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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S04E05 “Beer Bad”

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Heads up: I installed The Good Place extension on Chrome and didn’t realize it would actually *post* the censored swears. So, for those unaware of The Good Place and its swears: Shirt = Shit, Fork = Fuck, Dink = Dick, What or where the hell will convert to What the here/where the here, and Bench = Bitch. Honestly, I could go back and change it but it’s so funny I’m leaving it to be a part of Trout Nation history forever.

In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will probably die from injuries caused when a dog she’s stepping over decides to stand up suddenly. 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 forking 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 dink.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shirt is racist as fork.
  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 shirt is homophobic as fork.
  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 How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?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/bi female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no forking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
  36. Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
  37. Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
  38. Riley is the worst.
  39. Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
  40. Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
  41. Why are all these men so terrible?
  42. Wicca doesn’t work like that.
  43. Alcohol is evil.
  44. Head trauma doesn’t work like that.

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 into consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

I am super not looking forward to dissecting this episode because, like so many in season four, I’m into it. I love this season despite a couple of major, glaring, totally cringeworthy faults, and this is one of my favorites. But here at Trout Nation, we know that we owe it to our darlings to kill them. So, let’s get hacking.

After a “previously on”, we find Buffy dressed in black leather pants, fighting a group of vampires to Matrix-level techno music. And who cowers in the middle of the fray? That’s right. It’s Stupid forking Douchebag. Buffy heroically stakes all the vamps to rescue him. Romantic music swells in the background.

SFD: “Buffy. I don’t know what to say. After how I’ve treated you… and now I owe you my life.”

Buffy: “It’s nothing.”

SFD: “It’s everything. You’re everything. And I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get you to forgive me. Do you think, one day, you might?”

Then we snap out of Buffy’s fantasy to see her watching, longing and heartbroken, as SFD canoodles with another student in their psych class. Maggie Walsh is teaching about the id, and how said part of our mind wants comfort and pleasure all the time. She asks how we react when we can’t have what we want. Smash cut to Buffy, back in the black leather pants, kicking vampire ash to save SFD, who now has a bouquet of roses and a pint of ice cream.

I don’t care if you had a gallon of ice cream, pal, you’re still not worth my Buffy crying about you.

After the opening credits, we’re on campus, where Buffy and Willow are trying to study and Xander is trying to helpfully light their cigarettes. Which, of course, they don’t have because of #22. This episode draws a clear distinction, however, between what about smoking is evil. It’s okay to be an accessory to said consumption of nicotine. The act of actually smoking the cigarette is the bad part.

Ah, I love myself so much when I’m doing this pointless picky bullshirt.

Xander is trying to practice having empathy and lighting cigarettes for his new bartending gig, which he is certain will grant him entrée into the world of college living. When Willow points out that Xander isn’t old enough to legally tend bar, he produces the obviously fake I.D. he used to get the job. Now, because I am who I am, I have to go through the whole rigamarole where I say that the owner of a bar is going to be good at spotting fake licenses, that Xander would have had to produce his social security number for a W-2 and his employer would get in super big trouble, etc. etc. etc. HOWEVER, this is obviously not a big deal to the dude who runs the bar because he’s your average low-level Sunnydale demonic troublemaker, to begin with.

Buffy says she can’t make up any fake problems for Xander to practice caring about because she has like, real ones? And Xander is super excited to hear her real problems now that they’ll serve a purpose in his life (#5). Willow comes up with a bartender S.A.T. level problem for him:

Willow: “I’m pregnant by my stepbrother who’d rather be with my best friend who just left me with no place to live, no food except for this bottle of Wild Turkey which I drunk all up.”

But Buffy is still stuck on SFD, rattling off a long and complex theory about brain bubbles and SFD coming to his sense and them living happily ever after. Willow, now pretty much sick of hearing about SFD, tells her that there are guys out there for her who are much, much better.

Willow: “There are men, better men, wherein the mind is stronger than the penis.”

Xander: “Nothing can defeat the penis!”

He basically shouts that. And in that moment, I am become Xander and Xander is become me, because I do that shirt all the time. I actually had a guy ask me in the grocery store if I was that woman who jogged around town shouting, “Melissa!” for no reason.

Like, there’s a reason, okay? It’s because I’m lonely sometimes.

Anyway, Buffy tries again with the “maybe deep down, SFD is really good” nonsense and Willow changes the channel real damn fast, telling Buffy that if she wants to talk about SFD, she can talk to Xander. And Xander is like, yeah, because bartenders listen, and we cut to Xander trying to hear a customer’s order over shouting and loud music. He’s overwhelmed and the college students he desperately wants to be a part of are treating him like shirt. Buffy walks in and sees SFD sitting in a booth with yet another girl. She’s trying to spy on them when she bumps into Riley and spills his drink. And of course, because he’s Riley, he jokes it off and takes half the blame, because as much as I end up not liking him, Riley can be a good guy. When his fragile man-baby ego isn’t throwing a huge temper tantrum.

