harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Review: BTVS' "I Only Have Eyes For You"

eyes for your splash

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 2, Ep 19

"I Only Have Eyes For You"

Written by: Marti Noxon
Dir: James Whitmore, Jr

Blurb: Sunnydale High School is haunted by the ghosts of a former student and teacher who reenact their tragic romance through the bodies of the school's current inhabitants.

Scene 01: We start in the Bronze, listening to our guest artist sing. A slow pan reveals young-type peoples swaying to the music. Our pan moves up to the mezzanine, where we find Buffy gazing down on everyone having fun.

She's approached by Ben, a student she apparently had math class with. Ben is there to let us know about the coming Sadie Hawkins dance coming up in which the boys get asked out by the girls. He's hoping that Buffy would like to ask him, and since she hasn't yet he has decided to take the initiative by mentioning this to her.

Buffy is still on post-Angel/Angelus blues, though, and so turns him down. She's not planning on seeing anyone again, ever. Our guest goes on singing, while Buffy decides to just leave.

Scene 02: On her way out, she runs into Willow. They engage in a convo about how Buffy has been all slay lately, or just staying home. Buffy tries to point out that she came there tonight, so she is not all-work/no-play. But Will saw her up on the balcony looking mopey and doing the rejection thing with Ben.


Willow tries to get her into 'date mode' again, but our Slayer reminds Willow of how her last fling ended with her vampire boyfriend losing his soul and killing her friends. Willow sympathizes with the whole disaster, but is concerned that Buffy is giving up on love, when it can be so nice (i.e. she's glowy over being with Oz and wants her friends to be glowy too).

Commentary: Wow, those scenes at The Bronze were long. Did the guest have it in her contract that we had to hear her whole song?

Scene 03: Willow's mentioning how nice love can be leads us across town to the school hallway, where love isn't seeming all that nice at all.

Random couple are apparently arguing, because Boy yells at Girl to stop walking away from him. Our couple appear to be in the midst of an emotional breakup. He's not ready to end things, she's not prepared to stay. Boy demands she say the words that she doesn't love him, and she does -- though it seems like she may not mean that.

Boy refuses to hear this, too. He draws a gun on her. He tells her that love is forever.

Cut to Theme/Credits (which strikes me as being in a weird place)

Scene 04: As our Boy continues to threaten Girl, Buffy arrives to check in with Giles. She sees what is going down, just as Girl turns away and starts to march away from Psycho-Boy.

Commentary: And, this would seem like a better place to insert the credits -- right after Buffy comes around the corner and yells, "HEY!"

Boy ignores the charging Buffy to yell at Girl, "Don't walk away from me, Bitch!"

His yelling now draws a nearby janitor, as well.

Scene 05: Buffy disarms Boy with a bit of ass-kickery. Janitor rushes to Girl to see that she's alright.

Once disarmed, both Boy and Girl are left confused. Both insist that they weren't even fighting several minutes before. Buffy wants to know from Boy why he brought a gun to school if not to threaten Girl, but he insists he doesn't even know how get got it.

Meanwhile, Janitor looks for the gun and reports that it isn't anywhere to be seen.

Scene 06: We skip forward to the following morning. Buffy has been called into Snyder's office to talk about the evening before. He's decided that she incites chaos whereever she goes, to her protestations. Snyder complains that the gun she claims the Boy had is still missing and he and Girl are left confused as to what exactly happened.

He's sure that somehow this is all Buffy's fault... and she probably coerced the witnesses to boot.

He's interrupted by his secretary buzzing in. Apparently, a student who is in the habit of such things, has protested the snack machine by chaining himself to it. He orders Buffy to keep her ass seated until he returns (where he'll undoubtedly try to blame her for influencing the "vegan freak" as well).

Scene 07: As Buffy waits, a Sunnydale yearbook mysteriously slides out of the bookshelf and falls to the floor. It's from 1955.

Buffy gives a "huh", but replaces it without much thought.

Scene 08: Meanwhile, in Jenny's class, Willow is continuing to sub for her and is giving homework assignments. Rupert comes along to hear the last bit where she self-pleasingly draws mild laughter at her joke before dismissing them.

