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Angel writers for s5 -- grifter, 01:36:10 06/08/03 Sun

Over at aintitcoolnews.com they have listed the Angel writers for s5:

Joss Whedon
Jefferey Bell
Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain
Steven S. DeKnight
Ben Edlund
David Fury
Drew Goddard

Jane Espenson
Drew Z. Greenberg
David Greenwalt
Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Tim Minear
Marti Noxon
Doug Petrie
Mere Smith

My favorite writers of the last two seasons of Buffy (DeKnight and Goddard) are in, but out are the fabulous Rebecca Rand Kirshner and Doug Petrie, who I think would have really fitted in well over at Angel Inc.

Minear, Greenwalt and Smith I already knew wouldn´t come back this year; I don´t know if Greenberg and Epsenson would have fitted in well with the darker "Angel-verse".

I also hope Marti Noxon stays as Producer at least, contrary to most people I´ve always loved her work. Plus, she picked Amber Benson to play Tara, so she´s got good instincts at casting people I figure.

[> Re: Angel writers for s5 -- Yellow Bear, 11:11:33 06/08/03 Sun

I've never understood why Marti Noxon became the whipping boy (set on a scarifical stone) of the fan community. She is responsible for so many vital pisodes of the show from Surprise to BBB to IOHEFY to The Wish to The Prom to Wild At Heart to Into The Woods to Bargaining to Villians that her position as the ME writer that fans love to berate never made much sense, especially when you consider how absoutely crucial Whedon considers her to the show's success.

I understood how several episodes of hers get under people's skin such as Beauty & The Beasts and Wrecked but looking at the overall body of work, it's hard to fathom the intense scorn she receives in some quarters.

I've always suspected that in part it was because she was the writer with the least connection to the fan community. She never posts on boards & seems to have no interest in that kind of interaction with the fans which makes her the ideal mark to vent frustrations on for the BTVS community.

[> [> On Marti Noxon -- Kenny 13:36:38 06/08/03 Sun

Well, I think the reasons are two-fold. First of all, while you are correct in stating that she's written critical episodes, some people question the quality of those episodes.

More importantly, though, many people believe that there was a large drop in quality once she became an excutive producer. The general feeling amongst Marti-bashers is that JW became much less involved with Buffy and that MN was much more responsible for the tone of the show, the pace of overall seasons, etc. So, while she may have written some good/great episodes before (BBB is one my favorites), she was nowhere near as good at guiding the show, and the result was a product inferior to previous seasons.

Oh, and then there's the whole Riley thing. Apparently, MN's made comments to the effect that Riley was shaped quite a bit by her husband, and a very vocal segment of the online population found him quite dull. I'm going to guess that a large segment of the anti-Rileys were B/A fans, but I could be mistaken. And the fact that Spike fans view her as anti-Spike (and really dislike her for "Seeing Red"). A number of viewers don't think she comes off too well in interviews (gotta say myself, there she's made some comments about characterization that did seem a little bone-headed). Some people think the issues from her life that she brought to the table to explore were nowhere interesting as interesting as Joss's. And some people thing that Sam, Riley's wife from "Into the Woods", is Marti pulling a Mary Sue (granted, Sam really was a Mary Sue character). OK, so the reasons are much more than two- fold.

One thing she did say once that rubbed me the wrong way was describing _Buffy_ as _Party of Five_ with monsters. Which, while it still had more intelligence, is kind of what it became plot-wise through later seasons (especially season 6). The first three seasons were anything but. I think that comment did show that she had a basic conceptual difference of the show than I, as a viewer, had. At the very least, she could have called it _My So-Called Life_ with monsters.

[> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- Yellow Bear, 13:53:29 06/08/03 Sun

First, what is a 'Mary Sue'? Also, Miss Finn appears in AYW in S6, not 'Into The Woods'.

The Party Of Five comment is the kinda comment you make when trying to sell the show to non-watchers, give them a shorthand description they can use. While this may not be the best description, I can hardly fault her for trying to sell the show like this. I would also say that My So Called Life/Party of Five thing is splitting hairs.

I can see how people's perceptions of problems with the last few seasons are laid at her feet and this may come down to a difference of opinion of latter seasons quality level.

Still, my point was the amount of vitrol laid on her seems wildly out of proportion but things that are wildly out of proportion are what the BTVS community is all about.

[> [> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- Kenny 15:55:10 06/08/03 Sun

Mary Sue--a fanfic character who is pretty much perfect, lacking all of the character flaws of the show's regulars. Sometime's they'll magically appear and have information for the characters (such as "Buffy, there's a special floppy disk by Miss Calendar's desk"). Sometimes they'll just save the day with their perfectness. Oftentimes, Mary Sue will end up with whatever character the writer has a crush on. Basically, Mary Sue is a proxy for the writer.

Now, in the case of "As You Were" (and many thanks for correcting my brain fart), the point was that Riley/Sam are extremely happy, whereas the Scoobs are stuck in Not-So- Sunnydale. And that's an incredibly valid point, and I don't see any problem devoting an ep to that. But the writers really did bend over backwards to make Sam more than just a nice person. I gotta say that she annoyed the heck outta me. I'm not saying that she was written as a Marti proxy at all, but if you're inclined to Marti-bashing, it's not a hard leap to make.

I hope you didn't interpret my message as my stating that I believed all those things--that's just a summary of the most popular MN-criticisms I've come across in the last four years. My parenthetical notes are my own views.

That said, here's my personal view on her as writer, and extrapolations into her role as EP. I really like some of the eps she's written (BBB, as I said earlier, "The Wish", "The Prom"), but she doesn't seem to me to have the strongest grasp of metaphor. Her better episodes are quite straight-forward. They make a point, no question about it, but the point stems from the actions of the characters themselves. It's the metaphor-driven episodes where she seems to drop the ball (Willow-addiction, AtS' "She", "Beauty and the Beasts"). Her metaphors tend to be mixed, and they're often barely metaphors at all. They just tend to be quite heavy-handed.

I'm a huge fan of the metaphors of seasons 1-3. It's what made Buffy to me. And although there are definitely things to enjoy in later seasons, I stopped enjoying the show for the overall arcs and looked more forward to individual episodes. It makes sense to me, anyway, that Marti's sensibilities in writing fiction influenced the shift away from metaphor and towards a more straight-plot oriented style. And I don't think that's necessarily one of ME's strengths. I don't think that, in terms of mechanics and pacing, they knew how to switch to the more plot-heavy style of the show. And that's a team effort, so you can't single out Marti and say that it's her fault. But I do think that, because of her style of writing, the show was influenced in that direction.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- Yellow Bear, 21:10:30 06/08/03 Sun

I always took Sam's perfection (and she is perfect) as a deliberate, and very funny, joke. She is Buffy's idealization of herself during the B/R relationship and when contrasted with where Buffy is at the moment, the result is quite funny. At least I thought so.

Willow's final line about Sam is one of my favorite moments of S6, and I love S6 (although the middle episodes are a little muddled).

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- LeeAnn, 06:46:36 06/09/03 Mon

Since I liked Season 6, thought it was the most deep, complex and rewarding of any Buffy season (unless you were watching for Willow), I like Marti and I'll give her series a watch if it is picked up mid-season. I like the dark angsty stuff and thought Spuffy was very hot. I like Season 6 even more now that I compare it with Season 7 which is dead last for me. I would have preferred more Marti inspired kinky sex and angst to what we got, which was mostly a season long snoozefest that not even Spike was allowed to save.

[> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- Yellow Bear, 14:01:28 06/08/03 Sun

Is there really a lot of debate on the quality of the episodes I listed? The majority of these are certified BTVS classics from my understanidng, which means Ms. Noxon has all most half a seaon of classic episodes under her name. Heck, I didn't mention the criminally underrated 'Buffy Vs. Dracula' just because I didn't want to pick anything there's a lot of debate over.

[> [> [> [> Re: On Marti Noxon -- Kenny, 16:55:27 06/08/03 Sun

Off the top of my head...IOHEFY really seemed to polarize fans, long before said polarization was the standard. I seem to remember quite a few people refer to it as melodramatic schlock. "Into the Woods" is another. There were a number of people angry that Buffy went running off after Riley at the end. Plus, that was one of the first really blatant uses of Xander as the "seeing guy", and it struck some people as poor characterization. I believe the biggest problem people had was that it exonorated Riley for his vampire-hooker thing and put alot of the blame on the relationship failing on Buffy's shoulders, instead of making it a more 50/50-they-were-both- wrong type of deal. Which feeds into people's criticism (not saying that they're right) of Riley being MN's hubby-proxy, so he has to come out of it looking good.

"Wild at Heart" I think the biggest reason people didn't like this ep was that Oz left, which is hardly MN's fault. The most valid complaint that I remember is how she wrote Willow. Basically, someone broke down that Marti-written Willow-angst seems were more over-the-top than Willow-angst scenes by other writers, and this was a prime offender, being a Willow-centric ep.

At the risk of sounding anti-Marti (and I know that's happening through this thread, and I'm really not) I think it's important to break down why some of those classics are classics. "Surprise" -- Angel loses his soul. That's one of the most important moments ever for the Buffyverse. Let's be realistic. It's the catalyst for the next 5.5 seasons of Buffy and 4+ seasons of Angel. It wouldn't matter if the episode sucked (which it didn't), it'd still be a classic. And much of that is due to the payoff if "Innocence". Not to belittle Marti's contribution, but that episode would have been a classic no matter who wrote it, and I'll go out on a limb and suppose that JW is responsible for that little twist.

Bargaining/Villians -- both are fine episodes, but classics because of the important plot elements, not necessarily because of how those elements were written. Again

BBB -- One of my favorite episodes ever. Definitely a classic in and of itself. Marti deserves every good thing said about that episode and more.

The Prom -- A really good episode. A classic because of the umbrella scene. Good payoff there. Honestly, without that, it would have been an above-average episode, but not a classic. It's amazing what a difference one scene can make.

Bargaining/Villians -- both are fine episodes, but classics because of the important plot elements, not necessarily because of how those elements were written. Again, I don't want to sound like I'm taking away from Marti's contribution, but those are such important episodes, that any competent member of the writing staff could have been assigned that episode and it'd still be a classic. Those are the type of episodes that, I imagine anyway, are planned out by the whole team (in Bargaining's case, probably a hell of a lot by Joss) and the writer fleshes it out (unlike, say BBB, which is really the writer's creation). Granted, I couldn't see Jane Espenson writing either of those eps. I really wish Drew Goddard had been around for Bargaining. I bet that would have been nifty. Marti did a good job with them, but I don't think she's the only one who could have.

What would be more telling is to take all of the writers' non- turning-point-explosively-important episodes and compare those. I just think that there's a tendency to credit specific writers too much for turning-point episodes. Those episodes have very specific tasks, and they don't necessarily belong just to the credited writer (whereas "Superstar" is very much a Jane Espenson creation, "BBB" is a Marti creation, and so on).

[> [> [> [> I would hope there is -- Doug, 21:05:17 06/09/03 Mon

The episodes you mentioned are among those that are, IMHO, substandard episodes. I find most of MN's episodes uninspired and she attracts my ire for her role as producer in the "Magic- crack" storyline, as well as the AR; placed by her to make sure everybody took a certain view of the Spike/Buffy relationship.

[> [> [> Re Party of Five -- Rahael, 14:08:53 06/08/03 Sun

if Marti did make that comment, she was probably following JJoss' lead, because Joss in his commentary to Innocence said that Party was a brilliant show which never failed to leave him in tears, but it lacked rocket launchers. Buffy didn't have that problem.

What perplexes me about the Marti criticism is that people use her as a lightning conductor for Joss, criticising her for comments that they never would have criticised Joss for.

For example, I thought Wrecked was a terrible episode. But if S6 is an example of what happened when Marti was at the helm and S7 is an example of what happened when she wasn't around (she was away doing stuff for her new series, apparently), give me Marti at the helm.

A lot of the flack about Marti's husband and her personal issues don't come from anything she's said, but comments by James Marsters, which were not intended to be uncomplimentary to Marti, but were quoted by fans as being so.

Personally, I think Marti tends to underplay the seriousness of the show sometimes at the interviews while Joss jokingly says that he is going to talk about it as if it were Citizen Kane, and yet, Joss can come up with some really bone headed stuff and Marti can come with some very revealing, nuanced commentary. I think some writers get away with stuff other writers can't.

If you had asked me before Season 7, I would be a lot harder on Marti than I'm being right now. BUt having seen S7, I find it very difficult to lay the loose pacing and the soggyness of S6's middle episodes at her door, because for me, Season 7 was like that most of the way through apart from Selfless, Killer in Me and Storyteller.

I hardly need reiterate that this is my personal opinion - for me, the melange of S6 just cohered better in the long run (especially in its bravery and emotions) than S7. I am aware that other people think differently.

[> [> [> [> Re: Re Party of Five -- s'kat, 15:59:51 06/08/03 Sun

I think I agree with you on this one.

(Except I hated Storyteller and preferred LMPTM, and you hated LMPTM and loved Storyteller. LOL! A demonstration of how two fans can look at the same series, love similar episodes, yet, yet have a completely different and intense emotional response to at least two of them. In short - we are never going to get a consensus on these shows.)

But if S6 is an example of what happened when Marti was at the helm and S7 is an example of what happened when she wasn't around (she was away doing stuff for her new series, apparently), give me Marti at the helm.

Yep. Agreed. S6 is amongst my favorites: Afterlife, OMWF, Life Serial, Bargaining I & II, Tabula Rasa, Smashed, Dead Things, Normal Again, Flooded, and even Seeing Red . Outside of CWDP, Selfless, BY, LMPTM, Sleeper, NLM, not so much on S7. And I've almost finished watching it twice.

What I think happened is Joss Whedon got burned out on Buffy's story. He had hoped to hand it over to MArti, who did well with 20something stuff - but it didn't work as well as he hoped. (Although ironically, the darkest and most controversial episodes were actually Whedon's ideas: Dead Things, Smashed, Bargaining, Tara's Death in SR).

What got Marti in trouble wasn't Marsters comments, actually they helped a little. It was her interviews - I remember what happened online last year whenever Marti did a Wanda or Online interview - Oh my Lord - Masq actually went so far as to declare it a dead topic and started deleting posts at one point - I think sometime in February of 2001? I know Buffy Cross and Stake did. People went nuts. And it wasn't about Riley.
It was about drug addiction (Willow), bad-boyfriends (Spike), and getting past high-school puppy love (B/A).
This enraged numerous fans. Whedon is a little more careful. And Fury, the co-exec producer, didn't help matters. (Fury has a biting wit, very dark, black humor - which will either make you laugh or want to bash him over the head with a two-by- four.)

Personally, I liked Marti. She's written some of my favorite episodes: What's My Line part II, Surprise, BBB,
Into the Woods, to name a few. And I found her exploration of abusive relationships interesting. (Wrecked never bugged me, I liked it far more than Storyteller, Empty Places, Help, Double Meat Palace, and As You Were.) But then, I never hated Riley. (Except in As You Were - where we got PodRiley and BotSam. But I blame Doug Petrie for AYW, he wrote and directed it not Marti. I loved him in Into the Woods and some of the early S4 episodes.)There's only a couple episodes Marti's done that I think were horrid: Bad Eggs S2, She Ats, BoTN with Doug Petrie.

That said? I don't think she worked well on Angel the series - she wrote SHE, that's the only one she wrote and I believe directed. It didn't work and is listed by many fans as the Worst episode on either show. I think she chose to leave ME to do Still Life, I never got the impression it was anything other than voluntary.

Just my opinion. ;-)


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Re Party of Five -- Yellow Bear, 16:57:05 06/08/03 Sun

Raheal, thanks for reminding me about Whedon's Po5 quote. I knew I had heard that refrence before but could not place it.

As for Marti's interviews, I remember the B/A puppy love quote and it, in all fairness, was more in reference to B/A shippers being people who still have pictures of there HS boyfriends up on the wall & not that B/A were puppy lovers (ugh, gross). I read that statement & laughed my head off (cause it was so true) then I was immeadiatly thinking that there was gonna be one enormous uproar over it. Glad to hear that I was right.

By the way, Marti didn't direct 'She' for Ats. It was David Greenwalt. Also, no way is that the worst episode of Ats if only for the amazing Angel fantasy dance sequence.

[> [> [> [> [> Why I love Marti... -- Rob, 17:11:01 06/08/03 Sun

What's My Line


Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

I Only Have Eyes for You

Beauty and the Beasts

The Wish


The Prom

Living Conditions

Wild at Heart

New Moon Rising

Into the Woods



Bring On the Night (despite many fans' opinions, one of my season 7 faves, the Spike-drowning attempts notwithstanding)

...and of course, for her appearance as the Parking Ticket Lady in OMWF.

Dead Man's Party, Doomed, Goodbye, Iowa, Buffy vs. Dracula, Villains, and Wrecked were all flawed, but each had aspects I enjoyed.

Bad Eggs and She, I forgive. ;o)


[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why I love Marti... -- Alison, 18:39:20 06/08/03 Sun

At last, someone else who appreciates Beauty and the Beasts. I too love Marti. She may have her flaws, as all writers do, but she never fails to make the most of a given character's emotional arc.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why I love Marti... -- Kenny, 19:08:33 06/08/03 Sun

I just finished reading the transcript for "Beauty and the Beasts", and it just hit me that it reads like a "pre-She" to me. It's got some really good moments in it, such as how Oz deals with the possibility of killing someone, Willow's reactions to that, Cordy (Marti was my favorite Cordy-writer), but for all that...

