April 23, 2022

Buffy 3.2, Dead Man’s Party: Mask Casualties

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

So much for trying to appreciate art from another culture

Summary: After unpacking in her room upon her return to Sunnydale, Buffy goes to Joyce’s room and accidentally scares her. Joyce is hanging up a mask that was part of a shipment her gallery got from Nigeria. She wants to brighten the room, but Buffy thinks the mask is actually “angry at the room” and “wants the room to suffer.” Joyce asks if she’s going out, and Buffy asks permission to go find Xander and Willow. Joyce wants to know if she’ll be slaying anything. “Only if they give me lip,” Buffy replies. Joyce wants to be supportive, but she also wants to be protective. She eventually lets Buffy go.

Buffy heads to the Bronze, where she comes across a guy in an alley and suspects that he’s shady. It’s actually Xander, and he’s patrolling. She jokes that he shouldn’t play with pointy things: “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.” Everyone who’s seen season 7 cringes. He’s shocked to see her, but he doesn’t get much time to react because suddenly a vampire is attacking them.

The Scoobies are now using walkie-talkies to communicate, and Buffy has some questions when Cordelia contacts Xander using the code name Nighthawk. She, Willow, and Oz come running, but even all four Scoobies combined can’t take out the vampire. Buffy winds up doing it herself. She greets her friends awkwardly, knowing her time away is going to cause some issues.

The Scoobies all go to Giles’ place so Buffy can reunite with him as well. She’s hesitant, worrying that he’ll be mad that she disappeared without a word. When Giles opens the door, Xander fills the shocked silence by telling him he’s back on the clock as a Watcher. Giles just welcomes Buffy home and invites the Scoobies in.

Oz notes that Buffy isn’t wanted for murder anymore. Yay! Xander asks if she went to Belgium. Buffy asks why she would go there. Xander thinks the better question is why wouldn’t she? Giles makes tea and listens from the kitchen as the Scoobies get back into their groove like no time has passed. He’s pleased to have Buffy home but doesn’t want to show his emotions.

The Scoobies want to know what Buffy was up to while she was gone, but Giles tells them to go easy on her. Xander suggests that she take her time getting back into slaying, since the Scoobies have things covered. Buffy thinks the walkie-talkies are a smart addition. Cordelia has some critiques about their outfits, since they’re not sporty enough. Willow proudly says they’ve been killing nine out of ten vampires. Oz corrects her that it’s really six out of ten.

Buffy says she wants to get back to her normal routine of school, slaying, and socializing. She wants to hang out with her friends the next day, though they already have plans. Giles tells Buffy she’ll need to talk to Snyder before she can be readmitted to Sunnydale High. Joyce has already made an appointment, and Buffy’s sure she’ll be able to break Snyder.

“Absolutely not,” is his response to Joyce’s request to unexpel Buffy. He claims to have the right to make that decision. Plus, it makes him happy. Joyce points out that Buffy was cleared of the murder charges. Snyder notes that she’s still a horrible student and a troublemaker. He’s sure she’ll find a way to fill her time, such as working in fast food. Joyce threatens to keep pressing the issue, even if she has to take her fight all the way up to the mayor. Snyder thinks that would be interesting.

Joyce tells Buffy that they might be able to get her into a private school instead. Buffy suggests homeschooling instead. Joyce drops her off to meet Willow, who doesn’t show. When Buffy gets home, she meets Joyce’s friend Pat. She’s an incredibly cheery woman who has been looking after Joyce during Buffy’s absence. Joyce tells Buffy that Willow called and made an excuse about being held up somewhere.

Joyce wants to have all the Scoobies and Giles over for dinner the next night, an idea Buffy isn’t too thrilled about. Joyce sends her to the basement to get their nice plates, even though Buffy thinks her friends would be fine with normal ones. While looking for the plates, Buffy finds a picture of herself with Willow and Xander in happier times. Then she finds a dead cat from what I don’t think were happier times.

They bury the cat in the backyard but Buffy isn’t sure how to eulogize it: “Thanks for stopping by and dying?” Joyce says she hopes the cat who lost its way eventually finds it. That night, the eyes of the mask on Joyce’s wall glow red. The cat emerges from its grave, very unhappy about being buried.

Buffy dreams about going to an empty Sunnydale High and running into Angel. He tells her that her friends are waiting for her and she needs to go. She says she’s afraid, and he replies that she should be. When the bell rings, Buffy wakes up. She barely listens as Joyce talks to her in the kitchen about meeting with the superintendent about letting her back into school. If that doesn’t work, she has a chance at going to a girls’ school.

Buffy thinks she’s being punished, but Joyce points out that she made bad choices and might have to face some consequences. She softens and says that nothing’s settled yet. She thinks people should make allowances for Buffy and her unusual circumstances. Buffy says she’s a Slayer, not someone with special needs. Joyce suggests that she tell people like Snyder and the police that she’s a Slayer. She opens the door to take out the trash and the not-so-dead cat runs into the house.

