March 19, 2022

Buffy 2.19, I Only Have Eyes for You: If I Can’t Have You

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

I’m sure Buffy got at least a little closure from shooting Angelus

Summary: There’s live music at the Bronze tonight, and the Scoobies are among the attendees. Buffy’s up on the balcony, where a classmate named Ben approaches her and strikes up a conversation. He asks if she’s going to the Sadie Hawkins dance the next night and invites her to ask him. She tells him she’s sworn off dating.

Buffy tells Willow she’s done for the night and is going to stop by the library to see if Giles wants her to patrol. Willow says she’s been doing that a lot lately and needs to have more fun. For example, she should go out with Ben. Buffy isn’t ready to date again, but Willow encourages her to be impulsive. Buffy thinks her last impulsive decision, sleeping with Angel, had enough big consequences to keep her playing it safe for a long time. Willow reminds her that love isn’t always that way. It can be nice.

At the school, love is currently not being nice. A guy is fighting with his girlfriend about why she wants to break up with him. (They don’t get names; I’ll call them Brian and Sarah, after the actors playing them.) Brian orders Sarah to admit she doesn’t love him. When she says she doesn’t, he denies that someone could just wake up one morning and stop having feelings for the person they love. He points a gun at her and says, “Love is forever.”

Buffy arrives as Brian implies that if he can’t be with Sarah, he’s going to make sure no one else is, either. “Don’t walk away from me, b%$@#!” he yells as Sarah starts to leave. Buffy runs at Brian and uses some self-defense moves to make him drop the gun. A custodian, George, runs in at the same time and checks on Sarah. Brian suddenly doesn’t remember what happened, other than getting mad at Sarah. She says they weren’t even fighting a few minutes ago. Brian doesn’t know where the gun came from. George notices that the gun isn’t even there anymore.

The next day, Snyder calls Buffy to his office to accuse her of inciting “mayhem, chaos, and disorder.” She argues that she tried to stop all that. He can ask George for confirmation. But Snyder wouldn’t believe him, because Buffy could have coerced George to say what she wanted him to. “I’m no stranger to conspiracy,” Snyder says. “I saw JFK.”

He wants the truth. He’s going to look at all the pieces of the puzzle until he puts them together and sees how they point at Buffy. Then he gets called away to deal with a kid who chained himself to a vending machine again. “Pathetic little no-life vegan,” Snyder grumbles. He tells Buffy to stay put while he’s gone. After he leaves, a yearbook from 1955 falls off of one of his bookshelves. Buffy notices but just puts it back.

Willow’s doing much better with teaching Jenny’s class, and she’s thrilled when the students laugh at one of her jokes. Giles asks if she needs anything, but she’s following Jenny’s lesson plans and isn’t having many problems. She tells Giles she found some files and websites on paganism and magic. She also found a rose quartz that Jenny once told her has healing powers. She thinks Jenny would want Giles to have it.

Buffy tries to stay awake in history class, where the teacher is lecturing about the New Deal. She suddenly finds herself in a class in 1955. She watches a student named James chat with his teacher, Grace. They’re a little more intimate than a teacher and student should be. Buffy snaps back to reality as her teacher is writing on the board, but not something related to the New Deal. He’s shocked to realize he’s written, “DON’T WALK AWAY FROM ME B%$@#!”

After class, Buffy tells Xander that something weird is going on. He notes that that’s basically their school motto. Whatever it is, it bugs her. Xander thinks it’s Hellmouth-related. He opens his locker and is suddenly grabbed by a monstrous arm inside. Buffy saves him, then checks out the locker, but there’s nothing inside.

They head to the library, where Willow asks if Xander’s shirt is torn because Cordelia got a little too aggressive in a broom-closet makeout session. He tells her he was attacked by a locker monster. Giles hears that as Loch Ness Monster. Buffy and Xander tell the others about the weird recent events, which Giles thinks could be the work of a ghost. Xander notes that this ghost seems angry, but Giles says that fits with a poltergeist.

Willow asks why the ghost is there. Giles says he might not know. He might not be able to find a way to make peace, so he lashes out in confusion. Buffy comments that sounds like a normal teen. Giles says the only way to stop a poltergeist is to figure out why it’s still there and help resolve its issues. First they’ll have to find out whose ghost they’re dealing with.

That night, George chats with a teacher named Ms. Frank as she leaves for the night. Then their conversation suddenly turns into one between two people who are on the verge of breaking up. He can’t walk away just because she’s ending things, and she knows they can’t stay together because no one would accept it. They wouldn’t be able to have a normal life.