We’ll get to that next season.

Buffy mentions that she just saw SFD.

Riley: “Right. [SFD] and his latest conquest. You know, that boy should have his attention span checked.”

Riley goes on to describe how sleazy SFD is and how he feels about it until he realizes that Buffy isn’t listening to him and is instead watching SFD make out with the girl in the booth. Riley tells Buffy he’s meeting people and that he’ll see her in class.

At the bar, Xander tries his “rough day?” routine on a pretty blonde girl who actually had an awesome day with her sorority. As they’re talking a “college guy” (read: actor who is roughly thirty-six) comes up and interrupts them. And Xander, being Xander and not understanding that his role here includes sometimes not finishing conversations with patrons, tries to reassert his place in the exchange. The college guy then asks Xander what he and the blonde girl were discussing, and Xander says to forget it.

College Guy: “No, no, no. I rudely interrupted. And it sounds like the two of you were having quite the meeting of minds. Possibly debating the geopolitical rammifications of bioengineering. You have a take on that?”

Xander: “I’ve got beer. You want some beer?”

College guy starts throwing around big words about sociological experiments and how they can watch some socioeconomic thing play out yadda yadda, basically, it’s a blatant rip-off of the “How do you like them apples” scene in Good Will Hunting, ramming home how elitist the college kids are and how shirttily they treat people who are beneath them. And I gotta say, I did run into a lot of that when I lived in a college town, but there are a hundred different ways to show this dynamic without a) ramming it down our throats in every episode and b) outright copying a hugely memorable scene from another piece of media.

The one original part of the scene is that Xander is robbed of any sort of triumph. He tries to card College Guy for his beer but forgets that he works for a dude that really doesn’t give a shirt about legality. The owner tells Xander to just shut up and pour the beer, leaving Xander humiliated.

Welcome to the service industry!

Xander sees Buffy sitting at the bar and asks her, for real, if she’s had a rough day.

Buffy: “It’s just…[SFD]’s problem with intimacy turns out to be that he can’t get enought of it. And I knew it. I knew what he was.”

And then she calls herself a slut. This is a rare #33 that both is and isn’t #6, in that the audience knows that it’s not Buffy’s fault that SFD is the way he is and that she was just young and naive. However, it does suggest that if a woman does know that a guy is in it just for the sex and sleeps with him anyway, that makes her a slut. And Xander telling Buffy that she’s not a slut doesn’t erase the secondary implication.

Xander can’t talk too long, what with the being at work, so Buffy leaves as to not bother him. But as she walks away, she bumps into yet another dude and spills yet another beer. Buffy is officially the clumsiest superhero ever. The guy is immediately smitten with her and says she can’t leave without having a beer with him. Then his friend College Guy shows up:

College Guy: “What my friend’s just saying is…you shouldn’t be sad and alone right now. I mean, you’re a very beautiful girl who should be covered with men. And…could we be those men?”

So, apparently, things didn’t go well for college guy even after he humiliated Xander in front of that blonde. By the by, when College guy says “we” he’s referring to him, Spilled Beer, Some Other Dude, and Kal Penn. Like, seriously. Actually Kal Penn. This is the third acting job listed on his IMDB. We saw him before he was The Kal Penn.

Buffy guest star has worked in the White House.

The IMDB also lists his name as Hunt, but I don’t remember ever hearing them say their names at all in this. I assume they’re all some riff on caveman stuff. Like maybe one of them is Club and the other is Forage and the other is Eaten By Mammoth. Or whatever. We’re going to stick to College Dude, Spilled Beer, Some Other Dude, and Kal Penn for clarity.

Buffy is hesitant to take a beer from these guys, which is fair. They’re all wearing oxford shirts and Dockers. They’re like the Stepford Frat Brothers (aren’t they all, though?). But she sees SFD leaving with his latest arm candy and decides, you know what? fork it. I’m going to drink with these guys who are desperate for my attention.

Over at The Bronze, Willow and Oz are having their date night. That is, Willow is watching in horror as Oz and THIS bench eye fork each other.

Her name is Veruca, which is a subtle cue to people who grew up watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that this bench is not to be trusted. Willow totally picks up that vibe and tries to distract Oz, but he can’t tear his gaze away.

We rejoin Buffy at the bar with her new friends, Kal Penn’s unfortunate hair,

I had a high school boyfriend with this exact hair.

a guy who must be related to James Marsters because there is something genetic going on here,

and then the two other guys.

College Guy (the one who looks like Spike) is spouting off something about how if everybody got drunk, the world’s problems would be solved. So, basically, the beer in this episode is standing in for weed. Buffy says her mom thinks beer is evil. Like, hang on, Joyce. We saw you drinking wine with your book club buddy in the episode where Buffy just came back from running away. Remember? That out of control party where minors were drinking in your house while you were also drinking in your house? So, this line makes no sense. Somebody jotted it down as a throwaway line, thinking nobody would notice or care about the continuity.

