ORBzine - 1999.01 Television Review - "Buffy"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Season 3

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 1] Anne
[Shown Fourth Week, March 2000]

The Scooby Gang are trying to carry on without Buffy, but they are predictably hopeless. They are looking forward to a new school year; yes, this is the beginning of a new Season.

Xander and Cordy are reunited after the summer break, but their ardour has cooled; each suspects the other has been unfaithful. And then Xander comes up with the idea of using Cordy as vamp-bait ...

Buffy is on the run, running away from her past. But it catches up with her - she bumps into the girl from the vampire fan club, and once again has to save the day.

Typically for this show, behind every problem [poor people disappearing in a sh*tty neighbourhood] is some kind of demon - and Buffy's only answer is brutal violence. She uses the line Here's my impersonation of Ghandi before murdering a helpless, crippled foe ... yes, Slutty the Vampire F*cker is back in business!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 2] Dead Man's Party

Buffy returns for the new Season, having spent her summer vacation on the run. She holds a reunion party at her house, and invites all her classmates. However, teen angst is what it is, and she decides to leave again.

There is a predictable supernatural plot that involves a demonic mask which raises a horde of zombies. Giles comes to the rescue, however - he even shows off his skills and hotwires a car! The ending is right out of Brimstone ...

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 3] Faith, Hope & Trick
[Shown Second Week, April 2000]

The schoolkids are now Seniors - and Buffy is now among their numbers again, no thanks to Principal Snyder.

A couple of new vamps are in town, and as in Season 1 they are actually evil, scary bad guys. Mr Trick is an african-american yuppie, and his boss Kekistos is an ancient, scale-faced freak like The Master.

There's a new slayer in town - a slutty redhead called Faith [ Eliza Dushku ]. Everyone welcomes her, except Buffy - as with Ted she is suspicious of newcomers and outsiders.

Buffy finally tells Willow and Giles about her confrontation with Angel. But just as she thinks that part of her life is over, we are shown that it may be starting all over again.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 4] Beauty & the Beasts
[Shown Fourth Week, April 2000]

Full moon, and a mutilated corpse is discovered in the woods. Oz is the main suspect.

Angel is back from the Demon Dimension - it sounds like the place Buffy visited in the first episode of this Season, and he has faced centuries of torture. His memory is gone, and he is little more than an animal.

This draws parallels between Buffy and Willow, and the whole episode is just propaganda gibberish about abusive relationships. Faith states All men are beasts while Giles tells us that Some monsters can be redeemed.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 5] Homecoming
[Shown Second Week, May 2000]

Cordelia is favourite for the role of Homecoming Queen. Buffy, her school profile so low none of the teachers can remember her long enough to write the glowing report that the Principal requested in a previous episode, decides to become Homecoming Queen herself.

Xander and Willow discover they have a passionate attraction to each other.

Meanwhile, African-American vampire Mr Trick pulls in a group of assassins to play his own version of The Most Dangerous Game - SlayerFest 98! The assassins include a pair of vampires - the redneck Gorch [whose brother was eaten by Mama Bezoar last Season] and his new bride.

We finally meet The Mayor - and find out he's a nice guy, not scary at all beyond the fact he is a complete neat freak! However, he reveals a couple of important facts

  • He has run Sunnydale for a very long time
  • The school is important to him
  • A very important event will happen this year [1998-9]
  • The police [enforcement and surveillance units] answer directly to him
  • Buffy, as a Slayer, may be a thorn in his side
  • He has no compunction about employing a vampire - Mr Trick!

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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 6] Band Candy
    [Shown Third Week, May 2000]

    Principal Snyder has the school pupils sell candy bars - Buffy gives hers to her mother and Giles, then tells each that she is going to be with the other while she secretly meets Angel.

    The adults find out about the deception, and chide her for wanting to have a personal life. Buffy storms out, and the adults snack down on their candy. The candy bars have a magical effect on all the adults that eat them, and revert them to teenager mode.

    Giles and Buffy's Mother turn out to be a real pair of tearaways. Buffy has to grow up and be the mature one for a change - which is pretty much the moral of the story. Parental responsibility is a good thing or something.

    It turns out that the candy is being distributed by Rupert's old friend Ethan, who in turn is working for Mr Trick [and, unbeknownst to Buffy, the Mayor]. The Mayor is giving tribute to satisfy a Hellmouth Demon [a giant snake], which may explain why he has managed to hold on to power for so long.

    The tribute is the babies in the hospital's maternity wing; yet another extension of the parental responsibility theme. With maturity comes responsibility, the writer implies. Hence Buffy can't be trusted with the car because she is neither mature nor responsible.

    The problem with this episode is that it isextremely heavy-handed, it portrays the adults as stereotypical fun-crazed hedonists when they're teenagers and stereotypical boring straight-laced losers while adults.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 7] Revelations
    [Shown Fourth Week, May 2000]

    Serena Scott Thomas arrives in town, the new Watcher for Faith [ Eliza Dushku ]. She is a typical stereotyped English person, and stirs up discontent between Faith and the others.

    Buffy and Angel practise Tai Chi. Xander and Willow get intimate in the library. Xander sees Angel, follows him and sees him with Buffy. Faith stumbles across a demon, and attacks him. He knocks her aside, and she continues her futile attacks even though he ignores her. As always in this show, by the end of the episode the poor demon has been killed for being nonhuman.

    There are other fights - even Serena Scott Thomas has a fight scene! Also, Faith takes on Angel and then she and Buffy finally go hand-to-hand.

    BUFFY: How are you?
    FAITH: I'm 5 by 5.
    BUFFY: I'll interpret that as good.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 8] Lover's Walk
    [Shown First Week, June 2000]

    Spike returns to Sunnydale; Druscilla has dumped him for a Chaos Demon He is cool as ever, and has an excellent Love's Bitch speach.

    Xander and Willow carry on their illicit liaison, but the young witch wants to cast an anti-love spell to keep their hormones in check. Xander notes that he has a history of bad luck with such spells - and his luck gets worse as Spike kidnaps them. Spike wants Willow to cast a love spell on Druscilla so she will fall in love with him again ...

    Cordelia and Oz go looking for them - and luckily the werewolf can sniff out his GF.

    The Mayor pops up, his ever-charming self, and states that he would sell his soul for a better Golf swing but it's a bit late for that ...

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 9] The Wish
    [Shown Second Week, June 2000]

    Buffy, Xander and Willow are left to kill big mucusy demons by themselves - Faith doesn't socialise with them, while Oz and Cordy are still avoiding their respective ex-es.

    Cordy is now reviled by her former friends - Harmony is still bitchy about how Cordy chose Xander over them. And now Cordy is Xander Harris' cast-off. The only one who Cordy can talk to is new-girl Anya - who is more than she appears to be.

    Cordy finds herself in an alternate universe out of It's a Wonderful Life . There's a curfew at Dusk. Cordy meets Xander and Willow - they are still lovers, but they are also vampires! The Master is in charge; there was nobody there to stop him rising. Angel is enslaved by the vampires - Willow-Vamp tortures him for her pleasure. Buffy, when she finally appears, is more like Faith than the happy vamp [-ish] slapper we all know and ... whatever.

    While the regular cast get wiped out one by one, Giles tries desperately to press the reset button.

    Notably, the Demon in the episode is also Patron Saint of scorned women - a demon AND a saint?

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 10] Amends
    [Shown Third Week, June 2000]

    This is the compulsory Xmas episode. Buffy's mother holds Xmas dinner for them, and Buffy invites Faith. Mrs Summers is adamant that Giles should not be invited - guilt about their one-night stand? Willow and Oz snuggle up, but he decides he is not ready for it.

    Robia La Morte is back as an evil entity that poses as the ghost of Jenny Calendar. Angel was a waste of flesh before he ever became a vampire. He seems intelligent enough to regret what he did, but not mature enough to get over it. Jesus, man - get a life!

    Buffy's answer to this, as usual, is to find something and hit it. She and Xander drop by Willy's Bar

    The end credits feature the Master cartoon in the Mutant Enemy logo has a santa-hat on its head!

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 11] Gingerbread
    [Shown Fourth Week, June 2000]

    Buffy's mother Joyce leads an anti-Wicca movement called MOO - Mothers Opposed to the Occult. This is supported by the Mayor and Principal Snyder, who uses it as an excuse to confiscate the library's books.

    This episode is actually a decent satire on the Protect Kids Nazis. Other interesting aspects are

  • The local witch-babe's spell, last seen in the love-spell episode
  • Giles and Joyce
  • The return of bitchy Cordelia, who saves the day

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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 12] Helpless
    [Shown Second Week, July 2000]

    It is Buffy's 18th birthday, and her life is slowly unravelling. Her father cancels their annual excursion to the Icecapades, and she needs Giles as a father-figure.

    Buffy's strength, speed and skill seem to desert her, and she becomes a pathetic girly-girl. She tries to get violent with Cordelia's BF, and he pushes her over - Cordy saves the sloppy Slayer by bitch-slapping the sports-jock. Yes, women DON'T need Slayer-type violence to survive against blokes.

    Walking home at night, Buffy is propositioned by a couple of rednecks who offer to pay her for a lapdance. This is the same grrl who offers to lapdance for Xander when she's horny for him! The purpose of this scene is to make sexually mature men seem like bloodthirsty vampires.

    This week the vampire is an insane serial killer and women-hater. More anti-male Feminazi prejudice.

    The end? Giles' affection for Buffy means that a new Watcher will be assigned.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 13] The Zeppo
    [Shown Third Week, July 2000]

    After being their loyal mascot for over 2 years, Buffy and Co finally realise that Xander has no defensive powers - he gets the stuffing knocked out of him in every fight. They decide to leave him out of the Scooby Gang, even though they are faced with a demonic cult who want to open the Hellmouth and destroy the world.

    Xander gets involved with the local white-trash street-gang, who happen to be undead! He has to stop them from destroying the school, even as Buffy and the others have the fight of their lives in the library. Another of Xander's encounters is Faith [ Eliza Dushku ], who proves that she was sincere when she said that slaying made her horny!

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 14]
    [Shown Fourth Week, July 2000] Bad Girls

    Buffy and Faith wipe out some new vamps - a secret cult of duelists who serve a demon called Balthazar, who looks like the evil Baron in Dune. It seems that Balthazar was defeated 100 years ago by his arch-enemy, who will soon gain ultimate power.

    The Mayor is informed of the newcomers. He is preparing for the Dedication, to take place 100 days before the Ascention, and he does not want anything to interfere with it. The Mayor has become Invincible on his to do list, just above Meet with PTA.

    Alexis Denisoff makes his first appearance as Wesley the Watcher. Buffy rebels against this new authority figure, and hangs out with Faith more than she ought to. She starts to follow Faith's philosophy of want, take, have - which gets her in trouble with school and the cops. The good side to this is the GREAT sound-track!

    Faith ends up getting overzealous, and the Mayor's PA [a mortal] regrets it. What the PA was up to at the time is not explained. For the emotionally twisted Slayer this is the next step in a bad direction.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 15] Consequences
    [Shown First Week, August 2000]

    The show starts with the title babe in a wet t-shirt. She's having a nightmare about the Assistant Mayor, who was killed in the previous episode. She wakes up in time to see the TV news - the body has been discovered [within 24 hours of being weighted and thrown into a frozen-over river!], and an investigation has begun.

    Willow [Allyson Hannigan] pops up briefly to mention that she is still trying to de-rat Amy. She is also there when Xander reveals that he was close to Faith - and we see poor Willow crying in the toilets over this revelation. Sad to say, but Ms Hannigan seems to be rather wooden.

    Xander goes to talk to the increasingly unstable Faith. Angel pops up as well, somewhere that this reviewer does not recall him being invited!

    Wesley, the new Watcher, is nothing but a pain in the ass. He refuses to take into account the views and opinions of the field veterans [including his Slayer and a 20-year veteran Watcher!] and takes actions into his own hands - with disastrous consequences.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 16] Doppelgangerland
    [Shown Second Week, August 2000]

    Faith is still around - instead of shipping her back to England Wesley has decided to give her and Buffy fitness and psych tests. Buffy tries calisthenics, but can't do sit-ups properly!

    Faith is building her relationship with the Mayor, who gives her a swanky apartment and a nintendo. Yes, the Mayor is a wonderful character who gets more endearing every time. He decides that Willow must be killed to prevent her hacking into his computer; Will he still want her dead next episode, or will this be forgotten about.

    Willow is sick of her life - everyone takes her for granted and gets her to do their homework for them. The only one who appreciates her is Anya, who wants her help in casting a spell to recover the necklace that Giles destroyed in The Wish. Unfortunately, the spell goes wrong and the vampire version of Willow gets summoned instead!

    Ms Hannigan shows off her acting ability - not only does she play mundane Willow, she plays vampire Willow and mundane Willow PLAYING vampire Willow. We also see foreshadowing of Willow's bisexual experiences in Season 4.

    Angel pops up briefly, for no plot reason at all. Also, Cordy finally meets Wesley - and displays her attraction to him.

    Interesting dialogue:
    Willow I'm so evil and ... skanky. And I think I'm a bit gay.
    Buffy Don't worry, Willow - just remember that a vampire's personality has nothing to do with who that person was when they were alive.
    Angel Well, actually ... err, that's a good point.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 17] Enemies
    [Shown Third Week, August 2000]

    Buffy and Angel go to the cinema, but unfortunately for them the film they choose to see has some raunchy sex scenes in it. This reminds us that their relationship cannot continue on a physical level.

    Faith has been returned to Active Duty by the Watchers. However, she still plots with her other employer ...

    Plot-wise, the Scooby Gang discover yet more about the Mayor's plans for Ascension.

    The highlight of the episode? Angel turns Evil again. Yes, goodbye sad brooding git, hello snappy 1-liner guy.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 18] Earshot
    [Shown Fourth Week, August 2000]

    Buffy slays a demon, and gets splattered with its blood. This infects her with an aspect of the demon, as Giles puts it, but she has to wait for the aspect to develop. Will it be scales, or horns or boy bits? This seems to be a metaphor for pregnancy or STD ...

    Willow is still tutoring Percy the Jock.

    Xander drools over Cordy in her cheerleader outfit - and gets jealous of Wesley for doing the same thing.

    Buffy discovers the demonic aspect - she can read minds. She is shocked to discover that all Xander thinks about is sex [!!!]. While in the cafeteria, she is caused to faint by the excess of minds present. But just before she passes out, she hears someone think This time tomorrow I'm going to kill all of you. Yes, this is the Columbine Episode.

    When Buffy is taken home, she reads her mother's mind. You had sex with Giles? On the hood of a police car? Twice?

    The Scooby gang tries to root out the psycho. Xander bumps into his Season 2 acquaintance who came out of the closet as being gay.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 19] Choices
    [Shown First Week, September 2000]

    Xander spots Cordy in a clothes shop.

    Willow gets captured - she uses telekinesis to escape, but botches her getaway by pausing to read the villain's entire library.

    Buffy and Angel's relationship is in a rut.

    The Mayor gives Faith a present - a specially-made combat knife. As this episode perfectly shows, the villains are more sympathetic than the so-called heroes.

    The McGuffin is a special box that the Mayor needs for his ascension.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 20] The Prom
    Shown Third Weekend, November 1999
    Shown Second Week, September 2000

    This is the episode where Angel, Buffy's paramour, breaks the news to her that he's leaving town for good. Buffy is all broken up about this, for some reason this reviewer cannot determine. She teamed up with him to fight a common foe about every other week, and they were attracted to each other - but they never did anything that could not be accomplished via a telephone call or an e-mail message. Let's face it, while this show is supposed to deal with issues relevant to a specific age group, the writers seen completely ignorant of the mechanics of human relationships. In Season One they criticised the idea of on-line relationships [what if your e-mail buddy is a robotic demon?] but not RL ones [what if your paramour is a vampire/preying mantis/mummy?].

    Hypocritical bastards.

    You can get to know people very well on-line. Sure, the sex isn't that great, but since this is TV-land and in the USA teenagers aren't supposed to have sexual needs, never mind sexual intercourse, Buffy and the bloodsucker never had to worry about that.

    On a similar note, yet more hypocrisy crops up in the episode's excuse for a plot. Since it's Prom Night, a malajusted loner will try to disrupt things - and since it's the Hellmouth, it will be with supernatural help. Enter the Hellhounds - the most pathetic monsters since zombies. Hey, anything that can be parodied in Father Ted using a crowd of Daniel O'Donnell-worshipping old women is less than terrifying in my book.

    The usual malcontents - Buffy, Xander and Willow - have problems of their own. Willow is happy with her boyf [a werewolf!!! Yes, robots and demons are out, but hairy-ass slacker musician lycanthropes are in!!!]. For the benefit of Allyson Hannigan fans, you might like to know that her prom dress actually shows she has great cleavage!

    Xander, on the other hand, is stuck with an orally overactive micro-babe whose lines are more than vaguelly reminiscent of Alyson Hannigan's in American Pie - This reminds me of this one time at Band Camp ... ... Poor Xander pines for his lost lust, Cordelia Chase - the school bitch who, this episode reveals, has been taken down a peg or two by recent off-screen events. Alas, but their passionate sex is not to be; among other reasons, Cordy is to join Angel in the new LA-based series.

    Cordelia [character aged 18, Actress aged 29] is dating an English chap who seems to be about 32. He gets on well with Giles, but otherwise seems to be a completely gratuitous character.

    Buffy? Well, since Angel split up with her she had nobody's arm to cling to. So why doesn't she go with hellhound boy, the malcontent? Gellar herself has stated that Buffy isn't the most beautiful, smartest or most popular girl in the school - maybe she has been hanging out with rich bitch Cordelia for too long, and gotten far too full of herself. Buffy should have taken pity on her fellow malcontent, taken him to the Prom and molested him sexually after it. Make love, not war.

    [and for the Americans out there, make love means have sex. As in Have sex, not violence; make sex, not war.

    Xander goes to the dance with Demon Anya. Also, we get another sight of Angel in daylight.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Season 3, Episode 21-2] Graduation Day Part I-II
    Shown Fourth Weekend, November 1999

    It is Graduation week, and an evil entity (tm) plans a great ceremony that will turn him into a demon. His minions include the Sunnydale vampires and a certain young lady who is Buffy's equal in every way. The sad fact is that, while Joss Whedon creates wonderfully human characters [even the inhuman ones have a good side] we know the poor bastards don't stand a chance against the inhuman killing machine that is Buffy Summers. Great characterisation, but bad plot execution. :(

    Willow and her BF get laid - technically bestiality - and Buffy refers to Angel as my lover. Necrophilia, and with an ugly bloke into the bargain!

    The villainess poisons Angel, and Buffy goes after her to even the score - all they need is a big mud-bath! ;)~

    The second part is the episode that was delayed on USA TV after Columbine - and you can see why. The climax, at the school pupils [sat out under a banner saying Class of '99] are attacked by both a CGI demon and the usual vampire horde.

    The ending? Well, the sets are trashed and one incredibly cool recurring character is killed - but the heroes really don't give a damn about either. This would be the perfect place to end the series; a number of important characters are dead or in spin-offs, the cast have had sufficient exposure to guarantee them a career in TV/movies - but no, the producers got greedy and decided to do a Season 4. Yes, in 99/00 the Scooby Gang [or what's left of them] attend Sunnydale University [!!!], despite the fact that the apocalyptic conclusion to S3 means there's little evil left for the slayer to slay. Few TV shows remain consistently good and popular past their third Season; the excellent Babylon 5 faltered, and even the overrated Lois & Clark lost its huge ratings as it struggled desperately to grow and develop. If Buffy had been cut short at the end of S3 [and if the writers had given better conflict resolution for the antagonists] it could have been the perfect TV-novel that Straczynski wanted his own work to be. Alas!

    To think, about this time last year BBC2 gave us our first glimpse of Buffy's Season 1 pilot episode; and within 12 months a satellite channel has broadcast the conclusion to Season 3. A quick year indeed, when it takes longer to produce 6 episodes of Red Dwarf !!!

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