‘Deadpool’: Review


I am so sick of superhero movies. I’m not against the core concept, as generally engaging and entertaining movies can and have been mined from the concept of a superhero in both the action elements that obviously come with it, as well as the character and emotional aspects of how this person deals with the turmoils of being this different kind of person. Nowadays, though, these movies are so locked in to making money, it seems, that they’ve just become increasingly formulaic with all these characters blending into one where I don’t have any connection to any of them and thus don’t care about them or the movies.

In the Marvel canon, the only recent movies I’ve liked was the first Iron Man, due to it being something completely different from what we’d seen at the time, the depiction of a superhero not named Spiderman, Batman or Superman, the portrayal of the character by Robert Downey, Jr. and the overall fun the movie oozed. I enjoyed the Captain American movies, because although a superhero movie on the outset, at its core was a much more interesting spin on a investigative-type thriller with government-type organizations. The last movie I really enjoyed was Guardians Of The Galaxy again due to its out-of-the-box thinking and its penchant to just go all out and tell with whacky and fun story that at least presented itself as something new. Deadpool falls in line with this list, but to an even bigger degree in that it’s literally a superhero movie made to make fun of how boring and formulaic superhero movies are. Finally.

We all know the story behind Deadpool, with everybody dreaming about the idea of an R-rated superhero movie with swearing and brutal violence that could be built upon the money and resources that the Marvel films seemingly have unlimited of. The first step came in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where Deadpool would have a cameo, until the movie actually happened and Deadpool was this neutered gimp that barred hardly a resemblance to the character. The concept and possibility of the movie zig-zagged for a couple years, only to finally be put into overdrive when some test footage “leaked” and was met with a ton of positive reviews, with the scenes including all the badass Deadpool traits everybody was expecting from such a movie.

Deadpool works on a lot of different levels and mostly in embracing what kind of movie it is. It’s basically like if Marvel did their own version of an “independent” superhero movie. Credit to Marvel for letting the people who made the movie go literally and figuratively balls out. The movie never skimps on any of the violence, sex, language, references and crude humour that you’d expect from the character, not that that content automatically makes this or anything a “good” film, but when you’re dealing with this character and idea that gets so much of its energy and purpose from all that, it certainly allows the film to breathe and be what it needs to be. The film is very small in so-fact as there’s is only about two major fight scenes (which the movie makes fun of, including the scope of these fights being limited where in the movie Deadpool will forget to bring extra ammo and guns), there is only two tertiary side superhero characters, the villain is pretty basic, the plot is a pretty stripped down revenge idea and so on.

Like I said, allowing the movie to go all out in its self-referential and mocking of the genre and Marvel movies with seemingly little restriction was all for the better. One of the best running jokes was Deadpool constantly obsessing and mentioning Hugh Jackman, along with other mentions of real life actors like Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool referencing the literal actor Ryan Reynolds aka himself, mentioning James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart, commenting on how small the film’s budget was when Deadpool arrived at the X-Men school and that you wouldn’t be seeing any cameos because their budget was too small. Or even T.J. Miller as Wade Wilson/Deadpool’s sidekick saying that he wasn’t going to join Deadpool in his final battle against the villain just because “he didn’t want to.” The film has so many ways and mentions of making fun of superhero cliches (and a lot of the time just general movie cliches) and formula that for at least this once and for a character that is bred off this it’s such a breath of fresh air that at least some of your concerns and groans with this genre get reflected back to you from a high stage. It’s not that these references cloud the movie too much or take away from the actual narrative and sense of it being a film, where it still very much feels like it’s own world.

Due to the small nature of things, the narrative itself was very small and contained and it was really all it needed to be. It all just boiled down to Wade Wilson wanting to get revenge on the guy who infused him with these mutant genes that were intended to cure his cancer, but rather disfigured him and kept him from his fiancee. In doing so they wove a simple origin story, which you kind of have to with this being the first film, but it never felt boring or dragged along as they did it partway through the film and it featured almost as more of a framing device/flashback. Ed Skrein as the villain Ajax wasn’t that great or memorable, but he really didn’t need to be since the film is all about Deadpool and it’s not like there was some major plot or set-up to his character or his means. Ryan Reynolds was fantastic, of course, because he finally just gets to play Ryan Reynolds with the sarcasm and rugged movie star looks that featured in every other movie of his that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t coalesced into the perfect role where those are the main two tenants of his character as this anti-hero superhero.

