RE: Ted

This time, the delay in posts is totally my fault! I’m going to get two up today to try to make up for it.

This is how Ted makes me feel too, Buff.

Onto the episode! I find “Ted” one of the creepiest episodes of Buffy ever. I mean, up until Ted is revealed to be a robot. Not that the creation of Ted the Robot isn’t totally creepy and unnerving in and of itself, but trying to figure out what’s up with Ted–is he abusive? Crazy? Mind-controlling? Is he a wizard?–that’s what creeps me out in this episode. The notion of someone new coming into your life, ALL the way in, assimilating completely and winning over your loved ones and knowing that something is off, but not knowing what…that’s scary as hell!

While I like that Buffy’s intuitions, in this episode and in “Living Conditions,” are often spot on, I think I’d also like for her to be wrong sometimes. Maybe she is wrong sometimes and I’m not remembering correctly. I know that sometimes she gets an “off” vibe about people for the wrong reasons–Principal Wood in S7 comes to mind–but I don’t know. It’s sort of the opposite problem that the Harry Potter series has, where they ALWAYS think the villain is Snape/Malfoy and are ALWAYS wrong (except for a couple times they’re right). I’m undecided on this issue.

While Ted is certainly very manipulative without the drugs, I do think the drugs are necessary, particularly to win over Xander

Your friends are useless and blurry when they’re doped up on cookie and pizza drugs.

and Willow. It seems that as teenagers and Buffy’s allies, they would be harder to win over than Joyce. I’ve always wondered about the drugged food, though. Wouldn’t a tranquilizing type drug do more than just…make people complicit and happy and nice to Cordelia? Like, wouldn’t it possibly react differently depending on the person? Also, how would he have the dose right for every person? It doesn’t seem to matter HOW much people eat, either. Xander is munching on Ted cookies in nearly every scene and he doesn’t get extra lethargic or anything. It’s just a vague oversight that’s weird to me. Anyway.

Ugh, I’m totally over Jenny’s mood, the comment about Giles making her feel bad for not feeling better aside (because I do actually think that’s legitimate, as B said). I just don’t think she has any room as a Romani spy to judge others for their mortal danger or their concern about her.

I love them except for their obnoxiously loud smacking. They always kiss each other in surround sound. Stop it.

I also really enjoy Buffy and Angel in the scene where she’s complaining about Ted. Again, this is one of the things I really like about their relationship, because I think Angel supports her more on this level than her future boyfriends, even though he arguably has the least in common with her at this stage in her life. He tries, he puts herself in her place, he’s patient and understanding and empathetic. He wants to know about her life, as different as it is from his own. I chuckle when I think about him saying just once, “Okay, continue talking about your mom’s new boyfriend, or we could talk about MY TORTURED SOUL.” He doesn’t do that, though. He doesn’t invalidate her feelings, even when he’s immature and they argue. I dunno, y’all, I’ve got Bangel feels to the fullest rn.

The golf scene. THE GOLF SCENE. Ughhh, creepiest part of the episode, IMO. (Also, as a side note, love Buffy’s shirt. Would buy.) Ted’s side comment about her grades, his aggressive cheerfulness, and of course his freak-out and the way he hits his leg with the golf club and threatens Buffy–then immediately flips a switch back to aggressive cheerfulness and cookie delivery man–SO unnerving. Ughh. John Ritter really was exceptional in this episode.

ughhhh, the creeps. But dat shirt doe.

I think there are flaws in Ted’s design, because he is, after all, man-made. It still tickles me to imagine a robot holding down a call center job and going to art galleries. But anyway, I think him attacking Buffy is more…well, he’s basically programmed to “get wife, bring wife back to basement forever.” So his master plan, if a robot can have such a thing, is probably to kill Buffy (and/or anyone else who stands in his way). I think he behaves sloppily because, well, he’s a machine.

I enjoy Buffy kicking his ass, until she thinks she kills him. That’s a bummer. But seriously, that guy needed to get punched.

Here would be a perfect time for Joyce to say, “MENTAL INSTITUTION” if Normal Again had ever actually happened. OK I’ll stop now.

I want to bring up a point that B didn’t touch on, and it’s something I think a LOT about on re-watches. In the Season 6 episode “Normal Again,” we discover that after slaying her first vampire, Buffy told her parents about it and they admitted her to a psych ward. Now, I have my doubts that this actually happened. It always felt a little…sloppy to me, something the writers threw in there for an interesting episode without much thought about consistency throughout the series. For one thing, when Buffy does tell her mother (which is coming up soon!) that she’s a vampire slayer, there’s no mention of the past event. There are other inconsistencies as well.

But let’s assume, as I think we kind of have to, that this actually had happened. It puts Buffy’s actions into clearer perspective. She’s afraid of coming across as crazy to her mom. She’s unable to fully trust that her perceptions will be taken seriously by Joyce. She doesn’t push the issue in fear that she’ll be rejected by her again. I mean, it’s really actually heartbreaking when viewed through that lens. Maybe, in some recess of her mind, she worries she might actually be crazy, so that when she’s the only one who perceives something, she doesn’t have a lot of confidence in it. It also makes sense that Ted’s threat in her bedroom (that he’ll show Joyce the diary and they’ll put Buffy in a mental institution) is a very REAL threat, and helps to push her over the edge into beating him up. Otherwise, couldn’t she just tell Joyce, “It’s fiction, it’s a novella”? The fact that she freaks at the thought of Ted taking her diary makes sense.

Obviously, again, I’m projecting the events of “Normal Again” onto this episode, as I doubt very much the writers had such an episode in mind while creating “Ted.” Still, it’s interesting to think about!

The Sunnydale police force at work again! First of all, lawyer up, Buffy! Or at least have your mom in the interrogation room, you’re a minor! Anyway, Buffy wears her depression overalls the next day to school, so you know she’s struggling with believing she killed a human. Her friends and Giles don’t help much, with their aghast and whatnot. I do think this is foreshadowing Buffy’s emotional response to the many deaths she is part of unwillingly–Angel’s, the mayor’s dude, etc.

