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I’ve Been Repeatedly Assured This Is Good (Buffy Season 2 Liveblog):

Chilling with my niece
I keep trying to get out, but they keep pulling me back in.

You may remember back near the end of August, that I (finally) finished my liveblog of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At that time, I announced that Fusionman would be picking up the rest of the series. Well, it turns out that he’s got some technical problems, and I’m getting impatient, so I’m starting up season 2 now. I’ve already watched episode 1, and will be writing my write-up while you’re reading this.

In light of how long it took me to do the first season and the fact that season 2 has more episodes, I’ve decided to let other do episodes to speed this thing along. Here’s how it will work: If you want to do the next episode and it hasn’t been claimed, just post in the thread saying you’ll do the next episode. After that, you have 1 week to watch it and do the write-up (although you really shouldn‘t say you‘ll do an episode unless you‘re prepared to start watching it the very same day).

Finally, here’s a link to the first season liveblog, and here’s Buff’s second season on Hulu.

Episode list:
1. When She Was Bad-colin
2. Some Assembly Required-colin
3. School Hard-colin
4. Inca Mummy Girl-Eegah
5. Reptile Boy-colin

edited 4th Nov '10 11:53:40 AM by colin

Chilling with my niece
Season 2 Episode 1 “When She Was Bad”

Show opens with a Previously On, I’ve got a link in the OP that sums it up better. The show proper begins with Xander and Willow walking near a graveyard, at night. It’s like they haven’t seen any horror thing ever. They exposit about how boring summer was (explains walking near the graveyard) and that Buffy is on vacation with her dad in LA. There’s an awkward UST moment between the two when a vampire attacks. Buffy shows up Justin Time (one of the more useful slayer powers, really), stakes the vampire and asks “Miss me?” Not particularly, but thanks for asking. Willow exposits that she, Xander, and Giles buried the Master in the graveyard.

The title sequence is only notable because Angel’s actor (can’t remember his name and don’t feel like looking it up) is promoted to the title sequence. At Buffy’s home, her parents talk about how distant Buffy’s become. At school the next day, the show reestablishes Cor’s Libbyness, while the principal talks at Giles about how much he hates kids. Jenny is also re-introduced, saying she was at Burning Man.

Late, Giles explains to Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Jenny, that the Hellmouth, while closed, will still serve as a weirdness magnet. At the library, Buffy goes though slayer training, and it becomes apparent that the show got Sarah Michelle Gellar some fight training between seasons. That bodes well. Just before commercial, we see a vampire council of sorts, with a head vampire saying vague, nonspecific things about the future. The Anointed One is there.

Back at school, Willow and Xander come across Buffy brooding. She claims that nothing is wrong, but says that she’s been having bad dreams. Giles shows up, hits Buffy, and starts to choke her. Buffy manages to remove Giles’ face, revealing the Master’s face underneath. At which point Buffy finally wakes up from the dream she was having. When she wakes up, she sees that Angel has pulled an Edward. Angel exposits that the Anointed One is gathering vampires, and reinforces the UST between him and Buffy.

The next day, Joyce asks Buffy if Buffy will ever tell her what’s wrong. No Joyce, Buffy will remain silent for no adequately explained reason. At school, Cor asks Xander, Willow, and Buffy if they’ve slayed any demons over the summer. Xander tells Cor that she can’t mention anything about Buffy being the slayer, again, for no adequately explained reason. Cor won’t tell, mainly to protect her reputation. This scene also establishes that they’ll all be at the Bronze tonight, and sets up Buffy’s bitchiness.

After a scene at the Bronze that doesn’t do anything, we cut to the vampires digging up the Master. Back at the Bronze, a love quadrangle is made between Willow, Xander, Buffy, and Angel. This takes about 5 minutes, most of that Buffy dancing with Xander. Outside the Bronze Cor calls Buffy out on her attitude, saying that it with alienate her friends. Buffy ignores her, leading to Cor getting kidnapped.

Buffy sees Master’s empty grave and rushes off to tell Giles. Meanwhile, Giles, Willow, and Xander discus Buffy’s attitude. Giles says that the Master killed Buffy, which Buffy hasn’t dealt with yet. Buffy arrives and tells them about the grave. The gang go off to do research at the library. Giles concludes that the vampires need the Master’s skeleton and the blood of someone close to him to revive him. Buffy concludes that its her blood, because they’ve both killed each other and “nothings closer then that”. That’s horrible logic Buffy.

Anyway, a rock is thrown though the window, with Cor’s bracelet wrapped around it (which Xander instantly recognizes), along with a note. The note says to come to the bronze before it opens. Buffy wants to go alone, even when Willow points out the obvious that it’s a trap. Buffy doesn’t care, and says that the rest can’t come because she’s tired of looking after them, at which point Buffy leaves

Outside the Bronze, Angel shows up, saying he wants to go with Buffy. Buffy claims she’s over him, and then inexplicably tries to pick a fight with him. Angel rightly points out that she has better things to do. They go inside and find one vampire. Angel is confused, because they just have the bait for the trap, but no trap.

At the library, further research reveals that by close, the ritual meant physically close to the Master when he died, at which point the vampires show up. Buffy shows up too late (for once) and finds Xander injured. So, why didn’t the vampires kill Xander? It can’t be all that hard. Anyway, Xander calls Buffy out on her issues, saying that her friends need her help and explains about the ritual. Buffy and Xander go back to Angel, who has the vampire bait. Buffy interrogates the vampire by putting a cross in its mouth, which would just make it harder for the vampire to speak, defeating the propose for interrogating it.

