Hello folks! You know, I am legitimately so happy to be back but I have to be totally honest here… this is probably one of the last episodes I would have chosen to start back up on. We made bad choices on where to leave off.
While I am generally a huge fan of Monster of the Week, this is a bit more dire. Not in terms of silliness but in terms of grossness. Want to talk about rape? Oh, we’re going to talk about rape. When this episode came out, I was 14 years old. I was extremely disconnected from the world, and let’s not dig too deeply into what my thoughts were on sexual assault at the time. But what I am definitely not super aware of is what the dialogue around this topic was when this episode came out. Because this is not subtle. This is just about fraternity rape, except instead of rape, it is a giant
penis demon snake. Subtle. It’s not here. I don’t know. It’s rough to watch and it reads as remarkably tone deaf to me now on a lot of levels. Even a bit on the victim blaming side, if I’m honest. But we’re going to get there.
Partly it’s weird because I haven’t watched Buffy in… probably since we last wrote on this blog. So I feel out of touch with what’s happening and generally like I’ve been away from the show and have just dived back in at a really unpleasant place. But I know everything will get better and I will feel comfortable again soon. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER! I just needed to get all that off my chest.
Let’s dive in!
So we start off with our three favorite kids watching Indian television with Willow. I really need to know if there are Indian television shows like this. I mean, they seem a little like telenovellas, but with a lot more magic and apparently water buffalos? Is there an Indian television show with a water buffalo? Things I’d like to know. I like how they play this off though, with Willow being so into this thing and they’re just super confused. And Buffy braiding Willow’s hair. Super cute.
But then we have Buffy doing what we know perfectly well no one should ever do. It’s been canonized as a serious problem, in fact. Buffy muses that there’s a “kind of hush over Sunnydale” and basically that things are nice. We all know that this means something is about to go horribly wrong. Now, normally that means hijinks and stupid demons and good fun. But in this case it means that Buffy will get all teenage rebellious and angsty, make a couple poor life choices, and end up drugged at a party and almost fed to a snake. As I said, we’ve seen this canonized before, in Nightmares when they get angry at Xander for hoping nothing bad will happen. I’m just saying there’s a hint of bringing something down at play here. While that is normally fine, in this episode, because of the subject matter, it makes me uncomfortable.
Straight into our screaming girl cold open we go! We’ve got a running, terrified female. She is wearing a super 90’s outfit. She has tennis shoes and is looking pretty put together still. I am a little unclear what has happened given what we now know. Did she wake up from being drugged sooner than she was supposed to? Buffy found broken glass later, so she must have jumped out a window? But they seem to keep her in the basement. Did they not keep her in the basement until she escaped? Because it seems extremely sloppy to keep her anywhere else. On the other hand, they’re all in their robes so were they doing something ritualistic? We know they don’t have sex with them. It’s a mystery. I don’t know. I feel there is ample evidence in this episode to show that these guys are really not the brightest and they must only have survived this long by the mercy of their giant snake.
She leaps over the stone wall and I am super impressed by her jump, because I don’t think I could manage that. On the other hand, I’ve never been running in fear for my life and maybe I could manage all sorts of things with that kind of adrenaline. I laughed a lot when she landed in the cemetery, which I had somehow forgotten. Of course the frat house is up against the cemetery. Half the town must be up against one cemetery or another. This is before they’ve clarified that there are like seven of them, but still. Tragically she is captured by the generic looking frat guy, who tells her that the party is just getting started. They’re all wearing brown robes and look supremely dorky as they drag her back.
I totally sat and listened through the opening credits. It had been a long time.
Cordelia explaining how to interact with college men is one of my favorite things. Just laugh horribly at everything they say and REALLY LISTEN. I wonder who Dr. Debbie is and how she would feel.
But then we see Buffy. And Buffy… seems to be wearing her giraffe legs today. Or possibly cow? They could be cow. Oh dear. I was so distracted by the legs that I forgot for a minute to listen to what they were saying. Which is basically Buffy telling Willow about her sexy dream about Angel and how she’s so depressed because they can never be together, partly because he’s a vampire but also because he is the worst and only shows up to drop 3 sentences of cryptic and fairly useless information before disappearing again. Sigh. Angel.
Willow wonders if maybe Buffy should just invite him out for a cup of coffee because it is the “non-relationship drink of choice” even though it is “hot and bitter like a relationship.” Oh Willow. I am fascinated by that though because I have never thought that coffee was not a date? I mean, it’s like where you start a date? I don’t drink coffee but I most frequently meet people at coffee places. And then you talk and sometimes go elsewhere. It’s still a date!
