AOQ Review 3-12: "Helpless"

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Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 19, 2006, 11:40:11 PM3/19/06
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A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
threads.


BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Season Three, Episode 12: "Helpless"
(or "That holy water/It only burns you faster than you'll ever
dry")
Writer: David Fury
Director: James A. Contner

First, let's get caught up with our dangling plot threads from
"Gingerbread." Joyce and Buffy show no signs of any issues, the
previous week conveniently swept away. On the plus side, they're not
just abandoning the rodent-Amy story without explanation. Not yet, at
least. Okay, we're up to date.

The teaser and beginning of act one, full of nice moments ("I would
appreciate your glib-free attention," "I think it might be time to
put a moratorium on parties in my honor. They tend to go badly")
leads us into Buffy collapsing in the middle of a fight with a vampire,
who then tries to stab her with her own stake. "Let me know if I'm
not doing this right". That's cold, dude. I assumed Angel or
Faith would save her, but instead the vampire lands on his own stake.
Cold but stupid.

Buffy's reaction to the obvious loss of her Slayer prowess is
reasonable, immediately fixating on it and going to Giles as soon as it
becomes clear that there's a problem. It soon becomes clear that
this is somehow related to the ominous British guys. (Is it just me, or
is the music in this episode more horror-movie than usual?) Now, based
on the accents I figured out soon enough that they were making Giles do
something he didn't want to do to Buffy. What I didn't figure was
how completely Head could sell the conflict. Naturally the script does
that too: we directly juxtapose Buffy trying to pull him into her life
as a father-figure with him drugging her, and so on. But even without
that, the actor's face and line delivery tell us plenty about the
doubts he's having. This is one situation where doing the "right
thing" isn't actually the right thing, just a dumb tradition, and
Giles is too much of a man of principle to suppress his outrage for
long. Although he does end up playing along for awhile, it's clear
from the start that he's close to the breaking point. And although
his job is mainly to sit around and watch, this show has demonstrated
that Rupert Giles is not a good person to piss off.

Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.
Particular examples include the big confrontation in the library
("all this time! And you didn't say a word!"), and her final
"bite me." It's not a universal thing; she's great with the
nervous flippancy when walking home at night. This is one of those
cases where the power of the story overcomes the weaknesses in acting,
though. Making Buffy temporarily "helpless" has the definite
potential to become overused, but it seems fresh in this case. It
isn't "just" an emotional trauma or a particularly nasty monster
this time - she is physically incapable of busting out any Slayer
badassery. She's lived for years simply not having to worry much
about an attack from a lone vampire, and a metaphor-free killer or
sexual predator would have barely crossed her radar. Now suddenly she
has to be as scared of the dark as everyone else - more so, actually,
as the dialogue indicates: "You lived a long time without it. You can
do it again." "I guess. But what if I can't? I've seen too
much."

The climax of that is the part in which Giles sabotages the test by
telling the truth. We as viewers know how much he's hurting and can
hope that Buffy won't hold it against him, but (like Giles) we can
understand why she does. It's heartbreaking watching him make
several overtures towards getting her trust again, and getting so
violently rejected each time (have I mentioned what a great job ASH
does with this stuff? Well, he does amazing work here). And then we
can feel his righteous indignation along with him for the rest of the
show ("Interestingly, I don't give a rat's ass about the Council's
orders").

>From there things play out pretty much as they should - there're
even two vampires, one for Buffy to prove herself by killing with her
wits alone, and one for Giles to kill by way of making his dramatic
entrance. Few surprises, but that's not so bad. And the trick with
the holy water is really quite clever, and did catch me off guard.

It's been hinted at since "What's My Line" at least that the
Watchers tend to have their heads up their asses, but this episode
hammers the point home. How the fuck anyone can find fault with Giles
here is beyond me, but adherence to tradition for its own sake will do
that to you. Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
stick with the party line of attachment = bad, or do we all side with
our heroes here? In any case, it seemed inevitable: he chose to follow
his conscience knowing that there might be consequences, and here they
are. It might seem a bit of a change for him to be a rebel now that
he's been fired, but I think he'll be the same Giles, following
what he sees as a higher level of duty.

Longtime readers will know that I'm a fan of using wordless silence
when it's appropriate. Well, after Quentin walks out at the end,
Watcher and Slayer don't have any more dialogue together, because
there's quite simply nothing to say. Instead she just lets him clean
her wounds. Touching, yes?

Well, the episode is pretty much about the relationship between Buffy
and Giles, but a few other thoughts:

At first I wasn't wild about the idea of the imprisoned vampire (I
made the "idle speculation, not at all a prediction, not at all"
that Nervous Guy would get killed when his creature got out of
control), But then in a classic BTVS reversal, the guy stops grunting
about pills and screaming and starts bringing the Buffyspeak. Well
played.

The second scene with Angel is good, bad, and interesting at once.
Good because I'm glad he finally tells her about having been stalking
her for so long, bad because the show plays it as a "sweet"
hideously melodramatic speech without having Buffy be creeped out or
anything, and good again because the joke at the end is quite funny
(Boreanaz's delivery at the end is enough to get him back on my good
side, after the rest of the scene). And interesting because it left me
thinking a little about what parts of being a Slayer don't involve
training. The three Slayers we've seen have had totally different
personalities, but they all had that something that made them worthy of
being chosen. Unlike someone like a Cordelia, Buffy had the potential
to be a Slayer before the superpowers. Is that heart there from birth
(Kendra's story suggests that, but it's unclear to me) or does it
only take shape once the personality develops?

I'm finally convinced that overalls have some reason for existing.

Again, let me reiterate that it's nice to be in the dark yet able to
see what's happening.

This is another one of those episodes that really has the knack for
throwing in a joke or a non sequitur in the middle of a scary or heavy
moment, without in any way killing the momentum of the scene. Like
Cordelia's intrusion on the "I don't know you" scene. Or
Kralik's mother issues.

I got a kick of the Two Cordelias idea proposed by Scythe Matters.
Well, it looks like we're back to Joss's version of the character
based on the last few episodes. Despite the bad blood with Buffy, she
instantly turns off any bitchiness once it becomes clear how much
wrongness there is.

It seems the show has a lot of balls in the air at the moment. Let's
hope it can juggle them all.

And finally, a question for any _Superman_ fans: who's right about
the Kryptonite thing?


So...

One-sentence summary: Buffy may be weak, but the premise is too strong
to be brought down.

AOQ rating: Excellent

[Season Three so far:
1) "Anne" - Decent
2) "Dead Man's Party" - Excellent
3) "Faith, Hope, and Trick" - Good
4) "Beauty And The Beasts" - Decent
5) "Homecoming" - Good
6) "Band Candy" - Weak
7) "Revelations" - Good
8) "Lovers Walk" - Excellent
9) "The Wish" - Decent
10) "Amends" - Good
11) "Gingerbread" - Good
12) "Helpless" - Excellent]

KenM47

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Mar 20, 2006, 12:05:05 AM3/20/06
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Just a few quick thoughts on this Excellent episode:

1. Buffy's stake does NOT disappear once the vamp on top of her goes
poof despite it clearly being IN the vamp at the moment - as opposed
to Buffy's often quick plunge and pull out.

2. Kralik is IMO the scariest vamp we've seen up to this point,
outdoing Angelus with a simple quiet obscene mocking of TLC "Shh.
Everything’s okay now."

3. I kept meaning to mention, and now's as good a time as any, how
amazingly this show managed to actually maintain suspense each episode
that a loved character, even Buffy, was in serious peril and might not
survive to the end credits. I thought Joyce might actually buy it, but
even more than that was concern that Giles who had seemingly betrayed
Buffy would pay the ultimate penalty in seeking redemption to help
her.

4. Yet, there was funny stuff right there, with "I have a problem with
mothers. chuckles I’m aware of that" and "If I was at full Slayer
power, I’d be punning right about now." And more.

5. Buffy asking Giles to take her to the Ice Capades when we know
Giles is seemingly betraying her was a killer moment. In a different
way so was Buffy letting Giles clean her wounds at the end.

What a show!


Ken (Brooklyn)

Apteryx

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Mar 20, 2006, 1:17:18 AM3/20/06
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1142829611....@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...

>A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
> threads.
>
>
> Buffy's reaction to the obvious loss of her Slayer prowess is
> reasonable, immediately fixating on it and going to Giles as soon as it
> becomes clear that there's a problem. It soon becomes clear that
> this is somehow related to the ominous British guys. (Is it just me, or
> is the music in this episode more horror-movie than usual?) Now, based
> on the accents I figured out soon enough that they were making Giles do
> something he didn't want to do to Buffy. What I didn't figure was
> how completely Head could sell the conflict. Naturally the script does
> that too: we directly juxtapose Buffy trying to pull him into her life
> as a father-figure with him drugging her, and so on. But even without
> that, the actor's face and line delivery tell us plenty about the
> doubts he's having. This is one situation where doing the "right
> thing" isn't actually the right thing, just a dumb tradition, and
> Giles is too much of a man of principle to suppress his outrage for
> long. Although he does end up playing along for awhile, it's clear
> from the start that he's close to the breaking point. And although
> his job is mainly to sit around and watch, this show has demonstrated
> that Rupert Giles is not a good person to piss off.

>


> One-sentence summary: Buffy may be weak, but the premise is too strong
> to be brought down.
>
> AOQ rating: Excellent

For me, this is yet another mid season Season 3 episode that leaves me in
two minds. In this case, a classic head/heart dichotomy. On an emotional
level, this is one of the all time greats. We see Buffy let down by her
actual father, transferring her trust to a father-figure, and being betrayed
again. We see her busted down to regular teenager, but still resourceful
enough to come through, and we see Giles in the end come through for her.

