Friday, October 28, 2011

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 5 - "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" vs. "Selfless"

This week's showdown is coming in a bit late, so let's get right to it. For those just joining us, we've been asking ourselves the question: Since the shows are so similar, will Season 7 of Supernatural go down in flames like Buffy season 7 did? We've been comparing the shows episodes week-to-week to find out just that.

Before I even start this week 5 comparison, I have to point out that this is a very special showdown event as we have some major Whedon royalty throwing themselves into the mix here. That's right, both James Marsters & Charisma Carpenter turned traitor and finally made their much anticipated "Buffy Reunion" appearance in this season's Supernatural! They join an amazing 18 other Whedonverse actors who have done Supernatural! 20 crossovers in total...incredible.

Supernatural Episode #4 - "Shut Up, Dr. Phil"
Episode Synopsis:
People are dying in a town called Prosperity and it's all because James Marsters can't keep it in his pants. See he and his witchy wife, played by Charisma Carpenter, are having a "War of the Roses" type separation and the boys need to stop it asap. There's jogging, bees, and in the end, Spike bags a Leviathan, so Sane!Sam and Drunk!Dean just let him and wifey go to kill more innocent people.

The Deets:
Episode starts off with major gore set in a hair salon, of all places. Bitch gets electrocuted by a hair dryer, poor thing, complete with bloody pieces of scalp and all. Dean explains to Suddenly Sane!Sam, who is sweaty having just come in from a jog, that this and other events are taking place in Prosperity, Indiana. He knows this because he drunkenly googled "Freaky Accidents" at 8 am and is generally (and hilariously) unhappy at Sane!Sam's new attitude about fitness. Side note: Jared Padelecki shared an amazing gem via The Twitter this week about this very scene. I have to interrupt this current showdown to share:

Hysterical. That outtake right there boosted this episode up a point for me! So where was I? Oh yeah, the boys put on their best FBI handsome and go check out the freakiness currently taking place in Prosperity. Dean ends up finding gold coins at both the hair salon and the construction site where a worker took it in both eyes via nail gun in a port-o-jon. Ugh. Sam later learns that there is a connection between all of these "Freaky Accidents" - all the vics were all in on a real estate venture at one point in addition to tonight's special guest #1, James Marsters! ::applause:: He's still alive, so they go pay him a visit.

Upon arrival, they are greeted with a bust sculpture of this, Mr. Donald Stark...and honestly the thing doesn't look anything like Marsters. I thought it was an asian man when I first saw it. Someone in props needs to be fired. Or at least be given a stern warning in this economy!

Anyhoo, they question Don in his office and since it's fairly obvious he has a wandering eye from the way he's ogling his bouncy blonde administrative assistant, it should come as no surprise that Sam finds witchcraftery up in the man's closet. Turns out Don's wife is a witch and she's pissed. When they leave they notice some dead foliage ala "Amends" and Dean deduces that she can “literally kill off everything around her just by PMSing at it”. And I'm sorry, Supernatural, but degrading period jokes? Really? That was lame. The point this episode made from that outtake just got taken away. Moving on.

So the boys jump in the Impala and head over to...Charisma Carpenter! Yay! Sam's trying to distract her character, Maggie, while Dean pokes around inside her apartment and finds witchy stuff featuring her next victim pinned on a board. Yep, next thing you know the bouncy blonde assistant is eating cupcakes filled with hearts and choking on her own blood. Man this episode is disgusting. Lucky for the bouncy blonde that the boys arrived just in time to find what Bobby mentioned is a Romanian Coin and stop the spell. After questioning her they learn that she's not actually banging her boss at all, it was only the bitchy blonde from the top! So they go back to Don's workplace where they witness Don's bust statue exploding with fury after an argument he had with Maggie involving her friend Sue. Things are not going well for the Starks.

