Ted

This whole episode is so dark. Prepare for many dark pictures.

This whole episode is so dark. Prepare for many dark pictures.

I want to start out by saying that this was the very first episode of Buffy I ever watched. I think I watched it when it originally aired, which would have made me 13 years old (a couple months away from 14). I was babysitting at night and the kids were asleep and the people didn’t have blinds or curtains on their windows, so I was very aware that people could see in but I couldn’t see out. I was extremely creeped out.

I have to say that I think this is one of the episodes that holds up the absolute best and hits practically every emotional beat dead on. RIP John Ritter, you were pretty amazing. ❤

They look sad here but I swear it's a happy conversation.

They look sad here but I swear it’s a happy conversation.

So, jumping right into it, Buffy and the Scoobies are walking home and Xander and Willow are having a passionate debate about the Captain and Tenille. I had no idea who these people were when I was 13 years old and honest, here I am at 31 and I still only know the names so I have no stake in their fight. I’m sure it’s funnier if you know who they’re talking about.

There’s a mandatory line dropped to explain how the evil assassins are totally no longer a problem for… reasons and letting us know that Angel is healing up in his vampiric way and Buffy is taking care of him. The ways that vampires heal or get wounded is baffling to me but I guess in this case Dru probably took some of his life force or something? So probably he is weak? Who knows. I should probably not overthink it. The point is that it has been nice and quiet with Spike and Dru presumed dead, but obviously not.

But then Buffy’s door is not fully closed and her house is abnormally dark (apparently Buffy’s mom doesn’t believe in lights while on a date) and then she walks into her worst imaginable nightmare — her mother making out with a man.

Um. Oops? You are home early?  Unrelated: I love Joyce's dress.

Um. Oops? You are home early?
Unrelated: I love Joyce’s dress.

I like to imagine that this is actually just Alyson Hannigan making this face about how excited she is to be next to John Ritter.

I like to imagine that this is actually just Alyson Hannigan making this face about how excited she is to be next to John Ritter.

Her mother is clearly very happy and desperately wants her to be happy. Her friends are all immediately hitting it off with him, and this is one of my favorite things in this episode. It feels like a betrayal to her that her friends (particularly Xander but even Willow to some extent) do not see what she sees. He seems like a nice guy, he’s getting Willow a computer thing, he’s making amazing food.

One of the most interesting thing about this to me is that this is actually a theme for Buffy. We’ll see it in several other episodes, most notably the evil roommate episode. No one believes her, she comes across like she’s just being crazy and is unhappy with her situation and is trying to turn it INTO something else because she’s unhappy. But that’s not what it is and the fact that no one

Stop making Buffy make this face!

Stop making Buffy make this face!

takes her seriously, that she’s treated like she’s crazy or being hysterical, these are always dangerous things that end up having truly negative consequences. She can’t necessarily put her finger on what’s wrong but she instinctively knows something is wrong. She keeps trying to put it aside when her friends attempt to (usually lovingly) tell her that maybe she’s just being crazy, but she’s not. She’s right and they should have taken her seriously. I think this is one of the most resonant things in this episode to me and it meant a lot when I was a teenager.

Look how nerdy and perfect he is!

Look how nerdy and perfect he is!

I also cannot even deal with how much John Ritter nails this role. Like everything he does is creepy and yet not SPECIFICALLY creepy (at least in front of other people). You can see how it could totally get a teenager’s hackles up and yet make a mother think she’s being unreasonable. His “little lady” and “sweethearts” are not earned, he doesn’t deserve to use them, and yet you can see how Joyce would think it was sweet. Honestly, I don’t think the drugged food is necessary.

Giles is having a really hard time not occasionally stalking Jenny apparently. Also

It would be hard to deal with this face.

It would be hard to deal with this face.

it has apparently only been 3 weeks since she sort-of half turned into a demon. Time is a strange thing in Buffy. I actually really love this scene of Giles checking to see if she’s okay and Jenny being upset that he’s “making her feel bad that she doesn’t feel better.” That really strikes me as legitimate… although a lot of her emotional beats are a little weird given that we know she’s a Romani spy. Giles sad face is heartbreakingly sad.

I also really like Buffy’s one scene with Angel in this episode. He lets her talk about Ted for quite a while, then gently leads her around to how her mom may need someone in her life. She feels better about it by the end of the conversation, understands what may be up. It actually seems like a very healthy interaction and it’s one of the only normal interactions we ever really see them have. I mean, she’s bandaging him at the time but whatever.

Completely appropriate face.

Completely appropriate face.

The miniature golf thing fascinates me because Ted’s turn into outright abusive is completely frightening. It still creeps me out. I cannot understand why no one else could hear him, but let’s ignore that. I remember particularly when I was young I was baffled as to why she didn’t just tell everyone right then immediately what he had just said! Why did she wait so long, why did she tell her mom like she did? But now it makes a lot more sense to me. She’s already feeling like no one’s taking her seriously, her word against his isn’t really going to stand up very well. Not to mention she’s frightened and caught off guard. She really does love her mom, she doesn’t want to hurt her. Her reluctance to finally tell her ends up coming across like it may not even be true and, although it’s a terrible mistake on Joyce’s part (that I suppose we can chalk up to drugs possibly…?), I could almost understand why she didn’t believe her.

It’s interesting to me to watch now because Buffy has so much “evidence”

She does fantastic awkward teenager body language.

She does fantastic awkward teenager body language.

throughout the episode and yet she doesn’t come forward with it. Why not tell her mom the truth? Tell her she went to his work, tell her that he’s telling everyone he’s taking off for their wedding in two months? Well, her mom just wrote her off. She’s isolated and frightened, she doesn’t feel safe or that she has enough to prove anything. Everything is wrong and off but he would probably have an explanation for it all. It’s a tremendous balance to achieve.

So she goes out looking for more vampires, hoping to find something she can actually fight. When she fails, she comes back and her nightmare is worse. Ted is in her room, in her space. He’s threatening her, he’ll expose her life, he’ll destroy her. When he hits her, Buffy feels vindicated, she can finally hit back. And in that moment, she kills him.

