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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch, S02E03, “School Hard”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will never learn the lesson that nothing good happens after 2AM. 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.

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. Ever since I started writing these recaps, there has been a certain subset of my readership who has been waiting for THIS episode. THIS specific one, for a very specific reason. A blond reason. A black duster wearing reason. A reason that we don’t want to love, because we know what his character arc is going to be and that he drops the ball hugely later on in the series. But we do love him. We love him passionately and ardently, full of hope and joy and the exhilaration of fear and 40 volume developer fumes. We love him, because he is Spike.

“School Hard” opens with Principal Snyder pontificating:

Snyder: “A lot of educators tell students, think of your principal as your pal. I say, think of me as your judge, jury, and executioner.”

Actually, Snyder, “think of your principal as your pal” is a spelling mnemonic to learn the difference between “principal” and “principle,” rather than an inducement to get friendly with educational administrators. I learned that from a Ramona book and I’ve never forgotten it. By the way, if anyone can come up with a a good mnemonic  to remember the difference between “capitol” and “capital,” send it my way, because that is my eternal struggle. Anyway, Snyder is taking sadistic pride in tormenting a stereotypical 90’s bad girl by asking who the “most troublesome student” is at Sunnydale, and alternateen’s gaze slides slyly to:

Truly, she is a monster.
Truly, she is a monster.

Snyder points out that while alternateen did stab a teacher (a horticulture teacher, because this is Hogwarts now), Buffy burned down a building, and the two of them are pretty much tied for other bad stuff like fights and cutting class. Because of this,  he’s going to put them in charge of parent/teacher night.

Let’s really think this strategy through, Snyder. You think Buffy is a dangerous fuck up. You know this other kid stabbed somebody. You’re giving them this job why? Because he wants the girls to mess up, so he can expel them. But here’s the thing… he could have expelled alternateen for stabbing a teacher, right? Buffy hasn’t really done anything expulsion worthy yet, except maybe killing a vampire and wrecking up the library doing it.

Come to think of it… how did they explain all the damage to the library after the Hellmouth opened up and destroyed everything at the end of season one? Earthquake?

Buffy is eager to get out of parent/teacher night without any trouble, but alternateen doesn’t seem as enthused. Buffy catches up with Willow and Xander, who fill her in on the deets about alternateen. Apparently, she started smoking in the fifth grade. Hey, did I have “heavy handed anti-tobacco message” on the list yet? It’s there now, at #16. Now, I’m not pointing it out because I think smoking is super cool and good for you. I’m pointing it out from a, “This is a really obvious theme” viewpoint.

Xander tries to console Buffy on her bad luck:

Xander: “It’s no biggie. You’ll have a nice soiree. The parents will love it. As long as nothing really bad happens between now and then, you’ll be fine.”

Buffy: “Are you crazy? What did you say that for? Now something bad is going to happen.”

Xander: “What do you mean? Nothing’s going to happen.”

Willow: “Not until some dummy says, ‘as long as nothing bad happens!'”

Xander is chastened, but he protests that this time, things could be different. And then…

Oh, dear, dear reader. And then.

sunnydale signspike carspike shoes spike0301

He lights a cigarette, so we know he’s evil, so #6.

In the Anointed One’s lair, a vampire is pontificating about how he’s going to kill the Slayer, and it’s going to be bigger than the crucifixion, and he would know because he was there. Then, the badass vampire– we all know he’s Spike, right? I can just call him Spike even though the narrative hasn’t named him Spike yet, right?– comes in and says:

Spike: “If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock.”

Spike has rolled in to town to kill the Slayer, since he’s already killed two. And he’s brought his girlfriend.

They're like, the undead Beckhams.
They’re like, the undead Beckhams.

Drusilla is easily the most terrifying vampire of the entire series. Her characterization almost should fall under #14, but when her backstory is fully revealed, you can’t help but have sympathy for her and the sense that, yeah, they’re probably not overdoing it with the crazy. She’s a stone cold killer who appears vulnerable and can’t be reasoned with because she has no reason, and I live for her.

So, Drusilla and Spike straight up take over the Anointed One’s gang and start planning to kill the Slayer.

In her room, Buffy is lamenting the poor efficacy of her “cream rinse,” a term for hair conditioner I haven’t heard since, well, the 1990’s. Was that a marketing term? Why don’t you see it anymore? Joyce comes in and busts Buffy out about trying to keep parent/teacher night from her. Which Buffy deserves, since she was actively trying to hide it from her. But then Joyce does this shit again:

Joyce: “Look, sweetheart. Life is more than grades and homework and not getting kicked out of school. But we moved once because of you getting in trouble, and I had to start a new business, not to mention a new life in a whole new town–“

Buffy: “And you don’t want to do it again.”

Joyce: “What I don’t want is to be disappointed in you again.”

I get why this scene was necessary. So far, in season two, the reason behind Buffy’s move to Sunnydale hasn’t been covered. But Joyce. Come on. At some point, you have to stop reminding Buffy that her failure ruined your life. You’re not allowing her to move on at all, and if you keep telling a kid that they’re a bad kid, well… they just stop trying to be good, because what’s the fucking point? #3, Joyce. Your parenting strategy is #3.

At school, Willow is helping Buffy with parent/teacher night preparations, since Sheila the alternateen is a no-show. And Buffy is wearing this:

buffy overalls

Can I just say that it’s time for overalls to make a fucking comeback already? They are the most goddamned comfortable item of clothing ever created by man. I’m furious that they went out of style. Although, one time this guy called Mike shoved a handful of dirty snow down the front of my overalls after a Rusted Root concert. It was worse than just having it shoved down my shirt, because it went all the way down both pant legs. But Buffy is in Southern California, so she doesn’t have to worry about that.

If anyone knows where to get plus-sized overalls, leave a link in the comments. I need some in a size 18.

Giles and Jenny Calendar catch up with the kids. They believe that the night of St. Vigeous–  a vampire holiday, I guess, commemorating a medieval vampire crusade– is going to happen on Saturday. Buffy basically can’t worry about that right now, because she has parent/teacher night coming up. She promises that she’ll focus all her efforts on slaying, just as soon as she’s sure she’s not going to get kicked out of school. That’s when Snyder ambles over and he’s all, “expel this,” and “horrible kids,” that.

And for some reason, when he asks where Sheila is, Buffy covers for her. This is because Buffy is a nice person, but here, she’s being kind of a doormat. Sheila comes in massively hung over, and Buffy tries to make up some stupid story about alternateen being out looking for paint. Excuse me, but your school career is hanging on this, too, Buffy. You should have thrown Sheila under the fucking bus the way she threw you under it.

I think we’ve just established that Buffy is a way kinder person than I am.

Snyder warns them that everything has to be perfect on Thursday, but it’s pretty clear that he’s not buying the “Sheila was looking for paint,” story. Sheila asks Buffy if she really burned down a school building, and Buffy clarifies that it wasn’t just one building, and Sheila reluctantly begins to think that Buffy is bad ass. Because Sheila is exactly the type of girl who you want to impress for those exact reasons.