Buffy is late for meeting Giles but convinced he will be totally chill because
everything has been so slow lately… but of course Giles is nothing but a pile of lectures, because she needs to be prepared for things and he has really not yet learned how to cope with Buffy. Even though he loves her a lot (probably because he loves her a lot, just like any other parent/child relationship) he cannot seem to notice that he’s kind-of stifling her and she’s not responding well. Yes, she has responsibilities and she’s actually extremely aware of those. She probably needs a bit of time to be a little less aware of those. But of course, it’s also true that she’s in a lot of danger most of the time and it’s understandable that Giles is so afraid for her. Parent/child relationships are so hard, even when they aren’t stupidly unhealthy.
As she is rebelliously dawdling with her friends, Dick and Tom drive up. He goes by Richard but I feel the meaning is clear. For some reason, Tom sees her sitting there in those giraffe pants and is like “YES. That is a sacrifice girl if I’ve ever seen one!” Which does not… I mean, look, I don’t understand their whole scheme honestly. They’re making a really big spectacle of themselves for people who know that they’re going to murder these girls later. And they’re picking pretty high profile victims. We know Cordelia comes from money, Buffy clearly has friends. Why would you not pick girls less likely to be missed? Maybe this isn’t as much of a factor in Sunnydale, so they’re just lazy. But also, what makes Buffy a great sacrifice victim? Is it the pants? Is it her bug sunglasses? She pulls those off super well, but still. Like, is there a trait he’s looking for?
Cordelia grumpily introduces Buffy to the boys, Dick lives up to his name and Tom rushes over to make nice. He does a pretty good job at being charming. I was sure I had seen him somewhere before but his career has been pretty sad so I think maybe he just looks like someone. He at some point says something about how he didn’t even want to be in this frat but because of his father and grandfather, he just had to be. That really amused me, even though I think we can assume it isn’t true, because like… I just like the idea of someone being like “My father and grandfather just loved killing people SO MUCH and it wasn’t really my thing but tradition, you know? I just couldn’t let them down.” Buffy is charmed and looks pretty. She is happy about someone who actually thinks she is a grown-up and who is actually pursuing her. She’s a good target atm. And, to be fair, Tom is really charming.
When Giles calls her back in and she fights him for like a minute before getting him into a painful hold position, you can tell things are starting to boil over. So off to the cemetery, where she finds a bracelet. Angel approaches and opens the conversation with “there’s blood on it” because he is just always the most awkward of all the awkward.
Buffy attempts to segue into asking him out and he is a total jerk about it. He points out their age difference, which is always relevant but not in this show, due to Angel’s maturity level of 12. He treats her pretty much like a child and then he gets weirdly aggressive with her and grabs her. There’s a lot of silly dialogue here about how “one thing will lead to another” if they start things and such. It’s all very vague and I can’t imagine Angel himself knows what he’s talking about. But I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the last line, because I think that SMG delivers it perfectly. When Angel growls at her that it’s not a fairytale and he won’t turn into a prince when she kisses him she gives him a look and says, “No. When you kiss me I want to die.” And she runs away.
It’s a very melodramatic line. It’s also perfect. It’s everything about how being in love at 16 feels like, especially if it’s not perfectly requited, but even if it is. It’s a good moment.
So Buffy is not doing great. She’s not feeling good about much of anything in her life. Which is when Cordelia assaults her in the hallway, insults her hair for no reason, and tells her she needs her to come to the party with her at the frat house. I
kind-of wonder if Cordelia just makes up things to insult about Buffy these days? I mean, when Buffy first moved to town she liked her style, so I feel like maybe she’s just playing it up now. Buffy agrees because she is sad, because she wants to prove she can be a normal teenager, because she wants to show Angel, because of all kinds of reasons.
We get a scene of all of the boys playing with swords in their robes, with the girl (whose name is Cally) chained in the corner. I just cannot deal with men who have clubs where they wear robes like this. It’s so bizarre. I think the same thing when I see the KKK sometimes. Like you are grown up people who call someone The Grand Dragon. Do you ever CONSIDER your lives? Not even the racism, not up top, just like the silliness of your lives? Whatever. They’re threatening and stuff.
I’m mostly going to skip over Buffy and Willow and Xander’s interaction here, Joelle can take it if she wants. I can’t deal with Xander being so whiny and possessive. Which he has been like this entire episode and which I have just ignored.
So Buffy goes in and lies to Giles about that night. She will be home with her mother because she is sick. Both her and her mother. And she has homework. Lots of homework. Giles trusts her completely and tells her to go home. It is fascinating to me how Willow and Xander are horrified that Buffy would lie to Giles. They all take it for granted that they’ll lie to their parents constantly but Giles is an adult who they are not supposed to lie to. It’s just interesting to me.
