BTVS, Season 3, Episode 6
Writer: Jane Espenson
DIR: Michael Lange
Blurb: Sunnydale’s adult population begins acting like immature teenagers after eating candy bars being sold to finance the high school band uniforms.
Scene 01: We open on a crane shot of Buffy sitting in front of a gravestone with a blanket covering her legs. She got a note book and pencil in hand while Giles is intoning that something ended badly and asking if she’s ready with utmost seriousness. Buffy nods.
You almost think this is a dream sequence… maybe a Slayer dream….
Giles asks her to describe the theme of the passage he just read. It turns out that they’re actually waiting for a vamp to crawl out of his grave and in the meantime, Buffy is having Giles give her practice questions for the upcoming SATs [for those of you not in the U.S. -- that would be the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which can determine what sort of college will accept you, so can feel like the biggest deal on Earth to those who plan on continuing their schooling].
Buffy chooses a random letter from the multiple choices, before Giles even gives her all of the options, explaining that they haven’t had a “B” answer in forever. Rupert tries to get her to take this upcoming exam more seriously and to pay attention but Buffy gets a sudden look on her face and tells him to roll.
He ducks aside just in time for her to handstand over the gravestone and then side kick a vampire sneaking up on her Watcher.
Buffy puts her pencil to use. [Really. And vampires continue to wonder why they’re not taken more seriously.]
Buffy tells Rupert she broke her number two pencil, so they’ll have to reschedule this study session for another time. Not necessary -- Giles has her covered. And the answer she was looking for was “C”… which she may’ve guessed at least, if she’d bothered to listen to all of the options.
Buffy complains that they’re the only ones in Sunnydale having to work this late.
Commentary: I really liked the way that this was filmed, except for the fight with the vampire which included… as so often happens… too good a look at Not-SMG doing the fight work. But I like the way ASH and SMG were filmed in this scene and it’s very cute that Giles… the one who will basically lose his position with the Council if Buffy were to just take off for college [unless, say… Sunnydale suddenly has a college campus conveniently located close by and affiliated with a great state college system…] is also the one who is trying to get her to take going off to said hypothetical college more seriously. He’s come such a long way since ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and that is why we continue to adore him.
Scene 02: Buffy is mistaken. Over at City Hall, the Mayor is also working late into the night. He’s meeting with Mr. Trick and they’re discussing vaguely something that Richard Wilkins III needs to have done which is very important, but delicate.
Trick assures the Mayor that he knows a beast that knows a guy who can get done what the Mayor needs. The Mayor opens a locked cabinet with all manner of dark magic paraphernalia as he tells Mr. Trick that he’s made several deals during his time in Sunnydale and what makes him different from most politicians is his honoring his word. He needs to make sure that a tribute is gathered for one of these demons he’s made a deal with.
We expect he’s about to pull out some wicked ritual hoodoo, but no -- he was just checking the cabinet for his bottle of scotch.
But still. More tricksy stuff coming out of the Mayor’s office.
Enter Rocking Theme and Buffy, la cazavampiros… no wait, Buffy contre les vampires… nah that‘s not it, Buffy The Vampire Slayer… yeah, that’s the ticket.
Scene 03: The following day is another glorious sunny Sunnydale morning. Buffy is regaling Willow and Oz about her dream of a Giant Answer Bubble screaming “None of the above!” at her. Wills hopes that wasn’t a prophecy dream.
Oz offers to help Buffy get ready for the exam. He took it the previous year when he didn’t graduate, but he’s one of the real high scorers. And in his Oz-way, he makes a trick to remember antonyms sound vaguely naughty.
[I do loves me some Seth Green Oz.]
Xander and Cordelia join them and Buffy and Oz explain that she needs to work on SAT exam prep. Willow starts to tell them about Oz’ high scoring, but Cordy rolls her eyes and cuts her off with a reminder that they already did the impressed thing about that.
Xan is bothered by the thought of the test which he insists must be fascist… not to mention discriminatory against the uninformed [can’t argue with that second one]. But Cordelia shares that she’s looking forward to it… she has a knack for standardized tests. To everyone’s look of surprise, she gives a “What!? I can’t have layers?”
Commentary: And naturally since Aly and Seth are in the same frame, the cute is almost too much to stand… almost, but not. More, please.
Scene 04: Buffy tells her new study buddies that she can’t work on the exams that night because she needs to put in mom time. She shares that since she got back, her mother has been really needy with her time, and Rupert has been even worse. She’s starting to feel like her every waking moment is being watched between the two of them.
The gang have made their way into the cafeteria, where there are boxes and boxes of chocolate bars. Xander exclaims a thank you to their principle, because he’s kind of dumb and chocolate can be very distracting.
Snyder shares that they’re band candy and they’re going to sell it for the band uniforms they need to order. Buffy tries to protest that they’re not in the band, but this cuts no ice. Apparently, everyone is getting a box to peddle.
