Sunday, October 27, 2013

White Collar - 5.02 - Out of the Frying Pan - Recap & Episode Awards

Previously - Peter became the white collar ASAC, Hagen blackmailed Neal to help him win his appeal by destroying evidence, Diana was pregnant, and Peter told Neal that he was getting a new handler.

As Neal practices his dance steps, Mozzie plays instructor. They choreograph the footwork Neal needs to avoid the cameras in FBI evidence. It's not going well. Mozzie: "Since when do you overstep your mark." Neal: "Take it easy Bob Fosse." Bwah! They both are anxious. Neal over his new handler and Mozzie over Hagen's blackmail. He exposits that Hagen's bonds will be in evidence in 3 days. Neal: "If you're aiming to reduce my anxiety, I'm not the only one missing my mark." Neal meets his handler that morning and Moz thinks that's good, since they are too close to the FBI. Mozzie: "Maybe your new handler will remind us of why snakes don't fraternize with mongeese." Neal: "Mongeese?" Moz: "Mongooses?" Neal: "That's why I always go with scorpions and frogs." Ha! Mozzie exposits the plan to age Hagen's bonds using UV light to disintegrate them. He's working on a light source so Neal practices his nondetection dance until it's time to go to the FBI. Peter says Neal's late but he counters that they spend 30 minutes drinking coffee anyway. Not today though. The FBI captured Brendan Holland, who runs a con version of E-Bay called Gray Trade. Neal's more worried about his new handler whom he surmises is "late middle aged, curmudgeonly, prefers Sports Center to Masterpiece Theatre." Peter won't confirm or deny so Neal goes in cold. Jones and Diana coordinate the debrief and Neal doesn't win any points being late or his continual interruptions. The plan is to go after the sellers before they notice the site is shut down. Neal counters that keeping Gray Trade open gives them more time while his new handler suggests they create fictional accounts to win the bids to keep from selling any contraband. Neal: "I guess I was wrong about curmudgeonly." Ha!

Peter introduces Neal to Agent David Siegel, his new handler, who flatters Neal for his skills. He previously had a CI, who got a deal patterned after Neal's. Siegel: "I want to work with you Neal. Hey, you're the best there is. Your skills are unmatched and your smarts are unparalleled. You might be the most valuable asset the FBI has." Neal eats it up but Peter decides he made a wrong choice until Siegel convinces him that he is flattering Neal to gain his trust - handling him. Peter gives Siegel his office, which I call foul on. Diana or Jones deserves it. That night Peter compliments Siegel, and Elizabeth knows he kissed up to Peter as well. That much smoke makes me suspicious. Everyone from other FBI divisions and locations has been nothing but bad news. I don't expect this one to be any different. Plus I want Peter and Neal as partners. El points out that the new situation must be hard on Neal, which Peter should already know. She calls him on not checking to see how Neal's doing. Peter: "I should reach out to him." Fans: "Duh!" El agrees it's a great idea, but she wants some Peter time first. Deal! The next morning Peter greets Neal with coffee, making him suspicious. Neal: "Just a friendly coffee, chat, and walk to the office thing?" They talk Siegel, whom Neal compares to the Von Trapp's - bwah!, and Neal informs Peter he knows the game Siegel is playing with him. What he doesn't know is why he's in NYC? We all want to know that Neal. Apparently Neal is okay with the new situation, but makes sure he and Peter are on good terms. Peter: "I might have a new title, but I'm still the same old me." Yeah right. In future events, you're darn near psychic, Peter Burke, but that's an issue for later.

Back at the office, Diana is "multigeeking." BWAH! I'm so using that. Diana poses as Holland and 40 clients to win the auctions. To say she's cranky is an understatement. Diana: "What are you? My obstetrician." Ha! Peter offers to have someone cover for her but ends up roping himself and Neal with the task. Luckily Siegel pops in with a case and both make a breakaway before Diana's wrath spews over them. He wants to target Little Star Merchandise, which sells stolen art and antiquities, but Neal protests about going after the dangerous, which of course means Mozzie runs Little Star. Peter snarks about Faberge eggs. Neal: "Oh Peter, you know me so well." Siegel and Neal head to Little Star headquarters where Siegel notices Neal thinks the con is male. Siegel: "He?" Neal: "English doesn't have a gender-neutral singular pronoun." Good cover, Neal. I'd be suspicious too. Neal says they can't spook the perpetrator and Siegel agrees to let him go in alone. Yeah, definitely Mozzie, who works on the light source to destroy the bonds, but panics when Neal says the Feds are there to arrest him. Both Neal and I are shocked he doesn't immediately flee in escape plan A. Mozzie: "I knew when those pencil necks at UCLA invented the internet that I would end up like a trapped rat." Neal: "Mozzie, I'm going to get you out of here but I need you to breathe." Shoe's on the opposite foot now. Mozzie exposits the Roanoke Praxis, which includes leaving his teeth behind when he torches the place. That's one way to get the Feds off your back. Neal is horrified. Neal: "Are those…" Mozzie: "My teeth? Yes." Neal: "How did you….actually no. I don't want to know." Neither do I. That's gross. Mozzie sets the filing cabinet on fire and Neal freaks, getting the fire extinguisher. Neal: "I'm cancelling the Roanoke Praxis. Does your other contingency plan involve burning anything down?" Mozzie: "Not as such." Neal: "Then we're going with that one. Now gather up your teeth and get out." Bwah! Sadly the fire alarm triggers so Siegel heads in as well. He spots Mozzie, who flees. Uh oh!

Neal and Siegel sift through the wreckage, find Mozzie's laptop, and head to the office where Siegel says he has experience with computer forensics. Double uh oh! He also gives Peter and Jones a description of Moz and I run out of uh oh's. Jones: "Short, bald guy with pre-war treasure. Diana, sound like someone we know?" Diana grunts, too wrapped up in her work to listen. Neal says it isn't Mozzie and Siegel suggests he make a sketch. It's definitely NOT Mozzie he draws. Peter wants Siegel to confirm it and he does through the glass of his office, mostly because Neal flips the page to a Mozzie sketch. Neal: "Farsightedness and male pattern baldness are epidemic, Peter." Ha! Jones interrupts to talk about Diana. Peter says he'll pull Diana soon, but Jones calls that a mistake. He argues that becoming a single mom is hard enough for her. Fear of losing her career on top of that is too much. Jones: "I mean she's staring down the barrel of Diana Barrigan, single mother and that's scary, but I think the idea of her losing Diana Barrigan, special agent…I just think that's scarier." Well put Clinton. These insights prove Jones deserves more screen time. Here's hoping for a good story line his way. Jones questions how Peter will treat Diana in the future, knowing she has a child. It's a great question and Peter's natural instinct is to protect. Jones agrees Peter is in a tough position, but reminds Peter that Diana is in one too. Excellent scene! Meanwhile Neal impatiently waits for Siegel to crack Mozzie's laptop. He suggests Neal help Diana, but one look at her banging on the keyboard in frustration is enough for Neal. Besides, Siegel finds a name, Teddy Winters, along with prints and dental records but no photo, making Neal only slightly less nervous.

