Once Upon a Time 1.2 – The Thing You Love Most

So.

I’m going to be changing the format of these a little bit, just to be able to keep up with them.  I’m going to assume that if you’re here you’ve watched the show, so I don’t need to provide a whole run down of the action.  I also watch ahead, partly from curiosity, partly because I hate writing about something and not knowing what’s going on.  There’s still a lot of that, but whatever.  That brings me to the point, that I’m so not an expert on this show.  I do this shit for fun!  I just enjoy writing about things I like!  I procrastinate and have no timetable of when I can squeeze one of these in, so you’ll probably end up hating me through the course of this.

I enjoy talking about the series I watch with other people that watch them, so if you have something you want to add, by all means, go for it!  I’m not worried about spoilers, either way, I plan on watching all the way through.

With all that said, I’ll also add that I wrote a huge nearly 5000 word post for this episode yesterday, but I am very stupid and closed the browser without saving the fucking draft.  The rage I felt.  There are no words.  Literally.

So here goes, the remix of my blog about Season 1 Episode 2 of Once Upon a Time.  This one’s titled The Thing You Love Most and it originally aired October 30, 2011.  Available on Netflix, my platform of choice.  Cheers!


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Every title screen of this show has something different about it, and in this one, there is a unicorn running through the trees.  I’ll keep an eye on these as we go, they’re fun, sort of like the Simpsons couch gag.

The episode opens with everyone noticing the clock is finally moving.  I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all, even if there were a mad scientist dangling from one of the arms.  I’m pretty unobservant like that.  Henry as ripped the last few pages from his book, the ones showing where Emma the baby was saved, I’m presuming.  His mother, for all that she’s trying to convince Henry that these things aren’t true, pays a lot of attention to his book and the things that are missing from it.

Regina arrives on Emma’s doorstep and brings her a basket of apples from her orchard, really playing up to the stereotype of Evil Witch.  There is a huge scene of a lady pissing contest and she makes it clear that she doesn’t want Emma in her town anymore.

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The fact that she states that she has Henry in therapy seems like something Regina would do.  Kids know when an adult is being insincere, and Regina seems like she’d be a cold lady.  No, she probably wouldn’t try to help Henry though his problems, she would be the parent that stuck him in therapy and let him sort out his issues there, never realizing that she’s the actual problem.  Emma proves to be the exact opposite, wanting to stay and help Henry in a tangible way, knowing that she can’t leave until she knows that he is alright.  Regina collects people as things, and there are so many examples of this throughout the story, it’s fun to add them all up.  Henry is a thing to her.  Maybe a symbol of the happy life she wanted to have.  I’ll have to think more on it before I’d make that a definite statement.

Meanwhile, in Fairy Tale, the Queen is talking about how she’s going to curse everyone and Charming throws his dagger at her and is super dramatic.  The Queen leaves and heads home to be offered a drink by an old man with which she has a certain familiarity with.  She pauses for a moment to thank him, and it’s clear that he’s something more than a servant.  She talks about the dark curse and both the servant and her mirror tell her that she shouldn’t do it.

She goes to the Forbidden Fortress and finds her friend Maleficent.  There is definitely a Kill Bill vibe between the two of them and I love it.

“If you’re going to kill me, kill me.”

“Why would I do that?  You’re my only friend.”

I love this relationship and I hope they go into it a little more.  The parallel between the two women is outlined.  Maleficent had her own happy ending stole by Sleeping Beauty.  I’m sure there are more jilted queens out there, but these two know each other, know their motivations and know just how evil the other one is.  But there’s a sense of choice there.  Maleficent had the curse, presumably for a while, but never chose to use it.  Instead, she chose a different path, got a unicorn and kept the curse in a crystal, protecting it.  Maybe she underestimated how evil her friend was.  Maybe Maleficent isn’t all that evil.  I don’t know what to think on it, there’s not a lot given to go on.

BFFS4LYFE
BFFS4LYFE

Maleficent warns her not to do the spell.

Cut to Queen doing the spell.

What an ass.

She gets all the crap together that she’s going to need, nasty weave and heart of a dead horse, dumps it in.

It’s s dud!  The gnome laughing was a fun bit of comedy and he’s right there in Storybrooke.  There’s a lot of tangible things that get brought from the other side to Storybrooke, and like the title scene, it’s fun to pick them out as you go.  I’m sure there’s other websites that have all of them listed, but like I’ve said, I’m unobservant most of the time, and I’ll probably miss a lot of them.

Sidney runs the paper in Storybrooke, The Daily Mirror and was tasked by Regina to gather as much dirt on Emma as he could find.  He’s got nothing on her.  Here’s another example of Regina treating people like possessions.  She tells him if he continues to find nothing, she’s going to discard him like trash.  She’s pretty awful.  This is all character building, and it’s plainly doing it’s job.  Regina can’t convince her to leave, so she’s setting the stage to turn people against Emma.

In the coffee shop, Emma has a total foot in mouth moment when she accuses the Sheriff of flirting with her.  Let’s face it, Emma is a hot blonde chick who probably gets hit on a lot.  For her to read it that wrong was pretty funny to watch.  Turns out it was little smart ass Henry who, though adorable, I flip flop about.

“Don’t you have school?”

“Duh, I’m 10, walk me.”