So, man, imagine that, a movie the people have been clamoring for for years, an R-rated big studio superhero movie at that, actually delivered and was everything and more that people expected from it. The movie really does come at a perfect time as superhero fatigue seemingly reaches its all time high and we at least get this break to regroup before another Summer of much of the same. I would never think this would change anything and not that it really should or tries to be, but at least it makes certain that everybody is in on the joke whether it’s intended with Deadpool or just par for the course nowadays with seemingly every other superhero film.


‘Lost’: Season 6 Review


Welp, here we are at the end of Lost and I can’t help but feeling underwhelmed with similar feelings to how season 5 left me. It really sucks watching this show that I dug so much in the first three seasons fall apart so much to this degree that it literally doesn’t feel like I’m watching the same show anymore. Legit, the first few seasons of the show feel like such a different more focused and engaged show, while these last few seasons have felt so aimless and broad to a fault. I think episode to episode the season doesn’t work that well, but at least in the grand picture it works better than the previous season as there’s definitely more of a defined plot line and goal since they knew this was the last season and they had to wrap things up as best as possible.

The mysteries and how the show wrapped up was fine enough for me, especially with how deep they dug themselves into this hole, but they still had too many balls in the air and made things way too convoluted with parsing out the history of the island and how everything came to be, especially because all this stuff had really been introduced this season, while having it been throughout the show would’ve been a different story, now it just feels like adding on unnecessary layers to an already deeply layered show. The flash-sideways things were an interesting tactic to take in their format that they’ve always had, and really just seemed like a device for them to have their cake and eat it too with a way to have these people whose relationships were broken up be rekindled or redeveloped through these “magical” means.

The thing I enjoyed the most was finally cemented Locke as the pre-eminent bad guy, or at least his physical body, as the show has been teasing the whole series the many sides of Locke and the lengths he’ll go to do whatever he feels need to be done. So, it felt very natural and a nice progression and pay off for him to finally slip into that role and actually not only be a skilled bad guy, but someone who had history with the entire group, creating some more serious meaning with his place as the antagonist. It could’ve been worked better and not be so abrupt and been parsed a little better over the last few seasons, but that’s the biggest problem with this season (abruptness and throwing things at the wall before the show’s done for good), so it’s understandable in the grand scheme of the season since that effected everything.

I really didn’t want it to, but two seasons is a lot to ignore when shaping my thoughts about how much I enjoyed a six season television series. I really enjoyed the first three seasons, thought the fourth season was okay, especially with it being put under the writer’s strike constraints it did, but really didn’t like the fifth and sixth season due to how unnecessary they were, how much they spun out and convoluted the mythology and narrative of the show and how much they seemingly through out the window or just invented that totally undermined what the show previously was, thus making the show feel like something completely different and unrealistic to what it started as. I firmly believe this show could’ve been wholly fantastic and should’ve ended with three seasons if they tinkered things, or just as great with a little bit of re-structuring to fit in four seasons and make that fourth season really mean something. I realize there was outside pressures, and it was a popular show that people demanded more of, but it’s a shame that the original conceit of the show only happened to fit in about three seasons it seemed. Where the first seasons felt so naturally of a show building slowly up off the last one, using ideas and slowly elevating the show in its narrative, mythology and character relationships, the last few seasons just felt like a tornado of busyness and trying to get everything in that it felt like them trying to synthetically make this show great again in a small amount of time where the greatness of the show in its original sense was the slow burn and layering of all these elements until they would naturally combust. I’ll still think fondly on the show, albeit with some reservations, and it’s possible the last few seasons could play better with some distance. The strength of the former part of the series over the latter and how well it was executed remains some of the best television I’ve seen in world-building and guarantees that the missteps of the final seasons will hurt my thoughts of the show as a whole, but not entirely damage the grand heights it achieved throughout its run.

