harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob

Watchers - Another Apocalypse Review II



Act Three: Planning begins between Xander and Giles. Xan gets to fall back on his construction guy experience to examine blueprints of their own building… and to plan where to plant the explosives to break through the Council’s foundation into the caverns below.

As the two men are discussing explosions, the women are discussing relationship issues. Specifically, Faith and Buffy discussing their relationship… the past, the present, being Slayers-in-Command… and it’s all excellent. They get to (at least a little bit, I’m not sure these two will ever completely get along) put away the knives that are always ready to be plunged into each other’s back (but admittedly, this seems to be more Faith’s problem than Buffy’s – especially in Another Day).

Plus, Buffy gives Faith the validation that the ‘Dark Slayer’ has already really wanted from her, even if she’d refuse to admit she ever needed that.

They also get to discuss Buffy’s not joining them in Cleveland which has been a sore point for Faith since the very first episode (in fact, since the fanfiction by CNWinters which preceded WATCHERS, if I remember correctly – I should have reviewed that). As Buffy explains here, she just didn’t have the passion for it like Faith has right now, and that could very well have led to her getting killed. And after 7 constant years of defending the planet, she needed to actually enjoy being in it for a while.

What’s even better about this scene though, is how it encapsulates the changes that Faith herself has gone through… her maturing into her role and responsibility… and her ability to recognize that Buffy had a right to take a break from the constant doom and gloom. They even get to share a real, honest-to-goodness, hearty laugh together.

 

It’s also nice how when Xander interrupts them to show them the prototype, self-loading, mini-crossbow gun he’s built sometime since he first re-joined the Council (remember Willow gave him a space to make is workshop and his title is Weapons Master at the Council) he gives it to Faith… not Buffy. He recognizes that it is the Slayer-whos-not-his-bestest-bud that is the one-in-charge. Uh, I might need to take a break from this review soon to replenish by dash marks :-)

In a Slayer rec-room, Kennedy is cleaning her own crossbow in ready for the coming big battle. This is another dialog heavy scene, this time with Mia. We get an update on the Slayer Sue that Mia rescued (not looking good for her legs, but she’s alive).

This is really about how the newer-to-the-Council Slayers (including Mia) are dealing with the reality of fighting for your lives and really facing that they it could end in life-altering injury… or just end, period. These are the girls who used to just go around picking off the loan vampire or robbing men of their wallets. It also introduces a possible Mia/Kennedy relationship for next season by having Mia lean in and plant a passionate kiss on the surprised Kennedy.

After Mia leaves, we find Vi also in the rec room, but off by herself staring out of the window. She hasn’t been taking things well since Rona died last episode. Here, she and Kennedy are going to do some bonding about being the last of the ‘Sunnydale Potentials’ still at the Council.

It’s also obvious that ‘off-screen’ Kennedy, Vi, and Rona had a closer relationship than what we’ve seen. Especially, it seems, Vi & Rona.

Elsewhere – Ro and Willow have a heated argument about confronting the Presidium so soon after their Slayers first defeat. We find out here that 30% of the Council’s forces are side-lined (or dead, there were nameless Slayers killed) and Ro and Giles both voted not to follow the “blast through the floor and let them know we’re coming” plan, which Rowena complains about here as well.

But there’s more to it… another reminder that Ro and Willow have grown very close over the season.

Ten minutes later and the assault by the Council begins….

(Oh, and I goofed in a previous review I think… I believe I identified The Engineer as being named Larmin. We find out here that they are definitely two different individuals – oops.)


Act Four:
While Xander is working on blasting through to the Presidium’s hide out (which I should mention, The Engineer didn’t seem particularly worried over – and is actually looking forward to the attack in order to have a crack at Willow), Giles and the witch are meeting a surprise visitor – Julia from Gangland/Lessons Learned!

Buffy and Marsha wander into the lobby giving Julia a chance to meet THE Slayer (as Marsha refers to Buffy). Marsha is one of the Junior Slayers who’s gotten some screen time as Willow’s charge and the heroine of the episode Samhain where she led the Juniors in battle against Eemia.

She also obviously hero-worships Buffy and emulates her body language.

