Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dead Man's Party

Season #3, Episode #2: Dead Man's Party

"Is it a gathering, a shindig, or a hootenanny?"

So I was all excited about the beginning of Season 3 and my new built-in Buffy reviewing time slot before work, when my beloved laptop Bronco's hard drive died. It was a trying time.

But to be honest, I had no desire to watch this episode again anyway, as my recollection of it is Xander throwing a big temper tantrum. I'm actually posting this entry a week after watching the episode because I couldn't be bothered adding pictures or, you know, commentary. Instead I listened to two Taylor Swift albums. Took many naps. I watched Once More, With Feeling. Twice.

Alas. I can't go on, I'll go on. You may recall that when we last saw Buffy, she had run away from home for the summer, returning to Sunnydale just in time for the fall season. This episode deals with The Aftermath--nobody seems to know how to react to Buffy's return, least of all Buffy. She makes a lot of faces like this:

Ensue a series of painfully awkward scenes between Buffy and Joyce/the Scoobies. When Buffy asks for permission to go out, Joyce tactfully asks, "Will you be slaying?"

Buffy finds Xander prowling the streets, but for once not for defenseless ladies! He has a cross and a stake, and a walkie talkie, on which Cordelia addresses him as "Nighthawk."

It seems that in Buffy's absence, Xander, Willow, Cordelia and Oz did some slaying of their own.

So all seems well, no? Buffy may still be expelled--when Joyce goes to Principal Snyder to argue that Buffy was cleared of all murder charges (Kendra, remember her?), he says that he tingles with pleasure at the thought of keeping a troublemaker out of school.

But besides Principal Snyder, everyone's happy to see Buffy. Especially Pat.

Pat is Joyce's busybody friend from book club who supported Joyce in the aftermath of her daughter's delinquency. She likes to make empanadas in her Spanish class. And she thinks it's time for Buffy and Joyce to re-bond. She's the mom and apple pie, PTA-friendly stalwart to Joyce's terror at what essentially amounts to having a gay child.

Buffy goes to the basement to prepare for her welcome back dinner party, and a dead cat falls on her head. I don't know about your basement, but this seems a bit unlikely.

They bury the cat in their yard, but come nightfall, the scary mask in Joyce's room glows red and the cat digs out of its grave. It runs into the Summers kitchen right as Joyce Struggles With Buffy's Coming Out, saying, "I think the police would be happy to have a...superhero? I mean, is that the right term? Is that offensive?"

For some reason, the Scoobies put their analysis of the zombie cat on hold to decide to co-opt Joyce's stuffy welcome home gathering, invite all of Sunnydale High, and hire Dingoes Ate My Baby to play the one song they have over and over while Oz holds his big boy bass.

Buffy feels that Xander and Willow are trying to avoid having to spend any real time with her. Then she overhears Joyce talking about Buffy's homecoming with Pat and gets the wrong end of the stick. She heads up to her room and starts packing up to leave--again. But I thought she found herself last episode!!

Never fear, for Willow and Buffy tearfully talk about how they have boys now and dating and witchcraft and they missed each other and let's never fight again ok?? :') :') :')

The downside--Joyce's new decorative mask is reanimating corpses all over Sunnydale, and they're headed for the Summers home. Bad timing, as Joyce picks this exact moment to have a big confrontation with Buffy in the middle of the party. She's still trying to deal with having a Slayer child, and yells, "You just dumped this thing on me and expected me to handle it! Well Mom's not perfect!" Then Xander decides to butt in and tell Buffy what scum she is and STFU XANDER. Then Willow starts to say something and Xander butts in to tell Buffy how Willow thinks she's scum because STFU Xander.
STFU Xander.

Then some zombies break through the windows in the middle of his sanctimonious blabber. Thanks zombies.

Pat bites it, but really, we saw that coming. She zombifies and puts on the evil exotic Nigerian mask, making her the incarnation of evil. Or something.

Buffy saves the day as usual. And for one reason or another, the bonding experience of cowering in closets in terror makes everything A-OK with the Scoobies. They may still have no idea that Buffy had to kill Angel and that Xander is a gigantic douche, but everything is more or less okay, right? Somehow?

Well, almost! Giles turns up at Snyder's office to tell him in no uncertain terms that Buffy WILL be returning to Sunnydale High. There may be some violence.

And that's that. I vow next time to pick up the energy and not spend a week dreading having to review a perfectly fine episode in a perfunctory fashion.

Favorite moment: Buffy is nervous about seeing Giles for the first time, and almost turns away from his door. But he's pretty much the only one who doesn't throw a temper tantrum, and instead goes into the kitchen to have a little private moment and choke back tears of joy.

Awwwww Giles, running the gamut of emotions this episode!


  1. This is my least favorite episode of Buffy. I can say that definitively. It is one hour of god-awful television. I hate it. I have no insights, nothing to say further. I know I just hate it so completely and utterly. Fin.

  2. Woah Andy, them's fightin' words! I'd ask why, if you come up with any insights. But there are some truly awful Buffy episodes yet to come. I find it hard to believe you enjoy anything in Season 7 more than this episode. Or "Where the Wild Things Are," lol.

  3. I know that technically it's not the "worst" episode of Buffy. I just can't stand it. It makes my skin crawl. Xander is at his all-time worst. Willow is terrible. Joyce is terrible. Joyce's new friend is terrible. African tribal mask zombie appropriation is terrible. Oz is terrible. Ugh. Hate it so much.

    Buffy and Xander's "heated" exchange consists of Xander spewing nonsense and Buffy tearfully pleading "God, Xander, cut it out!" Like, what?! Why hasn't she staked him yet?!

    Best part of season 3: Faith nearly fuck-killing Xander.

  4. This episode convinced my roommate who didn't hate Xander for some reason to start hating Xander.

    So, I guess some good came out of it.

  5. Mary, your enthusiastic comments and texts are motivating me to update more often, so keep going, go go go!

  6. Joyce blames Buffy for putting her through the ringer, that statement made me livid due to the fact that Buffy told her the truth; mom could not deal with it, and to add insult to injury kicked her own daughter out of the house when Buffy had to attend to Slayer duties. What also made me ire about Joyce is when she told Buffy that she made bad choices and she has to face the consequence of those choices. You do not have any room to talk Joyce, your decision making skills were not up to par either! You made bad choices too; but I do not see you accepting responsibility for them. You are such a hypocrite.
    Buffy's friends do not get me started on you. You are blaming Buffy for leaving Sunnydale for choices out of her control. You are angry about having to slay vampires in her place because she was not there to bail you out!! Get over yourselves, Buffy had to slay vampires on her own for two years and you could not handle doing it for three months without complaint. Xander and Willow you two are the sorriest excuse of Buffy's best friends that have ever existed, all you cared about was your own pathetic problems while hers was greater, and your excuse that she could talk about it is a joke because both of you demonstrated zero understanding and compassion. You knew that Buffy was expelled from school and that the law enforcement officers were looking for her, and you should have realized that Buffy having to kill Angel took its toll on her. She should not have had to explain that he got his soul back but she was too late and because of that she had to kill him.

  7. If I was Buffy, and I received that kind of treatment from my mother and friends, I would cut my ties from them once and for all