Skip to content

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E19: “I Only Have Eyes For You”

Posted in Uncategorized

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone has still not learned her lesson about buying Cheez-Its to keep in her office. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

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 How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?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

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

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

CW: RAPE, SUICIDE

If I were to rank all the Buffy episodes in order of greatness (maybe I’ll do that at the end of the recaps in twenty-six years), “I Only Have Eyes For You” would easily make the top ten. It has so much, dear reader. It has so much.

Our story opens at The Bronze, where the real life band Splendid is playing. Something casual fans of the show might not have realized is that all of the bands (including Oz’s band) are actual music groups in real life. Oz’s band, by the way, wasn’t Dingos Ate My Baby, but T.H.C.. See comments, I was totally wrong about which band was who. I can see why that might not have flown on a show aimed at teens.

Anyway, we’re at The Bronze, and Buffy is on the catwalk, looking down at the crowd forlornly. A guy approaches Buffy and tries to get her to remember him from Algebra class the year before. Buffy pretends to remember him, and he tries to get her to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept (I’m pretty sure it’s a predominately American thing), Sadie Hawkins comes from the comic strip Lil’ Abner. Sadie Hawkins day is when all the single men of the town of Dog Patch have to run from the single women, and if the single women catch them and manage to pull them across the finish line, they have to get married.

Lil’ Abner is a super weird comic franchise, but it’s got a kick ass musical.

Sadie Hawkins dances became popular because of this, and the whole point is that women have to ask the men to the dance, and in some cases, pay for the whole date. Which I guess was revolutionary and kooky in the mid-20th century, and was kind of a mild female empowerment thing. We still have them, which is weird. I asked lots of boys on dates in high school, because they were usually too chicken shit to ask the girls.

On the other hand, I did bully my husband into dating me, so I might be the odd duck out.

So, Buffy tells the guy that it’s not personal, she’s just never going to date anyone ever again. Like you decide to do when you’re a teenager going through your first heartbreak. Downstairs, Willow tells Buffy that she’s been doing too much patrolling, rather than hanging out. Willow thinks Buffy should go out and start dating again.

Willow: “You’re thinking too much. Maybe you need to be impulsive.”

Buffy: “Impulsive? Do you remember my ex-boyfriend the vampire? I slept with him, he lost his soul, now my boyfriend is gone forever and the demon that wears his face is killing my friends. The next impulsive decision I make will involve my choice of dentures.”

Willow reminds Buffy that despite what happened with Angel, love can “be nice.”

Which leads us to cut to Sunnydale high, where a guy and his girlfriend are arguing:

Guy: “Come back here! We’re not finished! You don’t care anymore, is that it?”

Girl: “No, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what I feel!”

Guy: “Then tell me you don’t love me. Say it!”

Girl: “Will that help? Is that what you need to hear? I don’t. I don’t, now let me go!”

Guy: “No. A person doesn’t just wake up one day and stop loving somebody.”

He pulls a gun on the girl and warns:

Guy: “Love is forever.”

Then we fade to the opening credits, and come back to the guy brandishing the gun.

Guy: “I’m not afraid to use it. I swear. If I can’t be with you–”

Girl: “Oh my god!”

Guy: “Don’t walk away from me, bitch!”

Luckily, Buffy is patrolling the school halls. She stops the guy from shooting the girl, and a janitor comes running to help.

Let’s talk, for just a second, about the brave janitors of Sunnydale high. That has to be one of the most dangerous jobs on this show, and they keep coming in night after night, scraping gum off tables and sweeping papers and debris down the halls with those long, flat brooms, just a couple floors above the Hellmouth. Let’s have a round of applause for these unsung heroes of Sunnydale.

Once Buffy has the guy subdued, he’s all sorts of confused. So is his girlfriend. They can’t explain what happened; they weren’t even arguing before reaching this point. Buffy asks why he had a gun, and the janitor points out that there is no gun. It’s just vanished.

The next morning, Buffy is in Principal Snyder’s office. Snyder is convinced that whatever happened with the couple the night before was Buffy’s fault, and he’s going to find a way to make it so. When I first watched this show, I thought Snyder was unreasonably obsessed with framing Buffy for stuff that happened, but now that I’ve seen the whole series, it makes sense. I mean, whenever something weird happens, Buffy is involved. But so is Giles, who’s an employee who I assume doesn’t have tenure, because he hasn’t worked at the school that long. Why not just cut Giles loose and hope the problem moves off campus? We’ll talk about that in just a little bit here.

Snyder is called away when a vegan student chains himself to the snack machine, but he tells Buffy to stay in his office. As soon as he’s gone, a book slides itself off a shelf:

Sunnydale yearbook from 1955. The credit title "Written By Marti Noxon" is displayed on the screen during this shot.
I like this because it looks like Marti Noxon wrote the 1955 Sunnydale yearbook.

Since Buffy only heard it fall, she picks it up and sticks it back on the shelf like it’s no big deal.

In computer class, Willow is still, inexplicably, teaching Ms. Calendar’s class. Giles comes to the door and looks super proud of her. She tells him that Ms. Calendar had all her lessons already planned out, as well as files about Paganism. Willow also found a necklace with a rose quartz crystal on it. She gives it to Giles because it has healing properties, and she thinks Jenny would have wanted him to have it.

Meanwhile, Buffy is in another class, bored out of her skull. She nods off and when she wakes up, she’s still in her classroom, but there’s something different about it. Like, the fact that everyone is wearing poodle skirts and there’s a sign for a fallout shelter near the door, for example. Also, nobody seems to notice her sitting there, especially not the pretty young teacher and her student who discuss Hemingway and hold hands:

The teacher and her male student holding hands

They’re interrupted by an opening door, and Buffy is snapped back to the present day, where her teacher is writing something completely different on the board than what he’d probably intended:

The blackboard reads "Don't walk away from bitch!"

I feel so bad for that teacher, because now he probably thinks he’s got a brain tumor or he’s having a stroke or something.

Buffy tells Xander about the incident as they walk the hallway. She firmly believes that something weird is happening.

Xander: “‘Something weird is going on.’ Isn’t that our school motto?”

Xander is ready to chalk up the incident to Tourette’s syndrome and domestic violence, but then he opens his locker and is attacked by a zombie hand. Buffy rescues him and slams the door on the hand, while the other kids in the hall look around, stunned. When they open the locker again, the hand is gone.

I love this scene, because these students see a rotting corpse arm shoot out of a locker and try to drag another student in, and you can hear one of them in the background go, “Oookay.” Almost like they’re annoyed. Not scared. Just annoyed by yet another random supernatural occurrence. Nobody screams, nobody runs. Just, “Oookay.”

I think we need a number to label these scenes, because more of them happen. So please welcome #26: Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks. This element also makes #8 even more baffling. They know this stuff happens, to the point that they are desensitized to it and even continue to send their children to school here.

In the library, Willow teases Xander about his shell-shocked appearance, and Xander tells her about the horrible attack he just narrowly survived:

Xander: “I’ll have you know I was just accosted by some kind of…um..locker monster.”