But I noticed.

I cared.

Anyway, the dude responds by saying:

College Guy: “Evil, good. These are moral absolutes that predate the fermentation of malt and fine hops.”

Then, he loses track of what he was saying and Some Other Guy tries to jump in with something about Thomas Aquinas, which everyone shuts right the here down. Then College Guy goes on to explain that if morality had been determined after beer, there wouldn’t be any good versus evil. So, again, clearly, beer is standing in for weed here. These are weed conversations this table is having.

The next morning, Willow comes into the dorm room mimicking a conversation between Oz and Veruca.

Willow: “‘My name is Veruca, I’m in a band!’ ‘Oh, uh, I’m Oz, I’m in a band, too. Oh, and this is Wil.’ ‘Oh, how fun, a groupie!’ Groupie. Buff, have you heard of this Veruca chick? Dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross?”

One of the things I love (okay, one of the things most people love) about the dialogue on this show is how realistic it is. Everyone describes people this way, to varying degrees: “You know, Pam in accounting? Looks like Cathy from processing?” The fact that Willow references a character who is no longer around but whom they used to know as shorthand for “this girl wears tight clothes” is so natural. It also gives long-time viewers who are familiar with the show a little nod: see, we know all the same people. You’re in on this, too. You’re a part of this conversation. We have a shared history.

And then it all gets blasted away in season five. At least we have this for now.

Buffy is not able to participate in the cleverly crafted dialogue. She is hung the entire fork over, staring blankly at a music video on TV. Willow asks if she’s okay.

Buffy: “I’m suffering the afterness of a bad night of…badness.”

Willow: “You didn’t! Not with [SFD] again!”

Buffy: “No. With four really smart guys.”

And Willow is like, hold up, four? They are not on the same page at all. And Buffy can’t talk in full sentences at all. Willow even has to remind her to get dressed to go to class. But at least they get that whole group sex misunderstanding cleared up.

In Psych, the only class that Buffy apparently takes, Buffy interrupts Professor Walsh and grabs a sandwich right out of another student’s hand and starts eating it. When Willow asks in alarm if she’s okay, Buffy is confused as to why she’s even asking the question. And she keeps eating. Then we cut to a series of tubes:

 

The whole concoction drains into a keg of Black Frost, the brand of beer Buffy and her new friends were drinking the night before. Which is great and everything, but…now the beer is flat. I mean, unless whoever is running Gargamel’s meth lab here is actually kegging it himself. Which, you know, sure. That could be a thing. I’m just a little confused as to why it would be necessary or easier to put the potion in the keg than to put the potion on the glasses or attach some kind of reservoir to the line.

You know what? I’m overthinking this.

Buffy and her new friends are back at the bar the next night, super drunk off the enchanted beer. Some Other Guy tells Buffy to come to their class on “big thinking”. Like, they’re not holding their shirt together at all. And Xander’s keeping an eye on her because honestly, I’m going to give this one to Xander. He’s not being a Nice Guy here, he’s being a nice guy, the way bartenders should be when there’s a very intoxicated young woman hanging out with four equally intoxicated college-aged men. Something awful could happen to her. He’s so focused on Buffy, in fact, that when an attractive woman finally presents him with the opportunity to light her cigarette, he does this and never looks away from Buffy:

Instead of talking about Thomas Aquinas or anything smart-sounding, the group is now drinking beer, pushing each other, grunting, and laughing at nothing. So like…again, is this supposed to be about weed?

Back at the dorm, Oz catches up with Willow and tells her that he’s going to play with Veruca’s band that night and she should come along. Willow passes on watching her boyfriend move on to another chick, which she completely understands is what’s happening and it’s heartbreaking.

Back at the now-deserted bar, Buffy and her new gang are engaged in a rousing exchange of “You stupid!” Xander turns on the jukebox and Buffy is delighted that it “sings”. As she crawls all over the machine, Xander informs her that she’s been cut off and he’s kicking her out of the bar.

Buffy: “Want beer! Like beer! Beer good!”

Xander: “Beer bad! Bad, bad beer. What the here am I saying? Buffy, go home and go to bed.”

They said the name of the thing in the thing!

Once the guys notice that Buffy has left, they’re not happy. Ominous music plays.

Now, I don’t know for sure where the hell the next scene takes place. It’s in some kind of basement coffee bar where nobody works? I don’t know what’s up. But Willow runs into SFD and she is ready to unload all of her frustration not only over him but over Oz’s behavior, as well. She confronts SFD and demands he answer for hurting Buffy.

SFD: “Willow…I’m not sure I need to explain my actions here. But if that’s what you want––”

Willow: “Yes. Followed by an admission of undeniable guilt, but go on.”