My mom would have slapped the shit out of me.  I do like the fact that they have this completely informal relationship.  I like the scenes that they have together.  I appreciate the adult and child duality, that she sometimes had to explain to him that some things are impossible, though he sometimes counters her with impossible shit.  Sometimes they portray him as a very intelligent child and sometimes they portray him as a very childish young man.  I think that if he gets older (is that going to happen now that he’s in Storybrooke?), it’s going to be harder to keep it up.

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Henry explains to her the premise of Operation Cobra.  No one in the town is aware that they have pasts in Fairy Tale.  They have to figure out who everyone is.  Their advantage is that Regina doesn’t know that they know (but she knows about the book?!), but she hasn’t seen the missing pages of the book and she doesn’t know that Emma is the child that got away.

I get it.  I do.  It’s bare bones.  But do they want to break the curse?  Are people who have better lives in Storybrooke going to want the curse broken?  Can anyone really do better in Storybrooke?

Mary Margaret reveals that Henry thinks she’s Snow White and Emma is sort of dumbfounded.  If Henry is right, then she has met her birth mother for the first time.  Emma just tells her she isn’t in the book.  Why didn’t she tell her that she was in the book?  What harm would it have done?  There’s two options that I can think of off the top of my head.  She doesn’t believe Henry or she does.  She might not even know at this point.  If she thinks it’s not true, telling Mary Margaret would just be weird and seem like she was trying to fill a gap in her life that she desperately needs.  Or she does believe him and thinks that if Mary Margaret had the information, she could be in danger, it’s best for the least amount of people to know at this point.

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Emma shows up at the doctor’s office.  Now, as an adult who lived outside, she must have known going there wasn’t going to get her shit.  No doctor is going to tell a complete stranger anything.  It was going to be a no from the time she wakled in the door.  The fact that Hopper did engage her in conversation about a minor that she is not the guardian of should have told Emma that something was up.

Emma was pretty stupid in this part of the story.  She gets Henry’s file and goes home to spread it out all over her bed.  Why wouldn’t you hide it away and read it in secret, knowing that Hopper could probably get fired for giving it to you in the first damn place?  Instead, she’s sloppy with it when the Sheriff shows up to arrest her.  It was a trap that she walked right into.

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Duh, Regina was behind it.  And of course, Regina has to go and interrupt class to tell Henry what a dirt bag his biological mother is.  What a fucking gem she is.  That kid if going to need a lot more than Mr. Hopper’s therapy to get through what this broad is putting him through.

Emma figures out that the police and most of the town are being controlled by Regina, but duh, she should have known that before then.  Mary Margaret and Henry show up to bail Emma out (seriously, Regina never has a clue where her kid is).  Emma leaves and goes all Texas Chainsaw on Regina’s apple trees.

This Betch.
This Betch.

Why?  Why throw down the gauntlet to a woman that has serious connections in this town?  It’s the one impulsive thing that Emma does that has the most dramatic effect, I get that.  They’re both slowly upping the ante.  This is a crescendo that goes on through the whole episode, the tit for tat makes for good viewing, don’t get me wrong.  Shouldn’t Emma be downplaying her role in the town to try to learn more?  And way to shit all over Mary Margaret who probably wouldn’t approve of you chainsawing the shit out of some tress while she posted bail.

Regina is furious, but when you run as a dictator, and profile blonde chicks, you better count on some criminal mischief.  I know, I’ve been there.  But anyway, is this the felony?  Because Storybrooke’s legal system is a little fucked up then.  Please inform me.  She’s got a suspected DUI, trashing the sign would be property damage, stealing the files wouldn’t have been a felony and criminal mischief and destruction of city property was a charge that the Sheriff talked Regina out of.  It’s all a bit unclear.  Maybe it’s just needing to have that point where she becomes homeless in a town she doesn’t want to leave, making her move in with Mary Margaret.  It just had to happen, proving that even Granny has to answer to the Mayor?  Because no bed and breakfast I’ve ever stayed at had a no felons clause.  It’s a bit of a reach.

The Sheriff warns the Queen about revenge and how she and Emma could go head to head, but the only one that was going to get hurt was Henry.

So Regina does exactly that, hurts Henry to get him to turn on Emma.  What a bitch.

In Fairy Tale, the Queen goes to Rumpelstiltskin to find out what she did wrong that the curse wouldn’t work.  It’s revealed that she should have used the heart of the one she loved the most.  Of course a horse wasn’t gong to cut it.  She’s no Kahleesi.  So she goes home to what turns out to be her father.  She gets the choice right there.  Again.  Maleficent told her that she could go a different path, chose to do something else than follow what her father calls a lonely road that she can’t turn back from.  But that bitch as already halfway around the vengeance block and she kills her dad and takes his heart, making the curse work.  That was the thing that happened to make her the way she is now.

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There is a defining moment here in the Queen’s life.  She is under the impression that love detracts from power, you can’t have them both.  Giving in to love would forfeit all of the power she had amassed until then.  And to keep gaining power and revenge she does have to give up all that she has left to love.  It is completely black and white to her.  It’s obvious what choice she takes.  Maleficent took the other way, letting it go, getting a pet and moving on with her life.

In the conversation with Rumpelstiltskin, there was a lot going on.  The Queen figures out what she needed for the curse, and gets her answer.  She finds out that Snow White and Charming had already been there, that their child would be the one to break the curse.  Now, at this point, Regina PROBABLY remembers what happened in Fairy Tale.  It’s not definitely said.  So, if that’s the case, then she has to know that the child could break the curse, and at the end of the episode Mr. Gold shows up just says all cryptic like, she’s exactly who Regina thinks she is.  Gold also was also in on the deal that got her Henry.  I don’t understand how the Queen would get this ultimate unhappy curse from a guy like Rumpelstiltskin and not think that he was going to make a loophole for himself.  There’s no way he’s going to make a curse that wipes his own memory.  Too many people owe him too much.

