harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Review: BTVS' "Go Fish"

go fish splash

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
S2, E20

"Go Fish"

Written: David Fury & Elin Hampton
Directed: David Semel

Blurb: Xander goes undercover on the Sunnydale swim team after members begin turning up dead, after apparently being skinned alive.

Scene 01: We open on a shot of ocean waves coming ashore at night over generic rock music. Quickly, we're introduced to a scene where students have gathered on the beach for a party and bonfire deal.

We join Xander, Cordelia and Willow standing at such bonfire, where Xander complains that the beach was a dumb place for a victory celebration, as it is officially "nippy" out, so say his nips.

Willow offers it's festive. Xan is feeling a bit jealous at the attention that the swim team members are getting for winning some meet or another. Cordelia is just glad that her pep squad hasn't wasted energy again on a loser team. Will offers that they're still number one at 'mortality rate'.

Scene 02: Meanwhile, dozens of feet away, Buffy is sitting and staring out at the ocean and probably thinking on Angel. She's joined by random swim jock, who smooth dialogs her on the eternal state of the ocean. His name is Cameron and he seems interested in spending more time with one Buffy Summers.


Scene 03: From up the beach, Buffy and Cam's moment is interrupted by a call for help. We see a dunkin' going on, which turns out to be poor Jonathon being harrassed. The harrasser gets interrupted by a Buffy takedown. His swim team bros stop him from getting up in Buffy's face, so that she doesn't have to embarass him.

Buffy tries to see to Jon, but she's broken the guy-code... again... and he's about as pissy about her save as Xan was when she pulled the same thing against football player Larry on Xan's behalf. Jonathon stomps off.

Scene 04: Meanwhile, Dodd (bully) is complaining to Gage that Buffy gives him the creeps. Without warning, Dodd comes to a complete stop while walking and gazes out at the ocean in a trance-y state. He appears to hear something from the ocean, and walks toward it....

Commentary: And, again, we do get that hint that the student body of Sunnydale isn't completely blind to how unusually strong Buffy is, which is all building toward them publically acknowledging her contributions to keeping them alive next season. It's nice to see how these little moments in some future episode has building blocks in retrospect throughout seasons before.

Scene 05: Gage doesn't notice that he's lost Dodd, but stops with a wrinkling of the nose as he smells something unpleasant close by. He turns around to complain to Dodd about the sudden foulness, but finds him completely missing without trace.

He races back toward the beach party, not noticing Dodd's cry of distress from over a sand dune. The camera pan tells us that Dodd has been reduced to a pile of steaming skin and clothes.

Nearby, a humanoid-reptilian lookin' Creature slogs to a drainage pipe....

We Have Credits

Scene 06: We return to Willow teaching Ms. Calendar's class, STILL. [Why are we even pretending that Snyder is looking for a paid teacher, when he's getting away with a free student doing the work?]

Willow notices that Gage has not been working on programming in pie charts, as assigned for the hour, but has been playing solitaire with nudie cards. He completely blows off her concern with the air of arrogant entitlement that all television jocks come equipped with.

After the bell rings, Snyder comes into the room, congratulating Gage for the previous meet win. Snyder's real reason for the visit however, is to butter up Willow by claiming that they've had trouble finding a teacher because of the late term and to offer to allow her to continue substituting through finals. There is a caveat, though (as implied by the term "butter up") in that he wants to assure that Gage will pass Rosenberg's course despite his obvious lack of effort to do so legitimately. Naturally, this bothers Willow but Principal Snyder is very insistent that she "re-check your figures" and re-grade Gage.


Scene 07: In the hallway moments later, Willow is complaining about Snyder's veiled, but clear, request to Xan and Cordy. Xander is naturally appalled at the unfairness toward those who work hard for their "D". Cordelia doesn't understand what the big deal is, as it makes complete sense that some people are more priviledged that others and get certain perks for being winners (and she manages to slide in one of her insults toward him, despite still dating him).

