Monday, October 3, 2011

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 2 - "Hello Cruel World" vs. "Beneath You"

This TV season we'll be comparing and contrasting the Season 7s of some of our favorite shows, Buffy & Supernatural, trying to answer the question: Is a Seventh Season a couple of seasons too many? See our scientific data below for some real-time answers.

Supernatural Episode #2 - "Hello Cruel World"
Episode Synopsis: Don't drink the water without boiling first or you might end up like all of the main characters on this series who either die, disappear or are badly injured by the end of this episode. Season 7 is seriously hard core, yo!

The Deets:
The ep starts off right where "Meet the New Boss" leaves off, which again, I love. If you remember, Leviathan/Cas had Dean and Bobby cornered, but his vessel isn't looking so hot so he has to TTFN. Since Cas is bleeding black ooze from pretty much everywhere, his inner Leviathans walk him right into the city's water reservoir, tainting the drinking supply and killing off Misha Collin's pretty face and body all in one shot. Boo. And oh! Now I see the connection to the new season titles! I like the black Leviathan goth ooze effect. After, the trench coat that Cas has been rocking since we met him washes ashore and Dean is sad. At this point I realize that the show is finding it's musical groove back. Season 6 deviated from it's Classic Rock roots a bit, but not only is "Oh Black Water" a perfect fit for the scene, it's a nice ripe year - 1974.

Meanwhile, Sam is still battling with his hallucinations of Lucifer who is explaining that Season 6 was so unbelievably silly, that he must still be in Hell. Not really arguing with you there, Lucie. Sammy finally breaks this news to Dean and Bobby who have the usual reactions. Dean yells at Sam out of love and then Bobby yells at Dean out of love. Strangely though, no one drinks.

By this point, the Leviathan water has reached the populace. First members of the swim team go on a murdering rampage. EVIL SWIM TEAM! If that's not a shout out, I don't know what is. But one possessed little girl who got it in the face at the water fountain is particularly tricksy, thanks to an episode of Dr. Sexy she caught on the tube. Her plan is to take over the body of a surgeon at Sioux Falls General (Bobby's neck of the woods) and have an unlimited supply of human organs and flesh, with which the Leviathans survive on. Creepy!! Fortunately, Sheriff Jodi Mills from episodes past just had her appendix out, so she's able to pass the message along to Bobby and the gang. She gets away via taxi in the end, I won't be surprised if we see her again by season's end.

This is where shit gets really crazy. Sam's hallucinations direct him to an imaginary office building/warehouse and he's armed. Dean finds him via GPS and you'd think the brotherly love-fest might be tired by now, but dammit if this isn't some fine acting between these guys. With a little help from last week's hand injury, Sammy finally has a breakthrough that this is, in fact, the real world (because we're in season 7 now and Sera Gamble refuses to be treated like Marti Noxon was!) The hotties head back to Bobby's place, only to find a shocking turn of events. It's been burned to the ground! Bobby's missing or dead, Leviathan's attack, Sam is knocked out and the boys barely make it out of there with the help of a Sioux Falls General fricken' ambulance!! Dean begs to take them elsewhere, to no avail.

This cliffhanger is so good. It's practically "penultimate ep of the season" good. Can they keep this momentum up until the real penultimate episode of the season? Only time will tell.

Buffy Episode #2 - "Beneath You"
Previously on Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Buffy asks Spike if he wants her, Buffy and Spike have a lot of sex, Buffy tells Spike she's using him and it's killing her, Spike tries to rape Buffy in her bathroom, Xander leaves Anya at the Alter, Anya tries to murder Xander, Warren murders Tara, Willow murders Warren. Yes, this is really the "previouslies", I'm not exaggerating. But I do rest my case. Please don't shoot the messenger.

Note: The most interesting this about the "previouslies" is that Halfrek mentions something "older than the old ones." Death says a very similar thing to the hotties in their "previouslies", "There are things much older than souls". I think this all sums up what reader Mbatz theorized pretty well - that by season 7, our heroes on both shows have pretty much used up every villain possible. So they have to go back, way back, back into time. It's a season 7 thing.

The Deets:
The ep opens with a slayer dream Buffy's having of a Run Lola Run situation featuring a potential in Germany who gets killed. And then our season tagline...oh god I nearly forgot..."From Beneath You, It Devours." Next, the monster of the week shows up - an underground snake thingee and there are some seriously bad special effects in this episode. I can't give it credit for being 10 years old now, either, as Angel ran concurrently and (almost) always looked amazing. This is just UPN budget, Season 7 bad.

Meanwhile, Crazy-In-The-basement-Spike is still down there, poor thing. Also, it's Buffy's first day on the job as Guidance Counselor and Xander's driving the girls to school and still giving good friend pep talks. It's the one nice thing that carried over from Willow's trip to the dark side. Speaking of, Willow is departing England but first asks Giles all kinds of questions about her fears and abilities and if during this season's Big Bad problem, if she's going to need to become a bigger bad-ass than last season? Not until the finale, dear Willow. You'll get no love until then. Spoiler alert!

