I completely agree with Joelle that this episode does drag in spots. It is certainly not my favorite. But what was interesting to me about it is that I think I liked it a lot better when I was younger, and I think that the reason why is because it is really written more for teenagers than for adults. At least this is my theory about why it doesn’t work so well for me now, Joelle may feel totally different.
This is ultimately an episode about realizing that your parents/caregivers are human beings who made mistakes in their past. Sometimes terrible mistakes, things they are still paying for, things that have impacted who they are today. But that’s not news to me at 31. I’ve known just how human and flawed my parents (and every more grown-up person than me that I have) are for a long time. The kick of discovering that when you’re a teenager, which is certainly when it most frequently happens, should not be underestimated and I am really glad he did an episode on it. But I think it just doesn’t hold the same punch when we are the adults. At least not for me.
So let’s get into this.
I have never, ever understood why Phillip goes looking for Giles at the school in the middle of the night. Or evening. It’s probably evening, we’re looking at after Halloween I suppose, so it’s getting dark early. What it certainly is not is anywhere near school hours. There’s no reason to assume he lives here and since they’re going to introduce Giles’ house in this episode, it seems particularly silly.
I have always found it especially charming that Phillip asks Deirdre if it is her, while her face is clearly dead and basically disintegrating. I mean, probably it is not her, Phillip. I’m just suggesting. What I have not found charming is the fact that he didn’t actually run instead of pounding ineffectually at a door until she slowly ambled up to him and unimpressively strangled him to death. It just seems so dumb.
I have to say that I am 100% on the side of Giles in the aerobic music battle and I don’t care if it makes me old. Whatever the fuck Buffy is listening to is TERRIBLE and my ears actually ring with appreciation when she turns it off. Why couldn’t she be listening to 90’s pop or something? That had a beat too! I do love her work-out clothes however.
I would like to say that Joelle did not mention how astonishingly dated their game of “anywhere but here” is. It cracks me up every time. I mean, Gavin Rossdale? John Cusack? These are hard 90’s picks. I love John Cusack but he is nowhere near an anywhere but here list for me these days. I never cared for Gavin Rossdale. But either way.
I do like that they all assume that Giles could never have been restless in school. It’s a good place to start it, because it is that concept of who the adult in your life is that cannot be shaken. It frustrates you, it often gets under your skin, but at the same time, there is a certainty to it that you can tell gives them comfort even as they are mocking it. It is that exact certainty that will be shaken during this episode.
I would love to know why Xander was unaware he was going to have to be in school that Saturday. I would think that was something that you would be required to alert students to in advance.
I adore Jenny teasing Giles about his book. I would love nothing more than to do this to David but I would never be able to keep a straight face like she does. Also, sexy fuddy duddy makes COMPLETE sense to me, for reasons I will not go into because a certain person would probably murder me when I saw them this week. I’m just saying.
As Giles is being confronted in the library about the homicide and Cordelia breezes in… I just love her obliviousness to everything. It is my favorite. I particularly love her “Why is everyone always yelling my name?” She just sounds so hurt.
So yes, it is Giles friend that is there and I think it is a funny thing that the woman
asks him if this friend he hasn’t seen in 20 years would “have any reason to contact him?” Instead of the much more obvious question of “so… would your friend have any reason to fly to a different continent and show up at your place of employment with no luggage or identification of any kind?” Speaking of which, how did he get to America with no identification?
Buffy is waiting for the blood delivery. It all seems kind-of silly to me. I mean, as far as vamp hijinx go, this seems fairly low key and also confusing. Do vampires who do NOT have souls even like to drink cold blood? Like it cannot taste the same, right? Why not just go eat people? Also like… I know hospitals need blood but it’s one delivery and can probably be replaced. Just don’t make a habit of it, you crazy fellows. And finally, when it comes to things that are biological in nature, don’t they keep a closer eye on them than dropping them off in a deserted back alley parking lot in the middle of the night? Oh, Sunnydale.
Worried Buffy goes to Giles house and I was so excited to see it for the first time! I love Giles house. It has very strong vibes of any number of 90’s television shows and it’s clearly on a stage and I just love it. I love his door. I love all of it. Anyway. Poor Giles, all muddled up and not okay and it’s freaking Buffy out because his entire job is to be okay and be predictable.
More crazy questions about how corpses and British people travel. It really is a pretty gaping plot hole. Also, I know we don’t see the tattoo on Giles again, but does he ever roll up his sleeves again? I mean, seriously, I’m not sure.
So Buffy goes to school the next morning to sound the alarm because something is wrong with Giles. While yes, I understand drinking alone is fairly low on the scale of things he could be doing, as a kid this would have sent me into a spiral of absolute panic. It screams of an adult who is having a breakdown or who cannot deal with what is happening to them. It is a situation of possibly having to take care of an adult instead of having them do the taking care of that they are supposed to do and that is the most profoundly frightening thing ever. It makes sense to me that they are all freaked out by that possibility. To be fair, it really is out of character as far as anything they’ve ever seen of him.
