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BtVS rewatch : SEASON 1

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  • #91
    Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
    I am so very glad that Buffy believed in Xander in this episode. Giles and Willow both just sort of wrote him off as being a newly declared douchebag, but it was the one who knew him ostensibly the least (Giles might have had some in incidental pre-Buffy exposure) who gave him the most credit, who knew the difference between a guy who would so assuredly offer to go back down a group of bullies from one who would join up with them.
    I disagree with your attack on Willow and Giles. I don't even think Willow knew from possessions like this. As I said to defend Xander in Teacher's Pet, Willow is a beginner at all of this. Yeah, she knows that a particular witch can cast spells on people with physical manifestations. However, I don't think Willow imagines that there's another witch nor do the symptoms seem to be particular and universally strange enough for Willow to identify a particular bad actor ala flamey hands and sewn together lips and Cordelia going blind. Xander was running with a group of kids that were already bad. Certainly, Willow's mind has been well-trained by sixteen years of life to come up with "I guess X-person has just decided to be a jerk to me" instead of several weeks of monster fighting to come up with "X is possessed by dark mystical powers!".

    Moreover, a lot of Willow's initial reaction is self-blame. "I guess three isn't company anymore." "Was it something I did?" "Buffy: I think something's wrong with him."; "Willow: Or maybe there's something wrong with me." I really don't see your glib "wrote him off as a newly declared douchebag".

    Giles has a much broader experience with possession. However, I don't get that Buffy knows Xander least. It's not in canon that Giles really interacted with Xander before the series started. Xander was rather mystified by going to the know, where the books life in WTTH. Buffy is the one whose been hanging at the Bronze with Xander. Buffy's been in his classes and traveling with him on the bus, socializing in hallways, getting nekid in front of him before dates. IMO, Buffy knows Xander way better than Giles already. I agree with Local_Max- Giles doesn't know Xander well so Giles was just making an impersonal comment on teenage boy phases. Giles wasn't attacking Xander's character; Giles just has grown-up distance from him.


    • #92
      I don't disagree at all -- I don't mean that Willow wrote Xander off because of Xander; she wrote him off because of her own fatalism and lack of self-confidence, like she had always been waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to be too cool for her. Giles, for his part, was just generally unimpressed with him by all indications and therefore not surprised.

      I only say Giles likely knew Xander better because he was on the faculty of his high school, and not a big high school. Teachers know "of" the various students, or at least any such that stick out. Point is, nothing about Xander going into such a phase was anything that he took amiss on its face. Only Buffy (who also didn't know from possessions, she had all the same information Willow had for instance -- that Xander had gone into the hyena exhibit, had heard the laugh, etc. Granted, she was more emotionally affected and, as noted, very fatalistic about the whole thing, or she might have landed on it before Buffy.
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      • #93
        Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
        I don't disagree at all -- I don't mean that Willow wrote Xander off because of Xander; she wrote him off because of her own fatalism and lack of self-confidence, like she had always been waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to be too cool for her. Giles, for his part, was just generally unimpressed with him by all indications and therefore not surprised.
        OK- I agree with that. Willow was fatalistic and emotionally beaten down- but she was just writing Xander off because she didn't believe in him enough. I even agree that Giles is condescending and rude about Xander through the series. Although, I'm not sure if Giles settled into his barely tolerant, unimpressed mode with Xander. The most meaningful interaction that they've had so far has been in this ep where Giles was pretty kind and sympathetic to Xander at the end. I think Giles is mostly cynical about schoolchildren in general- unless they have exceptional talents/intelligence that Giles can appreciate with his like-minded/complimentary own set of interests. Giles/Cordelia scenes are *hilarious* like, all the time, but Giles was never a fan of hers either. Even slayer Faith was uninteresting to Giles because she wasn't Buffy or disciplined, knowledgeable Kendra.

        I only say Giles likely knew Xander better because he was on the faculty of his high school, and not a big high school. Teachers know "of" the various students, or at least any such that stick out.
        According to Willow, most students didn't even go into the library and Giles hardly leaves the library- and that's pretty borne out by the high school seasons. Whenever a non-Scooby student is named as a suspect in a MoTW, Giles pretty invariably acts like he never heard of the student in question and the Scoobies have to describe him or her to Giles. We can chart that as we watch the series. I don't think that Giles knew anything about Xander's personality. I still think Buffy, as of now, knows Xander better than Giles and has had more quality time with Xander.

        Only Buffy (who also didn't know from possessions, she had all the same information Willow had for instance -- that Xander had gone into the hyena exhibit, had heard the laugh
        I don't know if Buffy knew better from possessions- but it's a reasonable guess. Buffy's had a much wider experience of mystical things than Willow and her slayer-sense tingles and dreams about the creepy dangers out there. Buffy experiences new varieties of creepies and crawlies in S1 but Buffy has well-travelled vibe of "Anything can happen in the world of the supernatural" than Willow at this stage.


        • #94

          Angel is one of my favourite episodes of S1. The Pack is the first episode to really touch on the darkness this series is capable of exploring but Angel feels like the first episode where the cinematography, lighting and directing is all on point and the B/A scenes are very atmospheric. Honestly, I’m not really a shipper of any kind now (and I were it would be Fuffy) but when I rewatch this episode it’s easy to remember why I was such a B/A fan back in the day. They were both just so goddamn pretty here. Obviously this relationship comes with a lot of baggage, especially if you’ve read the S8 comics, but I can see why they were such a hit in their time. SMG & DB just have great chemistry in this episode. The writer’s pull out all the usual tricks (“I'll get some bandages, take your jacket and shirt off” lol) but instead of finding it clichéd I just find it endearing. Nostalgia’s a funny thing and obviously people’s mileage will vary.

          I like seeing Buffy behave like a typical teenager and sneak a boy up to her room. I like seeing her be so emotionally open. I guess at this point it just feels so innocent, or as innocent as it could be when you consider Angel’s age and backstory. Which is not so innocent at all. Of course, the irony is that it will be B/A which will permanently scar Buffy and result in her becoming more emotionally guarded and reserved. So it’s certainly bittersweet to see the beginning of this relationship knowing how it will end. I think that is conveyed rather wonderfully when Buffy lets out that horrified scream as Angel turns into a vampire. We really don’t see Buffy scream, like, almost never, so I think it’s pretty pivotal just how traumatised she was in this moment. And of course at the end of the episode Angel will be branded by Buffy’s crucifix symbolising once more the lasting mark these two will have on one another (see also Buffy’s scar after Graduation Day).

          As Local Max pointed out in his thoughts on Never Kill A Boy In The First Date, there does seem to be some intentional contrasting going on between Angel/Xander when Angel respects Buffy’s wishes and turns his back as she changes as opposed to trying to sneak a peek. He also refrains from snooping through her diary which, in all honesty, I have no confidence Xander would. But in all fairness this is also balanced out by the inappropriateness of someone Angel’s age being in Buffy’s bedroom in the first place (though I give Angel some credit to at least paying lip service to those concerns). I also think there’s something a little creepy about Angel hiding in Buffy’s closet as an unaware Joyce cleans her room. Though it’s rather fitting that Buffy, literally, has a monster in her closet that her mother doesn’t know about yet. Heh.

          Angel is still a rather ambiguous character for me in this episode. Obviously it’s his most heroic episode to date as he saves Buffy’s life not once but twice which is by far the most proactive he has been since coming to Sunnydale. However, I do think that he would have succumbed to temptation and fed from Joyce had Buffy not walked in on them. I don’t necessarily think this makes him a lost cause (it would be a different story had he attacked Joyce himself) as I have lots of sympathy for anyone having to fight such overwhelming urges, but it does make him a risk and Angel will admit that he has the urge to kill Buffy, even. On the other hand, when he self-implodes and decides Buffy won’t accept him, it very much plays out as a suicide mission with Angel trying to goad Buffy into dusting him rather than Angel legitimately deciding to take her on. This is far from heroic but it’s certainly better than re-joining Darla like he attempted to do back in the Boxer Rebellion or going down a dark spiral like he does in AtS S2. It does, however, show that Angel has a rather defeatist attitude at this point in journey (as we'll see again in Prophecy Girl) as he doesn't take Buffy's rejection well at all for someone who decided to "become somebody" to help her. His first instinct is to give up.

          I do feel for Angel throughout this episode. It’s hard for me to not to relate to the guy’s fear of people finding out the truth about him especially when you take into account his last attempt to help someone ended in betrayal and rejection (“he’s got blood in his room he’s a monster!”) so Buffy’s reaction must have been extremely hurtful, to say the least. It’s for this very reason I have mixed feelings about Angel remaining so ‘ambiguous’ to Buffy about what or who killed his family (“Was it vampires?” “It-it was”) because on the one hand I sympathise with why he’s afraid to talk about his past/nature, but I also think he owes his victims to fess up to his crimes. My heart does kind of break for him in the scene where he walks up to Buffy’s house and almost knocks on her door. Our good guys are notorious for being unable to communicate their feelings and keeping secrets from each other so it’s kind of amazing that Angel was actually about to do such a mature and, well, normal thing like talk to Buffy face-to-face. Seeing him lose the courage was, again, something I can identify with all too well (I haven’t killed anyone mind you!) so I was definitely feeling for him wrestling with the decision.

