January 21, 2023

Buffy 4.19, New Moon Rising: Oz the Great and Powerful

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

He’s back! And then he’s gone again

Summary: Willow and Tara are on a walk, discussing animals. Tara asks if Willow likes cats, and Willow says she’s more of a dog person. (Insert your own Oz joke here.) Tara’s thinking about getting a cat to secretly keep in her dorm room. They could name her Trixie or Miss Kitty Fantastico. Willow’s on board, which Tara is happy to hear, because she wants her room to be “Willow-friendly.”

They’re on their way to a Scooby meeting at Giles’, though it’s kind of a pointless one since nothing’s going on. Buffy reports that there haven’t been many vampires or demons out and about. Giles thinks it’s because of Adam. Riley says the Initiative has been busy, so demonic activity hasn’t completely stopped.

The meeting breaks up as Anya snarks that it was a waste of their time. Giles is annoyed, expecting everyone to respect him when he says there are important things to discuss. The door to his apartment opens and everyone stares. Tara’s confused, since she doesn’t know the person who’s just arrived after months away: Oz.

Buffy asks if he’s back for good or just passing through town. Giles thinks they should go easy on him. Oz tells Willow he wants to talk that night, and she agrees, shellshocked. After he leaves, Tara – who’s heard at least a little about Oz and knows his history with Willow – makes up an excuse to go so Willow can be alone with the Scoobies.

On patrol that night, Riley asks Buffy why things were so tense when Oz showed up. She explains that he and Willow had a difficult breakup. They pause to fight a demon, then go back to discussing that breakup. Buffy mentions that Oz is a werewolf, something Riley didn’t know. He’s surprised, since he didn’t think Willow would be into someone dangerous: “She seemed smarter than that.”

Buffy takes offense, and not just because Oz isn’t dangerous. She calls Riley a bigot, which he thinks is harsh. He just doesn’t think it’s wise to date someone who could eat you once a month. Buffy tells him that love isn’t logical and not everyone can be sensible about it all the time. She certainly hasn’t. Riley’s confused. You know, more than he usually is.

Oz goes to Buffy and Willow’s dorm room and asks Willow to come outside with him so he can show her something. She admits that it feels like this isn’t really happening – it’s too weird. He tells her to look up. The moon is full, but Oz hasn’t turned into a werewolf. He’s somehow found a way to control his turning. Willow hugs him, excited, then backs off awkwardly. He says he talked to Xander, who said that Willow doesn’t have a new guy. “No, no new guy,” she confirms. He tells her he’s a different person and can be what she needs now. That’s why he came back.

Graham and a couple of commandos encounter a werewolf while out on patrol, and it takes down one of the guys. In the morning, Oz and Willow are still hanging out, talking about his travels to Tibet and Romania. A Tibetan monk taught him meditation techniques to help him keep his “inner cool.” Willow teases that he wasn’t exactly out of control before. But it’s a big part of how he keeps from wolfing out (along with herbs, chanting, and charms).

Willow’s amazed that Oz traveled around the world and underwent a big transformation while she lived her normal life in Sunnydale. He doesn’t think she should discount anything she’s gone through. She tells him she’s improved her magic. They realize they talked all night and she suggests that they get breakfast. He thinks they should get some sleep, but she’d prefer waffles, since they’d be less confusing right now.

As she goes down the hall to brush her teeth, Tara comes by. She tries to leave when she realizes Oz is there, but he’s friendly to her and doesn’t want her to go on his account. She runs off anyway. Oz finds it unusual, and when Willow gets back, he mentions Tara’s visit to her. Willow looks worried.

Buffy spent the night with Riley, even though things are a little awkward between them. She snarks at him for being so regimented. He gets that she’s upset with him for what he said about Willow, but he just doesn’t want her to get hurt. Buffy thinks he’s too indoctrinated in the Initiative’s ways. Not all demons are evil. For example, some vampires aren’t evil at all. Forrest comes in to get Riley, telling him that one of the commandos was killed. Buffy asks what kind of demon got him, but Riley doesn’t think it matters.

She goes to her room, happy to hear that Oz and Willow were together all night. Willow tells her that he didn’t change with the full moon – he found a cure. Buffy thinks she should be more excited. Willow says she’s happy for Oz, but things are complicated…because of Tara. Buffy thinks she means that Tara has a crush on Oz. Then she realizes what Willow really means.

She’s thrown by the thought of her best friend liking women when she’s never hinted at it before, but she’s also supportive. Willow says that there’s something between her and Tara that’s powerful and totally different from what she had with Oz. Buffy encourages her to follow her heart as she scrambles to not freak out about this new realization. When Willow catches on, Buffy promises that she’s okay with it and is glad that Willow told her.

Willow was going to say something to Oz, but then they hung out and she felt the way she did before. “He’s Oz, you know?” she says. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but Buffy thinks it’s inevitable. She advises Willow to be honest or things will get really bad. Hmm, maybe someone should take her own advice and be honest with her boyfriend about things she hasn’t said about her ex?

Adam finds Spike’s crypt and asks him to come with him. Spike punches him in the stomach, which does nothing but hurt Spike’s hand. Adam announces that Spike is going to help him with his problem, and Adam is going to help Spike with his.

Willow goes to Tara’s room to let her know that nothing happened between her and Oz; they just talked. Tara promises that she’ll still be Willow’s friend, no matter what happens. Willow firmly says that that’s not even a question. Tara says she knows what Oz means to Willow, but Willow replies that she’s not sure what he means to her now. Things have changed since he left. She changed. Things were getting good again, partly because of Tara. Now Willow has the chance to have what she wanted most, and she doesn’t know what to do. Tara tells her to do what makes her happy. Crying, Willow hugs her.

Oz is hanging out in a hallway in a building on campus when Tara walks by. Oz thinks she’s Willow at first, since Tara smells like her. He’s decided to come back to school, which makes Tara think he and Willow will be getting back together. He’s preoccupied by her scent and says that Willow’s all over her. Tara gets flustered and says she can’t talk about it. Oz demands to know if they’re involved. Willow didn’t say anything about that.

Tara tries to leave but Oz grabs her. “Is she in love with you?” he exclaims. As he gets more agitated, he starts to wolf out. He tells Tara to run. She does, and he chases her into a classroom. She manages to throw a chair at him and seemingly knock him out. In reality, some commandos have arrived and shot him with a tranquilizer dart. Forrest tells her they’ll take things from there. Riley says they’ll find out if the werewolf is the same one who attacked Graham’s squad. If so, they’ll kill him. Tara tries to protests but Forrest just says they know what they’re doing.

Spike has heard Adam’s big plan and thinks it sounds great. Adam tells him that total human annihilation isn’t enough; some demons will have to die, too. Spike doesn’t get how Buffy fits into the plan. Adam wants her to be the humans’ leader, but Spike notes that she won’t exactly roll over and die because Adam wants her to. Spike confirms that if he cooperates, Adam will remove the chip from his head. “Scout’s honor,” Adam says. “You were a Boy Scout?” Spike asks. “Parts of me,” Adam replies.

Tara finds Willow in the library and tells her that Oz transformed while they were talking, even though it’s daytime. She adds that the Initiative took him and might hurt him. Willow rushes to gather the Scoobies so they can come up with a rescue plan. Buffy can’t reach Riley, so they can’t use him as an inside man.

A scientist studies Oz, who’s still in wolf form, but can’t confirm that he’s the one who attacked Graham’s squad. Riley wants to kill the wolf before they know, since he’s a killer either way. Oz turns back into his human form right then. They move him from a cage to an exam table and give him a sedative to keep him from hurting them. A scientist tells Riley that a higher-up, Colonel McNamara, has given them permission to proceed. Riley protests on Oz’s behalf, so the scientist has him removed. Oz gets tazed, which turns him back into a werewolf.

Buffy still hasn’t been able to reach Riley, which makes her think something’s wrong. She decides that she and Xander will go into the Initiative together, since they’ve done it before. Willow wants to go, too, but Buffy knows that’s a bad idea. She needs to help Giles hack into the electrical grid so they can power down the Initiative. Willow objects, so Buffy backs down.

Since Buffy doesn’t have clearance into the Initiative anymore, Xander suggests that they grab a commando and force him to get them in. Spike suddenly arrives and says they can use the back entrance. Giles asks how he got in. Spike tells him the door was unlocked, which is unwise since someone dangerous could get in. “Or someone formerly dangerous and currently annoying,” Buffy says.

Spike advises her to be nice or he won’t help them get “red’s mongrel” back. Giles figures he wants money in exchange for his help, but Spike also likes messing with the Initiative. He knows someone who can get the Scoobies inside. Buffy doesn’t want his help, but his offer is too good to pass up.

Poor Oz is now in a cell, naked and scared. Riley brings him some clothes and lets him out. Aww, Riley! Forrest, Graham, and some other commandos stop them before they can leave. Riley is sent to the brig and lectured by Colonel McNamara, who’s unhappy that his exemplary record stopped being so exemplary when he started seeing Buffy. Now he’s disloyal and abuses his command. Tonight he crossed the line by releasing a hostile.

Tomorrow he’ll be court-martialed and his involvement with “the Slayer and her band of freaks” will be investigated. Riley is an anarchist who’s “too backwards for the real world.” If he helps the Initiative take down the Scoobies, he could save his military career. If not, he’ll forever be known as a traitor, and “no woman is worth that.”

Spike leads Buffy, Xander, and Willow to his secret Initiative entrance; the women are wearing lab coats and the guys are in commando fatigues. Adam monitors them through surveillance tech. Giles and Anya work on shutting down the electrical grid, succeeding just as the other Scoobies enter the building. Anya asks Giles for a high five, something probably neither of them has done before.

Buffy and Xander confront McNamara in his bed and she orders him to take them to “him.” McNamara thinks they mean Riley and refuses to let him out of the brig. Buffy’s surprised that Riley tried to help Oz escape. Xander says they’ll just turn this into a double rescue mission. Buffy knocks out a commando and uses his access card to get to Riley, who notes that if he leaves now, he can never come back. Not that he’s hesitant – he just wanted to hear it out loud. He’s totally Team Scooby here.

The Scoobies take McNamara hostage to force him to free Oz. Some other commandos surround them, so Buffy threatens to “pull a William Burroughs” on McNamara. “You’ll bore him to death with free prose?” Xander asks. “Was I the only one awake in English that day?” Buffy says, annoyed that no one got her (admittedly obscure) reference. She clarifies that she’ll kill McNamara.

A commando releases Oz from his cell, and though Oz starts to wolf out, he’s able to control himself and reverse it. The Scoobies all head out, still holding on to McNamara. They leave him in the elevator, where he warns Riley that he’s a dead man. “No, sir – I’m an anarchist,” Riley replies before punching his superior unconscious.

Buffy takes him to the ruins of the high school so they can hide out from the Initiative. He figures the blackout on campus will slow them down for a while. He’s sorry his military career ended the way it did, but he’s glad it’s over. Now he finally knows where he stands. He admits that he was bigoted about Oz, but Buffy thinks he reacted fairly. He found out Willow was in an “unconventional relationship” and it took him a little while to accept it. Hmm, sounds familiar! Riley knows now that things aren’t all black and white, both with monsters and love. Buffy decides this is the right time to tell him about her own past relationship.

In Oz’s van, Oz tells Willow that he shouldn’t have come back. He hasn’t changed as much as he thought. Willow says he has, but he thinks she’s the one who brings the wolf out of him. She blames herself for upsetting him, which he notes means they can’t have a normal relationship. He confirms that she’s happy, though he doesn’t exactly want to discuss why she’s happy.

Willow says she missed him. She wrote him a bunch of letters but didn’t know where to send them. It was too hard to live like that. Oz thinks he was dumb to believe that she would keep waiting for him. She says she did wait, and part of her might always wait. If she goes to Istanbul some day decades from now and turns a corner and sees him, she won’t be surprised. He’s still with her. He agrees, but the timing isn’t right now.

Oz has decided to leave town again. They hug goodbye, both of them emotional but accepting that it’s for the best. Willow then goes to Tara’s room with a candle, since the dorm is still blacked out. Tara thinks she’s there to announce that she’s getting back together with Oz. “I understand – you have to be with the person you love,” she says. “I am,” Willow replies. She promises to make everything up to Tara, starting now. Tara agrees and blows out the candle.

Thoughts: Oh, Buffy, no, you can’t wear a green sweater with green pants in clashing shades unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day. And even then, it’s a horrible look.

For the most part, I like how Buffy handles Willow sort of, kind of coming out. She’s thrown, but she wants it clear that it won’t change their friendship.

The Scoobies really need cell phones.

I’m amazed that it takes Riley less than an episode to go from “all supernatural beings are evil” to “did I say ‘all’? I don’t remember saying ‘all.'”

October 22, 2022

Buffy 4.6, Wild at Heart: The Animal Inside

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Get out of here, annoying chick

Summary: Buffy’s running across campus, being chased by a vampire, in an effort to get him away from any other students who might see them. She taunts him for trying to grab an easy meal and accidentally targeting the Slayer. She makes a quip about a late meal and heartburn before staking him, disappointed that he didn’t appreciate it. Well, to be fair, she didn’t give him a chance to respond. Spike watches from nearby, eager to become her worst enemy again. But before he can do a real villain monologue, he’s tazed and captured by commandos.

The next night, the Scoobies hang out at the Bronze, wanting a little familiarity now that their lives have changed. Giles pops up, making Buffy think he’s come to report some trouble. No, he just wanted to join the fun. He claims he’s “down with the new music.” Veruca’s band is performing again, and just like last time, she and Oz lock eyes while she’s singing. Buffy senses Willow’s discomfort and tries to distract Oz, but it doesn’t work. They downplay how talented Veruca is, but Giles doesn’t take the hint.

Willow spends the night at Oz’s and he wakes up to her talking in her sleep (something about a sandblaster, then “all Geminis to the raspberry hats,” though that’s just her teasing him). She has to get to class, so they can’t lounge around. She tries to make plans for that night, but it’s the first of three full moon nights, so Oz will be a little busy. Willow decides to check out a campus Wicca group instead.

Buffy got an A on a paper for Walsh’s class, and Walsh is so impressed that she asks her to lead a class discussion on the topic she wrote about. Willow’s proud of her, but also jealous since her grade wasn’t as good. That just makes Willow even prouder. Buffy wishes Walsh’s reward system was better than assigning her more work.