In the Watchers basement, Marsha has joined Andrew and is helping to clear rubble created by Xander’s blast. They’re not all the way through yet, but Marsha is a bit worried that by blasting a path to the Presidium, they’re also creating a path FOR the Presidium to attack the Council. Andrew has an unspecified plan and directs her to keep at the clearing up….

In the lobby, we get the confrontation between Julia and Mia. First, in the intervening months, the Council’s exposure (and more likely Julia’s exposure to Faith) has made her more Slayer-like… she’s reorganized around her remaining Slayers and has had them get ‘real jobs’ for money… they do vampire patrols instead of muggings and she tells Mia that they’re getting ready to rent a house for the group, rather than squatting.

But Mia has been exposed to the Council’s global operations now (remember, they have several branches, on of which is in Britain that has been mentioned throughout the season) and doesn’t want to go back to Julia’s “small time” operation.

Julia’s not the only unexpected Council visitors, though. Also from past episodes, we have the return of Brell (several episodes) and Tram (whose family was in Family Ties and About Last Night and who clued the Council into Bonnie’s duplicitous ways).

Brell and Tram offer to help the Council fight, but Giles turns them down, mentioning their deal (arrived at in the two preceding episodes mentioned above) that the Council was to keep them safe for information.

We finally get to where the gang is ready for their frontal assault, saying good bye to those left behind the lines (Andrew, Rowena [still hurt from last episode] and Becca, plus the injured Slayers who can’t stand and fight effectively and Giles).

And, because this is a BIG EVENT – we go into an extra act….


Act Five:
While the Council is blasting through the last layer of rock into the Presidium, Julia is grabbing a gun. Her apparent plan? Force Mia at gun point to get the hell out of there and return to relative safety with her gang… not exactly well thought out – but Julia is very much like an earlier Faith.

We also get a mention of Watchers-in-Training which we’ve not adequately addressed throughout the season, really. Ironic, considering the series title is not SLAYERS… but it’s nice we get the shout out that there are more folks than our regulars in the organization.

As Faith, Buffy and the first team descend they come against rock-demons. Giles and Ro provide Watcher support in how to clear this first line of Presidium defense.

As Faith deals with more injured (and another Slayer dead – Connie, who I don’t think we’ve ever heard of before now), The Engineer orders Larmin to see to fetching ‘the witch’. Larmin assures him that she’ll reach him alive… dozens upon dozens of demons of all sorts ready to march against the invasive Council army of Slayers.

As the battle rages about (in excellently written prose – especially a Faith quip you’ll know when you read it) Willow tries to avoid battle with the peons so she can get to the Engineer. With her are an unnamed Slayer bodyguard, Xander, Robin and little-Slayer Marsha as support.

Alas, the Engineer has magic of his own. While everyone, foe and friend alike are strewn about, Willow finds the floor she was standing on suddenly vanish!

As battle resumes, Willow tumbles to the bottom of an artificial ‘bowl’ made of some sort of metal protrusions. Worse, above her head now sets the magic-sucking sphere with the Engineer sneering in a way that makes it obvious she did exactly what he knew she would… show up to the battle… and ended up caught like a fly in amber.

As Willow tries to chant a restraining spell against The Engineer – her energy is sucked into the ball. What’s more, Xander sees a portal opening! As he rushes to yell to Willow to stop what she’s trying to do, it comes too late and WILLOW BURSTS INTO FLAME!!

WHOA! Thank goodness – it was just a vision by Xander’s magically re-grown eye!

Willow is still trapped and a mystic barrier is keeping the others from her, but Xan is able to warn her not to work the mojo or it will kill her (not to mention opening that portal for thousands of invading demons thing).

She’s not safe though, by a long shot… remember when Jeff was used to run the test of the device and it spun and siphoned? Well, it starts to spin above her now and no, she doesn’t need to be strapped into it to work – remember how Faith told everyone it appeared to have been upgraded? Yep – Willow is being rapidly drained off all of her energy for use in the portal opening the Presidium has been planning for!

As Giles is looking desperately for a way to counter the Engineers magic (all of the Council is connected via earpieces, so those in the library can hear and advise), Andrew happens to see the sketch of the device that was discussed earlier.

And – his techno-geekness comes in handy – he immediately recognizes the sketch as an engineering schematic! Go, Andy!

And – it’s to another Act –










TBC
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