Thoughtfully eating snap peas, never to mention Ted again.

Anyway, the episode gets wrapped up as neatly as such an episode can be. Except that the final conversation between Buffy and Joyce seems to imply Joyce never finds out that Ted was actually a robot. How could that be possible? How was his reemergence explained? Where did Buffy put the robot corpse immediately after destroying him? I mean, it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s that good old Sunnydale denial kicking in again. I think finding out your boyfriend was a robot is way easier to handle than finding out your boyfriend was a zombie serial killer who disappeared without explanation and could conceivably appear again at any moment, but that’s just me.

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Re: Reptile Boy

It feels good to be back! It feels less good to be back with this episode, but that’s okay.

Do you want to know something funny? I’ve seen Buffy, the series, dozens of times through. I’ve seen Season 2 probably the most (or close to it). Season 2 was what introduced me to Buffy as it aired on TV, I’ve watched each episode countless times, and I don’t think I’ve ever watched this episode with “campus rape” in mind.

Which is crazy, because as B said, it’s totally obvious. I mean, not subtle in the least. So I have to wonder why it is that I’ve never viewed this episode through this lens. It could be that this episode is just…not my favorite, generally. Maybe I’ve paid less attention to it for that reason – and in fact, maybe it’s one of my least favorites because I was picking up on all that yucky campus rape, victim blaming nonsense subconsciously. Or maybe I get overwhelmed with the Whedonized version of sex (aka “sex will always be treated horribly within the Whedonverse”) that I miss glaring examples of it. Who knows? I just thought that was bizarre.

To be clear, obviously the episode deals with sexual assault on a level that you can’t ignore. I mean, the scene where Buffy gets drugged and then a dude-bro starts touching her, you’re totally meant to think that he’s going to assault her, so like yeah. Overtones are definitely there. I just never framed this episode in terms of the larger issue of campus (particularly fraternity) sexual assault.

Anyway, B already summarized it well, so I’ll try to stick to our original *Episode Post* *Re-Episode Post* format here. There are a few things I want to touch on.

Except these pants. Don't want to touch on these pants. Keep them, Buffy.

Except these pants. Don’t want to touch on these pants. Keep them, Buffy.

First of all, the way that the fraternity behaves in their quest for sacrificial murder is clumsy, ill-planned, and stupid. But I actually like that, especially in terms of a sustained, ingrained, systemic abuse of privilege (like, yes, campus rape). These boys don’t NEED to be subtle about this. They seem to target whichever girl is pretty and popular for no other reason than they want to. They don’t bother figuring out logistics like what they’ll do with their cars or how they’ll explain themselves. I have a feeling Girl #1 escaped because of poor planning (perhaps they sometimes offer sacrifices by force? Gross) or because they simply didn’t want to drug her. I’m assuming, since these sacrifices have been happening for generations, that there’s some kind of higher protection in place for these frat bros. Maybe their parents donate a lot of money to the school, so they look the other way. Maybe they have parents in the Sunnydale police department. (So, basically the same thing that happens to IRL frat dudes who do horrible things. God, this metaphor is really obvious and I feel really dumb.)

Anyway, framed that way, it’s a lot creepier and more depressing than it was before. Although, yes, Sunnydale’s occasional INSTA-JUSTICE is nice.

Rewinding a bit so I don’t get ahead of myself: the scene between Buffy and

draaaaama

draaaaama

Angel in the graveyard. OH LORD. I get it. It’s supposed to be painfully melodramatic and everything, and to my 10-year-old self watching this kind of thing for the first time, this was the epitome of romance. Still. It’s cringe-worthy now. I don’t think I appreciate it the same way B does. When Buffy says *that* line and runs away, I wish I could run away too. (And I laugh every time, imagining she’s running away, in part, due to humiliation.)

Giles is another point of interest in this episode. It’s completely clear that, at this point, he’s more of a father figure to Buffy than her actual father. We haven’t seen Hank at all recently, except in a Hellmouth-induced nightmare and in the season opener when he was unpacking some shoes. So Giles, for all extents and purposes, is the person guiding Buffy right now – not just with her Slayer duties, but with…well, everything. So it makes sense that he’s hard on her.

I even understand that his disapproval with Buffy’s choices throughout this episode aren’t supposed to be victim-blamey. At least, I don’t think they are. When Buffy says, “I told one lie. I had one drink,” and Giles responds with, “And you were very nearly eaten by a giant demonic snake,” he’s not supposed to be judging her actions as a girl. Rather, he’s holding her to a higher standard because she is the Slayer. Still, I’m troubled by how often Buffy’s slayer-ness is used as a metaphor for her woman-ness, and I think that’s definitely at play here.

Poor Buff.

Poor Buff.

That’s apparent early on in the episode, too, when Giles asks her, “You think I don’t know what it’s like to be sixteen?” Buffy answers, “No, I think you don’t know what it’s like to be sixteen and a girl and the Slayer.” And that’s what Giles’ dissociation really comes down to. Buffy can’t separate parts of her identity. She can’t be a good obedient Slayer, somehow disconnecting her age, maturity, experiences, and gender from that. She shouldn’t be expected to.

That’s a problem she’ll run into a lot with Giles. I just wish the episode dealt with that problem better. Giles does admit he’s pushing her too much, but he still essentially blamed her for nearly getting eaten (the metaphor of which we all know by now) and that’s messed up.

Like B, I don’t want to get into Xander’s gross needy possessiveness. Blah. My frustration with how Xander is NEVER called out on this kind of behavior will only grow, so stay tuned for that.