I know it's a girl-power show, but I don't like the "All men are beasts message." I'm a man, so I take it kind of personally. Even on Angel, a testosterone show, they'd never do an "all women are fill-in-the-blank" episode. The attempt to make it right in BatB is to say that "Yeah, all men are beasts, but some do a much better job of controlling it." I guess my biggest gripe is that, if a man is not being a beast in this episode, he's drawn as ineffectual. Giles is shot by a tranq. Xander falls asleep when he's supposed to be watching Oz (I was proofing this and originally wrote "...watching Buffy" and started laughing, cause, man, Xander would never fall asleep watching Buffy). Scott just kinda sits there. Oz is completely in defense-mode with Pete until he wolfs out, at which point he acknowledges that the beast is what's going to allow him to act.

All male actions in that episode, even the "good" ones, such as Angel saving Buffy from Pete, are a result of the "beast" inside each one of them. There's absolutely no balance. I don't have a problem with the same theme being brought up with Caleb because he was shown to be the exception--the guy was an obvious loon, and there were strong male characters such as Spike, Xander, and Wood to help offset that. No such effort was made in BatB, and it grates on me to no end because of that. When I first watched the episode I thought that Faith's statement from the opening was going to be overturned, but they let it stand. Heck, they supported it. At that point, it's not about girl power, it's about propogating a myth about males (I was going to say male bashing, but I think that's too strong a term). It's the low point of S3 for me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why I love Marti... -- Alison, 19:28:38 06/08/03 Sun

I can see how from a male point of veiw, BatB can be seen as offensive. However, season three was largely about the beast the lay within Buffy and Faith. I thought this episode was an interesting exploration of the same theme, and laid the grounds for the rest of the season. It adressed the fear both Buffy and Faith had of their beastial natures. Yes, BatB was hardly subtle, and it could have been less offensive, but while the idea of besiality being solely male isn't overturned in this episode, the season as a whole clearly refutes that idea.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why I love Marti... -- Yellow Bear, 20:51:56 06/08/03 Sun

I've always read BatB as far more interesting than just a critique of male violence. Namely, that the beast is inside all men but through love & devotion (such as Oz & Angel) it can be tamed but even so, the beast will always be there. You can agree or disagree with that but it's certainly not a simple concept.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Marti continually uses the 'good male/bad male' motif... -- Rochefort, 21:04:09 06/09/03 Mon

And it just makes me gag. Constantly she has female characters in this really innane immature struggle over the "bad boy" who they WANT and the good ineffectual guy they should want. I mean what a cliche. How simplistic. I can't even get THROUGH "beauty and the beast" or the episode where Oz turns into a werewolf because of Willow. Why does he turn into a werewolf because of Willow? It's just like Beauty and the Beasts, it's totally gag worthy. I tried to watch them a number of times and just turn them off. This undercurrent in many Buffy episodes was really turning ME off, and then I investigated to see where it's coming from, and it's all the Marti episodes, and THAT'S when I started dreading her episodes. Then season six came along, Marti-palooza, and she got to play out all those issues she apparantly had in her own life with reconciling what turns her on with her image of herself. And we have to see Buffy crying because she just can't stop having sex with Spike. I mean this "bad boy" stuff wasn't interesting in SINGLE PORTION Marti episodes, and then it was eeepisode after eeepisode. And hence, my Marti distaste. BTVS has some REALLY nuanced portrayals of masculinity. Joss has said he is nearly as interested in Xander's reaction to Buffy as Buffy herself, and Spike has constructed and reconstructed his masculinity over and over again. And it wasn't just the cliched non-subtlety of her episode messages, but the pacing and sloppiness as well. And I've said over and over it was the terrible execution of season six that made it so bad, more than the stupid drug addict story lines. And I disagree with Rahael, I think season seven was a vast improvement. BUT To balance, Marti's really really funny, and despite the fact that many on this board know I dislike her episodes, I often find that when I quote some single one shot line that I find incredibly funny, it's a Marti line. Like the blue berry scone line or the "cup of tea cup of tea" line or the "put that mazipan in your pie plate" line. But to conclude, I agree with Kenny that there are ZILLIONS of very valid reasons that many fans hide when they see Marti coming.

Oh by the way, my current favorite delivery of a line on BTVS is Giles giving Jane's line as he stumbles to stand up and walks towards the camara "We have to save Buffy from Hansel and Gretal."


[> [> [> [> [> You left out Entropy -- Sophist, 17:20:55 06/08/03 Sun

Which I would add to your list of excellent S6 eps. Of course, I'd delete Flooded and SR, but we can't agree on everything.

I did notice, however, that your list carefully (?) excluded every single MagiCrack episode. Don't know if that was deliberate or not, but I think it speaks volumes about S6. Taking this as a starting point, I'm inclined to agree with Kenny that metaphor is not MN's strong suit.

I do find it interesting that so many people want to blame ABJ (anybody but Joss) for aspects of the show they don't like. I might as well be consistent and say that I don't blame Marti any more than I blame SMG or JM. I do think it fair to assess her strengths and weaknesses as a writer/director/producer, but only where we have sufficient information. We can identify which episodes she wrote, so that's easy. Identifying what she did in other roles is very difficult and I don't think we have enough information to pass judgment.

Rating seasons is as a whole has always struck me as problematic. Doesn't mean I don't do it; just that I'm not sure what the standards are. At the risk of losing everyone's attention (except PepTech), let me put this in baseball terms.

Baseball players are often called "great" for 2 different reasons. Player A had 4-5 seasons which were extraordinary, ones which you could call all-time greats, but the rest of his career had some weak or disappointing seasons. Player B had 10- 15 years of above-average to excellent play and no real weak ones, but no single season which really qualifies as extraordinary. How do you compare them?

The anwer is, you really can't because you're comparing 2 different things. For Player A you're talking about what we call peak value. For Player B you're talking about career value. Hidden assumptions about this result in lots of fruitless arguments.

I see the BtVS seasons like this. To me, and this is JMHO, S4 and S6 are like Player A. They have a large number of extraordinary episodes, but many that are disappointing and some important story arcs that are weak. By contrast, like Player B, S3 and S7 have no episodes that I personally rate as extraordinary (though CwDP comes close), but no real clunkers either; the overall storyline is strong and they are well- paced.

If you gave me a choice of individual episodes, I'd clearly choose most from S4 and S6. If I could only watch a whole season, S3 or S7 would get the nod.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- s'kat, 23:05:51 06/08/03 Sun

Oops..forgot Entropy. (ton's of typos, no time to proof)

Okay did this on another board, so will do it again for you.
I actually have two separate rankings, one is an emotional subjective one and one is an objective one. The emotional subjective one is for the seasons that obsessed me, that I rewatch, that hit my emotional core and made me want to write about it. The objective is for the ones that well
worked critically on all levels, the story arc worked, the stand alones worked plotwise and metaphor wise, but I didn't emotionally respond to them in quite the same way.

Oh as a side note - Btvs remains probably the only tv series that I have dutifully taped every single episode and rewatched every single episode more than four times and analyzed every single episode from a narrative, metaphorical, literal, and critical standpoint. It's also one of the few tv series that I watched without interuption from the moment it aired to its final, AND watched the spin-off. On top of that it is the only tv series I've ever bothered to post on line about - actually it's the only thing period I've bothered to post on a board or chat room about. So that said - I think it's safe to say I liked all the seasons better than anything else out there. ;- )

Subjective list:
Ranked from favorite to least favorite.

1. Season 6/ Season 5 (This is a tie, I honestly can't choose between them)
2. Season 2
3. Season 4
4. Season 3
5. Season 7
6. Season 1

Season 6 - because it is the riskiest series of tv shows I've ever seen anyone attempt to do on TV. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how far they'd go with it. What they'd do with it. How they'd conclude it. And I was on spoilers in S6. It's a rare thing for me not to be able to predict what will happen ahead of time in a narrative television arc. S6 was unpredictable. And astonishing. They literally risked everything. They did an abusive S&M relationship with their heroine. They turned a well-loved character into a villain. They made the heros the bad guys at times. They allowed a hero to engage in a sexual relationship with a grey possibly villainous character and her long term nemesis. And they kept it all ambiguous. They didn't preach or tell me what to think once. Not really.
I could literally see every episode from three angles. I only can do that in good theater or books, rare on tV. Did they pull it off? Not entirely. Dropping metaphors here and there didn't work. And yes, I didn't like the magic as addiction idea - it disappointed me, yet - there were times in which it seemed maybe it was meant to be power as addiction.

Episodes I loved in S6?
Bargaining 1 & 2
Flooded (I identified with Buffy's job problems and loved the Giles/Willow scene - Ripper and DarkWillow - wow. Now if only they'd continued in that vien)
Life Serial (Mummy hand, the social construction theme,
the Kitty Poker)
ONce More with Feeling - a musical that makes fun of itself
and advances the plot.
Tabula Rasa (French Farce flipping to the sad and the touching romantic endings)
Smashed (my mouth dropped open and I went online and haven't left since - you can blame Smashed for my posting on boards..;- ) )
Dead Things (now that episode played with the concepts of abusive relationships and sex in ways I've never seen anyone try on network TV. It was beautiful and ugly at the same time and very disturbing and it turns me on while simultanously turning me off. Repulsion/Attraction personified. )
Normal Again
and yes Seeing Red which I both hate and love in equal measure.

Seeing Red - god, I can barely stand to watch it. Yet I can't look away. It's so painful - it hurt to watch and I was spoiled for it. I knew everything ahead of time. Still hurt. The acting? Razor sharp. Marsters blew me out of the water. Alyson Hannigan had never been better. NB did some of his best work. It was like watching a train wreck or the climatic act of a Wagnerian Opera.

Episodes that I didn't like but had their moments:
Wrecked - the Spike/Buffy scenes at the beginning and in his crypt and on the street - riveting.
Willow's scene in the bedroom with the magically triggered dress - beautiful use of metaphor
All The Way - Buffy/Spike in the crypt and in the basement of the Magic Box, Xander and Anya's scenes and Xander's scenes with Giles, the Willow/Tara moments, and finally the fight with the vampires.
As You Were - the very last scene in Spike's crypt where she breaks up with him and the scene in the bathroom with Anya and Xander reminiscent of another bathroom scene in Yoko Factor.
Double Meat Palace - Xander almost choking on a burger when he thinks its human meat, the Anya/Halfrek scenes
Gone - The moments in the kitchen with spike/buffy, the
scene with Xander/Anya/Invisible Buffy, the scene after
Xander leaves btw Spike and Buffy.
OAFA - the Halfrek scenes
Villains - the scenes where Willow took the text into herself and confronted Warren in the woods, Dawn's discovery of Tara, Spike's journey to the Lurker demon.
Two to Go - Giles showing up at the end, Willow's speech to Buffy and Dawn and how she turns Racks place to the Magic Box, Her fight with Buffy - great fight scene - I've been waiting 6 years for it. (Of course the fact I was rooting for Willow instead of Buffy, probably was a problem). The scene with Rack.
Grave - Spike's scene with the bugs and getting his soul,
Giles and Willow's battle (also waiting 6 years for it),
Anya and Giles' scenes together, Jonathan saving Xander (maybe in Two to Go??)

What I didn't like? The plotting from Villains to Grave was slow. Xander/Willow didn't move me like it should have.
Willow's addiction motif seemed a little cliche and afterschool specialish. The AR way too intense and I still believe unnecessary, cliche, soap operaish and a short cut, I expect more from the writers. (Plus I did not like the fact that I went into the scene feeling sympathetic for the wrong character, and rooting for the wrong one - that is something that still haunts me as a woman and someone familar with the law and cases on this and I still believe conveyed a bad message. It wasn't necessary and they shouldn't have done it. They've admitted as much..oddly enough. But hey - so don't want to debate that whole thing again, do we?? ;-) Death of Tara ? (I knew it would happen, but think the way they depicted it could have been smoother, and more sensitive...I honestly think they were just clueless.) Gone - haphazard writing and directing.
Wrecked - the Willow scenes seemed laughable in retrospect and the monster? Stupid. All The Way - the Dawn storyline was too cliche and didn't work for me. But overall? I appreciate the risks they took.

Season 5 - Loved it. Fool for Love, The Gift, The Body, Into the Woods, Out of My Mind, Crush, Tough Love, Family, Triangle, Real Me, Checkpoint, Forever, Intervention,
The Replacement, Buffy vs. Dracula, outside of maybe four episodes - every one moved me. I loved the arc. I loved the villain. I loved the unpredictability. It's the only season that contained two episodes that moved me to tears. The Body is the only BTVS episode that I sob in every time I watch it. The Gift, outside of maybe Becoming, is the only one that made me cry at a finale. It also introduced me to my favorite character in the history of my experience watching tv. Prior to this show, this character only existed in my head or in my own fiction - the archetype of the scorned/rejected unrequited lover. The existentialist hero who goes against his own nature, destiny, fate, everything to be something else to help someone he loves, even if everyone including his own nature is against him. They took the villain falling for the hero to a level I'd never seen anyone quite attempt, above cliche and it wowed me. I didn't know what Spike was going to do. It was always the opposite of what I expected. I had no clue if they'd redeem him or if he'd do the typical thing and be the villain and do in the heroine. I was riveted and obsessed.
I certainly didn't expect him ever to win her or even get to be with her. People call Spike Fonzie? I don't get that, to me Angel is Fonzie (and I like Fonzie btw). Spike is well James Dean in Giant and Rebel without a Cause and East of Eden...but hey that's just me ;-)

The Body - oh god what an episode. The best Whedon has done.
It is the only episode of a tv series or movie that in my humble opinion got death right - finally. IT got how I felt about death and dying and grief and funerals better than anything I'd ever read or seen. It still blows me away.
Fool For Love - riveting and dark and romantic with more twists and turns than you can imagine and so much character depth and on more than one character. Amazing.
Into the Woods - layers upon layers - we get depth on Anya, Xander, Buffy, Riley, Spike...it's beautiful. My favorite moments? Xander's speech to Anya, Spike and Riley's discussion, Buffy's realization of what Riley's been doing.
Forever - scared me silly, great twisty re-telling of the classic ghost story the Monkey's Paw. And wonderful character development.

The low points? Shadow (and even that had some good moments, Riley with the vamp, Riley with Dawn, Riley with Spike) Listening to Fear (creepiest and grossest monster for awhile and also interesting metaphors), Spiral (have to say I did like the Night of The Living Dead twist - with the Knights attacking them. Also the road trip was fun)
Weight of the World (the Spike/Xander, Spike/giles, and the
whole Ben is Glory, Glory's Ben joke was great. Also loved Dawn's wrestling match with Ben/Glory. )

Yep S5 worked where S6 didn't. S6 was riskier.

Season 4 - fantastic stand-alones, probably some of Whedon's best work was in this season. Who Are You. Hush.
Restless. Superstar. New Moon Rising. Wild at HEart. The Initiative. Something Blue. The Freshman. Harsh Light of Day. Yoko Factor. Primeval. Fear Itself. Pangs. This Year's Girl.The New Man.

Hush/Who Are You and Restless - all make major risks and use gimmicks that would cause most series to jumptheshark - it just showed how brilliant and creative this one was.
An episode with no dialogue through most of it and creepiest villains. Two actresses switching personalities and roles. An episode completely in stream of consciousness dreamtime.

Yoko Factor - did everything Empty Places did wrong, right.
Showed how people can split apart over a series of minor things. And played with the IAgo idea.

New Moon Rising - beautiful way of writing out OZ..and fully launching Willow and Tara. Still love that last scene about Istanbul.

Fear Itself - made me laugh - every single character utilized and the metaphor regarding their fears? PErfect.

Harsh Light of Day - interesting take on the morning after and casual sex.

The lowpoints? The I in Team, Goodbye Iowa, Where the Wild Things Are, Living Conditions and Doomed. But each of these had cool things as well: I in Team (Buffy vs. Walsh, Spike vs. the Initiative and the SG digging out his chip, hilarous,) Goodbye Iowa - the SG slumber party and Spike scene at the beginning telling riley to kill her. Where the wild things are (Spike/anya, Giles' singing, Xander/anya, Willow/tara), Doomed (Spike/Xander/Willow scenes).

Now Season 3 works as number one on the Objective list - there's abosolutely nothing I can objectively and critically find wrong with it. Except - it just doesn't move me emotionally upon re-watching. Don't know why. Maybe because the kids vs. authority theme didn't hit me emotionally? The B/A relationship dragged for me in this season and disappointed me. I'd been into the relationship, but by the time The Zeppo hit, lost interest. Upon first viewing I loved it. Now? I find it dull and slow. Not sure why. I liked X/W, Giles/Joyce, and loved Faith, the Mayor and Trick but it doesn't move me emotionally.
It does contain some of my all time favorite episodes:
The Wish, Dopplegangeland, Lover's Walk, Enemies, Bad Girls, Consequences, but it also contains episodes that don't do much for me upon re-watching: Revealations, Anne,
Dead Man's Party, Gingerbread, Beauty and The Beasts,
Amends, Homecoming. And I was never a fan of The Zeppo.
Earshot - I was disappointed in, after all the hype, it's good, moving, but not great. The Prom? Outside of the last scene? Doesn't do much for me. There's a lot of good stuff in those episodes, sure, but they didn't move me, they didn't speak to me. So objectively? Great season. Subjectively? Okay.

Season 7 - didn't work on either level. YEs it has some of my all time favorites: LMPTM, Beneath You, Selfless, CwDP,
Never Leave ME, Sleeper, and I did sort of like Dirty Girls, Get it Done, First Date (in places), Killer in Me,
Him, STSP, Lessons, and End of Days...and yes, Chosen, Storyteller, and the others had good parts. But..it didn't hit me emotionally all the way through. I lost the umph in the end. Chosen should have moved me. It didn't.

