Oh, I can hear you all groaning over this one now.
But, c'mon. Giles sings! And plays guitar! The Scoobiage in this episode is awesome!
This is the episode that convinced me that I would've gotten just as hooked on this show if it was The Adventures of Giles, Xander, Willow, Anya, and Tara. This is the episode that also convinced me that ME missed the boat on what could've been the best! ship! evah! Spike/Anya!
S4: Where the Wild Things Are
I'm convinced that half the problem with Riley (when it came to fans, anway) is that he wasn't Angel. Frankly, you could've had the hottest and most talented guy playing the corn-fed Iowa boy and at least half the fandom would've hated him because he wasn't Angel.
The problem was that Marc Blucas, while cute in a WASP-y sort of way (I prefer the guy who looks like he'd be a black lab puppy if he were turned into an animal tomorrow myself), was not a good actor. Even so, I still think he's head and shoulders acting-wise over Amber Benson (sorry Tara fans!).
I felt very lonely during S4. I liked the Buffy-Riley relationship. It struck me as the perfect college-type relationship most of us get: cute, sometimes sweet, a dash of bitter, and not meant to last beyond getting the degree. Twu wuv foweva it isn't, but it's twu wuv fow now. When you're 18, why not?
Hell, I even liked Riley as a character in S4, despite the super-soldier juicing-up.
Yes, I was a very lonely girl in Buffy fandom.
Okay, so the Buffy-Riley sex-a-thon parts of this episode were coma-inducing and eye-rollingly over-the-top, but I think it was actually meant to be. Despite the fact that my own eyes rolled so hard that I thought I sprained muscles in my eye sockets, it's still nowhere near as cringe-worthy as S6.
It could be because during S4 ME actually remembered how to write for all the characters. Buffy wasn't missed because the supporting ensemble cast (remember the days when the cast was an ensemble?) more than pulled off the main part of the story. Not only that, their presence (or lack thereof) in a scene made sense.
For example, Xander and Anya aren't sitting with Giles, Riley, Buffy, Willow, and Tara in the Initiative frat house talking about the weird fireplace event because they've got no business there. However, we do get a short scene with Xander and Anya just before that to make up for it and their conversation doesn't revolve around Buffy. Awesome!
Plus, how can I hate an episode that pays compliment to my only canon OTP of Spike/Dru? Seriously now.
What I did find sad this time around is that you see echoes of where all these characters will eventually end up.
Tara really does get disgusted with Willow and attempts to get away from her. Xander and Anya really do break up. Anya really does wind up going to Spike for comfort and support in the aftermath. Spike does attempt to rub it in Xander's face. Xander does attempt to get Spike very dead out of revenge (Hostile 17! Look, it's Hostile 17!). Xander and Anya talk at cross-purposes about their relationship. (Anya asks a question and Xander answers by talking about his worries in dealing with the immediate danger and Anya responds by saying that she was refering to the status as a couple.)
Of course, what makes WtWTA different is that Willow-Tara and Xander-Anya pull together before the end of the episode without too many recriminations, all is forgiven, and Tara and Anya survive to annoy their significant others another day.
Hell, I even like Willow in this episode. I forget there was a period where Tara and Willow talked to each other like normal human beings instead of in that irritating baby talk that took over somewhere in S5.
Anya and Spike at the Bronze are awesomely funny and bittersweet. Xander is able to commisserate with his friends over his girlfriend troubles, and they're actually sympathetic. Giles's desire to be with people his own age for just one night, only to have the Scoobs blow it to smithereens is so very real. Then, without any whining about how the supernatural has interrupted what should've been a fun party, the Scoobs get to work on solving the mystery. Everyone has something important to contribute and they succeed by playing to their strengths. Best of all, they're all acting as if they actually like each other while they work to solve the problem.
I also like all the other Scoobs ragging on Xander while he digs through the weapons chest because, hey, he's going to fight ghosts. What's a weapon going to do? Then, without a word, he comes out with two big machetes to hack through the vines and everyone immediately shuts up. Remember when the characters didn't have to expound on every little thing to make a point? I miss that.
So. Much. Love. For this episode.
I did mention I was a lonely fangirl in S4, right? There are days that I think I'm the only one who likes this episode. Okay, the whole anvilicious "Sweet old lady and religious freak who has serious hang-ups about sex and 'beat the devil' out of the helpless charges in her care" thing could have been more subtly played, but I don't care.
Much as I love the episode, there are some WtF moments.
During the party while Xander and Willow are attempting to break down Riley's bedroom door, Tara wanders away and watches the party. Then the whole house supposedly starts shaking, things and people are falling to the ground, and AB stands there like she's completely stoned and doesn't even move. Maybe they were trying to show that Tara was picking up vibes. I thought AB looked like she smoked too much weed before getting called onto the set.
The other WtF is when the Initiative boys shout that they have to get people to safety and then turn around and go to their Supah Sekrit Elevator to the Initiative while people are still fleeing the house. Hunh? What happened to getting the civilians out of danger?
In watching this episode, I'm pretty sure that most of the cuts were trims off the Buffy-Riley sex scenes, since they did go on longer than you'd typically see in syndication. And I'm very sure that the beginning of the Xander-and-Anya conversation is also trimmed (the relationship discussion took me by surprise because I actually don't remember it and because it was a striking echo of the one they have at the end of S6).
Now it's time to play...spot the plot hole!
So, the ghosts of the sexually repressed teenagers are triggered into existence and powered by Buffy's and Riley's sex-a-thons. This house has supposedly been a frat house on the UC Sunnydale campus since at least the mid-60s. There has been no evidence or reports of weird doings between the time it stopped being an orphanage to the present day. Do the writers seriously want me to believe that until Buffy and Riley no one has ever had sex in that house? I mean, ever? Reeeeelly, reeeeelly? This is a house full of guys suffering from testosterone poisoning. You'd think the ghosts would've reared their heads looooong before now. Or at least at some point within the previous year. Just sayin'.
And what did we learn in this episode? Masterbation is good.
Thank yew, and good night.
More guilty pleasures later!