Cutting through the park from work, Neal finds Mozzie…dressed as Lady Liberty. BWAH! Best disguise yet! Neal obviously disagrees. "The FBI shuts down Little Star and this is your alternative revenue stream?" Mozzie: "This is my camouflage, security through obscurity." Neal: "Not sure that principle applies here." Mozzie: "Says you. Plus I made $11.50…75." Neal: "High roller." Mozzie wants to jump ship to Florida but Neal says they only have an alias. Mozzie's relieved until he hears the name. "Teddy Winters isn't an alias, Neal." Ladies and gentleman, we have Mozzie's real name…or at least he figures it's his based on Detroit birth certificates from a month before his abandonment. Moz: "Babies in baskets rarely arrive with birth certificates. I was no exception. I was homeless, nameless, purposeless…" Neal: "Histrionic." Ha! Moz: "You'll never really understand the plight of the orphaned, not truly." Moz explains that the FBI can find all his worldly goods with that name. Mozzie: "If they have Teddy, they have it all." I don't know why Mozzie isn't moving stuff as they speak but Neal's more concerned about why he kept his real name active. Moz: "Just in case my parents came looking." Aww, you break my heart Moz. Neal: "If you let Teddy die, no one would ever find him." Neal is sympathetic but only Teddy's death can get the FBI off Mozzie's back. The Roanoke Praxis is back on, but suddenly Mozzie is squeamish. Moz: "I'm not the one who thinks my teeth need a host." Um, I don't like the sound of that either. Moz: "Pulling my own teeth is one thing but a dead man's? On the off chance that there actually is a heaven, this is definitely going to get me barred." For his part Neal hunts for combustibles. Mozzie and I want a loud boom and Neal delivers. Woo hoo! I miss Burn Notice. Homemade napalm it is. Mozzie sets it up to an unclaimed body. Hmm.

Back at the office, Siegel and Peter gloat about cracking the Winters case. A Cayman account leads them to all of Mozzie's properties. Neal: "He won't have anything left." Aww. Peter: "That's the point." Hmm, I definitely prefer Peter and Neal working together. Siegel wants to go to SoHo but luckily Diana breaks in to say there's activity at Little Star. So back to Little Star they go, where a toy monkey types on the internet. Ha! Those things creep me out but finally there's a good use for them. Moz heads out wearing a gas mask. When the Feds appear, Moz goes back in and the whole place explodes. 6 hours later, the fire department gets the blaze under control and there's a perfect teeth match. Peter, Siegel, and Diana are unhappy to Neal's surprise. Siegel: "It's a win when the bad guy's in cuffs, Neal. Not when he's a briquette in a burned out building." Diana is suspicious but Peter orders her to go home. Before leaving she asks Neal how he'd fake his own death. Yeah, she's not dropping this anytime soon. She asks Neal to go to the warehouse with her and Neal snarks, "Are you suggesting we disregard direct orders from the assistant special agent in charge?" Diana: "Are you suggesting we follow them?" Ha! Neal: "Things really are changing around here, huh?" Sadly Neal. I'm not a fan so far. Neal agrees to meet Diana at the warehouse the next day. Diana, of course, can't wait that long and goes by herself.

Neal, however, learns from Peter that the Hagen evidence is in building. They reminisce about the pilot before Neal heads upstairs at the same time Diana goes down a manhole to find Mozzie. She's sweating and about to give birth at any moment. Mozzie: "This isn't what it looks like." Diana: "It looks like you're Teddy Winters." Moz: "And if I am?" Diana: "Then you're under arrest." Mozzie: "Oh then I'm definitely not." She tries to arrest Mozzie but goes into labor instead. At first Mozzie flees to avoid prison, but he can't do it. Diana: "You came back." Mozzie: "You may be the enemy but bad karma isn't hereditary." He helps Diana deliver the baby. As if things aren't hectic enough, Neal distracts the evidence guard with a phone call while Siegel and Peter talk about if Neal purposely messed up the Little Star case. They dialogue about Siegel's CI, who is back in prison for forgery, and Siegel says Neal's still in the building. Peter tells him not to be worried until he leaves, but Peter is definitely suspicious enough for both of them. Apparently he is clairvoyant now because for no reason, he decides Neal is up in evidence. I hate them making Peter a plot device this season as seen here. Argh! Neal gets Hagen's evidence successfully and corrupts the bonds with Mozzie's light source. However, Peter calls him in the middle of the job. He ignores the call, sending Peter to evidence right as Neal is about to leave it. He exits while Peter inspects the room. Meeting back in the office, Neal claims he left his hat. I call foul on this whole situation. Peter is smart but this is ridiculous! They are setting up conflict for conflict's sake at the expense of believability. It's a shortcut cheat that makes me less excited about the buildup of Neal's situation.

Heading back to Mozzie's underground safe house, Neal's shocked to see Diana's baby. Moz: "I'm a dad." Diana: "Not even close." Moz: "I'm a midwife." Ha! They get Diana to the hospital and El hurries Peter off to join them. Peter, El, Jones, Neal, and Moz coo over the baby and Diana calls them her family, even Moz. She names her baby Theo. Awww! Peter ruins the moment expositing Theodore Winters, shocking Jones that Diana named her kid after a criminal. Jones: "I mean no offense to present company." Neal: "None taken." Diana and Moz exchange a small smile as Peter grills her about her non-hospital birth. Diana says she didn't know the person who helped her to deliver and Peter looks at her suspiciously. Ugh! Really? Now he suspects Diana? I hate this new omniscient Peter. He is smart enough on his own without giving him spidey senses. Thankfully we end on Neal and Moz smoking cigars to toast the new baby's birth. Neal: "It's poetic you know. One Teddy dies, another is born." Mozzie hopes the baby calls him papoose. Huh? Neal: "I think you're going to be disappointed on that one." They banter on Shakespeare, being nameless, and how Mozzie smells. Yeah, um, moving on. Neal calls it a new beginning although Mozzie is now broke. In good news, Moz is not in prison and the bonds are destroyed. Moz: "So Hagen will get his retrial and that sociopathic blackmailer will be back on the street." Yeah, but at least we get more Mark Sheppard time. Moz: "Hey, you paid the piper. That's the end, isn't it?" Oh you beautiful dreamer. There's no way it's the end. Neal agrees. "I hope so Moz, but I have a feeling it's just the beginning." Me too, Neal.

Overall I liked this episode better than the premiere. However, this all-knowing Peter takes me out of the episode every time.  Instead of logically getting from point A to point B in a story arc, it feels like they have jumped the track and headed straight for point M. The writers are generally better than this when it comes to characterization although they have taken shortcuts with the plot before. As it is, I hope the whole thing comes to a head quickly before I get really frustrated. On the plus side though, I really liked Jones in this episode as well as getting more Mozzie back story. There were some great scenes and Diana naming the baby Theo was a masterful touch. Siegel was also a plus, since I was worried he would be a tool like the other FBI agents who have come in from other areas. However, I am worried that Siegel can never see Mozzie again though. That will make any further direct assistance from Mozzie to the FBI more difficult. It's hard to believe Mozzie didn't have another escape plan that didn't involve walking right in front of Siegel. It's another odd plot device I don't find advantageous. This was definitely an episode I liked better in the little moments than overall.

Episode Awards:

Grade: B-

Best Aww moment - Diana names her baby Theo and she and Mozzie share a moment

Best Humor - Mozzie dressed as the Statue of Liberty

Best Use of an Underused Character - Jones makes Peter see Diana's perspective

Best Scene - Mozzie and Neal talk about why he kept the name Teddy Winters around

Biggest Relief - Siegel makes an interesting handler for Neal so far

Best Use of Music - Opening scene with Neal practicing his evidence room break-in

Most Prophetic Line - Neal: "Things really are changing around here, huh?"