So, yeah. That’s pretty much all I wanted to say about this episode. Except that snakes on Buffy are always terrible-looking and there will be many more examples of this.

oooh, so snakey, so lifelike

oooh, so snakey, so lifelike

Inca Mummy Girl

Note: I’m sorry, I’m publishing this one without pictures right now because the site we were using seems to have vanished and I just could not bring myself to find everything I needed. I am sorry. 😦

Apparently Joelle does not love writing about the monster of the week episodes as much as I do. I was initially thinking I did not love this episode so much and then I started watching it and was excited by all the things that amused me in it. I have way a lot to say as it turns out. 😛 So I guess I’ll just get going on it.

Let me start by asking some basic questions. I know that exchange students exist. I am aware that’s a thing. But I was not aware that they came for such short periods of time? 2 weeks seems like a really brief time to like… go to school and classes and such. Also, while I would totally understand Buffy’s mom deciding to take in one of these exchange students, it does seem weird to me that her mom would choose to have a male exchange student? Particularly considering how little she’s around, the fact that her daughter is 16 years old, the fact that she’s clearly worried about her being in trouble or whatever anyway and oh yeah, the fact that apparently the plan was for the student to sleep in her room. I’m just saying. This seems like a really poorly thought out plan.

I wonder how hard it is for Buffy to not use violence in day to day interactions? Like when that’s really something that she’s in training for on a constant basis and she knows that she has that ability. She is this very physical person and I imagine, while she is certainly an intelligent person, it is certainly true that talking people down is probably not her first impulse.

I wonder to some extent how much tutoring Willow does? It comes up from time to time but I never get a good sense of how much of her time is actually spent on that. Either way. On a much more important note, I wonder what exactly Rodney thought that he wanted with the giant, ugly plate? I mean, he wasn’t even in the room (I don’t think) when the presentation was going on so I don’t think that he heard the part about it being the seal for the curse? At least that I could see being sort-of a “cool” thing. Although I guess before this he was just defacing a mask for no reason so who knows.

I love seeing Buffy in this role of asking Giles almost as a father. “Can I go? Can I go?” As Joelle said in the last entry, obviously at this point Giles is far more connected to the Council at this point and he is still trying to come down on her about balancing her teenager life with her Slayer responsibilities. But I love this scene and how amazing would it have been to be able to kick my dad when he was telling me no? SO AWESOME, is the answer to that question. 😛

Oh yeah. We’ve forgotten about something. Rodney. That was a concern. “I don’t think I saw him on the bus back from the field trip.” Okay Sunnydale High. REALLY? REALLY? Do we really not even bother to do head counts? I mean, I realize that students die and disappear in this town all the time but I would really think that even in this school, it would be fairly important when coming back from a trip to make sure that you were coming back with the same number of kids you left with. For shame, for shame. Anyway. They’re sad about his death for a full 8 seconds or so and then we mostly don’t worry about that anymore. Who has time, really? 😛

Buffy has a brief talk with Xander about how he doesn’t actually have romantic feelings for Willow. Somehow during this conversation Willow walks in and neither of them notice. This drives me nuts on two levels. On one level it drives me crazy because unless they both lost their peripheral vision recently for no good reason, there is absolutely no excuse for them to have not noticed that door opening. Particularly Buffy, with all her Slayer skills, should definitely have noticed that. And the other level is just that this is one of those things in tv shows and movies that happens all the time and annoys me. How is that people are just constantly walking in and overhearing conversations about themselves? Frequently they walk in long enough to hear exactly the wrong part of a conversation but either way, this is really not something that has ever happened to me and I can’t imagine that it happens so frequently to other people either. It’s just a writer’s trick they use in scripts to move characters along and it always annoys me. JUST SAYING. It is not the last time it’ll happen in this show.

Well, since the museum was apparently really not paying any attention whatsoever to it’s precious collection of ancient South American artifacts, not only did they sneak in to look and discover that the mummy had been replaced by Rodney (wonder what the museum did about that, btw? How much you want to bet they just removed the braces? Not sure how you cover the whole “oops the ancient ugly plate is broken” thing though), but they stole what they could find of the seal too. But since Giles knows nothing about pictograms, Willow is apparently not sure how to use the internet to find them (I always think it’s a little weird that never comes up), so their that is “Well, gee. Ampata is from South America. So he could totally know how to interpret ancient pictograms, right?” Yeah, guys. That seems entirely likely.

Whatever. Buffy scurries off to the bus station to find Ampata. I’m totally confused as to why they would just send this exchange student to like… a bus station. Wouldn’t he fly in somewhere? I’m also confused about how in the world the still half mummified corpse of the Inca princess managed to find her way to the bus station from the museum. I mean, we have no idea of the distance, but however far it was, it still had to have been a difficult task. Especially since there was really no way for her to know where it was and it’s not like she could really ask in her condition. Realistically it would have made more sense for her to life suck someone else, look like a person, ask directions to the bus station. THEN life suck Ampata and meet Buffy. Also, how much of an international incident do you think it would cause for this high school student to just completely disappear? Wouldn’t his parents have been calling? Trying to make sure he was okay and everything? How did she explain the fact that Ampata just disappeared after a few days? This whole storyline takes place in such a completely insane alternate reality that it’s fun to contemplate.

FIRST SIGHTING OF OZ! I have nothing to say about that really, except that he’s funny and charming and adorable.

Xander takes Ampata to the completely deserted bleachers. She’s wearing the most disturbing mom jeans (can these please never come back in fashion?) and has her whole whatever about Twinkies with him. I always struggle somewhat with this idea that Xander is this guy who has never been anything but the MOST UNPOPULAR PERSON IN SCHOOL or whatever. Like it seems ridiculous that he doesn’t have friends besides Willow and Buffy or whatever. I agree he can totally be an asshole but certainly no more than a lot of people in that school and he’s certainly not such a geek that he should be untouchable or whatever. I feel certain that girls would have had crushes on him before. Always annoys me. Unexpectedly they are attacked by the man, who is weirdly fended off by being knocked down the bleachers once. I am really not clear on why he ran away.

