Buffy the Vampire Slayer S04 E08 – Mystical Syphilis

Previously: Riley realized he liked him some Buffy, we were introduced to The Initiative and Willow and Spike stole the show. No surprises, really.


Lorraine: Buffy, in jeans and a leather jacket, approaches a tall, blond, slightly dorky looking guy who she immediately punches IN THE FACE. (S: BAMF BUFFY GREETINGS.) He puts his vampgrill on and says things were much better for the college-vamps back when she was in high school. Something like that. I don’t want to consider this too deeply because how many vampires are parading around as college students and why didn’t she know this before? Anyways, she dusts this vamp but gets a sense that something is still out there, lurking.

And then I LOL forever because it is in fact Angel lurking in some bushes. I like Angel more now, thanks to his own show, and I’m sad his intro back into Sunnydale is via lurking in bushes. You are past that now, my broody, broody friend. Roll credits.

Sweeney: Angel fangirling generally amounts to a lot of D: faces as he does something sad and feelsy, so I need take advantage of this rare opportunity: ANGEL BACK IN SUNNYDALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carry on.

K: Lurk lurk lurk lurk snore. Sorry, y’all. Team Heartless Cow is back. 

Lor: Kirsti, girl. Team Heartless Cow never left.

At a university ground-breaking, Dean Guerrero introduces us to Dr. Gerhardt, a professor of anthropology who explains that the university is building a new cultural center. As she speeches, we see that Willow, Buffy and Anya are standing by having a “who is wearing the fugliest outfit?” contest. I think I’m voting Anya, because her pants are giving me Geometry class flashbacks, though a case can be made for Buffy’s hat alone.


Sweeney: In a rare upset, Willow appears to be the loser of the Fashion Trainwreck contest!

Lor: She’s doing her best, though.

Anya is commenting on Xander’s manliness, as he stands with the construction crew on site. It’s his job of the episode. She says she’s imagining having sex with him. Buffy and Willow exchange looks. It’s the look I’m exchanging with you all, right now, via Internet.

K: I’m also going to mention that Buffy, she of the hideous cowboy hat, judges Xander for his outfit and makes a Village People reference. Pot, meet kettle. 

Lor: Dr. G keeps speeching and apparently it’s Thanksgiving, a holiday she says is about making our culture stronger. Willow takes offense and gives an impassioned speech about Thanksgiving being about Pilgrims wiping out indigenous people. Buffy mentions that Joyce is visiting some “Aunt Darla” and has abandoned her only daughter during a typically family-oriented holiday for which universities close. Anya calls Thanksgiving a “ritual sacrifice,” and when Buffy says it isn’t like that, Anya offers, “To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It’s a ritual sacrifice — with pie.” She isn’t wrong.

Sweeney: 1430 for Anya.

K: If season 4 has given us anything, it’s Anya Appreciation. 

Lor: Dr. G finishes her boring-ass speech and breaks ground. Anya gets super happy when Xander starts digging and TMI’s that she is imaging having sex with him again. Buffy snarks, “Imaginary Xander is quite the machine.” Xander digs like, three inches down, and suddenly he falls through the ground into some sort of underground room. Seriously, he throws two shovel fulls of dirt and that’s it.

K: Archaeologist Kirsti has SO MANY ISSUES WITH THIS. It should be at least 2-3 feet of excavation to reach that. Also, given that the roof Xander fell through was made of wood, it would have collapsed years ago from the weight of the dirt on top of it. GAH.

Lor: I think I’m going to make fun of you for the rest of the recap for always referring to yourself kind of like you have an Inner Goddess. It’ll be great too because you won’t see this until it’s published. LOVE YOU.

Later that night, Angel continues to bush-lurk, looking up at Buffy’s dorm window.

Up in the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room, Buffy stares wistfully out the window as Willow exposits that the room Xander fell into is the lost Sunnydale mission. B wonders how a mission can be lost, and it’s all thanks to the 1812 earthquake. In the hall, students are “whooping and hollering” according to my closed captioning all in “post-midterm frenzy” and excitement over the upcoming holiday. Buffy is sad she isn’t going home, but suddenly decides that she will make dinner for her friends. Willow thought they agreed that Thanksgiving was a sham, but Buffy clarifies that it’s “a sham with yams.” Buffy appeals to Willow on the basis of emotional memories and comfort food. They agree that they could invite Xander and Giles, and Willow perks up at the thought of not inviting Anya. Buffy doesn’t know though, as she feels the point of Thanksgiving is that everyone has a place to go.

Cut to Spike bumbling about and wrapped in a shabby blanket. He runs off into some bushes and we see that he’s being tailed by Riley & Friends. They chit chat about being tired, going home for Thanksgiving and how even though the implant in Spike’s head is working great, them not wanting anyone who knows about the Initiative on the loose. I’m not sure what the point of the Initiative is, then, because are you just gonna rehabilitate baddies and keep them in captivity? I’ll find out later?