Now before I get into that, I want to mention a few confusing things I have about

He looks weird thinner before he's about to go into the fight but also it doesn't look like a stuntman.

He looks weird thinner before he’s about to go into the fight but also it doesn’t look like a stuntman.

this whole section. My first is how did Ted intend to explain the bruise or broken jaw Buffy would have? She didn’t have one because she’s the Slayer but I assume he didn’t really believe that and would have no way of knowing her capacities anyway. It seems sloppy. My second question is, at this point Joyce does not know that Buffy is the Slayer obviously. So how did she internally explain to herself the fact that her daughter performed martial arts and a tremendous amount of fighting prowess as she knocked Ted down the hall? She didn’t just walk out when he was at the top of the stairs, she saw the whole hall fight and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m just saying.

As it is though, Buffy does not bruise. So it’s a little hard to prove that he brutally hit her in the jaw and it’s a bit of a thing to the cops as to why she might have killed him. Incidentally, I believe we will see this detective in later episodes? I mean, I guess Buffy ultimately gets off of murder charges because the body is missing and Joyce and Buffy both insist they saw him. That seems a little flimsy to me but on the other hand, this is Sunnydale and police work is probably a little different here.

I really should get tired of Buffy's excellent devastated face but I never do.

I really should get tired of Buffy’s excellent devastated face but I never do.

Buffy is devastated by her taking of a human life and what I’m kind-of interested in is the fact that Ted was not human does not actually substantially change that. Like it does change it but it doesn’t change that she has the capacity for that, if that makes sense? I feel like it’s a darkness element that will stay with her and who knows, maybe it’s part of her reaction to when her and Faith accidentally kill a man. I also think it’s interesting that Giles makes a big deal about taking human life even though we absolutely know via end of Season 5 that he will be more than capable and with no regrets that we see. Although obviously that is different in the sense of him believing the world depends on it, it’s still a human life and he takes it pretty mercilessly.

Anyway. Giles is out patrolling when Jenny for some reason chooses THIS time

Jenny looks great with a crossbow, even if she... cannot use it at all.

Jenny looks great with a crossbow, even if she… cannot use it at all.

in the middle of the dark night to come apologize to him and they are attacked by a vampire. She accidentally shoots him with a crossbow, he is very badass and pulls it out of his back to stake the vampire and they go together to the hospital, laughing and being chummy again. I would really like to know what the Sunnydale hospital is like. I hate medical dramas but I would watch ALL of that one.

Buffy sits in her room, devastated in her overalls.

This is not her in her room but I wanted to show the overalls. I love that Buffy's mourning outfit is overalls.

This is not her in her room but I wanted to show the overalls. I love that Buffy’s mourning outfit is overalls.

And then Ted arrives, ready to make things right, while the Scoobies put together the final pieces investigating his house. I mean, you know. The end is what it is. John Ritter has some AMAZING lines. Apparently Ted is a serial killer robot who thinks he’s going after the wife who left him. He just keeps killing them and putting them in his closet, which seems like not a sustainable plan and also why does no one ever look for these women or connect them? Does he get new jobs each time? Does he space them out? Do they all look similar to Joyce? Is there some kind of checklist? Regardless, none of that is really the point. He tries to take Joyce away but Buffy comes to save the day (while Joyce is conveniently unconscious) and uses his beloved cast iron skillet. He tells her he will not stand for this kind of malarkey in his house and she assures him this is not his house before exposing all his robot brains.

Buffy and her mom bond on the porch and talk about renting Thelma and Louise because it apparently has no horror and no men…. even though it definitely has both those things. It doesn’t have romance though, unless you count the two women. That is true.

Buffy wanders through the halls with her friends (including Cordelia, who is now just hanging out with them) explaining the details we haven’t gotten yet. And then, just as she’s about to go into the library she freaks out and runs away… and we see Giles and Jenny kissing. Awwwww…. grown-ups. Enjoy your very short-lived romance. Sigh.

N'awwwww.

N’awwwww.

re: What’s My Line? – Part 2

I would like to note that this episode opens with Giles saying “Last week on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I assume this is because it is a two part episode, so he’s specifically referring to events that just happened and not to things that have happened at some point previously but it stood out to me because I didn’t remember him saying that before. This has no relevance to anything. I just will observe WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE OBSERVING!

Okay, I’m good.

Kendra really does look like a fish here, which is sad. Also Buffy wears this outfit almost the entire episode BUT STILL LOOKS BEAUTIFUL.

Kendra really does look like a fish here, which is sad. Also Buffy wears this outfit almost the entire episode BUT STILL LOOKS BEAUTIFUL.

I agree that Bianca Lawson looks great in her strange pink pants. I also think Buffy looks weirdly beautiful in the opening scene, all rumpled and shit. I am basically just in love with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy forever, which is sad because it is impossible to be in love with her as basically anything else but I was SO CONNECTED to her in this role.

Anyway. I am glad Joelle pointed out that the terrible accent is not Bianca Lawson’s fault. It was definitely a terrible mistake. I would like to point out another thing about Bianca Lawson, because I love her. This thing is that Bianca Lawson is the world’s oldest teenager. No, really. She has been playing a

It is not impossible to speculate that Bianca Lawson herself might be an immortal being.

It is not impossible to speculate that Bianca Lawson herself might be an immortal being.

teenager for much longer than any human has been a teenager. Based on her imdb you can see that her first real role was in Saved By the Bell: The New Class in 1993, where it is more than safe to say she was playing a teenager (and in fact she would have only been 14 at that point). Her ongoing credits include things like Dawson’s Creek, Sister, Sister and The Secret Life of an American Teenager. As recently as 2012 she was playing a high school girl’s same age girlfriend in Pretty Little Liars and her most recent credits are in Teen Wolf up to this year, where I cannot with certainty say she is playing a teenager but… you know. I hope so. Even if she is not, that is twenty years of playing teenage roles, and for like 3/4 of those she was… not a teenager. I just wanted to point this out. Because it amuses me every time I see her. That said, she is fucking awesome and I love her to pieces and I am always happy to see her.