Xan makes a pointed comment at Cordy that he's annoyed that Buffy isn't there to share his moral outrage.

Scene 08: Buffy is, in fact, among the gifted. She's with Cameron being brought in to school(? -- uh, late isn't she??) in Cam's car, where he is boring her to tears with his obsession toward swimming and the ocean. Cameron begins to put the moves on Buffy to her rather disturbed face and he certainly doesn't get the message when she gets insulted at his asking if she's wearing a bra. She goes to get out of the car, but finds that he's locked the door on her. Despite being in a school parking lot, he's another entitled shit, so he thinks he can pressure her into some heavy petting (at the least) but she lets him know that won't be happening... by introducing his face to his steering wheel.

It is glorious.

Although, Snyder doesn't seem to think it's glorious, as he's walked up to the car in time to hear Cam whining that Buffy broke his nose....

Scene 09: Back in the school, the nurse puts an ice pack on Cam's nose while Buffy insists to Snyder that she wasn't the attacker. Snyder states that from what he saw, she looked like the violent one and Cam pipes up that she led him on (using that old chestnut that Buffy's state of dress was an invitation) before turning schizo on him.

This is interrupted before I can scream at the screen for Buffy to beat both men's asses by the arrival of Coach Marin. Snyder turns his attention to finding out if Cam is going to be able to compete. It turns out that Cam's nose isn't broken after all, just split and bruised. Marin tells him that without Dodd, he'll definitely need Cam as he's the best swimmer on the team. Buffy tries to find out what happened to Dodd, but Snyder shuts her out snottily.

Marin sends Cam off to the steamroom, the reasons becoming clear later. Marin adds his two cents at Buffy for not dressing appropriately for school.

Commentary: And even though we're dealing with the villains here, it still pisses me off that Buffy's being harrassed is being waved aside. I wish she'd just tossed out that maybe the ACLU would be more helpful with this situation, just to see Snyder go pale. It's sucks that they allow he, Marin and Cam to get away with this without any sort of Buffyesque retort and that the nurse stays silent on the matter.

And yes, I've complained about Buffy's outfits before -- especially in S1 -- but that in no way justifies the script brushing aside Cam being a pig.

Cam smirks at her (pig).

Scene 10: Later in the library, Buffy complains about being seen as the villain of this piece. This has apparently been going on for some time, because everyone else is staring at Buffy until she finally realizes she's ranting and sits. She asks them how they're doing, a little awkwardly.

Giles and Willow inform her that they're investigating remains found on the beach that morning -- Dodd's evicerated remains. It seems that all the creature left behind were skin and cartilage. Xan offers that the skin is the best part and Buffy asks Giles if he knows of any demons that are fighting high cholesteral. Giles is unamused, but Buffy assures him that he'll be thinking about that one later and he'll laugh.

Commentary: And by the way, despite the fact that I'm mad at how Cam is allowed to get away with his harassment by the script, Buffy really shouldn't get away with wearing that skirt to school. I continue to hate the costumer. This is especially true later when Willow once again assaults my eyes with her outfit while interrogating Jonathon.

Scene 11: Meanwhile, Cam has reported to the steam room as per Coach's orders. We swap POV between objective on Cam and stalker-cam in the locker room.


Cam acts as if he's not feeling well, in addition to the painful nose injury and his towel teases us. Cam hears a bang from the locker room, as we see POV approaching the steam room. Our stalker turns out to just be Coach, arrived to tell Cam he's had enough steam time for the moment.

Commentary: A good effect on Cam's nose, by the way -- it really does look swollen out of shape.

Scene 12: In the hallway, Xan is pooped from too much research time and is on his way to the pop machine. He and Cam plow into each other, which naturally causes Cam to throw out that Xan is a loser. Xander retaliates by telling him the nose looks good. Cam asks what he means by that comment, and Xan enjoys telling him that Buffy must not be on the swim team's perks list. Cameron suggests that if he wasn't hungry, he'd be punching Xan out about now. Xan tells him the cafeteria is closed, so too bad -- but Cam enjoys telling Xander that the cafeteria is on the perks list and proceeds to go there, leaving Xan to be disgusted at the preferential treatment the jocks get away with again.