Why? Too many characters - diffused things. I never took to Andrew. Just not a character that hits my emotions. Except to irritate the heck out of me. Would have preferred more time have been spent on Anya, Dawn, Willow, and Giles. Plus I'm a bonifed Giles fan - I started watching the show for Giles - and I think everyone will admit Giles was wasted this year. I hated Wood - had a severly negative reaction to the character - to the extent that I felt 0 sympathy for him. None. Zippo. And I did not take to the SIT's, any of them. They didn't move me.

Season 7 was weird. IT felt brilliant to start with. I saw so much potential. Then the frigging SIT's showed up and Wood and Andrew took more prominence, while Anya, Dawn, Xander, Giles, Willow drifted to the background.

The plot felt increasingly slip-shod in places or hackneyed. With convient plot devices dropped in out of nowhere - the scythe, the guardians (which I liked, if they'd only expanded on them and brought them up a little earlier), and oh yes the amulet. The plans Buffy came up with made 0 sense. Faith's made 0 sense. Kicking Buffy out and choosing ex-rogue slayer Faith made little sense to me.
The Faith/Wood relationship seemed sort of convienent and didn't work for me. Also at times, the plot seemed a little confusing.

Angel's appearence in End of Days and Chosen felt like a way of appeasing the B/A shippers in the audience and didn't seem to serve the story. And the Angel I loved in Home and Ats, seemed to regress to S3/2 Angel which annoyed me. Also the kiss? Sorry didn't work for me. Felt contrived.
Also made me think poorly of both characters. I would have preferred an embrace or a desire to kiss...instead of actual kissage. The S/B/A triangle? Too Dawnson's Creek, too soap operaish and it took away from the episode.

But first half of the season, up to BoTN? I really actually liked. With exception of maybe Help. I also enjoyed Get it Done, First Date, LMPTM, Killer in Me, Dirty Girls,
and everything up to the last five minutes of End of Days.
And I enjoyed first 30 minutes of Chosen.

Episodes wasn't overly fond of - BoTN (I liked the sleepwalking dream state feel of it), Showtime (the last scene was cool), Storyteller (bits and pieces were okay,
the Xander/anya scenes not bad, the last scene with Andrew and the video tape), Empty Places (I liked everything but the last scene - that didn't work for me, still doesn't.),
Touched (liked everything but the sex scenes - seemed to be overkill).

Chosen I liked part of it, part of it seemed cheesy and off to me. The final battle? Didn't work for me. Spike sacrificing himself worked and didn't work at exactly the same time.

Actually - someone on another board crystalized my problems with S7 rather well - when they said they felt the writers had compromised. That's what I felt happened. It's almost as if after six seasons of taking risks, they decided to play it safe in the final season. They stopped taking risks. They came up with a female love interest for Willow hoping to appease one group of fans, left it vague and ambiguous on B/S and B/A so you could literally read it either way, spread the power amongst all slayer potentials to reaffirm female empowerment, didn't break up completely or put back together completely X/A. It felt oddly empty to me, emotionally as a result.

That said, there were some strong things about the season, I liked the FE as the big bad, I just feel they missed some opportunities with it that might have both advanced the plot better and developed characters - like having Ben show up, Jesse, Angelus, HArmony, Snyder, Adam, The MAster, Glory, Trick, Jenny...any number of people. And instead of Caleb? It might have been more interesting to see the FE's agent being Hank Summers...as suggested by the critic of slayage.com. Also Halfrek would have been a great one for FE to show up as for both Anya and Spike. I also loved the redemption arcs - but felt they closed some of them too soon, Anya's, willow's, and Spike's could have been much richer. Why didn't they address Spike's jacket more? I liked the B/S relationship in 7, but felt it was at times confusing. I also liked the metaphors - loved the metaphors and symbolism but I don't think they worked well on the narrative level.

I liked Season 7.. I just didn't love it and I wanted to.
But hey again just my opinion.

Objective ranking:

1. 3 (best overall arc narrative wise and stand a lones)
2. 5 (best overall arc, a few great stand-alones, plot heavy)
3. 2 (best arc , few decent standalone)
4. 4 (great stand-alones, some good arcs. But uneven)
5. 6( bad arc, some good emotional arcs, bad plot wise)
6. 7 (plot arc not so good, but some good possibly excellent episodes with in it)
7. 1 (choppy)

Okay not completely in depth, but hope it clarifies my views a little.

Feel free to disagree or agree, just remember, only my humble opinion. ;-)


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- Yellow Bear, 00:18:17 06/09/03 Mon

Wow, that was epic.

I am only going to respond to your assertion that the wrting staff admits that they made a mistake with the AR in 'Seeing Red.' I' ve never read anyone on the staff assert that (and I do keep up with these things). I would be greatly disappointed as I think that sequence is absolutely brillant. The only way the B/S relationship could evolve from what it was into something new. I remember watching the scene and not being able to believe it was happening and at the same time knowing that there was no other place they could go.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- s'kat, 07:38:29 06/09/03 Mon

I am only going to respond to your assertion that the wrting staff admits that they made a mistake with the AR in 'Seeing Red.' I' ve never read anyone on the staff assert that (and I do keep up with these things). I would be greatly disappointed as I think that sequence is absolutely brillant. The only way the B/S relationship could evolve from what it was into something new. I remember watching the scene and not being able to believe it was happening and at the same time knowing that there was no other place they could go.

It's very subtlely said. First according to the people who have the S6 DVD's, the writing staff appears to skirt completely around Seeing Red and never mentions the AR scene. They address everything else. Suspicious to me.
Second in some of Whedon's interviews - he states things like, well, we had to go there, or maybe it wasn't that clear, and maybe we did go a little too dark there. (Somewhat defensive). Deknight states it was all last minute and is also a little defensive. Espenson states she had mixed feelings, but since he his a soulless demon it worked. Marti avoids talking about it completely in later interviews and will only address the Tara death.

And of course Marsters, while he defends the scene as being necessary, consistently blames himself for it coming across as intense as it did and giving them less room to manuevre, this leads me to believe they thought they tripped a bit.
Particularly when I contrast it to how they discuss other things they loved.

Again it's just my impression of what I've read in the interviews. Yours could very well be the correct one.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- Yellow Bear, 09:26:23 06/09/03 Mon

I've always taken the staff's discussions of S6 with a grain of salt as they seem to be aware of how divesive it is among fans and they really don't want to get in a salt in the wound situation (oh, I must crave salt or something). As for the staff being defensive, they always sound that way about S6 because the interviews are almost always attacking ie the questions are "Fans really hated it when...."

In general, I always try to remember that what I am hearing is what the staff wants me to hear (Joss saying over & over again how S7 was going to lighter) and not what they might actually think about any given issue. They are trying to sell the show and telling fans who hated S6 to stop whinning & grow up is probably not the best publicity choice.

Also, I think if Whedon was willing to re-shoot the final scene of BY then he would have certainly re-shot the AR scene if he thought it went to far. Granted, production issuses may have prevented that but it's such a pivotal scene that if they had problems with it I have to think they would have re-shot.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- Miss Edith, 16:43:14 06/09/03 Mon

Well regarding SR it has since come out that the scene originated based on the experience of a female writer who tried to force herself on her ex boyfriend when the relationship ended. The genders were reversed for B/S which was bound to cause more controversy. The writers seemed to underestimate that. Also Joss Wheaden recently said the scene was meant to come across as Spike being more confused because of previous sex games, and the situation get out of control.

James Marsters has also said the scene was not intended to be anywhere near as violent as it was. James had a huge personal problem with that scene. He has said that it is irrational but every time he sees an actor taking part in filming a rape in a film or on tv he gets really overwrought and would never accept such a part. He felt very unhappy about being under contract, and it made him realise he had little choice. He was go home shaking and crying in the bath after filming the scene. He has said he couldn't discuss the scene with Sarah beforehand, and the situation just esculated so that both of them became very worked-up. One of my problems with the AR was Sarah playing Buffy as a normal woman who is about to be the victim of rape. Perhaps the behind the scens tensions go some way towards explaining that?

Because of the AR James is now against B/S. He is saying he believes Buffy loved Angel in the finale, and he wouldn't want any more B/S due to the AR. At conventions when fans support Spike he tells them to go for the nice guy (this is post season 7 even), and he gets very chocked-up still when discussing the filming of the bathroom scene. Both Joss and James have suggested that the AR did not have the effect they were hoping for, the audience were meant to be repulsed by Spike apparently.

I would have thought the directer would have stepped in if the scene differed so radically from what was intended but both James Marsters, and Joss seem to collabrate this. Basically the scene became far far more controversial than I believe it was ever intended. I don't think it's a stretch to wonder if the writers do regret taking their characters to such a dark place. Particularly as season 7 did take such few risks (with a love story for B/S attempted without one kiss being exchanged even).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- LeeAnn, 02:51:22 06/10/03 Tue

One of my problems with the AR was Sarah playing Buffy as a normal woman who is about to be the victim of rape. Perhaps the behind the scens tensions go some way towards explaining that?

Yes exactly. It was so out of character for Buffy. If James said that the scene as written was not nearly as violent that means that it was Gellar's choice to overplay Buffy as a victim. Maybe she resented being made the villian in DT and/or resented the attention Marsters gets from the fans. I think the series jumped the shark with the AR but if it had been played with less chewing on the furniture from her I think it would have been less harmfull to the series. I wonder if the director didn't step in because she is the "star" or maybe she refused to do it any other way. So they had no choice. If it was her it was a blow against Sike and maybe James and could have hurt his career. And, I think, did hurt the series.

I wonder how many years before we get a behind the scenes book telling us exactly what was going on.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- CW, 06:29:53 06/09/03 Mon

It's interesting that your 'objective' list of seasons is a lot closer to my personal list than your 'subjective' one. I'd definitely rate season 7 higher than seaon 6, but except for seasons 7, 1 and 6 my mind can change about the order. The problem with season six was precisely that emotion was all that carried it forward. There would be nothing wrong with that except, the show that had been an innovator for its entire run began to stoop to the level of any night-time soap opera, using tintillation to cover up a lack of movement on other story fronts. The point is, why watch Buffy for emotional stuff when that's being done better with more story (and more tastefully) over on the other channel on Gilmore Girls? The numbers don't lie. More people were interested in watching season 7 which got away from the heavy soap opera than season 6. The problem with season 7 is that while it had a number of good episodes's, I can't think of one I would rank as great. Season 1's great episodes have paled compared to what followed, but not having one really great episode was unprecedented. Like an athelete who has a bad season after geting that big contract, Buffy never quite got back on the old track after the changes that came with moving to UPN. Blame it on Joss. Blame it on Marti. But, I do think the show was written on a level more like it once was in season 7.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Episode by episode, I would personally rank season 7 as the best... -- Rob, 08:58:58 06/09/03 Mon

My list of 5 star episodes:

1) Lessons
2) Beneath You
3) Same Time Same Place
4) Selfless
5) Conversations With Dead People
6) Bring On the Night
7) Get It Done
8) Storyteller
9) Lies My Parents Told Me
10) Dirty Girls
11) Empty Spaces
12) End of Days
13) Chosen

And the list of four star episodes:

1) Help
2) Sleeper
3) Never Leave Me
4) Bring On the Night
5) Potential
6) First Date
7) Touched

Three stars:

1) Showtime
2) The Killer in Me

Two stars:

1) Him

Obviously, this is just my own personal list. The funny thing is, even I know that, as a complete season, there were some problems in the story arc, mostly in how the supporting characters were utilized, and how some threads were never followed through on, leading to plot holes. But taking each episode one by one, I loved most of them. Which is kind of a strange situation. I think the best season, as far as story arc goes, is Season 5. But I remember and love more individual episodes in this season than in that season, even though the overall sweep isn't as good or nearly as focused.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Rating the episodes...for S7 Btvs (more in depth) -- s'kat, 11:38:04 06/09/03 Mon

Interesting I have different take.

I looked through S7 and made rankings based on the following criteria:
1. Rewatchability
2. Flow of the plot
3. Direction
4. Tightness of the writing
5. Utilization of the characters - did the plot flow logically from them and was it emotionally true to them?
6. Entertainment value.

Again I have a subjective and objective list.
Storyteller for instance falls at the bottom on the subjective list but near the top for the objective list.

Going through the episodes with that criteria, I came up with two episodes that
I would objectively give a full 10/10 to. Only season besides S1, I can say that about. Those episodes were:

Conservations with Dead People

Objectively based on that criteria the top episodes of S7
were: Selfless, CwDP, Storyteller, Beneath You, and Lies My Parents Told Me.

Subjectively? Selfless, CwDP, Beneath You, Lies My Parents Told Me

Here's the list in order of most favored to least favored:

1. Selfless ( This episode in my humble opinion was perfect. It took risks. It is highly rewatchable. It advanced at least four character arcs and they came from a logical emotional place. Every character was well utilized.
Every performance was top-notch, no slackers. Direction seemless. It combined horror, tragedy, comedy and pathos in equal measure. Exemplary effort. One of my all time top favorite episodes on tv.)

2. Conversations with Dead People (Also a stellar episode.
But the scene with Dawn and Willow could have been a little tighter in places. Also the Jonathan/Andrew scenes drug a bit and were hard for casual viewers to follow. Had to explain it to my mother and another friend twice. The buffy/holden and Spike scenes were fantastic. The song pulling it all together haunting. The cinematography seemless. And the reveal to Willow creepy. Also the Dawn portion very scary. One of the best team efforts we've seen. Characters all advanced and utilized. Although they left out two regulars in order to focus on the recurring a sign of a weakness that would creep into later episodes. The increased focus on Andrew at the expense of Xander/Anya was in my humble opinion inexcusable but clearly the writers had grown bored of X/A story and interested in Andrew, that happens.)

3. Lies My Parents Told Me (Interesting episode - partly due to it's emotional harshness and the risks it took. Probably the most controversial episode to hit the boards since SR and certainly spawned as many vigorous debates.
Direction wise? Seamless. Flowed beautifully. Characterwise?
At least four characters arcs were moved forward and from an emotional base. Too risks with the characters. Built on the theme of the slayer and how they deal with power. Also how people relate to them. Was admittedly harsh in some of the metaphors and led to possible misunderstandings of text.
Also the focus on a peripherial character over more established ones this late in the series was not only risky but possibly ill-advised. OTOH - the character was played by an outstanding and professional actor and worked in some ways to further plot. Problems? I never felt the issues left at the end of the episodes were well resolved by later episodes, although you could argue that was realistic.)

4. Storyteller (no I didn't like it emotionally, but objectively? It was interesting episode, took risks, and actually did a good job developing a character and sticking to a pov. It also utlized other characters effectively. I still found it overly self-indulgent in places...but I accept the fact that this could just be my own irritation with fanboy sensibilities. A good friend of mine, has convinced me that the episode had a lot of objective merit. He's good at convincing me of these things. ;-))
5. Beneath You (good episode, but choppy in places and often times confusing to follow. The Spike bits were jarring although I think that was deliberate. The last scene in the church felt like it was written and directed by someone else, even before I knew it. It stands out and is probably one of the best scenes Joss Whedon has written and directed in anything all year, but it felt very different in tone and direction from the rest of the episode. Almost as if we were watching two separate episodes. The Anya/Xander bits were wonderful. But the monster? Silly rip-off of Tremors. And also an overtly obvious metaphor. The acting wonderful, except for SMG, who at times seemed at a loss...she got blown off screen by everyone else including the guest star. Those are the reasons I can't quite give it more than four stars of 9/10)

6.Lessons - this is also an interesting episode, but it felt slow in places also a little choppy. The Buffy/Dawn scenes at the school - particularly the classroom? Made me cringe. OTOH - the scenes where the ghosts were first introduced creeped me out. Also I liked the guilt metaphor.
Both with the ghosts, and then with the nutty Spike.
Each character was advanced. The intro of the Big Bad was sufficiently creepy. And the story had it's jaw-dropping moments. Unfortunately the supporting or peripherial characters lacked luster and drug it down. (Kit and Carlos)

7. End of Days - furthered the arcs of every character. Felt every character got some good face time. Was comedic and emotionally touching at the same time. And seemed to flow well cinematically and writing wise. Better plotted both emotionally and arc wise than other episodes. Problems - the guardian (which came out of nowhere), the
appearance of Angel, and the last five minutes (which felt like a cheesy soap cliche - I felt as if I had jumped from Btvs to General Hospital and was watching Luke and Laura reunite...even the amulet had that GH touch, with Spike in the role of the moody Stefan (if you've never watched GH? Don't ask, you don't want to know.)). But that said, the Spike/Buffy, Anya/Andrew, Xander/Dawn, Willow/Giles moments were stellar.

8. Sleeper. (This episode did a fantastic job of exploring addiction - far better than Willow's arc last year. The music selected for the episode worked brilliantly. Spike's character was explored more in depth. And it was one of the best performances I'd seen from Gellar in a while. Cinematography and direction worked. Creepy in places. Lots of nice twists. Good dialogue. Problems? Anya seemed out of character especially after Selfless. The Spike/anya scene while fun did not work characterwise, except for Spike.
Also Xander and some of the other characters seemed under- utilized, missed opportunity there.)

9. Never Leave Me (while this episode made up for Sleeper's lack of utilizing the other characters, it felt choppy in places. The Andrew bits were more annoying than funny - again felt a little self-indulgent - the writers obviously thought Tom Lenk was a hoot and it came across in the episode, often taking me out of the episode. However, the Spike/Buffy, Xander/Anya, Xander/Andrew scenes were very well done and moved all three characters forward emotionally and plot-wise. It also provided some closure to things brought up in BY and Selfless. Willow and Dawn however were grossly underutilized and even seemed a little out of character at certain points.)

