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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 9 - Never Leave Me

30 December 2013

Willow tells Andrew off

Synopsis: Buffy ties Spike up and tries to jog his memory. Willow runs into Andrew at the butchers where he is buying blood. She drags him home and Xander and Anya interrogate him. Suddenly Spike turns and tries to kill Andrew. Then some Bringers attack and abduct Spike. Buffy realises that she is fighting the First evil. Principal Wood buries Jonathan's body. The First drains Spike and opens the portal which allows a powerful looking vampire to emerge.

The Good: This was solid but something appears to be missing.

The debate between Spike and Buffy on why she's keeping him alive was probably the best scene. Season Six was so dark that it almost feels cheesy to ignore Buffy's daddy issues and conclude that she is right and that Spike is a man fighting for redemption. But that is the story being told and Spike's suggestion that she kill him fits in with the story of him trying to do right.

The two fight sequences were good too. Spike smashing through the wall to get to Andrew made it clear that he was about to reveal vital information. The Bringer attack was dramatic and exciting even if like every minion on Buffy they couldn't kill any of the Scoobies.

Xander and Anya playing good cop and bad cop was cute if obvious. I do like Xander solemnly measuring broken windows in preparation for repairs. He really chose the right career to make himself useful.

The Bad: Nothing as such.

The Unknown: The revelation of the identity of the Big Bad was a meh moment. I'm not sure it was meant to be a big deal. It is nice to look back on "Amends" (310) and link the return of Angel to Earth with Buffy, Spike and the coming apocalypse. But it doesn't do a lot more beyond that.

In a way the choice of the First Evil has been a little problematic so far. On paper the idea of a force that can impersonate anyone, dead or alive, sounds like a great idea. But in practice it can become a little repetitive or ineffective or just convenient. Let me just list a few issues I had here. First we had Andrew being spoken to by Warren again. That was fine, but then Warren morphs into Jonathan who is telling him everything he wants to hear. Would Andrew not, at that point, question whether he was being played? His faith in Warren was one thing but for Jonathan to appear too felt like overkill. Similarly why can Spike not remember seeing himself or Buffy talking to him. The evidence of our eyes is that he is conscious during those moments before they start singing to him. And when they reappear he doesn't seem surprised by their presence. And yet he tells Buffy that he remembers nothing. It's very convenient. Then you have Principal Wood burying Jonathan. Was that because he is an agent of evil or was he temporarily possessed? I mean if the First can possess anyone then why not possess Buffy and have her stab herself?

Finally there's something about a ghost walking around taunting people that is dramatically unsatisfying. I'm too aware of SMG or James Marsters "playing" the role of the First rather than getting sucked into what the First is doing. I suppose that is the purpose of the Master-esque vampire that has risen up. Suddenly the Scoobies will have a physical foe to do battle with.

The apparent explosion at the Watcher's Council was filmed in a slightly awkward way. The cut to the outside wasn't as smooth as it needed to be to convey the destruction of Buffy's only potential allies. Given their bizarre attitude to Buffy in the last few years it didn't seem like such a big deal. Especially after the poor Giles cliffhanger which wasn't followed up on, all but confirming that he will be fine. Quentin also dismisses Giles as an employee despite the fact that he was supposedly in a meeting with them a little while ago (703).

Best Moment: Buffy and Spike debate his survival. I liked his attempts to disgust her and get her to stab him. It worked to underline her point rather than his.

The Bottom Line: This was an ok episode but the story surrounding it has a few problems.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Never Leave Me
Season 7, Episode 9
Original airing: 11/26/2002

My Rating: 65

The Good: It’s interesting how one of my least favorite characters is now becoming one of the most engrossing. And I like it! Andrew’s story is quite intriguing and I think he works much better as the nerdy comic relief against the Scoobies than he did attempting to bounce off the Trio’s even more nerdy comic relief.

He goes through an awful lot in this episode as he’s “guided” by Warren and Jonathon in an attempt to kill a piglet, obtains animal blood under false pretenses, fails miserably to impress Willow, is tormented by Anya, has his neck bitten by Spike, and is finally almost murdered by Harbingers. And each moment is delicious to watch.

Also delicious are Buffy’s attempts to reconnect with Spike. Their final standoff in the basement finally gave a decent reason for Spike’s continued existence (if a few years behind the times). But the best scene is definitely Buffy feeding Spike from the bag of blood. It’s icky and painful.

It’s nice to finally have a name for our Big Bad. The First is a pretty random reference back to Amends (S3E10), but it’s fun to know the final boss fight is against a purely dark entity. Hopefully, the ghosts and manipulations will keep coming because it’s definitely keeping the show on its toes.

Xander and Anya’s good cop/bad cop act felt like a return to their old dynamic. They work so well together and this bit of interaction is the kind of thing after a couple breaks up that makes the heart squeeze a little bit. Xander’s story of the empty man is obviously quite personal and hit me a bit in the stomach, as someone who’s had their heart quite broken.

Finally, I thought a bomb taking out the Watcher’s Council was a bit silly, but it was entertaining to see the pompous Quentin Traver’s removed from existence.

The Unknown: I’m ready to know what’s up with Principal Wood. His character is a huge enigma and his unerring discovery of Jonathon’s body makes him seem quite suspicious. However, I was annoyed at the cut mid-fight to Principal Wood burying Jonathon’s body. I found that just distracting.

Why did Jonathon have to die, but Spike just needs a few ritual symbols carved into his chest? Is Jonathon’s blood still there? Does the First know Principal Wood took the body? Are they connected?

Favorite Moment: Andrew really starts getting into his attempt at intimidating Willow. It’s quite fun when she turns the tables on him.

The Bottom Line: I enjoyed this episode. It had it’s less than perfect moments with the demolishing of the Watcher’s Council and Jonathon’s awkward burial, but overall it gave us a name to our villain, shed some light on the proceedings, and made a character I severely disliked entertaining.

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  • Hi Robin. Was listening to your podcast on this episode this morning and noted the (many) questions you and Cordia had on various aspects of the episode; made for interesting discussion. While I do not have a score as I hadn't rewatched it (so my impressions would be11 years old) I do want to clear up one of the external references you mentioned. Iron Fist is a Marvel superhero with martial arts abilities, who could concentrate his chi into his fist to be able to deliver "iron fisted" blows).

    Keep up the great work. Listing to this podcasts allows me to relive these episodes, even if I haven't seen them in years. Thanks!

    Posted by Rudy Robles, 31/12/2013 6:20pm (3 years ago)

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