But...

Even though he rebels in the end, the idea of Giles injecting substances
into Buffy that will put her life in danger is simply not compatible with
the Giles we have come to know. And it he did, it is hard to believe Buffy
would forgive him as soon as she seems to, even with his switching sides,
saving her from the 2nd vampire, and getting fired because of his "father's
love".

We got a pretty strong hint with the last episode, but here we are slapped
in the face with the fact that even though this series creates real and
engaging characters, it is in the end a 22 episode TV series, and as such
necessarily plot driven rather than character driven. It has an end point it
intends to reach, and if the characters won't go there of their own accord,
they will be dragged kicking and screaming.

Even apart from what the writers do to Giles in this episode, the idea of
the Watcher's Council applying this test is absurd. Surely the worst thing
for them is a slayer who is killed too soon, before she aquires enough
experience to be really valuable. If they were ruthless enough to test their
slayer to destruction, the sensible time would be soon after she is chosen,
to check that the chooser chose right, before too much time was invested in
her training. If she was chosen at 15 and survives to her 18th birthday,
that fact alone is enough to show that the choice wasn't too far wrong. And
what can they ever have expected with regards to staff relations with those
of their slayers who came through this test?

Such welcome and unwelcome things at once, 'tis hard to reconcile.

My rating for this episode could be placed almost anywhere. In the end, I
settled on a rating that places it squarely in the middle of "Good"
territory, equidistant from Excellent and Decent. It is my 46th best BtVS
episode, 13th best in Season 3

--
Apteryx


mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 20, 2006, 1:25:45 AM3/20/06
to
> hammers the point home. How the fuck anyone can find fault with Giles
> here is beyond me, but adherence to tradition for its own sake will do
> that to you. Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
> stick with the party line of attachment = bad, or do we all side with
> our heroes here? In any case, it seemed inevitable: he chose to follow

i was thinking about this especially in light of some things that happen later

the slayer is usually called still as a girl
and children oddly enough are more easily swayed by authority figures
adn usually the slayer is killed within a few years
before she has a chance to grow up

what happens if a slayer stays alive long enough
to learn to tell the council -bite me-
or if a slayer becomes troublesome

arrange a traditional near fatal test that is fatal
and youre rid of this troublesome slayer
and you have a new slayer ready to go

note that even after quentins carefully arranged test spun out of control
he was in way no concerned or anxious to rectify the mistake


also based on some future stories it sounds like the slayers watcher
often slips into the role of a trusted surrogate parent

nothing like having a trusted parent drug you and arrange a near death experience

that would tend to break up the relation if the slayer survives
and leave her with no one left she can trust
psychologically unmoored and even more suspectible to council manipulation


im starting to think crucitareum has nothing to do
with slayers ability to think on her feet
and everything to do with destroying any sense of independence
and keeping the slayer under tighter control than ever

or just killing off a has been and getting tgis years model

arf meow arf - nsa fodder
al qaeda terrorism nuclear bomb iran taliban big brother
if you meet buddha on the usenet killfile him

burt...@hotmail.com

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Mar 20, 2006, 1:54:13 AM3/20/06
to

Apteryx wrote:
> For me, this is yet another mid season Season 3 episode that leaves me in
> two minds. In this case, a classic head/heart dichotomy. On an emotional
> level, this is one of the all time greats. We see Buffy let down by her
> actual father, transferring her trust to a father-figure, and being betrayed
> again. We see her busted down to regular teenager, but still resourceful
> enough to come through, and we see Giles in the end come through for her.
>
> But...
>
> Even though he rebels in the end, the idea of Giles injecting substances
> into Buffy that will put her life in danger is simply not compatible with
> the Giles we have come to know. And it he did, it is hard to believe Buffy
> would forgive him as soon as she seems to, even with his switching sides,
> saving her from the 2nd vampire, and getting fired because of his "father's
> love".

I agree with you here. And there's another huge flaw in the episode as
well. Where the hell was Faith? The test had gone fubar, one of the
Watchers was vamped, Joyce was in extreme danger, and everyone just
seemed to forget that there was another Slayer in town. I realize that
there are reasons outside the show that dictate how many episodes
certain characters can appear in, but Faith being missing here was one
of the most glaring omissions of a character in the entire series.

This isn't a bad episode, but there are way too many problems for me to
rate it as one of the best of the season.

Mike Zeares

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Mar 20, 2006, 2:00:17 AM3/20/06
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Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Three, Episode 12: "Helpless"

> leads us into Buffy collapsing in the middle of a fight with a vampire,


> who then tries to stab her with her own stake. "Let me know if I'm
> not doing this right". That's cold, dude. I assumed Angel or
> Faith would save her, but instead the vampire lands on his own stake.
> Cold but stupid.

She beat him with a head-butt. You're not safe as long as the Slayer
can move any part of her body.

> (Is it just me, or
> is the music in this episode more horror-movie than usual?)

It's not just you. A very horror-movie score.

> Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
> are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.
> Particular examples include the big confrontation in the library
> ("all this time! And you didn't say a word!"), and her final
> "bite me." It's not a universal thing; she's great with the
> nervous flippancy when walking home at night. This is one of those
> cases where the power of the story overcomes the weaknesses in acting,
> though.

[Oz] Huh. [/Oz] I can't say I see that. I thought she was excellent
in both of the scenes you mention. Not quite as good as "Prophecy
Girl," but close.

> Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
> stick with the party line of attachment = bad, or do we all side with
> our heroes here?

Heh heh. Sometime, when you have a lot of free time, Google a thread
from Jan 20, 1999 titled, "In Defense of the Watcher [sic] Council."
670 messages. Pretty much all on topic, more or less. George Ferguson
once nominated it for Best Thread Ever.

I, of course, have always been on the "Watchers Council = frickin'
idiots" page. I remember making an infuriated post after this episode
where I compared them to French generals sipping cognac in their
chateau while up at the front their troops died in the mud. I was mad
as hell after this episode, and stayed that way at the WC for... well,
the rest of the series, really. Smug bastards.

> At first I wasn't wild about the idea of the imprisoned vampire (I
> made the "idle speculation, not at all a prediction, not at all"
> that Nervous Guy would get killed when his creature got out of
> control), But then in a classic BTVS reversal, the guy stops grunting
> about pills and screaming and starts bringing the Buffyspeak. Well
> played.

Agreed. Jeff Kober was perfect for the role.

> I'm finally convinced that overalls have some reason for existing.

People have referred to them as the Overalls of Depression, since the
other time she wore them was while leaving Sunnydale.

> Again, let me reiterate that it's nice to be in the dark yet able to
> see what's happening.

I've said many times that Michael Gershman didn't light scenes, he
darked them. This episode may have taken that to its limit. One thing
that facinates me (and that I don't believe I've noticed in any other
series) is the way he'll have a light fixture on the wall in the
background that's bright but that doesn't seem to add to the ambient
light level of the space. Dark shadows everywhere except for that
almost pinpoint of light and the actor in the foreground in spotlight.
It may be trivial to actually do (I am nearly 100 percent ignorant on
the actual processes of filming).

(I'm not sure if that's what you were referring to, but I wanted to
riff on it anyway, so I took it that way.)

> I got a kick of the Two Cordelias idea proposed by Scythe Matters.
> Well, it looks like we're back to Joss's version of the character
> based on the last few episodes. Despite the bad blood with Buffy, she
> instantly turns off any bitchiness once it becomes clear how much
> wrongness there is.

That was a nice moment. Cordy isn't the character who seems to have
two versions. Xander could be like that too.

> And finally, a question for any _Superman_ fans: who's right about
> the Kryptonite thing?

Trivia from the commentary: David Fury couldn't actually remember and
didn't want to bother researching, so he covered by having the guys
argue about it.

> One-sentence summary: Buffy may be weak, but the premise is too strong
> to be brought down.
>
> AOQ rating: Excellent

I concur. One of my favorites from S3.

-- Mike Zeares

hopelessly devoted

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Mar 20, 2006, 2:34:41 AM3/20/06
to

Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:

> Season Three, Episode 12: "Helpless"

And we come to my #2 in S3 (often flip flopping with my #1 The Wish).
The darker the better.

On First Viewing, this ep was clearly incredible. The setup, the
execution and yes even the holy water quick ending. The only surprise
twist was the end scene and the Father's Love speech. It had been
happening all along but because it's right in front of your eyes, the
revelation is akin to finding that word that's on the tip of your
tongue. Beautiful ending.

Slayer/Vampire foreplay and pretty cool opening too.

First Glance at the people at Sunnydale Arms, "Slayer's preparation is
nearly complete." This is the Council? Quite different from our
current Watcher.

> Buffy's reaction to the obvious loss of her Slayer prowess is
> reasonable, immediately fixating on it and going to Giles as soon as it
> becomes clear that there's a problem.

Adding a very nice duality to Buffy. In the face of being a Slayer,
she wants to be a normal girl. In the face of being a normal girl, she
wants to be a Slayer.

Watching Giles administering the injection I actually started thinking
that maybe Giles was possessed.

> Well, after Quentin walks out at the end,
> Watcher and Slayer don't have any more dialogue together, because
> there's quite simply nothing to say. Instead she just lets him clean
> her wounds. Touching, yes?

Absolutely beautiful moment. A Father's Love highlight's this nicely.