SFD: “Some relationships center on a deep emotional tie or a loyal friendship or something. But most are just two people passing through life, enriching or aggravating each other’s lives briefly.”

Willow: “Go on.”

SFD: “Just for one night, can’t two people who feel an attraction come together and create something wonderful? And then go back to their lives the next day better for it, but never over-analyzing it or wanting it to be more than what it was? I have. She should, too.”

Willow: “People like Buffy and, and me, assume that intimacy means friendship and respect. People shouldn’t have to ask first ‘are you gonna be eying other prospects tomorrow?'”

SFD: “People shouldn’t have to preface casual sex with ‘just so you know, I’ll never grow any older with you.’ It takes the fire out of it.”

Ugh, this guy is a diaper load.

He tells Willow that he’s sorry “if” he misled Buffy and “if” he hurt her. But it’s not an if. Willow just told him that he hurt Buffy. And he knows that he misled her because it’s his modus operandi to tell girls intimate details of his life in order to pull them into his confidence and get them into bed. SFD’s thoughts about casual sex aren’t wrong, it’s the fact that he doesn’t inform his partners, with whom he fakes a deep emotional connection in order the manipulate them, that they’re having casual sex.

At the bar, the guys are so drunk that they’re taking their shirts off and handing Xander absolute scads of money, which he has no compunction about receiving since these were the guys treating him like shirt just a couple nights before.

Xander: “You know, I’ve always had a problem calculating the tip and you guys, being so dapper of brain, maybe you can help me out. Okay. Great. See, if your bill comes to thirty-eight dollars and generally people tip, what, aproximately thirty percent? That makes your tip what?”

When the grunting drunk dudes hand over another huge amount of cash, Xander plays along:

Xander: “You are so smart. This is so the right amount.”

Then loud noises of the breaking variety come from the bathroom and an honest-to-god caveman bursts through the door. It’s College Dude, and he has gone full Missing Link. He knocks Xander out and, after the commercial break, is screaming in Xander’s face. Then the rest of Buffy’s new friends start turning into cavemen, as well, growing extra hair, bad teeth, and prominent brow ridges. They surround Xander, who uses his lighter to scare them off with “angry” fire. When they leave the building, he runs to the bar owner.

Xander: “Jack! Jack! We got a problem. The guys…they…they’re…some of your patrons are turning into cavemen.”

Jack: “They had it comin.'”

The cavefrats run around campus in various states of undress, climbing trees and trying to eat leaves. Back at the bar, Jack explains his motive:

Jack: “I’ve been taking abuse from snot-nosed kids for twenty years. And they’re always coming in here with their snotty attitudes, drinking their fruity little microbrews and spouting out some philosophy like it means a damn thing, thinking they’re different than us.”

Xander: “They are now.”

Jack: “They, they ain’t. That’s the great thing about beer. It makes all men the same.”

Xander asks why they’re talking about the beer before he realizes what Jack is saying. Jack’s warlock brother-in-law taught him how to turn people into cavemen, which is a fascinating blend of #8 and #26. Jack is a Sunnydale guy who knows that supernatural shirt exists and is happy to use it because he’s ambivalent to the very real dangers of, you know. Turning people into cavemen. Xander realizes that Buffy has also had the beer and he rushes off to save her while Jack tells him that the effects will wear off after a few days.

The cavemen dudes have no idea how to deal with traffic, and one of them eventually is hit by a car, confirming Xander’s worry that people are going to get hurt. He goes to Buffy’s dorm with Giles.

Giles: “I can’t believe you served Buffy that beer.”

Xander: “I didn’t know it was evil!”

Giles: “You knew it was beer!”

Xander: “Well excuse me, Mr. I-spent-the-sixties-in-an-electric-Kool-Aid-funky-Satan-groove!”

Giles: “It was the early seventies and you should know better.”

I’m not sure Giles’s concern about Buffy drinking is all that strange, actually. I know earlier I said that it didn’t make sense for Joyce to be anti-beer when we’ve seen her drinking before, but that statement is just anti-beer in general. Giles is anti-Buffy drinking beer. And while we’ve seen Joyce drink wine once, Giles is an alcoholic. Like, the show never explicitly discusses it, but after Jenny Calendar dies, whenever we see Giles at home, he’s usually drinking hard liquor, or some kind of hard liquor is visible in a decanter in the background. We know that Giles drinks to avoid his problems, as evidenced in either the end of this season or the middle of the next, because there’s a time when he thinks everything is hopeless and he gets super drunk. So, it makes sense for Giles to not want Buffy to drink alcohol. He knows the terror and the heartbreak that come with the life of a Slayer. They’ve both been unwillingly forced into their roles. He doesn’t want her to have an addiction like he does. P.S. this episode is where I start laying into #2 pretty forking hard for the rest of the recaps. This is where I think #2 starts to develop because he’s suddenly forced to confront the fact that Buffy is an adult now. She’s staying out all night, she’s drinking, she’s living on her own and balancing her college/Slayer life. And that leaves her open to making all the very adult mistakes he’s made and his desire to protect her when he first became her Watcher has matured into love for the woman she’s becoming.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Anyway, Xander and Giles enter Buffy’s room without knocking because this is TV and people just do that. And they find Buffy drawing with lipstick on the wall, looking like the most attractive cavewoman this side of Wilma Flintstone:

I’m tagging #6, okay? The guys who turned into cavemen had major, major transformations. At one point while Xander and Giles are talking, Xander mentions that Buffy didn’t have as much beer as the guys did. It’s like the episode was carefully crafted so that our hot blonde protagonist never has a moment of ugliness? I don’t get it. They were cool with her turning into a vampire, but not a cavewoman?