Later, Dean's in this week's motel room about to enjoy a delicious pie when Sam slams some stinky chicken feet on the table. Yum! They needed feet for the potion recipe Bobby gave them to stop Maggie. And speaking of the devil, Don is lurking outside the charity auction she has been meticulously preparing for all day, but looks like things aren't going to go the way she planned because Don just magically decapitated Sue with an Hors d'oeuvre tray. See he's a witch too! The boys arrive on the scene just in time and oh! I forgot about the Leviathan that's been tailing them. I'm happy to report this episode features our Big Baddies once again. I missed them.

When the boys decide to take the witches down over at Maggie's apartment, chaos ensues. The chicken foot spell goes badly and the next thing you know, not only are the witches NOT ding-dong-dead, but Maggie is flinging Sammy up against a wall and setting a swarm of bees after Dean's hot face. Lay off the face, Charisma. With this, Sam decides to play marriage counselor and help the Starks work out their issues. It works! There is some nice chemistry between the Whedon Alums here in this scene, followed by some very awkward kissing. Honestly, I decided to rewind and watch it twice just to check it out and I'm sorry I did.

In the end, the boys go back to the motel room and get jacked by the Leviathan creeping in the room. And just when it looks like the 2 main characters might end up in the back of an ambulance for the second time, Don shows up and zaps the Leviathan right in the ass! Well, on the head, actually. He also retrieves the Romainian Coin Maggie stashed there to kill them with, thus saving them twice in one minute! Honestly, Marsters really is a good actor. Convincing in everything I've ever seen him in. I think I say that objectively and as a non-Whedonite, but who can say, really? Anywho, he instructs them to drop the Leviathan in a bottomless pit because the spell will only last a few days. So they chain him up, throw him in the back of the car and that's pretty much it. It was a fun time.

Buffy Episode #4 - "Selfless"
Ah "Selfless". The shining star in an otherwise dark period of the Whedonverse. It's got a B-side from "Once More, With Feeling" for crying out loud! Why couldn't the rest of Season 7 be like this one?

As Willow discovers that Anya had some frat boys butchered at the request of a scorn wisher, we get a fantastic peek into the past of Anyaka - or Aud rather as her name was then. Unfortunately we also get the black eyes of evil and a short glimpse of big-bad Willow. Until the day I die, I will never understand why - oh why - they did this to this character. But enough about that because there's another character to be annoyed with: Xander, who is worried about Anya's sadness as he well should be since he left her at the alter!

Sjornjost, 1890. Olaf, the troll we see in Season 5's "Triangle", is actually Aud's husband at that time. Aud is charitable and an amateur bunny breeder, of all things. The hilarious dialogue in this scene pretty much explains that even then, Anya had her signature strange way of speaking. Olaf says, "Your logic is insane and happenstance like that of the trolls" for he is not yet a Troll himself. She loves him, you see, but is afraid he's cheating. He responds with loving words such as "Your hips are small and narrow like a Baltic woman from a more arid region." Ha!

Flash to present day Anya, scrubbing blood off the walls at the scene of the crime. Even though the vengeance world is praising her, she's feeling guilt and regret over this latest massacre. Meanwhile, Buffy is trying to get Spoike the eff up out of the basement already, as the fricken Hellmouth is down there. That's pretty much all we see of him this episode.

Next thing you know, we're back in the past and Olaf has turned into a Troll, running around scaring the village people. Someone yells "Hide your babies and your beadwork!" Hee! It's then that Aud gets a visit from the very cool D'hoffryn. Turns out Aud is a very powerful witch and he's impressed by her revenge tactics. He says she is really "Anyanka" and she will help wronged women punish evil men.

Buffy's balancing a pencil cup on her head  in her Guidance Counseling office (real professional) and oh yes, this is the beginning of Buffy's braid period. Cute! Willow calls and fills her in on the frat boy murder, but not on the Ayna factor. So Buffy and Xander take a walk through Season 7's favorite set, the forest, and kill the spider demon that was summoned for the vengeance gore. Back at the house Willow finally lets on that it was Anya's doing and Buffy decides that she has to kill her. Xander's shocked and appalled, accusing Buffy of black-and-whiting a gray situation. He yells that if it's a demon that she's say "boning" then it's different. And this is where the pent up anger over Xander's Season 2 message of "kick his ass" finally comes out. Buffy says "I loved [Angel] more than I will ever love anything in this life and I killed him", explaining that this thing with Anya is no different. So she grabs a sword and heads off to slay Anya.

