James' Ubiquitous Blog

A BLOG ABOUT NOTHING AND EVERYTHING ALL AT THE SAME TIME

The Verse 040 - Beauty and the Beasts

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S03E04 - Beauty and the Beasts

Crew Members


Episode Rating

Griff rated the episode:

  • 2.5/5 Jars of Glowing Green Liquid

Toby rated the episode

  • 2.5/5 Kill in the day Monsters

Justin rated the episode:

  • 3/5 Perticular Contrivances
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The Verse 039 - Faith, Hope, & Trick

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S03E03 - Faith, Hope, & Trick

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Episode Rating

Toby rated the episode

  • 3.5/5 Strange clucking sounds

Griff rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Leprechauns

Justin rated the episode:

  • 3/5 Na Nana Na Na's
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The Verse 038 - Dead Man's Party

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S03E02 - Dead Man's Party

Crew Members


Episode Rating

Griff rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Quidder Bailer Delinquent Bad Seats

Toby rated the episode

  • 4/5 Night Hawks

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Empanadas
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The Verse 037 - Anne

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S03E01 - Anne

Crew Members


Episode Rating

Alec rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Spinny whirly axes

James rated the episode

  • 3.5/5 Skewered calves

Griff rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Light blue flyers

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Irrelevant but fascinating digressions from Griff
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The Verse 036 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

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The Verse 035 - Becoming, Part 2

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E22

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The Verse 034 - Becoming, Part 1

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E21

There's moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're gonna be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments. Sometimes they're not. Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.

Crew Members

15:55 - General Thoughts

Justin was incredibly impressed with the contrast between Liam and Drusilla's innocence and Angelus and Drusilla's malevolence in the different time periods glimpsed during the episode. He felt that there was a palpable difference between the characters and couldn't put his finger on exactly why he felt that way, other than it possible just being some of Joss' magic.

Griff disagreed with Justin, specifically about Angel. He did see a massive change with Dru, past and present but for him, the first time that Liam appears, he may not be completely evil but he's still an overconfident jerk, much like Angelus. For Griff, the only good version of Liam/Angelus/Angel is Angel after he's been set on his path by Whistler.

Alec agrees with Griff that Liam is a jerk but he can see what Justin is saying. There is a gullible innocence that Liam betrays when he drops the act and mentions that he's never been outside of Galway, that he's always dreamed of seeing the world and of being someone important and special. Liam is a jerk because he's insecure and directionless, which Angelus is not. In fact, he now knows that he's special because he is crucial in bringing forth Acathla.

He also agreed that Dru is drastically different, not only to her pre-vamp self, but also to the Dru that we're introduced to early in season 2. She's capable, powerful and a genuine threat, not only to the Scoobies, but to the world. On top of that, both Angelus and Dru are insane and have lost their humanity. They both want to bring about the end of days, where as Spike is quite happy to live in the world as it is and having a good time with it.

27:11 - The Death of Kendra

For Justin, the best example of how much Drusilla has changed is in the lead up to dispatching Kendra. She walks into the room, and by simply clapping her hands, has control of all the other vampires before hypnotising, and eventually killing, Kendra. She's clearly a powerful and controlling presence, which is completely unlike the Dru that we're first introduced to.

Justin also found the death of Kendra incredibly sad and affecting despite having seen the situation play out multiple times before.

Alec didn't find the death of Kendra as affecting as the death of Jenny Calendar. It's not been built up as much, because the audience hasn't seen Kendra week to week and while both situations are drawn out and suspenseful, the actual killing blow is far more affecting when Angel delivers it by snapping Jenny's neck. Even so, Kendra's death drove home the point that Dru is a serious threat.

31:37 - The Tomb of Alf Alfa/Al Frankin/Acathla

Griff felt that the idea of Acathla had been done to death and that he was in no way as menacing as the big bad from season 1. This is possibly because a similar situation arose earlier in the season with The Judge, who was himself dispatched quite easily thanks to a rocket launcher.

He also noted that the situation at the end of the episode, with every one of the Scoobies in peril, Kendra dead and Buffy isolated, is far more menacing than anything that Acathla represents, even though feels as if it should be scarier than it is.

Justin agreed completely, and felt that it was possibly because Acathla had only just been introduced in this episode whereas The Master was a threat for the entirety of season 1 and The Judge had his own multi-episode arc while also being an immediate threat to everyone around him.

Both Justin and Alec felt that the production design of Acathla didn't match up to the threat that he apparently posed. He looks like an uninteresting and uninspired stone gargoyle, unlike the Gillmen from the previous episode, Go Fish.