Oz runs into Veruca on campus and they talk about music. Willow spots them together and manages to play it cool, though her version of cool is still awkward. Oz has to leave, which just makes things even more awkward. Fortunately, Veruca leaves as well, and Buffy joins Willow, who’s all self-conscious now. Buffy doesn’t think it’s a big deal if Oz is checking out someone else – he loves Willow. Willow doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, either. She just feels guilty when she checks out other guys, so maybe Oz should do the same. Buffy is sure that he’ll get past this soon.

Oz no longer has access to the book cage at the school (since the school no longer has a book cage…or a library…or anything else), so he locks himself up in an underground crypt where he’s installed a cage door. But it isn’t very strong and he easily breaks through it. He goes after Walsh on campus, and though she’s able to get away from him, she runs into…another werewolf. She jumps out of the way and the two wolves attack each other instead of her. Soon their fighting turns to something a bit friendlier. When the sun comes up in the morning, Oz wakes up next to his new werewolf buddy: Veruca.

He doesn’t remember what happened, which she says is normal; he’ll start remembering things soon. She jokes that she’s a “werewolf groupie,” then confirms that she’s actually a werewolf. She thinks Oz figured it out the moment he first saw her. They raid a dorm laundry room for clothes as he wonders how he got out of his cage. Veruca is a free-range werewolf, and she thinks Oz cages himself because he wants to deny who he is.

He says he’s only a wolf three nights a month. Veruca corrects that he’s a wolf all the time, and his human form is just a disguise. Oz leaves to check the newspaper and see if they did any damage. “Oh, we did, but only to each other,” she replies. “I know some part of you remembers that.” She suggests that they go for another round of sex. Oz tells her last night was it and this ends now.

Veruca wants to help him accept that he’s a powerful creature. She feels sorry for humans, who don’t get what it’s like to feel as alive and free as they do. Oz doesn’t want that freedom if it leads to killing. She’s sure that he’ll eventually understand and agree that they belong together. “I know where I belong,” he tells her. But she thinks they’ll see each other again that night.

Walsh tells Riley about her near-attack the night before, then warns Buffy to be careful on campus, since there appear to be huge wild dogs around. Willow goes to Oz’s dressed in a Veruca-type outfit and apologizes for any weirdness she exhibited the day before around him and Veruca. Oz is too distracted to even think about that. She wants sex, but Oz is scraped up from his night with Veruca and also definitely not in the mood. She leaves, disappointed.

Buffy goes to Giles’ to tell him about the “wild dogs” Walsh saw. He says he’ll look for any news reports about attacks while Buffy talks to Oz. Willow visits Xander, who’s on a rent strike since his mom won’t let him put a lock on his door. Apparently she’s afraid he’ll start having sex down in the basement. (Oh, Mrs. Harris, he already has.) Willow confides in him about Oz and his disinterest in sex, and asks if that’s a bad sign. Xander thinks he’s just preoccupied, but she thinks it has to do with Veruca. Xander advises her to talk to him about it.

Oz does some soldering on his cage door in hopes that he won’t get out again that night. Buffy comes by and assures him that there haven’t been any reported attacks. She mentions Walsh’s encounter with two werewolves and he lies that he doesn’t know anything about a second one. Buffy says that if she finds one on patrol tonight, Oz will have some company in his cage. She notes that he’s “more monosyllabic than usual,” but he claims he’s fine.

While Veruca’s band practices, Oz frets by himself and Willow has trouble concentrating on the discussion at the Wicca group. When the sun starts setting, Veruca shows up at Oz’s “Habitrail” – he called here there because he wants her in a cage tonight. He warns that people will be out hunting for her. He’s willing to be in close proximity with her all night if it means they and the innocent people of Sunnydale are safe. Veruca talks about the shift to werewolf form like it’s sex. She’s wanted Oz since before she ever saw him. She asks if he sensed her like she sensed him. Unable to fight his instincts, Oz grabs her and they make out.

The next morning, Willow comes by with breakfast and finds Oz and Veruca asleep together, naked. Oz tries to explain why they’re both in the cage, but it’s no excuse for what they did. Willow notes that he could have told someone instead of just locking himself up with Veruca. Veruca says she has a point, like, hon, this is not the time to get involved. Oz barks at her to leave, the loudest he’s ever been in three seasons on the show.

Willow cries and says she knew something was going on. She’s upset that Oz told her everything was fine. “I know how it feels. I remember,” he replies. Ooooh, wrong thing to say! Willow doesn’t think there’s any comparison here, considering what she and Oz had. Oz admits that he’s not sure what he and Veruca did. When he changes, it’s like he disappears and the wolf part of him takes over.

Willow points out that something was going on between him and Veruca before the full moon. It’s like he wanted her “in an animal way.” Maybe more than he wanted Willow. Oz doesn’t respond, which is enough of an answer for her. She runs off and goes for a walk downtown. She’s so distracted that she walks into traffic. Buffy’s nearby and spots her, calling out her name. But it’s Riley who comes to Willow’s rescue, pulling her to safety.

Buffy takes Willow to their room, and after hearing what happened, she announces that she needs to find Veruca before the sun goes down. She’s reluctant to leave Willow alone, and she encourages Willow to blame the responsible parties here, not hurt herself. Willow says she’s fine, then raids Buffy’s weapons chest.

Buffy goes to Oz’s and asks where Veruca is. Oz hasn’t had any luck tracking her down but offers to take Buffy to the places she might go. He tries to explain himself to Buffy, who tells him this would be a good time for his “trademark stoicism.” Back on campus, Willow does a spell to end Oz and Veruca’s feelings for each other. Her beakers and book start levitating.

Oz tracks Veruca’s scent, but only to the clothes Buffy thinks she’s discarded to fool him. Oz quickly guesses that Veruca is going after Willow. He and Buffy race back to the dorm, but on the way, Buffy runs into a commando. Willow can’t bring herself to finish her spell. When Veruca finds her, she says she actually believed for a minute that Willow might “play rough.” She locks the door to the lab they’re in and says sometimes you have to fight dirty “to keep what’s yours.” Sometimes you even have to kill. She notes that the sun is almost down.

Buffy and the commando tussle for a moment, then go their separate ways. Veruca taunts that Willow couldn’t do her spell because she doesn’t have the teeth for it. She gets under Willow’s skin by saying she has Oz’s scent on her. Oz shows up as Veruca’s about to attack and tells her to hurt him instead. Veruca thinks Willow’s the reason Oz has domesticated himself. When she’s gone, he’ll be able to admit who he is.

“You don’t want to find out what I am,” he replies as he starts to shift. “You’re an animal. Animals kill,” Veruca says. “You’re right. We kill,” he agrees before attacking her. The two fight as they continue changing into their wolf forms. It’s vicious, and it ends with Oz biting Veruca’s throat. He turns on Willow, but Buffy arrives in time to pull him away from her and tranq him. She rushes to Willow, who starts sobbing.

The next day, Buffy fills Giles in on the commando and the ones she saw on Halloween. Because of the one she saw last night, she almost didn’t catch up with Oz in time to save Willow. Giles thinks she should focus on her rescue instead of the fact that she couldn’t stop Oz from killing Veruca. Buffy says that Willow wishes she hadn’t been saved. She’s devastated. Giles knows that Buffy got through her own pain when Angel died, but Buffy notes that that involved running away and going to Hell first. She hopes Willow doesn’t try that. She doesn’t know how the Scoobies will deal with this.

Well, Oz is dealing the same way Buffy did after Angel’s death: He’s leaving town. Willow would like a vote on his decision, but he needs to find a way to separate himself from the wolf inside him. Until he does, he shouldn’t be around her or anyone else. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone. “Oz, don’t you love me?” Willow asks emotionally. “My whole life, I’ve never loved anything else,” he replies. They embrace and he kisses her forehead, then leaves. He pauses before he drives off, as if he’s changed his mind, but he remembers why he’s doing this and keeps going.

Thoughts: It’s fitting that this episode’s initials are WAH because it makes me go, “WAAAAAAH!”

Willow: “How come you didn’t tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?” Buffy: “I thought that was the point.” Heh. Also, don’t open a can of worms about your wardrobe, Willow. (That said, I really like the shirt she wears when she finds Oz and Veruca together.)

The Oz/Veruca tease was originally intended to go on longer, but Seth Green decided to leave the show. In that way, it’s good that he did because any more than a couple episodes of that would have been torture.

October 15, 2022

Buffy 4.5, Beer Bad: The Pleasure Principle Gone Wild

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:07 pm by Jenn

Art bad

Summary: Buffy’s on patrol and things are going the way they normally do…until she realizes that Parker is nearby. She tells him to stay down while she fights a vampire. Some other vampires grab Parker, but Buffy’s able to kill all of them and save him. He’s super-grateful, especially considering the way he treated her. He plans to do whatever it takes to make it up to her. Maybe someday she’ll forgive him?

“No,” says a classmate Parker’s flirting with during one of Professor Walsh’s classes. Buffy comes out of her daydream and tries to ignore them. Walsh talks to the class about the basic needs people want all the time (shelter, food, comfort) because of the id. It doesn’t learn or grow up. The ego and superego try to keep it in line, but the id just wants stuff, no matter how much people have evolved. It’s all about the pleasure principle. So when we can’t have what we want…well, if we’re Buffy, we go back to our daydream, which now features Parker with his shirt unbuttoned, asking for forgiveness while offering flowers and ice cream.

Xander has gotten a job as a bartender at a local pub, and he wants to practice his skills on Buffy and Willow – not skills related to serving drinks but to lighting people’s cigarettes and listening to sad drunks share their sad tales. Willow notes that he’s too young to be a bartender. Xander shows her his fake ID, which includes a picture of him with a really bad mustache. “I don’t believe this is entirely on the up-and-up,” Willow says. “What gives it away?” Xander asks. “Looking at it,” she replies.

Buffy would be happy to play along with Xander’s practice run and tell him her pretend problems, but she’s having enough trouble with her real ones. He wants to practice on those, but it’s clear that she doesn’t want to talk about them. Willow jumps in, making up a scenario where she’s pregnant with her stepbrother’s baby, but he’d rather be with her best friend.

On the way to class, Buffy shifts to her real problems, wondering if Parker put her in a fantasy bubble and will eventually want to be with the real her. Willow gently tells her that she needs to think about something other than Parker. There are better men out there who know that “the mind is stronger than the penis.” Xander scoffs and exclaims, “Nothing can defeat the penis!” He realizes he said that way too loudly. Buffy tries to defend Parker, thinking he has intimacy problems because of his father’s death. Willow’s done with that and tells her to share her problems with the bartender.

That night, Xander works his first shift at the pub and is quickly overwhelmed by all the orders. Buffy comes in, spots Parker with a date, and accidentally bumps into Riley. He, like Willow, is anti-Parker, but Buffy’s too laser-focused on Parker to listen. I need someone to shake her really, really hard until she comes to her senses and realizes that she can do so much better than Parker.

At the bar, Xander chats with a student with horrible bangs, but a guy named Colm (I think – two of the guys look a lot alike and the IMDb is no help) interrupts and makes Xander look dumb for not being an intellectual. He tells Xander that while the students are the future of the country, Xander just fills the bowls of peanuts. “We are what these girls want,” Colm says. Xander tries to one-up him by asking for ID before giving him a pitcher of beer, but his boss, Jack, walks by and tells Xander to serve him.

Xander finally gets the chance to put his empathetic-listening skills to use when he notices how down Buffy looks. She tells him that Parker’s only intimacy problem is not being able to get enough of it. She admits that she knew what he was. Would it be murder if she left him tied up in a cave and let vampires attack him? She calls herself a slut and an idiot. Xander tries to comfort her but he gets called back to work.

Buffy starts to leave but bumps into a guy who’s friends with Colm. He invites her to stay, and Colm and a third guy join in to flirt with her and ask her to hang out with them. Buffy spots Parker leaving with his date and decides this is the better place to be right now. Yeah, surrounded by snobby college guys – that sounds like an awesome night!

Oz and Willow are at the Bronze, where he gets a weird feeling as a band takes the stage. The lead singer is Veruca, and she locks eyes with him while she sings. Now Willow has a weird feeling, too. Back at the pub, Buffy drinks with a table of guys. She was brought up to believe that beer was bad (thanks, Joyce), but since she’s chugging it, she must not think that way anymore. Colm says that if philosophers had developed theories of morality while drinking, there would be no good or evil, just “‘kind of nice’ and ‘pretty cool.'”

The next day, Willow complains to herself about Oz and Veruca’s connection. She asks if Buffy has heard of Veruca: “Dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross.” Buffy’s too busy watching TV to listen to her. All her brain can handle right now is the tiny people and bright colors. “I’m suffering the afterness of a bad night of…badness,” she explains. Willow thinks she hooked up with Parker again. Buffy says she was with four smart guys, which disturbs Willow a little, though she just asks if Buffy’s okay.

Buffy explains that she went to see Xander, then saw Parker, then drank beer. There was no sex, just lots of drinking. Willow rants about Parker frying Buffy’s brain. He deserves a slow, torturous death by spider bites. Until they can set that up, they’ll throw spitballs at him in class. Buffy agrees and starts to leave, still wearing her pajamas.

In Walsh’s class, Buffy continues acting weird. She grabs a sandwich from a classmate, apparently not seeing anything strange about that. In a lab somewhere, someone combines a bunch of chemicals that ultimately drip into a keg labeled Black Frost, the same kind of beer Buffy was drinking with the guys at the pub.

Buffy goes back to the pub that night and drinks with the guys again. Their conversation style has changed from intellectual to barely able to string five words together. Xander’s so concerned that he doesn’t take pick up on the perfect opportunity to put his empathetic-listening skills to use with a student.

Oz catches Willow as she’s leaving her dorm, and she notes that he skipped class. He invites her to go see Veruca’s band with him; they asked him to sit in. Willow doesn’t want to be a groupie, so she tells him she’s just going to study. Even without werewolf instincts or enhanced senses, Oz would be able to tell that something’s going on with her.

Buffy and her drinking buddies’ conversation has devolved into them just calling each other stupid. Xander puts a song on the jukebox and Buffy runs over to see where the music’s coming from. He tells her it’s time to go home, but she just wants more music and beer. He informs her that he’s cut her off. “Did it hurt?” she asks. He has to hold her back from going back to the table and drinking more. “Beer good,” she insists. “Beer bad,” he corrects, then wonders what he’s saying. He sends her home to bed.

Willow goes to a coffeehouse, where runs into Parker. She glares at him until he asks if she wants something. She slams him for hurting Buffy, but he claims not to understand that he did anything wrong. Parker says some relationships are intimate, but most are just a couple of people encountering each other briefly. Can’t two people feel attraction and “create something wonderful” one night, then go back to their lives the next day without making more out of the encounter than it was?