Giles: “Loch Ness Monster?”

Giles is adorably excited at the prospect of there being some kind of loch Ness Monster mystery going down. But he gets even more adorably excited as they go into detail about the locker arm and the teacher’s possible neurological issue. Giles thinks it sounds like a poltergeist, a spirit that can’t be at peace, but doesn’t know how to fix things. He suggests they figure out who the spirit is.

Later that night, the janitor from before–now we know his name is George–is mopping up when a teacher is leaving her classroom to go home for the night. The reason we know George’s name is because the teacher has to ask if that’s his name (probably because of the high turnover of school janitors due to violent, spooky-stuff related death). So they don’t know each other at all, except in passing as they work their different shifts. He tells her to have a good night, and then:

George: “Oh, Ms. Frank– You can’t make me disappear just because you say it’s over.”

Ms. Frank: “There’s no way we can be together. No way people will ever understand. Accept it.”

George: “Is that what this is about? What other people think?”

Ms. Frank: “No. I just want you to be able to have some kind of a normal life. We can never have that, don’t you see?”

George: “I don’t give a damn about a normal life. I’m going crazy not seeing you. I think about you every minute.”

Ms. Frank: “I know. But. But it’s over. It has to be.”

George: “Come back here! We’re not finished yet!”

They go through the rest of the dialogue, exactly the same way as the first couple did, until a gun appears in George’s hand.

Giles is working in the library, and he hears George shout, “Don’t walk away from me, bitch!” He gets up to go investigate and hears a disembodied female voice whisper, “I need you.” He naturally assumes this is Jenny Calendar, trying to make contact. He goes into the hall, where he sees George the janitor shoot Ms. Frank, who falls to her death from the second story. George tries to run and Giles tackles him, knocking the gun from his hand, where it evaporates. George has no idea what’s just happened, exactly like the kid from the night before.

Meanwhile, our three arch villains have moved into new digs, a lovely big mansion with night blooming flowers in the courtyard, which pleases Drusilla. But obviously not Spike:

Spike: “It’s paradise. Big windows, lovely gardens. It’ll be perfect for when we want the sunlight to kill us.”

Angel makes tons of jokes about Spike being in a wheelchair, which is fantastic, because I was already on the fence about making physical ableism it’s own number. I just can’t remember a time when it would apply outside of this particular character and set of circumstances. I’m going to leave that call up to you guys: do you think we should add physical ableism to the list?

Anyway, Spike points out that their old address was just fine, but Angel went and caused it to get burned down. And that’s kind of it. The scene really serves no purpose other than to a) remind us that these characters still exist, and b) show what an utter cheese hole Angel is. Come on, man. Throw at least something else in there.

The next day, Giles tells Willow, Xander, and Buffy that he believes Jenny is at the root of the haunting. Though they argue with him that the circumstances of Jenny’s death didn’t involve a gun or a super specific lover’s spat, he refuses to listen to them.

Giles: “I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, in fact I encourage you to always challenge me when you feel it’s appropriate. You should never be cowed by authority. Except, of course, in this instance, when I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong.”

In the computer room, Willow, Buffy, and Xander talk about how weird it is that Giles is clinging to this one idea. Buffy points out that it’s because he misses Jenny, and she feels super guilty about that. All the while, they’re maddeningly grouped around the desk where the floppy drive containing the cure to Angel’s evil problem is just sitting in a crack, collecting dust.

Buffy: “What do we know?”

Xander: “Dog spit is cleaner than human.”

Buffy: “Besides that?”

This makes me laugh hard every time. As much as I disliked the Spuffy pairing becoming canon under her watch, I love Noxon’s writing.

So, Willow decides she’ll just cross reference all the Sunnydale school shootings, because they apparently have had more the one, and she finds this:

Newspaper clipping with the headline: "Sunnydale High Jock Kills Lover, Self." It's printed in a side column of the paper.

Willow tells them that a student murdered his teacher on the night of a Sadie Hawkins dance. He killed her because they were “having an affair” and she tried to break it off, then went into the music room and killed himself.

So, this has all the hallmarks of interesting news stuff. First of all, we’ll give them a pass on the “having an affair” thing, because in 1955, statutory rape and power dynamic consent issues weren’t as much of a hot button as they are today. So, we’ve got forbidden teacher-student “affair” happening, we’ve got murder/suicide, and we’ve got one of the town “jocks” involved.

WHAT THE FUCK WAS HAPPENING IN SUNNYDALE THE SAME WEEK THAT THIS GETS RELEGATED TO A SIDE COLUMN HALF-WAY DOWN THE PAGE?

Seriously, what was the big story that day? Did the Hellmouth actually open? Of course not, because that shit just gets ignored in Sunnydale. What could possibly have been happening in town on that day that this was a minor news story?

Buffy tells them she knows it happened in 1955, and the next scene opens with her tossing down a copy of the yearbook that jumped out in Snyder’s office. She tells them about the time travel dream she had, and then the discussion turns toward James, the teacher shooter. Xander thinks he’s stupid, because killing someone else or killing yourself are stupid things to do (his words, not mine), and Buffy has more sympathy for the teacher, Grace Newman. Buffy calls James a sicko. Willow is the only one who doesn’t take a hardline anti-James stance. She asks Buffy if she really thinks James should have paid with his life for killing Grace:

Buffy: “No, he should be doing sixty years in a prison breaking rocks and making special friends with Roscoe the weightlifter.”

It’s minimize the horror of rape time on Buffy, kids! I could cover all of this under the heading of #6, but it’ll be more convenient just to add  #27: Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go to our list. Let’s start with Buffy’s prison rape joke. These jokes aren’t okay, and it’s really hard for people to understand this. For example, everyone made jokes last week about child rapist and sex slavery tourist Jared Fogle (CW: pedophilia, rape, molestation) enjoying a “foot long in prison.” The implication was that Fogle would be raped in prison, and that this was an acceptable form of justice. A lot of people who are smarter and more eloquent than I am have written about why prison rape is a fucked up thing to joke about or gleefully wish upon criminals, but it’s so deep in our culture that we just saw it pop up in this (admittedly dated) show that was intended for teens.

While we’re on the subject, what happened to this student? Was rape. Even if he approached his teacher, even if he welcomed advances she made, there was no way for him to consent. He was underage and there was a power dynamic at work that makes him the victim and her the predator in this situation. This is something that has been hotly debated on this blog in the past, but I think you all know where I stand on the “primary education teachers screwing their students” front. I’ll admit, I find student/college professor a hot dynamic in fiction/fantasy (while recognizing the real life issues and implications of that dynamic), but there’s something about high school, above and beyond the “they’re underage” factor, that really sets it apart for me. Probably because the American high school system and the American university system are so completely different. Anyone who went to high school in America will tell you that the thing that shocked them the most about college was the sense of freedom they suddenly had. That sense of freedom makes all the difference for me. In high school, you’re still being treated the same way you were treated in middle school, in elementary school. You’ve been trained to accept the ebb and flow of routine with unquestioning obedience, and school becomes your entire world. If a teacher tells you something is okay, or that you should do something? You listen or there are consequences, and by the time you reach high school, you already know those consequences are going to be a lot of bullshit hassle that you don’t need. In college, those consequences are definitely still there, but you’ve got a little more agency.