Cordelia gives Buffy tips on what to wear, Xander decides he’s going to sneak into the party because he’s obnoxious and dumb and eventually we make our way to the party. Buffy looks very pretty. She also looks very, very nervous and out of her element. I like to see this side of Buffy on occasion. Usually she is so confident and so on top of things, it makes a nice change of pace to see her so insecure and… I guess wounded is the term at the moment. I don’t like that she IS but I like that it’s played on occasion. Tom rescues her from a drunken idiot, they dance together. He plays up that she is mature and wonderful and she feels so happy that anyone would tell her that right now that she pretty much falls right into what will happen next. She decides to give up on being mature while drinking the drink they have handed to her. Unfortunate.
Xander is… I don’t even care. They like put him in a bra and a wig and make-up… it’s a thing that’s happening. We can just ignore it.
Buffy is clearly drugged and stumbling towards the stairs. I always wondered if her Slayer skills would have given her any kind of assistance in this. Not necessarily immunity but like helped the drug be not as effective. I mean, obviously not but it would make sense. She stumbles into either the same bedroom where they’re keeping Cordelia, or else they drag Cordelia in later. OR Cordelia stumbled into the exact same bedroom. She’s passed out on the bed and we get a very skeezy shot of Dick touching her face before Tom stops him and yells at him a lot, ending his speech with “she’s for the pleasure of the one we serve.”
Meanwhile Giles and Willow have been working on what the bracelet Buffy found might have said because it was broken in half, which is a super weird way for a bracelet to break. They eventually figure out it stands for Kent Prep school, which… are there schools that give out bracelets? Whatever. And then Willow realizes there are more and convinces Giles to call Angel instead of Buffy. Even though Willow is the worst liar, it still doesn’t occur to Giles that she’s hiding something. They eventually figure out it has something to do with the frat house and Willow is put in the uncomfortable position of telling them that yes, Buffy is there. Yes, maybe there was a guy, Angel. And yes, Giles, she lied to you. Then she yells at both of them. Giles for being too hard on Buffy and Angel for being an idiot and not just going to coffee. It is cute.
Xander has been kicked out of the house but realizes Buffy and Cordy must still be there because Cordelia’s car is there. Because seriously, these guys give no fucks. Like this is the sort of thing you should really have already taken care of. He runs into the rest of the gang, they all decide to go save Buffy. Woot.
Buffy is chained to the ceiling with Cordelia and Cally. Cally is super annoyed by Cordelia, who keeps asking rather stupid questions.
I’d like to talk for a second about Tom’s scarification though. Because he has
presumably eight diamonds cut into him. They’re cutting in one and that makes three on the front and three on the back, we see one on his left shoulder and I assume there’s one on his other shoulder. Even without, that makes seven. Now, they appeared to be cutting one into the new recruit earlier, so he may have gotten one when he joined. But are there… other times? Because this seems to be ritual related. And if that’s the case, that would mean Tom has been here 6 to 7 years. Which would be weird. ALSO, when do they let recruits know that they’re signing on to murder women once a year? Like I assume that’s not in the brochure? Do they only take families who have belonged for generations? In which case does your father tell you at some point that this is your legacy? Or do they just explain it to you at some point during the hazing process? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Whatever. Tom is a jerk.
The snake is called while they’re breaking in and it is SUPER SILLY. Like I am not sure I can even deal with it. Also, I don’t think it can eat people. Like of course it’s a snake thing, so I figure it can unhinge it’s jaw but even then, it seems to have more
of a complete skull? Like it has a person skull, not a snake skull. So I don’t feel like a person could fit into that space to be swallowed. I’m left to assume that this is an extremely long ritual where he slowly nibbles them to death.
The cavalry has made it and they’re in the house and punching people but it doesn’t matter that much because Buffy is on it. She’s gotten her chains loose from the ceilings and is punching people and quipping and has a sword to cut that snake right up.
And then… sigh. Cordelia thanks them and tells them she all hates them and runs out and it’s just Buffy looking at Giles.
Buffy: I told one lie. I had one drink.
Giles: And you were very nearly eaten by a giant demonic snake. The words let that be a lesson seem a tad redundant at this point.
NO. No, gdi. Sigh. Look, this is an episode that really is focused on assault. So it doesn’t matter that Buffy told a lie or that she had a drink. She doesn’t deserve to be taught a LESSON for doing those things that involves being drugged and assault and in this case possibly death. That is not a good moral of this story, kids. Gaaaaaaah. *smash*
Okay. I’m back now. Whatever. Giles apologizes for pushing her so hard and says it’s only because he knows what she has to face. They’ll never fight again until next time.
Back at the Bronze, Xander reads in the paper the MOST magical thing of this episode which is that apparently the justice system works instantaneously and they’ve all been sentenced to multiple life convictions. Both of those things are magical. Also apparently Buffy and Cordelia didn’t have to testify? I don’t understand this world. Then Angel comes in and pretty sweetly puts himself out there to ask if Buffy would maybe like to have coffee sometime. Buffy says yes, maybe sometime and gets to feel like she is on equal footing and is awesome again and walks away smiling, looking adorable.
Next week is the first Halloween episode, folks! It will be better!