AKA: How to know when you’ve found The (Anointed) One
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Anointed One
We open with Buffy fighting a vampire (no, not the titular Anointed One). She’s quippy, cute, and living her best life. Oh, and kicking undead butt. That doesn’t stop Giles – who has been sitting on the sidelines and NOT HELPING – from critiquing her.
They find a ring in the pile of vamp dust. Oooh, a mystery!
Underground, the Master provides CliffsNotes for this week’s episode: there’s an Anointed One who will rise from the ashes of five. The Slayer will not know him and he will lead her into hell.
Sir, this is a library
In the library Giles has already deciphered the runes on the ring. They symbolize the Order of Aurelius. The Scoobies don’t get to talk about this for too long, though, because a student comes into the library. That’s right folks: the Sunnydale High library is open to the rest of the student body. Meet Owen: he loves Emily Dickinson and flirts by telling girls he didn’t think they could read. Negging is evidently in this week, because Buffy is smitten.
At lunch, our trio discuss Owen and slaying – I mean laying (good recovery, Xander). Buffy and Cordelia simultaneously spot Owen sitting alone and go for it. Hot take: they’re both too good for him. He’s only got eyes for Buffy, though. He invites her to The Bronze that night – right in front of Cordy. Surely she won’t use that information to her advantage.
Best laid plans
Giles has intel regarding the Order of Aurelius. There’s an Anointed One who, according to Giles’s research, is rising tonight. Buffy is forced to cancel her plans with Owen and sit in a more-dead-than-usual graveyard with Giles as he lectures her about her duty as Slayer. Since the rising of the Anointed One didn’t pan out, Buffy is free to head to the Bronze. When she gets there she sees Owen and Cordy dancing together. She promptly turns around and leaves.
Meanwhile, we see a typical Greyhound ride unfolding. A guy is pacing up and down the aisle monologuing as the rest of passengers stare ahead, eyes glazed over. One of the Master’s minions stands in the road and causes a crash. Once the bus stops he hops aboard and presumably does some vampirin’.
In the hall the next day, Buffy and Xander talk about Buffy’s insecurity over her singleness. Attuned to her self-consciousness Owen walks over. Buffy gives an obvious yet cute story about missing their date due to a broken watch, so he gives her his. Then teaches her how to tell time. He’s seriously making me wish we got more Xander this episode.
Buffy informs Giles of her plans that night and leaves before he can say boo.
Willow and Xander help Buffy pick out an outfit for her makeup date, and Xander is already making me eat my words. He calls her lipstick slutty and actually peaks at her getting dressed in the mirror. What is it with the men in this episode?
Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
Giles shows up with a newspaper article that absurdly refers to the bus crash as a van crash. Five people died in the wreck, one of whom being the preachy Andrew Borba, a wanted killer. Andrew seems to be a good fit as Anointed One. Giles wants to investigate the funeral home and lecture Buffy about her social life some more. Owen shows up during their back and forth, amazed and frightened at Giles’s supposed dedication to his job. Buffy departs with Owen and the advice that, “if the apocalypse comes beep me.”
Giles decides he still wants to investigate, and Willow and Xander, fully aware of how many times he’s been knocked out already this season, opt to follow. This is a good call because he is immediately accosted by some vampires. He gets away, but ends up stuck in one of the funeral home rooms. Willow and Xander peak through a window and offer to go get Buffy,
At The Bronze, Owen confesses that it seems like there’s two Buffys. He isn’t entirely wrong. In addition to having to fend off a crimp-haired Cordelia, she is now having to explain Angel, Willow, and Xander’s appearances. As far as Owen knows Buffy and Angel are coworkers and Willow and Xander are a couple looking to double. (In reality, Angel is warning Buffy about the Anointed One and Willow and Xander are trying to get her to the funeral home.) Owen takes it like a champ when Buffy says she is going to duck out real quick. It doesn’t hurt that she also plants one right on him to tide him over.
Going from finding “the one” to finding the Anointed One
When the trio arrives to the funeral home they discover Owen has followed them. Buffy puts Willow and Xander on Owen duty while she goes to rescue Giles. Giles, of course, reprimands Buffy for bringing Owen there (dude, give her the benefit of doubt once in a while). Buffy says the two of them are free to search for the Anointed One because Willow, Xander, and Owen are safely tucked away in an office.
Little does she know, Andrew’s body is in the office her friends and date have barricaded themselves in. To make matters worse, he is going all Re-Animator. Even worse: he is singing and shouting such nonsense as “pork and beans.” Buffy and Giles break in so those three can get out. However, Owen decides to white knight the situation and comes back to “protect” Buffy. He immediately gets knocked out.