We cut to wherever the vampires are, setting up their ritual. Buffy, Xander, and Angel arrive. Buffy says that she’ll create a distraction while they save the others, and by distraction, Buffy means she’ll just kill the vampires. She kills one just by punching it. Fight ensues, Angel and Xander save the others, Buffy kills the last vampire and destroys the Master’s skeleton with a sledgehammer. The next day, Xander and Willow have forgiving Buffy for her bitchiness earlier, and Buffy seems cured of her PTSD.

And that’s how the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer begins. What do I think, you may ask? Well, its late, you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow.

Chilling with my niece
Turns out, I wasn’t as tired as I thought I was, so here’s my thoughts on the premier.

On the positive side, the fight scenes have defiantly gone up a notch, which is always a plus for an action series. Furthermore, while I got angry at Buffy several times this episode, I’m fairly certain that the writers intended me to get angry at Buffy, and, for the most part, they did so rather well. Buffy clearly has issues stemming from her being killed by the Master and her action make sense in that light. True, there isn’t much logic to them, but Buffy is, understandably not thinking rationally.

On the negative side, there still isn’t any clear reason for Buffy to not tell her mom about being the slayer, and I’m pretty sure that contributed to Buffy’s poor metal state  *. However, aside from hating Buffy, this episode provoked no other reaction from me. I just got bored. Too disinterested to come up with any real snark, even. Provoking little more then boredom is a bad sign in any episode, much less a season premier.

So on the whole, I suppose that technically, season 2 has started off better the season one, because I don’t actively hate the show itself. But being to bore to snark at it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. Seems more of a lateral move, to me.

edited 1st Oct '10 11:34:19 PM by colin

The entire series, as well as Angel, is also available to watch instantly on Netflix.

I love the way When She Was Bad plays with our expectations, making us think we'll be getting more of the Master, then confirming the show will will going in a new direction. And a great direction, as you'll see once Spike comes in, after one more regrettable filler episode.

I'd forgotten Jenny says she was at Burning Man. Quite the Hilarious in Hindsight, as the actress is now a born-again Christian and regrets being on an "occult" show.

edited 2nd Oct '10 9:15:48 AM by Eegah

 
Math guy
Why does anyone ever keep secrets from their parents?
Pronounced "shy guy."

I have spent 4 months of my life outside my home country. Paste this into your sig with your data!
Chilling with my niece
I'll be watching episode two sometime tonight.

Episode two is more filler as the writers are still stuck in season one mode. But then episode three is Spike's introduction, pretty much universally agreed as when the show first started Growing the Beard.
 
Chilling with my niece
Season 2 Episode 1 “Some Assembly Required”

We open with Buffy in a graveyard, waiting for a vampire to rise from the grave. Angel shows up, mostly to remind the audience that he, Buffy and Xander are in a love triangle. Since the last episode dealt a fair bit with setting up/re-establishing the love triangle, I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that this season’s arc will involve the aforementioned love triangle, replacing season one’s Master plot as the arc. So we went from a generic but serviceable and occasionally amusing evil vampire guy to a teen angst proto-Twilight story. That does not bode well.

Anyway, the new vampire arises, he and Buffy fight, the vampire gets staked on a shovel, and I wonder how Buffy knew he‘d be a vampire. Does Giles have a vampire-detector-thingy that goes ding when there’s stuff? In any event, Buffy stumbles upon an open grave, one that’s been grave robbed.

The next day at the library, Xander and Buffy find Giles practicing asking Jenny out. Buffy give him some advise, and then updates him on what happened last night. Giles acts more intrigued then disgusted by the news.

Cut to Willow at the signing up at the science fair. Also there is Cor, signing up with a ridiculously easy experiment. This scene also serves to introduce us to Chris, the guy who always beats Willow, and Evan a photographer. The scene closes with Evan commenting on Cor’s looks and Chris saying to ignore her because she’s alive. You have three guess as to who was the grave robber, and the first two don’t count.

At the library, Willow research reveals that the missing body is a girl who died recently in a car crash with two other girls, all in high school. Giles research indicates that the culprit is either a daemon who eats flesh, or somebody wants to make a zombie army. Throughout, Cor insecurely says that she’s in pain from a guy named Darryl that died a year ago.

That night at the graveyard, Xander and Giles dig up a grave while Willow gives us back-story on Chris. Chris had an older brother Darryl (the same one that Cor was grieving for). Darryl was a real big football star. Darryl died in a car accident. You can probably make a safe guess as to the plot of the rest of the episode.

At school, still at night, Cor is leaving cheerleading practice, when she hears a strange noise, and after dropping her keys, runs and hides in a dumpster. Turns out its just Angel looking for Buffy, which relieves Cor, until she find s the severed hand in the dumpster.

Still on the same night, the gang return to the library to find Cor and Angel waiting for them. The gang exposits that the two graves where empty, while Angel note that he and Cor found the remains of three girls in a dumpster. Wait a mintue, why was one grave dug up, but the other grave not dug up if both graves where empty? Did the grave robbers decide to bury only one (presumably, we don’t know about the other) empty coffin? Anyway, Giles concludes that it is neither a demon nor zombie army, but the culprit is at the school, as that was where the remains where dumped. Angel exposits that the cuts were made by someone who knows what they were doing, narrowing the list of suspects to six guys in the science club.

Angel takes Cor home, while the rest of the gang search lockers for evidence. Naturally, they find medical textbooks in Chris’s locker and a patchwork photograph that stalkers have in Evan’s locker.  *

The next day at school, Willow, Xander and Buffy discuss Chris and Evan’s motivation. Evan can’t get a date, and therefore is building a girlfriend. Chris is doing this because he wants to one up death. This gets derailed by Giles attempting to ask Jenny out, but he can’t quite spit it out. Jenny, then stealthily ask him out, to the Sunnydale football game (explains why there was a late night of cheerleading practice.

