Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 14

3.4 Beauty and the Beasts
3.5 Homecoming
3.6 Band Candy

Before we get into the discussion on this week's eps, I just wanted to include a gentle reminder that this forum is the safe one, where many of the first-time viewers are reading, and therefore no spoilers are allowed in the blog post itself or in the comments. That spoiler-free zone extends to both Angel and the Season 8 comics, so please no discussion of either of those either. If you'd like to talk about this week's episodes within the context of future episodes, please read through this one and then go to the post below this one, where you can speak freely about Buffy and Angel. Thank you!

This week’s episodes are all about returning home and facing reality, and realizing the importance of maturity. In various ways Buffy and her friends grow up – Angel and Buffy’s high school romance suddenly turns serious when he returns from hell after what could be thousands of years of torment. And she can’t tell her friends that he’s back. In Homecoming Buffy and Cordy fight for a high school rite of passage for some girls – the throne of the homecoming queen – and along the way figure out that friendship is more important than rivalry… even if that rivalry gave them the fight they needed. And in the hilarious Band Candy (I LOVE this episode) when the adults of Sunnydale suddenly become immature teens, Buffy discovers that maturity is what keeps the world from imploding. At the same time, both Giles and Joyce remember that they were actually given a chance to be teenagers, something they’re not letting Buffy do. Snyder, who reverts to all-out nerddom, learns NOTHING.

Meanwhile, Xander has discovered feelings for Willow, and Willow has reawakened her Xander crush. They find out that just because you’re happily in love doesn’t mean complications can’t happen. I love seeing Willow and Xander together, and yet every scene is coloured by knowing how much Oz loves her, and how much she loves him. Cordelia admits to Buffy that she’s fallen in love with Xander, and despite her bitchiness, we don’t really want to see her get hurt, either.

The MAYOR is finally here! He was mentioned a couple of times in season 2, setting him up to appear in season 3. I love the way Harry Groener plays him (I remember doing an autograph session with him and James Leary, who will play a later character on the show, and the two of them were beside me as they flipped through my book, cracking jokes about the photos of other people: “Look! David Boreanaz looks like he’s in a boy band!” “When does he NOT look like he’s in a boy band?!” It was an amazing afternoon.)

• The counsellor guessing things about Angel: “Let me guess… he changed. He got mean.”
• Willow pulling Oz’s tail.
• Buffy to Cordy: “You’ve awakened the prom queen within.”
• This scene:

Trick: We all have the desire to win. (walks through the room) Whether we're human... vampire... and whatever the hell you are, my brother. You got them spiny-looking head things. I ain't never seen that before.
Kulak: I am Kulak, of the Miquot Clan.
Trick: Isn't that nice.

• Oz: “As Willow goes, so goes my nation.”
• Giles at the dance: “We have to find Buffy! Something terrible has happened!! Just kidding… I thought I’d give you a scare.”
• Faith’s prank on Scott while he’s dancing with another girl (this was the first time I really liked her the first time through).
• The Mayor!! “Well THAT’S an exciting suit!”
• Buffy driving the car, hahaha!!
• Snyder: “Oh Summers! You drive like a SPAZ!”
• Giles’s air punch of happiness when Buffy slugs Ethan. LOL!!!!
• Willow: “Kiss rocks? Why would anyone want to kiss…”

Did You Notice?
• Several people have pointed this out in the comments, and I forgot to mention it last week, but yes, in season 3 Nerf Herder re-recorded the theme song to make it heavier and louder, so it’s not just your imagination that it’s slightly different.
• Willow’s Scooby-Doo lunch box!
• I find it interesting that Giles comes into the library, finds Buffy asleep, and doesn’t wig, right after he freaked out on Xander for doing the same thing.
• Every metaphor this show uses for alcoholism always seems to fall flat. The “but he’s so nice when he’s sober” parallel they make with Debbie and Pete is a bit over the top.
• Why is a teacher smoking in the school?
• Gorch. Why are you back when we hated you the first time around?
• The lead singer of Dingoes is the WORST lip syncher ever.
• Anthony Stewart Head’s accent in Band Candy is much closer to his real one, which has a Cockney sound to it. To play Giles he puts on a far more formal accent. He’s also put his earring back in (they usually put makeup over the hole to try to cover it up).
• Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stunt double was SO obvious in every scene.

Most importantly, Buffy says, “Let’s do the time warp again,” an inside joke about how Anthony Stewart Head once played Frank N. Furter in a West End production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And now, for the first-time viewers who didn’t know that, I’m about to make your eyes bleed:

And if that didn’t do the trick, then how about watching him dressed in drag in this VH-1 Rocky Horror special, complete with ripped fishnets.

Will someone else please reassure me that I’m not the only person who finds this get-up strangely alluring?? Please?

