Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 11 - "Adventures in Babysitting" vs. "Showtime"

First off, just want to thank The Maestro once again for guesting on the last Season Seven Showdown! Bobby's death on Supernatural was a tricky one and having another opinion on this here blog was really refreshing.

For anyone who STILL doesn't know what we're talking about, we've been comparing Buffy's Season 7 to Supernatural's still-in-progress Season 7 since the premiere back in Sept. So far Supernatural is winning, but sadly Bobby is gone so if they don't bring back Cas/The Impala soon, I'm going to start getting irate.

Now I have the enormous displeasure of recapping one of Buffy's worst Season 7 episodes imo, "Showtime." Lord knows I looove me some David Fury, but this episode gives me a headache and a case of the snores. And eye roll syndrome. It might not even be Mr. Fury's fault, I mean the decision to have Buffy not be able to kill one of these ubervamp dudes for several episodes only to end so anti-climatically might be all Whedon, or Marti Noxon or someone else for that matter...but still. Man, have I digressed and we didn't even start yet. Let's get to this showdown already:

Supernatural Episode #11 - "Adventures in Babysitting"

Episode Synopsis:
Bobby's gone and Sam & Dean are mourning. While seeking revenge against Dick Roman, they end up trying to help a child avoid the hunter lifestyle and pain that goes along with it, something they both know all too well.

The Deets:
This was a pretty great episode, but I'm starting to get an itch about this season. There are unresolved things that are teetering on Giles plot hole territory. Things like the fallout of bringing down Sam's wall or Castiel's disappearance have been quite underwhelming. Shouldn't these topics have had way more of an impact by now? And if they're waiting for maximum results by bringing them all up at the end then I ask, why suffer a season just to have a bombshell at it's finale? Is it worth it? Just throwing that out there.

Anyway, the episode starts with man who is eating in a truck stop. He leaves the table to chase a hooker he's been watching out the window, but uh-oh, the waitress he just left catches up to him outside, showing her true demon self while beating his ass. "That's for the crappy tip" she says and off to the credits.

A title card says:
Week one - the boys sit in somber silence, mourning the closest thing they ever had to a caring father.

Week two - Dean drinks and stares at the numbers Bobby wrote down in his final moments, while Sam stares at a phone book.

Week Three - the Hunter Wall is up! full of Dick Roman photos and newspaper clippings about Turducken Slammers. The boys are clearly starting to come out of their funk and begin the revenge obsession. That's how it's done.

Sam, drinking a beer, tries to get Dean's take on whether they should contact any of Bobby's people, but Dean is too busy wondering where the frick is Frank with the number research already!? Meanwhile, Bobby's phone rings. It's a young girl looking for Bobby and Bobby only. During the conversation, Dean takes motice of a flask in Bobby's bag and picks it up. The girl hangs up on Sam but he thinks they should check up on her. Since Dean is in a Frank Frenzy, they decide to split up. Oddly, Dean looks down at his beer which was full a second ago and notices it's empty, accusing Sam of drinking it. Only thing is, Sam still has a full brewski right in front of him. What does it mean?!

Sam shows up at the young girl's place. Her name is Krissy, and Sam promises to help her find her dad who hasn't called her in 5 days. Dad's in the business, which is confirmed when Sam find's a Hunter's Wall behind the clothes in the closet. Last known place was Dodge City, so that's where Sammy is off to.

Meanwhile, Dean pulls up to Frank's home in the middle of nowhere and has a gun pulled on him almost immediately. Frank needs to rule out Leviathans since, as it turns out, even Gwenyth Paltrow is now a "Big Mouth" now! So the guys decide to prove to each other that their blood is red, not black goo, by cutting themselves up. Once that's over with, they drive to an RV, where Frank has now set up camp. Dean's pissed because he paid Frank $15,000 and it's been 4 weeks since he heard back about the numbers. After offering Dean a little LSD paired with a shiatsu, Frank explains that the numbers alone are "bupkes", but if you consider the 5 numbers are really 6 numbers, then they might actually be coordinates. Coordinates to a field in Wisconsin owned by a subsidiary of Richard Roman Enterprises. And off they are to set up surveillance.

After Sam leaves an autopsy, Sam and Dean quickly touch base over the phone as Dean and Frank are now in Wisconsin, dressed as telephone repairmen. Aww, remember the days when Sam & Dean used to dress up in fun costumes besides FBI types all the time? Good times. Frank notices there are cameras set up everywhere and that it would be better to just tap into the Leviathan's feed. Once inside the RV, Frank tells Dean he looks horrific and should take a nap while he takes the first shift of watching the screens.

Sam leaves Dean a voice mail, explaining that he thinks he's tailing a Vetala which their dad hunted back in the day. After he hangs up, we find him at the same truck stop from the top of the hour and he gets jacked the same way as Krissy's dad did,

After the commercial, Dean wakes to find that Frank made some headway in the stake out. Turns out the Leviathans are building something, but Dean has another hissy fit because he has no patience to wait and find out what. Frank takes notice of Dean's deteriorating state of mind and advises him to either quit or hunt with a professional smile and shut up. After, Dean listens to his voice mail and flips out because Sam's info is wrong Once he gets a call from Krissy, he knows his brother is in danger. His concerned face is as hot as ever, though, just had to note.

Sam wakes up in a warehouse tied to a chair. Krissy's dad, Lee Chambers, is next to him tied up as well. Lee explains that there are 2 Vetala that bleed the guys there dry, and that after 3 or 4 feedings, you die... he's already been drained thrice. Sam ends up taunting one of the Vetalas into biting him to save Lee's ass. Meanwhile, Dean's at Krissy's place where they're having a bitchfest over whether Krissy is going with Dean to find Sam and ger dad. Dean has little choice as Krissy'a burned all the research from the hunter's wall, but she now has it memorized. So off to the Not!Impala it is.

During the drive, Krissy wants to know how the heck this one measly demon took out both her dad and Sam? Dean reveals it's because Vetalas work in pairs and since Sammy was off in college when Dean learned this bit of important info, he wasn't aware. Krissy seems shocked and intrigued when she hears a child in a hunter family can still follow some dreams and pursue a higher education. After arriving at the truck stop and then tailing the waitress to the warehouse Sam is tied up in, Dean offers a fist bump to Krissy in celebration. But because she's a brat kid she poo poos his fist bump saying "What century is this? No on fist bumps anymore." His cuteness makes her and I melt, though, so she obliges and because he's a slick hunter he takes the opportunity to handcuff her to the steering wheel! Ha!