‘Lost’: Season 5 Review


Oh, boy, see this is exactly what I feared Lost would devolve into with its last few seasons when it’s clear the original conceit of the show had been fulfilled and the writers were left throwing things at the wall to see what ludicrous things would stick to the wall to unnecessarily continue this story. “Unnecessary” is the big takeaway for me from this season, the last season, too, really, but at least it a semblance on making sense within the overarching storyline that had been built up, where none of these needed to happen and everything just seems like silly conjecture just in order to pump out more seasons of the show. It literally plays like some sort of fan-fiction you’d see posted up on tumblr by some super fan (was tumblr popular during the run of Lost, I can’t remember, but I bet it’d be filled with Sawyer gifs and Hurley memes if so) where they made the characters go back in time to the 70s, throw together a dream couple of Sawyer/Juliet, have cute moments where characters run into the child or younger versions of other characters they know of adults, and have the mythology have tinges of, like, illuminati secret society stuff.

I was on board with some of the light time travel that was introduced last season, mainly when it was a small segment of the show and not something that dominated the main storyline. I’ve wrote before about how I wanted Lost and its mysteries to be as grounded in reality as possible, I know it’s a stretch and never intended to be everything explainable by real-world things, but I always though the inherent creepiness and danger of the show and mysteries would and was heightened when the dangers were so real or just on the outskirts of reality like the presence of the Others, the secret testings and the idea of them being whitewashed from the mainland’s conscious and how their whole existence was being covered up. It’s abundantly clear by this point that Lost loves to segment their storylines by having a division of the cast, almost like two teams against each other in some way, with season three having the hatch and the main camp, season three with the Others camp and the main camp, season four with the people who want to get off the island and the ones who want to stay, and now season five with the people from the future/present with the people from the past/70s. I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like a lot of the reason for this is a behind-the-scenes thing where it’s easier to film these specific actors scenes all in one go or a burst of “Others” scenes and then do a bunch of Jack and the main camp scenes or whatever, but that’s at least got to be a part of it. Anyways, it kinda grates on me sometimes how segmented the show feels when they constantly have characters split up and rarely interacting with each other, where they often feel like they’re on different shows or some characters don’t even know each other when supposedly they’re all on the same island. I realize it’s a huge cast and it’s a lot easier to manage having them all split up, and it makes for nice reconciliation moments for characters and such, but to me it often felt like too much of a fallacy and contrived how they always had to be split into these groups.

Most of all, though, this season of Lost literally didn’t even feel like Lost to me. It seems so removed from the first three seasons especially and has lost that dramatic through-line that so expertly connected and built up and upon the beginning seasons. A lot of it has to do with the extended scenes and storylines that are in the real world and not on the island, which I understand for where the show is at currently, but it just seems a bit much when the island should be the focus. I could see an argument of the staleness of always staying with the island, but the first few seasons showed that the flashbacks or flash forwards work best when they compliment or shade in the characters or storyline of the island, and don’t take center stage themselves. The main camp from the first few seasons was such an integral part of the show that it’s a shame the show was centered more inland in the Dharma Initiative area, such a visually boring and confined setting, compared to the shore camp where everything seemed so open and had the wide haunting never-ending backdrop of the ocean to frame their isolation.

I was pretty shocked to read that this season actually got favourable reviews from critics as I didn’t think either the concept or execution worked that well. One thing I’ll agree on, though, is the performance of Michale Emerson who was as good as he’s ever been as Ben Linus, even though I vastly underwhelmed with how much they used him. It seemed at the beginning of the season they were setting him up to reclaim his spot as the #1 villain that Jack would eventually face off with again, but nope, he was just a side-piece in the entire story with the idea of his younger self and explaining how he became how he was. In theory that’s an interesting story, how Ben Linus became the Ben Linus that we came to know, but it was pretty unmemorable and had nothing to contribute besides the classic “traumatic event as a child” scenario. While I thought for sure most people didn’t like season 5, which I was wrong about, I know people don’t like season 6, or are at least super divisive about it, which means I should hate it, but again I’m trying to go into these seasons with as much of a closed mind to the outside opinions of them as possible, so in fact I’m looking forward to this season, especially since it’s the final one with so much riding on it. I really liked the first three seasons, was pretty neutral on the fourth and pretty much hated the fifth, so really the sixth is going to decide what my final verdict is gonna be on the show when I take it as a whole. I mean, they destroyed a lot of the goodwill from the first three seasons, but I can still appreciate them in a vacuum, but everything as a whole may be a different story depending on how season six wraps things up. No pressure.

