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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch, S03E05 “Homecoming”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone is terrified of bullet journals. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

Buffy is at the Bronze, looking totally glum while her friends are enthusiastically planning their homecoming transportation arrangements. Xander, Willow, Oz, and Cordy are planning on getting a limo, but Buffy can’t commit because Scott hasn’t asked her yet. Cordelia is outraged on Buffy’s behalf, in front of both Buffy and Scott. So Buffy is super mortified and Scott is put on the spot (hey, that rhymes!) and stumbles through a homecoming dance invite.

After the Bronze, Buffy delivers some blood to a half-feral Angel. She tells him that she hasn’t told anyone that he’s back. When she mentions Giles by name, Angel appears to remember all the horrible shit he did to him. Then Buffy starts talking like Angel is her guidance counselor or some shit:

Buffy: “It’s just that everything’s different now. I’m a senior. I’m really working harder in school. I’m even thinking about college.”

That’s nice and all, but Buffy is intentionally burying the lead. She tacks on that she’s got a new boyfriend, he’s nice and he makes her happy.  She tells Angel that she needs someone she can count on.

Then we cut immediately to Scott breaking up with her. At school. Which is a shitty place to break up with someone, because then they have to go through the rest of the school day trying not to cry. But also, don’t break up with someone after a movie. My first boyfriend (coincidentally also named Scott) broke up with me after a movie, and the movie was horrible. It was that one with Alicia Silverstone and that guy whose name I can never remember, but who was the first to die The Usual Suspects. Alicia Silverstone kidnaps herself and the whole thing was the super fucking worst. If he’d just broken up with me before the movie, I a) would have not had to see it and b) my whole night wouldn’t have been wasted.

So, guys, don’t make your girlfriend sit through a shitty movie before you break up with her. That’s just rubbing salt into the wound.

Anyway, it’s not bad enough that this kid dumps Buffy right in the middle of the school day and all. Some creeps in a van have to be watching her with binoculars and recording her on an unnecessary number of video screens for the size of the space. They transmit the video to some random dude and Mr. Trick, who ominously declares that Buffy is their “target.”

Then the opening credits happen and I realize that a fucking lot has just gone on before the actual start of the episode. I’m not sure we’ve had a prologue that detailed before.

After the credits, we finally meet The Mayor. I’m capitalizing that because that’s the only name anybody really uses for the dude. He has a real name, but it’s hardly ever used. So, after all the buildup of season two promising us this shadowy figure, who is The Mayor, exactly? Obviously, some kind of horrific demon creature with horns and dripping slime–

The Mayor is just a normal ginger dude in a brown suit and an ugly tie.

Wait, this is the guy? This Richie Cunnigham looking fuck?

Full disclosure, I went to check the spelling of that name and ended up reading the entire Wikipedia entry for Happy Days. It is atrocious. There’s a picture from the episode where Fonzie went blind and Richie took his motorcycle all apart to, I don’t know, motivate him out of his blindness or whatever, and the caption says Fonzie is “viewing” the motorcycle parts. Like, how is he viewing them? He’s blind in that episode. If you’re writing the Happy Days Wikipedia article and you don’t recognize that iconic episode, what are you even doing? This isn’t amateur hour, kid.

Anyway, a guy comes in to tell The Mayor that some noted bad guys (the ones who were spying on Buffy) have come to Sunnydale. But The Mayor is more interested in sniffing the paper and admonishing the staffer to wash his hands better:

The Mayor: “After every meal, and under your fingernails. Dirt gets trapped there. And germs. And mayonnaise.”

Any adult who condescendingly lectures another adult on the importance of hand washing (the healthcare field excluded, of course) is clearly evil. He tells the guy to make sure any other new weirdos who arrive in Sunnydale are carefully monitored.

It’s school picture day, and Cordelia is checking out the homecoming queen competition.

Cordelia: “Michelle Blake, open to all mankind, especially those with a letterman’s jacket and a car. She could give me a run.”

I’m not sure how to deal with this bit of dialogue, to be perfectly honest. A part of me wants to flag it as #6, but at the same time, it’s kind of funny that Cordelia is basically describing herself, then saying that only someone like her could possibly beat her in the homecoming race, thereby making her description of Michelle into what Cordelia would perceive as a compliment. So, I guess this one is a choose-your-own-adventure thing. Either you think it’s #6 or not.

Willow is worried that Buffy is going to miss getting her picture taken:

Xander: “Buffy and Faith are in the library gettin’ all sweaty.”

Cordelia: “They’re training.”

Xander: “I stand by my phrase.”

Xander’s constant fantasizing about Buffy and Faith in front of the one girl who can actually stand to date him is wearing THIN. Seriously, you’re with this beautiful girl who really likes you (against all fucking odds), and you spend your time talking about two other hot girls getting it on. #5, you big old ass douche.

Willow is worried that Buffy will miss school pictures, since she wasn’t at school the day they were announced, and Cordelia offers to let her know. But it’s not like Buffy is really going to look great for pictures, because she is, as not-incorrectly stated by Xander, getting sweaty.

