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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E05 “Reptile Boy”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will have a powerful craving for Hostess fruit pies. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.

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. 

In a season dominated by clever episode titles (“Reptile Boy” coming on the heels of “Inca Mummy Girl?” Don’t strain yourselves, guys), this story always stood out to me as one of my very favorites. But here’s a catch… I haven’t seen it in a while. I did a massive series rewatch last year while I worked on Christmas presents, but I had to go to the hardware store in the middle of “Inca Mummy Girl” and I figured it would just keep playing while I was gone and I’d be back in a jiffy. But then I started talking to the guy at the hardware store about false flag operations, and I came back here and I’d already missed “Reptile Boy.” And I didn’t back up, because I don’t look back. I keep my eyes on the future.

So, I’m excited to see how this episode goes for me.

The episode hits #17 out of the park before the opening credits, as Buffy, Xander, and Willow are all sitting around watching a Bollywood movie and mocking the non-Americanness of it. Well, except for Willow. Willow is pretty into it. Buffy is happy that they have nothing to do but sit around, because that means there are no demons running amok.

Okay, it’s October, I said “amok.” Take a moment, do your Sara Sanderson impression, and we’ll continue like dignified adults.

So, Buffy says things are all okay, which on this show is the red flag that nothing is okay. We cut to the one mansion in Sunnydale:

mansion

Seriously, they’re always going to these damn mansions, and I swear it’s the same one over and over from different angles.

Anyway, ominous music, and a girl jumps from a second story window. She is pursued across the lawn, through the woods, and through a cemetery before she is captured by a guy who looks like a young Jaime Lannister.

Except he has both hands.
Except he has both hands.

He tells the terrified girl that the fun is just getting started, and the hooded figures drag her away.

After the opening credits, we’re at Sunnydale High, where Cordelia is working on her fake laugh to impress guys (that’s not me cracking on Cordelia, that’s just what she happens to be doing in the scene) and Buffy is telling Willow about her third consecutive night of Angel sex dreams. Buffy laments the fact that though she and Angel are perfect for one another, they can never be together, because she’s a human and the Slayer, and he’s a vampire.

Back up.

Buffy/Angel aren’t my ship, but I understand why people dig it. It’s canon. Buffy and Angel are true loves forever, like Romeo and Juliet and Buttercup and Westley. But I guess the question I have is… why? Why are we believing that they’re in love? Angel is an impenetrable wall of gloom. At this point in the show, we barely see them spending any time together. When they are together, all they talk about is the fact that they can’t be together. They don’t see to do anything fun or have any interests in common, and while one could argue that they’re in love because they have that Sam/Diane banter, that would make me ship Cordy/Buffy before I’d ship Buffy/Angel, because their Sam/Diane banter is better. What I’m saying here is, I don’t see the great chemistry between Angel and Buffy that everybody else seems to see.

Also, can we talk about Buffy’s outfit here? I understand the see-through top/colored bra dynamic going on. What I don’t get is why she’s wearing a bra that makes it appear as though she dipped her tits in coffee on the way in to school. This is a look I try to avoid in real life, because when you have a large chest, dipping it in things is inevitable.

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Xander catches up with Buffy and Willow just in time to start cracking on Cordy for being a slut, and for Cordy to crack on Xander for being too poor. Xander and Cordy, by the way, aren’t doing the Sam/Diane. They’re doing the Sam/Rebecca.

Buffy mentions that she’s supposed to have met Giles in the library, but that he won’t mind, because she’s only ten minutes late and there haven’t been any demons lately. Cut to Giles being absolutely furious with Buffy for being irresponsible and getting lazy during their downtime.  Giles tries to sneak attack Buffy to show her how rusty skipping training has made her, and this of course doesn’t end well for him because Buffy gets his arm all twisted behind his back in like five seconds. Nevertheless, Giles tells Buffy that she’s going to start spending more time on training, because Hellmouth and all that. And then Buffy makes this face at him:

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But he insists it won’t work, and her pouting will not sway him. But he can’t really look at her, either. Methinks the librarian doth protest too much. #2

Outside of school at the end of the day, Willow and Xander find Buffy intentionally “dawdling” to stick it to Giles and his stupid Watcher rules. A black BMW pulls up, and it’s Cordelia’s boyfriend, Richard, who is also the hooded guy from before the credits. He’s there with his pal, who stares openly at Buffy. When the guys invite Cordelia to a party, they ask about Buffy, and Cordy is quick to pretend that she and Buffy are “like sisters.” The guys ask for an introduction, and Cordelia reluctantly approaches the Scoobies on the steps.

Xander:  “Okay, so, tonight, channel fifty-nine, Indian TV, sex, lies and incomprehensible story lines? I’ll bring the betel nuts.”

First of all, in Hindi, they’re called kasaili, and second, why is getting together to mock other cultures a fun thing to do in this town? They just had a freakin’ dance about that very theme in the last episode. #17

Cordelia drags Buffy over to the Beamer, despite Buffy’s insistence that she doesn’t want to meet frat boys. And I can see why. This guy’s opener is “Hi, sweetheart.” Gross, Richard. Actually, I’m gonna call you Dick now. Dick’s friend apologizes for Dick’s bad behavior. Dick’s friend’s name is Tom, and he’s nothing like Dick. He’s nice and polite to Buffy, and even seems a bit flustered to be talking to her. Tom is a senior in college, and Buffy is a junior in high school, and why does that seem somehow creepy to me? I dated college guys when I was in high school. Maybe because my four year old daughter is going as a Monster High character for Halloween and she’s asked for makeup for her birthday, and I can’t deal with the fact that someday she’s going to grow up and you know what? SHE IS NEVER EVER HANGING OUT WITH HER HOT LIBRARIAN. EVER.