Later, the gang establish the Chris and Evan weren’t at school. Further, they find out all three of the dead girls heads were part of the remains. Apparently the formaldehyde used by morticians to prepare a body for burial makes brains unsuitable for resurrection a few days after death.

Meanwhile, Chris and Evan are discussing the body they are building. They need to get a head quickly, else the body will go to waste. In a twist that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Darryl is alive and Chris and Evan are building the body for him. Chris brought Darryl back, but Darryl is scarred and can’t go out, So Chris is building him a companion. By the way, the last being scared and not going out aren’t in a causal relationship. While Darryl says that he can’t leave the lab they’re in, he never gives a reason. Also, you get one internet cookie for each plot hole this revelation brings up that you spot.  Answers Anyway, the scene ends with Darryl and Evan convincing Chris to kill Cor for her head.

Back at the library, Giles gets ready for his date while Buffy goes to Chris’s house and Xander and Willow go to Evan’s house. At Chris’s house, we (and Buffy) meet Chris’s mom. All she does in this scene is smoke in a chair watching old types of Darryl playing football. She answers Buffy’s questions about where Chris is by citing Darryl’s football stats. I’m starting to feel sorry for Chris, and I will say right now that this is the most effective part of this episode and implicitly explains Chris‘s motivation very well (but it still stumbles over the plot hole I mentioned earlier). The mom also mentions that Darryl will be 19 next week, remember that  *.

In his house, Buffy finds the lab from earlier, sees Cor’s face on an anatomy picture, and draws the obvious conclusion. Darryl sneaks up on Buffy, but they hear a noise, forcing Darryl to hide and Buffy to flee out a window.

In the girls locker-room, Cor, having not figured out that the girls locker-room is dangerous from last season, is alone. Naturally, Chris and Evan kidnap her. Fortunately, Buffy is just in time to save Cor from being dragged off. Evan flees, Cor goes to the game, and Buffy convinces Chris that killing Cor to finish the Build-a-Girl for Darryl is wrong.

Chris takes Buffy to his lab, which he says is in an abandoned science lab. Darryl isn’t there. Chris concludes that Evan and Darryl have gone to kidnap Cor. Cut to the Football game showing Giles and Jenny’s date, Xander and Willow saying they couldn’t find Evan, and Cor getting kidnapped. Buffy shows up to discover Cor missing, and heads off to the lab again. There’s another cookie for those paying attention.  Plot Hole

At the lab, Evan make a joke about Cor getting the body of a 17 year old. Um, Even, I’m almost positive that Cor is a high school junior, and therefore is 17 already, or even a year younger at 16. Darryl says that he and Cor can now be together, with the conversation implying that they know each other. Who wants another cookie?  Cookie

Fortunately, Buffy shows up and she and Darryl fight. During said fight, Evan get throw into some barrels. Darryl, by the way, does quite well with Buffy, especially considering that Buffy is capable of fighting super-strong vampires, and that Evan implied that mussels weaken between death and resurrection. Anyway, a fire starts during the fight, and Xander saves Cor. Darryl notices that the fire is raging around the Build-a-Girl, so he decides that they belong dead and jumps on top of the Build-a-Girl.

The episode end with more UST between Buffy and Angel. All I have to say is that this really a first season episode. Also, here’s your final chance to earn some cookies, by noticing the unanswered questions from the episode:  I count 7, can you find more?.

 9 Fusionman, Mon, 11th Oct '10 8:56:39 PM from In a snow-covered wasteland Relationship Status: I won't say I'm in love
MARRRRKKKK NUTTTTTT
I think the trope you are looking for is Stalker Shrine.
To Be Updated when I'm not Lazy
Don't worry, the next episode will more than make up for this one.

Dealing with human villains was always kind of an inconsistency; later this season there's an episode that deals very well with the repurcussions of Buffy killing a powerless human, but by the end it was more "It's fine to break that rule if you really, really want to." Though that was hardly the biggest of season seven's problems; the show's really a sandwich like Babylon 5 with the best parts in the middle.
 
Chilling with my niece
I will probably watch episode 3 later today.

Edit: I just finish watching episode 3.

edited 21st Oct '10 12:05:27 PM by colin

Chilling with my niece
The write up will take awhile, mostly because I want to take it slowly so I don't break something or hurt myself. Y'all will see what I mean when I'm done.

Chilling with my niece
Season 2 Episode 3 “School Hard” A.K.A. The one everyone says is good

The episode opens with Principal Snyder talking to Buffy and a girl named Sheila. Buffy and Sheila are the schools worst students. Despite that Principal Snyder is putting them in charge of parent-teacher night, that Thursday. How well they do will determine if he expels them or not. The principle wants to expel Buffy because she misses a lot of classes, has poor grades, and is accused of getting into fights. He wants to expel Sheila because she also has bad grades due to missed classes, and, by the way, SHE STABBED A TEACHER WITH A GARDEN IMPLAMENT. Snyder, you shouldn’t be considering if she should be expelled, you should be wondering if STABBING SOMEONE WITH A GARDEN IMPLAMENT  * counts as assault with a deadly weapon and if Sheila is old enough to be tried as an adult in California.

Two minutes. Not even that, really, I just didn‘t put a time stamp on this and don‘t want to go back and check. This certainly happens before the title sequence. But in any event, lets say its two minutes into the episode that people say is when the show started getting good. Two minutes and, if you can’t tell, I’m already angry with the show. And, spoiler alert, the rest of the episode ain’t all that good either. Lets just get this over with quickly.

