Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 30, 2014

Podcast #149: End of Days

Here’s the podcast for Season 7, Episode 21 – End of Days

Where have you been all my life?

Where have you been all my life?

Download: End of Days

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 7th April 2014 for episode twenty two of Season Seven: “Chosen.” The final episode of Buffy.

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

You can email an audio clip to thetvcritic@gmail.com

Or you can tweet us by following the links to our twitter on the right of the page.

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Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 30, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E21 – End of Days

Synopsis: The Potentials drag an unconcious Faith out of the arsenal. They are attacked by some Turok-Han but Buffy arrives with the scythe and kills them. Buffy asks Xander to take Dawn away from town. Spike tells her that last night was the best night of his life. She heads out to a temple where a Guardian explains the Scythe to her. Caleb kills the Guardian but Angel stops him from doing the same to Buffy.

The Good: There was some adequate stuff here. I liked seeing Giles and Willow do some actual research for once. Again they teased with Willow using her magic and I liked the consistency of Caleb becoming black eyed when he linked with the First. That scene also explained the source of his powers.

The Bad: The rest of the episode angered me for its lack of urgency. I don’t want to be thinking about “Becoming” during this and trying to remember if that too had characters standing around having conversations instead of the plot actually moving forward.

Obviously I was disappointed to see Faith, Kennedy and all the Potentials we know still breathing after a bomb went off in their faces. But I would happily have ignored that if they had actually gone on to fight the Turok-Han or at least be involved in the story of the end of the world. Instead Buffy rescues them and they just go home to chat some more.

It’s swell that Faith finally realises what Buffy goes through everyday but do they have to have this conversation now? Shouldn’t they be more worried about the decimation of their army? I’m happy that Anya can admire the human spirit but wounded people need her attention, we don’t have time for wheelchair fights. And after the writers pulled off an ultra-sappy Spuffy sequence last episode, this one felt again like a conversation for another time. And why is Buffy heading out alone? I assume Giles and Willow found out where this temple was but couldn’t they have gone with her. No explanation was given for what anyone else was doing. Nor did any of the Scoobies discuss the fact that yesterday they kicked Buffy out of her own home.

The temple and the scythe have a somewhat cool explanation. These female-Watchers, the Guardians, tried to help their future sisters to slay the one final true demon. It balances nicely with the idea that vampires were formed by the (apparently not) last demon mixing its blood with a human. But it’s a bit late. Couldn’t this have been discovered earlier in the season? It couldn’t help but feel contrived and the conversation Buffy has with the Guardian reflected that awkwardness. The Guardian is talking in deeply serious tones and Buffy tries to joke around with her to make light of the heavy info dump.

Then smiley Angel stands by and gloats while Buffy kills Caleb. Again, where’s the urgency? Presumably he’s here because the Apocalypse requires all hands on deck. I can understand having faith in Buffy but don’t smirk, show some concern, a minute ago you saved her from being squished.

The Unknown: The final shot of the First trying to talk evil into Spike’s ear as he watched Buffy kiss Angel was bizarre. It’s pretty odd that Buffy and Angel are making out but given their history and Buffy’s intimacy with Spike the previous night. But what is the First hoping to accomplish? Does it really think that Spike will be so jealous that he will jeapordise the end of the world over one kiss? Or is this meant to imply that the trigger wasn’t the only hold the First has over Spike and he will suddenly leap from the shadows to attack them both? That could be emotive but seems unlikely given his redemption story. It had better be something important though or I will just be flabberghasted that the end of the world is nigh and the writers thought the best cliffhanger would be a love triangle.

I understand Buffy’s desire to get Dawn away from the big fight. And I understand Dawn’s desire to tazer Xander and go back to be of service. But somehow that moment annoyed me. I think it just fit too neatly into an episode where no plot movement whatsoever occured. Even Dawn’s exile didn’t happen and next week I assume Buffy just shrugs at their return.

Best Moment: Xander chloroforming Dawn was a nice surprise moment.