Buffy fights Vampdrew and uses the setting to her advantage by shoving him into the incinerator. Willow and Xander walk a very concussed Owen home.
The next day Buffy is bemoaning the social damage caused by their date. Owen, however, wants to go out again. But not out-out. He wants to live on the edge with Buffy as his personal bodyguard. Buffy realizes he’ll end up getting himself killed and lets him down gently.
It’s never the end
Giles finally shows some compassion to the 16 year old and tell her he learned of his Watcher destiny at ten years old. They commiserate then celebrate the sunny side of the situation: the Anointed One is taken care of.
The Master repeats his opening monologue as we see the face of one very, very young newly Anointed child.
Trav’s one sentence review: Angel wasn’t cryptic, which was surprising, and I couldn’t figure out Owen.
I really like this episode. It’s a fun episode with a bit of farce. The storyline is self-contained but still pushes the seasonal arc and character progression forward. It’s promising for the rest of the first season. (5 / 5)
Where to watch Never Kill a Boy on the First Date (sponsored links)
American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain
American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.
Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.
Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.
But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.
Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.
You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby.
AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.
Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.
This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us.
I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.
This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.
What didn’t work
Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!
Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here.
I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.
I feel like they’ve been railroaded.
All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring. (4 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends
Episode two of Wheel of Time, widened the divide between the show and the books. Things are happening out of order, people are acting out of character. Whether this is to the detriment of the show, however, has yet to be determined.
One character missing from episode one was Rand. You know, our main character. But we finally catch up with him now.
He’s living in a city with a woman named Selene. They don’t have what I’d call a super healthy relationship. She spends a bit too much time talking about her ex.
Yes, for those of you who didn’t read the books, this is going to be important.
Rand is also working at an insane asylum. He’s kind and patent with his charges, but not all of his fellow caregivers are.
Meanwhile, Lan and Moiraine are recovering form their Fade attack from last episode. Rather than taking the time to actually heal, Moiraine decides to head out to find Rand. Her team comes with her, which seems to really bother her.
While that little hissy fit is taking place, Nynaeve is causing issues. Not by anything she’s doing, but by what she’s not doing. As none of the regular novice teacher have been able to get her to use the One Power, Liandrin offers to try. No one, including me, is thrilled with this. But, the Aes Sedai are desperate. They know that The Dark One is around, and they need Nynaeve to be ready. So, they let the person who’s driven other students to their deaths and actively committed multiple hate crimes take over.
What could go wrong?
The special effects in this episode were really well done. I especially liked the dead fade nailed to the wall.
I was also pleased with the introduction of Elayne. Ceara Coveney is playing her, and doing a fine job. She’s warm, kind and sweet. I am thrilled that she’s around.
One of the greatest things about Wheel of Time is the friendships between the characters. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene legitimately care about each other. Elayne seems to care for Egwene right away. I really love that.
What didn’t work
One thing that bothered me in this episode, and frankly the last episode, was Liandrin keeping Mat in prison. I feel like this wasn’t adequately explained. Why does she have him? How did she trap him? What in the hell is she trying to get from him? Perhaps I simply missed something, and please let me know in the comments if this is the case. But it feels like some poor writing to me.
I also don’t love how Moiraine is portrayed in this episode. Really, in this season so far.
I get that she’s never exactly been a warm person. She’s not personable, open, or kind. Some (most) fans of the book would likely agree that she’s kind of a bitch.
But she’s not a bitch for no reason. She certainly isn’t the sort to lash out at the people who love her because she’s in pain. And that’s what she’s doing through this episode. She’s taking her pain out on Lan. And that’s just out of character for her.
It feels very much like a lot is being skipped over from the Wheel of Time books. But, so far at least, I don’t feel like anything vital has been missed. It feels more like the story is being streamlined.
Yes, I understand how this might go horribly wrong. I think we’ve all seen that. But as of right now, the changes make sense for the switch in mediums.
Now, let’s see if it stays that way.
(3 / 5)
Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and The Unicorn Review
Gringo Fantastico is a troubled luchador presenting Troma films from the safety of a derelict recreation center nestled in chaotic Tromaville. He is tortured by the French-Canadian Demon Piñata Francois who trash talks and hurls abuse throughout the episodes. This week’s special guest is Jonah Ray Rodrigues. New episodes release on the first of each month on Troma NOW.
Roll the Tape!
