August 27, 2022

Buffy 3.20, The Prom: One Night of Glory

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

I’m not crying, you’re crying

Summary: Buffy’s asleep in Angel’s bed, and he’s watching her kind of creepily. Dude, personal space. They took a nap after patrolling but slept a little longer than expected. Now she has bed head and no mirrors to help her fix it. She suggests getting mirrors and a drawer for her to keep things in at his place. Then she can spend the night sometimes, like maybe after the prom.

Angel isn’t familiar with the prom, but Buffy has obviously already planned on him going. She figures lots of girls will bring older boyfriends, so it’ll be okay. Angel suggests that she get going, but she thinks she still has a few hours until the sun comes up. Wrong! She almost burns Angel with sunlight, which would have been a convenient excuse for him to use to get out of going to the prom.

At school, Anya approaches Xander. He confirms that she still doesn’t have her powers back. She insists that she will eventually. She’s eager to get back to punishing men, since she has no respect for any of them. She’s only talking to Xander because she needs a prom date. He thinks she would have better luck finding one if she didn’t rant about men all the time. “Men are evil. Will you go with me?” she asks. “One of us is very confused, and I honestly don’t know which,” he replies.

Anya blames him for the loss of her powers. He’s the reason she came to the school, since his cheating on Cordelia led to her making a wish. Now Anya’s stuck as a human and is having a bunch of feelings she doesn’t like. All she knows is she wants to go to the prom with someone. Xander asks how she chose him. She says he’s not as horrible as the other alpha males at the school, and he doesn’t have a date. He says he just hasn’t settled on anyone yet. Can we go back to the part where Anya thinks Xander is an alpha male??

She adds that she knows he thinks she’s pretty, since she’s seen him looking at her chest. “Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open,” Xander tells her. He doesn’t have a reason to say no, though, so he ends up agreeing to go with her. He shares the news with Buffy, Oz, and Willow, who plans to say she told him so if Anya gets him killed. That means all the Scoobies have dates. “Some of us are going with demons, but I think that’s a valid lifestyle choice,” Buffy says. Also, she has an awesome dress that’s going to make Angel lose it. (Not his soul.)

At the mansion, Angel finds a notebook Buffy left behind with out-of-character, too-young-for-her-age scribblings like “Buffy & Angel 4 Ever!” Joyce comes by and takes in his living arrangements, which are nice in terms of size and decorations, but also a little scary because there are chains on the wall. She wants to address Buffy and Angel’s unplanned sleepover. She’s not concerned about that, but she’s worried about the couple in general.

Angel promises that he’s not going to lose his soul again. That’s also not why Joyce is there. She understands that Buffy and Angel are from two different worlds, but the problem is that she’s only 18 while he’s…well, much older. Angel has had thoughts about that, too, especially now that Buffy’s decided to stay in Sunnydale.

Joyce reminds him that Buffy’s just like any other 18-year-old in love. “You’re all she can see of tomorrow,” she says. The couple is going to have to face some difficult choices, and if Buffy can’t make them, Angel will have to. Joyce knows that he cares about her daughter, but she doesn’t know if he cares enough.

In the library, Buffy and Willow take a break from research to discuss prom dresses (though Giles thinks they’re talking about frilly blue demons). The pages Willow stole from the Books of Ascension have provided a little help, but knowing that the mayor is going to transform into a demon doesn’t give them enough information. There are thousands of species, and they can’t plan ahead how to fight him.

Wesley thinks they should stop wasting their time on frivolous things like school dances. Cordelia wishes they wouldn’t, since he would “look way 007 in a tux.” Wesley has volunteered himself to chaperone along with Giles. So when a random guy no one knows volunteered to chaperone the prom, the school was just like, “Yeah, sure, that’s fine”?

Buffy assures Willow that they’ll find her a dress. They can check out a store called April Fool’s. Cordelia quickly tells them not to. Giles asks the group to get back to work, but Buffy thinks they should get a last “night of glory” if they’re all going to die at graduation. In a rundown house somewhere in Sunnydale, a creature that looks like it’s part dog and part demon gets really worked up in its cage.

Apparently Buffy and Angel have skipped right over “let’s go to the prom together” to “let’s get married.” It’s just them and a priest. After they’re married and kiss, the bride and groom head down the aisle. It’s daytime, and Angel gets anxious about going out into the sun. When they walk outside, though, Buffy’s the one who burns up. Angel wakes up gasping from this nightmare.

He and Buffy go patrolling that night, ending up in a sewer tunnel. She brings up prom attire, but he, like Giles, wants to focus on more important things. Buffy stakes a vampire, then goes right back to their conversation. She’s noticed that Angel doesn’t like talking about the prom. He says he just doesn’t want her to get too invested in it. Buffy thinks the prom is exactly the sort of thing she should get invested in. It’s part of growing up.