And here’s something interesting about this scene: when Buffy tells them about her dream, Xander asks her to predict when and if he’ll ever have sex. Swap Xander out for James, and have a hot teacher come onto him. Will he be able to resist? Of course he won’t. Because he already failed that test, as did other male Sunnydale students. And as long as we’re swapping out people, imagine if the roles had been reversed. Would Buffy have found James so reprehensible (and deserving of rape as a punishment) if James had been a female student?

James had no power in his relationship with Ms. Newman. Ms. Newman had the power, and she was supposed to use it to say no. Instead, the audience is supposed to see either a poor, victimized teacher and her psychopath student, or a tragic lost love. This relationship fits neither.

Willow suggests they figure out what the vengeful spirit of James wants, but Buffy gets all tough, saying she doesn’t care what he wants, she just wants to shut him down. Uh, Buff? You can’t do that until you know what he wants.

In the cafeteria, Cordelia is outraged by the very idea of a Sadie Hawkins dance. She’s worried that things are going to get “scary.” And then all the pulled pork sandwiches turn into snakes. Way to go, Cordelia.

The school is in a state of panic, but when Snyder arrives on the scene, he doesn’t even put down his coffee. He’s totally unsurprised by this weird turn of events. As animal control tries to contain the scene, and EMTs treat Cordelia, who got bitten in the face, Snyder has the following conversation with a police detective:

Detective: “School boy pranks?”

Snyder: “Never sell.”

Detective: “The sewer got backed up.”

Snyder: “Better. I can probably make that one fly. But this is getting out of hand, people will talk.”

Detective: “We’ll take care of it.”

Snyder: “I’m doing everything I can but you people have to realize–”

Off Camera: “Snyder, what’s going on here?”

Snyder: “Backed up sewer line! Same thing happened in San Diego last week! [to detective] We’re on a Hellmouth. Sooner or later people are going to figure that out. ”

Detective: “The city council was told that you could handle this job. If you feel that you can’t, perhaps you’d like to take that up with the mayor.”

Oh ho! Here’s interesting. When television shows are first proposed there are at least a few seasons already plotted out. However, Buffy is one show that consistently foreshadows future seasons, and this is a great example. They’re already introducing the Big Bad of season three in season two, and he doesn’t even make an appearance yet. #21.

But it’s interesting for another reason: Snyder is aware of the Hellmouth. He knows that supernatural shit is occurring in the school. Unlike other residents of Sunnydale, he isn’t content to ignore it or explain it away to go about his untroubled life. And it appears that he took this job knowing that there was a Hellmouth situation. And when the detective invokes the name of the mayor, Snyder is cowed, suggesting that he also knows that the mayor is a bad dude (although judging from the last episode of season three, he didn’t have an idea of how bad the mayor really was. But I’m getting ahead of myself). So the question is, why does Snyder hold Buffy responsible for the weird shenanigans in the school, if he knows about the Hellmouth?

#28: Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.

Consider this: Snyder is aware of the presence of evil in the school, but presumably not the existence of a Slayer. Or maybe he is aware that the Slayer exists, but isn’t aware of or is misinformed (perhaps by the mayor) about her function in the supernatural battleground that is Sunnydale. Since we know that Snyder isn’t in on the mayor’s evil plans in season three, it’s a good bet that Snyder, while being a hard-nosed prick to our protagonist, is really on the same side. He’s been hand-selected to manage the supernatural occurrences within the school, and probably thinks he’s fighting on the side of good. His constant surveillance and antagonism of Buffy isn’t just because he’s a dick. Snyder is fighting evil. Snyder is a good guy. He’s just pointed in the wrong direction.

At Buffy’s house, Willow declares it’s time for decisive action:

Willow: “I’ve done some homework and found out the only solution is the final solution.”

Xander: “Nuke the school? I like that.”

WHOA. Whoa. Whoa.

Whoa.

Someone here needs a history lesson. “The Final Solution” did not refer to the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. It referred to the plan to murder every Jewish person in Europe. I have no idea if Noxon intended to make that into a WWII joke and just didn’t know the difference, or if this was a really unfortunate coincidence, but I do know that Willow is Jewish, and having a Jewish character deliver a line like “the only solution is the final solution” is skeevy in the extreme. Though the conversation about “Jewish” describing a race or a religion or an ethnic group has been going on for a long time with various different viewpoints always changing and evolving, I’m going to mark this down as #12, because the unintentional grossness smacks of white cluelessness, and as it references the Holocaust it fits, since Nazis saw Jewishness as a racial trait.

In any case, Willow isn’t talking about any horrible event from the past, but exorcism. Cordelia, who is the voice of reason basically full time on these matters, points out that exorcism is fucking scary.

Personal note: Nothing, literally nothing on this earth, is scarier to me than possession/exorcism. #CatholicSchool

Willow’s idea for an exorcism involves a “Mangus Tripod,” in which one of them will chant at the spot where the teacher was killed, and the others will chant in different places around the school, forming a triangle. Buffy says she’ll take the “hot spot” where Ms. Newman was murdered, but honestly, I’ve always thought that Willow should have taken that one, since she knows more about the stuff. But whatever, they didn’t ask me. They go to the school armed with magical scapulas made of sulfur to ward off the bad spirits, but once they’re inside, the doors all slam shut, trapping them.

Back at evil doer headquarters, Drusilla is musing about sleeping naked in a hole when she suddenly gets a vision. It’s a good time for Angel to kill the Slayer.

Spike: “Big deal. He won’t do anything.”

Ah, Spike. He’s clearly goading Angel into attacking the Slayer, probably because he knows how hard it is to kill one. He’s banking on getting Angelus killed and away from Drusilla, who Angel is obviously banging. Angel decides to go after the Slayer, but definitely not to prove anything. At all.

At the school, Giles and Willow run into and scare the beejezus out of each other. Giles tells Willow that he thinks he’s close to contacting Jenny’s spirit. Willow clearly withholds further argument that no, this has nothing to do with Jenny. Then we have a nice Giles and Willow moment:

Giles: “What’s that smell?”

Willow: “It’s my scapula.”

Giles: “Right, of course. Did you use sulfur?”

Willow: “Yeah.”

Giles: “It’s clever.”

I like this little bit, because it sets up an important relationship between the two of them. As Willow continues on her path to witchiness, Giles is really the only person who understands her (until Tara comes along, and even then, I don’t think Tara understands Willow The Witch as much as Giles does. We’ll get to that in seasons six and seven). After Ms. Calendar dies, her notes make her Willow’s posthumous mentor, but for the most part, Willow has to make her own way. We don’t see a lot of Giles sharing his experience with her,  but little moments like this show us that Willow isn’t adrift, without anyone to talk to about magic.