Sweeney: My memory might just be a little rusty, but no, I don’t think you ever really will. As far as I can tell, the only purpose of The Initiative is some sort of deal with The Great Contrivance Spirit, wherein we, the viewers, are subjected to an atrocious season-long arc, which, if we agree to accept it’s awful central premise, grants us a logical excuse for Spike to stick around.

Lor: Oh, I see. ‘Cause of the implant. Welp. Nothing in life comes for free.

At Xander’s place, he is getting dressed when Anya comes in and says she went to see him digging but he wasn’t there. He claims to be feeling sluggish and Anya feels his forehead. Her many years inflicting diseases on men have allowed her to recognize that he is sick. He falls back into bed and she starts ripping his clothes off. When she shows no concern for catching whatever he has, he calls her a strange girlfriend and she perks up at the term. Xander recants, saying there is a chance he’s delirious. Xander needs to learn how to be nicer to his girlfriends.

Sweeney: He does. But Anya takes it pretty well, because they’re awesome together. Similarly snarky banter without ever being as willfully mean-spirited as he and Cordelia were with each other.

Lor: Over at the Formerly Lost Underground Mission, a green fog escapes through the hole Xander made.

Dr. G is on the phone in some sort of small museum and says she’s excited about the lost mission.. The green fog enters and Dr. G notices it surround a knife and then materialize into a hand. Said hand is attached to a  Native American man who promptly slits Dr. G’s throat. I’m really glad I didn’t invest all that extra time completely spelling out her name.

K: Museum Curator Kirsti has problems with this because SHE IS NOT USING PROPER OBJECT HANDLING TECHNIQUES. One doesn’t just pick up a historic ceramic pot and carry it around with one hand while talking on the phone. One uses two hands, and gloves, and a trolley. Sorry. I’ll stop now.

Lor: And then Museum Curator Kirsti does salsa with some mergengue moves and somersaults like a panda.

Buffy and Willow head to the museum to investigate. It seems that Dr. G’s body was missing an ear, leading Willow to guess that perhaps they are dealing with witches or ear-harvesting demons. She admits she’s a bit off her game just as Buffy notices that something is missing from one of the cases: an early-1800s Chumash knife.

Later, at Giles’s apartment, Buffy says it was terrifying, but she’s talking about the grocery store. Giles is more interested in the, you know, murder. She tells him about the Chumash knife and he says Chumash were indigenous to the area. Buffy meanwwhile is laying out groceries. Giles wants to know why the festivities are at his house and she says something about American traditions and him as the patriarch. I appreciate any and all things that remind us that Giles is the best Substitute Parent ever. (S: +1) For his part, Giles isn’t buying it and thinks she may just be sticking him with the clean-up. She quickly changes the subject back to the knife, which he promises to research.

When she’s gone, Giles asks someone unseen what they think, and out comes Angel, saying  Buffy sounds good. Well, that’s nice but Giles was asking about the murder. Angel thinks the murderer is who he’s here to protect Buffy from, though Giles reminds him that’s not his job anymore. Angel counters that it isn’t Giles’s job either, but that hasn’t stopped him. Well, one of them dumped Buffy and broke her heart, though, so not the same? Giles doesn’t want to keep this secret from Buffy but Angel claims his presence will distract her. Plus, he does all his best work in Sunnydale in the bushes. Angel suggests Giles contact a Father Gabriel and heads out to follow Buffy. Giles is all, “DUDE. QUIT STALKING HER.” and Angel tries to convince us that stalking is no fun for him.

K: Uh huh. Nice try, Angel.

Lor: Spike, in his tattered blankie and more pale than usual, looks longingly inside of a building where there is a group of vampires feeding on a young man. The music is very sad, and for a second you feel bad for Spike because he can’t kill people and feed on their blood. D:

Willow, in a giant peace sign sweater and long, floral printed skirt, walks with Buffy who is now on a mission to whip her own whipped cream.

K: Okay, I once again had problems with this. Does America seriously use that stuff that comes out of a can? Because EW. The only place I know of in Australia that uses canned whipped cream is Starbucks. And we closed most of those down because the coffee sucks. I’ve always whipped cream myself. #culturaldifferences

Lor: You enjoy whipping your own cream. Hands off our Starbucks and our Fruit Loops and our pre-whipped cream and all the other stuff that will give us happy, delicious deaths.

Riley comes over to say hello and Willow beats an obvious exit into a coffee shop. You can see her mic pack under her sweater. Weird.

Inside, she runs into Angel and starts to yell but he covers her mouth. Through his hand, Willow says, “Evil! You’re all evil again,” but he assures her that he isn’t evil. Giggle. Angel explains that he’s here to help Buffy, because she’s in danger. Willow tells Angel to just tell Buffy, but he still thinks that would be worse. Willow goes on a “leaving for her own good,” tirade and when Angel interrupts she admits that it’s some of her own issues. Willow starts to ask about working with Cordelia but he interrupts, claiming ain’t nobody got time fo dat. But then he spots Riley and asks who he is.

Outside, Buffy and Riley are filling each other in on Thanksgiving plans. Riley is flying home to Iowa and says that “home is the place that when you have to go there…” Buffy finishes, “they have to take you in.”