Scene 05: Later at home, Buffy tries to dump 40 candy bars on Joyce, who doesn’t see what she’d do with that much junk food. Buffy suggests handing it out with purchase at the gallery. Joyce bargains for 20 and Buffy concedes she’s a good mom. Joyce suggests she’s in best mom territory, but Buffy says that ‘best moms’ let their daughters drive cars.
Joyce isn’t feeling it. She reminds Buffy that she failed the written exam and didn’t even get to the actual driving in the driving test. Buffy tells her that was a year ago. Joyce then brings up not knowing where Buffy is too much already with the Slayer duty and she doesn’t like the idea of not knowing if she’s on the highway to Chicago when she’s not home as expected.
Buffy gets irritated. She tells her mother she’s not going to run out again… but if she wanted to, that’s what buses are for… Joyce isn’t amused in the slightest. Buffy then leaves, to Joyce’s irritation. She tells her mother that Giles has a study/slaying evening set up and Joyce complains about how he seems to be monopolizing her time lately, a bit miffed about it. Buffy jokes that Rupert doesn’t even say sorry, either.
Commentary: As you all know, because I mention it often, I love continuity. And I really like that Buffy’s rush off to L.A. between seasons hasn’t been forgotten. It’s completely understandable that Joyce is holding resentment at Buffy for doing that to her -- especially since she doesn’t know the particulars, as far as we know. It’s also nice though that Buffy is allowed to show her irritation at having it still being brought up, especially as an excuse to stop her from doing something she wants to do that doesn’t really seem all that related.
I also like how annoyed Joyce obviously is toward Giles, after her conversation in “Anne” where she flat out told him that she blamed him for her and Buffy’s estrangement over the previous year. It’s nice that they’re giving Joyce some time to still try to deal with the crazy and not simply have her all accepting and Scooby-ish about it, like they did with Oz.
Scene 06: In the library, Giles ties a blindfold on Buffy, apologizing for snagging her hair. She asks facetiously why she puts up with this and he explains that not only is this her destiny, but he just got done buying up 20 of her chocolate bars.
He hands Buffy a dodge ball and tells her to wait 5 seconds and then throw the ball at him; This is an exercise, not to take funny pictures of Buffy as she guesses, but to test her ability to hone in on her target in total darkness.
She counts down and then turns her back to the direction he's slipped off to. When she tosses the ball the wrong way, Giles starts to tell her that it’s more difficult than she thought, but actually she was bouncing the ball off the wall to slap him in the head.
She then goes to take off. Giles reminds her they need to patrol, but she tells him about Joyce being in super-attentive mom mode and wants her home for the evening. He tries to protest, but she shrugs that Joyce is out of control, so what can she do and leaves him there with his candy.
Scene 07: At the mansion of Spike, Dru and Angelus, Angel is doing some Tai Chi… or whatever requires him to be shirtless.
Buffy stops in on him, not rushes home to deal with a controlling mother. They’re both awkward around one another as they’re dealing with getting reacquainted while insisting that they’re not still romantically attached to one another.
Angel asks her about Scott, and she almost tells him about their breakup, but she just blows it off as he’s fine. Buffy gives him some blood from the butcher but he sets it aside with some embarrassment. There are mutual words of concern for one another and Buffy jokes that soon he’ll not need her looking after him; He hurts her feelings by agreeing that will be better.
Commentary: And so really starts the on-again/off-again Bangel for the season in which they both whine a lot and it really annoys me that Buffy won’t tell the gang that he’s back after what they went through. It’s just rude! What the hell is she going to say if Giles is coming out of the school one night and sees Angel skulking down the street?! It’d serve her right if he grabbed his crossbow and dusted him, because he didn’t know that he was Angel and not Angelus [although, he probably wouldn’t because he’d want to be absolutely sure… but still, my irritation with her remains].
Scene 08: Buffy comes home to find Joyce standing there with one of the candy bars in hand and slightly scowling. Buffy apologizes for coming in late, but mentions Giles’ “all slay, all the time” philosophy… only for Rupert to come out from the dining room with his arms crossed in disapproval.
Oops. Busted, Buffy!
Buffy tries the desperate tactic of redirection, but this goes nowhere as she must’ve already known. Joyce is annoyed at her for trying to play her against Giles by using each of them as her alibi to ignore both of their requests and Giles is irritated that she’s also lied to Willow so that nobody knew where she was or if she was in danger.
Meanwhile, Joyce is… bizarrely… unwrapping the candy bar and hands a piece over to Rupert who thanks her and takes it.