Willow explains that some people, like her and Buffy, equate intimacy with respect and friendship. People shouldn’t have to ask ahead of time if the other person is going to move on the next day. Parker argues that they also shouldn’t have to go into casual sex with the disclaimer that they won’t stay together. That removes the fire from it. Willow concedes that he might be right. Parker says he doesn’t regret what happened with Buffy, but he’s sorry for hurting and misleading her. He’s impressed that Willow cares about her so much.

The guys at the pub have now devolved so much that they’re basically monkeys. Xander’s closing things down, and he takes advantage of their poor mental state to get a bigger tip. He hears crashing noises from the restroom, and Colm bursts out, now fully a caveman. He knocks Xander out, then yells him awake. The other guys have suddenly sobered and smartened up a little, and they realize they should leave, but before they can, they also go full caveman.

Xander yells for help, then realizes he might be able to save himself: The lighter he’s been carrying around with him spooks them. “Fire bad. Fire pretty,” Colm says. “Fire angry!” Xander exclaims, chasing the guys off. He runs to the backroom to get Jack, calmly telling him that some of the patrons have turned into cavemen. “They had it coming,” Jack says.

The cavemen run around campus, generally acting like…you know, cavemen. One trips and another laughs at him, so the first one hits him with a branch. Jack tells Xander that he’s been dealing with – and annoyed by – snooty college kids for decades. Beer makes everyone equal. Xander puts together that the beer is responsible for the guys’ devolution. Jack is proud of himself; his warlock brother-in-law showed him what to do. Xander realizes that Buffy could be suffering the same fate. Jack tells him the effects will wear off in a day or so, but Xander knows someone could get killed before then.

The cavemen make a mess on campus as one of them gets really interested in cars. He gets hit by one, and the other three guys chase off the driver, then smash his car. They spot a couple of women running away in fear and go after them. What kind of alert do you put out on campus to let people know there are cavemen running around? Is there a code for that? Code Neanderthal?

Xander does the smartest thing anyone can do in this situation: He gets Giles. They go to Buffy’s dorm, bickering over whether it was okay for Xander to give her beer, evil or not. “Well, excuse me, Mr. I Spent the ’60s in an Electric Kool-Aid Funky Satan Groove,” Xander snarks. “It was the early ’70s and you should know better,” Giles replies. Xander notes that he’s not Buffy’s father; she’s an adult. Not that she’s acting like one, since she’s drawing on her wall and looks kind of feral. “Parker bad,” she says.

Parker really bad, since he’s now trying to charm Willow the same way he charmed Buffy. Just when it looks like she’s falling for it, she calls him out. He’s just operating on the pleasure principle, not sharing or connecting. “That’s right, I got your number, Id Boy,” she says. She rants about how men only want sex – they “haven’t changed since the dawn of time.” Just then, the cavemen burst in. “See?” Willow says.

Xander and Giles watch as Buffy spins herself around in a desk chair until she falls off. She tries to turn on the TV, saying she wants the people and doesn’t know where they went. Giles tells her slowly and loudly, like he thinks she’s deaf, that the TV is off. She hits it and says she wants the people. Giles thinks Xander should stay with her, but when Buffy gets up close to Xander and starts sniffing him, Giles decides they should leave her alone.

Xander wants to find the cavemen before they cause any trouble. Buffy asks for beer, and when Giles says she can’t have any, she demands it. “Giles, don’t make cave-Slayer unhappy,” Xander cautions. “Buffy strong,” Buffy says. “Buffy get beer.” She throws Giles across the room and runs out.

At the coffeehouse, the cavemen have knocked out Willow and started a fire. They’re confused about their inability to reach donuts in a glass case. The fire quickly gets out of control, so the guys flee. Xander manages to find Buffy on the quad and uses cave-talk to communicate with her. He hopes there’s still a bit of the Slayer left in her. She smells smoke from the coffeehouse and the two of them head over there.

The cavemen are rounding up the women in the coffeehouse when Buffy arrives. Something breaks through her cave-brain and she grabs a fire extinguisher, though she doesn’t know how to use it. Sorry, Buffy, throwing it at the fire won’t do anything. But her protective instincts are still there, and she jumps over the flames to get to Willow. Meanwhile, Giles questions Buffy’s dormmates, hoping someone’s seen her. He describes her hair color, her height, and her newly acquired sideways limp.

Trapped by the fire, Buffy spots a window up high on a wall and does some gymnastics moves to reach it and kick it open. The cavemen and their would-be conquests get out as Buffy picks up Willow and rescues her. She goes back in and finds Parker, who was knocked out and is just now coming to. She knocks him back out with one of the cavemen’s branches, then rescues him, too.

Once everyone’s safe and the fire’s out, Xander asks Buffy if she’s learned a lesson about beer. “Foamy,” she says. “Good. Just as long as that’s clear,” he replies. She goes to the van the cavemen have been placed in and shares a last moment with them. Parker approaches her and says almost the same things he said her in daydream. Cave-Buffy responds by hitting him with the branch again. The Scoobies give him a satisfied glance, then head off.

Thoughts: One of the cavemen is played by Kal Penn.

Did anyone ever fact-check Parker’s story? I’m inclined to believe that his father isn’t really dead. He seems like the type to lie about that.

Oz continues to get the best lines:

Oz: “You got a table.”
Willow: “I had to kill a man.”
Oz: “Well, it’s a really good table.”

Buffy may have caveman brain for half the episode but it doesn’t affect her hairstyling skills (until the end) – her hair looks great here.

October 8, 2022

Buffy 4.4, Fear, Itself: A House Divided

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

If you want insurance in case you turn into your costume, you can’t go wrong with a superhero

Summary: The Scoobies are carving jack o’lanterns in Xander’s basement room, though Buffy’s kind of ruining the mood by moping about Parker. The friends were going to spend Halloween (which is the next day) watching a horror movie but Xander accidentally rented Fantasia instead of Phantasm. “Maybe it’s because of all the horrific things we’ve seen but hippos wearing tutus just don’t unnerve me the way they used to,” Oz says. Willow would rather go to a haunted house/party at a frat house. Xander’s upset about not being invited, but Willow tells him he can come, too.

Buffy decides to head home without even carving her pumpkin. Oz notes that she’s “still suffering a little post-Parker depression.” The Scoobies want to smack Parker for the way he treated her. (So does the audience.) On her way home, Buffy encounters a demon and punches him. It’s actually a guy in a Halloween mask. He’s mad that he got hit, but I say that if you jump out to scare a woman walking alone at night, you deserve whatever she does to you.

The next day, Willow tells Buffy that she feels like she’s plateaued in terms of learning magic. She’s gotten the basics down, but the next step is stuff like conjuring and transmutation, which is close to scary forces. Buffy advises her not to push too hard if she doesn’t feel ready. Willow was looking for encouragement instead of caution. She figures that since she’s in college, she might as well experiment. She’ll know when she’s reached her limit.

Oz joins the conversation, which he thinks is about alcohol. He’s on Buffy’s side, thinking that Willow shouldn’t take any big risks. As a werewolf, he knows what it’s like to have power he can’t control. But whatever Willow wants to do, he’ll support her. She admits that she kind of likes it when he worries. Buffy spots Parker nearby and takes off, not wanting to be around him. Willow doesn’t want her to let him chase her off, but Buffy would like a break from dealing with her feelings about him. Willow hopes she’ll meet someone at the party that night. Buffy’s not interested, and she’s decided to go patrolling instead of celebrate Halloween.

She heads to Giles’ place, where the normally anti-Halloween former Watcher has gone all out with candy, decorations, and a (culturally insensitive) Mexican costume. He claims he never hated Halloween; he just hasn’t appreciated it before, since he was always busy with Watcher duties. Buffy tells him she wants to patrol tonight, since they could end up dealing with something they don’t see coming, like when Ethan wreaked havoc in town. Giles reminds her that supernatural creatures tend to stay hidden on Halloween, finding the day “crass.” He doubts that anything supernatural will happen that night.

The frat hosting the haunted house/party is working on their decorations and scares. They’re worried the sound system is too weak, but one of them knows Oz and thinks he’d loan them something better. They need to go all out so they can scare chicks enough to make them fall into the guys’ arms. As one guy claims, Halloween isn’t about anything spooky – it’s about getting laid. “Is there any holiday that’s not about getting laid?” another guy asks. “Arbor Day,” the first guy replies. Well, of course. The second guy gives the first a symbol he found in a book that they can paint upstairs.

Anya goes to Xander’s to complain that he never called her after they slept together. He reminds her that she said she was over him. Well, she lied, and he should have gotten that. He’s not exactly unhappy to see her, so she suggests that they celebrate the one-week anniversary of their night together by going out. Xander tells her he has plans with the Scoobies.

Anya wonders why he keeps hanging out with them now that they have nothing in common. He tells her their friendship goes beyond that. He invites her to the party, which she interprets as a date, though he won’t fully admit that. He tells her she’ll need to get a costume, preferably something scary. Anya can’t think of anything, but Xander figures that after centuries of terrorizing people as a demon, she’ll be able to come up with something.

Buffy goes to see Professor Walsh after skipping her class “for personal reasons.” Walsh is unsympathetic and tells her to deal with her problems on her own time. If she misses another class, she’s out. Riley hears the whole conversation and tells Buffy that Walsh means her threat. Buffy needs to get herself together and make the class a bigger priority. She says she’ll do the work she missed that night, but Riley thinks she should enjoy herself on Halloween. It’s a time to put aside your responsibilities. Buffy appreciates the encouragement (and the fact that he actually listened to her, unlike Walsh).

A frat guy is painting the symbol on the attic floor when Oz and Xander bring over Oz’s sound system. Xander asks what the symbol means, but the guy doesn’t know. Xander isn’t really that interested anyway, and he quickly gets distracted by a bowl of peeled grapes (to serve as eyeballs for blindfolded women who will hopefully be scared enough to, well, fall into the guys’ arms).

One of the guys encourages Xander to pledge their frat, but Oz says he’s a “civilian.” Xander doesn’t appreciate being outed like that. Oz uses a pocketknife to fix a problem with a wire, accidentally cutting himself. He shakes off the injury, dripping blood on the painted symbol, which shimmers. A fake spider turns into a tarantula and crawls away without any of the guys noticing.

Joyce modifies an old Little Red Riding Hood costume for Buffy so she can wear it to the party. Joyce gets nostalgic about past Halloweens, when Hank used to take Buffy trick-or-treating. Buffy was always annoyed by him – not because he was protective like Joyce thinks, but because he wanted to steal her candy. Joyce admits that he stole the candy for her. Hank really did want to spend time with Buffy, unlike now.

Joyce reassures Buffy that their divorce had nothing to do with her. Buffy, however, can’t help feeling like there’s a pattern of opening her heart to someone and getting abandoned. Maybe it would be better if she kept herself closed off. Joyce can relate, since she didn’t want to make any connections when they first moved to Sunnydale. She was afraid that she couldn’t trust anyone. But now she has a good group of friends. It took work, though, and it didn’t help that the first guy she dated after her divorce was a killer robot. She reminds Buffy that she has her friends and mother for support. She has nothing to be afraid of.

That night, while college students throw around toilet paper and shoot each other with silly string, Willow (dressed in chain mail) arranges to meet Oz before the party. She wants to make sure Buffy has fun. If Parker shows up, they’ll kill him, which is appropriate for Halloween. She chats with a dormmate, then passes a guy dressed as a lobster who’s trying to convince his girlfriend that he’s not interested in anyone else. The frat house is now a mixture of haunted-house spooky and college-party fun. I’m not sure which category the grape eyeballs fall into when they turn into real eyeballs.

Xander, who’s wearing a tux, meets up with Little Red Riding Hood Buffy and asks what’s in her basket. It’s weapons. Xander’s dressed as James Bond in case they turn into their costumes again and he needs to be cool. Buffy warns that he could turn into a waiter instead. “As long as I’m cool and wield some kind of power,” he says.

Willow and Oz join them and explain their costumes. Willow’s Joan of Arc, since she relates to her – Willow was almost burned at the stake and has a close relationship with God. Oz is simply wearing a name tag that says he’s God. Xander wishes he’d thought of being God. “Blasphemer,” Oz says. On their way to the party, they pass some commandos and wonder who they’re supposed to be. Oz guesses NATO. Xander tells the others that he invited Anya, but since she’s having trouble finding a costume, she’ll meet them there.

Buffy’s bummed that she’ll be the only one in the group without a date. Willow assures her that they’ll have a great time. Probably a better time than the people already at the party, who are running around, screaming in fear. One guy falls down the stairs. “Release me!” a voice growls. But when the Scoobies enter the house, they don’t hear anything, and they’re the only people downstairs.

The haunted house isn’t that impressive in terms of scares, though I have to give the frat guys credit for doing a lot of decorating. Of course, as Oz notes, the cobwebs might be real, considering frat guys don’t do a lot of cleaning. Xander gets spooked by a fake skeleton that springs out of a closet with a knife. He says he wasn’t scared, just in the spirit. Willow’s next for a scare when the tarantula from the attic appears on her shoulder.

The Scoobies are ready to get through the haunted house to the party. Oz is confused when the path he thought led to the attic doesn’t take them there. Buffy finds real blood on the floor, then hears a squeaking noise. The Scoobies look up and see a huge swarm of bats above them. They all fly away, and when Oz picks up one left behind, he sees that it’s just rubber. Xander guesses that they’re just dealing with normal Halloween frights. But the voice growls, “Release me!” again, indicating that something else is going on.

Outside, Anya arrives in a costume most people wouldn’t find scary: She’s a bunny. The door has disappeared, so she can’t get in. She goes around the house, looking for someone to let her in, and sees one of the party guests banging on a window and screaming for help. The bricks surrounding the window move together and cover it up.

Inside, the Scoobies can’t find stairs or a door, and they can’t figure out where they are. Oz shuts off the soundtrack of screams and spooky sounds, prompting Buffy to say, “Thank the Lord” without even thinking about Oz’s costume. Willow thinks they should get out of there, since they don’t know what’s going on. Xander hears a hissing noise, frustrated when Buffy repeats what he’s saying without seeming to hear him. The sound leads her to a closet where a frat guy is freaking out. “It’s alive,” he tells the Scoobies. Nearby, the skeleton that scared Xander turns into a real skeleton and starts moving on its own.

Buffy tries to get the frat guy to tell the Scoobies what’s going on. He spots the skeleton over her shoulder and cries out. Buffy fights the skeleton, which turns back into plastic. The fight was real, though, and Buffy has a cut on her shoulder to prove it. The frat guy wisely goes back into the closet to hide, and the closet disappears.

