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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She's the strangest girl: Buffy 1.5 - Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, 1.6 - The Pack

Never Kill a Boy On the First Date
"Ok, at this point you're abusing sarcasm."
It's a little late for the "don't get involved, don't tell anyone" speech, isn't it? I mean, Giles is the one who didn't bother to check that there was no one in the library, which is how Xander found out.

"Clark Kent has a job - I just want to go on a date!"
--Buffy, when Giles tells her that maintaining a normal social life as the slayer isn't possible:

"He's like, super librarian. Everyone forgets, Willow, that knowledge is the ultimate weapon."
--Xander, about Giles, when Willow worries that he'll need help:

Owen: It's weird - one minute you're right there - I got you figured! The next minute, it's like you're two people.
Buffy: Which one do you like better?
Owen: I'll let you know.

Best line of the night, though, has to be "Pork and beans...pork and beans!" Of course there's a crazy religious fanatic vampire mistaken for messiah figure of the brotherhood of vampires. Whedon's work is so fascinatingly anti-religious, while simultaneously being deeply religious.

And a predicament fueled by there being a beeper and no cell phone access - wow. Pre-cell phone era scenarios.

The Pack
This one is all spoiler all the time past this spoiler tag. They're possessed by hyenas.

I remember loving this episode the first time around, so have been looking forward to seeing it again. There's one scene in particular - the walk through the courtyard in pack formation - that I consider one of the best moments in all seven seasons. It does not disappoint.

"Family Matters" (Written on the info in front of the elephant exhibit.)

In the episode booklet for The Chosen Collection, Whedon lists The Pack first on his list of favorite episodes, saying that it took them months to figure out that one of the main gang needed to be infected, "one of the most valuable lessons for the rest of the show." Boy, did they take that one to heart.

Oh, the dodgeball scene. Classic. I've actually seen that happen, and I'm pretty sure none of my classmates had been possessed by hyenas. If I'd been in middle school when I watched this show, I'd have called the mean kids hyenas from then on.

And here it is - The Courtyard Scene. Still great. Not sure I noticed the first time how alpha Xander is in all this.

Giles: Testosterone is the great equalizer; it turns all men into morons.
Buffy: I cannot believe that you, of all people are trying to Scully me. There is something supernatural going on here - get your books! Look stuff up!

Oh, Principle Flutie. Oh, Xander. I had managed to forget this part. Both of these parts. They made it clear very early on that they were not playing.

And here's a scenario that will later be very familiar. Willow in the library with the cage.

Ahhhhh - run, lady with baby, RUN!!!

Also, Willow? Usually the smart one? Back the hell up off that cage and stop being stupid. Thank you.

And Giles? Why are you so gullible/trusting?

So, in addition to the awesome with which the creepy wrongness of this episode is handled (Xander goes bad well, and the pack is well filmed), the hurt, confusion and betrayal each step of Xander's  hyena-ing is met with (from both Willow and Buffy), and Buffy's immediate "this badness simply *cannot* be Xander"  are well done, and serve to underscore the "family matters" noted above. This of course makes it all the more disturbing/touching that the bitterness towards Buffy's love of dangerous men is not completely not-Xander (it will come up repeatedly, and often at times when Xander is more sympathetic), and also begins to lay the groundwork for the other times that one Scooby or another will have to remember that this badness/betrayal/confusing choice or behavior simply *cannot* in essence be allowed to alter the love felt for another Scooby.

The good stuff really does begin early, despite my maligning of the first season (monster of the week, high corniness factor, lots of terrible special effects). I wonder if I'd have appreciated it as much if I'd seen it in order? (I saw starting from 2nd season Halloween, then watched the 1st season in reruns.)

OK, that's all the Buffy I'm allowed until the weekend. I don't know how much I'll blog of the rest of the rewatch to come - probably short thoughts on many, longer thoughts on some.

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