Season 7 is upon us, folks, and for better or worse,
it seemed like the summer flew by in no time at all.
As the last station ID ran before episode 7.1, I contemplated
what it was I was hoping to see this year.
Joss has made no secret that his plan (or as he said
about a dozen times on the first and second season DVD
commentaries, his "mission statement") this
year is to bring the series around full circle to what
it started out as: an action-packed show about a young
female hero who, with the help of her closest friends,
protects her town and the world from demons and vampires.
I think this is an excellent idea, as everyone fondly
remembers how entertaining the storylines were back
in the first few seasons. My gut instinct is that if
you're already a fan, this is going to be a rich
and colourful season with lots to get excited about.
Especially if you consider that it marks the return
of the biggest, scariest evil the show has ever known
(cue the creepy organ music)
school. Having Sunnydale High once again open for business
means so much in terms of the season's potential.
An influx of new characters, both major and minor (this
was DESPERATELY needed), a Pandora's Box of metaphors
and allegories for Joss and his team to explore, and
a front-line battleground for the Scoobs' war against
evil that we can all relate to. Most of us have never
risen from the grave, been the most powerful witch in
the Western Hemisphere, or almost married a retired
vengeance demon, but we've all been to high school.
We remember the highs and lows very clearly, and no
one touches those corresponding nerves better than Whedon
Okay, on to the episode. The initial teaser was intriguing.
What's going on in Istanbul? And before anyone
else makes the obligatory They Might Be Giants joke,
yes Istanbul WAS Constantinople. But who's
the cutie? Who's chasing her? And more importantly,
is she now dead already? I'm thinking no, since
there has to be SOME point to giving us a glimpse of
her perilous evening. An enigmatic start, but what's
it all about, Buffy?
about power'. And with that line (also uttered by Dark
Willow in the season 6 finale), we got our first glimpse
of Buffy, Dawn, and one of Sunnydale's many graveyards,
and the season finally felt like it had begun (as champagne
corks popped all over the place). Nice to see Buffy
making good on last season's promise to bring little
sis into her world. I say little, but as Dawn pointed
out, she's now taller than Buffy. Didn't she seem substantially
more grown up in a lot of ways? I've already heard from
a few friends this morning who remarked how surprisingly
likeable Dawnie was last night (after a sixth season
that was heavy on the kid's shrill whining). Great!
Another checkmark in the column of things we want to
see this season. The vampire getting stuck on his way
out of the grave was the first of many good laughs in
the episode, and did everyone notice that this short-lived
fellow has already been immortalized in the new opening
The montage looked great, by the way, and I was pleased
both by the return of some of my favourite clips (Anya
with the baseball bat, Spike on the subway), and the
inclusion of some new ones (Anya with the eye-mask,
Spike fighting in the cave, and that IMPOSSIBLY cute
shot of Willow with the sassy curls).
The scenes with Giles and Willow in England (shot,
if you haven't heard, on Anthony Stewart Head's
own property), were very touching. I had problems with
last year's finale, and in a lot of ways I was
less affected by Evil Willow nearly destroying the world
than I was by seeing her last night, back to normal
and in pain over what she'd done. It's always
been like that, though I'm a bigger fan
of the quiet moments on the show than I am the King
Kong vs Godzilla' pyrotechnics. If we're classifying
Willow as the Big Bad of season 6, it'll be a new
experience watching the previous year's villain
suffering through the almost-impossible task of making
up for the damage they've done. I liked the Harry
Potter reference, and here's hoping that before
Will returns to Sunnydale we'll get to meet these
impressive witches she & Giles were talking about.
I got a big kick out of Xander "Bling-Bling"
Harris, everyone's favourite new contracting action-figure
who comes complete with spiffy suit and the Xander Dream
Car. It doesn't look like Buffy will have to flip
burgers anymore now that Big Poppa's bank account
has swelled to match his ass. Mochas for everyone! But
how exactly did he score the contract for the new high
school when, from what I've seen, he and his crew
have never taken a job past the point of bare frames
and big holes in the ground? Sorry, suspending disbelief.
What the hell was Anya wearing last night?!? Is she
a vengeance demon or the new schoolmarm in Sleepy Hollow?
Never mind Hallie's advice that she needs to step
up her demonic dealings, the first priority has to be
the look. I didn't wait patiently all summer only
to run smack into this wall of pronounced prudishness
separating me from the Anya I've come to know and
The scenes in school were great, and they demonstrated
the show's excellent balance of comedy and horror.
Something that both Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch
are known for is taking a clean, bright, safe, familiar
location and inserting something dark and ugly, often
in such a seamless way that it causes you to wonder
if you're even in the place you thought you were.
Last night featured some great jump n' gasp moments,
with the basement ickies appearing suddenly and shaking
things up (the chap who borrowed Dawn's pencil
then "returned it" was the best example of
this). I like the new Principal (but did he really introduce
himself as Robin Wood?!?), and with Mr.Trick and Riley's
Initiative buddy gone, it's nice to see that there's
still at least one African American in Sunnydale.
If Dawn's going to be attending Sunnydale High
and facing all of its darkness, she's going to
need some trustworthy accomplices just like her big
(but shorter) sister had. Enter the Scrappies (excellently
nicknamed by the online faithful once spoilers for this
season started to leak out). We didn't see much
in the way of characterization for either of Dawn's
new friends (2 or 3 lines each), but if they're
going to be hanging around (and it seems like they are),
I trust that we'll be getting into their heads
and home lives and by the end of the season they'll
be fully fleshed out additions to the Buffy mythology
(and hopefully not dead). I have to take issue with
what I saw in the way of "acting" from the
male (I'm drawing a complete blank on his name,
but they only said it once) friend. Stiff and unbelievable.
We're supposed to like this kid? Better get him
an acting coach, and fast. But Kit seems cool, even
if only because A) She's CUTE, and B) Who doesn't
love the name Kit?
As Buffy said in Once More With Feeling, "Dawn's
in trouble. Must be Tuesday." But now our Jimmy
Olsen has a signal watch, and it wasn't long before
Buffy was down in the basement, kicking some ghost ass
and impressing Dawn's new friends. All seemed great,
until she opened that door and ran smack into
Justin Timberlake. Spike! Love the curls and the highlights,
brother, and it's nice to see you're spouting
poetry again, even if it's decidedly more surreal
than the stuff you wrote in your pre-vamp days. For
an episode full of creepy surprises, it was great to
be hit with the first really meaty "A-HA!"
moment of the night. Knowing what we now know about
Spike, it'll be just like Joss & Marti to keep
showing him to us in torturously short doses as our
minds race over the myriad possibilities. Poor guy.
But at least he's got lots of company down there,
in the form of a walking slide show of Drusilla and
the show's Big Bad Hall of Fame, turning eventually
into Spike's most recent villain. I've heard
various theories on who or what Spike was being tormented
by in this scene. Popular theory is that it was just
a delusional symptom of his current state of kookiness,
but I think we were seeing some manifestation of the
evil that both Willow and Halfrek described last night.
Something big and dark and terrible rising and, judging
by the faces it showed Spike in the basement, it's
coming for Buffy. THAT's why this first episode
of the season was so good. It moved well, it established
some new characters and angles, it had a lot of laughs,
and it's already laid the groundwork for some ominous
plot yet to be explored.
That's it for now, but before I sign off I wanted
to say thanks to all the people who've written
with kind and encouraging words since Slayage started
posting the reviews from last season. It's been
good to hear from everyone, and it's had me twice
as excited to jump in and start writing again.
Until next time, take care everybody.