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So why did he let her do the curse in the first place?  Sure, comfort, not being in jail.  Is that why he’s protecting Emma in the vague way that he is at the end of the episode?

Emma manages to make it right with Henry with the help of Hopper (who caved under just a look from Emma, Regina picked the wrong lackey).  Operation Cobra is back on.  Which is really just them doing what they’ve been doing and trying to keep it more of a secret from Regina than they have been I guess?  Though he’s walking down Main Street with Emma on his way home from therapy.  Where the hell is Regina?!

I think it’s cool that Henry is named after the Queen’s father.  Maybe there is a piece of her that is a bit sentimental about the things she had to give up to get where she is.  Maybe she’s trying to replace the thing she loves the most with Henry 2.0.  Not sure yet, because that one beat of sentiment is hard to take after an episode of absolute bitchery.

Gold uses the ‘please clause’ he worked out with the Queen, to keep her from asking more questions about Emma.  Why is he letting her have total control over the town if he can do whatever he wants with a simple ‘please’?  I don’t get it and I can’t wait to see where the thread goes.

All in all, I thought it was a great episode.  A lot of plot building going on, more discovery of who’s who.  On a complete technical note, I fucking love the sets they use, they’re all pretty striking.  Also, the wardrobes for Emma and the Evil Queen are fucking amazing.

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I’m pretty excited for the next episode, a few things I want to see elaborated on are:

  • The tie between Henry/Henry
  • Mr. Gold knowing about Fairy Tale
  • The Queen’s curse unraveling
  • What role Emma is going to play in all of it

Just for reference, here are the characters that have been figured out:

  • Evil Queen / Regina
  • Rumpelstiltskin / Mr. Gold
  • Snow White / Mary Margaret
  • Henry?!?!
  • Granny / Granny
  • Red Riding Hood / Ruby (Not explained, but totally obvious
  • ??? / The Sheriff
  • Jiminy Cricket / Archie Hopper

If there’s any that I forgot (probably), let me know and I’ll add then to the list.

See you on the next episode, Snow Falls!  Cheers!

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Once Upon a Time 1.1

Once Upon a Time

Season 1 – Episode 1

Pilot

“There was an enchanted forest filled with all the classic characters we know. Or think we know. One day they found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen. Our World. This is how it happened…”

– Once Upon a Time Transcript

Eh, I might drop a few spoilers, but I’ve never watched this before, so heyo, there’s the warning.

I’ve always meant to watch this series when it started up on tv, but I never got around to it. I started it up a few days ago and have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far, so I’m going to go ahead and start up a series blog about it.  So let’s get into it.

I absolutely love the theme of revamped fairy tales.  Love it.  And done unconventionally, that makes me even happier.  This series aired October 23, 2011.  It was running in a pack of a few established paranormal/fantasy shows, though it isn’t comparable to them.  Examples are Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Whitechapel, Grimm and Being Human are a few that I recognized from the list.  I’m pretty sure I passed it up for zombies.  Sorry OUaT!

Well.  Here we go.

Shit is all backwards.

Basically, the Evil Queen is having a bitch moment and decides to set a Curse on everyone.  A dark curse.  The scene opens in Fairy Tale Land in what we find out is the Past.  It’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, waiting around fro Prince Charming to show up and save her.  There’s a sweet beat where she was concerned he wasn’t going to get there in time.  Scene splits to their wedding, true love and all that fun stuff.

As with most fairy tales, the Queen shows up in some awesome black ensemble, positively sliding down the aisle to meet with them, a fun little bit of camera play.  Snow White declares she’s no longer the Queen, just an Evil Witch, drawing a sword on her.  Charming takes the blade from her and the Queen tells them that she has a gift for them.  Peace on their wedding day and then she was going to put the whammy on the town with an evil curse that would steal everyone’s happiness away from them.

Prince Charming has had his fill and he throws the sword at her, but she turns to smoke and is gone.

As far as openings go, this is a pretty good one.  It’s familiar enough for us to fill in the exposition that isn’t there, and we get a strong impression of who the protagonist and antagonist are, though there is a shift throughout the series as far as this goes.  I’m not that far in, but the antagonist is clear as day.

The Queen has a complex that we already know.  She’s owed.  Her life that she was supposed to have was taken from her and she is going to be alone.  That aloneness scares her and she’s not having any of it.  If she’s going to be miserable, everyone is going to be miserable with her.

The scene after that pans out to a story book.

We then meet Henry in modern day Boston.  He’s taking a bus and then transfers to a cab.  He’s an able bodied kid, self sufficient and cognizant.  He’s making choices and has made what seems to be a pretty significant voyage to get to Boston all on his own.  He’s 10!  Way to go kid.

They drop that thread and take us to meet Emma.  She’s on a first date and it seems like they’re hitting it off.  She’s a lonely blonde and he’s obviously attracted to her.  I love when writers do this flop of character.  Depicting them in one way and then turning it completely around under some sort of guise.  She’s faking their first date garbage and reveals that she’s actually a bail bondsman, not a profession taken up by women, mostly.  I love everything about it.  She’s badass.  I don’t just have a thing for strong blondes, I’m my own strong blonde, but it seems like a character you’re either going to love or hate.  Emma quickly became one of my favorites in this series.  She’s walking a tightrope with the situations she’s going to be put in and she takes up the challenge while still keeping it real enough that we empathize with her.  We can actually relate to her.  I get it.