Alec went on to add that at the end of season 1, there was both an intangible and tangible threat. The intangible was The Master opening the hell mouth while the tangible was The Master himself. This time round, the intangible is Acathla dragging their world into the hell dimension, but the tangible threat has nothing to do with him. It's all about Angel and Dru with Acathla acting as a tool rather than an actual character.

45:23 - The real big bad

Justin noted that the real big bad, for at least the latter half of the season, has been Angel and the primary drama has been between Buffy and Angel. He also particularly enjoyed Angel's point that Buffy falls for his trap every single time because, acting as a force for good, she has to follow the rules.

Griff went further, and suggested that not only does she have to follow the rules but it's more difficult to follow the rules. A force of evil, like Angel, can do as he wishes, he doesn't have to follow the rules or operate within strict limitations. Buffy has no choice but to turn up when Angel calls her out because she can't allow more people to die.

Alec agreed, but felt that Angel suggesting that his plans were never about Buffy didn't hold true. For most of the latter half of the season, Angel's been all about torturing Buffy. Ending the world via Acathla is just a crazy random happenstance that he's jumped on, it's not something that he's been building towards since losing his soul.

50:10 - Whistler

Griff didn't realise that it was Whistler doing the voice over, he thought it was Oz which threw him a little bit. He's clearly trying to get things to fall into place, which is evident in him reaching out to Angel and sending him to Buffy.

Justin raised the idea that Whistler may be an agent of The Powers that Be. Griff agreed that it's a definite possibility, and noted that originally Whistler was intended to be Angel's sidekick in Angel the series, but was replaced by the character of Doyle due to Max Perlich not being available to reprise his role.

Alec agreed with the idea that Whistler is an agent of the Powers that Be, adding that he'd gotten the strong impression that Whistler was an early version of Doyle throughout the episode. He's also one of the first examples of the idea that not all demons are evil, some of them are neutral and others fight on the side of good.

1:18:02 - The crew still miss Oz

There's really not much to say here, we just really miss Oz and had to talk about it for a while...again.

On top of that though, Justin and Alec pick on Giles for using an Orb of Thesala as a paperweight while Griff leaps to his defence.

They all agree that even though Giles plays guitar, he's not as cool as Oz, who plays bass guitar.

1:23:44 - Chekov's Floppy Disk & Willow

Griff wasn't sure what to think about the reveal of the floppy disk. Part of him wants to believe that it's the work of the version of Jenny that Giles was hoping for in I Only Have Eyes for You.

Alec raised an alternate theory, and suggested that Buffy's sense of deja vu is actually due to the slayer's gift of foresight and that her perfect memory is from a vision of that moment that she's had previously.

He also noted that the discovery leads directly to Willow admitting to Giles that she's been researching the dark arts and that she believes she can work the ritual to restore Angel's soul.

1:36:37 - Final Thoughts & Episode Ratings

The crew rated the episode:

  • Justin: 4.5 Orbs of Thesala used as a paperweight
  • Griff: 3.5 Rats in an Alley
  • Alec: 4 Immolation-o-grams

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References

The Princess Bride Spaceballs Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Movie Joseph Merrick - The Elephant Man The Amazing Race Angel: Vampire the Buffy Slayer Chekov's Gun The Fourth Wall Eddie Izzard Guacamelee!

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The Verse 033 - Go Fish

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E19

There's something fishy about the Sunnydale High swim team and it looks like the Scoobies are gonna need a bigger boat to get to the bottom of this murky mystery.

Crew Members

11:25 - The Gillmen

The crew were all impressed by the special effects in the episode. In particular the makeup and costuming of the Gillmen, which was not only waterproof but used on multiple actors at the same time.

The transformations from elitist swim team douchebag into a terror from the deep was also well handled, if a little physically impractical.

Griff was reminded of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was name checked in the episode, while for Justin it brought to mind creatures from Doctor Who and Star Trek.

Alec felt that the effects held up the best out of all the effects that have been used in the series so far, with the exception of Oz's mid-transformation make up from Phases.

The Gillmen themselves were another example of the "monster not being the bad guy" plot line that has appeared in other episodes, but it somehow felt less well executed in Go Fish.

18:55 - Boys have other needs...

The "boys will be boys...and sexually assault girls" plot line was also explored in this episode, and the crew also felt that it was a little out of place.

It struck Justin as a nasty undertone throughout the episode, and he found the "Boys have other needs..." comment from the Coach to be very creepy. Overall he wasn't comfortable with the way the themes were dealt with in the episode, despite the fact that they were themes worthy of examination.