At night, we get introduced to a new guy running over a Sunnydale sign. He’s wearing a longcoat of some sort, smoking a cigarette and is a vampire. Hey writers, remember three episodes ago, you know, the first season finale, where you had, as a plot point that later had some important consequences in the second season premier, two episodes ago, that VAMPIRES CAN’T BREATHE? No, of course you don’t, because you’ve shown that you are horrible writers, and can’t keep plot points consistent from episode to episode.

Moving on, the new guy, whose British and named Spike, walks into a meeting with the anointed one and his minions. Apparently, whoever kills the slayer will be the new master. Spike says that he’s awesome and he’ll do it. He also has a nice line about how if everyone who claims that they were at the crucifixion was actually there, then the crucifixion would be like Woodstock. He goes on to say that he got high after feeding on a hippy, which, while funny, raises a lot of questions about vampire biology. I bring all this up because its one of the very few good points about this episode.

This scene also introduces Drusilla, who is not entirely with it and is important, for some reason, to Spike. I’ll admit, I am somewhat curious about Drusilla, but nowhere near curious enough to make me watch more episodes.

Next we have Buffy and Joyce talking about school, blah blah blah, Buffy’s doing poorly because of slaying, yadda yadda, angst, blah blah blah, Buffy inexplicably doesn’t tell Joyce about being the slayer even though it clear up most of the angst she and her mom have and no reason is ever really given for why she doesn’t tell Joyce beside Buffy protecting Joyce from vampires even though Joyce has already been attacked once and will be attacked later this episode, yadda yadda, goddamnit why do the writers keep only seems to remember the really stupid plot points no wait don’t tell me its because they are crappy writers.

The next there’s a scene where Buffy, Willow and Xander are setting up Parent-Teacher Night, which establishes four things:
  • One, the vampiric equivalent of Veterans day is Saturday and vampire cookouts can get rowdy, so Buffy is on call on Saturday.
  • Two, Buffy, Willow and Xander will be at the Bronze that night.
  • Three, Willow has a Scooby-Dum shirt, which is one of the more interesting things this episode.
  • And four, Sheila bail on Buffy and does drugs. Buffy covers for Sheila because…I honestly have no idea way Buffy covers for Sheila. I can’t even joke that the plot said so, because this has no impact on the plot one way or the other.

At the Bronze, Spike tricks Buffy into revealing that she’s the slayer by having a minion attack someone outside and then loudly asking someone in the Bronze to call the police because some guy is biting a girls neck.

Buffy and the vampire fight, and the vampire gives Buffy some trouble till Xander throws Buffy a stake. Spike shows up, compliments Buffy and says that he’ll kill her Saturday. Then he just sort of wanders away, possibly because, having just move into town, he’s got an early appointment with the cable guy and Drusilla is clearly incapable of dealing with that.

Later, outside a bar that must have sprung up over the summer because I’m pretty sure the Bronze was described as the only bar in town, Sheila is with two guys, walking toward their can, implicitly for sex. They both disappear when they briefly move off-camera, and Spike shows up. He convinces Shelia to leave with him, and the camera pans to the two guys, now dead. This would be impressive if it weren’t for the fact that its pretty obvious that Sheila has at least two mind-altering chemicals in her system, and probably many more.

At the library the next day, Giles, Jenny, Xander, Willow, Buffy and Angel are discussing Spike. And by discussing, I mean they’re saying that Spike is awesome, badass, and really dangerous. Expect, we, the audience (not to mention the characters) haven’t seen Spike doing anything particularly badass. Angel, who claims that Spike is goal oriented and leaves a wake of destruction in his path and has had past experience with Spike, gets a pass here, but everyone else in this scene acts as if Spike is incredibly dangerous but we haven’t seen Spike do much of anything and he doesn’t come off as any more threatening then any other vampire.

The next seen has more of Drusilla being crazy. Spike claims that the Hellmouth will make her better. He then tells her to eat, handing Sheila over to her.

At the library, everyone is preparing of Vampire Veteran’s Day, and Giles exposits about Spike. Spike is barely two hundred years old, his real name is William the Bloody, he got the name Spike from torturing people with a railroad spike, and he’s killed two slayers. He does sound badass. Y’all should mentally put a lot of empathizes on “sound” in the previous sentence.

Its also Parent-Teacher Night. No one cares about this plot point so skipping to the end, Spike breaks in though the windows, leading several vampires. Apparently, he got bored waiting for Vampire Veteran’s Day, and is going to kill the slayer now. The show offers absolutely no explanation for how Spike knows Buffy is there. Presumably, Sheila told him about it at some point.

Spike and four other vampires charge Buffy, but she stops them by, I kid you not, light throwing a school chair at Spike. This stops a five Vampire charge lead by a supposed Badass dead in its tracks. That Spike sure is a Badass.

Its finally time for the Die Hard in a School that title promised us. There’s maybe fifteen minutes left. Yeah. Here the highlights:
  • There are three groups: Giles, Jenny and Xander in the library; Willow and Cor in a closet; and Buffy, Joyce, Snyder and all the rest in a classroom.
  • The vampires have cut the power and phones.
  • There is a hitherto unmentioned secret exit in the library which Xander uses to get Angel.
  • Buffy somehow convinces everyone to stay in the classroom while she goes though the sub-ceiling.
    • Except for one guy who gets killed.
  • Snyder thinks it’s a gang on PCP.
  • After staking a few vampires everyone escapes
    • Everyone but Willow and Cor, whom everyone else just sorta forget about.
    • Among the stakes vampires is Sheila, who Buffy doesn’t question the presence of .
  • Angel, with the not entirely willing help of Xander, tries to trick Spike into thinking Angel is on his side
    • Key word being “tries”.
    • Angel is Spikes sire.
  • The climatic showdown has Spike face of against Buffy, while Angel handles the rest of the vampires
    • Angel’s fight ends with the minions fleeing
    • Despite staring with an ax for Buffy and long metal pole for Spike they decide to fight hand-to-hand.
      • No reason is ever given for this really, they just do.
    • Spike is only marginally better then Buffy in a fight.
      • And that’s because he eventually uses a block of wood to hit Buffy
    • Joyce hits Spike on the head with the ax.
      • She uses the side, not the blade, by the way
      • I bring this up because if Buffy told Joyce about vampires much earlier, Joyce could have done something more lethal to Spike.
      • No, I’m not going to stop bringing up Buffy not telling Joyce about being the slayer
      • Because the writers keep using it as a plot point and angst generator, and its really stupid, that's why.
    • For some reason, Spike decides that a middle aged women with an ax is to much for him, and flees
  • Believe it or not, Sunnydale actually has a police department.