I’ve always kind of wondered about this “training at school” thing. We know that entering a locker room at Sunnydale High = instant death, so what’s going on when Buffy has to go back to class? I know I’ve mentioned before how odd it is that nobody really comes into the library, and how that’s good, since she’s occasionally like, blindfolded by the librarian (which actually happens in the next episode, but it was the first thing I thought of in terms of why the cops would be called–also, Blindfolded By The Librarian would definitely be a book I would read), but I’ve never really thought about the fact that Buffy’s popularity certainly wouldn’t increase if she smelled like she’d been through physically arduous training all the time.

And today it’s really physically arduous. So much so that even Faith can’t handle her punches. And not to harp on this whole, “where are the other adults in this school that they don’t find this whole set up kind of odd” thing, but this is what Buffy is wearing:

Buffy is wearing a blue sports bra and very short black exercise shorts

What high schooler would really be comfortable standing around in the library in a sports bra? When just anybody could come in? And if the every did, wouldn’t that rumor get around pretty fast? “I saw that weird Buffy chick and the new girl engaging in barely-clothed hand-to-hand combat in the library of all places. Isn’t that weird?” At the very least, this is a dress code violation. By season three, the audience should apparently just be comfortable enough with the library as a private space that this doesn’t seem unusual or unlikely, but it’s really hard to breeze past stuff like this if you look way too hard into it.

Faith suggests that since Buffy is now dateless for homecoming, they should go together. My inner femslash machine roars to life, and I cannot hear the part where Faith suggests they pick up two “studs” to have a good time. My inability to hear that bit comes from both the roar of the aforementioned internal femslash machine, but also because I highly object to the use of “stud” in Faith’s vocabulary. By 1998, that word was basically something your mom and her friends used when they drank too much white zinfandel. Buffy agrees to go to the dance with Faith, though, and as they’re packing up their stuff, Cordelia arrives to tell Buffy about school pictures. But Cordy is distracted by a chance to campaign for more homecoming votes and never gives Buffy the message.

Between classes, Buffy approaches a teacher and explains that she needs a “glowing” recommendation before her kicked-out-of-school situation is properly rectified. But despite the fact that the teacher’s class– “Contemporary American heroes from Amelia Earhart to Maya Angelou”– changed Buffy’s life, the teacher doesn’t remember who she is.

Back up a second. Contemporary American heroes? What kind of a class is that in high school? Do classes like that exist in high school? I will be so pissed. So. Pissed. Because my high school had like, “U.S. History” and “World History” and “Religion” and shit. I mean, I guess the religion classes were pretty specific (“Christology” and “Hebrew Studies”), but they were the only choice for our grade level. I don’t remember ever having a choice of taking a class like “Contemporary American Heroes”.

So, Buffy is completely thrown by the fact that her favorite teacher doesn’t know who the heck she is, when she was so popular at her old school:

Buffy: “At Hemery I was prom princess, I was fiesta queen, I was on the cheerleading squad. And the yearbook was like, the story of me. Now it’s senior year and I’m going to be one crappy picture on one eighth of one crappy page.”

Xander drops the bomb that Buffy missed having her picture taken. Here’s another difference I don’t get: why didn’t they have their senior pictures taken outside of school, like a lot of kids do? Or is that just a midwestern thing? I can’t imagine that it’s just a midwestern thing.

Anyway, Willow asks Buffy if Cordelia told her about the pictures, and Buffy angrily confronts Cordy, who’s campaigning pretty hard for homecoming queen. They get into a fight, in which Buffy accuses Cordelia of only thinking of herself, and Cordelia taunts Buffy for not really being a part of the school. Furious, Buffy tells Cordelia that she’s going to compete for homecoming queen herself.

Buffy: “Sorry, Cordy, but you have no idea who you’re messing with.”

Cordelia: “What, the Slayer?”

Buffy: “I’m not talking about the Slayer. I’m talking about Buffy. You’ve awakened the prom queen within, and that crown is going to be mine.”

Cut to Mr. Trick addressing a room full of assorted humans, vampires, and…

Mr. Trick: “Whatever the hell you are, my brother. You got…spiny-looking head things, I ain’t never seen that before.”

Demon: “I am Kulak. Of the Miquat clan.”

Mr. Trick: “Isn’t that nice?”

Kulak is a yellow dude with two ridges of stegosaurus type spines down the middle of his head, like a mohawk. Mr. Trick is looking at him critically.
You’re going to make Kulak of the Miquat clan sad if you keep picking on his appearance.

The point is, he’s gathered everyone there for a “The Most Dangerous Game” style hunting event. He’s charged them large sums of money to get them all in one place for “Slayerfest ’98” which sounds like some kind of metal concert. The humans, vampires (who are super redneck, like they should have just wandered in from True Blood), and Kulak are going to hunt both Buffy and Faith. Remember when Mr. Trick talked about looking at the big picture? This way, he’s getting rid of both Slayers at once, and making bank in the process. Mr. Trick is a highly under appreciated villain in the Buffyverse. I think he’s the only true neutral evil villain in the entire show, and those are really the most interesting types of villains. To me, anyway.

