Only two girls?
Why is it that I’ll easily forgive “Spin the Bottle” for going back to an old well in the same week that I lambaste “Him” for doing the same thing? We’ve seen Whedon characters forget themselves in one way or another even more often than we’ve seen them under love spells but this episode still feels… I wont say “fresh” but it’s certainly not stale. This is a far better episode than “Him.”. The jokes land and the action pops and that’s enough to make me forgive the warmed over premise. More importantly, this episode uses the old trick to new effect by actually having something to say about the characters; who they are is not the independent thing they like to think it is, its bound up both in who they were and who they’re with. Continue reading
Only black magic could account for this boy getting laid
I really dislike “Him.”. It’s nowhere near as bad as “She” of Angel fame, but it’s still a series low point for me. Much of that’s likely due to my personal distaste for awkward humour, but I think the larger part is rooted in how ill-conceived it all feels. Dawn episodes were never destined to keep us enthralled, and this one’s repetitive nature inevitably had me checking out early. We’ve seen the Scoobies lose all sense for a love spell before. We’ve seen them lose it for the real thing too, and this story doesn’t really add anything to the old “love makes you do the wacky” theme. Couple that with some gaping plot holes and you’ve got a pretty rough hour of Buffy. Continue reading
Are we boring you Angel?
“Supersymmetry” is almost a great episode. Unfortunately, the stakes are so high and the character turns so drastic that it needed to be great in order to work. From a raw narrative perspective, “sweet, innocent” Fred seeking revenge on the man who sent her to Pylea has all sorts of juice, particularly in the various reactions of her friends, but this is the first time it’s ever been suggested that her interdimensional odyssey was anything but an accident. Its also the first time in a long time that we’ve seen her exhibit any sort of trauma from the experience. Such an out of nowhere story needed to be nigh-perfect in order to justify the stakes it’s aiming for, and being “merely” good makes this episode feel half baked. Continue reading
Why don’t you talk about my subplot?
I’m wracking my brain to remember, but is this Buffy‘s only Anya episode? The only thing I can think of is Olaf’s first (and far less entertaining) appearance and that was more Anya/Willow than Anya/Anya. I suppose it’s appropriate that her status as an exclusively supporting player is what this episode brings to mind as it centres around Anya’s lack of identity. The conceit works, for the most part, as even when we finally delve into Anya’s origins we find that she always been best defined by circumstance; I’m just not sure that makes for the best episode. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed “Selfless” I just can’t help but think that it could’ve been better. That’s a criticism that could be levelled at a lot of season seven, and I’ll talk more about it in my Final Thoughts. Continue reading
Do you have anything to do with anything?
“Slouching Toward Bethlehem” (best title ever!) is a bit of a mixed bag. The episode earns itself a lot of slack in Fred’s acknowledgement that Cordy’s amnesia is a bit contrived but, interesting as some of the ideas are, there still aren’t any significant stakes at play. Watching the gang try to rebuild their friendship from scratch certainly had some potential, but its mostly played for comedy (albeit good comedy) and there’s never any sense that things might go wrong here. The vulnerability inherent in Cordy’s memory loss isn’t exploited in any meaningful way and the final outcome feels a bit anti-climactic. Continue reading
Where does this aggression come from?
“Help” is an interesting episode. Buffy the Councillor always seemed like a thin excuse to get her back on the Sunnydale campus, but stories like this one demonstrate that it had some potential of its own. Accepting that Buffy’s remotely qualified for this job requires some significant suspension of disbelief, right up until Cassie sits down in front of her. This is a far better way from Buffy to re-enter the “high school is hell” mold as the teen psychic’s proof that The Slayer’s the only one qualified to helping the teens of Sunnydale with their problems… Even when she can’t. Buffy’s stumbled plenty of times over the past six years, but it’s very rare for one of her stories to end without the day being saved. Just what this failure means for the Slayer is a far more interesting question than how best to chop up this week’s demon. Continue reading
Am I fluffy?
One of the best parts of these reviews is finding an episode that’s far better than I remember. “The House Always Wins” is one such case. Memory told me that this was yet another ill-advised detour for the series, experience showed me that this was a fun departure for the gang and a welcome spotlight for Lorne. Was I being unfair to this episode the first time around, or am I simply in a different head space now? It may be a bit of both, but I lean more towards the later. It’s a testament to the depth and variety of this series that impressions of it can change so much over time. Angel was never merely one thing, and so it makes sense that it should have a different appeal to different people. I’m not the same person I was a decade ago, and thus this isn’t the same show. Continue reading