Friday, October 21, 2011

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 4 - "Defending Your Life" vs. "Help"

Are both Buffy & Supernatural doomed to the same fate? Will I regret believing that Supernatural won't go down the same path as Buffy during it's Season Seven? Well hope is dwindling fast, that's all I have to say. Starting today though, I'm going to put a poll up so that you, the reader, can also weigh in on this Season Seven Showdown. Now let's get into episodes #4.

Supernatural Episode #4 - "Defending Your Life"
Episode Synopsis:
In a very Season One-esque fashion, ghost car & ghost dog turn out to be the handiwork of Egyptian God Osiris. He's preying on the Guilty, you see, and leaving red dirt from the floor of his court-in-an-apple-farm-barn all over town. No seriously, RED DIRT is a serious plot point. There's also nary a single Leviathan in sight and Sam's hair and chops are at an all time whoa.

The Deets:
I'm just going to say it right off the bat - I'm not happy. And waiting until Thursday to write this has just made it fester even more. What happened here in just 2 weeks?

So, this convoluted episode starts off with a reformed drunk who drunkenly killed a girl 10 years ago getting smashed to death himself by what seems to be a killer car. Next, a former dog fighting ring host gets offed by a killer dog. Then, a paroled murderer runs out into the middle of the road and nearly gets run over by the boys. All of these events are accompanied by the accessory of red dirt.

The boys, dapper in their FBI looks, argue a bit about the validity of this case. See Dean doesn't feel too guilty about bad people getting murdered and this brings me to my first problem: the way this episode paints Dean's character as the guilty one of the family. Some people don't agree with me, but I think this episode is strangely re-writing Dean's character. More on that later. Anyway, Dean doesn't want to follow up on Drunk Dude's past because it requires him visiting AA and he "gave up AA for Lent" to which Sam responds "We're not Catholic!" Hee! But that's the other problem with this episode. Dean's a drunk too! They've been punching us in the face with it for several episodes now and I think it's time we do something with that plot line. It would be far more interesting than red dirt, I'm just saying.

Anyway Dean decides to investigate the bar Drunk Dude was last seen at (no surprise there) and we meet Mia, who I swore was at least in on this episode's evil. She isn't, but the dude eavesdropping is. Later, the boys speak to Bobby whose 5 minutes of screen time is for exposition only. He explains that the Monster-of-the-week is Osiris, Egyptian God of Guilt. So they better haul ass because Dean's is usually really sad about all the pain he's caused and NO HE'S REALLY NOT. That's Sam you're talking about Bobby! Later, Dean's waiting to meet with Mia whom with he made a date and giving himself a pep talk about his own hotness...which isn't really necessary honey and I'm sorry to interrupt again but really, what the hell is going on here? The Dean I know is hot and he knows it, he's a bad-ass demon hunter and knows it, and usually sleeps pretty well at night as stated in Awesome Episode 1 of this season. He's been this way at least since season 4 onward. Again, it's Sammy that has all the emotional issues and torment. If the writers need it to be backwards this season for whatever reason, can't they think of something that feels natural instead of just pretending it's always been so? I'm annoyed.

Long story short, Osiris gets to Dean and he's tried in the Red Dirt Court. At this point in the game, Sam's settled into Season One mode by turning on whatever attorney skills he learned while at Stanford. The first witness called is Jo who died an respectable death. To bring her back this way, full of scenes from the past reminding feels a little cheap. Sam then takes the stand and has a little trip down memory lane himself. It's this point that I realize we're kind of having a "flashback show". I'll admit, all the callbacks were nice, but it made the already upsetting ep feel even more like filler. What was entertaining about this though was we got to compare Sam's hairstyles over the years. At least that's something?

"This whole thing is like an episode of Pee-Wee's Playhouse". Not even close, buddy.
Next on the stand is Dean. Osiris taunts him but all this "calling of the next witness" business is really just Osiris' way of making Dean squirm over whether Sam is going to find out about Amy Pond, who he killed behind Sam's back just last week. We don't actually ever get any hard evidence that he feels guilty over it, though...just that he doesn't want Sam to find out. I guess Osiris sees into Dean's soul, or whatever, because he's sentenced to death...but instead of doling it out right there, Osiris decides to let the boys go and figure out a way to kill him. Stupid.

Later, Bobby calls with more expo, telling Sam that they need to find a ram's horn and stab Osiris with it. Easy peasy because the Jews use it on holiday and there's a temple right down the block. Quick flash to Sam getting caught by the Rabbi who says "I'm guessing you're not here for Bar Mitzvah lessons." And scene.

Dead Jo (in a fashionable mlitary jacket) pops by to kill Dean. She tells him he basically shouldn't feel guilty about anything at all whatsoever...even Amy Pond, I guess? Meanwhile, Sam kills Osiris and saves the day because he's the only one that did any work in this entire episode. The next day, the boys have a heart-to-heart but Dean never even fesses up about Amy, the one thing that I thought WOULD get wrapped up in this episode. So I guess that's going to get unnecessarily drawn out. Matter of fact, this episode didn't advance the plot in any way whatsoever. The only thing we learn is that Sam doesn't feel bad about anything anymore because of his stint in hell. The end.

Oh Supernatural, I have so many questions. Like what the hell is up with Sam's wall? I thought it was going to be a world of chaos and agony that no human could withstand? Is this really what we're doing with it? And why has there been no mention of the death of Cas? Can we see at least a minute of conversation about that?

Buffy Episode #4 - "Help"
Buffy, Dawn and Xander exit a few coffins where they were hiding waiting for a freshly sired Grandma-vamp to rise and vent about their problems: Willow's reform, the season's big bad and Buffy's first day of counseling the students tomorrow. Buffy then stakes the Grandma, which will probably put the kibosh on the funeral.

Next day, Xander and Willow bash on this season's tag line "From Beneath You, It Devours." Yeah, it always sucked. Then leave it to Xander to compare Willow's plight to hammering a nail, but Willow's more concerned about going all "black eyed baddie and cracking her friend's skulls like coconuts." That's a problem. A season 6 problem, so let's move on, ok? On the bright side, Willow's hair is looking fabulously ginger today. She shines like a copper penny in the sunlight in front of Tara's grave and damn if Alyson Hanigan never had a bad cry day on the set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Girl knows how to work.

Meanwhile at school, Buffy's dressed kinda less than appropriately and having trubbs with the slew of kids she's counseling. She meets a bunch of students including some douche bag who is just trying to get out of class followed by Cassie, played by Azura Skye, who says she's going to die next Friday. Buffy's understandably freaked and sends Dawn to do some social recon, has Xander check her medical records (yeast infections, thanks for the info!) and asks Willow to check her LiveJournal where she finds some emo poetry. Willow then admits her own early internet experiences which included "Doogie Howser Fanfic." HIMYM shout out! Or was it Doc Horrible she was shouting out? Both work for me.

Flash to: a bunch of dudes in red robes doing a spell. That's never good.

It's Friday and Buffy visits Spike-Crazy-In-The-Basement. He reveals there's evil down there and it's him. He starts punching himself in the face for hurting Buffy, but that's not what Buffy's looking for so she makes towards the door. He wants her to stay with him but she walks off anyway. Later, Principal Wood is doing locker checks and locker #281 turns up some evidence. Then physically threatens the student. Batting a thousand here, Buff! Turns out, the culprit is the douche bag from earlier. We see him and his buddies in their evil red robes conjuring a demon for some kind of get-rich-quick scheme. Buffy's there, undercover in her own red robe and even though she stops the sacrifice of Cassie, the demon still appears.

Enter Spike who saves the day with a torch then kicks the douche bag's ass even though his chip is going off all over the place. Cassie says to Spike "She'll tell you, someday she'll tell you." After, the demon bites the douche bag then explodes. Despite Buffy's efforts which include catching an arrow when a booby traps sets it off straight towards Cassie's face, Cassie dies anyway.

The ep kind of ends with a whimper-downer. Back at home, Buffy's wearing a brown Juicy Couture velour track suit (which my friend Kris and I have dubbed the "poop suit" for years now). She informs the gang that Cassie had a heart irregularity. Buffy's feeling guilt for not saving her, but Dawn says it's not her fault. What we don't ever find out is what the hell happened to the douche bag who got bit by the demon and the rest of the red-hooded crew who attempted to murder a girl. Oh season 7. You so crazy.

Mini Battles!!:
Sam's Season 1 hair vs. Sam's Season 7 hair = SEVEN!

Willow's Season 1 hair vs. Willow's Season 7 hair = SEVEN!

Best Episode Villain - they were seriously both so, so lame. Did Buffy's demon even have a name? I guess the villain was the Douche Bag.

How do the eps compare?
I mean, there's a guilt factor... but it's not that strong in Buffy. Honestly, I think the only thing these episodes proved is that Season Sevens are way better for hair than any other season.

Final Ruling:
I'm giving this one to Buffy. I don't remember liking "Help" as much as I do now, but I think what's happening is some kind of Season Seven chemical reaction in my brain. I have no expectations at all for this season of Buffy (having hated it the first couple of times) and therefore every episode seems that much better. OTOH, Supernatural is finally feeling the effects of Michelle's challenge in the first place, which was that I will regret ever giving this season hope because the letdown will be that much greater. Plus, Azura Skye has a soothing voice.

Season tally so far:


Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to say how much I'm disagreeing with you on this one. Help sucked, promised some things that the show then dropped after.

In comparison, Defending your life, dealt with the guilt Dean's been carrying all his life, but esp. since s4. With the burden that Dean has been carrying for years, never having been a child and especially with his grief and pain over Jo's death.

Dean's been broken for years and I love how the show dealt with this, front and center, leaving all of it unresolved and once again making it clear that Dean not only wouldn't have minded if Jo had killed him. But that he'd have actually preferred it. Once again focusing on how suicidal he's been for years.

The clear winner of these two eps is supernatural, without a doubt.

hamstap85 said...

not only is this buffy ep good for awesome redone hair, it's good for awesome hair right out of the drawing board! (i'm talking about Cassie here)