> Well, the episode is pretty much about the relationship between Buffy
> and Giles, but a few other thoughts:

S1 provided a wonderful setup and introduction of characters. It also
started the ball rolling on the B/G father-daughter relationship. This
ep takes quite a few knowns from Nightmares: Gile's fear of losing a
slayer. Buffy's fears of becoming a vampire, of abandonment from her
father and being buried alive as well her ongoing fear of putting her
mother in danger. Buffy puts the relationship on a personal level in
WtTH with "Go ahead! Prepare me." Buffy's punch of love at the end of
Passion "You can't leave me. I can't do this alone." It's been
building on the B side for some time. On the G side, it's a little
harder to see, but still present. Prophecy Girl, Innocence, FH&T. But
until they actually said it out loud........

It's dark. It's scary. It's real horror. Complete with scary horror
music. Lights off and volume up.

As far as the WC, when fighting a war, both the good guys and the bad
guys look and act awful lot alike. Protocol before all. And that's
the nicest thing I can say.....

Great Kralik moments:

Hide and seek.

Oh-oh, no, no. Just a little lower. Right... Oh, yes. Yes. Oh. Oooh!
Thank you very much.

Now that was a great vamp!

Kevin

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Mar 20, 2006, 2:54:56 AM3/20/06
to

e. e. cummings and his punctuationless keyboard wrote:
> im starting to think crucitareum has nothing to do
> with slayers ability to think on her feet
> and everything to do with destroying any sense of independence
> and keeping the slayer under tighter control than ever
>
> or just killing off a has been and getting tgis years model


Very interesting; I never thought of it that way.


> note that even after quentins carefully arranged test spun out of control
> he was in way no concerned or anxious to rectify the mistake
>
> also based on some future stories it sounds like the slayers watcher
> often slips into the role of a trusted surrogate parent
>
> nothing like having a trusted parent drug you and arrange a near death experience
>
> that would tend to break up the relation if the slayer survives
> and leave her with no one left she can trust
> psychologically unmoored and even more suspectible to council manipulation


My disbelief that this "test" would make sense to the Council has
always lowered the episode's rating for me (a rating that is otherwise
quite high, for reasons AOQ has praised in his review). Giles' getting
fired is off-putting as well; more to come on that issue in future.
But I can buy your argument on the Council's motivations.

Giles wouldn't likely be the first watcher to develop a father's love,
though, would he? So he might have seen this coming... In a way, I
think the attempt to inject more of the Council's presence into the
show steers Joss&Co. to write themselves into a corner. As BTVS
continually gains welcome depth, parts of the Buffyverse necessarily
grow more unwieldy, and we're left with aspects that we can't ignore --
and the tightrope-walking writers can allow themselves only so much
evasion before the viewers balk. Sunnydale "forgettyitis" is an even
bigger can o' worms, looming in the background, than the Council, and
Gingerbread of course took two big steps forward and then two steps
right back.

I wish I had a nickel for every cliche I used in that paragraph. But I
stand by it. :)

--Kevin

Espen Schjønberg

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Mar 20, 2006, 4:53:26 AM3/20/06
to
On 20.03.2006 07:54, burt...@hotmail.com wrote:
> Apteryx wrote:
>
>>For me, this is yet another mid season Season 3 episode that leaves me in
>>two minds. In this case, a classic head/heart dichotomy. On an emotional
>>level, this is one of the all time greats. We see Buffy let down by her
>>actual father, transferring her trust to a father-figure, and being betrayed
>>again. We see her busted down to regular teenager, but still resourceful
>>enough to come through, and we see Giles in the end come through for her.
>>
>>But...
>>
>>Even though he rebels in the end, the idea of Giles injecting substances
>>into Buffy that will put her life in danger is simply not compatible with
>>the Giles we have come to know.

The worst problem with the episode must be the execution of the test, in
the sense: Buff should have died 19 times out of 20 before the test even
began.

Of couse, the corrupt and incomptetent counsil makes sense, we should
have seen it coming: they has been unable to find a new watcher for
Faith for how long? Months? Are they fighting over the right, or are the
culture so much "we don't want to get mud on our hands" as the
treatment of Giles would suggest? So being a watcher in the field is for
the losers, in this organization. And no-one wants to lose.

Clearly, given the raison d'etre for the counsil, this culture is _bad_.

But also: Buff has died, the replacement has been called. Are they so
afraid of her getting to realize they are crap they want to kill her,
even if it is unlikely they will get a easy to control replacement?

Scary.

> I agree with you here. And there's another huge flaw in the episode as
> well. Where the hell was Faith?

Has they casted a spell to cloke Sunnydale for Faith in this ep? Of
course, it would be major disaster for the Counsil if she learnt of the
test before she would be the subject of it.

> This isn't a bad episode, but there are way too many problems for me to
> rate it as one of the best of the season.

I hated it. Of course, that was just me, again. I hated how they
destroyed the watchers counsil as Buffys support organization. But it
does make sense: they are a bunch of corrupted and stupid people.

--
Espen

jil...@hotmail.com

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Mar 20, 2006, 4:58:24 AM3/20/06
to
Apteryx wrote:
> Even apart from what the writers do to Giles in this episode, the idea of
> the Watcher's Council applying this test is absurd. Surely the worst thing
> for them is a slayer who is killed too soon, before she aquires enough
> experience to be really valuable. If they were ruthless enough to test their
> slayer to destruction, the sensible time would be soon after she is chosen,
> to check that the chooser chose right, before too much time was invested in
> her training. If she was chosen at 15 and survives to her 18th birthday,
> that fact alone is enough to show that the choice wasn't too far wrong. And
> what can they ever have expected with regards to staff relations with those
> of their slayers who came through this test?
>
> Such welcome and unwelcome things at once, 'tis hard to reconcile.

I've often found myself with a different opinion about this test than,
oh, most people. Or the most vocal people. Certainly I do not approve
of the test, but here goes: In theory, an 18 year old Slayer has been
doing this for about three years. To live that long, she has to be
quite smart. It isn't sheer strength that wins the battles, it's also
the ability to think on her feet. Now, in a technical way Buffy isn't
special among Slayers. She did, indeed, get killed after being a
Slayer only a year. Because of Xander and Angel, though, she was
revived naturally before she was beyond help. Clearly the calling of
the next Slayer does not drain the previous Slayer, although usually
there isn't a previous Slayer around to compare.

I thought the test served two purposes. One, it makes sure she has
indeed survived because of her wits. Two: it makes it clear to her
that the only person she can truly trust is herself. This is helpful
in such cases as Gwendolyn Post. Or what if her Watcher is controlled
and she doesn't know it until too late? The Slayer must be able to
function on her own and not wait for orders, that's really the point of
it. She must be able to function when her power has been taken from
her, or what is all that training for?

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 5:53:30 AM3/20/06
to
> I hated it. Of course, that was just me, again. I hated how they
> destroyed the watchers counsil as Buffys support organization. But it
> does make sense: they are a bunch of corrupted and stupid people.

no worse than the generals of any other army

generals typical accept the honors from the soldiers marching off
to actually kill and be killed
and sit safely in their headquarters during the actual battle
later to be cheered by people back home on their bravery

Eric Hunter

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 6:45:38 AM3/20/06
to
Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:
> A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
> threads.
>
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Three, Episode 12: "Helpless"
> (or "That holy water/It only burns you faster than you'll ever
> dry")
> a question for any _Superman_ fans: who's right about
> the Kryptonite thing?

http://theages.superman.ws/Encyclopaedia/kryptonite.php

There are five distinct varieties of kryptonite (green, red,
gold, blue, and white), the first three of which are toxic to
Superman.
Green kryptonite, the only variety potentially fatal to
Superman, induces lassitude and inertia followed by death
if not removed in time from Superman's presence.

Red kryptonite inflicts bizarre and unpredictable - albeit
temporary and nonfatal - symptoms, as when it divides
Superman into twins or transforms him into an infant or
a giant ant.

Gold kryptonite would permanently rob Superman of his
super-powers were he ever to be exposed to its radiations.

Blue kryptonite is toxic only to Bizarro creatures.

White kryptonite is harmful only to plant life.

So, not surprisingly, Oz is right, and Xander is wrong.

Eric.
--

vague disclaimer

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 7:39:21 AM3/20/06
to
In article
<mair_fheal-AF4AF...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,
mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> > I hated it. Of course, that was just me, again. I hated how they
> > destroyed the watchers counsil as Buffys support organization. But it
> > does make sense: they are a bunch of corrupted and stupid people.
>
> no worse than the generals of any other army
>
> generals typical accept the honors from the soldiers marching off
> to actually kill and be killed
> and sit safely in their headquarters during the actual battle
> later to be cheered by people back home on their bravery

General Sir Hogmonay Melchett: The healthy humor of the honest, Tommy.
Don't worry my boy, if you should falter, remember that Captain Darling
and I are behind you.
Captain Blackadder: About 35 miles behind you
--
A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend

kenm47

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 8:28:02 AM3/20/06
to

I think that Apteryx has the stronger end of this debate. It makes
little sense to risk a valuable asset in this "test." Seems more likely
to end in her destruction and a new more pliable Slayer being called.
It also makes no sense to cast off a valuable Watcher (Who with his
Slayer has saved the world 4 times so far? Or doesn't anyone read his
reports?) because of his loyalty and paternal-like "love" of his charge
(sexual "love" might be a whole different thing). And as best we know,
Slayers are supposed to die (and stay dead) long before they hit 18,
like Kendra (and,FWIW, the prior Slayers in the original WB tease and
in the movie)

No, the CoW comes off as power thirsty fools, more involved in ritual
than practical demon hunting. A class thing, with "Ripper" never going
to be let into the club.