Now that your brain has exploded (either with glee or horror… it really could go either way), we have another wonderful entry from Steve Halfyard this week on the music. For this week’s slice of cheese (which she titled ‘gorgonzola’ when she emailed it to me) she’s even added a visual aid to help you understand her analysis:

“Beauty and the Beasts” gives us a brand new love theme for Buffy and Angel. Except that it’s not entirely new: I call this one “This is what is left.” At the end of “Faith Hope and Trick” we get the full love theme as Buffy tells Giles and the gang what really happened the night she killed Angel. It’s a symbolic moment: Buffy lets go of Angel, accepts that he has gone. And at the start of “Beauty,” before she knows he has come back, she talks to her counsellor about what happened, and this is where we get the new theme, as she talks about him as something in her past. What we hear is a four-note motif, two pairs of notes, one a little sad step down, the second a little yearning step up. But once she knows Angel has returned, this new theme mostly replaces the old love theme in terms of representing Buffy’s feelings for Angel. We hear it again in the mansion, when she chains Angel to the wall; in the library as she researches to try to understand what’s happen to him; when Giles talks about what he would be like if he came back; and then a big statement of it when she returns to the mansion and looks at what has become of her lover. Right at the end of the episode, we do hear the love theme again as Angel finally says “Buffy”; but the episode ends with the new theme as she watches him sleeping and we hear her narrating the “Call of the Wild” passage in voiceover.

The new theme represents the idea that they cannot go back to their original relationship; instead it is about what they have: this is what is left now that they know that they can never truly be together. But musically, it also uses that idea of ‘this is what is left’ in terms of its relationship to the love theme. OK, slightly tricky musical bit: the first two phrases of the love theme start exactly the same way: the first four notes are the same – then in phrase 1, the fifth note goes down, and in phrase two, the fifth note goes up. The most instantly evocative bit of the love theme is the first three notes: if you remove those from the first two phrases, then what is left are those two pairs of notes, the sad step down, the yearning step up.

The new theme is absolutely literally what is left when you strip out the most identifiable part of the love theme. It’s much simpler than the old theme, much less lyrical, the intervals are smaller, the phrases are shorter: the emotions are more contained, more restrained, the pain and the loss that were written so large with the original theme are suppressed, accepted, not dramatised. I love this theme, I love the way it’s been extracted from the old theme and the way it articulates such a degree of carefully controlled and suppressed heartbreak. It stays in the score for most of the rest of the season, working along side the love theme to give us the two perspectives of (on one hand) that is what was, what could have been, what we would like to have; and (on the other) this is what we’ve got, what is left. It is one of the most fabulous musical metaphors imaginable. (I love Christophe Beck!).

Thank you, Steve! And now I’d like to introduce a colleague of mine (I get to see her lovely face at the office all the time), Jennifer Knoch. Jen has been an associate editor at ECW Press for about two and a half years now, and in that time we’ve discovered we have very similar tastes in books. Which makes me feel good, because Jen is a book maven. She runs the very popular book blog, the Keepin’ It Real Book Club, and about a month ago she was one of the country’s leading commentators on Canada Reads. But wait, she’s not all about books – not everyone knows this, but she secretly authored a book about Taylor Swift under a pseudonym, Liv Spencer (one we use at ECW when staff members write books). So hey, she’s still a teenager at heart.

And that brings us to the essay she’s written for us this week. Take it away, Jen!

Unhappy Homecomings: Returning to the Beast, or Teen, Within
Jennifer Knoch

“Man is not truly one, but truly two.” — The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“Teenagers, that’s a sobering mirror to look into, huh?” — Oz, “Band Candy”

INT. NIGHT: A blonde, fifteen-year-old girl is huddled on the couch. Blue light flickers on her face, is reflected in her wide eyes. She’s alert, muscles tensed, glancing around nervously. A terrible howl fills the room and her heart races, for she’s in living in peril . . . of her parents catching her watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

That’s the scene of my early Buffy years, when my parents were worried that the show would forever traumatize my five-year-old sister, and watching it was firmly discouraged (somewhat more vehemently if there was a hockey game on TV at the same time). But despite parental disapproval, I persevered. It was a romance as intoxicating and forbidden as Buffy and Angel’s. The Scooby Gang was one year older than me, which was pretty perfect — it put the possibility of that kind of coolness just over the horizon. Something to aspire to.

It’s been over a decade since then, my high school sucked into a mental Hellmouth, but with this rewatch, I have an interesting opportunity to return to Buffy and also to my high school self. That return is something one I often make inadvertently, actually. You see, I have a theory (that it’s a demon . . . just kidding) that when you go home to stay with your parents you subconsciously transform into your teen self. It’s as inevitable an unavoidable as Oz’s full moon change. You may be a patient, good-natured, self-sufficient, mature human being out in the regular world, but as soon as you cross the threshold into your childhood home, that all changes. You’re short-tempered. You’re petulant. You stop contributing. You can’t wait to just . . . get . . . out. Something about returning to a familiar place brings to light another self that may have been long buried, creating a personal polarization, what’s at once a doubling and a fracturing of self.