Buffy tells the Scoobies to find a way out of the house and leave while she goes upstairs to see if anyone needs help. Willow doesn’t want to leave her behind, but Buffy needs the Scoobies to get the only person who can figure out what’s happening. That would be Giles, who’s alone at home, waiting for trick-or-treaters. Anya comes over and tells him they need to save Xander. Okay, and the others, too. She tells him what she saw at the frat house and he starts gathering supplies. He doesn’t think she should worry about Xander, who’s at least with friends.

Willow and Buffy bicker about whether the Scoobies should leave and whether Buffy has the right to boss them around. Willow wants to do a guiding spell that will conjure an “emissary” to help them get out. Buffy notes that Willow doesn’t have a great track record with even basic spells, so moving ahead to conjuring might be a bad idea. Willow protests that she’s not Buffy’s sidekick.

As Oz goes off with Willow to calm her down, Xander tries to tell Buffy that this isn’t a good time for in-group arguments. But Buffy somehow can’t see or hear him, and she’s annoyed that he’s seemingly wandered off. She goes off looking for him as he calls after her, wondering what’s going on. He ends up alone in a hallway.

Willow complains to Oz about Buffy’s skepticism that she can handle dark magic. They’ve found the stairs, and as they go up, Oz realizes that he’s starting to change into his wolf form, even though there’s no full moon. Willow suggests that they find a way to restrain him, but he says there’s no time. She tells him she can try the guiding spell instead. Oz accidentally scratches her with his claws, then runs off to keep from hurting her further. She calls after him not to leave her, and her voice echoes throughout the house.

Xander finds a mirror and is relieved to see that he’s not invisible. A bleeding, decapitated head behind him says he can see Xander, too. Oz sits in an empty bathtub, whispering to himself over and over, “You’re not gonna change. You’re not gonna change.” As Buffy searches the house, crossbow in hand, Willow does her conjuring spell. She creates a little green light and tells it to take her to Oz. As she’s thinking about all the things she needs to do, the light multiplies and she gets swarmed.

Buffy hears Willow yelling for help but can’t get to her. She breaks down a door and finds herself falling into a basement. The guy who fell down the stairs appears and tells her that everyone she opens her heart to will run away from her. But she’s not alone anymore. Hands reach up from underground and grab at her.

Outside, Giles and Anya have arrived, and he determines that they’ll have to create a door. Good thing he brought a chainsaw! Buffy fights off the zombies the arms are attached to, but the dead partygoer tells her that no matter how hard she fights, she’ll end up in the same place. Why does she even bother? Buffy makes her way to a little door, which is normal-sized when she emerges on the other side. She realizes she’s made it upstairs to the party.

Everyone up there is quiet, too scared from whatever they’ve seen to do anything but cower. As Buffy spots Oz, Willow runs in, swatting at the lights that are no longer surrounding her. Xander’s also there, and the others can see and hear him again. Oz realizes that the house separated them to scare them. Buffy thinks it also brought them together again for some reason.

Xander sees the symbol on the floor and finds the book it came from. Willow identifies the symbol as the Mark of Gachnar, which is used to summon…well, Gachnar. The spell must have been triggered somehow, and now Gachnar is feeding on fear to manifest himself. As the demon growls to be released, the Scoobies decide to get everyone out of the frat house so their fears will stop feeding him.

Giles arrives just then with his chainsaw (and Anya). He tells the Scoobies that the walls have been closing up behind them. He’s familiar with Gachnar and says his presence is changing the reality of the house. They can’t let him fully manifest. Buffy thinks she could fight him, but Giles shows her a picture of the demon and she realizes she doesn’t want to have to face him. They’ll need to break the spell instead.

Giles starts reading from the book how to shut down the spell. “Destroying the Mark of Gachnar…,” he begins. Buffy punches a hole through the symbol without letting him finish: “Is not one of them and will, in fact, immediately bring forth the fear demon itself.” Oops! A light shines out of the broken symbol and Gachnar rises up from the floorboards. He looks scary…but it’s just a trick of the camera. He’s actually just a few inches tall. “Big overture, little show,” Xander comments.

Gachnar tries to convince the Scoobies that he’s “the dark lord of nightmares” and they should tremble before him. Willow says he’s cute. “Who’s a little fear demon?” Xander coos, like Gachnar’s a baby or a cute animal. Giles tells him not to taunt Gachnar – not because Gachnar can hurt him but because “it’s just tacky.” Buffy decides that “size doesn’t matter” and slaying is slaying. Gachnar tells her that everyone’s going to abandon her. “Yeah, yeah,” she replies dismissively before stomping on him with her foot.

The Scoobies head to Giles’ house to eat his leftover candy. Buffy declares that there’s no problem that can’t be solved with chocolate. Willow comes up with one: feeling sick from eating too much candy. Xander questions Anya’s costume, which she explains by revealing that she’s scared of bunnies. Giles realizes that he overlooked something in the book and they were never in danger. The caption under the picture of Gachnar reads, “Actual size.”

Thoughts: When Oz delivers his sound system to the frat house, he says, “Mi Casio es su Casio.” Oz, I love you.

I doubt he was thinking that way but if the Scoobies had turned into their costumes again, Oz would have been able to save the day.

Buffy: “Your basic spells are usually only about 50-50.” Willow: “Oh, yeah? Well…so’s your face!” I love a good “so’s your face,” even when it doesn’t make sense.

I want to give Oz a big hug after the “you’re not gonna change” scene. How horrible to have no control over yourself like that.

October 1, 2022

Buffy 4.3, The Harsh Light of Day: Meet Sunnydale’s New Super-Couple!

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

Does this count as getting take-out?

Summary: Dingoes Ate My Baby are performing at the Bronze, and Buffy and Willow are in the audience. Willow notices that Parker’s also there, and she’s surprised that Buffy’s being nonchalant about it. It’s just because she’s watching his reflection in a nearby mirror. Willow notes that since they spent all week together, Buffy doesn’t have to be so casual. Buffy says she doesn’t want to crowd him.

When the band’s done, Oz is ready to leave, but Willow wants to let Buffy take her time watching Parker. She notes that, unlike Buffy’s last love interest, this one has a reflection. Willow teases Buffy for having “lusty, wrong feelings,” then realizes there’s nothing wrong with her liking Parker. Parker approaches and offers to walk Buffy home. You know, because it’s not safe for her to go alone. Oh, Parker, if only you knew.

Willow helps Oz and Devon pack up their stuff as they look forward to an upcoming gig in L.A. Harmony approaches Willow and the two of them note that they haven’t seen each other since graduation (Harmony: “Big snake, huh?”). Harmony’s pretty much the same, except for one big difference: She’s a vampire now. She bites Willow but Oz is able to jump in with a microphone stand and a cross. Harmony taunts Willow for hiding behind her boyfriend, then says she has a boyfriend, too, and he’s going to be mad that Willow was mean to her.

On their walk back to campus, Buffy tries to have a normal chat with Parker that doesn’t include anything about vampires or slaying. He notices the scar on her neck from when Angel fed on her. She says it’s from an “angry puppy.” Parker claims all his scars are psychological; for example, his father died last year. He’s not trying to get sympathy, though. He figures Buffy hates guys who brood. “I don’t think I’ve ever met that type,” she lies.

Parker says the saddest part of his father’s death was knowing all the stuff he didn’t get to do. Now Parker thinks about living in the now. Buffy can relate, since she technically died. He thinks most people who talk about living in the moment just want an excuse to goof off. He appreciates finding someone who understands him. Buffy asks what he’ll regret not doing today when he goes to bed tonight. Parker says he’ll regret not asking her to a frat party. So he asks her and she accepts.

While his friends had a fun night out, Xander somehow got stuck shelving books with Giles. Sad. Anya lets herself into Giles’ place and asks to talk to Xander. Giles doesn’t budge, even when Anya tells him straight out to go away, so she pulls Xander outside. She asks where their relationship is going. “Our what? Our who?” he replies. They went on one date, and Anya used to be a demon, so he didn’t exactly expect anything long-term. But Anya can’t stop thinking about him, and she’s even had naked dreams about him. She’s looking for weekly dates. Xander says a relationship has to develop on its own.

Parker delivers Buffy to her room, and as they’re awkwardly about to kiss good night, Willow and Oz run up. They try to relay to Buffy that Harmony’s a vampire now without saying it straight out. Buffy’s like, “Oh, the angry puppy is on the loose again. You’d better go home and lock all your doors and not invite any puppies in, Parker.”

Once he’s gone and Oz is tending to Willow’s neck wound, Buffy notes that Harmony must be freaking out about not having a reflection anymore. Willow’s annoyed that she brought up a boyfriend. She thinks Harmony lied, since she’s always been one of those “you wouldn’t know him; he goes to another school” people. Oz says she dated Devon once but she was too flaky for him, “which, stop and marvel and the concept.” Buffy comments that whoever’s dating a dead Harmony must be incredibly tolerant. He’s also someone she knows: It’s Spike.

He’s up to something underground, having assembled a crew to tunnel into a crypt. Harmony calls him her “little blondie bear” and asks him to kill Willow for messing with her. Spike doesn’t want anyone to know he’s in Sunnydale, and killing the Slayer’s best friend would probably set off some alarms. Plus, he’s close to his goal and doesn’t want anything to interfere.

Harmony whines, but Spike snaps at her to go eat something. She demands to be taken out to eat since the guy they have chained up for on-demand feedings isn’t satisfying her. She wants to go to a party. Spike grabs her, growling, and she tries to seduce him, even though there are people around. He gives in and tells her he’ll take her somewhere nice that night.

They wind up at the frat party Parker invited Buffy to. The two pairs run into each other as Spike and Harmony are dragging out a guy they fed on. Spike calls it a double date. He and Buffy banter until Spike decides to just make a run for it. Buffy loses track of him outside and he’s able to ambush her.

She taunts that Drusilla must have dumped him again. He claims he dumped her, but Harmony pops up and says Drusilla left him for a fungus demon. Spike announces that they’re leaving, since “it isn’t time yet.” Harmony warns that when they have the Gem of Amara, Buffy will be sorry. Spike’s furious that she told the Slayer what they’re after.

Xander’s now living in his parents’ basement, and Anya shows up while he’s hanging up a disco ball. She wants to continue their conversation. Nope, strike that – she wants to take off all her clothes and just have sex. Buffy calls Giles to tell him about her run-in with Spike and Harmony, and their search for the Gem of Amara. He says it’s not real. In the tenth century, a bunch of vampires looked for it, thinking it held some kind of power. No one ever found it, so people concluded that it didn’t exist.

Wherever Spike and Harmony are crashing, she definitely decorated it, unless Spike secretly has a love of pink headboards. She asks if Antonio Banderas is a vampire. When Spike says no, she asks if she can turn him. He says no again, then changes his mind, telling her to take her time and turn Melanie Griffith and their kids, too. Harmony realizes she doesn’t have a pulse, which she thinks is cool. She asks if they can eat a doctor so she can get a stethoscope and hear her heart not beating.

Spike yells at her to shut up, but his anger is a turn-on for her. She draws his attention to all the veins on her chest. He joins her on the bed, then suggests that they do something with chains. Harmony isn’t interested, and she thinks that’s the sort of thing he did with Drusilla, whom she calls Dorkus. Again, his anger makes her happy. This is the most dysfunctional couple to appear on the show since…well, since Spike and Drusilla.

As they move toward nudity, Anya remains unclothed in Xander’s room. She’s detailed everything she wants to do with him, and I don’t think he’s moved a centimeter since she started talking. She thinks having sex will help her put him out of her mind. Xander’s hesitant, since they barely know each other, and he doesn’t want to have meaningless sex. Anya manages to talk him into it by saying nice things and simply telling him to take off his clothes. “And the amazing thing? Still more romantic than Faith,” he comments.

Buffy returns to the party and finds Parker. She tells him Spike is an old friend who’s not supposed to drink; she just wanted to help him. Parker asks if they used to date. Buffy laughs really hard at that and promises they didn’t. They dance to a slow song, then talk a little more. He likes history because it’s all about regular people making choices. Everyone always has a choice in every situation. He kisses her, then gives her the choice of stopping. She doesn’t want to. Giles finds something about the Gem of Amara in a book and leaves Buffy a message to call him ASAP. She misses the call because she’s having sex with Parker.

In the morning, Buffy wakes up alone in Parker’s bed. He returns with coffee and the news that his mother’s coming to visit, which Buffy takes as her cue to leave. They agree to catch up later. Xander and Anya also spent the night together, and she unconvincingly says that she’s over him now that she’s slept with him. She’s upset when he accepts that without any conversation.

Spike wakes up to Harmony writing on his back with lipstick. He tells her he has to get back to work. “You love that tunnel more than me,” she whines. “I love syphilis more than you,” he mutters. Giles is in Buffy and Willow’s room when Buffy gets home. She lies that she was studying in the library all (Saturday) night. Giles doesn’t really care where she was, since she’s an adult, and because he probably doesn’t want to think about it. He’s there because the Gem of Amara might be in Sunnydale after all, sealed in an underground crypt.

As soon as Giles leaves, Willow excitedly asks Buffy about her night. Buffy says it was really nice and she can’t wait for Parker to call. Willow’s happy that she’s in the really fun part of a new relationship, where “everything’s a discovery.” Speaking of discoveries, Spike’s crew has reached the crypt and is closing in on the Gem of Amara. He tells everyone they have to stay inside from now on so Buffy doesn’t track anyone to their lair. That means Harmony is “an indoor kitty now.”

Harmony complains because Spike told her he would take her places, like France. He sharply tells her that the gem is the reason he came back to Sunnydale, a place he never wanted to return to, what with all the beatings he’s taken there. When he has the gem, he’s going to kill everyone they both want dead. Until then, Harmony needs to stay inside and shut up about France. For once, Harmony isn’t turned on by Spike’s anger, and she wonders why she lets him treat her the way he does. “Love hurts, baby,” he replies.

Buffy asks around town to find out if anyone’s seen Harmony. Whenever she has a chance, she checks her messages, hoping for one from Parker. He hasn’t left any. Spike, on the other hand, has achieved his goal and has made it into the crypt. Right away he finds a big green gem on a chain. Harmony follows him in and asks if she can take some of the other treasures there.

He puts the gem around his neck and tests its power by reaching for a cross. It burns him, indicating that the gem hasn’t done what it’s supposed to. Harmony babbles about France as she puts on jewelry and accessories she’s found. Spike gets fed up and stakes her…but the wound immediately closes. He realizes one of the rings she put on is the Gem of Amara, and it’s made her invulnerable. He grabs it from her and says he’s going outside.