BTW, AoQ, did you notice the Star Trek connection? "Blair" (Brit turned
by Kralik) was played by Dominic Keating, Lt Malcolm Reed of the
Starship Enterprise NX-01.

Ken (Brooklyn)

kenm47

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 8:36:49 AM3/20/06
to

Great link.

Here's Wikipedia's take on it going a little further:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptonite

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Action_comics_310.jpg

Ken (Brooklyn)

Mike Zeares

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 8:39:26 AM3/20/06
to

Espen Schjønberg wrote:

> Of couse, the corrupt and incomptetent counsil makes sense, we should
> have seen it coming: they has been unable to find a new watcher for
> Faith for how long? Months? Are they fighting over the right, or are the
> culture so much "we don't want to get mud on our hands" as the
> treatment of Giles would suggest? So being a watcher in the field is for
> the losers, in this organization. And no-one wants to lose.

Well, look at it from their persepctive. Slayers come and go. Often
in fairly rapid succession. While the Council remains. I can see how
they could start thinking that they're the more important part of the
organization.

> But also: Buff has died, the replacement has been called. Are they so
> afraid of her getting to realize they are crap they want to kill her,
> even if it is unlikely they will get a easy to control replacement?

I've never really totally bought into the "they try to kill their own
Slayers" line of thought. I think it's more likely that it's exactly
what it was presented as: an ancient tradition. It's interesting to
speculate on the orgin of the Cruciamentum. Perhaps an experienced
Slayer in the past was robbed of her powers by some means, and fell
apart, and the test was created as, well, a test.

Or maybe they are just a bunch of evil bastards who like to kill their
Slayers before they get "uppity."

> Has they casted a spell to cloke Sunnydale for Faith in this ep? Of
> course, it would be major disaster for the Counsil if she learnt of the
> test before she would be the subject of it.

It might have been a major disaster for them if *Buffy* had found out
about it beforehand.

-- Mike Zeares

Terry

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 8:46:27 AM3/20/06
to
"kenm47" <ken...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in news:1142861809.186266.76290
@j33g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

>
> Eric Hunter wrote:
>> Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:

>> > a question for any _Superman_ fans: who's right about
>> > the Kryptonite thing?
>>
>> http://theages.superman.ws/Encyclopaedia/kryptonite.php

> Great link.


>
> Here's Wikipedia's take on it going a little further:


Have I mentioned I love you guys? Hee. I never even knew there was
different types of kyptonite until this ep. And now, I know faaaar too
much about it.

Not that that's a bad thing.

Terry

Espen Schjønberg

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 9:13:19 AM3/20/06
to
On 20.03.2006 14:39, Mike Zeares wrote:
> Espen Schjønberg wrote:
>
>
>>Of couse, the corrupt and incomptetent counsil makes sense, we should
>>have seen it coming: they has been unable to find a new watcher for
>>Faith for how long? Months? Are they fighting over the right, or are the
>> culture so much "we don't want to get mud on our hands" as the
>>treatment of Giles would suggest? So being a watcher in the field is for
>>the losers, in this organization. And no-one wants to lose.
>
>
> Well, look at it from their persepctive. Slayers come and go. Often
> in fairly rapid succession. While the Council remains. I can see how
> they could start thinking that they're the more important part of the
> organization.

Yes, I can see that too. It is a human way to be mistaken.

So I can see it in the sense: this is logical, hence not an
inconcistensy of any kind, but it is still _very_ bad for the counsil.
It happens because they corrupt.

>>But also: Buff has died, the replacement has been called. Are they so
>>afraid of her getting to realize they are crap they want to kill her,
>>even if it is unlikely they will get a easy to control replacement?
>
>
> I've never really totally bought into the "they try to kill their own
> Slayers" line of thought.

The problem with _Buffys_ case, is she has been killed before, and a
replacement has been called. Hence, in _Buffys_ case this is different
from earlier Slayers reaching their 18-inth birthday.

Normally, it makes sense to say: has she survived this abnormally wrong
because she is abnormally good, or because she is actually very good at
hiding from the demons? Hence, the test. The ones who are abnormally
good "should" win over one lousy vampire with reduced powers, (and the
death rate in the "should" -well, haha, there is a war. Bladibla, we
don't care about a single humans life.) While those who hide must be
replaced for the need of an actually fighting slayer.

But they don't seem to realize the problem with Buffy in this sense: if
they don't get a replacement, she is a "bonus slayer" now. She should
not be in the normal program: if she dies, they lose a warrior, her
death will not cause an instant calling some other place.

Unless they have calculated it will be. Of course, if the counsil
believes this strongly, all the above falls apart.

> Or maybe they are just a bunch of evil bastards who like to kill their
> Slayers before they get "uppity."

Actually, that is my theory why they should insist on Buffy going
through this test now. But it is a very different theory from why they
normally have the test (see above.)

>
>>Has they casted a spell to cloke Sunnydale for Faith in this ep? Of
>>course, it would be major disaster for the Counsil if she learnt of the
>>test before she would be the subject of it.
>
>
> It might have been a major disaster for them if *Buffy* had found out
> about it beforehand.

It is strange the demons havent heard of it, the Counsil must have lost
men to be vamped before. If the demons had heard of it, there should
have been enough if only one demon wanted to use it to create a gap
between the Slayer and her watcher.

And the Faith-part: If she founds out before she reaches 18, don't you
think the Counsil has lost, well, everything in regard to her?

So I insist: they must have cloked this from Faith, or this would have
lead to an instant disaster. Unless they have Faith out of the way, and
they believe Buffy _no way_ will survive to tell the tale.

--
Espen

gree...@gmail.com

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 9:41:39 AM3/20/06
to
Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:

> Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
> are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.

I thought this was some of Gellar's best stuff all season.

> It's been hinted at since "What's My Line" at least that the
> Watchers tend to have their heads up their asses, but this episode
> hammers the point home.

Yeah, well, frankly, the whole Watcher thing since Whedon came up with
Councils and multiple Slayers and whatever all has been a weakness in
the story. It's about time their ineptitude and stupidity was made
explicit. Of course, you then have to wonder how they managed to last
as an organization, but looking into it too deeply... Well, that way
lies madness.

> How the fuck anyone can find fault with Giles
> here is beyond me, but adherence to tradition for its own sake will do
> that to you.

It's pretty easy to find fault with Giles 'cause he did adhere to
tradition, even though he pretty clearly thought the whole thing was
insanely wrong.

> Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
> stick with the party line of attachment = bad, or do we all side with
> our heroes here?

Seems open and shut to me, but look up that thread Zeares mentioned. I
think you may need to wait until the end of season three to do it
though. It moves on to events beyond "Helpless", as I recall.

> Unlike someone like a Cordelia, Buffy had the potential
> to be a Slayer before the superpowers.

Interesting comment, since Buffy was pretty clearly "someone like a
Cordelia" before she was the Slayer.

> AOQ rating: Excellent

Yep; one of Fury's best ever.

Terry

Jeff Jacoby

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 9:57:58 AM3/20/06
to

They're both right and both wrong...

X: You know, maybe we're on the wrong track with the
whole spell, curse and whammy thing. Maybe what we
should be looking for is something like, um, (ahem)
Slayer kryptonite.

Oz: Faulty metaphor. Kryptonite kills.

Obviously Oz is mostly incorrect or over-generalizing, even
by his own admission.

X: You're assuming I meant the green kryptonite. I was
referring, of course, to the red kryptonite, which
drains Superman of his powers.

Xander's half right/half wrong.

Oz: Wrong. The gold kryptonite's the power-sucker. The red
kryptonite mutates Superman into some sort of weird...

Didn't Oz just say, without qualification, that kryptonite kills?

Oz is correct in the details, but Xander is also correct
about the use of the metaphor. Buffy is being affected
by a proximate physical agent, not a spell or curse.


Jeff

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:08:47 PM3/20/06
to
In article <QNrTf.7304$JZ1.2...@news.xtra.co.nz>,
"Apteryx" <apt...@extra.co.nz> wrote:

> Even apart from what the writers do to Giles in this episode, the idea of
> the Watcher's Council applying this test is absurd. Surely the worst thing
> for them is a slayer who is killed too soon, before she aquires enough
> experience to be really valuable. If they were ruthless enough to test their
> slayer to destruction, the sensible time would be soon after she is chosen,
> to check that the chooser chose right, before too much time was invested in
> her training. If she was chosen at 15 and survives to her 18th birthday,
> that fact alone is enough to show that the choice wasn't too far wrong. And
> what can they ever have expected with regards to staff relations with those
> of their slayers who came through this test?

Which is why I think that the 'test' was really intended to eliminate a
Slayer who has gotten old enough to start thinking for herself, in a way
that gives deniability to the Council.

"Oh. Too bad. We really hoped she'd pass. Ah well, let's take a look
at this new girl."

--
Quando omni flunkus moritati
Visit the Buffy Body Count at <http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/>

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:12:56 PM3/20/06
to
In article <1142837653....@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>,
burt...@hotmail.com wrote:

> I agree with you here. And there's another huge flaw in the episode as
> well. Where the hell was Faith? The test had gone fubar, one of the
> Watchers was vamped, Joyce was in extreme danger, and everyone just
> seemed to forget that there was another Slayer in town. I realize that
> there are reasons outside the show that dictate how many episodes
> certain characters can appear in, but Faith being missing here was one
> of the most glaring omissions of a character in the entire series.

