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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 13 - The Killer in Me

27 January 2014

Is that really Willow?

Synopsis: Giles takes the Potentials on the desert retreat where Buffy first met the First Slayer. A call from London has them worried that he might be the First. Kennedy fakes illness to get out of the trip so she can take Willow on a date. When they kiss Willow transforms into Warren’s physical form. She is freaked out and seeks out the help of her college wicca group. Meanwhile Spike’s chip is malfunctioning and giving him splitting headaches. So he and Buffy break into the abandoned Initiative to look for help.

The Good: Buffy and Spike visiting the Initiative made good use of the show’s backstory and the haunted house fight sequence was something different. I had to smile at their Ghostbusters banter and Riley asking his subordinates to call Spike “ass face.” I also liked the sensible precaution of chaining Spike up when Buffy’s not around and enjoyed seeing them stand back to back when searching for demons in the dark. Why wouldn’t you do that?

To build a story around Willow getting over Tara makes a lot of sense and Alyson Hannigan did fine with the emotional scenes.

The Bad: However for various reasons it never clicked.

I think we should start with Kennedy who is not a bad actress but is a bland one. I always look to blame the writers before the actor and they didn’t help her with a character sketch of four words: Potential rich gay girl. As usual within the Buffyverse she was given dialogue that marked her out as someone with confidence and style as she flirted with Willow and descriped how her gaydar worked. But it never felt entirely convincing. It felt slightly odd that we were seeing such a long flirtatious evening between two characters. Perhaps because of the one-way nature of the conversation. Kennedy talked about how much she liked Willow and said nothing about herself.

The transformation into Warren and the reapperence of Amy rather underlined my impression of Iyari Limon (Kennedy) as a weak link. Both Warren and Amy conveyed their personality clearly with far less screen time. The change into Warren was an interesting idea but we didn’t spend enough time with Willow to buy that her transformation was really happening. Yelling misogynistic things is not the same as convincing the audience of fundamental change. The decision to restage the scene of Tara’s murder felt more than a little awkward. Again it felt less like a genuine result of Willow and Warren blending together and more like an absence of subtlety in driving home the point that Kennedy’s magic lips had made Willow momentarily let go of Tara’s memory. Had the moment been earned the fairtytale kiss might have worked nicely but as it was it felt convenient.

I think the story probably would have functioned better without Amy’s involvement. We’ve established that Willow struggles to keep her power under control and so a guilt-induced glamour would have made sense. To throw in some exposition about Amy being jealous was a waste of time. Will Buffy go hunt her down next week? I doubt it.

One of the reasons more time wasn’t spent on Willow was because the rest of the Scoobies were contractually obliged to get their own plot. This season misdirection has become an annoying crutch that rarely pays off. Apparently Giles’ amazing escape from decapitation was designed to get us to a moment where we might believe he was the First. At no point did that seem believable. Are you telling me that since he returned Giles hasn’t sat in a chair, opened a door, made a cup of tea or eaten a meal with anyone? Didn’t he turn up carrying papers from the Watcher’s Council? The idea that he hugged no one on arrival is beyond ludicrous.

The Unknown: Presumably Buffy will choose to have Spike’s chip removed. It wouldn’t make narrative sense to go through the dark tunnels of the Initiative only to repair it. It might malfunction again and he already killed people with it in so she has her arguments ready when Xander objects. I’m not sure why this was necessary though. Hopefully it will be followed up on.

Did Buffy mention the First to the Government guys? You’d think it would be worth mentioning.

Best Moment: Buffy: “Not a  book thing. It’s a phone thing.”
Spike: “Who you gonna call? (They exchange looks) God, that phrase is never gonna be usable again is it?”

The Bottom Line: A very flawed attempt to do something interesting.

 

Cordia's Second Look
The Killer In Me
Season 7, Episode 13
Original airing: 2/4/2003

My Rating: 52

The Good: This episode had a very interesting premise that fell flat, but it was bolstered by the B story of Buffy and Spike.