Ms. Frank leave and George follows her, saying the same things Brian said to Sarah the night before. Ms. Frank repeats Sarah’s words as well. George is suddenly holding a gun, just like Brian was. In the library, Giles hears George yelling and starts to go see what’s happening. He hears a woman’s voice whispering, “I need you” and thinks it’s Jenny. In the hallway, he sees George and Ms. Frank out on a balcony. George shoots Ms. Frank and she falls to the ground below. Giles chases George and tackles him, making him drop the gun, which disappears. George, like Brian, has no idea what just happened.

Angelus takes Spike and Drusilla to their new home, which has a garden Drusilla loves. Angelus: still making comments about Spike’s wheelchair and flirting with Drusilla. Spike: still annoyed at everything Angelus says. Drusilla: clueless about pretty much everything. Me: bored and disappointed that these characters are being wasted.

At school the next day, Giles tells the Scoobies what happened with George and Ms. Frank, and how it was just like what happened with Brian and Sarah. Except in this case, George and Ms. Frank didn’t have a relationship. Giles has decided that this all has to do with Jenny. She’s trapped in the school. Willow points out that Jenny wasn’t killed with a gun. Giles thinks that’s unimportant; the key here is a violent death.

Buffy and Willow think there’s a pattern here that doesn’t fit with Jenny. Giles acknowledges their disagreement with his theory and praises them for standing up to authority. But in this case, he’s right and they’re wrong. Buffy, Willow, and Xander go to Jenny’s classroom to continue talking about Giles’ insistence on something that can’t be right. Buffy can sympathize with his inability to think about anything other than his ex.

Willow starts looking into other shootings at Sunnydale High and quickly finds a news story about a student who killed a teacher the night of a Sadie Hawkins dance. That student and teacher were James and Grace. They were rumored to be having an affair. After he killed her, he shot himself in the music room. Buffy guesses that it happened in 1955.

She shows the Scoobies the 1955 yearbook and tells them about her dream. Xander notes that her dreams are becoming very accurate. Has she dreamed about him getting a lot of money or having sex? Focus, Xander! Buffy thinks James was crazy for killing Grace because he couldn’t make her love him. Willow notes that he was smart – he was on the honor roll – but Xander says killing someone and then yourself are two pretty dumb things to do.

Willow feels kind of bad for James, but Buffy only feels bad for Grace. James is a murderer and should be punished. “The quality of mercy is not Buffy,” Xander remarks. Willow asks whose ghost they’re dealing with. Buffy guesses it’s James’, considering the violence. Willow suggests that they use Jenny’s witchy resources to find a way to communicate with James and see what he wants. Buffy would rather just stop him before he hurts anyone else.

But first, lunch! Cordelia joins the Scoobies there, announcing that she’s organizing an alternative to the Sadie Hawkins dance. She objects to the idea of girls asking guys out and having to pay for everything. They need to shut this kind of stuff down before it gets scary. Someone across the cafeteria starts screaming because the room is full of something much scarier than feminism: snakes. Cordelia even gets bitten on the cheek before everyone runs out.

While police and pest control clear the school, Snyder and the police chief, Bob, discuss the cover story they’re going to use. They go with “backed-up sewer line.” Snyder warns that sooner or later, people are going to figure out that they’re on a Hellmouth. Bob reminds Snyder that he assured the City Council that he could handle this job. If he can’t, he can take it up with the mayor. That scares Snyder into promising he can take care of things. (As we’ll find out in season 3, this is a 100% understandable reaction to anything involving the mayor.)

The Scoobies gather at Buffy’s house, where Willow says that Buffy was right – they need to make a big move and take down the ghost. Specifically, they need to do an exorcism. Cordelia objects, since she saw The Exorcist, but Buffy’s on board. Willow tells her the balcony is the hot spot where the “bad mojo” is coming through. They need to create a triangle to bind James’ spirit from harming anyone else. Buffy offers to take the hot spot, though Xander notes that James seems to be focusing on her. She says she hopes he shows.

The Scoobies go to the school with plans to do their triangle thing at midnight. Willow hands out scapulars, bags of herbs they can wear around their necks for protection. All the doors around them slam shut, so if they wanted to back out, it’s too late. Meanwhile, Drusilla gets a vision and says a gate is opening and something is coming for Buffy. She tells Angelus that Buffy’s ready for him. Spike says he won’t do anything; he’s “all hat and no cattle.” Angelus gets waaaaaay too touchy-feely with Drusilla and says he’s ready to focus on something else.

Giles catches Willow outside the library and admits that he’s trying to find a way to contact Jenny. He sends her away in case something paranormal happens when he succeeds. The other Scoobies are spreading out to form a triangle. Buffy hears the song “I Only Have Eyes for You” playing and finds a flier for the 1955 dance outside the music room. Inside, James and Grace are dancing.