Giles warns Willow that she she should leave, because contacting Jenny might prove to be dangerous. But he doesn’t really ask her what she’s up to. As Buffy roams the halls, she hears “I Only Have Eyes For You” playing, and spots the ghosts dancing in the gym. Xander goes to the still-snakified cafeteria to set up shop, while Willow and Cordelia cover a staircase and a bathroom, respectively. As Buffy dreamily watches the ghostly pair, she gets a look at James’s face:

That'll never heal if you don't stop picking at it.
That’ll never heal if you don’t stop picking at it.

The ghosts disappear. As Cordelia examines her snake-bitten face in the mirror, her skin turns red and crinkly, and she screams. Willow sets up her candle to get ready for the chanting times, and the floor turns into a hand and tries to drag her down. She screams for Giles, and he arrives in the nick of time to pull her free. Buffy stands on the balcony where Ms. Newman was shot, and she gets a vision of the murder and James’s suicide, capped off by the ghost of rot-faced James grabbing her and shouting, “Get out!”

Everything goes back to normal with Cordelia’s face and the floor. Willow tells Giles that there’s no way it’s Jenny haunting the school, because she couldn’t be so mean. The kids all start chanting in their assigned places:

Willow: “I shall confront and expel all evil.”

Cordelia: “I shall totally confront and expel all evil.”

Xander: “Out of marrow and bone…

Buffy: “Out of house and home…never to come here again.

I love these instances where the Scoobies all join together to do magic. It doesn’t happen often, and I’m not sure if I want it to happen more, or if it’s perfect when it’s like, maybe once a season.

All of the candles blow out, and a mass of wasps start pouring through the halls. Buffy kicks down a door and they flee, only to turn and see the insects completely swarming the school.

Back at Buffy’s house, Giles is finally on board the “It’s James” train. He tells them that the ghost is recreating the tragedy over and over, as they tend to do, trying to fix the situation. Buffy says he wants forgiveness, but Giles points out that when James reenacts the murder, he can’t really change anything, so he’s stuck in a hellish loop and can’t be forgiven. To which Buffy says:

Buffy: “Good. He doesn’t deserve it.”

Giles: “To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It’s not done because people deserve it, it’s done because they need it.”

Buffy: “No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that’s not something you forgive, no matter why he did what he did, and no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he’s going to have to live with.”

In which everyone knows that this is not about James, well before Buffy will admit it. Cordelia even says:

Cordelia: “Okay. Over-identify much?”

Thank you, Cordelia. She might annoy the other Scoobies, but she’s definitely saying exactly what needs to be said basically all of the time.

But Giles is wrong about forgiveness. Always forgive someone for yourself. Not for their benefit. If someone wrongs you, you deserve to acknowledge that, even if it makes them feel bad.

Buffy has angrily stormed off to the kitchen, where she finds a flyer for the class of ’55 Sadie Hawkins dance in her pocket. Then she hears James’s voice saying “I need you,” and wanders off out the back door. Giles tells Willow that they shouldn’t go back to the school, because the spirit is too angry, but tell that to Buffy, who’s in a trance and walking straight toward the swarm.

Whoa, back up a minute. It’s the middle of the goddamn night. Where’s Joyce? Her daughter’s school librarian, again and for the bajillionth time, is at their house at an inappropriate hour, just hanging out with a group of teens. She either doesn’t question this, or just isn’t home. And she’s not at work, because she runs a gallery. So she’s just electively out all night, with a troubled teenager at home? #3

Anyway, Buffy walks right through the swarm unharmed, straight into the school, where the lights turn on and the doors open automatically for her. Back at the Summers house, Willow finds the flyer. They all return to the school and are prevented from going to help Buffy because of all the wasps. Giles theorizes that because there’s not another person in the school–specifically a man–for James to inhabit, Buffy should be safe from being shot in the reenactment.

Except for the fact that Angelus is there:

Angel: “Fun fact about wasps. They have no taste for the undead.”

Well, wasps don’t really taste you when they sting, but since you’re from centuries ago, I’ll let your faulty scientific knowledge slide, Angel. He goes on to taunt her, to which Buffy replies:

Buffy: “You’re the only one. The only person I can talk to.”

Angel: “Gosh, Buff. That’s really pathetic.”

Buffy: “You can’t make me disappear just because you say it’s over.”

Angel: “Actually, I can. In fact…I just want you to be able to have some kind of normal life. We can never have that, don’t you see?”

Buffy: “I don’t give a damn about a normal life! I’m going crazy not seeing you. I think about you every minute.”

The scene shifts to Ms. Newman and James, then back again as Buffy and Angel act out the heart-wrenching dialogue. Which is, you know, double heartbreaking because we’re not just watching the ghost of James act out his desperation and confusion and anger, but with Buffy taking James’s role, we’re watching the breakup that Buffy needed to have with Angel to get closure. Which makes the line:

Buffy: “A person doesn’t just wake up and stop loving somebody!”

(which, notice, is differently worded from the other times it’s been repeated) even more tragic, because that is exactly what happened with Buffy and Angel.

As Buffy/James brandishes the gun and chases after Angel/Ms. Newman, we see Ms. Newman stop to try to talk James down. While he shouts at her to not treat him like a child, he accidentally fires the gun. Angel is shot, and tumbles from the balcony just like Ms. Newman did. The Scoobies, still powerless to stop what’s happening, hear the gunshot.

Buffy, still possessed by James, walks to the music room, but Angel, being a vampire, is able to get up and follow her. Buffy sees herself as James and points the gun at her head, but Angel/Ms. Newman, stops her. Through Angel and Buffy, Ms. Newman tells James that she knows he didn’t mean to kill her, and that she never stopped loving him, even after he shot her. Buffy/James and Angel/Ms. Newman kiss, and this happens:

Buffy and Angelus kiss

This is good news for James, but bad news for Buffy and Angel. When the possession wears off, they’re enemies again. Just as Buffy thinks Angel might be back, he pushes her away in disgust.

Back at the library, Willow, Cordelia, and Xander report that all the bugs and snakes are gone. Buffy tells Giles that she thinks James picked her because he could identify with her more.

Buffy: “I still… A part of me just doesn’t understand why she would forgive him.”

Giles: “Does it matter?”

Buffy: “No. I guess not.”

And Giles smiles sadly because Buffy finally understands, and he must understand, too. See, here’s a part of this episode I’ve always overlooked, because I was caught up in the Buffy/Angel parallels. Giles felt Jenny had unfinished business. Hours before she died, they made plans to rekindle their relationship, though they had never outright forgiven each other. Giles feels he should have forgiven Jenny sooner, but it’s too late now. In a way, he was kind of reverse-haunting Jenny.

At Maison du Vampire, Angel is bathing in the courtyard fountain while Spike looks gleefully on:

Spike: “You might want to let up. They say when you’ve drawn blood, you’ve exfoliated.”