‘Lost’: Season 3 Review


‘Lost’ is doing a good job at making their seasons work as “building blocks,” if you will, where the succeeding season expertly uses the foundation of the previous season and everything it established. The show nicely layers things and ups the ante of the show’s problems, mysteries and characters that feels natural and within line of the universe of the show, given what has been established and set up. Where season 1 introduces the characters and season 2 starts to unravel and establish the complexities of the island, season 3 revels in these mysteries and unravels everything to the point where it seems like a natural and fittings conclusion could be reached.

Therein lies the problem, though, season 3 ends with survivors getting a radio message to the outside world and getting their ticket off the island. The show even has a flash-forward to end the show of Jack all PTSD-ed of being in the real world, spilling himself out to Kate who seems much more in tune with the real world. But, the thing is, this is season 3 and I still have seasons 4,5,6 to work through before the actual end. Of course, me at this moment doesn’t think they’re off the island because I got three more seasons to work through, and this is the world of Lost where literally nothing is as it seems and left is right and up is down. It’s a shame because to me the show has expertly ratched up the tension and parsed out these mysteries and complexities of the island and provided well enough answers and solutions for a lot of what was dangled in front of us. I could totally see the show having another season, if the season 3 ending was modified, that brought home everything that we had been exposed to. Unfortunately, the show has 49 episodes to go, and in their current state at the end of season 3 I have to wonder how the story at this point could naturally stretch that long. Of course, I have yet to see or know really anything of these last few seasons, but how the show up to this point has driven so hard and layered things on top of each other to reach this sort of conclusion at this point with so many episodes to spare, I can’t help but being wary that the original plot and ideas that the writers had has ran out or really begun to as they presumably write themselves magically out of corners just to extend the series, perhaps due to outside pressure. I’ll obviously have further, more accurate judgment when I watch it, but my own suspicions and not so much nice things I remember hearing about the last few seasons have me on my toes.

While the preceding paragraph may seem like I was down on the season, it’s really just solely on how the end of the season sets up the rest of the show, knowing there’s still half of it to go. On the whole I really enjoyed the season, not quite to the level of the first two, but as I said it does nice work continuing and deepening the mythology of the island, most notably focusing on the “Others” and a lot of the background and expanding on the island. As a show that’s set on an island (outside of the seemingly more sparingly used flashbacks) their wouldn’t seem like too much of variety of sets, but the show throughout the seasons does a good job of never making the show seem too complacent by sticking around one area too much. Season 1 was around the main shore where they crashed, season 2 introduced the hatch as a major areas and then season 3 brought in the Others site. The first batch of episodes of the season do a good job introducing and setting up what the Others are and are all about, so they can play off as the main adversaries, with faces this time, and remain a credible threat throughout the season.

A lot of the credit for this goes to Michael Emerson as Ben Linus, the leader of the Others, who simultaneously with the flip of a switch play a strong, powerful leader who demands attention just how he uses the tone of his voice and someone who radiates the sense of a subdued man, but rules with an iron fist to the flip side of his character who sometimes seems like a scared child and someone over his head with what he’s embroiled with and the consistent devilish actions that need to be taken to maintain this power. I was less enamored by Elizabeth Mitchell’s character who often just seemed to be a new person for Jack to pine over or give him an interest, since they locked off Kate and Sawyer (for now, at least), and she just never seemed believable to me as someone who was supposed to be a villain when the show wanted you to think she was a villain, or as one of the good guys when the show wanted you to think of her as a good guy, but I guess that’s some of the intent. I’ve also never really liked Jack all that much, due to the classic character trait nature of him assuming he’s the leader and his whole holier than thou schtick that he’s always right and when something doesn’t go his way or he’s not the one in charge he become all mopey about it. This season, though, provided some nice dimensions to his character and shades him with some actual complexities beyond his tribulations of being the tall, dark handsome leader of the group who always gets his way. I’m very interested in the side of him who can’t cope without being on the island or tied to it in some way (seemingly straight-laced him of all people) when he’s “back” in the real world, but again I don’t know how much that would be explored since I don’t think it’s real, because, you know, the whole half the show still to go thing.