Giles offers that he wanted to make sure she didn't require any help, but can see that she has things well in hand. Willow gives credit to Ms. Calendar as she left behind very good lesson planning. There's a bit of wistful uncomfortableness.

Commentary: What is weird is Willow specifically mentioning that they were on Ms. Calendar's computer: The very computer that was smashed and on fire as she was being killed. Apparently the Hellmouth also makes computer disks really tough to destroy -- obviously to torture the students.

Willow also mentions the other files that Jenny had on her computer about magic, that she finds highly interesting. Finally, she finds a rose quartz necklace of Jenny's and offers it to Giles, as it reputedly has healing properties. He takes it, and we get a reprise of Jenny's theme from when Buffy and he were standing at Calendar's gravesite. He leaves. We ache for him.

Scene 09: Elsewhere, Buffy has escaped from Snyder only to be bored into drowsiness in history.

As the teacher is going over the New Deal, Buffy drifts into a vision. Buffy's vision involves a female teacher and a high school boy. All of the kids around her are dressed ... well... not as she.

She's seeing the 1950's of Sunnydale High, you see. In this vision, James hands in an assignment to Ms. Newman and as they chat there seems to be some sort of inappropriate feelings between the two. This is confirmed a moment later, as Grace and he touch fingers intimately. They're interrupted by someone opening the classroom door, which also ends Buffy's vision.

When she returns to herself, her history teacher is continuing the lesson. But as he's lecturing, on the green board, he's writing James' refrain:

"Don't walk away from me, Bitch," which as we'll recall was the words used by Boy to Girl when they were both off in their own argument, which neither can explain.

Scene 10: Later, Buffy is telling Xander about the weird which he mocks as being their basic school motto. He points out though that a daydream and the teacher having a case of chalkboard Tourette doesn't really prove hellmouth activity. He quickly changes his mind however, when he opens his locker door only to be assaulted by an arm grabbing his shirt and trying to yank him into it.

Buffy's able to pull him away and shut the locker, but the hallway is crowded and everyone is staring at him. Buffy and Xan try to both play it off, somehow, and to investigate further. Buffy opens the locker again for him, ready for a fight... but nothing is there.

Commentary: Okay, so my biggest problem with this one is the Ghostly Manifestations. They feel completely random as to what James can do, or why he chooses the attacks that he does. In this case, I can sort of see why Xander was targeted, if not the weird (and cheap) arm in the locker. James is obviously reaching out to Buffy for whatever reason [she'll theorize later, but I'm not sure I buy it completely], but what he hopes to accomplish through her is unclear.

But, I can see him launching this random attack on Xander for trying to talk Buffy out of investigating, and ergo (presumably) helping James out of his torment. I can even sort of see that the arm could be manifested combining ectoplasma and Hellmouth booster. But as James gets more angry, his powers seem to be entirely random from scene to scene and again I have to wonder why he's only now being so clear and aggressive. I suppose it is possible from his limbo, that he knows Buffy is a supernatural being and can help him, so maybe he's super in-your-face about it for that reason. But, this is never addressed except by Buffy's own theory, which we'll get to at the appropriate time.

Scene 11: Our twosome rush to the library where, naturally, Giles is putzing -- because other students only ever enter the library on a lark usually when it is jokingly inconvenient. Willow also is there, looking at stuff. Just stuff. Probably related to her sudden interest in Jenny's magic knowledge.

Xan and Buffy report on the latest weird in the school and they come to the conclusion pretty quickly that they're dealing with a poltergeist-laden angry ghost.

Buffy's face probably says it all:


Willow says it's cool, but she wonders what it wants. Giles explains hauntings - that the ghost has unresolved crises which it cannot do anything to resolve, and this makes him/her grow ever more angry and confused. He suggests finding out who the spirit used to be and resolving whatever is holding him/her here.

And, by Giles' tone, you can already hear that he's forming an opinion about who is haunting the school.

Scene 12: Later that night, George the Janitor - who witnessed Boy and Girl and the gun situation, is mopping up the hallway as teacher Mrs. Frank is leaving for the night. They exchange pleasantries. But as Mrs. Frank goes to leave, George calls out to her as he drops the mop suddenly. A faraway look comes into Mrs. Frank's eyes... oh, oh.