I kind of got off topic there, sorry. But seriously guys, she’s like four going on fourteen and I just can’t handle this. I’m Tony Danza in She’s Out of Control, except for way, way less concerned about her sex life.

Tom tells Buffy that the only reason he’s in the frat is because his dad and his grandpa did it, too. Which hits Buffy right in the Slayer spleen; after all, she’s duty bound to do shit she doesn’t want to do, too. Tom asks Buffy if she’d like to come to the party with Cordelia, and she turns him down because she’s “sort of involved.” This entire exchange takes place with interjected jealous Xander dialogue, just to remind us that no one, and I mean no one, deserves that sweet, sweet Slayer V but Xander. Giles comes outside and yells at Buffy and points at his watch, and Buffy has to go, but you can tell she’s slightly disappointed at having to turn down Tom. Xander gives us a good preview of his “I hate college guys” attitude we’ll see more of in season four, then it’s cut to the library.

Giles comes at Buffy with a quarterstaff and a short sword, and he warns her that he won’t pull any punches. This training session, of course, ends up with a winded Giles on the table where he landed. This is a thematic joke that I wish never burns out, but it will. We’ll start to see less and less of “Giles gets his ass kicked training Buffy” beginning after the season 3 episode “Helpless.” I can see why they took a break from it, in light of what happens in that episode, but it could have come back. *sobs helplessly* It was a good joke! It could have come back!

Out patrolling that night, Buffy finds a piece of jewelry. She’s examining it when Angel pops up and says, “There’s blood on it.” Swoon. Enough with the sweet talk, Angel. He goes on to tell her that he can smell the blood on it. Again, I say unto you guys, why was Buffy supposed to be into him? She hates vamps, she thinks blood stuff is super gross. Yeah, he’s an okay looking guy, but seriously? Buffy mentions that it would be nice to see Angel when it wasn’t a blood-related late night cemetery meet-up and what follows is the most awkward conversation in the history of television lovers:

Angel: “What are you saying, you want a date?”

Buffy: “No.”

Angel: “You don’t want a date.”

Buffy: “Who said ‘date?’ I-I-I never said ‘date’.”

Angel: “Right, you just want to have coffee or something.”

Buffy: “Coffee?”

Angel: “I knew this was gonna happen.”

Really, Angel? You “knew” someone was going to fall in love with you? Why? Because of your sparkling personality? The fact that you’re impossible to contact because you prefer to live your life like a fucking stalker superhero? He just “knew” that Buffy would fall in love with him, and he goes on to say that she’s too young for him– okay, yeah, let’s touch on this one for a second. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, people have gotten younger. That is, when I was twenty-two, I wouldn’t look at a seventeen year old and think, “My god, that person is so YOUNG.” But now that I’m in my thirties, I see a seventeen year old and I’m like, “My god, that person is so YOUNG.” And then my hands kind of drift away from my body, my fingers turning all seaweed like as I reach toward them, and I end up being asked to please leave Forever 21 because I’m randomly stroking girls’ hair and trying to absorb their vitality.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, I don’t get why we’re not as weirded out, collectively by Buffy and Angel as we are about Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchison. And if you don’t know who those people aren’t, just don’t google them and live your life in peace.

Anyway, Angel is on this whole, I-knew-you’d-fall-in-love-with-me-but-we-can’t-be-together-because-I’m-50-shades-of-fucked-up routine and Buffy is buying it like Ana Steele buys nothing because he’ll buy it for her and we need to take a moment here.

You guys. You guys.

I hate to do this. But I have to revise #9.

#9: Angel is a dick Chedward.

He’s dark, he’s brooding about his past, he does whatever he can to throw himself into Buffy’s path, only so he can reject her later. He’s Chedward in the beginning of the first book.

The next day at school, Cordelia hits up Buffy at the end of class:

Cordelia: “Buffy! Did you lose weight? And your hair… all right, I respect you too much to be dishonest.”

Never change, Cordelia. No, I mean it. Because you do change and it sucks.

Cordy wants Buffy to go to a frat party with her, so she can hang out with Dick some more. See, Cordy can’t go unless she brings a friend, to keep the “ratio” up. In other words, frats are fucking disgusting. Cordelia absolutely has to go to the party so that she can secure her Mrs. degree by landing a rich frat guy. With a haunted look that we know came from her conversation with Angel, Buffy agrees to go to the frat party.

Back at rush week, the guys are all in hooded robes, and Dick is holding a sword to the throat of a pledge. I’ve never been in a fraternity, but this is basically how rush goes down at every single Hollywood frat, ever, so I’m not raising an eyebrow. Except for the part of the oath they’re making the guy take, talking about Machida, whom they serve.

So… that’s probably not great.

Did I mention they were in a dungeon, and they have a young girl chained to the wall? Because that is also happening.

At school, Buffy tells Willow that she decided to go to the frat party because of Angel, which Willow misinterprets as Angel going to the party with Buffy. When Buffy explains that she’s going with Cordelia, Willow is jealous, and Xander says:

Xander: “Cordelia is much better for you than Angel!”

I know, right?!

Buffy reads off her litany of complaints against Angel, while Xander agrees nonstop, until he learns about Tom the frat guy. Raise your hand if you’re getting really, really tired of Xander being suspicious of/openly hating any guy Buffy happens to mention.

Back in the library, Giles is making my entire life by having a sword fight with a real sword and a pretend slayer. No, wait. That sounds like a masturbation euphemism, and it’s really not meant to be. What I’m saying is, he’s practicing sword fighting in the most let’s-play-make-believe way possible when Buffy, Willow, and Xander walk into the library and catch him. It’s clear to the viewer that Giles was locked in fantasy combat with the Slayer, probably imagining a training session where he doesn’t get injured, but the point is that when Buffy isn’t there, Giles is pretending Buffy is there. #2.