Best Line - tie -
Mozzie: "Since when do you overstep your mark?" Neal: "Take it easy Bob Fosse."
Mozzie: "You may be the enemy but bad karma isn't hereditary."

Other Great Lines -

Mozzie: "I knew when those pencil necks at UCLA invented the internet that I would end up like a trapped rat." Neal: "Mozzie, I'm going to get you out of here but I need you to breathe."
Diana: "What are you? My obstetrician."
Neal: "I'm cancelling the Roanoke Praxis. Does your other contingency plan involve burning anything down?" Mozzie: "Not as such." Neal: "Then we're going with that one. Now gather up your teeth and get out."
Neal: "Farsightedness and male pattern baldness are epidemic, Peter."
Jones: "I mean she's staring down the barrel of Diana Barrigan, single mother and that's scary, but I think the idea of her losing Diana Barrigan, special agent…I just think that's scarier."
Moz: "I'm not the one who thinks my teeth need a host."
Moz: "Pulling my own teeth is one thing but a dead man's? On the off chance that there actually is a heaven, this is definitely going to get me barred."
Mozzie: "I'm a dad." Diana: "Not even close." Mozzie: "I'm a midwife."

Screencaps by Screencapped

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dracula - 1.01 - The Blood is Life - Best Scene Poll

Welcome to the first Dracula best scene poll. Here's how they work:

1. Polls will be posted on Sundays.
2. There will be between 10-12 options. One will always be Other.
3. You only get one vote.
4. Comments make everything more fun. Please share what you voted for and why.
5. Occasionally I will add a bonus poll. If there are polls you would like to see, please let me know in the comments. Happy voting!

As this is the pilot episode, our bonus poll will be on what aspect of Dracula you liked best. Yes, it is always a combnation of things that make a new show work, but you can always leave your other choices in the comments. In fact, that is why I picked this poll because it should encourage good discussion.

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Grimm - 3.01 - The Ungrateful Dead - Best Scene Poll

Welcome to the first Grimm best scene poll. Here's how they work:

1. Polls will be posted on Sundays.
2. There will be between 10-12 options. One will always be Other.
3. You only get one vote.
4. Comments make everything more fun. Please share what you voted for and why.
5. Occasionally I will add a bonus poll. If there are polls you would like to see, please let me know in the comments. Happy voting!

Since this is the first episode, we need a bonus poll. Normally I would start with a best quote poll, but this episode was less snarky than most. There were some gems but not enough for a decent amount of options. Therefore, let's talk about the ones you most want to have a character-centric episode this season. It doesn't matter if they are already getting one or not. Also, inspired by a conversation with Bruce, I'd love to get your nominations for the guest character you would most like to see back and the recurring character you would like to have a bigger part. (Don't worry, most posts won't have this much interaction.)

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

White Collar - 5.01 - At What Price - Recap

Previously on White Collar - 4 seasons happened and this one recaps all the way to the pilot. Neal was a convicted con on loan to the FBI as a consultant to catch the Dutchman. Three seasons later, his father comes back into the picture complete with a corruption case reaching the Senate. Neal's dad shoots a senator, but Peter is accused of it instead. Although Neal tries to get his dad to turn himself in, he refuses and goes on the run.

 In a reversal of the pilot, it is Peter in an orange jumpsuit being visited by a suited Neal. Peter: "The irony of this is not lost of me." The auidence either. Neal blames himself for James' actions and disappearance although Peter assures him that James is responsible for his own decisions. They recap the overwhelming evidence against Peter, who snarks, "I would have arrested me." Neal platitudes about justice prevailing but Peter seems cynical. Enter Jones to spin Diana's pregnancy unsuccessfully. It's awkward and I have a hard time believing it fits the character. Your mileage may vary. Even Peter seems stunned. His greatest visitor (since Mozzie's visit was cut - bring on the DVD extras) is of course Elizabeth. They exchange the traditional "Hi, hon" and El gives him a pep talk that finally seems to work. He promises he will beat the charges, but back at the house with Neal, El frets over the 6 weeks she's already spent apart from Peter. The indictment trial is the next day and if Peter is indicted he can never work for the FBI again. El doesn't care about that and accuses Neal of being self-serving since if Peter is indicted, Neal goes back to jail too. Neal counters that he's thinking of Peter. "Peter cares and I can 't be responsible for taking away his badge. That's why I want to clear him before the indictment, get him home to you as soon as possible." Easier said than done unless the Burkes are willing to go arctic under assumed names. El: "Well I always wanted to drive a snowmobile to work so..." Ha! That's the spirit El. She tells Neal to do whatever to get Peter out. Hmm, that hasn't worked well in the past.

What is working well is Mozzie's attempt to crack Neal's anklet. It's about time. I like Neal with a little more freedom. Moz and Neal banter about breaking Peter out of jail without consent but are interrupted by a cryptic text from Curtis Hagen, aka the Dutchman, who is on work release restoring an opera house painting. Neal and Curtis word dance about forgery, murder, and how the guards seem to be working for Hagen, not the other way around. Hagen says he can free Peter but Neal scoffs until Hagen says he has a federal prosecutor in his pocket. Neal rightly asks why Hagen isn't out of jail himself but he spouts some rigmarole about bad timing. Neal's intrigued enough to agree to steal for Hagen in exchange for Peter's release. Hagen: "There's one more thing." Neal: "There always is." Hagen requires a forged audiotape of James confessing to the murder. Really? If Neal can do that, why does he need Hagen's help? I assume it's so the prosecutor won't look hard at its authenticity under Hagen's orders, and a slipshod plot device to get Neal in Hagen's grasp. Still it brings more Mozzie time, so bring it on. Moz: "So the Dutchman appears out of nowhere offering gifts and I'm not suspicious?" More like they're out of time for alternatives which don't leave Peter a criminal. Mozzie can do the tape of course, but Neal must provide the voice. Neal: "In spite of everything, he's still my father. If I record this, he'll be a fugitive the rest of his life." Moz: "Neal, James did that all by himself. You're offering redemption that he doesn't deserve." So true, Moz. Neal plays his last phone message from James, a bittersweet memory and repeats James' last words. "See you soon, son." He asks Mozzie how it sounded. Moz: "Uncomfortably tragic." Aww, again so true. Mozzie offers to leave but Neal wants him to stay. Man do I love this dynamic!

The next day at Peter's indictment hearing, the prosecutor lays out his case. When Peter tries to speak on his own behalf, he is coldly stopped. Prosecutor: "Nothing you say will change my decision. Sit down." His voice softens as he talks new evidence and plays the audio confession Mozzie and Neal made. Sounds like James to me too. Case dismissed. Peter is stunned; El is ecstatic as they hug hello. Peter also gets a warm welcome as he enters the FBI office and exchanges words with Jones. Meanwhile, Neal tosses a baseball in Peter's office with his feet on the desk. Peter quickly reclaims his space. Peter: "I don't believe for a second that James Bennett made that call…" Uh oh, Neal. Peter: "…not without his son convincing him." Whew, your secrets safe for awhile longer. Peter thanks Neal but he brushes it off. Neal: "I can't admit to an FBI agent that I consorted with a fugitive. Come on." It's a sweet, slightly devious moment interrupted by Hagen, of course. Time for Neal to pay the piper. Peter, on the other hand, enjoys the small comforts of being out of prison before the FBI section chief offers him a promotion to ASAC with an option on moving up to Washington, D.C.. Looks like season 5 will be the opposite of season 4. Sadly, I guess it means no more Reese. It also means Peter not partnering with Neal. That can't last long. Peter says he'll think about it and a very pregnant Diana encourages him to take the position. They back story Diana's awkward pregnancy. Diana: "It's not Neal's." Bwah!