I would like to note that I love the Pink Ranger insult. I did not watch Power Rangers because I was not allowed to but it SEEMS apt.

Giles is deeply concerned and serious about this.

Giles is deeply concerned and serious about this.

Now the whole thing about the watchers possibly expunging records of previous Slayers who had died is interesting. I had never ever thought that. I guess that’s possible, but I had always assumed that what made Buffy special was that she had someone around to save her, whereas other Slayers work in basically complete isolation. More on that later. Also, it couldn’t be precedented, could it? Because when Kendra dies, then Faith is called up. So if it had happened before then we would have already had more than one Slayer out there. Are we to assume that possibly there are multiple Slayers running around due to something that could have happened a hundred years ago? Like you can’t shut the magic off, can you? Or am I missing something?

It’s interesting that Willy brings Angel to Spike but this may to some extent be a downside of how Buffy doesn’t kill anyone? I mean, that’s probably known. Like she’s not going to kill Willy, no matter what he does to her. He may be slime but he’s human slime. Spike, on the other hand…

This picture does not do justice to how TERRIBLE this CGI was.

This picture does not do justice to how TERRIBLE this CGI was.

Seriously, why does no one worry about Xander and Cordelia? Like I know there’s a lot going on but you sent them to a death house, Giles. Good lord. Whatever. They argue, they kiss. It’s silly. I mean, I do actually like Xander/Cordelia (I’m inexplicably opposed to joined names) but I mostly like them once they’re actually a couple. I do enjoy the crazy music in the background when they kiss. That’s fun.

I totally agree with Joelle. Bug guy is the least creepy villain ever. I could definitely kill him. Also, when he falls down all over

Look at the bugs. Almost nowhere but her cardigan.

Look at the bugs. Almost nowhere but her cardigan.

Cordelia, why doesn’t she take off her cardigan? Like the vast majority of those on are her cardigan (and still are when they run off, incidentally) and it seems like the obvious first thing to do. How do the worms kill people? Do they have teeth? Do they come down your throat? I am super unclear. No way I can imagine seems plausible.

Buffy’s immediate hostility to Kendra is interesting. I mean, I feel like it comes in waves a

Giles is just so oblivious.

Giles is just so oblivious.

little and they just don’t handle it very well. On the one hand, Kendra did attack her out of nowhere and, let’s be fair, is not super nice to Buffy either. Also as much as Buffy wants out of her life, she does have that very ambiguous relationship with it where she is protective of it as well and is really very insecure (I feel like we see that played out much better when Faith comes along). Also, I really do think it sort-of taps her daddy issues when Kendra and Giles start bonding about stuff. Buffy’s daddy issues are rarely touched on directly in the show but they are TREMENDOUS obviously and she definitely has a hard time realizing she is smart and capable, even if not in all the traditional ways. And I think particularly at this point, it’s clear that Daddy Giles is not at all attuned to her feelings and he does not reassure her at all.

This is something I’ve really picked up on a lot more in the rewatch is just how distant Buffy and Giles were initially? Like that is a relationship that really did develop over a lot of time and I appreciate that. Just a sidenote.

Dru torturing Angel is a thing that puzzles me. Like my initial reaction is that she

But Dru is so pretty being crazy. She has such a unique look.

But Dru is so pretty being crazy. She has such a unique look.

must be torturing him with all the details of her dead family because she knows how upset Angel will be about what Angelus did. But she seems genuinely distraught about it. While I suppose this could be put off on her being insane, the truth is that it is one of the many cracks in the Buffy vampire lore. I mean, Dru is a demon. She’s not the woman she was. If he had vamped her before murdering all of her family, she almost certainly would have murdered them herself. So mourning their deaths is unreasonable. I like her monologue because I like all of Dru’s monologues but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Does the Slayer handbook every come up again? I feel like when the Watchers came back and got all unhappy with Giles for his training methods, it would have made a lot of sense to be like “and also you totally ignored THIS ENTIRE HANDBOOK YOU HAD” but I don’t think they did.

Pause for a Willow/Oz conversation.
“Your hair… is brown.”
“Yeah, sometimes.”
I know that the cookie conversation is everyone’s favorite and I love that one a lot too but I feel like that interchange is overlooked because it is just an adorable line.

I am probably the only person to ever smile so much about getting shot.

I am probably the only person to ever smile so much about getting shot.

So Buffy shows up to the seminar and the police woman there immediately begins shooting up the school, takes poor Jonathan hostage (hey Jonathan! It’s so good to see you!) and like… yeah. I love that Sunnydale is to the point where a policewoman can shoot up a school and school doesn’t even close down. Or really anything. That is how disengaged this town is. I mean, my initial thought was that probably she was not a real policewoman but how would she have been able to teach the seminar unless she had done at least SOME time on a real force? It’s crazy. This town is just literally crazy. I love it. Also Oz takes what looks like an extremely direct hit in the shoulder but apparently he was only grazed somehow.

I did not notice until Joelle pointed it out that Spike says this is the full moon and the Scoobies say this is the new moon. Come ON, folks. You could have like… checked basic writing.

My explanation for the ritual not killing him growing up was that probably no one had ever bothered trying to stop it before it killed them. Like vampires being evil and all if anyone ever used it, they probably just went all the way. But since they do actually seem to care about each other, I’m not sure that really holds up.

Mostly I just love everyone's expressions here but I think that Kendra's inability to even look a male her age in the eye also does not scream "things are fine."

Mostly I just love everyone’s expressions here but I think that Kendra’s inability to even look a male her age in the eye also does not scream “things are fine.”

I do not agree with Joelle on the whole difference in their upbringings. I feel like the show overall clearly posits the idea that it’s Buffy’s support, her family and friends that give her strength, that make her a DIFFERENT type of Slayer than the others have been able to do. Everything we know about the creation of the entire Slayer line is about subjugation and women being cut off from community and from others to fill a calling created by and overseen by men. The show ends by cutting that out and by empowering those women (theoretically) to have a community of friends and others like them — to have connection to what they’re fighting for. Kendra says not to feel sorry for her and I agree pity is a useless emotion but I don’t think it follows that we’re supposed to be okay with how she’s been raised or what has been done to her. And I think it’s arguable that there’s even more of an othering there because she’s black, and more specifically because she’s the only PoC we’ve seen. Granted, this is in context of the whole show more than what we’ve seen so far but I still think it’s relevant. It’s true that Buffy is more impulsive than Kendra (particularly when it comes to her friends) and that is the downside of her ties to the world but overall, it’s pretty exclusively spelled out in the show that intimately knowing the world she’s fighting for is what allows her to have a longer life than most.