Anyway, what I know for sure is that they should have either been more careful with the color they used on the wall or made it much, much clearer that Buffy is drawing with lipstick, because everyone I’ve ever talked about this scene with has agreed that the first time they saw it, they assumed she was drawing with her poop. Anyway, she points to a central figure in the drawing and says SFD is bad.

Back at the weird basement coffee shop we never, ever see again, Willow is still listening to SFD about his philosophies on love and human connection blah blah bullshit bullshit. And it seems like Willow is genuinely falling for his whole sensitive side.

SFD: “Willow…can I tell you something kind of private?”

Willow: “Okay. I mean, I feel you’ve shown me a perspective I hadn’t really thought much about before. What is it you wanted to tell me?”

SFD: “Just that…I’ve enjoyed talking with you. Here. Tonight.”

Willow: “Me, too. With you. You know, I’m wondering something. About you.”

SFD: “What?”

Willow: “Just how gullible do you think I am? I mean with your gentle eyes and your shy smile and your ability to talk openly only to me. You’re unbelievable!”

SFD: “What?”

Willow: “This isn’t sharing, this isn’t connecting. It’s the pleasure principle. That’s right. I got your number, id boy! Only thing you’re thinking about is how long before you can jump on my bones!”

SFD: “Look, if you think that I––”

Willow: “I mean, you men! It’s all about the sex. Find a woman, drag her to her den, do whatever’s necessary just as long as you get the sex. I tell you, men haven’t changed since the dawn of time.”

And right on cue, the cave frat guys crash through the door, dragging some frightened women with them. They immediately club SFD into unconsciousness (#TeamCaveFrat) and set to destroy the place.

I’m gonna tag Willow’s “jump on my bones” comment with #24; the last time I heard anyone say “Jump his/her bones” before this episode aired was in the eighties. And while, sure, Willow would have been alive back then, she would have been a kid, like I was when I announced at age four that I would jump Lionel Ritchie’s bones and that comment has lived on in infamy, brought up over and over at many family gatherings. By the ’90s, we were all kind of shortening it to “bone”. I guess Willow could have reasonably known the phrase, but it’s definitely out-dated by the time this show aired.

Back at the dorm, Giles and Xander watch Buffy spin in a desk chair until she falls off. Then she demands that the TV show her people. 

Giles: “She doesn’t appear to be in any danger. Maybe you should stay with her.”

Buffy “Boy smell nice.”

Giles: “Or perhaps she should be left alone.”

While Buffy sniffs and paws at Xander, he tells Giles that they should find the other cave guys, since they’re on the loose and the beer’s effect will eventually wear off. At the mention of beer, Buffy wants it immediately. Then Giles tells her she can’t have it. After declaring that she’s strong, she gives Giles another head injury and pushes Xander out of the way, leaving them to chase after her.

At the coffee place, the cave guys have knocked Willow unconscious, which, again, the writers play pretty fast and loose with the head injuries. I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far in the show before I added a number for this, but #44: Head trauma doesn’t work like that. I wonder if Giles drinks to cope with his traumatic brain injury.

Anyway, when we get back from the break, the cavemen have realized a major flaw in their plan to barricade themselves inside a building and then make a huge fire inside of that building. Shit is on fire everywhere. And Fire? Bad.

Xander finds Buffy, who’s still looking for beer. He asks if there’s any part of Buffy left in CaveBuffy. When she smells smoke and declares “fire bad!” before running directly toward the danger, the audience gets their answer. No matter what spell she might be under, Buffy is still the Slayer, and she’s still going to help people. Buffy charges into the burning building and grabs a fire extinguisher…which she throws at the fire. She sees Willow collapsed on the floor and makes a flying leap over the burning barricade. Xander tries to follow her inside but is held back by the smoke and flames. In his panicked aggravation, he wonders aloud where Giles is.

Giles is describing Buffy to a random college student. Badly.

Giles: “Blonde. Um. About this tall. She walks with a sort of a…sideways limp.”