Dean enters the warehouse and pretty quickly starts beating Vetalas to hell, only to have Krissy arrive anyway and ruin the beat down. But it's ok, because just as one of the Vetalas go to take a bite out of little Krissy's neck, she procures a blade and STICKS THE VETALA IN THE CHEST! Nice one, kid. Sam then gets freed himself and kills the other Vetala. Done and done.

So with the monsters-of-the-week dead, we're whisked away to the hospital where Lee recovers and Dean advises them both to leave the family business. A goodbye to Krissy and a fist bump later, the brothers are back on the road. Sam wonders if Dean's ok and mentions that he himself just wants to get back to work.

The final moments feature some great acting from Jensen Ackles as Dean tries so hard to follow Frank's advice from earlier in the episode and smile through it all like a professional....but the subtle crack in that smile shows through.

Buffy Episode #11 - "Showtime"
"Showtime". Ohhh "Showtime". You think I don't remember watching you at the time? Sitting, watching in the living room of my old apartment, winter of 2003? I would barely make it home in time from work. I hadn't yet owned a Tivo, so I would have to set the VCR to record in case I missed the first few minutes. I would run off the bus at 8:12, start the episode, then after it was over I would have to go back and rewind the tape to the beginning just to see what I had missed. So I ask you this, "Showtime", do you think you were worth all of that effort? Of my precious Tuesday night time? No. The answer is no, you weren't. For shame.

This episode begins with a dreadlocked girl sporting the overalls Buffy wore after she sent Angel to hell in Season 2 getting off a bus. Next thing you know, Bringers are everywhere and Buffy kicking their asses. After some bad punning and slaying, Buffy introduces herself to "Rona" the newest addition to the most grating thing in the entire Whedonverse: The Potentials. These slayers-in-waiting couldn't be more screen sucking, but hey, this is the reason we're doing this showdown.

After the credits, Kennedy is hitting on Willow who is sleeping on the floor of her own bedroom. This particular slayer-in-waiting hints that she's super rich and also interested in Willow's magick, if that's what we're calling it these days. I roll my eyes. Downstairs, a bunch of Potentials including Felicia Day talk some shit about Buffy. Xander complains and Andrew's annoying. Must be Tuesday. In comes Buffy, introducing Rona to the room.

After some discussion, southern Potential "Eve" is questioning why the hell they have to save Spoike from a cave if he's a murdering vampire? Eye Roll #2. More importantly, Eve wants to know what the effing plan is. Since Giles is back (but only half ass just like the rest of the cast save Anya at this point) he chimes in with a suggestion of one of the lamest, least thought out oracle types this 'verse has ever seen "Beljoxa's Eye." What is it? How does it know how to help? We'll never find out because it's Season Seven!

Cut to the cave where Spoike is chained up and carved up with symbols. He almost gets away when he sees First!Buffy thinking it's real Buffy and gets all weak in the knees. Back to the chains it is. How? We'll never know. The First can't touch him and there wasn't any other demon around to beat him and chain him back up, but whatevs Like I said, Season Seven.

Since "Botox's eye", as Buffy calls it, can only be accessed by a demon, Anya chats up with an old demon flame in an alley and OMG. There is a cut here where I kid you not, the audio is completely not synched with Anya's mouth. Seriously, go check your DVDs. 12 minutes, 10 seconds in…the whole scene is a mess of audio problems. Man this show is totally phoning it in at this point.

Anyway, distracting as that is, the point of this scene is that Anya is trying to trade sex with the demon ex, in return for opening the gateway to Beljoxa's Eye. His answer? "Come back to me when you're a leper!" Ha! In the end he does the deed when Giles threatens to have The Slayer kill him dead. Gateway opened, problem solved.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Xander untie Andrew and threaten him once more for good measure. How long has Andrew been tied up? Willow enters explaining that a Wicca called on the phone about another Potential floating about. Then Dawn is the unlikely voice of reason, explaining to Willow that these punk ass Potentials are lame. Meanwhile, Penny from Dr. Horrible tells the other potentials that she's seen a blurry photograph of a vampire once and that she heard there's another Slayer somewhere….

And this is where I'm reminded of a personal horror story. Early in September 2002, I had been spoiled for Faith's return to the series. I naturally thought it would be shortly after I learned of it, so every single boring-ass episode I'd wait and wait for Faith's glorious return! But no. Just ubervamps and Potentials and all the other things that give me anxiety nightmares to this day. Then way at the end of the season, there she is, fresh off an amazing arc on Angel, only to fizzle at the hands of poor writing. Just wait until I get there around episode 19 or so…oh the hate is building already.

Aaannyway, Buffy and Xander go and investigate the mysterious Potential that Willow received the phone call about and find her dead for a while. Once they turn her body over they realize: IT'S EVE! The southern Potential thats been living at The Summers home for days! That was pretty good, actually, but brings up more lore problems about The First. Like: Can The First be at 2 places at once or does it only have time to taunt Spoike in the cave while "Eve" is in the bathroom at The Summers home. Important things like that. Doesn't matter now because Buffy's back home to confront First!Eve. And scene.

So, turns out Bejoxa's Eye is actually a ball full of eyes with a tail. A talking, sperm-like shape of twisted eyeballs. The only way I can describe it is….really fucking weird. Additionally, this scene is ridiculous with the wind and the yelling. I can only imagine what Anthony Stewart Head is thinking as he recites his lines. Something like "This is what I came back here for?" probably sums it up. In a nutshell, Beljoxa's Eye explains that the slayer line is vulnerable and unstable because Buffy's back from the dead, and that's how The First is able to hurt them all. Wait, what now?? Eye roll. And a head shake.

Back at The Summers home, The Scoobs and Potentials (plus Andrew) have a meeting and Xander suddenly says, "what?" Then The Scoobs go into the kitchen and stare at each other in silence. It's awkward and seems out of place. Cut to First!Eve in the cave, telling some Ubervamps to attack the entire cast. Cut back to The Summers home where Buffy is passing out weapons and Willow is telling Kennedy that Magick is a drug and that she wouldn't like to see the "Black Eyes of Shut Up Willow" ™

Then, the ubervamps arrive!! Willow starts to build a magick barrier like the one that held back Glory all while Andrew is chanting "deflector shields up"! He's good for the occasional hardy har. The barrier won't hold so everyone in the house flees while the ubervamp gives chase! Elsewhere in Sunnydale, GIles and Anya leave Bejoxa's Eye's Realm and decide it's not Buffy's fault The First is here, it's the idiots who resurrected her. See? Even the show thinks it should've ended in Season 5!