Meanwhile, Neal and Hagen trade restoration tips. Neal's a water color enthusiast while Hagen prefers tinted varnish. Hagen: "Something to be said for irreversible decisions, don’t you think?" Neal: "I'm here aren't I?" Ha! I love these two bantering. Hagen tells him the target is Welsh gold coins, which is apparently more valuable than regular gold. Who knew? Hagen: "And the only worthwhile thing about the Welsh." I bet Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sir Anthony Hopkins disagree. Neal suggests an alternate way to get money but Hagen insists on getting the coins in 3 days, startling Neal. Hagen: "Now I worked under your rather urgent deadline. Are you telling me you can't get this done under mine?" I love Mark Sheppard in any role, but he was made to play smart, snarky cons like the Dutchman. Back at Neal's, Mozzie protests that the job is too hard for the time limit, but Neal plans to go through the travel agency next door using a back draft con. Mozzie: "I've put my inner firebug to bed. Best not to awaken him." Bwah! Basically Neal will impersonate a fireman while Mozzie provides a reason for the fire department to clear the building. After exposition on how Mozzie's anti-anklet machine will keep Neal untraceable by looping the signal, Peter drops by for a surprise inspection which Neal finds comforting. He's been in this situation for far too long. Mozzie bumbles his way out so Peter can talk about taking the promotion, stunning Neal. Peter: "I've made sure that your deal stays in place." Neal: "Never would have doubted you." The undercurrents here are surprisingly touching and Neal is obviously shaken by the change. Peter goes on to say how proud he is of Neal for not trying to get him out by illegal means as Neal looks down and swallows hard. It's one of the best Peter and Neal scenes in a long time.

As the sun rises over New York City, Mozzie prepares for his role until Neal says no conspiracies. Such a killjoy, Neal. He does make sense though. A conspiracy theorist on the scene will sound very suspicious to Peter. Bwah! Mozzie plays a jumper, complete with goofy disguise. Not sure why a suicide threat requires clearing an entire NYC building though, but that's what Neal in fireman gear tells the people in the travel agency. I'm also not sure why Neal takes off his helmet since his cover is blown if anyone comes in. He's also touching the coins without gloves. I smell plot device, but am delightfully distracted by the cop trying to engage Mozzie in conspiracy theories. I think he's literally biting his tongue. Mozzie: "Conspiracy theories are not real." Bwah! Though I do think Mozzie is a better actor than this comic relief segment shows. In the end he gets a text from Neal and basically says, "Gotcha!" to end the conversation. Cop: "So why are you here?" Mozzie: "Oh…uh, why…why do you think?" Cop: "Because somebody hurt you." Mozzie: "Let's go with that. Okay, bye." Funny, but too abrupt. The cop tells Moz he needs a psychiatric evaluation so Neal offers to take him. Sadly, just as they are about to get away with it, an overenthusiastic rookie takes the tanks Neal put the coins into. Having no other choice, they watch their loot speed off in the fire truck. Mozzie suggests they wait until the truck heads to another emergency, but Neal's day keeps getting more complicated.

Peter calls Neal in to work one last case together. Of course it is the missing coins. Peter's excited; Neal noticeably less so. Peter: "Sounds like a good one to end on, doesn't it?" Neal: "Yeah, feels about right." Peter asks Neal how he would do it and Neal concocts a different story, but Peter is too sharp for that. He notices the tanks on Neal's fireman outfit and calls foul. It's off to the firehouse they go, as Mozzie lures the truck out so the tanks will be long gone. One convertible product placement later and Neal's bubble bursts. The tanks are not on the trucks, having already been unloaded. Neal stalls for time by having Peter call for a warrant, and rigs the kitchen to create a grease fire to the chagrin of the abused rookie. Captain: "That's what I get for hiring my sister's kid." In the chaos, Neal grabs the tanks which are too big to fit through the window. Therefore, he rolls them through a hose into a baby carriage Mozzie finds in the alley. Perhaps he'll use it for another spy baby, Bartholomew 2.0. Of course Neal leaves his fingerprints all over everything so if they ever want to build a case, they've got plenty of evidence in both crime scenes. Just wiping down the tanks doesn't seem to be enough. Meanwhile Peter banters with the captain about how El hates his now charred suit coat before realizing that Neal has been AWOL the whole time. He rushes upstairs to find Neal with a stack of blankets to put out the fire. Nothing like making Peter suspicious on his first day back.

But he's not the only one. After some light banter about Chagall, Neal recaps Hagen's motives. Hagen: "You figure out what I want yet?" Neal: "Me." Bingo! Hagen has pictures of Neal breaking into the vault, which of course he could have avoided if Neal had kept the sodding helmet on. Argh! Even Mozzie finds fault with it. Moz: "So on top of your new, yet to be determined FBI handler, you now have a criminal handler to deal with?" Neal says Peter is worth it and sets up the season's mytharc. Hagen wants Neal to destroy the bonds used as evidence against him so the prosecutor can reasonably drop all charges in his appeal. Oh well, it ensures more Mark Sheppard time which can only be a good thing. What's not a good plan? Splitting Peter and Neal up with a new handler and yet another round of Peter not trusting Neal. He shares his suspicions with El when he notices that Neal's anklet monitor did not move for 4 hours. El spouts the uncrackable anklet party line of 4 seasons but Peter sums it up nicely. Peter: "Impossible is what Neal Caffrey specializes in." Well Mozzie in this case. Peter is stumped as to why Neal would steal the coins but El calls him on being emotionally involved in his cases. El: "This is the reason you landed yourself in jail." Peter agrees.

Change is coming and it starts with Peter crashing Neal's place again, who is painting to establish an alibi for why he didn’t move for 4 hours. While it might make sense for Peter to assign Diana or Jones the job of Neal's handler, Peter makes the case that they are all too much like family. It keeps them from having proper perspective. He calls Neal a criminal again and says he's let caring about Neal cloud his judgment as a handler. He wants someone to see Neal "as you are." Neal: "A criminal." He brings up Peter's previous "proud of you" speech, but that's apparently old news. Peter says a new handler is in Neal's best interest too because Peter "can't risk" Neal ending up in prison again. Peter: "I don't like this any more than you do, but it's the way it has to be." I'm sure this is supposed to elicit sympathy for both of them, but it's hard for me to sympathize with Peter here given he's been all for breaking the rules in some instances too. He hands Neal a new tracking anklet and now I really protest. Can't Neal stay off leash a little while longer? I'd enjoy seeing Neal have fun. Neal: "It looks the same on the outside. I think there's a metaphor there somewhere." Me too. It's the same White Collar but without a Peter-Neal partnership. I'd give that sour lemon look too, Neal. Neal ends the episode pondering how used he has become to the anklet. Peter: "See you tomorrow." Neal: "Goodbye Peter." That sounds ominous.