Angel doesn’t find it funny. He feels violated by the spirit of Ms. Newman, which is fair enough. He announces his intention to go out and do some really depraved killing, but when Dru invites Spike along, Angel nixes the idea, making more remarks about Spike being in a wheelchair and basically useless. Again, if you can think of other times in the series that ableism features so heavily, let me know in the comments and we can add it to the list. Anyway, they leave Spike behind to give us one of the most wonderful “Oh, shit,” moments of the series. He stands up, punches the air, and kicks the wheelchair he doesn’t need, because he’s only been pretending that he’s not fully healed.

In summation, what the fuck, this episode is amazing.

Did you enjoy this post?

Trout Nation content is always free, but you can help keep things going by making a small donation via Ko-fi!

Or, consider becoming a Patreon patron!

51 Comments

  1. Frolik
    Frolik

    Er, I wouldn’t go so far as to say Snyder is a good guy. I think he was tasked with hiding the Hellmouth situation so that people wouldn’t panic, which gives the mayor a smoother ride and more traction to take over the town politically (before he’s a giant snake).

    I think Snyder is neither good nor evil, he just wants whatever it is he’s getting out of the deal. Money, or probably power, or both. But certainly not a good guy. He’s all about keeping up appearances and having power, it’s his raison d’etre, like we saw with the swim team episode.

    Just a self-centered little weasel.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Yup, I figured one of the jobs the mayor wanted Snyder to do was get rid of Buffy, legitimately. Have her expelled. Having a Slayer around was going to mess with his long term plans, but rather than try and kill her, and possibly tip his hand, they went with the harassing principal who tried to pin everything on her. She’d moved schools once, wouldn’t have been too hard to see if they could get her mother to move her again.

      August 27, 2015
      |Reply
      • Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
        Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

        Totes agree–she’s a troublemaker, all right–a troublemaker for the Mayor and the Hellmouth.

        August 29, 2015
        |Reply
  2. I seriously love this episode. Especially Spike at the end, it always gives me the “shit’s about to get real” feeling.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  3. Earthed Angel
    Earthed Angel

    Oh man, in support of #2! Giles hears “I need you” and then Buffy hears it, too! What if the ghosts were picking up on their bond and seeing the teacher-student parallels? But then, because of Giles’ focus on Jenny, or luck that he stayed away from Buffy at the haunting spot, and Angelus being there instead…the ghost chose the body that was handy.
    I’m not even a Giles/Buffy shipper, but I’d never picked up on the ghosts whispering “I need you” before.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  4. Earthed Angel
    Earthed Angel

    This is one of my favorite episodes, too, though I always kind of side-eyed Whedon for saying THIS was the ep he knew David Boreanaz could handle leading his own show (which he did, and I enjoyed “Angel”, though not as much as BtVS). I am never as impressed with his emotional power as I am with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Jellyfish
      Jellyfish

      I’m right with you. I think he’s really funny–he’s great with those deadpan comic lines–but in terms of dramatic acting, he’s OK at best.

      August 27, 2015
      |Reply
      • earthed angel
        earthed angel

        Yes! I LOVE him as Booth(e?) on Bones, and his less DRAMA times on Angel. He’s funny, definitely, and plays confused well, and can get scorn and angry pretty well, but getting into that PATHOS is really…meh. Thanks for backing me up on this one, because I don’t hear many people say it. 🙂

        August 28, 2015
        |Reply
      • oblomov
        oblomov

        I would say Boreanaz makes for a very engaging Angelus but often struggles with Angel. Took him at least until the second season of his own show to become a reasonably engaging lead and even there your mileage may vary.

        August 29, 2015
        |Reply
  5. Ilex
    Ilex

    I love this episode, too. It’s haunted me through the years since this show went off the air and out of syndication, so yeah, definitely Top Ten. That ending, with Angel being able to play out the resolution because he’s immortal, was just brilliant.

    Jenny, I completely agree with you about the high school student/teacher dynamic. It’s squicky and problematic no matter how it’s presented. I read a YA novel last year with a young gay teacher/student relationship as its romance, and I couldn’t stomach it.

    And I love your question about “How is this murder suicide not the big headline of the day?” I never thought of that when I watched this, but it’s such a good point. What the heck else WAS going on in Sunnydale?

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  6. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    SPOILERS.

    I can’t think of any other instances of abelism offhand, but prison rape jokes do crop up again in “This Year’s Girl” when Buffy and Faith do that switcheroo thing.

    On another note, what’s wrong with Spuffy? I thought Buffy and Spike hooking up made total sense, seeing as how Buffy came from the dead slightly altered, and Spike was the only one who could really understand that. Plus, Spike is, like, ten times the man/vampire that Angel ever was.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      The relationship between Buffy and Spike is awful in my opinion. I know some people were thrilled with it, but it never worked for me. The idea pre implementation wasn’t something I liked, and the actual implementation in show I hated.

      I haven’t really rewatched Season 6, because I dislike it that much but from what I remember, Spike didn’t support Buffy, he dragged her down. He didn’t provide understanding of her situation, he set out to convince her there was something wrong with her so she’d be willing to be with him, rather than build himself up as “deserving” of her.

      August 27, 2015
      |Reply
      • Candy Apple
        Candy Apple

        Spike was the only one who stood by Buffy in Season 7 when the Potentials and Faith threw her out into the street. He went and sought out a soul on his own for her, making his character arc from poncy poetry writer to badass evil undead dude to hero who would eventually help Buffy to save the world at the cost of his own life in the final episode.

        When we first meet Spike, we could never imagine the character he would eventually become. Life ain’t pretty, and sometimes we hurt the very people we love the most. This show wasn’t afraid to stare directly at that hard truth, using Buffy/Spike as a lens to explore some of our most twisted human foibles.

        And the Buffy-Spike dynamic was just utterly brilliant in the musical episode. (Once More With Feeling.)

        August 28, 2015
        |Reply
        • earthed angel
          earthed angel

          You are in my brain, saying all the things I would say. YES. Like…there are problem with Spike-Buffy, but I believe he’s the best partner she has on the show (or in the comics I’ve read so far). He’s maybe not the best she can get, but he’s *accepting* of everything that’s going on with Buffy (in season 6 specifically), and that’s in damn short supply in Sunnydale for her.
          Also I maybe have a huge thing for Spike anyways.

          August 28, 2015
          |Reply
          • Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
            Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

            Also, when he grabs a shotgun to go and kill her, and goes to her house to find her–sitting on the porch and crying, he sits down beside her to comfort her in his own peculiar way. Spike’s deep.

            August 29, 2015
        • Spoiler ahead, CN rape

          Eh, you think attempted rape is “hurting the people we love most”? Because that’s the scene I am thinking of, and the major reason, why Spuffy is gross.

          August 30, 2015
          |Reply
          • monkyvirus
            monkyvirus

            I think we have to remember that at that point Spike had NO SOUL.

            Spike did some fucked up shit long before he met Buffy because he was being run by an evil demon. Spike’s personality doesn’t change that much when he’s ensouled so I’ve noticed the audience tends to treat Spike like the same person before and after. In the Buffyverse there is a clear argument that pre and post soul Spike cannot be held to the same standard and post-soul he cannot be held totally responsible for things he did previously.