At the Bronze, Buffy and Willow are studying French for some reason. I’m always amazed at how much schoolwork happens at the Bronze, considering it’s a bar with live music. Buffy can’t concentrate, because she’s looking around for Angel. When Xander asks her to dance, she does, but not for the same reasons she did last time. And that’s when this happens:

spike0302

That is Spike, getting his first look at the Slayer.

Remember this, people. Remember it always.

Okay, when you’re done squeeing and swooning (or, alternately, gnashing your teeth and wailing because you feel the show lost its direction after season five, and you blame Spuffy), check out this cool bit of characterization:

scoobies0301

It’s hard to tell from a screen cap, but check it. Buffy and Xander are dancing. Willow is with them, but she’s not dancing. She’s just kind of awkwardly standing there, nodding her head and talking them. Because Willow is awkward and unsure of herself in every day life, that obviously extends to the dance floor. A lazy director (or actor, since we don’t know whose choice it was) would have found it much easier and better looking on screen to just have Willow dancing. This is a really important detail that you might not have noticed the first time you watched it, but trust me, it subliminally added to your perception of the character.

Spike sends another vampire out to “get something to eat,” then walks over to where Buffy is dancing and loudly announces that he needs to call the police because someone is being attacked outside.  He’s a consummate predator, drawing his prey away from the herd.

In the alley outside, a woman is about to become a vamp’s meal, until Buffy shows up to save her. Their awesome fight starts with this awesome bit of dialogue:

Vampire: “Slayer!”

Buffy: “Slayee.”

I wonder if anyone has done a youtube super cut of all the times a vampire snarled, “Slayer!” at Buffy. Get on that, fandom.

The vamp is stronger than most, and Buffy really has to fight him. Xander and Willow take the would-be victim to safety and run off to get Buffy a stake, while Spike hangs out in the shadows, studying Buffy’s fighting style. Xander brings Buffy a stake just as the vamp shouts for Spike to help him, but being a villain, Spike doesn’t, and he starts an evil slow clap as soon as the vamp is dusted. He tells Buffy he’s going to kill her on Saturday (presumably, he’s waiting for the night of St. Vigeous), then fades away into the night.

In… another alley, I guess? How many alleys does the Bronze have? Sheila the alternateen is shown leaving with two rough looking guys, presumably to have sex with them. That’s supposed to show that she’s a bad girl, but I think it just means she’s awesome and sexually liberated in a way a lot of young ladies are not. So good job, Sheila. However, this “loose” behavior leads to both guys getting killed, and Sheila running into Spike. Another example of #1.

In the library, Buffy is telling Giles about Spike:

Giles: “Spike? That’s what the other vampire called him? It’s a little unorthodox, isn’t it?”

Buffy: “Maybe he’s reform.”

One thing Buffy (the character) never gets enough credit for is how punny she is. She comes up with some real zingers, and nobody ever laughs at them. Giles does roll his eyes at them a lot, and I think that’s technically the way Watchers laugh, but come on. Xander gets too much credit for being the funny one of the group.

The group is a little freaked out over Spike, and I’m not sure why. He kind of just came out of the shadows, threatened to kill the Slayer like every other vampire on this show does, then left. He was pretty threatening, but he didn’t display any real power, besides the power of shit talking. Giles tries to keep things in perspective by saying that he can’t be much worse than any other creature Buffy has managed to kill (the Master is a good example), and out of nowhere, Angel shows up and says that Spike really is worse. He then proceeds to deliver a description that basically covers what he’s going to be like when he’s Angelus, but Buffy isn’t concerned with the vampire who’s trying to kill her. She wants to know why Angel didn’t show up at the Bronze to make with the googly eyes.

Really? Is this really where we’re at in this episode? “Buffy, this deadly vampire threatened to kill you, and you’re in massive danger.” “Oh, Angel, you’re so sexy and mysterious! I don’t even mind that a vampire is trying to kill me, let’s work on our relationship.” That’s not cool, script. That’s not cool at all. #6

Giles doesn’t think it’s cool, either, so he reminds Buffy that they have more important things to worry about. Because #2. You don’t believe me now, but we’ll get there, dear reader. We’ll get there.

The Scoobies try to question Angel further, but he disappears all mysteriously.

Meanwhile, in a creepy vampire lair full of chanting and scary dolls:

dolls

Drusilla is punishing “Miss Edith” by making her face the wall, cementing her position as creepiest vampire of all time. If you’re thinking the eternal child/obsession with dolls thing is a little too Anne Rice, well. Just you wait until they name check Ms. Rice later in the episode. Drusilla doesn’t want to eat, even when a delicious looking Sheila is chained to the wall waiting for her. Drusilla would rather be in Prague. Aren’t we all a little bit like Drusilla?

At parent/teacher night, the Scoobies are all preparing weapons for Buffy’s showdown with Spike. Oh, except for Buffy. Because she’s preparing a veggie tray for her showdown with Snyder. And hey, look who’s part of the gang now:

cordelia0301

Willow gags her way through Buffy’s sugarless lemonade, and Buffy enlists her in operation Keep Mom Away From Snyder. Willow drags Joyce off just in time for Buffy to lie to the principal about her mom not speaking English, but he takes off after her, anyway. Buffy spends almost three hours trying to keep the twain from meeting, so to speak, but it falls through at quarter to nine. She was so close!

But Buffy has bigger problems. Giles has found records on Spike, AKA William The Bloody, who earned his current nickname by torturing his victims with railroad spikes. Giles also finds out that Spike has killed two Slayers– it wasn’t just a vampire boast.

Here is where I get a bit hung up on story canon. I know that Giles has to confirm for the audience that Spike is a bad ass who’s killed Slayers. But later in the series, a Watcher says she did her senior thesis on William The Bloody, and she’s starstruck to meet him. So he’s obviously known to the Watchers. Plus, if he’s killed two Slayers, wouldn’t he be on some kind of Watchers’ Most Wanted list or something? It seems unlikely to me that Giles knows all sorts of arcane facts about all sorts of random demons, but he’s never heard of a vampire who’s racking up Slayer kills like punches on a Bigby’s coffee card?

When Snyder and Joyce rejoin Buffy,  and Joyce looks pissed. She orders Buffy to the car like a MOM, and Snyder tactfully ends parent/teacher night by turning off the lights. Like, for real turning them off, while people were still sitting there. Also, I think the light switch is broken, because:

crash
Who turned on the vampires?

It’s Spike’s gang, and they’re crashing the party.

Get it?

Crashing the–

Okay, so, Buffy fends off an entire gang of vampires by throwing a $0.99 plastic chair and them. This works long enough for people to get somewhat away. Cordelia is grabbed by a vampire, and Willow uses a bust– seriously, like a big, bronze bust– to knock the vampire out. Not so little and quiet and cute now, huh?

The vampires trap Giles, Jenny, and Xander in the library, where the weapons are, but Buffy ends up in a room across the hall with frightened parents and teachers. Both groups barricade their respective doors, but I gotta say, Giles, Jenny, and Xander are pretty matter-of-fact about it. There’s no screaming or panic, like the last time they had to barricade the doors. Just moving furniture and looking bored.