The Bottom Line: This was desperately disappointing. I don’t know if the writers realise how static and frustrating this season has become. They’ve left everything till the last moment and there’s no way the finale can do justice to both the season and the whole show in just 45 minutes.

43/100

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 30, 2014

Cordia’s Review – S7, E21 – End of Days

End of Days
Season 7, Episode 21
Original airing: 5/13/2003

My Rating: 51

The Good: Several of the one-on-one conversations were really good in this episode. I really liked Buffy flattering Xander in the kitchen and Xander expressing his desire to stay in the thick of the fighting. Buffy and Faith finally came to an understanding that felt like it began back in Who Are You? (S4E16). And Buffy and Spike had a promising beginning in the kitchen.

Otherwise, I was pretty disappointed.

The Bad: The scythe feels rather unnecessary and ill conceived. It doesn’t fit the mythology we’ve been presented with to date. The woman who calls herself a Guardian even says it’s just a powerful weapon. It’s all up to Buffy in the end. So why does she need it? Why does she have it? Why was it kept a secret? Why was Caleb after it? Why does it look brand new if it’s ancient? There are too many questions with no answers for the last two episodes of the show. It feels pointless.

I liked the idea of Xander pseudo-kidnapping Dawn to keep her safe, but that turned out to be pointless as well. And I can’t help but wonder how she oh-so-casually picked up that tazer and then managed to drive the car without pulling Xander out of the driver’s seat.

The most glaring omission was a conversation amongst the Scoobies about Buffy’s return. A few of the potentials try to kind of apologize, but Giles, Willow, Xander, and Dawn basically act like nothing ever happened. It feels like a huge gap in the episode to have this completely unmentioned.

Finally, I was really disappointed in Angel’s appearance. He doesn’t actually seem needed, as Buffy then kills Caleb quite simply. And they’re passion felt feigned. I didn’t buy the big kiss. It seemed weird after all of the things she’s shared with Spike in the last 24 hours. His return as a support worked back in Season 5 when Joyce died, but it feels like Buffy has outgrown Angel at this point. Spike is the one who hangs around to be her buffer.

Favorite Moment: I really liked the conversation between Faith and Buffy. It was nice to have the show say, “Yes. Buffy’s friends are important. But she’s still the Slayer.” It is a line which has been drawn over and over again in varying shades of gray. But it boils down to what Buffy was saying just before they kicked her out of the house. In the end, she’s it. She stands up to the evil and saves the day and she’ll always be different because of that.

The Bottom Line: This was not a very good episode. It’s especially disappointing in the light of the end of the series. I don’t expect the final episode will completely pull it out of the muck in my eyes. At least I always have the early seasons to look back upon. Still…. I could be surprised!

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 27, 2014

Once More With Feeling – Shadow Cast Production

Listener JS has sent in thee photos from the OMWF Shadow Cast production in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 25, 2014

Podcast #148: Touched

Here’s the podcast for Season 7, Episode 20 – Touched

Spike speaks for us all

Spike speaks for us all

Download: Touched

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 31st March 2014 for episode twenty one of Season Seven: “End of Days.” Which picks up from where we left off.

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

You can email an audio clip to thetvcritic@gmail.com

Or you can tweet us by following the links to our twitter on the right of the page.

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 25, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E20 – Touched

Synopsis: Faith takes charge and orders the Potentials to kidnap a Bringer. Buffy breaks into a man’s house to take a knap. Spike finds her and assures her that she is amazing. The Bringer reveals that he has been helping to build an arsenal. Faith leads some Potentials there only to find a bomb. Meanwhile Buffy dodges Caleb and discovers an axe under the vineyard.

The Good: I found myself thoroughly in Spike’s corner when he yelled at the Scoobies for abandoning Buffy. And then I found myself viewing Spike as a surrogate for the writers and to a lesser extent the audience as he told Buffy how wonderful she was. As I’ve said many times on first watch I was more skeptical of the Buffy character. I rolled my eyes at the obvious cheese this scene was. But on Rewatch the true hero in Buffy has won me over. So although Spike’s speech still felt gooey, it now felt like what should be said. We all know that Buffy is “The One.” Time and again through selfless heroism she has saved the world and made herself miserable. Tired and abandoned by her friends she needed someone to comfort her and remind her of her worth. Who better than the bitter foe who she converted into her champion?