Back at the chase, Buffy tries to lure Ubey away and slow it by smashing it in the face with a bottle of holy water. It works! Willow and Xander lead the Potentials to a construction set, as all of the industrial lights turn on. Willow declares "It's showtime" and I die a little inside. Buffy speechifies about how she's the thing monsters fear and her stunt double does a most unbelievable flip off an exterior second floor.

Then as Dawn realizes out loud that this was all a set up, we're shown a weird flashback to the dining room earlier in the episode. When Xander said "what?" and they all stared at each other in awkward silence, they were reeeeaally reading each other's minds. But wait, Buffy started the conversation. Since when is this possible? Willow did some telepathic talking in "The Gift" (and bringing up that ray of sunshine into this recap darkens my soul just a little bit more), but since when can Buffy initiate it? Does she have magickal powers now? Also, the pacing of this flashback obviously didn't play out like the script. Eh, why am I even bothering trying to figure this out when clearly no one involved did?

Anyway, Buffy fights Ubey and finally bests it with a beheading-by-wire then says to The Potentials "Here endeth the lesson". Eye roll followed by stink face. The thing she couldn't kill for 3 episodes and beat the living hell out of her like no monster ever has on this series, had a neck like butter?

We end with Spoike in the cave and First!Buffy holding a knife. Or is it? No, of course not, this time it's real Buffy, freeing Spoike from his chains while the music of tenderness plays in the background. Oh brother.

How do the eps compare?
I don't know, man, there's a comment theme about teaching lessons to the youth, I guess? Trying to understand what the writers were thinking when writing "Showtime" is like trying to string theory, except much less interesting. "Adventures in Babysitting", on the other hand, had it's ass firmly planted in the show's lore. From referencing the Dad's book to REO Speedwagon...even suggesting Bobby might be a ghost. This show is at least recognizable in it's 7th season. But seriously, say it with me now: "Where the heck is Cas?"

Mini Battles!!:
Best Quote: "I'm bored. Episode I bored." - Andrew, "Your brother's the size of a car." - Krissy (about Sam) Winner: Supernatural
Best Episode Villains - Vetalas vs. The First as Potential Eve Winner: Buffy
Best Ending - Dean's Smile vs. Buffy getting Spoike out of the cave Winner: Supernatural

Final Ruling:
This was a great mid-season premiere for Supernatural. Nice way to show how the boys dealt with the aftermath of Bobby's death and also nice to get back to basics. Buffy on the other hand is a travesty. I could bash it all day long, but I'm tired.

Season tally so far:

Monday, February 13, 2012

(SPOILERS) Exclusive - Scott Allie talks Buffy Season 9 #6

So Buffy Season 9 #6 happened. It got a bit of a reaction aka tons of major media outlets were all over it. That's both good and bad. It's great to see our girl in the limelight, but it's hard to swallow how politicized what's happening with her has gotten.

If you didn't know, the end of the most recent comic concluded with Buffy telling Spike she was getting an abortion and that she wanted him to be there for her when she did it. Abortion is a topic not often genuinely dealt with in popular media, so there's been a very strong reaction from both fans and creators now that this part of the story is out in the world.

We reached out to Scott Allie to see how he feels about the big questions floating out there. Here's what he had to say.

BUFFYFEST: Scott Allie, who the frick is the father??

SCOTT ALLIE: All will be revealed soon ... Pretty soon.

BF: In terms of Buffy's controversial decision to have an abortion, there has been surprisingly less backlash than we expected. But in terms of "backlash" or "polarization" how do you feel about people saying they wish Buffy showed her usual strength they've come to expect and decide to keep the baby or give it up for adoption?

SA: I understand people having that feeling. I don't think I've actually heard anyone say it quite like that, but I'm sure it's out there. I think she showed a lot of strength in making the decision to have an abortion. I don't think this is an easy decision for any one. Whichever way you go with this issue, a person making their own decision about such a huge question reveals strength of character.

BF: In TV history, abortion story lines are pretty rare. Joss has stated it's frustrating to be held back in that way, do you agree from a writing standpoint?

SA: Stories are about characters making choices. Drama comes from characters making decisions that define them. Willow made decisions to slip more deeply into the world of magic, even when there were clearly self-destructive aspects to it, and that allowed Joss and his crew to explore ideas about addiction. Stories need to be able to tackle any choices that characters are faced with in their lives, and this is a big one.

BF: The comic industry seems to be a bit more willing to delve into hot topics. Do you think it's easier to handle Buffy's situation in a comic? Or are retailers as touchy about abortion as networks seem to be?

SA: Oh yeah, definitely easier in comics. It's hard to broach this stuff under any circumstances, I did worry about retailers. The book came out on Wednesday and on Thursday I flew to Texas for a big retailer conference. But I got no negative feedback from the retailers. They remain very supportive of Buffy and of Joss. Whatever the case, these aren't easy stories to tell, but one of the things I love about comics is that we can tackle this sort of thing without the kind of interference we'd get if we were a TV show. We don't have to worry about our advertisers yanking their support, or the corporate entity coming down on us.

BF: Any resistance from FOX?

SA: Oh, right. No. None at all. Fox is a great partner for us on this stuff. They give Joss a lot of room to do his thing. No grief about Satsu, no grief about this. 

BF: How do you feel about comments accusing Joss and Dark Horse of simply bringing this whole subject up as a PR stunt?

SA: That's ridiculous. When the pregnancy was first revealed in #5, I saw someone post a comment that maybe Buffy would decide to get an abortion, and another reader said, "No, Dark Horse and Joss would never do that unless they want to sacrifice their cash cow," which I think refers to the divisiveness of the issue. Critics are better off accusing us of being political, to the potential detriment of PR. However, I don't think Buffy's choice is a political one, it should not be a political one, but a completely personal one. Unfortunately we live in a world where this very personal thing is heavily politicized. It shouldn't be. These are very personal, human matters, and that's exactly the stuff that artists should always be free to explore in their stories, without being accused of being partisan or some frigging thing. We didn't bring this up as a PR stunt. We brought it up because we care about the question, the difficulty of it, just like we care about friendship and gender and individual personal empowerment, and all these other human conflicts.