In “Beauty and the Beasts,” we have Pete, Oz, and Angel, all transform into savage beasts, and while the episode puts the emphasis on parallels with Jack London’s Call of the Wild, I think the more interesting allusion is actually to Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The first time I watched this episode I was probably only familiar with the Bugs Bunny adaptation, which is too bad, because a familiarity with the original Stevenson really enriches the episode, and, really, the series as a whole. Obvious parallels like Pete’s potion drinking and increasingly frequent and uncontrollable transformations aside, the meatier connection is the inner struggle between our conscience and our inclination to evil, between freedom and responsibility. In his final confession, Dr. Jekyll writes, “Of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.” Remind you of anyone? Pete, yes, but more importantly, the tortured Angel/Angelus. Stevenson’s book speculates that evil given free reign will eventually take over, making Angel’s situation that much more fragile and foreboding (something that Joss & Co. will exploit later in the season). And yet Angel, like Oz, is fighting against these urges, and we must take into account the scene post-climax: Angel, on his knees in front of Buffy like a penitent, separating himself from his bestial side the clearest way possible, uttering his first word since his return from the hell dimension: a quivering “Buffy?” And so while this episode’s main purpose is to emphasize the bestial nature in humans, it also introduces the possibility of keeping your inner beast on a leash.

In “Band Candy,” my Return to Teendom theory has its time to shine when the adults return to their teen selves by virtue of enchanted chocolate (a much more delicious and convenient alternative to the long GO train ride to the suburbs), creating a “Land of the Irresponsible.” It’s great comedic material, if slightly distressing — seeing Giles re-tweeded at the end is a bit of a relief. As adult viewers, especially viewers who watched Buffy as a teen, the episode showcases a part of ourselves we might not want to acknowledge. In a moment of maturity, Buffy can see things for what they are. Looking at the grown men singing onstage at the Bronze, Buffy notes, “They’re acting like a bunch of us.” Willow’s not convinced (or perhaps is unwilling to be) and replies, “We don’t act like this.”

And it’s kind of true. Because while the adults’ immaturity reaffirms their regular maturity, it also casts the Scooby Gang in a much more mature light. While Buffy does do some childish things this episode (not taking the SATs seriously, that horrible driving that made adult me brace for impact), she steps up when she needs to, plays the adult and restores order . . . but wait, that’s what she does all the time. The Scoobies may sometimes be vulnerable and irresponsible, but it’s usually on the emotional side (as we see with Willow and Xander’s flirtation, and with Buffy keeping Angel’s return a secret), and they’re often to forced to act like adults just to survive. Living on the Hellmouth means you don’t have the benefit of the irresponsible teen years that Joyce and Snyder had. At the beginning of the episode, Buffy laments, “I don’t need this much active parenting,” and it’s true. Buffy’s already a sort of parent, a protector to all of Sunnydale, dealing with hell beasts that rival teenagers for morning snarliness every day.

So these two very different episodes end up having a very similar theme: inner battles between our own Jekyll and Hydes. It seems what it comes down to is responsibility, a willingness to keep fighting: something that Buffy knows far too much about. Mr. Platt, the guidance counselor tells Buffy, “Demons can be fought.” (Though this is something he fails at in the literal sense in episode 4.) That doubleness is always there: between human and beast, maturity and recklessness — you just can’t let one side take over. Because when you get tired of the fight, as Dr. Jekyll does, everything goes to . . . Hyde.

Maybe getting back in touch with my teen self for this rewatch is just good training for the next trip home. Then maybe I’ll take some responsibility: I’ll take a deep breath, shelve my irritation, and offer to wash the dishes. I’ll try to be a mature teen. It looks like even now that I’m an adult, Buffy is still someone to aspire to.

Thank you, Jen!

Next week: One of my favourite trios of Buffy eps:

3.7 Revelations
3.8 Lover’s Walk
3.9 The Wish

Guest-hosted by Stacey Abbott and Suzie Gardner


Marebabe said...

At the beginning of “Beauty & the Beasts”, when Buffy and Faith were patrolling together, they were strolling along and chatting, completely at ease and unconcerned. I guess the reason I noticed this is the fact that they are at war with the forces of darkness. Pretty serious stuff. And in any TV or movie scene where you have soldiers or cops moving through enemy territory, they are quiet, possibly stalking, alert for visible signs or sounds of the enemy, weapons held ready. It’s life or death, and they know it. Buffy and Faith were behaving like teenagers at the Mall. I thought maybe the reason they were acting that way was because of their supreme confidence in their Slayer abilities. But Buffy, at least, shouldn’t have that attitude. She died (temporarily) not so very long ago.