10. Get it Done (I loved the shadow puppet play and the special effects - creepy and beautifully done. Each character was well- utilized and moved forward emotionally and plot-wise. A good contrast was made between Buffy being forced to access power and Willow/Spike choosing to. Even the peripherial characters seemed to well-utilized here, specifically Wood and Kennedy, without taking the spotlight from the prinicipals. Also some nice twists and creeps.
Problems? Dawn's abilities seemed odd. A little over the top on the raped by power metaphor. Buffy's speech a bit too much. But biggest problem is the show was getting crowded and felt a little diffused in places. I didn't care when Chole died, I should have. I found Buffy aggravating.
Spike's reclamation of his coat and taking on of the demon was confusing characterwise - half the audience thought he'd become evil again, the other half was convinced he just reclaimed his power. I personally like the ambiquity, but it did seem a little too ambiguous - maybe because they made such a huge deal out of the jacket yet never addressed it completely or resolved it??)

11. Dirty Girls (The Faith interactions with Spike, Buffy,
and to a smaller degree Giles and Dawn were right on. But instead of having her interact with Xander or Willow or Giles more - they went into the less than stellar Caleb plot. While Caleb was an excellent metaphor for Buffy's negative male issues, he was also a fairly cliche villain who didn't really move me. Too much time was spent on him.
Also the flashbacks over Faith's past history and metanarration were unnecessary and self-indulgent, and Andrew centric. Time could have been better spent elsewhere.
The plan to go into the vineyard and take out Caleb made 0 sense. The fact everyone blamed Buffy for it, made even less. Also one too many speeches...got a little boring. Too much tell - need more show. Saved by the Faith/Spike scene,
the Buffy/Faith scenes, and Xander's dream to some extent.)

12. Chosen ( Again good build up but the follow-through less than stellar. Way too crowded an episode. The Faith/Wood sequence while entertaining seemed unnecessary.
Very little time if any was spent on Xander or Anya - which was necessary for her death scene. Again the focus shifted more towards Andrew and away from Xander, making me wonder if Andrew had literally become more interesting to the writers than Xander was. Spike/Buffy scenes worked. The S/B/A triangle seemed a tad soap-operaish and cliche, also didn't work that well, after two years of neither A or B talking to each other. Angel's appearence felt very contrived and his character seemed ill-served by it. I did however like the fact that they got it out of the way quickly. If Buffy didn't love Spike, I wish she hadn't said the words. OTOH I loved his response to her for his sacrifice. I felt the amulet was hokey and made 0 sense and should have been introduced earlier or described better. The plan itself? Seemed like suicide and very illogical.
Even if every potential got empowered - how were they expected to kill over a million ubervamps? Especially when just one ubervamp took Buffy out in BoTN. OTOH the FE's scene with Buffy in the basement was very interesting and one of the best scenes in the series. Wood/Faith's scene at the end was...anti- climatic and took away from some of the other scenes in my opinion. I was upset that no one really mourned Anya. Or seemed to acknowledge what Spike did.
They seemed a little too self-satisfied for something that I was under an impression they didn't really accomplish.
Buffy and the potentials didn't save the world - Spike did.
All Buffy did was pass her power to every potential slayer out there...which left me with mixed feelings. I think if all women got the power it would have worked better for me, not sure. So I was left feeling ambivalent. OTOH - the concept of using a weapon to pass power and to share power was a cool one. Just as Spike choosing to let the light from his soul consume and clense the darkness around him also was very cool. It just could have been a little tighter and stronger - I think.)

13. Same Time Same Place (this episode also furthered each characters arc and moved the story forward effectively.
The demon was gnarly and creepy and perfect. Anya/Willow, Willow/Spike, Spike/Buffy/Xander all well done in the basement, and I loved posable Dawn. What was wrong with it?
Slow pacing due to the gimmick. But the risk is worth noting. Confusing in places due to the gimmick. The ripe smell comment by Buffy seemed a little off and out of character. More S2 or S5 Buffy, I got the feeling she'd matured more than that. Loved the final scene though.)

14. Potential ( Worked on some levels not others. It is one of the few episodes of BTVS that never fails to make me cry. The Xander/Dawn speech at the end does it to me every time. I enjoyed the Spike/buffy banter. Also the Dawn/Xander moments and closeness. Willow,Anya were better used than usual. But it moved slowly. Again pacing slow. First half hour somewhat boring in places. And way too many Buffy speeches. Buffy was beginning to get on my nerves and I'm not sure that's what the writers wanted.)

15. First Date ( Also did a good job of furthering character arcs. Gave some decent background development on Wood - although a lot of it felt like left field. Mild mannered PRinicipal morphs into creepy, arrogant, egotistical demon fighter. If Wood made my skin crawl in BoTN, this one sealed it. I'm All That and I know it Prinicpal Wood. Then we have Xander and the demon lady, again. Although Xander's scenes were interesting - they didn't really further his character that much. It seemed like a replay of Teacher's Pet. And I think I prefered Teacher's Pet in places. The scenes in the house though, amongst the group and the FE, Giles/Spike and the group, Spike/Buffy, Anya/buffy, were well done and some of the best of the season.)

16. Touched ( Some very good interactions between characters. Faith/FE/Mayor, Spike/Faith/SG, Spike/Andrew,
Spike/ Buffy, Xander/anya (prior to the sex), Faith/Wood (prior to the sex), Giles still felt like a podperson, he seemed off in this episode for some reason. Willow/Kennedy actually seemed hot, but possibly overkill - again self-indulgence on the part of the writers - not convinced it furthered the story or characters much. Glad they did it for political reasons, but felt it didn't do much for the narrative as a whole. Faith/Wood? Squicked me. But then I hated Wood. Also didn't seem to work narratively. And it did not help that the scene happened right after the mother/father chat - felt too incestuous for words. Xander/Anya? Didn't work for me. Buffy/Spike - only one that did. Platonic. And seemed warm. Song? Forgettable. Finally? I liked the bomb nice twist, and the fight with Caleb? cool. The scythe? cheesy and felt like it dropped from no-where.)

17. Empty Places (Worked up to the scene where the SG for reasons I still can't figure out, backed the whiny Potentials in their choice of rogue/ex-con slayer Faith as leader. And kicked Buffy out of her own house. Or Buffy left on her own? Not clear. Felt like Dawn kicked her out actually. Did not understand why Buffy couldn't still sleep there. Especially with all these nasties out there. And they have no clue where she goes? Uhm the girl had gotten into a nasty fight with Caleb earlier - I'd want to make sure she was safe, if not because I loved her dearly as a friend and sister, but in case Faith did something boneheaded and got everyone blown up - wait she did that didn't she? sigh. Also so sick of the long monologues. Yoko Factor and Dead Man's Party both did what Empty Places attempted but much better. Best part of the episode?
Spike/Andrew bits, the first 35 minutes with Giles/Buffy scenes, Willow/Xander/Buffy, Buffy at the school, Anya in the basement - very good. The final group scene? Horrendous.)

18, Killer in Me ( not a bad episode, except its three separate plot arcs did not flow well from each other. Felt choppy and quickly pasted together. The Willow segment which would have made a full episode in of itself is crammed in with the Spike chip segement - also a good episode in of itself and the Giles as FE segment another good episode in of itself. It might have worked better if they made the Giles/Spike bit one episode and the Willow/Warren/Kennedy/Amy another one. Amy seemed confusing in it, characterwise. Was she the FE? Was she just Amy?
Felt like just Amy. While I liked the AMy bits and loved
the Willow/Warren stuff...it felt sort of choppy. Also illogical in places - the switches back and forth didn't flow well. AH did a better job of pretending to be Warren, then Adam Busch did of pretending to be AH. The flipping back and forth was confusing at times. Amy's sending Kennedy to Willow from the middle of the night to late afternoon was weird. Spike/Buffy in the Initiative seemed like a retcon and did not fit a lot of the plot stuff from S4. Why they didn't simplify things and have Willow be the one to magically remove the chip and deal with the fact that accessing that power turned her evil - I don't know.
Instead they made it complicated and disconnected. Also the Giles' story could have been better incorporated into the plot somehow. So nice character development here and there, but very uneven overall. I did like the Anya/xander/Dawn/Andrew grouping, also the Willow/Amy/Kennedy confrontation as well as Spike/Buffy struggling over what to do with the chip - I just think it could have been done better.)

19. Bring on The Night (dreamlike episode. Nice character moments between Buffy and Giles, Buffy and Joyce, but the other characters were grossly under utilized. Anya/Dawn's behavior towards Andrew made little sense. The misleads on Wood became irritating upon re-watching. The time lags seemed odd - Wood apparently took three days to bury Jonathan and return with an ax?? Or maybe he just got around to returning it? Drusilla was okay as FE. Spike/Dru scenes were okay, a little cheesy in places. I think Amends accomplished this better. Drowning of a vampire seemed silly. The ubervamp fight - slow. Pacing slow. But I liked dream-like nature of it. And Buffy's last speech was probably her best next to the one in the basement with spike almost all year.)

20. Him (Funny episode. I died laughing over the rocket launcher bit. And the scene with Spike/Xander and Lance was very well done and advanced both characters. Nice use of a guest starring character. The risks taken were also interesting. Liked the split screen approach. Found the 70's jabs interesting. Did not like the Buffy/RJ scene.
But did like the metaphor that each relationship represented one of Buffy's. Also best episode for Wood - loved him here. Made me laugh. Weakenesses? A little silly in places, somewhat choppy, not seamless. Also a tad cliche.)

21. Showtime (Pacing was very slow. I got bored with all the speeches. The telepathy came out of no-where, was never explained, and made no sense - clearly contrived to make the fight work. The fight wasn't that suspensful. I didn't care about the SIT's. Over-crowded. And the FE as Eve felt less creepy and more irritating. Best part was the last scene.)

22. Help (Pacing was slow. Cassie did not move me emotionally. The Buffy as counselor seemed a little choppy in places. The story was also very afterschool special or
teen problem of the week. It didn't really move forward any of the characters. The monster was a cliche and rehash of seasons past. OTOH I liked the scene in the basement with Spike, interesting psychologically, the bit with Willow in the graveyard and the Willow/Xander scenes, also Dawn's scene at the end. Missed Anya.)

Well that's it. The reasons I wasn't overly fond of the season episode by episode.

Overall? I give Season 7 - three stars. Or 7.5

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Long post above and spoilers through Chosen. -- s'kat, 11:41:58 06/09/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A much more skeletal ranking (sp 7.18) -- Tchaikovsky, 13:10:07 06/09/03 Mon

And only to 7.18, the last episode I've watched:

1 Conversations With Dead People

Perfect television

2 Selfless

Near-perfect television

3 Lies My Parents Told Me

Spoiled only by a lack of clarity in message- it had to be dug around for. Beautifully shot

4 Beneath You

Wonderfully cerebral writing from Petrie. Disagree with shadowkat here- I thought the scene capped the episode's themes, even if the writing was palpably extraordinary.

5 Storyteller

The best attempt on television at showing the same ideas from a different angle since...'The Zeppo'

6 Same Time Same Place

Wonderfully observed insecurity, and really nice directing from James Contner. Notice how high the camera is in the Willow scenes, emphasising the 'little fish in big pond-ness' of the story.

7 Lessons

Very good- I underrate this because I knew what happened at the end before I saw this- and with an excellent sense of foreboding.

8 Never Leave Me

Good Goddard-ness.

9 Dirty Girls

More Good Goddard-ness. Faults in this episode and the next on the list rectified by Xander's two super speeches of the year. Here 'I saw her heart- and this time not literally' [cf 'Helpless']

10 Potential

Not good- but saved by 'You're not special...'

11 The Killer In Me

Generally under-appreciated. Well done, and I thought the plots fitted nicely.

12 Get It Done

Generally over-appreciated. Too much apparent meaningfulness and too little emotion to back it up.

13 First Date

Perfectly enjoyable fluff.

14 Showtime

Boring Fury, but saved by an good sentiment towards the end.

15 Sleeper

Not a long enough plot for a whole episode, no useful B-plot. Marsters saves it.

16 Bring on the Night

One of Noxon's poorer episodes, and didn't really enjoy the final speech. Hooray for Giles' return.

17 Him

Mediocre farce- and a desperately poor way to focus one of the best and most under-exposed characters on the show this Season- a maturing Dawn.

18 Help

Largely agree with shadowkat here. The final scene is as good as anyhting else on television, but compared with the other seventeen, the rest of the episode doesn't stand up well.

A very good Season so far- with a dip between 7.8 and 7.15, which it had to work hard to atone for. 7.16-7.18 start to do the job, but will withhold judgement on the whole Season until I've seen the last four episodes.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> You know I'm a lot more picky -- CW, 20:04:45 06/09/03 Mon

If an episodes like Hush, The Body and OMWF deserve five stars, as I said before I can't give anything in season 7 five stars.

Even figuring I'd start by just lowering your ratings by one star, I'd still have some quibbles. Just as an example, I can't see either "Same Time Same Place" or "Dirty Girls" rating as high as "Lessons." I think "Converstations With Dead People" is generally overrated, but probably not enough to take away another star. I'd probably be more generous with the eps at the bottom as well. I'd probably squeeze all three of your worst episodes into a two and a half star category or higher. "Him" was as you've indicated as weak an episode as the season had. I blushingly admit I don't remember "The Killer in Me" in any detail. But, there really weren't any episodes I hated this year on Buffy, just as there weren't any I'd rate with top marks.

If I rate season 7 toward the bottom compared to the rest of the series it's only because of the stiff competition. I certainly, did enjoy it from beginning to end.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Seasons and rankings - more extended list -- Yellow Bear, 09:33:44 06/09/03 Mon

I gotta say that I always get tense when someone uses the ratings as a standard of quality. If the ratings were indicitive of a show's quality, then we would all be at the ATPOJAG or ATPO8SR.

However, the ratings were better for S6 than S7 just as a corrective to the statement above

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Adding... -- Kate, 15:12:04 06/09/03 Mon

Yellow Bear - I agree about ratings not being the best way to judge the success or merit of a season for a show like "Buffy."

The thing to keep in mind for S6 and S7, despite lower ratings than previous years, is that when the show made the jump from the WB to UPN, lots of viewers were unable to tune in because their area/city didn't receive UPN. Also, for S7, while ratings did dip, there was a gain as well. The ratings were lower among the 12-18 demo while there was an increase in the 18-32/35 (?) demo (the most sought after by advertisers and therefore networks as well). To me this makes so much sense because the show grew-up, so it audience would have to too.

The whole ratings game just annoys me because it only comes down to money for the networks and therefore numerous excellent shows never get a real chance develop (coughFireflycough). And it has only gotten worse in recent years. Could you imagine a show like "Cheers" -about people sitting around a bar - actually having a chance to succeed in today's tv world?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Good analysis -- Sophist, 09:15:49 06/09/03 Mon

It's very interesting to read your analysis. I find myself agreeing with your assessments of most episodes, then disagreeing about your conclusions for each season. I guess we just weight things a little differently.

Just for example, the only changes I would make to your list of favorite S6 eps are that I would drop Bargaining 1&2, Flooded, and SR. I concur on the list of eps you didn't like, and even agree, with just a few exceptions, on the specific scenes you mentioned. Despite all that agreement, I'd rate S6 either last or next to last (after S1). Why? I find the MagiCrack theme both intrusive and disruptive to the major storyline of the season, and the ending was a complete bust emotionally (with some disappointing scripts, as well).

I find similar agreement on episodes and scenes in S7. The only significant changes I'd make to your lists are that I liked BoTN and I'd switch First Date with Storyteller (which I loved). The big difference, apparently, is that the ending worked very well for me emotionally, while it obviously didn't for you.

I think this demonstrates how hard it is to come to agreement on which seasons work. The only conclusion I can draw is that the ending has a very substantial effect on our perceptions.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Good analysis -- s'kat, 09:48:35 06/09/03 Mon

I find similar agreement on episodes and scenes in S7. The only significant changes I'd make to your lists are that I liked BoTN and I'd switch First Date with Storyteller (which I loved). The big difference, apparently, is that the ending worked very well for me emotionally, while it obviously didn't for you.

I think this demonstrates how hard it is to come to agreement on which seasons work. The only conclusion I can draw is that the ending has a very substantial effect on our perceptions.

Yes, I very much agree, it is very hard for us to come to a consensus on this. For instance, I managed to covert my mother into a Btvs fan last year, she's seen all the episodes now, many of them more than once. And? She actually enjoyed Chosen more than I did. She found the whole B/S arc very moving, very adult, and far more interesting than any of the other relationship arcs in the series. While I liked it, I found it...at times confusing, not nearly as clear as she did.

I struggle with S6, objectively? It has so many problems, the Magic as Crack story line being a big one. While I agreed with dream's defense of it. I still felt that writers backed off of a far more interesting storyline - one they attempted to pick up on in S7 and did to some degree in Ats S4. I think Whedon's love of Willow, prevented him from really exploring the whole abuse of power idea. My other difficulty with S6 was the fact that
I feel they took the easy way out on the complex B/S relationship - making Spike the villain in SR and going for the "bad boy - yes means no = AR cliche taken from one too many soap operas". On the other hand - the risks they took that season still impress me. And some of the episodes continue to blow me away. Also there were a couple of stellar performances. So, I'm conflicted on it. I will admit, I find it a hard season to rewatch.

Of the seasons, oddly enough S2, S4, and S5 seem to be the most rewatchable for me. With S3 a possible fourth choice.
S1, S6 and S7 less so, but that may be due to the fact that I've seen S6 and S7 rather recently. Perhaps in four years I'll change my mind? ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Does a good ending necessarily swing things one way or the other? -- cjl, 10:01:59 06/09/03 Mon

I thought "Chosen" was a solid season ender, far better than "Grave" in terms of pacing, action choreography, and the way the metaphors lined up so neatly. (Yes, Joss vs. Fury is like the Yankees vs. a "AA" minor league team, but go with me here.) Despite the fact that we were all expecting a life-changing, emotionally overwhelming experience, and set ourselves up for crushing disappointment, "Chosen" didn't disappoint.