When we cut back to Emma’s place and she’s blowing out the candle, the wish is an important scene.  In series like these, nothing is taken lightly and her wish, though not explained has to have some meaning.  There’s no way that making such a point of the birthday and the cupcake was included without some payoff.  We’ll come back to that later.

Henry shows up at her door and drops the whammy on her that he’s her son that she gave up for adoption 10 years ago.  The handling of this situation, I’m so happy with it.  My daughter and I watched it together, and while she got the impression that they were cold and unfeeling, I got the beat completely.  I’m adopted and if I was put in the situation where I had to meet someone like that for the first time, I’m not sure how I would handle it.  I’m not an emotional person for the most part, and I don’t think I could find tears and hysterics for someone I hadn’t seen for that long, and Henry, man, that kid has a task for them to work on, and he’s focused as fuck.  I think it came off as very authentic.

Moving past that, he extorts her to giving him a ride back to Storybrooke, the place where he has since grown up with his adoptive mother.  Insert evil laughter here.

Cut to Snow trying to convince Charming that they should go see “him”.  Charming’s against it, but Snow says he can see the future.  She’s still worried about the curse, but they’re about to have a baby.  We start to see a little edge to Snow that we didn’t see before and wouldn’t commonly associate with her character right out of the books.

Cut back to Henry and Emma, he’s giving her the run down on the fairy tales and tells her that she’s part of the story.  She’s playing along with him, just trying to get him home.  Henry is convinced she is going to fix his problems.

Let me stop here and get into the mechanics of being an adopted kid.  It’s hard.  It fucking sucks.  You want to believe with everything you have that the parent that gave you away is a great person, because thinking about the opposite kills something inside of you.  My son doesn’t have a relationship with his father, and it hurts me to see him going through the same thing I did when I was his age.  I totally feel for Emma in these moments with Henry because she knows.  She understands more about the situation than anyone understands.  This is the personal empathy that drags me into a show.

Snow White has managed to get Prince Charming to go see “him”.  Rumpelstiltskin.  He’s a gross little man.  She wants to know about the Queens threat, but of course, there’s a price.  He wants the name of the unborn baby.

 Ah. The Queen has created a powerful curse. And it’s coming. Soon you’ll all be in a prison, just like me, only worse! Your prison–all of our prisons—will be time. And time will stop. And we will be trapped, someplace horrible, where everything we hold dear, everything we love will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity, while the Queen celebrates, victorious at last! …No more happy endings.

So there it is.  The parallel to what Henry is trying to tell Emma.  Rumpelstiltskin tells her that the baby she’s carrying, Emma, is going to be the thing that can save them all.

Emma arrives in Storybrooke with Henry and he lets her know that time has been frozen, the evil queen did it.  We meet Archie, walking his dog, Pongo.  He lets her know Henry stays in the Mayor’s house, and where to find it.  We figure out the Henry has been seeing him for a while, telling him about the stories as well.  Henry reveals that everyone has a character, but they don’t remember who they’re supposed to be.

Cut back to Fairy Tale, and the round table is debating how to deal with the curse and whether or not they can trust what Rumple has told them.  The Blue Fairy gives them a choice, there is one tree that Geppetto can carve into a cabinet and they can save the baby.  It’s the only hope that they have.

Back in Storybrooke, Henry is reunited with Regina, his adoptive mother who makes it very clear to Emma that she has no place in Henry’s life.  The adoption was sealed and she was not welcome in Storybrooke.  She gives Emma a drink and sends her on her way.  We find out that Regina has no idea about the fairy tale book.  It’s becoming pretty clear that she has no idea what Henry is up to when she’s not with him.  Which is pretty often.

Cutting back, Snow and Charming are waiting for the cabinet to be finished, but Snow goes into labor.  Cabinet is finished, curse is starting, and there’s a horrible scene when Snow has to hand her baby over to Charming and he has a sword battle getting the baby to the cabinet.  Not horrible in the sense of bad acting, but horrible in the sense that she had to let her baby go.  I’m not a huge fan of Charming at this point, but e is a total badass daddy and gets her to the cabinet and is fatally wounded.

Emma wakes up in a jail cell.  She’s crashed into the Storybrooke sign on her way out of town.  The sheriff thinks she was drunk, so he put her in lockup with a familiar Leroy.  Henry has run off again, but this time Emma has a great alibi and Regina is forced to think about the fact that Henry is doing some of these things on his own.  We figure out that he’s been using the internet to figure out who Emma was and using someone’s credit card.

We get introduced to Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow, with adorable short hair, I love it).  She has such a sweet relationship with Henry.  She wasn’t aware that he was using her credit card (I don’t think, she seems like the lady that if you ask, she’d give it to you), and Emma finds out that she was the one who gave him the book.  She’s also the key to finding out where he went.

Emma: Oh, you wanna know what sucking is? Being left abandoned on the side of a freeway; my parents didn’t even bother to drop me off at a hospital! (Begins to break down) I ended up in a foster system and I had a family until I was three but then they had their own kid so they sent me back… (Stops, collects self.) Look. Your mom is trying her best. I know it’s hard. And I know sometimes you think she doesn’t love you. But at least she wants you.

Gahd.  Remember when I said I wasn’t a super emotional person?  I fucking lied.

Meanwhile, Snow is cradling Charming who is not waking up.  The baby is gone, the cabinet seems to have worked, but the Evil Witch is laughing and the curse swirls into the room, turning everything into black dust.  They’re gone, to the place where the only happy ending will be hers.

Henry is back home with Regina again.  There’s an interchange with Emma and Regina that really ups the ante for the two women.

Regina: Miss Swan, you made a decision ten years ago. And in the last decade, while you’ve been—well, who knows that you’ve been doing—I’ve changed every diaper, soothed every fever, endured every tantrum. You may have given birth to him, but he is my son.
Emma: I was not–
Regina: No. You don’t get to speak—you don’t get to do anything. You gave up that right when you tossed him away. Do you know what a closed adoption is? It’s what you asked for. You have no legal right to Henry, and you’re gonna be held to that. So I suggest you get in your car, and you leave this town. Because if you don’t, I will destroy you if it is the last thing I do. Goodbye, Miss Swan.

I have to admit at this point, I’m not sure what Regina knows.  She maintains that she doesn’t understand why Henry is convinced that she’s en Evil Witch, other than the fact that she’s acting like a total bitch and probably has for his whole life.  Sure, being a single mom is hard, hell yeah it is.  Is it just personality?  I’m not sure at this point.

Emma knows what Henry has told her.  She’s trying hard to not think the kid is crazy, but she knows that something just isn’t right between him and his mom.  And she’s starting to feel a responsibility to that.  Now she needs to know that he’s going to be alright.  She’s getting pulled in, much to Henry’s hopeful delight, and Regina’s utter dismay.

There’s the total creepy scene with Regina with the book and the mirror.  Crazy.

Emma checks into Granny’s place where we meet Granny and Ruby (yay!) and she’s staying for a week.

The clock moves forward and Henry grins.


So many things I have to say about this opening episode.  I didn’t think this story was personally going to hit so close to home with me.  I genuinely do value that resonance in a story, and to be done in a serialized tv show, it’s a pretty good find.  I’m sure the story isn’t going to focus that much on those parts later, but they dragged me in.

I don’t have a whole lot of criticism for this plot so far.  I was pretty sure the breaks between Fairy Tale and Storybrooke were going to throw me off, and maybe I thought that because of the few episodes I’ve seen here and there.  I followed it pretty well, there were only a few times my daughter and I had to stop and pause it and figure it out.  But it was fun to do that.

I hate Rumple, but I think that’s par for the course.  Regina, there’s part of me that understands her, and that’s just being a human.  What person hasn’t looked at the things someone else has and wish they could have it?  Envy is a shitty emotion to live with, we’ve all been there.  But there’s trying to make yourself better and trying to take what’s not really yours.

Henry.  What a cool little kid.  And to have Mary Margaret there to understand him, you just know she would have made an amazing mother if she had been given the chance.  She’s sweet and understanding, even when things get difficult.  She’s a gem to Emma as well, and it’s pretty awesome to see them building a relationship.

I’m looking forward to diving into the next episode of this series, and seasons to come.  I welcome any feedback, thanks for reading.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 – Episode 1

Welcome to the Hellmouth

 

“When teen vampire slayer Buffy tries to start a new life at Sunnydale High, she discovers that the school sits atop a demonic dimensional portal.”

Netflix Blurb

I’ll probably spoiler all over the place, so sorry in advance.  

I debated about whether to start with the movie.  I really did.  I was one of the few people that probably actually liked the movie when it came out.  I was 10 years old, there’s my age.  It was one of the first movies that I remember seeing and thinking, oh, this chick is pretty awesome.  10 year old me even thought her wardrobe was so badass.  Mind you, I loved the movie Tank Girl as well (still do).  So I really debated.

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I’m pissed Paul Reubens isn’t on this poster.

I decided not to include the movie in this blog in the end.  I feel that it wasn’t linked to canon, it was basically an idea that Joss Whedon had and later was presented with the medium in which it really worked for him, which is serialized television.  And since the premise of this blog is going to be predominately series type stuff, I left it off the roster.  I may, during the course of the blog, bring up similarities, but as of now, I have no plans to do a post on it.  But do know that I loved it.

I also decided against doing a review of the unaired pilot episode which you can still find on YouTube.  They’re beat by beat so similar that I felt it would have been redundant to do a whole separate post for both episodes.  I love the fact that they chose Rancid’s song Salvation for the opening, it fit with my whole late ninties punk bullshit I had going on at the time.  I am ultimately glad they chose Alyson Hannigan as the current Willow, though, the other actor was lovely.  That’s really the only difference that I can remember off the top of my head.

willow
Willow, we hardly knew ye.

So here we go with the meat of the story.

The opening of the show starts with a voice over, giving a tiny bit of exposition about the Slayer and the role she plays.  If you’re familiar with this story, you know, “Into every generation a Slayer is born…”

It sets the viewer up for what they should expect without giving away too much.  It gives the premise for the Slayer, explains that she alone will stand against the vampires and demons and the forces of darkness.  I want to take a minute to focus on that, because it does become a reoccuring theme throughout the series.  Buffy is always alone, even for as many people as she has around her.  This is something she has to do alone.  That’s what being a Slayer has always meant, so much that this has become the mantra.  And this is the very first line of the show.

The pre-credit opening starts at Sunnydale High after dark.  Shadows, the whole creepy ambiance set just right.  A girl and a boy are breaking into the school, presumably looking for some place to make out without being disturbed.  She asks if he had gone to school there, he says he used to, leads her farther in.  She’s nervous, thinking someone else is there, and he reassures her that there’s not.

This is where Whedon takes the mickey and turns the girl (holy shit, it’s Darla?!) around in full vamp face to attack the guy.  That’s when you know that this isn’t going to be your average vampire story, and maybe you start to develop a tiny little crush on JW.

There’s not many stories written where the girl gets to be the villain.  And we totally fall for it.  If you’re admitting you didn’t fall for it the very first time you saw it, I’m calling bullshit and buying the next round.  It was innovative at the time!

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Shit, try living on the Hellmouth…

Ally McBeal, Dharma and Greg.  These were the shows that debuted the same year as Buffy. And browsing through the list, I didn’t see anything other than these that came close to showing a strong female lead.  I didn’t watch all of them, by that time I was a sophomore in high school myself and trying to maintain a social life and school and killing my own vampires, just kidding.

Anyway, back to the point.  JW takes the stereotype of this little blonde, sneaking in to the school with her boyfriend, plays up the scared girl card and when the audience least expects it, flips the ace over, changes everything we thought we knew and switches to opening credits so fast, we’re still left wondering what the fuck just happened.

Grr Arghh
Grr Arghh

Hell yes.  This is the attention grabber that this series needed.  I loved it.  I don’t care that it was cheesy and stereotypical for everything else.  I fucking loved it.

Credits roll, opens on Buffy having one of her Slayer dreams.  Blood, cemeteries, the Master, the book, the necklace, vampires.  A lot of these things don’t really mean anything to the viewer at this point, but it sets up some awesome foreshadowing.  The dark dreams against a blonde chick in immaculate white bed sheets serves the purpose.  Complete with a total mundane mom wake up call from downstairs.

Buffy makes it to her first day, gets a pep-talk from her mom in the car, assures her she’ll try not to get kicked out.

We meet Xander.  A pretty terrible skateboarder, who we never really see skateboard much after this episode.  We learn he’s terrible at Math.  Willow, who we learn already is smart, and also has a nice history with Xander by the way they talk.

“The library.  Where the books live.”  Willow is adorable.

Hey gurl..
Hey gurl..

Also meet Jesse, much machoing happens between Xander and Jesse and Willow just seems to be along for the ride.  Specualtion on what the sitch is with the new hottie.  Jesse is a ‘font of nothing’ as far as information goes.  They all head off to class.

All I know's that I don't know nothin.
All I know’s that I don’t know nothin.

Scene changes to Buffy sitting in the Principal’s office where he is assuring her that her past is in her past, tears up her record and promptly starts taping it back together as he still assures her that she has a place at Sunnydale.

Leaving her meeting, she has a spazz moment and drops her bag, leaving a smooth transition for Xander’s awkward introduction, but all that aside, he tries to get her attention to tell her she forgot her stake, and waves it awkwardly in the air.  I absolutely love teenage overexagerated awkwardness.  I always think it’s sweet and the writers seem to have nailed this conversation perfectly.  It’s like Xander can tell he’s talking social gibberish, but just can’t stop himself.  This is one of my favorite main charachters meeting scenes.

Switch to History class, where they’re diving right in on the first day talking about the Black Plague.  We meet Cordelia for the first time, a pan past er desk where she’s taking some very serious notes.  Buffy has no textbook yet, so Cordelia leans over and lets her share, introducing herself after class.  She offers to walk Buffy to the library to pick up some of the books she needs, and as we all guessed, she’s going to guage her coolness with some 20 questions on the way there.

The social food chain is established as they walk.  Cordelia makes it a point to stop and poke fun at Willow’s wardrobe, as Buffy looks on concerned.  Willow defends herself saying her mother picked it out, but it probably making the situation worse.  Cordelia is harsh and blunt and the type of girl I would go out of my way to fuck with in high school.  Seeing this now as an adult and having a daughter that is more Willow than any of the others, I’m going to try not to hate her.  I’m going to be objective.  But Cordelia is pretty rude in this scene, and I’m not sure if it’s just to make a point to Buffy or if this is just how she really is.

We’re also introduced to the Bronze in this hallway scene.  The bad ass nightclub that is in a shitty industrial park and losers and jocks are all welcome.  Cordelia invites Buffy.

I’m going to focus on the first cut into the library, because for the next three seasons, we’re going to be spending a lot of time there.  A.  Lot.  Of.  Time.

Ain't got no textbooks here.
Ain’t got no textbooks here.

The set design for this room was amazing.  Let me start with that.  This had to be a functional room for a lot of scenes that were to come, not only this season but for the who knows what of seasons to follow.  It had to be the place on neutral grounds where Buffy and Giles could meet regularly, because lets face it, creepy old man following you around is just that, creepy.  This had to be a place where they could get a lot of research done, barricade the doors when they had to, store weapons and still function as a high school library.

Also.  One giant ass Dell.  Floppy drives.  Jesus.

Buffy gets a glimpse of a newspaper, circled in red about some missing boys, but Giles is there, plops the giant ass vampire handbook down in front of her, scares her the fuck off and she bolts.

Knowledge is power!
Knowledge is power!

Cut to the girls in the locker room, gossiping about Buffy and dead guy totally falls out of the lockers onto the stupid gossipy girls.  Much screaming.

Meanwhile, Buffy makes nice with Willow and proves she’s not the girl Cordelia wants her to be, arranges to start studying with her.  Xander and Jesse plop into the conversation and here is the core of main characters for the first time all together.  Complete when Cordelia shows up to snark and drops the news about the dead guy.  Buffy gets super creepy, asking a lot of questions and she suspiciously runs off to investigate.  No tact, come on girl!

Why the hell is the kid on the floor in the locker room, no cops, covered with an old blanket?!  I think they’d evacuate our school or something.  But I also went to very public school, and as I thought about this, they probably wouldn’t.

There’s a lot of sucking talking going on in the library.

giles
Get your ass back in here.

Giles gives Buffy her Slayer speech blah blah blah.  Buffy rolls it off.  Giles gives her the lowdown on the Hellmouth, letting her know that it’s just starting, shit is going to get weird.  She tells him go to kill the vampires himself, but he maintains that he’s just the Watcher.  She gives him a solid dose of reality, that this life isn’t as simple as he’s making it out to be, she’s gotten kicked out of school, lost her friends, had to move.

But shit, Xander hears the whole convo from the upstairs stacks in the library.  He knows!  Paired with the stake, it makes sense, but no sense to him.

Chew on that for a while as the camera pans down below the school, lots of dirt and candles and whatnot.  Ugly ass vampire chanting “The sleeper will wake, the sleeper will wake, the sleeper will wake.  And the world will bleed.”  That’s a real nice pool of blood, nutter.

Switch to Buffy holding dressed up.  Black patent leather?  Um girl.  Nice little patch of slut shaming.  Shut up, Buffy.

I maybe get a little annoyed with her at this point, I’m sorry, but I kind of do.  She’s just started a new school.  After burning down the gym at her old school.  I’m pretty sure her mother blames it on all those things a mom would blame her kid’s bad behavior on.  Drugs, bad choice of friends.  Whatever.  So anyway, if I had told my mother I was going to a CLUB on the first day at a new school after all that, she would have locked me in my room to rot for the rest of the year.  I remember little kid me wincing when I heard this.  And I was a shitty little punk kid who actually went to clubs!  You just didn’t tell your mom that’s where you were going.

“Will there be boys there?”  *facepalm*

We learn that Buffy’s mom is pretty laid back with the parenting stuff, but she really thinks it could work there.  She’s getting a gallery started and both she and Buffy are optimistic.  Buffy’s mom starts a lot of Sentences with “I’m or Me”, it gets annoying.

Cut to Buffy walking down the dark street with flooding pants and a weird blue button down shirt thrown over the undershirt she was wearing in the last scene.  I don’t believe that she used to be good at this…

Mystery feet behind hers!  Angel is totally here!

Dreamboat...
Dreamboat…

So let me stop here and explain another reason why i might be obviously biased.  I used to be in love with a guy that looked and dressed and acted pretty much the same way Angel does.  Over 15 years later, I found out that he just got out of jail and has become a balding born again Christian, so the novelty has worn off.  But yeah, he looks just like him.  It makes me nostalgic in a never want to go there again sort of way.  Ugh, my life’s a mess, whatever.

Angel says he doesn’t bite, ha ha, see what happened there?  And what the fuck is that?  A velour jacket?!  He tells her that the Hellmouth is about to open.  Tells her about the harvest and gives her the silver cross necklace.  I love the lines that follow, that he’s a friend, but she doesn’t want any friends and he says that he’s not hers.  It’s an opposite contrast as to what we’re going to see later, so I think it adds to that element.  It’s not love at first sight, it’s not just an implied relationship.  It’s strange and they don’t know what to think of each other.  I like it.

Buffy finally makes it to the Bronze.  Jesus Christ, that band.  I love this show, and it seemed like they had a lot of music talent on this show, but there were few that stood out to me.  I mostly hated music from this time period.  Hated it.  Sprung Monkey is the name of the band, and they play themselves in this episode.  They are California classic surfer edge rock whatever.  They’re not something I would listen to, but they got picked up by a few movies and they do exactly what they’re supposed to do for the show here.  And they’re still at it, so give them a listen.

Buffy is wandering around looking for anyone she knows, and for a one starbucks town, there are a lot of people packed into this club.

Willow is at the bar eating a box of raisins.  Raisins.  Fuck yes.

She lets Buffy know that she gets super nervous around boys, she’s sitting there waiting for Xander to see if he’d show up.

So then Willow throws out the line “It’s probably really easy for you.”  In the context of dating.  It seemed kind of judgy the way she said it, and it definitely sounded off coming from her.  I don’t feel as Willow goes on that she would stereotype someone like that, and that quickly.  But it does give Buffy time to expo herself and explain why she hasn’t dated in a very long time.

She also gives Willow the carpe diem speech and spies the awkward librarian in the rafters.  She goes up to find him, how many floors does this place have?!  And where I thought it was going to e creepy, it was actually pretty funny to see Giles so out of his element.  Buffy tells him she knows about the Harvest and talked to his friend.  Giles is confused.  More serious banter and cut to Jesse asking Cordelia to dance.  And what the actual fuck is the little dance he does there??  It’s a no.

Jesse is so fucking awkward as a regular guy.  Prowling.  And it only gets worse.

Giles is talking her ear off about all the stuff she doesn’t know.  She calls him a walking textbook with arms.  He wants her to focus on her Slayer senses and see if she can spot any vampires.

Is this the first training session between Buffy and Giles?