Pete, talking to Debbie, reminded me of the Hulk: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” And later, after tangling with Werewolf Oz, I was wondering about the wounds on Pete’s arm. Would he have turned into a werewolf himself at the next full moon?

And I didn’t expect to see the return of “good Angel” so soon. Glad he’s back!

For me, “Homecoming” was a weird episode, perhaps my least favorite so far. I really didn’t like seeing Buffy deliberately being petty and sinking to Cordelia’s shallow, vain, and self-centered level. I get that Buffy’s desire to have a normal teenager’s life was what motivated her. But it was behavior unbecoming to “she who will save us all”. (A little LOST reference, there. Can’t help it.)

What a troubling development with Xander and Willow (and Oz). Timing is SO important, Xander! Couldn’t you have become smitten with Willow a couple YEARS ago?!

I seriously overused exclamation marks in my notes for “Band Candy”. There was so much to love about this episode. Getting stoned on chocolate! Buffy dispatching a vamp with her No. 2 pencil! Willow and Xander playing footsie! Giles and Joyce playing tonsil hockey! Principal Snyder! And I respect and admire the writers for weaving some serious peril and menace into such a fun-filled episode.

VW: moorturl - try saying THAT five times real fast!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

The dangers of a show being dated - Manimal references and the sound of a modem (which in Homecoming is supposed to be state of the art.)

You know as soon as they introduce the cool guidance counselor that he's doomed. Speaking of staff, Jennifer Hetrick (Vash from ST:TNG) is wasted as Buffy's teacher.

I have a few problems with Oz' cage. It has a window? And Pete can rip off the door like tissue paper, but Oz can't?

If Angel is feral, where did he get pants and who put them on him?

When Willow was examining the body for bite marks with Xander, I had a Scully/Mulder moment.

Are they sure Oz isn't a weregorilla? He sure doesn't look like a wolf.

Buffy really should give Angel back his jacket. He needs the clothes.

I think Buffy competes for Homecoming queen because she wants to regain who she was rather than face who she is. And I want a cupcake.

Am I wrong to think Tony is equally hot in Giles suit at the dance and his Rocky Horror costume?

Why is Buffy wearing her corsage as a bunny tail? And how did she pin it on?

I liked Buffy's antler bat-leth.

Cordy is so badass she can defeat a vampire with her wordsG. She should have been a Slayer.

Band Candy! Yay Jane Espenson (my next favourite Buffy writer after Joss.)

Would somebody explain SATs again to me? My little Canadian brain doesn't get it.

I think I like candy-filled Joyce more than over-protective humourless Joyce - though she's still a square.

Evil enchanted chocolate! Well, isn't it all? And is it sad that I act like that pretty much all the time without eating it?

Someone should teach Buffy some manners - she walks into Giles' place without knocking.

Buffy knows she doesn't have a license and doesn't know how to drive. She's old enough to know what a bad idea taking the car is and comes off looking pretty stupid.

It's disturbing that Giles in teenage form is quite eager to shoot Ethan - did he ever kill anyone as a kid?

All that chaos for four babies? They could have just knocked out the hospital staff (or kidnapped quads.)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Oh, and by the way, Happy Rewatch Birthday, Nikki. :)

Cindy/SenexMacDonald said...

@Marebabe said..."At the beginning of “Beauty & the Beasts”, when Buffy and Faith were patrolling together, they were strolling along and chatting, completely at ease and unconcerned...Buffy and Faith were behaving like teenagers at the Mall. I thought maybe the reason they were acting that way was because of their supreme confidence in their Slayer abilities. But Buffy, at least, shouldn’t have that attitude. She died (temporarily) not so very long ago."

I always got the impression that Buffy was delighting in having someone who could completely relate to who she is as the Slayer. She can't have that conversation with any of the Scooby's so having this opportunity to converse to someone who understands what being a Slayer means has to be a relief for Buffy.

"I was wondering about the wounds on Pete’s arm. Would he have turned into a werewolf himself at the next full moon?"

I had the same question as we have not seen any 'creature' that is a blend of two or more of the creatures we have seen the gang encounter.

"What a troubling development with Xander and Willow (and Oz). Timing is SO important, Xander! Couldn’t you have become smitten with Willow a couple YEARS ago?!"

I totally agree. This makes me feel even more uncomfortable than it did in previous viewings. Even though Willow and Xander have had a long relationship, it just shows that it does not take much for things to move in a direction where everyone is in jeopardy.

"Principal Snyder!"

Just love the comment about things 'not being fair' re. being Principal. I think I feel that way almost every day as a teacher! LOL

@Colleen/redeem147 said..."I have a few problems with Oz' cage. It has a window? And Pete can rip off the door like tissue paper, but Oz can't?"

If you look closely at the window, there is NO way that Oz got out of through that. His size as a werewolf versus the space when the window is open does not match. I have those sized windows in my basement - I am not going through those either. :) Re. Pete and the door - yup, totally agree with that one. Nope, should not be happening.