SEGUE MAGIC to Harmony yelling “get out!” as Spike stumbles into her cave. Harmony sticks up for herself, but Spike picks her up and puts her on the bed. Just before they kiss, though, Harm snaps out of it and grabs a stake from under the mattress. Spike asks if she knows how dangerous that is, and she’s well versed in the dangers of stakes, because remember, he staked her. She chases him out.

Sweeney: I still don’t see much point in Harmony’s continued existence, but this was entertaining. Also says a lot about the state Spike is in that he was successfully chased off by Harmony.

K: Truth.

Lor: Buffy walks through a church calling out for Father Gabriel. Outside, she sees that the Chumash Killer has hung Father Gabriel and is chopping off his ear. Buffy attacks and while they fight, Chumash Killer helpfully tells us that he is the spirit of his slaughtered people, bent on vengeance. Buffy is shocked, giving Chumash Killer a chance to turn into a bunch of crows and disappear.

Giles and Buffy are cooking and rehashing. He says it is common for Indian spirits to turn into animals. Buffy corrects him and says they are “Native Americans.” Giles says he’s behind on the terms and still wants to call them all “bloody colonials.” I giggle but Buffy keeps on about how she likes her men like she likes her evil: evil. BEST. Buffy is struggling with this episode’s baddie because she doesn’t like the moral gray. Giles is all, “dude, he killed people,” but Buffy decides she wants to handle Chumash Killer in a non-Slayer way.

There is a knock on the door and Willow enters with a stack of books and two boxes of frozen peas. Buffy is going on about the peas being frozen, but Willow was short on time since she was reading about the Chumash War. Giles points out that the Chumash were peaceful. Willow says they were fluffy kitties until the Spanish arrived. Through all this, Buffy is still more concerned about the peas being mushy and Giles says he likes them mushy. Is this a British thing? Mushy peas?

K: Yup. I actually wrote down “Of course Giles likes mushy peas. He’s English” in my notes. 

Fish and chips and mushy peas. Health food of a nation.


Lor: Yeah, I’ll be at Starbucks.

Willow goes on to enumerate all the ways the Chumash were wronged and killed. Chumash Killer is recreating the wrongs against his people and we pan back so that we are now watching the scene from outside the window. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s daylight, I would’ve guessed it was Angel in the bushes. And if we were in LA, the daylight wouldn’t have mattered much. (S: It’s all the smog, I bet…) It’s a coyote. Willow thinks they should be helping the Chumash Killer and Giles doesn’t think they should help anyone rape, pillage and murder. The coyote runs off.

Back inside, Giles and Willow keep arguing and it’s making Buffy uncomfortable. She runs into the kitchen to baste. Giles whispers to Willow that Buffy might be in danger, but she already knows that as she saw Angel too.

Another knock on the door and this time it’s Xander supported by Anya. Giles notes he looks like death and Buffy notes he didn’t bring rolls. Apparently Buffy can only be a good friend and not completely self-involved one episode at a time. Last episode was a good one for her. Not so much here.

Chumash Killer is breaking into some displays and stealing weapons.

K: Museum Curator Kirsti stops to channel Effie Trinket and yell about how much showcases cost. Thousands and thousands of dollars, people. 

Lor: Museum Curator Kirsti prefers to use her thousands of dollars on diamonds and boas and not on replacement showcases.

Back at the apartment, Xander is looking bad and Anya tenderly wipes his brow. Willow mentions the various diseases the Chumash suffered from including malaria, smallpox and… syphilis. Xander freaks at syphilis but Willow assures him that it’s mythical syphilis and will probably clear up when they… Buffy asks when they what, as they have no game plan. Giles: Let’s give him some land. I’m sure that’ll clear everything up. Buffy says that sarcasm won’t solve anything which is funny (1) coming from her and (2) in the context of this site. Giles snarks for me when he points out that sarcasm is “sort of an end in itself.” It is, indeed.

Sweeney: New unofficial motto! Thank you, Giles.

Lor: Xander says he hates Chumash Killer and Willow unhelpfully says that he’s just doing what was done to him. Xander protests that he didn’t give anyone syphilis. He wants to know when Buffy is going to get her slay on and she says that question is still before the court. Willow says there are two sides to the story, which is probably easier for her to say since she isn’t the one who is going to be pus filled and blind. Xander counters that they are dealing with a vengeance demon and you don’t talk to those, you kill them. Of course Anya, resident vengeance demon, is none too pleased. They all keep talking over each other and arguing until Buffy, who has been hand mixing a bowl of something, stands and shouts that this is not good… it needs more condensed milk.

K: Seriously, what the hell is she making?? I thought at first that she was massacring the potatoes, but condensed milk in mashed potatoes? EW. So maybe she’s trying to whip the cream. In which case, adding condensed milk WILL NOT HELP. Nor will using a whisk, for that matter…

Lor: Buffy heads to the kitchen and Giles follows her to be all, “GIRL, FOR REAL. FOCUS AND FORGET THE PIE.” Buffy says she can both take care of Chumash Killer and have a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. There is another knock and Giles and Buffy look at each other all, “everyone we know is here…” But they forgot that Spike is now in the opening credits!