In terms of the plot it also confirmed that her instinct about the vineyard was correct. I was pleased that this time (as opposed to her rematch with the Turok Han, (611) she returned there with a plan even if it was to just keep running away.

The Bad: It kind of amused me that Faith ended up telling everyone that she was in charge and they needed to shut up. I bet they were thrilled that they kicked out Buffy in that moment. As noted last week it seems bizarre that the Scoobies would allow Faith sole command given their past experience and greater knowledge of apocalypses.

I did not laugh at Dawn being annoyed at hearing there was a translation of a Turkish text. There’s just no way she should have been able to read a word of it in the first place.

The Unknown: The final night of intimacy was ok. I still feel like these characters have been hanging around the house too much for those moments to have much impact. But I did like Willow’s concerns about losing control of her magic. I hope that is building up to something in the final battle. Thank goodness cocksure Kennedy is around to ground her. Her confidence is in no way arrogant or annoying.

Faith being rattled by the Mayor was of a piece with the other interventions by the First. It was briefly entertaining but then overwhelmed by the fact that the absence of any consequence to the conversation. Does the First really think that pushing Faith to doubt her self worth or her leadership skills will tip the balance of the apocalypse? It didn’t seem like it would have affected her decision to lead the Potentials to the arsenal. Speaking of which I don’t know what to make of that cliff hanger. If Faith and the girls are dead then it’s a huge moment. It would massively weaken the side of good and raise the stakes significantly. But TV bombs rarely blow people into pieces. It’s difficult to judge the episode given that uncertainty.

Part of the problem with that story was my reaction to the Bringer talking about the arsenal. As soon as he revealed that I thought “why would he reveal that information?” I put it down to lazy writing but clearly it was a plot by the First. But if I thought that was obvious then surely Giles or Willow or someone should have questioned it.

The axe needs a fantastic backstory to not feel like a giant deus ex machina. Can Spike really smell Buffy out like that? Shouldn’t he have been more helpful in tracking people down over the years?

Best Moment: Spike’s speech unless Faith is dead and the First just did something really clever.

The Bottom Line: As expected last episode was essentially Buffy’s Garden of Gethsemene. It was her final reflection on her own worth before the final showdown. The question is now how many will be standing by her when the time comes.

58/100

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 24, 2014

Cordia’s Review – S7, E20 – Touched

Touched
Season 7, Episode 20
Original airing: 5/6/2003

My Rating: 63

The Good: The power of this episode is Buffy rediscovering why she does what she does. It’s an excellent circle back to the core concept of the show and the presentation of who Buffy is as a person. Her goodness and sacrifices have always been the core of her character and her relationships. This felt like an appropriate time in the life of the show to lay that out again.

I also thought Spike was the perfect character to deliver this message. I’ve truly believed his story arc from obsessive hatred, to obsessive selfish love, to lost and lonely, to truly selfless love. If anyone’s seen the depth of who Buffy truly is in the good and bad situations, it’s Spike.

All the sex made sense in the context of human behavior before a big, potentially life-ending battle, but it felt very out of place in the context of a house with about 30 people in it, most of which are under 18. Does no one have a sense of propriety??

The Bad: It was disappointing to see Faith and Giles making the same kinds of rash decisions and employing the same “do as I say no matter what” attitudes that they reprimanded Buffy for in the last episode. It was particularly annoying to see Faith stand up and tell everyone to fall in line – exact words from one of Buffy’s speeches. And I have absolutely no clue why Giles killed the Bringer. Nobody even seems to think that was weird!

The Unknown: I’m currently reserving judgment on the discovery of the weapon and the bomb. Both feel like very basic story clichés, but there’s always a possibility they will be used in an interesting manner. The weapon will take a lot of explaining to avoid a deus ex machina presentation. And the bomb cliffhanger feels like an exact replica of Giles’ near beheading from earlier in the season.