BF: Buffy's decision seems to have come at a really interesting time with the Planned Parenthood controversy last week. Were you surprised by the timing?

SA: Yeah, that was a big thing. That was surprising. I wish Planned Parenthood didn't have the problems they have. We live in a crazy world where people kill doctors, try to shame vulnerable young women, seek to block health care.

BF: Besides Sierra Hahn, you are pretty much a boy's club over there. Was it intimidating to take on an issue that affects women first?

SA: Dark Horse has the best mix of men and women of any editorial staff in comics, something I'm very happy to be a part of, something I've put some effort into. We have seven women and eleven guys, which is probably a more balanced ratio than we'd see in our readership, so I think it's pretty good. We have women in key positions throughout the company, and it informs what we publish and how we publish it. Robert E Howard's stuff is generally thought of as pretty sexist, so I thought it was interesting to assign his Kull series to Sierra, one of the strongest women I know. Diana Schutz is handling all the Milo Manara material we're publishing, including the erotica series. When we were doing Green River Killer, I gave that to Sierra, and her point of view affected how some of the potentially exploitive content was handled. Freddye, Sierra, Rachel, all our female editorial, management, and marketing staff inform the vision that we present to the world. Compared to other entertainment companies we do a good job in terms of representing a balanced perspective. Was it intimidating to take on this issue? Would it have been nice to yank Jane Espenson in for an issue? I can see that, but Andrew knocked it out of the park, Joss had a heavier hand on this script than the last few. And as far as Georges goes, no one can convey so much behind Buffy's slightly furrowed brow than him. I believe this crew is coming from solid ground in terms of presenting Buffy to the world.

BF: Where do other characters stand on the issue of abortion? Is anyone anti-abortion? How will Xander feel?

SA: Um, on the one hand, that's not entirely what the story is about, on the other, I want to leave that to the story.

BF: Are we to assume that Buffy doesn't know about Connor's existence? It's suggested in the issue that she's pretty much written off the possibility of a "Vamp Daddy" in any instance other than the breaking of the seed. So does she STILL not know that it's happened before?

SA: She knows about Connor. I've had some questions about that—all the tricks of false memories and erased memories and all that from the course of the show ... for expedience, we're proceeding as though the characters have had off-panel conversations sharing general info like that. I would not want Season 9 to be about something that was concealed three seasons ago—it would distract from the forward motion of the story. I think it's pretty reasonable to assume these conversations have taken place. I know some people think that's lazy, or that we're skipping over potentially dramatic scenes, but we think this is the right way to go.

BF: In fact, there is no mention of Angel at all in this issue. We know Buffy considers Spike as a possible father, should she even be considering Angel as a possibility at this point?

SA: Gotta leave that for now.

BF: Could Buffy be lying about knowing who the father is given that she was talking to Dawn at the time and Xander was uncharacteristically absent all issue?

SA: That's a possibility.

BF: Buffy's pregnant and Angel's book is dealing with "Daddy Issues". Is it a coincidence that both titles are dealing with the issue of parenting right now?

SA: One of the most important things a person does in their twenties is to define themselves as an adult. In your teens, you rebel against your parents in certain ways, but in your twenties you have to define what sort of adult you're going to be, and often that's in terms of your parents. Are you going to become your parents, or are you going to become their opposite—or where in the middle do you fall? There's a concept called First Saturn Returns—Buffy is a little bit young to be there, but it relates to what she's going through, what Faith is going through, and it calls the idea of parenthood and one's own parents into the conversation.

BF: You're now writing the next arc, are you excited or nervous to tackle the aftermath of this decision?

SA: Both. Andrew had the hard part, though. No, we both have tough jobs ...

BF: Any other comments you'd like to add?

SA: I want to thank the readers who've supported the book over the years. And I want to thank everyone who's given us really great support with the latest issues. To everyone upset about it, I understand where you're coming from, I know this is a deeply personal thing, and I'm sorry if Buffy's decision alienates anyone. I respect where everyone's coming from, and that there are many ways to see this thing, not just two, not just the one from which those of us working on the comic come from. But that's why it's worthwhile story material, appropriate subject matter for a book like this. It's something that will and must be addressed at all kinds of levels in the culture. This is considered a political issue because of the legislative battle. But abortion it's not only a political question. It's a personal one, and so I'm glad that I work with Joss, and that he wanted to put this out there in this way. It's an honor to be a part of it. Every once in a while I feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile and taking some responsibility for the world I live in, and very often it's working on Joss's stuff that gives me that feeling.

Thank you as always, Scott Allie!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dark Horse 'Women In Comics' Sale - 50% off All Digital 'Angel' Comics

Rebekah Issacs is the illustrator for the new 'Angel & Faith' series at Dark Horse Comics, in case you didn't know. This weekend, in celebration of all fab female artists at Dark Horse - Issacs, Joelle Jones, Jan Duursema, and Carla Speed McNeil - they are having a sale on the digital titles they draw. 50% off all weekend long!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Avengers Assemble, Bitches!!

Oooh, sorry got a little carried away with myself there. Anywho, did you miss The Avengers TV spot during the Stupid Bowl? If so, who cares! Marvel released a bigger, better, Starkier version on their Facebook Page that we should've posted days ago! Here it is:

Monday, February 6, 2012

[Spoilers] Exclusive 'Buffy' Season 9 news!

A couple of interesting tidbits here but please click away if you're spoiler sensitive!

We have it on good word that the Buffy Season 9 #8-10 arc will be called "Apart (of Me)" and will be written by Andrew Chambliss and Scott Allie with Cliff Richards as artist!

Friday, February 3, 2012

This is Gorgeous!

...and a must-see for any Firefly Fan. It's the 'verse as we know it, animated in all it's rotating glory by Koen Hendrix, fab web designer! What are you waiting for? Click the link!

Mad Magazine Parodies 'Buffy' & 'Twilight'!

Ha! The red pants! Combined with super-beefy Jacob and....Al Gore?? This is actually really frickin' hilarious!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 10 - "Death's Door" vs. "Bring on the Night"

Guest Blogger! Yep, we're very behind on the Supernatural vs. Buffy Showdowns and in an effort to catch up (as well as voicing a fresh perspective on the subject), we have enlisted a long time friend of Buffyfest to offer another take. So, The Maestro will be taking the reigns for this ep! Thanks so much for the help, dude.

