Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

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Review etc: Welcome to the Hellmouth

Hey gang! One of my longterm fandom plans which I'm finally addressing again is a BtVS rewatch that I was doing back in 2012 to fill holes left by a couple of them we'd had going within the B/A community, which petered out early.

Naturally the point of a rewatch is to do the whole thing and I'd like mine to be fairly consistent in format and content, but I don't want to start over from scratch. For those I've already written, I'll be copying them more or less unaltered from here to my site. For the ones that come after that, I'll post in both places as I complete them. For those that come before that, here we go, because to draw from an LJ backlog there has to be a backlog to draw from.

To create this and the next five episodes, I've harvested my own comments from the aforementioned rewatches and pasted them together, so very little is actually new. It's mostly for archival purposes, but knowing that those Buffy fans still lingering on LJ may want to click the cut, I've done my best to make it readable.

This episode seems to suggest that no, it's not possible for Buffy to get a fresh start no matter how she tries to leave her past behind. On the other hand, this is the real beginning of her story and the beginning of the show we love, so it looks like she is starting over, just not in the way that she expected.

The Buffy and Angel Show: It would have been nice if ol' DB had started the game with at least a little bit of acting ability, but he makes up for it in smolder. I love it that Buffy so easily admits how gorgeous he is. If she had any idea what she was getting into, I bet she'd be a little more close-lipped about it.

Angel says that he thought Buffy would be taller, as if he’s seeing her for the first time. We know he isn’t, but I don’t think he was faking, either. He probably did have those thoughts when he first saw her; he was just reviewing them out loud.

Does Buffy show a special Angel-sense in this episode (as opposed to her usual vamp-sense)? She noticed Angel before she saw him, but wasn’t able to hone in on the vamp in the Bronze...and she didn't recognize Angel as a vampire, so we know it wasn't quite the same vamp-sense that she developed as the series went on. Maybe what Slayers feel from vampires has to do with their soullessness, so Angel affects them differently.

The idea of him affecting Buffy specifically is interesting, but I'm not totally sure I believe it, because it points a little too much toward "destined love" for my tastes. I believe that the two of them are right for each other, but not destined for each other. Destiny only has a meaning if you're thinking about it on a timeline. Right is right.

Willow and My Feelings: Buffy connected with Willow right away. They really didn't have anything in common except that they both needed a friend, and Buffy understood that and took the initiative to fix it. It wasn't just "take pity on the poor social outcast", either -- Buffy can identify a good heart, and she was genuinely interested in everything Willow had to say.

Sadly, and I do mean it makes me sad, Willow doesn't seem to realize that. She, alone of the outcasts we meet, speaks to Buffy as if accepting a personal favor which she didn't particularly deserve, cheerfully assuring her that she doesn't "have to" hang out with her. It took me a long time to notice how significant this is, probably because it's so damn real. Have you ever had someone thank you for sitting with them in a cafeteria? I have, and it stuck with me, since as far as I knew at the time, I was the outcast and she was the one doing me a favor by letting me sit there.

Willow isn't suspicious of Buffy's true intentions; she just thinks that someone so pretty, so cool, and so nice wouldn't have any reason to want her company. Ouch.

Question: I feel like I read an interview long ago that said Alyson Hannigan got the part because of the way she played this scene:

BUFFY: Did you ever get your Barbie back?
WILLOW: *optimistically* Most of it!

Obviously, that scene is not in the episode, and now I'm wondering where I heard about it, since I’m pretty sure I didn’t write those lines myself. Does it sound familiar to anyone else?

Xander and His Other Friends: Willow/Xander at this stage feels a lot like Xander/Buffy -- if they got together, it would be no more than your standard "nice guy gets the girl" story, and I don't want that. "Nice girl gets the guy" is maybe a tier above, but while Xander's crush on Buffy was still in play, Willow deserved better, even if she didn't know it.

Jesse seems to be an extension of Xander: no noticeable personality traits of his own, except for a crush on Cordelia. Still, I'll never be okay with the way he was just erased out of canon when he and Xander and Willow were obviously so close. They were kind of like the original Scoobies, but without any superpowers.