The show closes with Spike killing the Anointed One and declare that there will be less ritual and more fun.

edited 21st Oct '10 3:54:04 PM by colin

Chilling with my niece
Final thoughts on episode 3 “School Hard”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is nowhere near as good as y’all think it is. I really shouldn’t have to tell y’all why, you can read.

Instead, I’m going to take the opportunity to remind people of something I’ve put in the OP. Any of you can liveblog an episode, and post it here. In fact, I’m begging you to do so. Please, I can’t stand watching this show.

edited 21st Oct '10 6:56:25 PM by colin

So, not impressed at all with Spike killing the Annointed One? That was the bit that really got my attention, and his announcing that there would be more fun from now on is like the writers speaking directly to the audience. Even though it was mandated by practical concerns, as they had to get rid of the character before the kid started visibly aging.

The one real downside to Spike early on is the number of times the characters just stand around and let him get away, for seemingly no reason other than knowing he's a main character now. Though I consider that largely more a directing issue than writing.
 
Math guy
Final thoughts on episode 5

3, sir.

I don't think I've ever disliked any TV show as much as you seem to loathe this one.

edited 21st Oct '10 6:45:30 PM by ShayGuy

Pronounced "shy guy."

I have spent 4 months of my life outside my home country. Paste this into your sig with your data!
Chilling with my niece
Thing is, my problem with the show has little to do with "fun". My problem is that the writers just plain suck. They can't remember plot points half the time (the no vampire breathe thing I brought up, Owen never having any impact after his episode); character motivations are either severely lacking (once again, I bring up Buffy not telling Joyce about being the slayer) or sometimes nonexistent (so why did Buffy cover for Sheila, and why was Angel so cryptic early in the first season); there's so many plot hole (I can't even properly begin, pick any final thoughts section at random, there‘s probably one); a massive amount of stupidity is need for the show to work (even if the police think its gangs on PCP, at some point you'd think the police would try to clean out the gangs and start calling n state and federal resources to do so); there’s a multitude of unanswered questions that the show barely acknowledges (here’s a good one: Why is Buffy the slayer? That is, what are the precise mechanics of the calling, why was Buffy in particular called, where does the calling originate from? You think that Buffy, what with her whole “I don’t want to be the slayer routine” would have asked at some point). So yeah, my problem hasn’t been with the “fun” of the show, the one thing I’ve been consistent on (aside from the Season One Finale) is that the show has witty and funny dialogue. Spike does not need to assure me that there will be good dialogue. I can trust that there will, and Spike does deliver on this. He doesn’t address the actual problems, and its somewhat hard to take him as a credible threat, because his actions don’t quite do much to support his reputation, he (and others) talk a mean game but he doesn’t really prove to be a tougher foe then any other villain.

To reply to Shay Guy's ninja: the big thing here is the ridiculously massive amount of hype I've gotten about this show, and to a lesser extant the everyone saying things like "My favorite part of this series is definitely seasons two and three", "Just hold out until the second season" (both Shadow Warden), and "seasons two and three are generally considered the best (Drakyndra)", "and then, starting season 2, people said "episode three is Spike's introduction, pretty much universally agreed as when the show first started Growing The Beard" and "Don't worry, the next episode will more than make up for this one" (both Eegah). And then I get to this episode and you know what, its not terribly different from most first season episodes. What's basically happening is I keep saying "that episode wasn't very good" people respond "It gets better" and I'm seeing very little getting better and I get angry because I wonder "When am I going to get to watch the show that inspired a whole group of people to start a website dedicated to media analyses?” I almost feel like that boy in the Emperor’s new clothes, like everyone hears the very good (let it never be said that I don’t think the writers can write great dialogue. It‘s truly fantastic. Most of the time.) dialogue and I’m the only one who sees that they are otherwise poor-to-mediocre writers. It makes me both angry and confused and I just keep resorting to more hyperbole to get the point across. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t loathe the show, I loathe the fact that the show is no where near as good as I’ve been lead to believe and the fact that I spend nearly 5 hours per episode for this liveblog on something that isn’t much more then a mediocre to somewhat above average hour filler. Its frustrating.

My god, that is a massive wall of text.

edited 30th Oct '10 10:58:58 PM by colin

Chilling with my niece
It just now occurred to me that the second rant might be construed as insulting, especially to the quoted people (Shadow Warden, Drakyndra, and Eegah). I want to say no insult was meant and I was using to quotes to illustrate the hype in my effort to show how the show doesn’t like up to its hype (in my opinion). Again, I apologies if you took offense, non was meant.

Don't worry; I've seen negative reviews that take the tone of "This sucks and you suck for liking it" (though I've been fortunate enough to mostly be on the same side of those, like the Spoony Experiment reviews of Final Fantasy 8 and 10) and this definitely isn't that; you've managed quite well to articulate your problems with the show without being personally insulting.
 