Joyce and Rupert confront Buffy about her activities, but gives her a way to dodge the truth by thinking she was hanging out at The Bronze. Joyce tells her she thinks she’s acting like a child and Rupert agrees but Buffy tells them that is the way she’s being treated with the over-scheduling and obsessive active parenting going on. Joyce brings up, again, that Buffy’s taking care of herself led to her running away from home but Buffy turns that around in that she was able to take care of herself as her proof that she needs the space they’re not giving her to make some of her own choices.
Giles interrupts to tell them they should not freak out over this… a term that Buffy questions coming from her Watcher’s lips. He tells her that she should go to bed while he and her mother discusses things between them. This only further annoys Buffy by being excluded right after she’d told them she needs space to make her own choices but she dispiritedly marches toward the kitchen.
Joyce and Giles continue to munch on band chocolate as they commiserate over Buffy’s stubborn willfulness. They plop down on the sofa with Joyce offering that she just wants to protect her and Rupert assures her she’s doing what most parents would do; Buffy is just a special case. In the meantime, with Joyce having dropped an empty candy wrapper, Giles pulls a chocolate bar from an inside pocket and they continue plowing through candy. Even as Joyce is taking a piece of the new bar, Giles is reaching for the box for another.
Commentary: I do have to agree with everybody in this scene, which I dislike of myself because it feels all wishy-washy. But they all make good points here, even discounting the reasoning for Buffy’s hiding things. Joyce won’t let go of throwing out barbs about her “walkabout”, Rupert is over-scheduling her for graveyard duty [probably related to his own feelings about her taking off without contacting him], and Buffy did in fact run away and she is lying now and she isn’t informing her mother of where she’ll be or what is happening in her life… and she is still a minor living under her mother’s roof.
But at the same time, Buffy has had to grow up fast and she’s done a remarkable job with the horrors she’s had to deal with. Joyce is being stifling, Rupert is being controlling and Buffy does need and should have more agency to make her own decisions without the constant microscopic examination of every move she makes from her two parent figures.
They’re all right and all wrong and I like that writing. I just wish that I could decide who I’m supporting more in this argument. But before we continue, I also want to give a huge shout out to the show directly acknowledging in this scene, highlighted by both Giles and Joyce’s placement in the scene, that Rupert is for all intents and purposes Buffy’s father figure -- a situation that even Joyce is at least subconsciously recognizing. This is all leading to the big event in Rupert’s life come ‘Helpless’.
Scene 09: Elsewhere, temporary workers are boxing up chocolate bars… far more than the high school needs. And we know that this chocolate isn’t going anywhere else because our line supervisor is none other than that ‘outside contractor’ Mr. Trick was interested in hiring: Ethan Rayne!!
[I won’t lie to you dear readers -- I gave a small, embarrassing squeal of excitement the first time I saw the episode and he stepped into frame. I love Robin and Anthony’s chemistry together and you know they’re going to be pulling out Ripper when Giles gets an inkling of his friendly-nemesis’ return. Yay! Even now I’m all grinning stupidly!]
He warns one of the packers who is trying to sneak a bar that he really doesn’t want to eat that candy bar.
Scene 10: The next morning, everyone is in class… or study hall, actually. Cordy sighs bored and tells Buffy that she heard if the teacher is 10 minutes late, they can just leave. But Buffy poo-poohs that their study hall watchman won’t show: It’s Giles, today.
[Wow… did Charisma have an allergic reaction to something, or is it just the harsh light. Cordelia is looking all kinds of bulldog-cheeks: She doesn’t even look like herself. At least as the scene starts… she looks better and more herself when she starts smiling again.]
Scene 11: Behind them, Willow and Xan are sitting next to each other. Xander is chowing down on a candy bar and extolling the virtues of chocolate [singing to the choir in my case]. Willow mentions that she can’t believe he’d have anything left. She only had to visit four houses to sell her entire allotment. As they continue inanely, the real focus is on Xander’s knee brushing against Willow’s … and then they start playing footsie!
[And I burn. I burn with rage. STOP THAT!]
Cordy suddenly spins around and complains she can’t believe something. Willow and Xander pull apart so suddenly that they shake their table. Both of them have the decency to look guilty. Cordelia though is only complaining that Giles isn’t there to give her credit for being bored, but attendant.
Commentary: Really, is there anyone who is supporting this repulsive behavior by Willow and Xander adding onto their clothes fluke mistake? I’m gonna go ahead and say no, because I’m always right and anyone who thinks this is cute is clearly wrong.
I do wonder though… when did we jump onto Cordelia’s side so fully? When did she go from being the vacuous bitch to being the slightly less bitchy Scooby member with the audience? Because I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment that I changed my mind but I’m sure it was sometime last season… it had to be.
Scene 12: In the hallway, Snyder is complaining to an older teacher that Rupert didn’t bother showing up and he doesn’t want to do it, so he’s ordering her to take the study hall hour. She’s snotty but says fine with a roll of her eyes in disdain.
Snyder walks away complaining that everybody wants him to do everything just because of his being the Principal. And it’s just not fair (whiney-poutface).