At Willow’s house, Xander and Willow are trying on homecoming outfits as soft, late nineties acoustic pop plays romantically in the background. Which, of course, leads to sexual tension as they talk about their significant others and exactly what bases people are getting to. And then this happens:

Willow and Xander are kissing. Not even like a little peck. Full on kiss.

They instantly regret this.

Xander: “That didn’t just happen?”

Willow: “No. I mean, it did, but it didn’t.”

Xander: “Because I respect you. And Oz. And I would never–”

Willow: “I would never either. It must be the clothes. It’s a fluke!”

Xander: “It’s a clothes fluke, that’s what it is! And there’ll be no more fluking.”

Willow: “Not ever.”

Xander: “We gotta get out of these clothes!”

Willow: “Right now!”

Xander: “Oh, I didn’t mean–”

Willow: “I didn’t mean, either!”

This scene is equal parts cute and heartbreaking. I love their reaction when they realize what they’ve done, but I hate that they did it. This scene would probably be a little easier to accept if they didn’t keep sneaking around behind Oz and Cordelia’s back. The first time is an accident of getting caught up in the moment. They make the choice to later continue potentially hurting their romantic partners.

In the library the next day, Buffy is ready to destroy Cordelia, with the support of her friends and an incredible white board of hatred:

Buffy stands in front of her white board, which lists the strengths and weaknesses of each girl competing for homecoming queen.

Let’s break down what she’s got for each girl:

Cordelia Chase
Strengths:

  • Popular with boys
  • Makes friends easily
  • Has money to buy votes
  • Expensive clothes
  • Perfect teeth.

Weaknesses:

  • Mannipulative
  • Two-faced
  • Bad in sports
  • Superficial
  • No sense of humor
  • Fake smile
  • Brie
  • Xander

Michelle Blake
Strengths:

  • Popular Cheerleader
  • Athletic
  • Yearbook editor
  • Friendly
  • Good cook
  • Nice

Weaknesses:

  • Bad skin
  • Wears polyester
  • PB crazed
  • Dandruff
  • Too much makeup
  • Never studies

Holly Charleston
Strengths:

  • Debate skills
  • Straight A’s
  • Drill Team
  • Good in sports
  • Always studies

Weaknesses:

  • Few friends
  • New student
  • No boyfriend
  • Introvert
  • Aways studying

I had to list all these out because some of them crack me up. First of all, how does Buffy know how much these girls study? And who is she to make that judgement call. Second, Holly Charleston sounds like a bigger nerd than Buffy. I assume “good in sports” is what’s saving Holly’s bacon in this race. And how does Buffy know about Michelle’s cooking? And what’s PB Crazed? Is this something I can’t remember from the ’90s? But my favorite, my absolute favorite, is that “brie” is listed as one of Cordelia’s weaknesses. I want to know how, specifically, Buffy expected to weaponize cheese in the fight for homecoming queen.

Willow, Xander, and Oz don’t look entirely thrilled to be the target of Buffy’s lecture. She’s having a real Selina Meyer moment here, but in front of three Garys who don’t understand quite how to process her battle speech.

Sorry, I’ve been binge-watching Veep.

Buffy, not noticing that her friends aren’t enthusiastically supportive, insists that she has a real shot.

Buffy: “Now, this is just like any other popularity contest. I’ve done this before. The only difference being this time I’m not actually popular. Although I’m not exactly unpopular. A lot of people came to my welcome home party.”

Willow: “They were killed by zombies.”

Buffy starts assigning tasks willy-nilly, telling Willow to construct a database to keep track of which demographics they need to target among voters. Oz needs to rope his too-cool-for-voting fringe friends in, and Buffy’s just about to give Xander a job working against his own girlfriend when Cordelia walks in.

Buffy: “Okay, look, I know this is a little awkward, but I don’t see any reason why we all can’t get along during this campaign time. I mean, we’re almost friends, and we’re all riding together in the limo.”

Cordelia: “Yeah, great. Willow, how’s that database coming?”

Buffy has made the critical mistake of assuming her friends are her friends, and no one else’s, when they’re already committed to helping someone else.

Xander: “She’s my girlfriend.”

Willow: “It’s just that…she needs it so much more than you do.”

Oz: “As Willow goes, so goes my nation.”

Cordelia: “Thanks for what you said, Buffy. I think we’re getting along great, don’t you?”

And then they all leave Buffy alone in the library. Well, not actually alone, because Giles is there. I assume he’s praying for a demon attack or some kind of apocalypse so he doesn’t have to deal with the inevitable fall-out of a Buffy/Cordy rivalry. He gently insinuates that Buffy may be going slightly overboard by saying that it seems like a lot of fuss and that it’s okay as long as Buffy is having fun. She assures him that nobody takes homecoming queen seriously, right before she crushes a glass apple juice bottle in her fist.