If you have no idea what we're going on about, that's because you've missed the quest we've been on all season long to try to determine whether Supernatural Season Seven will bite it as hard as Buffy's Season Seven did. So far the answer is "no" because Buffy was truly lame that season, but we've got quite a ways to go yet!

And here we give you, Episode 10 as compared by The Maestro:

Supernatural Episode #10 - "Death's Door"

Episode Synopsis:
Bobby is trapped inside his own brain, along with a bullet, a reaper, his most painful memories, and a short sequence of numbers that he is literally dying to tell someone about.
There is also a surprising amount of Rufus.

The Deets:
After the previouslies, we are treated to a way too extreme closeup of the bullet hole in Bobby's melon. The camera pulls out to the boys are driving panicked, Dean trying to get to a hospital while Sam tries to confirm that Bobby is okay.

Splash screen.

Now we zoom back in through the hole toward's Bobby's gray matter. It's one of those cgi shots from an episode of House that shows just how fat cells from a woman's liver are getting into her bloodstream and for some inexplicable reason causing her to speak Esperanto. But without Hugh Laurie's mellifluous narration it's just kind of gross.

We finally get to the other side, and learn that the inside of the soon-to-be-former Monsieur Singer's brain is filled with the woods from last week's episode. Bobby is reliving the scene that they find the body in the tree when he concludes that the combination of déjà vu and blood dripping from his noggin may mean that something is wrong.

Since the wound disappears, he fails to convince the two idjits with him that he has been shot. He struggles to remember what happened in the previous episode, and manages to write "7 8 15 16 23 42" or something like that on a piece of paper. Before he can express his desire for this extremely important message to be deciphered next episode instead of being strung along for six seasons and ultimately never explained, he is magically teleported to a bedroom where a hot woman in a negligee is waiting for him on a bed. Bobby, we should all be so lucky.

Except, the hot and amorous lady appears to be his deceased wife, Karen. For a moment Bobby appears to want to enjoy himself in the memory, but a pathetic fallacy knocks him out of it. Seriously, an actual thunderclap echoes in the air at the moment he realizes what a bad thing for him this is. More on that later.

The phantom thunder does not appear to be connected to the weather, but Bobby sees a young boy running scared through a field. His line, "I've got a messed-up fruitcake!" somewhat covers the situation.

And suddenly Rufus is here! Hey, Rufus. The young boy wearing Bobby's hat tells him that God is going to punish him, a glass of milk falls on some linoleum, and an earthquake causes both a church choir to dematerialize and lights to dramatically switch off one by one. Bobby is then taunted by a reaper with a kick-ass pocket-watch that fails to offset an unbelievably ugly blue paisley tie. They trade some words about Bobby's inevitable demise in his alcohol-damaged brain, and Bobby employs Standard Escape Death Maneuver #1: Running Away.

On the other end of the church the boys are arguing about action movies while Bobby's mom is making dinner. He and Rufus fight a ghost while the doctors try to stabilize him for surgery and the boys worry. There is seriously a lot of back and forth between scenes in this episode. The shooting script must have been a nightmare.

Bobby tries to call out to the boy he keeps seeing running around when he finally recognizes him, like the fact that they are wearing the exact same outfit was not a clue. Since the writers did not want to spend more than 40 seconds on any one topic this week, instead of pursuing his revelation he instead decides to ask Rufus about near-death experiences. Imaginary Rufus's rules are basically thus: doorways teleport you from one memory to another, but only your absolute worst memory has the door to the outside. This guy must have been a fantastic best friend, or at least that's how Bobby remembers him because he takes the fact that is a figment in stride and easily agrees to go on a brain-hopping adventure to deliver the post-it note of destiny to the real world.

They apparate back to the hot wife in the bedroom crying, and I'm filled with an enormous sense of apprehension. If my memory serves me right, the last time we saw this character was in a zombie episode where Bobby had the excruciating torture of having to put her down for the second time. He ends the episode asking the extremely bone-headed question "How many times am I going to have to kill her?" not realizing that he is on a television show and by the laws of the universe the answer to that question will always be "Well, at least one more now that you just said that. Jackass."

Sure enough, that's close to the memory we're at. Except Bobby now explains the more painful memory is not fighting her when she's possessed by the demon, but in fact the emotional regret of the last fight they had a couple of days before. The fact that Karen is reenacting the scene from Die Hard where Bruce Willis is pulling the broken glass out of his feet does absolutely nothing to distract from the heart-wrenching torture Bobby is feeling. Apparently he let her down because he was too afraid of being a fuckup to have a child with her, and her forthcoming possession by a demon the next day took away any chance of him ever getting to apologize. It's well-acted and also painful to watch.

Unfortunately, it's just not quite painful enough for the character because the door leads him to a park. Now the rules have changed so Bobby can watch himself in the 80's playing catch with young Dean. When Rufus asks why the power couple of the episode didn't have kids, our protagonist decides to speed up the exposition and save use several minutes: he is afraid to screw up a kid by turning into an abusive father like his own.

You know, call me crazy, but I'm starting to wonder if both Supernatural and Buffy might have some hidden underlying theme about bad fathers. You know, it's very subtle and you'd really, really have to look for it. Probably just my imagination though.

Anyway, Rufus theorizes that if that was such a big deal for young Bobby then that's the memory they need to go to. We get to see that a typical family dinner in the Singer household involves beatings, spurred on by that broken glass of milk from earlier. This is clearly the memory, it is totally obvious, but since we're only at the halfway point of the episode we can't do this scene now. So instead of going with the easy and correct Plan A, our heroes decide instead to go attack Death.

Cut to the real world, where a doctor explains how bad things look. Some administrator makes the mistake of asking about organ donation, so it's time to punch a wall. Good job, Dean. That's going to help things. Now you'll get to deal with security guards and pay for a broken window. Come to think of it, why the Hell haven't the police shown up to ask about the two guys with no identities who showed up with a man shot in the head?

Oh well, no time for that. Dean has to go outside and do a little posturing with Donald Trump. Corporate Cthulu is too afraid of people with cell-phone cameras to do anything more than taunt Dean a little bit, but then it is pointed out to him who the main characters of the show are. He looks like he might have a slight suspicion that the boys are probably going to get some all-powerful mystical weapon in the last few episodes of the season, as usual.