But it couldn't save the seasonal arc. Too many loose ends, too many characters swept to the side by the Potentials and Andrew and Wood, too many logical inconsistencies. There comes a point when you lose interest in putting the pieces of a season together because you feel the writers have lost interest, too. "Chosen" would have needed 4 hours and subtitled footnotes to rescue S7--and even Joss isn't that good.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreed. Well said. -- s'kat, 11:47:01 06/09/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ooh fun! Playing the rating game -- ponygirl, 09:50:00 06/09/03 Mon

This will aid me in my quest to ignore work!

My highly subjective ranking of the seasons:

1. S6
2. S5
3. S2/S4
4. S3
5. S7
6. S1 (though to be fair I sometimes feel that I should leave it off the list, like a prequel or something.)

Season 6 still blows me away when I think about it. Yes, there were tons o' problems, and I must fast forward through the Willow parts of Wrecked, but as a whole I think it stands up as a remarkable achievement. In a weird way this was our epic season, huge risks, huge failures, and a real sense that this was a struggle to find a way to do that hardest thing - to live in the world. The fact that we still get contradictory explanations from ME on what it all meant doesn't bother me, s6 is one of those pictures that everyone who looks into it finds something different.

S5 on the other hand, for me, comes together with with an almost cold precision. It's lovely and it works, but especially after the Body, I never quite lose the sense that the show would rip out my heart to show me how marvelous its inner workings are. It's a season I probably admire more than I love.

Poor S7! Or rather poor me. I know Rob would argue, but I think we had the strongest first halves of a season ever, and then... I got the feeling that certain points were mapped out and locked in stone - the arrival of the SiTs, the choosing of Faith over Buffy, the events of Chosen - and everything else fell under the categories of filling in gaps, meandering, placeholding, and last-minute scramble. I'll probably change my assessment some day - I used to consider s3 a fave and didn't like s4 - but right now I think the second half of s7 is most interesting when viewed as a story of profound weariness and desire for a new order - a.k.a. a production team in need of a break.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ooh fun! Playing the rating game -- Yellow bear, 11:14:40 06/09/03 Mon

Ponygirl, I could not agree with you more about "a production team needing a break". IMHO, S7 is the weakest of seasons (with the exception of S1 which I do feel is kinda like a prequel) but when you consider the EPs are working on new shows, having there first children and the production problems over at Ats plus the fact that this is the seventh season of a the show (I can think of no other show that was as good as BTVS for so long) then I find it remarkable that it's as good as it is.

I still loved the season but for me, it fails to cohere like the others do (I actually have this theory that we needed to spend more time with SITs but that's neither here nor there). Whedon has a wonderful ending (the sharing of power) but the path there is rocky. I mean I still can't figure out what purpose Robin Wood serves in all this except to fill up a couple of episodes in the mid-season.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ooh fun! Playing the rating game -- ponygirl, 11:39:16 06/09/03 Mon

I probably am still too cranky about the end - and maybe cranky that it is the end - because there were lots of parts of the second half of the season that I liked. I just find myself agreeing completely with cjl's assessment above - Chosen was a good episode but could not save the season, and in fact ended up underscoring a lot of the problems with s7 as a whole. Don't get me wrong I always have a big love-on for the show, but still with the cranky.

And I agree about Wood. While I really liked LMPTM, I just can't find much justification for his character outside that episode, especially considering the big build-up we had for him all season. What did Wood symbolize? He was an authority figure who ends up a foot soldier, a lone fighter that we never really saw fighting on his own, a guy with a personal vendetta who urges the big picture view, a manipulator who can be trusted, someone who blames the Mission yet puts his life on the line for it. Who was that guy? And why oh why did he bury poor Jonathon in an unmarked grave?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Ooh fun! Playing the rating game -- ponygirl, 11:40:24 06/09/03 Mon

I probably am still too cranky about the end - and maybe cranky that it is the end - because there were lots of parts of the second half of the season that I liked. I just find myself agreeing completely with cjl's assessment above - Chosen was a good episode but could not save the season, and in fact ended up underscoring a lot of the problems with s7 as a whole. Don't get me wrong I always have a big love-on for the show, but still with the cranky.

And I agree about Wood. While I really liked LMPTM, I just can't find much justification for his character outside that episode, especially considering the big build-up we had for him all season. What did Wood symbolize? He was an authority figure who ends up a foot soldier, a lone fighter that we never really saw fighting on his own, a guy with a personal vendetta who urges the big picture view, a manipulator who can be trusted, someone who blames the Mission yet puts his life on the line for it. Who was that guy? And why oh why did he bury poor Jonathon in an unmarked grave?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreed. -- s'kat, 11:55:16 06/09/03 Mon

Our subjective rankings are incredibly similar, the one person I've found who shares the exact same ranking I do.

I completely agree with your assessments of S7 and S6.
I also felt a sense of writer/production team weariness in S7 and a sense of writer excitement in S6.

S7, I may change my mind about in years to come. But at the moment it feels like the season that had so much potential but got bogged down in the second half by difficult plot points, too many characters, and distracted writers.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Question: Who was show runner in S7? -- Just George, 15:18:09 06/09/03 Mon

Joss ran the show in early seasons. Marti ran the show in S6. But I can't remember who ran the show in S7. Perhaps the lack of a high profile show runner led to some of the dropped balls later in the season.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Question: Who was show runner in S7? -- s'kat, 15:22:54 06/09/03 Mon

Joss Whedon according to all reports and the episodes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Question: Who was show runner in S7? -- Miss Edith, 16:50:56 06/09/03 Mon

A burnt out joss Wheaden who was heavily invested in saving Firefly. So much so that he was comparing Firefly favourably to his other shows. E.g commeting about star attitudes on his other shows with Firefly's cast being an ensemble without a lead who was apart from the rest of the cast, when asked if Firefly would continue he replied "God I hope so" and when asked the same for Buffy he replied "God I hope not". He made several comments about being tired, I always felt Joss had planned on the show ending in season 5 with Buffy's death and lost the inspiration after that.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Question: Who was show runner in S7? -- skyMatrix, 17:36:17 06/09/03 Mon

I know it was suggested in some corners that the real power had divulged to David Fury while Joss and Marti were distracted. I think he might indeed have been 3rd in command. Wouldn't that have been great, after all Fury is hated more than anyone, it would be beyond easy to blame things on him! However, I find this difficult to believe, because he wrote many episodes for AtS this year too, so it seems that he was just as distracted as Joss and Marti. Or maybe he's just a really hard worker?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Rankings, ratings, and eternal inner strife -- Valheru, 00:07:51 06/10/03 Tue

Ranking BtVS episodes is a love/hate thing with me. Every time I finish watching an episode, I spend a little time thinking, "Now how would I rank that?" It starts out simply enough-- "'Superstar' was great! It ranks up there somewhere!"--but then I start having to make a mental list of all 144 episodes for comparison, which then turns into hour-long arguments with myself over the strengths/weaknesses of "Hush" vs. "Bad Eggs". By the time I get fed up with the whole thing, I never get any more conclusive than "This show is awesome!"

Instead, I try to categorize the eps. I usually start out with the Auteur-Joss episodes, "Hush", "Restless", "The Body", and "OMWF". Then I go on to the Regular-Joss greats, "The Gift", "Innocence", "Becoming", "Graduation Day", "Amends", and "Prophecy Girl". Then things start getting murky. "Where do I put 'The Zeppo'? 'Passion'? 'Selfless'?" Someday, when I have a lot of free time and a lot of inspiration, I'll come up with some nifty categories and the eps will fall into place just the way I like them. Chances are, that will be the day before AtS's final episode and I'll have to start all over again.

Usually when people do lists, they do it one of two ways: 1) each episode gets a number, 1-144, or 2) on a scale of 1-5 stars. I used to do the stars thing, but that always led to strange bedfellows. I mean, on a 1-5 scale, it usually works out that "The Body" and "Lover's Walk" are both 5 stars, but (and no disrespect due to "LW", which I think is awesome) they really aren't in the same league. 10 stars is easier, but that usually leaves the Auteur-Joss episodes as the only 10 stars, and I always feel guilty for leaving episodes like "The Zeppo" or "Becoming" at a measly 9. And if it's a scale of 15 or 20 stars, what's the point?

IMO, it's almost impossible to rank the BtVS episodes, in any fashion, and be 100% satisfied. 75-80% is as close as I ever get. Frankly, anyone who says they're 100% positive is either lying or not a die-hard enough fan for me to care about their opinion. The episodes are too diverse to be compared. How can anyone really look at (for example) "The Zeppo", "OMWF", and "Becoming" and say that one is any better than the other? Or that "Lie to Me" is a 3 star episode and "Halloween" is 4? And how can we give "Beer Bad" only one star, ranked at #144, and then turn on The Anna Nicole Smith Show without damning ourselves?

Heh. That Joss. He's always creating a controversy somewhere.

I do have an easier time ranking the seasons, though. 2, 3, and 5 are the great ones. 7 and 1 are the okay ones. 4 and 6 are the ones in-between. A good ol' 3-star system. Out of 7 seasons. Yup. I'm a risk taker, no doubt about it...

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Re Party of Five -- Miss Edith, 15:10:11 06/09/03 Mon

Well regarding Marti's interviews getting her into trouble, to an extent that's true. In season 6 she riled up Spike fans several times, as well as the B/A fans. The reasons for why Marti is so loathed on the net (and sorry but that is the case on nearly every site that some will hate Marti's contribution to Buffy) are wipespread. Some reasons are;

The general opinion seems to be that Marti blames the audience for not appreciating season 6. She talks of us not "getting" what they were trying to say, rather than admitting that perhaps they could have done a better job showing us what they intended. At a recent convention James Marsters strongly gave the impression that ME have had words with him and his portrayal of Spike. He is constantly beating himself up for playing Spike as soulful in season 6 before Spike had a soul (I assume he is refering to the "every night I save you" speech, and moments like that). He has said he messed up the arc planned as we were supposed to sympathise with Buffy, "if you guys had only been horrified by Spike they wouldn't have done the bathroom scene","you guys refused to be repulsed by anything Spike did". Unfair maybe but a lot of Spike fans are seeing similarities with Marti's interviews and feeling James words come from Marti. Hence fans are frustrated that Marti is blaming the fans for not making her story clear enough. Marti was constantly telling the fans during season 6 "you just don't get it".

James Marsters has said about season 6 that "Marti wanted me shirtless all the time", and commented that he stopped working out in season 7 and gained ten pounds so that "Marti would stop taking my damn shirt off". We hear Marti has an obsession with James's nipples and it has lead many to complain that Marti thinks all Spike fans are brainless women who demand shirtless Spike.

The anti B/S people blame Marti for B/S happening at all and all the kinky sex that went down is seen as Marti's responsinility. Basically a lot of the people who disliked B/S blame Marti. And the fans of B/S blame Marti for the AR and how B/S was written.

And there are the people who criticise Willow's magic crack arc and see juvenile anvils that they felt weakened Willow's storyline. Wrecked originated that particular plot, and of course it has been revealved that Joss left for Firefly around that time making the show much more Marti's at that point. Hence her getting blamed for a lot of what fans were dissatisifed with.

Also inserting her personal life into the script was disliked by many fans who saw the show becoming a soap opera with Marti talking of Spike being her bad boyfriend and how he was victimising Buffy. She seemed unable to understand that the audience were seeing something slighter greyer onscreen. All that talk of her twenties having no times that were not miserable, only finding love with non vampires after her twenties etc. Well those who disliked the depressing feel of season 6 blamed that on Marti, again it is her own interviews that give off this impression, hence her receiving the blame for it.

As for me I think Marti is a good writer. But as showrunner she did a poor job IMO.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I agree with most of that. -- Rochefort, 21:08:29 06/09/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Re Party of Five -- s'kat, 22:42:53 06/09/03 Mon

I think Marti just gives lousey interviews. I saw her on Nite Bites recently and was struck with the feeling that she comes off really ditzy in interviews. Some people just don't interview well. Another example is SMG - hate reading her interviews. Others? Interview beautifully - Joss Whedon, James Marsters, Anthony Stewart Head and Amber Benson are all examples. The trick is to talk about the process and not your intent or personal life too much.
Most of these people do a good job of keeping too much of their personal life out of it.

Also a lot of these things, comments that were said, etc were taken out of context, embellished on, and exaggerated by online fans - the internet can serve as a huge gossip net when it wants too ;-) And let's face it when it comes to BTVS, some of us aren't exactly objective or emotionally calm. Obsessions are weird that way.

I tend to take what some of the actors say with a grain of salt, since they don't get everything. Marsters states in a recent TV Zone interview that he was worried he didn't really pull out all the stops in his performance on Chosen. He was so psyched to finally be working closely with Joss Whedon (usually on Whedon's written/directed episodes, he's on the second unit with Whedon's pal David Solomon, although Whedon has directed Spike.), that he thinks he pushed too hard. Whedon told him repeatedly he was giving him exactly what he needed and if he wasn't, he would reshoot it. "Don't worry - you're doing what I want, otherwise I'd redo it". Also in S2, Whedon pulled him aside and explained how to say the lines so the best comic effect would come out. Whedon is extreemly hands on and has taught his writers to be.

From the Q&A's and interviews I've read, I got the impression that the AR scene really tormented poor JM.
He got the scene pretty much the day they shot it. IT came as a complete surprise to him and it was something he swore he'd never ever do as an actor. They choreographed it well.
But, he freaked. Understandable. I had to do a moot court trial once, where I played the role of a victim, an defense attorney and a prosecutor - and I'm a method actor - it tore me apart inside and it was just for law school. Professional actors have posted on other boards how difficult it is for an actor to do a scene that disturbs them and they don't let go of it easily. According to interviews - the victim in the real life scene this was based on was a man and the perpetuator was a woman (re- watch the rape sequence in Consequences with Faith and Xander which was written by Marti Noxon. That sequence is worse actually than what happened in SR, but! People don't have as much problems with it. You should have problems with both scenes.) Marsters believes that his portrayal of Spike led female and male fans to worship a dangerous character and feels uncomfortable about that...and according to the TV Zone article was glad they went with the SR sequence, because it tells the truth about these relationships. The problem - was that many fans (myself included) saw a dual abusive relationship here, not one-sided. Buffy behaved like a monster towards Spike. To the extent that many fans believed ME was sending out a negative double-standard. I don't agree - I saw it as very complex and interesting and risky. But to come out and say Spike was the only one who was abusive - bugged people, b/c it wasn't what we saw on the screen. (Dead Things, Smashed, Tabula Rasa, OMWF, OAFA, AYW, Gone, all lent credence to this feeling.) It's very very risky to do a dual abusive relationship - where the heroine is as nasty as the villain without losing the audience or confusing them. I think the AR sequence was an attempt on the writers part to somehow
show the consequences of entering into this type of relationship and also as an attempt to tip the scale enough on the side of Spike as to enable the audience to believe he needed a soul to be redeemed. (At this point, a good percentage of the audience didn't see him needing a soul, or why he'd seek one. They had to do something traumatic enough to motivate the character to seek out a soul in the viewers eyes - to make it work. And that reason is the only reason I've shrugged it off. AR scene works for the seeking of the soul and re-establishing the fact he could not be good without one. Whedon states it very well in his interview with the NYtimes, where he says - without a soul, Spike could not make the distinction between dominance games and rape, with a soul he could.

The wonder of the show is it's ambiguity, but that does provide the writer with challenges - like will the audience read the show and story the way you wish? Also ambiguity opens story lines up more, gives you more paths and doesn't lock you into one area so much. But at the same time - you have to be certain you don't take the stance in interviews that it's obvious on screen and the audience is stupid for not seeing it. Marti and Fury at times got a bit defensive
in interviews and did a little of that.

The way I dealt with it finally, was to scan the interviews, using the production and process information, how they made and wrote it, and kicking out the personal interpretations. Because, honestly, I don't think a writer can really tell you what they meant when they wrote something, so much is subconscious, on top of this a tv show is such a collaborative process that it's not any one person's interpretation but about 20. Spike is a collaborative effort - over 20 people create that character not one. And Btvs? Even more so. None of the actors or writers can individually tell you what its all about or where it's going, only Joss Whedon can come close to that since he's the one who blocks out the arcs and sets the tone, but even he is part of the collaborative machine.

That's why I try not to overreact to writers or actor interviews...what they think the story is saying is no more valid or relevant than what we think. If anything we probably know more than they do, since we've rewatched the episodes numerous times. JM has never watched Seeing Red.
He hasn't seen the episode. He can't get himself to watch it. He also has not watched the episodes as much as we have. We know his character better than he does by now and it's ironic.

Anyways sort of rambled off topic. Make of it what you will.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The visceral effect of "Seeing Red" was greater than "Consequences" -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:02:43 06/10/03 Tue

Not necessairly because it was a man against a woman rather than a woman against a man, but because of the way it was shot. Frankly, when an act of violence is shown without music in the background, it often seems more gritty and violent than those with music. Also, while Faith had violence in mind, she didn't carry through any violence beyond attempted strangling. In "Seeing Red", Buffy was hurt in the process of the attack. I guess it's sort of the difference between someone being beaten to death and someone being quietly smothered with a pillow. Both just as bad, but one has a much greater visual impact.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The visceral effect of "Seeing Red" was greater than "Consequences" -- s'kat, 22:11:35 06/10/03 Tue

Also, while Faith had violence in mind, she didn't carry through any violence beyond attempted strangling. In "Seeing Red", Buffy was hurt in the process of the attack. I guess it's sort of the difference between someone being beaten to death and someone being quietly smothered with a pillow. Both just as bad, but one has a much greater visual impact.

Uhm your argument doesn't work logically, Finn. It's actually the opposite.