Buffy, now trapped in the burning basement herself, spies a window. She uses exposed pipes as a monkey bar to kick the grate and glass out, and the caveguys create a ladder from a bookshelf to escape. Willow and the kidnapped women escape, as well, but Buffy stays behind. SFD is still inside. He screams for help and asks Buffy what they should do. And Buffy comes to the only natural conclusion, which is to bash him in the head with a club.

Xander: “And was there a lesson in all this, huh? What did we learn about beer?”

Buffy: “Foamy!”

The CaveGuys are locked in a car, hooting like apes and pounding on the glass as Buffy watches them from outside.

Giles: “Um…whose van is that?”

Xander: “I don’t know. Wasn’t locked.”

This is one episode where I truly, very much love Xander.

SFD turns out to be fine. Buffy rescued him from the fire and he knows he owes her a debt of gratitude. He comes to her exactly the way he did in her earlier fantasies.

SFD: “Buffy? Buffy, I…I don’t know how to say this. I’m sorry for how I treated you before. It was wrong of me and I’m sorry. You were great tonight, really. I might not deserve this, but, do you think you could forgive me?”

And Buffy bashes him in the head with a club again, knocking him out for the third time in the span of like, what? An hour probably? #44 is all the fuck over this episode. We had Giles, who already must suffer from some kind of massive neurological issue from getting constant skull fractures, hitting his head again. Then there are the three times SFD gets a concussion and Willow even gets her melon split in this one. What does this show have against its character’s heads?

I was worried when I started this recap that I would really regret looking at it deeply, but there’s not too much here to complain about beyond the standard Buffyverse treatment of head injuries. It’s just a fun, standalone episode that finally wraps up the SFD subplot for once and for all.

Probably because he’s dead now.

41 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    What’s with the self-censoring of (rather mild) swear words? That seems…unusual for this blog, and dragged me out of the reading so hard I got only halfway through before coming to comment.

    August 24, 2018
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      It’s because I have the new The Good Place plug-in on my browser and I didn’t realize it would actually post the censored version and I’m DYING laughing right now.

      August 24, 2018
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      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        Ah, that makes sense. My, while reading: Wh@t the he!!?

        August 24, 2018
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      • Helen
        Helen

        Oh my god, how do you get that? I need it in my life! I assumed you were just making Good Place references.

        August 27, 2018
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      • Ilex
        Ilex

        For the record, I really enjoyed the censored words. Forking and shirt had me cracking up constantly as I read this recap. Although “fork eyes” and “bench” stumped me for a bit until I figured out what the here was going on with all the swear words! I don’t watch The Good Place, so I was a little slow on the ball.

        August 29, 2018
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  2. Sadie Coffey
    Sadie Coffey

    Two things:

    1. Veruca is SHIRLEY MANSON. Lead singer of Garbage.
    2. Did this blog post go to The Good Place for editing? Or are you always watering down the cursing and I’ve never noticed it before?

    August 24, 2018
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    • SaintSithney
      SaintSithney

      That makes me even sadder that she decides to do the stupid parakeet head wobble thing to show that she’s “feral” and “dangerous”. I don’t know what it is about trying to portray “animalistic tendencies” that makes people move their heads around like macaws with water in their ear holes.

      August 24, 2018
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    • Marvel
      Marvel

      Re #1, are you sure? The internet is telling me she was played by Paige Moss.

      August 24, 2018
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      • Sadie Coffey
        Sadie Coffey

        Dammit. You’re right. It’s not Shirley Manson

        August 29, 2018
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  3. Bryn
    Bryn

    Unrelated to the recap itself, but I have to say that I love that your Good Place Google extension has worked in this blog post.

    August 24, 2018
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  4. Lovi
    Lovi

    The Good Place chrome extension infiltrated your re-watch! Oh fork!

    August 24, 2018
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  5. Laina
    Laina

    Oh man, this episode is fun. I like the “fire bad tree pretty” thing we go back to XD

    I still feel so weird about this season. Tons of episodes I love, and yet I look at it as one of my least favourites. Maybe it’s just most memorable in some ways? These recaps have been super interesting though!

    August 24, 2018
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  6. Hilary
    Hilary

    Fire bad,tree pretty!

    August 24, 2018
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  7. Dude, I have to disagree with you vehemently. I’m about the same age as you – and I graduated high school the same year Buffy did – and people in my school used the term “Jump his/her bones” ALL THE TIME.

    August 24, 2018
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  8. Yeah, I’m just a couple of years older than Buffy — the show started the year I graduated high school — and I used “jump [someone’s] bones” then, and do still.

    August 24, 2018
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  9. H2
    H2

    Giles and MacGyver (original flavor) can start a club – poor Mac got concussed at least 5 times in 7 seasons.

    August 24, 2018
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  10. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    I’m 27 and I still use “jump his bones.”

    Omg this is one of my favorite episodes

    Now, I don’t know for sure where the hell the next scene takes place. It’s in some kind of basement coffee bar where nobody works?
    ^ I had assumed it was one of the dorms?

    Yay for Dead!SFD!