Willow tells Xander he should take Ampada to the dance because she’s a better person than she should be. Ampada life sucks her guard. Does Ampada have super strength? I feel like she must but if so, then shouldn’t the guard ALSO have super strength? I feel like it should have been a lot more of a fight.

I really love the scene before the dance. It’s so well choreographed, both of them sort-of dancing around the edge of each other’s secrets as they shut drawers and trunks and stuff. It’s awesome. I love it. Best scene in the whole episode.

At the dance, we have our first view of Jonathan, Oz’s first view of a brokenhearted Willow and a whole lot of ridiculous costumes. Do exchange students have to speak some English to BE exchange students to America? I actually have no idea but all the exchange students I met briefly when I was younger did so I had always assumed…

Giles rushes to construct the seal. I love his glee at finding the pieces. Ampata kind of kicks his ass, which is another reason I assume she has super strength because he should be able to take some amount of care of himself. Buffy bursts in just in time with her pun about mummies who don’t “kiss and tell”. I feel like she spent the entire car ride thinking that up and was delighted to be able to deliver it. I think it probably ranks in like top 10 worst Buffy puns, which is saying something. It still makes me groan every time. Fight, fight, bang, bang, no more mummy. I do enjoy the last little bit, even if it’s not at all subtle in this episode. It’s a consistent Buffy theme. What makes you the person you are is the choices you end up making when it counts.

Inca Mummy Girl

This is a silly episode.  And pretty racist? But mostly silly.

Buffy, I cannot handle this outfit. Stop it.

It opens with Buffy’s class going to a museum for a whole cultural shebang and talking about the foreign exchange students that will be staying with various students. Well, it opens with that, and Xander’s insanely inappropriate jealousy that a boy will, like, be near Buffy in any capacity. I’m so over you, Xander. Knock it off already and grow and change all that, please. You’re being gross.

I do enjoy how creepy the mummy looks, and find myself wishing (yet again) I had a room full of Buffy props in my house, to the delight and thrill of my guests, I’m sure. I also enjoy how creepy it is that the mummy sucks the life out of…that one kid’s name. (Who, by the way, broke that ancient seal SO UNNECESSARILY. The mummy’s hands clearly are limp and not holding on tightly at all, and the seal is free for a couple seconds before he smashes it all over the place. I can only assume he wanted to be life-sucked by an ancient princess.) (Who doesn’t) (am I right.)

creeeepy

The use of humor in this episode is actually really well done, for as campy and ridiculous as the plot is on paper. Buffy pummeling Giles during training because it’s her duty but also because he doesn’t want her to go to the school dance; related: Buffy’s scone comment; the group sarcastically predicting that Rodney (ah! There’s his name) awoke the mummy and got attacked by it, and the way their faces fall when they realize that’s a very likely scenario in Sunnydale; it’s all in the beginning and it’s all funny and good.

But Xander also hurts Willow’s feelings right away by saying he never thinks about her lips (although that’s going to get better in just a min) and EFF YOU, XANDER. WILLOW IS PERFECT. DON’T HURT HER. SHE HAS LOVELY LIPS.

Ok but for real, Twinkies are gross

So, in the world of the actual plot, Xander asks Ampata to the dance. They’re actually kind of cute together? I mean, as cute as an asshole and a murderous mummy can be.

Buffy’s dance plans are canceled due to mummy that’s on the loose, and oh, can we talk about this dance, please? It’s not “cultural appreciation” to dress up as caricatures of members of that culture. The fact that nobody is like “Hey, this is strange and not okay” is also…bad. I can only assume that the whole thing was constructed in order for us to see Willow in an Eskimo costume. Willow + furry hood = the cutest. (No but seriously NOT OKAY, GUYS. NOT OKAY.)

I will accept this as an apology.

I want to say that despite this episode’s obvious flaws when it comes to race/culture, I really appreciate how they portray Ampata. She’s not demonized. She acts as a foil to Buffy, and she’s a complex, imperfect character who we can relate to, and who Buffy can relate to. In a lot of ways, Buffy is offered as a sacrifice (by the Watchers’ Council) and in turn, has to sacrifice being a normal person to fulfill her duties. We can easily sympathize with Ampata, even if she’s doing bad things.

I love Oz’s “who is that girl?” moment because, well, everything Oz does is lovely and good, and also, because he’s not checking out any of the half-naked ladies in the place; he’s checking out the one who’s bundled up and clearly, well, somewhat individual. He’s a good guy, that Oz.

awww

AND OMG IS THIS THE FIRST TIME WE MEET JONATHAN TOO??

Xander telling Ampata he loves her after 24 hours is gross. For their credit, though, at least she attempts not to life-suck him for about six and a half minutes before surrendering to the urge. But then she dries out and Buffy pulls her and her arms come off and…ew.

There’s not much more to say about this episode. I’m so very glad Oz is in the picture, I want Giles to awkwardly introduce himself to people by saying “Hello, can you translate this?” and stop it, stop it, Xander!

Re: School Hard

Welcome

I love this episode. In large part because I love Spike/Dru so much. I love Spike all the way through, really but there’s no question that he has the most intensity and charm in the opening episodes, where he’s just delightfully evil with none of his sort-of whiny unrequited love nonsense from later episodes. I also love this episode because I think it is absolutely one of the best that shows the balance Buffy has to strike between her responsibilities as a Slayer and her responsibilities as a student. I think you really see her up against a wall in this episode, maybe somewhat wondering if she’s really going to be able to do this at all.

This is a pretty good face to make when you find out someone was stabbed with a trowel.