George tells Mrs. Frank that she can't make him go away. Mrs. Frank tells George there is no way they can be together, as no one will understand. George doesn't want to let go of Mrs. Frank's love, but she tells him it has to be over and tries to rush off. George follows.

George and Mrs. Frank begin repeating the section of the argument that we heard from Boy and Girl. And that gun? The one that Boy had which vanished mysteriously when Buffy knocked it out of Boy's hand? Well, it suddenly materializes in George's hand. He brandishes it at Mrs. Frank.

Commentary: And, at this point it should be quite clear that Boy and Girl weren't actually involved in a bitter breakup, just as both claimed. We can tell that this argument is being repeated in the evening by random guy/girl following a pattern set down by James and Grace decades before.

Scene 13: In his library office, Giles overhears George's voice growing louder as he yells at Mrs. Frank over her attempts to try to tell him that she isn't in love with him, as he refuses to accept this could be true.

Notably, Giles is researching something... while he's clinging to the rose quartz on a cord that used to be Jenny's *sigh, oh Giles*.

He hears a woman's voice whispering, "I need you", as he leaves his office to investigate the angry argument in progress. He immediately takes this as Jenny calling out to him from beyond the grave. He wanders out into the hallway, and closes on George and Mrs. Frank in their thrall.

He's just in time to see them through a window, where George has backed Mrs. Frank against the balcony wall. He shoots her in the chest and sends her tumbling.

George goes running off in a panic, where he passes by the hallway that Giles is crouched in. Rupert flies out from the corner and tackles George, which causes the gun to fly from his hand. As it slides across the floor, it de-materializes. George is left utterly mystified, and then horrified as Giles tells him what he's just done.


Commentary: I rarely feel really bad for the random victims, but poor George! Not to mention Mrs. Frank dying as somebody else. What is interesting though, is the fact that we're not only dealing with James' haunting, as we've easily concluded. But, Ms. Newman is also haunting the school, as they're both trying to resolve her murder but apparently aren't able to interact directly with one another. It leads to deep-thoughts about what is going on beneath our notice with their ghosts and they're being forced to continually try to come to a conclusion for both of them, but not being able to communicate with one another. Huh.

But, I also wanted to really just give a kudos to actor, John Hawkes, who is very arresting. It's weird, but I've seen very few things that he's acted in but whenever I have, it's always him that my attention is focused on simply due to a screen presence and magnetism... possibly due to his expressive eyes.

Scene 14: In a nearly random jump, we join Angel and Drusilla. They're moving into new digs now that Giles managed to burn them out of the factory. The new place is exactly what Dru wanted -- which will surely only lead to more sparks between Angelus and Spike.

Speaking of which -- Spike rolls in, and immediately snarks that the abandoned mansion has lots of windows and a nice large garden exposed to the sunlight which should come in handy when they all want to immolate. Angelus tells him that if he doesn't like it, he can always: "Hit the stairs, and go. Take a stand, man."

Spike complains that the old place was fine, until Angelus brought Rupert's wrath down on them. Angelus continues to taunt Spike.

Scene 15: In the library the following day, Giles updates the gang. Poor George remembers killing Mrs. Frank, but he has no idea why. Also, the police searched high and low for the murder weapon, but the gun wasn't found anywhere.

Rupert tells the gang that the haunting is caused by Jenny -- even though the pattern has nothing to do with the way that she died, nor did Jenny seems like the type of person to play sock-puppet with people and force them to shoot other random victims in a random act of jealousy and heartbreak. The gang is... obviously... a bit "WTH??" by his theory.

The Scooby Gang try to point out all of the evidence that the pattern being played out simply isn't consistent with how Jenny was murdered, but Rupert is almost desperate to believe that Ms. Calendar is there with them. He tells them that the details aren't significant, it's the violence that is the important detail.

Commentary: I really like this scene, both because you get clearly that Giles is still struggling with Jenny's brutal loss but also because ASH gives Giles this undertone of anger when Willow is challenging him on the details of the haunting. Even though he tells them all that they should always speak their opinion and never be cowed by authority, he then (with that hint of anger) tells them that in this case he is clearly right and they are clearly wrong.