Scene 13: Ms. Barton barges in for the classroom’s attention. She tells everybody to pretend to be reading until they’re sure Commandant Snyder has really wandered away and then they’re all out of there.
Xan suggests he may want to marry Ms. Barton. Cordelia suggests that she’d propose first. Both Willow and Buffy are having a hard time believing Rupert Giles would not be showing up at school.
Scene 14: After school, Buffy rushes over to Giles’ apartment where she worryingly finds the door cracked open.
She goes in cautiously, but everything is fine. It is odd that Joyce is there. She tells Buffy that she had made a good point earlier and Buffy agrees… but which point exactly was the right one escapes her momentarily. Her mother goes on to explain that her and Rupert have agreed that they are demanding too much of her time and conflicting with one another over scheduling. It’s putting her in the middle and that hasn’t been fair to her. So Rupert called off of school in order for them to divide home time and slay time into something more equitable while making sure that she can have time to hang out with her friends. It’s also clear that Rupert and Joyce are still eating those candy bars that Ethan warned against tasting.
Joyce shocks Buffy by handing over the already-fought-about car keys and tells her to go have a good time. Sure it’s weird, but Buffy isn’t about to look a gift Jeep in the front fender and gleefully rushes out, leaving Joyce and Rupert to continue working.
After Buffy rushes out, Joyce spins to Giles and worriedly asks if he thinks Buffy noticed anything. He turns to reveal he’s SMOKING! And a common cigarette [instead of a pipe which is what I’m really disappointed by].
After Rupert assures her, Joyce happily grabs the bottle of Kahlua that was tucked near the sofa.
Commentary: I’ve mixed feelings about the candy at this point. We see in every scene that Joyce and Rupert are eating the chocolate which is a nice touch. But I still feel that it was just slightly bungled. I wish we hadn’t gotten the warehouse scene quite yet so that we could’ve stretched out the adults acting slightly off without explanation a bit longer. For instance, both Snyder and Ms. Barton should’ve really been shown with band candy in their hands during their argument first. And then the warehouse scene with Ethan would’ve clarified everything after we were all pretty sure the candy was the problem because Snyder and Ms. Barton made it clear that this is the source of our adults being slightly off. And then we come here - where we understand this is why Joyce has suddenly changed her mind about Buffy taking the car, when we know that Buffy shouldn’t be excited but worried. The reveal of the evil chocolate comes just slightly too soon, to me.
Scene 15: It’s hours later after dark, and Willow is wondering again just how Buffy gets the keys to her mother’s car again. Buffy explains that she insisted to Joyce she wanted to be treated more like an adult… and wah-lah!, car keys. She takes a corner that tries to tip the Jeep over, telling us and probably a suddenly-not-sanguine Willow that maybe Buffy isn’t allowed to drive for a reason.
Scene 16: In the car, Willow is looking like a mild cardio infarction may be close.
Buffy goes on complaining that Joyce and Rupert were also deep into planning on how she can live her life and it’s easier to do that if she’s not actually there. Willow does a lot of eye glancing and pressing herself back into her seat with a faux-smile. She asks Buffy if she was aware that the parking break is still on.
Willow wonders about the plans for The Bronze, considering SATs are the next day but Buffy assures her they’ll be able to do a study/dancing thing. Buffy tells Willow they need something and reaches for the radio… not bothering to keep her eyes on the road… or even her head above the steering wheel.
Willow exclaims “Eyes on the road!” Buffy spins onto the next block, cutting a corner on the wrong side of the road and fast enough to squeal the tires.
Commentary: Weirdly, I became focused on the car behind them that was always too close. I was sure that it was Trick or one of the Mayor’s lackeys following them to report to the Mayor where they are and what they’re up to… but no… apparently it was an entirely random thingy in the scene.
Scene 17: Back at Giles’, Joyce is wearing some long coat thing. She’s going through Rupert’s record collection. Meanwhile, Rupert is lazily lying on the floor smoking and playing with his lighter.
He lights up a second cigarette and hands it over to Joyce. She’s impressed by Rupert and asks about his nickname, which he’s apparently shared. He plays aloof and too cool for school. [It’s slightly terrifying, but which of them is currently more disturbing I can’t decide.]
They end up deciding to go out for some fun. Giles tries to do the hair gel look….
Scene 18: Over at The Bronze, we see somebody shooting a pitcher of orange juice and bottle of vodka.
[I seriously thought for just a moment it was Jonathon! But no… it’s … it’s OLD PEOPLE.]
On the stage, Oz and Devon are playing. The crowd is all middle-agers though instead of their usual demographic. Buffy and Willow come in to the overly loud rock music -- which Devon appears happy to have a chance to play.