Planescape Hijack
As a former person who disliked Buffy on principle (I only got into it at the insistence of a cute female friend a couple of years ago), I understand where you're coming from. I still haven't seen a full season, and I agree that Season 2 is pretty inconsistent. If you want to keep trying to liveblog but don't want too much pain, I suggest just watching this season's Myth Arc, which I was just inspired to watch because of this. Though it's got its flaws too ("Shut up, Xander" has been my constant litany throughout), it has a lot of good action scenes and the way it ends is beautiful, IMO.

Anyway, if you want to try that approach, watch "Surprise" (ep 13), "Innocence" (ep 14), "Passions" (ep 17), and "Becoming, Part 1 & 2" (ep 21 and 22). If you want to give more stand alone episodes a chance, "Halloween", "Lie To Me" and "What's My Line" are pretty good too.

And I know you are probably tired of hearing "No really it gets better here" and are apparently unsatisifed (with reason, I think—I remember being a little disappointed in "School Hard" myself), but I think Season 3 is another big improvement; things seem a lot more polished. It had its share of flops too, but, I love the Big Bad and a certain other recurring character in it.

(Oh yeah, and "vampires can't breathe"—I don't think that's necessarily inconsistent with being able to smoke. Obviously vampires have to be capable of inhaling and exhaling, or they couldn't talk—it just doesn't have anything to do with keeping them moving around. So the muscles in the throat work, but the lungs don't. Which means Spike probably isn't getting much out of smoking, but the hair, the coat—I guess it's just part of the image. Or you can just dismiss this as Fan Wank and pretend that plot point never happened, which considering one vampire knocks another out using a chokehold later on  further wank, might work out better for you.)

edited 23rd Oct '10 10:34:54 PM by Haven

Productivity is for people without internet connections. -Count Dorku
Though there's also a scene somewhere in season two where Drusilla chokes Spike for a bit (or vice versa; my memory of it is really vague) and it seems to work; that's a really regrettable moment there.

edited 23rd Oct '10 10:46:50 PM by Eegah

 
Episode 4: Inca Mummy Girl

Well, I’ve decided to take up Colin on his offer to do an episode. At the very least, it’ll spare him from one more awkward season one style episode, though there are still a few more to go later. And this is one of the worst of those, and considering I’ve been one of the show’s biggest defenders during this whole thing, that should really make you afraid.

One oddity before we begin: for years I somehow remembered this episode’s title as the much wittier (in the sense that it has something resembling wit, rather than just blandly describing what happens) "Inca Dinka Doo." And that’s still how I prefer to remember it, because it’s not like there’s much else to recommend here.

One thing Colin hasn’t mentioned is the intro sequence during the first two seasons, which was narrated by a generic WB announcer guy in season one and thankfully changed to Giles in season two, before it went away and the writers could have those extra few seconds to tell the story.

Sunnydale High is doing a foreign exchange program, which includes a dance. Not exactly how it was handled at my school. Cordy’s handpicked a hot Nordic guy named Sven, while Buffy’s firmly participating against her will. At the museum we meet Rodney, a positively Stephen King-esque bully who scrapes away at an exhibit in front of everyone and literally growls at the gang. Maybe I put in "Beer Bad" by mistake (to the newbies, that's an episode where people turn into cavemen, and one of the show's most notorious low points). And Willow’s tutoring him in chemistry, with all the predictable gags that entails.

There’s an Incan princess mummy on display, and Rodney goes more Chaotic Evil by sneaking in and trying to steal the shield she’s holding, and when he naturally breaks it she wakes up and starts strangling him. I do have to give props to this model; it’s pretty creepy when it springs to life, especially the lack of eyes.

After credits, there’s the usual I Just Want to Be Normal training scene, but it does give us:

Buffy: Oh, I know this one. I’m so stuffy, blah blah bliddy blah, give me a scone.

Giles: It’s as if you know me.

Buffy literally kicks at Giles until he lets her go to the dance, and Xander offers to drive her and Willow. Cut sitcom gag 2B, as Xander goes on about how he and Willow are Like Brother and Sister, oblivious to how she’s behind him. I miss the days after they both got their own love interests. She reports that Rodney’s missing, with a bizarre Arbitrary Skepticism with everyone joking about the mummy getting him. Thankfully, they all soon realize that’s a distinct possibility.

“One day I’m going to live in a town where evil curses are just generally ruled out without even saying.” The gang finds that the mummy’s still there, and they’re attacked by a sword-wielding guy clearly played by a white actor, who runs away after a few seconds. With nothing better to do, Willow notices that the mummy has braces: it’s Rodney. At least we won’t have to suffer through any more attempts to make him as ape-like as possible.

The gang returns to the library, having taken a piece of the shield to research. Apparently the museum has no problem with this, or that it was broken in the first place. Buffy remembers her exchange student Ompata (no idea if I’m spelling that correctly) is now arriving, and could translate the shield. Xander does some really embarrassing stretching for how Buffy’s going to fall in love with him; god, please just meet your real love interest already!

Ompata is attacked by the mummy, who kisses him and mummifies him. Interesting that this actually predates Stephen Sommers’ first Mummy film by two years. Now fully human, she claims to be Ompata when the gang shows up. Let the hilarity ensue!

So for simplicity’s sake I’ll now also refer to her as Ompata; she’s shown around Buffy’s house and it turns out she was conscious the whole time she was a mummy. It’s a nice explanation for how she speaks English, at least, though her openly discussing how she was moved around from place to place is a little weird. How much of a cover story is she going for here? And Willow is oddly obsessed with how she was expecting a man, for some cheap laughs.