As the other Scoobies find their spots (poor Xander has to deal with the snakes that are still in the cafeteria), Buffy sees James’ face changing into something demonic. Cordelia’s face changes, too, as if her snake bite is infected and it’s spreading. Willow gets grabbed from below by something that looks like the arm from Xander’s locker. She gets pulled into a swirling pit like there’s quicksand below her. She yells for Giles, who comes running and saves her.

On the balcony, Buffy has a vision of James and Grace fighting, followed by him shooting her, then himself. His demon-faced ghost grabs her and yells for her to get out. Then he disappears, along with Cordelia’s infection and the swirl that tried to get Willow. Willow tells Giles that this can’t be Jenny – she would never be this cruel. He agrees, disappointed that he won’t get to communicate with her.

It’s midnight, so the Scoobies light candles and chant something to “expel all evil.” The candles all blow out and there’s silence. Then a swarm of wasps flies down the hallway toward Willow and Giles. All the Scoobies meet up in the hall and run out together as the swarm engulfs the school.

They head to Buffy’s house to discuss what to do next. Cordelia asks if they automatically graduate if the school shuts down forever. Xander isn’t the least focused Scooby for once, and he asks what James wants. Giles says he’s trying to resolve the issues keeping him in limbo. Buffy speaks up that James wants forgiveness. Giles thinks that makes sense. But when James possesses people, they act out what happened in 1955, so it’s like he’s doomed to relive what happened over and over. Forgiveness isn’t possible.

Buffy doesn’t think he deserves it anyway, but Giles says forgiveness is about compassion. It’s not given because someone deserves it, but because they need it. Buffy disagrees – James killed the person he loved the most. His intentions and regrets don’t matter. He has to live with them. Xander notes that he can’t live with them, since he’s dead. “Okay. Overidentify much?” Cordelia comments as Buffy leaves.

Buffy finds a flier for the dance in the kitchen, then hears a voice that sounds like Angel’s whispering, “I need you.” She leaves the house through the kitchen door. The Scoobies go back to trying to figure out how to defeat James’ ghost as Buffy returns to the school. The wasps part to let her inside. Willow realizes that Buffy left, so the Scoobies go back to the school, thinking Buffy’s under James’ thrall. Giles believes he’s going to make her relive the shootings again so he can change things. Willow says that’s not possible, so Buffy’s about to get shot.

Giles says the school’s deserted, so there’s no man for James to possess. Buffy should be fine until they can get her out. Wrong! Buffy’s not the only person inside – Angelus is also there. Buffy tells him that he’s the only person she can talk to. He doesn’t realize that she’s started saying what James said to Grace the night he killed her. Then he starts repeating what Grace said that night.

Buffy says she thinks about Angelus every minute. We go back and forth between the real James and Grace in the ’50s and Buffy and Angelus now, saying the same things. So Buffy-as-James confronts Angelus-and-Grace for suddenly turning on her and ending their relationship. The gun appears and Buffy continues James’ words, threatening to shoot Angelus and telling him not to walk away.

They end up on the balcony, like Grace and James. Buffy fires the gun, and on the ground outside, the Scoobies hear the shot. As Grace falls off the balcony in 1955, so does Angelus in the present. James and Buffy both go to the music room as Angelus, who can’t be killed with a gun or by a fall, changes the story by waking up.

Buffy puts on “I Only Have Eyes for You” and looks in a mirror, seeing herself as James. She starts to raise the gun to her head, but Angelus stops her. He says the shooting was an accident, and she doesn’t need to apologize. He never stopped loving her, even as he was dying. They start to kiss, and a flash shows James and Grace getting the same happy-ish ending in the past. Their spirits leave Buffy and Angelus, who take a moment to realize they’ve been making out. He growls and runs away.

The Scoobies regroup in the library after searching the school and finding no traces of the weird goings-on. That means the school can reopen. Yay? Buffy’s still thinking about what happened. She’s sad that James thought she was the only person he could relate to. Giles says James and Grace can both rest now. Buffy doesn’t understand how Grace could forgive James. Giles asks if it matters, and she says no.

Angelus is home now, scrubbing himself as if that’ll erase his makeout session with Buffy. Drusilla asks if he was possessed by a demon, and he says it was love. They go out hunting for a snack, leaving Spike behind. After they go, Spike stands up from his wheelchair, totally healed.

Thoughts: James is played by Christopher Gorham. George is played by John Hawkes.

If they ever do a(nother) Buffy movie, the plot should be about the Loch Ness Monster.

Spike and Drusilla get so little to do during this part of the season that leaving the main plot to watch them feels like switching to another TV show.

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