It’s hard to feel bad for Buffy in this episode, because of the way she’s prepared to blatantly use her friends with total disregard to their wishes, in order to attack another friend. Which is cool, because it puts the viewer right there with the Scoobies. We like Cordelia and Buffy, and we don’t like feeling pulled between them.

In a montage set to “Fire Escape” by Fastball (as legally required for the production of any dramatic media in the ’90s), we see Buffy and Cordy campaigning, interspersed with shots of the Slayer hunters prepping for battle. Kulak has pretty bad ass arm-knives sheathed in his actual arms.

Buffy drops her flyers, and who should be standing by to help her but Scott. When she says the homecoming thing is stupid and she’s just doing it to pass the time, he encourages her and says he’ll vote for her, cementing his position as the best boyfriend Buffy will ever have.

As it turns out, dropping the flyers was a trick to lure Scott into a conversation in which Buffy could secure her vote. As is the flirting with jocks and handing out of cupcakes she engages in next, only to be topped by Cordelia distributing what appear to be gift baskets of candy.

The campaign is putting real strain on Willow, which Buffy isn’t afraid of exploiting to get a crack at that database. And that’s not innuendo, she just really wants to know what her poll numbers are. They also discuss the arrangements for the limo, which are overheard by the two weird guys in their van. They know that the Slayers will be picked up first, followed by everyone else.

In the hall, Buffy and Cordelia have a confrontation over how they’re running their campaigns.

Cordelia: “This whole trying to be like me? Really isn’t funny anymore”

Buffy: “I was never trying to be like you. And when was it ‘funny’?”

Cordelia: “I don’t see why your pathetic need to recapture your glory days gives you the right to splinter my vote.”

Buffy: “How can you think it’s okay to talk to people like this? Do you have parents?”

Cordelia: “Yeah. Two of them. Unlike some people.”

Whoa, Cordelia! WHOA. That’s not cool. Neither is putting her hand on Buffy’s shoulder to push her out of the way. And it’s definitely not cool when Buffy calls Cordelia a “vapid whore”. Like, wait. This is supposed to be a show that empowers women and breaks down gender stereotypes, etc., right? I’m not saying that you can’t be a feminist if you use the word “whore” in anger one time (and if Buffy was a little out of control, I can’t really blame her for losing it after the parents comment), but it does seem like a pretty harsh word for a) a show aimed at teens and b) a show that was crafted with the intent of turning tropes about teen girls on their heads. It’s jarring when the show buys into those tropes. (#6)

There’s a weird transition where Willow starts to say something to Buffy, then she’s suddenly in her bedroom finishing the same sentence as she talks to Xander. She says it’s “the worst thing ever”, but she’s not talking about the kiss she and Xander shared. That’s what he thinks she’s talking about, but she’s really worried about Buffy and Cordy, and wants to place the blame on herself and Xander.

Willow: “Because we felt so guilty about the fluke, we overcompensated helping Cordelia, and we spun the whole group dynamic out of orbit. And we’re just a big meteor shower heading for Earth–”

Xander stops her, and they try to think up a solution but end up holding hands and talking about their attraction to each other, instead.

The night of the dance, Buffy gets in the limo, expecting Faith.

Buffy and Cordelia in their formal dresses, glaring at each other in the back of the limo.
It’s not Faith.

The other Scoobies have left them a note, which Buffy reads aloud:

Buffy: “Dear Cordelia and Buffy. We won’t be riding to the dance with you. We want you to work out your problems, because our friendships are more important than who wins homecoming queen. Your friends. P.S., the limo was not cheap. Work it out.”

That post script is probably the most realistic depiction of something friends would actually write in a note like that.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of the two of them working things out, though, since all they talk about is the fact that of the two corsages, Cordelia took the orchid. When the limo finally pulls over, they’re relieved, until they realize they’ve just been stranded in the middle of nowhere. There’s a TV and VCR in the middle of nowhere, too, and a sign that tells them to press play. Lewis Carroll’s First Law Of Plot Development demands they press the button. They are treated to a greeting from Mr. Trick, who boldly wears a red velvet suit in front of a red velvet curtain, leading me to believe that he might lean slightly toward chaotic evil, after all. He tells them that they have seventeen seconds to run for their lives. He even made a little graphic for the end of the video. Mr. Trick is nothing, if not committed.

Cordelia protests that she’s not a Slayer, but the exploding television suggests that nobody gives a shit.

At the dance (which is at The Bronze, which is now officially to Sunnydale as The Max is to Bayside), Willow and Xander listen guiltily as Dingoes At My Baby play. Faith picks up on the vibe, but she’s distracted by the fact that Scott came to the homecoming dance with someone who wasn’t Buffy. That’s when Giles comes in:

Giles: “We have to find Buffy. Something terrible’s happened. Just kidding, thought I’d give you a scare.”

I’m super bummed because I incorrectly remembered Giles wearing a tux in this scene. That comes later in the season, when he chaperones the prom. I guess it’s a good thing that they didn’t do it twice in one season. I would have gotten pregnant and I can’t handle another baby right now.