Oz’ face lights up when he spots Wills, but she doesn’t notice him playing, unusually. Her focus is entirely on the mom, dad and grandparents set that has invaded her party place. Buffy is with her on the bewilderment front. Ms. Barton wanders by and to Buffy’s exclamation of puzzled surprise, she tries to say hi, but appears either really high, drunk or some combo thereof. She points out that Willow is a tree.
“Are there any nachos in here, Little Tree,” she asks. Buffy asks her if she’s sure she doesn’t need some fresh air, which makes Ms. Barton wander off laughing to herself and saying a spacey, “Okayyyyy….”
But the night only gets more weird and horrifying as Snyder comes up between them and wants to hang out!
Buffy exclaims his name, too. But he tells her that it’s just ‘Snyder’, like ‘Barbarino’. Principal Snyder goes on to act spazzy and make fun of Ms. Barton’s wastedness. When he finally goes away, Willow expresses concern to Buffy that these people could have heart attacks at their age. Buffy gives a half hearted hope that there’s a doctor there just in case. At which point, Willow’s elderly physician takes the stage, pushing Devon out of the way and, shirtless, dives into the crowd. He’s completely not caught by anyone.
When Buffy and Willow can get away from the returning Snyder cruising for foxes, Buffy points out that the adults around them are acting like a lot of them, but Willow defends that she never acts like they’re acting.
Commentary: This scene is glorious! It’s so hilarious and the facial acting for SMG and Aly is absolutely pitch perfect. But even better is Armin’s chance to act as opposite of his severely sarcastic character by turning into geek-boy, while still being inordinately proud of being the school principle and getting to shake the Mayor’s hand. And of course, we know anybody getting to shake the Mayor’s hand has got to be up to no good -- I wonder if the commendation was for the PCP story when Spike attacked Parent-Teacher Night, or when he kicked Buffy out of school?
Anyway, I also want to give a huge shout out to Peg Stewart who always has me laughing out loud with her Willow-Tree comments. She’s fabulous. I adore this scene.
Scene 19: Back at the warehouse, Trick and Rayne are happy over just how well their spiked chocolate is selling. They openly talk about a bunch of people dying, but nobody seems to notice. [One extra is too busy glancing into the distracting camera.]
Trick yells to a packer not to sample the product. He insists he didn’t, but Mr. Trick grabs him by the head and snaps his neck for him. Ethan is vaguely uncomfortable, but everyone else - after checking the dead guy lying on the floor, returns to their happy work. Ethan asks how he knows the guy was sampling, but Trick tells him he didn’t. It’s just important to make an example once in a while to keep everyone else focused. He tells Ethan it’s almost feeding time and goes to see to the Mayor’s tribute needs.
Ethan is left to wonder just what he’s gotten himself into this time.
Commentary: This scene really felt a bit out of place, truthfully. With the wacky hijinks going on, introducing an brutal sounding neck crack just wasn’t appropriate… and of course, it doesn’t make sense to do this in front of a bunch of people Trick doesn’t know won’t immediately dash for the doors in a panic or get so distracted by the fresh body that they stop working.
It’s also weird how the chocolate is continuing to be packaged. If the tribute is nigh, why would they continue to need this operation? Is Trick just banking the extra bars for a side line in another town? Is it part of Ethan’s payment so he can take his chocolate act on the road?
See, this scene is kinda dumb. On the other hand, it’s very nice to suddenly see that non-Caucasian people do in fact live in Sunnydale. They’re in the warehouse, they’re in The Bronze partying… why, Sunnydale isn’t nearly as lily-white as we’ve all thought! Everybody else is just smart enough to see Buffy walking down the block or hanging out in school and to immediately leave the vicinity.
Scene 20: At The Bronze, Buffy, Willow and Oz are considering what is happening to the adults around them. Snyder wanders in to tell Oz that he has great hair. He’s more discomfited than complimented.
On stage, a horrible rendition of “Louie, Louie” starts a cappella. [I hate this song.]
As Buffy and Willow become more grossed out by middle age kissage, a fight breaks out after one drunk bumps into another. Buffy says this is Hellmouthy and they need to go figure out what is going on. Buffy spots a couple at the pinball machine and he’s feeding her yet more chocolate.
As they rush out of The Bronze, Snyder calls after them to wait up for him. As Oz suggests it’s time for Giles, Buffy has to report that Giles might be affected too. Snyder takes the opportunity to jump into the Jeep warning them to stop trying to ditch him.
Scene 21: As Buffy is peeling out and being berated by the amused Snyder for her driving skills, two middle agers are revving their engines at a light for a drag race. They’re both clutching chocolate bars tightly. They’re both driving sensible Volvos.
Scene 22: Elsewhere, more people are enjoying that there has apparently been a temporary ban on vampire slaughtering. A group is playing and/or making out in the park, where a mail man is amusing himself by reading private letters.