Sweeney: Or they got the memo about how opening credits like to lie and mislead people.

Lor: Except this time the opening credits misled us about misleading people because sure enough, Spike is at the door in his tattered blankie and he asks for Buffy’s help. B pushes him down and he falls into the sunlight and starts sizzling. Giles shows up behind Buffy and hands her a stake. Spike stands and asks for an invitation, but Buffy says that’s not happening. He explains, though, that he can’t bite people, and appeals to Willow for her testimony. “Trouble performing,” Willow offers. Spike: Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies anymore. (K: There are no words for how much I love this line) Finally, he tries to bribe his way inside and offers that he has information about the initiative.

Meanwhile, Chumash Killer wants to have a dinner party of his own and summons some fellow vengeance spirits to the party.

Buffy is tying Spike to a chair as he grouses that it’s too tight and cutting off his circulation. Buffy points out that he doesn’t have any circulation. He says again that he has information but he’s too hungry to remember said information. Buffy smacks him lightly on the head and I can’t explain why, but I love that little bit of interaction. (S: +1) (K: SO MUCH)

Also, I’m doing my best to buy Spike going hungry and not, I don’t know, doing what Angel did for all those years and seeking a hospital, a blood bank, a butcher or, I don’t know, a passing squirrel or something and chowing on that. Mostly because I’m excited at the prospect of his interacting more with the gang.

Sweeney: It makes zero sense, but it’s whatever.


Lor: Anya has taken over the cooking and Buffy tells her that something requires brandy, which makes Spike say he wouldn’t mind a cup himself. Giles has figured out that Chumash Killer is targeting authority figures and Buffy guesses that Dean Guerrero will be next. Buffy asks Willow if she’s found a nice way to kill the spirit, but Willow doesn’t want any part of this. They bicker until Spike thankfully butts in with “oh, someone put a stake in me.” He says the history of the world is filled with conquering nations and that’s just the way it goes. Willow says maybe they could talk to the killer spirit instead.

Spike: You exterminated his race. What could you possibly say that could possibly make him feel better. It’s kill or be killed here, take your pick.
Xander: Maybe it’s the syphilis talking, but some of that made sense.
Giles: I made these points earlier but fine, no one listens to me.

Word to all of them.

Buffy sends Willow and Anya to go warn the dean. Xander offers to go too and Buffy wonders if he’s up to it. Spike: Oh, leave that one. He looks like he’s ready to drop any minute and I think I can eat someone if he’s already dead. This is quickly becoming the quote Spike show. Sorry?

Sweeney: Except not really. He’s one of the few worthwhile things in this entire season.

K: I take back what I said earlier. It’s Anya AND Spike Appreciation. Although I already appreciate Spike, so…..

Lor: Buffy tells them to hurry because dinner’s in an hour.

The sun goes down and at the apartment Buffy sets the table, Giles studies and Spike wonders when he’ll get fed. He asks if they know what happens to vampires that don’t feed and Giles rather eagerly admits he’s always wondered! Living skeletons, apparently. Buffy says Spike can have gravy because that has blood in it. Spike: Know what else has blood it in? Blood. Buffy threatens to gag him. She wants a nice civilized dinner. An arrow comes sailing into the frame and pierces the pilgrim centerpiece on the table. Buffy looks up to see Chumash Killer in the open (?) window. Buffy tries to tell him she feels terrible and offers, “you can have casinos now!” Ooooof. That line made me wince.

Sweeney: If only Willow had been present for that line.

Lor: The Chumash Killer and his buds start raining arrows into the apartment and Giles and Buffy duck behind the couch. Spike is left in his precarious position and is shot in the chest dangerously close to his heart. I wonder at that apparently not hurting at all? Not even a wince?

Over at the dean’s house, it was a bust. They do, however, run into Angel and Anya pronounces him “large and glowery.” At least she didn’t say handsome! Score one for our livers.


Lor: Xander assumes he’s evil again and Angel’s all, “WTF. You lose your soul a couple of times and everyone assumes you are evil.” Willow explains that Angel is here for protecting and wonders if he’s found anything out. He tells them about the missing Chumash weapons and they figure out that all the killers are after Buffy. Xander in this scene is sort of hugging himself and hunched over. It’s a nice little touch of consistency, given that he’s sick and all. (S: And given how little consistency seems to matter elsewhere in the episode.) Anyhow, Angel liberates some bikes from a bike rack so they can hurry to Buffy’s aid.

Over at Giles’s, he picks up the phone call from Angel and is all, “yeah, we know. We’re being attacked.” After he hangs up, Buffy says they need a plan. Spike deadpans about talking about it some more and we see he’s now been shot several times by arrows. Buffy asks where the weapon chest is and Giles points her in the right direction. She reaches for it but is shot in the arm. Giles says they need help.