I thought this episode was a solid start to the new season but it seems like the discord between Peter and Neal has been done too often. The show works best when they have a common goal and pursue it together. I don't buy that Peter sees the world in black and white anymore. He's shown too many shades of grey along the way. I also don't buy that Neal was so easily caught by Hagen. Still I am a huge Mark Sheppard fan and I loved the equal snark exchange between Hagen and Neal. I foresee a lot of great scenes this season. I also liked that they used Mozzie well, although I would have liked more Jones and Diana. I also missed having a welcome home scene with Peter and El. I bet Satchmo missed Peter too. Leaving behind the police corruption issues sounds like a smart plan and there's bound to be more capers involved this year. I just hope that this new handler thing goes away quickly.

Episode Awards:

Best scene - Neal realizes that Hagen was after him not the gold

Best Reason to Watch - tie - resolving Peter's jail time and the return of the Dutchman

Biggest Laugh - Mozzie trying to disavow conspiracy theories

Biggest Awww Moment - tie - Peter tells Neal he's proud of him and Peter and El hugging outside the courthouse

Best Disguise - Sorry Mozzie, but I have to go with Neal on this one

Best Quotes -

Peter: "The irony of this is not lost of me."
Mozzie: "I've put my inner firebug to bed. Best not to awaken him."
El: "Well I always wanted to drive a snowmobile to work so..."
Mozzie: "The tracker says you're standing right where you are." Neal: "I am standing where I am."
Mozzie: "How farfetched. The world's most secretive organization keeping alien technology for their own gain." Cop: "Yeah I suppose you're right. What about the Kennedy assassinations?"
Mozzie: "Out of the frying pan, into the firehouse."
Peter: "Impossible is what Neal Caffrey specializes in."

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nielsen Ratings Woes: Pimp Your Favorite Low-Rated Show


Nielsen! The name drives fear into cult-favorite show aficionados and holds millions of TV fans at its mercy worldwide. It can kill a good show instantly or keep a plot-dead one going for years. If you've been enthralled by TV for any stretch of time, chances are it has broken your heart. So what's a hapless fan to do against such a behemoth? In reality, not much. You could always try to hack your way into Nielsen itself or hold a Nielsen family hostage for their TV, but those come with long-term prison sentences and chances are your new prison buddies aren't going to give you control of the remote any time soon.

Instead, I propose a Pimp Your Show alternative. It might not raise demos but it will give you a chance to persuade others to try your show. At the least, it gives you the opportunity to extol all of its virtues. Here are the rules:

1. The show must be currently on the air or returning in the 2013-2014 TV season. No cancelled shows please.
2. Only scripted shows please. No reality TV, although we may try that sometime later.
3. The show does not have to be in danger of cancellation but priority will be given to those which are.
4. The purpose is to persuade others to watch your show. Saying "IT'S THE BEST SHOW EVER!!!" over and over again won't help. In fact, triple exclamations and having all letters capitalized will probably work against you. Instead focus on why someone who doesn't watch the show should take their precious time to try it. Enthusiasm is only good when backed by details and thoughtful discourse.

Instead of having hundreds of people say the same things over and over and consequentally make people want to run from the show, please send your "Save Our Show" submissions to or fill in the form below. If you use the form, it is easier to cut and paste it in. I will take submissions for one week and then post the best from the shows we receive.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Arrow - 2.02 - Identity - Review - "Let's Talk About Laurel" and Episode Awards

Note - There are 4 things you need to know about me before reading this review:

1. Laurel was my least favorite character in season 1. For me, she waffled between self-righteous martyr and manipulative hypocrite, neither of which did the character any favors.
2. I really, really want to like Laurel and I have high hopes for her this season.
3. The #1 item on my wish list for Arrow season 2 was that the writers improve Laurel's character.
4. I hate shipping. In fact the only romance I can even root for on this show is Thea and Roy and that's only because they both are interesting alone and as a couple. All other pairings, canon or not, generally make me sigh.

Previously on Arrow 2.01: Laurel was neither wishy nor washy. She stood up for her convictions without playing the martyr and saved her boss' life while risking her own. As well as kicking vigilante butt, she also defended her friend from a political bully. She was clear, sympathetic, and non-judgmental when she broke up with Oliver and understanding at Tommy's gravesite. Her interactions with her dad were both mature and heartwarming. All in all, this was a much improved Laurel. I cheered.

Fast forward 7 days and Laurel's a conundrum. In many ways I like Laurel 2.0. I have absolutely no problem with her targeting the Hood in an anti-vigilante campaign. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to me. If Laurel sees all vigilantes as a threat to peace in Starling City, no matter who they are, then it feels right for her to rid the city of them. It's a natural reaction to watching hundreds die senselessly after one person lashed out in grief over losing his wife. After all if one vigilante could turn so evil, a post-traumatic stressed Laurel could easily feel all vigilantes are a potential threat. Even last year she was uneasy with her partnership with the Hood partnership, questioning his motives and methods. However when she interrogates Roy, it is very clear this is a personal vendetta against the Hood himself, not a general crusade for justice. She doesn't care about the masked vigilante Roy speaks of and is only interested in Roy for Hood information. This is not a sweeping crusade for the legal system and judicial check and balances. It's a war on the Hood, and that's where things get tricky.

For the writers to sell Laurel's new anti-Hood attitude, she has to have a good reason and it was definitely fervent. Laurel: "My friend was inside the building when it collapsed. He went there to rescue me and by the time I managed to climb inside he was gone, but I saw you running away into the night. You didn't save him. You were too busy fighting a meaningless duel with Malcolm Merlyn, and when people…people you told me you would protect needed your help, you weren't there. I don't think you wear that mask because you are a hero. I think you wear it to hide that you're a coward and I promise you, I will see you unmasked, prosecuted, and sent to prison. Don't ever speak to me again." On first watch, this speech sold me. Laurel's hurt, anger, guilt, and own self-loathing rolls off in venomous breaths, underscoring tremendous grief and eliciting sympathy for a woman trying to cope with an unthinkable tragedy. It is Katie Cassidy's most powerful scene on Arrow to date and it is moving. But…

It won't make skeptical Arrow fans like Laurel. There is a difference between understanding a character's motivation and respecting them. After mishandling Laurel's character so badly last season, the writers must make the second lead character someone fans can root for. Having her go after the main character won't do that. The problem isn't the crusade but the motive behind it. Basically Laurel's trying to imprison the Hood because Tommy died trying to save her but the Hood didn't save him so the Hood is to blame. Not only is that logic completely hypocritical, an issue I had with Laurel 1.0 too, but it also assigns blame to someone who did not create the mess in the first place. It's as if Laurel is fixating on the Hood for not living up to her fantasies, for being a living, breathing, and yes, fallible person. She calls the Hood a coward and yet her own father and apparently most of the Glades know he tried to stop the massacre. While Laurel cannot know everything the audience knows about the events, she condemns the Hood for not being omniscient. He couldn't have known Tommy needed him. In addition, even someone with no earthquake safety training, like the majority of Starling City's residents including Laurel, should know that removing an impalement kills you quicker. What did she expect the Hood to do? Laurel is seeing the tree, oblivious to the forest. While her laser-focus on the Hood as the source of Starling City's and her own losses is realistic in this instance, I don't think it's the best way to redeem Laurel's character. If, of course, that is the writers' purpose at all. If not, I think it is a mistake. This isn't Breaking Bad and they are already trying to move Oliver from anti-hero to straight up hero. They need to afford Laurel the same opportunity to shine.