Let’s see, big final battle. Lots of kicking and stuff. They clearly have a bigger

I like Willow's fight face.

I like Willow’s fight face.

budget for this these days. I agree that Patrice does in fact seem human, which I had never thought about before. But she doesn’t fight with anything supernatural at all so… that is a little troubling. Also, Cordelia and Xander kill the bug man with a gallon jug of liquid adhesive. What would you need a gallon of liquid adhesive for? Like, other than this, obviously.

Buffy knocks Spike unconscious and then just…

Hey you two. This is super touching. Maybe it could wait until the building wasn't burning down around you.

Hey you two. This is super touching. Maybe it could wait until the building wasn’t burning down around you.

leave him and Dru there? I know that they should have both caught fire and died. Like that would make sense. But also they are big and evil and maybe while they are unconscious and easy targets, you should just finish the job. Obviously I’m glad you didn’t but it’s not great strategy. Whatever. Buffy is busy having a super poorly timed staring into Angel’s eyes moment while the building burns down around them.

Oz says adorable things to Willow and I mostly focus on how I used to have one of those EXACT NECKLACES and so did absolutely everyone I

I know Joelle used this already but focus on the necklace.

I know Joelle used this already but focus on the necklace.

knew in the 90’s. I haven’t seen one in forever. I think the takeaway from the conversation is that all monkeys are french. I like Willow fine but do not think she has the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen. I am not enamored with Alyson Hannigan, although obviously I think she does well in the role.

Buffy tells Kendra that her shirt totally looked better on Buffy, which is nonsense, because Kendra has amazing boobs and Buffy (who is

They both look not great here but 1) check out the shirt and 2) check out Buffy's pants.

They both look not great here but 1) check out the shirt and 2) check out Buffy’s pants.

absolutely stunning) has… basically no boobs, and that shirt looks much better with a figure. Then they have a touching goodbye scene, during which I am always distracted by the TERRIBLE EDITING. In almost all scenes where we are looking at Buffy and seeing Kendra’s back, her braid is over her shoulder, but then when we switch positions it is behind her back. I know it’s a stupid thing but it’s also so glaringly obvious and it has driven me nuts for years. Also Buffy’s pants are a disturbing shade of green again. Joelle basically said all the important and emotional things about this part so I’m sticking with editing and pants.

Over the shoulder in one frame...

Over the shoulder in one frame…

Behind her back in the next.

Behind her back in the next.

Next I get to do Ted AND I AM SO EXCITED.

What’s My Line: Part 1

For the record, it is ENTIRELY MY FAULT this time that we have been offline for a couple of weeks. Finals buried me and I just completely failed all my external projects. But now we are back and I have a whole glorious summer with nothing but projects, hooray!

So I always feel like this is one of those episodes that has a lot of great ideas and things that I really want to get behind but never quite becomes an episode I love? Like there are things in it I am amused by and yet… well, we’ll get there.

Willow loves a test.

Willow loves a test.

Okay, so we open on career day at Sunnydale High School. I have always been SO CURIOUS about this, so help me out folks! Is this a thing? Or at least in this way? Do you fill out aptitude tests and get a box you’re supposed to fit in and booths to go to? I mean, it seems super ridiculous but also not so much that I wouldn’t believe it was possible? So fill me in all you school attending children!

Anyway. My personal curiosity aside, Buffy is super bummed out. This is more or

Buffy's woe face. There will be a lot of that this episode.

Buffy’s woe face. There will be a lot of that this episode.

less the perfect thing to remind her of everything that most upsets her these days (and really for the foreseeable future) — that she will never be able to have a normal life, never be able to be excited about the things that everyone else gets to be excited about. It highlights everything about her life that she most hates and makes her feel extremely isolated.

It’s important to note though, that the rest of the Scooby gang will ALSO feel pretty isolated by this. Everyone is terrified about their future (except Cordelia, and her time is coming). Xander is afraid that his life is not going to go anywhere, that he’ll be a loser, end up in a job he hates. Even Willow will be split off from her friends and classmates, not getting a box at all. No one knows where they fit. Everyone is afraid that growing up is coming a little too fast and maybe it won’t be everything they hoped. This is certainly one of the excellent ideas that the story has that rings true…. although I never feel like it is played out as well as I’d like.

Cordelia likes tests that will tell her happy things about herself.

Cordelia likes tests that will tell her happy things about herself.

Buffy and Willow wonder if they are on the side of shrubs (I say no to shrubs personally as I feel that they are small and boring and also what would a question like that tell you about a person?) while Xander ponders his lack of future. Cordelia thinks about how much she likes to help people as long as they are not smelly and gross and I am amused thinking about her future.

What is interesting to me is that Buffy just immediately gives up on the possibility of her having another job in the future. Willow was the one who suggested looking in the Watcher diaries for previous vampire stuff when they were wondering about Angel. For this she could probably actually just ask Giles. Like I can’t imagine he wouldn’t look. What DID the last few Slayers do? Have some of them had jobs? Maybe she could find something that would allow her to work from home. Transcription or something. Or a Private Investigator like Angel becomes? Although I guess Buffy isn’t very good at monetizing her skills. But I think there really are options. That said, I can also understand how it might seem pretty bleak right now. It’s the weight of destiny and the lack of choices already that seems so crushing.

How do you get these oober smart vampires anyway? Did Spike vamp him just for this?

How do you get these oober smart vampires anyway? Did Spike vamp him just for this?