Speaking of, Bobby remembers that he has a magical cross to fight Death with, so he figures that he can also fight with a memory of that cross. Sure, whatever, this is your episode so do what you want.

Dean tells Sam about his little tête-à-tête, and Sam updates Dean about the dismal prognosis. Hey, Sammy! You had a line this week! It was really starting to look like that wasn't going to happen. This must have been a lot less work than normal for you, unless you decided to help out in the editing room because all these short scenes were probably a bitch for those guys. Moving on, we get all the usual reactions from the Winchesters that you would expect here, the surly and gruff brother wants to be angry and push his pain down to some secret place inside and the evolved and emotional brother wants to let his feelings out and grieve. It's predictable but it works, and is the right move at this point.

Some of Bobby's stuff starts disappearing as his brain cells die, but they still manage to summon and capture Paisley. The reaper tries to point out the futility of this plan, and reminds us that people that don't go along to the afterlife wind up as ghosts. Rufus seems to consider this, because ghosts on this show are almost always very bad. It's not like Bobby can just stick around as a friendly spirit to keep protecting Sam and Dean, he's more likely to go all angry and special-effecty and get burned and salted by another hunter in the future. But none of that matters, you know why? "Because they're my boys."

Here is where Bobby decides to defy all the laws of television and not kill Karen again. No, he's Bobby Fucking Singer and he decides what torture he's going to take, so let's go with the childhood suffering thing that Rufus had suggested. So we go back to Drunk Dad as he decides to hit Mom instead of Little Bobby for the milk thing, but at this point grown-up Bobby has had absolutely enough. He tells off his douchebag father and informs him that he went on to adopt to fantastic boys that grew up heroes. And it's kind of awesome.

Then Little Bobby shoots his father in the chest with a rifle. Also awesome, though evidently it was seriously traumatic at the time. I guess the choice here was relive killing your wife again or relive killing your dad again. The difference with this time is now that scared little boy has his older self to comfort him and tell him what to do. Paisley breaks out of his trap, but it's too late. Bobby makes it through the door. He comes out of his coma, unable to talk but manages to write the all-important numbers on Sam's hand. Then he takes one last look at the boys and utters his loving dying words, "Idjits."

ER slow zoom out to a string quartet as that sinks in. And finally, we close on Bobby in his living room. His final memory that hasn't slipped away is from not to long ago, sitting on the couch with the boys. Not fighting evil, not saving the world, but having some beers and watching bad movies with popcorn. He fights back tears as the boys argue the way they always do, and suddenly they are gone. The reaper asks him to make his final decision, will he move on or will choose to be trapped. And then we fade to black before hearing the answer.

Buffy Episode #10 - "Bring on the Night"
We open on Xander making a joke about "Life Serial" and how his curse is to repair Buffy's windows for all eternity. No one disagrees. It looks like we're having one of those "research the bad guy in the dusty old books" sessions that were so common in the early seasons. There is no information on The First, despite the fact that we saw otherwise four seasons ago.

The Scoobies lament the presence of unconscious Andrew and his lack of usefulness. Dawn decides to try the "punch him repeatedly" method of waking someone up. When Buffy stops her, she quite correctly points out the Anya gets away with that kind of stuff. This scene is only here to show how good Michelle Trachtenberg looks this week.

We get the first glimpse that something is awry when Joyce hands Buffy a book she is looking for. Buffy is clearly dreaming here, but we know that The First can appear to people in their dreams and can make itself look like anyone dead. So, it's totally vague here whether or not this is The First, or if Buffy is just dreaming about her mom, or if Joyce's spirit is really reaching out to her, or if she is dreaming about The First trying to appear like Joyce's spirit reaching out to Buffy in a dream. And actually I don't think we ever really find out because the point gets lost when more important stuff starts happening later on, so this is really just here to set the mood.

Shirtless James Marsters is being dragged along the ground by the monster that came out of the well last week. The First in Spike's form taunts him, before morphing into Dru (which is a much better choice for this episode.) We get treated to crazy comments with too strong an accent (I say that lovingly) about how long the cave-vampire has been waiting to rip up a girl, and how he's going to warm up first on Spike. The screams of pain segue into the familiar chords of Nerf Herder.

Dawn and Anya are having fun messing with Andrew who is tied to Spike's season 4 bondage chair (the one he got shot with all those arrows in in "Pangs") in a scene that I think is supposed to be a callback to how Anya was playing with Dawn like a giant doll when she was paralyzed a few episodes ago. Buffy catches them, but the comic relief is cut short by Andrew finally actually waking up. As he is no longer unconscious this will be the last time I can stand him this episode. He immediately launches into his "I'm a huge nerd that the nerd fans should relate to" schtick when he's supposed to be scared, so to save us time we skip to him leading the gang to the Manhole Cover of Evil. Andrew's deeds are pointed out to him, but it never sinks in and we're eventually going to just forget about them without him ever really redeeming himself. Everyone grabs a shovel and starts burying the seal. We bump into Principal Wood who is also carrying a shovel. In the basement. At night. And they're just going to let this go.

Seriously, both sides offer extremely lame excuses for what they are doing, and since neither side wants to tell the truth they just accept each other's obvious lie. Which makes absolutely no sense, because at this point they totally can't deny that something is going on with Wood and they know it, and he knows it, and they know he knows (and so on, ad infinitum) but why they would choose to just hold off on dealing with it is ludicrous. And at this point in the season there are still reasons to assume he may be evil and is involved with all this (the audience knows he is just coming back from burying Jonathan's body!) so naturally we should be pursuing this.

By the way, why did he do that? Later on we find out he is not evil and the reason he doesn't pursue the issue with Buffy is he knows all about her and is just waiting for her to initiate the conversation. When in a later episode he finally does reveal all, it seems like maybe he has gotten tired of waiting for her to finally ask what the Hell is going on. It's like when a British guy is too nervous to ask a girl out so he needs you to do introduce him.

Moving on. Wood is as nice as he can be about asking Buffy to get her ass back to work. Back at the house we're casting a magic spell to try to locate The First. It goes less than well. Oh, great, it's another "black eyes" scene. The First takes control of the redhead and speaks through her (and we get a cool brief special effect where the giant monster form of The First from the end of Amends flashes on the screen, nice callback there). Buffy gets shot with some Force Lightning, and Xander saves the day by smashing a piece of pottery. This is why we can't have nice things.