I'm more positive about Laurel already this season. She has a storyline which ties her to the plot beyond damsel-in-distress, bad guy of the week introduction, or 1 leg of a love triangle. That alone makes her less superfluous. She also seems more compassionate, willing to listen, and less judgmental of those she cares for like her father and Oliver. Laurel's no longer a saint; she's fallen off her self-righteous pedestal and she feels more real because of it. All of these are positive changes and I'm willing to give the writers more leeway than I would have last year. May they continue to make her independent but not at the expense of sympathy for her character. She's already more intriguing. Now it's time to help her win over the fandom.

Episode Awards:

Episode MVP:  James Bamford
-As always the fight scenes were top notch. Arrow and Revolution have the best fights scenes around so kudos to Bamford, fight choreographer, for another job well done.

Best line:  Thea: "I'll always think of you fondly."
-When your older brother asks for alone time with your boyfriend at the police station, it's not a good sign. I love Thea's snarky attitude and the fact that she never protested, but left Roy to his fate. Ha!

Worst line:  Felicity: "And I love spending the night with you…."
-Argh! Stop making Felicity sound like a silly twit tween with her first crush. It's embarrassing and no longer fits the character. She has grown up by being on Team Arrow. Just stop, writers.

Other great lines:

Diggle: "This is Starling City. You never have to look very far to find someone engaged in illegal activity."
Laurel: "We're not pressing charges so long as he gives up looking for trouble." Thea: "Might as well tell him to give up breathing."
Diggle: "Well it could be worse. My secret identity is his black driver."
Felicity: "Oh, may I get you a cup of coffee?" Oliver: "You're not actually offering to get me a cup of coffee are you?" Felicity: "Yeah…nope. That won't be happening…ever."
Shado: "No island, no place, can make you something you're not." Oliver: "So I've always been a killer."
Felicity: "I love that we live in a city where the police are more interested in catching you than the drug stealing mobsters. Our tax dollars at work."
Thea: "Now that we're closed are you going to be starting your second shift, suicide by Chinese street thugs?"
Felicity: "I hacked into FEMA's sever…yet another federal offense, thank you very much…"
Diggle: "You know we're getting dangerously close to hug territory so I'm going to fall back. You need a ride?" Oliver: "Turns out that being CEO, I actually have some work to do. I'll find my own way." Diggle: "You always do."
Roy: "I can fight." Hood: "You can take a beating. There's a difference."

Worst attempt at heroics:  Roy flips the car
-I root for Roy as a hero, but he is always over his head…this time literally.

Best forward plot movement:  The Hood recruits Roy to be his eyes and ears in the Glades
-Roy spent more time taking himself out than actual crime lords so I'm glad he's got a solid reason to keep in the mytharc, develop as a character, and end a never-ending argument with Thea. Kudos to the writers for accelerating Roy's timeline before it got stale.

Best Oliver character development:  Oliver: "What I meant was I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you because I should have been. I got wrapped up in my own suffering and I forgot that some other people might be suffering too."
-Now there's the Oliver who cares about his team. I like considerate Oliver a whole lot better than douche Oliver, which brings us to…

Best Felicity character development:  Felicity calls Oliver out for being a douche to Diggle
-I like how Felicity stands up for herself and the team now. It makes her more of an active partner instead of just the IT wiz. Last year both Felicity and Diggle took too many of Oliver's scoldings. While others may prefer Felicity's anti-secretary rant, I find this scene more adult and more team-focused.

Biggest "Ouch":  Slade: "She's a distraction and in a place like this a distraction is going to cloud your judgment and that is what is going to get you killed. Look at what this island's already done to you, kid."
-Not sure if it's jealousy or tough love but Slade just told Shado to talk Oliver down. I doubt this was psychologically helpful. Douche move, Slade.

Best Karaoke Moment:  Shado tells Oliver everyone is both good and bad, yin and yang
-Everyone else thought this was a beautiful moment. I got the lyrics to Ebony and Ivory stuck in my head:

"We all know that people are the same wherever you go.
There is good and bad in everyone, and we learn to live.
We learn to give each other what we need to survive, together alive."

Biggest Rip-Off:  Bronze Tiger's Wolverine claws
-I don't know comics at all so maybe Bronze Tiger came first, but Wolverine is better known by the general public. It makes me less interested in Bronze Tiger no matter how many arrows he chops mid-air.

Best Geek Girl Moment:  Cop: "Who in the hell could be feeding us year-old surveillance?"
-I adore Felicity's smile when she hears the cop. This is Felicity at her geeky best.

The "You Read My Mind" Award:  Diggle: "You know I've been meaning to tell you that it really wears me out to no end the way you refer to yourself in the third person like that."
-Thank you Diggle. Oliver's not a king. No need for the royal "we".

Biggest Hint a Character is Evil:   Blood is pro-crucifixion
-I'm calling it right now. Blood's involved in the medical thefts to rile his constituents for political power. He's evil. All he needs now is a mustache and German accent. (Um, sorry the latter is Sleepy Hollow.)

Biggest Logic Leap:  FEMA's trucks
-Why is FEMA sending unarmed trucks? This is not a local crime. If they attack FEMA, it's federal. That should bring the FBI and possibly the National Guard out for these thieves.

Best Unusual Character Interaction:  Laurel and Roy in interrogation
-I like that different characters are interacting. It is good to see Laurel outside the Queen/Lance families. It also let Roy spout his beliefs with someone besides Thea, while getting a glimpse into Laurel's thinking.

Best plot reveal:  Diggle and Carly broke up
-From what Felicity said, I thought Carly died post-quake but any end to the uncle-daddy plot is a relief.

Biggest Cliffhanger Bound to be Resolved in 30 Seconds or Less:  Oliver trapped in the police station
-Oliver is one smoke bomb arrow and shot to the ceiling away from escape, especially since the cops completely surrounded him and cannot shoot him without shooting themselves.  (facepalm)

"Egads, Not ANOTHER Love Triangle" Award:  Slade sees Shado and Oliver post-coitus
-Aaaaarrrggggghhhhhh!!!!! We just got rid of one. Please stop. If Slade goes evil over this, I give up.

Amell Abs Watch:  The Abs guest star in the new weekly opening as well as an extended workout role. They also strip tease for Shado. I hope they get their own paycheck.

Most Missed:  Tommy of course but I think Laurel needs Joanna back again to talk her off the ledge.

Screencaps by MTV, ComicBook.Com, Comics Alliance, and

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sleepy Hollow - 1.05 - John Doe - Best Scene Poll

Since the gurus of baseball have deemed we must go on a 3 week break, this next poll CONTAINS SPOILERS. WARNING - Proceed at your own risk. What leaked tidbit has you the most interested when Sleepy Hollow finally returns?

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer - 1.12 - Prophecy Girl - Roundtable Review

Welcome back to the final season 1 roundtable review. Sorry it took me a few weeks but work was keeping me busy. We are going to take a break before starting season 2 reviews because we need to get more people involved with the roundtable, ideally 4-5 per episode. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know in the comments below. We do things through Google+ right now so you would have to have an account. We may go to a podcasting format on Skype later. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. I know this one is quite a few people's favorite season 1 episode.

Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.