"Cordy is so badass she can defeat a vampire with her words . She should have been a Slayer."

Even before becoming a part of the gang, a look from Cordy could stop the world. A vamp is nothing when she is in full Cordelia mode!

"Would somebody explain SATs again to me? My little Canadian brain doesn't get it."

Think of SATs as something like a BIG version of the EQAO tests here in Ontario... or an entrance exam to get into college or university. As there are many people in the US vying for the limited number of spaces, students have a better chance of getting in if their scores are higher.

I had the opportunity to take SATs a number of years ago in San Francisco to get a license to teach in California. The material I received in the mail was like comparing a comic book to a hard cover version of War and Peace that those from the US taking this test. Mine had 80 sample questions; theirs - unbelievable. Oh, and I passed and got my license.

Page48 said...

"Band Candy" was the highlight of this three-pack.

Giles and Snyder, in particular, were a riot. Add the wholesome goodness of the Mayor, Trick, and that hottie, Ms. Barton, and this was a very entertaining eppie.

"Homecoming" was not my fave, by a long stretch. Cordy relapsed into the spoiled rotten brat chick we met in S1, and Buffy didn't do herself any favours, either, jumping into the battle for Homecoming Queen Supremacy. Conduct unbecoming for both Cordy and the Buffster. Good thing neither of them won.

Giles gets a tranq dart in the backside, but manages to voice his displeasure ("oh, right, bloody priceless") before passing out. Awesome.

Why didn't Gorch and/or his hunny kill Giles instead of just K-O'ing him. Didn't want to spoil their dinner?

I couldn't wait for Buffy and Scott to break up. We're just not that into you, Scott.

The Scoobies have unfettered access to the Sunnydale Morgue. It's like they have the Key to the City. I love it.

Death by spatula. Of all the ways to go.

I was just getting my ears trained to catch the Love Theme every time it came on and now I have to move on? Watching, listening, it's all very demanding.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Hey, I love Scott. He's a cutie.

And kissing him would mean no neck strain.

StarfuryBR said...

"Beauty and the Beasts" has always been a problematic episode for me. There are obviously deliberate parallels between Buffy and Angel, Pete and Debbie (and Willow and Oz, to a lesser extent). But it's quite a mixed message.

Take, for instance, the post-battle scene where Angel clings to Buffy for comfort. It's clearly echoing the earlier scene where Pete monsters out, does some violence, and returns to his human face before putting his head in Debbie's lap to be comforted by her (though she's the one who has been hurt by him). While it's significant that Buffy makes no move to comfort Angel in the latter scene (she seems rather paralyzed), she isn't running away from monstrous erstwhile boyfriend either.

Recall too, how Buffy harshly rebukes Debbie in the bathroom scene: "So while you two live out your grim fairy tale, two people are dead." Uh, and how many people did Angel kill when he went bad?

On the one hand, the parallel might be seen as lending Buffy greater moral authority in her chastisement of Debbie (been there, done that, sent him packing--to hell). But on the other hand, at this point in the episode she knows Angel is back, she knows he's dangerous, and she's not asking for help, any more than Debbie is.

I know, I know, Angel has a soul, and he didn't when he was bad and killed all those people. In other words, to quote Debbie again, "It's not his fault. He's not himself when he gets like this."

It's clear that the authors WANT the audience to feel uncomfortable about Buffy and Angel's relationship, yet still squeeze out every drop of romantic melodrama they can get from it. The problem for me is that they're just TOO GOOD at pointing out everything that's wrong with Buffy and Angel's relationship. I feel the same way about another relationship that develops later in the series, which rivals Buffy/Angel in fan popularity, but neither of them ever worked for me.*

"Band Candy." Oh how I love this episode, let me count the ways! Giles. Giles with an earring and pomade in his hair. Giles with the less-posh accent. Giles taking down the cop. Giles playing tongue hockey with Joyce (twice!). Giles generally being Act-Before-You-Think Guy. Giles gleefully watching Buffy beat the crap out of Ethan (air punch!). Buffy's creeped-out reaction to all of the above. The rest of the gang's creeped-out reaction to the whole situation. Also, pretty much every scene with Snyder. But, you know, mostly Giles.

*I will say this in B:TVS's defense, however: as much as I can't really swallow any iteration of vampire/human romance that's played straight, "Buffy's" is infinitely better handled than the one in that other series with that sparkly guy, where it's played as Not Creepy At All.

Tom D. said...

Near the beginning of Beauty & the Beasts, there's a conversation between Willow and Xander about "the Oz full monty," or at least the "half monty." Xander asks her how far she's gone with Oz. She says, with an adorable grin, "wouldn't you like to know?" Xander gets a pensive look on his face for the rest of the conversation. Yeah, he'd like to know. In hindsight, I think this moment is where he starts being attracted to her.