Angel tries to pretend he’s not preoccupied by something serious, but he finally says that they should have a talk. Buffy insists on having it now, despite the possibility that a vampire will interrupt. He tells her he’s been thinking about their future. He’s started to believe that their relationship is unfair to her. Buffy thinks what the mayor said about them is getting to him, and Angel should ignore the musings of a villain. Angel tells her that she deserves more – something “outside of demons and darkness.” She should be with someone who can take her into the light.

Part of Angel’s concerns is the knowledge that he and Buffy can never have sex. She says that’s not important to her, but he thinks she’ll change her mind. Plus, she might want children some day. Buffy says he’s jumping the gun – she can’t even keep a goldfish alive – but he tells her time will go fast, and she’ll want a normal life sooner rather than later. She reminds him that she’ll never have a normal life. Angel knows that, but being burdened by the responsibilities of a Slayer is even more reason for Buffy to have a real relationship, not a “freak show.”

Buffy wants to leave, but Angel stops her to apologize. He loves her and it hurts him to say this. Buffy tells him not to, then. She’s thought about this, too, though he doubts she’s done it enough. She accuses him of seeing her as a “swoony little schoolgirl.” Angel says he’s trying to do what’s right. He’s trying to think with his head instead of his heart. “You have a heart? It isn’t even beating,” Buffy spits out. She can’t stop loving him, and she’s never going to change. She can’t. She wants to have a life with Angel. “I don’t,” he whispers. And that’s the final nail, something they can’t come back from.

Buffy asks how she’s supposed to stay away from Angel. He tells her that after they’ve dealt with the ascension and the mayor and Faith – if they survive – he’ll leave town. He hasn’t decided where to go yet. Buffy’s in shock and wonders if this is really happening.

They mope separately that night, and the next day, Willow goes to Buffy’s house to offer comfort. She thinks Angel’s being a jerk, especially for breaking up with Buffy right before the prom. Buffy isn’t mad about that, since he doesn’t really get the prom, and she tells Willow she doesn’t have to make Angel the bad guy. Willow says that’s her job as Buffy’s best friend. Buffy, however, thinks that in the long run, Angel’s right. Willow feels the same, though she tried to hope for the best for them. Not that that makes it any easier for Buffy, who’s so grief-stricken that she feels like she can’t breathe.

The dog/demon creature is even more riled up than before, and it’s able to escape its cage. Downtown, Xander spots Cordelia in April Fool’s, seemingly shopping for a dress like she was the last time he saw her there. She plays along until a co-worker tells her to get back to work. Xander’s confused, since Cordelia’s rich and shouldn’t have to earn money to buy a prom dress.

She admits that she has nothing now. Her father “made a little mistake on his taxes…for the last 12 years,” and the IRS took everything the family owned. Cordelia can’t go to college because she can no longer afford it, and she can’t stay home because they lost their house. She expects Xander to laugh at her, but he doesn’t.

The dog/demon creature bursts in through the store’s front window, and Xander pushes Cordelia aside to try to take it on. The creature leaves him alone but attacks a guy trying on a tux. It looks over some other people in the store but also leaves them alone. Then it just heads out the door like it was browsing and didn’t find anything it wanted to buy.

The Scoobies watch security footage of the attack in the library, wondering why the creature acted the way it did. Cordelia notes that it had good taste, since it skipped over Xander and went for the guy in the tux. Buffy doesn’t want to watch the video again, figuring she can fight the creature without knowing all its moves. Wesley thinks it’s a hellhound, which Giles says is a kind of “demon foot-soldier” trained to kill.

Wesley asks why Xander and Cordelia were together at the time of the attack. Xander covers for her, saying they were shopping at the same time. Oz notices someone outside the boutique who looks unconcerned about the creature. In fact, he’s holding a device that he might even be using to control the hellhound. A look through the yearbook IDs him as Tucker Wells, a quiet Sunnydale student who never struck anyone as the kind to get involved in this sort of thing.

Willow hacks into his email account and finds a message he sent someone about surprising his classmates on their “big night.” Giles puts together that he’s going to attack the prom with a hellhound. “Once again, the Hellmouth puts the ‘special’ in ‘special occasion,'” Oz notes. Willow guesses that this means the prom will have to be canceled, but Buffy refuses. They need to have a normal, fun evening even if she has to kill everyone on the planet to do it. “Yay?” Xander replies.

Buffy sends Wesley to Tucker’s house (yes, he can take Cordelia) and Willow and Oz to talk to the guy Tucker emailed. Buffy asks Wesley and Cordelia to also go by the magic shop next to April Fool’s, but Xander offers to do that. He’ll be trying to find out if anyone’s been there to buy hellhound-related items. And since hellhounds eat brains, Buffy goes to a meat-packing plant, where she learns that Tucker’s been buying cow brains.