On the one hand, you want to shake him because his Watcher training should be pointing out the obvious fallacy that Jenny would be involved in this haunting. On the other hand, you can really feel for him and understand why his heart is overruling any logic.

Scene 16: Leaving the library, we join Willow, Xander and Buffy in the computer room. The gang sympathize with Giles, but they look into an alternative to Jenny as ghost theory. Willow quickly finds the old tale of James and Grace, in which James murdered his teacher on the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance and then shot himself in the head in the music room.

Buffy quickly realizes that this incident took place in 1955, as she remembers the yearbook dropping to the floor in Snyder's office.

Scene 17: Retrieving the yearbook, Buffy explains what had happened. She points out James and Grace as the two that she also saw in her history class vision.

With the real haunting resolved (at least partly -- no one realizes that Grace also is in the building), we break for lunch.

Scene 18: In the cafeteria, Cordelia joins Buffy, Xander and Willow. She's complaining about the Sadie dance because the girls have to ask the guys out and then they have to pay for the date, and everything, which upsets her natural order. She informs the gang she has to nip this sort of thing in the bud, or things will get really scary.

Which they randomly do -- by everyone's lunch being transformed into snakes -- randomly.

There is mass panic in the lunchroom, and Cordelia ends up with a snakebite to the face.

Commentary: This is really where I'm having trouble with the ghost story. It is just way too obvious and over the top, even for Sunnydale, to try to believe that no one is going to question any "natural explanation". But more than that, if James is so powerful that he can transmutate an entire room into a pit of snakes, then why isn't there more going wrong? And what do snakes have to do with his murder/suicide breakdown?

I can understand his anger being directed at Cordelia -- she specifically mentions stopping the Sadie Hawkins dance, and James understandably needs this dance in his twisted way of trying to find a way to stop himself from killing the woman he loves and resolving his anger and despair, even though of course, he can't. I get the motives. I don't understand the randomness of this attack as carried out.

It's even more outlandish than the attack on Xander, which I could accept as being a manifestation of James' decayed arm in the locker. This though? It just doesn't make any sense as to how/why James could/would lash out in this way -- Hellmouth or no Hellmouth. And it just continues to get more and more offtrack. If James is locked in a pattern of reliving the night he murdered Grace and committing suicide, then he shouldn't be able to act outside of those boundaries, right?

And, he certainly shouldn't be able to transmute objects into living creatures! Especially since, unlike the more logical gun, the snakes don't dissipate.

It just strikes me as being completely inconsistent with the story as far as James re-enacting his greatest regret and looking for a way to resolve his despair and guilt over what he'd done and giving his ghost way too much power for someone who is a victim of his own tragic past actions.

Scene 19: A bit later, Cordy is in an ambulance complaining about her face being scarred and swollen from the snakebite. But more importantly and interesting, Snyder is meeting with the police commissioner as they try to come up with a cover story for what has happened. Snyder complains about things getting out of hand, which suggests that not only Snyder, but the entire police brass know that Sunnydale isn't normal.

In fact, Snyder straight out tells the Commissioner that Sunnydale is sitting on a Hellmouth and people are going to figure that out, no matter how much they try to cover it. The Commissioner tells Snyder that if he can't handle the job, he should take it up with... The Mayor.

Snyder's expression says a lot -- The Mayor is clearly someone you don't want to go talk to (and leads us, awesomely, to S3's big bad).

Scene 20: That night, in Buffy's room at home, the gang have convened (tellingly, they're meeting without Rupert). Willow decides that they have to take the final solution to deal with James' ghost. Xan thinks she's talking about nuking the school (hi shout out to how S3 will be resolved!) but Wills clarifies that she meant just an exorcism.

Cordy isn't wild about that plan, having seen what happened to the priest(s) in The Exorcist.

But Buffy co-signs Willow's plan, and they dive into the specifics.

Scene 21: With a plan to bind the ghost in place and stop it from causing any more harm, The Gang return to the school to carry out the ritual.