Favorite Moment: I love the subtle acting when Buffy asks Spike to stay with her. He showcases his selfless love again by immediately assuming he’ll sleep on the couch, but he also refrains from showing in any way that he is gratified or intends to take advantage of his position when Buffy invites him to the bed.

The Bottom Line: Buffy and Spike carried this episode and I loved those bits. The rest was a bit annoying as I felt Kennedy was too prominent and Faith and Giles seemed to make all the same mistakes Buffy did in the past. But the real deciding factor will be the ongoing situation of the weapon and bomb. It’s a weird double cliffhanger and gives the episode an extremely incomplete vibe which wasn’t necessary.

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 17, 2014

Podcast #147: Empty Places

Here’s the podcast for Season 7, Episode 19 – Empty Places

No one actually tries to kill her

No one actually tries to kill her

Download: Empty Places

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 24th March 2014 for episode eighteen of Season Seven: “Touched.” Faith takes charge and Spike returns to hear about the coup.

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

You can email an audio clip to thetvcritic@gmail.com

Or you can tweet us by following the links to our twitter on the right of the page.

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 16, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E19 – Empty Places

Synopsis: The residents of Sunnydale begin to flee. Xander recovers in hospital. Caleb meets Buffy at the school and punches her through a wall. Spike and Andrew head off to a church Caleb visited and discover an ancient inscription. Faith takes the Potentials to the Bronze and has a run in with the police. Buffy declares that they will again attack the Vineyard but everyone refuses.

The Good: To see people fleeing town is a logical way to demonstrate how serious the coming apocalypse is, especially given what these people have lived through so far.

Xander and Willow trying to indulge in gallows humour but getting emotional was well performed by both.

The Bad: Buffy being exiled by the Scoobies and Potentials was unconvincing. Yes, she led them on an unsuccesful assault that cost Xander his eye. But frankly they’ve all been hugely fortunate to suffer only a couple of broken bones in six years on the hellmouth. I can definitely see from that incident why the Potentials would vote for Faith to take charge. And perhaps given the recent friction Giles would also want a coup d’etat. But I don’t buy Willow or Dawn suggesting that not only is Buffy unfit to lead but also needs to leave her own home. And quite where Anya finds the nerve to accuse Buffy, self sacrificing Buffy, of just being lucky I don’t know. It felt contrived and emotionally false.

Given this season’s shaky narrative it seems like this is just a phase on Buffy’s leadership journey. It can’t be anyone else who leads the troops into battle on the hellmouth so surely this is just a temporary rejection where she will learn an important lesson.

I wish someone had told Principal Wood to mind his own business. He really got stuck into Buffy’s leadership when he wasn’t even around for the last two episodes. He and Faith shared no chemistry in their slightly odd, I know what you did last summer, conversation.

Why do the monsters employed by the First just beat Buffy up and leave? In previous seasons Buffy has been the key to beginning the apocalypse so I suppose it could be that again. It always feels a bit contrived and this season it feels positively irritating.

Would anyone have noticed if Andrew wasn’t in this episode? He was like a fly here, buzzing around contributing nothing. And why did we need yet another recap on the Turok-Han from Anya?

The Unknown: The idea that police officers sent to track Faith down would try to kill her was interesting. Under the hellmouths influence and the stress of the town exodus they decide to enact some harsh justice with their guns. Ok. Then Faith and the Potentials beat them up. Ok. Then Buffy arrives and doesn’t ask what Faith was doing wailing on the boys in blue. She doesn’t seem to care. It was a bizarre omission that would have taken a second to clear up.

What did the inscription that Spike found mean? What will she wield? Is the she Buffy? Does he read Latin? Did we know that? Was it in Latin?

Best Moment: Xander and Willow try not to cry.

The Bottom Line: Not only was this poor but the Caleb story feels like a rehash of the Turok-Han plot. Buffy gets beaten up, everyone doubts her, she overcomes it. Why would we think it will be any different this time?