The Scoobies continue helping Giles organize his place. While Oz admires his record collection, Xander’s shocked to see that Giles has a TV. “He’s shallow, like us!” he exclaims. It even works. And it’s helpful – it lets them see a news report about tunneling near UC Sunnydale’s campus, which gives them a clue about where Spike’s been hanging out and what he’s been up to.

On campus, Buffy comes across Parker, who’s chatting with a classmate, giving her the same monologue he gave Buffy about living in the moment. He seems confused about why he would have called Buffy within a couple days of sleeping with her. She suggests that they do something that night, but he has plans. In general, he’s very casual about things and doesn’t seem interested in spending more time with Buffy.

He tells her their night together was fun and indicates that he doesn’t want anything beyond it. He asks if she really wants a commitment right now. He thought he was pretty clear that their hookup wasn’t going to lead to anything else. Buffy’s hurt but thinks she made some mistake that drove him away. As Parker heads off, Spike arrives and mocks Buffy for being pathetic. Then he punches her. It’s the middle of the day, so it’s understandable that Buffy’s off her game – she didn’t expect any vampires to ambush her. They fight and she’s able to stake him, but the gem keeps him from dying.

Giles, Oz, and Willow head into the tunnel and find Harmony, who’s moping about how her life has turned out. Xander goes to Buffy’s room, brushing Anya off when she shows up to try to talk to him again. Harmony tells the others that Spike has the gem. She would have given it to him if he’d asked instead of just taking it. He’s her “platinum baby.” Giles asks where he went.

Buffy and Spike continue fighting, and though he’s not affected by sunlight or stakes anymore, he’s still at the mercy of her Slayer strength. Xander finds them and tries to help out, but Spike knocks him out within seconds. He mocks Buffy about her disappointing sexual experience with Parker, wondering if she was too strong for a human. He brings up Angel, which just refuels Buffy’s desire to kill him. She grabs his hand and starts to pull off the gem. He tells her if she does, they’ll both burn. She’s willing to take the chance, so she yanks it off. Nothing happens to her, but he has to run for the shadows before he burns in the sunlight.

The Scoobies regroup at Giles’, where Giles says they need to destroy the ring before another vampire snags it and becomes invulnerable. Buffy and Oz wordlessly agree about what they should do with it. Since Oz is going to L.A. for a gig, he’ll take it to Angel. (Willow has to spell it out for Xander.)

That night, Buffy worries that she’s doomed to always have guys turn evil after she sleeps with them. Willow tries to cheer her up, telling her that Parker manipulated her and there’s nothing wrong with her. Buffy still has some hope that she and Parker could work things out. I think Willow will remind her every time she needs it that she should stay far away from him. Buffy, Anya, and Harmony all end the night moping alone about their guy troubles.

Thoughts: I’m not sure Willow’s oversized wool coat with applique flowers is really necessary in Southern California.

I absolutely, 100% do not ever want to know what a fungus demon is.

Spike’s level of willpower is impressive – I’m surprised he held out so long before trying to kill Harmony.

I wish these three deleted moments had made it into the episode:

Willow: “You know what else I love about college? How when the professor comes in, the class gets all quiet.”
Buffy: “Oh, I hate that. I’m always like, what? Did something scary come in? Do I have to kill it?”

Devon: “Man, that looked like Harmony. Weird. I saw her get bit at graduation. I didn’t tell you?”

Buffy: “I mean, I thought Spike and Dru were a forever kind of deal, didn’t you? Where’s the commitment?”
Giles: “I’m disillusioned. I shall never love again.”

September 24, 2022

Buffy 4.2, Living Conditions: Two’s a Crowd

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

This alone, apart from all of Kathy’s other quirks, would make me want to move out

Summary: Kathy is ironing her jeans and listening to Cher’s “Believe,” which is pretty much all you need to know about who she is. Buffy tells her she’s going to get coffee, even though it’s nighttime and Kathy figures the caffeine will keep her awake. Buffy promises to be quiet when she gets back to their room. Kathy asks her to log her phone calls so they can split their phone bill appropriately. Also, she wants to make sure Buffy’s the one who drank some of her milk, and that they weren’t victims of a thief. Not that there’s a problem with Buffy drinking her milk! It’s totally fine! Kathy is totally fine with everything!

Buffy meets up with Willow, who jokes that Buffy’s back to sneaking out of her room to go patrolling. Buffy’s trying to adjust to living with a roommate, especially one who’s so bubbly. She thinks sooner or later, Kathy will find her own reasons to be out of the dorm. Willow admits that she’s facing some challenges with her roommate, too. The two of them agree that they can take on this challenge, since, as Willow says, “Did we not put the ‘grrr’ in ‘girl’?”

Willow heads off to see Oz while Buffy goes on patrol in the woods. A demon with glowing eyes watches her from the shadows. Buffy hears a noise nearby and guesses she’s come across something she needs to kill. Instead, it’s Kathy. She decided to come with Buffy to get coffee. Yay, roommate bonding time! Super-fun!

When a demon growls and runs up on them, Buffy shoves Kathy out of the way, into some bushes. The demon runs off, and Buffy tells Kathy he was just a mugger. Kathy wishes Buffy hadn’t tried to fight him herself. Also, her sweater is ruined. The demon, who looks just like the first one, meets up with him and tells him to follow “her.”

The next day, Buffy finds Giles exercising at his place. She thinks that plus his motorbike magazine subscription mean he’s having a mid-life crisis. She really hopes not, since she’s still recovering from the last time he revisited his youth. Anyway, Buffy fought a demon but he got away. She mentions that Kathy was there but didn’t see anything. Giles thinks Buffy invited her along, but she corrects that Kathy invited herself.

She tries to make plans with Giles so she doesn’t have to go back to her room while Kathy’s there. She admits that she’s being a jerk, but then again, Kathy is really annoying. She measures her pencils to make sure they’re all the same size after she sharpens them. I feel like Giles would have that in common with her, actually. Giles advises Buffy to learn to tolerate people’s quirks. She decides to change her attitude and become a model roommate.

Kathy tries to clean dirt off of her sweater, but it’s pretty much a lost cause. She goes to Buffy’s closet and helps herself to one of her sweaters. She also spots Buffy’s bag of weapons and checks out a crossbow and a cross. She goes to the cafeteria, where Buffy spots her in line and tries to hide. The guy she ducks in front of, Parker, asks if she’s hiding from an ex or a loan shark. She jokes that it’s both. He teaches her how to game the dining-card system to get more bang for her buck (okay, let’s be honest – he teaches her to steal).

Buffy goes to sit with Willow, Oz, and a visiting Xander, just like they’re back in high school. Willow wants to encourage a Buffy/Parker pairing. The guys are sure he’s fallen for her charms already and will come back for more. The Scoobies discuss her demon run-in the night before, which makes Xander excited for possible action. Kathy joins them and Buffy notices that Kathy borrowed her sweater. Kathy thought it was okay, since they’re practically sisters now. Buffy tries to brush this off, but her rage level rises when Kathy drips ketchup on the sweater.

That night, Buffy talks to Willow on the phone about Kathy. Willow thinks Kathy’s just having a harder time adjusting to college since, unlike Buffy, she doesn’t know anyone there. Willow also clearly thinks Buffy’s problems aren’t that big since she doesn’t have to live with a roommate who throws loud, crowded parties like Willow’s does.

Kathy returns from the bathroom and starts flossing in bed. Buffy goes to the fridge and finds that she’s labeled all of her food, including each individual egg she has in a bowl. Buffy opens a window Kathy had obviously closed earlier, then plays innocent when Kathy accuses her of leaving gum on her bedside table. They both go to bed, and Buffy dreams of the demon from the woods doing some ritual with her involving a scorpion, blood, and some sort of energy or life-force transfer. “Do you always make that noise when you sleep?” Kathy asks when she wakes up in the morning.

Buffy tells Willow, Oz, and Giles (who’s visiting campus) about her dream, saying waking up with Kathy in her room was the worst part. Giles suggests analyzing the dream. Kathy joins the group and Willow introduces Giles with, “He’s our grown-up friend. N-not in a creepy way.” Kathy tells Giles that she had a dream about a monster that sat on her and did weird stuff to her. Sounds like she and Buffy had the same dream. The two make passive-aggressive jabs at each other until Kathy leaves. Buffy can’t believe Kathy stole her sweater and is now stealing her dreams. Also, ugh, the floss.

Giles thinks the shared dreams mean something happened to Buffy and Kathy when they encountered the demon in the woods. Willow suggests that they look into the ritual they dreamed about. Buffy tells the Scoobies to “do the brain thing” while she goes to class, which Oz notes could also be called “the brain thing.” After she leaves, Willow says that Buffy’s acting like Cordelia. Giles thinks she’s just adjusting to having a roommate. They’ll keep an eye on her, but they shouldn’t be too concerned.

That night, the two demons meet up and confirm that “she” is the one they’ve been looking for. They do a ritual to summon “the great one,” Tapparich. Buffy gets home (where Kathy’s playing “Believe” for the millionth time) and finds Parker chatting with Kathy. He brought Buffy some plastic baggies to help her sneak food out of the cafeteria. Buffy’s not thrilled that her roommate spent a bunch of time chatting with a guy she’s kind of interested in. She dismisses him, saying she has a lot of work to do, then realizes she was too harsh.

After he leaves, the roommates ramp up the battle that’s been brewing for a few days. Kathy closes the window while Buffy puts a padlock on her closet. Kathy flosses and complains when Buffy opens the window. She thinks Buffy’s spoiled and needs to learn to share. In response, Buffy chugs from her milk carton, spilling it all over the floor.

Oz walks Willow to her room as they talk about Buffy’s dream and changed personality. She has an English paper to write and can’t check in with Buffy right now, so Oz offers to do it for her. He’ll keep an eye out for signs that she’s losing it. He heads across campus to find Buffy on patrol, passing a woman we’ll later learn is named Veruca. They both pause and look back at each other as they cross paths. Neither of them sees a group of commandos moving stealthily nearby.

Oz finds Buffy, who complains about Kathy a bunch. She’s curious about why he volunteered to come on patrol with her. He pretends it’s not because he’s checking on her Kathy-related emotional state. He suggests that she stop ranting about Kathy, since she’s probably scaring off vampires. Buffy whines that now Kathy’s affecting her job. Oz is like, “Yes, this is fine, there’s nothing to worry about here.”

Kathy clips her toenails while Buffy tries to study. Okay, Buffy would have a legitimate complaint here if she spoke up – not just because of the noise but because Kathy’s clipping her nails on the bed and not cleaning them up. Gross! The noise is amplified in Buffy’s mind, just as the sound of Buffy tapping her pencil on her book is for Kathy. Kathy cranks up the Cher and Buffy puts on headphones, but they don’t block out the noise of Kathy cracking the shell of one of her individually labeled hard-boiled eggs.

Buffy decides to go to bed, and somehow she falls asleep despite the music. She has the same dream she had before, but this time the demon draws symbols on her stomach in blood. When she wakes up, Kathy’s also having a disturbing dream.

Later, Kathy complains about Buffy to Willow, who thinks the roommates should communicate better. Buffy approaches as Kathy says she thinks Buffy isn’t exactly normal. Buffy glares, thinking her best friend is betraying her by chatting with her new nemesis. Willow tells Buffy she needs to deal with her less-than-ideal living situation. Buffy agrees. She’s been thinking about things and knows how to fix them. Kathy’s evil and Buffy’s an evil fighter, so she’ll just have to kill her roommate.

Willow thinks that’s too harsh, especially when Buffy could just change rooms. Buffy says this doesn’t just affect her. She collected Kathy’s toenail clippings (thanks for the plastic baggies, Parker!) and thinks they’re evil. Willow says she was smart to pick them up, since they could have attacked her and left “little half-moon marks” all over her. Buffy’s like, “That’s crazy – they’re evil because they grew overnight.” That means Kathy must be a demon.

Willow plays along and tells Buffy to talk to Giles before she does anything. Willow will stick around the dorm and keep an eye on Kathy. After Buffy leaves, Willow calls Giles to warn that she’s losing it and headed his way. When Buffy gets to Giles’, he, Oz, and Xander trap her under a big net like she’s a wild animal in the jungle. They tell her they’re stopping her from doing something she can’t take back.

Buffy tells Giles to look at the toenails. She lists Kathy’s behaviors that clearly point to her being evil. She irons her jeans! She listens to lite FM! Giles is surer than ever that the demon Buffy and Kathy encountered in the woods did something to make Buffy like this. He heads to a magic shop to get supplies, leaving Xander and Oz to keep an eye on her.

Willow goes to Buffy’s room and advises Kathy to move out before Buffy gets back. Kathy objects to being kicked out when she’s not the one who obviously has psychological issues. She wouldn’t be surprised if Buffy dropped out or did something horrible to herself, or possibly someone else. She implies that Buffy’s behavior might push someone over the edge to act against her. Oz calls to tell Willow that Buffy’s been captured. Willow pretends that Kathy got her to change her mind and should be allowed to stay.

Buffy can’t believe that Xander and Oz don’t believe her theory that her roommate is evil. Xander starts to reply but Oz tells him not to engage. As Buffy struggles against the ropes they’ve tied around her wrists, they wonder if they tied her up securely enough. Neither is eager to get close enough to check. As they carefully approach her, Buffy frees herself and knocks them both out.

She goes to her dorm, ready for a final showdown with Kathy. Kathy’s ready, too, and when Buffy musses up her rug, she throws the first punch. The two grapple until Buffy grabs Kathy’s face…which peels off. Under her human disguise, she looks just like the glowing-eyed demons. “I knew it!” Buffy exclaims just before Kathy tackles her.

Speaking of those demons, they’ve just summoned Tapparich. Kathy tells Buffy to stop fighting and let her finish her ritual. At a magic shop, Giles has found information on that ritual, which involves ingestion of animal blood while the victim is asleep. He and Buffy realize at the same time that her dreams were real. Kathy explains that she left her dimension to go to college, and her demon clan sent people to come get her.

Giles reads that the demons can recognize each other, even in disguise, due to their lack of soul. Kathy’s been doing the ritual on Buffy to steal her soul. “Without even asking,” Buffy notes. Now, when the demons come looking for Kathy, they’ll think she’s Buffy and take her instead. Buffy’s just glad she won’t have to watch Kathy floss anymore.

The two continue fighting, and Kathy throws Buffy through her closet door. Buffy tries to strangle Kathy with the sweater she borrowed, but Kathy just rips it in half. Well, that’s one way to share it. Meanwhile, Xander and Oz both regain consciousness at Giles’. Xander wishes Giles had shackles “like any self-respecting bachelor.” Willow arrives and decides to call Kathy to warn her that Buffy’s coming for her.