I do find myself wondering, aside from Joelle’s very good point about Buffy burning down the gym and how that was never actually proven (and how if it had been, probably there would have been a lot more legal problems in the long run), let’s ask another question here. Apparently Sheila stabbed a teacher with a trowel. Yes, let’s repeat that. Stabbed a teacher with a trowel. Now again, dear readers. I have never been to school. I do not much know details about how various punishments and things work outside of things I see in movies. But I do feel like, most often in the world, when you stab someone, there are pretty serious consequences to that. I feel like the stabbing, which is clearly known and admitted to by Sheila, is a bit worse than the alleged burning down of a gymnasium by Buffy (where no one got hurt, btw). I also feel like the consequences would probably not be planning parent/teacher night.  I know nothing about parent/teacher night. Joelle says it doesn’t happen in high school. I am intrigued. I wish for votes on this as well. What’s the point of it, anyway? Do students really plan it? Can a principal do something like this? Like “You two do this and whichever one of you does this better gets to be NOT expelled?” Obviously Snyder doesn’t really work by the rules anyway but I WISH TO KNOW.

Xander proceeds to jinx the whole episode very effectively. This is one of the things about Buffy that made it such a fun thing to watch. In a similar sense as Scream and some other self-aware pop culture, this was the kind of show that would make jokes about how horror worked. It was clever and self-referential when that was just starting to be a thing in some ways and it was awesome.

I love Xander clutching his bag.

 

So let’s head into the Master’s former lair. What I found myself thinking about while rewatching the episode this time is the whole vampire pecking order. How does this work, exactly? I mean, look, it seems fairly obvious why the Master was in charge. He’s like…. the oldest vampire and apparently was stronger than the rest of them and far more powerful or whatever. Had all the nifty mind powers on top of looking like a bat. I understand that. But when the Master dies, why is the Annoying One now in charge? I guess the vampire sect that worshiped the Master is particularly superstitious and so maybe that’s the deal. But honestly, clearly the poor man’s Haley Joel Osmont doesn’t have any particular skills or powers. He was important because of his part in prophecy last year but his place in prophecy is over now. Religious vampires don’t seem to do all that well, to be honest. Anarchist sorts like Spike seem to do better. That said, it’s more complicated than just the Annoying One being in charge. Because they listen to him but the angry vampire says that whoever kills the Slayer will take up the Master’s mantle. Does that mean that he’s like a priest of some kind? And whoever kills the Slayer gets to be King? That’s my current theory. I realize it never ends up mattering but these are the things I think about, okay?

My favorite couple in this season. ❤

Spike gives his fantastic opening speech. Dru gives her fantastic opening speech. Honestly, I could spend this entire thing just quoting Dru lines. I adore original Dru. I feel like after second and third season, they never really get her back to where she was before? They always try to give her those crazy lines again but they’re never as good as they were here. For the first time here I noticed something she said though. “Do you like daisies? I plant them but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies…” Which is just a line I’ve always loved because it’s so dramatic and insane and that’s what Dru does but it’s also what she says right before Spike says “Me and Dru here, we’re moving in.” I suspect there’s a connection there with the roots they’re putting down in Sunnydale and what it’s going to do and I was kind-of delighted to notice it, honestly. I love still finding new things after having watched this show more times than I actually want to admit.

I completely agree this is definitely a good scene to show Joyce’s worst aspects as a parent. I still love Joyce but absolutely these are her weakest attributes. I think she does want to be comforting in a way, I think she does really want to say the right thing. I think she wants her daughter to succeed and do what she knows she can do and she is undoubtedly still hurt and upset about what happened before. On top of which, I’m sure she’s really worried now that it looks like her daughter could be getting in trouble again and worry makes people do and say stupid and crazy shit that is totally unhelpful. None of this is an excuse and it is a shitty way for her to handle the situation. It’s also a shitty way for the writers to handle the situation because to me it really seems like they heightened these attributes in this scene so that her turnaround at the end will be more impactful. Just saying. I hate the scene too though.

If Spike had been paying attention when he first sent a vampire in to test Buffy, he would have actually seen a sign of the family and friends aspect of the brochure. Angel’s comment about Spike as goal oriented and thorough is total bullshit, incidentally. He flits around like a little butterfly half the time. He’s all impulse and only occasionally follow-through. The point is that, while Joyce’s rescue of Buffy will be the most dramatic example, a tiny thing happens in this scene which is also important. Xander comes running out into the alley, into harm’s way and he calls out to Buffy and tosses her a stake. Spike takes no notice of that, which I find strange. How many other Slayers has that happened with? It matters. It absolutely matters.

During the commotion, Sheila gets picked up by a couple of losers in the Bronze and eventually by Spike. It’s hard to believe that Sheila has survived this long in Sunnydale if she is this lacking in caution. This town is crawling with vampires and she is clearly wandering out with whoever she happens to meet. At least, that’s certainly what her few lines of dialogue seem to indicate? There’s no indication she’s met these guys before. If it hadn’t been Spike, there’s no reason that these guys she left with couldn’t have been vampires. Whatever. She’s now not long for this world.

‘Cause I’m crazy about a Cad.

 

Angel comes in to give them more cryptic warnings. Angel, I HATE YOU. Seriously. Other than the fact that what you say about Spike really isn’t even true (except for the fact that he’s dangerous), you know an incredible amount about Spike. You spent YEARS WITH SPIKE. Do you know what would be really helpful right now? You could actually stay in the fucking room and give them useful information on how to hunt and kill Spike instead of just being like, “Be careful. He’ll never stop. He’ll hunt you down.” *poof* Why can you not just give them this information?

I adore Dru and her dolls. I’ll restrain myself from saying anymore of her lines. I will say that I am skeptical she could have vamped Sheila or WOULD have vamped Sheila. Vamping takes strength and the whole point of getting Sheila for her was because she needed to eat because she was weak. Why vamp her? They didn’t need her for anything, she wouldn’t be useful to them. And I’m honestly just not even convinced that Dru is strong enough to be vamping anyone.