Instead of relying on her senses as Giles asked her, she looks at the vampire’s piss poor fashion and spots him.  Then she realizes he’s chatting up Willow, who has decided to seize the moment at that moment.  Buffy follows them out.

She’s outside looking for Willow, accidentally nearly stakes Cordelia who handles it well, calling everyone she’s ever met to tell them the new girl is fucked in the head.

Hold the fuck on..
Hold the fuck on..

Jesse is chatting up Darla, who, on my jaunt through wikipedia, I found actually tried for the role of Buffy.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, the Master rises and says he’s weak, talks about the Harvest and how it’s going to free him from some force field that’s holding him underground.

My koolaid brings all the girls to the yard.
My koolaid brings all the girls to the yard.

So.  The vampire lured Willow out of the Bronze by telling her he was going to take her to the ice cream bar.  Fucking adorable.

Xander outs Buffy and lets her know he’s on to her secret.  They have to find Willow, who as now been led into the dark graveyard.  Her vampire throws her into a mausoleum, where Darla and Jesse show up.

Darla goes all vamp face on Willow, and 1997 CGI rears it’s equally ugly head.  We have a moment of Good Witty Blonde / Bad Witty Blonde and I am so glad they made the casting choices they did, Darla and Buffy are perfect.

Buffy stakes her first vampire, who turns to a convenient puff of dust.  Darla and Buffy square off and she’s all about to give the ‘I’m the Slayer’ Speech and the ugly ass chanting vampire Luke from earlier grabs her neck and says he doesn’t care.

They banter, fight.  What the hell is with the lighting in this whole scene?  He gets all ominous and expos her into the Master coming up.  Throws her into the coffin with the dead guy and leans in to bite her.  They end the episode with a cliff hanger.

Fuckers!
Fuckers!

I loved this show when it was on.  I never got to watch this season when it aired on television, a lot of the time, I had to record them and wait until weeks later to watch them.  So the cliffhanger at the end didn’t bother me like it would have if I had to wait a week before watching the next one.

Shows get cancelled for no reason all the time.  And such a new show, I would be so pissed if they had cancelled it after that.  But they didn’t.  So yay.

As far as cliff hangers go, I wasn’t all that impressed with this one.  I mean, the name of the show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so we know she’s not going to die, probably not going to get bitten, just scared straight or whatever.  We know Giles is already in the library looking at the research, we’re going to work through the harvest with him.

Why did it have to be Buffy in the coffin?  It made for drama, sure, but on thinking about it for a few moments, you can come to the conclusion that nothing is going to happen.  Why not put Willow in there?  We know she’s going to mean something to Buffy later, and if she tells Xander to get Jesse to safety, not wanting to leave Buffy behind, because she doesn’t know that Buffy can handle it on her own, it would build a little more character in Willow that we don’t get to see until later.  She’s not just a timid little thing, she’s strong under all that Willowness.

Joyce bothered me.  Maybe because I wish my ma was way more chill about me going out at that age.  Being a mom now, I’m like, damn Joyce, what the hell are you thinking?  I’ve had to move my kids before, and I’ve never looked them in the eye and made them think it was their fault.  The burdens I carry as a mother are mine alone to carry.  If my kids grow up and have the same problems, I’ll help them in anyway I can, share my experiences with them, but until that time, they’re kids.  They don’t need to feel like they’re a burden on me.  That’s bullshit.

Xander was a typical guy.  There’s some things about him that I hate.  He says things later without thinking.  He does things to hurt other people.  In the end, he turns out alright, I think, but the ease in which e accepted Buffy killing vampires was sort of hard to believe.

Willow still doesn’t know she’s a Slayer.  Or what a Slayer is.  Or really anything.

Cordelia thinks Buffy is a psycho.

Jesse thinks he has a bad hickey.

All in all, I liked this episode a lot.  JW has stricken the movie from canon, so this is the beginning of the story so far.  I think the characters were well cast, and after finding out all the choices that they were thinking of making, I feel that they went with the right ones.  I’m watching Dexter right now as well (blog to follow, perhaps) and seeing her all this time later just made me like her that much more.

I’m going to dedicate an entire chunk of this wrap up to Giles.  He nails every line, shows us how a flustered British guy would act under the circumstances, and pulls it out.  He has a creepy role to play in this episode, and he pulls off the beginning of that father figure thing he polishes in later episodes.  His character has the insurmountable task of convincing a teenage girl to take her job seriously.  I love everything about him, he lands this role, and does it well.

I wish that the ending had come off as strong as the beginning, if I have a problem with this episode, that’s the big one for me.  To have such a resonant beginning and an equally hollow cliff made me sort of angry and took some of the dramatic effect away from what they were aiming for.  I already know what’s going to happen in the next episode, so the anxiousness isn’t there.  I’m glad I don;t have to wait a week to see it wrapped.

The Master is a great villain, the makeup is hokeyyyy, yeah but everything in 1997 was!  I had a fucking pager.  Come on.  Dusting was meh, but it was something, and established that we weren’t going to have to spend the time until sunrise burying bodies.  So there’s that.  Darla’s face change was again, ’97 graphics.  But it was the timing that made it, we have to see that from Willow’s perspective to understand how terrifying and strange that must have been when she saw it.

Rating?

4 Stars

Just for the out of the gate different feel of the show to everything else that was on at the time.  The unconventional gender roles, paired with the stereotypical ones, set the stage for something that’s going to keep our attention for the rest of the season.  I’d recommend it to anyone.