Regarding Starfury's comments on the problematic nature of the Buffy/Angel relationship: What would you have her do? Shun him? I mean, yes, he's a metaphor for a lot of bad guys in real life -- guys like Pete, who really do have a choice and who deserve whatever they get -- but I think it's important to acknowledge what's literally going on within the fiction. It's not a character flaw that made Angel go bad; it's a curse. When Debbie says it's not Pete's fault and he's not himself, that's untrue; but if Buffy were to say that Jenny's death isn't Angel's fault and he wasn't himself, there would be a lot of literal truth to that statement.

Of course, what I'm saying here is probably too simple. Jennifer Knoch makes an interesting comparison by quoting Dr. Jekyll about having two natures competing within him and being radically both of them. I'll stop there; more could be said, but it would be spoilery.

StarfuryBR said...

Tom D.: You're right, of course, that for all the parallels, the situations ARE different. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for me, they're not different enough for me to ever really get on board that ship.

Also, I just want to point out that there is an establishing shot in "Homecoming," of three students talking (notice the girl standing in the yellow jacket with the short dark hair who vaguely resembles Jenny Calendar) in the HS courtyard by the fountain, just before Buffy talks to Ms. Moran, that has been used over and over again since early in season 1. Somewhere there's got to be a list of every episode that uses that scene. Every time I see it now, it totally breaks my Willing Suspension of Disbelief. OTOH the Sunnydale High IS right on top of the Hellmouth, so maybe they're stuck in some kind of time loop bubble thing and nobody has noticed them sitting there having the same conversation over and over and over again for THREE YEARS. OMG FRIDGE BRILLIANCE!

karoliinahv said...

I like it how well Buffy knows Drusilla that she immediately goes to her doll chest to look for chains, but also - didn't Dru used to chain Angel up in the factory, which burned down, does she have a standard travelling kit of dolls and shackles?

Efthymia said...

The first five episodes of Season 3 I find just OK ("Homecoming" being indeed the lowest point of the season), but from "Band Candy" on, there's not a single episode that's mediocre, and some of them are among my favourites in the entire series. Oh, the brilliance that's about to come...

"Beauty & the Beasts":
I've done a lot of work (both studying and practical) on the subject of violence against women by their spouses/partners, and I have to say that the Pete-Debbie realationship is a very good depiction of such: the combination of physical, psychological and emotional violence used by Pete and the effects it has on Debbie's behaviour and view of their relationship, the substance as an excuse, the blame on the victim, the outsiders (Buffy) who want to help but do it all wrong because they don't understand the workings of such relationships...

I'm usually one to defend the Scoobies over Buffy, but in the case of the Homecoming Queen campaign, even if Buffy does act somewhat bitchy and even if it really is more important for Cordelia, I don't understand the Scoobies' clear siding with Cordelia. It's not as if they couldn't help them both!
Cordelia's confession that she is in love with Xander makes me even more annoyed at him for doing what he's doing with Willow. Even if I adore Oz and I would choose him over Xander without a second thought, I can understand Willow because she's had these unfulfilled feelings for Xander for so long, but Xander? Cordelia made a lot of sacrifices to be with him (and let's not forget how annoyed he was when she chose her "friends" over him in Season 2) and Willow has suffered a lot for him, and now he's not being fair to either of them.

"Band Candy":
Teenage Snyder=Pure Awesomeness!!!
I was already in love with Giles even in his tweeds, but the Ripper style... whoa! Although I'd choose Watcher-Librarian Giles over Ripper, even if he dresses worse.
I love this episode, probably because it's a perfect mix of fun and threat.

Just in two episodes, he's become a very interesting and fun to watch character.

And a question that popped into my head while watching "Beauty & the Beasts": so many episodes involve fighting in the library, and pretty much every time at least one bookstand is dropped; how do they put everything back in its place so fast?

JS said...

I have had trouble staying with the rewatch schedule and keep watching ahead (I just watched Consquences) and the episodes to just get better from here.

I continue to struggle with the logic of and buget for Buffy's wardrobe and hair maintenance (wasn't she a red head a couple of episodes ago? highlights on a diner waitress's salary??) but I am working hard to put that aside in the spirit of enjoying what is on the screen. My minor, completely petty observations:

Homecoming - Cordy says, "You don't call, you don't write?" Since I have been simultaneously re-watching LOST (again) I immediately thought of Charlie. Also, I do not understand Trick's lollipop? Is that just a bad guy thing or is he a Vamp/crack addict?

Band Candy - I loved it so much I didn't take any notes. My favorite was Principal Snyder, and his total committment to nerd-hood. Of course he wants to hang out with the Scooby Gang, they are the coolest! And I am in love with teenage Giles.

Missy said...

