Holy crap. Was that not the best three episodes of Buffy yet!? Oh, my gooodnessssssss. Why didn’t you tell me!?!!!! (This is sarcasm, by the way. You ALL told me.) Before I continue to praise Buffy endlessly this week, let me first apologize for not replying to any comments at all for last week’s recap. We were in the middle of switching servers and I was going through a very dark time because of it. But I’m good now. And I promise to reply this week. I hate not replying to comments; it makes me feel snooty. I’m not! I swear!
And also, I need to burst your bubble quickly: we may not be doing live rewatches anymore. Gah! Don’t kill me. The three episodes per week thing is going too slow for even my liking and adding more days would a big hassle for me personally. So we’re most likely going to do a last hurrah and watch your five favorite episodes and call it a summer! (I was actually thinking we could skip some episodes for live-viewing, but I’d still watch in order for my recaps because I’m a purist.) I know, I’m the worst. I apologize. But I’ll continue recapping — especially after these episodes! Now to win you over and get you back on my side… We’re still watching three this Monday! Don’t worry. I’m just trying to figure out how to watch more episodes a week is all.
These episodes were probably the best of Buffy thus far. You had a somewhat useful villain in Spike, you got some of the greatest and most useful FOTEs (Friend of the Episode, if you’re new), some REALLY good dialogue, Calendiles, and fantastic characterization. They were so good, in fact, I have absolutely zero snarky things to say. Ruh-roh! (Scooby-Doo joke. I had to get it in there.) How will I make this funny? I don’t. I’m basically just going to mention how these episodes are the best thing ever repeatedly below. No, I’m being one hundred percent serious. Get ready to NOT laugh. Ready?
Halloween episodes for supernatural shows are, as a rule of thumb, usually the greatest. (Even though they’re not the same series, we have to compare them anyway…) like, for example, Vampire Diaries’ Halloween episode last season. It wasn’t exactly Halloween on the show, it only aired on Halloween, but there were ghosts walking around everywhere and it was quite badass. It was All Hallow’s Eve, get it? And besides, the season one Halloween episode (in which — SPOILER ALERT — Vicki dies — END OF SPOILERS) is the first episode of The Vampire Diaries where it finally became a good show. It’s the turning point. That’s what happens with Halloween episodes.
And wasn’t True Blood’s Halloween episode where Jessica dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood? Yeah, toldja Halloween episodes are THE BEST.
Now, I won’t lie to you: the first 20 minutes or so of this episode are pretty awful. Buffy is all “woe is me” about Angel. Truthfully, I think the writers just wanted us to forget about them deciding they were just going to stay friends and not even discuss a little bit about changing their policy. It’s kind of haphazard. But let’s just go along with it. Anyway, Buffy is jealous of Cordelia for reasons (even though Cordelia’s longest relationship is two episodes). And Cordelia is all touchy-feely with Angel, because apparently she has zero clue that he’s a vampire. But anyway, that’s our setup for the episode.
And then something ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS happens. This extra gets the Turn Face treatment. But you guys… look this this:
THAT’S RIGHT. An entire 360 degree Turn Face. You’ve seen the 45 degree, you’ve seen the 90 degree — but ladies and gents, THREE HUNDRED SIXTY DEGREES. That brings Turn Face full circle. Now all we need is someone to literally twist their neck 360 degrees. Bug Lady did 90 degrees, so why not 360? Exorcist time, Buffy!
So get this. What Principal Snyder is making everyone signup for is to have them lead a group of kids trick-or-treating for the night. What? I can’t even fathom this. I guess the parents just stay home and hand out candy or drink or cry or something? The point being that Buffy isn’t the only one with an absentee mother, because apparently NO ONE’S parents in town want to take their kids out for the best holiday ever.
So, anyway, the trio sign up because they have to and Xander pretends to not be Chandler Bing and then the weirdest thing ever happens.
Sure, on the outside it looks like just a guy getting a soda. But look again. This guy is getting a *SODA* in a public school, from a WOOD vending machine, and it costs 60 CENTS. WHOA. Can we BE anymore in 1997, Xander? How’s that for a throwback? Anyway, then we meet a FOTE.
Apparently Xander and Larry (FOTE, pictured) are like on speaking terms. And Larry is a lil’ horny and hopes Buffy will satisfy his urges. And, you guys, I’m ashamed at this but I totally went “OHHHHHHH NO HE DIDN’T” when he said he heard Buffy was “fast.” I was, like, oh hells to the nah! You ain’t just say dat. I will come ovah thurr so fast and beat chu up!