This is the episode where they actually told us why Faith isn't around:
She was off on one of her unannounced walkabouts.

kenm47

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:18:55 PM3/20/06
to

Which does raise the image of Giles not reaching Faith, perhaps even
failing in being her temp Watcher. Now we know two Slayers is more than
any other Watcher was ever asked to concern himself or herself with,
and that Giles had a personal crisis on his hands (castrating Buffy),
but still, makes you wonder about that neglected younger (IMO, Faith is
younger) child.

Ken (Brooklyn)

Jeff Jacoby

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:23:45 PM3/20/06
to
On Mon, 20 Mar 2006 13:08:47 -0500, Don <dsa...@synapse.net> wrote:
> In article <QNrTf.7304$JZ1.2...@news.xtra.co.nz>,
> "Apteryx" <apt...@extra.co.nz> wrote:
>
>> Even apart from what the writers do to Giles in this episode, the idea of
>> the Watcher's Council applying this test is absurd. Surely the worst thing
>> for them is a slayer who is killed too soon, before she aquires enough
>> experience to be really valuable. If they were ruthless enough to test their
>> slayer to destruction, the sensible time would be soon after she is chosen,
>> to check that the chooser chose right, before too much time was invested in
>> her training. If she was chosen at 15 and survives to her 18th birthday,
>> that fact alone is enough to show that the choice wasn't too far wrong. And
>> what can they ever have expected with regards to staff relations with those
>> of their slayers who came through this test?
>
> Which is why I think that the 'test' was really intended to eliminate a
> Slayer who has gotten old enough to start thinking for herself, in a way
> that gives deniability to the Council.

Ah, so the really smart slayers, the ones who can actually
get past this test, won't continue (or start) thinking for
themselves later on?

Who does the Council answer to that they need such deniability?


Jeff

kenm47

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:26:52 PM3/20/06
to

I don't think The Doctor has anything to do with it.

Ken (Brooklyn)

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:29:36 PM3/20/06
to
In article <BbOdnUzo6J6sboPZ...@comcast.com>,
Jeff Jacoby <jja...@not.real.com> wrote:

If she passes the test, she will have still lost trust in her Watcher,
and that will make her much more vulnerable. If the Council thinks that
there's a chance that the Slayer/Watcher relationship is strong enough
to survive the betrayal, they fire the Watcher, naq ercynpr uvz jvgu n
pbhapvy syhaxl, jub jvyy cebonoyl znantr gb trg ure xvyyrq va fubeg
beqre.

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:34:05 PM3/20/06
to
In article <1142878735.7...@t31g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
"kenm47" <ken...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

This episode is another indication that Faith is younger than Buffy,
since there is no mention of her ever having gone through the
Cruciamentum. (Which literally means "torture." Nice of the Council to
have that bit of honesty, even if they do try to hide it behind the
Latin name.)

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:41:05 PM3/20/06
to
In article <BbOdnUzo6J6sboPZ...@comcast.com>,
Jeff Jacoby <jja...@not.real.com> wrote:

> Who does the Council answer to that they need such deniability?

Themselves, or rather the rank and file of their membership.

kenm47

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 1:46:08 PM3/20/06
to

<slaps forehead> Of Course! Nice catch Don!

Ken (Brooklyn)

Jeff Jacoby

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 2:12:54 PM3/20/06
to

Possibly. But it's a pretty savvy slayer who can
pass the test. She may not end up being all that
vulnerable to anything else the Council can bring
to bear, short of being killed outright. Also, since
the Council is not hiding its role, that loss of trust
equally extends to them as well as any of their
further actions.

> If the Council thinks that
> there's a chance that the Slayer/Watcher relationship is strong enough

> to survive the betrayal, gurl sver gur Jngpure, naq ercynpr uvz jvgu n

> pbhapvy syhaxl, jub jvyy cebonoyl znantr gb trg ure xvyyrq va fubeg
> beqre.

Same answer as above. Vs gur Pehpvnzraghz qvqa'g xvyy ure
gura fbzr hagehfgrq arj Jngpure yvxryl jba'g rvgure, ur'yy
whfg or vtaberq.


Jeff

Stephen Tempest

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 2:12:18 PM3/20/06
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> writes:

>Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
>stick with the party line of attachment = bad,

Is there a Buddhist in the house?

No, I've got nothing...

Stephen

Don Sample

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 2:42:43 PM3/20/06
to
In article <v4mdneshk9E...@comcast.com>,
Jeff Jacoby <jja...@not.real.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 20 Mar 2006 13:29:36 -0500, Don <dsa...@synapse.net> wrote:
> > In article <BbOdnUzo6J6sboPZ...@comcast.com>,

> > If the Council thinks that

> > there's a chance that the Slayer/Watcher relationship is strong enough
> > to survive the betrayal, gurl sver gur Jngpure, naq ercynpr uvz jvgu n
> > pbhapvy syhaxl, jub jvyy cebonoyl znantr gb trg ure xvyyrq va fubeg
> > beqre.
>
> Same answer as above. Vs gur Pehpvnzraghz qvqa'g xvyy ure
> gura fbzr hagehfgrq arj Jngpure yvxryl jba'g rvgure, ur'yy
> whfg or vtaberq.

But a successful Slayer needs her Watcher. How many times would Buffy
have died without Giles to look things up in the Book of Thoth in order
to learn what she needs to know to defeat the MotW? Slayer and Watcher
are a team. Take away the Watcher, and the Slayer is weaker. She
becomes easier for the next bad guy to kill.

Jeff Jacoby

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 3:49:44 PM3/20/06
to

Lrg vfa'g vg fgenatr gurl qvq *abguvat* gb gnxr njnl gur
cerivbhf jngpure (juvpu jbhyq unir orra irel rnfl sbe gurz
gb qb, nppbeqvat gb gurve bja pynvz).


Jeff

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 4:05:37 PM3/20/06
to
In article <1142865699.3...@t31g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>,
gree...@gmail.com wrote:

> Arbitrar Of Quality wrote:
>
> > Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
> > are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.
>
> I thought this was some of Gellar's best stuff all season.
>
> > It's been hinted at since "What's My Line" at least that the
> > Watchers tend to have their heads up their asses, but this episode
> > hammers the point home.
>
> Yeah, well, frankly, the whole Watcher thing since Whedon came up with
> Councils and multiple Slayers and whatever all has been a weakness in
> the story. It's about time their ineptitude and stupidity was made
> explicit. Of course, you then have to wonder how they managed to last
> as an organization, but looking into it too deeply... Well, that way
> lies madness.

it appears that buffy-kendra and buffy-faith are the olny times
tehere have been two slayers alive at once

and it also appears a slayer doesnt know who her successor will be

this means theres no continuity among the slayers
each starts alone
the watchers provide the continuity

that can lead to partnership
with the watchers doing the killing and watchers supporting them

it can also lead to a dominance relation
with watchers thinking that its their pet slayer
their tool their weapon
to be used as they see fit

its easy to get a teenager to accept that (armies do it all the time)
but its harder to retain that control when a person gets older

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 4:09:22 PM3/20/06
to

nerds uber alles

Michael Ikeda

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Mar 20, 2006, 6:30:49 PM3/20/06
to
"Apteryx" <apt...@extra.co.nz> wrote in
news:QNrTf.7304$JZ1.2...@news.xtra.co.nz:

> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1142829611....@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...


>>A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these
>>review
>> threads.
>>

(snipped)

> Even though he rebels in the end, the idea of Giles injecting
> substances into Buffy that will put her life in danger is simply
> not compatible with the Giles we have come to know. And it he
> did, it is hard to believe Buffy would forgive him as soon as
> she seems to, even with his switching sides, saving her from the
> 2nd vampire, and getting fired because of his "father's love".
>

1) Giles has been a Watcher most of his adult life. Not only
that, being a Watcher is part of family tradition. He's been
trained practically from infancy to obey the Watcher's Council and
follow their traditions. And his one overt act of rebellion during
his college years ended badly. It's not at all hard to believe
that he would go along with the test. What is almost remarkable is
that he managed to rebel against it.

Which, of course, does not change the fact that it was a massive
act of betrayal.

2) Giles getting fired changes the situation in an important way
from Buffy's point of view. If he stays the official Watcher, then
he's the representative on the scene of the organization that
nearly got her and her mother killed. Getting fired makes him
another victim of the Council. One who got clobbered for siding
with her and trying to undo the damage he caused. And it also
makes forgiving Giles feel like an act of rebellion against the
Council.

I actually wouldn't have expected Buffy to stay angry at Giles for
too long. Sunnydale being Sunnydale, they need to work together.
And he did save both her and her mother from the second vamp, even
though his actions helped put them in danger in the first place.
But I'd suspect that his getting fired speeded up the
reconcilation.

(snipped)

--
Michael Ikeda mmi...@erols.com
"Telling a statistician not to use sampling is like telling an
astronomer they can't say there is a moon and stars"
Lynne Billard, past president American Statistical Association

BTR1701

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 6:43:15 PM3/20/06
to
In article <dsample-7F9393...@news.giganews.com>,
Don Sample <dsa...@synapse.net> wrote:

Buffy seemed to have survived longer without a Watcher in the alternate
universe than she did in real universe with one.

Michael Ikeda

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 7:45:00 PM3/20/06
to
BTR1701 <btr...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in
news:btr1702-89705D...@news.giganews.com:

She did have a Watcher in the Wishverse, although it appears from
Giles' conversation with said Watcher that she only checked in when
she felt like it.