The vampires cut the electricity and phones, so Giles sends Xander out through “an old, boarded up cellar” to get Angel for help. Ah, the convenience of old, boarded up cellars just lying around in Sunnydale.  In the other group, the parents and teachers are freaking out, and Snyder declares that all the vampires are in a gang and on PCP. I have to give Armin Shimerman crazy props for this scene, because he’s so funny. Actually, he’s pretty much always funny, and a good example of how a villain can be as enjoyable as a good guy, so long as he’s a villain you can love to hate.

Snyder wants to open the windows and get everyone out that way, but Buffy shuts it down, telling him that they’ll all be killed. She has to stand up to him pretty hard, but she can’t exactly say, “Because I’m the Slayer.” Instead, she just has to be a student getting mouthy with her principal. Her mother tries to stop her by insinuating that Buffy isn’t as tough as her bad school records might indicate, but Buffy isn’t going to try and fight all those vampires. She’s going to crawl through the ceiling.

Spike wanders the halls, spewing threats to demoralize the Slayer into coming out and facing him. If he finds her friends, he’s going to kill them, etc. He pauses by a utility closet where Willow and Cordelia are hiding and is about to kick the door in when another vamp stops him to listen to the movements of the Slayer in the ceiling.

In the library, Giles is jamming stakes in his pockets. He grabs an axe and starts pulling furniture out of their barricade, and he is in a state:

Jenny: “Hey! What are you doing? There are at least three vampires in that hall, god only knows how many other in the building!”

Giles: “Listen. I am the Watcher. I am responsible for her, and I have to go!”

Jenny: “Rupert… be careful.”

Remember how I said before that Jenny Calendar is like, just kind of an older version of Buffy? Here’s where it shows. She doesn’t want Giles to go out there. She likes him, and she wants him to stay safe, but she knows he has to do his duty. How many times have we seen Buffy in a situation where she’s forced to choose between what she wants for herself and what she wants for her friends? Jenny Calendar has the same sense of selflessness in the face of danger.

Oh, this is also setting up a crucial part of #2, because it subtly establishes that no matter how he feels about anyone else, the woman in Giles’s life is always going to be Buffy. Everyone else is going to come second, because of his Watcher duties. But we’ll get there.

None of Giles’s bravado or Jenny’s rational acceptance matters, though, because Buffy falls through the ceiling, negating the need for heroics. She tells Giles and Jenny about the situation outside. Giles asks Buffy to let him fight with her, but she says no, he needs to make sure Joyce gets out, even if Buffy is killed. With her bag of weaponry, Buffy disappears into the ceiling again.

In the science lab, Joyce has had just about enough of Snyder’s constant pacing. Against Buffy’s warning, Snyder and another man start prying the windows open, while Joyce argues that they should do what Buffy said. So, Joyce trusts her daughter to handle this situation… could it be that mom is starting to realize Buffy might be something other than just a mild mannered delinquent? A vampire starts chopping through the door with a fire axe, and the guy who was helping Snyder open the windows is pulled out, screaming, by vampires.

Angel and Xander arrive at the school, and Xander asks Angel if he’s got a plan. Angel responds by grabbing Xander by the throat and steering him into the building.

Spike and another vampire use metal tubing of some kind that is just laying around, I guess it’s from the wreck they made of the windows and tables when they came in, to stab through the ceiling tiles in the hopes of skewering the Slayer. Buffy makes it past them, to crash down in front of the science lab, where she takes out the vamp trying to chop through the door. Joyce tells Buffy to get out, that she’ll be all right, but Buffy calmly tells her mother to stay in the room and not open the door until she tells her to.

This would have been a great time for Buffy to say, “By the way, this is my job, I’m a vampire slayer,” and it would have gone a lot better than it does later in the season.

Sheila finally shows up to parent/teacher night, and Buffy warns her that people are, you know, trying to kill them. Sheila picks up an axe and declares the whole situation fun, and the audience is like, “Argh, Buffy, why are you turning your back on her, we all know she’s a vampire now, because we saw Drusilla eat her!”

Angel and Spike have a touching reunion that is made even more special by the knowledge that with Xander’s head under Angel’s arm, he was stuck between two vampire crotches during their hug. Spike greets Angel as Angelus, and Angel chides Spike for not guarding the perimeter of the school. Clearly, the two are old friends:

Spike: “Come up against this Slayer yet?”

Angel: “She’s cute. Not too bright, though. Gave the puppy dog, ‘I’m all tortured’ act. Keeps her off my back when I feed.”

Spike: “People still fall for that Anne Rice routine?”

I love that they reference the queen mother of vampire fiction in the show about vampires. That is slick, yo.

Xander snarls that he knew all along that Angel was lying about being good, and Angel offers Xander to Spike to feed on before they team up to kill the Slayer.

Meanwhile, Buffy is sneaking up on a vampire, all quiet like, while Sheila follows along behind her with the giant axe. Giles is watching through the windows in the library door, sees that Sheila is a vampire, and he shouts a warning to Buffy just in time; she stakes the vamp, Sheila runs, and Buffy frees the people trapped in the science lab, herding them into the library.

Spike and Angel are about to tear into poor Xander, when Spike suddenly punches Angel in the face. Spike’s not buying the bad guy act, and he’s disappointed that his sire has gone soft.

That’s right. His sire. The single biggest continuity error in all of BtVS.

He also calls him an Uncle Tom. Which is… wow. I’m calling that one #12. That’s not a term for white characters to fling around.

Xander and Angel make a run for it, and all the vamps follow them. Except Spike, who stays behind to face Buffy and let another continuity error drop: he claims that the last Slayer he killed begged for her life. In season five, when we actually see the fight, we find this is not true at all. I’ll cover my theories on why season five was able to successfully retcon Spike’s backstory once we get there.

Spike faces off against Buffy, and I’d never realize how much sexual tension was in this scene until right now. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the whole series. Maybe it’s because I just find James Marsters superbly hot in the role. For whichever reason, there does seem to be an undercurrent of danger!flirting in their banter:

Buffy: “Do we really need weapons for this?”

Spike: “I just like them. They make me feel all manly.”

While Buffy and Spike dish out epic ass-kickings to each other, Angel and Xander fight the vampires on the lawn. Giles is getting everyone to safety via the convenient cellar, but Joyce hangs back. We see why in a moment, when Spike is about to smash Buffy to pieces with a giant chunk of wood. Because this happens:

joyce0301

Having been bashed in the head with an axe, Spike snarls, “Women!” and runs away. Let’s really examine the shit out of this, why don’t we?

  1. We just saw Spike take numerous hits and kicks from Buffy, including one that buried him shoulder-deep in a wall.
  2. We know he’s tough, and he’s killed two slayers.
  3. Joyce is a human, and he could easily just take the axe from her and kill her, right in front of her Slayer daughter.

So, why does Spike opt out and run away? Not just because Buffy could potentially kill him, and as one of the season’s “big bad” villains, he needs to survive for a while. But because it’s funny to show two women ganging up on a vampire, who runs away because, gosh, women are just the worst, right?

I think they should have let Joyce get a few more serious swipes with that axe, and that’s what sends Spike running.

Here’s another continuity thing for us all to think about… Buffy’s mom came in during a huge fight scene.  Dude, I think you have to be in some deep denial to not go, “Huh, that’s weird. I didn’t realize my kid knows martial arts.”

Later, when the police are on the scene, Snyder talks to a detective:

Detective: “It’s over. They all got away. I got a body inside, and I got another one on the south lawn. It looks like he was pulled right through the window.”

Snyder: “I told him not to go through that window.”

NO YOU DIDN’T, JERK OFF!

Meanwhile, Giles and Jenny walk out of the school:

Jenny: “Well, another wonderful fun-filled evening.”

Giles: “Uh, yes. You know, um, I will understand if you decide to start avoiding me.”

But it doesn’t look like that’s happening too soon:

Also, are you looking at her boobs? HER EYES ARE UP THERE, GILES.
Also, are you looking at her boobs? HER EYES ARE UP THERE, GILES.

Xander asks Angel why he didn’t hit Spike first, and Angel says he had to know if Spike was buying his act. He would have known if Spike had bitten Xander. So, yeah, Xander. Maybe don’t be so openly disdainful of a vampire while he’s in ear shot, because he might just use you as expendable bait some day.

The police detective tells Snyder he’s going to need a cover story:

Detective: “So… you want the usual story? Gang related? PCP?”

Snyder: “What did you have in mind? The truth?”

Detective: “Right. Gang related. PCP.”

So this PROVES that the people of Sunnydale are fully aware that there are vampires! And the people charged with keeping them safe are covering it up! #8! #8! Wake up, Sunnydale!

As Buffy and Joyce walk away from the school, Buffy asks her mom what Snyder told her. Joyce tells her that Snyder called Buffy a troublemaker, but Joyce doesn’t care. She says that she’s happy knowing her daughter is brave and will help other people in times of crisis, and that Buffy can take care of herself. Let’s see how well this sticks at the end of the season, when Buffy tells her mom that she’s a Slayer.

Hey, what happened to Coredlia and Willow? They’re still in the broom closet. Poor Willow.

A lovely morning dawns over the factory where the Anointed One and his minions live. The Anointed One and his right hand man are furious that Spike jumped the gun on the St. Vigeous thing. Spike is truly repentant and begs for forgivene HA HA, no, I can’t even. Of course he doesn’t do that. He hoists “the Annoying One” into direct sunlight and burns him alive. Then he and Dru go see what’s on TV.

I feel like the show runner should have realized what an important episode this was going to be, and that they had used that knowledge and put the writing of it in the hands of someone other than David Greenwalt. He’s one of the weakest writers on the show, and it was apparent in this episode. The “Buffy is in charge of parent/teacher night” subplot was totally unnecessary in an episode that already had a lot going on. Too much time was devoted to introducing Sheila, who we never see again, and whose presence as a vampire was diminished by the presence of so many other bad ass vampires. Her storyline didn’t even wrap up. Willow and Cordelia’s storyline in the closet was pointless, as well, and they could have easily just been trapped with Jenny, Giles, and Xander, or been given something more useful to do. The entire episode feels like Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt were so married to the notion of Buffy’s involvement in parent/teacher night that they were willing to sacrifice screen time that could have been used for the really interesting stuff, like the introduction of the bad ass new villains, Spike and Drusilla and how they’re related to Angel. And Joyce’s easy acceptance of Buffy’s ability to handle gang members on PCP is asking the viewer to suspend too much disbelief; even if Joyce is supposed to be the clueless parent stereotype, it’s unlikely that someone isn’t going to notice that their kid suddenly fights like she’s into MMA.

Overall, the only thing that saves this episode is that it introduces a villain we all end up loving. It’s not even necessarily problematic on a large scale. It’s just chaotic, and it didn’t need to be. Cut the stuff about St. Vigeous, which never comes to fruition as a plot, anyway, cut Buffy’s toiling over parent/teacher night, and you’re left with a pretty tight story about a vampire who comes to town and attacks a school with his gang. Who may or may not be high on PCP.

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78 Comments

  1. I watched an interview with James Marsters who said that they didn’t know there would be a “Spuffy” toward the end of the series but he and Sarah always played their interactions with a lot of sexual tension. Even if they never hooked up, they both felt that there was something there between Spike & Buffy.

    To that I say: THANK GOD! I’m a huuuuuhe Spuffy shipper.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Yeah, I’ve seen an interview (at a ComicCon) where he said he thought they should have done Spuffy different where he doesn’t get the chip or he gets the chip out and has to change as a person and realize he’s in love with Buffy and chooses to change to prove to her his love and to prove he deserves her. And that would make it better. And I totally agree. (Also, I think that would have changed Buffy’s character a bit for the better b/c those last few seasons she could kind of be the worst at times)

      August 22, 2013
      |Reply
  2. Capitol with an “O” is for “Oh god, what are our politicians doing this time?”

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  3. Meghan
    Meghan

    I totally agree that Spike’s backstory gets some significant changes in season five, but isn’t it possible that in this episode, he is lying about the last Slayer’s death in order to sound more threatening? Or maybe I am giving too much credit to the carryover of details between seasons.

    Anyway, love these recaps! I am a big fan of the series, but you always point out things that I never noticed before, and it makes the recaps extra fun.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • This is how I read it, even before I’d seen the rest of the series. That Spike was trying to demoralize her by doing the: When I killed your father he cried like a baby and peed all over himself, it was soooo pathetic… thing. So she’d attack without thinking or something along those lines.

      But I got nothing for the Sire retcon. And I was sad later when it turned out not to be so.

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
    • The thing is, when you find out that slayer’s story, it would have made total sense for her to beg for her life, so I was never sure why they left it out.

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
      • Matt
        Matt

        I think that one’s just a matter of them not having any intentions for the scene to be any more than it was when they wrote/filmed it. I think if they’d had Robin Wood in mind at that point they might have put more thought into it.

        As for the sire thing…yeah, I dunno. I’ve seen interviews where they explain it away as “sire” still being accurate in the sense that Angelus sired Drusilla and Drusilla sired Spike, so that in a roundabout way he’s his “grandsire” and it fits; alternatively, I’ve seen it explained that “sire” can also work as a “mentor” (the Yoda line fits) which we do see play out in season 5.

        I mean, that’s a big explanation for a blatant continuity error, but there it is.

        August 20, 2014
        |Reply
  4. marteani
    marteani

    I still annoyed at the retconning of Spike’s character in later seasons. It always smacked of the writers trying to tone down the character’s violence to make him more palatable as a protagonist. The things they used to help make Spike scary were suddenly a liability, and rather than write growth in the character they futzed it out. “Oh, he wasn’t REALLY so bad, see he was a terrible poet!” “No no, he was pretty pathetic, look feel sorry for him!” “He’s just a whiny and mopey as Angel in his own way, that’s the part you liked, right!?”

    Which is a little baffling to me, because looking at the way Spike behaves sans soul and Angelus behaves, Spike is clearly the less malevolently evil character. For one, he can love. He’s got a capacity to care for the well-being of his buds. Not just fearful cooperation under a more powerful vampire, actual ties with actual feelings. Which is part of what made Spike more compelling a character for me than the guilt-riddled mope-fest that was Angel.

    This sort of writing bothers me, especially when it’s doing things to characters that feel contrary to their evolution, just to direct the story. It’s heavy-handed and more than once it’s put me right off my media.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • I always felt like Spike without a soul is a more moral and redeemed character than Angel with one. At least soulless Spike has the ability to make changes to try to stop hurting the woman he loves. Angel just flails uselessly.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • marteani
        marteani

        Spike was able to do all the things without a soul that Angel required a soul for. I feel like this concept could have really gone places in the hands of a better writer, and it had potential in that late season of Angel where Spike returned. But it was sadly never fully explored and the quality in writing dropped pretty sharply after season 4. I would argue it dropped noticeably in the middle of that season even.

        August 22, 2013
        |Reply
        • Nomen
          Nomen

          I figure this is something like how they were as humans. I mean, Angel was a womanizing drunk. Spike was a lovestruck poet. So they get turned, lose their souls… Angel’s main concern is being an evil bastard. Spike wants to earn the love and admiration of Drusilla. You see it more in Angel flashbacks where Drusilla and/or Darla sleep with other men. Angelus is all “/My/ woman getting laid by another man? Unacceptable! She’s mine!” Spike is more like “Drusilla? How could you betray me like this?”

          July 30, 2014
          |Reply
  5. Laina
    Laina

    “Is heavy handed anti-tobacco message” on the list yet? It’s there now, at #16.”

    You already have a number 16, Buffy’s strength. This should be 17.

    “He lights a cigarette, so we know he’s evil, so #6.”

    …that the show isn’t as feminist as most people think? XD

    No, lol, I’m just teasing, I agree with a lot of this. Not one of my favourites except totally a Spuffy shipper and I really like their early interactions sometimes.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  6. Kathryn
    Kathryn

    I LOVE your blog, especially the Buffy recaps. Thank you!

    capitol vs. capital mnemonic:

    The U.S. Capitol building has a rounded dome on top; the letter ‘o’ in Capitol is also rounded. If you’re talking about a legislative building, like the U.S. Capitol, go for the rounded O in capitol; otherwise, it’s capital.

    Rounded building, rounded O; otherwise, take the A.

    capital vs. capitol
    As a noun, capital refers to (1) a city that serves as a center of government, (2) wealth in the form of money or property, and (3) a capital letter. As an adjective, it means (1) principal, (2) involving financial assets, and (3) deserving of the death penalty. There are other definitions of capital, but these are the most commonly used ones.

    Capitol has two very specific definitions (outside ancient Rome): (1) a U.S. state legislature building, and (2) the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. State capitols are located in the capital cities of U.S. states, and the Capitol is located in the capital city of the U.S. If you’re not talking about any of these capitol buildings, then the word you want is probably capital.

    The Capitol building located in Washington, D.C. is spelled with a capital C, but state capitol buildings ordinarily don’t have the capital C (which is not to say that some writers don’t capitalize them anyway).

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  7. Sonny
    Sonny

    The last time I was shopping I saw $300 overalls at Anthropologie. Not that you/anyone should buy $300 overalls, but that means they are officially “back”.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Jessica
      Jessica

      More proof on overalls having a new fashion moment from the writer of “the Man Repeller” Blog:

      http://www.amazon.ca/Man-Repeller-Seeking-Finding-Overalls/dp/1455521396

      Leandra has been pushing overalls for some time now! Her general philosophy also tends to be that you should dress to make yourself happy, so even if her love of overalls weren’t so, she would still condone you diving in a pair just because you love them, I think.

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
      • Jessica
        Jessica

        I apologize for the obnoxiously large graphic above, I didn’t know the link I posted would do that!

        August 20, 2013
        |Reply
    • Lisa Dollar
      Lisa Dollar

      You can get plus size overalls at a farm supply store.

      August 26, 2013
      |Reply
  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I remember reading somewhere that they didn’t originally intend Spike to be a major character. He was supposed to have (……………….. spoiler!!) actually died in that church fire a few eps later, but was brought back because fans loved him too much. Best plot reversal ever if you ask me.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Yup, I’m pretty sure I read that in official Buffy stuff. The character wasn’t supposed to be around more than a few episodes. Possibly he was to be gone before Angelus made his return, I can’t remember the specifics now. That would be part of the reason for the later inconsistencies.

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
    • RevoltInNeon
      RevoltInNeon

      So exactly like SPN with Castiel then?

      Ahh, bless the power of fandom.

      August 22, 2013
      |Reply
      • Well, exactly NOT like Castiel with Supernatural because Spike for the most part was a great character, and Castiel had no point in the show after S4 other than gratuitous fanservice to what is easily the worst subsection of the Supernatural fandom (and that is SAYING something, that fandom is pretty awful in general).

        September 13, 2013
        |Reply
        • Terrence
          Terrence

          Castiel is a fantastic character and a breath of fresh air in a stagnant premise; it isn’t Misha’s fault that he is forced to perform poorly written stories as producers (and reductive fans) try to elbow him out and diminish the show (though I guess they succeeded in dragging it on past five).

          November 13, 2014
          |Reply
  9. Lani
    Lani

    Capitol’s for places and capital is aces!

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Lani
      Lani

      Hmm. That really only works if you’re only using “capital” in the Britishy sense…

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
  10. mverlaine
    mverlaine

    Oh, Spike and Dru. They are the reason I own the season. Every interaction is just golden. And Spike and Buffy play off each other so well, I find it hard to believe the writers really wanted to kill Spike off early.

    And you’re right- this episode makes no sense in the light of Joyce not knowing her daughter’s a vampire slayer. I can’t believe it never occurred to me before. Joyce sees this sort of shit and still does… what she does at the end of the season? Ugghhh.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  11. sariala
    sariala

    CapitAl is for letters, of which A is the first. That’s how I’ve always remembered it.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  12. annstarrr
    annstarrr

    Oh sweet jeebus. You reminded me how rad overalls are, so I did a Google Shopping search. Overalls are kind of back… in skinny jean form. They’ve taken overalls and made them uncomfortable. We are at end times.

    See: http://bit.ly/1577Uef or http://bit.ly/1bQMZxC

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth

      Those are the anti-overalls. Can a person even bend in those things?

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
      • D
        D

        omg i want those so bad!

        October 26, 2013
        |Reply
  13. Finally, another Buffy. Thanks. I’m watching season 4 now and Spike is every episode and I really like him – the british English, jokes… that’s my boy. That’s how it’s done.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Reenie
      Reenie

      His English accent is pretty good. I was quite surprised when I first learned he was American.

      August 20, 2013
      |Reply
      • Wow really?! He is truly awesome!

        August 21, 2013
        |Reply
  14. Reenie
    Reenie

    Jenny, I have a proposition for you. I have in my possession a Spike doll (with duster jacket, several weapons, and his own little mound of graveyard, complete with cross headstone). He isn’t in his box, so not a collectors item any more, but he’s in good condition. I would gladly trade him for a copy of ‘The Girlfriend’. Think of the fun you could have with little Spike!

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  15. I always retconned the sire thing as Spike looking to Angel as his real sire because Drusilla was too out of it to be a good one. Or maybe the show did that and I’m misremembering that as my own thought.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Emily
      Emily

      I think that’s what he meant, too.

      SPOILERS

      In some flashbacks from season 5 BtVS and (I think) seasons 2 and 5 Angel you see Angelus teaching Spike how to vampire. Drusilla sort of got bored after she sired him, until they got together after he killed the Chinese slayer.

      Speaking of her, I always thought that Spike says she died begging for her life just to mess with Buffy. Voldemort says the same thing to Harry Potter about his parents, it’s just that in this case, Buffy doesn’t know her big bad’s lying.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      I think Spike says something like that in one episode (mayin Angel rather than BtVS). Like Angel was his mentor as a vampire sort of thing.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
  16. My thirteen year old daughter loves overalls. We found a bunch of them at a garage sale. I am pretty sure they are left over from the 90’s. Now she is always on the look out for more. People give her tons of attention in them. She is hoping they come back as well. Except farm bibs at the local implement store you just can’t find them. They have the white painter bibs there, I think I will get her a pair for her birthday. They also have the stripped overalls my grandpa always wore and reminds me of train conductors.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  17. Did you ever notice that Buffy only wears overalls when she’s depressed / upset about her current situation? Like in this episode, and at the very end of season 2, for example.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
    • Emily
      Emily

      Ooh, good spot! She also wears them in Helpless when she goes off to fight Kralik.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Anonymous
        Anonymous

        and in Ted (if that’s what the episode’s called) when she thinks she’s killed a person.

        August 21, 2013
        |Reply
    • Laina
      Laina

      Actually yes XD Overalls are apparently comfort clothing.

      Also curly/wavy (like super-crimped, not just loose curls) usually mean that Buffy isn’t herself.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Raging Brainer
        Raging Brainer

        The hair thing is common in so many other shows as well. For some reason curly hair means a girl is crazy, promiscuous, and odd. But straight hair means that they are innocent , normal, and sane. I love leaving my hair crazy curly sometimes and spend the whole day giggling about it because I find it funny. So I suppose the crazy thing is accurate (I find myself a lot funnier than everyone else does..lol.).

        Also, overalls where my jam! I would put a tube top and a pair of super baggy overalls on during the summer and I kept cooler than if I had been wearing a pair of shorts. I realize I’m probably too old to wear that outfit but if I find a pair I’m going to do it.

        December 27, 2014
        |Reply
  18. Betty
    Betty

    OMG I loved Drusilla. She was funny and quirky and sexy and weird and all those good things a “bad guy” should be. Very Spike-worthy. I also loved the fact that the actress who played her, Juliet Landau, is the daughter of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. And she looks like both of them. For those of you old enough, ML and BB were in the original “Mission Impossible” TV series.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  19. Kelsey
    Kelsey

    That first paragraph after the disclaimer. Was poetic. It brought a tear to my eye. Of course we love Spike, despite ourselves.

    Now to go actually read the recap.

    August 20, 2013
    |Reply
  20. Kelsey
    Kelsey

    “Spike calls Angel his sire, an intentional misdirection to make fans believe that Angel was the vampire who sired him. When Spike uses sire he also mentions “Yoda”, indicating that he thought of Angel has his mentor – the father-figure who taught him after he became a vampire. In interviews Joss Whedon has stated that a ‘sire’ can mean any vampire ancestor. So Spike can consider Drusilla, Angel, Darla, and the Master to all be his sires, even though he was sired by Dru.”

    Sounds more like “Oh shit! A continuity error! Explain it away fast!”, but meh. Take from it what you will.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      That’s how I understood the sire line as well. The Master sired Darla who sired Angel who sired Dru who sired Spike, so Spike could call the Master his sire… or Darla and so on. It’s a bloodline thing.

      August 22, 2013
      |Reply
  21. TellCosy
    TellCosy

    Capital letters are very tall and Capitol cities take a real toll. Or something like that. Anyway, it’s been forever since I’ve commented, but I’ve loved every recap and your recent books! You’re constantly an inspiration for me to write better, and I can’t help but remember things you’ve written as I beta. So thanks!

    PS I always found season six to be incredibly dream-like with all its strange plot devices. Maybe it’s just me.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
  22. Suzy
    Suzy

    Overalls- I got mine at the thrift store. I have two pair, long pant and shorts. I wear them when I garden and when I’m helping my dad on the farm (They makes me feel super authentic when I farm!). They are a bit hard to find. You have to check a lot. Fortunatly for me, I’ve got about 10 thrift stores near me.

    I’ll tell you something else that is hard to find but the best ever. Amish hats. You can find them in tractor supply stores, but pretty much only near Amish communities. They are the best hats ever for hot and sunny weather! The Amish know how to be comfortable!

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
  23. ASOS has tonnes of overalls (including in plus sizes), they just call them “dungarees” because they’re charmingly english. There’s even a cute overall mini dress! Here ya go! http://www.asos.com/au/search/dungarees-curve?hrd=1&q=dungarees+curve

    I learned the principal is your pal thing from The Baby Sitters Club and I’ve never forgotten it either! Maybe more kids’ and tween books should have spelling advice in them.

    Yeah, only the baddies and the morally ambiguous or foolish harlots smoke as far as I can remember. Except that kind of backfires when the directors make smoking look cool on characters like Spike and Angelus. Like that scene in season two where Angel(us) vamps out and bites the woman in the alley (see point above re foolish harlots *eyeroll*) and then exhales the smoke from her cigarette. You can’t tell me that isn’t supposed to be cool. Buffy definitely has a bit of a “bad boys are sexy” vibe even though I agree with you about #1 – Angelus, Spike, Ripper!Giles, even Xander in the hyena episode. Even though all of these characters except Ripper are either rapists or would-be rapists, they are played as sexy. It’s a bit weird.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Oh, and there’s a “bad girls are sexy” vibe too – look at Drusilla, Faith, Vamp!Willow and PTSD Buffy in the first episode of season two – but for all of them except Dru it ends badly for them.

      August 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Stella
        Stella

        Bad girls are sexy…or sexy girls are bad. (#1!)

        August 22, 2013
        |Reply
  24. Alexis
    Alexis

    I haven’t even finished reading this because I was so excited to say that I’m literally listening to “Ecstasy” by Rusted Root right now and it was just too weird that you mentioned them in this recap. Anyway.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
  25. Spike and Drusilla are my BtVS OTP. And season five infuriated me. Dru was so perfectly creepy and beautiful and maybe it’s just this thing I have for brunettes… To me, Buffy/Spike was a wreck. Not even a train wreck where you know something is horrible but can’t look away—the kind of wreck that ruins everything and you don’t look at it once you’ve seen it because it was that bad. That’s right. If I do a Big Damn Buffy Rewatch, I always stop the show at the end of season four. Because I don’t want to see that nonsense again.

    I love James Marsters as Spike. And this episode made it easy to love the villain (to me) because he was shown as caring with Drusilla, humorous during his fight with Buffy, and smart by throwing the stupid Anointed One in a cage and dragging him up into the sunlight. He did what I thought someone should have done in the first place—take control back from the evil little kid. And he could simply because he was bigger and smarter.

    You’re so right. They really should have focused more on the whole feast thing during this episode. It was given such a setup and then just pulled away like Lucy with the football. Somewhere out there, someone has written a fanfic where Spike takes over from the start, does that little test on Buffy to see her fighting skills, and then BOOM. Havoc on the night of the feast where he almost kills Buffy, but Dru says something about needing her to bring back his sire.

    Or something.

    Because Spike is all about making Dru happy.

    But, no. We get school shenanigans, lemonade without sugar, and what’s-her-face the Plot Hole Vampire. I wanted my lemonade perfectly done—not too sweet, not too tart—and what I got was lemonade without sugar.

    Wow. That was one hell of a rant. Sorry about that.

    Now, to calm down, I’m going to take that screencap of the “welcome to Sunnydale” sign and recreate the graphic in Illustrator. For T-shirts.

    And I’m gonna go read some old Dru/Spike stuff.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
  26. Heidi
    Heidi

    CapitOl building has a dOme, the state capitAl is on the mAp.

    And now I want overalls! They look so comfy.

    August 21, 2013
    |Reply
  27. RevoltInNeon
    RevoltInNeon

    I AM JUST SO HAPPY WE ARE FINALLY AT SPIKE OK.
    Dru too. ilu Dru.

    BUT SPIKE! (◕‿◕✿)

    August 22, 2013
    |Reply
  28. Stella
    Stella

    So here’s my favourite Juliet Landau fact: she voiced the Little Sisters in Bioshock.

    I didn’t even recognise her voice the first time I played it.

    August 22, 2013
    |Reply
    • mverlaine
      mverlaine

      !! That’s amazing.

      August 23, 2013
      |Reply
  29. Kyli
    Kyli

    Oh god, I’m so happy that other people love Spike. My husband and I watched the whole series over the summer and he just laughed at my crush on Spike. I was crushing so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever fangirled so hard for a TV character before. 🙂 I wasn’t a big fan of Spuffy, though. I loved the sexual tension between them, but Buffy was such a bitch to him and kept breaking his heart. Buffy didn’t deserve his love. 🙁 Lol!

    August 22, 2013
    |Reply
  30. <3 Spike! I even went to go see James Marsters in his band (http://gotrmusic.com/home) when they toured. I pretended I was living in a fanfic in which Spike had started a band. It was rad.

    August 22, 2013
    |Reply
  31. Totally off topic, but James Marsters and Anthony Head were both on Warehouse 13 recently. I told my husband “it’s a mini Buffy reunion!” and he looked at me like I was crazy. Also, I could listen to Anthony Head speak German for a loooong time.

    August 23, 2013
    |Reply
  32. nyre
    nyre

    I always see overalls at the thrift store and they are always size 18 and up. I am always super bummed because I have been looking for a pair for a long time and never seem to find them in my size.

    August 23, 2013
    |Reply
  33. The-Great-Dragon
    The-Great-Dragon

    (SPOILERS IN MY COMMENT)
    Drusilla is phenomenal. She’s one of my favourite characters of all time, not just in BTVS, but in general. She was so interesting.
    I have to say, as far as Spike is concerned, I really enjoyed him in Season 2, but I didn’t much care for his return. He was fun as a villain, but I didn’t like what they did with him later (he got really pathetic after Dru left him and I didn’t understand his infatuation with Buffy? It didn’t make much sense to me.) I don’t know. A lot of people love Spike and I feel like I’m missing something because I could never really get into him – at least, not after his original story arc. And I tried, because he’s so popular, but he’s just not that interesting or engaging to me.
    And I really don’t understand why anyone would sympathize with him? It reminds me of how people in the Hannibal fandom seem so surprised when it turns out Hannibal, the serial killing cannibal, is evil.
    I don’t know. That’s just me.

    August 24, 2013
    |Reply
  34. Oh, Spike. How you set my little adolescent heart aflutter all those years ago. And cemented my love for bad boys long before I realized that they aren’t secretly softies underneath.

    I have to admit that while I loved Spike, I hated the Spuffy ship. Hate hate hated it. I felt like it totally derailed two characters who were interesting in their own rights. And I especially hated that Spike attempted to (spoilers) rape Buffy in that one episode, and they still ended up with a relationship afterwards. It made me feel dirty inside. And I absolutely loved the path his character had been taking until that point. Sure, he was still spitting one liners and rocking that awesome coat, but all I could ever think after that was, “I just watched my favorite character try to rape a woman and I feel conflicted about rooting for him now.”

    As for the “Angel is my sire” thing, I seem to recall them mentioning in another episode that while Dru is his official sire, Angelus was the one who taught him the finer points of being a vampire and was responsible for a lot of the training involved (“Dru made me a vampire, but *you* made me a monster.”). So to me, it always seemed like Spike was calling Angel his “Dad” in the same way that you can attach father-like significance to male relatives or figures who treat you better than your actual father does. Ass pull? Possibly. But I bough it anyway.

    One final note, this time on Dru. Did anyone else watch the Harry Potter films with Bellatrix and instantly substitute Dru’s actress? Honestly, the woman does creepy, probably unhinged psychopath so well that I would have loved to have seen her dueling Molly Weasley.

    August 24, 2013
    |Reply
  35. Benne
    Benne

    Oh Spike…and Dru.. and innuendoes of Spuffy… all those things that still make me weak and the knees and tingly in the pants.
    The Spike not killing/ hurting Joyce thing does fit perfectly with his (SPOILER) later mummy issues.

    August 27, 2013
    |Reply
  36. Erk. I really, really love your recaps, buuuut… “torture makes you unrealistically crazy, also evil” IS HUGELY ABLEIST, and I’m kind of offended you aren’t all-out “Drusilla is written irresponsibly and in a horribly ableist and infantilizing manner” from the getgo. Like, there’s really no such thing as an “almost” -ism. I can tell that because you love the character and her Claudia-esque Weird, you don’t WANT her to be ableist – but she is. No almost. She’s played up in classic Whedon “pants-on-head”, vulnerable waify brunette crazy manner, with classic Whedon ableist insensitivity. It just. No. lskdhalkdhalkshla

    I think this is the first time you’ve skipped a beat.

    The rest of it was wonderful, I think I read every single one of the things in this series today and it’s 3 am now. I’m really loving them – everyone I know loves Buffy, and I really don’t and I kind of hate Whedon, and I was really :/ about reading these when a Buffy-loving friends recced them to me, but even though you love the show, you pull ZERO PUNCHES (okay – except the one above. that really bothers me. I was looking forward to seeing you talk about how effed up Drusilla’s ~waify Ophelia madness~ was and….). It’s actually making me REALLY WANT to rewatch the show with the hope that, if you love it but hate all the same ish as me, I will be able to compartmentalize stuff i sorta liked and stuff i hate enough to like the show. You update these at a leisurely enough pace that I think I will be able to contemplate it before I make a decision.

    September 3, 2013
    |Reply
  37. Red31
    Red31

    “In her room, Buffy is lamenting the poor efficacy of her “cream rinse,” a term for hair conditioner I haven’t heard since, well, the 1990′s. Was that a marketing term? Why don’t you see it anymore?”

    I laughed so damn hard. You know why. Search it on the ol’ interweb and I’m sure a bunch of fetish porn pops up with titles like “Slutty slut gets a cream rinse while being extra slutty”, and “blonde streetwalker likes her rinses end creamy” and an old ad for Suave conditioner on the very last page.

    September 24, 2013
    |Reply
  38. TokenOfficeGoth
    TokenOfficeGoth

    *Major, major spoilers*

    Okay, no lie Spike was pretty much my biggest fangirl crush of life. I’m sort of furious about where they took his story arc in 6 (and some of 5) because he always seemed capable of SO MUCH DECENCY even without a soul. Whereas souless Angel is an utter monster and a soul is forced upon him as a punishment, souless Spike is capable of actual, real love and altruism, then he seeks out a soul as an ultimate step towards being a better person. I’m shocked how anyone can prefer Angel at all.

    That said: Giles spends the entire rest of the series decrying how awful Spike is EVEN THOUGH we find out like 3 episodes later that Rupert “Ripper” Giles was actually a reformed punk kid still capable of terrible acts of violence and darkness–the two are pretty much EXACTLY ALIKE (so much for the bumbling old watcher thing, that’s just played for convenience).

    Giles hating Angel I get, Angel’s actually just a villain reigned in by artificial constraints who will turn on Buff the moment they bump uglies–heartbreak inevitable. Giles hating Riley I get, Riley lies to the group and to Buffy pretty much constantly, even after he stops running with the Initiative, plus he puts his own bruised ego ahead of Buffy’s independence or well being. Giles hating Spike I just don’t get, wouldn’t he relate to his attempts at self-improvement? If the two had met when Giles was younger I’m pretty sure they would have gotten along like a house on fire…. Sooo chalk that one up to #2?

    October 22, 2013
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  39. Lara
    Lara

    “Spike and another vampire use metal tubing of some kind that is just laying around, I guess it’s from the wreck they made of the windows and tables when they came …”

    I think it was actually one of those poles one uses to open tall windows, often found in schools.

    December 7, 2013
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  40. mlm
    mlm

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    February 5, 2014
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  41. DonnaF
    DonnaF

    I just re-watched this episode and realized that James Marsters’ British accent got a lot better as the series progressed.

    April 8, 2014
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  42. Terrence
    Terrence

    I personally think your initial analysis list is too small minded. It does not utilize context within the show but sees cultural tropes and assumes their active use rather than exploring if they are being satirized or discussed – ie You say Buffy valuing Angel’s behavior over enemy movements is anti-feminist but it is actually an effect of normalized violence. The old ‘tying a tie at a funeral’ Palanuik explanation for petty human interests over the greater good (because we often just can’t care anymore). This crazy is old hat to her at this point, what is closer and more important to her as a person is the commitment of this person who she wants to be her partner.
    She is a girl in high-school, a girl who has character flaws in the ‘possessive’ area, who has an absent father; this is one of those ugly but relatable instances of her character and the microcosm of human perspective. It is not anti-feminist. In fact, many of her instances of growth or difficulty label her, under your analysis, as anti-feminist, when feminism itself is about not defining women as this or that. What feminism is, is seeing her as a person, who has a ton of issues and a ton of strengths, all part of her biological, social and individual person, not just as a trope. A legendary fighter, who is unthanked and unloved by society, who takes out her frustrations on the shopping mall. She is a full fledged person, not the embodiment of all intersectional feminist ideals in one body, but this makes her no less detrimental and important.

    Btw no idea why you equate anti-smoking with feminism when lung cancer is the second biggest killer of women in the US.

    November 13, 2014
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  43. Raging Brainer
    Raging Brainer

    If you to amazon you can find overalls. I usually just buy men’s because they seem to be made looser these days. All the women’s are tighter.

    December 27, 2014
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  44. He lights a cigarette, so we know he’s evil, so #6.

    ^ …did you mean 16? Because Spike lighting a cig doesn’t seem antifeminist to me o.o

    April 18, 2015
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  45. Anon123
    Anon123

    You are so right about overalls. Those things saved my ass when I was 14 and had my appendix out, because every freaking waistband I owned went right across the wounds (that for some reason were only taped shut, not stitched or stapled). I wore overalls and short overalls all summer, and when have short overalls even existed besides the 90s? If this had happened today, I would have been forced to wear my one hated dress over and over every day. Let’s hear it for the 90s!

    April 25, 2015
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  46. Anon123
    Anon123

    I’m a double-comment asshole again, but I was trying to find my place again and wound up rereading the part about no one laughing at Buffy’s jokes. This is actually #6 in action. (I follow the Savage Lovecast and there was a multiple-episode-long arc about this, so that’s pretty much the same as me having a PhD in feminism.) The thing where guys have a monopoly on humor is just another way to silence women’s voices.

    (Fun related facts: The reason people don’t like hanging around depressed people isn’t that depressed people are more “negative” than average–they aren’t–it’s that depressed people give fewer subtle cues of paying attention, like eye contact and “mm-hm”ing. People fundamentally *need* responsive cues to feel comfortable speaking in a conversation, which is why the consistent not-laughing-at-women’s-jokes thing is a way of shutting women down.

    The other related fun factoid is that some researchers think eye-rolling is actually a sign of disgust. Supposedly the likelihood of a marriage lasting can be determined in part by counting up how often couples roll their eyes at each other in videos of conversations they have early on. So Giles isn’t saying, “I find you funny but I’m not a laughing kind of guy;” he’s saying, “I’m disgusted by your attempts to be humorous.” (But given this show exists in a world of #6, I imagine his bad attitude toward her is actually really evidence of #2.))

    April 25, 2015
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  47. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    “Let’s really think this strategy through, Snyder. You think Buffy is a dangerous fuck up. You know this other kid stabbed somebody. You’re giving them this job why? Because he wants the girls to mess up, so he can expel them. But here’s the thing… he could have expelled alternateen for stabbing a teacher, right? Buffy hasn’t really done anything expulsion worthy yet, except maybe killing a vampire and wrecking up the library doing it.”

    He’s trying to kill two birds with one stone. Sheila stabbing a teenager is obvious grounds for expulsion but that still leaves him with Buffy and he doesn’t have the patience to wait for her to do something bad that will give him cause to kick her out. I mean it did take an entire season before she got involved in a murder investigation that was quite scandalous for the school.

    “Willow and Cordelia’s storyline in the closet was pointless”

    Not if you assume Willow being stuck in a confined space with a girl is foreshadowing. 😉

    “That’s right. His sire. The single biggest continuity error in all of BtVS.”

    I can get the logic of this retcon even if it is a continuity error. If you look at Spike and Angel’s interactions after this episode it’s quite clear the two can’t stand each other. Angelus wouldn’t turn someone he hates so much into a vampire, so Dru being Spike’s sire makes more sense.

    September 6, 2017
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