    August 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I once used ‘jump his bones’ with a group of friends, and they all looked at me and went, “What are you, 60 years old?”

      I didn’t think it was *that* old of an expression. XD

      August 27, 2018
      |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      yeah I thought it was a campus coffee shop as well. My uni has heaps of them. A coffee shop around practically every corner.

      God I hate Veruca.

      September 5, 2018
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  11. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    I think Joyce is fine with beer so long as it isn’t Buffy drinking it. Basically, “do as I say, not as I do”.

    August 25, 2018
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  12. Funnily enough this was hands down my least favourite episode ever of Buffy, so it’s interesting to see that there are people who loved it.

    Gotta ask; did Veruca actually do anything to merit being described as a bitch (or a bench)? Am I missing something or is this just the ‘existed in vicinity of someone’s boyfriend and was recipient of attraction from him, EVIIIIIIL’ trope?

    Also, no, nobody ever called their daughter Veruca. Ever. I call bullshirt on that one. Happy believing in vampires, but not in parents who’d call their daughter Veruca.

    August 25, 2018
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    • I think the condescending groupie comment at Willow was pretty rude.

      August 25, 2018
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      The only places I have seen Veruca as a girls name is “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”, and a Discworld book (I think it was “Hogfather”). Maybe she changed it, she’s a singer and stage names are a thing. It’s not a good stage name IMO.

      August 27, 2018
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    • Mel
      Mel

      Well by this point in time she hasn’t actually done anything yet besides being condescending toward Willow, but that’s enough in my book. I had to deal with so many of those bitches at high school who thought they were better than me and my friends that the very sight of Veruca just irks me. i think that’s why I relate to Willow so much – I was one of the unpopular kids who copped a lot of shit and I feel for Willow during this whole season. It’s like she’s left high school so all the bullying should be over, right? Then Veruca shows up and puts her back in her place. Ugh, I hate Veruca.

      September 5, 2018
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  13. candy apple
    candy apple

    What I love about this season is that we spend so much time in Giles’ apartment. That place is cozy as fork.

    August 25, 2018
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  14. Megan
    Megan

    re: Joyce and alcohol

    She is a hypocrite and in denial all the time about nearly everything, so, I can easily accept her making a contradictory statement about that? And I am not sure to what extent she believes she is *usually* hiding her alcoholism from Buffy, and just failing to.

    August 25, 2018
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  15. Diana
    Diana

    Awesome recap, love the censoring 😀

    August 25, 2018
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  16. This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone outside of Maine or Mass call a penis a “dink.” Maine’d totally pass the Good Place (?) plug-in. “Yew feckin’ dannnnnk!” is a serious put-down, here.

    August 27, 2018
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  17. Oh, and yeah…about “Beer Bad.” I’ve heard so many people say it was one of the worst BTVS, ev-ahh, and never got that. Glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoyed it so much. Also, it’s one of only a few episodes where I didn’t want to flick Xander on the nose. “Beer Bad,” and whatever the one was where he decided to be “Car Guy.” He did well in bottle episodes? Or is it “stand-alones?” I’m not entirely sure…*runs off to TV Tropes to drown in internet weeds for the next hour*

    August 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      Car Guy episode is in Season 3 The Zeppo – yeah I liked Xander in that episode too. I felt bad for him that the rest of the gang were deliberately leaving him out of their plans to put a stop to yet another apocalypse. But he really comes into his own and even loses his virginity (some would argue that Faith raped him but I don’t remember it that way. I remember him being flustered but right into it), and winds up saving the school from being blown up while standing up to a bully. Even better, when he has the chance to boast about his exploits or taunt Cordelia at the end of the ep, he resists. You da man, Xan. The other really good ep focusing on Xander is The Replacement in Season 5.

      September 5, 2018
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  18. Chris
    Chris

    Out of curiosity, what is a Good Place plug-in? When I Google it, I only get results for the series The Good Place, of which I saw maybe 3 episodes.

    August 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Also Chris
      Also Chris

      You were actually on the right track. The characters on The Good Place are censored by their environment so you get dramatic sayings of “That’s forking bullshirt!” and such. Presumably there is a Chrome extension that will censor what you type.

      Also, I have to suggest that you watch to the end of the first season before deciding you want to give up on The Good Place. That season finale is bonkers and caused the show to reinvent itself for season 2.

      August 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • Chris
        Chris

        Hey fellow Chris! Thank you! And I see now, it’s a plug-in especially made in the build-up to season 4 or so from the Good Place. Very clever promotion

        So here’s the thing: I watched 3 episodes of The Good Place and though I thought most of it was funny, I couldn’t completely shake the feeling that a lot of the character’s actions were based on the writer’s/maker’s convenience rather than based on a good back story and solid character motivations. This distracted me immensely from the stuff I genuinely found funny.