Wishverse-Buffy apparently did check in from time to time because
her first words to Giles were "Mind telling me what I'm doing
here?" Which suggests that she had been sent there. Which
suggests that her Watcher had passed along Giles' request.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:06:56 PM3/20/06
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In article <Oeadna990t4...@rcn.net>, Michael Ikeda <mmi...@erols.com>
wrote:

could be cleveland wasnt as fatal to a slayer as sunnydale

Bill Reid

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:11:28 PM3/20/06
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Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1142829611....@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Three, Episode 12: "Helpless"
>
> On the plus side, they're not
> just abandoning the rodent-Amy story without explanation. Not yet, at
> least.
>
How could they let this potential plot gem go? You could build an entire
season around Amy invoking Hecate to magically re-fill her water
bottle...

> The teaser and beginning of act one, full of nice moments ("I would
> appreciate your glib-free attention,"

Man, you miss a lot of stuff. You might want to take a just a
tiny re-peek at this scene and notice what Buffy is doing with
that crystal while she is obviously "preoccupied" by Angel.
That was some hard-core distraction...


>
> Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
> are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.

> Particular examples include the big confrontation in the library
> ("all this time! And you didn't say a word!"), and her final
> "bite me."

I thought she was OK, the scenes were written just a tad
hysterically...
>
> >From there things play out pretty much as they should - there're
> even two vampires, one for Buffy to prove herself by killing with her
> wits alone, and one for Giles to kill by way of making his dramatic
> entrance. Few surprises, but that's not so bad. And the trick with
> the holy water is really quite clever, and did catch me off guard.
>
Wow, you really get sucked into stuff like that easily. I only had
to see the Kralik need water to wash down his pills, then THE
GIANT HONKING UNNECESSARY CLOSE-UP OF HOLY
BRAND (TM) WATER, LOOK FOR THE SIGN OF THE
CROSS, ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES, and I knew EXACTLY
how Kralik was going to "bite it"...

You must have been a roiling ball of surprise at "The Sixth Sense"...
>
> Longtime readers will know that I'm a fan of using wordless silence
> when it's appropriate. Well, after Quentin walks out at the end,
> Watcher and Slayer don't have any more dialogue together, because
> there's quite simply nothing to say. Instead she just lets him clean
> her wounds. Touching, yes?
>
And taken literally, incredibly gross...
>
> At first I wasn't wild about the idea of the imprisoned vampire (I
> made the "idle speculation, not at all a prediction, not at all"
> that Nervous Guy would get killed when his creature got out of
> control),

And yet you couldn't see the holy water thing coming like a Mack truck...

> But then in a classic BTVS reversal, the guy stops grunting
> about pills and screaming and starts bringing the Buffyspeak. Well
> played.
>
The actor did a great job with some great unsettling dialog and
characterization, a large part of the reason this is one of less than
a handful of "Buffy" episodes that's actually scary and suspenseful.
Another reason of course is that you really DON"T know whether
she's gonna survive or not, which is usually nowhere near the case...

> The second scene with Angel is good, bad, and interesting at once.
> Good because I'm glad he finally tells her about having been stalking
> her for so long,

Nothing is more flattering to a girl than a little obsessive stalking; if
you really want to show her how much you care, show her your "shrine"
(just pull her blindfold down a little)...

> And interesting because it left me
> thinking a little about what parts of being a Slayer don't involve
> training. The three Slayers we've seen have had totally different
> personalities, but they all had that something that made them worthy of
> being chosen. Unlike someone like a Cordelia, Buffy had the potential
> to be a Slayer before the superpowers. Is that heart there from birth
> (Kendra's story suggests that, but it's unclear to me) or does it
> only take shape once the personality develops?
>
Still missing the point about multiple Slayers, I see...

> I'm finally convinced that overalls have some reason for existing.
>
If you wear them without underwear your significant other can
reach in through the holes and...never mind...

> Again, let me reiterate that it's nice to be in the dark yet able to
> see what's happening.
>
Yeah, the camera operator finally learned how to operate a camera.
Only took three years...

> This is another one of those episodes that really has the knack for
> throwing in a joke or a non sequitur in the middle of a scary or heavy
> moment, without in any way killing the momentum of the scene. Like
> Cordelia's intrusion on the "I don't know you" scene.

"Giiiiii-uuuules..."

Hot AND funny, what could be wrong with that? And her funniest
lines are yet to come...
>
> It seems the show has a lot of balls in the air at the moment. Let's
> hope it can juggle them all.
>
Apparently you can't remember what happened in the second half
of the last season, because otherwise you'd predict that it was about
to beome more like friggin' Cirque D'Soleil...
>
> One-sentence summary: Buffy may be weak, but the premise is too strong
> to be brought down.
>
A little over the top melodrama for my tastes on first viewing, but
overall I'd say:

> AOQ rating: Excellent
>
> [Season Three so far:
> 1) "Anne" - Decent
> 2) "Dead Man's Party" - Excellent
> 3) "Faith, Hope, and Trick" - Good
> 4) "Beauty And The Beasts" - Decent
> 5) "Homecoming" - Good
> 6) "Band Candy" - Weak
> 7) "Revelations" - Good
> 8) "Lovers Walk" - Excellent
> 9) "The Wish" - Decent
> 10) "Amends" - Good
> 11) "Gingerbread" - Good

This is one of about two episodes in season three I didn't like. No matter
how I look at it, it has too much dumb stuff to be redeemed...my GAOE
(Grand Arbiter Of Everything) rating is "BAD"...

> 12) "Helpless" - Excellent]
>
Looks like the "Excellent"s are starting to build up half-way through
the season...

---
William Ernest Reid

Apteryx

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:13:25 PM3/20/06
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<jil...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1142848704.2...@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...
>
> I thought the test served two purposes. One, it makes sure she has
> indeed survived because of her wits.

It doesn't and can't prove that (even if for some bizarre reason knowing
that was worth risking the life of the slayer). The contest with a vampire
has too many variables to be a test providing useful information about the
slayer's abilities. Different vampires with different abilities, the
vagaries and simple luck that plays a part in hand to hand combat to the
death, mean there is no way of knowing from this "test" whether Buffy is any
better as a slayer than any past slayer who "failed". This isn't a
scientific test, its a ritual.

> Two: it makes it clear to her
> that the only person she can truly trust is herself. This is helpful
> in such cases as Gwendolyn Post.

And unhelpful in every other case. The minimal lesson, always check
references, is a better means of preventing another Gwendolyn Post than the
extreme lesson, trust no one. Buffy has been successful in the past because
she has relied on (ie, trusted) friends, including Giles. The Wishverse
Buffy is an example of "trust no one" in operation (apparently without even
the benefit of the Council's "test", unless time flows faster in the
Wishverse), and without friends, she can't even defeat the Master.

>Or what if her Watcher is controlled
> and she doesn't know it until too late? The Slayer must be able to
> function on her own and not wait for orders, that's really the point of
> it.

A worthwhile objective, but not worth risking the slayer's life, generally
resulting in the calling of a younger, less experienced slayer, less able to
function on her own. And certainly not worth destroying the slayer's trust
in her Watcher and the Watcher's Council. The only point of the Watcher's is
to provide continuity between slayers, especially continuity of knowledge
gained by each slayer in combat with monsters. But if the slayer can't trust
what she is told by the Watchers, they become pointless.

>She must be able to function when her power has been taken from
> her, or what is all that training for?

Jul zhfg fur? Gur fvghngvba arire nevfrf ntnva. Gur Jngpure'f Pbhapvy nccrne
gb or gur bayl barf jvgu obgu gur xabjyrqtr bs gur qehtf gung gnxr njnl ure
cbjre, naq gur novyvgl gb trg pybfr rabhtu gb hfr gurz. Ure genvavat vf gb
nyybj ure gb fheivir naq shapgvba nf fur vf.

--
Apteryx


Eric Hunter

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:25:59 PM3/20/06
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Well, since Green Kryptonite is the most common form,
it is generally accepted that if someone mentions
kryptonite without specifying a color, they are talking
about Green Kryptonite, and Green Kryptonite will
kill Superman. So, Oz may be over-generalizing, but
he's not incorrect.

Eric.
--

One Bit Shy

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:25:41 PM3/20/06
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"hopelessly devoted" <cry...@cinstall.com> wrote in message
news:1142840081.0...@z34g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

>> Buffy's reaction to the obvious loss of her Slayer prowess is
>> reasonable, immediately fixating on it and going to Giles as soon as it
>> becomes clear that there's a problem.
>
> Adding a very nice duality to Buffy. In the face of being a Slayer,
> she wants to be a normal girl. In the face of being a normal girl, she
> wants to be a Slayer.

An easy point to miss amidst the other emotional elements. Do you think she
would have reacted the same back in her days as Anne? I don't. But now,
she *needs* to be The Slayer. Even though she will get all rational about
how she now knows about the evils of the world, her fear of losing her
powers comes across as deeper than that.


> Buffy's fears of ... abandonment

Abandonment - one of my picks for a central season theme. Here it rises
again. There's a trust component in this episode too, but the big fear is
abandonment, starting with Buffy's biological father and then moving to who
had become her real father - Giles.

Which points back to her wanting to be a slayer. Among other things, that's
her link to Giles.

Quite perversely - and in opposition to where she was in Becoming - slaying
is what brings order to her life. Brings friendship to it. Even brings
love to it. Buffy I think is shown here to have come to rely on slaying as
a crutch.

So in typical BTVS fashion, the crutch is kicked away.

OBS


jil...@hotmail.com

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:44:16 PM3/20/06
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Apteryx wrote:
> >She must be able to function when her power has been taken from
> > her, or what is all that training for?
>
> Jul zhfg fur? Gur fvghngvba arire nevfrf ntnva. Gur Jngpure'f Pbhapvy nccrne
> gb or gur bayl barf jvgu obgu gur xabjyrqtr bs gur qehtf gung gnxr njnl ure
> cbjre, naq gur novyvgl gb trg pybfr rabhtu gb hfr gurz. Ure genvavat vf gb
> nyybj ure gb fheivir naq shapgvba nf fur vf.
>
> --
> Apteryx

Jr unir abgvprq gung jungrire xabjyrqtr bar crefba unf va gur Ohssl
havirefr, fb qbrf rirelbar ryfr. Be fbzrbar ryfr. Gur snpg vf,
gubhtu, gung vs gur pbhapvy ernyyl jbhyq unir xvyyrq ure, gura gurl
pbhyq unir.

jil...@hotmail.com

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Mar 20, 2006, 8:48:05 PM3/20/06
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mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges wrote:
>
> could be cleveland wasnt as fatal to a slayer as sunnydale

*grin* Because, obviously, there was no prophecy in Cleveland saying
someone there would kill the Slayer. So she survived the normal
battles.

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:29:35 PM3/20/06
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[grin]

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:34:54 PM3/20/06
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gree...@gmail.com wrote:

> > Unlike someone like a Cordelia, Buffy had the potential
> > to be a Slayer before the superpowers.
>

> Interesting comment, since Buffy was pretty clearly "someone like a
> Cordelia" before she was the Slayer.

Interesting or not, the episode specifically makes this point - that's
not just my interpretation. (Although I suppose you could argue that
it reflects Angel's biases rather than absolute fact.)


Angel: Buffy, you could never be helpless or boring, not even if you
tried.

Buffy: Don't be so sure. Before I was the Slayer, I was... well, I
don't wanna say shallow, but... Let's say a certain person, who will
remain nameless, we'll just call her Spordelia, looked like a classical
philosopher next to me. Angel, if I'm not the Slayer, what do I do?
What
do I have to offer? Why would you like me?

Angel: I saw you before you became the Slayer.

Buffy: What?

Angel: I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon
out in front of your school. You walked down the steps... and... and I
loved you.

Buffy: Why?

Angel: 'Cause I could see your heart.

-AOQ

DysgraphicProgrammer

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:37:37 PM3/20/06
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Mike Zeares wrote:

> That was a nice moment. Cordy isn't the character who seems to have
> two versions. Xander could be like that too.

Url, Pnershy gurer. Gung zvtugl pybfr gb orvat n fcbvyre.

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:38:15 PM3/20/06
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Mike Zeares wrote:
> Espen Schjønberg wrote:
>
> > Of couse, the corrupt and incomptetent counsil makes sense, we should
> > have seen it coming: they has been unable to find a new watcher for
> > Faith for how long? Months? Are they fighting over the right, or are the
> > culture so much "we don't want to get mud on our hands" as the
> > treatment of Giles would suggest? So being a watcher in the field is for
> > the losers, in this organization. And no-one wants to lose.
>
> Well, look at it from their persepctive. Slayers come and go. Often
> in fairly rapid succession. While the Council remains. I can see how
> they could start thinking that they're the more important part of the
> organization.

True.

> I've never really totally bought into the "they try to kill their own
> Slayers" line of thought. I think it's more likely that it's exactly
> what it was presented as: an ancient tradition. It's interesting to
> speculate on the orgin of the Cruciamentum. Perhaps an experienced
> Slayer in the past was robbed of her powers by some means, and fell
> apart, and the test was created as, well, a test.
>
> Or maybe they are just a bunch of evil bastards who like to kill their
> Slayers before they get "uppity."

Based on the real world, the conventions of SF, and the portrayal on
the show thus far, I'd say that incompetence is more likely than evil.

-AOQ

Don Sample

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:44:39 PM3/20/06
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In article
<mair_fheal-D2C42...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

There is really no reason to believe that the Wishverse Buffy had ever
been anywhere near Cleveland.

Mike Zeares

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:44:51 PM3/20/06
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Not responding to the rot13 -- I just noticed that my sentence should
have read "Cordy isn't the only character...."

-- Mike Zeares

Don Sample

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Mar 20, 2006, 9:52:25 PM3/20/06
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In article <1142848704.2...@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>,
"jil...@hotmail.com" <jil...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> She must be able to function when her power has been taken from
> her, or what is all that training for?

All her training has been in how to use her superior strength/speed/etc.
to fight the bad guys. Take away that strength and speed, and she
becomes more helpless than a normal person. Her reflexes are all
trained to work with super-strong muscles. Now she's just got normal
ones. It was a wonder she could even walk.

Don Sample

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Mar 20, 2006, 10:31:36 PM3/20/06
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In article <1142908695....@v46g2000cwv.googlegroups.com>,
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> Mike Zeares wrote:

> > I've never really totally bought into the "they try to kill their own
> > Slayers" line of thought. I think it's more likely that it's exactly
> > what it was presented as: an ancient tradition. It's interesting to
> > speculate on the orgin of the Cruciamentum. Perhaps an experienced
> > Slayer in the past was robbed of her powers by some means, and fell
> > apart, and the test was created as, well, a test.
> >
> > Or maybe they are just a bunch of evil bastards who like to kill their
> > Slayers before they get "uppity."
>
> Based on the real world, the conventions of SF, and the portrayal on
> the show thus far, I'd say that incompetence is more likely than evil.
>
> -AOQ

Opinions on this one are varied, ranging from 袍hey are an evil
organization who have some secret nefarious scheme for world domination
or destruction. to 袍hey are the secret guardians of all that is good
and right, and if we knew what their secret plan really was we would all
see that.

There are basically 5 possibilities:

1. The entire Council is evil. The Slayer system itself might be part
of some plot by one evil faction, whose primary purpose is to keep the
other evil factions in line. Individually many of the Watchers may be
good people, but they are working as unwitting pawns for the evil
Council.
2. It is possible that the Council has been subverted by a few evil
members who have worked their way to the top. Perhaps they have been
subverted by a demon who is trying to lessen the effectiveness of the
Slayer system. Since you can靖 ever really get rid of the Slayer𢶤hen
you kill her another comes to replace her𡑕hey have gone for the next
best thing. They have saddled her with a bureaucratic organization which
institutes procedures and policies to make her job harder. When they do
get a Slayer who𤷫n spite of their efforts𤷫s truly effective they start
tossing life threatening tests at her, which𠸏ven if she does survive
them𨈇eem to be designed to destroy her trust in her own Watcher, and
thus reduce her effectiveness. If the team survives the test intact they
make up a pretext to fire her Watcher, and replace him with a Council
yes man.
3. Another possibility is that the council has no evil intent. It is
just that the people whose primary skills lie in the areas of office
politics have risen to the top. For them it is more important that they
stay at the top, and that the rest of the Watchers keep following their
orders than it is to get the job done. Actually fighting evil is a
secondary consideration. They perform their Slayer tests because it
helps keep her in line, and any Watcher who looks like he might start
thinking for himself too much is fired.
4. Next there is the possibility that the council is just too bound
up in tradition. They are incapable of adjusting to the modern world.
They follow the old traditions for the simple reason that it is
traditional. They seem to be incapable of re-evaluating their methods to
see whether or not they still make sense in the modern world. Where they
have learned to embrace new technologies, they do it badly. In the past
centuries, when it would have taken months or years for a message from
the Council to reach any Slayer not actually located in England, the
Slayer and her Watcher must have operated as an autonomous team. Any
orders sent to the Slayer from the Council would have been hopelessly
obsolete by the time they got to her, if she was even still alive.
5. At the final opposite extreme we have a Council who really does
know what it is doing, and is working for the greater good. They did
have a good reason for running the Cruciamentum test (even if it wasn靖
the one stated.) They have some unrevealed overall plan which makes
sense. They may have mismanaged Buffy through their secret manipulations
of her, causing her to strike out on her own, but hey, no one零 perfect.
Or maybe things are going perfectly according to plan. They wanted Buffy
to quit working for them, it is all part of some clever ruse on their
part to lure the demons into a false sense of security.

Don Sample

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Mar 20, 2006, 10:55:46 PM3/20/06
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In article <dsample-015C0A...@news.giganews.com>,
Don Sample <dsa...@synapse.net> wrote:


> 5. At the final opposite extreme we have a Council who really does
> know what it is doing, and is working for the greater good. They did

> have a good reason for running the Cruciamentum test (even if it wasnšt

> the one stated.) They have some unrevealed overall plan which makes
> sense.

Ooops. I accidentally sent that too soon, and left some spoilery stuff
in #5 that I meant to delete.

One Bit Shy

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Mar 20, 2006, 11:03:39 PM3/20/06
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1142829611....@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...


> (Is it just me, or
> is the music in this episode more horror-movie than usual?)

Probably because the central action is classic horror movie. Trapped in the
abandoned house, stalked by a monster.

So I'll start with that. This episode has it's share of subtext, season arc
development, emotional implications and so on and so on. But first it's a
really cool horror story. Some nice creepy lead ins. Like the monster in a
box who needs his medicine. (And what a great Monster! Sinister, twisted
and funny. And definitely worth being afraid of.) Buffy's growing panic
over what's happening to her. The horrifying moment of Giles pulling out
the needle and dosing Buffy with who knows what. The wolf in Little Red
Riding Hood's clothes. The monster's problem with mothers. Really
delicious stuff.