Scene 13: In the empty cafeteria room, Cam wrinkles his nose at a disgusting smell....

Scene 14: Meanwhile Xander has proceeded to the machine. He hears a cry of distress and a loud banging from the cafeteria and takes off toward Cameron at a sprint....

Scene 15: He finds the cafeteria empty, but there are signs of a struggle with overturned tables and chairs. And also, Cam's steaming body - sans organs - lying on the floor.

Commentary: The effects for the bodies are iffy. A nice touch was Cam's remains including a nipple, but you'd think there'd be a lot more of a mess left behind. The skin seems a bit rubbery too, if you look at the effect too closely. Actually, it reminds me of the effect in the movie, "Island of Terror" in which people were similarly left as a husk of skin (excepting that it made less sense there, than here).

Xander turns to go get the gang, but finds himself confronted by a sea beasty who howls menacingly.

Scene 16: Huh. Returning from commercial break, we find Xan suddenly fine and back in the library, where he is berating Cordy's attempt to sketch what Xan is describing. Of course, it isn't helping that he sounds less than positive in any event, as he was a bit shocked and all. But we do find out the beast went out the cafeteria window, and seemingly wasn't interested in attacking.

Buffy and Willow return from -- presumably the Coach's office -- confirming what they were checking out: That Dodd was the best swimmer, then Cam was next best ... which is suggesting a pattern to the attacks on the swimmers. Buffy theorizes that Gage is going to be the next swim team member targeted.

Cordelia offers how sad it is that they're never going to get to championships this way and suddenly is tempted to give up cheerleadering. Xander mocks her.

With this evidence of a pattern, conversation turns to who may have done some summoning of said beasty. Willow suggests Jonathon as revenge against those which bullied him. Buffy offers that Wills should question him. Giles, meanwhile, suggests bodyguarding duty to Buffy over Gage.

Scene 17: The next day, Buffy is on Gage-watch. As we'll recall from her attempt to surveil in "I Robot, You Jane" - she isn't very adept. Ergo, she draws Gage's attention by staring at him too intently before awkwardly looking away when he catches her at it.

Scene 18: As Buffy is fumbling her assignment, Willow has Jonathon in an empty classroom, where she subjects him to a desk lamp in the face as she questions him about his anger at the swim team for a) rejecting his attempt to join and b) for the bullying. She goes in for the bad-cop routine.

Jonathon cracks and admits that he did resent the swimmers. But when Willow accuses him (floridly) of delving into the black arts to summon a sea monster to wreak his vengeance, he denies it. According to him, he just snuck into the pool room the day before and peed in the pool.

Commentary: I have no idea how Danny and Aly got through this scene without cracking up. They're both hilarious in this scene in a parody of cop and perp.

Scene 19: Meanwhile, Coach Marin is telling Snyder what a blow it's going to be to the remaining team. Snyder faux-sympathizes (he can't even remember Dodd's name) but insists that he knows that the other swim team members want to win that state championship for Sunnydale High so he must press on.

In order to facilitate this, Marin and Snyder are hiding Cam's disappearance/murder from the rest of the team for as long as possible.

Marin tells Snyder that they're now a team member short of a regulation team and if they can't find a stand-in by that afternoon, they won't even be eligible to compete, let alone be able to go to any championship. Snyder expresses his confidence that they'll find somebody to throw on a bathing suit...

... something that Xander just happens to overhear.

Scene 20: That night at The Bronze, Buffy is continuing to be way too obvious in her spy-eye on Gage. She continues to glance away when he looks her way, and it is obvious he's getting annoyed with the stalker-vibe. When he confronts her, she claims swim-groupiedom -- rather than just tell him that he may be going the way of Dodd and Cameron.

