and once he learns what she is doing, he’s more than willing to lend a hand in the search.


Back in the lobby of the Council, Giles’ old friend and nemesis Ethan Rayne has arrived with a new pal of his own in tow. Though Giles tries to threaten him, the new ‘kids’ are too distracted by Ethan’s new dog to allow Rupert to get up a good head of steam.


As Ro, in town, finds a lead on Amy, Giles is trying to force Ethan to admit that he his behind the spell on Willow, Faith and Xander. Wills will have none of it, however, insisting that Ethan didn’t cast the hex. In the meanwhile, he naturally is being no help at all – continually smirking as Giles becomes more angry and flustered by the second.


Giles is even more angry when he finds out that Ethan is present because Willow called him for help. This does nothing to ease the tension between Ethan and Giles… especially since Ethan can’t stop acting like an ass just to get under Giles’ skin.


But, Rupert finds himself out numbered when Willow, Xander and then Becca insist he give the chaos magician a chance to help out with the situation. He’s not doing it out of the goodness of his heart, however, and insists to Rupert that he’s only helping because he expects to be paid for services rendered. It seems obvious, though, that Ethan has a bit of a soft spot for Willow.


Elsewhere, Rowena spots Amy Madison.



Act Four: On the street, Ro bravely intercepts Amy with a cock-and-bull story about how they went to high school together and both tried out for cheerleading and yadda-yadda. When she pulls the “oh, you don’t remember me do you” sounding all crestfallen, Amy falls for it.



Oh! Millicent! Of course! I just didn't recognize you," she lied. "Have you lost weight? You seem taller…"



Ro is quick to take advantage of her successful fake out and really showing that she is quick on her feet. I really like this exchange:



"Ooooh!" Rowena squealed. "Give me hug, it's so good to see you!"


Amy did her best to smile pleasantly and leaned in awkwardly for a hug. The blonde reached her arms to hug her about the neck and…


Amy's body went suddenly rigid as her breath was knocked out of her. She was unconscious before she hit the pavement.


Rowena stood over her, the tazer in her hand still sparking. "Skanky, evil-magic ho," she said under her breath. "Bet lots of folks have told you that, eh?"



That was fun. Heh-heh.


Back at the Council, while Ro, et al are smuggling the stunned Amy away, Xander confirms to Willow about his interest in Rowena. He has no clue that Willow herself is also interested, of course. And, Will isn’t very subtle with the hints either.


Elsewhere, Ethan and Giles continue to needle, threaten and act like the children that Xander, Willow and Faith have been turned into. Honestly, Ethan’s very presence seems to bring the worst out of Giles… understandable, I suppose, considering their past involvement with each other and the messes Rayne made in Sunnydale, but still… Giles just sounds bitter here. And Ethan, - sigh – well, he just keeps pushing buttons on purpose.


Things get a bit confused here: Ethan and Giles search for an anti-spell while trying not to kill one another. In the meanwhile, an amulet conjured earlier to help find Amy Madison is keeping Andrew occupied when it begins acting wonky in the kitchen… in time for Vi and Rona to walk in as he’s playing around in his pockets. And otherwhere in the Council, Ro and gang have Amy Madison secured to a chair and Ro is making it clear that things could get… physical… if she doesn’t cooperate. Even Becca gets on the act, subtly threatening Amy.



And then, not so subtly. Turns out that Becca can be one cold woman when her new family has been endangered, as Amy finds out most painfully.



There’s a lot of sturm and drang here between Ethan and Rupert and between Ro, Becca and Amy Madison. Long and short of it is that the spell gets reversed, Ro gets injured, Amy makes her escape and is picked up by Bonnie.



But, we remember, do we not, that Bonnie had specific orders in regards to the loose-cannon Amy Madison?



A few yards down from the Watchers Council, Amy is ‘let out’ by Bonnie. Her neck snapped and an envelope left with her body from the Presidium. They’ve included an anti-spell.



The Good: There’s some really good things happening here, character-wise. We get to know Becca a bit better, and her relationship with Giles moves along very nicely.


There’s the building tension between Xander (though he’s clueless about it) and Willow over Rowena’s possible affections.


There is nice follow up for Amy Madison as she continues to show she really never did recover from her time as a rat. And, her sudden murder was strongly hinted at and yet it still came suddenly and brutally.


Becca’s sudden brutality when those she loves is threatened is chilling and makes you wonder just what else we’ll learn about her as she continues to become a larger part of the story. Her unflinching treatment of Amy was disturbing, and not as ‘cool’ as the writing staff might have thought.


Ethan is always a welcomed sight, and I like his relationship with Willow.


Rowena continues to show she’s a resourceful woman and thinks quickly on her feet.


I liked the plot on this one and Amy’s bitter little plan made much more sense here than that whole ‘turn Will into Warren’ thing in BTVS: The Killer in Me.


We get more clues that give a definite shape to the Presidium’s plans finally. They’re much better used here than they have been in episodes like Modus Operandi and Blue Christmas.



The Bad: I have to admit that Acts 3 and 4 suffer pacing issues. There’s too much Giles/Ethan antagonism that goes nowhere – becoming repetitive quickly.


The gang’s efforts to find either Amy or a counter-spell also get repetitive. The separate groups also don’t interact satisfactorily: everyone is in the same building, but doing their own thing instead of corroborating.


While I like the overall plot for this one, I think there could have been room to put a completely separate subplot in there to fill out the episode and avoid much of the repetitive nature of the personal conflicts.



The Score: Overall, I really like the way that Amy ties into the Presidium arc and the way she is so brutally removed when she becomes a bother to them. I also like the idea of Xander, Willow and Faith being returned to a younger and younger state… but I had problems with the last two acts dragging… 3.25 out of 5-stars.




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