Now, something has gone wrong with my computer because I'm seeing the same scene repeat from like 20 other episodes where Willow is all weepy and afraid of magic because she doesn't want to turn evil again. No, wait, it's not my computer. Anyway, it's tomorrow and Buffy is planning to go out and walk around aimless by herself until she randomly finds the bad guy. A valid plan. But it's just a setup so that she can open the door right before Giles manages to push the bell. Unless he's just been standing out there for hours waiting for someone to open the door so he can do this sce- hey wait!

Hey everybody! It's Giles! He's alive! No chainsaw, but we don't care, we're just glad Tony Head is back on the show!

And the wonderful tear-jerking reunion is totally cockblocked by some random girls we don't know. Buffy is trying to run forward and give Giles the biggest hug he's ever gotten since the last time someone was presumed dead and she gave him the biggest hug he's ever gotten, but some strangers step in and block her path. And guys, she really needed that hug. We really needed that hug. But it's denied because of this stupid "no touching" thing I'm going to get into later.

These girls are "slayers-in-waiting", the girls that the Watchers apparently purchase from their parents to put into a life of training for a job they probably won't even get like some kind of Romanian gymnastics coach. Short version: they have all the training that Kendra had and that Buffy and Faith were supposed to get but didn't, for all the good that seems to do a girl. These are also the girls that kept dying in the unexplained scenes in the early episodes of this season, it seems the Bringers have been going around the world killing all the potentials so there is no one left to be a Slayer when they kill the current one. The First got this idea by reading a book that Christopher Golden wrote about Spike and Drusilla called "All the Pretty Horses" or something like that. I'm told it's actually one of the better books, but still no points for originality for The First here. Buffy has not heard of the book, so she is more impressed. Giles informs the group that the Watcher's Council got themselves asploded. All that's left of their billions of books is a small satchel that he makes one of the girls carry because he's not allowed to touch anything.

See, we saw the scene where Giles almost got killed, but we haven't seen how he managed to inexplicably survive it and we won't for several episodes, so we need to make sure Giles does not touch anything or anybody in order to make sure the audience suspects there is a chance that he is dead and this is The First. Extra points to make him act very odd and unlike himself. A couple of weeks from now the characters and going to catch on and suspect, and then be disproven, but it is going to take way too long because how the Hell does no one give him a hug at all? At no point does anyone notice him pick up a fork or turn a doorknob or anything, even after they have a scene in an upcoming episode where The First does kill someone and impersonate them and they fail to institute any kind of "prove you are alive" rule. And I get what they creators were going for with this, and they get credit for the effort, but I would have just rather he be allowed to put his hand on Buffy's shoulder for comfort when she clearly needs it.

Moving on again. Andrew makes his presence known again, and gets his mouth duct-taped. I wish that could happen all the time. Giles explains exactly why they should suspect anyone that avoids touching things. The First is apparently really, really, really scary, and only Buffy can stop it. Luckily everyone believes in her, except for Kennedy. Seriously, f*@# you Kennedy. You are not a character yet, you shouldn't ever get to be one, and I really wish you would just die. If only you were the one to run off later instead of Annabelle (which would actually make much more sense given this outburst) the rest of this season would be so much better.

Now we get a scene I really don't get. The cave-vamp is drowning Spike. In water. While Dru is pointing out how it great it is that doesn't work. And then he does it some more. I'm assuming this is that thing where sometimes choking works on the vampires only when they are distracted and temporarily forget that they don't need to breathe. But other times when they are more clear-headed it doesn't work. But I can't begin to guess why Dru would lampshade it.

Giles and Buffy discuss how great an episode "Amends" was while he points out that this is in fact also a Christmas episode. Then they have a touching heart-to-heart about missing each other while I jump up out of my chair and scream at the screen to just put your fucking arm around her Giles GOD DAMMIT!!!

Andrew declares his intention to try to join the good guys' team and I cringe because even when I first saw this I knew it would happen, despite being a terrible idea. Then Kennedy decides to make a pass at Willow, and a little piece of me dies inside. The new girls are talking, and I start to realize that this is the show now. It is no longer about the old cast, it's these new people who are going to become the focus and overshadow the people I actually care about more and more as the year goes on. Thanks. Anyway, we found the spot where the showdown in "Amends" takes place and Buffy falls into a cave. Then Fugly shows up and attacks her. His makeup and clothing are very reminiscent of The Master, which I'm pretty sure was the whole idea, but Buffy is shocked and scared when she stakes him and he does not dust.

This confuses me, because at this point she should just assume he is not a vampire. I mean he looks a little like one, but mostly not, and everything else that she usually kills does not explode into ash and sand when poked with wood. But since she for some reason instinctually believes it is a vampire her world-view is shattered. She doesn't even think to check if he is wearing a magical ring than can be destroyed suspiciously easily, she just panics. So, she loses the fight but manages to climb up out of the hole. No idea where Giles is, it's not like he went to get a rope for her. But, oh! There he is. And he brought the sun with him. Like Gandalf. That was nice of him, but he still fails to give her a hand up or anything like that.

Also, how it suddenly got to be daytime is very confusing. Back at the ranch, Giles has been waiting to explain the new monster to Buffy for the whole walk home so the new main characters can hear it too. It seems this monster is an "Uruk-hai", Saruman has been mixing orcs and men to make a new master race that will invade Poland, or something. Or, it is the vampire prototype, the original ones that eventually got watered down into the modern version. Except that totally defies the established mythos of the show when the vampires are only created when the last true demon left the universe, and implies that these are the things the First Slayer used to hunt (and Buffy has been playing on easy mode this whole time) but it does explain why these things look like The Master. Or rather, as he aged he started to look more like them.

Missing is the explanation of why they don't look more like that spiky creature that Angel turned into when he was in that parallel dimension that gave him access to the full demon instead of the halfway form, but we'll ignore that.

The new girls are scared that they will die when the sun goes down, and Buffy decides to go to work. The books don't work, so she's going to use a non-lawsuitable version of Google. No one tells her that Angel Investigations has had access to an actual search engine that does find information on demon bad guys for three years now, because the two shows have different sets of rules for how to get things done.