Eager to change the subject from “Why is a grown man pretending to be a musketeer?” Giles asks Buffy if she found anything on patrol. She shows him the broken jewelry, I’m not sure if it’s a bracelet or an anklet or a necklace or what, but either way, she tells them about Angel finding blood on it, and Xander immediately jumps in to say that Buffy should patrol. Because he’s trying to c-block her from the party. Instead of asserting her right to go to any damn party she chooses– because that tactic hasn’t worked in the past and only seems to give Giles more incentive to keep her from having a social life– she lies and says she has a ton of homework and her mom is sick and also, she’s sick, and Giles is understanding, so Buffy feels like shit for lying.

Cut to the hallway, where we need to pause a second and consider the effectiveness of this poster in Sunnydale High:

poster

In any other high school, that poster would mean, “Not everyone who drives drunk dies; you could live a long time with a ruggedly handsome face covered in interesting scars that only add to your dark and brooding mystery,” which is a shitty message in itself. But since this is Sunnydale, when I saw this poster in the background, I thought the message was, “Not everyone who drives drunk dies; some of them turn into zombies.”

Willow and Xander give Buffy major shit for lying to Giles, and you know, this is an interesting part of their dynamic. Throughout the series, Giles is given a status apart from other adults. Later on in season two, the kids start become very frank about their personal lives with him, sometimes whether he wants them to or not. When all the adults in town decide to go on a witch hunt in season three, it’s Giles who doesn’t react to the hysteria, because he’s on the side of the teens being persecuted. In the season four episode “A New Man,” the characters feel bad when they realize they’ve been leaving him out of important Scoobie revelations. In turn, Giles is open with them about his grief over Jenny (spoiler alert), his doubts about himself as a Watcher, and he’s able to speak to the Scoobies and argue with them without getting overtly parental. It’s such a cool reaction here, to see Willow and Xander both kind of like, “You lied to Giles,” because it reinforces that they think of Giles as one of their rank; if Buffy lies to Giles, it’s the same as if she lied to Willow or Xander, and not at all like if she lied to her mother or Principal Snyder.

Astute viewers will note that these moments of Xander or Buffy or Willow treating Giles like any other adult usually come paired with Giles treating Xander or Buffy or Willow like a child. Which makes this such a cool, realistic dynamic. For all his alleged discomfort with teenagers, Giles actually treats them like people. And despite Willow, Xander, and Buffy having the entrenched teen belief that anyone over twenty-five is some bizarre alien species, they accept Giles into their ranks. The only time this breaks down is if one side dishonors that bond.  Sometimes, to really scary effect, like in season six. Three words: Rank. Arrogant. Amateur.

Still, Buffy isn’t falling for their guilt trip. She’s going to go to this party and have fun.

Cut to:

Cordelia: “This isn’t about fun. This is about duty, your duty to help me achieve permanent prosperity.”

That’s right. Cordy is in this for the rich D that will help her coast into her sixties with a twenty year old face like Kris Jenner did. She’s explaining all the rules of frat party going to Buffy, including tutoring her on fake laughter, when Xander and Willow walk up:

Xander: “So, Cor, are you printing up business cards with your pager number and hours of operation or just going with a halter top tonight?’

#5 Nearly every time Xander cracks on Cordelia, it’s in a slut-shamey way. That’s because to the Nice Guy, a woman is either a positive sex object or a negative sex object, or sex neutral. Buffy is the positive sex object, because she pays attention to him and he’s pretty sure he can wear her down. He’s not interested in Willow, making her sex neutral, and since he suspects Cordelia would never give him the time of day, Cordelia is a negative sex object. It’s almost always her sexuality he criticizes. Not that fact that she’s a vain, shallow, horrible person at this stage of the game. She has plenty of really terrible personality flaws he could exploit for mockery, but he goes for making cracks about her being a prostitute.

You know, the fact that this remark is made in front of Buffy and Willow and they don’t step in to defend Cordelia makes me say #6 as well.

Xander tells Willow that he plans to follow Buffy to the party, to protect her. Which really, okay, that’s not so bad, Xander. If he hadn’t also agreed with Willow’s assessment that he was going to prove that he was just as manly and cool as the frat guys and perhaps also see an orgy, it would have been even more commendable. The thing I find so frustrating about Xander’s character is that at every turn, they make him a Nice Guy, when they have ample opportunity to make him just a nice guy. “Hey, my friend is going to this frat party, she’s lying about where she’s going, I’m gonna go to the party and just hang back and make sure nothing happens to her because I don’t trust frat guys,” okay. Still a little creepy and invasive, but worlds better than going to a frat party in the hopes that something bad will happen so you can be a hero and prove your worth.

At the party, Buffy is having her doubts, and Dick gives her and Cordelia drinks.

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amy p

Because Buffy won’t drink alcohol, Cordelia and Dick mock her and leave her alone, to stand awkwardly at the edge of the party. We see Xander sneaking in– fun aside, the lyrics of the song playing when Xander comes through the window are:

xander0501

You will see why I’m bringing this up in a little bit here.

Xander mills about the party awkwardly, dressed like a on-duty Target employee, and doesn’t spot Buffy standing in the corner. Buffy gives in to temptation and takes a single sip of alcohol, and some random frat guy rushes her like a bull. Another frat guy saves her by asking her to dance, and it turns out it’s the guy from before, Tom. He gives her the old, “You’re so mature for a high school girl” routine to draw her in, while Xander makes himself as conspicuous as possible by cracking stupid Godzilla jokes to impress some college girls. The frat boys decide they’re going to have some fun with Xander, and drag him away, chanting that he’s a new pledge.