Back in the woods, Buffy nearly steps into a bear trap while Cordelia whines that they should clear up the misunderstanding about her being the Slayer. One of the hunters tries to shoot them, and Buffy uses his own trap against him. Somehow. It goes pretty fast and the shot is super dark. Also, the trap is sprung, she throws it at him, it hits him in the head, and he somehow steps in it? I don’t understand how it got reset. But like I said, the whole thing is really quick. She gets his gun and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell her what’s up with the rest of the hunters. He tells her about the two German guys from the van (they have guns and a rocket launcher), the demon guy with “long knives” (come on, dude, you could have mentioned the fact that they come out of his arms), and the redneck vampire couple.

Back at the dance, Faith engages in some gross behavior by coming up to Scott and his date and saying this:

Faith: “Scott? There you are, honey. Hey, good news. The doctor says the itching and the swelling and the burning should clear up, but we gotta keep using the ointment.”

I hate this. I feel like it should fall under one of the headers up there, but #6 is too general, and it’s not really #1, either. So we’re adding to our list. #33 Slut shame! I can’t believe I haven’t made that an entry until now, because it happens almost constantly. I guess until I heard Buffy actually call someone a whore, I didn’t go on full alert. Faith using this vague STI description to make Scott less desirable to his date perpetuates the belief that a person with an STD or STI is somehow ruined and dirty. Granted, this discourse wasn’t a big topic of conversation outside of activist circles at the time the show was written, but it’s incredibly dated and offensive now. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense. Scott didn’t do anything malicious by breaking up with Buffy. He just didn’t want to date her anymore. That’s not exactly a scenario worthy of retribution, especially when he’s proven himself as a pretty good guy this whole time.

So, Giles comes up to Willow and Xander, who are both mopey, guilty, and dateless, and says he’s going to “retreat to the library” until the coronation. But…they’re at The Bronze. How close is it to the school? Oh god, it really is becoming The Max.

Buffy and Cordelia find a cabin in the woods they can hide in. While Buffy bars the windows and blocks the doors, Cordelia panics. She doesn’t want to die without telling Xander that she loves him–so…that’s a bombshell. And it’s not coming at a great time, considering what’s going on with Willow and Xander. But they can’t worry about that now. They need to look for weapons. Cordelia finds a spatula.

Buffy: “That’s it?”

Cordelia: “Just this and a telephone.”

Buffy: “A telephone? And you didn’t think that would be helpful?”

Cordelia: “No, this is better! For…”

The surveillance guy on the German team manages to pinpoint the girls’ location when they try to use to the phone to call Giles, and the line goes dead while Buffy is leaving a message. With the Germans closing in, we cut to the library, where Giles checks his answering machine and hears Buffy’s plea for help.

While they guard against inevitable attack, Cordelia says that she doesn’t understand why Buffy needs to be homecoming queen when her life involves so much running around and excitement. Buffy tells her that the running around and excitement is all she gets to do, and she wanted to do something normal. Their heart-to-heart is interrupted when Kulak bursts through a window and starts fighting hand-to-hand with Buffy. Cordelia attacks with her spatula, and Buffy reminds her that they have a gun. When Cordelia proves to be a dangerous shot, Buffy suggests she go back to the spatula. The Germans arm their rocket launcher, while Buffy tries to shoot Kulak. The gun jams, and the Germans’ missile lands between Buffy and the demon. Buffy and Cordelia jump out of a window, and Kulak tries to jump out of one, as well, but it’s unfortunately boarded up. He lands on the bomb, and the whole cabin goes up in a fiery explosion as Cordy and Buffy run through the forest.

The redneck vampires are waiting in the library, thinking they’ll ambush the Slayer there. Turns out, the guy is the brother of an earlier vampire who was killed in another episode, and he’s letting his wife kill Buffy as a wedding present. Since they’re in the library, Giles is obviously working on a plan to thwart them.

Giles, lying unconscious on the floor.
God damnit, Giles!

Mr. Trick is impressed that Buffy and “Faith” got away, but he doesn’t have time to admire them for long, because two police officers arrive and take him away.

Buffy and Cordelia race to the library. Buffy figures if they can kill the vampires and get rid of the Germans, they can still make it to at least some of the dance. The moment they enter the library, the lady vampire catches Buffy off guard and attacks her. Cordelia throws Buffy the spatula, and Buffy uses it to stake lady vamp. Cordelia confronts the guy vampire and verbally eviscerates him:

Vampire: “I’m gonna kill both you Slayers for this, you hear me?”

Cordelia: “I hear you, you redneck moron. You got a dress that goes with that hat?”

Vampire: “I’m gonna–”

Cordelia: “Rip out my innards, play with my eyeballs, boil my brain and eat it for brunch? Listen up, needle brain. Buffy and I have taken out four of your cronies, not to mention your girlfriend.”

Vampire: “Wife!”

Cordelia: “Whatever. The point is, I haven’t even broken a sweat. See, in the end, Buffy is just the runner up. I’m the queen. You get me mad, what do you think I’m going to do to you?”