Buffy shows Ompata her room, and there’s more weird half-truths about her past. Now she wants a normal life; symbolism! And the white Peruvian is watching from outside, so the story doesn’t entirely come to a halt.

Cordy’s talking to her boyfriend who we’ve never seen before, a musician who’ll be playing at the dance, and it turns out Sven speaks no English and she talks to him like a dog. Wasn’t there some Character Development for her last season to get past this, including her talking to Buffy and the gang as friends earlier in this very episode? And the guy playing Sven is utterly average looking, which is weird considering how she went on about his picture before.

But the real point of the scene is to introduce new recurring and soon to be regular character Oz, who’s also in the band and is established as very picky regarding girls. He’s also played by Seth Green, easily the cast member who’s had the most success since the show (or at least, like Harrison Ford and Star Wars, he’s the one person where you don’t immediately think of Buffy when you hear his name). It’s pretty odd to remember that this was just a few months after the first Austin Powers film, which didn’t make much money in the theater, so he was still relatively unknown.

Xander and Willow discuss how the dance is costumed, based on whatever country you want, and Xander’s having trouble picking one. “Why are you suddenly worried about looking like an idiot? That came out wrong.”

More weird half-truths from Ompata (okay, we get it!) before Giles bluntly asks her about the shield. The others have to improvise a cover story about an archeology club; so they spent no time rehearsing how this would go down? She plays dumb about most of it but says one part is about a bodyguard for the mummy, then Xander volunteers to stay with her while Buffy investigates, much to Willow’s remorse. And you already know how I feel about this whole subplot.

Xander introduces Ompata to Twinkies, in a scene that lasts about a minute. That’s a big sign that this script was having problems getting to the proper length.

Willow mopes about Xander some more; see what I just said. And somehow Giles has made a lot of progress without Ompata’s help, having found out all about the mummy’s life sucking powers. Knowing one letter of an alphabet doesn’t make you fluent, you know. Unfortunately, the piece they have doesn’t say how to stop it. They do have more than half the episode to go, after all.

White Peruvian attacks Xander, but then recognizes Ompata and runs away again. Wake me up when he jumps out a window.

Everyone meets up in the library, where Xander is ready to spill the beans to Ompata completely. You know, being hypnotized to this point by a pair of boobs doesn’t exactly make a character likable. Ompata yells that they have to destroy the seal and storms out. Did we miss a couple lines here? Xander walks after her, which convinces Willow that I Want My Beloved to Be Happy as she tells him to take Ompata to the dance. Okay, can we move on now, please?

Buffy and Giles decide to look for more shield pieces at the museum, where White Peruvian might also show up. “Hey, look at us! We came up with a plan. A good plan.” Uh, more of the setup for a plan, really, unless you actually know what to do with the guy. And Giles insists on doing it tonight instead of the dance: “But I have other plans, dance plans! …Cancelled plans.” Sometimes the Buffy Speak can go a bit too far.

Xander asks Ompata to the dance, in a scene that takes rather longer than it should as we know it won’t last, her being the Monster of the Week and all. At least there’s a cool Continuity Nod of the type the show would soon be the master of: “You’re not a praying mantis, are you? Sorry, someone else.”

White Peruvian ambushes Ompata in the bathroom, and they have a conversation that tries to paint her as a tragic figure who wants to keep the love she’s just found, but it falls pretty flat because of the whole remorseless killing thing. And then he moronically goes for an overly elaborate attack that lets Ompata grab him and kill him, after which she accepts Xander’s invitation. So, let the hilarity ensue?

Part 2 coming soon.

edited 30th Oct '10 11:37:35 AM by Eegah

 
Part 2:

The real Ompata’s luggage has been sent over after it was left on the bus (now that’s service!), and Buffy finds some of his underwear. And Ompata picks this time to talk about herself being sacrified by the Incas, but apparently her talking about it in the third person is enough for Buffy to dismiss it along with the rest of the rapidly mounting evidence. And the real Ompata is hidden in one of the trunks, but Xander happens to arrive right when Buffy’s about to see it. Yes, not a bit of fat here.

Xander’s dressed as The Man with No Name: “I’m from the country of Leone. It’s in Italy pretending to be Montana.” There’s the kind of dialogue we love the show for. Ompata comes down and Xander is reduced to gibberish, cartoon style. You had it, and you lost it. Joyce puts in her one scene of the episode, just to unwittingly make Buffy feel bad some more. You know, the usual.

At the dance, we find out the band’s name: the much-loved Dingoes Ate My Baby. And Cordelia’s in a Hawaiian getup, missing the point in a way that again you’d think the show would be past by now. Still, hot babe in a bikini, and Dawson Casting means we don’t even have to feel guilty for admiring the view. She’s nasty to Sven some more, and by this point you should definitely see the payoff for this coming.

Willow, dressed as an Eskimo, watches Xander and Ompata, and you can take it from there. I really don’t miss this period of the show. There’s a funny bit where she has to completely turn her body to look around for Buffy, but we’ve gone around in circles so much by now that it can’t save anything.

Giles goes to Buffy’s house and tells her White Peruvian’s mummified body was found. So, how did anyone know it was him. He’s applied some more wonderful magical language skills to the shield and found that he was a guard against the mummy, which finally give Buffy her Eureka Moment. She shows Giles the luggage, and he weirdly takes a bit longer to get it. The Obi-Wan, ladies and gentlemen.

Xander and Ompata dance, and after we waste more time on Willow watching them, Oz takes notice of Willow. But that’s all for this episode, as this particular subplot will be quite painfully stretched out for a while longer for no real purpose that I can see.