We hilariously cut to Willow, Xander and Anya  furiously riding bicycles to the rescue with super-hero music playing in the background.

K: The Cavalry are coming!

Lor: Once they arrive, Xander takes out one Killer with a potted plant and Anya and Willow grab nearby shovels and start pummeling another Killer. The Original Flavor Chumash Killer crashes into the apartment and engages Buffy in hand to hand combat. Another two Killers crash in and Giles takes them on. Spike is hit with another arrow, and at least gives us an “ow! Bloody hell” that time. Buffy stabs Original Flavor in the heart and he cuts her on the arm. Buffy shouts that the Killers don’t die, but Giles is busy being in a choke hold.

Outside, Anya and Willow are still shovel-beating a Killer pretty thoroughly. Angel runs in to help and snaps the Killer’s neck. Anya: What’s he like when he is evil? Well, a lot less broody, but I didn’t like him as much as, say, Kirsti did. That was probably a rhetorical question though.

K: It wasn’t so much that I liked him more as he was far less boring when he was evil… 

Lor: Same, same.

Inside more fighting and from outside, Angel sends a stake sailing through the air to take out a Killer poised to attack Buffy. Anya and Willow run in to keep shoveling, Giles is having his head smashed against a wall, and Buffy picks up the knife Original Flavor dropped. She slices his arm and it harms him, so she deduces that he can be killed by his own knife because of ancient, tribal reasons. *cough* He also suddenly turns into a bear because… oh fuck it. There is no because.

Sweeney: This is really the epitome of “because of reasons.”

Lor: James Marsters’ delivery is brilliant. I want my text tone to be him saying, “a bear! You made a bear!”

Sweeney: SO IT SHALL BE.

K: She’s not joking. She sent Lor and I an MP3 of that line. It’s amazing.


Buffy grapples with the bear as Spike tries to hop with his chair away from the danger. He falls back and I just think about the pain that  must come from falling on the arrows he’s pierced by. Good thing he’s inexplicably immune to pain today!

Xander comes in and yells for the bear’s attention, throwing a potato at it for giving him syphilis. The bear is distracted enough that B is able to stab it with the knife. It, and all the other Killers, disappear into green fog. Everyone reconvenes around the table and Angel looks in from outside, broodily. He leaves and I honestly have no idea what the point of him being in this episode even was.

Sweeney: It was apparently the best contrivance they could come up with to set-up Buffy’s confrontation with him in LA.

K: A+.

Lor: When I watched/wrote this I didn’t know Buffy would be in LA too. Guess that makes sense. Ish.

Everyone sits around the dinner table, even Spike, who is still tied to his chair. There is no amount of anything that should explain this sudden having Spike at the dinner table thing, but again, fuck it. Willow laments turning into “General Custer” in all the commotion. Giles excuses her, saying that instinct takes over in violent situations. Spike speaks up and Xander shushes him. Spike: Oh, lay off. You all had a fine meal. And me? An entire siege. You’d think one of you would bleed a little. Especially with all them arrows flying about.

Giles congratulates Buffy on both the win and dinner, though she laments that it wasn’t perfect. As Xander says that it felt perfect, we see the pilgrim centerpiece still has an arrow going through it. It’s another great detail.

Giles is happy they all survived, Xander is happy his syphilis is clearing up and Willow is happy they got to work together, like old times. Xander, as he shovels food into his mouth: Yeah, especially with Angel being here and everything.

We get Buffy’s perspective as everyone at the table looks at her with various expressions. Spike’s smirk is priceless.

Over the end credits, Xander whispers, “oops…”

That was interesting! Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

K: And happy days to the glazier that Giles now has to call, as every single window in his house has now been smashed!

Lor: His children will also get a Merry Christmas.


Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow uses magic to try and get over Oz and mayhem ensues. Oh, Willow in S04 E09 – Something Blue.


Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I spend too much time on YouTube. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

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  • Polge Clément

    I really didn’t like this episode the first time, probably because thanksgiving doesn’t mean anything to me, but it actually has some fairly good moment. The whole assault with Spike riddled with arrows and the bear are just hilarious. Also it’s quite interesting to see how all of the characters have their own opinion on the Chumash killer.

    And you were asking last week what the problem with Riley was, I think that had he been in this episode he would have mostly been in the background not really expressing an opinion… Probably just telling everyone to calm down. He’s that sort of bland.

    Also, maybe they say it in the episode, but why was Angel here actually ? Because if it was only to warn everyone that Buffy was in danger, well… 1) a phone call might have sufficed and 2) nothing new under the sun, when is she NOT in danger ? But I remember liking the episode where Buffy is in L.A., so I guess it was worth it.

    • Jen

      Angel showed up because Doyle had a vision about Buffy being in danger at the end of “Bachelor Party,” and it seems to me that the PTB only call out Angel if something is likely to go seriously wrong without his intervention.

      I guess it’s possible that Buffy might’ve been overwhelmed without Angel helping out – she would’ve only had Giles and, well, Spike for backup otherwise, since, in addition to joining the fight himself, Angel facilitated the timely arrival of the rest of the Scoobies during the siege at Giles’ house.

      Still, it’s sort of hard to take the threat to Buffy in this episode seriously, since, as you said, she’s in danger all the time and faces things much scarier than the Chumash guy.

      Nothing beats Spike, strapped to a chair with multiple arrows sticking out of him, yelling, “You made a bear! UNDO IT!!!” Best ever.

      • I got why he initially went to Sunnydale but I just think they could’ve made him a little more pivotal in the taking down of the freak of the week. He had a few helpful moments but it didn’t seem to have the super serious air it should have had ’cause of the migraine vision and TPTB intervention. We can sit here and in retrospect say, “I guess Angel helped” but they episode could’ve done with showing that more clearly, ya know?

        AND WORD. Angel would have to do a whole lotta bush-lurking.

        It really was a fantastic moment.

        • SnazzyO

          Angel’s visit was essential so he could break the chains and send forth the bike riding calvary to Ft Giles.

      • Polge Clément

        Oh right, totally forgot about the vision ! And yeah, Angel is useful in this episode, he just doesn’t seem that “pivotal”…

        • Jen

          You’re right that Angel doesn’t add a whole lot to this episode, even if he is useful. Mostly, the writers must’ve just been setting up the AtS half of the crossover.

          • Alex

            And that’s the second time this has happened in this season. I find the ‘The Harsh Light of Day’ (the one where the gem of Amara shows up) one of the most dull episodes of Buffy, because its sole purpose just seems to be to set up the storyline on that week’s Angel episode. If I’m only watching Buffy, then when I watch that one I always feel like I’ve just watched the first 10 minutes of an episode and I’m wondering where the rest of it is.

            This one is slightly better because the Buffy half of the crossover is genuinely good in its own right… but then Angel has almost nothing to do with the actual plot and just lurks about a bit. It definitely took them a while to get the hang of this whole crossover thing and I don’t think they ever got it quite right, but there are some much better ones to come.

      • Alex

        Yeah, it was poorly done. Considering all the danger that Buffy’s been in this season already, having TPTB send Angel to help with this particular one seems kind of lame. Especially as he doesn’t actually do anything that important – I’m pretty sure the Scooby Gang would have handled this one just fine on their own.

        If I could re-write this episode I’d introduce some kind of threat that could only be defeated by a vampire, so Angel rushes to Buffy’s side to be that vampire… but then he still finds out he’s useless because Spike’s there to take care of it instead. That’d be fun.

    • I think that’s an excellent way of putting Riley into perspective. Bland characters in this mix of great to amazing characters are surely to get lost of hated on.

      I’m with you on the phone thing. Angel’s portion of this crossover event could’ve been better.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I think season 4 can now safely be classified as “The time when all the phones in Sunnydale stopped working”. Because seriously. The number of times this season when people could have just made a phone call and instead actually turned up somewhere is staggering.

    • Jojo

      Point – he actually was in this episode. Since he was so completely forgettable you must be very correct!

      • Polge Clément

        I know he was, but his role was basically saying “hey I won’t be in this episode, so bye !”, so it doesn’t really count 🙂 I meant if the episode happened at a later point during the show, when he and Buffy are together, and if he actually was in the house during all those debates.

  • The first time Anya comments on Xander’s manliness and I nearly choke on my cookie. Her love for Xander is adorable in a creepy way that only Anya can manage.

    Riley and his soldier friends just look so ridiculous with their face paint. While they bothered to put that stuff on their faces they didn’t cover their hands which they should have for camouflage purposes. I know I was always yelled at for not putting the make up on my arms when we were playing Aladdin in the theater because my face colour wasn’t matching the rest of my skin colour that was visible.

    Completely with Kirsti on the Whipped Cream subject. I only eat it when it’s made fresh and not out of a can. The stuff out of the can is just gross.

    That whole bursting into crows thing, didn’t Madonna did that same thing in Frozen?

    • She really is a delicate balance of both.

      Oh, I can’t believe I forgot to comment on their face paint. I guess now that we (the audience) know who they are, we need to visually identify them? IDK. FACE PAINT IS FUNNY.

      Whipped cream is never ever gross.

      LOL. Madonna.

      • In my city (Victoria, BC), there are a few types of whipped cream I can think of: Cool Whip, that is in a container similar to margarine; fake whipped cream in an aerosol can (helpfully identifying itself as “oil-based dairy product” or some such crap); real whipped cream in an aerosol can (what I usually get – it’s actual dairy!); and actual cream that you actually whip. Who got time for that.

        • Cool Whip is the most fake out of these. Most people don’t like it.

  • Am I the only one who really wants that mp3 of the “You made a bear” line?

  • geff

    I have this theory that the Scooby Gang are secretly as amused by Spike as all of us, and that’s why they are willing to keep him around even though Buffy should, you know, SLAY HIM. That and they probably like having someone around to use as a snarking-punching-bag; it’s okay for them have fun being mean to him because he’s evil and all.

    This is a really funny, quotable episode though I completely agree that some of the Native American stuff (yeah, including that casino line) is wince-worthy.