But I just got so bored…

Back to parent/teacher conferences. How does this work? Is it even possible to keep parents away from teachers? Like I would assume that there would be like slated times or something? Also, I would assume a lot of people would complain about lemonade with no sugar in it. Poor Buffy. I had never thought about how Spike would even know Buffy was in the school that night, although it’s an excellent point. I also want to know why Spike thinks the school is a good idea at all. I mean, really it doesn’t seem like the best place for an attack. Tons of doors, tons of emergency exits. Closets, rooms, passages. Seems like there’s not really any way to corral that many people effectively in that kind of space.  And in fact, as it turns out, there’s not. Which is another way to prove that Spike is really not all that effective in his plans. Again, all impulse. It occasionally works out for him and usually when Buffy is around, it goes terribly for him. This is another example of terrible quality in the dark shots.

Buffy does completely kick ass in this episode though. Let’s all take a minute to appreciate just how much she kicks ass. Let’s also take a minute for this.

Giles: Let me help you.
Buffy: Giles, my mother’s in that room. If I don’t make it out of here, I know you’ll make sure she does.
Giles: Bloody right I will.
B: *bawling*

 

So Angel decides to go with his worst idea ever. As Joelle says, it doesn’t make any sense at all. We know he hates Xander but clearly he wasn’t actually planning on vamping or killing Xander. I have never even considered the possibility that sire could refer to like…. a grandsire. I always just assumed it was an inconsistency in the writing, due to the fact that they probably hadn’t worked out the family tree yet. Also because there are about a thousand inconsistencies in this scene. Well, not a thousand but a lot. I love the Anne Rice bit but Angel is not Spike’s sire, Angel absolutely WAS one for company (he traveled with a group for like…. decades). There’s so many things Spike should know that he doesn’t. A lot of it I don’t really hold against anyone because I really just assume that most of that stuff they figured out way later in the writing of the show so right now they were just kind-of making it up as they went along. But honestly? Why doesn’t Xander know what a sire is yet? Why don’t ALL the Scoobies know what a sire is?

Buffy’s mom coming in to save her is absolutely incredibly important. It’s one of the coolest things that it is her mom and not Giles or Angel or one of the other guys. It’s great that her mom recognizes how awesome her daughter is and how much of a worthless little jerk Snyder is. Which of course will be something of a continuing thing as the show goes on. Also, it’s cool that she managed to hit him like perfectly with the flat of the ax. I feel like I would have accidentally… I don’t know…. not hit him with the flat somehow. I feel like that would take talent. Of course, I’ve never hit anything with an ax so I really don’t know.

Here we get our first indications that there is a conspiracy in Sunnydale. Which is great and makes perfect sense because honestly the police would HAVE to have some idea that something was up. But if you look at crime stats on Sunnydale, do they just show an incredibly high rate of PCP gang related incidents? Like is Sunnydale the PCP capital of the US in this universe?

They just look so happy together!

 

I laugh hysterically at the idea of Spike laying down his life because of… well, because of anything, really. Much less because he somehow messed up a ceremony. Does the feast of St. Viggus really increase their power somehow? How does that work, I wonder? And why does it never come up again? And, last but not least, the killing of the Annoying One is just an absolutely fantastic and fun scene. No one will miss him and it’s time for a new leader of evil in Sunnydale.

School Hard

I love this episode!  A lot.  Mostly because I love Early-Series Spike, but I’ll get to that.

It opens with the usual holding-what-Buffy-allegedly-did-at-her-old-school-against-her routine by Snyder.  I never really understood this.  Well, I mean, Snyder’s evil, but even Principal Flutie stuck this Bad Seed label onto Buffy as soon as he found out about her “colorful transcripts.”  I get that burning down a gymnasium is bad, but I also assume it was never officially proven?  Otherwise, Buffy would be in juvie or possibly even jail right now.  So for it to even be on her permanent record is a little weird.  Unless the punishment went as far as her expulsion, but ARSON seems a little more serious than that.

Sheila. She gets vamped and I totally forget to write about it at all in this review. Yep.

Buffy is juxtaposed in this episode by Sheila, an actual troublemaker who apparently makes out with Dog the Bounty Hunter sometimes. Buffy’s reaction to Sheila is one of resentment and maybe a little bit of jealousy.  “It’s not fair,” she says, “I’m the Slayer. It requires a certain amount of cutting and fighting.  What’s Sheila’s excuse?”  She has a point.  Sheila is just a punk, and Buffy resents being compared to her, and maybe wishes she didn’t have an excuse and could just be a normal kid.

Regardless, Buffy and Sheila are put in charge of the Parent-Teacher Night and have to paint banners and make salads and stuff?  Not really sure what’s going on here.  Didn’t Parent-Teacher night end in eighth grade? I don’t recall a single one in high school.  No matter. (Edit: I have been informed by a former classmate that yes, we had Parent-Teacher Night every year. So. Yeah, okay.)

And then Spikey rolls into town to some badass intro music and my heart is filled with oh so much joy.  I loooooove Spike here and until otherwise mentioned.  I love his ‘tude.  I love how his first interaction with the vamps of Sunnydale involves him calling one of them out for claiming to have been present at Jesus’ crucifixion.  And I love how he just smirks at the Anointed One’s bodyguard (hey

Awwww.

yeah, remember the Anointed One is still around?  Me neither) and how we found out he’s killed a couple of Slayers before.  And I love how his face softens and he gets all puppydoggy when Drusilla walks in.  It’s all such a good introduction to him, really.

I don’t believe vampires can love (I’m sure I’ll get to that in later episodes) but obviously Spike and Drusilla care about each other.  And I just love how absolutely insane Dru is.

And then we cut to a Buffy/Joyce scene that makes my blood boil.  Joyce means well in most of the things she does but she’s so clueless about who her daughter is, and the part that really bugs me is that I don’t think she wants to know who her daughter is.  This goes deep into my own Mommy Issues which I won’t get into (you’re all welcome) but when she says, “What I don’t want is to be disappointed in you again,” I want to punch her in the jaw.  Then when Buffy says she’s under a lot of pressure and Joyce says, “Wait until you have a job,” I want to punch her again, harder.  Way to totally invalidate your kid’s experience/life struggles/pain.  Buffy’s parents recently got divorced, she got expelled from school and had to pick up and move away from all her friends and start over, and yeah, being a teenager generally sucks, but nope, Joyce doesn’t even acknowledge any of that.  Blegh.