42/100

Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 16, 2014

Cordia’s Review – S7, E19 – Empty Places

Empty Places
Season 7, Episode 19
Original airing: 4/29/2003

My Rating: 66

The Good: This episode treads a very fine line. Everyone is justifiably stressed out and on the verge, but it still makes me feel great empathy for Buffy when she is evicted.

The majority of the story here is how Buffy has elevated herself above everyone else. She begins this me versus you dynamic with her bossiness. While I agree with her that there needs to be one overall leader, her manner of doing so is more appropriate to hardened soldiers than terrified teenage girls. Faith makes a good point about Buffy’s lack of involvement if she’s right that Buffy never even learned their names.

Willow and Faith are the most believable in this story. Their points that Buffy is too distanced and too stressed are right on the mark. She needs to find a way to let off steam and get her perspective back. I wasn’t a big fan of Xander’s snappy remark of Buffy’s point being to his left, but I don’t find it at all a stretch to think he might be mad at her about the loss of his eye. And while I want to punch Kennedy and Rona in the face, their comments are appropriate to their perspective and maturity.

I thought Dawn was used excellently as well. She’s feeling very excluded from Buffy’s confidence and it’s obviously difficult for her to ask Buffy to leave, but it makes sense as well. She’s not wrong in saying Buffy shouldn’t stay if she’s going to try and fight the tide of everyone else’s opinion all the time. That will not make for a strong and solid team. And I absolutely loved her telling Rona to shut up.

Through all of this, I felt so sad for Buffy. It truly feels like she’s doing the best she can and I don’t blame her for feeling completely lost and alone.

The rest of the episode was primarily Spike and Andrew. I thought this was quite cute. They play off each other very well and it’s fun seeing Spike act calmly around an over the top person. The discovery feels important and I’m excited to see the news make its way back to the gang.

Finally, it’s always nice to see the villains progressing on a plan. Caleb obviously has in mind how he wants things to go and is taking the necessary steps. Whether or not he intended Buffy to be separated from her friends, I’m sure he’s quite pleased.

The Bad: The glaring flaw in this episode is Anya’s attempt to dismiss Buffy’s life as the Slayer. Buffy has died for the world twice, made huge personal sacrifices, and done everything she ever can for the last seven years to protect everyone in the world. Anya saying Buffy hasn’t earned her place when any viewer can see she’s earned it over and over again makes everything else feel false. Suddenly, the organic nature of the usurp is gone and it seems contrived to purely drive Buffy away from the support of her friends and family. I think this could have still been achieved just by everyone being as upset as they are. Attempting to make the argument that Buffy isn’t special is never going to fly.

That being said, I didn’t find it at all shocking that Anya would be against Buffy. Her motives are true, I just think her reasoning is intrinsically flawed.

Giles also made me want to claw his eyes out. I think someone failed massively on his character in this season. He just spent several episodes telling Buffy to stand up and make the tough decisions. He abandoned her in her greatest time of need and depression in Season Six to try and make her stand up. While this was extremely annoying, it does express his complete faith in her ability to make difficult decisions. However, now he’s willing to completely disregard her and take over. After all they’ve been through, I just didn’t buy it.

All of this almost made me forget the opening scene. Clem was fine, actually. His character was good and his comments fit well with a demon trying not to get on Buffy’s bad side. But it can’t be ignored that he’s having this conversation while driving a VW bug down the middle of the street surrounded on all sides by every resident in Sunnydale.

Favorite Moment: The honest emotion in the hospital when Xander asks Willow not to cry brought tears to my own eyes.

The Bottom Line:  I actually think a lot of this build up was excellent. Aside from Giles, I think the episode did a great job of expressing appropriate feelings for a very large cast of characters. That’s darn impressive. I’m even down with the results. But I can’t push aside the feeling that the writers tried to go too far with Anya’s speech. The idiocy of it stands out far too much for this episode to truly shine in my eyes.

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