I’m having a ton of fun with the show and I can’t even imagine how nuts I’d be going over it if I actually was watching it week-to-week way back then and had to actually figure out and let my brain rattle around theories of what was going on on the show along with everybody else in real time. I’m kind of blessed and cursed that I get to binge it all and big revelations or cliffhangers don’t mean much to me because it’s only a matter of seconds until I get to push play on the next episode. It’s obviously a huge detachment, especially with this show and what kind of show it is, following in the public opinion wake and it being done to form an opinion that isn’t clouded by it, but I’m trying my best to suppress anything I’ve heard. Still, I feel like I could be entering murky waters up ahead, but I’m still excited for the show good or bad to see what they can knit out of what seems to be a an ever decreasing amount of yarn.

‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: Season 7 Review

'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' Season 7 Cover

So, that’s how it ends, I guess? The TV version of things, anyways. A pretty lackluster conclusion that just plodded along and equaled the minimal stakes of the previous season. There never seemed to be any consistent movement with the story, especially when they had a small kernel of an idea, with the potential vampire slayers, and stretching it out for the entire season.

To start off the season Buffy gets a job as a counselor at the newly built Sunnydale High, which is really just a reason to have a reason for her to back into the thick of things and gives us some of the school backdrop again, like from the first few seasons. Xander is also hilariously tied into this all as his construction company is doing work on the school. Willow of course is still reeling from that whole “trying to destroy the world” thing and the death of Tara. So, more Willow wallowing, basically.

I always wanted more backstory into the whole idea of being a slayer, what it takes and where they come from, which they never really delved much into, surprisingly. They brought the idea forth as the central framework of this season, but never really materializes beyond anything more than a device to further separate and differentiate Buffy and Faith and cause dissension between the groups with Buffy’s preferred method of attack.

Honestly, for a final season, and a show of this magnitude and genre, nothing really out of the ordinary happens, and is pretty by-the-numbers in terms of revelations and expectations. Willow finds a new lover, not much happens with Xander, besides the token death of Anya that he seems to not take THAT hard given the circumstances. Buffy becomes on the outs with her group after Faith ousts her, but of course Buffy wins herself back into their winning graces by the end. Giles is still kicking around on the outskirts, doling out his sage old mentor wisdom, and dang, I thought for sure he was going to die during this thing. Spike is back and not much happens with him until the end of the season, as they still are just obsessed with using Spike solely through his relationship with Buffy. At least Buffy doesn’t take him back after that whole weird rape thing from last season. So, of course Spike sacrifices himself to help defeat their enemy.

So, overall a pretty disappointing end to the series, that unfortunately was waning this way as it went along. Coming into the show I couldn’t help but be influenced by the praise and stature the show has received and achieved, and while ultimately I see where it’s coming from, it never fully hits that mark for me. I enjoyed how the show was able to very deftly switch up its format from the first few seasons of more procedural based into longer form stories across a season, even if these weren’t always executed perfectly. The first few seasons also teased dealing with Buffy’s psyche and how she would have to deal with the psychological effects of killing and how it effects the people around her. They never really did anything with this, beyond the occasional hardship of her normal teenage things, but I definitely thought they could’ve milked that a lot more.

Buffy would almost immediately become my least favourite character and would remain in that position for the entire series. I understand having her deal with romantic relationships, and that’s all well and good and expected, but it remained an overbearing thread in each season, often with her being the most hyperbolic when dealing with these guys in her life. She also always would give off this air of being better than everybody else with her way always being the best, usually in her dealings with Dawn. Beyond all this, though, what of course the show does best, and I imagine why the show is so beloved is the characters it created, their growing relationships between each other and the eventual sense of lived in they give off, like you’ve known them your whole life and know how they’d react to each situation, they felt like people you would know. Besides all that demon-killing stuff.

The success of the show is no doubt influenced by its timing. Starting in 1997 and ending in 2003 it no doubt was one of the major influences in the new era of television in the 90s, mixing strong teen characters and their subsequent drama with a supernatural element that gave the show a lot of freedom to explore wide depths of drama, horror, comedy. It allowed no restrictions really in the type of material it tackled and would do so full force whether it was the very real death of a family member, gay relationships, rape or even concept episodes featuring songs. The show was able to push boundaries because of its framework and thus I think why the last few seasons were a lot more freer in story and plot than the more focused and defined early seasons. It’s a show that largely deserves its praise, even if its just as well known as what it shaped after it.