Out on the patio, Buffy finds a piece of broken glass, and looks up to see a boarded up window. This is why Giles needs to lighten the fuck up about her training. She can handle this shit. Any other sixteen year old would have been like, “Huh, glass,” before kicking it directly into the lawn before thinking, “Hope no one steps on that.” It’s just how the teen brain works. Buffy, however, thinks, “Broken glass, huh, this is Sunnydale, so probably some monster shit happened and look at that. Broken window.” She appears to be puzzling all this out in her mind when Tom comes back and distracts her. Dick catches up with them to offer them both drinks. Dick wants to toast to some bonds that have just matured, but Tom suggests they toast to maturity. Buffy has a different take on it:

Buffy: “What the hell. I’m tired of being mature.”

Buffy downs her entire drink in one go, to prove how reckless and immature she is.

In the library, Willow and Giles are working overtime trying to figure out what the broken jewelry says, but they only have three letters to go on. Willow remembers that Kent is the name of a prep school outside of town, and that the girls there wear bracelets like the one Buffy found in the cemetery. They discover, via the magic of the internet in 1998, that a girl from Kent is missing… and it’s the girl we saw locked in the dungeon before.

The frat guys put Xander in a wig, lipstick, and a huge padded bra and force him to dance.

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FORESHADOWING

Because he’s so busy playing along, he doesn’t notice that Buffy is supremely fucked up and staggering all over hell. She can’t find Tom, so she heads upstairs. It is at this point that I will note that Sarah Michelle Gellar also ran upstairs in Scream 2, leading to her death (start at 5:07):

Anyway, what we’ve determined here is that when threatened, Slayers move to higher ground. Or something.

Buffy finds an empty room and lays down on the bed, where she passes out. In like, no time at all, Dick is there, and his intent is pretty damn clear when he starts weirdly stroking her collar bones. Tom knows what’s up, too:

Dick: “I wasn’t doing anything!”

Tom: “I saw what you were doing.”

Dick: “I was just having a little fun.”

Tom: “Well, she’s not here for your fun, you pervert.”

Yay Tom!

Tom: “She’s here for the pleasure of the one we serve.”

Boo Tom! That’s a bad Tom!

I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. It’s very clear that they’ve taken the “girls can get raped at parties” scenario and turned it into something more, but at this point in the episode, it’s hard to tell if they’re exploring the theme, or exploiting it.

Tom reminds Dick that “the other one” is also for their master, and the camera pans down to reveal that Cordelia was there, passed out on the floor all along.

Back at the library, Giles is looking fine as hell:

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He and Willow discover there are more missing girls than they thought, and when Giles wants to call Buffy, Willow does some obvious quick lying to cover for her. She tells Giles to call Angel, since they’re going to need all the help they can get, and amazingly, it works and he doesn’t call Buffy, blowing her entire party time ruse.

At the frat, the party is over, and Xander is getting thrown out, giant bra and all. They won’t let him stay to look for Buffy, probably because in the basement, everybody has their robes on again and Buffy and Cordelia are chained to the wall. Tom is getting something inscribed on his back with a sword, too, so this just got freaky. The other missing girl is still there, chained up, and she tells Buffy and Cordelia that Tom is like, basically pure evil, no matter how nice he seemed before. He takes out three rocks and washes them in water from a chalice, and says that Buffy is going to be last. But they don’t know for what, and we cut back to the library.

Angel tells Giles and Willow that Buffy found the bracelet in the cemetery, near the south wall. I like how Sunnydale supposedly has this crazy high number of cemeteries, but they always just say “the” cemetery and everyone knows exactly which cemetery they’re talking about. Anyway, during the conversation, Willow is doing this:

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Giles: “What are you doing?”

Willow: “Oh. Sorry. [to Angel] The reflection thing, that you don’t have… Angel, how do you shave?”

This is one of my very favorite Willow lines. It’s one of the lines that makes me thank God that Alyson Hannigan got the role.  Willow realizes that the area they’re describing is real close to the frat house where Buffy and Cordelia are partying, and she spills all the beans, everywhere. Not just a little bit. When Giles is hurt that Buffy lied to him and Angel is worried about Buffy having a date, Willow goes into outraged Willow overdrive mode:

Willow: “Well, why do you think she went to that party? Because you gave her the brush off! And you never let her do anything except work and patrol, and I know she’s the chosen one, but you’re killing her with the pressure! I mean, she’s sixteen going on forty. And you! I mean, you’re gonna live forever, you don’t have time for a cup of coffee?”

Her rant doesn’t make her feel better, and Giles and Angel look like this:

Somebody just got hit by the truth truck, and Willow was driving.
Somebody just got hit by the truth truck, and Willow was driving.

Outside the frat, Xander has learned a hard truth about life:

Xander: “One day, I’ll have money, prestige, power… and on that day, they’ll still have more.”

He sulks past Cordelia’s car and notices her QUEEN C vanity plate, and realizes that she and Buffy are still in the house.

In the basement, the frat guys are worshipping Machida. The point is that all their “bounty” comes from Machida, and they have to make an offering. The girls are the offering, but it’s not clear what exactly is going to happen to the “offerings.” Machida emerges, and it turns out he’s a giant snake man:

machida

Okay, wait a second. I’m confused by this whole episode. Is this or is this not blatant allegory for frat house gang rape? I mean, the monster looks like a penis. The guys roofied the girls. Again, I can’t tell if this episode is supposed to be a warning or subversion or just a really poor taste gotcha; “Thought they were gonna get raped? GOTCHA!” The reason I can’t tell is because frequently on this show, we get all three of those types of episodes.

The guys are talking about how they have to feed Machida, while outside, Giles, Willow, and Angel run into Xander, who has put on robes he found in the trash. He says he saw everyone wearing robes and heading to the basement, so he planned to sneak inside. Giles realizes there is ritual afoot, and Angel vamps out at the thought of it involving Buffy.