IS it weird that Buffy punches Ethan in the face immediately? Because I love Ethan as a villain a lot and I love his face but he really did sell them costumes that almost got all of them killed and also he just greeted her by trying to throw a bookcase on her head. Punching him in the face seems like the exact thing that I would assume Buffy would do, to be honest.
I don’t have a lot to say about much of the middle goings on here, except that sometimes I feel like the young dialogue is heightened in this episode. I particularly took note of Cordelia’s “I’m going to be in therapy till I’m 30,” which now seems like such a high school thing to say. Who could possibly think beyond 30? I say from 31.
So whatever. Zombie Phillip inexplicably breaks out of the book cage, knocking
Jenny unconscious and sealing her fate, and temporarily the fate of her and Giles’ relationship. I do assume they reinforced the book cage when keeping a werewolf in there? Of course, they also kept crazy strong hyena possessed Xander in there and he couldn’t break out. Maybe Zombie Phillip was much more cunning than we gave him credit for. Or… let’s be honest. This villain is just really poorly constructed. Like Joelle said. None of it makes much sense, it’s pointless to break your brain on the specifics.
I do think Jenny looks extremely pretty in this episode before she sprouts strange blue gem things all over her head area. Like she just has a lot going on that I appreciate. And while I in theory appreciate the general idea of Giles not being willing to “take advantage” of a situation, that actually… does not make a lot of sense to me even from this perspective, to be honest? And in fact I am kind-of frustrated by it. Like before he knew she was a demon, obviously. Clearly it ended up being the right call, but if she had not been possessed by crazed demonic energy, I don’t actually see anything about this situation that makes her incapable of making an adult decision to want to have sex. She’s not drunk, she’s not incapacitated. She’s had a bad and frightening day, but you can still make decisions with that. As a grown-up. Now, if this is GILES saying that he does not feel comfortable with this being their first time, that is totally different. And in truth, I think this has almost nothing to do with Jenny at all and has everything to do with what Joelle was saying about Giles being frightened of his own moral compass, but I think this is actually an example of him going overboard and I find it frustrating. Again, because of what we know, it ends up being the right call and it’s good that they don’t have sex, obviously, but sans demon I think it would have been kind-of shitty to make his issues about her.
I would also like to know if in olden days the operator could really tell you that a phone was out of order when someone broke the cord. That never made any sense to me. Surely it would just ring, right? Is there something I’m missing there?
So whatever, big drama, big demon, running away and then Buffy having to deal
with a breaking down Giles. I think her line here about “Don’t be sorry, be Giles!” is probably the most telling line. Watching the people who are supposed to be the grown-ups have the freak outs and break downs and have to take care of them is a lot to take for any teenager. Giles is her strong place and demons she can handle, but Giles as a blubbering mess on the floor is not something she actually wants to deal with.
So she goes running off to rescue Ethan and she still does not really realize how much of a glorious and delightful asshole Ethan is. God, I love him so much. I am so sad at how few episodes he appears in. Also, I would like to know how he got the table that they used in the marionette episode to tie Buffy up on. Like Joelle, I’m more than a little confused why Giles and Ethan both didn’t just have their tattoos removed ages ago? I mean, I know they thought they were rid of the demon but surely better safe than sorry? Also, has anyone noticed the rather huge plot hole where they never explain why they weren’t rid of the demon? Like did Deirdre or whoever the other one was summon it again for old time’s sake, or did it magically regain power somehow or…? This is never addressed at all and it doesn’t make sense. Sigh.
So you know. Whatever. Angel has an interior demon battle, which mostly consists of pretty dreadful CGI. Ethan runs away, like he does. I know Buffy wanted to punch him, but he obviously had to run away because like… there was nothing else plot-wise they could have done with him. They can’t exactly put him in jail at this point. Dark Giles might kill him but I think we’ve got some time to get to that. Also, this means he’ll be back, which is the best. Hooray!
I would like to only note in closing to this long and rambling thing that if Buffy
would like to hide her tattoo from her mother, perhaps she might consider wearing a shirt that does not expose her entire upper back? I think it is a cute shirt, but perhaps a cardigan could be considered until she convinces whoever she is going to convince to do a tattoo removal without parental consent.
And finally, I don’t know how I feel about Jenny breaking up with Giles. I feel like they decided she was going to have secrets about Angel later (maybe not, but it always felt written in suddenly to me) so it’s hard to read it that way. And also, I have no real concept of how she experienced the possession or if she has much experience with trauma that might have made it more difficult for her or… anything really. Like we don’t actually know much of anything about Jenny for as much as I enjoy her. I can think of a number of reasons I might need a break after something like that. I don’t really hold it against her, but I wish I understood more of her perspective.
In all, I feel like this show sets up a lot of themes that will in some ways be explored better in next season’s episode Band Candy? That will have these same ideas of kids being absolutely terrified by the adults in their lives being people with pasts that are unacceptable and hard to cope with (and being able to see them in full color, which is the worst nightmare), as well as having to take care of them instead of being taken care of. It will also be a more fun episode. AND it will have Ethan. I’m just saying. This feels a little like a practice run in some ways.