            I should be clear: if Buffy had stated the event was too traumatising and even with a soul she wanted nothing to do with him fair enough but she chose to stand by him and allow him to support her and I think she did the right thing.

            August 30, 2015
      • stvier
        stvier

        can you like spuffy and still find the attempted rape to be utterly reprehensible and just an altogether poor writing decision on the part of the writers?

        idk i always feel so torn about spike because there are times i find him flat out disgusting (and deserving of every ass-kicking and dragging he gets from buffy + co.), like when he wouldn’t let up with his clearly unwanted advances on buffy, kidnapping her, building buffybot (ugh spike you pig), insisting that buffy was broken/not normal because he could hit her (and basically the whole “buffy isn’t completely human anymore bcos she enjoys bdsm sex with spike” implications of their s6 relationship)…

        …and then there are other times when i feel like spike is the best match* for buffy out of all her romantic partners?? like he seems to understand her motives more than any other character even before she died and came back from the dead (fool for love anyone?). he doesn’t treat her like she needs to be protected but he also doesn’t resent her being physically stronger than him. *side eyes riley*

        at the end of season 5 when spike said “i know you’ll never love me. i know that i’m a monster. but you treat me like a man”, i went There! That’s the kind of romantic partner Buffy needs and deserves! someone who would be willing to love her without expecting anything in return, or expecting her to change or suffer for them. that season 6 reunion! spike secretly crying behind the tree outside buffy’s house!

        which is why i couldn’t figure out whether i was clawing at my face out of joy (finally they’re banging each other and it’s hot as hell!) or sheer frustration (wtf this relationship is kind of really fucked up) during the later parts of season 6. i don’t understand why the narrative seemed to be punishing buffy for enjoying having sex with spike. i don’t understand why spike had to be completely horrid and demanding and say such awful things to buffy when it’s been established before that he’s capable of kindness and empathy. i love the whole ‘spike chose to get his soul back,’ but did it really have to be brought about by attempted rape?

        so i guess i love spuffy but i hate most of how it was executed. there were a lot of other ways they could have gotten together without it being as toxic as it ended up being.

        (*the only other character i feel who also have this kind of relationship with buffy is faith. fuffy ftw.)

        August 31, 2015
        |Reply
        • Okay, I can 100% agree with this. It’s not that I dislike the good moments these two share. It’s that I dislike all of that awful stuff you mentioned. Buffy bot, punishing her for having sex, weirdly executed violence, all that.

          And I agree that these are all good reasons to be conflicted about Spuffy.

          August 31, 2015
          |Reply
        • Earthed Angel
          Earthed Angel

          It’s interesting, though, that the attempted rape changes the assaulter rather than the assaulted. We don’t see that much in modern storytelling, and it makes for a nice change of pace. Other than that, I totally agree with what you’re saying.

          August 31, 2015
          |Reply
        • Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
          Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

          Really good points. It’s a complex relationship, which is more than Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Riley are. Those guys are looking for a lady to live up to and to rescue. Spike actually goes and suffers and gets his soul back to begin to make amends to a real woman.

          August 31, 2015
          |Reply
          • Saint_Sithney
            Saint_Sithney

            The problem that I have with Spike’s attempted rape of Buffy is that everyone just kind of forgets about Buffy’s completed oral rape of Spike.

            In the episode where she turns invisible, Buffy goes to Spike for sex. He tells her “No” very clearly. He tells her she is bad for him. He says he is unhappy with their relationship and that he does not want sex. He tells her to leave. Her reaction to this is to unzip his pants and put his penis in her mouth. And the audience gets him giving us a wry “That’s just not fair” and him leaping back into bed with her.

            So…. that’s a pretty blatant double standard. Spike did get more violent with Buffy when she was telling him “No” and pushing him away, but he is a soulless demon. He has been given a clear indication that consent does not matter to her, because she did not respect his clear lack of consent. Their entire relationship has been one of mutual abuse. The thing that stops him is the fact that she starts crying. Spike is one of the only characters that has a plausible excuse for not knowing rape is bad. His first sexual encounter was with a completely demented sadomasochist, who viewed torture as erotic foreplay. He is a creature of literal evil. He is in a relationship where the foreplay consists of vicious beatings. He has already had his consent violated in this relationship, and it led to sex that he apparently enjoyed.

            But he still stopped himself. So that’s why I couldn’t see Spike’s attempted rape as crossing a Moral Event Horizon (though I did think it was bad writing for cheap thrills). But I did see Buffy’s molestation of Spike as a Moral Event Horizon for her that the show just zipped right past.

            September 6, 2015
  7. Lindsay
    Lindsay

    So, I actually kind of disagree with regard to the student/teacher thing with regard to high school v. college.

    First of all, across the board, I think it’s absolutely wrong, and is rape (I mean, it’s literally rape) if the student is underage. But in terms of how grossed out I am about it, there are a lot more situations I can think of that I wouldn’t be as automatically grossed out about it in the high school context than college and here’s why.

    I don’t know about other people’s high schools, but in my own high school we actually had a good number of very young teachers. Over my years I probably had 4-5 teachers between the ages of 22 and 27. Most of them became teachers straight out of undergrad college. Alternatively, in undergrad, all of the professors had PHDs and thus the youngest one I had was 29 years old and she was significantly younger than any other professor I had. If one of those teachers that went on to teach straight out of undergrad had a relationship with an 18 year old high school student, I think I would find that less gross than one of the professors having a relationship with a college student.

    It’s not so much the age difference as the life experience. As you said, one of the big problems with student/teacher relationships is the power dynamic. For me, a 22 year old coming out of undergrad to teach high school students is less likely to have had as many opportunities to get some life experience–and therefore perhaps some maturity–than someone who either went on to do some kind of job where they’re not surrounded by teenagers/very young people all day or someone who went on to grad school (I am not saying people who go to grad school are inherently more mature or anything like that, but from my own experience grad school mirrors work life a lot more closely than undergrad does which to me was a lot more like high school but with more freedom (but still very little responsibility)).

    In my mind when I think of a relatively immature teacher (fresh out of college) becoming involved with an 18 year old high school student, I see it less as a power play and more as a young person making a bad decision. When I think of a professor with 4-5 years of out-of-undergrad life under their belt becoming involved with a student, it feels a lot more like they’re taking advantage of a situation where they should know better.

    Pretty much in all situations the correct solution is to tell the student that if they’re really interested to look you up when they have graduated (high school) or are no longer a student (professor). That way you get rid of the power dynamic entirely.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Heatherbell
      Heatherbell

      THISSSSS!

      (Although I would not suggest asking a student to ‘look me up when you’re legal’ as that’s just way too much like condoning the dynamic. Rather I’d stick with “I’m sorry but I don’t date students.” End of.)

      August 27, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lindsay
        Lindsay

        Well you would have to be pretty diplomatic and shut down all thoughts in their head that they have a chance with you while you’re their teacher, but I don’t see anything wrong with dating a former student if she/he is legal and there’s very little chance of you being in that type of teacher/student dynamic again.