Cordelia and Cordelia: Odd thing about Cordelia that I don't often hear mentioned - she not only seems nice at first, she is nice. Buffy needed a book and some sign of welcome, and Cordy was there for her. I can't quite see that scene as just high school politics, trying to rope in the new girl because she was wearing fashionable enough clothes. Cordy acts on the impulse of her heart, not on hidden machinations.

Giles and Objects: I remember during my first watch, when I was in the later seasons, I noted that Giles is the only character to progressively get cooler in every single episode. This is probably not empirically true. However, he's one of the show's best constants, and it starts right here at the beginning: his set-up is perfect. He's appealing, dashing, funny, unique, and hints at hidden depths. He also sets up the Watchers' Council, and we don't even know that there is a Watchers' Council yet.

Oh, and bringing up Buffy's nightmares in a faux-innocent remark? BRILLIANT. This is classic Giles -- using his wisdom and knowledge to manipulate people he cares about for extremely good reasons. Recall the "binding spell" for Acathla. This is why he's the brains of the operation.

Giles and Willow have already met! They must have talked a while; she knew all about him. I wonder how that conversation went?

By the way, I've been trying to pinpoint the first time that Buffy calls him "Giles", and haven't found it. He introduces himself as Mr. Giles (in the shooting script, anyway), and most people don't just drop the title off of last names for no reason. How do you think the Scoobies ended up dubbing him like that?

Here’s Giles with some books.

Here are some goodies I scooped out of the shooting script for this episode at BuffyWorld:

On Xander:
He is bright, funny, and will one day be suave and handsome. Till that day arrives, he'll do the best he can with bright and funny.

On Willow:
The intelligence in her eyes and the sweetness of her smile belie a genuine charm that is lost on the unsubtle high school mind.

On Jesse:
He is a little more awkward than Xander, a little less likely to become a lady killer in his later years.

On Flutie:
He is middle aged, a tad officious. Caught between the old school of strict discipline and the new school of sensitivity.

On Cordelia:
The girl next to her, CORDELIA, leans over. She is pretty, self assured. Killer outfit.

On Giles:
He is British, of middle age, with a quiet intensity.

On Angel:
ANGEL is strikingly handsome, with intelligence and a kind of distance in his eyes. Moves with a fighter's grace.

On the Master:
Born Heinrich Joseph Nest (some six hundred years ago,) he wears a vaguely SS-like outfit.

On the school:
Students pour in before first bell, talking, laughing. They could be from anywhere in America, but for the extremity of their dress and the esoteric mania of their slang. This is definitely So Cal.

On the library:
It's elegant, full of dark wood, streaming sunlight, and (duhh) books.

On the Bronze:
The place has an appealingly dive-y earthiness; no waiting in line for the bouncer to decide whether you're cool or not. Those that are in line wait only to pay the four bucks to get their hands stamped if they're old enough to drink.

And here's Joss setting up the now-notorious locker room scene, and this is why I love reading his shooting scripts:
Two GIRLS approach their lockers, talking. They begin undressing (just shoes and coats and stuff. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

And that cliffhanger with Luke:
She tries to fight him off but she's well pinned. He contemplates her a moment with gleeful animal hunger. Teeth dripping. (Hand written: "Not").

Random notes:

• "All the students here are free to call me Bob. But they don't."
• The music doesn't really do anything for me, but it doesn't bother me, either. It just fits into the background, like, "I am watching Buffy so this is the music that's playing." Very appropriate to the Bronze setting, I think.
• I didn't believe a word of the two ultra-chic locker room girls and their slang, and I'm glad it didn't stick around.
• I was also kind of bored by the fight scenes, which is unusual for me. Maybe because they got so much better as the budget grew?
• It seems at this point that there was probably no deeper plan for Darla. But by the grace of fanwank I could see the whole schoolgirl persona as a deliberate ruse or even a game. I think the power was always there; she just preferred playing sidekick to the Master or lover to Angelus when those roles were available.
Tags: episode review

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  • Review etc: What's My Line, Part 1

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