          I’m less sympathetic with Angel insulting the gypsy girl he murdered (“dumb as a post”) and lying to Buffy about having never fed on another person since that day. I think in regards to the latter that the character was very much thrown under the bus once the writers realised how unpractical that was for his backstory in AtS, but unfortunately it means Angel was lying in canon. And Angel just has no right to speak badly of his victims in that manner. I think both suggest that whilst Angel has made great strides in bettering himself there’s still ways to go. I also find it interesting that when Angel is down and out and in Buffy’s firing line he reverts back to his human face as a way of confronting Buffy with what she’s about to do. I don’t believe it’s an attempt to psyche her out of dusting him, I believe Angel when he told Darla he “wanted it finished” and wanted to die by the Slayer, but I do think it has an edge to it. Almost as if Angel is deeply resentful of being this thing that everybody hates (no matter how much he tries or whether it’s justified or not) and so he wants it to be difficult for Buffy to kill him. If he’s going out, he’s going to make it hurt for her.

          It’s no secret that Darla’s characterisation in S1 is fairly inconsistent with how she’s portrayed later on but I do think she better resembles the Darla we come to know in this episode. She’s fairly snarky with the Master, her feelings for Angel clearly motivate her, and she’s certainly more intelligent than the average vampire Buffy has faced thus far. Not only does she take it upon herself to stake out the library but she attacks Buffy’s family and even brings guns to take down the Slayer. I think going after Joyce in particular is very Darla-like when you consider what she did to Holtz’s family. And whilst the catholic high school look is hard to swallow in WttH/The Harvest I feel this episode gives us some context as to why Darla’s choosing to dress this way – “… and last time I saw you it wasn’t high school girls.” I think Darla is clearly dressing in a way to mock Angel’s infatuation with Buffy but also, in all honesty, to try and gain his attention as well. Darla wants to play the role of the cold, baddass manipulator but the Master saw right through her personal interest in killing Buffy and her jealous reaction to hearing about the Buffy/Angel kiss is undeniable. This episode actually sets the tone for the Angel/Darla relationship throughout AtS S2 where Darla is far more obsessed and vulnerable about Angel than she’d ever care to admit.

          It’s hard to appreciate the magnitude of Angel’s actions when he stakes Darla from just this episode alone. BtVS really doesn’t delve into the Angel/Darla relationship so whilst it’s still played out as meaningful it lacks the gravitas it would have had if it had played out on AtS instead. Given what a difficult time Angel has staking Darla in S2 I do think it’s pretty huge he’s willing to stake her to save Buffy and it really signifies the direction Angel is deciding to go in. Of course there is a squicky element to the whole thing with Angel transferring from one ‘blonde savior’ to the next and that’s baggage that Buffy will simply never know about, but I can’t fault Angel’s intentions here.

          I have a fairly dark reading of Xander’s behaviour in this episode. I’m sure some of his opinion is driven by a general distrust and dislike of vampires which especially at this juncture of the series is completely justified. They’re not aware of any gypsy curse and their voice of authority on all things supernatural (Giles) is telling them quite plainly that vampires aren’t capable of being anything but monsters. However, what I can’t ignore is that a great deal of his behaviour is driven by his feelings for Buffy and his jealousy of Angel. Even prior to learning of Angel’s nature, he can’t even muster some gratitude that Angel saved his best friend’s life and instead is just bitter and resentful. So it comes as no surprise that he’s leading the charge to have Buffy stake Angel who just so happens to be his romantic rival. Giles also lobbies for this but is not so, erm, enthusiastic about it as Xander is. Obviously Xander wouldn’t condone killing a human romantic rival but it sure must have been convenient for him that his turned out to be a vampire! What’s interesting is that vampires are meant to be a stand-in for our character’s personal demons and Angel has represented that for Xander rather nicely throughout S1. But it’s not as simple as Xander getting to slay the demon (or in this case encourage Buffy to do it for him) when Angel has already been written as a person. Xander’s known Angel as a person for several episodes now. A person that Xander is jealous of, a person Xander has spoken very little with, but a person nonetheless. I do find it disturbing how quickly Xander wants to put that aside and not even speculate why Angel would spend his time helping Buffy, saving her life, or sleeping her room and not attacking her in her sleep, and go straight for wanting him dead.

          This doesn’t mean Xander is entirely wrong. He’s being ridiculous to claim that Angel intentionally got slashed in the ribs to worm his way into Buffy’s room, but there is some “seduction” going on. Angel’s most certainly being flirtatious (“Angel, do you snore?” “I don’t know (smiles) It’s been a long time since anybody’s been in the position to let me know”) and to avoid discussing his past he changes the subject by giving Buffy a compliment on her appearance (“You even look pretty when you go to sleep”) but how much of this is Xander getting an honest reading of Angel or hating him ‘just because’ is debatable. Xander pretty much set a hostile tone for their relationship back in Never Kill A Boy In The First Date and whatever legitimate concerns Xander does have are being overshadowed by the jealousy Buffy and Willow clearly pick on, so he’s doing himself no favours.

          And so begins the long tradition of Willow accidentally pointing out all the flaws or hurdles in the B/A relationship (“Wow. And it is kind of novel how he'll stay young and handsome forever – although you'll still get wrinkly and die – oooo, and what about the children -- I'll be quiet now”) which will end in her eventually admitting in Prom that she hoped for the best but thinks Angel is right to end things. I think Willow wants to be enthusiastic for a number of reasons; she wants Buffy to be happy and with the guy she has feelings for, she thinks Angel is a little dreamy and lives vicariously through B/A’s epic romance, and it’s in her best interests to have Buffy paired off which will hopefully lay to rest Xander’s crush on her.

          “The Three” are extremely corny but I do think something interesting could have been done with the concept had they appeared in a less cheesy-S1-era of the show. I’m always here for vampires that pose a legitimate threat and the Master’s court seems steeped in tradition unlike the vampire nests that appear later in the show which could have been interesting to explore. But the writer’s spend little time fleshing out the history of The Three and why they’re so devoted to the Master that they’d lay down their lives in penance and instead try and sell them as being so badass even tough bikie dudes run away! Scary! Frankly, no matter how many times I watch Faith, Hope & Trick I’m surprised to hear Buffy mention them as they’re just such a forgettable part of BtVS mythology.

          It’s a little hard to imagine that Giles hasn’t even heard of Angelus when he has a reputation for being the most heinous vampire on record. Then again, Giles hadn’t heard of Spike either despite him having killed two Slayers (you’d think the name would be quite notorious amongst the Council) so I think Giles’ rebellious years may have severely impacted his Watcher’s education. It’s interesting that Giles’ text claims Angel got his name because of his “angelic face” when it’s strongly implied in The Prodigy that Angel came up with the name after his sister thought he had returned to her as an angel. Of course, whilst this is in all likelihood an inconsistency on the writer’s part, it’s not hard to imagine that historians would fudge the details like this. What I find perplexing is that the Council seems well aware that Angel arrived in America and shunned other vampires but weren’t proactive to investigate why. You’d think they’d be mildly curious as to why one of the most savage and notorious vampires on record just stopped killing.

          Speaking of Giles, I do think it's a little irresponsible how lax he is about Buffy/Angel. I think Xander and Willow represent two totally different extremes on how to approach this relationship (oddly enough Buffy herself is somewhere in the middle) but Giles barley offers an opinion at all. I'm sure he sees the value in Buffy being friendly with a vampire who has provided useful information and is "not some ordinary vampire" and can offer some superpowered muscle. But some weariness or caution would be much appreciated if not as a Watcher then as an adult who is witnessing Buffy enter a relationship with a guy much, much older than her. I do respect that Giles isn't trying to interfere too much with her life and to his credit he does take Buffy's word on Angel which I admire ("Buffy told me you don't feed on humans anymore") but it's a bit slack. After the ordeal of S2 he does become a lot more vocal however and expresses reservations/caution about Buffy spending time with Angel again, Riley and Spike. What I do like is the sympathy he feels for Buffy when telling her it's a Slayer's duty to stake Angel which, as I said, comes across a lot better than Xander's eagerness to have her dust him. And perhaps he’s more willing to see how this will play out after Buffy’s recent heartbreak over Owen and Angel seeming like a good match in comparison.

          I always laugh at how the vampire’s hand comes through the threshold of Buffy’s house and she has to slam the door on it to keep the vampire out. Angel then explains that a vampire can’t come in unless its invited. Obviously this is portrayed quite differently from S2-onwards when an uninvited vampire would never be able to reach inside of Buffy’s home.

          It also makes me chuckle to see the hoopla over Buffy being able to use a crossbow given how standard they become for all characters as the series progresses. Not to mention that Buffy comes across as very naïve when she thinks a crossbow will give her the edge over Angel (or Darla) who have practically made a sport of catching arrows in mid-air. It’s just one of those things that really don’t work in retrospect.

          A lot of people roll their eyes at Buffy supposedly being "in love" with Angel by this episode. Especially given how little time they've actually spent together at this point. However, I think it's fairly accurate to how a 16 year old would feel and the characters certainly aren't declaring those feelings for one another. That won't happen until Surprise.

          Does anyone else notice how Kristine Sutherland sounds very different in these early episodes? Much more nasal-y?