Buffy wasn't hurt. When was she hurt? The bruise on her leg? Or the bad back prior? Actually Buffy felt so healthy afterwards that she went and beat the crap out of Warren. She was just emotionally devasted. And Spike did not intend to hurt Buffy, nor did he carry out any violence towards Buffy after she knocked him across the room. He showed remorse, was so upset he went and got a soul. Faith attempted to physically molest Xander, who kept saying no, then when he didn't give in, tried to strangel him. After Angel pulled her off him and had to lock her in chains, and Buffy thought she got through to Faith, Faith joined the Mayor and decided to torture Buffy two episodes later. Faith physically attempted to rape Xander then carried through violence of the strangling. Spike just attempted to force sex on Buffy which turned into rape - and did not try to kill her or hurt her beyond that - and Spike could have gone into vamp face and bitten her - but he didn't.
HE could have continued to go after her after she shoved him off. He didn't. Angel had to knock Faith out.
Xander was hurt. He could barely breath. He had bruises around his neck and would have died if Angel didn't save him. You honestly think he was uninjured?

It's the difference between having someone's hands chocking the life out of you while they are sitting on top of you and physically violating you and having someone try to tear your robe off and have sex with you. One tried to rape and kill. One just tried to force himself - not realizing it was rape, even though it was. Faith knew it was rape.
Spike didn't realize it.

One was streaked with light one in the dark. One had negative music in the background. One had no music.
One was against a superhero who could knock her attacker across the room. One was against a guy who couldn't punch his attacker at all.

Uhm...I guess it's all in your pov right? I honestly don't see how people can continue to dismiss the Faith scene in Consequences as anything less than a violent sexual assault which almost ended in murder.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Never said it wasn't violent and brutal -- Finn Mac Cool, 23:01:31 06/10/03 Tue

Yes, Buffy didn't seem to be hurt bad, but she was slammed to the ground. While it's not more violent than the attempted choking, it still looks that way. Chokings are more deadly than a simple slam, and probably hurt more, but they look less violent. Also, all that stuff about motivation and the inevitable end result: I was talking about the visual effect of it; that means how it hits you without taking what came before or after into consideration. Considering the characters, what they did before the event and what they did after, the judging is very different. However, if you take the scenes in isolation (also cutting off the end to each one, meaning we don't get to see Angel knock Faith unconscious or Buffy kick Spike off), the attempted rape in "Seeing Red" seems more violent. On a purely "in the moment" perspective, Faith's attempted murder/rape doesn't seem as bad as Spike's attempted rape. Faith moves slowly over a largely limp Xander who only manages to say "no . . .", whereas Spike moves crudely (as does the camera), and we hear Buffy half-screaming for him to stop. Faith's acts are creepy and demented; Spike's are vulgar and gritty. After thought has time to set in, Faith comes off far worse, but, from the purely visual perspective, Spike comes off worse.

P.S. Never said Faith wasn't commiting a violent, sexual assault, only that the effect of seeing it wasn't as severe as seeing Spike.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Never said it wasn't violent and brutal -- s'kat, 23:23:24 06/10/03 Tue

Okay would agree with that. Thank you for clarifying - it wasn't clear to me from your previous post. So I completely misread you. Sorry about that.

I think the reason they made one visually more striking (gritty? gruesome) than the other was to emphasize what came before or after. ME's writers will often stage events or write scenes to set up a sort of classic plot-twist or mislead. In order for the plot-twist of Faith going all bad and joining the MAyor to work at the end of Consequences - they had to make the audience believe she wasn't irredeemable that she wasn't going to go bad. We had to be surprised, yet at the same time be able to track back and see the logic. Same thing with Spike - in order to make his decision to leave town and get a soul be a surprise - his act had to be horrible - we had to logically see the progression but be surprised by it at the same time.

I think that's why they did those scenes the way they did.
And it worked.

[> No Tim Minear? -- Vickie, 17:58:00 06/08/03 Sun

What's he going to be doing? Does anyone know? IMDB just lists a film after Firefly.

[> [> No, he's leaving to do a new supernatural show for FOX, "Wonderfalls," as a mid-season replacement. -- Rob, 21:48:35 06/08/03 Sun

[> Angel NEEEEEEDS Jane Espenson! It's what Angel is Missing! -- Rochefort, 21:42:37 06/09/03 Mon

[> [> Angel HAD Jane Espenson, and lost her -- Masq, 14:10:11 06/10/03 Tue

She's on the writing credits for

Season One. episode #5 - "Rm w/a Vu" (co-written w/ D.Greenwalt)

Season Two, episode #6 - "Guise Will Be Guise"

Some more canidates for The Apocalypse - - JBone, 20:40:47 06/08/03 Sun

Trevor: Must be something wrong with him. He married?
Kate: No.
Trevor: West Hollywood?


Check out the comments for the Day 1 fisticuffs.

[> There may be a slight problem... -- dub ;o), 21:20:01 06/08/03 Sun

First I voted for Katrina, and saw my vote recorded. Then I voted for Gavin Park, and saw my voted recorded...for Katrina!

Dunno what happened there...but I think I got in two votes for Katrina and none for Gavin.


[> [> Yeah, another of those votes for "Katrina" was meant for Gavin -- d'Herblay, 21:34:59 06/08/03 Sun

Can we figure out which of the right-hand candidates registers as Holland Manners? Because it would be in keeping with Wolfram & Hart techniques to throw all our muscle behind that candidate.

[> [> [> Give me a little time, I'll restart it. -- Jay, 21:54:06 06/08/03 Sun

[> Okay, try it again. -- Jay, 22:12:30 06/08/03 Sun

And let me know if it is still giving you trouble. In my attempt to get both polls on the same line, I fear I damaged them, so I deleted them and started new ones. Fingers crossed. Should I vote, just to test it?

Question on Numbers in Bargaining -- RadiusRS, 21:23:10 06/08/03 Sun

I was rewatching The Early Episodes of Season 6 recently and noticed a curious costume trend in Bargaining Part 1:
Willow, Xander, and Dawn all wear T-Shirts with numbers on them, Willow an 11, Xander a 13, and Dawn a 7. In a later episode, Dawn also wears shirt with the number 2 and one with 55. I don't know that the latter episode has much to do with my questions, but it seemed in Bargaining like it was on purpose and meant to contrast with Anya & Tara and Spike & Buffy. Other than being Prime numbers, are there any mystical, spiritual, or symbolic properties of these numbers that might fit in with the themes and arc of the show?

[> Re: Question on Numbers in Bargaining -- Dochawk, 22:54:03 06/08/03 Sun

The costumer for Buffy, who moved on to a different show (Birds of Prey? if so, good choice ;) )said in an interview last year that the numbers on the shirts meant absolutely nothing. I am sure Ruf could find the interview.

[> Re: Question on Numbers in Bargaining -- tomfool, 01:47:42 06/09/03 Mon

I seem to recall that Shadowkat had a fairly lengthy post when that episode came out analyzing the potential significance of the shirt numbers. You may want to check the archives for October of 2001. I could be wrong.

[> [> Addendum - found it -- tomfool, 15:42:34 06/09/03 Mon

Here's the link:

Page down just a little.

Numbers on Tshirts in Bargaining, NA, SR - what they mean (Spoilers to Villains, long) -- shadowkat, 06:34:58 05/16/02 Thu

What Numbers on T-shirts in B ­Part I& II, NA & SR symbolize (Spoilers to Villains!)

New Round Robin (Or at least, the old on re- visited!) -- Marie, 06:39:40 06/09/03 Mon

I'm re-posting the first part of the old one below, but before that, a short re-cap of rules:

1. Titles may not be split (for instance, I was made to do it! If I didn't love you, I wouldn't've told you!" would be wrong!)

2. Titles must appear in their correct chronological order.

3. Try and remember what other people have written, so it makes sense.

Er, that's it, really, except for

4. Have fun!

Oh - a tip! As I think I've mentioned before, it's really maddening to type a long screed and then find someone else has beaten you to it, so claim the next bit before you write it!

Enough with the waffle, already - here it is:

Anne/Dead Man's Party/Faith, Hope and Trick - LadyStarlight

Spike turned from the bar, beer in hand. He took a step forward and watched with resignation as a tall redhead backed into his drink.

She turned with a gasp. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." She grabbed a handful of napkins and dabbed at his beer-soaked shirt. He gently pushed her hand aside.

"Don't worry about it, love. Happens all the time."

She gestured to the bartender. "Let me replace that for you."

She placed the bottle in his hand and smiled. "Hi, I'm Anne."

"Spike. Nice to meet you."

They drifted over to a deserted table and listened to the music for a minute.

"What do you think of the band?"

Spike looked up at the stage. "Dead Man's Party? They're all right, I guess. Rather see Green Day or the Dingoes, though."

He drew closer to her and noticed the charms on her necklace. He slid his hand between the thin chain and her skin.

"Interesting. An anchor, a heart and a cross." Gently flicking each charm, he said "Faith, Hope and "


"Ch--Trick? What?"

"You're not human! Damnit! I needed a human to work the spell." She pushed rudely past him, once again spilling the beer all over him.

"Bloody women! Oi, waitress! Jack on the rocks."


Beauty and the Beasts/Homecoming/Band Candy - d'Herblay

It was a quiet day in the Magic Box, so Anya and Xander just sat, staring into each other's eyes.

"I love you," she said.

"I love you more," said he. "And I can imagine no possible impediments to our marrying and spending the rest of our happy little lives together."

The door swung open. A cold breeze swept into the shop as an ominous shadow crossed the floor.

"I'm home!" said Cordelia.

"Cordelia?" said Xander. "What are you doing here?"

"Daddy made a fortune shorting tech stocks on E-Trade in prison. He's rich again, and I'm here to enjoy it."

"Shouldn't you be in L.A.? I thought you had a new life there. You know, there, as in far away from here."

"Well, you know L.A. It was just beauty and the beasts. I was beauty, by the way."

Anya frowned. "I hate to interrupt this homecoming, but I have to tell you to keep your spotlessly clean yet metaphorically dirty hands off of my Xander."

"Please. I'm a leading lady now. I spurn the advances of title characters. A nothing like Xander would never catch my eye."

"Good. I am relieved to discover that you consider my fiance a 'nothing.'"

"An, let's not encourage her," said Xander. "Well, welcome back to Sunnydale, Cordy. Just when I thought the town couldn't get any more evil, here you are."

Anya said, "I feel there's something I should be saying here, but it's like I can't remember the words."

"So," said Cordelia, "now that I've grown as a character and can handle myself in a fight, is there any evil a-brewin'? Some wrongs to right? Giant snakes to kill? Perhaps some patriarchy to overthrow?"

Anya pointed to a copy of The International Sunnydale Herald Tribune. "According to what I've been reading, the Mullahs banned Khandahar women from seeking education or medical help. We could join in the mopping-up."

Emerging from her basement training room, Buffy mopped her perplexed forehead. "What was that? Something about--"

"Don't even try that, Buffy," said Xander. "We're taking this very seriously. There will be no quick short-cuts."

"Well," said Cordelia, "We'd better find something to do. Because other than my newly regained wealth, there's not a lot in this town that interests me. It's like Peoria crossed with a gulag. I swear, if you could bottle drab and can dystopia, this town might finally have some industry."

"Gee. Cryptic much? Who turned you into a word-search?" asked Buffy.

"I think his name was Durbley . . . I didn't quite catch it."

Anya's face took on a sudden glow. "You could help plan our wedding. Xander wants to go with a DJ, but I want a band. Can Deee-Lite make it, you think? Because I really think an early- nineties one-hit wonder makes a fine addition to any wedding reception."

Buffy frowned. "Not quite fully human yet, are you?"

"But she's getting there, and I'm enjoying the process," said Xander. He kissed Anya lightly on the cheek, then again, as she pulled him tightly toward her. Their lips met and she pushed him back on the table, knocking over a discounted Globe of Tiresias. When Anya began flicking her tongue into
Xander's ear, Cordelia had to turn away.

"I always know that I can count on Sunnydale for truly disturbing imagery," she said.

"I know," said Buffy. "They do this all the time. It really makes me miss heaven; there are no public displays of affection in heaven. Well, a lot of hugging, and the occasional pat on the back. But this is out of a demon dimension. The only thing worse I've seen was Giles making out with my mother."

"Giles made out with your mother? When? Why?"

"It was when they were under the influence of the magical band candy . . . hey! I suddenly feel a strange sense of closure!"

Cordelia looked sternly at Buffy. "I think it's cheating if you actually refer to the episode."

"Well, who asked you? You're a terribly contrived cross-over character anyway. My work here is done. I'm out of here."


Revelations/Lovers' Walk/The Wish - Wisewoman

Cordelia's nostrils flared, and her eyes narrowed dangerously as she watched Buffy stroll from the shop, passing Giles on her way out.

"Good Lord! Cor..Cordelia! Well...um, how have you been?"

"How have I been??!! Don't give me that. You and Buffy's mom? Oh my God, that's so gross!"

"I..um...sorry?" Giles began frantically cleaning his glasses in confusion and embarrassment.

"Well, what other revelations have I missed while I was in LA?"

"Buffy died again," Xander offered.

"We're getting married," Anya chimed in.

"Dawn killed her, uh, her first vampire at Hallowe'en, on Lovers' Walk, in the park..." Giles said.

"Okay, whoa!" Cordelia shouted. "Back up there, guys. Buffy died AGAIN? Then who was that that just waltzed out of here?"

"Oh, we brought her back," said Anya, matter-of-factly. "Willow did a spell. I got the Urn of Osiris on e-Bay..."

"Willow did a spell? Geez, when I left she couldn't even de-rat Amy..."

"Yes, well, as I've tried to tell them," said Giles, "the act of bringing Buffy back is bound to have some truly horrendous repercussions..."

"Giles, don't go there, okay?" said Xander. "I know, I know, we shoulda told you about it, but the wish to have Buffy back was just too strong...and Willow said she could do it..."

"Yes, well...," Giles began.

"Wait a minute!" Cordelia glared at each of them in turn. "Who the hell is Dawn?"


Amends/Gingerbread/Helpless - Isabel

The Scooby Gang froze. She didn't know...

"Wh-what do you mean, 'Who the Hell is Dawn?'" Giles stammered.

Cordelia looked at them in disgust. "I've been in LA for two and a half years! Like any of you called to keep me up to date with your friends or
something." She sniffed, "Like I care." Her face showing only cool disdain.

A customer moved towards the cash register with an item to purchase and Anya hurried over to take his money before he could change his mind.

Xander looked at Giles. "Um, Cordy. Are you sure you don't remember..."

"Oh wait a minute!" Cordy interrupted "Dawn's Willow's lesbo- girlfriend!"

"No!" Xander burst out horrified.

"I'd always wondered if Angel or Cordelia would know Dawn." Giles commented to himself as he cleaned his glasses again.

Anya came back over after making the sale. "No, Willow's girlfriend's name is Tara. She's very nice." Anya patted Xander's arm. "He's just upset because Dawn's Buffy's little sister and he can't handle the idea of her having sex. Dawn that is, not Buffy." Anya gave a stern glance at Xander who was still sputtering a little. "He still thinks too much about Buffy's sex life."

Cordy rolled her eyes. "I remember, he used to do that when he dated me! It was such a turn off."

"I caught him checking out her butt two days ago during training and we haven't had sex since."

Xander, his face scarlet, tried to stop her. "Ahn, I didn't do anything wrong! Really!"

"You apologized!"

"If I didn't apologize, you'd never stop being mad at me. What can I do to make amends?"

"Stop checking out Buffy! I don't like it." Anya pouted. "But, we could do that thing we did last month..."

Giles and Cordelia moved towards the research table to get away from the couple who had started kissing in the middle of the sales floor.

"So Giles," Cordelia began, "Last time I checked Buffy was an only child."

"It's complicated, Cordelia. It seems that last year, in the time of mystical convergence, to prevent the hellbeast Glorificus from subsuming the essence of the Key, the Monks of..."

"Short version, Giles. I'm getting wrinkles just listening to you. Thank God I'm breaking Wesley of that habit."

Giles glared at her. It occurred to him he hadn't missed her that much. "OK. Last year some monks cast a spell turning the Key into Dawn, Buffy's 14-year-old sister. We all got fake memories. The end." That'll show her.

"What did they make her out of, gingerbread?"

"No, mystical energy from the dawn of time."


"She's a very sweet girl. She reminds me of Buffy when I first met her. Full of innocence with just a touch of rule breaking." He grinned at Cordelia. "I love the helpless looks on Buffy's face when Dawn breaks some of the same rules Buffy did." Of course, he didn't love it when Buffy expected him to reprimand Dawn.

"That's nice." Cordy cut into his reverie. "Is April Fool's still in business? I want to go in there and torment the manager a little before I leave town." Yes, she'd grown as a person, but there are things that a girl's gotta do.


The Zeppo/Bad Girls/Consequences - mundusmundi

Spike could smell them coming a block away, even while taking a last drag on a cigarette and trying to ignore the fact he hadn't bathed since the time Angelus pushed him overboard into the Sea of Japan.

"Well, well, pet," he said, flicking the cigarette to a nearby tombstone. The cemetery glowed in the pale moonlight. "Come back for some more vamp action, have we?"

Buffy stuck a finger down her throat, flashed Spike that look of pure disgust he knew all too well and said "Don't be gross." Oh, yeah, he thought, she's turned on.

"And you've brought another little chickadee." Spike squinted in the dark at the tall figure behind the Slayer. "Well, plenty of the Big Bad to share. And who might you be?"

"You idiot," Cordelia said. "Me."

Suddenly Spike felt the compulsion for another cig. "Oh. Right. Sorry. Good to see you again. Nice heels," he dissembled.