As Machida goes for Cordelia, Buffy taunts him, saying he doesn’t want to eat someone as skinny as Cordy because he’ll just be hungry again later. Excuse me, maybe Machida is watching his cholesterol and only going for lean meats. You don’t know his life, Buffy.  Anyway, Tom is all pissed off because a woman spoke to Machida– I like that they’re keeping with the sexist culture around frats by having even their pet penis monster be a total misogynist– and clocks her, warning that if she speaks again, he’ll cut her throat. Maybe Machida doesn’t like having his meat cut for him, Tom. You guys need to stop being the food police here.

Xander comes to the door and pretends he’s one of the basement Jawas who got locked out. When he opens the door, he punches out the Frankenstein who charged Buffy earlier, then Angel runs in. Now, wait a gosh darn minute. When the guy opened the door, only Xander was standing there, and the guy told Xander to “come on.” How did Angel get in? Wouldn’t he need an invitation? Would “Come on,” directed at someone else actually work to extend the invitation to him? Should I be more careful when calling my dogs into the house at night?

Downstairs, the basement Jawas unchain Cordelia and are about to feed her to Machida when Buffy gets loose and takes on all the dudes, and Tom (who has a sword) and Machida at the same time. Upstairs, Angel and Xander and Giles beat up some guys while Willow finds where Buffy is. Willow is like, come on guys, stop having so much fun beating up everybody because Buffy is going to fucking die already, and they run into the basement. Machida is about to bite into Cordelia with his teensy mouth– seriously, being eaten by a Machida has got to be the slowest and stupidest death ever– when Buffy throws Tom into a table, takes his sword, and pauses to make a quip before slicing into Machida’s midsection. So speed attacks are not really Machida’s speciality here.

Cordelia is a wreck. She stumbles toward Buffy, thanking her for saving them, then lurches into Angel’s arms, revealing that her praise was all for him despite Buffy handling everything just fine. Then Cordy tells the Scoobies she hates them because weird stuff always happens when they’re around. Then she sees Tom, grabs him by his stupid choir robes and says:

Cordelia: “And you! You’re going to jail for fifteen thousand years!”

So glad Cordy is never going to be a judge, but so happy she is just exactly who she is.

The rest of the gang wrangle Tom upstairs, leaving Buffy to face Giles knowing that she’s totally busted:

Buffy: “I told one lie. I had one drink.”

Giles: “Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words ‘let that be a lesson’ are a tad redundant at this juncture.”

Buffy: “I’m sorry.”

Giles: “So am I. I… I drive you too hard because I know what you have to face. From now on, no more pushing, no more prodding. Just, um… an inordinate amount of nudging.”

With their friendship mended, Giles and Buffy leave the dungeon, and we cut to the Bronze, where Cordelia is treating Jonathon like a servant. So, things are back the way God intended them, and Xander reads from the paper that all the frat guys got consecutive life sentences. So… the courts must work way faster in Sunnydale than they do in the real world. All the businesses run by prominent alums of the frat are failing, too, and since this shit had been going on for fifty years, you’d think this would cause some kind of massive economic collapse. Oh, Buffyverse. You make so little sense.

Willow asks Buffy if she’s heard from Angel, and says that when he got angry at the thought of Buffy being in danger, it was amazing. Which bums me out, because that’s some 50 Shades Darker bullshit right there. I treat you like shit 90% of the time, but that 10% that you’re in danger, raaaawwwwr nobody fuck with her, she’s mine! Gross.

Angel just happens to be in the Bronze (#9) and swings on by just as Willow is talking him up.  He mentions that the Bronze has coffee, and maybe Buffy would like to get some with him sometime. She says she’ll let him know, and, with a smirk, she walks away.

So, tell me how you see this episode, guys. I didn’t find it as victim blamey as it could have been– Giles even gives Buffy a pass about the whole lying thing, suggesting she didn’t deserve the consequences– but then again, it was just using frat rape as framework for the giant snake. Was this supposed to be a wink/nod to rape culture, or was it trying to highlight it? Overall, I think it’s a solidly written episode, but I find so many things about it potentially troubling… tell me what you think, because I’m totally stumped on this one.

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54 Comments

  1. Michelle
    Michelle

    Holy fuck. I’m high. And I love hostess fruit pies.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Neurite
      Neurite

      This is the best first comment ever.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  2. Lisa Dollar
    Lisa Dollar

    Only just recently having learned about rape culture, I can’t say for sure what they intended. I don’t see it getting a pass but I don’t think they really took it on, either. I think it was just used as background setting actually. This is normalcy. Not necessarily OK normalcy, but still, this is what you expect to happen at a frat party…up until being raped is replaced by being eaten. Then, I think there is no allegory, no more use of the rape culture, no deeper meaning. I think it’s just this frat in Sunnydale is into feeding girls to monsters. That’s it.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • The-Great-Dragon
      The-Great-Dragon

      I’ve known about rape culture for a while and I’m super stumped too. I’m not sure there was any meaning behind it – other than potentially demonizing males who operate in groups (because the whole Jocks = Evil thing this show has going on.) Or because nearly every male outside of Xander, Giles, and Angel are portrayed as evil.

      So I guess the real message here seems to be that when the guys in Buffy’s life mistreat her, it will send her into the arms of other men, who are obvs dangerous.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  3. Laina
    Laina

    MY CHRISTMAS LIST AND YOUR DAUGHTER’S CHRISTMAS LIST IS THE SAME.