Kathy doesn’t get the call, though, since she’s using the phone to smack Buffy around while complaining that Buffy didn’t log her calls. Giles comes home, blurting out, “Toenails!” Thanks, Giles. Buffy was right about their regeneration indicating that Kathy’s evil – it’s a demon characteristic. He knows Kathy’s been stealing Buffy’s soul, which could explain why Buffy’s been acting weird. “Later on, big remorse,” Willow promises.

Giles has found a spell to reverse the soul transfer. He and Willow start it while Oz and Xander head back to campus to help Buffy. Not that Buffy really needs help, since she’s the Slayer. She breaks a bunch of Kathy’s pencils, then throws her into a wall. A guy who lives next door sticks his head into the hallway to say, “Do you mind? People are trying to study.”

Kathy throws Buffy partway through the window they’ve been fighting over, asking if she’s happy now that it’s open. She’s able to corner Buffy against her bed, but Buffy won’t open her mouth to let Kathy finish taking her soul. Giles and Willow’s spell reverses her ritual and Buffy’s soul returns to her. Just then, Tapparich appears in the room. He tells Kathy she’s in a lot of trouble and chastises her for the tone she uses with him. “I’m 3,000 years old! When are you going to stop treating me like I’m 900?” she whines.

Xander and Oz arrive and start to enter the room, but they wisely stay back when they see Tapparich. He opens a portal in the floor and Kathy gets sucked inside. He follows her through and the portal closes like nothing ever happened. Thanks for your help, Xander and Oz! Buffy couldn’t have done it without you.

Instead of just keeping the giant room for herself, Buffy winds up getting a new roommate: Willow. Willow’s sorry for doubting Buffy, but Buffy knows she had reason. Kathy was probably pretty normal as far as roommates go. And Buffy herself isn’t a bad roommate. She doesn’t have any big issues. Well, maybe one. When Willow steals her sandwich, Buffy glares like she’s ready for another fight.

Thoughts: Veruca is played by Paige Moss.

Willow mentioned in the previous episode that Oz is living with some friends off-campus, so why doesn’t she go over there when her roommate has people over? Or just because she can, now that she’s an adult and doesn’t have parents checking in on where she spends the night?

Why do the dorm closets have deadbolt locks on the outside of the doors? That’s just asking for people to prank others by locking them inside. Also, that lock isn’t going to keep anyone out – you just slide it open! Also also, what dorm room has closets at all? Mine just had dressers and bureaus.

This exchange is great:

Buffy: “So then Kathy’s like, ‘It’s share time.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah? Share this!'” (punching the air)
Oz: “So either you hit her or you did your wacky mime routine for her.”
Buffy: “Well, I didn’t do either, actually. But she deserves it, don’t you think?”
Oz: “Nobody deserves a mime, Buffy.”

I love how Willow tells Giles that Buffy’s verging on homicidal, then brightly adds that she’s on her way to his place, like, “Sorry, Giles, she’s your problem now.”

I doubt someone who irons her jeans would wear shoes while lounging on her bed, don’t you?

September 17, 2022

Buffy 4.1, The Freshman: Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

Sunday and her minions make fun of people’s clothes but Buffy doesn’t make even ONE comment about this ridiculous hairstyle? Tragic

Summary: Buffy and Willow are in a cemetery, combining patrol with the selection of Buffy’s first-semester college courses. Willow insists that they both take a psychology course, since the professor is supposed to be great. She’s world-renowned. Buffy wonders if you can be renowned without having to be nowned first. I think you can in Europe. Willow finds her a class about pop culture, then knocks her for waiting until the last minute to set her schedule.

They chat about the transition from high school to college as the vampire they’ve been waiting for climbs out of his grave. Buffy knows she’ll have to keep her Slayer identity a secret again, which might be difficult with a roommate. But she’s excited for this new chapter in her life. As the vampire creeps up behind them, he sees Buffy’s crossbow and realizes he’s walking into certain death. Buffy tells Willow she needs to stay sharp as she completely fails to notice the vampire approaching, then leaving.

In her first minutes on the campus of UC Sunnydale, Buffy immediately feels overwhelmed. There’s all sorts of stuff going on around her, involving people she doesn’t know and places she’s unfamiliar with. She’s relieved to run into Willow, who seems very comfortable in their new surroundings. She’s happy to be in a place where she can soak up knowledge everywhere. Except she phrases it in a way that sounds a little R-rated.

Oz joins them, and since he acknowledges how crazy things are around them, Buffy thinks he’s Team This Is Overwhelming. Instead, Oz is practically an alum, since he already knows people on campus and has played at parties there before. Willow and Buffy go to the library, wishing Giles could work there. Apparently he’s a “gentleman of leisure” now, which Buffy translates as “British for ‘unemployed.'” They haven’t heard from Xander, who’s been on a road trip all summer. Buffy hopes the whole gang can reunite soon and hang out in the library. Maybe not this one, though – it’s huge and full of people who are using it for its intended purposes.

Next they go to the bookstore, where Buffy accidentally knocks some books onto a guy’s head. He’s Riley Finn, and he’s the TA in the psych course they’re taking. Buffy quickly gets awkward and struggles to get out a coherent sentence. She goes back to her new dorm room, which is bigger than any two-person dorm room has ever been in the history of colleges, and I’m including Felicity and Meghan’s room in that. She meets her roommate, Kathy, who’s friendly and bubbly, and also has a Celine Dion poster. Also, she snores. Sorry college sucks so far, Buffy.

Buffy’s first class is the pop culture course Willow found for her, but she only spends about two minutes in it. The professor busts her for asking a classmate a question while he’s talking, and he makes her stand up and address the whole class. He tells her she’s sucking energy from everyone in the room, and since she hasn’t signed up for the course yet, she has to leave.

On her way to psychology, she runs into Riley, who only remembers her as Willow’s friend. She asks if the psych professor will yell at her and kick her out. He assures her that that’s not in Professor Walsh’s lesson plan. Buffy sits with Willow, telling her that she’s not going to take the pop culture class after all, since it seemed boring. Professor Walsh starts the class, warning that the course is difficult and she expects a lot from her students. Buffy’s college experience just keeps getting more and more intimidating.

That night, Buffy gets lost on campus and runs into another freshman, Eddie. They use his map to figure out where they need to go. Buffy’s finally found someone who’s as overwhelmed as she is. Eddie tells her he always keeps a copy of Of Human Bondage by his bed as a kind of security blanket (and no, Buffy, it’s not what you think it is based on the title). She decides Mr. Pointy (Kendra’s stake) is her security blanket, though she can’t explain what it is to Eddie. They agree to help each other navigate their new lives, then split up. Seconds later, Eddie is grabbed by a group of vampires.

They steal all his stuff from his dorm room and leave a note behind on his bare mattress. The next morning, Buffy’s disappointed not to see Eddie in psych class. She goes to his room, where his RA says he left. He’s one of the handful of freshman who can’t handle the transition to college and just take off. But Buffy finds Eddie’s copy of Of Human Bondage in his dresser, a clue that he didn’t leave voluntarily.

The vampires who grabbed him have taken him to an abandoned house and are helping themselves to his stuff. Their leader, Sunday, doesn’t find anything interesting in his belongings and tells her crew that they need to kill some cooler people. Another vampire reminds her that they’re only targeting weak victims. A third vampire adds a Klimt poster to their collection; they’re keeping score between Klimts and Monets, two of the most popular posters college students hang up. Sunday has a strong hold on her crew, but she’s sick of them. She’s going to let Eddie, now a vampire, get dinner for them.

Buffy goes to Giles’ place, where she’s surprised by a few things: Giles is lounging around in a bathrobe, he hasn’t cleaned in a while, and a woman named Olivia is hanging out pantless, wearing one of Giles’ shirts. Buffy came to get her Watcher’s help, but she doesn’t want to interrupt anything. She thinks Giles is taking his sudden unemployment a little too well. He asks if he’s not allowed to have free time. “No, because you’re very, very old, and it’s gross,” she replies.

She tells him that Eddie has gone missing. She went back to the spot where she last saw him and noticed signs of a struggle. Since Eddie’s RA says students disappear a lot, Buffy thinks there could be a gang of vampires kidnapping them. They need to do research and make charts and all that stuff. Giles doesn’t know why she needs his help for that. He’s not her Watcher anymore. It’s time for her to take care of herself.

That night, Buffy tries to patrol on campus, but it’s hard when there are a lot of people around. She spots Eddie and follows him, quickly discovering that he’s a vampire now. She easily dusts him, feeling horrible for killing the first friend she made in college. Sunday’s there to see it all, and she’s pretty sure she can take on the Slayer. Buffy’s not worried, even when she sees that Sunday has minions. Sunday wants the Slayer all to herself, and she puts up a good fight. In fact, she’s so good that Buffy ends up with an injured arm and the sense that she’s not going to be able to win this one. She runs.

The next day, she avoids Oz and Willow on campus. Sunday’s crew laughs over Buffy’s clothes and how weak she is. Sunday tells her minions to go after her. Buffy goes home and discovers that Joyce has already turned her room into a storage space for the gallery. Joyce didn’t expect her to come back so soon. Buffy didn’t expect it, either. She answers the phone when it rings, but the caller doesn’t say anything. (In the first episode of the Angel spin-off, we find out it was Angel.)

Buffy goes back to her dorm and finds all of her things gone, just like what happened with Eddie. Sunday’s minions even left a similar note saying college was too much for her and she had to leave. She goes to the Bronze, where she thinks she sees Angel. She happily reunites with Xander, who decided not to call her and Willow when he got back to town because he wanted to let them enjoy their “college adventure” (and because he didn’t want to help them move).

He admits that his road trip didn’t go as planned. His car engine fell out, and he had to wash dishes at a strip club to make money for the repairs. He mostly stayed in the shadows until one night when a male stripper called in sick, and…Xander refuses to finish that story. He came home and moved back in with his parents, who now charge him rent to live in their basement.

Buffy tells him that college is great, at least for Oz and Willow. Her biggest problem right now is Sunday. Xander says they should assemble the Scoobies to go after her, but Buffy doesn’t want to disrupt Oz and Willow’s new lives. She admits that she’s worried that she can’t handle things now. Xander tells her that she’s just afraid, and she can’t let that fear control her. She’s Buffy.

She doesn’t feel like that means anything in this new atmosphere, but Xander does. Whenever it’s dark and he’s alone and scared, he thinks, “What would Buffy do?” She’s his hero. Also, sometimes when it’s dark and he’s alone, he asks, “What is Buffy wearing?” Buffy suggests that he add that to the end of his strip club story in his collection of things he never tells her. She’s grateful for the pep talk. “And nothing says ‘thank you’ like dollars in the waistband,” he replies.

They look into the other student disappearances, which started in 1982. Xander finds an article about a frat house that lost its charter then and has been empty since, due to zoning issues. They figure that’s where Sunday’s crew is hiding all the stuff they steal. Xander suggests they do some reconnaissance, then has to explain that he doesn’t mean the Renaissance.

They spy on Sunday and her crew through a skylight, and Buffy objects to them taking her clothes and messing around with Mr. Gordo. Now she’s really ready to fight. She sends Xander to find her weapons chest, since she doesn’t see it in the lair. They did take her diary, though, so now Buffy’s even madder. As she waits to channel that anger into violence, the skylight she’s leaning on breaks and she falls into the lair.

Sunday taunts Buffy for her “diabolical plan” to come in with an injured arm and no weapons. Buffy tells her she made one mistake. Not that she knows what that mistake is. She just figures it’s a statistical probability. As they start fighting, Oz and Willow find the note in Buffy’s room and tell Kathy that she wouldn’t just run away. At least not after that one time she just ran away. Kathy’s worried that she’s been housed with someone who’s unstable.

Willow thinks she’s a bad friend for not noticing that Buffy was going through something. Oz says it’s also possible that she was robbed. Xander arrives and announces that it was a prank. He hugs Willow, then Kathy, before realizing he doesn’t know her. (Oz and Xander decide they’re “too manly” to hug.) Xander tells the group that some friends of Buffy’s took her stuff, and she needs help getting it back. Those friends “sleep all day and have no tans.” Kathy remains clueless as the others head off to find weapons.

Buffy spots her weapons chest in the vampires’ lair, but before she can get to it, Sunday steps in front of her. She’s holding the class protector award, and she stomps on it and snaps the umbrella’s handle. She grabs Buffy’s injured arm, but Buffy says she only needs one. She starts fighting harder, taking on Sunday and the minions with only one good arm. The Scoobies arrive shortly after and jump right in. Two vamps get away, but the Scoobies fight the other minions and Buffy knocks out Sunday. She twirls Mr. Pointy in her hand before throwing it (him?) across the room to stake Sunday.

As the Scoobies leave the lair with Buffy’s stuff (discussing whether it would be okay to take the other things left behind in the lair), Giles arrives. He feels bad for sending Buffy off to slay on her own, even in the name of self-reliance. He’s ready to back her up. She’s grateful, but there’s no evil to fight right now. He can help carry boxes, though.

Xander gets Buffy to admit that college isn’t so tough after all. She says it’s more like high school than she thought. At least she knows what to expect. Unlike one of Sunday’s escaped minions, who finds himself surrounded by commandos in the woods. They point big guns at him as they tase and capture him.

Thoughts: Eddie is played by an almost unrecognizable Pedro Pascal. Lindsay Crouse, who plays Walsh, has connections to three Buffy actors: She was in an after-school special called I Want to Go Home with Seth Green (Oz), and she was in Bye Bye Love with Eliza Dushku (Faith) and Amber Benson (Tara).

Riley’s a pretty polarizing character, but I don’t have a problem with him. I even kind of like him, at least in the beginning. But y’all can speak freely about him; I’m not that committed to defending him.

Xander’s summer plans:

Willow: “He said he wasn’t coming back until he’d driven to all 50 states.”
Buffy: “Did you explain about Hawaii?”
Willow: “Well, he seemed so determined.”

Buffy: “Can’t wait till Mom gets the bill for these books. I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.” People who have seen season 5: (x)

I’m disappointed that this is Sunday’s only episode. I would have liked to see more of her.