    I stared at that gif of Buffy smacking Spike for way too long. I wonder how the conversation in the writers’ room for the next episode went. “So…uhmmm… did anyone else notice how much chemistry Sarah and James have?”

    Lol forever at Sweeney actually making the mp3. You ladies are the best.

  • darkalter2000

    Why did the evil spirit speak English? Why?

    • Polge Clément

      It’s the TARDIS translation matrix. They should have tried speaking indian to him, see what would happen.

      • Melbourne on my Mind


        • Jojo

          Because all evil spirits, demons, vamp and everything else speak English. Unless they don’t have a speaking part. Okay – maybe not all, but I can’t think of any who don’t except that one Fyarl. 😀

  • Danna

    Great reviews of Buffy and Angel, Lor! You make me laugh, and realize for the 100th time how much I love these shows. Even in spite of (and maybe because of) all the contrivances and the things that don’t make sense. Thanks to all 3 of you!

  • Jojo

    Rant on – **Xander counters that they are dealing with a vengeance demon and you
    don’t talk to those, you kill them. Of course Anya, resident vengeance
    demon, is none too pleased** Here is one of the major bones I have to pick with Xander. He’s constantly making comments about Spike being a mass murderer, and he is dating a woman who has a higher body count than Angel and Spike combined – and that just gives him major asshole points in my metaphorical book. Rant off.

    As for the rest – I really like this episode. It’s a nice little showcase for everyone – even Angel. Love the “Little Match Girl” Spike looking in on the holiday feast. Okay I could list every Spike line and movement as wonderful but I am so team Spike that it’s really disturbing. Just that Marsters brings up everyone in a scene. He just brings energy to any scene.

    Kirsti, I will tell you what my daughter said every time I complained about hospital scenes. “Mom (which you are not but she said it, not me.) You are watching a show about demons and vampires and portals and magic – you can accept all that and not the….(fill in blank)” Yeah – my daughter is skilled in handling mother rants.

    • SnazzyO

      Rant on – **Xander counters that they are dealing with a vengeance demon and you
      don’t talk to those, you kill them. Of course Anya, resident vengeance demon, is none too pleased** Here is one of the major bones I have to pick with Xander. He’s constantly making comments about Spike being a mass murderer, and he is dating a woman who has a higher body count than Angel and Spike combined – and that just gives him major asshole points
      in my metaphorical book. Rant off.

      **sass back mode on**
      1) The show is human biased. Anya is now human.
      2) Xander is desperate enough to establish a relationship with a woman who tortured men for a 1000 years and this issue is his hypocrisy?? Just sayin’, a total lack of self-preservation seems to be a bigger character flaw.
      3) Yes, Xander is a hypocrite. They all have their blind spots. Xander is anti-vampire. Fanwank is that when he made his statement in “The Harvest”, “I don’t like vampires. I’m gonna take a stand and say they’re not good.” that this was a permanent hatred (based on his best friend being vamp’d) and he never wavers from that position.
      4) I like Anya and I like Xanya so I’m glad he is dating her despite the hypocrisy because they are fun together.
      So, I accept your rant and say…I’m okay with it because she’s fun to have around. **sass back mode off**

      • Jojo

        Ranty sass)
        1. Yeah – they do play fast and loose with what Anya is. That is definitely Whedon. But going purely Watsonian, I don’t see how Anya is any more a human than..spoiler..okay..okay, I think she later shows that she is a vengeance demon who, through no choice of her own, lost her power/talisman. On the Doylist side – you could not be more right and correct! Even knowing that – total pet peeve.
        2) +1
        3) +1
        4) + many
        To very true – and 3 out of agreements. I concede your argument has great merit – but my personal peeve (the Watsonian) is deep and strong. I think it’s why I just can’t do Spander – although I can ship Spike with damn near anyone else. And I will even admit that on occasion there are signs of thawing and niceness,

        Yet peeve is not satisfied – peeve is is not a beast of logic. Peeve wants to be petted and cosseted.

        • Polge Clément

          I think the rationalization is actually that vampires, like Spike or Angel, just kill randomly and for fun, whereas Anya looked for scorned people, and she merely enacted what people asked of her.

          I also think it helps that we haven’t actually seen Anya do any wrong. Except, you know, that episode where the world was turned into a vampire fast food, but we don’t see her actively hurting someone. Angel was more or less well integrated before he started killing and torturing Buffy’s friend, wasn’t he ?

          But all in all, I agree with you. I think the issue was actually brought up at one point during the show, but it was never really treated as far as i remember.

          • Jojo

            Yeah – agree on that, but once a vamp is souled/chipped – no more danger. And I think that vengeance demon Anya would be very disappointed if she was told that her body count was smaller after 1,000 years.. It is also part of canon that her blow back was impressive – even totaling entire cities. The never hurting – or kinda pretty much – that is what sells it, and Whedon knew it would. No problem there. He sells every character in a different way.