'Beauty & The Beasts'
Is really over the top in it's Domestic Abuse theme.
I don't like Pete(Actually I HATE Pete!!!I lived through what Debbie had for just afew months most of my childhood,I wish every time that debbie had the balls to KILL Pete),Scott(Oddly I liked him enough during the original run...Fab is Cute as a Button),Debbie(as much as I feel bad for her,She should have just kicked Psycho Pete to the curb..when she had the chance).
This ep just rubs me the wrong way.
(Still it's not the worst ep in the series,for me two eps tie for that spot and the 1st is 'Revelations'sadly the 1st ep of the next rewatch...Revelations and a S4 ep are the only two eps I truely can't watch)

Is not so great but quite abit better then 'B&tB'.
Let me explain
Cordy rocking the temporary Slayer = UberKool(Something on rewatch is a blast to see so early in the BtVS)
Buffy reverting back to her Hemery High persona to out do Cordy for Homecoming queen is too funny(Buffy was Cordelia,theres a quote in an upcoming episode where Buffy says that Hemery High Buffy made Cordelia look like a Classical Philosopher)
Willow&Xander's Clothes Fluke(I love this because their my fantasy Couple :D ,Plus I adore Lisa Loeb's 'How' playing over that scene)
Lyle Gorch is back and has a fiance(WTF?Lol)
Giles & Faith are awesome in there supporting roles for this ep.

'Band Candy'
A Fan Fav....for all the obvious and already stated reasons.
Rupert'Ripper'Giles & Joyce...and their teen shenanigans(One of the best things to EVER happen,the lasting effect is equally as hilarious)
Theres this scene between Ripper & Joyce...where their listening Giles' Cream Record the song 'Tales Of Brave Ulysses' is playing... it's beautiful,but for the sake of spoilers I can't say why that scene is precious in it's simplicity.
Buffy really really can't drive Lol,Aren't we all glad she didn't get her lisence last season?;)
Snyder is a huge dork :) and really looooves Oz' hair,who doesn't? :)
Willow is a Tree and couldn't remember who KISS was.Shame on you Willow ;)
Xander and Willow playing footsies is cute because their wearing the same shoes,only difference being colour and genderstyle.
Of course Cordelia is appalled at her mothers clothing Lol
Ethan Rayne is back YAY seriously thorn in Buffys side ,Farm fresh chicken indeed.
Mr.Trick helping out Sunny D's Mayor....Both characters are extremely fun to watch during their arcs.

Sidenote: Willow and Xander are my fantasy couple but I still feel HORRIBLE for Oz & Cordy.
I really love Oz&Willow and Xander&Cordy

Blam said...

As much as I love "Band Candy" my #1 favorite scene in this trio of episodes is Willow playing CSI (before CSI — and more like playing Quincy, really, or actually, given the situation, more like Mulder or the Winchester boys; CSI just came to mind first) with her Scooby-Doo lunchbox. Total win!

On "Beauty and the Beasts":

I'm not one of those with an encyclopedic knowledge of Buffy. The Rewatch is fun partly because I haven't even seen some of these episodes more than once, and, as the new viewers are no doubt realizing, going through the series with hindsight is quite rewarding. I don't really have more than a season-by-season grasp (if that) of what's coming up when, or coming up at all, until a given episode foreshadows things or outright launches a subplot.

So it's not a spoiler to say that when the Jeckyll-&-Hyde allusion in this episode hit, I wondered how many old-school monster stories there were left to riff on. We've had vampires (duh), werewolves, witches, an invisible girl, a mummy, a Frankenstein / patchwork man, and a version of Death itself, as well as a bug lady, reptile creature, evil robot duplicate, and nightmares made real — plus whatever I'm plumb forgetting. I know that there are more sci-fi and supernatural tropes left to mine, but it sure seems like we've gone through the classics and plenty of less easily definable neo-classics too.

This is really just an off-the-cuff observation, although if anyone wants to point out a big blind spot of mine in the Spoiler Forum, go for it. (Not here! Unless you're just spitballing ideas without any actual foreknowledge...)

VW: fisekul — Less successful phonetic version of Olivia Newton-John's 1981 radio hit.

Blam said...

On "Homecoming":

I love that the all-over-the-place list of Cordelia's weaknesses includes "fake smile", "brie", and "Xander".

Early on, Buffy left her stake in a vamp when she dusted it. She now holds on to the pointy weapon at hand, which is great in terms of both "Reduce Reuse Recycle" and presumably the special-effects budget — but not so great in terms of suspension of disbelief. The dusting in general is getting a little too easy, not just for the non-Slayers (Doesn't anybody remember that in the old Dracula movies Van Helsing and friends had to pound a stake in with a frickin' mallet?) but for our super-strong Slayer herself, who even with an uncanny sense of aim should need to do more than tap a vamp in the chest with any old vaguely sharp piece of wood. And a No. 2 pencil would not survive the experience, even if Buffy could straw-in-a-hurricane it through a breastbone before it splintered.

