Friday, January 28, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 3

Episode 3: Strange Sort of Homecoming

Late Summer 2004
Willow & Tara go to Tara's home town in Alabama to attend the funeral of Robert Maclay, Tara's father. While there they discover more about Robert's past and how it is connected to Willow and Tara's future.

Synopsis
The girls return to Tara's hometown where they stay with her brother Donny, his new wife Leah and their new baby Megan (named after Tara's mother). Though without knowing Leah has set the girls up in seperate rooms as if they were "just friends". One of the themes of this episode was actually confronting the issues of homophobia as opposed to dancing around the issues. This was at the request of my player/testers who felt that the show never did a very good job of this.

The girls arrive in town. Go to the wake. Tara decides she needs a drink and heads to the local bar. She runs into a guy (Dan) that had a crush on her in high school who never quite understood she was gay. As well as cousin Beth. People in the bar begin to talk and whisper about Tara being back, and with a girlfriend no less.  To bust the tension of the moment my Tara player decides to break into a bit of dirty dancing with Willow to Prince's "Gett Off".  They of course get kicked out of the bar, much to Beth's delight.

During the funeral Tara and Donny get into a fight over the minister Donny chooses to speak. They get into a fight, Tara storms out, Beth comments on "Tara running away again".  Beth mentions that she cast a spell to set everyone against Tara for leaving her behind. Willow punches her.  Willow follows Tara, tells her about Beth's spell.  Discover that Beth did cast a spell, but it had no effect.    Next day things seem to be better, Donny apologizes. Beth has left town. Tara is given her mother's things including her journal that details this entire life she had working with her father as part of a covert ops group to take out supernatural threats.  Donny also gives the girls Robert's car, a blue 1967 Ford Thunderbird.  Tara, now feeling welcomed in her old home decides to head back to her new home.  On the drive back though the ghost of Robert McClay informs them they have work to do.

Notes: This was not an action packed episode, but rather one of interpersonal actions and reactions.  I wanted to delve deeper into Tara's past and her family life, plus fix some of the problems from the show (demons in female side of the family?? WTF?? yeah, I fix that too). Things learned in this episode:  Tara, her mother and grandmother are/were all power witches. Megan was a "Craft Worker" assigned to Robert's unit to aid his group in hunting the supernatural.  Her job was the "Cleaner", or the removal of spirits.  Robert didn't want to work with a witch, but orders are orders.  Now for their group I just used my old 1980's Chill game.  So Bob and Megan were part of S.A.V.E., but something happened back then and they never finished their mission and Bob and Megan left, never to talk about it again.  We also learn that Megan was from Sunnydale.  Donny is not an dick really, just a jerk that listened to his father's anti-demon, anti-witchcraft tirades a little too much.  He is after all Megan's child too, though he does not have any magic.  Beth though does have some magic, though hers never works.  Her role here is smaller than originally planned, but that is fine, she comes back in Web of Lies.

The big deal here of course is Bob, the Ghost.  He needs to lead Willow and Tara through his failed 1976-79 mission in order to find peace.  This mission is also tied to the what the girls are dealing with now and the Awakening.  They also are given Megan's journal which has the cut scenes of the action in the 70's. 

So you are a young gay woman on a road trip with your girl friend in a cool convertible, what else could you want?  That's right the ghost of your ultra-conservative, way strict father hanging around.  That's got comedy gold written all over it!  Too bad that the trip is to discover what supernatural force might be taking over the world soon and may have had an impact on why your mother died and why your dad is such an asshole.

Now about Bob: Bob of course was on the show, but never given that name.  I named him that cause he looks like a Bob to me, plus it was a nod to a friend of mine author Robert Black.  Funny thing is Robert Black goes to the same church as does Steve Rankin who played Mr. Maclay in the episode "Family" (one of the highest rated Buffy episodes). This is my chance to try to redeem the character a bit instead of making him a two-dimensional cliche.  Since he played a number of military types on various shows (including multiple characters on various Star Treks) he is portrayed here as a Marine (he has played Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians, and as the infamous Col. Green, I think he can pull off a Marine too).  He was later convinced to work with SAVE after seeing something really scary.  In 1976, when he meets Megan O'Kelly he is in his late 20's

"Megan" was my Tara player's idea.  Originally she was named Deirdre (I had just read the Irish tale "Deirdre of the Sorrows" and thought that Bob should be much older than his wife), but in the end came to like Megan more.  Deirdre then became her grandmother.  Megan, who I figure was 22 in 1976 when she joined Bob's team was something of a California girl.  Long blonde hair, Led Zeppelin concert tee, and wearing hip hugger bell bottoms.  For Megan think of a young Eliza Roberts (Eric Robert's wife), though she does not make any appearnces here except in photos and flashbacks.
We learn that Bob had been in the military when he was younger, but left for an unknown reason.  He was getting followers and cards from people Tara had never heard of before from all around the globe.  Donny didn't even know them.

The town the Tara lived in had been her family home for years.  Her father's family had been her for generations.  People talked about how Tara left AND also how Bob had left when he was roughly the same age.  Both came back with a strange new woman from California in their lives (Willow and Megan respectively).  This was the start of building a lot of parallels between Bob/Megan and Willow/Tara.  Each generation did something that the other generation could relate too.

We also learn about Tara's first crush. Tara had been in Jr. High and her crush had been a red-headed high school girl that worked at the "Tastee Freeze" (no, there are no Tastee Freezes in AL). Tara would go there to buy a small vanilia ice cream cone just so she could see her, even if she never actually said anything to her. The girl found out, thought it was cute and began dipping her cone in that strawberry stuff that freezes when it comes in contact with the ice cream. We called them dip-cones. Of course the girl had a boyfriend, which broke Tara's heart, but her taste for red headed women remained. Not sure about the strawberry dip-cones though.

Strange Sort of Homecoming was also the first of the "Road Stories" sub arc.  We had planned this as the first series even before Dragon and the Phoenix.  The 67 Ford Thunderbird was our nod to Thelma and Louise, though we already did that ending in Dragon.

We now had our cast whole.  Willow and Tara, our two witches. Bob the ghost and Cordy the Whitelighter.  It was good that the last two could move in and out at will since the Thunderbird can only seat two.

Next Time: Willow, Tara, Bob and Cordy get caught up in the crossfire of a voodoo war, meet an unlikely ally, and find what maybe the most haunted house in the entire Western Hemisphere in "Under a Cajun Moon".

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