After a funny bit about Giles’ slow car, there’s more dancing with a pointlessly artsy bunch of dissolves. Ompata’s about to kiss Xander, but stops and runs away when she realizes she’s about to kill him. “Okay, I can rule out something I said.” Giles figures out that putting the shield back together will probably stop the mummy, but first it’s time for the big joke payoff: Sven reveals to one of Cordy’s friends that he speaks perfect English. And this episode also aired a year before Rush Hour came out. It’s still not worth it at all.

Ompata’s at some kind of backstage area, about to kill another student we’ll come to know as Jonathan, but Xander comes in and he runs off. Ompata starts crying and Xander awkwardly tries to figure out what’s going on, until they kiss and the life sucking starts. It’s all done with more artsy dissolves and takes way longer than it should, given that pretty much no one’s buying that Xander’s going to die here. Another big sign that this script came in short.

Back from commercial Ompata breaks off the kiss, and senses Giles putting the shield back together at the museum. Buffy fills Willow in (having been dropped off by Giles), interrupting Oz from introducing himself. Thank you Seth Green, here’s your paycheck.

As Buffy and Willow find Xander, Giles is about to finish with the shield when Ompata shows up and smashes it again. And then Buffy appears. She probably took Xander’s car, but I have no idea how Ompata got there, especially before Buffy. And our Pre Ass Kicking One Liner is “I’ll say one thing for you Incan mummies: you don’t kiss and tell.” Which makes no sense at all.

They have a really weird fight, which doesn’t even try to disguise that the actress playing Ompata can’t fight at all, yet somehow she wins. Willow appears and Ompata’s about to kill her, when Xander comes up and insists she kiss him instead. Ompata says she’ll do it, but then…just stands there as she continues to decay, until Buffy gets back up and pulls her off, leaving Xander holding her arms. That really could have been directed better. And apparently that’s that, with Ompata dead again despite the shield still being broken. It would be nice to get some confirmation, since I assure you no one at the time was clamoring for her to come back if that’s what they were going for.

The next day, Xander’s a bit put off by two love interests turning out to be the Monster of the Week, and there’s a nice bit of writing as Buffy points out Ompata was just a regular girl who got a bum deal, much like herself. But she was willing to go to her death in “Prophecy Girl” because she knew Xander would be there to bring her back. That’s really not how it went down, but the sentiment is good. And with a script this bad, you take what you can get.

The worst thing about this episode is its placement in the season. We’d just come off the introduction of Spike, which promised a new direction for the series that would ultimately pay off big time. But here, it feels like the show is going right back to its rut after briefly poking its head out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it lost quite a few viewers who now despaired of it ever getting beyond that. It’s nice that they tried to make the MOTW more sympathetic than usual, but it takes more than that to have a good story. And I don’t know if I should even mention Oz, since he lacks much identity here and we’re given no real clue why we should care about him besides the effect he could have on Willow. Again, he would soon grow into a good character, but that’s really not evident here.

 
Chilling with my niece
First, thanks for doing episode 4, Eegah.

Second, here are some thoughts of my own after watching this episode:
  • For a supposed intelligent nerd, Willow doesn’t seem all that smart. When talking with Rodney she says that there are 103 natural elements. There are 94  *. While I know this is rather nitpicky, the inaccuracy bugs me, especially because there is no reason for it to be there. Its something that can easily be found out (by, say, asking a chemistry teacher), or the scene can be written so that it never comes up (by, say, having Willow not state a number, or by leaving out the word natural).
  • Based on how long it takes for Buffy to realize that something is amiss with Ompata leads me to believe that Buffy’s “intuitive logic leap” power is on the fritz. A shame really, its her most useful power.
  • With Oz, the writers have managed the questionably impressive feat of creating an important character that has even less screen time and plot relevance that Cor.
  • In this episode, Giles explicitly says that Buffy has to maintain a secret identity, but doesn‘t actually say why, nor is he much good at helping her do so later. (Insert the rest of the secret identity rant I’ve been making since season 1 episode 5)
  • You’d think that, with all trouble the writers had padding out this episode, they would have spent some time on:
    • How exactly Ompata was able to come back to life, or why it was tied to the shield.
    • Where the bodyguard was until Sunnydale. He couldn’t have just materialized out of thin air when the shield was broken, right? Or why did he flee from Ompata the first time if his goal was to kill her. Or why he attacked the gang in the first place.
    • So how could Ompata steal life energy with a kiss, why is a kiss the only way, and why does she need to do so consistently.

Thing is, my problem with the show has little to do with "fun". My problem is that the writers just plain suck.

You, sir, have no sense of entertainment. tongue

Seriously though, I think you've been too hard on the show. You seem to let your issues with the supposed sucky writing blind you to anything enjoyable about the show because you're so convinced that it's So Bad Its Horrible. I rewatched the first two seasons just last month and I didn't find them to be that bad or badly written at all. I mean, it's a show set in a literall high school hell with teenagers facing literal demons and other supernatural horror stuff. It's not meant to be deeply complex writing, unless you were led to believe that by some of the shows' more rabid fans. Add that with good acting, scripting, direction, settings, story arcs and Character Development (and yes, those latter two are there) and you have a show that does entertain people. Maybe not you but I guess that means it's one of those things that's "not for everyone." Doesn't make it technically BAD.

And on Spike: he said the reason he ran away from Joyce with the axe. It was because he was really thrown off by the Slayer having family and friends willing to protect her. He's still a Bad Ass and credible threat at this point in the show...well, at least against people who aren't Buffy.

•With Oz, the writers have managed the questionably impressive feat of creating an important character that has even less screen time and plot relevance that Cor.

How can you tell? He just showed up for the first time. just bugs me

edited 3rd Nov '10 7:17:42 AM by ManwiththePlan

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