Cordelia’s verbal beat down shames/scares the vampire away, and Giles finally wakes up from his convenient coma. He admits that he knew about the limo trick, but not about the corsages, which makes Buffy realize that the tracking devices the German team was using are in the flowers they’re still wearing. The Germans enter the school and receive coordinates from their surveillance guy. She uses wet toilet paper to stick the trackers to the Germans, and they shoot each other. Also, they shoot up the walls and windows, which would be a cause for alarm at literally any other school.

I wonder what happens with those guys. Does Giles have to dispose of their bodies? Do the Scoobies help? Do they just dump them in the woods? WTF do they do now?

The police bring Mr. Trick to meet The Mayor, whose name is Richard but who I will continue to refer to as The Mayor, because that’s what he’s called throughout the season. Mr. Trick assumes The Mayor is about to kick him out of Sunnydale for being a vampire and probably for being black, considering the racial demographic of the town. Instead, The Mayor tells Mr. Trick that they now work together. Participation is not optional. So, The Mayor knows about vampires and isn’t freaked. He’s probably up to something.

Buffy and Cordelia arrive at the dance just in time for the homecoming queen announcement. They don’t look so hot, covered in dirt and blood, and wearing ripped dresses.

Xander: “Oh god, what did you two do to each other?”

Buffy: “Long story.”

Cordelia: “Got hunted.”

Buffy: “Apparently not that long.”

As a drum roll builds tension, Cordelia and Buffy realize how silly they’ve been. Just kidding!

Cordelia: “After all that we’ve been through tonight, this whole who-gets-to-be-queen-capade seems pretty–”

Buffy: “Damn important.”

Cordelia: “Oh yeah.”

But lo, what is this? There’s actually a tie for homecoming queen!

But it’s for Michelle and Holly. Cordelia and Buffy’s entire fight was for nothing.

This is an uncomfortable episode for me, because Buffy and Cordelia are one of the many, many ships I sail for this fandom, and I don’t like that they’re fighting . At least, I don’t like that they’re fighting without any sexual tension. Cordy and the spatula is one of my favorite gags of the season, though, so I’m willing to forgive a lot for this one.

37 Comments

  1. Ilex
    Ilex

    Contemporary American heroes? What kind of a class is that in high school? Do classes like that exist in high school?

    We certainly never had classes like that at my high school, either (in a college town! where the school system was really good!), but some of the kids I know now had elective options like that at their ritzy suburban high schools. It ticked me off, too. Life is so unfair! 😉

    June 8, 2016
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  2. Lia
    Lia

    My first thought was, that PB could be the short for peanut butter. XD But it’s probably short for pretty boy.

    June 8, 2016
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    • Ilex
      Ilex

      You’re probably right! I got stuck on “peanut butter” and couldn’t come up with anything else.

      June 8, 2016
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    • Courtney
      Courtney

      I 100% assume it’s Peanut Butter. Unless “BRIE” on Cordelia’s pro/con list is some kind of cheese-themed acronym I think we can safely go with PB = Peanut Butter.

      June 8, 2016
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    • Mel
      Mel

      If she’s good at sport it could mean Personal Best? Just a thought. Or was that one of the other candidates?

      June 18, 2016
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  3. Andrea
    Andrea

    Is Christology really a thing?

    June 8, 2016
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    • Anna
      Anna

      Yeah, it’s a branch of Christian theology that studies / debates the nature of Christ, like, how much percent human versus divine. Most of the debates are long over, but it’s still studied as a historical theology.

      June 10, 2016
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  4. I had classes like that in high school! But I went to private school. I’ve never heard of a public school that has classes like that. It varies how exciting the classes actually are; it is entirely possible (from my own experience) to have a *staggeringly* boring facism class.

    June 8, 2016
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    • Mel
      Mel

      It actually sounds more like a university (or college) class, as does Contemporary American Heroes. At my uni, we did Genre obsessions for my BA in Literature. Fun stuff. Apparently next year we’re studying True Blood, and this year we did Game of Thrones for Supernatural Literature. But I’ve never heard of a class like any of these in high school!

      June 18, 2016
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  5. candy apple
    candy apple

    Regarding Buffy in a sports bra in the library, don’t forget that there’s a far worse situation; Oz uses Giles’s sex dungeon/book cage thingy occasionally when the moon is full. So imagine some innocent student coming in for a book early in the morning and finding a naked boy locked in a cage in Mr. Giles library…

    Aside from when Faith goes rogue and becomes an adversary, I think The Mayor is my favorite villain.

    June 8, 2016
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    • E
      E

      “So imagine some innocent student coming in for a book early in the morning and finding a naked boy locked in a cage in Mr. Giles library…”

      Exactly my thoughts whenever that happens in the show. 😛

      June 13, 2016
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  6. Tessany
    Tessany

    The movie you were dumped over? It’s called Excess Baggage and the male star is Benicio Del Toro, king of the mumblers. God that movie sucked on just so many levels. I feel for you on that one.

    My first serious long term relationship and I broke up after watching The Whole Ten Yards with Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis. Just something about shitty movies being the death knell of relationships.