        For example, the woman immediately tells her buddy that she shouldn’t be there, in heaven. That there has been some mistake. I could see why that revelation would be helpful as expose for the viewer, but I did not understand her motivation for telling. That was just a minor thing. But then it was followed up by her buddy who has the choice to either tell or save her secret. It’s presented as a classical philosophical ‘individual vs. community’-choice, but I just thought: wait… he HAS chosen, right? He now chooses the individual over the community. It’s very clear that the community suffers because of this mistake (of bringing this woman to heaven, where she does not belong). His dilemma (his refusal to snitch) did not make sense to me, since I didn’t understand the stakes. I understood what was in it for her to stay in heaven. But I did not understand his reason for keeping her secret (rather than: because we, as makers of this series, need her in heaven for a longer period of time for this show to work). What was in it for him?

        After noticing that sort of thing happening over and over, I had trouble ‘believing’ the characters and their motivations since everything they said and did seemed more like a vehicle for the writers to have an easy exposé or a convenient way to get to the next hilarious situation.

        I’m usually not this nitpicky when it comes to suspending my disbelief (or accepting the ‘gotta move along’-narrative from pilot episodes), I just noticed it being very difficult for me in this series. Maybe you, other Chris, can tell me that it gets better? I seriously love it when people are rooting for a series and I’ve had it happening before that someone else’s perspective changed my opinion of a series. Do you recognize some of the things I’m mentioning? I had to write in a hurry (I’m at work, oops) and English is not my first language, so apologies for all the possible vagueness.

        August 28, 2018
        |Reply
        • AJ
          AJ

          Hello! I do really love the good place, so naturally I am going to defend it a bit. But I do think that in this case, seeing the whole first season might help you put these questions into context. Because I firmly believe that these inconsistencies are not to further the plot at all, but in fact to /expand/ the characters and point out complexities and inconsistencies that they have in their decision making. Complexities that are further explained as time goes on. I came up with about three reasons each why the writers would choose to have Eleanor confide in Chidi despite the danger and Chidi’s lack of action on the whole Eleanor situation. I am not sure how much to put, because a lot of it is not exactly spoilery, but uses knowledge of the characters and further plot arcs to fill in the questions you have.

          Which are good and valid questions! A lot of things don’t make a lot of sense in the beginning because there is a lot of important information you don’t yet know. And it’s quite possible that after you finish the season, the answers will not be satisfactory. But I would like to assure you that these gaps are purposeful, and do eventually find solutions.

          Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

          September 3, 2018
          |Reply
      • Trynn
        Trynn

        I actually COULD NOT watch that show until my friend D spoiled it for me. As someone with a fairly traumatic fear of hell leftover from a strict religious upbringing, I related to the character’s too well.

        Once I found out spoiler, I loved analyzing the show from that angle, so that’s what I was doing the entire time. I binge watched the first season. Is season 2 out yet?

        September 1, 2018
        |Reply
        • Chris
          Chris

          Okay first of all, thank you for the transcript of that Ted Talk, I’d love to see the video?, and second, I’m going to watch the show. I’ll give it another shot. It’s not the first time that I’ve been convinced to re-evaluate my opinion about a series. Thanks for non-spoiling the spoiler. It’s good to know there’s so much more to come. It actually already sounds like a more thought-out series than I gave it credit for.

          September 4, 2018
          |Reply
  19. Arlene
    Arlene

    I feel like I’m probably in the minority here, but I really enjoy season 4. It might have something to do with the fact that it’s the only season I watched in its entirety while it was on the air, and I have such good memories of that. The fact that I was in college at the time probably contributed to how much I related to its themes of transitioning out of high school into college, and some variation of adult life. I also love that Gile’s house becomes the scoobies’ hub. Also, season 4 has some of the show’s best episodes, in my opinion. Beer Bad is not one of my favorites but I appreciate Xander’s genuine concern for Buffy here and the way it wraps up the SFD subplot is so satisfying.

    August 27, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Amy
    Amy

    According to tvtropes, Giles getting knocked in the head happened so often, fans sent the actor helmets.

    August 27, 2018
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    • Trynn
      Trynn

      Joss: Anthony, what on earth are you wearing?

      Anthony: Oh, um, a fan sent it in, I thought I’d wear it on the show to make them swoon–

      Joss: GET THAT THING OFF YOUR HEAD THIS INSTANT

      September 1, 2018
      |Reply
  21. Bunny
    Bunny

    One of my favorite episodes. I loved caveslayer. She appeared in several Buffy/Giles fan fics.

    August 28, 2018
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  22. Kiki
    Kiki

    It isn’t hypocritical of an adult parent to not want their minor child to drink. High school and early college Buffy shouldn’t be getting drunk in public. I drink with my parents (my dad has taken to having wine chilled for me when I visit, which is lovely), I drink in front of my kids, and I’ll drink with them when they’re adults, but I won’t be encouraging it while their wee brains are still developing. I have to give this one to Joyce.

    September 4, 2018
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