          Again, I do just want to say that I think the show steps it up a notch with the cinematography in this episode. The bedroom scenes are lit perfectly – dark enough to be romantic but also a little eerie as well. Angel is shrouded in darkness when Buffy asks him about his family and the episode in general is somewhat darker than usual. And this is probably one of my favourite shots of S1, if not the series in general;

          Favourite lines:

          You have no idea what it’s like to do the things I’ve done and care.

          She lives very much in the now and
          of course history is very much
          about "the then",

          I’ve killed a lot of vampires. Never hated one before
          – Interestingly enough she does tell Spike she hates him in Becoming II.
          Last edited by vampmogs; 31-03-14, 12:46 AM.

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          • #95
            Fantastic review, vampmogs! You really covered all things Bangel and Angel very thoroughly. (And your review is very pretty with the pictures/gifs and quotes.) Some random notes:

            1. I do agree that Xander jumps on the "stake Angel" idea, partly out of jealousy. That's problematic since Angel did save Buffy's life. However, Giles did tell Xander quite firmly when Jesse was vamped that nothing remains of a human in a vampire and its just an evil being. It has to be incredibly painful and unfair that Xander had to stake one of his best friends but Xander needs to take it on faith that Buffy's mysterious beau (who evidently has centuries of documented murders under his belt) is such a special snowflake of a vampire that he should be trusted.

            Xander also goes on the "Save Angel from Buffy now that we know that Darla attacked Joyce" mission. I think Xander is largely motivated to save *Buffy* from a conflict with any number of vamps from the Master's army. However, he knows that Giles and Willow have come to dissuade Buffy from staking Angel with that information and he doesn't object to their objectives. He's firmly on that team, even if that team has a primary objective to save Angel/clear Angel's name.

            2. Willow is almost suicidally brave in trying to draw some of Darla's bullets toward her instead of just Buffy while also telling Buffy that Darla and not Angel attacked Joyce.

            3. On this feminist show, I adore Willow squashing a bug and then holding the dead bug up on her shoe victoriously to offer to "buy" object-of-her-affections Xander a drink. Awesome on so many levels. Willow hunts the prey fro her beloved, offers to buy the drinks for her beloved, and the line between Willow shyly hitting on Xander and giving Xander nice things as his friend is tenuous. Also as always, Willow is sometimes callous and strange. Sheesh, how is Xander not charmed by that?! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

            4. Per my repeated comments that Willow is torn between cheerleading/idealizing Xander and being grossed out and disapproving of his behavior:

            Xander: Duh! I mean, guys'll do anything to impress a girl. I-I once drank an entire gallon of Gatorade without taking a breath. (grins)
            Willow: It was pretty impressive. Although later there was an ick factor.

            5. I agree with vampmogs that it's significant that Angel was willing to stake Darla to save Buffy. However, I also think there's some element of revenge there too. Darla kicked Angel out twice for having a soul. She rejected him painfully and she basically laid down the gauntlet that everything in their relationship began and ended with murdering humans. And not just any murder of humans- the most vile and cruel murder of innocents possible. Angel has a lot of good reasons to be very angry with Darla enough to stake her, regardless of their long, romantic past.

            Plus, you know, it's true that the bottom line of Angel/Darla was murdering innocent people and destroying lives. Darla laid down that gauntlet in the Darla and Five by Five flashbacks for a reason- it's the ever lovin' point. They map onto gold anniversary level spouses with their well-traveled years together and profound impact on one another and "children" in Dru/Spike. However, up until the eve of Connor's birth, the gravamen is making love in the blood of innocents.

            However, Angel did kill away an important part of himself and someone that he loves for Buffy. AtS addresses this by Angel getting so easily sucked into Darla's dream seductions in early S2. However, the anger that I mentioned above is also there in how Angel confronts "DeEtta Kramer" and then Darla in Dear Boy. Still, one of the reasons why Angel has such a hard time with killing Darla in AtS S2 is that he exorcised quite a bit of his anger at Darla by killing her in BtVS S1, leaving him mainly with his feelings of attachment and loss and guilt re: Darla.

            To applaud Angel, he is strong and fair about killing the former love of his unlife and not taking his hurt out on Buffy for a second. I don't know if it's because BtVS Angel is underwritten or because his early feelings of guilt and second-rateness make him a less self-centered, more stiff-upper-lip guy than Champion AtS Angel- BtVS Angel really deals with painful episodes very stoically compared to ever-increasing Drama Queen AtS Angel. Angel seems to take the next three eps off- perhaps out of pain, perhaps because the news of the next three week's danger never reached him. Still, Angel comes back to assertively help Giles and rescue Buffy's friends in OOM, OOS and starts a process of growing into a very functional super-helper in early S2.

            Still to try to tie Angel's almost definite hurt feelings over Darla's death from now to AtS S2, it's possible that Angel has such a weird "You're a mass murderer just like me!" intervention with Faith in Consequences because Angel was exorcising his Darla-issues with the next "bad girl" as an alternative to Buffy that crossed Angel's path. If Angel could lower Faith down to his and Darla's moral level and then *redeem* Faith, it could be like Angel didn't fail and put a stake in the heart of the main family that he has left. It would prove that Angel *can* reach evil female murders and turn them into kind, useful members of society.

            6. Cordelia is barely on screen- but she shows some deeper layers. How many shallow high school cheerleader Queen B types berate classmates for wearing the same dress by citing how free trade agreements produce cheap knockoffs?

            Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
            It’s a little hard to imagine that Giles hasn’t even heard of Angelus when he has a reputation for being the most heinous vampire on record. Then again, Giles hadn’t heard of Spike either despite him having killed two Slayers (you’d think the name would be quite notorious amongst the Council) so I think Giles’ rebellious years may have severely impacted his Watcher’s education.
            Word. Giles often seems like he's running behind the curve on important information and like he runs a pretty disorganized research/magic venture. In a number of eps, Giles is ignorant about what's in his own books and his own artifacts (including the ones that he later sells to any old consumer off the street). Apparently, he only got around to a comprehensive project to organize his stuff in the summer after S4. To give Giles credit, Giles certainly made a commitment *now* to take Watching seriously. As he pointed out, he immediately spent all night researching Angel for Buffy. However, despite Giles's commendable enthusiasm now, it does feel like he hasn't mastered a lot of the basics of research methodology and organization and he's not a disciplined person so research and mystery-solving is harder for the Scoobies than it has to be.

            Speaking of Giles, I do think it's a little irresponsible how lax he is about Buffy/Angel. I think Xander and Willow represent two totally different extremes on how to approach this relationship (oddly enough Buffy herself is somewhere in the middle) but Giles barley offers an opinion at all. I'm sure he sees the value in Buffy being friendly with a vampire who has provided useful information and is "not some ordinary vampire" and can offer some superpowered muscle. But some weariness or caution would be much appreciated if not as a Watcher then as an adult who is witnessing Buffy enter a relationship with a guy much, much older than her.
            I've also read some fans criticize S1-2 Joyce for burbling on about it's great that Giles takes an interest in Buffy (as she does in Angel) instead of being concerned that the middle-aged *librarian* spends so much time with her non-bookish, very attractive teenaged daughter and could be taking sexual advantage. I'm not sure that I agree or disagree. It could be Joyce being an inattentive parent. It could be Joyce being a rather innocent, non-cynical woman who tries to believe the best of others and rather correctly reads Giles as a fine, kind, well-intentioned man. Both of those are facets of Joyce- I'm not sure which is at play here.

            (To somewhat tie both last points, maybe I'm a perv but I get somewhat flirtatious vibes off of Willow's "How is it you always know this stuff? You always know what's going on. I never know what's going on" to Giles. It's in how AH delivers that line. Willow does that faux-pout/compliment thing when she's flirting a lot.)
            Last edited by Dipstick; 31-03-14, 06:08 PM.


            • #96
              I really enjoy this episode and it follows The Pack really well as we discover Angel's demon within and see Xander's reaction. When it comes to Angel not telling the full details of what happened to his family I think it follows well from Xander’s faux amnesia in The Pack and wanting to conceal an act that isn't something he, like Xander, would consciously have chosen to do.

              I like a lot of the scripting in the episode. Buffy’s blustering about her diary was really funny and Giles' line about history and Buffy living in the now was delivered really well. It is a great episode for Willow who has lots of good moments, like the cockroach on the shoe, and I loved Willow’s scale for maiming too
              “I mean, on a scale of one to ten, ten being someone who's killing and maiming every night, and one being someone who's... not.”

              I like the demon underworld using their own hired thugs for assassins so The Three are a good throw in for me. However, the notion of them as these warrior vampires the Master keeps for special occasions but who he then willingly dusts for failing rather than just sending them back out is somewhat idiotic. I did like the link through from the Master citing The Three and Collin's talk of annihilation to the stomping of the cockroaches in the next scene.

              It is nice to reconcile some of the ways they changed direction/characterisations at later dates where possible. So I love Dipstick’s reasoning of Angel’s resentment towards Darla from her previous rejections and how/why this then differs to how he responds to her in AtS. Other things that jarred that I haven't found a way around... it was strange to see Darla being critical of Angel living above ground for someone who doesn't hide in caves/sewers as her norm and is specifically noted for liking a view. Also, the Master talks in this episode of missing Angel and wanting him beside him when we later see him being so disrespectful/dismissive towards The Master in Darla.