Seriously, picture Giles in PJs! And bunny slippers!

It’s a bit weird to see Giles still being all “You can’t let your life interfere with your slaying.”  The Watchers’ Council is still in full force in Giles’ life, and this is reflected very much with how he acts pre-season 3.  I think he definitely cares about Buffy at this point, but also probably feels more duty-bound to his Watcher duties than anything else.  And, right now, his Watcher duties don’t include snuggles and sleepovers and OH MY GOD I WANT A SLEEPOVER WITH GILES.  NOW.

Then Xander, Willow and Buffy are at the Bronze in hopes of preventing Angel from hooking up with another girl.  Well, I guess that’s really only Buffy’s motivation.  And, um, does it even seem remotely likely Angel is trying to hook up with girls?  He can barely blunder around with the one he’s got.  Okay, okay, I mostly kid.  There’s some dancing and I swear one of these days I’m gonna make a whole bunch of People Dancing at the Bronze gifs because, oh my god, it’s always perfect.

Spike watches Buffy dance like a creeper, then sends one of his vamp buddies out to eat someone to bait Buffy.  They meet, sort of.  This is Buffy’s reaction when a stranger with bleached hair says he’s going to kill her on Saturday:

You know, c’est la vie, or whatever.

Buffy and Co. return to the library to research Spike, and Angel helpfully appears from the shadows where he was lurking to talk about his ex-buddy:

He’s worse. Once he starts something, he doesn’t stop until everything in his path is dead.

Then he disappears before he can, you know, divulge any helpful information.

The way she “chops” this cucumber will never not annoy me beyond reason.

It’s the day of Parent-Teacher Night, and Buffy is stressing about the preparations while Giles and Jenny are mostly just stressing about Spike and some prophecy that says Saturday night is going to be really, really bad.  Or it’s possible I made that part up.  Her friends are making stakes, which is cute.  Though if Buffy would just stop leaving her stakes inside vampires she could probably save a lot of trees. This is the stuff I think about, okay?

Willow distracts Buffy’s mom a lot that night so she can’t talk to Snyder, and Buffy poisons a lot of people with un-sweetened lemonade.  Snyder eventually does get to talk to Joyce, though, and just as Joyce is about to lay the smack down on her kid, Spike and some buddies burst through the window.  Was there a memo in the underworld that said “Slayer will be preoccupied hosting Parent-Teacher Night.  Free-for-all”?  I mean, I don’t really get how Spike knew she’d be at school that night.

Anyway, everyone splits up and hides.  Snyder accuses the vampires of being a gang on PCP which will amuse me forever.  Xander sneaks out to go warn Angel.  Spike is righteously and hilariously angry.  Willow is in the closet, which is pretty funny.

Buffy formulates a plan and starts taking out vamps one by one.  Joyce argues with Snyder a lot, which is good and makes me slightly less mad at her.  This episode is actually really good for Joyce and Buffy, by showing Joyce that her daughter is capable and dependable and Snyder is a grouchy asshole.  Their conversation at the end of the episode shows Joyce’s improved opinion of Buffy, which is nice.

What.

Angel pretends to be evil and uses Xander as his hostage in what might actually be the worst possible plan in the history of plans.  I mean, it would have probably resulted in Xander’s death which would have been nice at this point in the series, but seriously?  WHAT KIND OF PLAN IS THIS.  I think it’s just so that we, the audience, might be tricked into thinking Angel actually is still evil and his ensouled routine was just an act, which seems like pretty cheap writing to me.  Regardless, Spike doesn’t fall for it and gets cranky.  We find out that Angel is Spike’s sire, though actually he’s Spike’s grand-sire and I wonder if that was a mistake on the writer’s part, or if “sire” sort of means general ancestor rather than “vampire who bit me and turned me into one.”

Buffy and Spike run into each other and decide to abandon their weapons, which seems like a silly move on Buffy’s part.  Spike says that the last Slayer he killed begged for her life, though I’m not sure Nikki Woods did?  I mean, he broke her neck in the middle of a pretty rowdy fight.  So.  I’ll see if I remember this when that episode comes up, though.

At one point, Buffy gets knocked down and Joyce appears, hitting Spike on the head with an ax.  This is super important!  It proves (just like Xander resuscitating her with CPR) that Buffy is unique, un-killable by a vampire who has killed two Slayers before, simply for the fact that she isn’t alone.  She has friends and family to help her and it makes her stronger and more powerful.  This is so important to the overall Slayer arc that carries us through until the last episode.

We also find out that Snyder knows more about the Hellmouth activity than we previously thought, which is cool.  I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE MAYOR OMG.

And then Spike kills the Anointed One.  Thank God.  That kid was annoying as hell.

Re: Some Assembly Required

Well, I’m sure that B won’t be the only one to blame for the slowness of this blog from here on out. Work, school, and sociability is pretty much ruining any serious free time I used to have. So. Yeah. This blog is a work in progress but one that I really really like and don’t plan on giving up on. 🙂

I don’t have the strong dislike for this episode that B seems to have, but then, I haven’t ever watched it critically either. So we’ll see!

Really quickly, OMG YO-YOS ARE SO 90s. And Buffy has a trig class? And I am impressed with both of these things.

I would agree with B that the theme of this episode seems to be “love makes you do the wacky,” and since she did an excellent job of summarizing, I’ll focus this post on the wacky kinds of love that appear here.

Buffy/Angel

I know this was always Joss’s intention for BtVS, but I really love that Angel doesn’t swoop in and save Buffy during fights. In fact, in the beginning of this episode, he tries to swoop in and promptly gets knocked down with a shovel, giving Buffy room to jump in and actually do the killing. I think, as Buffy fans, we might take moments like this for granted–but honestly, how often does this happen in TV shows or movies? Just casual, “no thanks, guy, I got this” girly-type awesomeness? Without the addition of spandex, cleavage, or lesbian make-out scenes, I mean.