As Buffy mopes about her future, we come to Spike beating an underling vampire (we know he’s an underling who doesn’t matter because of how he’s in full vamp face the entire time) because he cannot decipher the book that they stole from Giles’ library last time. We find out that there is something in this book that contains Druscilla’s cure. I would like to note that I have always been very unclear on what is actually wrong with Dru? Like she was attacked by an angry mob and was then struck by some kind of waning disease or consumption? We never really see that anywhere else in the mythology and I really don’t understand how it fits with the vampire thing. Like how could a vampire be permanently made weak? I HAVE QUESTIONS, OKAY? Prepare for more of those.

Spike snaps at Dru when she asks him to dance and she pretty much falls into

Look! A totally generic crypt!

Look! A totally generic crypt!

pieces and he immediately disintegrates in the way that he does. But it’s all fine because as he is desperate about the transcriber figuring out the the strange language, Dru’s magic Tarot deck tells her that he can’t help them without the key. Not only that but apparently the deck has a picture of the exact mausoleum that it’s hidden in. Which I would say is implausible except that this picture is an incredibly generic mausoleum. So maybe he just realized it would be in Du Lac’s tomb? I don’t know. The point is he is very happy and picks Dru up and says he will dance with her all OVER the Slayer’s grave and they prance about and it’s cute in the way that they are.

Aww. Mr. Gordo!

Aww. Mr. Gordo!

Buffy sneaks in her window and sees Angel looking at her things. She frightens him and he clutches a stuffed pig. I enjoy both that that happens and also that she mocks him for doing it. Although his complete lack of humor in response to that is one of the reasons that I really just hate him. But don’t worry! More are coming!

She eventually has to explain to him that she’s sad because of what’s going on at school after she is mean to him and hurts his sad demon feelers. He knows that it is Career week because “he lurks.” She

My poor feelings have been hurt. Were you talking about yourself? I forgot.

My poor feelings have been hurt. Were you talking about yourself? I forgot.

does not think this is creepy but I think that Angel lurking around a high school actually is creepy and I wish he’d stop. So she tries to explain her feelings in what is a perfectly rational way. That this whole thing makes her remember that she has no place in this world like other people, that she’s feeling shitty about that, that she just wishes she could have a normal life and Angel…. makes it all about himself because he is the fucking worst. “You mean your life would be better without me.” NO ANGEL. NO THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN OR WHAT I SAID. Maybe perhaps even if you weren’t in my life I would still be bound by destiny and totally fucked and maybe I was trying to explain something to you and I shouldn’t now be comforting you but I am BECAUSE YOU ARE A CHILD.

Okay. Deep breaths. I just have moments where I cannot stand him. That said, in this scene, I do think him wanting to take her ice skating to help her relax and escape is a nice touch and shows him listening in a way he was not even remotely only a minute before. So it’s always kind-of hit and miss. Also I love the idea that Buffy was obsessed with Dorothy Hamill enough to get a Dorothy Hamill haircut. How adorable. I mean… I have no idea what that haircut looks like but I’m sure it was adorable.

I googled it. I think maybe the haircut looked like this?

I googled it. I think maybe the haircut looked like this?

The next day we arrive back at school and Buffy is wearing an outfit that I

What is on your SHOULDER?

What is on your SHOULDER?

unexpectedly kind-of like but she is inexplicably carrying a giant fuzzy leopard print bag with it that is… I just can’t even. Baffling. Cordelia finds out that she is set to be a motivational speaker or personal shopper and I again am amused by her future. And Xander finds out that he is apparently perfectly suited for being a prison guard. Which I think would in fact be super depressing and his friends are not very supportive. Willow finds out that she’s not on the list and is distressed by this news. And Buffy finds out that she is apparently perfectly set to be a law enforcement officer, which upsets her. I don’t really see Buffy as a great police officer, honestly. And probably part of why she gets so upset about it is because she realizes it is a possibility with her destiny and stuff.

I will say that Grimm is sort of like what if Buffy were a police officer and male? And also hated females. Every female. And basically became terrible in every possible way and made you want to gouge out your eyes and… I think I’ve gotten off track.

She goes to the library and isn’t super happy. She wonders what the “whole nine yards” means as she tells Giles that the vampires she went after last night were robbing things. I fondly smile at her and tell her that someday she’ll have a smart phone and when she has a question like that she can find out the answer immediately and what a good day that will be.

Giles, she's discussing how her life is no better than being dead. Stop WAFFLING, MAN.

Giles, she’s discussing how her life is no better than being dead. Stop WAFFLING, MAN.

Anyway. This first half of the episode is another time where Giles is really struggling to connect with Buffy and really doesn’t understand why she’s so upset. He’s also not giving her a lot of leeway, even though I think she has a good reason to be upset. Also, when your student starts talking about how it wouldn’t make any difference if she were dead or alive? That’s a suicidal warning sign, GILES. Don’t just ignore this crap. I mean, I know Buffy isn’t suicidal but in general that’s an important thing.

Spike and Dru stare lovingly at the “key” which is actually a large and ornate gilded cross thing. I have no idea how it is a key. Nor will we ever find out. We’re just taking their word for it, I guess. But they’re very happy because success.

A key! That will help us decode words... somehow.

A key! That will help us decode words… somehow.

In the meantime Spike has decided that the Slayer has just gotten too much in the way and he’s going to put a stop to it. He is going to call… THE ORDER OF TAKARA. These have to be the villains with the absolute most build-up and least pay off in all of this show. Like they spend so much time trying to make them scary and yet there is never a moment when I actually feel that. Mostly they just feel like silly, second tier bad guys. Even though everyone goes nuts freaking out about them constantly. But Dru assures us there will be three of them and for the whole first episode here, we pretend Kendra might be one of them instead of just a Slayer in pajama pants bringing an offensive and horrendous accent.

I am the worst principal imaginable. I hate children and the world. I will end you.

I am the worst principal imaginable. I hate children and the world. I will end you.

At Career Week Willow and Xander encounter Snider and Xander babbles away about how he hopes to someday fill his shoes but “not your actual shoes of course, because you’re a tiny person!” which is one of my favorite lines in this episode. Snider is obviously looking for Buffy because he basically doesn’t care about anything else. Buffy is on a field trip with Giles to a crypt because neither of them have any sense of logic.