    No, um, lol, I really love that Willow scene XD Both of them, really. The shaving line is hilarious and it’s nice when people actually try to take care of Buffy. Not in the “I MUST SAVE HER” way, but in the “hey, you’re not invincible, maybe you need to take a brake now and then”. Also the “I will beat you to death with a shovel if you hurt her” way.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    Maybe the reason Angel could just bust right in is because a frat house isn’t a privately owned property in the same way that an individual’s house is? I don’t actually know the details of greek house ownership, but maybe that could explain it. Since he can easily go into public buildings generally, maybe a frat house falls under that same category. Although generally people can’t just go in frat houses the same way they can a club like the Bronze, for example, so I’m not sure.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Lindsay
      Lindsay

      It seems the whole “only can enter when invited” thing gets forgotten a lot, and then gets remembered at really strange times throughout the series. The weirdest one I remember from later in the season where (SPOILERS) Angel is about to kill Jenny, and she’s like, ahhh, how did you get into this public school??? And he has some dumb line about how anyone who seeks knowledge is invited, but wait a second. Vampires have literally entered this building dozens of times before without any problem like when Spike and his buds broke into student teacher night. So, why did they bring that up randomly?

      October 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Jen
        Jen

        I thought it was that vampire could only enter a private dwelling, aka a house/home/the place you live in, if they got permission permission. A school does not fit that criteria. It is a school, a very public place.

        November 7, 2013
        |Reply
  5. Louise
    Louise

    I did a Sara Sanderson impression and then continued in a slightly more dignified mature manner. The fact you knew some people would do it is amazing and made my day.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Laina
      Laina

      I was seriously doing it in my head the moment I read the word XD *fistbumps*

      October 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Yeah, I did it too. At my desk. At work.

        October 21, 2013
        |Reply
      • Louise
        Louise

        *fistbumps*

        October 21, 2013
        |Reply
  6. Lieju
    Lieju

    I don’t ship Buffy/Angel but I’m not bothered by it for the same reason I’m not bothered by Buffy being forced to fight for her life; it’s fantasy and the show doesn’t portray it just as a positive thing. Especially Angel’s darker side is shown to be an actual threat, not just something vaguely mysterious.

    If Buffy and Angel got their happy ending and the show treated the relationship as perfect, it would bother me.

    This episode it just mediocre to me.
    It doesn’t give me some creepy vibe, but it doesn’t do anything particularly insightful either.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  7. I understand how you get to the “Angel is Chedward” thing, but I have to disagree. Behind all the “I am dark and brooding, rawr” thing that Edward had going on, there was a whole fuckton of “it’s for your own good.” He repeatedly made decisions for Bella without her knowledge or consent because he felt he needed to shield her from the consequences of making grown-up choices. (Christian Grey is a hell of a lot worse, of course, but you’ve had to suffer through that already.)

    Anyway, Angel may be dark and brooding and give off a kind of creepy stalker vibe, but he doesn’t go out and try to solve Buffy’s problems without her consent. The few times he tries to shield her from things, she gives him hell for it and he seems to be genuinely sorry. He respects her as a person and as a fighter, and most of the time when he shows up, it’s to give her information so she can do her job as a slayer.

    October 21, 2013
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    • Sonny
      Sonny

      I don’t mind the “I love, but stay away from me, but I love you!” shtick when the character is a vampire or werewolf or whatever. It actually makes sense because they can’t help being dangerous and would probably be conflicted about it. Christian Grey is infuriating because the only reason he’s a “danger” to Ana is because he chooses to, you know, beat her and stalk her.

      October 21, 2013
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      • Heath
        Heath

        Agreed with both of these. Angel isn’t a shining example of proper male behaviour, but he is NOT Chedward; as much as I love you, Jenny, it kind of annoys me that you’re equating the two. I have always thought that making Angel a vampire with a soul was genius, because though there are few real excuses for being such a moody bitch, “I’m a vampire with a soul lamenting my past crimes” is probably one of them. Your evaluation of Angel would be fair if he was a 27-year-old billionaire, but I don’t think you give him enough credit for the shit he’s going through. Also, he’s originally from, what, the 1700s? The amount of internalized misogyny he lacks given that is actually pretty impressive.
        There has to be something in between “Angel is great” and “Angel sucks and is also Chedward.”

        October 21, 2013
        |Reply
      • SandorClegane13
        SandorClegane13

        THIS. While I tire of the trope regardless, I can at least see eye to eye with it if it involves supernatural reasons or because the “stay away from me” person is in the mafia or something. At least then it makes sense. Chedward is just an abusive shitheel, and I suspect he only pulled that “stay away” crap because he knew Ana would be further intrigued by it.

        October 21, 2013
        |Reply
      • I have to agree. There’s plenty wrong with Angel (he’s 240 and creeping on a 16-year-old girl, plus he is a dick), but not to the extent that there is with Christian.

        October 22, 2013
        |Reply
    • I yield, I yield. Obviously, those books have warped my entire world view.

      I do still blame Buffy/Angel for Bella/Edward and, roundabout, the horror that all became. Maybe I’m seeing the seeds of rotten fruit in this, LOL.

      October 21, 2013
      |Reply
      • Buffy/Angel struck me as the proto Bella/Edward in its superficial qualities (insta-luv, the creepy overtones, etc.) but unlike B/E, the show made it pretty clear why B/A couldn’t last and aren’t a forever OTP. Like all of the things that made B/E ~*sew romantic*~ are the very reasons B/A was ultimately not meant to last.

        B/E is like, what I’d imagine would happen if SMeyer watched Buffy and completely missed the entire point of the B/A romance

        October 22, 2013
        |Reply
      • Maria
        Maria

        Yes Angel is not Chedward in my opionion. Chedward is way worse. But I get why you compare Angel and Chedward. At least both a byronic heros.

        For anyone who is interested there is a list of characteristics of byronic heros on this blog (it´s not mine) and both Angel and Chedward hit some marks there.
        http://kplit.wordpress.com/wuthering-heights/

        October 23, 2013
        |Reply
      • Anon123
        Anon123

        I’m actually with you on this one. I think the only difference between Angel and Chedward is in the quality of the writing. Angel gets the nuance of occasionally respecting Buffy’s right to her own life only because it makes him a more complex, layered character–not because he’s fundamentally morally better than Chedward.