Gage seems to buy it, until Buffy claims that the smell of chlorine on a guy is a real turnon. He walks away, causing Buffy to break her not-convincing cover. But, when she shares what little she knows and what she suspects, Gage isn't buying that either. He tells Buffy that Cam told him all about her games and that he wants her to find somebody else to harass.

Gage storms out of The Bronze, muttering about Buffy being a bitch.

Scene 21: Which leads to Angelus in the alley, where he commiserates. He goes on talking about how Buffy needs to be knocked off her pedestal, which Gage agrees with. But obviously, Angelus isn't really interested in bonding with Gage, so much as deciding that he's close enough to the ex. He decides to leave a drained Gage for Buffy to find.

Scene 22: As Buffy leaves The Bronze a little late, she hears Gage's calls for help from nearby. Angelus takes an abnormally long time to kill Gage, so he's still alive as Buffy rounds the corner. Angelus in the meantime, is spitting out Gage's blood disgusted by something in it that is inedible.

Buffy gives the distracted Angelus a spin kick to the face. She has her hair pinned up with a wooden hairpin, which she now snatches and threatens Angelus with. He snatches up Gage's prone body and tosses him into Buffy before leaving. Gage asks Buffy if Angelus was what killed Cam (so obviously Snyder and Marin weren't able to keep the secret very long), but Buffy tells him that was something else. She further tells Gage that they have a lot of something else's in Sunnydale, bringing him and everyone he'd talk to into the know, you'd think.

He asks her to walk him home.

Commentary: This is the only part that just feels wrong to me. Angelus simply isn't needed in this episode, and he sure should be a much larger threat than he's being used for here. If this were shortly after his return, I might buy this, but post-Jenny this is a disappointing cameo. He could have just as easily snapped Gage's neck to spite Buffy instead of letting him walk away relatively unharmed.

They really should have had Angelus doing something much more evil, or they should have replaced him with Anonymous Vampire #321 for this scene. Just shoving him into episodes where he doesn't really have anything to do doesn't work anymore because of what we've seen him do already. "Go Fish" really should have come before "Passion" if they wanted Angelus' failed attack to clue Buffy into looking closer at the swim team's blood for a clue without having Angelus murder Gage on top of it. All this scene accomplished was to diminish Angelus as the Big Bad of the season for no real gain that couldn't have been arrived at in other ways.

Scene 23: The following day, we join the swim practice. We have to assume that the tryouts the previous day ended with someone being recruited onto the swim team, or they've missed their deadline and can't compete anyway.

Buffy, Cordelia and Willow are in the stands as spectators, with Buffy still keeping an eye on Gage to his current approval. They're talking about the weirdness with Angelus the previous evening and Buffy suggests that something in Gage's blood turned Angel (she's still calling him Angel, rather than his evil name, which you'd think would make things harder on her) off of making a meal out of the swimmer.

Buffy suggests steroids may be to blame, and the girls agree it would explain behavioral changes in the team members (WAIT -- When was there mention of behavior changes?? Is this meant to rehabilitate Cam's image post death?) and the team's winning streak where it didn't exist before. Buffy next asks Cordy about the search for their sea monster, but she reports that nothing is matching Xan's description of what he saw -- while throwing out an insult to his courage.

Cordelia's attention is distracted by something off screen which pleases her -- as we get a camera pan up a set of hairy legs. The pan up continues as Cordelia purrs at the abs (yay for treasure trail!) and chest, which ends in shocked exclamation at reaching Xander's face.


To the girls' surprise, and their teasing at his speedo, he informs them that he's gone undercover (not under much) and joined the swim team (Cordelia is pleasantly surprised) to keep an eye on the rest of the team where Buffy can't (Willow immediately leaps to when he's naked -- she meant 'changing').

Coach shouts to Xan to stop flirting and get back to practice....

Scene 24: As Xander takes his place on the starting block, Cordelia is (and I are both) pleased. Buffy jokes to Cordelia's obvious pleasure in dating a Sunnydale High swim team member that she can now die happy.

"Shut up, Buffy, you're distracting us," says I.


Buffy asks Willow about the Jonathon situation, but Willow reports all he did was pee in the pool... just as Xan dives in, bringing "oh, no!" looks to all three girls.

Scene 25: After practice, Xander has joined the team in sauna-ing. He tries to make small talk. He's awkward about it and no one is responsive to chit chat.

Meanwhile, a camera pan shows us a pair of claws at a floor grate outside of the steam room in the locker room....

Scene 26: In the hallway outside of the locker room, Buffy paces as she waits for her charge to get done. Xander comes out, instead. He lets Buffy know that Gage is right behind him, putting on his shoes and leaves her to take over.

Scene 27: In the locker room, Gage starts indicating that there is a stink pervading the locker room in the same way that we now know indicates monster-presence.

After checking to ensure that it's not coming from his armpits, Gage goes looking for the source of the stench.

Scene 28: Buffy continues pacing, when she hears Gage yelling in distress. She finds Gage standing in a frozen panic as the sea beasty towers over him.


Buffy stands transfixed by the smelly thing, as Gage falls to the floor behind her and continues yelling in pain. She calls out to him questioningly, rather stupidly turning her back on the monster, as Gage reaches out to her still yelling in discomfort. As Buffy watches in shocked disbelief - and the monster she's ignoring apparently ignores her back - Gage starts ripping his own chest open to reveal sea beasty skin beneath.

The swim team members hadn't been pulled open for their internal organs, they had transformed and Gage is now becoming not-human, too.

Commentary: I actually like this explanation as it explains why Xander wasn't attacked in the cafeteria. We could easily supply an explanation that the monsters aren't aggressive naturally, which would also explain why Buffy isn't being attacked after stupidly turning her back on the creature behind her. Instead, they're probably only a danger to fish and squid unless provoked which Xander didn't do and Buffy isn't doing now.

I also like the skin-ripping scene here, special effects wise.

With Gage's transformation being completed, Buffy suddenly realizes she's stuck between the two sea beasties....

Scene 29: Now that there isn't anything else to be distracted by, our monsters start taking claw swipes at Buffy. Buffy gets into a fight with the two of them, but Gage-beast ends up biting her and throwing her head first into a locker door. She collapses.

Fortunately for her, Coach Marin was nearby and helps her to her feet as the monsters collect themselves. Rather than continuing to fight, both monsters suddenly decide to take their exit, sliding across the floor and down the grate leaving Buffy and the Coach alone.

Scene 30: Shortly thereafter, the Coach has gotten Buffy to the school nurse, who wraps up the wound. She tells Buffy that it doesn't look like she'll need to have stitches. Giles is there also, and he questions Coach Marin about any substances that his team may be taking, but the Coach says that he wanted to believe their sudden winning streak was because he was inspiring them to greatness. He didn't want to think that it may have been steroids... or whatever equivalent that is causing this massive mutation.

Scene 31: A bit later, Buffy has joined Willow in the computer lab. Wills confirms with the swim team's medical records that they were obviously on 'roids. Of course, that still doesn't explain where the "hey, I'm a fish" comes in, as Xan points out.

Buffy concludes that there is no way that the nurse wouldn't know the signs. She tells the gang that they'll confront her the following day. In the meantime, she assigns Xander to try to figure out what the team has been dabbling in and how they're taking it. She and Giles are going to go hunting with the tranq rifle for a fish creature.

Scene 32: That evening, Giles and Buffy scour the sewer system of Sunnydale in search for signs of the sea beasties. For some illogical reasoning, Buffy has chosen to wear white boots on this foray into sewer water. Think about that for a moment and hope that she was already planning on tossing them out.

In the fabulously roomy and well lit sewerage pipes, our duo proceed along unrealizing that they're being watched by one of the beasties... and the rasping, bulky fish monsters are better at spying than the spry Slayer.


Scene 33: Meanwhile, the swim team is hanging out again in the steam room (yes, I'm full of joy). Xander continues to babble in a clumsy attempt to bond with his teammates so he can question them about their illicit steroid use.


Imagine his surprise ... an unpleasant one... when one of the blabbermouths informs him that he's been breathing them in this whole time. The steroids are in the steam, meaning that Coach Marin was putting on a performance in the nurse's office!

Scene 34: At that moment, the Coach and the nurse are walking near the pool. Nurse is insisting that Carl has to stop subjecting the children to the drugged steam, considering the side effects they're witnessing. Naturally, he's too concerned about winning the state title to care about a few jocks turning into monsters.

They continue arguing as they go down into the basement area, where there is a huge drainage area (??).

Coach Marin assures the nurse that all they need to do is tweak the formula to winnow out the transformation effects while leaving the boys with their enhanced swim abilities. She's appalled and tries to talk him into reason, pointing out that he's already lost three boys. But he disputes this, telling her that they're not lost... as he pushes her into a hole in the floor and down into the drainage tunnel.

Nurse yells at him over what he's doing, but he smilingly tells her that he's looking after his boys. And just because they're out of the meet at the moment, they still need to eat. He closes the floor grate on her as she realizes that she's well and truly up shit's creek. It only takes a minute before she finds herself dragged under....

Scene 35: Meanwhile, in the library, the gang has assembled to hear from a panicked Xan over how the transformative mixture is being delivered to the guys. He's frantic that he's been exposed. Buffy wants to find the other swim team members and lock them up until they're sure that they won't be changing, while Cordelia is in a state over going from dating the lame loser guy to dating a scaly fishman, a self absorption that Xan gets pissed over.

Giles informs them that they'll need to know exactly what is in the special steam if the hospital is to develop an antidote. Willow, riding high on her interrogation of Jonathon, leaves to question the school nurse. Meanwhile, Buffy realizes the Coach's innocent act was bogus and she goes off to put the pressure on him to explain what he's been up to.

Scene 36: In the bowels of the school, Buffy confronts Coach Marin who denies everything except that Ms. Summers has a wild imagination and no proof. Until she specifically mentions the steam as the carrier of whatever he's dosing his team with. He then admits that after the fall of the Soviet Union, he came into the possession through unexplained means of certain documents explaining the Soviet's use of fish DNA to attempt to improve their Olympic swimmers (and one could assume, their special forces divers). They'd been unable to crack the formula, but possibly due to the Hellmouth boost which could also explain Ted's creator and future developments by The Trio, the Coach was able to do so ... or, mostly anyway.

The Coach explains this as all about the win, which Buffy cannot grasp. He accuses her of having no team spirit, but she responds that while he was in that line, she was in the one for sanity. Alas - she allowed Marin to lead her to an empty room, far enough away to not be heard and then allowed him to wander across that room to a tool chest which contains a gun... OOPS.

Marin points to the grate in the floor, through which the late school nurse was tossed with his large gun and orders her to jump down into the hole. She's not keen on this, but she also isn't close enough to disarm him... OOPS.

Scene 37: With Buffy down below, the Coach tells her that she doesn't think he cares about his boys, but he most certainly does. He wants them to be happy and satisfied. As Buffy discovers when Nurse's body floats by full of puncture marks.


Things for Buffy get far more disturbing than even that, as Coach Marin informs her that his boys have other needs than just food....

Commentary: So, the central conceipt of the mutagenic steam baths and fish DNA is supremely silly, which only helps to make this a blah episode. But, I think the major issue with rewatching this one is really its timing in the season. Following Jenny's murder, things should have been entirely focused on Angelus' reign of terror with Buffy's "friends" (obvs it wouldn't be the Scoobies, but the 'oh, we've been friends the whole time but you never saw us before' variety) being killed off one or two per episode with all of Buffy's efforts failing. This particular episode should've been the one where one of the 'inner circle' -- either Cordy, Oz or Joyce -- should have been directly injured by him and/or Drusilla at least badly enough for a hospital visit.

This would have set things up for Buffy to be terrified and filled with angst not seen since the library scene in "Prophecy Girl" and would have set up the desperate attempt to resoul Angelus and the assault on the library leading to the season conclusion in "Becoming". What we really needed here at the tail end was pressure ... we, as fans of Buffy should have been working on ulcers over how Angelus was going to be stopped and if they really might be readying to write one of our main six out of the show.

Unfortunately, they went with "Killed by Death" and this episode instead. Next to the Angelus arc, this simply cannot generate the tension we're craving as we head into the season finale.

There is also a problem with the Coach's motivations. The steroid-abuse angle doesn't really work, because the Coach has gone too far into loony territory for it to work, not to mention the rest of the swim team. You could buy that... maybe... he was so sociopathic that he could overlook his swim team turning into sea beasties ... maybe... and if they'd tied the steam-mutagen more closely to Hellmouth Effects ... maybe... if that part had been played up a bit more over the "entitled brats" scenes. The swim teams motivations are much more problematic to me. I can understand the desire to win and taking steroids to accomplish that, as this is a real world issue. But, I'd think once sea beasties are attacking and your swim mates are disappearing leaving behind empty sacks of skin, you'd be a little more concerned about continuing this sport at this High School. Add in the mystery steam, and I'd think you'd have enough sense to say "uh -- get back to me when you've perfected this".

This would have worked better if the swim team had remained utterly ignorant of the superscience steam. If the Coach was dosing them secretly with only the nurse in the know, I could overlook the other bit with the students continuing to hang out in locker rooms as their teammates disappear (Sunnydale Hellmouth Blindspot Engaged).

But none of these minor story problems I have compare really to the fact that this is a latter S1/ early S2 type episode being crammed too late into the season for us to be interested in these one-off episodes.

Scene 38: At the pool, Xan and Cordy are looking for the other swim team members (to convince them to be locked up how, exactly?) but find it empty. Xan is still in a panic that he's going to change at any second and insists on rushing off to the locker room to check the mirror for scales.

Cordy is left to wait at poolside. Behind her she hears the locker room door slam open, and we see a sea beasty rush for the pool. Cordelia calls out if Xander has found any scales yet, while turning toward the pool just as the beasty dives in.

She jumps to the conclusion that the beasty is a now-transformed Xander. Cordelia goes into a half-amusing sililoquy regarding Xander and her and her deep admiration for his courage. She offers that they could still date, no matter what he looks like [which he can't hear because he's underwater, so presumably she's talking to herself] ... if he isn't attracted to some other fish, anyway.

Cordelia's heartfelt self-sacrifice for Xan's happiness with his new life is interrupted by actual-Xan coming to her side to inform her she's not talking to him. Sea Beasty makes a half-hearted grab at her, but she and Xan easily dash out of the swimming pool room.

Commentary: Yay to the acknowledgment of Cordelia's character growth over the season.

Scene 39: Meanwhile, the swim jocks were already gathered up by Giles and they're now escorted into the variable-strength-locked book cage in the library.

Giles offers they should stay calm while they work on an antidote to the fish-mutagen. We find out that Sean is the swimmer in the pool, mistook for Xan.

Speaking of... he asks where Buffy is, but Willow says that she hasn't returned from her visit with Coach Marin, yet.

Scene 40: Buffy's currently soaked in chest high water and waiting for certain fishy-rape... she quips, but clearly she's in dire straits.

Scene 41: Thankfully, she has her friends, and Xan has arrived to see Coach Marin watching down the grate at his boys. Xander asks after Buffy, and Coach side-eyes the pistol...

Scene 42: Meanwhile, Buffy is trying to get a bead on the multi-monsters who vocalize around her, but keep diving out of sight on her. They finally move in, and Buffy is forced to fight them off, even hindered as she is by the water...

Scene 43: Meanwhile, up above her, Xander is wrestling with Marin over the gun. Xan gives great backhand punch to old people.

Scene 44: Below, Buffy continues to toss and punch away the aggressively horny sea beasties. They surround her.

Xander sees Buffy's problem and reaches down for her hand. She uses a Slayer leap off the bottom to get high enough to grab hold, but the sea beasties are able to paw/snag at her legs as Xan struggles to haul her up. It's takes some kicking, but she's able to get free enough to be pulled up to safety.

Commentary: Which, I feel I must call BS on. I'm confident that the sea beasties could make an equal leap if they were motivated and they'd have grabbed her about the waist and either yanked her out of Xan's grip, or brought him down with her. That was pretty lame.

Well, not quite safety as the unconscious coach now recovers. Xan gets a wrench to the back of his head and goes down onto the floor. Marin tries to bash Buffy in the face, but she side steps it and gives him a kick to his shins. This sends him down the hole.

Buffy grabs Marin's foot and tries to hold him, but her grip is lacking and she can't wrestle him up. Her grip fails and he goes down into the tank head first. Buffy grabs for Marin, but he can't hope to stretch/leap far enough without Slayer strength to be rescued. The sea beasties snatch him down and uh, well as Buffy says, "Those boys really love their coach".

Scene 45: Later in the student lounge area, the gang get caught up with the wrap up. Xan and the other swim members have to get blood transfusions to clear out the mutagens. Cordy tells Xander that he's proven himself to her and he doesn't need to feel obligated to join the swim team next semester... now, if he'd like to try out for football, though....

Giles reports in that animal control wasn't able to wrangle the beasties and they've made a break for it. Willow worries this means more fish-monster hunting, but Buffy opines that she doesn't think they'll be back. She feels that they're heading home.

Scene 46: And, in tying into Cam's rhapsody on Ocean-As-Mother from the opening, we see the sea beasties swimming out into the Pacific where only deep sea trawlers may have to worry about them ... or so we'll need to assume, otherwise innocent bathers are going to be eaten and raped ala "Humanoids From The Deep", which is a rather downer ending for such a mediocre episode.

The Good: I didn't hate Buffy introducing Cam's nose to his steering wheel. I also liked the make up for Cam's busted nose. Finally, although his character is a douchebag, I thought Jeremy Garrett did well with it.

Willow's interrogation of Jonathon was fun.

Buff guys in Speedos. Always good.

Buff guys in short towels. Always good.

More proof that Cordelia has grown as a character, becoming much less self-involved when it really counts.

I liked Charles Cyphers' work as Coach Marin.

The Bad: The students' motivations, after we find out that they know they're being exposed to the gas and after they've had their fellow swim members vanishing with only their skin left behind, are really unclear and a large plot hole. It just doesn't make sense that that every one of them is continuing to go on as usual considering everything that is happening to their top swimmers. Isn't even 4th best thinking "aww, hell no!" as he makes his way toward number one in position??

Angelus' use in this episode is completely counterproductive to his own arc due to his utter lack of ruthlessness in dealing with Gage. This really also ties into my complaints about the timing of this episode in the season. They're harming the main villain arc by misusing Angelus, here.

Other Thoughts: I generally like Conchata Ferrell, but her role as Nurse Greenliegh really had nothing to it. I was kinda disappointed that we didn't get some snark between her and the Coach before her expected demise.

Something felt off to me between Xan and Cordy during their mutual snarking -- some of the delivery really felt too sharp for their current relationship.

The Coach's motivations were rather lame... and after he complains to Snyder about how close they are to being disqualified, it stopped making sense that he'd continue exposing the swim team to multiple treatments of the mutagen. That ended up muddling up the character more than necessary.

The Score: There isn't much more to say, is there?

3.0 out of 5 stars

Next Up: Review of Supernatural's "Hook Man".

Tags: buffy season 2 reviews

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