Participants - John and Dahne

Overall Impression:

Dahne - So most people say this is their favorite episode of season 1. What do you think of it overall?
John - I don't know that I agree. I thought it had some of the most powerful dramatic scenes the show has had in season 1, but I also think I preferred "Angel".
Dahne - It's not my favorite either but it has some of the most powerful scenes in season 1 I think.
John - Which was your favourite? Or, perhaps, why do you think this is everyone else's favourite and why do you disagree?
Dahne - I think this is most people's favorite because each of the characters has an important role, the drama is top notch, and it brings the season one mytharc full circle. Plus, Buffy died. I think all of those are very valid reasons and I think this is one of the best Buffy season 1 episodes as well. I guess for me it falls short in comparison to Becoming 2 and I automatically expect the finale to be so much more than other episodes. Still it is a great episode.
John - I think most episodes of everything fall short of Becoming ;).
Dahne - Ha! Becoming 2 is the episode I judge all other TV against. Very rarely does something even come close.
John - I think the reason I preferred other episodes was the general lack of humor. Not that it didn't have lighter moments, and not that I don't like my Buffy dark, but I generally find that Whedonesque writing is best when humorous. Also, I was not excited about Xander's crush coming to a head. I'm glad it's out of the way now (sort of) and I am glad he had his big moment saving her life, but that was an arc I did not enjoy so much.
Dahne - I would agree. I have a lot of notable quotes for this episode, 3/4 of a page in fact, but very few are snarky fun like most Buffy. I get that this is the most intense episode of the season, but like you I like a brief tension break every now and then.

Favorite Quotes:

John - Same! Well then, speaking of, why don't we talk about stuff we enjoyed for a bit. Favorite quotes or moments?
Dahne - Let's do quotes first since we are talking about them. You first.
John - Willow: “I’m not ashamed! It’s the computer age. Nerds are in. They’re still in, right?” That wasn't my favourite line, but I always enjoy confidently tentative Willow's delivery + the datedness of that quote.
Dahne - I thought she delivered it well too. I love the part that goes right before that: Buffy: "Wow that was boring." Xander: "I don't feel that boring covers it." Buffy: "No, boring falls short." We've all had those class periods before. Another great delivery was: Jenny: "I'd say the end is pretty seriously nigh."
John - Lol, agreed. On a much darker note, I thought that "“Do you think it will hurt..?” was probably the best line of the episode. It really drove home the fact that this superhero slayer was still just a teenager. She goes on to say "Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.” which really drove that point home for me.
Dahne - I have that entire scene in my best quotes. The acting was superb all the way around. The pain between Giles and Buffy was palatable. I also thought the exchange between Giles and Buffy later, where they are fighting over who will face the Master was well done.
John - I generally feel that Anthony Stewart Head is the strongest cast member (or at least he was this early on). When he has paternal moments like this with Buffy, I generally well up. They're all so well written.
Dahne - In my notes I have ASH's acting is both brilliant and subtle. Best yet. Some of my favorite funny lines include: Buffy: "Giles care. I'm putting my life on the line battling the undead. Look I broke a nail, okay. I'm wearing a press on. The least you could do is exhibit some casual interest. You could go hmmm." / Xander: "I'm just going to go home, lie down, and listen to country music, the music of pain." / and Joyce: "You're probably just full from that bite of dinner you nearly had."
John - Hahaha, yes, Joyce was barely present, but that was probably my favourite funny line.
Dahne - I like how it was encased in the conversation so it was very easy to miss the humor if you weren't paying attention.


Dahne - Another dramatically passionate speech I liked was: Xander: "How can I say this clearly? I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire, but Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person and right now I need you to prove her right." Angel: "You're in love with her." Xander: "Aren't you?" I was not a fan of the Xander unrequited love thing but I thought this was spot-on in writing for the character.
John - Yeah, I'll agree with that sentiment. I have a note here about how much I disliked the unrequited love story/how big a jerk Xander decided to be when rejected, but that I thought he was a pretty big badass while confronting Angel. Not that I think Angel ever really would have hurt Xander, but still.
Dahne - I disliked the love triangle as a whole and while I did not like Xander's reaction to Buffy's rejection, I did think it felt real and earned.
John - I agree that the scene was well earned. I just didn't like that it happened. It isn't that I think the story is unrealistic. I've been Xander at 16. I just think that Xander was a big jerk. And then his treatment of Willow to boot just generally made me sad. The love triangle idea wasn't terrible... I just didn't like that it was mostly a story about a clueless teenage boy hurting his friends.
Dahne - I hate love triangles with a passion so that also clouds my take on it. My biggest problem though was the opening scene with Xander practicing his speech on Willow. No one looked good in it. Willow comes off as a masochist and idiot. Xander comes off as clueless.
John - I also feel like the setup for that scene was supposed to be a surprise. Where Xander's talking to Willow, but we legitimately think he's talking to Buffy until TWIST he isn't. Maybe it's 16 years talking, but I don't think that sort of thing fools anyone anymore. If the person isn't in the shot, it's a trick scene.
Dahne - Agreed. It didn't come off as a twist. It came off as pathetic for all parties.

Favorite Scenes:

Dahne - So what were your favorite scenes besides of course the ones with Buffy and Giles?
John - Besides the Giles/Buffy ones, I had two specific scenes. 1. I loved Buffy's scene in Willow's bedroom (which we never see ever again I think). It's amazing to watch Buffy's reaction to Willow's complete crash in the face of the most horrific thing Willow has seen to date. Buffy wasn't going to go through with meeting The Master because of her fear. Then she sees Willow and knows she has to protect her. Willow: "I'm not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun… What are we gonna do?”
Dahne - I have the Willow scene as well because it made Buffy changing her mind valid. It would take a lot to get anyone to voluntarily go to certain death and Willow's fear and horror made a good catalyst for Buffy. We see Willow's room again when they have to do the spell to keep Angelus out of it.
John - 2. The slow-mo Vamp fight scene at the beginning. I thought it was kind of beautiful, despite its age. You?
Dahne - I also love that it was a very human Xander who saved Buffy. It would have been easy to slight him and have Angel swoop in. This gave Xander his most prominent role in the entire series and re-established that the human was as important as the supernatural.
John - Yes, agreed. I really enjoyed Angel's “You have to do it, I have no breath”. It both satisfied some larger mythological technicalities, and made it such that Xander had to save Buffy's life. I also think it was set up such that Xander could finally "kiss" her, but have it be something no one was expecting.
Dahne - Hmm, I didn't think of it as a promo event but yes, that would have been a big selling point to some fans and then to have the kiss actually be CPR. Sounds like something Joss would do. On a sillier note, I also adore when Cordelia bites the vampire and says, "See how you like it." Oh, and I also liked Buffy's dress. :-P
John - Hahaha, yes, Cordelia was excellent this episode! From her badass car moment to her suddenly humanized actually likes a boy as a person moment.
Dahne - I was kind of sorry to see the demise of Cordelia's new boyfriend. I think he was good for her too. I also like that she and Willow shared a moment right before walking into the lounge.
John - I don't know why, but I really like when any of the characters bond with Cordelia. Maybe it's because she took so long to become a member of the group, or maybe it's because I always like to see asshole characters become more human (Jin was one of my favourite characters on LOST for those very reasons). Whatever the reason, that whole scene definitely spoke to me. And to end it on a bloody hand over Loony Toons was definitely a creepy/excellent call.
Dahne - The Looney Tunes was one of the creepiest scenes in season 1. I liked Cordelia bonding with other characters as well. I think because she was the least well rounded that every time we saw a new side of her it was a genuine surprise. That and no one could turn a phrase quite like Cordy.
John - I also found the marching vampires somewhat amusing. They seemed a little too zombieish to be vampires, but whatever.