Leading to the wonderful climax of Buffy alone in the house with the
monster. It borrows quite liberally from horror movie traditions, but who
cares? The execution is excellent. Tense, scary, well paced. Good
physical acting from SMG. And even though the importance of the holy water
had been telegraphed earlier, the when and how comes as a surprise and
proves quite satisyfing.

This is one episode not to lose sight of the front story in favor of all the
undercurrents. BTVS doesn't do this kind of classic horror (or ghost) story
all that often, but they tend to be pretty special when they happen.

That being said, one reason the horror story works as well as it does - in
spite of borrowing so liberally from what we've seen many times - is that
the whole series to date makes us care more about Buffy and Joyce and Giles,
and the subtext of things like losing slayer strength and being betrayed by
Giles adds weight to the frightfulness of the situation. Kind of obvious I
know. But when I finally realized it, the value of so often revisiting old
monster movie scenarios became clearer to me. BTVS may not have a movie
budget, but it has other advantages movies struggle to match.


> Oddly, Gellar doesn't seem totally on her game this week, and there
> are a few scenes that don't work as well as they could have.
> Particular examples include the big confrontation in the library
> ("all this time! And you didn't say a word!"), and her final

> "bite me." It's not a universal thing; she's great with the
> nervous flippancy when walking home at night.

I didn't see what you did in the library scenes, but if they somehow fell
flat to you, I guess that's the way it is. So I'll mention again her
physical acting in the action climax. And also mention the scene where's
she running away from the vamps towards the fence that she eventually crawls
through. Note that she runs like a girl. Quite different than we're
accustomed to, but quite natural. For me, that little thing really brought
home her changed physical state.


> Now suddenly she
> has to be as scared of the dark as everyone else - more so, actually,
> as the dialogue indicates: "You lived a long time without it. You can
> do it again." "I guess. But what if I can't? I've seen too
> much."

As pointed out elsewhere, note the contrast with her prior desire to be a
normal girl.

There's also a very curious moment where Willow seems to think this may be a
good thing. She seems positively eager at the possibilities. I wonder
what's up with that.


> The climax of that is the part in which Giles sabotages the test by
> telling the truth. We as viewers know how much he's hurting and can
> hope that Buffy won't hold it against him, but (like Giles) we can
> understand why she does. It's heartbreaking watching him make
> several overtures towards getting her trust again, and getting so
> violently rejected each time (have I mentioned what a great job ASH
> does with this stuff? Well, he does amazing work here). And then we
> can feel his righteous indignation along with him for the rest of the
> show ("Interestingly, I don't give a rat's ass about the Council's
> orders").

ASH is mostly very good in this episode - one of his more prominent acting
performances. But I did struggle with his performance when Buffy approached
him in the hall pleading for him to help her with her problem. Giles
discomfort and evident need to get away from Buffy is true to what his
feeelings would be, but not at all convincing as something to hold Buffy at
bay for a little longer. Not to me anyway. Still, that's a very small
thing. Giles is mentally tortured in this episode and it was played very
well.


> It's been hinted at since "What's My Line" at least that the
> Watchers tend to have their heads up their asses, but this episode

> hammers the point home. How the fuck anyone can find fault with Giles
> here is beyond me, but adherence to tradition for its own sake will do
> that to you. Do any of you want to take the opposing position and
> stick with the party line of attachment = bad, or do we all side with
> our heroes here?

Well, yes, there is the big disputed topic for the episode. What the hell
is going on with the Watcher's Council, and does it make any sense?

To answer your question briefly - I'm definitely on the side of our heroes.
The Council is bad, bad, bad. However, at this point, I wouldn't say
crazy....

Please note that Buffy passed the test. (Which more properly would be
called a trial.) And in so doing, probably made herself stronger. Do you
remember your question in Amends? "Is there a better summary of Buffy's
attitude towards life than
"find me something I can pummel?"" Well, her attitude might not exactly
change, but her understanding of what it takes, and what she can bring,
ought to change. Here's self sufficiency beyond the pummeling part. And
specifically not reliant on Giles. (An interesting element in itself, since
the episode reaffirms their connection in one way, while bringing into
question the need for it in another. Now that Giles has been fired, is
there further implication to that?)

It's an ugly way to achieve that, but just in doing so suggests there may be
something to a trial of that sort.

What all the Council may have had in mind is unknown. It's nasty character
certainly does not preclude the many sinister speculations such as really
wanting Buffy dead, or deliberately seeking to drive a wedge between slayer
and watcher. It's seeming disconnect from the world would also make
possible the notion they're just dumb.

But, at this point, we don't really know. The information is fairly
lacking. I tend to believe that the test was meant as a test (trial) as
they said. The strongest evidence in support of that is simply that Giles
(who has integrity) appears to fully accept the truth of it - even though he
objects to the method. It's also notable that the test serves to truly
demonstrate the level of Buffy's ability, perhaps advancing her ability.
Which suggests the test's legitimacy.

As for the notion that it's dumb to risk an experienced slayer, I don't
think so from the Council's point of view. A dead slayer (indicating she
wasn't really all that good) is just the normal state of affairs for them.
They come and go all the time. The exceptional slayer is the rarity - the
thing they would want to know about. (Perhaps they have special quests in
mind for the likes of those.) But how do you identify them? With a written
exam? A real perilous trial, I think, makes perfect sense for an
organization such as theirs.

As for the notion that such a test would only turn a slayer against them,
I'm also not convinced. This test was evidently conceived back in the 9th
or 10th century (deep in the dark ages), a mean and rough time, and
traditionally applied to slayers who are lone fighters with nothing in their
lives but their calling. (Remember how Buffy acted in the Wish? Think of
her taking this test.) I don't know if they would consider this all that
inappropriate. They might be quite proud at meeting the challenge.
(Assuming they're not dead, when their opinion wouldn't much matter.)
What's off kilter here is that Buffy is different. She actually has a life
with friends and family and attachments. She actually acts on her own
volition and expects things of the people around her.

As for your question about attacment=bad, I don't believe that. But I have
no problem with the Council believing it. Look at how Gwendolyn Post acted,
when she was pretending to be a watcher. Remember the hints about Kendra's
watcher. The council has a different paradigm than Giles and Buffy have.
It's one that expects early death. That works alone and in secret. Buffy
challenges all those preconceptions - something very important to the story.
But that doesn't make their long established understanding unreasonable.
That's simply what they know.

This happens to be the high point for me in my estimation of the Watcher's
Council. Yes, they're bad. Yes, they're caught in archaic ways,
disconnected from the modern world. Yes, they make bad mistakes. But they
still appear quite formidable in their fashion. Scary formidable. Doing
something like this is first off, utterly ruthless. And the two main
figures we've seen associated with them so far have been very impressive,
personally powerful individuals. At this point in the story I was quite
hopeful they would provide a unique and powerful opposition to Buffy. Now
we'll have to see where that goes from here.


> Longtime readers will know that I'm a fan of using wordless silence
> when it's appropriate. Well, after Quentin walks out at the end,
> Watcher and Slayer don't have any more dialogue together, because
> there's quite simply nothing to say. Instead she just lets him clean
> her wounds. Touching, yes?

As you probably noticed, there is some controversey about the believability
of Buffy forgiving Giles that easily - since he had just betrayed her pretty
seriously - and put her mother in jeopardy in the process.

Well, there are a number of things in this episode to mitigate that. Giles
fighting for her first against the second vampire, and then against the
Watcher's Council. Giles losing his job - which not only shows his
sacrifice, but illuminates for her what he had had to deal with when doing
their bidding. There's also Buffy's demonstrated need for Giles. Can she
really bear to be alone now?

But there's one more thing that seems to be forgotten. Buffy had previously
brought great hurt to Giles by hiding Angel from him. A moment that had led
him to lash at Buffy for her failure to respect him. Well, here Giles falls
prey to his own version of a secret to be withheld. And it bites him in
much the way that it bit Buffy. Buffy's heart should be able to see his
pain. And she should know her own failings. The scales have been balanced
so to speak. What else is there but to forgive?


> The second scene with Angel is good, bad, and interesting at once.
> Good because I'm glad he finally tells her about having been stalking

> her for so long, bad because the show plays it as a "sweet"
> hideously melodramatic speech without having Buffy be creeped out or
> anything, and good again because the joke at the end is quite funny
> (Boreanaz's delivery at the end is enough to get him back on my good
> side, after the rest of the scene).

Isn't it nice how the joke undercuts the melodrama? I love that bit.


> One-sentence summary: Buffy may be weak, but the premise is too strong
> to be brought down.
>

> AOQ rating: Excellent

Right with you. A terrific episode. And while I think we can definitely
handle more balls in the air, this episode does feel a lot like getting
things in place for some move forward. Along with Amends, I'm beginning to
lose that sense of drifting I mentioned a few episodes ago.


Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 21, 2006, 12:17:05 AM3/21/06
to
kenm47 wrote:

> BTW, AoQ, did you notice the Star Trek connection? "Blair" (Brit turned
> by Kralik) was played by Dominic Keating, Lt Malcolm Reed of the
> Starship Enterprise NX-01.

My interest in the franchise during its twilight days wasn't what it
once was, so I've only watched one episode of _Enterprise_ in my life.
And given that it was "Precious Cargo," I never really bothered to
catch any more.

-AOQ
~I was amused to later read a review of that episode which said
something like "there's a real danger that a casual viewer will see
this episode, say 'THIS is what passes for Trek these days?' and never
watch the show again as a result"~

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 21, 2006, 12:21:12 AM3/21/06