Cordelia stood beside Buffy and said, "I don't believe this. 'Miss It Girl' leaves town for a couple years and suddenly she's yesterday's Glamour. Thank the Powers Angel still appreciates me."

"Maybe we should take a picture of the two of us together, for your old Boy Toy," Spike suggested. "Technically, I shouldn't show up on film, but somehow rules do get skirted around here for the sake of convenience."

Cordy's hands were on her hips. "And now you're tombing up with his old lackey! What's next, Oz boinking a she-wolf?"

"It-it-it's just a phase," Buffy said. "I mean me, not Oz. Spike, will you put away the Zeppo and listen?"

He snapped the lighter shut. "It's a Zippo, luv. And who really wants to talk? Less quibble, more nibble."

"Ewwww," Cordy said, and clutched her stomach. "And I used to think I was-- "

"You're both bad girls." Spike tried to put an arm around Buffy, only to get brushed back. "You both taste the darkness. You love it. You breathe it. You live it every day. And you'll stop at nothing until you--"

"Wow, Mr. Perceptive!" Cordy cut in. "Well, listen up, Fergie and Andrew. The only reason I came back was to tell you I had a vision."

"A vision," Buffy said.

"Of the two of you. Doing that...voodoo that you do. Why do you think I'm carrying this around?" Cordy opened a small traveler's bottle of Pepto Bismol and downed a shot. "Don't you realize what you're doing? There are consequences to everything."

"Are you saying we're going to die?" Buffy asked. "Or maybe I get to stake him, 'cause that'd work."

Cordelia started to answer, but instead reached for her head. "Oh, shi-" she said, and fell to the ground.


Doppelgangland/Enemies/Earshot - d'Herblay

"Spike!" Buffy yelled. "Go get help! Go get Giles!"

cardinalcrimsonprimrosebloodshot eyes opening on a rain of frogs. The salamander cannot hear the salamanderer. Sha'i-Pir. Humanbodies oozing dripping like ice creamcones bisected: parable, ellipsis, hyperbole. Martial tunes are played with jovial glee; venereal disease rots the soldierboys. Sha'i-Pir. Immanuel and ornithorhynchus echo through the warfields as mercurial passions awaken saturnine morning. Sha'i-Pir. Lunaticlunatic but nothing for the sun? Nothing for the son?

Bloodshot eyes opened unto the sun. But while there was a man in the moon, what face had the sun? Cordelia blinked, tried to focus. It was Buffy, staring down at her, illuminated in the harsh incandescence of the headlights of Xander's car. Cordelia noted that Buffy had still not accepted her shiny complexion when a spasm of pain drove the thought from her head.

"Are you all right?" asked Buffy. "What's your name?"

Xander loomed overhead. "What year is it?"

"Come on, pet, don't swallow your tongue . . . um . . . how many fingers am I holding up?"

Anya, languid in the back seat of the car, perked up. "Ooh! I've got a question! In World War Two, what was a G.I.'s shaving bag called?"

"Anya, I really don't think that's the sort of question you ask when you're assessing someone after a seizure," Giles pointed out. "You might as well ask who acquired the friezes of the Parthenon for the British Museum."

"Or what type of structure the pituitary and the adrenal are examples of," added Tara. Noticing the looks the others gave her, she stammered, "I was pre-med before I got into Wicca."

Grabbing Buffy's shoulder, Cordelia pulled herself upwards. "Who died and made you guys Regis? Cordelia. 2001. None; that's a cigarette. Dopp. Elgan. Gland. Codeine."

"That's Elgin. Bloody colonials with your creative pronunciations. But, I suppose we'll accept it under the circumstances."

Spike rested a hand lightly on Cordelia's shoulder. "I've got some codeine in my crypt, love. Sometimes I get headaches too."

Buffy whacked him on the back. "You what?"

"Well, the town is running out of demons, and I need to stay trim. I don't kill anyone, just break a few bones now and again."

"Boy," said Xander. "You can lead a vampire to chipsville, but you can't make him not drink."

Buffy shot an evil look at Spike. "We'll discuss this later. Cordelia, can you move?"

"Not so well. It hurts when I stand up. Or when I sit down. And when I breathe or think."

"Well," said Xander, "you should be okay then."

"Right, Mr. Three-years-out-of-high-school-and-I'm-still- hanging-with-my-loser-friends. I see some new faces."

Tara extended a hand. "Willow's watching Dawn. I'm Tara. I'm Willow's girlfriend." She pulled the hand back. "I understand you might have some issues with that. Well, I'm here, I'm queer, and I hope that's all right."

"Whatever. You can rub my neck. That always helps after a vision."

As Tara positioned herself behind Cordelia, Giles leaned down. "That was a vision? Fascinating. It appeared to take the form of a grand mal seizure. Or a class-six demonic possession."

"Well, the Powers-That-Be don't tread lightly. You have soft hands."

"Thank you," Tara said. "I use a poultice of newt's liver and ginseng."

"Xander? Come rub my neck for a while. Anyway, the vision I got was a doozy. It said that the Sha'i-Pir wars are imminent."

Buffy's forehead formed a furrow of perplexion. "The shipper wars? What are those."

"The Sha'i-Pir wars," explained Giles, "are written of in the Codex of Adhem Ibn Nizamuddin. They are the final event any seer has foreseen. A war of biblical proportions, they turn healthy communities overnight into blood-soaked ground."

"Right," said Cordelia. "One day, everyone's, 'Oh! Good to see you. Hope you're doing well.' And the next, there are crosses and stakes and entrails everywhere."

"But the Sha'i-Pir wars require the conjunction of two great enemies to be unleashed. And I know of no such conjunction."

With a quick jerk of his head, Spike beckoned Buffy aside. "You know, if these wars the girl talks about are imminent, perhaps we should go easy on things. Before we start having to make some hard choices."

Buffy shook her head. "It's too early for that. Plus, Cordelia talking. This is the woman who once swore that she knew Gwyneth Paltrow before the nose job."

Back by Xander's car, Willow and Dawn approached.

"Hey, guys, sorry we're late. I was showing Dawn how to turn a bus-full of innocent people into salamanders for one's own enjoyment and we had some trouble turning them back. Surprisingly, I have almost as much salamander-fear as I do frog-fear."

"Frog-fear is a ridiculous phobia," said Anya.

Dawn smiled broadly. "It was neat. I learned how to shape the universe to my will without a twinge of compunction."

Giles flapped his hand at them. "Quiet. We're trying to decipher mystical prophecies here. Now this conjoining, what could it be?"

"Well," said Cordelia, "Wesley suggested that certain forces of the universe could not handle the idea of Buffy dancing the fang-dango with a second vampire. So when Spike and Buffy had sex, all hell broke loose."

Dawn's eyes began to water. "What? Buffy had sex with Spike? After all that's happened? How could she make such a stupid choice?" Tears now streaming down her cheeks, she ran to Buffy and pounded her with both fists. "You're supposed to be keeping me safe and you're ignoring me so you can do that?" She took off running.

Cordelia leaned over towards Giles. "Maybe we shouldn't have talked about this within earshot of the fake girl."

"Dawn!" Buffy called. "Come back! I'll explain everything! At least stay off of Elmwood Drive. There's a nest of Garivo demons I haven't cleaned out yet."

She returned to the group. "Well, there's an apocalypse on the horizon and Dawn needs rescuing. We all know the drill. Let's saddle up."

Xander stood solidly still. "Actually, Dawn raises an interesting point. Namely, the point of what the hell?"


Choices/The Prom/Graduation Day, Part One - Wisewoman
Buffy stared back at him, hands on hips. "Excuse me?"

"You slept with Spike?" Xander looked stunned.

"And your point is?"

"On the top of my head, obviously. How come I didn't know this?"

"That's not really the point, is it? And the point of all this getting-to-the-pointyness is, I've got to go and save Dawn."

Anya managed to worm her way between the two antagonists, facing Xander. "Sweetie, what are you trying to say? Do you think we should just let the little girl die? 'Cause I'll support you if that's what you want. You're the man I'm going to marry!" She beamed up at him happily, before pulling his head
down for a very enthusiastic kiss.

"Okay, eeeewwww!" Cordelia was still shakily holding a hand to her head. The rolling of her eyes seemed to be causing her more pain. "Just what has been going on here? I can't believe how messed up you guys are. I can fix this. Buffy, you're supposed to be with Angel..."

Spike jumped from his perch on the counter and strode toward Cordelia. "Look, just sod off, okay? This isn't helping..."

Cordelia rounded on him. "And you, you are SO obviously meant to spend eternity with Drusilla." She glanced around the room. "Xander and Willow are destined to end up together..."

"What?" Tara yelped. "I...sorry, I just never th- thought..."

"Okay, so that leaves you at a loose end, Ms. Lesbo Fantastico, but I don't see any reason why you wouldn't hit it off with the ex-Vengeance-Demon here. I mean, c'mon Anya, you must have a thousand years' worth of reasons to swear off men forever, am I right?"

Anya looked thoughtful. "Now that you mention it..."

"Great. Okay, that leaves Giles and...me. Ooops! Can't have that. Giles, why don't you just go back to England and look up that friend of yours, what was her name, Olivia? And I'm gonna head back to LA and take up with Wesley where we left off years ago. I might even do some matchmaking for Gunn and Fred."

"Hang on...I don't even know where Dru's got to." Spike's tone was verging on a whine. "She could be dead and dusted, for all I know."

"Hey, SO not my problem. Go look up Harmony then...oh, I forgot, she left you too, didn't she, Mr. I'm-so-Big-and-Bad?" Spike's snarl preceded the assumption of game face. Cordy took a quick step back.

"Okay, okay, chill! Oh, I know...what about Junior!Buffy? You're both about the same age mentally..."

Suddenly there was dead silence in the shop. No one spoke. No one moved. All eyes were trained on Cordelia, who finally let out a nervous little laugh.

"What? Hey, it was just a suggestion..."

Buffy slowly moved toward Cordelia, her hands clenched at her sides. From nowhere, Giles leapt between them, holding open a large and moldy book.

"I've found it...I...I think." He kept Buffy away from Cordelia with one hand, while squinting at the ancient and all-but- indecipherable tome.

"The Sha'i-Pir wars, yes, it's here in the Codex, but it's difficult to...the conjunction appears to be of two, well, two people, one 'not dead' and one 'not alive.' Huh. Odd way of putting it...in, in any event, the joining of these two will divide the entire world. Some will revel in the...the...depravity of their
union, while others, um, become nauseated at the very thought. Well. There. You see? That's obviously the answer. Spike is the 'not dead' individual and Buffy is the...Aaaiiiiyyyeeee!"

"See, Giles?" Buffy smiled sarcastically. "Definitely alive. Total aliveness here. Not even a little bit 'not alive.'"

Giles rolled on the floor in agony, curled in a foetal position. "Uh...yes...," he managed to gasp. "Sorry...wrong interpretation..."

Anya had slipped her arm through Tara's and rested her head on the taller woman's shoulder. "Well, what are the other choices? I think it means Dawn. She's not really alive, is she?"

"Right," Willow piped up from her perch on Xander's lap. "That's right, so, so it probably means, if we keep Dawn and Spike apart..."

"Presto. No Sha'i-Pir wars," Xander finished triumphantly. He gazed lovingly at Willow and whispered in her ear, "I can't believe you wouldn't let me take you to the prom."

Cordelia had a look of smug satisfaction. "Looks to me like all of you are finally starting to grow up. Buffy? You wanna head back to LA with me? I'm sure Angel's just dy...uh, he'll be really happy to see you."

Buffy pouted. "I'm not sure. I don't really get this part. I mean, I got the whole, "Into every generation," slayer part, and the "class protector at the prom" part and the "Mayor turns into a giant snake on Graduation Day" part...one thing I always wanted to know, though. How come people keep trying to
push me back into the "hopelessly-in-love-with- the-bad-hair- vamp part?"

No one replied.


Graduation Day, Part Two/The Freshman/Living Conditions - mundusmundi

No one replied...until of course Anya replied, since Anya always replied after a time when nobody else bothered to do the replying.

"So long as you mentioned the 'Mayor turns into a snake on Graduation Day' part...two things I've always meant to ask you about that," Anya said to Buffy, as they walked home with the others. "First, why did you leave Faith's knife on the balcony for anyone to find it, and second-- "

Giles interjected, "We can discuss hoary contrivances from past epis--er, past events of our lives later. Right now, it's imperative that we find Dawn, contact Buffy's gadabout father, and send her far away from Sunnydale before the prophecy of the Sha'i-Pir wars is fulfilled. Agreed?"

"Agreed," all chimed in.

"Nobody lays a hand on the little bit," Spike growled.

The gang's progress came to an abrupt halt.

"What are you doing?" Buffy demanded.

It took a beat for Spike to realize. "Right. Sorry. Force of habit."

"You can't be anywhere near Dawn. Ever. Again. Shoo. Go home."

They watched him retreat. "All too relevant question. Why don't we send Spike away instead?" Xander wondered.

Willow tapped Buffy on the shoulder. "You 'kay?" she whispered. "Still worried about that thing you've become since I selfishly resurrected you from the dead?"

Buffy shook her head. "It's not that. I'm just trying to figure out why this always happens to me. I-I-I mean, what kind of people would care about who I'm having sex with?"


Across the street, the van stalked the Scooby Gang, keeping a safe distance with its headlights off.

"Dude, slow down," Warren ordered. "We can't let her see us."

At the wheel, Andrew chuckled. The new night vision goggles over his eyes, souped-up to broadcast free cable porn, worked like a charm. "She won't be seeing us at all before long, not after we get the--"

"Don't spoil it," Jonathan whined, and smacked Andrew's shoulder. He came from the back of the van and motioned him to turn right. "You're always doing that. Like when we saw Harry Potter, and I thought Quirrell was the good guy, and Snape the bad one."

"It's your own fault you haven't started the books," Warren said. "Been too busy playing with your magic bone?"

They giggled. Andrew added, "Alan Rickman rocks my world."

The van turned on Elmwood Drive, where a nest of Garivo demons lay at the very end. "Do you see her?" Warren asked.

Andrew adjusted the goggles, and the movie Cum-ing Home gave way to a night vision scanner. Through the ultraviolet rays he detected Buffy's sister, Dawn.

"The freshman has left the kegger," he intoned. On Warren and Jonathan's quizzical looks he added, "It's code. Hello?"

"Are you saying she's by herself?" Warren asked.

Andrew nodded. "The pigeon has left the roost."

Warren took the goggles and watched as Dawn kicked a mailbox with her foot. The SuperMic caught a faint echo of "Ow...."

Removing the goggles, Warren said, "The pigeon is headed directly to the nest. Just as planned. I know you're both aware that although I asked you to trust me, Phase 2 was a big bust, what with that thing the Slayer has become and all. But trust me when I promise you that Phase 3 cannot fail!"

"Should we...you know...wait and watch? Make sure they don't hurt her," Jonathan murmured.

"What for? We've got primo living conditions waiting for us back home." Warren and Andrew switched seats and the former backed up the van. "The freeze gun, the gorilla thing. And this morning, in the make-out room, Mom added a strobe light." He smiled.

"Oooh, bitchin'," Andrew and Jonathan said.

"To the bronze," Warren said, "for chips and chicks." And they left Dawn to her fate.


[> Round Robin - Part II -- Marie, 06:45:00 06/09/03 Mon

The Harsh Light of Day/Fear, Itself/Beer Bad - MrDave

The three would-be-supervillains parked their deathvan outside the Bronze and sauntered in. The high-school crowd eyed the obviously older trio a little oddly as they chose a dark and (relatively) quiet corner to plan (and watch the young girls dancing).

Andrew started with "So how are we going to eliminate Buffy again anyway?"

Warren snickered..."I vote we wait until her boyfriend gives her a 'love bite' and then we drag her into the harsh light of day"

Jonathan seemed a little dismayed at the suggestion.." No, it'll be easier to divert her attention elsewhere."

Jonathan pulled out his Palm and showed the others the presentation he had prepared to outline his plan.

"It's simple boys. We want to control Sunnydale, so we have to create a state of chaos. So first we start with suffering. When the people suffer, they begin to hate. The hate is transferred to the government, and the government begins to fear. It's the opposite of the Jedi..."

Warren cut him off "We got it...where do we start?"

Jonathan continued, "Well then, its simple. Fear, itself is our weapon. By..."

Andrew and Warren in unison, "Get on with it!"

Jonathan: "Okay enough with the Mojo Jojo imitation. We create suffering through emotional turmoil. The diamond we liberated is large enough to create a subsonic frequency that excites certain neural clusters in the cerebral cortex to cause a low- level headache. This in turn makes everyone cranky..."

"That's it?" blurted out Warren, "That's the stupidest plan I ever heard!"

Andrew was quick to add "I have to agree, it does seem a little half-baked."

Jonathan backed up defensively. "Oh really? And you have a better plan?"

Warren snapped back, "What about the plan that we, " he gestured around the table at the troika, "planned together weeks ago. The one we stole the diamond for in the first place? Phase One? Remember?"

Jonathan looked whipped, "But that plan involves killing Buffy. This one just gets her out of the way"

Andrew looked back at Warren, like an observer at a tennis match. Warren looked smug, "And why not kill her?"

Jonathan backed down. This was not the time or the place. In fact there was one thing this was the time and place for. "I need a beer. Bad."


Wild at Heart/The Initiative/Pangs - MrDave

Dawn stomped down the street until she was sure Buffy couldn't see her any more...then she doubled back towards the house. The Scoobies wouldn't look there for hours.

Pulling out the earplugs from her pocket she clicked play on her MP3 player and half skipped to the tune Wild at Heart by Arora K. She dug this song, especially the lyrics:




Great stuff. As she hopped up the front porch steps to the chorus she reached for her keys, only to find her pocket was empty. "Well this bites," she thought.