Then a Hilary Swank look-alike loses her dog via monster of the week and oh look! It's SeeminglySaneSpike! And he bleached his hair! Well, that didn't take long. I thought I remembered the roots sticking around a bit longer. Anyway, Buffy decides to team up with SaneSpike!, even though Xander threatens him and Dawnie threatens him pretty graphically. Aww, and they used to be so close. Outside, SaneSpike! tries to explain the basement to Buffy but she's got some major PTSD over the bathroom incident. Smidge's acting is really good here. She still has the hope Season 7 would be good and so did I at this point.

Xander walks Hilary Swank home, but the monster of the week takes out the building's foundation in all it's bad CGI glory. Turns out that Anya granted a wish and turned Hilary's ex-boyfriend into a Sluggoth demon. The gang confronts her at the Bronze and one Spander joke later Anya sees something off about he punches her in the face! It's shades of Season 2 Spoike, really, but it turns out it's all in self-hate. Outside, SaneSpike! turns insane again after injuring the Sluggoth who is now back to being human as Anya reversed the spell. Spike freaks out and runs off to church. It's there where he confesses to Buffy for nearly 6 minutes and we learn the HUGE news of the era that Spike didn't have his chip removed in Africa, he got a soul! Marsters sold it in this scene and he actually always sold it, right to the end. I have to give this ep (and season) at least that. Now, can we rest?

How do the eps compare?
Listen, people, I'm seriously worrying that Cas might be the Giles of Season 7, meaning Special Guest Appearances only. This is the exact episode we lost Giles too for quite a spell. It effing killed me then and it's killing me now. Don't leave us Cas!

Also, there is a LOT of crazy happening with both Sammy & Spike and both actors are doing a fine job with the material. The only problem is that Sam's storyline has shades of "Normal Again" and pleasae don't make me think of the slap in the face that is "Normal Again".

Mini Battles!!:
Best Episode Villain:
Bad CGI Sluggoth Demon vs. Leviathans Winner=Supernatural (that poor Sluggoth wasn't even evil)

Best Quote using Genitals:
"He might not know your appendix from your vagina” - Patient who got her liver eaten at Sioux Falls General vs. "Oh, penis..." - Anya when she sees the Scoobs. Winner=Supernatural

Epic Episode Ending:
Cas and Bobby both dead or missing and the boys being in an ambulance for the first time ever vs. Spike having a soul. SUCH A TOUGH CALL! Winner=Buffy

Final Ruling:
This one was really hard for me, and so early in the season! I actually really planned on giving this one to Buffy for it's incredibly emotional ending and superb acting on both Smidge and Marsters' part, but this Supernatural marks a 2-episode punch that might be one of the best beginnings of a season ever. "Beneath You" was definitely good at times, but "Hello Cruel World" had me on the edge of my seat the whole entire ep. Winner=Supernatural

Season tally so far:


hamstap85 said...

not looking good... 2-0

elainecleo said...

Since the ONLY reason I watched Buffy seasons 4-7 was Spike, I loved the church scene with Spike and his soul, but I agree with you in that Supernatural is starting off this year with a bang. My hope is since Dean saved the coat that the guys will find a way to save Cas, after all he has been dead several times and always comes back and I want my favorite Angel back. The Winchesters are going to need a lot of help this year and Cas has saved them over and over. I have loved Misha in all his forms, Castiel, Jimmy, hippie Cas, God and awesome Leviathan, just come back.

mbatz said...

Wow, you make that ep of Supernatural sound awesome! I'll have to watch it again as I was pretty bored watching it the 1st time. To be fair, I was only half watching and painting at the same time. I thought the surgeon was silly.And I always loath bringing back past baddies via the hallucination gimmick. It's just a personal thing, I hate dream sequences as well (except Restless, of course) The problem with Supe is they only have 4 characters that die, come back, die again, come back again, walk, don't walk....are any of them REALLY gonna die? Am I REALLY gonna care at this point because of crying wolf SO many times. I'm guessing Bobby won't survive the season, he's the closest thing they have to a red shirt:) Buffy had some moments,Anya pointing out Spike's humanity, the great look SPike shares with Xander when "Swank" asks if anyone hasn't slept together, and the awesome Spike on the cross image, but yeah, the main plot was very after school special and Spike still has stupid hair. Super was a better hour, but I'd go Buff just for the soul reveal- it has more series/season weight than any of the pseudo cliffhangers in this ep of Supe. I mean, we KNOW Bobby and Cas will both be back, at least for now, they're the only red shirts the show has and if they're gonna "die" for real it will be closer to the end