Welcome back to Tromaville for Chapter Dos of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre! Gringo Fantastico (Nate Turnpaugh) returns to the screen with guest Jonah Ray (current host of Mystery Science Theater 3000) to proudly host Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Turnpaugh espouses his love for the movie in our most recent interview and credits his friends with helping him to discover it. “They kept trying to get me to watch it, and one day I finally did.”
On a totally unrelated note, the Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines libel as “a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression.” For no reason at all, I choose to immediately correct the record and inform you that Fantastico actually hosts Herb Freed’s Graduation Day (1981).
We once again begin with grainy VHS footage of an interview from the luchador’s past. Much like the previous episode, Fantastico becomes upset at the prodding questions being asked of him. As this ongoing narrative continues to build, it is becoming obvious Fantastico is coming close to a breaking point.
These segments, while short, work to highlight Turnpaugh’s screenwriting ability. They feel authentic and demonstrate a solid understanding of wrestling culture. Crafting a compelling story can be difficult when it is broken into parts and spread across significant time. However, he creates bite-sized pieces of lore that manage to both satisfy and leave the audience craving more.
A Piñata by Any Other Name
Before the movie can start, Fantastico has to deal with the usual shenanigans from Francois. When it is time to bring out Jonah Ray for his interview from the Satellite of Love, Francois outright refuses. The interview must come at the cost of Fantastico’s soul. Fearing for the worst but desperate to continue the episode, Fantastico agrees to a one-day-only loan of his soul.
Enter Francine. She’s a sassy yet loving unicorn who only wants the best for Fantastico. She is complimentary and eager to help, offering her kind words in a sugary sweet voice. For all intents and purposes, she is the opposite of Francois. And yet, she is Francois. At least, she is Francois after consuming Fantastico’s soul.
Turnpaugh continues the ongoing theme of addressing his PTSD within the episode. He explains it as, “the whole concept of self-worth with the PTSD and things like that because that is a problem that I’ve experienced. When people are constantly negative towards you and you constantly have to defend yourself and you constantly be on edge and finally something happens and you don’t have to do that anymore. But you’re so guarded when that happens that you don’t know how to act.”
Throughout the episode, Fantastico chafes against Francine’s presence. He is unsure of what to do when someone speaks affectionately to him after suffering Francois for so long. The only punishments she doles out are rainbows that make you laugh. It’s unsettling and a little uncomfortable and is exactly what working to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk feels like.
The Satellite of Love
The interview segments with Jonah Ray feel like listening to old friends banter. Turnpaugh tells me he first met Ray at the Malco Drive-In Theater last year where they both attended Joe Bob’s Jamboree. He admits to being caught off guard when Ray knew who he was and was familiar with his work.
Fame and the mental games it causes one to play ends up becoming a large part of the interview. When asked by Fantastico when he felt like he had made it, Jonah Ray responds “I don’t think there is a there, there.” He likens the fame game to climbing a ladder. “You’re […] looking up […] but you rarely look back down.”
One of the best portions of the interview is when Jonah Ray goes full meta and begins roasting the ego necessary to take on the role of a media host. It’s hard not to laugh when you remember this is coming from the mouth of one host straight into the ear of another. It is important to note that both men are playing characters as hosts, which according to Ray changes the dynamic.
New Place, Same Thing
Jonah Ray also spends time talking about the difference in production having moved away from Netflix and onto Gizmoplex. He says it has been a lifelong dream to host MST3K and the move has allowed him space to better bring his vision of hosting to the screen. Netflix, while important in bringing MST3K back, seems to have sucked some of the soul out of the show. He believes moving to Gizmoplex helps with delivering the level of quality fans expect.
Turnpaugh is familiar with format shifts, having moved his show from YouTube onto Troma Now. I ask how this has changed things in terms of production and he says while he has never felt more supported, he has started placing more pressure on himself. “The pressure is never from Troma.” Lloyd Kaufman clearly believes in the show, as he’s recently started giving it top-billing on the site.
Back to Basics
The end of the episode brings back an extremely confused Francois. It seems consuming Fantastico’s soul didn’t go exactly as planned. Turnpaugh promises that audiences have not seen the last of Francine and that some answers may be coming sooner rather than later. You’ll just have to tune in next month to see what insanity happens next in Tromaville.
My rating for the episode: (4.6 / 5)
Follow @realfantastico on the platform formerly known as Twitter to join in with the rest of the Fantasticats as they live-tweet each episode the Friday after release. Episode three features special guests Toby Poser, John Adams and Lulu Adams.