        (I’m totally talking out my ass here, as I’ve watched a negligible amount of Buffy and haven’t braved Twilight yet, but I still believe the redeeming qualities people are attributing to Angel as a character are more about the writing not making him quite so consistently ham-fistedly awful than about him being a decent guy.)

        April 25, 2015
        |Reply
  8. I think this one definitely falls into the “warning” category. It seems to be saying “it’s alright to want to go out and explore your options and have fun sometimes, but be careful who you do it with because frats are evil cults.” It’s kind of disappointing they didn’t try for anything more, but I don’t find what’s there offensive.

    Something I always really liked about Giles getting his butt handed to him by Buffy was how it lulls you into seeing Giles as pretty innocuous, physically, when he’s really a hardcore badass. I remember being so shocked when Giles beat Ethan in the Halloween episode. Even after you find out how badass Giles is, the fact that he’s beaten by Buffy all the time makes the times when he gets dangerous feel even darker and more threatening.
    Also, it gives you a nice transitive idea of how strong Buffy really is.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      IS YOUR NAME AN ALICORN REFERENCE BECAUSE IF YES THEN THAT IS FANTASTIC.

      December 28, 2013
      |Reply
  9. How did you get through this entire recap without mentioning that it sounds like they are going to feed Buffy to a set of power tools?

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      lol

      I thought that the first time I saw this one.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  10. As someone whose roommate is a frat guy, I can confirm that frats are actually really horrible and I can’t deny that they don’t routinely feed girls to dietary-restricted Freudian lizard monsters.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  11. Hicku
    Hicku

    The explanation for the massive economic collapse was apparently that the frat type guys got all of their wealth and power through demon deals with Machida, and when he died, all the supernatural mojo keeping them on top died with him. Good luck became bad luck and all that.

    Which should still have led to the aforementioned massive economic collapse, but Xander would not be the type of guy to notice that.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Alex
      Alex

      I think she was complaining about the lack of an economic collapse that should have been caused by about 20 probably big businesses suddenly going bankrupt.

      October 21, 2013
      |Reply
  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I did the Sara Sanderson impression in my head before you told me to. When you said that I laughed to myself.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  13. This is a most enjoyable peek into the Buffy series. This was so fun to read. Almost as fun as watching the series with my daughter and capping on all of the stuff you mentioned here. I was thinking I was due for a re-watch and after reading this, most definitely! You have given me a whole list of other stuff to look at other the the pure inane escapism of the entire thing. How fun! Thank you!

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  14. LumiereBlossom
    LumiereBlossom

    When the guy opened the door, only Xander was standing there, and the guy told Xander to “come on.” How did Angel get in? Wouldn’t he need an invitation? Would “Come on,” directed at someone else actually work to extend the invitation to him?

    I think it’s because the house actually belonged to the demon. In Angel it’s stated that vampires don’t need an invitation if a demon owns the residence.

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
  15. Kelsey
    Kelsey

    I’m back with more Buffy-wiki trivia! Because some of it is directly related to points you brought up in this recap.

    “In “A Buffy Bestiary,” a special features video packaged with the Season Two DVD set, Marti Noxon acknowledged the “phallic imagery” in this episode and granted “yes, it’s a metaphor.””
    (Maybe this will help you decipher the mystery of the episode?)

    “This episode deals with allegories of date-rape, spiked drinks and not judging people by their appearances. This is yet another Hellmouth metaphor.”

    “When Willow, Xander, Giles and Angel storm the fraternity, Angel goes into the household without being invited, despite being a vampire. This is because the fraternity brothers are only temporary residents.”

    “Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors:
    Even though the frat boys were just caught, Xander reads in the paper that “they’ve all been sentenced to consecutive life sentences.””

    October 21, 2013
    |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      Wait. I’m only a temporary resident of my apartment. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Sunnydale, I’d be screwed. And since Buffy doesn’t actually own her mom’s house, how was she able to invite Angel in?
      It probably would have made more sense to say that since they were having a party, it opened the place up to everyone.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  16. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    This episode has some of my favourite lines. Willow’s rant is fantastic, and the exchange between Giles and Buffy always makes me laugh. Cordelia is great and I like Xander’s “and on that day, they’ll still have more’ acknowledgement. Early episode Xander is annoying. The ‘you lied to Giles’, set up between Xander and Willow I also like.

    I’ve never found the Angel/Buffy relationship particularly romantic or inspiring. I’ve always seen it as there because the writers put it there. The story has the angst of a Slayer in love with a vampire, and so the gaps in how it is done I just kind of ignore. The romance doesnt’ seem to grow naturally, it’s forced into the story line and you have to kind of accept the premise and move on. The development of the Oz/Willow relationship was done better, I think. I don’t know who wrote which bits, but possibly different writers handled them with differing levels of skill, or maybe they got better at how to construct that kind of story line over time.

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
  17. Not my favourite episode. But the next one has Spike in it. Thank god for Spike. And costumes! Halloween is one of the best episodes – I like when things are different than usually and i cant wait to read what you think about Wish.

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
  18. “I don’t see the great chemistry between Angel and Buffy that everybody else seems to see.”

    My issue with B/A is the same as yours. B/A is classic Insta-Luv and designed for stroking the teenage girl’s id. There’s no real substance to it and that’s why, being slightly older than the target audience when the show first aired (I was in college), I never got into the ship. I understood it as a narrative device but it never pulled at the heartstrings or made me particularly care about them as a couple.

    This was an interesting episode to watch when it aired since I was in college at the time and I was a sorority girl, so I had a lot of contact with frat boys, lol. I will not say that all frats are evil, but a lot of them are. I saw this episode as a clumsy anti-rape warning, basically. And as such it struck me as pretty innocuous.