Giles comes over with a cage so he can retrieve and study the cat. He admires Joyce’s mask, but Buffy calls off their attempt at small talk by saying they should get to work learning more about the cat. Giles reminds her that she’s not allowed on school property, so she can’t help him. Plus, he thinks she should stay with Joyce.

The other Scoobies get to study the cat instead. Oz likes it and suggests calling it Patches. Willow brings up dinner at the Summerses’ house that night and says she told Joyce they would bring stuff. “I’m the dip,” Cordelia announces. Oz wonders if they’re going to a gathering, a shindig, or a hootenanny. The first features brie and mellow music. The second features dip and less mellow music, and maybe beer. The third is “chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.”

Xander asks what they’re supposed to talk about during the dinner party – Buffy’s secret vacation and how upset they are with her for abandoning them? Willow says Buffy wanted to loosen up, so maybe Dingoes Ate My Baby can change their scheduled rehearsal to a performance at the Summerses’. Giles doesn’t think a shindig is the best idea (Oz says this would qualify as a hootnanny). He doesn’t want Buffy to feel overwhelmed. But the other Scoobies want to turn the small dinner party into a big welcome-home party. Distracted, Giles misses a page in his demon reference book that’s illustrated with a picture of Joyce’s mask.

That night, Pat is the first guest to arrive for the party. Buffy has no idea how to talk to her. The band is next, followed by dozens of people who definitely want to welcome Buffy home and don’t just want to party. Buffy tries to talk to Willow but the music’s too loud for conversation. Buffy’s disappointed that she doesn’t get to spend quality time with her friends and get back to her normal life.

She takes Willow upstairs so they can talk. Buffy asks if Willow’s avoiding her, and Willow promises that everything’s great. The Scoobies just wanted to throw Buffy a party to show how happy they are that she’s back. Down the hall, the mask’s eyes glow again. Somewhere in town, a man who appears to have died after being hit by a car wakes up.

Xander takes a break from making out with Cordelia to chat with Buffy. Everything’s great! Everyone’s happy to see Buffy! Cordelia lures back to the makeout session by calling Xander “Nighthawk.” Buffy leaves before she gets sick. The mask keeps glowing and a man who’s just been pronounced dead from massive burns gets out of his hospital bed and attacks the staff.

Buffy hits her breaking point when she hears some guy at the party asks the occasion and his friend replies that he heard it was for a girl who just got back from rehab. In the kitchen, Joyce and Pat are either clueless about or ignoring everything happening at the party. Joyce admits that Buffy’s return isn’t as happy as she’d hoped. It’s actually made things worse in some ways. Buffy overhears this and goes to her room to repack her things. Meanwhile, a bunch of recently risen dead people head for the Summerses’ house.

At the library, the cat is restless. Giles finally sees the page he missed in his book and realizes what’s happening. He tries to call Buffy but no one hears the phone over the loud music. When someone finally answers, he doesn’t know who Buffy is. He asks around for someone named Buddy and calls Giles “Mr. Belvedere,” which is awesome.

Willow catches Buffy packing and blasts her for running away again. Buffy says no one will mind. She claims she tried to readjust to her normal life, but Willow disagrees. Her leaving won’t make things easier. Buffy says the Scoobies did fine without her, but Willow says they didn’t have a choice. Buffy tells her that she didn’t know what Buffy was going through and wouldn’t have understood it. Willow replies that she might not need to understand. She just wants Buffy to open up to her.

Buffy points out that Willow’s been avoiding her, so how could she open up? Willow says they’ve both been going through difficult things. Her life has completely changed – she’s dating a werewolf and studying witchcraft and taking on slaying responsibilities. She didn’t have anyone to talk to about scary things. Her best friend just walked away.

Giles speeds toward the Summerses’ house, annoyed that Joyce’s mask has caused trouble: “‘Do you like my mask? Isn’t it pretty? It raises the dead.’ Americans!” He accidentally hits someone with his car, but it’s okay – he didn’t hurt the person. It’s hard to hurt someone who’s already dead. The problem is that the zombie has some friends, and Giles is now out of his car and about to be outnumbered.

Buffy tells Willow that she missed all the Scoobies and wanted to call every day. Willow doesn’t think that matters, since she didn’t contact them. Joyce finds them and Willow tells her that Buffy is trying to run away again. Buffy says she’s not, then admits that she’s not sure. Joyce chastises her for thinking she can run away whenever she feels like it. Buffy repeats that she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She runs downstairs, looking for an exit that isn’t blocked by partygoers. As Joyce starts berating her, driven by anger and schnapps, the music stops and all the guests hear the fight. Joyce rants at Buffy for leaving her behind for months of worrying about where she was. Buffy reminds Joyce that she told her not to come back if she left. She found out who her daughter really was and couldn’t deal.

A few partygoers leave, probably thinking Buffy’s a lesbian. Joyce is upset that Buffy punished her for not handling the news well. Buffy says she wasn’t punishing Joyce. Xander jumps into the fight, saying that’s what happened. Buffy asks if anyone else wants to join in on piling on her. Maybe Jonathan? “No, thanks,” he says meekly.