September 10, 2022

Buffy 3.22, Graduation Day, Part 2: “Nothing Will Ever Be the Same”

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

I would have paid more attention at my graduations if this had been the speaker

Summary: Buffy has just watched Faith fall off her balcony, taking away Buffy’s only cure for Angel. She leave the dagger on the ledge and climbs down the fire escape just before the mayor arrives and sees the destruction the Slayers left behind. He guesses that Faith took their fight outside, since she doesn’t like to be cooped up. He orders a minion to find the Slayers. This is even more important than the ascension. He tries to convince himself that Faith can handle whatever happened and will be okay.

In the library, Xander brings Giles coffee while they wait for news from Buffy. Xander notes that Giles is more of a tea drinker, but Giles wants coffee instead of something soothing. “Okay, but you’re destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here,” Xander says. They go back to their books to find anything that will help them once the mayor turns into a demon.

Cordelia arrives, demanding to know why Wesley is suddenly unemployed. Giles tells her that Buffy quit the Watchers’ Council, so she doesn’t need a Watcher anymore. Cordelia doesn’t think that means Wesley should have to leave the country – after all, Giles got fired and he still hangs around “like a big loser.” Xander distracts her by asking her to help them stop a massacre. Cordelia agrees but complains that Buffy only thinks about herself.

Willow’s on Angel-care duty, but he’s so out of it that he thinks she’s Buffy. He tells her he was wrong to break up with her; he can’t leave her. After a moment, he realizes who he’s talking to. Willow tells Oz that she feels guilty because everything’s falling apart, but it’s still the best night of her life (Oz must be really good in bed). Buffy arrives and asks them to give her some privacy with Angel. Willow promises to try to find another way to cure him.

Buffy sits with Angel, who’s glad to see her since he doesn’t think he has much longer, and he didn’t want to die without seeing her again. She tells him she can cure him, but he’s ready to go. She won’t accept that, so she presents him with his only other option: Drink her blood. Angel refuses, knowing that he’d have to drink enough to kill her. She thinks he can take enough to cure himself without going that far.

He doesn’t want to even consider doing this, but Buffy won’t let him die. A Slayer’s blood is his only hope. She tells him she killed Faith, so there’s only one Slayer left. Angel continues refusing, even leaving the room to try to get away from her. Buffy won’t take no for an answer, so she punches him until he vamps out. She bares her neck and forces him to drink from her. They fall over as he does, and it becomes almost an intimate moment, like this is the closest they can come to having sex now. Eventually he stops himself, cured, and realizes too late that he’s bled her unconscious.

He rushes her to the hospital, telling a doctor that something bit her and demanding help. Angel can barely contain his desperation, which he takes out on a door handle, ripping it right off. The doctor asks if they’ve been using drugs. (Guess he’s heard about all those gangs on PCP who supposedly terrorize the town.) While Buffy’s tended to, Angel goes to a pay phone. In a room right next to him, a doctor is telling the mayor that Faith has lost a lot of blood and has severe head trauma. It’s a miracle that she’s still alive. There’s very little chance that she’ll ever wake up. The mayor is sad that she’ll have to miss the ascension.

A nurse who was working on Buffy comes to ask Faith’s doctor for assistance. The mayor figures out who her patient is and goes to her room. He tries to smother her with his bare hand, but the nurse catches him. Angel runs in and throws him off, but the mayor knows he’ll have a bigger, better chance to take them both out later. “Misery loves company” and he’s looking forward to sharing it with both of them. Angel throws him into a wall, and the mayor just brushes it off and tells the staff that everything’s okay. “The show’s not over, but there will be a short intermission,” he says. “Don’t want to miss the second act – all kinds of excitement.”

The Scoobies arrive later and Angel tells them that Buffy’s okay. Oz seems to be the only one to notice that Angel’s also okay. Angel tells them that Faith’s “out of the picture,” and that Buffy cured him. Giles guesses that Angel fed on her. Angel assures the Scoobies that he didn’t drink enough of her blood to cause permanent damage, and she won’t become a vampire. Xander snarks that it’s nice to know that when Angel’s backed into a corner, he’ll feed off someone who loves him to save himself. The sun will be rising soon, so Giles sends Angel away. “Gosh, I’m really gonna miss him when he leaves town,” Xander says.

Buffy dreams of going back to Faith’s apartment, where Faith is in the process of packing up to move out. Buffy spots a cat and asks who will look after him. Faith corrects that the cat is a girl and says cats can mostly take care of themselves. Buffy asks if she’s talking about a higher power. No, no really. Buffy can’t quite remember what she’s supposed to be doing. “Miles to go,” Faith replies. “Little Miss Muffet counting down from 730.”

As the cat turns into Faith in a hospital bed, then back again, Faith looks out the broken window leading to the balcony and wonders if it’s ever going to be fixed. Buffy asks about whether Faith will be fixed. “Scar tissue,” Faith says dismissively. “It fades, it all fades.” Her dagger appears in Buffy’s hand, then disappears. Faith tells her that human weakness never goes away, “even his.” Buffy wonders which of their minds this dream is taking place in. Faith isn’t sure. She says it’s almost time, and Buffy asks how she’s going to pack all of her stuff. Faith tells her it’s hers now. She can just take what she needs. “You ready?” Faith asks, reaching out to Buffy.

Buffy wakes up in the hospital, a little weak but mostly okay. She goes to Faith’s room and kisses her on the forehead. Then she gets dressed and joins the Scoobies so they can get to work. She tells them to get Angel and “everyone.” She’s ready for war.

While Snyder awaits the start of the graduation ceremony, Buffy presents her plan to the Scoobies in the library. She knows it sounds crazy, but Cordelia points out that it’s their only idea. And since Buffy’s the Slayer (“Little Miss Likes to Fight”), she should get to call the shots. Buffy needs everyone on board, especially Xander, who’s key to the plan. They’ll be relying on his military knowledge from that brief time he was a soldier. Sorry, no rocket launcher this time.

Giles notes that this is all dependent on their ability to control the mayor. Buffy says that Faith told her to play on his human weakness. Willow asks if that was before or after Buffy put Faith in a coma. “After,” Buffy replies. “Oh,” is all Willow says. The problem is that they don’t know the mayor’s weakness. Oz notes that Angel spent the most time with him. Angel says the mayor hates germs, so Cordelia suggests (totally serious) that they attack him with those. Buffy asks if she’s going to sneeze on him. Cordelia was thinking more along the lines of getting their hands on Ebola, or just pretending they have it.

Angel realizes that Faith is the mayor’s weakness. He’s grieving for her so much that it’s making him crazy. Buffy says she can work with that. Wesley arrives and says they don’t have much time. Buffy tells him that the Council isn’t welcome there, but Wesley wants to help on his own. Cordelia finds that very classy. Buffy accepts his offer, then starts to lay out her plan.

At City Hall, the mayor is doing the same with his minions. His demon transformation will start just as he’s finishing his commencement speech. He’s sad that the minions will have to miss it, since it speaks to everyone and he’s been working on it for 100 years. The minions point out that they won’t be able to do much, since it’ll be the middle of the afternoon and the sun will be out. Mayor Wilkins says that won’t be a problem.

Wesley has discovered the same thing – there will be an eclipse during the ascension. That means Angel can take part. Buffy tells him to work with Xander, who only agrees because he’s still “key guy.” The mayor tasks his minions with surrounding the graduation attendees and keeping them in one spot so he can feed on them. He’d better not see any blood on their lips; this isn’t their snack time.

Since the Scoobies don’t have a volcano to kill the mayor like the one that killed the demon Professor Worth found, they’ll have to make their own. Willow and Oz will set up what they need, and Xander will provide the last ingredient to make it go boom. Buffy asks Giles to be the one to set it off. He thinks it’s fitting, somehow. She tells him to gather weapons while she goes to get something. Mayor Wilkins sends the minions off to prepare, telling them to “watch the swearing.” The Scoobies start gathering their own version of minions, including Harmony and Percy.

Cordelia and Wesley pack up books in the library, still unsure how to talk to each other. He brings up the fact that he’ll be going back to England soon, since he doesn’t have a reason to stay in the States. They move closer to each other and eventually kiss. It’s…bad. The worst possible kiss two people could have. They try again, but it doesn’t get any better. And just like that, they’re no longer interested in each other.

Willow and Oz have bought up a bunch of fertilizer, which Jonathan and Larry help them deliver to the school. After that, they’re free to relax and enjoy themselves. You know, until the giant demon attack. Willow’s scared, but Oz thinks if he sounds confident that they’ll survive, they will. They have some time to kill before the ceremony, and they’re all alone in Oz’s van, so I think we all know what they’re going to do for a while.

Buffy checks in with Angel, who’s gathering stakes. She assures him that she’s pretty much recovered from his feeding. He tells her he’s not going to say goodbye. If they get through the ascension, he’s just going to leave. She’s hurt, but she understands that he doesn’t want to have to face her again before he walks out of her life. After he leaves, she unwraps the thing she went to get: Faith’s dagger.

The ceremony begins and the graduates file in. Snyder greets them with, “Congratulations to the class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate. This is a time of celebration, so sit still and be quiet.” He also tells someone to spit out their gum. He introduces Mayor Wilkins, then calls someone out for making a rude gesture and tells them to see him after graduation. (Whoever that was, don’t worry about it.)

Willow and Oz arrive a little late, having lost track of time in the van. The mayor notes that today is the 100th anniversary of the town’s founding. He knows the graduates are only focused on what today means for them, not the 100 years of history that came before. Buffy and Willow realize that he’s going to give his whole speech. “Man, just ascend already,” Willow says. “Evil,” Buffy replies.

The mayor says that the graduates have had a long road up to this point. They’ve been through both good times and horrible ones. They’ve grieved and lost. “Some people who should be here today aren’t,” he says. He seems to be speaking directly to Buffy. The Mayor continues that this is their “journey’s end,” then starts waxing poetic about journeys. At the end of one, you’re different – it’s shaped you. “Today is about change,” he tells the crowd. “Graduation doesn’t just mean your circumstances change – it means you do. You ascend to a higher level. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing.”

The eclipse begins, turning the courtyard dark. The mayor starts feeling the effects of his ascension, but he tries to continue his speech anyway. “Come on,” Buffy whispers, ready to fight. Mayor Wilkins announces that his destiny is getting underway, and though he would have liked to finish his speech, he’ll skip to the end. He then turns into a big snake-like thing, not unlike an evil Loch Ness Monster.

The graduates’ loved ones flee (way to leave your kids to fend for themselves, everyone) as the minions descend on the ceremony. The graduates themselves all stay put, and when Buffy gives them the signal, they take off their robes and grab the weapons under them. One group is equipped with flamethrowers, and they all fire at the mayor together. Xander alerts the next group, who have crossbows and other pointy things. Nothing affects the mayor very much, though.

Snyder is displeased with all of this and berates the crowd for their actions. Some graduates rush the vampire minions, and Oz tells Xander to signal his group, who are equipped with bows and arrows. They light their arrows on fire and shoot them at the minions. As the remaining minions try to run away, they’re met by Angel, Wesley, and some others, who engage in hand-to-hand combat.

Larry gets clipped by the mayor’s tail and is killed. Aww, Larry. Snyder’s still complaining about the students’ actions, and he’s not happy about the mayor’s, either. The mayor shuts him up by eating him. Snyder does NOT get an “aww” from me. Buffy continues calling out orders, and Xander and his group start fighting minions (though Angel’s doing pretty well on his own).

Willow joins a big wave of students who rush the vampires. Harmony gets bitten, but Jonathan gets in a good attack. Xander has to remind a couple of guys that they’re the right flank. (To be fair, they only put this plan together in a few hours.) Cordelia stakes a vampire as students and minions fight all around her. Wesley, who was knocked down about two seconds after he arrived, asks someone to help him up.

Buffy gets the mayor’s attention, showing him Faith’s dagger. She boasts that she stabbed Faith with it: “Just slid in her like she was butter. You wanna get it back from me, Dick?” She runs, knowing he’ll chase her. She leads him into the school, where he destroys everything in his path. She makes it to the library, which is full of the bags of fertilizer Willow and Oz delivered, and goes out the back. The mayor realizes that he’s been led into a trap. “Well, gosh,” he says. Outside, Giles detonates the “volcano,” blowing up both the mayor and the school.

Once the fire has been put out and everything has calmed down, Wesley gets loaded into an ambulance. Xander thinks things turned out pretty well, considering what they were all facing. Buffy’s looking around them, and he guesses she’s looking for Angel. He assures her that he survived. He must have already left.

Giles checks on Buffy, who’s so overwhelmed from the events of the past couple days that all her brain is capable of grasping is “fire bad, tree pretty.” He praises her for her successes, then gives her something he managed to pull out of the debris: her diploma. He thinks she earned it. He launches into a speech about the dramatic irony of the situation, and how it almost seems like they were destined to blow up the school. “Fire bad, tree pretty,” Buffy says.

She looks around again, this time spotting Angel watching her from a distance. They just exchange meaningful looks before he turns and walks away, keeping his word not to say goodbye. She meets up with the Scoobies, who are ready to go home. Buffy wants to sleep until it’s time for college. Oz tells them to take a moment to realize that they survived – “not the battle, high school.” Buffy and Willow finish that moment first, and the friends all go off together. They leave behind a scorched yearbook declaring, “The future is ours!”

Thoughts: When Willow tells Oz that Angel thought she was Buffy, Oz says, “You, too, huh?” That means we missed the chance to not only see Angel acting affectionate toward Oz but Oz trying to figure out how to respond.

I love this exchange:

Cordelia: “I personally don’t think it’s possible to come up with a crazier plan.”
Oz: “We attack the mayor with hummus.”
Cordelia: “I stand corrected.”
Oz: “Just keeping thing in perspective.”
Cordelia: “Thank you.”

And after Cordelia presents her plan to chase the mayor with a box labeled “Ebola”:

Xander: “I’m starting to lean towards the hummus offensive.”
Oz: “He’ll never see it coming.”

Though Buffy was right to send Joyce away, it would have been fun to see her taking part in the big battle.

That’s it for season 3! Next: Riley, Tara, and a whole lot more Spike.

September 3, 2022

Buffy 3.21, Graduation Day, Part 1: You Gotta Have Faith

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:11 pm by Jenn

LEATHER

Summary: Graduation is nearing and the seniors at Sunnydale High are picking up their caps and gowns. Cordelia complains about the color to Xander; she wanted teal, but no one listened to her because she’s a “lone fashionable wolf.” He likes the maroon, since it’s more dignified. Cordelia’s confused about him having dignity when it comes to clothes: “I’m awash in a sea of confusion.”

Xander says he’d like to look respectable in the outfit he’ll probably die in. He’s pretty sure he won’t be getting out of the school alive. Cordelia tells him he’s “mastered the power of positive giving up.” He just thinks he’s been lucky too many times and his time is almost up. She still doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here’s the nutshell, Cordy: Ascensions do not have a high survival rate.

