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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 3 - Same Time, Same Place

11 November 2013

Gnarl

Synopsis: At the airport Willow doesn’t appear to Buffy, Xander and Dawn’s sadness. However she did arrive but couldn’t see any of them. Meanwhile the flayed body of a boy is found at the school and Buffy fears the worst. Willow visits Anya and Spike and begins to track down the demon Gnarl who was really responsible. The rest of the Scoobies do the same and track him to his cave.

The Good: I really liked the opening of the episode where Xander talked about saving the world with his words and used yellow crayon for the welcome home sign. We’ve become so used to the Scoobies saving the day that it was really nice to be reminded of how a normal person would endlessly talk about something amazing that happened to them. The crayon reference and his nerves about whether Willow would get it were very sweet.

Sweetness was the word for the episodes end too. Willow’s tone when she could finally see her friends was so pathetic that it really drew my sympathy. And the final moments where Buffy lends Willow her strength may be the closest we’ve seen them as best friends since Season Three.

I liked the idea that Willow had made herself invisible. It very much fit with the development of her powers (like when her will came to be in 409) and updates us nicely on the condition she’s in.

Gnarl was possibly the best looking demon the show has ever produced. The shots of him crouched over Willow licking her blood were as disturbing and cinematic as anything I can remember. His “I can see you” routine was so simple and yet very effective at giving you the creeps.

The Bad: It’s such a shame that Gnarl didn’t get a more prominent role. And indeed that the height of his creepiness was ruined by silly comedy surrounding Dawn’s paralysis. It was a real lack of judgment and continued the awkward attempts at comedy that littered last season. The paralysis was kind of funny which made it an even worse tonal contrast. It’s rare that we see a Scooby in as vulnerable position as Willow was in and yet there was no tension in the sequence.

The Unknown: The practical results of showing us scenes where the Scoobies couldn’t see each other was less fun than it seemed on paper. By seeing both perspectives we always knew that nothing major was amiss and some sequences were a bit dull as a result. The repeated Spike scene was a clever idea but it didn’t actually add much to the plot.

We need an Anya-centric story soon. We understand that she is a Vengeance demon with a functioning conscience but now that needs to go somewhere.

Best Moment: Gnarl looked amazing but Willow’s emoting was really strong.

The Bottom Line: This was one of those frustrating episodes which had all the elements to be great but couldn’t pull them together.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Same Time, Same Place
Season 7, Episode 3

Original airing: 10/8/2002

My Rating: 72

The Good: This was a nice way to reintroduce Willow to Sunnydale and show how suspicions will arise. I think it was quite the logical jump from skinned victim to missing Willow. Seeing Buffy and Xander struggle with the suspicion and overcome it made Willow’s reentry to the group very believable.

I thought this episode did a nice job of using Anya as a mirror to Willow. They’re similarities in magic use really did help nicely explain a few details of Willow’s experience with the dark magics. Her explanation about how it was hard to stop using it until it began using you dovetailed nicely with the addiction metaphor in a way that nothing else did last season. I think it worked because of Anya’s vengeance demon story line and the struggles she’s been voicing in the last two episodes. The magic is just not the same any more. And how she uses it has been altered forever by her experiences as a human.

The scene with Spike, Willow, Buffy, and Xander was fantastic. It was really well played out by all the characters and the dialogue was perfect for leading each person to their own conclusions.

Gnarl was a beyond disgusting and creepy villain which made a perfect metaphor for Willow’s isolation. The special effects for his eating and drinking were excellent and perfectly shocking. And his gleeful joy in mocking his victims really increased the disturbing nature of his scenes with Willow.

Finally, I am still enjoying Dawn’s integration into the Scoobies. She really is quite the natural and perhaps a bit too excited. But it’s nice to see her receiving consistent characterization.

The Bad: Spike’s insanity is getting more and more touch and go. Having him state he’s insane after leading everyone to the cave was just too much for me. If every scene could be played as well as his first in this episode, I think it would work much better. But his obvious spots of sanity make it all seem more contrived as each episode passes.