    June 8, 2016
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    • KitGath
      KitGath

      Oh God, I am genuinely embarrassed over how many times I’ve seen that movie… I can’t help it, I just find Benicio Del Toro so attractive, I’ll happily spend two hours watching a turd as long as it’s got his face on it.

      June 14, 2016
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  7. Kate
    Kate

    Buffy and Cordelia is a ship I have growing appreciation for. More so since your goddamn firefighter AU. You have a lot to answer for.
    But yeah, I’m pretty fond of this episode because I always enjoy Buffy and Cordelia’s dynamic, even when they’re fighting. Still, they could stand to have more sexual tension.

    June 9, 2016
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  8. Morag
    Morag

    Two of Cordelia’s weaknesses are “No sense of humour” and “two faced” – come on. She often gets the best lines and her whole character is based on saying exactly what she thinks – she’s actually more likely than the other characters to compliment people’s strengths, not to please them but when she has a pragmatic use for them. And she joins the Scoobies because unlike the rest of their world she’s not hypocritical enough to pretend everything is OK in Sunnydale.

    June 9, 2016
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  9. Sunniegreen
    Sunniegreen

    Our high school (southern california) and all the others I knew of in the area (I went to yearbook camp like the giant nerd I am) did senior pictures in school but with a different photo shoot style. The idea of people taking their own pictures was totally weird to me when I eventually heard of it. How do you maintain consistency with the pictures?? It could ruin the page layouts.

    June 9, 2016
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    • Artemis
      Artemis

      At my school we did senior portraits outside of school, but they had to be with an approved photographer. Also girls had to wear that stupid drape thing and guys had to wear a shirt and tie.

      June 9, 2016
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      • Ugh. Up until my senior year, seniors could wear whatever they wanted. Then my year they made up do drapes and the boys had to do tuxedos. I was PISSED. It was our freaking yearbook and our photos and I always thought it should have been our choice, but ONE teacher liked how it looked and made the call.

        I think they’ve stuck with that ever since, too.

        June 9, 2016
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    • Lan
      Lan

      When I was in 9-11 grade you got your pictures done wherever, but there were guidelines for the yearbook picture. My senior year was the first time they brought in someone just for the senior yearbook pictures.

      The biggest complaint I heard from the yearbook staff prior to that was the inconsistency in backgrounds. My school had never been real big on worrying about what was worn so long as it was nice.

      June 9, 2016
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    • yogacat
      yogacat

      Our high school, in San Diego, and every high school I knew about in the local area went to a professional photographer off site in the summer between Jr. and Sr. year to get those cringy special senior photos taken.

      June 10, 2016
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    • yeah, I graduated HS in Virginia in 1992 and they had a photographer come and take everyone’s picture during school hours. Same backdrop, we had to wear a stupid black drape over our clothes that was pulled down to show our shoulders. We had to stand in line outside the quonset huts in 80 degree heat and every girl’s hair fell. It was gross.

      June 10, 2016
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  10. “why didn’t they have their senior pictures taken outside of school, like a lot of kids do? Or is that just a midwestern thing? I can’t imagine that it’s just a midwestern thing.”

    Nope. I grew up in the Northeast and we had ours done in the summer before our senior year.

    June 9, 2016
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    • Caitlin Persin
      Caitlin Persin

      I graduated in 2009 and the school had a photographer that came in to take our pictures for the yearbook with the shitty background and all (we wore what we wanted though). Then most people got their more formal senior photos done outside of school.

      June 14, 2016
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  11. Noisyninja
    Noisyninja

    I hate the entire Xander/Willow arc. It never even goes anywhere! It felt really out of character for me when I watched it. I get it, we’re all grown up now, we look so different from when we were little kids covered in scrapes! But it felt really disingenuous as a plot line. It added unnecessary tension in an episode that had PLENTY of conflict among the scoobies. Unless it was all to justify Willow helping Cordy? BTW, Cordy was always one of my favorite characters, especially when she moved over to Angel. Maybe I have a little anger by proxy?

    June 9, 2016
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    • Mel
      Mel

      The Willow/Xander arc actually DOES go somewhere… just not in that particular episode. If you’ve seen the whole season, they wind up getting caught out and have to try to make amends with Cordy and Oz. I totally get Willow’s side of things – she’s always had feelings for Xander and now that he seems to be reciprocating them, that’s part of the attraction, as well as it being an illicit secret. Xander’s part in it is more shady. He seems to be attracted to Willow suddenly, not only because she’s no longer crushing on him; but more disturbingly, because she’s unavailable to him.

      June 18, 2016
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  12. Jessi
    Jessi

    My comment is more about these recaps in general than this specific episode. I’ve been thinking about #32 and how it relates to #1 and #6. I theorize that Faith is hypersexualized and shown to take full charge of her sexuality shamelessly because she’s destined to become an antagonist. A woman who embraces her own sexuality and makes no apology is clearly evil. I guess this falls under the slut shaming category too.

    June 10, 2016
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  13. Lacey
    Lacey

    “As Willow goes, so goes my nation.”