Willow’s happily signing yearbooks for people she’s not even friends with, like Harmony. Harmony wishes they’d gotten to know each other better. She admires how smart Willow is. They make those typical end-of-school promises to hang out sometime. Buffy joins Willow, surprised when she claims she’s going to miss Harmony, despite hating her “with a fiery vengeance.” She’s just missing everything she’s going to leave behind after graduation. Buffy can’t relate, since she doesn’t get the significance of graduation. She’s even thinking about skipping it. The ascension is much more important anyway.

Xander joins them and shares the news that their commencement speaker has been announced. Sorry, Willow, it’s not Siegfried, Roy, or one of their tigers. It’s the mayor. That means once the ascension turns him into a demon, he’ll have a bunch of graduates and family members right there to feed on.

Faith goes to see a professor named Worth, who’s already been contacted by the mayor about some research he’s done. Faith pulls out the knife she’s using instead of the dagger she had to leave behind and kills him, admitting that she doesn’t know why she was sent after him. She meets up with the mayor later at her apartment, which the mayor tidies up for her. He’s bought her a very un-Faith-like dress to wear to the ascension.

Mayor Wilkins tells her that no one knows what she is. The ascension will be her time to blossom and show everyone how powerful she is. He’s proud of what she’s done and what she’ll do after this – as proud as a father would be. Faith hopes she won’t let him down. He promises her that that’s impossible. Also, it’s time to go get an Icee.

At school, Willow is also proud, since Percy got a B- on his history final. He feels like a scholar. He thanks her for her help and patience, and for not getting physical again with him like that one time at the Bronze. Willow starts to tell him that wasn’t her, then changes her mind. Oz joins them as Percy says how happy he is to be graduating tomorrow. Now he can forget all the history crap he had to learn. That’s the spirit! Oz notes to Willow that he might not have a chance to forget anything. (He just wants to keep things light.) Willow’s determined to find a way to stop the ascension.

Xander slips into Mr. Miller’s class late and sits next to Anya. Mr. Miller doesn’t want class participation to slack just because finals are over and the seniors are about to graduate. They will play Hangman and they will enjoy themselves. While the rest of the class plays, Anya asks Xander out, apparently thinking he had a great time at the prom. She doesn’t know what he likes, but she guesses it’s sports, because he’s a guy. Xander tells her he’s not sure he’ll be alive for a date. He’ll let her know if he survives the ascension. The A word sets off an alarm in her head.

In the library, Giles and Wesley fence while discussing Worth’s murder, which Buffy is sure was Faith’s work. The Watchers agree, though they’re not sure what her motive would be. “Everyone does seem to be going a bit mad lately,” Wesley notes. “Faith has something of a head start.” Buffy thinks she was following the mayor’s orders, which means Worth knew or had something connected to the ascension. Wesley says that by trying to hide a big clue, the mayor may have actually led the Scoobies right to it. Buffy tells him to try to keep up.

Wesley instructs her to search Worth’s apartment that night. “I just love it when you take charge, you man, you,” Buffy says. Giles is worried that Faith will show up, but Buffy doubts she’ll return to the scene of the crime. And if she does, Buffy won’t kill her – she doesn’t have that in her. But she’ll do what she can to make Faith suffer in other ways. Wesley reminds her that stopping the ascension is their first priority.

Xander arrives with Anya and announces that they suddenly have an advantage. Anya’s the only living person who’s ever been to an ascension. She tells the group about a sorcerer who became a demon about 800 years ago. The demon destroyed the village within hours. It was the worst thing Anya’s ever seen, and that’s saying a lot, since she did a lot of horrible thing as a vengeance demon.

Wesley’s underwhelmed, since the demon the sorcerer turned into isn’t one of the vicious kinds. Anya replies that he’s never seen a demon. The ones in the world are human hybrids, like vampires. In an ascension, a human becomes pure demon, which is much different. For starters, they’re bigger.

Snyder walks Mayor Wilkins through how the graduation ceremony will go as people set up for the big day. The mayor’s pretty casual about it, and he tells Snyder he doesn’t need to worry about anything but making sure the graduates show up. Anyone who doesn’t will have to live without a diploma. The mayor appreciates how Snyder’s kept things under control at the school. “Sunnydale owes you a debt. It will be repaid,” he promises.

As Willow and Oz join the rest of the Scoobies in the library, Anya says that she doesn’t think the mayor is going to turn into the demon she saw 800 years ago. Willow doesn’t like that “evil girl” is there, but since Anya has firsthand knowledge of what they’re dealing with, Willow backs off. The mayor comes in next, having heard from Faith that the Scoobies consider the library their headquarters. He loves that there are still young people who like to read. And since they didn’t hide their books, he knows they’re reading about the ascension.

He reads a passage about darkness covering the Earth and all the races of humans being terrified. He thinks it’s sweet, all those different kinds of people coming together in a shared experience. “You never get even a little tired of hearing yourself speak, do you?” Buffy says. Mayor Wilkins tells Giles that he’s “raised” a spunky girl. “I’m gonna eat her,” he says. Giles immediately stabs him with his epee, but the mayor just pulls it out of himself and chastises Giles for being violent in front of the children. He knows the Scoobies are scared, and he tells them that if it helps, some of them will die quickly. He hopes they don’t miss his commencement speech.

Anya quickly tries to flee, wanting to get as far away from the ascension as possible. She tells Xander it can’t be stopped, and the only thing any sane person can do now is run. Cordelia (who missed the Scooby meeting) wonders what’s up with her, and Xander explains that the mayor is going to kill everyone at graduation. “Oh. Are you gonna go to fifth period?” Cordelia asks. He was thinking about skipping it.

Buffy packs a suitcase for Joyce so she can flee town, too. She doesn’t want her mother around for a pointless ceremony that’s going to end in mass murder. Joyce is like, “In hindsight, maybe you should have enrolled in a different school.” She doesn’t want to leave Buffy behind to face whatever’s coming – if Joyce is leaving town, Buffy needs to come with her. Of course, Buffy can’t do that.

She says she knows that Joyce wishes Buffy were different. Joyce denies that, but Buffy continues – she wishes she could be a great student or athlete or just normal. But slaying is something she does better than anyone else in the world, so she’s going to do it. She just needs Joyce far away and safe, so Buffy has one less thing to worry about.

Willow and Oz do ascension research in her bedroom, though they don’t have any luck finding a way to stop it. All Willow finds are tips for turning ferns invisible and communicating with shrimp. “Our lives are different than other people’s,” Oz notes. Willow doesn’t think she has enough witchy talent to do an ascension-stopping spell anyway; she can’t even turn Amy human again. Oz thinks Amy’s “in a good place emotionally,” though.

Willow wishes he would be a little more emotional about what’s happening, even if that means panicking. They would have something to share during this time of crisis. She’s overwhelmed with thoughts of what’s coming and how she might not get to do all the things she wanted to after high school. Oz calms her by kissing her, which he calls his version of panicking.

Angel shows up at Worth’s apartment while Buffy’s there; he checked in with Giles, who asked Angel to check in with her. Buffy knows it’s because Giles is worried about Faith turning up. She’s sure it’ll happen sooner or later. She hasn’t found anything helpful or even anything that ties the mayor to Worth, who studied volcanoes. She’s put together some stuff for Giles in case he can find anything, and Angel offers to carry the box for her (as if it’s too heavy for a Slayer).

Buffy declines Angel’s invitation to walk her to the library, since she feels like he’s crowding her. Plus, he’s been MIA since the prom, and she figured he’d already left town. He asks if she’s mad at him for being around too much or not enough. “Yes. Duh,” she replies. He asks if she’s making this harder to make it easier on herself. Buffy says she just wishes this were all over. But she knows the Scoobies need Angel’s help, and she’s willing to work with him. This will be her last “office romance,” though.

Frustrated, Angel drops the box at her feet and says he’s leaving. She asks if this isn’t even a little hard for him. He tells her of course it is; he just doesn’t have to act like a brat to get through it. Ooh, ouch. (She is being a brat, though.) Buffy gets upset, saying she can’t have him in her life when she’s trying to move on. Suddenly an arrow flies into Angel’s back and through his shoulder. Buffy grabs for him as he collapses. Faith has shot him from the roof of the nearby movie theater. “Missed the heart,” a vampire minion notes. “Meant to,” she replies.

Buffy takes Angel to the library, where she and Giles remove the arrow. Buffy’s sure Faith fired it: “I’ve narrowed down my list of one suspect.” Wesley, who’s been looking through Worth’s research instead of caring about Angel, reports that Worth did an excavation in Hawaii and found a huge carcass buried by a volcanic eruption. He thought it belonged to an undiscovered kind of dinosaur, but it was most likely a demon. Giles guesses that the mayor had him killed to keep that quiet. Since the demon was able to die, that means they can kill the mayor after he transforms.

With the arrow out of him, Angel seems okay, but he suddenly collapses again. His shoulder’s numb and he has a fever. He thinks the arrow was coated in poison. Giles decides to call the other Scoobies while Buffy takes Angel home before the sun comes up. Surprisingly, Wesley offers to contact the Watchers’ Council, since they have records of toxins and could help them identify what’s at play here.

Willow and Oz have ditched research and given themselves an early graduation present: sex. It was her first time, and she’s pleased that it went well. Unfortunately, they don’t get much time to enjoy the aftermath, since it’s time for the Scoobies to assemble. Meanwhile, Faith tells the mayor that she’s taken care of Angel. Now Buffy will be distracted, and the mayor can start eating all the spiders in the Box of Gavrok.

Faith wants another assignment, since she’s full of energy. Mayor Wilkins calls her a firecracker, something her mom used to call her because she was always running around. She asks if she’ll get to fight at the ascension. The mayor assures her that he’ll always need her. Faith tells him that when she was a kid, she was the only one brave enough to jump off a high rock into a quarry. She was never scared. The mayor tells her to rest up for their big day.

Xander, Willow, and Oz work together to figure out what’s making Angel sick. Anya shows up at the school to invite Xander to leave town with her. She tells him he’ll die if he stays, but Xander’s willing to risk that. Anya’s not used to worrying that something bad might happen to someone she cares about. Xander won’t even think about leaving, since he has friends to look out for. She tells him he won’t be able to help them, and he’ll probably just get in the way. “Your stock’s plummeting, sweetheart,” he replies. She snaps that she hopes he dies. As he walks away, she asks, “Aren’t we going to kiss?”

Buffy tends to Angel at the mansion, though there’s not much she can do for him. Wesley arrives and tells her and Giles that the Council refused to help. Why would they cure a vampire, even a good vampire? Buffy tells him to talk to them again. She doesn’t care about their ancient laws – this is about saving Angel. Wesley tells her that the Council’s orders are to focus on the ascension. “I don’t think I’m going to be taking any more orders,” she replies.

Wesley says she can’t turn her back on the Council. Buffy won’t budge, and Giles sides with her, so Wesley’s out of a job until the next Slayer comes along. He tells Buffy that Faith is obviously trying to distract her and keep her out of the mayor’s way. They need a strategy. Buffy says she has one, but Wesley’s not part of it. “This is mutiny,” he says. “I like to think of it as graduation,” she replies. She’s too restless to stay at the mansion, so she asks Giles to look after Angel while she meets up with the other Scoobies. Wesley protests that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She just tells him to get a job.

Willow has determined that Angel was poisoned with something called “killer of the dead,” a toxin specifically for vampires. Only a couple of victims have been cured, but the details of those cases are pretty vague. Oz finds something new, but he’s hesitant to share it. The only cure for the poison is draining the blood of a Slayer. Buffy says the solution is simple: She’ll just kill Faith.

While Willow and Oz look through city records to find out where Faith’s been living, Buffy asks Xander to help Giles with Angel. Xander wants to make sure she understands what her plan means. She’s going to kill someone. He doesn’t want to lose her to the dark side. Buffy’s resigned to this, though, and she’s even going to bring Faith’s dagger along.

She gets ready for battle as Faith works out with a punching bag. As soon as Willow finds Faith’s address, Buffy goes to her apartment (in an amazing outfit that includes red leather pants) for a face-off. “Is he dead yet?” Faith asks brightly. Buffy tells her that Angel’s going to be okay because the cure is Faith’s blood. She thinks this is poetic justice. Faith warns that Buffy won’t be able to take her alive. “Not a problem,” Buffy replies.

“Look at you, all dressed up in big sister’s clothes,” Faith says. Buffy reminds Faith that she said Buffy was just like her but was holding back. Faith asks if she’s ready to cut loose. Buffy is. “Give us a kiss,” Faith says. Buffy throws the first punch, and they’re off. They fight viciously, knowing the only way this will end is with one of them dead. They end up crashing through a window onto Faith’s balcony. Buffy is able to slap a pair of handcuffs on Faith to ensure that she can’t get away.

Willow and Oz sit with Angel while they worry about Buffy. Giles finds a hint about the demon Worth may have found, which could help the Scoobies know what they’re in for with the mayor. He looks it up in a book and shows Xander a picture. The page folds out like a magazine centerfold. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Xander says.

The mayor chows down on spiders, taking in their power. He tells a minion that his body is already starting to change. Plus, he appreciates all the fiber they contain. A minion comes in (“we don’t knock during dark rituals?” the mayor chastises) and announces that there’s a problem at Faith’s.

The two Slayers continue fighting on the balcony. Faith is able to break out of the handcuffs and grab a pipe from some construction supplies. Buffy pulls out her dagger, telling Faith she’s about to get it back. They both end up on the ledge of the balcony. Ready to throw Buffy over, Faith says she’ll miss this. But Buffy gets out of her grasp and stabs her in the stomach with the dagger.

“You did it,” Faith says. She punches Buffy and knocks her back onto the balcony. “You killed me,” she says. She gets back up on the ledge and sees a truck approaching. She tells Buffy that she still won’t be able to help Angel. “You should’ve been there, B,” Faith says. “Quite a ride.” She lets herself fall backwards off the balcony, into the bed of the truck. Buffy can only watch as her only hope for saving Angel is driven away. To be continued…

Thoughts: I can’t decide if Giles is able to fence with Wesley without looking because he’s just that good or because he knows all of Wesley’s moves. Either way, it’s really impressive.

I wish we’d gotten to see the mayor interact more with the Scoobies throughout the season. It’s kind of weird that the season’s Big Bad barely had any scenes with them.

Instead of making his usual stealthy, lurky entrance, Angel slips into the doorway of Worth’s apartment and tells Buffy he thinks someone just mopped the floor. I love it.

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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