    I did love all the Cordy/Buffy in it. I always enjoyed their interaction. If Buffy were airing today I’d totally ship Buffy/Cordy, lol. But I am also a Cordy stan, so I’m a little biased.

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
    • Catherine
      Catherine

      I also went the Greek route in college. There is def a mix of good and bad to the different groups. I think a lot of it also reflects the character of the school and its student body. You couldn’t have paid me to become involved with Greek Life at UMass, but at a small nerdy engineering school? Entirely different feeling to the groups.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  19. You don’t see the chemistry between Angel and Buffy? And here I thought we had a lot in common. LOL I’m surprised you like the show, because he is the biggest attraction, and to say he is a dick is a bit over dramatic. Angel is a wonderfully complex character, and the perfect guy for Buffy. They have love and angst all wrapped up in one well wrapped present. If you haven’t seen the cross-over episode with her visiting Angel on his own show in the first season, that is where you really see their smoking hot chemistry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple on screen since them where I believed the characters were so crazy about each other. *sigh* But alas, I’m sure your Troutnation will pick this comment to shreds, since I dare disagree on something you’ve stated. Don’t worry though, I won’t take it personally! 🙂

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
    • Actually, THAT episode is the only episode where I really felt like, “Okay, I understand this ship now.” That was a brutally well-written episode. If that chemistry had been there through the entire storyline, I would totally get it. That’s one of my favorite episodes of Angel.

      And speaking of which, I wouldn’t say Angel is the biggest attraction of the show. I’m in it for the Slayer. When Angel broke out into his own show, I really started to like him. I just didn’t like what we saw of him on Buffy, but we’re mostly in Buffy’s POV there. In his own story, he became a much more engaging character.

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
      • Sooooo…. Angel recaps after you’re done with Buffy? 😀

        October 22, 2013
        |Reply
      • SleepyOrchid
        SleepyOrchid

        Asking you to do Angel recaps after you’re done with the Buffy ones might be too much to ask, but it I think Troutnation would love to see you do the cross-over eps in parallel to season 4. 😀

        October 23, 2013
        |Reply
    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Personally I never considered Angel the biggest attraction in Buffy, but then I never fancied the actor 🙂 I also tended to listen rather than watch TV shows when Buffy was on TV, it’s the dialogue that I like the most.
      Angsty teen, forbidden doomed love story doesn’t really do it for me. I liked the Willow/Oz relationship, the Xander/Cordy relationship was interesting in how a popular girl deals with dating a less than popular boy. I liked Anya at times, and I really hated with a deep and abiding passion the Buffy/Spike thing later in the seasons.

      /shrug What you see as the main attraction isn’t necessarily going to be what draws everyone else. Not a bad thing, just a thing.

      October 23, 2013
      |Reply
    • V
      V

      Astonishingly, people like the same show for different things? I like Buffy/Angel, the season two finale is probably my favorite Buffy episode, but that’s far from the main or only reason I like the show. Buffy herself is far more an attraction for me than Angel is. It’s also possible to like a character and consider him flawed, because Angel is kind of a dick, in my opinion.

      -Not “Troutnation,” just a casual reader who is kind of baffled by this comment

      October 23, 2013
      |Reply
      • Lisa Dollar
        Lisa Dollar

        Totally love and agree with that.^^^

        October 23, 2013
        |Reply
      • SleepyOrchid
        SleepyOrchid

        Same here. I watch Buffy for Buffy. Also, Spike and Drusilla since we’re now on S2 and that they are the best villains EVER. But seriously though, I love Buffy for the fact that she gets the job done and solves her own problems. In any other show, if the female protagonist finds out her vampire boyfriend falls off the wagon, she’ll convince herself and anyone who’ll listen that she’ll fix him with her epic love, but not Buffy. Nope. Buffy would rather stab her evil vampire boyfriend and send him to hell, and spend the rest of her life regretting it simply because it is the right thing to do in that scenario. She’ll also sacrifice herself to save her fake mystical sister because that’s the kind of selfless person Buffy is.

        October 23, 2013
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      • Jemmy
        Jemmy

        My favourite is the season 3 finale. I just love the year group finally getting a chance to stand up to the things that have preyed on them and those before them.

        The point about Buffy doing what is necessary rather than what she wants is also important I think. Buffy does her duty, as she sees it. There’s strength in that, not the butt kicking kind of strength, but a strength that is important nonetheless.

        October 24, 2013
        |Reply
  20. Diana
    Diana

    Yay, a new recap!!
    This totally made my day, it’s awesome that you take the time to write these (and the 50 shades) so carefully and in such a funny and interesting way!
    Please never ever stop 🙂

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
  21. The-Great-Dragon
    The-Great-Dragon

    When I watched Buffy I was like “You know, I’ve seen this Angel/Buffy thing before” and I realized that was where Smeyer got it. And since reading your 50 Shades recap, I haven’t been able but help to see the Angel/Christian parallels either, so I’m taking a moment to pump my fist in victory over #9. Because YES! I’m so happy about this!

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
    • The-Great-Dragon
      The-Great-Dragon

      “I haven’t been able but help to see…”
      Omg, look at that sentence wonkery. I’m not sure what I was trying to say (I think it was “I haven’t been able to help but see…” though I’m not sure that makes much sense either.)

      October 22, 2013
      |Reply
  22. Lynn M
    Lynn M

    “I like that they’re keeping with the sexist culture around frats by having even their pet penis monster be a total misogynist.”

    This simply must be embroidered on a pillow.

    October 22, 2013
    |Reply
  23. On the ‘Angel is Chedward’ thing, not to beat a dead horse (because I like horses), I’ve always liked the distinction that, on Buffy, when he sneaks into your room and draws you while you sleep, it’s terrifying. In Twilight, it’s a sign of luuuurve. Ick.

    October 27, 2013
    |Reply

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