            As for Angel – does canon not say it was Buffy who gave him his mission? So the century before was not really integrated, or at least not in that way. Actually the argument could be made that he is never really integrated (as a being) and the heavy brooding is part of that. He is both in and out as far as the group goes, but mostly they accept him for Buffy’s sake.

            In fact my only squick in this ep is the scene of Angel in the same house where he laid out dead Jenny on the bed, talking to the man he tortured. Logical – yeah. Ooky – mega.

          • Polge Clément

            For Angel, I actually meant integrated within the scooby gang 🙂

          • Jojo

            Yeah – I did realize that…after I wrote my reply. Ooops. 🙂

          • SnazzyO

            In fact my only squick in this ep is the scene of Angel in the same
            house where he laid out dead Jenny on the bed, talking to the man he
            tortured. Logical – yeah. Ooky – mega.

            Totally icky. Although Giles did have that time in S3 when he held Angel at crossbow before inviting him in for the first time and admonished him for being so careless with his soul. Not as damning as it could be but I guess Giles is a forgiving guy I guess.

            Did anyone else notice that the old water heater in Giles’ kitchen is now a fridge this season? Just me then.

        • SnazzyO

          Let me pet you peeve and say peeve seems to be to be a good beast with his own internal logic which is NOT troll logic and thus in peeve’s favor. Does your peeve eat chocolate and can it be bribed? Also, I wish I had gif skills cause I think your peeve deserves a gif. –maybe a hippogriff? Would a ferret work? J/K. I bow to your peeve and say “good peeve” while backing away slowly. 🙂

          • Jojo

            You are clearly someone who has great experience taking good care of peeves. My peeve does like chocolate, but if given any it bounces around and draws on the inside of my brain. My peeve would love a gif, but I suspect my brain would be overloaded by one – like the sound of a nursery rhyme bouncing around until you beg for mercy. My peeve purrs at you and rubs against your hand – but it’s teeth and claws come out only after you have moved away. I bow to your peeve wisdom!

  • SnazzyO

    This is one of my favorite episodes and you’ve made an mp3 of a season highlight! Thanks.

    I think Buffy’s commitment to Thanksgiving dinner was compensating for Slayer uncertainty over the “issue before the court”. Plus she’s a little clingy to comfort right now as Mom is out of town and she needs homey home time. Finally, I think Spike sits at the table because she’s in an odd Thanksgiving mood. It also provides Spike smirk opportunity on the fade to black.

    I feel one more Spike quote should be added to the list of most memorable : “That’s what conquering nations do. It’s what caesar did, and he’s not going around saying, “I came, I conquered, I felt really
    bad about it.”

    It’s the doofus voice that sells it.

    Also:”ritual sacrifice with pie” is now part of my lexicon

  • Melodie Hatley

    I just want to comment and say that when I make mashed potatoes, I put heavy cream in it. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing? It just makes the potatoes smooth and creamy and delicious.

  • Angi Black

    This was the episode that I first thought, Please let Buffy and Spike hook up. I remember vividly thinking it, funny enough, on the bear line. That bear line is so perfect i just…I can’t even deal. I’m so excited the MP3 is in the comments.

    I think this episode was just to show that your family is who you choose and who’s there for you (Giles, Scoobs, Angel and even Spike) and not just family because of blood (Joyce and Buffy’s father).

    The line “Home is where they have to take you in” sets up that Buffy’s true home is with Giles and the Scoobs, not her mother. and Also that Spike has a home with the gang, which he hasn’t really had before.
    This is one of those episodes where Whedon tries to tell us something deep but contrivance overshadows it. So then he makes it funny. Like say for instance, wiping out indigenous people for your own gain. (Hi Indians! We’re home!)
    Anywho, my favorite part of Angel being in this episode is that is he is on the outside (read: useless) now and Buffy can make it without him. it gives me Team BAMF Buffy feels. Also – that everyone automatically assumes he’s evil. It makes me laugh every time I watch this one.

  • Isa Menzies

    Yes, Museum Curator Kirsti, Museum Curator me was right there with you on the no gloves, single-handed-touching-while-on-the-phone thing!

    The way I see it, you can suspend disbelief and allow yourself to believe in vampires (though not if they sparkle), demons and werewolves, as long as everything else is believable. As soon as they hit a wrong note the suspended disbelief comes crashing down, and it’s pretty much all over with bar the snarking.

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  • I wonder if anyone remembers Giles’ description of How The World Began from “The Harvest” back in the first season:

    “This world is older than any of you know, and
    contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin
    as a paradise. For untold eons, Demons walked the
    earth; made it their home… their Hell.

    In time they lost their purchase on this reality,
    and the way was made for the mortal animals. For
    Man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges:
    Certain magicks, certain creatures…”

    Isn’t it interesting that they take Spike in on Thanksgiving Day–given that demons are actually the indigenous inhabitants of this reality–and leave him unfed and tied to a chair while they scramble to come up with some way to atone for centuries old injustices to a vengeance spirit who is actively trying to kill them?

    As usual, though, Spike has it right. “You exterminated his race. What could you possibly say that would make him feel better?”

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