Least Favorites:

Dahne - Ha! So anything you didn't like about the episode? Everything in the beginning with Xander and Buffy tops my list as well as the Bronze scene. I also did not like Xander going on forever about Angel looking at his neck. That got old fast.
John - I agree entirely with that assessment. I don't know that I felt Ms. Calender's return was deserved. Not because she shouldn't have returned (given that The Apocalypse was happening), but she didn't serve much of a purpose. She should have had a more distinct role I think.
Dahne - I was glad to see Jenny back but yeah, she didn't do much. I adored Willow and Xander's reaction to her presence though. It was so "little kid" not wanting her to share in their secret club.
John - Also, that was some small scale Apocalypsing.
Dahne - Ha! I always questioned if they knew the meaning of Apocalypse on this show. They had one every season.
John - Not to mention the numerous apocalypses on Angel.
Dahne - Remember when the Apocalypse ended up being a demon Buffy squashed with her foot? Bwah! Now that was a small Apocalypse.
John - HAHAHA, yes. So good. And why were they specifically located in Sunnydale or else Los Angeles? I get that Sunnydale's the hellmouth, but still. I think that all feeds back into my previously discussed confusion about the mythology. Why are there many watchers? What do the rest of them do when GIles is the only one being a watcher? Why aren't more helping him? How can one slayer save the entire world all the time ever?
Dahne - The Hellmouth is never explained well and ended up being a plot device to excuse away anything. It was one of the weakest mythology of the show. My nitpicky problems with the episode include the fact that Buffy puts on the cross that Angel gave her after they clearly showed her breaking it a few scenes before. Plus for all Buffy went through, that dress stayed impeccably white. I want that stain-resistant material. I also want to know why (besides they needed it in season 2) did the Master still have a body when all other vampires went poof.
John - Yes. Exactly! My last note reads "MASTER HAS SKELETON!?" It's because he's a super secret special vampire king!
Dahne - The fact that he was so old made me think he should have dusted faster than the rest. It never made sense to me. Neither did leaving his body in the earthquake-ruined library. Surely someone from emergency services was going to check the school pretty quickly.
John - Eh. There was also a tentacle beast, no? Probably lots more cleaning could have been done. Ohey, Xander makes a Locutus of Borg reference. I'm sure no one from the 90s watching that today would catch it xD.
Dahne - I had to look it up when I was doing the notes to find how to spell it. I knew the Borg but not Locutus.


John - Any thematic stuff you wanted to discuss? I don't know that I really caught any exciting metaphors this episode.
Dahne - Most of the high school hell stuff was the worst part of the episode. Well except that the high school literally became a portal to hell. However, there is a lot of impact from this episode, which may be another reason why people love it so much.
John - That's kind of my feeling. Strong drama + plot momentum = people like the episode lots.
Dahne - Obviously Buffy dying was the biggest impact since it lead to Kendra and Faith. I really liked how they waited to play that one out though, instead of ramming it as season 2 began. Makes you question how much Watchers talk to each other though.
John - Yeah, again, the Watchers are super weird, but agreed, that was a super excellent plot twist. I liked that she died in the prophecy, but obviously, no one mentioned CPR. It also made for an excellent act break. Not that I was terribly worried about her.
Dahne - Yeah, it would be hard to kill off Buffy in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I also liked how they actually killed the Master, well except that brief moment in 2.01. In many genre shows, the fight against the Big Bad goes on forever until you no longer care. I love how they dispatched of the Big Bads on a regular basis in Buffy. Plus, I thought the Master was ultra cheesy and was glad to see him go. One of the worst villains on Buffy.
John - Agreed. Although, like I said, I too feel like they dispatched with him too quickly. Not because I wanted something more drawn out... just that, they spent a whole season on him. And then she just throws him once and he's dead. Or maybe that was the point. The Big Bad wasn't so big or bad after all. Oh! I just remembered one thing that struck me as odd. The music that played when The Master kills Buffy was REALLY BAD. It was just two super dramatic horn blasts.
Dahne - Which was strange because the music was usually a highlight for me in seasons 1 and 2.
John - Yeah! I mean, the show even has leitmotifs, which is my favourite thing ever. The Buffy/Angel theme is probably one of my favourite themes ever.
Dahne - I still play that theme on my iPad when I'm working. The other thing I liked is that this is the first time the entire Scooby Gang works together. It was the good times before the Jenny debacle.


Dahne - Any last words before we end? For me, this was an episode that spotlighted the acting chops of the cast and really hit home the relationships between them. Sometimes that was good; others not so much. It was a solid finale for a good first season, but there was so much more awesome to come.
John: Hahaha, yeah, well said. I guess we felt roughly the same way. I think we mostly covered what I wanted to talk about. This was probably an overrated episode in the scheme of things, but a decent season finale for a flawed first season. Season 2 is where things really amp up, so I'm super psyched to start that. That being said, it definitely starts to set the show up to me more dramatic than it was. Something I look forward to given how strong the show becomes.
Dahne - I don't think it was overrated, but it only gave us a peek at what would be one of the most flawless seasons any show ever had.
John - Fair enough. I suppose, by overrated, I meant that it may not deserve the coveted slot of best episode in season 1.
Dahne - If season 2 hadn't been so vastly superior to most anything else that came out that year, I think I would think of this episode in a much different light. I think that I look at finales different than most people, for whom finales are almost always the best episode of the season.
John - But the question then is: would you have come to love Buffy as much as you did in the end? If the show remained season 1 quality, would it have become this big a deal and would we love it as much? I don't know that my answer would be yes.
Dahne - Absolutely not! Buffy season 1 was a great concept and important in how it portrayed both teens and women. However, it wasn't until season 2 that it became a masterpiece. I certainly wouldn't still be watching, talking, and reviewing it. Of course, I would have loved Buffy better if it had ended earlier though too.
John - Hahaha, agreed on all counts.
Dahne - Thanks so much for being such a fun contributor to our season 1 Buffy roundtable. I always look forward to your take on episodes.
John - Thanks :). I'm really glad to be here. It's too bad we don't get more of us at the table at the same time, but thanks for being so solid throughout. We all bring different interests and focus to these discussions and I particularly enjoy your interest in thematic content.

And so ends our season 1 Buffy roundtable. We will be taking a short break before going on to season 2 in order to round up more people for the roundtable. If you are interested in joining us and you have a Google+ Account (possibly a Skype account later on), please let us know in the comments below. Ideally we would like to have 4-5 people for each episode.

Thanks so much for reading our roundtable reviews and for commenting. It has been a pleasure talking Buffy with you these last few months. I hope you join us when we come back for my favorite Buffy season, well actually my favorite season of any TV show ever. Until then, keep fighting the forces of darkness.

Screencaps by Buffy Comics, Goodbye Piccadilly, Jet Wolf, We Heart It, Live Journal, Buffy Wikia, Teen Nick, Fanpop, Telegraph, Slayerworld, Buffy Loves Angel, and the Buffyverse Database.

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