Willow gets pulled into a back room and offered canape by men in suits. She’s told that she’s been targeted by an anonymous

Oz offers canape while Willow looks bemused.

Oz offers canape while Willow looks bemused.

major software company and her test didn’t matter. Basically this whole scene is pointless except to sit her down next to Oz. I always forget that Oz is also supposed to be a super genius? Like does that ever come up again after this? It all seems silly and forced to me but whatever.

Buffy and Giles argue through the cemetery about her possible futures and I really do not feel like he is being very empathetic. They make it to the Du Lac crypt and Giles explains how usually these crypts contain a religious relic like a finger or something exciting like that. Giles is certain somehow all these things add up. The book that was stolen was also by De Lac, he’s sure there’s a reason. He’s sure something is coming. I mean, I think all that is coming is Kendra’s accent (not insignificant) but you know.

Why does she look like a crazy person from the 50's?

Why does she look like a crazy person from the 50’s?

A creepy man goes up the Summer’s street, goes to the house across the street and knocks on the door. He makes his way into the house by promising free beauty supplies. I was a little baffled by the idea that you would just accept that someone was walking door to door with beauty products. Is that a thing that still happens, even like 15 years ago? Also when he comes in, she screams at the top of her lungs and I was also confused why no one anywhere in the neighborhood heard this and called someone but maybe in Sunnydale no one listens to screams anymore.

SMG skates around the rink and looks like she’s having a pretty good time. It’s

I think I read that SMG actually did enjoy ice skating as a kid? I can't remember for sure anymore.

I think I read that SMG actually did enjoy ice skating as a kid? I can’t remember for sure anymore.

nice. I wish she had gotten to have her date but of course she does not get nice things. Since as she is sitting on the ice (apparently she forgot that whole stopping thing since she was a child) she is attacked by an assassin. Angel rushes in and the two of them fight him off. I am sort-of touched by the whole thing where she doesn’t even notice that he’s in vamp face. I mean, it’s dorky but I like it. Although I also always think when she’s making out with him that his vampire teeth are very sharp and what if he like nicked her tongue or lips?

Anyway. Angel is insanely freaked out about the ring showing that they are from the Takara people, just like everyone else will be and also for no reason. Also, while they’re making out Kendra is watching them.

This is Giles serious fear face.

This is Giles serious fear face.

Giles lies glibly to everyone in the library that Angel had every reason to be terrified and he proceeds to make them all terrified as well. He explains that the order is “A society of powerful assassins, dating back to King Solomon” which makes me crack up every time. I mean, the idea seems to be that there are just too many of them and they’ll just keep coming and she’ll never be able to kill enough of them but they do not seem that hard to kill REALLY. I guess it’s like being attacked by lots of ants.

Although he may not have terrified me, he certainly succeeded at terrifying Buffy

This is what you do not want your Slayer doing.

This is what you do not want your Slayer doing.

who walks down the hallway feeling terrified and paranoid of everyone. I would like to suggest that this is not actually a great way to make sure your Slayer is prepared for things. Especially since she attacks Oz in the hallway. Fortunately Oz just shakes it off after and endearingly says “That’s a tense person.” Because he’s adorable. Still. The point is that your Slayer is going to go nuts and just start killing people in that state. It’s not a solid plan.

This is Angel's house. It is lit by some untraceable source that also sucks.

This is Angel’s house. It is lit by some untraceable source that also sucks.

She doesn’t want to go home (which was probably pretty smart and I can’t believe they were going to let her) so instead she ends up going to Angel’s place. I would like to note that it is especially in this episode that I have noticed that the bedroom sets are SUPER poorly lit? Both Buffy’s and Angel’s. Anyway. She curls up in his bed, which here has a red blanket but white sheets, but will later (like all men Buffy first has sex with) most definitely have red sheets.

Angel is not there because he is at Willy’s place. I would like to note that I forgot about Willy existing. And if you had pressed me I could probably have

Look, it's Willy. Looking like a snitch type person. Like he does.

Look, it’s Willy. Looking like a snitch type person. Like he does.

remembered that he existed, but not necessarily if he was in Buffy or Angel. Anyway, Angel claims to be trying to find out who sicced Taraka on Buffy. But that seems a little pointless because he obviously know it’s Spike. So mostly I guess he wants to know where to find Spike? But he doesn’t start with that and by the time he gets around to demanding that information Kendra has appeared and has an exciting fight where she knocks him into a cage before we finally have to hear her speak. I am saddened that the subtitles give no clue of her accent because that’s ridiculous. Anyway. Kendra leaves Angel in a cage with east-facing exposure and heads off to find Buffy.

In the meantime Giles is super worried about how no one has heard from Buffy so he calls Xander and tells him he should go over to her house and probably call Cordelia for a ride. I feel that perhaps this is a wildly stupid. Like Giles knows that a deadly group of assassins who are looking for Buffy and presumably her house would be one of the first places that they’d look? And in fact a man made of bugs is right across the street. So possibly sending Xander and Cordelia is not the best possible plan. In fact, it will not be! Way to go Daddy Giles.

I have just discovered that these old men whose books I own were complete idiots, Willow.

I have just discovered that these old men whose books I own were complete idiots, Willow.

He then goes to tell Willow that he has figured out what the vampires were after. That what Du Lac had in that book was a magic spell to restore a weakened vampire back to health. Which… why would he have that? What possible good purpose could that serve? Why wouldn’t he have destroyed that shit? But apparently he was an idiot and did not.

So Xander and Cordelia snipe at each other and say amusing things and Cordy looks incredibly sporty in her outfit and then she is… bizarrely stupid and not only opens Buffy’s door (which why?) but also for some reason

Being sporty in the morning. High ponytail and all.

Being sporty in the morning. High ponytail and all.

believes that a salesman is wandering around handing out free beauty samples at what cannot be later than like 7am. And lets him into Buffy’s house, which is like an impossibly stupid thing for her to do, which I dislike because Cordelia is not stupid. Grumble.

Angel struggles to get out of the cage as the sun rises. Buffy is attacked by Kendra. They fight and finally, in the final line, the big reveal that Kendra is the Slayer. DUN DUN DUN.