They separate to differing places to form a triangle with one point centered on the balcony where both Grace and Mrs. Franks died, while the fourth person forms a point in the center of the triangle.

Willow gives everyone a charm she made with sulfur to provide protection (which also gets a shoutout in S3) and Cordy unwisely says this should be a piece of cake.

James responds by slamming all of the school doors shut around them.

Scene 22: Back at the mansion, Spike and Angelus continue to play their sniping games with one another. Drusilla has a sudden vision of a "gate" opening at the high school. Dru tells Angelus that Buffy is dancing with death and is waiting for him to join her.

Spike complains that Angelus won't do anything, anyway, as he's too much into playing his games rather than simply killing her. Angelus disagrees, saying that he thinks that the Slayer situation has run its course.

Running his hands along Dru's thighs and waste, he tells Spike that with him being "special needs boy" he feels that he should stay close to home now that they could use another pair of hands. Dru continually coos at Angelus' attention, sending Spike into a cool rage, which you can tell he's having trouble restraining.

Scene 23: Back at the school, Willow is passing by the library, when Giles scares the bejeezus out of her. He wants to know what she's doing there, but she deflects to his presence. Giles is attempting to contact Jenny, and warns Willow that she doesn't want to be hanging around the school as there may be supernatural effects, if he's successful. She doesn't bother to share what her and the gang are up to.

Commentary: In retrospect, I find the Scooby interactions with Giles to be interesting in that it is an early indication that they're all finding their own independence. And though that is a good thing, we'll see that it also causes severe trouble for the Scoobies as they seperate from Giles in S4, and then actively turn on him with Buffy starting at the end of S5, Willow lashing out at him at the end of S6, Buffy again clashing with him during S7 and Giles basically being largely on the outs with the gang in S8, going so far as to have removed Buffy from his will and leaving his assets to Faith at the end of S8.

Who knew?

Scene 24: Meanwhile, Cordelia goes into a bathroom with her candle. As she's waiting for the appointed hour (midnight, 'natch) she checks out her snakebite in the mirror.

Scene 25: Buffy is heading toward the balcony, where she expects the major trouble to happen. As she's walking down the hallway though, she hears music from the music room. A flyer is pasted over the window of the door advertising the dance circa 1955. In the room, she sees Grace and James slow dancing together.

Commentary: And yes, the song is "I Only Have Eyes For You", and yes -- it is entirely inappropriate due to research fail. More to the point, it's the version of the song that is a problem. Y'see the song itself could certainly have been played for the 1955 sequence as it had been around since the '30s. But, the version that the crew decided to use was the popular 1959 recording by The Flamingos.

So, somehow, Grace and James were able to use the Hellmouth effect (presumably before they were dead) to listen to a song that wouldn't exist for another four years. Maybe one or the other of them were witches. Maybe that's why James' powers are so out-sized for being a ghost.

Or maybe the idiots should have paid a bit closer attention and just put the Sadie Hawkins dance in 1960, instead.

Scene 26: Xander, playing center point, returns to the cafeteria, where the snakes have returned.

Scene 27: Willow goes to one of the stairwell landings.

Scene 28: Back with Buffy, she watches our couple dancing until James notices her. His face goes post-dead rotted before the entire scene returns to real-time and the room is empty.


Scene 29: In the bathroom, Cordelia stares at herself and grabs her compact. This seems like a bad idea -- I don't think you should be trying to use concealer on open wounds!

James intervenes though, as he starts his campaign to stop the interference in his quest by showing Cordy her own face being disfigured.


Scene 30: Meanwhile, Willow puts her candle down as she readies herself for her part in the ritual. But James goes after her next, by creating a vortex in the floor. His arm reaches up out of it and tries to drag Willow down into the empty space beyond.

Fortunately for Willow, Rupert hears her screaming for help and is able to pull her from James' grasp. They tumble down the stairs.

Scene 31: Meanwhile with Buffy, she's arrived at the balcony. After she places her candle down, she has a vision of the sequence with Grace being shot and James placing the gun to his head in the music room. James' ghost then appears and grabs her, shouting in her face to get out, before vanishing.

Scene 32: In the bathroom, Cordelia finds her face returned to normal.

Scene 33: In the hallway, Willow tells Giles that Jenny couldn't be that mean and Giles deflates as he finally accepts that it isn't Ms. Calendar in the school.

As the bell tolls for midnight, everyone lights their candles and begins the chant to bind James into a helpless state (which isn't really what I'd think of as an exorcism, but whatever).

This fails to work, and only makes James lash out all the harder. With his (ridiculously powerful) abilities, he creates/summons thousands of wasps to chase the gang from the school and leave it completely inaccessible to anyone not wearing a anti-bee suit.

Scene 34: Back at Buffy's house, the gang -- this time including Giles -- discuss what they're going to do next. Buffy intuits that James wants forgiveness to resolve his conflict and that's what he's been trying to get by reliving/re-enacting the night of the Sadie dance, when he murdered Ms. Newman.

Giles realizes that he can't get forgiveness because the cycle can never be resolved by the participants. "Ms. Newman" always dies by gunshot (and presumably, both Boy and George would have followed through on shooting themselves in the music room, if they hadn't kept getting intercepted first).

Buffy says she's glad, because he doesn't deserve to be forgiven for what he's done. Giles pulls some profundity by expressing that forgiveness isn't given because someone deserves it, it's offered as an act of compassion to someone who needs it. Buffy is not hearing that and storms off in a huff after a speech that is clearly referring to the disaster of Angel and Her. Cordy spotlights it after she's out of the room.

Commentary: I like this scene, especially Giles' line about the nature of forgiveness not being about being deserved, but being offered as a gesture of mercy. But, I'm not completely onboard with Buffy's overidentification with the Grace/James situation. It feels muddled to me.

Is she comparing herself to James and refusing to forgive herself for Angel's turning? Because their situations aren't comparable. She had sex with Angel out of ignorance and he turned evil. She didn't get obsessed with her relationship with him and then staked him when he tried to leave. So that doesn't work.

Is she comparing Angel to James? Angel is a victim here. He's not even there, anymore, so nothing that Angelus has done can be compared to James making the choice to shoot Grace and kill himself in his heartbreak/obsession. That doesn't really work.

Is she comparing Angelus' obsession with her to James' obsession to Grace? Again, this doesn't exactly line up. Angelus and Buffy were never lovers -- strictly, speaking and Angel is no long involved. Also, Angelus' obsession with Buffy isn't about "love" really -- it's more about being obsessed with destroying that which Angel loved because of his loathing for his souled counterpart.

The contours may be similar: A mismatched love connection gone wrong leading to chaos and death for the participants, but even then -- not exactly. The circumstances are wildly different. This compare/contrast bit, while leading to some great acting by Sarah and David, it really doesn't match up when you think on it.

In a similar vein, Giles' speaking of forgiveness and its importance doesn't really translate to Buffy the way the episode wants us to accept, either. Buffy, from what I can gather, is meant to find forgiveness - but for whom?

Herself? Yes, she should forgive herself for what happened with Angel -- it wasn't her fault, she was only the catalyst for something of which she had no knowledge. But this isn't the same as finding forgiveness for James. Buffy didn't kill Angel because he wanted to break up with her; this was something outside of them which was done to them. Buffy is as much a victim of circumstance as Angel is.

Angel? Again, this doesn't work at all. Angel is a victim, James isn't. Angel didn't make a choice, James did. Angel didn't kill Buffy and commit suicide. He was for intent & purpose, murdered.

Angelus? This REALLY doesn't work. Angelus is an evil demon, not a person who made an impulsive and destructive choice in the heat of the moment. Also, everything that Angelus has done hasn't been about a love affair gone bad, it's an act of vengeance for Angel's life taking Angelus' rightful place.

I can see the connections that they're trying to form, but when you examine the situation between Buffy's not being forgiving and needing to be it doesn't really have anything to do with James needing forgiveness and not getting it.

Hmmm. Actually, I could see an entirely different story about Buffy learning to extend forgiveness not because someone deserves it, but because someone needs it if this were more about Jenny Calendar, rather than the forced parallel between James/Grace and Angel/Buffy. If Buffy were still bitter and resentful at Jenny for causing the destruction of Angel and then had to learn to forgive her for her not being upfront about who she was and what she was doing and let go of the bitterness toward her, that could have been a valuable lesson-plot with plenty of dramatic angst between Buffy and the Scooby Gang and especially between Buffy and Giles.

But that issue was pretty much put to bed in Passion. Plus, it would need to have been developed that even Jenny's murder didn't resolve the blame at her on Buffy's part, which really would have been a better use of time than Killed By Death and Go Fish.

Scene 35: Buffy storms into the kitchen (there is no indication of where Joyce is -- presumably out of town for a gallery buy). She feels something in her coat pocket unexpectedly and pulls out a folded piece of paper. This turns out to be one of those flyers for the 1955 Sadie Hawkins dance.

Buffy gets a trance-y look on her face and we hear James' voice whisper to her that he needs her. She leaves.

Scene 36: In the meantime, Willow asks Giles about what they try next. He doesn't know, as the ghost is too angry and powerful for a simple resolution.

Scene 37: Meanwhile, meanwhile Buffy is continuing her walk back toward the school. The hornet storm parts a curtain for her to enter. We see the doors open for her and then the hornets resume their protective barrier after she's inside.

Scene 38: Back in the Summers' kitchen, Willow finds the flyer and no Buffy. She intuits that the Slayer returned to the school.

Scene 39: Back in front of the school, the gang have gathered. They find they still can't get in because of the ginormous cloud of CGI-hornets. Cordy accuses her of trying to play the big loner hero, but Giles surmises that she's fallen under James' call. He's left confused though, because the school is deserted at this time of night, meaning there isn't anyone to play his role so he can re-enact shooting Ms. Newman as he tries to change the ending.

Scene 40: Inside, Buffy is wandering the hallway in a possessed daze. We can tell because the hallway is seesawing. Buffy comes to a halt, just as Angelus mockingly appears to tell her that a fun fact about wasps is that they don't care for the flesh of the undead.

Commentary: However, what that has to do with not getting stung while he's walking through them, as their already in an agitated guard-state isn't mentioned. I'll just go ahead and believe it is Grace's doing for reasons about to be made plain.

Angelus goes on to tell Buffy about how special this night is going to be (as he's all in the mood to finally kill her, apparently). Buffy in the meantime is looking devastated, but she doesn't sound very Buffy-like as she tells him that he's the only one she can talk to. He responds that she's sounding pathetic.

Buffy spits out that Angelus can't make her disappear, just because he's says it's over. He responds that actually, yes, he can do that, as he stalks up to her.

What Angelus doesn't realize, and we do, is that Buffy's dialog matches the Janitor's before he shot Mrs. Franks. The dialog is coming from James' side of the last conversation with Grace, not from her side of it.

Angelus goes to tell Buffy something else about how he's going to slaughter her, blah-blah. But before he can bore us, he's suddenly repeating Grace's line to James about wanting him to have a normal life.

Now, Buffy/Angelus are speaking to one another as James and Grace. To make that clear, we're shown a flashback of part of their conversation in the hallway.

Commentary: This part bugs me, just a little bit. It feels like the director thought we may be too dumb to figure out what is happening after the repeated scenes we've seen of this conversation. I wish he'd left our swapped POV out of it and let us follow along on our own. Thankfully, we return to Buffy following James' actions and Angelus playing Grace.

Inbetween flashes from James/Grace to Buffy/Angelus, James pulls the gun and we see it now in Buffy's hand. We finally see the entirety of the last moments, including certain portions that we missed during the other two re-enactments.

Grace/Angelus rushes to the balcony with James/Buffy following and brandishing the gun. Grace tries to reason with James, but he explodes that she's talking down to him like he's a stupid kid. During his exclamations, he's waving the gun around and it went off. Buffy fires in imitation of James, shooting Angelus to the chest. Angelus whispers James' name before Grace takes her header over the balcony as Buffy/James looks on is despairing shock.

In front of the school, the gang hear the single gunshot, but they're still unable to approach.

Commentary: I just want to kudos here to Sarah and David again for their acting in this scene. David B. is especially affecting as the doomed Grace Newman trying to convince James/Buffy that they can't be together any longer.

Scene 41: Grace is lying where she fell, as we see James stumble back toward the hallway. We then see that Angelus is lying where Grace had.

We follow Buffy as she makes her way back to the music room, where James will end his life.

Commentary: And I know that I should be lost in the moment of this scene -- but that gun looks about 1/3 the size of SMG's entire body!

Scene 42: Below, we see Angelus open his eyes....


Scene 43: In the music room, Buffy starts the phonograph of "I Only Have Eyes For You". In the mirror in the room, she sees herself as James. As she raises the gun to finish out this act, a hand comes from offscreen to take ahold of it. This of course is Angelus returned.

Except not, because it is Grace wanting to speak to James and stop him from following through this time. Grace through Angelus tells James through Buffy that she didn't stop loving him, not even with her last breath. She tells him that it was an accident that the gun went off. As they kiss, a light vortex appears above Angelus and Buffy's heads signaling that the ghosts have been released to go wherever they're supposed to be headed. Presumably, James won't be going to Hell since he's been forgiven by his victim.


Commentary: Excellent acting by David and SMG, again, throughout this sequence.

Scene 44: Of course with Grace and James departing, that leaves us with Angelus kissing on Buffy. It takes them several seconds to come back to the here and now, with Buffy whispering Angel's name. Angelus doesn't respond well. With a growl, he shoves Buffy away and takes off.

Scene 45: Later, the gang have gotten back in the school. Rupert is waiting in the library as Xan, Willow and Cordy return to let him know that no snakes or wasps have been left behind in the school.

Meanwhile Buffy is sitting in Giles' office where he asks after her. She looks numb. Buffy is left bothered that James picked her, opinioning that it is because they're both so sad.

Commentary: I'm not buying that this is why Buffy would be chosen. I have a hard time believing that she's the only person who has ever been sad on Sadie Hawkins Dance day. I have to believe that he did sense her supernatural aspect and that is why he'd waste energy making sure she took that flyer with her so that he could reach out to her mind from the high school.

Giles offers that they can both rest in peace now. But, Buffy is still trying to understand why Grace could forgive him.

Scene 46: Back at the mansion, Angelus scrubs at himself with icky water from the dirty fountain. Spike smirks that he may want to stop scrubbing before he's skinless. But Angelus is in a state over being bodyjacked and having to experience Grace's love for James. He tells Dru that they need to go out before dawn and get in an extra vile kill to wash the sense of it out of his body. Drusilla is always up for a hunt.


Drusilla asks if Spike wants to come, but Angelus puts the kibosh on that, stating they don't have a lot of time. He apologizes to Spike for disinviting him in a mocking manner. Spike stews as he watches them go.

But Spike isn't one to take Angelus' constant mocking without a little pay back. And after Dru and Angelus are on their way, we see Spike dramatically get up from his wheelchair that he's been confined to since What's My Line, Part II ... and his glare promises lots of pain to come for Angelus....


The Good: David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar do a marvelous job as Grace and James, respectively.

In addition, Meredith Salenger and Miriam Flynn both do well as Grace. John Hawkes was also impressive as James-possessed George the Janitor.

The scenes of Buffy playing James and Angelus playing Grace and acting out James' last moments were really good, drama wise.

ASH does some really nice work as the clearly still grieving Giles.

The Angelus/Spike clash remains fun, and that episode kicker is neat.

The Bad: I'm gonna put the food-to-snakes manifestation here, simply because it's so over-the-top and outrageous that I can't see how the usual explanations would work, even with the Hellmouth mind-effects present.

Other Thoughts: The pacing on this one was a bit slow, especially the very beginning in The Bronze and then as the gang slowly piece together and battle the Sunnydale ghost. I did like the wrap up, though.

And speaking of over-the-top ghost powers, Willow's nearly being sucked into the floor to who-knows-where seemed a bit excessive for this episode as well.

The Score: Overall, I like this episode even though it seems to run a bit long. Some really good acting certainly helps to keep us engaged and there are some wonderful dramatic sequences, but the episode overall always feels a bit draggy to me.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Next Review: Movie: "Carnival of Souls" (1962)
Tags: buffy season 2 reviews

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