Scene 23: In the Jeep, Willow hopes that everything will be alright when they reach Giles. Oz opines that he must be pretty together still. But Buffy has to inform him of Giles’ teenage self which was less tweed and more dark-angry magic.
Oz worries about Buffy’s mother.
Scene 24: Speaking of which: Giles and Joyce are strolling down Sunnydale’s central shopping district, arms wrapped around one another. Rupert asks if she’s cold, but she tells him she feels great… like getting married and having a kid was all a dream and things are now back to the way they should be. They end up in front of a fashion shop and Joyce admires a long, feathery coat in the window of the closed shop.
Ripper decides she’ll have it and breaks the shop window to grab it for her to her squealing and laughing in delight. They’re confronted by a police officer with a gun -- who apparently doesn’t like chocolate.
Scene 25: In the Jeep, Buffy, Willow, Oz and Snyder are rushing to Giles’ apartment. Snyder suggests they go do donuts on the football field.
Meanwhile, another SUV comes from a cross street and neither can avoid the collision. Mostly because the other driver is busy wrestling with his candy bar wrapper.
Scene 26: Back with Giles, he taunts the copper with his gun. Joyce distracts the cop long enough for Ripper to grab his arm, head butt him, then drive his knee up into the officer’s face. He takes the officer’s gun after he’s knocked out.
Joyce again tells him just how cool he is. They start a hot make out session on the officer’s police car hood! POV pans down to the police logo on the door, so we don’t know just how far this session is going just out of eyeshot.
Commentary: This is another scene where the physical action really makes it all work and hilarious… well, before the beating of the cop anyway. Ripper’s “ooohhh, copper’s got a gun” with that weird ape limp stroll thing he does… Anthony is hilarious!
You can really tell that the entire cast was having a ball with this script and it is… again… glorious to behold.
Scene 27: Back with the car accident, the man who hit Buffy rushes off. Buffy very briefly freaks out at the condition of her mother’s car, when she starts to notice the people hanging out in the park. She gets a thoughtful look on her face and tells the rest that something is weird… something in addition to The Bronze scene and the chocolate bars, of course.
Buffy notes that despite everyone hanging out and wandering around in the darkness, there aren’t any vampires digging into the free meals. Oz suggests that something else is happening somewhere else in town.
During this Snyder has had his chocolate bar stolen from him; he returns now to complain about the theft and Buffy realizes the candy was cursed. She pushes Snyder to get answers about who is behind this, but Snyder tells her the candy came through the school board. Snyder does know where the distribution point is, though.
The gang separate so Buffy can hunt down the warehouse with Snyder, while Willow takes Oz to the library to look up “disturbing second childhood” hexes.
Commentary: And it’s about here that I have to wonder just what the Mayor’s thinking is on all of this. He wanted a distraction, sure. But doesn’t this seem like it’s going to be really complicated really quickly for one night of tribute. What is he going to do the following day when the entire town falls apart because of a combination of hexed chocolate withdrawal and … well, the discovery about what the tribute entails that we’ll be getting to anon.
This just seems a bit too much for a simple, one night ritual/sacrifice to a sewer demon.
Scene 28: At the warehouse, any attempt to pretend to be selling has been dropped. The boxes are just dumped out in front of the loading docks for anyone who wants some. A swooping crane shot reveals Joyce and Giles there, in a mad embrace just as Buffy squeals up in the damaged Jeep.
Buffy performs one of her power strides, but then suddenly stutters to a stop as the fact that her mother and Giles are making out is spotted from the corner of her eye. She’s both traumatized and grossed out. After she pulls Joyce from Ripper’s arms, he tells her to bugger off but Buffy stares him down. She tells him to think for a moment: Does he really want to fight her, or would he like to let her talk to her mother?
Well, even Teen-Ripper knows that getting violent with a Slayer isn’t going to last long or go well for him. Buffy tries to get Joyce to go home, but she takes on the persona of a bratty teen and refuses, telling Buffy that she wants more candy and if Buffy can go around slaying and she can’t do anything about it, then Buffy can’t do anything about what she wants to do. Rupert reaches around and grabs Joyce’s hand to drag her off to the candy boxes.
Buffy resorts to showing Joyce the damage to the Jeep and telling her she did that as a shock to break her out of the curse. All Joyce is upset about though, is that she went a bought a Geek-Machine in the first place.
Ripper cracks up at her. While Buffy is left frustrated that she doesn’t have time to keep her mother and Watcher out of trouble while she’s supposed to be finding out what all this distraction is meant to cover. He then tries to tell Buffy what to do, which is to ‘sod off’ as her Watcher, but she snatches the cigarette from his mouth and stomps it out. She tells him to take her mother home and then resumes her power stride to the warehouse. Giles and Joyce follow behind her.
Scene 29: In the warehouse, thing have been abandoned by this point. Buffy has dragged Joyce away from Ripper and tells her to stay put. Giles is behind, not willing to see Joyce dragged off with Buffy against her will and Snyder is geekily being a hanger-on.
Buffy’s pan of the warehouse and the boxes and boxes of chocolate [see my previous comment: what the hell is all of this for… it seems like real overkill] reveals Ethan Rayne on the phone.
They greet each other with glares, while Ethan gives the “deer in headlights” look. He dashes off, with Buffy hot on his heels.
Scene 30: In the library, Cordelia has found Oz and Willow. She’s also looking through books, but mostly she’s just expressing her own trauma. She tells Willow that at first it was fun with her parents acting non-parenting. But then her mother started raiding her closet for Lycra pants and her father locked himself in the bathroom with old issues of Esquire. Xander is there, too. He returns from the stacks with a pair of books. Willow goes to grab one and they brush fingers giving a moment of more guilty, naughty feelings. He rushes away again, while Willow follows him with her eyes, despite Cordy and Oz being right there.
Cordelia breaks into Willow’s fantasy by asking if she wants to swap… by which she of course means the books, not the boyfriends.
Commentary: It is obvious that Xan and Wills are going to continue this horrible error in judgment. I just hate, hate, hate seeing this going on but mostly for Oz’ sake. And I really kind of resent Willow in this because she seems to be the aggressor when Xan is trying to forget how he’s suddenly feeling about his oldest friend. Not that Xander is a victim of her seductive charms, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that Xan seems more proactive in trying to stop the wrongness, while Willow keeps brushing digits… or foots. And she’s the one with the more solid relationship with a man who adores her quite obviously. And I love Oz… Willow is really annoying me with this crap. Xander is just always annoying in relationships.
Scene 31: Back in the warehouse, Ethan is running through aisles of boxes on all sides. They lose him for a moment, but Buffy’s heightened senses detects him on the other side of a row of crates, she kicks one out and reaches through to grab him.
Commentary: Yeah, don’t think about that too closely. For this to work, wouldn’t Ethan have had to find a way inside of the crate? So… the opposite side of it wasn’t secured so that he could climb inside?
*Darn it… didn’t I just tell you not to think about it too closely, and here I am…*
Scene 32: Back with Joyce, Snyder has joined her sitting around waiting for Buffy’s return. They’re eating more chocolate. Joyce questions if they’re okay. Snyder scoots closer to her while asking if she and Ripper are kinda going steady. Joyce strains her eyes in a roll and gets up to move away.
Scene 33: Buffy talks to Ethan who readily spills all about Trick and the tribute happening. All the while, Giles is glaring at Buffy for not hitting him when Rupert is telling her to.
Buffy asks what demon is getting the tribute, but Ethan claims not to remember. She rabbit punches his face. Giles gives a happy little jump of excitement and Ethan spills Lurconis’ name. Buffy asks him about the tribute.
Commentary: Anthony Stewart Head is fantastic in this scene. He’s always bouncing around energetically in the background, and when he gives that little jump after Buffy finally hits Rayne, it is a joyous moment for the audience. He’s perfect here.
Scene 34: We skip-hop over to find out what the tribute consists of… and find out that it’s the babies from the hospital… four of them.
Vampire minions waltz in and snatch them up without the duty nurse paying attention, engrossed as she is in chocolate and tv.
Scene 35: Back at the warehouse, Buffy is on the phone with Willow to look up where Lurconis is likely to be and what his tribute would consist of. In the meantime, Snyder is teasing Ethan about her whipping his ass. He tells him he could do that too, with the Tae-Kwan-Do skills he picked up at the Y.
He demonstrates for Joyce in a naked attempt to impress. She’s… amused more than impressed. While Buffy is talking she’s left her back to Ethan. He uses his moment to grab up a crowbar and sneak up on her. Ripper puts an end to that idea by pulling the police’s stolen gun on him. Buffy swings around and clobbers him with the phone handle for good measure.
She demands the gun from Rupert and then gets back on the phone with Willow in time to find out about the tribute babies. She goes to rush out, dragging Joyce with her but her mother asks about Ethan. Buffy tells them to find something to tie him up with for the time being… Joyce sheepishly pulls out handcuffs. Buffy tells her she never wants to know….
Scene 36: Soon after, they’re in the hospital to see that they’re too late. Buffy laments not knowing where to find the demon and therefore the babies, but Giles steps in. He already knows the name Lurconis… and realizes that he also knows the sewers are its domain.
Snyder thinks about the sewers… or the mayor?… and offers to stay at the hospital in case the babies make their way back… by, uh, crawling across town. Ripper thinks little of Snyder’s cowardice but Snyder tells him he’s not crawling around in poo.
Buffy gets in the middle of them and turns on Giles. She tells him that she needs help and she needs it from a grown up. He and Joyce both apologize for their behavior… before snuggling up with one another. Buffy sends Snyder home and tells her Watcher and mother to stop canoodling.