Angel happens to be there, too, picking up an order of blood. They’re awkward around each other, but she doesn’t want any kind of meaningful conversation, since being around him makes her want to shut down. She tells him she’s trying to stop a prom disaster, and that she’s still going, just without a date. She’s “over the Buffy-gets-one-perfect-high-school-moment thing,” but she wants the rest of her classmates to have a good time. Angel offers his help but she turns him down.

It’s almost prom time, but Cordelia leaves a shift at April Fool’s resigned to not going, since she hasn’t been able to make all the money she needs. Her co-worker tells her that her dress has been paid for. The other Scoobies are still at the library, where Buffy tells them she’s going to take care of Tucker while they get ready for the prom. She won’t even consider letting them help her.

Giles thinks she’s being rash for planning to go confront Tucker, but Buffy is determined to let the others have a good night. Giles guesses that she’s trying to cover up her feelings because Angel won’t be taking her to the prom. She tells him that Angel’s leaving town (and her). Giles isn’t sure how to comfort her, but he knows ice cream is a good bet. Buffy says they can save that till later – first, she needs to deal with Tucker.

The prom gets underway, and Xander quickly realizes that attending with Anya means he’s in for a rough night. (She talks a lot.) Giles and Wesley are out of their element, having gone to all-boys’ schools in England. Cordelia arrives and Wesley almost chokes. Willow and Oz come in soon after and she suggests that they dance while they can, in case something arrives to ruin the festivities. Oz convinces her that Buffy will take care of things.

Wesley approaches Cordelia and tells her she looks “smashing.” Xander is unreasonably thrilled to see them, since it means he can talk to someone other than Anya. Cordelia pointedly thanks him and he comments, “It looks good on you.” He paid for the dress! What a hero! Giles watches the doorway, waiting for Buffy to show up.

She’s at Tucker’s house, where she catches him as he’s about to take the hellhound to the prom. He tries to knock her out, then grabs something sharp as a weapon. She sees a bunch of videotapes of movies that involve prom scenes and guesses that he used them to brainwash the hellhound to attack people in formal wear. She doesn’t get why he would want to ruin his classmates’ happy night. Tucker doesn’t even have a good reason – he just couldn’t get a prom date.

He’s not very imposing, so Buffy figures she can just tie him up and then go to the prom. Unfortunately, the sight of a bunch of empty cages clues her in to the fact that Tucker doesn’t have just one hellhound. Three more are already on their way to the prom. But Buffy must know a shortcut because she’s able to get to the school just as they do. She shoots one with a crossbow and lets the other two chase her. They do until they hear the song “Celebration” coming from inside and head toward it.

Buffy fights them in the hallway, killing one with a knife. The other almost attacks a student but Buffy is able to wrestle it and then snap its neck. The student is shaken but just asks Buffy where the bathroom is. She drags the hellhounds’ bodies into the woods, then retrieves her weapons bag. Tonight it contains both stakes and her prom dress. She gets cleaned up and heads into the gym with plenty of time left to enjoy her night. There haven’t been any other incidents, and Willow tells her everything’s perfect.

Later in the night, some students are given awards, like a guy named Jack who’s picked as class clown. (Xander feels robbed.) Jonathan takes the stage to give the last award of the night. It’s for Buffy. A bunch of students wrote her in for a new category, and the prom committee asked Jonathan to read an explanation.

“We’re not good friends,” it begins. “Most of us never found the time to get to know you, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t noticed you. We don’t talk about it much, but it’s no secret that Sunnydale High isn’t really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here.” A few people in the audience offer up examples: “Zombies!” “Hyena people!” “Snyder!”

Jonathan continues: “But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We’re proud to say that the class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history.” That gets a round of applause.

The class knows that Buffy’s responsible for a lot of their survival, so they’ve gotten her a little umbrella. It’s the class protector award. Everyone cheers and claps for Buffy as she goes up to the stage to get it. All these people she thought never saw her at the beginning of the year have really seen her all along.

The prom continues and Wesley uses 100 words to ask Giles if it would be inappropriate for him to ask Cordelia to dance. Giles impatiently tells him that Cordelia’s 18. Also, Wesley “has the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.” He should just do it already. (Hee’s not her teacher or in any way employed by the school, so who is he scared will come down on him?)

A cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” comes on, and everyone partners up to slow dance. Well, everyone but Buffy. Giles praises her for her successful night and notes that her classmates are very gracious for acknowledging her. He points her attention to the door, where Angel has just appeared. He’s in a tux, and he’s there to help make her big night what she wanted it to be, even if this is the last time they share a moment like this.

Thoughts: The class protector award makes me choke up every time. EVERY TIME. To me, it’s more emotional than Buffy and Angel’s breakup. Of course they weren’t going to be together forever. She’s 18 and he was leaving for the spin-off! This was a rough way for the audience to have to accept that, though.

There’s no mention of Jonathan asking Buffy to the prom, as she thought he might, but he has a date, so good for him.

“Wild Horses” is great and all but it’s an odd choice for Buffy and Angel. “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away,” but Angel’s leaving.

’90s music alert: “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim

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