    That has got to be one of my favorite Oz lines ever.

    June 11, 2016
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    • Mel
      Mel

      Yeah I love that one. He’s so sweet. How could you cheat on that with Xander, Willow?! Really?!

      June 18, 2016
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  14. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    In Canada we had professional photographers come to the school and we were given graduation gowns to put on. But that was a very long time ago so I don’t know what happens now.
    I think the worst break up I ever heard of was my friend’s ex, who went on a 2 week trip with her that they had booked ages ago, and told her right at the beginning of the trip that he wanted to break up with her at the end of the trip. So she had to go through this whole holiday with him still acting like a boyfriend but knowing at the end of it he would be gone. I think that guy deserved a Shithead of the Year award.

    June 12, 2016
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    • At our school we got a choice between doing it with the school photographer and doing it off-site, but my family always opted for the in-school guy due to a combination of being poor and not caring. I was totally caught unawares and have a photo of me posing super unnaturally in my then-boyfriend’s ratty shirt and no makeup. Looks REAL classy next to all my siblings’ fancy photos.

      Also, that dude was the biggest dickhead of all the dickheads. It’s hard to determine what the right thing to do in that situation is, but I’m inclined toward saying, “Hey, we’re broken up. Here’s my ticket, get someone to go with you and pay me back later.” (Or I suppose “We’re broken up, gimme your ticket and here’s the money,” but that seems a little harsh. As the dumper, I think you sort of owe the dumpee.)

      June 14, 2016
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  15. Quint&Jessel
    Quint&Jessel

    I love The Mayor. As a villain, he’s sooooo close to being better than EvilAngel. The Mayor is just so darn chipper!

    June 12, 2016
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  16. fluff
    fluff

    I went to a public school with classes like that! if you weren’t taking honors/AP for 11-12th grade English you chose one-semester classes that had the same level of reading/writing assignments but different topics. I think the goal was that kids would actually do the work if they had some say in the content. There were topics like the American dream, journalism, British lit, and even one about death/the grieving process that was not as morbid as it sounds, according to my sister.

    I completely forgot about Scott, like I can’t even picture this dude. But based on the recaps and despite the lack of thought about the breakup, he totally seems like Buffy’s best boyfriend.

    June 14, 2016
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  17. Jessica
    Jessica

    My midwestern high school introduced “cool” classes the year after I graduated. I don’t remember all of them, but I know astronomy and zoology were two of them. The core class choices were a little bit more diverse than just history or English, too, but nothing too pearls-clutchingly progressive like world history or African-American literature. My son is going into seventh grade next year in the same district and he got to choose from a bunch of different electives like the history of rock n roll, green building, and 3D modeling. It’s one of three public school districts in my city but I have no idea if the others offer anything similar.

    June 15, 2016
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  18. Alyssa C.
    Alyssa C.

    At our HS, all four grades did the generic portraits, for the front pages of the yearbook, at the school. No sheet or anything, either. Seniors could also have their parents buy an “ad” in the back of the book for $40 that included a baby picture, senior picture of the person’s choice, and a send off quote with a word limit of 100 words from the family. The only limits were that it was school appropriate and that people understood the photos might have to be cropped in order to fit properly. I was in yearbook.

    I totally get what you mean about fandom ships. For “Glee”, one of the only foundations for the fan created relationship of Rachel/Quinn is that Quinn admitted to drawing pornographic pics of Rachel on the bathroom stall. Yet that is one of the most beloved fandom ships that never was going to happen.

    Anyway, love your recaps.

    June 20, 2016
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  19. Anon123
    Anon123

    “[I]t’s really hard to breeze past stuff like this if you look way too hard into it.”

    So true. I do this all the time, lol.

    But you’re wrong on neutral evil being the most interesting kind. Clearly, lawful evil is more interesting, because there seems to be an inherent contradiction since so many laws are at least ostensibly created for the good.

    “Fire Escape” by Fastball? …I learn more references reading your blog, lol. (I am, and always have been, popular-media clueless.) In some very teeny way, you’re like the older, wiser sister I never had. 😛

    June 27, 2016
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  20. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Dunno if the term “redneck” should bother me, since I’m not Appalachian, but it…could possibly rub some the wrong way. I don’t remember enough about the couple to know whether the term is the only one that’s suitable, though.

    Also, re: STIs, it isn’t really unreasonable that a teenager would come up with that, and that another teenager would be grossed out by it. I’m on the fence since I would strongly prefer to avoid partners with STIs for my own health (even with condoms and the like, things can still be transmissible), but I agree that people who have diseases are not lesser human beings.

    Although if I was Scott’s date, I would be more annoyed about his apparent girlfriend that he didn’t mention than grossed-out by the possible infection.

    July 14, 2016
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  21. Fellmama
    Fellmama

    “soft, late nineties acoustic pop plays romantically in the background”

    “Breathe” by Lisa Loeb off Firecracker. God, I wore that album OUT. I recognized the song from the first chords, much to my grown-up shame.

    December 28, 2016
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