Alec agreed and felt that the themes were addressed later in the series. The episode did manage to get the feeling across that the jocks rule the school, especially when they could convince Principal Snyder to bend the rules for him.

Both Griff and Alec felt that it was more of a College situation rather than one that would be encountered in high school, and the fact that the Swim Team douchebags reminded them both of the College Fratboy douchebags from Reptile Boy reinforced that feeling.

26:50 - Bad Cop, Bad Cop

Despite her relatively minor part in the episode, the crew felt that Alyson Hannigan put in a stellar performance as Willow.

Both Alec and Griff think that Snyder is taking the piss, by asking Willow to carry Ms Calendar's classes for the rest of the semester.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed Willow's bad cop, bad cop routine while interrogating Jonathan and Justin noted that, as with Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered we're starting to see a darker more adult side to Miss Rosenberg.

29:30 - Hot Xander

Xander's infamous speedo reveal caused Griff to declare that he "likes chicks, okay?" while it reminded both Justin and Alec of the fact that everyone who attends Sunnydale High is Hollywood ugly and nerdy...which always translates to real world hot, with bad hair/makeup/wardrobe.

The crew thoroughly enjoyed Buffy, Willow and Cordie's reactions. Griff thought that, despite actually being hot, Nicholas Brendon played the nerdy response to the girls' reaction really well.

It was another example of the well timed and played comedic moments throughout the episode, which also included Cordie's rather poignant speech about bath toys.

Griff and Justin noted that Cordie and Xander's relationship has evolved from being simply lust/hate to a genuine caring relationship, which is very cool to watch.

35:20 - Buffy does Science! (Again.)

As is usual when the show tackles science, Justin found the idea fish DNA being absorbed through the steam came across as laughable.

Alec enjoyed the very 80's plot idea the Russians were performing secret experiments that resulted in the Gillmen but agreed with Justin that the science was shoddy at best.

Griff noted that, for the time it was made, it seemed like a believable idea. Alec agreed, noting that the viewing public of today has a far better understanding of DNA than they did in the 90's.

The crew agreed that the idea itself was sound, but had the writers stuck to the rules of the Buffyverse (science is useless and magic gets things done) the episode would've held up a hell of a lot better.

Swap Russians experimenting with DNA to Russians experimenting with a mystical artefact or demon, and it would've been more believable according to the rules of the world.

Alec confessed that the overall shoddiness of that core idea caused him to vague out three quarters of the way through the episode, and not pay as close attention to the ending as he otherwise would have.

He noted that, while there were some fun moments, over all it's not a great episode. Both he and Justin felt that it was an easily a skippable episode, which is unfortunate because it features some of the best special effects in the series.

Griff admitted that he enjoyed the episode more before the podcast. For him, it didn't hold up to close scrutiny which was disappointing because it started out with a bit of promise that didn't end up going anywhere.

1:25:00 - Episode Ratings

The crew rated the episode:

  • Justin: 2.5/5 Buff Xanders
  • Griff: 2.5/5 Bath Toys
  • Alec: 2.5/5 So say my nips...

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Non-Buffy Discussion

Face Off not Face/Off Creature from the Black Lagoon The Blue Lagoon Cheerleading Movies Good Cop, Bad Cop Warehouse 13 - For the Team Hail Hydra The Men Who Stare at Goats Screaming Goats Also, Goat Edition Prison Break Nikita Two and Half Men David Fury and Marti Noxon as news readers in Doctor Horrible's Sing-along Blog Flipper SeaQuest DSV Jaws

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The Verse 032 - I Only Have Eyes For You

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

We hope you enjoy!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E19

As the Sadie Hawkins Dance approaches, Sunnydale High is plagued by a series of ghostly occurrences. Giles' love for Ms Calendar must be some kind of blind love, as he can't see anyone but her as the source of the manifestations. Meanwhile the Scoobies look to the school's past for answers, and Buffy gets more than she bargained for.

Crew Members

14:25 - General Summation

The crew enjoyed the episode as a whole, despite finding the haunting of the school a little messy.

Griff went in expecting a stock standard monster of the week but was pleasantly surprised by the interaction between the Angel and Buffy. It was a nice tie in with where the show is at that point. He also appreciated Giles' reactions throughout episode, showing that he was still recovering from the loss of Jenny.

Justin agreed that it was nice to see a character make progress through their grief and suggested that the brief reconciliation between Buffy and Angel may be hinting at some impending resolution to the situation, at least for Buffy. In spite of those highlights, Justin felt that the middle of the episode was quite messy.

Alec agreed, adding that the mechanics of the haunting itself didn't gel with the main story arc and that let the episode down, in spite of the fact that it moves the characters and story forward in ways that you average Monster of the Week doesn't.

19:20 - The Curious Absence of Oz

The crew welcomed the return of Principal Snyder, who'd been missing for the last few episodes. For Justin, it highlighted the fact that another crew favourite had been absent for some time.

Neither Griff nor Alec had considered his absence until Justin pointed it out, but they were both as puzzled as Justin.

Griff suggested that Oz was either off honing his werewolf skills or was touring with Dingos Ate My Baby. It seemed odd to him that Oz wasn't there while everything else is moving forward.

Alec loved the idea that Oz was off touring with the band as an in universe explanation for his absence, but wandered if the practical reason for his absence is that the start and end of the season were the first episodes to be written and that Oz developed into a bigger character than intended during the writing of the rest of the season. It may also have simply been that Seth Green wasn't available.

Justin agreed that the sudden absence of the character must've been a scheduling thing but the fact that he's not referenced at all, particularly by Willow, is curious.

Griff pointed out that it would make sense for Willow to have called or at least referenced missing Oz after the events of Passions and felt that it was a missed opportunity by the writers.

Justin agree and noted that Willow's response to Buffy after she was approached by the boy in the Bronze was that of of someone who is in love and in a relationship. This betrays the fact that the writers are treating Willow as if Oz is there, but choosing not referencing him...which on serves to make his absence all the more curious.

Ultimately, the crew decided that, even though they missed Oz terribly, they probably should talk about characters who were actually in the episode.

26:00 - James and Grace, Buffy and Angel

Griff liked that the writers chose to flip the possession of Buffy and Angel after setting up the expectation that Grace and James always posses based on gender. He felt it was a neat plot device fabricated from a writers standpoint to allow Grace to break out of the endless cycle of dying at James' hand purely because Angel can't be killed by conventional weapons. He also liked the added confusion caused by the gun appearing in and disappearing from people's hands.

Alec also enjoyed the main plot line. In particular he liked the fact that, initially, each replay seemed to be a different fight as if the ghost is simply amping up existing conflict between real couples. While he conceded that James' choice to posses Buffy could be seen as a neat plot device he felt that there was more to it than that. James identified with Buffy because she had also been through an emotional break up with someone much older than her who, on occasion, treated her like a child in the same way that James felt that Grace treated him like a child. Buffy's breakup also had dire consequences for which she has yet to forgive herself.

Justin disagreed that it was a convenient plot device. Rather, he felt that it was incredibly elegant that Angel became the catalyst to the resolution of the story. He agreed that James identified with Buffy because she is the jilted one. He thought the swapping of the roles was genius on the part of the writers and felt that Buffy wasn't not just possessed but was, instead, animated by the motivations of James while brings her own heart break and emotions into the climactic argument with Angel.

36:38 - The Haunting

For Justin the contract of the elegance of the main plot line with the locker monster, the snakes and the hands dragging Willow into a portal simply didn't make sense. Sure they're valid poltergiesty things to do, but they seemed horribly inelegant next to the portrayal of James and Grace relieving their trauma. Cordie's scene reminded him of a very similar scene in Poltergiest and he felt it would've been great if there was consistency throughout, but ultimately they didn't connect in with the over all plot.

Griff liked the moments in isolation, with the exception of the swirling floor vortex which stuck him as odd looking although it did give Willow the chance to make it clear to Giles that Jenny could never be as malevolent as the poltergeist was being. They all felt like the moments that you expect in a Buffy episode, they simply didn't fit with the story.

Alec was just as puzzled as Griff and Justin. He felt that the writers had to show unrelated poltergeist attacks to allow Giles to believe that it could be Jenny, while ratcheting up the tension overall.

He also felt that the scenes with Cordie and Willow could be interpreted as the ghost playing off their fears, but the attacks were inconsistent and ended up feeling like generic ghosty stuff rather than deliberate attempts to terrify the Scoobies.

43:38 - Giles

The whole crew were saddened by Giles in this episode. It was difficult to watch one of their favourite characters go through the grieving process but, as Griff noted, it did give the rest of the scoobies the chance to step up.

For Justin the fact that Giles looks to Willow for confirmation shows not only a recognition that she might have some supernatural knowledge, but also that the Scoobies and Giles are now on a more equal footing.

Alec agreed and likened Giles and Willows' scene to scenes in earlier episodes where Buffy has comforted Giles. For him, Giles is now one of the scoobies, not above them.

65:06 - Final Thoughts & Ratings

Alec loved David Boreanaz's as Possessed Angelus and mentioned that, according to Wikipedia, it was this episode that convinced Joss that Boreanaz could carry his own show, which led him to green light Angel the series.

Griff really missed the witty one liners and "Xanders". There were a few in there, but it didn't have the same light heartedness as a normal Monster of the Week.

Justin loved the evolution of the Angel and Buffy's relationship but ultimately the snakes, vortex, wasps and the locker monster were too wonky for his liking.

The crew rated the episode:

  • Justin: 3.5/5 Locker Monsters
  • Griff: 3/5 Snakes on a Tray
  • Alec: 4/5 Pathetic Little No-Life Vegans

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The Verse 031 - Killed by Death

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

We hope you enjoy!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E18

Something is killing sick kids in the children's ward at Sunnydale General. Is it a doctor? Is it a demon? Is it a demon-doctor? It's up to a flu-ridden Buffy and the Scoobies to put a stop to it before any more children die.

Crew Members

13:07 General thoughts

Justin found the episode creepy in a way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer normally isn't. Combining kids, an invisible predator and a hospital ramped up the potential creepiness of the episode.

For Griff the title reminded him of the 70s classic, Murder by Death, although it followed a very different plot line. He didn't find the horror as scary as he felt he would've had he not been watching a "Monster of the Week" episode of Buffy. The design of Der Kinderstod gave him a strong Freddie Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street vibe, while Alec struggled to not see the Trolls from World of WarCraft when the demon was on screen.

Alec also felt that the design of Der Kindestod was better executed as the fourth season episode, Hush while the idea of a kid in hospital playing the role of victim was better executed in the first season episode, Nightmares.

While there were parts of the episode which didn't work for Justin (straight forward functional exposition at the start, the flash backs and the final scene), Der Kindestod reminded him of the villain from Poltergeist II while the element of kids being the only ones who could see the villain was reminiscent of the original Poltergeist, which helped the episode to deliver on some of its promise.

He also felt that Der Kindestod's method of killing his victims, sitting on their chest while they sleep and draining their life force, fit perfectly with myths such as the Succubus which can be traced back to people explaining the condition of Sleep Paralysis, where you're partially awake but your body is still in a paralysed sleep state. People suffering from Sleep Paralysis often experience feelings of dread and of some malevolent force being in the room with them or actually sitting on their chest.

25:28 Dispatching the demon

Even so, Justin didn't find Der Kindestod to be a particularly threatening demon, especially when it was so easily dispatched by Buffy.

Alec noted that, for a child, Der Kindestod would be a formidable opponent which would explain why the demon preys on sick children: they're easy for it to control and overpower where as Buffy isn't, so she was able to kill it quite easily.

For Griff the fact that it attacked Doctor Backer in the first place didn't feel right. For no apparent reason, Der Kindestod became an enemy of opportunity and took the Doctor out with a sneak attack. If it was capable of doing so all along, Griff felt that it should be capable of preying on adults as well as children.

Alec was accused of being a demon apologist by Justin after putting forward the theory that Der Kindestod attacked Doctor Backer and Buffy out of pure desperation to protect its food supply. Both of them were meddling, which pushed it out of its comfort zone.

Ultimately Justin, Griff and Alec agreed that regardless of how desperate the demon was, it was still a complete douche.

32:34 Doctor Red Herring

Both Justin and Griff fell for the possibly unintentional double bluff that was Doctor Stanley Backer.

At first he's positioned as the bad guy, with Buffy displaying an obvious distrust of him which is borne out by Giles & Willow's discovery that Backer is viewed by the authorities as a twisted mad man who takes unnecessary risks and puts his patients in jeopardy.

To the Scoobies, he's clearly the bad guy, which signals to the audience that he's a red herring.

When the audience sees him at work, he's portrayed by the all too familiar face of Richard Herd who comes across as too sweet and well intentioned to be the bad guy, which of course means that he must be the bad guy... until he's attacked and killed by Der Kindestod.

Alec was suspicious from the get go, but still suspected that Backer was involved in some way, possibly through being under the thrall of the creepy, if underused, security guard.

While Griff could believe that the kids could be seeing Backer's "real face" as suggested by Giles, the fact that he appeared quite physically different from Der Kinderstod cast doubt on the idea.

Ultimately, Doctor Backer turned out to be a slightly tragic figure who took risks but always had the patients' best interests at heart.

41:12 Doubting Scoobies

While Alec didn't like the instant doubt of Buffy by Giles and the rest of the Scoobies, he did concede that without that dramatic tension, the episode would've been far shorter. It also paved the way for the rest of the Scoobies to step up and take a more prominent role in fighting both the monster of the week and Angelus.

It reminded Griff of Ted (season 2, episode 11), where the Scoobies were compromised by LSD infused cookies and $300 mini pizzas which led to them doubting Buffy. Killed by Death flips that formula on its head by compromising Buffy while still delivering the same dramatic tension.

It's clear to Justin, Griff and Alec that the Scoobies are becoming more and more capable. They're out slaying when Buffy is ill, they're standing up to and staving off Angelus and coming up with their own plans, without the need for Buffy or even Giles to take charge.

There's an obvious level of growth in both the characters and writers in this episode, and it's an early example of the change in dynamic for a show and its characters which has become a hallmark of the Whedonverse.

54:57 Xander is great...

Everyone felt that Xander in particular had grown so much that he can convincingly take charge, give orders to Cordelia and Giles as well as stand up to Angelus, even to the point where Angelus' reluctance to take Xander, a few cops, orderlies and security guards on doesn't feel out of character for someone who, in the past, would've decimated a small eastern european village on a whim.

Justin made the observation that Xander's desire for Buffy has evolved into a genuine platonic love. Even though he may still be harbouring some unrequited feelings of lust, her protection is paramount.

For Griff one of the clearest examples of Xander's growing maturity is that there weren't many "Xanders" (also known as Xander Zingers) in this episode. Xander is a lot more serious and the writers are no longer using him purely for comic relief.

56:48 ...until he sucked at the end.

In spite of all that growth, the crew agreed that the portrayal of Xander in the final scene was terrible. It didn't gel with Xander in the rest of the episode or, in some cases, the rest of the series.

For Griff, Xander felt at least five years younger than he appeared to be earlier in the episode while Justin and Alec couldn't agree on whether Xander was an utter bastard or an utter arsehole.

73:45 The Trip to the ER and the Flash Backs

The crew agreed that the ER inspired scenes that followed Buffy's collapse in the graveyard worked because they didn't feel like an episode of Buffy. That allowed them to drag the characters into the real world where even The Slayer could die form something as mundane as the flu.

On the other hand, not feeling like part of the episode actually let the flashback scenes down. They came across as hamfisted and it was never clear that Buffy was the little brunette girl in both.

Griff and Justin felt that the show's inability to deliver on the emotional resonance of those flashbacks served to undermine the very personal stake that Buffy had in taking down Der Kindestod.

81:58 Final Thoughts and Episode Ratings

Despite the wonky flashbacks, lack of Oz, and terrible science the crew enjoyed the episode. Even so it didn't deliver on the promise of its horror elements, or of forcing Buffy to face death at the hands of something as mundane as the flu and for that reason they rated it:

  • Justin: 3/5 Imaginary Frogs
  • Griff: 3/5 Demons for Everything
  • Alec: 3/5 Bogarted Cheesy Chips

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The Verse 030 - Passion

Welcome to The Verse, join us each week for an in-depth discussion as we take the Whedonverse apart one episode at a time.

We hope you enjoy!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - S2E17

After the Valentines hijinks of the previous week, Angel steps up his torment of Buffy, Giles and the rest of the Scooby Gang with tragic results. Meanwhile Jenny is successful in her search for a way to restore Angel's soul, but it may be too little, too late.

Crew Members

Thoughts on the episode.

Overall the crew really enjoyed the episode, particularly because of how emotionally affecting it was. The loss of Jenny Calendar and the torment of the Scoobies, particularly Buffy, Giles and Willow, at the hands of Angel was keenly felt by all even though they'd seen the episode multiple times.

13:07 - General thoughts on Angel

Alec went to great lengths to separate the characters of Angel and Angelus in his mind and in the discussion as part of him still wanted to like Angel in spite of Angelus. He found Angelus to be incredibly "punny" in his bullying of Spike, which was in stark contrast to his cruelty in the rest of the show.

For Griff the biggest take-away was that what Angelus is really passionate about is seeing the grief in others. Through the voiceover which punctuates the episode he found Angelus' delivery eloquent, darkly beautiful and reminiscent of Edgar Alan Poe. He noted that the loss of Angel's soul hadn't removed the passion he felt for Buffy but had instead perverted it.

24:22 - Dynamic between Angelus, Spike & Drusilla

While Justin doesn't like Angelus, he did enjoy watching him interact with Spike and Dru and noted that Dru flips between ignoring the conflict between Angel and Spike and revelling in it. This, coupled with Angel ramping up his bullying, sowed deep seeds of resentment in Spike.

Both Alec and Griff agreed that the dynamic between the three had clearly changed since Angelus first returned. Spike has given up on the act, and clearly wants Angelus gone. Spike's relationship with Dru has also soured with her not showing the same thoughtfulness that Spike showed to her when their roles were reversed and she was nursing him back to health.

32:11 - Giles & Jenny

Griff found Buffy forgiving Jenny to be calculating and strategic. Buffy knew that she needed Giles to be at the top of his game and forgiving Jenny would remove the stresses that were preventing that. He also posited that Jenny's usefulness as a technopagan may have played a role in Buffy's decision.

Alec and Justin felt that it was another example of Buffy the teenager acting like a grown-up and looking after Giles, the father figure, in his time of need. For them her only motivation was seeing Giles happy, because she didn't want to see anyone sad and alone.

Despite the disagreement about Buffy's motives the crew all agreed that the potential reconciliation of Giles and Jenny made her death and his discovery of her death that much harder to endure.

While Justin and Griff saw the reconciliation as a red flag that the writers weren't going to allow Giles and Jenny to be happy, Alec was suckered yet again and felt that they were exceptionally mean this time round.

45:09 - The death of Jenny Calendar

Griff was surprised by just how much Angelus toyed with Jenny throughout the chase sequence that led to her sudden but inevitable death.

Alec noted that not only was Angelus toying with Jenny, the writers were toying with the audience, making them believe through the chase that Jenny might just get away and make her way back to Giles.

Not only does Jenny's death get Buffy to the point where she's ready to kill Angelus, it gets the audience (including long time fans of Angel the series) there as well.

The crew agreed that the episode clearly demonstrated that Angel has a better understanding of Buffy's "family" than she does. He ensures that Buffy is worrying about her best friends and her mother as a distraction, before coming at her through her surrogate father figure: not by killing him, but by killing someone he loves and that Buffy isn't even thinking about.

For Justin, it would've been easier to deal with if the reveal to Giles was just Jenny on the couch in his apartment, dead. The truly devious and cruel part of Angelus' plan was to torment Giles with roses and a romantic setting before revealing Jenny's body in his own bed. The pain inflicted on Giles and the rest of the Scoobies is Angelus' great work, and that's clear in how Angelus revels in Buffy and Willow's pain.

91:23 - Episode Ratings

  • Justin: 4.5/5 Candles on Giles' Staircase
  • Griff: 4.5/5 Yellow Floppy Disks
  • Alec: 5/5 Boogidy Boogidy Stores

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Non-Buffy Discussion

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The Verse 029 - Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

The Verse 029 - Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

Buffy - S02E16

It's Valentines Day! Love is in the air and everywhere you look around, the women of Sunnydale are vying (or in some cases axing) for the affections of one Alexander Harris.

We hope you enjoy!


The crew enjoyed episode overall and found it fun and easily rewatchable despite the obvious "love spell" plot line and slightly formulaic ending. The writers clearly had fun with the characters and the cast, particularly the extras, put in a stellar performance. Special mention went to Kristine Sutherland, who's delivery of "Let Joycey in..." thoroughly creeped out the crew and reminded them a little of Jack Nicholson's "Here's Johnny" from the Shining.

Griff really enjoyed the way the infatuation with Xander was handled and posited that the Earth's rotation would be altered by the rush of women to Sunnydale had it been handled any other way. He also singled handedly introduced the phrase "we're shaving vampires" to the shows Glossary of Terms.

The focus of the episode, of course, was Xander and while his moral arc was over very quickly, Justin, Griff and Alec agreed that he proved himself to be a stand-up guy by not taking advantage of a single advance, confessing to Giles immediately and begging for his help and rescuing Cordelia from Harmony and the Kendalls even though she dumped him unceremoniously in the Bronze.

Cordelia also got her chance to shine in this episode and took a giant step towards being the Cordie that we all know and love from Angel.

The crew agreed that had there been more rat with slayer strength hijinks the episode would've undoubtedly been a 5 out of 5, instead they rated the episode:

Justin:

  • 4/5 Mangled mouse traps with their cheese stolen

Griff:

  • 4/5 Sheep (Harmony & Kendels)

Alec:

  • 4/5 Besotted Lunch Ladies
  • 4/5 Comfort Lap Dances

Crew Members


Non-Buffy Discussion

"Here's Johnny" The Shining Wilhelm Sound Effects The Incredible Shrinking Man Species Yackity Sax The Shower Scene music from Psycho Griff said Wildcats but meant Hell Cats James Marster's Spike comic Sabrina the Teenage Witch


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The Verse 028 - Phases

The Verse 028 - Phases

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

Buffy - S02E15

On this weeks episode the scoobies try to capture the werewolf on the loose that terrorises Sunnydale before a hunter naimed Cain, with no regard for human life, murders it for the price of its skin. Along the way Xander plays the role of uncomfortable confidant to a school bully while Willow and Cordelia bond of their mutual frustration with guys.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Despite feeling that it was a bit of a functional episode, the crew enjoyed Phases. The cast delivered fantastic performances and yet again Seth Green managed to make everyone wish they were as cool as Oz, even in werewolf form. As always, Oz's effortless charm holds the episode together.

There were some great lines and callbacks to previous episodes as well a few clever inversions of classic horror movie tropes which made up for the slightly predictable "werewolf is the good guy, hunter is the bad guy" twist, the forgettable two dimensional villain and the terrible werewolf makeup.

There was some disagreement amongst the crew as to exactly when Oz was bitten with Griff suggesting that there was possibly a second werewolf in town and disputing Alec's previous claim that Oz's hair changed colour because he was already a werewolf and just didn't know it yet. Alec stuck to his guns and maintained that Oz had been a werwolf for several episodes while Justin, ever the magnanimous host, decided to sit on the fence.

The crew were all agreement, however, that Larry the overcompensating jock was a great character despite going through such a speedy transformation after revealing his secret to Xander. The situation was handled deftly by the writers and Xander's reaction was believable, if a little comedic.

Overall, Justin, Griff and Alec enjoyed the episode and felt it was easily one of the most rewatchable episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, despite it's minor flaws.


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Silver bullets
  • 3.5/5 Oz's

Griff rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Cheerleading trophies with eyes that follow you
  • 3.5/5 Amy's Mums

Alec rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Overcompensating jocks

Non-Buffy Discussion

Andrew Scott/GR13's necklace of ears in Universal Soldier

Being Human (UK) / Being Human (US)

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

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The Verse 027 - Innocence

The Verse 027 - Innocence

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

Buffy - S02E14

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4.5/5 Laws against God and man

Griff rated the episode:

  • 4.5/5 Shocked bystanders

Alec rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Pairs of leather pants

or

  • 4 Stars with the same name
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The Verse 026 - Surprise

The Verse 026 - Surprise

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

Buffy - S02E13

On this weeks episode Jenny advances a secret agenda as the Scoobies struggle to stop Spike and Dru from bringing on a demonic apocalypse and the love of Buffy and Angel leads to a fateful moment of true happiness.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Dru unapproved roses

Griff rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Interlocking boxes of body parts

Alec rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Thieving hippos
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The Verse 025 - Bad Eggs

The Verse 025 - Bad Eggs

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

Buffy - S02E12

On this weeks episode, an ancient evil takes control of Sunnydale with mind-controlling parasites, Buffy finds her friends and family turning against her and learns lessons in responsibility as she scrambles to save the day.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 2/5 Vampire Cowboys

Griff rated the episode:

  • 2/5 Water Mattress Monsters or Mumma Bears

Alec rated the episode:

  • 2/5 Khans
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The Verse 024 - Ted

The Verse 024 - Ted

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 3/5 Mini Pizzas

Griff rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Iron skillets

Alec rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 3.5 inch floppys with DMA upgrades

James rated the episode:

  • 3/5 Short circuits
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The Verse 023 - What's My Line?: Part 2

The Verse 023 - What’s My Line?: Part 2

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Awful Jamaican Accents

Griff rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Bad Lamps

Alec rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Pink Rangers
  • 4/5 French monkey pants
  • 4/5 Four volumes of the Writings of Dramius
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The Verse 022 - What's My Line?: Part 1

The Verse 022 - What’s My Line?: Part 1

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 4.5/5 Slayers or potential Law Enforcement professionals

Griff rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Tadpoles

Alec rated the episode:

  • 4/5 Debased beef canoes
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The Verse 021 - The Dark Age

The Verse 021 - The Dark Age

Welcome to The Verse. We'll be coming to you every week and discussing in-depth every episode of the Whedonverse.

We hope you enjoy!


Crew Members


Episode Rating

Justin rated the episode:

  • 3/5 Etruscan, not Egyptian Icons

Griff rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Bay City Rollers

Alec rated the episode:

  • 3.5/5 Tweed Diapers
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