I am basically the first significant PoC in this show. That is just as bad and actually worse than you think.

I am basically the first significant PoC in this show. That is just as bad and actually worse than you think.

Lie to Me

Buffy has many formative episodes for me, but in all honesty this is probably one of the first. I am totally cool with saying that I still cry through large portions of it. This is one of the first episodes to look at the wrenching and horrible pain of growing up and finding out that life is full of choices that you don’t want to make, that maybe you should never have to make, and having to make them anyway. There are a lot of wonderful things about growing up, and I’d never go back. But those adolescent years in particular of realizing just how complex and painful life was actually going to be… it was not a fun time.

This image is very strong in that it somehow talks about both childhood and DEATH at the same time.

This image is very strong in that it somehow talks about both childhood and DEATH at the same time.

Not that this episode has no fun in it! Because it totally does. But that is maybe not the key point. We start out with a playground. Because Joss is not shy about hitting home symbolism and to start with a playground and end with a graveyard is pretty damn symbolic, I suspect. In this playground is a little boy whose parents clearly hate him or are incapacitated by severe addiction problems. Seriously, who leaves their small child alone at night in Sunnydale? Like I am not a fan of helicopter parenting, but people drop like flies in this town.

He is approached by Druscilla. She is appropriately creepy and delightful. She tells him about how her mother used to sing to her and wonders what song his mother will sing over his dead body. I love how he responds to that by saying “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” which would have been a completely reasonable response earlier in the conversation, but at the point where the crazy lady is talking about your dead body may not quite be high enough on the panic level.

But just before he is about to be turned into a meal, Angel jumps in to save him. He tells him to “run home” which did not necessarily seem to be the way to go to me? Like I get that he has saved him from immediate danger but we know there are plenty of beasties and monsters on the streets of Sunnydale, and who knows how far his home is! Although… more on that later.

In the meantime, Angel has a weird and intimate conversation with Dru, seemingly just so that Buffy can see them from the rooftop and get hurt and jealous and upset and not ask him about it directly because that is a thing that a grown-up person

I am actually not always convinced that his face makes another expression.

I am actually not always convinced that his face makes another expression.

would do and Buffy has just not quite made it there yet. I feel like the way David Boreanez plays this scene is really weird because it’s almost played as sexual tension? Which makes less sense for Angel to have with Dru. Like I know at one point he did have… something with her and that when he reverts to Angelus he seems to be all down with that, but as Angel I would think his primary feelings would be more of guilt. It makes sense that Spike is so crazy attracted to her because he seems to be attracted to her crazy. But Angel would not be, and without that, she really is just kind-of bonkers. Like I love her with all of my heart but she is really not all there. Anyway. Whatever. Dru tells him he’s in love with Buffy and whispers sweet nothings, while Buffy feels betrayed on a rooftop into the credits.

Look at their cute flirting faces. Awwww.

Look at their cute flirting faces. Awwww.

When we jump back in, we are at school and Jeny is tormenting Giles with the date she won’t tell him about. This date will later prove to be monster trucks. I love that this happened but I refuse to believe that Jeny, who is clearly a very intelligent woman, could ever have believed that Giles might have been into monster trucks. So I choose to think she just enjoyed the idea of seeing him all freaked out about it. Which, to be fair, does sound like a lot of fun. I will also say as a sidenote that the only times I can remember seeing this storyline in the past, of someone refusing to tell the other person where they were going on a date, the person worrying, even asking what they would wear either seriously or a way to get an answer, the genders were always swapped. I don’t know if that has always been true but I feel like generally the man is assumed to be taking the woman somewhere so I certainly think it is often true. So that’s just a note.

Buffy is mopey and sad and generally not super responsive. Which, to his credit, Giles notices. I don’t know if this is supposed to be him trying harder to look out for her since Reptile Boy but maybe? Either way, he says maybe she should take the night off and maybe she should go spend time with Angel. It is weird to me to remember that at some point Giles encouraged their relationship. But Buffy gets even more mopey about that and wanders away.

This is not exactly subtle, you two.

This is not exactly subtle, you two.

Note passing between Willow and Buffy about all of the lowdown, while Cordelia explains her deep and amazing thoughts on Marie Antoinette. I am always fascinated by the passing notes in a class where maybe you will get caught and in trouble thing. Incidentally, if that is a risk, maybe they shouldn’t be writing “vampire?” on one of them. But either way. I have only ever passed notes in church or in college classes, when it is more writing in notebooks and sliding them back and forth. No real danger.

As they wander out of class and Xander is stupid and they make plans for that night, here is Ford! I love Ford. I love his little 90’s gold hoop earring. Buffy talks about her schoolgirl crush on him (it is easy to see that he was probably a very cute kid) and how she used to listen to “I Touch Myself” while thinking about him in fifth grade. Before getting very awkward. I definitely did not know that song as a kid but this whole thing amused me, especially Willow only just figuring out what it was about. It’s a silly thing but I actually remember moments like that in high school (and sometimes later)? Of like… suddenly realizing something was dirty and being like OMG!

Look at the tiny little hoop! I knew so many guys who had this.

Look at the tiny little hoop! I knew so many guys who had this.

In The Bronze, Buffy asks Angel kind of but not really what he was up to last night and he lies and says nothing much, just reading and brooding silently and alone like always. Buffy is so overwhelmed by this that she basically drags Ford out the door in front of him so they can go for a walk. Willow adorably tries to get Angel to socialize, unsuccessfully, obviously.

“Whating a what?”
One of my favorite lines.

As they’re walking, Buffy hears noise and asks Ford to go get her purse. He does not and instead goes around the corner to see her killing a vampire at which point he tells her that surprise! He’s totally known she was the Slayer all along, he figured it out right before she left L.A. but never had a chance to tell her. I’m interested in how he would have figured that out, like were there mystical texts he found or something? I mean, I get how he could have found out there were vampires, Slayer just seems more specific.