But truthfully, I probably would have just got in the fetal position if I were Xander, so I admire his guts. Anyway, they’re about to throw down when Buffy comes in and saves the day and Xander is ashamed for all eternity because it emasculates him. This is where we differ because I would have been thankful that my beautiful face was still intact, but that’s ME.
Anyway, Willow and Buffy — who’s still all “why won’t my brooding vampire we-don’t-label-our-relationship guy talk about his feelings with me” — decide to do the equivalent of snooping through a guy’s phone in 2012, which is reading Giles’ books to get the 411 on all things Angel. And for some reason Buffy thinks Angel still lives hundreds of years ago in the past and wants to dress up like this:
So she does. And the reason she can afford it is because of this guy:
Who was totally creepy from the beginning, right? We can see right through it, guy! While we’re here, let’s just talk about everyone’s Halloween choices.
Buffy decides to dress as someone from the victorian era (I don’t know, I’m not good with time periods, I’m sure someone will correct me) but to me she looks like a cross of a Disney princess and a pirate. Right?
And okay, I’ve been sitting on this for a long time but…she totally looks like Melissa Joan Hart circa Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I feel like Sabrina did a victorian episode or something too, and it really was apparent to me here.
So hear me out: blonde female lead, the story begins when she’s 16, she’s learning the rules thanks to her “watchers,” has to fight monsters on a weekly basis, developed from a movie, runs for seven seasons but HAD TO CHANGE NETWORKS with a The WB(!!!) connection, titled “[Female Character] the [What She Is].” Buffy’s persona even sort of reminds me of Sabrina’s, too — that sort of ambivalent snakiness. So, Buffy and Sabrina are the same.
Willow was ready to dress up as a…uh…an uhm…a floozy? I don’t know what the costume choice is here, really. But she decides to go as a ghost, anyway.
Xander dresses up as Chandler dressed up as a soldier. But here’s the thing, guys, when everyone becomes their costume…why would Xander have become a soldier? He only bought the gun from the costume place, so wouldn’t he have become a republican? I don’t understand it.
And Cordelia also decides to be a floozy, but a feline floozy so at least she had a reason. I’m still dumbfounded at what Willow is.
Anyway, everyone goes trick-or-treating and they become their costumes and it’s awesome finally when the episode hits the 22 minute mark and this happens:
And Willow becomes a ghost but I didn’t understand it because…
It seemed like a HUGE plot hole, more so than the Xander thing. Like, why not? I will not stand for this.
Not even Giles got it.
Anyway, with this Buffy has become some helpless damsel in distress (Daphne!) and Spike is loving it because now’s his chance. He’s been studying her from his lair all this time anyway!
But the thing is, Spike is only close to even hurting Buffy when she’s helpless. So, congratulations Spike? That’s so…badass of you? I don’t know. Seems a little cheap for the slayer slayer. Regardless, she gains consciousness and kicks his ass.
And then Angel and Buffy make out, but not before he tells her that girls from the past were the worst oh em gee, Buffs, like get a grip.
For a guy who whispers so low his mouth noises are REALLY LOUD.
And it’s like, yeah okay we get it — Buffy has insecurities but she’s not some one-dimensional weakling. Stop laying it on so thick, writers. Buffy has a literal monologue in this episode about how the only thing she’s good for is waiting to marry the right man and letting men do all the fighting. We get it.
And then this happens:
Giles became a million times more interesting. Uh oh! This is all because he kicked Ethan’s ass—
oh, my god! Did I not mention that he kicked Ethan’s ass? Because he TOTALLY kicked Ethan’s ass.
Sure it looked like a dance move, but like a deadly dance move. And that’s the episode.
Update on Xander/Cordelia: Soldier Xander gives Cordelia his jacket in this episode and she says “thanks.” So, y’know, they’re the best and whatnot.
Future Pop Culture References: Using Halloween to dress up as a total slut?
For the third time. And Willow is the redheaded girl with fair skin who just doesn’t get it and shows up to the party in a ghost (bride) costume. Just sayin’. And also, it’s a reference to real life.
The Grade: This episode may have dragged on a bit in the beginning, but once everyone turned into their costumes it was a homerun. It was just really fun to have that happen and it allowed everyone to shine through when Buffy took the backseat, including Willow — who struggled with going unnoticed this episode but proved that she has what it takes to be a leader. The next couple of episodes also sort of emphasize that fact as well.
2.07 “Lie to Me”
I think this may have been the most well-put-together Buffy episode thus far. And here’s why:
Joss Whedon wrote and directed it. Obviously, it’s also Joss Whedon and he’s awesome, but it’s his show. Showrunners are usually always the best writers for their series because they just get the tone of their own shows. That’s why “Prophecy Girl” was so good and “When She Was Bad.” And now “Lie to Me.”
It was the perfect mixture of dark elements with playful self-reference, while being a beautiful metaphor for life’s unknown mysteries. And that, my friends, is no easy feat. Regardless of how if you dissect it, it’s not the most perfect thing ever, the sum of its parts fit nicely.
In this episode, Buffy’s longtime friend moves to Sunnydale. And it turns out he’s part of a pro-vampire cult. He offers Spike a trade: Buffy and in return Spike will make him a vampire. Deal is done, but they don’t prevail. We find out Buffy’s friend is dying of cancer. Throughout, Buffy is having more “woe is me” probs with Angel. And the end is the best Buffy/Giles scene.
STOP WITH YOUR PERFECT DELIVERY AND ACTING AND GLASSY EYES, SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR. Aghhhhhh.
Let’s break it down.
FOTEs: We meet Ford in this episode, who is Buffy’s friend from Los Angeles.
And he seems all nice and whatnot, but you just know that he’s going to die as soon as he shows up. Because he’s a FOTE. And also, you know he’s totally bad when this scene happens:
What?! That was a little suspect. Buffy should have known better.
Proof it’s 1997: Anyway, because of Billy, Angel and Willow teamed up and I feel like I just need this screencap here:
And then Angel says this:
On the net. Hello, 1990s.
Most misunderstood scene:
We find out that Drusilla is actually insane because of Angel, and then I suppose Spike came into the picture somewhere down the road. But he gives Buffy up to save Drusilla’s life. Aw. He cares, guys.
The Grade: I already told you this was the best right? Because it is. And the lines are both dark and hilarious! Willow talking about sore thumbs, Angel mentioning vampire wardrobe and his broodingness. It’s all the best!
2.08 “The Dark Age”
And finally, we arrive at “The Dark Age,” an episode that very much explored Giles’ character. And it’s pretty grim, if we’re being honest. Apparently, Giles created a demon of sorts and it’s out to kill everyone who helped! It enters Calendar — and then she’s saved…but it seems like Calendiles is on the fritz! NOOOOOO!!!!!
Update on Xander/Cordelia:
Ugh, you guys, need I say more? And it also prompted…
Badass Willow: Willow telling people off has become my favorite thing in episodes now. This time, she decides to yell at Cordelia and Xander who are acting completely childish in a they-love-each-other way, and it’s just the best.
Don’t change, Willow.
She also figures out exactly how to save Calendar. And the solution was probably the show’s best special effects scene yet.
Also, the show is going with a literal meaning of vampires having demons replacing their human counterparts. So that was a slight change.
Update on Calendiles: Okay, so OBVIOUSLY I was shrieking at this part:
But then they just HAD to add the following, too!
DEAD. Buffy is trying to kill me.
However, given the whole DEMON POSSESSING HER and whatnot, their prospects are now significantly lower. Ugh.
We’ve all been there.
But at least it gave us another AMAZING Giles/Buffy scene.
The most perfect final scene ever?! I think so.
The Grade: This episode was a great look into who Giles is and completely fleshed him out without turning the character on his head for cheap gasps. He created a monster and feels indebted to perfecting the balance of nature. It’s just great. I also love what it did for Willow and showed her life’s roadmap as well. Good episode, I say!
Spike Versus Angel tally: I haven’t mentioned Spike much, but he’s been pretty minimal throughout and hasn’t changed much. I’m waiting for that moment where he becomes an essential character on the show and is as amazing as everyone says he is. For now, let’s update the tally. As you probably remember, Spike received a point for being intelligible. But now Angel has gained in on him!
Because COME ON.
Being frustrated, as I am, with the on-again off-again aspects of this series, I was so pleasantly surprised by these three episodes. They even wove stories from season-long arcs into episodic ones gracefully for the first time, in a way that makes sense too. Going forward: if this is Buffy, then it’s beginning to make sense why everyone couldn’t wait for the middle of season 2.
Yeah, these three episodes were the best.