              As to Angel lying about not having tasted human blood since he was cursed, I don't think it was a planned/intended lie by the writers but, as he has been trying to hide his nature it works reasonably. I think it is understandable that he would want to draw a bold line between before and after his soul, rather than trying to explain Lawson or any slips like the guy in the shop, that may have occurred. Incidentally, I don’t think he would have drunk from Joyce personally. Because of how he feels about Buffy, I think that would have kicked in and stopped him.

              I find it difficult to settle with Buffy not protecting her mum by arming her with better knowledge of the risks that are out there generally and that she will come under even more as Buffy's mum. They were both specifically targeted within this episode and it really should throw up that this is an issue that needs addressing with Joyce. Learning later that Buffy had a brief stint in an institution does at least give some more reasonable context of why she might have been reluctant to do this but still, with the danger underlined like it is here, I struggle with this aspect.

              I do find the 200+ year old vampire with a sixteen year old something icky I have to deliberately ignore/accept. It isn’t actually so much the age gap as an innocence/maturity thing for me really, because I find the ick factor I feel disappears once Buffy leaves school for college and seems more adult, whether it is then with either Angel or Spike going forward. But in keeping with the whole hidden identities and the mix of who/what you are and who/what you want to be, there is an uncertainty for Angel here at the start of his path of fighting the good fight that makes it work in a way that I think it manages to avoid coming across as manipulative/abusive. I agree that in this episode we see him being defeatist and he has obviously been struggling with everything in how to be a souled vampire and join the fight effectively/helpfully as well as trying to fight the urge to get involved with Buffy. So, I can see him as genuinely being more immature and uncertain at this stage in his existence, within these circumstances, up to losing his soul in S2. I think then all that occurs from/during that through to returning from hell provides a dividing point so that his time here of a shared 'innocence' with Buffy is believable and then also believably lost.

              Buffy’s excessive/obvious flirting was very well done. It really fitted her age and the corny shirt removal, sneaking around the parents aspects too. It was quite sweet really. As you know vamps, I’m not a fan of the forever love and the teenage urge to believe love is instant is the same really for me. But I would agree that just because those two things have me rolling my eyes as an adult doesn’t mean that they don’t feel real and affect the life choices of the teen who is going through them. I don’t personally believe it is anything other than lust/desire/attraction, but that certainly doesn’t mean it couldn’t become love, it is the notion of it being there without foundation and depth I personally don't buy into. I like Bangel of the early seasons because I think it works well for both characters in the stages they are at individually, despite these aspects I struggle with and find a hindrance. I've always felt it is a lazy way of claiming unearned depth to a relationship and I actually don’t think Bangel needs it or that it really benefits either of them for keeping that aspect going blindly across the seasons. Just a personal preference.

              I like that Darla says Buffy wouldn’t look at Angel’s true face and kiss him because we of course know that this is not going to prove to be correct, heck, she won’t even notice. I really like vamps’ point about Buffy’s scream and her cross searing Angel, but that final scene/kiss is always spoilt a touch for me because I can’t help but think the burning flesh must have smelt bad!!!

              Totally random observation, Giles is just adorable stood there in all his padding.
              Last edited by Stoney; 31-03-14, 09:09 PM.


              • #97
                First of all, thanks everyone for their kind words and great thoughts about The Pack.

                Vamps: great review on Angel. I am often critical of Angel-the-character, but despite that I do generally like him and find him interesting and think I understand him. That said, I have found him a little hard to get a handle on in this episode in past viewings, and I think reading your writing about him has helped me get what is going on here a little better.

                The big thing that I have trouble with is that Angel is a little wild and all over the map in this episode -- he swings wildly from absolutely quiet, delicately controlled perfect beau, to monster unable to repress the depths of his urges, to fighter-martyr about to enter a cagematch with his new potential lover because his ex tells him to. Given that Angel is very much a secondary character in season one, someone glimpsed more from the shadows than head-on by the main cast, it makes some sense to go all over the map like this; this is the only episode that really gets into Angel's head, and the last look at the character until OOMOOS and Prophesy Girl. There isn't the opportunity to spend several episodes shading in the many faces of Angel, and they all have to be done at once.

                For Angel to abandon his careful plan to be by Buffy's side, which we know from future episodes is something which he sees as something of a divine mission from the Powers That Be as represented by Whistler, and then give himself back over to Darla, who is a vampire aligned with the Master even if we don't include information from future episodes, is pretty far out. For Angel to then turn around and stake Darla, which is a huge deal, is also pretty shocking. The whole thing also seems on a script level to be set up to give the maximum emotional impact of what Angel is at every point in time for the script -- he has magnificent self-control when he's dark-brooding-stranger, struggles hugely with self-control when he's revealed as a vampire, is able to kill Darla when he's revealed as a souled vampire. The latter, in particular, does have the script purpose of establishing Angel's hero cred to us in the audience: what could establish to the audience, and to Buffy, that he is good more completely than killing his toothy ex?

                For a little while, I actually thought that might even be kind of a set-up on Angel's part -- that he was a better manipulator at this point, and that on some level he was attempting to do something similar to what Spike tries in Crush -- prove his love for Buffy by killing his ex. I think that's still the game the script is playing, and I think that Crush, indeed, still kind of parodies the notion that killing one's ex is actually a good idea to prove one's love and devotion to the hero. I don't think that's the main reason Spike thinks of staking Dru in order to prove his love for Buffy, but it wouldn't surprise me if Spike knew that Angel staked Darla (certainly, it would have to come up how Darla died in Dru's recount of the events of AtS season two in that episode even if he hadn't heard before) and made the connection, and I think Crush has Buffy making drawing the more sensible conclusion from what killing one's vampire ex tells you about a vamp's devotion to you: little to nothing, or at least nothing good.

                That said, I don't really think a manipulation game is actually what's going on with Angel here, for a few reasons, some more obvious than others. I agree with vamps, for example, that Angel expects her to kill him, but is careful to make it hard on her because he resents the fact that he's doomed to animal-hood seemingly no matter what he does.

                What I think happens in this episode overall, then, is that the script needs to hit certain beats, and Angel swings wildly in his plans in order to meet those beats. Because those script beats are all the beats that are going to allow Buffy to discover the truth about Angel and still make the call to spare him, and then to kiss him at the end with the cross burning into Angel, it can look a little bit as if Angel planned it that way. He couldn't have really planned the episode better than it turns out if his goal was to convince Buffy to spare him and to still view him as something of a viable romantic prospect. But I think that is a script issue -- the script needs to get Buffy to that place, for Buffy reasons, and Angel somewhat has to get there.

                It's not that I think Angel is out of character, in order to achieve these ends. And all scripts do use contrivances and conveniences to get to the final point. I think what makes this episode hard for me is that Angel is still so much of a mystery that I have trouble with what his thought process is, even when he's being open. I suspect that Angel doesn't really know, either, at least not all the time.


                So I guess here's how it works: Angel stays away from humans for decades because he has no confidence in his ability to control himself in close range. He is really, really good at not feeding on humans by this point, because he avoids them all the time. In order to get close to Buffy, Angel has to start interacting with her, so he maintains a chilly distance, both so that he can prevent himself from being tempted to feed on her, which, she looks so delicious, and because he needs to prevent her from understanding his nature, because she'll, you know, kill him. He also avoids going with her to fight vampires because if he sees them, he can be brought back into vampire society, and he is a total pushover when it comes, in particular, to Darla, as we see in this episode.

                His two biggest drives which he has difficulty controlling, IMO, are his desire for acceptance and his desire to feed. He doesn't really care about society-as-a-whole's acceptance, but he wants one of his potential lovers to validate him. He can't see Darla, under any circumstances, because it's a no-win scenario if he wants to be good. Either Darla will reject him more, and it will burn a hole in his unbeating heart and break it once again, or he sees her and we get this episode, where she wants him back, and offers not just her facsimile of love and camaraderie but also the possibility of hot and cold running blood again. He stays away from humans because they reject him and he might feed on them; he stays away from vampires because they rejected him, but, also, might actually choose to take him back in, in which case he might make a different choice this time if a baby is put under his teeth.

                Angel really, really wants to kiss Buffy, and he really, really wants to bite her. He needs to stay away from her for those two reasons, which is why he tries to opt to get away in the bedroom, but he also can't help but give himself away, because he really does want to let himself have the opportunity to kiss/bite her. If Angel were purely dedicated to getting out of there, he wouldn't say that he has to go because he keeps thinking of kissing her, to a starry-eyed teen who I think he knows has a crush on him. But it also doesn't make sense to me that Angel is just lying when he says he needs to go, because it really is a bad idea to kiss her and I think he knows that. Rather, I think he sets himself up a little bit for a situation in which he hopes that she will kiss him, and that it's "her fault" (or her choice) rather than initiated by him -- because he tried to get out of it. But, of course, if Angel had total self-control, he would have left without kissing her, or something like that. He wants to kiss her. He also wants to bite her, under that, or maybe over that.

                I kind of think Angel vamps out when he kisses her not just because he lets his guard down and lets himself come closer to a warm-blooded human than he's come in a long time, but also because on some level he wants to be found out and seen for who he is. If he can get the slayer to provide him something like absolution, then he can really believe that he deserves to continue existing. But to do that, she has to know him for who he is. He wants her to find out who he is, but also knows that she might reject him and kill him if she does. So he hides, but I think he also kind of wants to let the teeth out so that she can see them, and that makes it hard to hold it all in. That he has already kissed her when he vamps out means that she already has positive associations with him, and already cares about him, which makes her less likely to kill him, which I think is...not incidental; I think Angel kind of wanted her to see his good qualities before unleashing his bad ones, but he also didn't *mean* to vamp out and didn't really even mean to kiss her, though he also probably knew it was going to happen, perhaps because he's weak. If this all sounds a little wild and speculate-y, it is because I think Angel...really is conflicted, and he holds so much back that we can't really get a good sense of where he is.

                The Buffy side of this section of the episode -- from the beginning to Angel's vamping out -- is fairly straightforward to me. Buffy finds Angel attractive and mysterious. He's a true gentleman. He's older. Buffy is able to convincingly lie about why he's there -- history tutor! -- which shows that she has some commonalities with Angel. I know, "they're both liars!" is not a great foundation for a relationship, but it also makes a lot of sense. Both Buffy and Angel have a Big Secret, which brings them into closer parallel; Angel is a "freak" like Buffy. Angel doesn't fit in anywhere, and feels something like shame about it, which also appeals to Buffy. She feels safe with him because he can help protect her from big threats like The Three, when no one else can really protect her because no one else is as strong as her (or stronger). She kisses him, and then he vamps out and she screams.

                The next section of the episode is devoted to Buffy and Angel reacting to the vamping out, with Darla pulling Angel more fully toward the vampire side, telling him that he is a vampire and Buffy is a human and thus Angel must kill Buffy, and Giles and Xander pulling Buffy toward the human/slayer side, telling her that she must kill Angel. Willow gives voice to the part of Buffy that doesn't want to kill Angel at all. This section then builds up to the two arming themselves against the other in anticipation that the other will kill them. They are sort of paralleled with each other: Darla is Angel's mentor and jealous potential romantic rival, which means she maps onto both Giles (mentor) and Xander (jealous potential romantic rival). However, Angel has way more information than Buffy does, which breaks the symmetry.

                Darla also gives Joyce to Angel. Angel's being tempted to feed on Joyce strikes me as odd given future episodes, in a way that I think suggests the episode is a little at odds with later portrayals of Angel. He is tempted to feed on humans, all the time, but, you know, she is Buffy's mother. If we take this episode's presentation as correct (which we know it isn't, but anyway), he's been clean for a century. And killing Joyce would pretty much guarantee that Buffy would kill him. I think what we're seeing then is that Angel's self-control at this point is much lower than what it is later on -- probably because he is that much closer to despair, and that much less practiced at being around people without seeing them as something wholly other, wholly food. Darla lays out the case that Angel is still a monster, just as Giles and Xander do over on the other side: he is still burned by the light ("God doesn't want you! But I still do"), hurts her because he has so much anger ("that's good too"), wants very badly to feed on people. There's just that pesky conscience, but hey. He'll get over it, right?

                I think Angel goes in there planning for Buffy to kill him...but, no, that doesn't quite work for me all the way either. If we take him at his word, he planned to kill Buffy. But I don't fully believe that. I think he's saying that to goad her into a choice. Either she kills him, or -- and here's the big one -- she accepts him. That's what Angel really wants, and Buffy is idealistic enough and starry-eyed enough to see him for "who he really is" -- a monster with a heart and soul of gold. I think that's part of why I think Angel is constantly letting information drip out, saying half-truths, getting closer to Buffy while also trying to stay away. He wants her to approve of him, and he wants it to mean something, and so he...tries to "let slip" things about his nature, but he also can't give himself away fully, because he can't really tell her exactly how monstrous he was, can't paint her the full picture. Connor called Angel the prince of lies.

                Buffy's choice not to kill Angel, ultimately, is based on his not killing her. She sees that he's not a monster, truly, and lets him live. She also cares about him. Buffy's acceptance, here, of moral ambiguity is a major moment for her character and marks her out as a hero; it also is partly an indication of some of the qualities that will lead her to be unable to turn on Angel even when he's killing people next year. She sees something in him that she has in herself, but it's always an open question how much Angel's self-presentation is real and how much it's carefully calibrated to be what she wants. And yet, the calibration isn't false. It's the big problem with Angel, that he's trying to be honest, and also holding back out of fear, and also holding back in order to manipulate but not really.

                I know this is a little all over the place. I should try to organize my thoughts a little more clearly. But maybe it makes sense why I have trouble interpreting this episode -- figuring out what Angel says that is true and what isn't.


                • #98
                  I think the episode does reflect the rollercoaster that Angel's emotions are on. He is leading a tumultuous existence at this point with many of his thoughts/emotions about himself conflicting and it shows in his responses to both Buffy and Darla, his soul and his demon sides represented in them almost. I think he did want Buffy to either release him or accept him. He knows Darla doesn't want/understand both parts of him and rejects him as he is now, wants him to revert in behaviour souled or not. So, yes, I think he was intentionally goading Buffy (particularly in the way that he referenced murdering his family and the gypsy he killed) because as he is struggling to understand himself and deal with everything within himself combined, he wants/needs her to see his true face because he knows the kind of acceptance he truly desires isn't possibly without some realistic understanding of that maelstrom within him, both demon and soul. So yeah, consciously or not, he pushes it here to see which way she will swing.
                  Last edited by Stoney; 01-04-14, 03:24 PM.


                  • #99
                    Yeah, I guess the watchword for Angel in this ep is "conflicted"!

                    Oh, right, I also wanted to say, in reference to vamps' point about "The Three" being brought up in Faith, Hope & Trick, I cynically think it's because both this and FHT are Greenwalt scripts, and Greenwalt wanted to reference something from his own script. However, since Buffy was deliberately avoiding talking about the emotionally charged Angel kill, she also wasn't going to want to bring up any other emotionally charged kills, like Ted, nor was she going to claim Spike (from School Hard) since that wasn't a kill, nor the nightmares from Nightmares which weren't real. So, um, I guess that leaves the Three, Fork Guy, Ms. French, and that penis metaphor from Reptile Boy, which might sound a little too much like Faith's 'gator wrestling story as far as reptile wrastlin' goes.


                    • Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                      Other things that jarred that I haven't found a way around... it was strange to see Darla being critical of Angel living above ground for someone who doesn't hide in caves/sewers as her norm and is specifically noted for liking a view.
                      To fanwank/use AtS hindsight, I think that Darla was parroting the Master's preachings about how human's shouldn't live above the ground. Darla would like to move out of Daddy's crypt and go back to living the high life in beautiful apartments and rooms gotten by force. However, Darla's life has been askew since Angel left her and the one status/place in the world that she has is as the Master's childe in the Order of Aurelious. Darla is lying that she's being a Proper Vampire by living below ground in her "dad's" house as a verrrrry old vampire to make herself feel better because she knows that she's a failure.

                      The funny thing is that Darla ain't the only one who saying that humans don't live above ground to make herself feel better even though she really doesn't feel that way. The *Master* doesn't even want to live below ground. The Master is working this whole season to *escape* his below ground prison and move on up. Per the Wishverse, the Master would make the Bronze his palace. IMO, vampires pretend like living in a crypt or a cellar is their favorite place to be because they need to hide away from humans. However, most all of them, would prefer to be above ground in a place with creature comforts- a view, heat, electricity, etc.

                      Also, the Master talks in this episode of missing Angel and wanting him beside him when we later see him being so disrespectful/dismissive towards The Master in Darla.
                      Yeah, I think that's a false note that doesn't even fanwank all that well. I far prefer the Wishverse reality where it made complete sense that the Master would keep Angel as a prisoner for his favorite vampire childes to torture day in and day out. (Of course, part of that is because Angel had a soul in the Wishverse and he apparently made some big noble last stand. However, IMO, part of the Master's sadism and the Master taking the risk of keeping such a powerful vampire prisoner in perpetuity is based on the Master's resentment of Angel.)

                      Potential fanwank: Given that Darla crawled back to the Master so humbly and currently stands at attention waiting for his orders because she was reeling from her "mistake" of losing her stallion to a soul, the Master holds out hope that Angel can do the same thing. The Master may feel that Angel getting and suffering from a soul should have taught Angel a lesson that he's really not as cool and smart as he thinks he is and he shouldn't have been wandering around Europe without a boss. The Master thinks that Angel made himself easy pickins' for vengeance and trouble by flashily going around town without even a real family so much as a wacky group of four- two of which were rather new vampires for most of their period together. (The Sopranos Phil Leotardo: The Sopranos are not a family. They're nothing more than a glorified crew...Listen to me. They make anybody and everybody over there. And the way that they do it, it's all fuc*ed up. Guys don't get their finger pricked. There's no sword and gun on the table.")

                      In the Master's mind, Darla sobered up from the hangover of her century-long party with Angel through Europe and humbly went back to the Master. If Angel ever lost his soul, Angel would do the same and go back to the Master so he gets to continue living the soulless life. The Master doesn't miss the actual Angel but he does miss the idea of someone with Angelus's brutality and talent for destruction accepting him as his grandsire and following his orders.
                      Last edited by Dipstick; 01-04-14, 05:18 PM.


                      • I'm not convinced with The Master as, whilst I can see him imagining Angel gaining the respect that he should have always been showing him from the start, I just can't see him elevating the impertinent upstart to his right hand just because he humbly returned. Plus he felt strongly enough about this to openly state it is as a lost vision of what shoulda coulda been? Nah. As you say, I think The Master would be far more inclined to react like he did in the Wishverse.

                        The Darla one is more doable. Your point about Darla returning to the Master since Angel left, back to the comfort of her status as his favourite is a fair one to explain her fitting her current living into the 'correct' way to live. It is still problematic though because we know it isn't what she really thinks and because of the reason you mention that really The Master is wanting out too. So perhaps we should read the dialogue a different way. Darla says...
                        Darla: You're living above ground, like one of them. You and your new friend are attacking us, like one of them. (walks to the window) But guess what, precious? You're not one of them. (She draws the window blinds open, letting in a stream of sunlight. Angel is blinded, and he stumbles backward to get out of the light.)

                        Darla: Are you?

                        Angel: No. But I'm not exactly one of you either.

                        Darla: (walks to the fridge) Is that what you tell yourself these days? (She opens the refrigerator and sees the bags and bottles of human blood.)

                        Darla: You're not exactly living off quiche. (closes the fridge) You and I both know what you hunger for.

                        Rather than her meaning that he is living above ground like humans do, she is pointing out that he is living above ground like a human. So setting up his apartment, keeping his food in a fridge even though it isn't quiche he eats, drawing the blinds rather than more securely blocking out the daylight, fighting vampires etc. I don't think it is what they meant but I can pretend perhaps.
                        Last edited by Stoney; 01-04-14, 06:15 PM.


                        • My Notes on I Robot, You Jane:

                          The Mechanics of Moloch: The Buffyverse mythology is that in the very olden days, demons terrorized human beings and the monsters that Buffy fights are the descendents and infections of those old demons. However, with the advent of the computer age, humans have been able to create their own monsters- killer robots, perfect girlfriend killer robots, demon infused cyborgs, high tech draconian government agencies, etc. The pre-historic age created the first phase of threats to humanity- putting demons on earth who later spread through history. Then, the late twentieth century started the next phase of threats to human- technology which humans created.

                          It begs the question- could Moloch have become a threat without computers and the Internet? Perhaps Moloch could have been drawn out of his book prison with magic. However while the computer scanner mimics the human eye’s and mind’s ability to scan and remember information, the computer scanner does it on such a different level that it renders the whole process different. I don’t think that a human being could have read and understood the text containing Moloch and then remembered the whole book so perfectly that Moloch infused their person. Only a computer with a scanner can do that. Moreover, even if a single person read the text of Moloch, memorized it perfectly, and infused Moloch into their being, human beings are not linked together enough to create a global threat from absorbing Moloch into one person.

                          However while this series can be uncomfortably Ludditesque, there is huge distinction in the menace created by technology vs. the menace created by demons. Demons existed before humans and much of the Story of Humans in the Buffyverse has been about how humans deal with that pre-existing threat to their poulation. However, humans, by and large, created technology. Humans can’t really control demons, they just need to settle killing the evilest ones. However, humans created technology and therefore, they should be able to control it and harness it for humanity's purposes.

                          Mind you, demons also harness technology starting with Moloch. However, on the likely, Moloch's method of dealing with technology would have discouraged innovation. Fitz and Dave could have been brilliant computer experts but Moloch destroyed them. Moloch was so impatient to have Willow that he used OTT force and got sloppy with his lies in a pretty short time-frame. If Moloch had more time, I could see him getting drunk enough with the power of the Internet to steal with both hands, use nuclear weapons like a crazy person and thus, destroy the society of the Internet. He demanded such focus and self-sacrifice from his most brilliant vassals that it would have retarded future technological development. Moloch didn't have enough time to destroy his kingdom. However even Moloch, a smart, manipulative demon with a pretty good handle on the human condition, was on a road to destroy his new kingdom online.

                          Buffy ends up spending quite a bit of her time fighting technological and modern menaces. Giles didn’t even want to deal with technology but he gets sucked into it as in this ep. Jenny/Giles remove Moloch as a worldwide presence through their computer. Buffy killed Moloch through electrocution. The old-school thought from the Shadowmen/Watcher’s Coucnil was that they needed to infuse a girl with demon powers to beat back the demons. To combat the worst of technology and harness it for good, both the Scoobies and AI required people with computer proficiency. I said in my Never Kill a Boy on the First Date notes that many of the MoTW mysteries would go unsolved without Willow’s hacking. However, it *is* a doube-edged sword. Computer maven Jenny created the project that scanned Moloch into the internet and computer maven Willow did the scanning.

                          Title of the Episode: Given the discussion above, the title of the ep is pretty clever. It’s a mixture between Isaac Asmiov’s book I Robot and Tarzan’s expression, “I Tarzan, You Jane”. Moloch represents both- the strong lawless alien based in the primitive and the robot forged in science. Moloch intended Willow to play the “Jane” role which is quite diminutive for Willow. Moloch wanted Willow to play the human girl who just explored and became fascinated with Moloch's exotic blend of demon and robot. A part of Willow is a “Jane” type character- a very human maiden who confronts the strange and primitive. However, over the series, it becomes clear that Willow embodies the robot (scientific knowledge and rigor), the Tarzan (mystical wildness), *and* the Jane (sympathetic human girl).

                          Willow in General: This is a Willow-centric ep. Local_Max brilliantly covered how much Xander *wants* to grow up, be a man who can save people and have a beautiful, popular girlfriend, break out of his poor/unpopular caste. The Pack was partly about that. Willow is more ambiguous about how much she wants to grow up and certainly, how much she believes she *can* grow up and move out of her caste.

                          IMO, one of the reasons why Willow isn’t in as much of a hurry to grow up is because Willow anticipates going away to an Ivy League university where she can put the pain of being bullied, the stifling nature of Sunnydale, the chilling loneliness of her house behind her. Xander doesn’t have that ivory towered dream. He is actually afraid of what he’ll do after high school since he believes that he’s stupid. Xander tries not to think about his future seriously and instead, focuses on making things happen for him romantically and socially right now because he thinks that if he can’t attain a wonderful girlfriend and some friends in high school than he’s really f*cked when the top high school students go to college. By contrast, quite a bit of Willow’s life is about resigning herself to swallowing unhappiness so she can be bailed out by some distant dream ahead in exchange for rigorously following rules. Willow’s not working on a solid plan to make her high school life better. Instead, she’s just doing what she has to do to get into a top university and just absently hoping that someone else can bail her out of her lonely, neglected existence. I can really, really painfully relate.

                          Most of the time, Willow pins her hopes for a romantic rescue on Xander but Xander isn’t biting and he’s mainly adding to her pain. IRYJ introduces the consistent reality that Sunnydale has a *lot* of lonely computer and science geniuses and hard-core nerds- perhaps more square inch than Silicone Valley. However, most of these nerds aren’t dating each other- rather they are festering in their own unhappiness. Per Buffy’s hopeful suspicion, Dave and Willow dating could be a good thing since Dave seemed like a nice kid before the Moloch mind-control and they share interests. However, they are never going to ask each other out because they are both waiting for someone else to rescue them from their own loneliness.

                          This makes Malcolm/Moloch such a temptation to Willow, Fritz, and Dave. Malcolm is the distant stranger that can rescue these nerds from unloved loneliness. He can influence them into complete social contentment without any of the three needing to conquer their shyness or really step away from the computer, except to follow Moloch’s instructions. The boys get off on the power that Moloch can provide. Willow chiefly considers Malcolm such a rescue because Malcolm can provide attention, appreciation, and maybe even love without Willow having to worry about conquering her inherent shyness, worrying about how she looks, or even having to deal with a difference of opinion.

                          As always, Willow is a very complex person. She is definitely hoping that some person will just notice her and love her and give her happiness without Willow having learn how to talk freely to strangers. However, unlike Dave and Fritz, Willow refuses Malcolm’s power. IMO, Willow generally operates on an axiom that one demonstrates their lovable quotient value when someone else comes along and loves them. However, one demonstrates their intelligence and capability quotient by actually going out and learning stuff and practicing their craft. IMO, this attitude is a little typical of young bibliophiles, especially girls. Willow read enough novels to know what a shiny, beautiful romance is supposed to look like and she’s absorbed that the girl is supposed to passively receive love. However, Willow has also read enough history and news to know how wars were really won and how discovered were really made. And no gal held onto true and honest power and her self-respect by by being the trophy wife of a robot.

                          Willow always cares about attaining power/intelligence *and* love/home & hearth. However, Willow’s love interests invariably have to approach her to start a romance while Willow actively goes after knowledge and power. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that Willow tries to maintain her friendships and romance by providing things to induce or force her peeps to stay with through her intelligence and power.

                          In a small moment, AH reads the line “Dad, did you forget your keys *again*?” oddly joyfully. I think the reading works well in Willow’s home life. Teenagers who count on the attention and love of their parents are usually not quite so bubbly at having to run to the other end of the house because one parent has been a serial ditz lately about remembering house keys. Willow’s just grateful for any parental interaction she can get.

                          Willow said she could never fall in love with Moloch because he lied to her, he pretended to be a person when he wasn’t. However, Oz and Tara also lied to Willow about how they’re a person/not a demon. (Or more accurately, Oz panicked after just learning that he was a werewolf for a day and didn’t tell Willow/the Scoobies in that day. Tara is a lying liar who lies.) Aluwyn is up-front about being a demon but she lies about everything else. Kennedy was the only person that Willow dated who was upfront about everything.

                          Willow overstates her objection to being lied to right here. IMO, Willow really does care about getting the truth. Her early role on the show is as a hacker and a scientist- she seeks out the facts. When she becomes a witch, her goal is to become a mistress of illusions and enslave the lie to her. However as much as Willow loves knowing the truth, she’ll compromise and accept being lied to if it means that Willow can attain things that she’d rather have- friendship, romance, knowledge of the practical mechanics behind phenomena even if the real ground for the phenomena is being hidden. Moloch actually is facially offering Willow *a lot*. Moloch is offering Willow tons of money, all of the secrets available online, a computer research complex as her palace with every computer genius in Sunnydale as a potential minion, and for now, absolute devotion and love from Moloch the King of the World (Wide Web).

                          But then, for all that people like to repetitively and simplistically yack about how Willow abuses any power that she can get ahold of, Willow already has power as a hacker to change her and her friends' grades, steal money and goods online, etc. However, Willow doesn't....because it's wrong. IMO, the bottom line here is that Willow doesn't insist on truth but then, Willow won't take any lie in exchange for multiple riches like secrets and knowledge. Willow needs to *feel* the honest truth of the moment. Willow will very easily tolerate lies from her friends and lovers, including about their believed species, if Willow feels that their relationship is grounded in a larger truth of humanity, an honest attraction and simpatico. However, if the sentiment doesn't feel good and true in the moment (even if that's wrong or its just a fleeting moment followed up by guilt), than Willow has no time for it. And Moloch and Willow/Moloch does *not* feel good and true.

                          Willow and Buffy: I love the locker room conflict between Buffy and Willow. (It doesn’t quite rise to the level of fight, IMO.) One of the best and worst things about Buffy and Willow is that they’re so consistently on each other’s side that they both react with some entitlement and surprise when one criticizes the other. It’s bad, obviously, because both girls somewhat confuse being loyal to one another to always agreeing with each other which can close one girl’s eyes to the other’s prudent warnings. However, it’s also good because Buffy and Willow really count on “them against the world”, especially in the early seasons.

                          Right now, Willow is the one reacting with surprise and entitlement that Buffy is calling her out. One of the reasons why Willow is entitled and shocked is because Buffy had been the one person in the whole world that actually encouraged Willow to find happiness for each other. I love the way AH delivers, “I thought you’d be happy for me.” IRYJ comes right after several eps of Willow encouraging Buffy with whatever guy that Buffy indicates that she likes- Owen, Angel. Willow patiently tutored Buffy, even when Buffy was openly distracted from her work. Willow supported Buffy’s insubordination towards Giles in Witch and helped Buffy cheat in Dr. Gregory’s class in Teacher’s Pet. Willow is very new at this girly best friend thing but Willow eagerly played her new role of the ultra-supportive best friend by approving of and assisting Buffy in whatever romantic interest Buffy entertained and in whatever responsibility Buffy wanted to ditch.

                          In the last ep, Angel, Willow couldn’t even stop herself from voicing the obvious draw-backs to a romance with a vampire but Willow forcibly schooled herself to shut up to be supportive for Buffy. Naturally, Willow really feels that Buffy has gone off-script by criticizing Willow’s own boyfriend choices after Willow was so cool about Buffy dating a *vampire*. Moreover, Willow finally felt like she had a mutually beneficial relationship for the first time with Buffy. It felt like a blow for Willow to get the short end of the stick- suspicion and criticism for her choices while she offers Buffy complete support and help for Buffy’s choices.

                          However, ultimately, Willow’s love and trust in Buffy’s ultimately goes far beyond yes-woman status when it counts. Willow dropped Malcolm like a bad habit before Willow saw his true face for two reasons- (1) Malcolm was clearly a liar who was spying on Buffy because he had an inconsistent story about knowing that Buffy was kicked out and (2) Malcolm started talking trash about how Buffy is a trouble-maker and Willow won’t tolerate that. Willow is so loyal to Buffy that Willow will stand up to her constant bully Cordelia for the first time in forever if Cordelia talks trash about Buffy and Willow will break up with her first boyfriend if he talks trash about Buffy.

                          Buffy says that Willow keeping secrets is “not allowed” according to the rules of best friendship. It’s kind of funny since Buffy keeps secrets from Willow *a lot* going forward. Buffy keeping secrets from Willow is a dominant theme in their friendship. Of course, Buffy takes a rather human, self-centered position of “*I* can keep secrets but my friends and family are required to disclose anything that interests me!” However while I discussed above how Willow is unfamiliar with how to have a female friend and she’s trying to act out the clichéd scripts of how to be a great BFF, Buffy is kind of doing the same. I don’t get the impression that Buffy was all that close to her friends in LA. In Becoming, Buffy play-acted that she was as airy and happy as can be while her parents’ marriage was falling apart. Buffy also doesn’t know how to retain friends while still doing her job as a slayer. Buffy really cares about keeping Xander and Willow as friends even while Buffy is handling this destructive, epic, impossible duty.

                          Willow and Xander
                          : Xander got jealous and cranky when Willow developed a new romantic interest and Buffy rather gleefully pointed that out. IMO, Xander knows that he’s reaching for more but he doesn’t have that more yet. The one reliable, good thing in Xander’s unfair and harsh life so far as been Willow’s steady loyal adoration. Moreover, Xander does use Willow’s support to scaffold and steady himself so that he can reach for more. Xander using starry-eyed crushy Willow to practice asking out Buffy or Xander trying to comfort himself after Buffy’s rejection by coming up with a fake date with Willow is another example. It puts Willow in a “you can’t win” position. She really cares for Xander as a friend and wannabe girlfriend so Willow tries to support Xander. However, Willow can be an aid for Xander to grow right out of her and their friendship.

                          Sunnydale Economics and the Technology Boom: I may sound like some weird economics dork but I actually got a bit of a chill when Xander said this:

                          Xander: Calax Research and Development. It's a computer research lab. Third largest employer in Sunnydale till it closed down last year. (gets stares from the others) What, I can't have information sometimes
                          TV shows in 1997 mainly discussed computer research labs as the bright shiny future. Not as the large employer of a small town that just closed down with no reason offered. To add to the spookiness, the plant occupies a big space. However, no one besides the Scoobies seemed to notice that it suddenly became operational and crowded with employees to become some computer wonky Willy Wonka factory of "No one goes in and no one ever comes out!".

                          It is kind of nonsensical in-story. However, it’s also rather Sunnydale. Sunnydale is such a sad, foreboding town but in a contradictory way. It’s a One Starbucks Town with a university, a beach, a military base, a big honkin’ castle. Its citizens disappear mysteriously and its student newspaper has an obituary section. It appears prosperous and pretty- but its housing values are depressed. Its a picturesque looking town and its strictly the Caucasian-persuasion in the 'Dale. ( Mr. Trick)- but no town can beat that murder rate. And while it appears prosperous, it’s main center of the town for commerce appears like just one small street with the Magic Box, the Expresso pump, a movie theater, all cluttered around it.

                          IMO, Sunnydale is an economically depressed town that pretends that it’s prosperous living off of borrowed money and illusions. The Chase family bankruptcy shows that's how the wealthiest Sunnydale citizens operate. The local leadership is just concerned with Ascending in 1999 and everything he does in the town is to that end. It’s a parable for the most pessimistic outlooks of the United States- a country of people ignorant of the demonic and crushing debt lurking.

                          Even computer research labs in the late 1990s can’t make a go of it in Sunnydale. And after a year of no business, no one is interested in occupying the space or even looking at the plant’s space. With the businessmen and women asleep at the switch in Sunnydale and with a monstrous political leader pulling the strings, the main institutions of Sunnydale are laid bare for any demonic power to come and seize them. CRD’s plant and all of its workers can belong to incorporeal Moloch’s in less than two days.

                          Giles: As I said in the Angel review, Giles has no idea what’s in many of his own books and artifacts. It would be a bit of a stretch for technophobe Giles to know that a demon can be scanned into a computer. However, Giles didn’t even know that one of his books houses a powerful demon.

                          Jenny Calendar and Giles: I think it’s pretty cool that the first truly Willow-centric ep introduces Jenny Calendar even if the two barely interact. Jenny represents an adult model of the person that Willow *could* be even though IMO, Willow really doesn’t go in that direction.

                          One of my favorite small Jenny-moments is her showing up to class with dark sunglasses, hair sexily askew, looking a little harried and out-of-it but with her always present intelligence and zest of life motoring her actions. It definitely implies that Jenny had a very fun social life before getting involved with Giles. If her gypsy tribe *has* to send Jenny to Sunnydale of all places to write “Broody today. Not broody today” reports on Angel, Jenny will damn well try to have some fun. It’s similar to how even if Jenny doesn’t have real magical powers and she’s clearly been cut out of the magical operations of her own tribe, she’ll still learn about magic online and become a very functional magical consultant. It’s that ethos that allows Jenny to delightfully lecture Giles that she’s fed up information only being kept in repositories for just white men.

                          Jenny does play an instability causing role. She repeatedly causes Giles’s weaknesses and dangers to rise up and be seen by all. Her scanning project revealed that Giles doesn’t know what in his books and it created Moloch in the Internet. She became the host of Eyghon- the physical embodiment of Giles’s dark past come back to haunt him. When she died, Giles went on a revenge spree. Drusilla could use Jenny’s face and turn Giles’s knowledge against him. However, it’s still one of the best relationships on the whole show. Jenny is an unstable element. However when she illuminates one of Giles’s issues, it never becomes a lasting problem and it actually becomes a good lesson/warning.

                          The legacy of Moloch cautioned Giles to be more aware of his books and Giles did get the benefit of many of his books being scanned which aided the Scoobies in their research. Giles's books are still very disorganized. However, this ep marks the first time that all of the Scoobies really got involved in handling Giles's books and it's the first time that Willow took the initiative to stay late that night to work with his books. This ep does start a process of Giles opening access to his Super Special Watcher books and democratizing the research process.

                          I’m a big Jenny-fan but she is flawed. Her “Thank you, Fritz, for making us all sound like crazy people” line is too snarky for a teacher to say to a student, particularly a talented computer student donating his time to help scan books. It’s entirely possible that Fritz really did suffer from mental issues before Moloch. I could really see Fritz having Aspergers. IMO, Jenny does show genuine talent and awareness at interacting with children. However, it meshes with Jenny’s constant fuddy-duddy snark on Giles. Jenny’s cool is partly authentic. IMO, it’s partly put-on and a fake reason to act superior to folks, especially Giles.

                          Through the series, Jennhy’s ability to know when to keep her breakdowns to herself (Innocence), her knowing when to be indulgent when her students make demands on her (Some Assembly Required) while knowing when to be firm when her students snark on her too personally (The Dark Age) is directly contrasted with Giles’s struggles with how to manage children. However, Jenny isn’t perfect at being a teacher. Like Giles, Jenny is teaching at SHS because her “tribe” sent her to Sunnydale to “watch”. I do wonder whether Jenny teaches computer science because she wants to or because she took it as a fade-into-the-background job to support herself in Sunnydale.
                          Last edited by Dipstick; 03-04-14, 01:08 AM.


                          • Great post Dipstick. I really like your observations of how we see Willow processing her friendship with Buffy, what mirrored support she expects to see and where Buffy gets her focus and she draws lines that prioritise the friendship – above the risks of clashing heads with Cordelia, above a potential first boyfriend. I will watch the episode tomorrow but I don't know that I will have anything to really add afterwards. You have been far more thoughtful and thorough than I would ever have managed and it was never a favourite episode of mine. Just a couple of quick thoughts that occurred from reading yours.

                            The episode looks again at concealed identities, ancient Moloch using the creation of Malcolm within the confines of the modern technology he finds himself in. I suppose there was still a reasonable sense of infancy to the internet at this stage and yet the danger portrayed here of deception and the threat of an older man grooming online is an ever increasingly reported issue. It is of course a situation in which both parties can be something other than what they are, present what they want to be and maybe allow a part of themselves that they are possibly not normally confident about to emerge. But honesty and trust that any malicious deception isn’t playing a role shows that there is a power play within that scenario and the risk is that in reality both parties are not playing it evenly. As Dipstick says, Willow can avoid her shyness and self image problems but there is no malicious intent within that, it just gets her past a stage she struggles with to then find it easier to contemplate meeting Malcolm, having broken past those insecurities. As the flow of the current episodes go this again is a nice follow on to the last where we saw how Angel had been presenting his human face first, making that initial connection with Buffy that avoided the insecurities he holds about the full 'truth' of himself.

                            I’m not sure how I feel about Jenny/Giles at this stage as I think that Giles is mostly trying to connect with her behind his constructed walls, within his watcher role he is creating. Perhaps some of Giles’ break away, his inability to keep that work persona/personal life boundary is chipped initially as much by his developing relationship with Jenny and her appeal to the complete Giles as much as his developing care/connection with Buffy. I do like the comparison of both of them being sent into the situation with the cover of performing these jobs.


                            • Fantastic review, Dipstick. I hope to write a bit about it (and comment on a few great points) at some point in the next few days, but it might not be until the weekend.


                              • Hey guys I just want to say sorry for not contributing more on the Angel discussion. I had wanted to respond to people's thoughts but time got away with me this week so I was a bit slack. I may be absent throughout the weekend as well so I thought I better try and write down some thoughts on IRYJ now!

                                Great post Dipstick. For an episode that fandom is pretty luke warm about, to put it mildly, you've managed to offer some really insightful thoughts on the story which I really appreciate it. It just goes to show that after 17 years I can still look at episodes in new ways and it's why I enjoy rewatches so much

                                I hadn't considered how Buffy's actions could come across in this episode in light of the way Willow was so supportive of her relationship with Angel (and Owen) despite it's unconventionality. Whilst I'm glad Buffy did speak up for Willow's sake I can understand why it would hurt Willow not to get the same support she gave Buffy. For the most part I don't actually blame Buffy because aside from her concerns that Malcolm could literally be anybody, it also was causing Willow to act OOC in ways that could potentially lead to bigger problems down the road. However, I do think to small degree Buffy had a prejudice against online dating and turned her nose up at it for being kind of embarrassing, childish and make believe. Buffy's "Willow it's great that you have this new pen pal" comment, though not intended to be mean, does make me wince as it's unavoidable that it'd come across as a tad patronizing. I think a lot of that has to do with this being set in 1997 when online dating was nowhere near as common as it is today but also Buffy being a bit dismissive or snobbish towards computer-orientated (or "geek") activities. She does have to stop herself from referring to Dave as a "geek" which Buffy considers an offensive term and we'll see this mindset again in PG when she tells Willow not to call herself a computer nerd not realizing it's a title Willow is proud of. That said, Buffy isn't entirely dismissive of geek culture and is proud that she "had knowledge" about computers.

                                For the most part Buffy is just trying to look out for her friend. And whilst I can understand why Willow feels hurt that Buffy didn't offer her the same unwavering support that she gave Buffy about Angel, I'm glad she didn't. Willow always means well when it comes to B/A but it's not always what Buffy needed or even wanted ("No I need to hear this") and I think it would be unhealthy for Buffy to mirror the same behavior. Especially in this episode when, if she had, Willow would be dead. As Dipstick says, Willow's idea of friendship or loyalty is telling Buffy exactly what she wants to hear even if it's not what Willow necessarily believes and whilst that's kind-hearted it's a standard no friend should be held to. And it's a standard Willow inevitably holds Buffy to in this episode because that's what Willow thinks friendship is and I'm really sympathetic to that because Willow holds herself to that standard even if it's not necessarily healthy or constructive. But it does put Buffy in a pretty awkward position where if she voices the slightest concern about Malcolm it comes across as if she's not extending Willow the same level of friendship that was offered to her during Angel even if Buffy is only speaking up because she cares.

                                What I do love is that the writers manage to once again avoid Buffy/Willow clashing too much over boys. Malcolm does cause some tension between them in the locker room but Willow's quick to pull away from him when he starts trying to turn her against Buffy. I really love that even when Willow's angry with Buffy the deal-breaker with Malcolm is still him badmouthing her. Buffy/Willow are so great.

                                I do think Buffy/Angel and Willow/Malcolm are pretty different. For a start, the big difference is that whilst Angel had a lot of secrets Buffy had at least met him face to face and he had offered helpful information. He had also saved her life from The Three. Meanwhile, Malcolm could be anybody and in a world full of stories where emotionally vulnerable people have been duped, conned, or worse, it's always smart to go into online relationships with a degree of caution. The other big difference is that Buffy is the Slayer and more able to take care of herself whilst Willow is still at a big disadvantage and has to be more cautious about striking up relationships with male strangers.

                                I think that like Buffy, Xander first and foremost means well and is worried about Willow's safety. Xander does get pretty 'territorial' of the other men in Buffy and Willow's lives but he's pretty relaxed here in comparison to the hostility he'll show Oz. I do think there's something greatly unfair about Xander's jealousy of Willow falling for someone else when Xander has no intentions whatsoever of dating Willow or reciprocating her feelings in any way. He definitely can take advantage of everything Willow does for him knowing it's because she's in love. But I don't get the sense that Xander's trying to wind Buffy up as a way of getting her to help sabotage Willow's new relationship or anything like that. And his "yeah but it's fun isn't it?" makes me laugh

                                Jenny's great in this episode. The banter between Giles/Jenny is so wonderful. I've always wondered if she was intended to be a recurring character and love interest for Giles or if the writers just enjoyed her so much in this episode that they brought her back.

                                I do find the plot of this episode really silly and this is probably the most dated episode of the whole show. That's inevitable when it focuses so much on technology and we've come so, so far since '97. The Molach suit is pretty hilarious rather than terrifying.
                                Last edited by vampmogs; 03-04-14, 09:23 AM.

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