‘Spectre’: Review

'Spectre' Banner

Since talking about Spectre means you have to reference it and compare it wit Skyfall, I guess we’ll do some of that to start it off. I, seemingly, am one of the few people who didn’t like Skyfall at all, outside of the vastly underused Javier Bardem as the villain (which coincidentally, or not, is a problem in Spectre, too). Skyfall to me was way over-serious and overdramatic that was so far gone that it made Bond seem like a parody and made me laugh out loud at scenes such as that damn komodo dragon scene and the lack of tension or stakes in the climax. Spectre, on the other hand, is very much the opposite of this, almost a response, where Bond’s humour is played up a lot more and a lot of the story and characters just out-of-this-world insane that don’t actually make a lot of real world sense, but end up being a lot of fun in how ridiculous they are.

Spectre also brings back to prominence the idea of a strong Bond girl, who although, still falls too much into “damsel in distress” territory there is at least an attempt to establish a worthy and intelligent women to Bond’s equal and is not entirely just a stepping stones for Bond’s needs. I realize they always want these women to be of romantic interest to Bond, but I wish for once they’d downplay that situation. Of course, she falls for him, and even tries to get out of Bond’s warpath by saying she can’t be apart of all these dangerous shenanigans, so she leaves, only to immediately reverse her decision on how awesome and dangerous Bond is AFTER she gets saved from a building rigged with explosives by him. It doesn’t make much sense.

Surprisingly, the action scenes were pretty disappointing and run of the mill to me. The opening set piece at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City was a lot of fun and a cool set piece, but there wasn’t much that sticks in my memory as particularly impressive or lasting. I thought Dave Bautista would have a bigger role, as I kinda thought he was one of the main villains due to his marketing presence on the film, but nope he was literally just the big, dumb main henchman who doesn’t talk. Not that I have a problem with that at all, it’s literally the perfect role for him, I just thought a little more would come out of it, besides how generic it was.

Christoph Waltz was obviously a perfect choice to play a Bond villain, a role he was basically born to play. He was very underutilized and only really featured in the back half of the film, but it kind of gave his performance and scenes and more special and unique quality, like Bond had finally done enough to reveal and see the final boss.

I had a lot of fun with Spectre, it wasn’t amazing nor did it push the Bond films in a new direction, it was an amalgamation of some of the earlier Bond films, embracing the ludicrousness and reveling in the type of villain who creates an entire building to house an asteroid. I’m pretty sure the film is aware of all this stuff as it goes along, it’s not like everything is played so straight that it demands to be serious, it just stresses more on the entertainment than the always underlying sadness that has seemed to plague Bond for the Daniel Craig run. I do wonder after this how much tread is left on the Daniel Craig Bond tire. Whatever his contract or he says he seems tired of it, and he definitely shows some cracking at the edges during the film. I would love to see some new blood injected into the franchise and perhaps a different direction taken, not that the films have been bad, just maybe some fresh eyes would help shake things up in a less monotonous direction.

‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: Season 4 Review

This is such an amazing promo cast picture that perfectly encapsulates 1999/2000.

This is such an amazing promo cast picture that perfectly encapsulates 1999/2000.

One of my favourite TV show things is when high school based shows reach the point, usually indeed around season 4, where they realize they can’t really just keep them in high school forever. High school shows are perfect fodder for shows because they’re easy situatio-wise in a place where all these people congregate for the majority of the day, there’s endless stories to mine and it’s really just a simple framework all the way around. But, enter college where someone can go theoretically wherever the hell they want, as opposed to be the junior/high school of the city they were born into. So, thus begins the TV show’s job of pushing characters into college, but somehow making them not separate into the furthest reaches of the world, because, you know, we still got a show to run here and character dynamics and all that. And this all leads to the anti-climactic thing that always happens where they just go “ehhh, screw it let’s just pretend their dream has always been to go to the closest school from where they are now.”

So, thus Buffy and Willow are now college students! And Xander, well, he supposedly goes off to travel and is unsuccessful in mining anything from that as Xander of course was, just prolonging his classic “I have no clue what I want to do with my life/have no clue what to do for college, so let’s just pretend I’ve always wanted to travel and that’ll fulfill me with meaning!” Anyways, Xander comes back and literally just hangs out the whole season with no explanation given to what he’s does with his day-to-day life. Well, I guess, he does begin to date a demon, because that’s literally all he seems to care about, and good for him I guess!

Anyways, this season! I was looking forward to Buffy and Willow tackling the new and exciting and cliche challenges of college, but that didn’t really happen. It was basically just like the seasons before, with a new backdrop that they didn’t really utilize all that often or separate from their high school experience. I love when these shows make the move to college, because it usually frees up the characters, makes things a bit looser and allows just a general freedom that usually cuts out the extraneous bits from the earlier season. I know this show’s about slaying vampires and such, but I kinda expected some “damn, keeping up with college-level school work while killing vampires is so hard” or “man, isn’t all these new things like partying, alcohol, drugs, sex free from the shadow of parents so cool!” storylines, but instead it never really was a major referential part of the season. There is some early stuff in the beginning, like Willow’s weird roommate, and stuff with a professor between Buffy that didn’t really go anywhere and was wrapped up pretty early.

The main crux of the season flows through Buffy’s newest dude crush, because of course Buffy can’t go a few feet without falling for some guy, even though she always claims it’s not really the life for her hence her occupation. But, anyway, the prototypical college dude Riley, a somehow worse name than Angel, enters the mix who is eventually discovered to be part of a secret group called The Initiative, a group with a hidden base under the college campus who kills and studies demons. Yes, it’s an amazing revelation when they reveal this big government organization operating under the college run by this normal looking professor who looks like everybody’s mom with her Abercrombie model doing these military-esque demon hits for her. Amazing. Of course, stuff goes up in smoke, and their big test subject demon/cyborg thing turns on everybody and destroys everything until Buffy and crew are there to make the save.

One of the organizations doings is taking in Spike, implementing him with a microchip preventing him from killing humans, and essentially neutering him. Now I was psyched to get to see more Spike at first, he’s a great villain who is a nice foil for Buffy and the gang, has a great look, and is genuinely funny and has a well-developed character. But, nope, he just hangs out on the fringe of the season and lounges around like a college kid and cracks jokes about whatever and wallows in his inability to harm Buffy and co. He gets to do a bit more as the season progresses with helping out Buffy’s side, but he seemed grossly misused and I realize he wasn’t the focal point of the season, but I hope he gets some more meatier stuff to do in the future seasons.

Also, Willow’s not going to end up with Xander! Thank god for her. I had read accidentally somewhere that Willow would become/realize she was a lesbian, and I wasn’t sure if I misread things, but I’m glad I didn’t, as this seems something perfectly in-line with her and her character. Also, yeah, her ending up with Xander would be horrible in retrospective given how awful he treats her/shuns her when you really break things down. Anyways, Willow meets Tara, another witch, and they bond adorably over their spell-castings and slowly realize what their feelings toward each other means and it’s a really organic and mature way things just unfold. I also can’t imagine these types of storyline were all that prominent or done around 2000, where nowadays there’s gay relationships and storylines on every show it seems. I just hope they don’t exploit it or anything, but I highly doubt they would given how they treated it here.

Ultimately this season was pretty fine all the way around, definitely a step down from the last few seasons, but not by any huge margin. This season just seemed kind of fruitless and didn’t really advance, change or develop things all that much in any overall sense. Almost like it was a stop gap of things, rerooting the tenants of the show with Angel leaving and moving to a new location, even if it was treated like any other season, really. Riley basically just becomes the Angel of the season, Buffy’s new addiction and dude who always drives her into deeper troubles in both her emotional sense and killing demon sense. I’ve always loved Buffy’s internal conflict of having to be a vampire killer contesting with her own personal life as an eigtheen-year-old girl having to deal with what normally life throws at a maturing woman at that age, and add in the multiplier of college, I thought it’d be ripe for that examination, but nothing happened on that end, to its detriment, I think. I’m hoping this was just a treading of the water of a season, and things pick up with an overall driving force that doesn’t feel so contained as this season did as the show pushes on to the latter half of its run.

As you can probably tell I decided to not alternate back-and-forth with Angel and what a glorious decision that was. I don’t think I could’ve kept up with that, as it’s taking me longer and longer to get through these seasons (not the show’s fault, just me) and I really don’t care about the minuscule crossovers, although I do hear Cordelia is on Angel and damn I miss her so much.