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.