Willow and Xander... Grr...! Arrgh...!

On "Band Candy":

I'm curious whether the first-timers think it was too obvious that something was up with the chocolate bars too soon. Rewatch-wise I don't know if I noticed that Joyce was suspiciously addicted to the band candy right away because I was looking for it or because it was telegraphed, and I can't remember my own reaction watching it as a newbie a decade ago.

The unlikely duo of the Mayor and Mr. Trick, love child of Rick James and John Waters, is a hoot. And while I can't help but feel that the character hasn't really lived up to his potential, Ethan's return had me flashing on how awesome it would be to see a Legion of Doom roundtable of Buffy's most colorful adversaries — not the one-off (save for Gorch), second-string (Gorch!?!) ensemble seen in "Homecoming" — plotting and bickering in a volley of witty Whedonesque dialogue.

I can't be the only one who hears "band candy" and looks at Willow thinking, "This one time, at band camp..."

VW: boation — Whedonesque for having a seafaring craft.

Blam said...

@Nikki: “Look! David Boreanaz looks like he’s in a boy band!” “When does he NOT look like he’s in a boy band?!”


@Marebabe: Willow and Xander playing footsie!

I found that all kinds of adorable, even borderline hot in its adolescent expression of the chaste lust, but also hate how my heart aches for all concerned in this scenario.

@redeem: Jennifer Hetrick (Vash from ST:TNG) is wasted as Buffy's teacher.

Ah... Vash! Thank you! I knew that she was familiar and could not place the face.

Still don't get how Jean-Luc Picard would not giggle at a woman named Vash...

@redeem: If Angel is feral, where did he get pants and who put them on him?

My first reaction to this is that I've wondered the same thing, as well as who's been helping him shave and trim his hair. My second reaction is that if I didn't know better I'd think that you were asking this with a little too much Xanderness, if you get my drift — and I don't know better. 8^)

@redeem: Would somebody explain SATs again to me? My little Canadian brain doesn't get it.

They're what we call standardized tests, although recently an essay has been added. In my day, and during this episode, you had a Math section and a Verbal section worth a possible 800 points each, so a combined perfect score was 1600 and anything from, oh, the mid-1300s on for sure was going to help you get into the more exclusive schools. Each section was broken down further into subsections, with the Verbal having a bunch of analogies to complete, grammar to correct or validate, and, like the scene with Giles here, passages to read for which you had to determine the most fitting title or moral of the story (often with a laughable ringer among the possible answers).

@redeem: I think I like candy-filled Joyce more than over-protective humourless Joyce - though she's still a square.

I don't hold myself up as some paradigm of coolness, but I think it's hysterical that Joyce is talkin' all tough, smackin' her gum like a bad-ass, and speaking reverently of Juice Newton.

@Page48: I was just getting my ears trained to catch the Love Theme every time it came on and now I have to move on? Watching, listening, it's all very demanding.


@Starfury: Sunnydale High IS right on top of the Hellmouth, so maybe they're stuck in some kind of time loop bubble thing and nobody has noticed them sitting there having the same conversation over and over and over again for THREE YEARS.


@karoliinahv: does she have a standard travelling kit of dolls and shackles?

Doesn't everyone?

@JS: I do not understand Trick's lollipop

Vamps love them the sucking. Maybe it's made of blood. 8^)

VW: errific — Exceptional at making mistakes.

The Question Mark said...

Giles "giving the gang a scare" at the homecoming dance was the flat-out funniest moment of the entire series so far!

Also, how HOT did Buffy & Cordy look in their homecoming outfits?! I can't wait for the Prom episode now! :P

EBethToThePowerOf? said...

Joss says in the commentary that he made Nerf Herder re-record the theme because they got off tempo in the first version, and they didn't have time to fix it in the rush to production. I love this new, hard-rockin' version that starts with Season 3!

Steve: You are blowing my MIND with the musical commentary! I wish there was some way to link audio samples in while reading the text. . .it's hard for me to cue them up and listen again later.

I love the Mayor!
Colleen/redeem: re: feral Angel pants--the censors put them on him;)

My favorite line delivered by Oz: "something's gonna happen that you won't believe. . .or maybe you would."

Starfury, I am with you all the way about your discomfort with the Beauty & The Beasts themes and its treatment of the Buffy/Angel dynamic. I don't know why but this episode always really troubled me. It seems like the show sells the Buffy/Angel relationship as this big epic, doomed romance, then this episode comes along and we're supposed to see Buffy as a victim of domestic violence? But then at the end it seems like Angel can really change? But Pete couldn't, so Debbie's supposed to look stupid/like a fool (for taking him back), but Buffy isn't (for taking Angel back)? I can't really condense my thoughts here, but like I said, troubling.

Blam said...

@EBeth: Feral Angel Pants is my new band name.