I see that Buffy has one of those old G4 iMacs that looks like Eve from Wall-E had a baby with a desk lamp, which seems like that basis for the weirdest Pixar fanfic ever. Even though that movie won't be out for more than five years, and that thought then makes me realize that this episode is from a decade ago.

Buffy has weak Google skills and needs to filter her search results better. She and Wood make small talk about evil where he tries really hard to pique her interest and get her to ask about him, but she's too distracted with this other thing (which is part of the same thing) to ask him about this important stuff she needs to know.

First Dru is doing more of her ridiculous Dru thing which is stupid and chaotic and I don't care because I still like it. Spike even points out that she's not really Dru, but The First counters that she's still Juliet Landau so that should be good enough. And I really can't find a flaw in that argument. She asks that Spike get in line and join the dark side again, and he basically tells her that he's too busy being tortured to talk to her right now.

Buffy is suddenly really badly bruised, and Ambiguous Dream Joyce is there is talk to her again. She has fallen asleep while some poor kid was pouring his heart out to her while Wood watches creepily from a window.

At Buffy's house Xander tries to use his carpentry skills to keep himself on the show that is clearly about these new girls; Willow likewise talks about her whole "I wish I could do magic without being evil" thing for the billionth time. Even Andrew also asks if he can be a good guy. I wonder if this scene is here because the episode was running short. Oh, it's so that Annabelle can run away in fear instead of Kennedy, which is what I really wanted to happen. She left the house five seconds ago, so clearly she is already in the warehouse district which is right at the end of Buffy's block. Or maybe the actress just doesn't know her way around the soundstage. Either way she runs right into the hands of Ubey, who just happened to be there in that exact spot because, hey, why not?

Before the actress can care that that makes no sense, she is already dead. Then Buffy really casually and calmly walks into the same spot (since it's right by her house) and finds the corpse. Not Annabelle! We had so much time to grow to care about her as a person! So fighting ensues where Buffy limps away in fear and the orc slowly pursues her like a T-1000 or Pepe Le Pew when they have a target and know that like in any slasher movie they will catch the victim not matter what the difference in traveling speeds are (you know, an example from that exact stereotype that Buffy was created to avert?). More fighting, Buffy drops a pile of pipes on the guy. We can clearly see that he must have been flattened paper thin because all the pipes are sitting evenly on the ground, but somehow he reforms to climb out of them defying all the laws of geometry.

Then he throws her through a wall and drops the wall on her, and then I guess he gets confused and wanders away because that where she stays, helpless and unconscious, when Xander finds her later.

Spike declines to join The First because of some silly thing about Buffy believing in him, which I understand is a bone being thrown to the 'shippers but really doesn't fit in here because she's a little bit busy right now deciding if she believes in herself. It's not constantly about you, Spike.

Cut to Buffy wallowing about failing to to anything to safeguard the remaining 66% of the Potentials she possesses, and overhearing the doomsaying of all the other characters in the next room isn't helping her self-esteem any. So then here it comes. The speech. For all Buffy's confusion and doubt lately, and her losing to this monster that will prove to be easy fodder later, and her sorrow and misery and all that: she's going to try to make up for it here. She comes in to make a grandiose monologue about how much shit they are in, but now it's okay because she is seriously pissed.

Epic music slowly grows in the background as she gets her resolve on. They been in deep shit before, but this time its evil that should be afraid. Evil is going to get pimpslapped.

Other than at the end of "Checkpoint", she has previously only made speeches like this at season finale time, so this is a big deal. Later on she will start doing this every week, to the point where even the characters are openly mocking it. With repeated pep-talks it will start to lose its effect (I think even Xander makes one or two before then end) so there are definitely diminishing returns. But none of that matters yet because this one here hits with full power for one very simple reason: SMG acts the shit out of this scene. Some claim that partway through this season she starts phoning it in but at this point she stands there with all the wound makeup and and she hits her fucking mark. She may have lost the fight with the monster but she just kicked the ass of this speech.

How do the eps compare?
I could say how Buffy is the only character in her episode to show any real feelings and everyone else is disconnected, and how the single minute we get of Sam and Dean showing their feelings is spot-on perfect, demonstrating that they will go through this in exactly the way we would have assumed. But it doesn't matter because it isn't about them.

This in the end comes down to tragic loss of a beloved surrogate father figure going out in a good way, versus the hopeful return of a beloved surrogate father figure we had feared lost. It's a Bobby versus Giles (which is fair, because Bobby really always has been the redneck American version of the librarian anyway.) And while I was overjoyed that Giles was still around and hadn't been killed off, the method of his return was a giant missed opportunity (partially because of the no touching thing and partially because the story arc was currently off its footing). As much as I didn't want Bobby to go, this is a great way to go out and worthy of his character; I can't think of a better way for him to die. Giles deserved a better way to survive his decapitation than he got.

Mini Battles!!:
Best Imaginary Reappearance of Dead Beloved Character - Rufus narrowly beats out Joyce (Dru is not eligible), though her presence is bigger deal, but she is not given enough to do with it whereas Rufus really manages to come through for our hero despite not even being real.  Winner: Supernatural

Best Episode Villain - Going to actually give this one to Buffy. Neither one has a clearly defined single villain, the Turok-Han is only briefly impressive and lame later, and The First does little more than ham it up as Dru. And Bobby's real enemy is a bullet in his brain, the big bad of the season only speaks to Dean and Bobby's antagonist, the reaper, is actually just trying to help him. So in the end let's call Bobby's real conflict his race against time and Buffy's real villain is her own self-doubt. And while Bobby's triumph was bigger, self-doubt can be a terrible fucking nemesis. Winner: Buffy

Best Ending - I won't deny that Buffy had that one fantastic scene right at the end, but the powerful and poignant send-off for one Robert Singer was perfect, and exactly the way for him to go out. The scale is tipped over the edge by the ambiguity of not knowing if we will have Bobby's ghost potentially be around later. Winner: Supernatural

Final Ruling:
A midseason finale that is a worthy sendoff to a fantastic character has too many advantages over the middle part of a three episode arc about a minor villain. Maybe it is a bit unfair, this was probably the single best episode of Supernatural to not start with “Carry On Wayward Son.”

Now I'm going to go watch the scene from the end of "Sex and Violence" where Bobby shows up to kill the siren. Repeatedly. In slow motion. You idjits.

Season tally so far: