Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 05
Written: David Greenwalt
DIR: David Greenwalt
Blurb: As Buffy and Cordelia vie for the Homecoming Queen title they are targeted by a group of killers preparing for “Slayer Fest ‘98”.
Scene 01: We open with the gang at the Bronze, where they’re discussing the upcoming Homecoming dance. As this will be the last one for our gang, they want to go in style and are discussing taking a limo. Something that Xander is clearly worrying over as he lacks the disposable funds that his friends do. Oz offers his van, but Cordelia vetoes this as inappropriate for the Homecoming Queen. Xan points out that she hasn’t technically been elected yet, but a pointed stare by her puts him in his place.
Buffy isn’t sure she’s even going and Willow is shocked that she’d skip it since she already has her tickets. She starts to wonder if Scott Hope hasn’t asked her, but Scott wanders up at that point and Will quickly covers her discomfort with they should all take a day or two to think about their plans. Cordy, not having Willow’s grasp of tact, simply asks if Scott hasn’t asked Buffy while he’s standing there putting both he and Buffy on the spot.
They both start babbling that each of them are in if the other one really wants to and Oz interrupts to inform them that the judges are accepting their mutual babble as a “yes” on going. Scott offers to buy Buffy another drink, but she declines claiming tiredness and calls it a night. She does offer him that she’s excited about the dance though and gives him a smooch.
Commentary: I always feel sorry for Scott, but I don’t really want to. He’s just not Buffy-material and I want him to move on - but on the other hand, it’s pretty crappy of Buffy to continue trying to rebound with him when she knows that all she can think about is Angel being tucked away nearby.
Scene 02: Over in the abandoned mansion, Angel is pacing and agitated. He hears a noise and startles. He wanders over to a curtain and yanks them aside to discover Buffy there with a bag of blood from the butcher for him.
The scene is taught with tension between them. Angel tells her he’s still in pain, but it’s less. Buffy tells Angel that she hasn’t informed the gang that he’s back yet, specifically mentioning Giles. Angel gets more pain on his face as he remembers what Angelus took from the Watcher.
Buffy tells Angel that she’s decided not to tell the gang about his being back at all, but that she’ll still help him until he’s recovered. But she also tells him that things are different now. She points out that she has a new boyfriend who cares for her and who she can count on.
Scene 03: Camera-pan to the next day, where Scott tells Buffy he doesn’t think they should see each other anymore. Scott tells Buffy that she seems distracted all of the time and not really with him. She’s left with semi-sad face.
As Buffy stands in disappointment, she’s being spied on by someone with binoculars.
Scene 04: We’re shown a van that we pan into, to see the gentleman holding those spy-eyes. He’s a beefcake, and with him is his beefcake twin. They start recording video of Buffy through the binoculars. They make a call through one of those state of the art 1998-dial-up-modems.
Scene 05: At a tastefully decorated - if cluttered home, a man in a wheelchair receives the transmission of our Beefcakes. RollerGuy pulls up the feed from the WonderBeefs and asks if they’re seeing “her”. From off panel strolls Mr. Trick to confirm Buffy’s image is the target.
Commentary: I’m going to try not to just skip through descriptions of scenes and then end the review, but I have to say this isn’t one of my favorite episodes. I can’t say why, but I’m always left a bit cold and kind of bored with the whole Slayerfest premise and while there are a few scenes that will sparkle involving Buffy and Cordelia, over all I’m just left “meh”.
Insert our credits.
Scene 06: Upon our return, Deputy Mayor Finch nervously brings an Interpol report about the WonderBeefs being in Sunnydale. They’re wanted in Germany for many bad things. But the mayor freaks him out by focusing on smelling the paper instead before asking to see Allan’s hands.
He lectures Allan on washing his hands more thoroughly, especially after every meal and under the fingernails. He mentions how easily germs accumulate. Then he smiles brightly at the nervous Allan and asks him to keep an eye out for any other colorful characters, while keeping our Beefcakes under surveillance.
What the Mayor doesn’t do is act on the Interpol notice.
Scene 07: At the High School, it’s picture day! Cordelia radiantly smiles. Xander cheezily grins. Willow starts with a nice smile, but then gets a questioning look on her face when the flash doesn’t go off immediately, and is stuck with a dippy school picture… and worse, she didn’t even dress up for it. Oz looks… like Oz.
Xan and Willow join Cordelia with Willow asking Xander to help her pick out a dress to impress Oz. Meanwhile, Cordelia is staring coldly at someone off screen. She tells Xander that she’s sizing up the competition for the run at Homecoming Queen. She writes off her first competitor as brainless and not really in the running, but the second is a beautiful blonde who never says no to a man in a letterman jacket… she’s worried about her making a real run at the crown.
Willow asks Oz if she’s seen Buffy. Xan states that she’s in the library with Faith for training and Oz says he doesn’t think she was in school when they announced what day the yearbook photos were to be taken. Cordy offers to stop in there to tell her she’s needed on her own way to the nurse for some ice. Xander is all concerned, but Cordy smiles that she just needs to close up her pours before campaigning begins.
Scene 08: In the library, Buffy is sparring. Apparently Buffy felt the need to vent, because Faith is in the know about the Scott deal. She tells Buffy she’ll go to the dance with her, they’ll pick up some studs and discard them and it’ll all be a good time. Buffy grins and agrees… except probably not the discarding studs part… probably.
Meanwhile, Cordelia arrives at the library. She’s about to enter to tell Buffy that she’s missing the school photos, but gets distracted by two boys she probably only rarely would deign to talk to who nevertheless may be able to secure some votes for her. She detours to smooth talk them, instead. In a nice touch, at least she knows their names.
Scene 09: Later, out in the quad, Buffy runs into a random teacher. She tells this teacher about her problems with being out of school and trying to get back in and that “glowing” letter of recommendation from a teacher who is not an English librarian that is required. Ms. Grant has no idea who Buffy is… none….
She goes on to describe to Ms. Grant where she sat and how her course on contemporary female heroes changed her life, but her life-changing teacher just asks if she was absent a lot. Which… yes, probably is the answer.
Commentary: That was mildly amusing. In fact this episode is filled with mildly amusing bits. But maybe that is my issue with watching the episode? Maybe there just isn’t anything that really makes me guffaw, and that may be what I keep waiting for… that one moment where I crack up that never comes?
I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out - but I get the sense that I’m being set up for a wacky episode of wacky hijinks of wackiness and what I end up with is… “oh, that was cute” and “oh, yeah - that was mildly amusing”. I do enjoy though that Mr. Trick is the catalyst for hunting the two Slayers in town, as this seems up his alley rather than the old vampire way of unsuccessfully jumping out of alleys at them. It seems much more business savvy to turn it into a contest which he gladly accepts the proceeds for… quite clever, really.
Scene 10: Apparently the next day, Buffy is in the cafeteria being bummed out. Meanwhile Cordy is handing out flyers for her run as Homecoming Queen.
Buffy tells the gang that she can’t believe her favorite teacher didn’t remember who she was. She goes on to remember her career at Hemery High where she was Ms. Full Yearbook Spread and now she’s like this non-person in school. She complains bitterly about being stuck as one crappy picture in the yearbook for her senior year.
Um. Yeah, it’s up to Xan to kind of mention how she missed the photos being taken the previous day. He asks if Cordy didn’t mention that, considering how she was supposed to.
Commentary: I thought actually that this was the same day, as there isn’t a clear transition between when the days switched. We didn’t get any kind of “night shot” or anything to indicate the passage of time. It’s only in the dialog that Oz mentions that what we saw earlier was the day before, which seems kind of clumsy. Especially since Buffy is wearing the same outfit. I’m going to give a rare seal of approval to part of Willow’s outfit though -- I’m loving her socks.
Scene 11: Meanwhile, Cordy is still trying to schmooze votes. Buffy storms up to her and Cordy compliments how cute she looks in her outfit. Buffy isn’t bamboozled and tells her straight up she isn’t voting for her. This reverts Cordelia back to her actual, impatient personality.
They argue about the importance of Cordelia’s campaign vs. Buffy’s missing the pictures and during this, Cordy insults Buffy’s general unpopularity and her virtual absence from school life. She insults her past as “Guacamole Queen, or whatever when you were three” and basically pisses Buffy off. The Slayer tells Cordelia that she’s awoken Buffy’s inner homecoming Queen and that not only is she now going to run, but she’s going to win the crown.
Scene 12: Meanwhile, Mr. Trick is enjoying the anticipation of the upcoming competition to murder the Slayers. Our entrants are the WonderBeefs, some random hunting rifle guy, the return of the surviving Gorch brother with a tagalong vampire wife and a yellow demon with bone throwing knives that are grown in his forearms at superspeed.
Mr. Trick goes on to explain that the contest will not officially start for a few days, when Buffy and Faith will be maneuvered to be together.
Commentary: A few things here: I like the design of the “spiny headed creature” but when he actually starts pulling the bone blades from his forearms, it ended up looking silly. The hunting rifle guy feels so generic, I can’t imagine how he’s not being fed on by the vampires in the room - and in fact, I completely forgot that he even existed until he was standing there nearly - but not quite - being wallpaper. I didn’t really need to see the Gorch brother again, since the last time we saw him in the Bezoar episode he was treated clownishly. And with his ‘white trash’ wife Candy, it looks like it’ll be more of the same. So, the only ones that were mildly interesting, emphasis on mildly, was the WonderBeefs and that’s because they’re more in line with Mr. Trick - using modern weaponry and electronic tricks to put Buffy at the disadvantage rather than trying the usual hack, slash, bite that has failed and failed and failed before.
But the biggest problem with this episode is how underdone it all seems. I’m not sure that trying to fit Buffy being hunted into a comedy episode was ever going to lead to great things, but with so much time being spent on the Homecoming Competition between the Slayer and Cordelia this actual threat by this hunt is minimized. In addition, this group of Slayer-hunters feels so paltry in number and unimpressive in stature, that it all starts out feeling ridiculous which make it difficult to at least feel like somebody orbiting Buffy is going to get hurt. And yet - again - they’re not comedy reliefy enough for this to be laugh-out-loud funny. I really think this episode could’ve been improved immensely if they made our contestants more slap-sticky… like the losers of the demon world with Mr. Trick giving us asides about how this whole Slayerfest is going to be a disaster for the forces of evil and his disappointment in the response to his money making scheme.
Scene 13: That night, Xander is at Willow’s and they’re both trying on outfits that they’ll be wearing to the dance. Willow mentions that this is her first big dance that she’ll actually have gone to and she wants it to be special. Meanwhile, Xander has come to show off the tux that he borrowed from his only relations with any money, spending pride capital for Homecoming Night with Cordy dancing in his arms.
They joke around about the status of their relationships as Willow changes behind a screen. When she comes out, both she and Xan stare at one another in wonderment. Wills has a moment of panic as she wonders if she can first, dance in the black gown she’s considering and second, if she can dance at all.
Xan, being best friend, offers to dance with her to test out her swaying abilities in her long evening gown. This leads, oh dear, to a kiss that is in no way within the friend zone. Both get in some great lips-on-lips action, before suddenly pulling out of one another’s arms with looks of panic on their faces.
They both insist that it was just a clothes-fluke and make mad dashes in the opposite direction to get into their daily clothing and try to ignore what just happened.
Commentary: This may be the only scene that I actually adore. Both Nicky and Alyson look fantastic and the scene combines perfectly the sense of “oooohhhhh… no…”, “oh my god, they’re adorable” and “okay, that was pretty damned funny”.
Of course, this is a big thing so we’re going to have to revisit this “fluke” and you have to have an inkling of bad feeling for Oz and Cordelia but the scene was filmed by David perfectly to melt your heart at Willow finally getting that romantic kiss from her long-time crush and knowing that you really should not be happy about it… but they’re SO ADORABLE, dammit!
Scene 14: The next day, Buffy is giving a speech to her Gang about how she is going to approach this Queen competition like a battle taking place in the trenches. Buffy tells her that she’s done this before and it’s really just a popularity contest… although she’ll admit that she’s not actually popular this time out. But she’s got her white board of the competitors with their strength and weaknesses. She also mentions that on her side, she’s not exactly unpopular -- after all, her welcome back party seemed to be well attended. Willow has to mention how everyone was attacked by zombies then.
Plus, you can feel that Willow and Xander aren’t into this “war” with their leader as they’re both clearly still upset about the clothes-fluke kissing. Willow especially looks nervous and miserable since Oz is sitting right there rubbing elbows with her.
Buffy starts handing out assignments to her gang, when Cordy strolls in. Buffy offers that things seems a bit awkward, but there isn’t any reason that both of them can’t compete to win while maintaining their sorta friendship. Cordelia agrees whole-heartedly and then asks Willow how her informational database in regards to the voters among the students is coming to Buffy complete surprise.
While Buffy stands in shock, Xan offers that Cordy is his girlfriend so he has to help her. Willow offers a pretty lame sounding “she needs [her database help] so much more than you do” and scurries out clearly embarrassed. Oz follows behind Willow and apologetically tells Buffy that where Wills goes, so goes his nation.
While Cordy’s support team looks ashamed, Cordelia tells Buffy that she really appreciates what she said and thinks that they’re getting along great.
After this Giles offers Buffy that they seem to be going through a lot of fuss. Buffy assures him that it’s a friendly competition that no one takes seriously… just before the glass bottle she has in her hand breaks in her fist.
Scene 15: What follows is a montage of various anonymous students being wooed by Buffy and Cordelia, while at the same time they work to sabotage the efforts of the other. Both seem to forget that there are two other students running for this coveted position and their focus is on beating the other.
Scene 16: Buffy and Cordy’s efforts in their contest is merged with the contestants of Slayerfest getting ready to hunt the Slayers down. Who we’ve gotten precious little of throughout this is Faith, who Mr. Trick has already called “elusive”.
Scene 17: Buffy comes down the stairs with more of her flyers and runs into Scott, which is full of awkwardness. He assures Buffy that she has his vote before rushing on, giving her a small smile in her day. A moment later she checks his name off of her list, indicating that her running into him may not have been an accident. Spotting another male student coming her way, she leads us into another campaign montage with another butter-fingers dropping moment, suggesting that not only was running into Scott not an accident, but dropping the flyers at his feet may have been a clever stage as well.
So montage, montage, montage. Including Buffy stepping in front of one of her competitors with cookies to hand over cupcakes. Well, Cordy isn’t about to let her get away with that and we next see that she’s handing out entire gift baskets of treats.
Scene 18: Some days later, Buffy corners Willow in class. She tells Wills that she’s totally not bitter about Willow helping Cordelia… even though they’ve been through so much together and she’s Wills best friend… and, uh, did she mention all those times that she saved her life?
This buys her 15 minutes with the database that Willow put together for Cordy’s campaign. They briefly discuss the homecoming/limo plan before Buffy turns things back to an analysis of her own weaknesses according to Willow’s analysis for Cordy. In the meantime, we see the WonderBeefs in a van nearby with listening/recording equipment learning all about the blonde Slayer.
Scene 19: Sometime later that day, Jon is walking down the hallway with Buffy’s arm around his shoulder and stuffing his face with her muffin [Not a euphemism! You can’t do that sort of thing while you’re walking].
Buffy tries to tell Jon that she’s always thought they had a special bond, but he tells her that Cordy bought his vote already for $6... Which buys more than one cupcake.
Scene 20: Meanwhile, Cordelia is trying too hard to court the nerd vote by pretending she’s a Star Trek geek. Alas, she combines the in-universe-fictitious-Vulcan-Death-Grip with the Vulcan Salute… surely no one will fall for her utter insincerity?
Buffy interrupts to glare disapproval for her handing out money for votes. Cordy wonders if it’s any tackier than her “shy but deep soulfulness” on her campaign posters [Yes, Cordelia it is more tacky].
Cordelia accuses Buffy of being pathetic and splintering her own vote in some sort of tragic attempt to be like her. Buffy can barely believe she thinks it’s okay to talk to people this way and asks if Cordy doesn’t have parents to teach her manners. Cordy responds by informing Buffy that she has TWO parents, which is more than some people have [OOHH… That was beyond uncalled for, Cordy!].
Xan and Willow come along just as things get really heated with violence threatening to occur. He drags Cordy away after she calls Buffy a freak and Buffy responds with “vapid whore!” back at her. This leaves Willow standing there near tears at how ugly things have gotten.
Scene 21: Later, she’s with Xander in her bedroom and complaining how this is the worse thing that has ever happened to the Scooby Gang. Xan consoles that he can’t help it… it’s like he’s seeing her for the first time, referring to their clothes fluke aftermath. She was talking about Cordy/Buffy being at one another’s throats. She’s also feeling really guilty due to the two of them overcompensating because of the guilt over the fluke, which has now thrown the entire group dynamic out of alignment.
Of course, the aftermath isn’t too after and so the discussion about how to get the group dynamics back into alignment goes off course with more flirting and touching.
Commentary: Ugh… the Wills/Xander thingie. Don’t support it and am annoyed at our characters. But, in this case I’m also annoyed out-of-universe at Joss. You know he deliberately did this… after every fan on the planet was clamoring for Xander to finally notice the wonderfulness of Willow, you know that The Evil One purposely set them up with other popular characters, just so he could give the fans what they were complaining they wanted at the exact time they didn’t want it to happen anymore. He’s kind of a jerk.
But back to our in-universe commentary: I can forgive our characters… mostly… being teenagers and hormonal and neither one with a history of dating and then suddenly having one of our pair finally figure out the allures of the other. It’s not that I hate Xan or Willow for this situation, but I’m irritated that they’re not taking steps [like NOT sitting on a bed touching fingers] to curb these impulses forthrightly. Oz, especially, doesn’t deserve this when he’s never been anything but devoted to Wills. I have a tiny bit less sympathy for the Xan/Cordy situation because of the way it started and the weird turns it’s already taken but still, I was hoping that Xander would be better than this.
Scene 22: We finally arrive the night of the homecoming. Buffy is decked out in a red gown when the limo arrives. She smiles at the driver as he holds the door open for her. But when she gets in, the only one of the gang she finds is Cordelia in a green gown. She was expecting Faith as she was going to be picked up first. Cordy silently hands a note over.
She reads that her friends have decided to forgo the limo ride to give the two a chance to work out their issues instead of putting the Queen contest above their friendships. They P.S. that the limo wasn’t cheap.
In the front seat, we see that the limo driver - he expecting to be transporting two Slayers - is one of the WonderBeefs.
Commentary: So, obvs we needed to have things arranged this way because Buffy and Cordy need to be conveniently kidnapped for the SlayerFest with Cordy being mistaken for Faith because of the latter’s “elusiveness”… but… I gotta admire the Scooby Gang’s collective decision to hire a limo and then give it over to the two bitchy ones to work out their rivalry.
Yeah… no… those two would be getting a pick up after the rest of us had enjoyed our ride to the dance and they can just arrive late is all.
Oh and another plot convenience… isn’t it weird that Cordy’s date wouldn’t be with her? Do you see Cordelia Chase not being met at her door by Xander to be escorted to the dance from start to finish?
Scene 23: The limo drives out into the foothills which neither girls realize because they’re too busy sniping over Cordy taking the orchid before any discussion with Buffy about how to divide the corsages. By the time they figure out that something is weird, WonderBeef has exited the limo and run off.
Scene 24: Buffy finds a tv and VCR set up in the woods waiting [presumably with a battery pack]. A playback reveals the face of Mr. Trick welcoming them to SlayerFest and giving them a short countdown to run for cover before the official hunt begins.
Cordy spends valuable time shouting that they’ve gotten the wrong girl.
Scene 25: At the dance, Oz and Devon are playing with anonymous Dingoes members on stage. Willow and Xander are standing miserably not interacting. Faith comes up with a questioning glance. She accuses them of moping, but Xan says they’re grooving. He exclaims how wonderful Oz is, while Willow tearfully says the song they’re currently hearing was written by him for her.
Meanwhile, Faith is only half-listening as she spots Scott holding somebody who isn’t Buffy. She calls him a sleazebag. As she storms off, Giles arrives with great concern.
He tells them that they need to find Buffy as something terrible has happened, before he breaks into a grin and says he was only joking. He runs off to find the finger sandwiches.
Commentary: I have to give Faith a small point here, because it’s kind of sweet of her to be so offended on Buffy’s behalf over Scott asking somebody else to the dance. But really… he broke up with Buffy, so why not? I feel like I’m supposed to think Scott is a slime too, but no. I don’t see that he’s done anything wrong - it’s not like he and Buffy were together forever before the relationship broke down… they barely had a date in there somewhere.
Giles was cute, but it did strike me as a little bit OOC… apparently a side affect of being at a party surrounded by teens.
Scene 26: In the woods, Buffy is leading Cordelia through the forest. She rattling on how they could explain to the killers that she’s not a Slayer and be let go. Buffy steps in a bear trap [Hideous things… I do not approve most strongly with using those things under any circumstances], but to Cordy’s just in time warning is able to yank her foot out before it snaps shut.
The Anonymous Rifleman pops up and tries to shoot them, but Buffy pushes Cordy down and grabs up the bear trap. She swings this with Slayer strength into the asshat’s face. He stumbles backward into another of his set traps and Buffy grabs up his rifle. She offers that she can help him get free, or put a bullet in his head. He’s spills the details of the other hunters in the game and demands that she free him.
Cordelia takes this opportunity to try once again to convince everybody that she’s not the Slayer they’re looking for. She’s interrupted by the bone knives slamming into a tree from offscreen.
Scene 27: Back at the homecoming, Faith walks up to Scott and tells him that she has good news for him. She explains that the itching, burning and swelling in his general crotch area will go away as long as he keeps using their prescribed cream.
He left looking embarrassed and confused at his date, having no idea who Faith even is.
We pan over to Giles, who is finding the finger food appalling. He joins Willow and Xander who are sitting miserably side by side but not speaking. He informs them that he’s going to retreat to the comfort of the library for awhile. He compliments them giving up their limo service for Cordy and Buffy. After he leaves, Wills sarcastically tells Xan they did one fine thing and he mentions that they’ve been gone awhile and must be really getting into the heart of their issues with each other.
Scene 28: In the forest, Buffy and Cordy find a cabin and break in. While Buffy tries to shield their location, Cordy is freaking out at dying out there. Buffy gets impatient and tells her that they’re going to get out of there and get back to the library “where the weapons live” [I love that phrase]. She’s then going to take out the rest of the baddies and then go to the dance just in time to be crowned Homecoming Queen in a sweeping victory.
Cordelia recognizes Buffy’s attempts to get her mad, instead of afraid but admits it worked just fine. She searches the tiny cabin for a weapon. She finds a telephone and a spatula. She grabs the spatula.
Buffy questions how the phone might not be a useful thing to try to use.
Scene 29: Back at WonderBeefcake Central, RollerGuy uses tracking software to determine where the prey has run to ground. He detects Buffy’s phone call happening in the woods.
Commentary: Which is really kind of dumb, actually because we’re going to find out that they’ve placed trackers on Cordy and Buffy. You’d think that would be a far easier and quicker way of knowing at all times where they are… rather than haphazardly scanning for anomalous phone use.
Really David, what was that scripting about?
Scene 30: In the cabin, Buffy’s call to Giles in which she’s been forced to leave a message is interrupted by RollerGuy.
Scene 31: In the forest still is Anonymous Rifleguy with his foot in the bear trap still. Spiney Demon comes along and asks him if he’d like him to cut that leg off for him to free him. Rifleguy wisely chooses no so demon continues on and leaves him stuck there.
Commentary: Which begs the question? Why is Spiney Demon so far behind when we saw his bone blades were already thrown to drive Cordy and Buffy into running away. What the hell is his throwing range?? And just how slow is he strolling??
Really David, what was that scripting about?
Scene 32: Elsewhere, WonderBeefs are being issued remote directions by RollerBoy.
Scene 33: In the library, Giles notices he has a message on his machine. He hears Buffy’s location and that she and Cordy are in big trouble before the message is cut off.
Scene 34: In said cabin, Cordy asks Buffy why every time she’s anywhere with her it ends in terror and death to which Buffy welcomes her to her life. Cordelia doesn’t want to be in Buffy’s life, she wants to be in hers. Buffy points to the door.
Cordelia complains that all she wanted was to be Homecoming Queen, which Buffy relays is all she wanted too. Why Buffy even cared about Queen is confusing to Cordy and Buffy tells her that her life is all about this… fighting for survival all the time. She wanted, just one night, to be somebody other than the Slayer doing violent things to survive. Plus, she just looks really good in a tiara.
A moment later, Spiney Guy busts through the window and tackles Buffy before she can use the purloined rifle. He starts waving his knives around, while Buffy grabs deer antlers off of the wall to handle like a bat’leth. Cordy tries to help by ineffectively slapping him on the back and shoulders with her Spatula of Slappy Doom.
Buffy yells at her to grab the gun instead. Which she does. But then she sends a bullet wide from its mark, hitting a bottle just over Buffy’s shoulder. She yells at her to return to the spatula.
Scene 35: In the meantime, the WonderBeefs arrive outside the cabin. They’re ordered to “prepare to launch”.
Scene 36: Inside, Buffy continues wrestling with Spiney Head. An explosive shell is sent through a window to blow up the “Slayers” and Spiney Head. No honor among Slayer-hunters, apparently.
Buffy and Spiney Head separate - she grabs Cordy and both of them are launched out another window back into the forest. Spiney Head takes off the opposite way and also tries to throw himself out of a window.
He finds that his window is boarded shut. Ooops.
Commentary: I liked the battle between Buffy and Spiney Head in this scene. There was some really nice acrobatics involved and it was mildly amusing to see Cordy trying to help with her Spatula of Slappy Doom. It’s also funny that despite being utterly useless, she never drops it as a weapon during the retreat.
Alas, I really wish the Gorches were here instead. We’ll see them later - but I’d rather the final confrontation be between Cordy and this guy rather than the lame vampire. I think it would’ve been more amusing if she’d intimidated this demon guy with his blades ready to strike over Gorch, who comes across as too stupid to be a real threat - even to her.
Scene 37: Outside, Cordy and Buffy barely get out of the blast radius as Spiney Guy meets his maker. Buffy repeats that they need to get back to the library.
Scene 38: Meanwhile, WonderBeefs continue tracking through the woods.
Scene 39: In the library, we see weapons laid out on the table ready for Giles to rush off to the rescue. But unless Rupert has changed into a purple, zebra stripe number with a pink boa we’re not seeing Rupert.
It’s revealed that Candy and Lyle have invaded the library - though it’s not explained why they didn’t go to the forest with the rest. Candy makes her husband nervous by playing with Buffy’s crossbow. Candy is impatient to kill Buffy, but Lyle assures her that she’ll show to rescue her Watcher once she’s thinned out their competition.
Commentary: An interesting, if flawed strategy to wait around and assume the others are going to fail and give you your shot. I also have trouble buying Giles once again being knocked out, but not eaten. It’s just a little too blatantly ridiculous.
Scene 40: Back at WonderBeefcake Central, Mr. Trick is impressed with the ‘Slayers’ for escaping the hunt and heading back into town, which RollerGuy continues to track. A knock on the door disturbs Trick’s amusement.
The visitors are the police - who take Trick into custody without a word… or any resistance despite his being a supernaturally strong vampire without any compunction about killing….
Commentary: Really David, what was that scripting about?
Scene 41: In the school hallway, Buffy lays out a plan of attack on the remaining contestants with the goal of still making Homecoming before the crown is rewarded. Cordy complains about being treated like animals.
Scene 42: In the library, Candy grabs Buffy unexpectedly and tosses her off balance. She follows up with a kick to the face, before plowing Buffy’s face through a set of bookcases. Lyle watches with glee.
Buffy manages to regain her feet and Cordy tosses the spatula to her. Buffy jabs it into Candy, while being hit in the face and knocked against a wall by the base of a coat rack. Buffy slumps. Candy stumbles back, only to realize the handle of the spatula is wood.
Lyle is infuriated and advances on Buffy, who is temporarily blacked out on the floor. But Cordelia, who has acted normal all episode, suddenly has had enough and gets up in his fanged face with total confidence. She goes on a spiel about Buffy being the runner up, and how she hasn’t even broken a sweat yet after taking out four of his compatriots.
He chooses not to press his luck with the dark haired “Slayer” and makes a hasty retreat.
Commentary: There are several things I like about this scene. One was how trailer trash Candy was actually a very real threat to Buffy. Just because they dress tacky doesn’t mean that the vampire is any less of a supernaturally powerful killer and there is some more really good stunt work in this scene. I loved both Buffy’s face going through the shelves and the simultaneous staking/getting hit in the face scene. Candy also looked really good, special effects wise, when she dusts away with the spatula protruding from her.
It was also nice for Cordy to suddenly stop being the victim that all of the violence happens to and for her to pull out what makes Queen C such a force in the high school to save herself, Buffy and presumably Rupert with nothing more than her force of personality. I wasn’t very impressed with her monologue as written truthfully, but I did like the way she was given this power moment against the demons hunting her and especially that look of “Why are you still here?” during their staredown.
I’d have liked it better if the recovering Giles had grabbed the crossbow from the floor and nailed him in the back, though. We have another vampire who is still going to be out there murdering and creating new vampires who will then kill.
Scene 43: Cordelia, Giles and a recovered Buffy discuss their survival of the night almost as if we’re in the wrap up scene. But we still have the WonderBeefs out there. Rupert mentions that the gang hadn’t mentioned buying corsages when they discussed the plan with him to swap out Faith for Cordy so the two of the them could bury their hatchet.
This gets Buffy to thinking how Anonymous Rifleman said that the WonderBeefs were hooked into a computer system. She checks her corsage and finds a transmitter. They suddenly hear a door bang out in the hallway.
Commentary: The way that the WonderBeefs were used in this episode has been the only part that has struck me as really poor. They are the slowest trackers known to man, despite the fact that they should know where Cordy and Buffy are headed before they get there which also makes them the slowest traveling stalkers ever, too.
They just don’t work for this episode because they’re not allowed to use their technology effectively against Buffy and Cordelia which just makes them look horrible as actual threats. And since they’re using high powered sniper weaponry, they should be the most dangerous of all of the hunters our girls have had to face.
It’s a shame that they were left for the end, instead of Anonymous Rifleman since they could’ve had Buffy specifically target the WonderBeefs first, recognizing their danger and taking them out preemptively to Cordelia’s disgust at running for the bad guys instead of away from them. The whole tracking corsages wasn’t needed -- or if you wanted to keep that tidbit, you could’ve had a scene where RollerGuy offers to share his tracking results with Anonymous Rifleman after the twins are disabled for an equal share of the prize money. It would’ve made it far more believable that Buffy could deal with that one guy with a gun than these two professional assassins.
Scene 44: In the hallway, we see that WonderBeefs have arrived and are taking their time stalking their way through the school.
Scene 45: In the library, Cordy shoves her corsage into Buffy’s hands while Buffy tells Rupert that she needs some wet toilet paper.
In the hallway, the assassins warm up their night goggles.
Scene 46: RollerGuy excitedly tells them that their closing. Buffy dashes out in front of them headed down a cross corridor, able to keep in front of their bullets with a dash of Slayer speed.
One of them continues to slowly move forward, while his brother stays in the hallway.
The tracker follows Buffy into a classroom around the corner. RollerGuy tells HallwayBeef that he has a bead on both tracking devices on the other side of the wall from where potential shooter is standing.
Scene 47: In said classroom, StalkerBeef is sweeping the room with his night vision. Meanwhile, his brother is lining up a shot at the trackers through the wall with his armor piercers.
Buffy, while in the library, had managed to wrap both trackers in wet toilet paper. She uses the opportunity now to jump out of hiding and toss the trackers against the body armor of StalkerBeef, but also makes herself open to getting shot.
RollerGuy has given the order to open fire on the tracking devices. As StalkerBeef comes under fire, he turns and reflexively begins firing through the wall at HallwayBeef, allowing both of the assassin brothers to kill one another in a hail of armor piercing bullets.
RollerGuy smiles, thinking that both Slayer targets have been taken out when their transmitters turn off suddenly.
Scene 48: Meanwhile, Buffy surveys the damage with a grim look.
Scene 49: Over at City Hall, Mr. Trick is hauled before Mayor Wilkins. Richard Wilkins III surprises Mr. Trick by not only already knowing his name, but also that he isn’t exactly a man. He goes on in a folksy, but with an undertone of menace, way to tell Trick that he has a very important year and can’t have disruptive elements getting in his way.
He mentions more than once that he needs the children this year. It’s all quite chilling, despite the lack of anything blatantly menacing in his manner. Wilkins goes on to recruit Mr. Trick for his innovative thinking. But in a way that makes it clear it would be unwise for the vampire to refuse the job offer.
Commentary: Mayor Wilkins is such a wonderful character and Harry is absolutely a stitch in every scene he plays. I LOVE that the weird call from Snyder to the mayor’s office in BECOMING is being fleshed out and we have the distinct feeling that the Mayor is our big bad for the season and that we don’t know the half of what he is, what he wants or what his ultimate purpose will be. It’s a wonderful development.
Scene 50: Back at the school, Buffy and Cordelia - looking disheveled and dirty rush in to see the Homecoming Queen announcement. As Devon gets ready to read the winner’s name, Buffy assures Cordelia that the Crown is still the most important thing this evening.
Excitedly, Devon reports that for the first time in Sunnydale High history, there is actually a tie for Homecoming Queen! Buffy and Cordelia grin at each other in anticipation, only for the other two anonymous girls running that neither took as serious competitors jointly win the title.
They get knocked aside by the other two’s rush to the stage. Buffy and Cordelia share looks of stunned surprise until one of the winners starts a victory speech, when they both roll their eyes and leave the dance….
Commentary: And this was pretty great. I actually chuckled out loud at the looks Charisma and Sarah were sharing at one another and it’s fantastic that the two girls who hardly received any screen time at all won over our stars, especially with Cordy and Buffy still determined to make the title win more important than surviving being hunted for death.
The Good: The quick end to the uninteresting Buffy/Scott pairing is nice.
I like SlayerFest being set up by Mr. Trick adding to his clearly being different from the vampires we've seen up until now, including Spike.
The scenes with Cordy and Buffy are really good from when they're arguing to that nice scene in the cabin where Buffy admits she just wants something other than being the Slayer to be included in her high school memories.
I really liked the comedic panic during the clothes fluke between Willow and Xan.
I liked the fight coreography between Spiney Head and Buffy and then between Buffy and Candy the vampire.
The mystery of the Mayor was really nicely played out in the scene between Harry and K. Todd and I'd love to see more scenes where these two have to interact and size each other up at every encounter.
The Sarah/Charisma face acting when they both lost the crown in a tie was funny.
The Bad: I feel like all of the bad guys are personality-less and the whole villain angle is underdone which makes most of the scenes with the bad guys simply dull. Even Mr. Trick doesn't get a lot to do in the episode and he's the only one with some presence. It's particularly bad with the WonderBeef Twins being the main bad guys at the end, when they've had no dialog and are blocks of wood.
Due to the personality-suck of the WonderBeefs, the final battle between Buffy's wits and the assassins guns was slow moving and boring and the cutaways to RollerGuy and his 90's computer graphics weren't all necessary and helped drag down the pace.
Other Thoughts: As mentioned in the review, I can't explain why I don't like this episode a lot more than I do. There isn't anything really wrong with it, outside of those few logic issues but it doesn't stand up and grab attention. Everything feels only mildly humorous, when what is needed is a little over the top farce, I think is the main problem.
There were some scenes that went a little too far since this is basically a comedy between Cordy and Buffy -- specifically, Cordelia insulted Buffy for not having her father around really crossed the line and was too much for this set up.
I'm irritated by the Xan/Willow flirtations after the initial clothes fluke, but I like that we see them both miserable at the dance because there is now this cloud hanging over their relationships.
I liked the scene with Cordelia taking down Lyle Gorch verbally to drive him off, but the dialog wasn't impressive to me and I wish it had been given some Joss-tweaking before filming.
The Score: I think that this episode really missed the mark by not having some scene that were more madcap and insane. We spend too much time with boring bad guys walking through fake woods and cutting to a guy making faces at monitors to keep things interesting. I'm almost ready to score it below average, but there are some nice interactions and Harry Groener as Mayor Wilkins III raises any episode he's in.
3.0 out of 5 stars