        August 27, 2015
        |Reply
    • Erin
      Erin

      There may be less age difference between a young, fresh out of undergrad, teacher and an 18 year old senior than a professor and a fresh out of high school undergrad, but I think it’s a case of age differences being a lot more meaningful the younger you are. I think the differences between end of high school and fresh out of undergrad are actually far more pronounced than those between college professors and students (especially considering that not all college students will be the fresh out of high school students).
      I would say that my experiences in undergrad were sort of the difference between being a kid and an adult. When I graduated from high school I lived at home my whole life with adults helping me, never really had a real job, and had a daily schedule that was almost entirely controlled by others. Through my years in undergrad I slowly transition from that to living alone, working a real job to pay rent and bills, and having to manage my responsibilities all on my own. The transition of high school senior to graduating with my BA was far more pronounced that the difference I had as a recent BA graduate and recent Masters graduate and still greater than the difference between being a recent BA graduate and my current situation of being a PhD student.
      I had young teachers in high school and I remember as a student thinking they weren’t much older, and numerically- no. But after graduating from college I realize there is a huge difference in those 4-5 years of age.

      Though I do think relationships between professors and their students are wrong, for me it has everything to do with the power of the position a professor has over as student and nothing to do with age. A professor having a relationship with a student who is older than them is still wrong imo, because they still have all the power as a professor.

      August 29, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lindsay
        Lindsay

        Well I think you are actually stating the same point I was trying to make. I was trying to say it’s not so much an age difference thing but a life experience thing. If someone like you, who worked through undergrad, learned to pay bills and all that, and in general had to learn a lot about life went on to teach high school right out of undergrad, I would completely agree with the points you’re making.

        But in my experience, a lot of undergrad students don’t learn much about responsibility in undergrad, because housing is provided to them and Mom and/or Dad are still paying for everything. They just learn a lot about freedom, and they are not really surrounded by other recent adults learning about the real world, they are surrounded by other recent adults who also don’t have a lot of responsibility.

        So when you transition from that to teaching highschool–even though now you have to pay bills and are maybe *starting* to learn about this life stuff–you are also now surrounded by teenagers again all day. So I could understand how a person in this situation can really relate a lot more to their high school students than perhaps other adults who are more experienced in this real life responsibility stuff. That’s why if someone like that did something stupid like have an affair with a student, I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a “taking advantage” situation so much as a confused young adult making a bad choice.

        August 31, 2015
        |Reply
  8. Laina
    Laina

    I really like this episode, which makes this discussion all the better! 😀

    I mean, are we going strictly physical with the ableism because, you know. Depression arc, season 6. My rage.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  9. Anon123
    Anon123

    Re: Physical ableism–I think make it a number. It’ll start popping up like crazy as soon as you give it one, I bet. 🙂

    Watching this arc, I was really struck by the thought, “What kind of awful person thinks up dozens of cruel wheelchair jokes just for the sake of showing how bad a character is?” As a writer myself, I think I’d feel guilty for years about going to that place over and over for a really petty reason.

    Changing the topic, I’m still on the fence about the “can underage people in the 15-17 range consent to sex with an adult” issue. You said something I can agree with, though, in making the point about agency differences between college and high school. That’s totally legit, and not something I would normally think about.

    New topic again! This “scapula” thing bothered me the first time, because I couldn’t find anything on it aside from shoulder-blades. I just tried again, and it turns out it’s “scapulaR”–go to the “Devotional scapular” part of the Wikipedia page on “Scapular” for more. 🙂

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Erin
      Erin

      Thanks for this! I was getting really confused. Sulfur shoulder bones? lol. Was about to go rewatch the episode to figure out what it was, since I don’t remember that part of it.

      August 29, 2015
      |Reply
  10. Anon123
    Anon123

    Wait, sorry, one more thing. Thinking about the Spike-kicking-the-wheelchair part, this started to bother me. Multiple times, this show does a turnaround that’s basically, “Oho, you thought this person was helpless, but it turns out they are actually very physically strong, so the joke is on their aggressor!”

    I find that really dissatisfying as a message. Like, okay, girl power is great as far as it goes. But when Buffy fights off larger male attackers who are all “Oh, a little girl, heh heh,” especially on the rare occasions where they’re not supernatural, this isn’t actually addressing power discrepancies in any helpful way. I used to think this was just a sideways #6, but the Spike thing brings in a new angle.

    Basically, Spike was content to take the belittling, humiliating taunts in order to pretend to be a “real” disabled person–and that’s f***ed up. Sure, it’s Spike–a “bad” character–doing a f***ed up thing, but in the larger context of the show (oho! strong girls! who’d’ve thought?), it’s just more of the same BS. The only solution to cultural and institutional discrimination, according to BtVS, is for oppressed groups to develop surprising physical strength. Wheeee, how empowering. -.-

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on this in a recap sometime if you feel so inclined. 🙂

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Eneya
      Eneya

      Wait… what? I seriously don’t understand the issue with the ableism. I am maybe misremembering but I don’t recall any excuse or approval of ableism and the fact that there are characters who say ableist and do ableist shit is not condoning it? Yes, it is kind of weird the whole thing with the weelchair and there are issues with it but I don’t see it as a joke? And the idea that the person who is abused is actually strong doesn’t mean the abuse is OK or accepted it sometimes reads like a… fantasy?

      August 29, 2015
      |Reply
      • Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
        Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

        Angelus is evil. Evil characters are not sensitive or politically correct, because they’re EVIL. Thus, evil jokes. He’s evil and he’s not going to be nice to a handicapped person because he’s evil. I can think of a wheelchair-enabled person joke right now that Angelus would say if he came across one in downtown SunnyD, and he’d say it because EVIL.

        August 29, 2015
        |Reply
  11. Kayla
    Kayla

    Hm, I can’t think of any ableist moments off the top of my head, and I’m sorta willing to give this one a pass since it’s framed as a he’s-so-evil-he-even-makes-fun-of-wheelchairs thing.

    The “are Jews a race” question definitively proves that race is a social construct, by the way. As an American Jew, I like to say I’m white 80% of the time – I’m protected from random police brutality, I never get pulled aside at airport security, salespeople don’t follow me around in stores (well, depending on how I’m dressed, but that’s a completely different thing), but I also get to hear all about how people like David Duke want to fucking kill me. In Europe, though? I’m not white, period. I would be at risk for random violence, especially in France and Belgium, and for getting harassed by LEOs (again, especially in France). Race is imaginary, and people should stop being awful to each other.

    And yeah, that Holocaust joke is solidly 12.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  12. RHCB
    RHCB

    The janitor at the beginning is John Hawkes.

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
  13. Calandra
    Calandra

    I really like this episode, so it’s great seeing the recap 🙂

    Tiny thing: Oz’s band is actually Four Star Mary in real life; THC is Veruca’s band.
    Still, even in the fourth season two years later, the name is not really appropriate for teenage audiences ^^ (Neither was their song, now that I think about it, but then the most explicit parts weren’t played on the show…)

    August 27, 2015
    |Reply
    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      Ooh, thanks for the clarification! I mis-squee’d in my own comment.