"Can't get in?" said a voice behind her.

Turning around, she saw a boy from her class. She thought his name might be Tommy.

"Um...I have a key here somewhere," said Dawn, "I just can't find it"

"Its okay, I can't get in either. Want to hang out?" he asked.

Since Dawn remembered him from class, she decided it couldn't be all bad. "Sure"

Sitting on the front porch together, Tommy talked about how he couldn't get into his house and went walking down the street looking for someone with a phone. "We have a phone inside," offered Dawn.

"Can I go inside and use it?"

Suddenly Dawn felt like the question was weird. A leading question. She remembered when her initiative had allowed Harmony into the house to attack Xander. "Well, I can't let you in...no key."

"Well then, lets walk back into town. I can use a pay phone, and I am getting hunger pangs." He stood up and started to walk, "Coming?"

Dawn stood, walked right behind him and jabbed her pencil into his back.

"What the hell!" yelled Tommy, as he whipped around to grab the bloody pencil. "What was that all about?"

Dawn was too embarrassed to say anything. He wasn't a vampire, he was just a boy. She just cried and ran around the back of the house. "Oh no, oh my...If Buffy finds out she'll be furious. And I am such a dork!"


Something Blue/Hush/Doomed/A New Man - d'Herblay

Dawn half-skipped as they walked downtown. "So, Buffy's been ignoring me to sleep with Spike, who I don't think she really loves, she's just using him. And Spike must be caught up in her spell 'cause he's been ignoring me too, which is almost worse. And now they're listening to Cordelia, who's never done nothing in her life but ignore me. She says the Monks didn't give her any memories, but the entire time she lived in Sunnydale she was like 'What should I wear? Something red or something green? Buffy has a sister? That's nice. Maybe something blue. I know! Something short and tight and slutty!'"

Tommy touched his wounded shoulder.

"Oh my God, I'm sorry. Do you want to go to a hospital?"

"No, it's just a flesh wound. It's not like you drove that thing into my heart or anything."

"I didn't? And I thought I was getting stronger. Anyway, and what is she saying she didn't know Buffy died? Wasn't she paying any attention when Willow took the bus to L.A. and told her? I heard that she had just gone through a big break-up, but still. I'm beginning to think that it's not really Cordelia at all, just an incredible simulacrum. 'Simulacrum,' I like that word. Tara got me one of those calendars."

Tommy stopped suddenly and turned towards her. "Hush a minute. I'd like to kiss you."

"Well, ok, but there's something I have to know first." She reached towards his neck.

"I shaved this week. Go on, feel how smooth my face is."

Her first two fingers found the groove on the side of his larynx. She closed her eyes so she could concentrate on the sensation. Thump-thump. She smiled, and her fingers stayed on his neck as it dipped towards her chin. She felt warmer, safer as he embraced her. Thumpity-thumpity as his lips met
hers and hers met his and she wasn't sure what to do with her tongue but then she knew and tum-tum-tum-tum and it was the best feeling she ever knew.

And it was over. Dawn wiped her mouth with the back of her hand to hide her smile. "Arbor Day. 'Simulacrum' was Arbor Day."

Tommy loosened his embrace. "So," he said, "want to go to the Bronze?"

"The Bronze? Nothing ever happens there."


Back in the corner, Warren was saying, "And now you've got a real bad beer. Was it worth the wait?"

Jonathan looked into his mug. "I can't believe they wouldn't take my I.D. and I have to drink this O'Douls crap."

"Well, did you really expect them to believe that you look like a Rodrigo Obregon?"

"We should add that to the master plan," said Andrew. "Step fourteen: better fake I.D.s."

Jonathan pulled his head up and nodded towards the front. "Looks like there's trouble."

Teenagers ran screaming from the front door as several large creatures entered the club. They were six feet tall and nearly as broad in the shoulders, and their faces were nothing but clicking mandibles and waving antennae and large, grayishly iridescent eyes, multifaceted like smoky jewels. They dragged flat abdomens behind them as the steel-toed boots on their hind- most legs crossed the floor. Two sets of arms emerged from the chain-mail-coated thoraces. They carried spears and axes with blades shaped like French curves. Their exoskeletons were ruddy and their eyes spoke of blood and anger.

From the back doors emerged a cadre of blue-robed things. Thin and ethereal, they seemed well over seven feet tall. The robes had no arms and touched the floor as they just glided along smoothly, no rustling to betray the movement or even existence of legs. Their faces were blank, lost in mist except for seven small reddish glints of light deep in the blackness. Occasionally a thin something would flick out of one of their cowls, as if tasting the air.

Jonathan tightened his fist around the handle of the mug. "Guys, it looks like a lot of these people are doomed. Think we should do something?"

Warren shrugged. "We're super-villains. We can talk to these people, er . . . these insects and, I don't know, strange faceless hovercrafts. Andrew, you got any idea what these things are?"

"No. I don't think they're human."

Warren slapped the back of Andrew's head. "Yeah, they're not human. Thanks a lot, Little Stevie Hawking. As if Sunnydale was frequented by men wearing rubber suits."

Jonathan shrank back against the wall. "Whatever they are, they don't look friendly. I'd like to reiterate the 'doomed' idea."

Across the room, a group of the armored ant-lions had surrounded a table. One of the teenagers in the middle started to change. He sprouted another set of arms and his bones extruded themselves and melted to coat the outside of his muscles. He had metamorphosed into one of the insectoid demons.

"Dude," said Warren. "I think they're recruiting."

Next to the pool table one of the blue-robed things spoke to a Hemery High linebacker. "Pir who do you believe pir is the Slayer's destiny?"

The football player looked at him blankly, all the time testing the weight of the cue in his hand. "Slayer? What's a slayer?"

"A pir newbie! Newbies must pir die!" And a long tentacle wrapped itself around the jock's neck. Before the football player could even try to use the cue as a weapon, he was pulled, struggling, into the hood of the specter's robe.

"On the other hand," said Warren, "I could go with 'doomed.'"

One of the insects approached their table. The metallic clanging of its mandibles resolved itself into a mechanically inflected English. "Who sha'i is the Slayer's one true love?"

A blue robe silently glided to join them. "With whom is it her pir destiny to be forever entwined?"

Warren cocked his head. "Buffy? Well obviously, with me."

Jonathan said, "Or me."


Warren and Jonathan both turned to Andrew. "Dude," said Warren, "did someone cast a spell and make you a chick? Spike? That soulless retro retread?"

"Well, he's got that coat, and cool hair and that accent."

Warren shook his head. "No, the only person for Buffy is me. Or maybe that Faith chick she used to hang around with."

As the insect regarded him with interest, Andrew continued, "Plus, we're both thin blond guys, so I can identify with him. And sure he doesn't have a soul, but he has a chip and his love for Buffy puts him on the road to redemption. Sha'i."

Warren reached across the table. "Dude! Do not do a Goldblum on me!"

But it was too late; the metamorphosis had begun. Andrew started to grow taller and broader. "And he is redeemable sha'i. Somewhere within him is William the poet. He's the most romantic sha'i figure in Sunnydale." The second pair of arms had emerged, and Andrew was forced forward as his abdomen grew long behind his legs. The other insect handed him an axe. "And sha'i they have great sha'i chemistry."

"Whatever, dude. I'm saying Buffy and Jessica Alba. Theirs is a true and forbidden love." Warren looked sullenly at his formerly human friend.

The blue robed specter spoke up. "Pir that is so not cool."


The first insect waggled his antennae. "Sapphic love is a sha'i beautiful expression of love and intimacy between two people. It does not sha'i exist for your casual enjoyment."

"Whatever. Now Buffy and Denise Richards, that would be a beautiful expression. I don't understand why she always has to be with the vampires. Is it something with the oral fixation?"

Jonathan looked over to him. "You weren't around while Angel was still in Sunnydale. You never really saw the two of them together. They had a perfect story, heartbreaking in its tragic dimensions. Living just for each other but doomed to be kept apart."

"Dude, will you stop saying 'doomed'? We got it already."

"Will you stop saying 'dude'?" retorted Jonathan.

"The truth, dude? You suck. Heartbreaking tragedy my ass. If he cared so much about Buffy, why'd he leave? What Buffy needs is a night with one of the girls from Dream. Not the one who can actually sing, but any of the others. Or all three of them. Either way, I'm happy."

"Buffy and Angel. You just felt for those two. The vampire with a soul and the woman he loved but couldn't touch. Spike is nothing but sex and witty banter. There's nothing real there. Pir. Oh, God."

Jonathan's lips started to extend and protrude into tentative tentacles as his face pockmarked itself, growing new eye sockets. His hands and legs just started to fade, becoming one with the air around.

"Cowl this pir!" yelled the specter.

A blue robe was thrown over Jonathan before his torso had evaporated completely, before it was revealed what new structures had grown within him.

Warren backed against the wall. He grabbed Jonathan's mug and began to brandish it. He punctuated his sentences with dramatic waves as he said "Either way, she's loving a vampire. And what's the point of that? She's just going to get old and sooner or later they're going to get evil. Now, you want to know who Buffy should be with? That chick from Cruel Intentions."

"Selma Blair?" asked the now ethereal Jonathan.

"Reese Wither-sha'i-spoon?" asked the first insect.

"No, the other one. Sarah Michelle something. Gellar, that's it. Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Me in my easy chair with a bowl of popcorn watching some hot lesbian action. And for those keeping score at home, that's 'lesbian' spelled with a z. Can I hear an amen?"

Andrew swung the axe through Warren's waist, bisecting him as Jonathan pulled his upper body into the dark recesses of his robe. Warren's hips and legs fell useless to the Bronze floor.

"Tasty," said Jonathan.

Andrew waggled an antenna. "I feel sha'i like a new man."

Before he had finished the thought he was pushed forward into the table. Pretzels flew as the other insect started forward and was met with Andrew's axe between his eyes. Jonathan threw out a tentacle which just provided something for him to be pulled forward by. He collapsed and was kicked in the region of the robe where his solar plexus might have been. The first specter glided silently away in retreat.

"You look like a new bug. Consider me your windshield," said Buffy.

(Next: "The I in Team"; "Goodbye Iowa"; "This Year's Girl)

[> [> The I in Team/Goodbye Iowa /This Year's Girl -- Marie, 06:50:21 06/09/03 Mon

"Cool move, B!"

Buffy whirled.

"Faith! What are you- I mean, aren't you- er.. okay, colour me confused! When did you come out of your coma?"

"Don't sweat it, Buffy. I was in jail, actually, until Wes- oh, never mind - they haven't written that yet. Got bored, thought I'd come on down to good old Sunny D. and look you up." Glancing over at the retreating sha'i-pirs, she added "Looks like I missed the party, though."

Narrowing her eyes, Buffy asked "So we're friends, now?"

Faith shrugged. "Sure. I'm gonna get redemption or something, so may as well start practising the good life. Not," she added, with a warning look "that that means I'll be joining the Gang and worshipping at the Altar of Buffy or anything!"

Buffy grimaced. "You always were one to put the 'I' in 'Team', weren't you, Faith?"

Faith grinned. "C'm on. I'll buy you a beer and you can catch me up on things. And we never did get to say a proper goodbye. Iowa- oh, never mind."

As Faith started to turn away, Buffy gripped her shoulder.

"Iowa? What's that supposed to mean? Is that where you went? Where you're going?"

"Puh-lease! Why the hell would anyone go to Iowa? I was just gonna say I-", she stopped, and a slight pink tinge coloured her cheeks. At Buffy's amazed look, she scowled. "I owe a damn tab here, okay! I don't have any damn money to pay it, okay? So let's just get the hell out of here, okay!" Muttering to herself, she spun on her heels and stalked out.

Shaking her head, Buffy followed her. "Okaaay!"

Neither noticed the two who watched them go.



"Hey. Know you, don' I?"


"Oh. Right. The one with the van. Still a werewolf?"

"Hmm. Still dead?"

"Yeah. But gotta soul now."

There was silence for a beat or two, as they both gazed at the exit doors. Then Spike turned to the other man. "Lookin' for the witch? 'Cos last I heard, she was walkin' a different road, y'know?"

"Yeah. So who's this year's girl? Or is it still Tara?"

"You know Tara?"

"We met."

"Nice girl."

"Hmm. Well"

"Yeah well see ya"

They both started towards the exit. Stopped, looked at each other.

"Still got the van?"

"Outside. Lift?"



(Next: Who Are You?/Superstar/Where the Wild Things Are)

[> [> [> Me next, coming soon! -- TCH, 07:25:06 06/09/03 Mon

[> [> [> Mischievously setting up a cross-over -- Tchaikovsky, 07:45:44 06/09/03 Mon

Faith and Buffy were speaking. Uneasily, but it was a start.

'Never one to bear grudges. Attempt at my death. Vengeance. Seeing yourself in me. That was the thing, B. I was always the thing you couldn't feel inside you. I was your darkness. The path you've always wanted to take...'

'Perhaps. But you know what Faith? You had every chance. You stole my life back then, and I still came to talk to you. Kakistos had you down, but you could work it through. It was your love of the kill.'

'Oh, I get it. I never thanked you for your matryrdom complex. Here I am saving the world again. You know what, B, you can't drag that out of you. Always the righteous one?'

Buffy shifted uncomfortably. 'It's not that simple Faith. It's not just the saving the world- and then trophies on the mantle- piece. The saving hurts. And every time I feel more alone. It's isolation, and then- what? Death? It's all I can do to shut myself off from the Slayer, so that it's not only me. It's hard, but I know who I am. The Slayer. And Buffy. The question is, why are you here. Who are you?'


Back at the Summers' house, Buffy, Willow, Xander Dawn and Giles talked uneasily.

'S-so you're saying Buffy, that Faith and Oz are back? That's quite an extraordinary co-incidence'

'Chalk it up there with the beginning of 'Magnolia'. Could have sworn it was Oz, but maybe not. Guess we'll find out soon enough, if he wants us to know. Question is- what do we do about this? Faith thinks that Los Angeles is headed for an apocalypse.'

'Well, Buff, not meaning to shoot the superiority of the ole Scoobies, but you know Angel's there already? He'll be dealing, right?'

Giles wasn't sure.

'In situations like this Willow, the more help they can get the better. Faith didn't just bust out of jail for the f-fun of it.'

'Well, actually, that probably had something to do with. She was whistling 'The Great Escape' a lot. And she had one of those heavy-duty shovel things. I love it when you do that look.'

'I am your mentor Buffy. One day I might not be needed, but for the moment I instil a little dignity to the proceedings. If you're feeling up to it, I say you ring up Angel.'

Willow giggled. 'Yeah, cos that's always a chore.'

'So what's the bloody superstar gonna do this time, eh? You know we have all the stuff we need here. I say let's gang up and go.'

Willow was dumbfounded. And not by Spike. She managed, almost as an apology an 'Oz.'

There was an uncomfortable silence.

'When I come back, it's never the noisiest place, this house.'

'A-actually, last time it was my house you came to,' Giles volunteered, trying to break the silence. 'I always wondered how you worked out Willow would be there. Quite a mystery.'

'So, Oz, you're here again. Any reason?' Buffy did that stoic look that always appears just before one of her long, extraordinarily spontaneous plans of action.

'Heard all about what's happening in LA. Turns out that I laid my hands on the Rock of Naszturshol. I was going to barter it for some wolf-y stuff, but I figured with what's about to happen...'

'What do you know?'

'It will take a while'.

'OK, here's what we do. Giles and Willow, you research what I was telling you from what Faith told me. All mystical convergences, tsunami, you know the drill. Oz, you tell me all you know about the Nasturtiam rock thing. But we need to find out what we can about where the wild things are. Spike, you ring Angel, ask what they know...'

'You've got to be kidding. Last time I rang Angel it ended in...'

'Deaths?' Willow interjected.

'More like arguments about snack foods' Spike countered angrily.

'Spike, stop being the child and just do it. Xander, you go and find Faith. I reckon we need her'.

'A-a-are we ready for F-Faith to be back here, Buffy. I mean...' Giles stumbled a little

'You mean, am I ready? I didn't think so, but now we need all the fire-power we can get.'

Willow and Oz looked at each other, as if, rather than separated by years, their last few scenes were only hours ago.

'So Oz, you ready to fill me in on the rock thing?'

'Buffy, could I just have a minute. Or two?'

Willow looked at Buffy, alll puppy dog eyes and confused pleading.

'Fine. I'll ring Angel. Spike, go with Xander, find Faith, she's at Clark's off the main street'

'Anyone else ever feel like an under-utilised minor character in a debut fan fiction?' asked Xander weakly.

'All the time', said Dawn.


Next: 'New Moon Rising', 'The Yoko Factor', 'Primeval'

[> [> [> [> Next: 'New Moon Rising', 'The Yoko Factor', 'Primeval' -- Who will bite?, 10:01:49 06/11/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Are you claiming this? 'cos I may claim it myself! -- Marie, who's bored at work today!, 06:05:10 06/12/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> Dunno- 'who will bite?' is not me- I'd go ahead -- TCH, 07:55:23 06/12/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Just you'n me, huh? We must remember to give ourselves big pats on the back.... -- Marie, 09:04:30 06/12/03 Thu

...when we reach the end of S7, heh!


[> Preserving this thread... -- Masq, 12:13:23 06/10/03 Tue

[> [> Also preserving . . . -- d'Herblay, 20:58:44 06/10/03 Tue

[> Come on! -- Tchaikovsky, 09:06:03 06/11/03 Wed

Anyone who's actually read my attempt (to whom, apologies) know it's not a hard act to follow. Whether you're scared of 'The Yoko Factor' or refusing to write a cross-over, don't worry. The getting-in of the titles is the excuse for the fun! And there's a really juicy Oz-Willow scene just waiting to be written.


Current board | More June 2003