I do agree that Angel is annoying in this episode…though I don’t think it’s totally his fault. Buffy did dance with Xander solely to make him jealous, after all, and some of the things Angel is peeved about (her grinding on Xander to bother him, her constantly bringing up his vampirism in fights) is valid. The difference is that Buffy is sixteen years old…a mature sixteen years old, sure, but still very much a teenager. Angel is 241. So yeah, the immaturity/jealousy/whatever is a bit more jarring on him. This is actually an issue I have with the writers quite often. I don’t think Buffy and Angel’s relationship is immature on its own…it is of high school, but it’s never seemed like a typical high school relationship to me (which I’ll get more into at the end of this season). I think the writers do some sloppy things to remind us that Buffy’s young and this is her first serious relationship, though. And I think for the most part, it’s heavy-handed and out-of-character for both of them, and doesn’t do their relationship justice.

Also, Angel has been out of the dating game for awhile. He’s actually been out of the socializing-with-human-beings game for awhile so it makes sense that he’s sort of…stunted, emotionally, and therefore sort of on the same maturity level as Buffy? It’s possible he’s never grown very much–emotionally/romantically–from the eighteen-year-old he was when he was vamp’d, because he’s never really had the opportunity (with a soul) to do so. This is just a theory, of course. Mostly I think it’s probably just sloppy writing.

IT IS SO WEIRD THAT ANGEL FOLLOWS CORDELIA and says he’s looking for Buffy and it’s something I never really noticed before? Like, Cordy is very obviously not Buffy, ever, but she’s extra not-Buffy in this scene. Angel does say “I wasn’t sure it was you at first”–so it’s possible he realized it was Cordelia pretty quickly, but followed her to ask her if she knew where Buffy was? It’s also pretty weird that Cordy calls out, “Xander Harris, if this is some kind of joke–!” Like, I know Xander sucks right now, but how often does he actually stalk Cordelia in dark parking lots? Weird, weird, weird, all of it.

I really love the little moment they share at the end of the episode,

d’aww

actually. Angel fesses up to his jealousy and the ridiculousness of it, and I’m not really bothered by his “He gets to see you in the sunlight” comment. Because seeing Buffy in the sunlight means more than, you know, creeping on her. He’s upset because he can’t truly be a part of her life–her normal, human life and, well. That’s reasonable to be upset about. And then Buffy offers to walk him home and he takes her hand and awww. They’re cute.

Giles/Jenny

Oh, Giles, you are so awkward.

Giles is the cutest thing that’s ever lived. Watching him practice flirting with a chair, and then awkwardly flirting with Jenny, and then going on a date awkwardly, and oh my heart it’s too much. I’ve always loved the Giles/Jenny pairing. They compliment each other so well, I think, with Giles’ social anxiety, stuttering, rigid ways, and total geekiness, and with how cool and collected and outgoing Jenny is…it just works really, really well. I love that Jenny takes him to a football game, of all things. And I love that Giles goes because he’s super into her. It’s all just so sweet and perfect, okay.

I love HOW MANY SNACKS they have and how Giles is carrying them all.

Willow/Xander

This is a ship I will hate and fight until the end of time, especially when it’s actually more relevant and soul-destroying in S3, but dudes. There is such a poignancy to Xander’s mini-monologue here:

People don’t fall in love with what’s right in front of them. People want the dream, what they can’t have. The more unattainable, the more attractive.

my heart my heart

It’s especially awesome and sad because he’s clearly talking about his crush on Buffy, but Willow is right next to him and looking at him and oh, it breaks my heart. She’s attributing those words to him, and Buffy understands it from both points of view, and ugh. DEEP.

Chris/Daryl

It’s not just romantic love that makes people do the wacky in this episode. Chris’s actions, to reanimate his dead brother, to try to connect with his mother, and to be totally creepy in order to build  a girlfriend for his brother, are all done out of love. This storyline always makes me really sad, especially seeing his mom smoking in an armchair, watching videos of Daryl playing football and ignoring Chris (which I get the feeling happened when Daryl was still alive, too). Just sad, man.

Eric: Scream all you want, we’re in an abandoned warehouse. Cordy: AHHHHHHHHH! Eric: Okay, that’s enough.

It’s important to remember that there are definitely downright BAD things going on here, no matter why they’re going on, and there’s no justification for chopping up dead people in order to reanimate the parts or, you know, cutting the heads off of living people. Also, Eric’s motivations are not done out of love, and are totally gross.

At the end of the day, it’s made very clear that what Chris and Eric are doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. And that’s important to drive home. Just because something is done out of love (in Chris’s case) doesn’t mean it should be done. There are definite, important limits here.

I don’t really want to discuss zombie love, because I’m not sure zombie-Daryl is capable of it, or if it was just a matter of sex, or what. But during this viewing, I thought of something I hadn’t thought of before: has Chris or Eric tried to get Daryl a regular girlfriend? Because when Cordy is promising to be with Daryl so that they won’t kill her, he says, “When you’re finished, you won’t go out. You won’t run away. But we can hide together.” It makes me think that they may have kidnapped a living girl to be with Daryl and she ended up escaping and UGH, so SO creepy.

Favorite quotes:

*Giles practicing asking Jenny out on a chair*
Buffy: Boy, I guess we never realized how much you liked that chair.

Xander: You know, this might go a lot faster if you femmes actually picked up a shovel, too.
Giles: Hear, hear.
Buffy: Sorry, but I’m an old-fashioned gal. I was raised to believe that men dig up the corpses and the women have the babies.

Angel: What I saw didn’t add up to three whole girls. I think they kept some parts.
Buffy: Could this get yuckier?
Willow: They probably kept the other parts to eat!
Buffy: Question answered.

In conclusion, Giles is perfect.