      August 28, 2015
      |Reply
    • Teri
      Teri

      I had to *really* think about that band name to figure it out. Maybe teens in the Buffy days were more hip than I even am now (even as a smoker), but I wonder if they’d’ve gotten the reference. Anyway, Dingoes Ate My Baby is a great band name!

      August 29, 2015
      |Reply
  14. mjkbk
    mjkbk

    ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby’ = Four Star Mary–not T.H.C. (the real band behind Veruca’s ‘Shy’ in Season 4).

    I too have always loved this episode. In addtion to being very moving, it’s beautifully constructed.

    August 28, 2015
    |Reply
  15. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    26 feels like it kinda goes along with 8.

    *flinches at 27* Oh boy…

    28 makes me think Snyder is like Crocker from Fairly Oddparents, which amuses me. Loki and I are also watching Buffy, more with an eye to the fight choreography (Loki) and incredibly classy clothing styles of the late ’90’s (me).

    OZ’S BAND WAS THE BAND THAT ACTUALLY DID “DIP” AND “NEED TO DESTROY” AND–AND–THAT OTHER SONG VERUCA SANG IN THE SHOW???? LAHERIAWHR’EAWR JAGERAE SO MUCH SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

    I kind of get pissed off about that random guy’s behaviour, because the point of Sadie Hawkins is that WOMEN ASK MEN. IT IS LADIES’ CHOICE. WHICH MEANS THE MEN DON’T GET TO ASK THE WOMEN TO ASK THEM, THEY GET TO SIT THEIR ASSES DOWN AND WAIT TO BE FUCKING CALLED ON. GODS. I’m sorry, this just reeks of boundary-stomping to me and it makes me uncomfortable.

    Naaah, I don’t think you’re the odd duck out. When I met my husband, I enthused at him about Norse mythology (his name is Loki), flashed him, kissed him, rested my head in his lap (with permission of course) and we were pretty much going out since day 1. I figured if I didn’t make a move, he wouldn’t know I was interested, and go big or go home.

    *round of applause for custodial staff* They are so underappreciated, even when not in supernatural shows.

    OHHH, okay. I get #26 now that I read the explanation :3

    wellllll… maybe just add a count for ableism in general? I don’t remember seeing one. I know ssn 5 gets mentally-ableist as fuck, though.

    Kiiind of going to dislike James on principle, though, since he shares a name with my father-in-law, who is a prick. I don’t think he should be raped as punishment, but I think maybe he shouldn’t have pulled a gun on someone, called them a bitch, and shot them; and I’d feel the same way if James was a Jane.

    That scene where the ghosts possessed Angel and Buffy was really heartbreaking, and the aftermath made it worse for me. I went through a similar breakup and it’s like I’m reliving it every time I watch them, you know?

    August 28, 2015
    |Reply
  16. Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK
    Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

    I’d say Angelus’ insults about Spike’s wheelchair status make their own case. Tara’s magical (?) cure from stutterer to non-stutterer make more of a case for a number on the list.

    This is a brilliant episode. Also, the teacher being older than James? She wasn’t 200 years older…Noxon pointing out a serious problem with Buffy/Angel?

    August 29, 2015
    |Reply
    • I always figured Tara had some kind of social phobia and stopped stuttering as she became more comfortable with everybody else around Willow.

      August 30, 2015
      |Reply
      • Ida
        Ida

        It’s not okay though, because stutterers don’t stutter because they’re uncomfortable. When Tara magically just “heals” from it that just strengthens the misconception that if stutterers just relaxed, they’d speak fluently. I just feel really strongly about this because my boyfriend stutters, and he’s tired of people telling him to “just relax”.

        June 2, 2016
        |Reply
  17. Anon123
    Anon123

    Yeah, seriously. 🙂 I mean, I know it’s fantasy, but it’s *really* squicky to me that the show is presenting taking crude jokes as a way to “pass” for being authentically disabled. For the fantasy to have a positive message, it has to move beyond the “might makes right” mentality. That can be used as a bridge to get to the place where characters point out how screwed up the ableist jokes are, but as I remember it, the show never actually follows that arc. Idk, I could be forgetting something. 🙂

    You could be right, though; I might just be dumping my own cr** on this issue. I grew up in a family where I was literally told, “If you don’t want to get raped, you should work out until no one can ever overpower you.” So it’s hard for me to find this treatment of Spike’s disability as entirely empowering and not at all problematic. 😕

    August 30, 2015
    |Reply
  18. Anon123
    Anon123

    Glad to help. 🙂 Remember to donate to your friendly neighborhood Wikipedia, as able. 😉

    August 30, 2015
    |Reply
  19. LC
    LC

    I still remember watching this one live. My roommate Paige was out of town for work and I was taping it for her. Spike gets out of his chair, the credits roll, and the phone immediately rang because she had been watching it in a hotel room and couldn’t wait to squee about the inevitable Spike/Angelus showdown.

    I actually seem to remember Snyder acknowledging at some point Buffy is the Slayer in season 3? I always thought he was pretty much recruited to keep a lid on the situation because he hates kids and so “maintaining order” worked as something he was motivated to do, but he wasn’t really trying to stop the demons or anything. (And he clearly was afraid of the Mayor but didn’t know how bad the Mayor really was.)

    September 13, 2015
    |Reply
  20. Meredith salenger and christopher gorham were great in their roles. The age difference between them is nothing compared to buffy and angels.

    March 4, 2016
    |Reply
  21. meadowphoenix
    meadowphoenix

    James had no power in his relationship with Ms. Newman.

    This is incredibly simplistic, I think, and it’s underscored by your comparison James to Jane. The fact of the matter is that there is a male-female dynamic which gives James power, and it exists at the same time as the teacher-student, adult-child ones which give Ms. Newman power. And it’s born out by the fact that if James were Jane, the likelihood that Ms/Mr Newman would have ended up called a bitch or murdered goes way down.

    That doesn’t he wasn’t raped, but I don’t think you have to ignore some of the dynamics at play to see Ms. Newman willingly starting a relationship with James as reprehensible.

    April 29, 2016
    |Reply
  22. ARIADNE
    ARIADNE

    I mean I think to some degree the entire concept of the Slayer/StrongWoman is, like you’ve been saying, really ableist. I think of myself as strong; I just went to a trans rights protest right outside the door of the office where I just quit on account of the impact working there was having on my mental health. That’s strong, just not physically kick ass strong. But I’m disabled, I have PTSD and my body’s a mess from eating disorders and years of abuse. So does that make me less of a strong woman?
    The idea that women can be as physically strong as men is cool and all, but what about the other kinds of strong women need to be just to survive this society?

    March 13, 2017
    |Reply
    • Zweisatz
      Zweisatz

      I think Whedon only knows one kind of strong, which is “like a dude” and includes throwing around sexist phrases … you know, like a dude.

      As someone said somewhere: “Strong female character” has come to mean “physically strong” and doesn’t even necessarily include any character depth (which Buffy has). That’s kinda sad.

      March 14, 2017
      |Reply

Leave a Reply to Ilex Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *