Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 11 - "Adventures in Babysitting" vs. "Showtime"

First off, just want to thank The Maestro once again for guesting on the last Season Seven Showdown! Bobby's death on Supernatural was a tricky one and having another opinion on this here blog was really refreshing.

For anyone who STILL doesn't know what we're talking about, we've been comparing Buffy's Season 7 to Supernatural's still-in-progress Season 7 since the premiere back in Sept. So far Supernatural is winning, but sadly Bobby is gone so if they don't bring back Cas/The Impala soon, I'm going to start getting irate.

Now I have the enormous displeasure of recapping one of Buffy's worst Season 7 episodes imo, "Showtime." Lord knows I looove me some David Fury, but this episode gives me a headache and a case of the snores. And eye roll syndrome. It might not even be Mr. Fury's fault, I mean the decision to have Buffy not be able to kill one of these ubervamp dudes for several episodes only to end so anti-climatically might be all Whedon, or Marti Noxon or someone else for that matter...but still. Man, have I digressed and we didn't even start yet. Let's get to this showdown already:

Supernatural Episode #11 - "Adventures in Babysitting"

Episode Synopsis:
Bobby's gone and Sam & Dean are mourning. While seeking revenge against Dick Roman, they end up trying to help a child avoid the hunter lifestyle and pain that goes along with it, something they both know all too well.

The Deets:
This was a pretty great episode, but I'm starting to get an itch about this season. There are unresolved things that are teetering on Giles plot hole territory. Things like the fallout of bringing down Sam's wall or Castiel's disappearance have been quite underwhelming. Shouldn't these topics have had way more of an impact by now? And if they're waiting for maximum results by bringing them all up at the end then I ask, why suffer a season just to have a bombshell at it's finale? Is it worth it? Just throwing that out there.

Anyway, the episode starts with man who is eating in a truck stop. He leaves the table to chase a hooker he's been watching out the window, but uh-oh, the waitress he just left catches up to him outside, showing her true demon self while beating his ass. "That's for the crappy tip" she says and off to the credits.

A title card says:
Week one - the boys sit in somber silence, mourning the closest thing they ever had to a caring father.

Week two - Dean drinks and stares at the numbers Bobby wrote down in his final moments, while Sam stares at a phone book.

Week Three - the Hunter Wall is up! full of Dick Roman photos and newspaper clippings about Turducken Slammers. The boys are clearly starting to come out of their funk and begin the revenge obsession. That's how it's done.

Sam, drinking a beer, tries to get Dean's take on whether they should contact any of Bobby's people, but Dean is too busy wondering where the frick is Frank with the number research already!? Meanwhile, Bobby's phone rings. It's a young girl looking for Bobby and Bobby only. During the conversation, Dean takes motice of a flask in Bobby's bag and picks it up. The girl hangs up on Sam but he thinks they should check up on her. Since Dean is in a Frank Frenzy, they decide to split up. Oddly, Dean looks down at his beer which was full a second ago and notices it's empty, accusing Sam of drinking it. Only thing is, Sam still has a full brewski right in front of him. What does it mean?!

Sam shows up at the young girl's place. Her name is Krissy, and Sam promises to help her find her dad who hasn't called her in 5 days. Dad's in the business, which is confirmed when Sam find's a Hunter's Wall behind the clothes in the closet. Last known place was Dodge City, so that's where Sammy is off to.

Meanwhile, Dean pulls up to Frank's home in the middle of nowhere and has a gun pulled on him almost immediately. Frank needs to rule out Leviathans since, as it turns out, even Gwenyth Paltrow is now a "Big Mouth" now! So the guys decide to prove to each other that their blood is red, not black goo, by cutting themselves up. Once that's over with, they drive to an RV, where Frank has now set up camp. Dean's pissed because he paid Frank $15,000 and it's been 4 weeks since he heard back about the numbers. After offering Dean a little LSD paired with a shiatsu, Frank explains that the numbers alone are "bupkes", but if you consider the 5 numbers are really 6 numbers, then they might actually be coordinates. Coordinates to a field in Wisconsin owned by a subsidiary of Richard Roman Enterprises. And off they are to set up surveillance.

After Sam leaves an autopsy, Sam and Dean quickly touch base over the phone as Dean and Frank are now in Wisconsin, dressed as telephone repairmen. Aww, remember the days when Sam & Dean used to dress up in fun costumes besides FBI types all the time? Good times. Frank notices there are cameras set up everywhere and that it would be better to just tap into the Leviathan's feed. Once inside the RV, Frank tells Dean he looks horrific and should take a nap while he takes the first shift of watching the screens.

Sam leaves Dean a voice mail, explaining that he thinks he's tailing a Vetala which their dad hunted back in the day. After he hangs up, we find him at the same truck stop from the top of the hour and he gets jacked the same way as Krissy's dad did,

After the commercial, Dean wakes to find that Frank made some headway in the stake out. Turns out the Leviathans are building something, but Dean has another hissy fit because he has no patience to wait and find out what. Frank takes notice of Dean's deteriorating state of mind and advises him to either quit or hunt with a professional smile and shut up. After, Dean listens to his voice mail and flips out because Sam's info is wrong Once he gets a call from Krissy, he knows his brother is in danger. His concerned face is as hot as ever, though, just had to note.

Sam wakes up in a warehouse tied to a chair. Krissy's dad, Lee Chambers, is next to him tied up as well. Lee explains that there are 2 Vetala that bleed the guys there dry, and that after 3 or 4 feedings, you die... he's already been drained thrice. Sam ends up taunting one of the Vetalas into biting him to save Lee's ass. Meanwhile, Dean's at Krissy's place where they're having a bitchfest over whether Krissy is going with Dean to find Sam and ger dad. Dean has little choice as Krissy'a burned all the research from the hunter's wall, but she now has it memorized. So off to the Not!Impala it is.

During the drive, Krissy wants to know how the heck this one measly demon took out both her dad and Sam? Dean reveals it's because Vetalas work in pairs and since Sammy was off in college when Dean learned this bit of important info, he wasn't aware. Krissy seems shocked and intrigued when she hears a child in a hunter family can still follow some dreams and pursue a higher education. After arriving at the truck stop and then tailing the waitress to the warehouse Sam is tied up in, Dean offers a fist bump to Krissy in celebration. But because she's a brat kid she poo poos his fist bump saying "What century is this? No on fist bumps anymore." His cuteness makes her and I melt, though, so she obliges and because he's a slick hunter he takes the opportunity to handcuff her to the steering wheel! Ha!

Dean enters the warehouse and pretty quickly starts beating Vetalas to hell, only to have Krissy arrive anyway and ruin the beat down. But it's ok, because just as one of the Vetalas go to take a bite out of little Krissy's neck, she procures a blade and STICKS THE VETALA IN THE CHEST! Nice one, kid. Sam then gets freed himself and kills the other Vetala. Done and done.

So with the monsters-of-the-week dead, we're whisked away to the hospital where Lee recovers and Dean advises them both to leave the family business. A goodbye to Krissy and a fist bump later, the brothers are back on the road. Sam wonders if Dean's ok and mentions that he himself just wants to get back to work.

The final moments feature some great acting from Jensen Ackles as Dean tries so hard to follow Frank's advice from earlier in the episode and smile through it all like a professional....but the subtle crack in that smile shows through.

Buffy Episode #11 - "Showtime"
"Showtime". Ohhh "Showtime". You think I don't remember watching you at the time? Sitting, watching in the living room of my old apartment, winter of 2003? I would barely make it home in time from work. I hadn't yet owned a Tivo, so I would have to set the VCR to record in case I missed the first few minutes. I would run off the bus at 8:12, start the episode, then after it was over I would have to go back and rewind the tape to the beginning just to see what I had missed. So I ask you this, "Showtime", do you think you were worth all of that effort? Of my precious Tuesday night time? No. The answer is no, you weren't. For shame.

This episode begins with a dreadlocked girl sporting the overalls Buffy wore after she sent Angel to hell in Season 2 getting off a bus. Next thing you know, Bringers are everywhere and Buffy kicking their asses. After some bad punning and slaying, Buffy introduces herself to "Rona" the newest addition to the most grating thing in the entire Whedonverse: The Potentials. These slayers-in-waiting couldn't be more screen sucking, but hey, this is the reason we're doing this showdown.

After the credits, Kennedy is hitting on Willow who is sleeping on the floor of her own bedroom. This particular slayer-in-waiting hints that she's super rich and also interested in Willow's magick, if that's what we're calling it these days. I roll my eyes. Downstairs, a bunch of Potentials including Felicia Day talk some shit about Buffy. Xander complains and Andrew's annoying. Must be Tuesday. In comes Buffy, introducing Rona to the room.

After some discussion, southern Potential "Eve" is questioning why the hell they have to save Spoike from a cave if he's a murdering vampire? Eye Roll #2. More importantly, Eve wants to know what the effing plan is. Since Giles is back (but only half ass just like the rest of the cast save Anya at this point) he chimes in with a suggestion of one of the lamest, least thought out oracle types this 'verse has ever seen "Beljoxa's Eye." What is it? How does it know how to help? We'll never find out because it's Season Seven!

Cut to the cave where Spoike is chained up and carved up with symbols. He almost gets away when he sees First!Buffy thinking it's real Buffy and gets all weak in the knees. Back to the chains it is. How? We'll never know. The First can't touch him and there wasn't any other demon around to beat him and chain him back up, but whatevs Like I said, Season Seven.

Since "Botox's eye", as Buffy calls it, can only be accessed by a demon, Anya chats up with an old demon flame in an alley and OMG. There is a cut here where I kid you not, the audio is completely not synched with Anya's mouth. Seriously, go check your DVDs. 12 minutes, 10 seconds in…the whole scene is a mess of audio problems. Man this show is totally phoning it in at this point.

Anyway, distracting as that is, the point of this scene is that Anya is trying to trade sex with the demon ex, in return for opening the gateway to Beljoxa's Eye. His answer? "Come back to me when you're a leper!" Ha! In the end he does the deed when Giles threatens to have The Slayer kill him dead. Gateway opened, problem solved.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Xander untie Andrew and threaten him once more for good measure. How long has Andrew been tied up? Willow enters explaining that a Wicca called on the phone about another Potential floating about. Then Dawn is the unlikely voice of reason, explaining to Willow that these punk ass Potentials are lame. Meanwhile, Penny from Dr. Horrible tells the other potentials that she's seen a blurry photograph of a vampire once and that she heard there's another Slayer somewhere….

And this is where I'm reminded of a personal horror story. Early in September 2002, I had been spoiled for Faith's return to the series. I naturally thought it would be shortly after I learned of it, so every single boring-ass episode I'd wait and wait for Faith's glorious return! But no. Just ubervamps and Potentials and all the other things that give me anxiety nightmares to this day. Then way at the end of the season, there she is, fresh off an amazing arc on Angel, only to fizzle at the hands of poor writing. Just wait until I get there around episode 19 or so…oh the hate is building already.

Aaannyway, Buffy and Xander go and investigate the mysterious Potential that Willow received the phone call about and find her dead for a while. Once they turn her body over they realize: IT'S EVE! The southern Potential thats been living at The Summers home for days! That was pretty good, actually, but brings up more lore problems about The First. Like: Can The First be at 2 places at once or does it only have time to taunt Spoike in the cave while "Eve" is in the bathroom at The Summers home. Important things like that. Doesn't matter now because Buffy's back home to confront First!Eve. And scene.

So, turns out Bejoxa's Eye is actually a ball full of eyes with a tail. A talking, sperm-like shape of twisted eyeballs. The only way I can describe it is….really fucking weird. Additionally, this scene is ridiculous with the wind and the yelling. I can only imagine what Anthony Stewart Head is thinking as he recites his lines. Something like "This is what I came back here for?" probably sums it up. In a nutshell, Beljoxa's Eye explains that the slayer line is vulnerable and unstable because Buffy's back from the dead, and that's how The First is able to hurt them all. Wait, what now?? Eye roll. And a head shake.

Back at The Summers home, The Scoobs and Potentials (plus Andrew) have a meeting and Xander suddenly says, "what?" Then The Scoobs go into the kitchen and stare at each other in silence. It's awkward and seems out of place. Cut to First!Eve in the cave, telling some Ubervamps to attack the entire cast. Cut back to The Summers home where Buffy is passing out weapons and Willow is telling Kennedy that Magick is a drug and that she wouldn't like to see the "Black Eyes of Shut Up Willow" ™

Then, the ubervamps arrive!! Willow starts to build a magick barrier like the one that held back Glory all while Andrew is chanting "deflector shields up"! He's good for the occasional hardy har. The barrier won't hold so everyone in the house flees while the ubervamp gives chase! Elsewhere in Sunnydale, GIles and Anya leave Bejoxa's Eye's Realm and decide it's not Buffy's fault The First is here, it's the idiots who resurrected her. See? Even the show thinks it should've ended in Season 5!

Back at the chase, Buffy tries to lure Ubey away and slow it by smashing it in the face with a bottle of holy water. It works! Willow and Xander lead the Potentials to a construction set, as all of the industrial lights turn on. Willow declares "It's showtime" and I die a little inside. Buffy speechifies about how she's the thing monsters fear and her stunt double does a most unbelievable flip off an exterior second floor.

Then as Dawn realizes out loud that this was all a set up, we're shown a weird flashback to the dining room earlier in the episode. When Xander said "what?" and they all stared at each other in awkward silence, they were reeeeaally reading each other's minds. But wait, Buffy started the conversation. Since when is this possible? Willow did some telepathic talking in "The Gift" (and bringing up that ray of sunshine into this recap darkens my soul just a little bit more), but since when can Buffy initiate it? Does she have magickal powers now? Also, the pacing of this flashback obviously didn't play out like the script. Eh, why am I even bothering trying to figure this out when clearly no one involved did?

Anyway, Buffy fights Ubey and finally bests it with a beheading-by-wire then says to The Potentials "Here endeth the lesson". Eye roll followed by stink face. The thing she couldn't kill for 3 episodes and beat the living hell out of her like no monster ever has on this series, had a neck like butter?

We end with Spoike in the cave and First!Buffy holding a knife. Or is it? No, of course not, this time it's real Buffy, freeing Spoike from his chains while the music of tenderness plays in the background. Oh brother.

How do the eps compare?
I don't know, man, there's a comment theme about teaching lessons to the youth, I guess? Trying to understand what the writers were thinking when writing "Showtime" is like trying to string theory, except much less interesting. "Adventures in Babysitting", on the other hand, had it's ass firmly planted in the show's lore. From referencing the Dad's book to REO Speedwagon...even suggesting Bobby might be a ghost. This show is at least recognizable in it's 7th season. But seriously, say it with me now: "Where the heck is Cas?"

Mini Battles!!:
Best Quote: "I'm bored. Episode I bored." - Andrew, "Your brother's the size of a car." - Krissy (about Sam) Winner: Supernatural
Best Episode Villains - Vetalas vs. The First as Potential Eve Winner: Buffy
Best Ending - Dean's Smile vs. Buffy getting Spoike out of the cave Winner: Supernatural

Final Ruling:
This was a great mid-season premiere for Supernatural. Nice way to show how the boys dealt with the aftermath of Bobby's death and also nice to get back to basics. Buffy on the other hand is a travesty. I could bash it all day long, but I'm tired.

Season tally so far:


foreveranxman said...

I really don't get what people have against the later seasons of Buffy. I thought seasons 6 and 7 were both great. And I'm not just some simpleton who swallows everything given to me just because it's Buffy. I really loved the whole arc with The First and thought season 7 was a lot lighter in tone than 6, considering how high the stakes were slowly getting raised. I thought everything came together wonderfully. No real complaints from me.

foreveranxman said...

AND! I thought the finale of this episode was badass. I loved the way they planned the whole thing and showed us what really happened during her speech at the house. The Scoobies totally kick ass.

stasi13 said...

I think there are a lot of good points about the BtVS eps but it's not really fair to judge them against Supernatural. We've had years to rewatch Buffy, nit-pick at all the things that could've been done better and build up all sorts of negative emotions about it. Supernatural's got an unfair advantage there. It's still new and exciting. It's almost like comparing an ex-boyfriend with a current one. The playing field is not even.

liliaeth said...

I have to say that Buffy saving Spike is one of the only good moments in Showtime, though admittedly, that still makes this ep better than the previous one.

the SPN ep on the other hand is plain out fun, and continues what so far has been a great season.

hann23 said...

Hola, glad that you are doing these analyses. I just discovered the Supernatural verse in the last month. I am trying to catch up, but I can thank you for pushing me over the edge to give this show serious consideration.

And now I am completely beguiled. Thanks to TNT's Season 6 marathon and netflix I am coming along. Repo Man was the first ep I watched in Season 7 besides the season premiere, sniff.

It's such an interesting comparison. I am looking forward to reading more.

Tara said...

I just want to pop in and say I can't believe that "Showtime" is winning this poll by a landslide. I could even see by a smidgen bc hey we're all fans of Buffy...but 89%?? Come on, guys.

Anonymous said...

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TheSeriesNerd said...

This is an old article, but if you are still reading this, I want to comment about the audio that is not synced with the actors mouths... there is a very simple explanation for this: you are watching the show in the wrong format! This show waas never intended to be watched in Widescreen a.k.a. 16:9... of course season 4-7 are 16:9 on the PAL DVDs... so while editing, they didn't pay attention to everything that was out of the 4:3 frame, which means you can see out of sync audio/mouth, you can see the first slayer hiding before jumping in the frame, you can see the strings from the keyboard when Buffy is typing while invisible, you can see some lamps and other equipment... this is also a reason why they don't remaster this thing and put it on BluRay... If they would, all of these flaws would either have to be CGI'd or they would stay, which also kinda sucks... So, if you're watching the show, watch it the way Joss intended it to be watched: in 4:3...

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