Favorite Moment: I was impressed despite myself by Gnarl’s skin eating and blood drinking. This actor stole the show for me in this episode.

The Bottom Line: I think this was a very clever way to bring Willow back into the fold while avoiding dialogue heavy, clunky scenes where everyone is awkward and stammer-y. The situation needed something to distract at least a little bit from Willow’s arrival in Sunnydale and this worked perfectly to do that and allow time for introspection and a real touching reunion at the end.

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  • I used to watch Buffy live and regularly from season 2 to the beginning of season 5. For some reason I stopped watching and I remember this was the first new episode I saw. Instead of being confused about Willow or when Xander and Anya broke up, I thought they are making their demons very creepy now. This is Buffy’s scariest demon to me for two reasons. First the concept of how Gnarl kills his victims is unsettling to the point where I don’t want to type the description of it. The other reason is the actor. I haven’t heard of Camden Toy before or since but I can’t see any other actor nailing the line delivery and the movements the way he did.

    Dawn was good in this episode and not just for her physical comedy. I like how she lashes out at people now. Instead of screaming she makes her points with a certain matter of fact-ness. Spike got the lashing last episode and this time Willow is her focus. Dawn had a point when she asked if anyone was going to blame Willow. I feel for Dawn because her past relationships with Willow and Spike seem tarnished now. She idolized Spike and he really hurt Buffy. With Willow they had a secure relationship in season 5 (I think when she went to stay with Willow after Joyce passed away). Since then Willow inadvertently and purposely almost killed her.

    Anya was great in this episode. She is always funny but my favorite moment is Anya assuring Willow that her friends were “here” to be with her.

    Lastly the episode points out why Xander is my favorite character. For all his faults my favorite trait of his is his sometimes naive devotion to his friends, especially Willow. I don’t believe Xander thought Willow flayed that first guy and I think he knows that things will be better with her. Anya and Buffy even clarify his Willow affection in the episode. Best line: Buffy- “What do you say to someone in this situation?” Xander-“ I’m gonna say ‘Hi Willow.’”

    Viewer score: 72 / 100

    Posted by Jarrid, 09/11/2013 3:19am (3 years ago)

  • Holy creepy episode Batman.
    I love this episode. The creepiness, the mystery and even the humor blended perfectly together.
    As a monster-of-the-week Gnarl was perfect. There hasn't been a monster as creepy as Gnarl since The Gentlemen back in season 4.

    Best scenes.
    The basement scene with Spike. Everytime I time I see it I wonder what's going on but it makes sense when they redo the scene with Buffy. Very creepy and another scene that shows how good James Marsters is.
    Paralysed Dawn. Anya playing with Dawn as she's paralysed was hilarious. Leaving the remote in her hand was comedy gold.
    Willow and Gnarl. Very creepy and disturbing to watch. The sing-songy way Gnarl talks as he eats Willow makes it all the more upsetting to watch.
    The end scene with Buffy and Willow. It shows that even after all they went through in the last few episodes of last season they are still the best of friends and Buffy lending her strength to help Willow heal was heartwarming.

    Random stuff.
    Was the spell between Anya and Willow sexy? Not really.

    Why is Buffy upset that Dawn knows what viscera means? I've known what that word meant since I was 5.

    Fun fact: The actor who plays Gnarl played one of The Gentlemen back in season 4. The guy is pretty good at playing creepy characters.

    Spike question in the basement "Button, button, whose got the button?" What does that mean?

    If Xander was standing in Willow's head as Buffy fought Gnarl does that mean that Willow was standing through Buffy and Xander at the airport? Did anybody at the airport notice that.

    Another addition to Sunnydale is Springfield. Small town Sunnydale has an airport.

    Does Gnarl remind anybody else of Smeagol from Lord of the Rings. I don't know why be he does remind me of Smeagol.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the Geek, 07/11/2013 9:07pm (3 years ago)

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