Scene 37: Down in the sewers, the tribute ritual has begun. Mr. Trick is impatient for Lurconis to show and get on with it, meanwhile Mayor Wilkins is on the phone to his secretary to make an appointment with public works about the exposed gas pipes and ventilation systems in the sewers.
Buffy and Ripper drop in. As the vampires respond to their intrusion, the Mayor looks to take the quick exit, as he hasn’t yet been seen off in the corner by Buffy. Joyce and Giles work together to roll the babies in their pen out of the way.
Just as Buffy has an obvious handle on the vampires, a dull growling roar is heard from a side pipe. Lurconis has finally deigned to arrive in order to eat his tribute… but with the babies not in their assigned position, he’s happy to settle for a vampire in robes.
He turns out to be a giant snake.
As it backs into the sewer to swallow its vampire meal, Mr. Trick tells Buffy he usually leaves the fisticuffs to minions, but he’s just gotta see what she’s got. She tells him to tell her when it hurts. But before they can face off, Giles intervenes and manages to get tossed into Lurconis’ sacrificial pool of sewer water. Trick chooses to make tracks after all, leaving Buffy to save Rupert from being a demon snake meal.
She does this with one of the handy, exposed gas pipes the Mayor just got done helpfully mentioning. It’s sent retreating back into the sewer tunnel engulfed in flames.
From the sewer manhole, Trick looks down and tells Buffy that hot times are ahead between he and she.
Scene 38: In the Mayor’s office in the pre-dawn, he is a very unhappy man and Mr. Trick is his focus for his displeasure. He asks about Ethan, and Trick confirms that he was paid for doing his task, offering that there wasn’t a reason to burn that bridge.
Mr. Trick offers that he doesn’t see the downside to how things turned out. After all, the Mayor has one less demon to offer tribute to; Trick offers that in a way, he did the Mayor a favor… Wilkins offers in return that Trick should be careful about any future favors he does the Mayor.
Scene 39: The following Monday, we’re in Sunnydale High. Snyder has returned to normal and is after volunteers for cleaning up the painted vandalism around school from the wild Friday night. He ropes in Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Oz … because of Xan’s smart mouth.
Scene 40: Outside, Buffy is telling Giles that everything was just too much and nothing seemed to make sense anymore. She tells him that she felt so alone.
We think she’s talking about being without Giles’ steadfast Watcher support, of course, but no… she was referring to the SATs, in which she’s worried about how she did on the math. Joyce has pulled up to pick up Buffy and the refer to the damage to Joyce’s Jeep.
Buffy offers that at least that’s the worst thing to happen and she expresses gratitude that she got to her mother and Giles before anything actually happened between them. Joyce and Rupert share uncomfortable mutters and the quickly separate and go in opposite directions -- leaving us with the tantalizing possibilities that more than a few make out sessions may have occurred….
What a fun episode!
The Good: I really liked that Giles is helping Buffy with her SAT studying, and looking forward to her having the option of going to college -- even if his own position will then be put in question.
I also really liked the Joyce/Buffy/Giles interaction before the spellworks start in that Buffy is caught in the middle of this tug of war between Mother and Watcher. I like that Giles and Joyce start cooperating with one another, rather than being at odds.
I do loves it when Ethan Rayne makes an appearance.
I love everybody after the hex takes affect: ASH, SMG, Aly, Seth, Armin, Kristine and Peg are all a riot.
Extra, extra love for Armin and Peg as Snyder and Ms. Barton in The Bronze and for Aly and SMG's face-acting.
The Bad: Charisma really looks awful in her first scene, highlighted by the harsh light on her at first.
The scene with Trick killing the packager on the line to act as a disincentive for any chocolate thieves feels really dark and out of place for an episode that is one large comedy routine. It was an unneeded scene on top of it.
Other Thoughts: I know that I said I hate the Xan/Willow thingie and it's true, but it's from a character persepective. I don't mind the way that the writers are treating their brushes with being bad with one another.
I do have a very slight issue with the candy, the logical aftermath and the way that loads and loads of it continues to be produced after the town is already well under its effects. It's really very minor though, but still -- the logic of Mr. Trick's and Ethan's plan feels a little under baked.
I was tempted to throw Lurconis in the bad, because CGI snake. BTVS should stop, stop, stop trying to use any type of snake - it doesn't matter if it's a CGI monstrosity or a practical puppet effect, it never works out well. But, Lurconis doesn't get bumped into the bad strictly because I can't get Sobek out of my head for a combination of effects failures, even though that's in the future. Next to that awfulness, Lurconis isn't really that bad... and thankfully, he doesn't take up a lot of screen time.
The Score: An episode just full of laughs. But watch it more than once, because so many of the guffaws come from the facial expressions and body language of people not reciting the dialog at any given moment.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The Walking Dead's "Save the Last One".