Willow turning into Warren as a concept is super cool. I think dealing with her guilt over the murder and Tara’s death are things that need to be done. We’ve also seen Willow’s magic run rampant before, so this would have fit perfectly in line with that history. Unfortunately, the time isn’t spent with Willow to develop the transformation and make her decision to buy a gun and shoot Kennedy remotely believable.

Buffy and Spike are the best part of the episode. I found myself impressed that I never felt James Marsters’ headache acting was over the top. And it was nice to see our characters making reasonable, logical decisions. I feel like that has been missing here. But the attempt to contact Riley followed by the trepidatious fieldtrip to the Initiative site were very well done. It also led to the excellent callback to the flower shop phone call when the Initiative guys did show up.

The chip story needed to be handled and this leads to a perfect reason to remove it and the complications inherent in its existence. Its erratic use over the course of several seasons has made it seem quite worthless anyway, so let’s chuck that thing.

Finally, while I didn’t buy the Giles story (see the Bad), I did really like how Xander, Anya, and Dawn handled the situation. They are obviously on the same wavelength about the potential problems here and the seriousness of the situation. And it was cute to see them all tackle Giles.

The Bad: The problem with the Giles story is that it’s completely unbelievable that he had been in the house for several episodes (most likely weeks) without eating, touching, or physically interacting with anything in anyway. Plus, we saw him sit on the coffee table in the first scene. If this was supposed to be a clue that he isn’t the First, then why the obvious reminder from Andrew that the First can’t touch things? The misdirection wouldn’t work and the drama the show was attempting to create would have fallen flat.

But even without that goof, it was a ludicrous idea concerning the length of time. If this had happened a few hours after Giles first appearance, it would have been much more convincing.

But the thing that kept this episode from shinning was the main plot. Kennedy is such a large fixture in the story and she is just incredibly flat and boring. Adding to her strange overbearing self-confidence is the hint from prior episodes that she, like the rest of the girls, is only about 15. So her pursuit of 23 year old Willow is a bit creepy. Plus, she apparently lies all the time. Lied about being sick, lied about why they were going out, etc. She also apparently worships Willow without knowing much about her. All in all, it doesn’t feel real.

That being said, if the change had truly been caused by Kennedy’s kiss and Willow’s guilty feelings, I think it would have been a better story. Having Amy appear as the classic, cackling villain full of jealousy and rage was a huge crutch. We haven’t seen her since last season and it feels like they just wanted to pull in a familiar face so this wouldn’t all be Willow’s fault. And after introducing the concept that this is a hex from Amy, it is inexplicably broken by a fairytale kiss. Amy never mentions the end of the spell or how it could come about, but this just made me roll my eyes in disdain. From the moment of Amy’s reveal, everything about the story felt extremely generic and not very Buffy.

Favorite Moment: Buffy and Spike’s first scene in the basement is quite sweet. Nothing overt is said and no physical contact is exchanged, but it’s easy to see they care about each other and their respective situations.

The Bottom Line: This episode had a very cool concept and dealt with a story that needed to be told regarding Willow moving on from Tara’s death. Unfortunately, it did it in a very basic and essentially pointless manner. It was bolstered by the well thought out Spike and Buffy story, but was pulled down yet again by the inconceivably terrible presentation of the idea that Giles might be evil. That just didn’t work. Overall, I felt this rollercoaster episode evened itself out and was just ok.

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Comments

  • Every time I watch this episode I get kind of scared. Not because it's a scary episode (it's not). It's scary because The Initiative and Riley are mentioned and I always think that Riley will make a last second appearance to ruin the episode. That's scarier than any demon.
    Also, wasn't The Initiative base supposed to be filled in with cement? Where's the cement? Good job Government.


    On paper, Willow turning into Warren sounds like a good idea but when watched repeatedly it's not the best idea. While it's nice to finally see Willow mourn over the death of Tara I find the mystery of the episode to be a bit boring. As soon as she appears it's pretty obvious that Amy is the one responsible for what's happening and the episode.

    3 things bug me about this episode.
    1. Kennedy saves the day. Ugh.
    2. No comeuppance for Amy at the end.
    3. Adam Busch sucks at playing sad. He's a terrible crier.

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the geek, 24/01/2014 5:47am (3 years ago)

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