Xander thinks Buffy needs to hear how selfish and stupid her decision was. She can accept that, but no one has any idea what she went through or what she was feeling. He asks if she ever tried talking to anyone about it. She says no one could have done anything anyway. She had to deal with it on her own. Xander tells her that she can’t bury stuff – it’ll come right back up to get her. Cut to the zombies Giles is facing off with. He manages to get in his car, but he left his keys on the ground. He hotwires the engine (“like riding a bloody bicycle”) and makes his escape.

Buffy turns on Xander, saying she couldn’t have gone to him since he didn’t want her to be with Angel. He replies that he’s sorry her boyfriend was a demon, but most girls don’t run away over “boy troubles.” Cordelia steps in, advising Xander to put himself in Buffy’s shoes: “I’m Buffy, freak of nature, right? Naturally I pick a freak for a boyfriend. And then he turns into Mr. Killing Spree, which is pretty much my fault–.” Buffy interrupts: “Cordy, get out of my shoes.”

Willow tries to address Buffy, who’s too upset to listen to more from her. Xander thinks Buffy owes it to Willow to let her finish. He says Buffy’s been acting like an idiot, but she thinks his use of the code name “Nighthawk” makes this a pot-calling-the-kettle-idiot situation. Oz tries to end the fight, but Willow says they should stop trying to talk things out and turn to violence. Zombies burst into the house and Willow clarifies that she was being sarcastic.

The Scoobies put aside their problems to mobilize against the zombies. Joyce even gets into the fight, knocking one out with a vase. Since they’re not dealing with vampires, traditional staking won’t work here, and the Scoobies have trouble taking the zombies down. Pat gets grabbed and Jonathan risks Oz’s wrath (not that Oz ever feels wrath) by threatening a zombie with his guitar.

The partygoers start shoving zombies outside and trying to barricade the doors. That doesn’t do much since the zombies can break through the doors and grab them. Joyce finds Pat, and Buffy, Xander, and Willow take the two of them into Joyce’s bedroom for safety. Joyce determines that Pat’s dead, but thanks to the mask, that doesn’t mean anything.

Everything’s quiet downstairs, so Oz and Cordelia, who were hiding in a closet, creep out to check out the situation. They run into Giles, but Cordelia isn’t sure it’s really him and not a zombie version of him. “Cordelia, do stop being tiresome,” he says. That’s all it takes to convince her that he’s the real deal. Oz says the “dead man’s party” has moved upstairs. Giles guesses it’s because that’s where the mask is. It holds the power of a zombie demon called the Evil Eye. If a zombie puts the mask on, they’ll become the demon incarnate.

As the Scoobies in Joyce’s room fight a zombie, Joyce realizes that Pat’s alive. She shoves Joyce aside and puts on the mask. The zombie gets scared of Pat, which Xander says can’t be good. Her eyes flash at Buffy, stunning her and allowing Zombie Pat to throw her aside. Pat gets Willow in her sights and Buffy warns her not to look into Pat’s eyes. Willow doesn’t listen and the flash stuns her. Buffy tackles Pat and they fly through a window, landing on the back lawn.

Giles, Oz, and Cordelia hear the crash and rush to help as Buffy runs from Pat, repeating, “Not looking! Not looking!” Joyce smacks a zombie with a bat. Giles, Oz, and Cordelia get stalled on the stairs by a zombie, so Giles sends Oz to the backyard with instructions on how to take out Pat: Go for the eyes. By the time Oz arrives, though, Buffy has already figured it out. She rams a shovel into the mask’s eyes. Pat and all the zombies vanish. Aw, man, now the humans have to clean up the house! Joyce asks if this is a typical day in a Slayer’s life. Buffy says it was nothing. Now everyone really is happy to have her back.

The next day, Giles goes to Snyder’s office and calmly says he has no grounds to expel Buffy. As a minor, she’s entitled to a public education whether Snyder likes her or not. If Snyder fights that, Giles will go to the state Supreme Court. He’ll make life for Snyder very, very difficult. Snyder refuses to cooperate, saying he’s not convinced. Giles grabs him by the collar and pushes him up against a cabinet. “Would you like me to convince you?” he asks with a “just try me” smile.

Buffy and Willow meet up at a coffee place and talk about Willow’s dabbles in witchcraft. She admits to doing some scary things, and Buffy wishes she could have been there for her. But Willow understands why she left and forgives her. Buffy thinks she’s just being morally superior. She’s willing to take some slack for a while. Willow says she’ll back off, then teases that Buffy’s a runaway and a quitter. Buffy calls her a whiner and the two trade some good-natured barbs like “harpy,” “delinquent,” and “bad seed.”

Thoughts: How is it that no one asks Buffy about Angel? We find out later that she told the Scoobies that she killed him, but that happens off-screen. We should have seen someone asking and Buffy having to figure out what to say without retraumatizing herself.

“Thanks for stopping by and dying” and Giles mocking Joyce crack me up every time.

Dingoes Ate My Baby’s drummer is at least 30 years old. I hope we’re not supposed to believe he’s one of the Scoobies’ classmates.

As fun as it is to see Giles stand up to Snyder, it would have been really satisfying if Joyce had been the one to break him.

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