Buffy is relieved to have a person to talk to, they proceed to apparently walk all over Sunnydale in one night. The geography is Sunnydale is always in flux. Later I think they’ll say that there are 7 cemeteries, right now there is just the one. There is a college that I think just manifests when Buffy needs to go there. So right now it is a super tiny town that maybe just grows really fast? So maybe that little boy really could have just run home really quickly. Anyway.

Also Angel shows up at Willow’s house to ask her to use her magic webbernet skills

Seriously. There is SO MUCH MAKE-UP ON THIS FACE.

Seriously. There is SO MUCH MAKE-UP ON THIS FACE.

to research Ford. He is wearing a lot of make-up in this scene. Like a lot. He goes on a little bit about how he didn’t used to get jealous, he just used to sit around and brood all the time and then there was Buffy and that made everything different but also he totally has a sixth sense about people and he knows Ford is bad news. He is not in the school system so that seems probable.

And in point of fact he is bad news, because he is part of a vampire cult. I love the vampire cult. They all dress in ridiculous costumes and have silly movies playing presumably 24/7 and also Chantarelle is there. Chantarelle has a very small part in this but she will come back. She has one more cult in her future and after that she is going to become amazing. She was never in Angel enough. Still, it was exciting to see her. It is clear Ford is up to devious things.

Willow is extremely nervous about not telling Buffy that she is researching Ford. She acts exactly as she has every single other time she has ever lied about anything. Still, this does not seem to tip off Buffy. Which is a bit confusing. Perhaps she is distracted by Ford.

This sweater is... a thing. You can't tell but she is also wearing yellow tights.

This sweater is… a thing. You can’t tell but she is also wearing yellow tights.

Ford, using a vampire’s directions, is able to find Spike’s lair. Spike is not thrilled to see him. Ford begs him to speak in movie-talk. That is all Ford wants, really. He has a very specific concept of himself and his story in his head and it seems important to him that it play out in that way, because even being a villain has rules. Some villains are better than others. It’s interesting, I’ve always liked Neil Gaiman’s line about how “no one is a villain in their own story.” I think that is typically true. But I also think that what Ford does here is a way to feel better about his actions by making that his place. If he IS a villain, than he is not making this really pretty awful choice, it’s just who he is. It’s just his place in a story. We can all tell ourselves pretty amazing stories when we need to.

Buffy is devastated when she sees Druscilla’s picture in a book and realizes that’s who she saw with Angel. I am not convinced she could recognize Dru from that distance but sure, whatever. Also Ford is lying to her, because the vampire he said was dead has stolen a book from the library. Buffy’s problems with trust are always pretty out there in the open. This hits her where it hurts.

She looks so pretty and it's just such an interesting shot.

She looks so pretty and it’s just such an interesting shot.

And so that night, when Angel comes to see her, immediately opens badly with it being about Ford and about how Willow and Xander were also in on this whole thing, she is betrayed and hurt and angry. I love the way they film her in this scene. They’ve been filming her very soft and very innocent this season and the shots here really heighten that. Dressed in white, mostly her face, she looks helpless and hurt and vulnerable. She looks like she’s going to be crushed.

Angel talks about the idea that some lies are necessary, that learning that is part of living long enough. He asks her if she loves him, and she finally says she does love him but she is not sure if she trusts him. I hated that line when I was younger, I thought it was not possible to love someone without trusting them. I have a more holistic view of relationships now. Certainly it doesn’t seem healthy to do that, but I wouldn’t say impossible. So he tells her about Druscilla and she is broken up, another horrific thing to forgive and get past. Everything she trusted seems to be falling apart. But it’s going to get worse.

When she sees Ford the next morning, she once again looks very beautiful but she is wearing black. When she goes down into the basement, she’ll be wearing a white coat over her black shirt. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but in an episode that highlights the idea of black hats and white hats, I have to assume it’s possible.

Chantarelle because I love her. You are going to be SO MUCH COOLER someday, hun. Also, you will wear a lot less make-up.

Chantarelle because I love her. You are going to be SO MUCH COOLER someday, hun. Also, you will wear a lot less make-up.

It’s that afternoon that she finds his hideout and he locks them all into the basement. She begs them to come to their senses. Chantarelle is the only one who really stands out here. She’s so far from where she’ll be. She’s so genuine and so anxious. Who knows what she came from that made her think she needed this, but chances are it is the same thing that will lead her into Reverend Sunshine’s cult next. She has some things to work through.

And then there is Buffy’s conversation with Ford. The rest of the people really should be able to hear them but we’ll ignore that. Ford tells Buffy what he’s really been waiting to reveal all along. That he has cancer, that he’s dying. He says he does not need to justify himself to her but that is all he’s trying to do. Buffy is heartbroken, you can see her take it almost as a physical hit. But she gathers and says the True Thing. “You don’t have a good choice, but you have a choice.”

Say what you want about SMG's acting, but she makes devastated face SO WELL.

Say what you want about SMG’s acting, but she makes devastated face SO WELL.

He will not make the right choice. In the end Buffy will threaten Dru, realizing that’s who matters to Spike. She locks them all in. Everyone escapes but Ford. They do actually give him what he wanted, but they leave him in the basement so they must have known what would happen to him. I guess Spike is a man of his word… kind-of. I will say I always wondered what happened with Ford’s family. Where did they think he went? How did they think he died? Did Giles pay for his gravestone?

Finally we just have Buffy and Giles, standing by a grave. She doesn’t know what to say.

“It’d be simpler if I could just hate him. I think he wanted me to. It was easier for him to be the villain of the piece. But really he was just scared.” 

And that is one of the worst parts about growing up, if also one of the most important. Realizing that the monsters aren’t monsters, learning to empathize with the people who have done horrible things, even though you do not condone the horrible things. She stakes Ford when he rises and she begs Giles to tell her that maybe this gets easier, that she won’t have to keep doing this. He doesn’t know what to say either. So she takes Angel’s advice —

Lie to me.

Lie to Me 12

And Giles tells her what we would all like to hear and believe, even when we know it is not true. You will always be able to tell who is good and who is evil. No one ever dies. We will all live happily ever after.

It’s one of the first, hardest, and best stories about growing up that Buffy ever told me.

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.