Meanwhile, Willow summons D'Hoffryn with the coin he gave her back in Season 4. Nice callbacks in this episode all around. They exchange pleasantries and he compliments her, saying the flaying of Warren was "Water cooler vengeance" and that "Floyd has a sketch of it on his wall." Ha! Vengeance demons in a corporate cubicle environment! Meanwhile the fight is on betwixt Anya and Buffy with Xander in the middle trying to break it all up. But in the end, Buffy drives that sword right through Anya's chest and we flash back to....

The night of "Once More, With Feeling"! Sure, Anya's sporting a wig that's a tad different from that magical day, but no worries. Fact is, we're just so lucky to get this post-Musical bonus track which features Anya singing about the marital bliss that being Xander's "Mrs." will bring. Oh and we learn Anya's full name! Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins (lame-ass maiden name) Harris. The song's a delight and Emma Caulfield sings it well, but it gets cut short as we flash back to: Anya being impaled by Buffy's sword. She awakes though because duh! Everyone knows you need to smash a vengeance demon's necklace first in order to kill them.

Enter D'hoffryn in a blaze of lightning, the big drama queen. He notes that the scene looks like "someone slayed an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog" and who wrote this jewel of an episode? Have to check my charts. Ah, the very talented and handsome Drew Goddard. So D'hoffryn lays the whole thing out as follows: if what Anya wants is to take it all back, then the price will be the life of a vengeance demon. She agrees and just as we brace ourselves for Anya's demise, Halfrek arrives all smiley upon seeing her best friend. D'hoffryn kills her without even blinking, much to Anya's dismay. He goes for the hurt over death every Anya's out of the vengeance business and her best friend is dead. When she says it should've been her, D'Hoffryn quotes this season's tragic tagline: "From Beneath You, It Devours"...basically sealing the deal on Anya's death in the series finale. In the end, Anya leaves and Xander goes out to try and console her, but she decides to make her own way in the world as a human with tears in her eyes. Well done, everyone.

How do the eps compare?
Vengeance is the theme of this week! Both episodes feature a little witchcraft, substantial carnage and a whole lotta man-bashing vengeance. Not to mention seeing James Marsters in both. How weird is that?

Mini Battles!!:
Best Witch-Bitchiness - The Starks vs. Black-Eyed-Willow - Winner: Supernatural
Best Flashback to "Once More, With Feeling" - Buffy (Song: "Mrs.") vs. Supernatural (none) - Winner: Buffy
Best Episode Villains - The Starks/Leviathan vs. Anya/Spider Demon/D'Hoffryn - Winner: Buffy

Final Ruling:
This was a little difficult for me. I actually think "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" was funny and these guys crossing over definitely confused me. Still, as fun as it was seeing Charisma & James together again, this is clearly the best Buffy episode of Season 7. I knew going into this week that beating "Selfless" would be tough and I was right. If Supernatural had kept that hilarious out take in, it might have had a slim chance...but I'm giving this to Buffy. Straight up.

Season tally so far:


elainecleo said...

That outtake is priceless, the line from Jared, help me stretch my groin and Jensen playing it straight, just don't know how he does it. Having seen this before the ep aired, it just made it even better.

The bee scene reminds me of their story about the REAL bees at the start of the series, every time they tell it, it just keeps getting funnier.

OK I will give this ep to Buffy, but I really hate

future history said...

I don't even watch Supernatural and I'm totally enjoying these weekly recaps... just one small unbelievably nerdy nitpick-- I'm pretty sure Anya sings "lame ass MADE UP name", not "maiden name"... which is fairly different meaning wise.

Tara said...

Yes Future History, it seems we're both right! The exact lyric was "Mrs. Anya lame ass made up maiden name-Harris" and I should've checked it first. I don't mind a nitpick and thanks for liking my recaps! About to post a double whammy since I'm a week behind. :)

Tara said...

And elainecleo, what's the story of the real bees on Supernatch? I want to hear it!