Buffy Rewatch – School Hard

Spike and Drusilla are here you guys!  Spike and Drusilla.

Best characters, best couple, best introduction. Spike walks on in, brash and bold and confident, blatantly contradicting our season’s main villain. Everything about his demeanor is rough and arrogant, and then he hears Drusilla. His face literally transforms because of her. It’s still one of my favorite moments of the show.

The fact that he morphs back into his human face just hits me on a visceral level. It brings up a completely unexplored facet of the show’s mythology. Here are two soulless creatures that shouldn’t care about anything other than death and destruction, but care about each other. Vampires in love, demons with humanity. Giving me all of the feelings. Then, it’s like they forget that they’re in front of other people. The haaaands and the faaaaces. Gratuitous displays of intimacy and physicality-based perfection. James Marsters and Juliet Landau fucking bring it.

That shot of Spike seeing Buffy for the first time is fantastic. Like visually it just appeals to me?

“Slayer!” “Slayee!” Forever the best Buffy quip.

Sheila, sweetheart, if you meet a man in a dark alley, and he tells you that the guys you were just with “disappeared,” RUN AWAY in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.

Juliet Landau has the best face. Even when she’s all vamp-face. It looks significantly more natural on her, which sounds ridiculous, but I mean it. The transition between the two faces is so fluid and smooth unlike the vampires we’ve met so far. LUV U AND UR FACE, JULIET.

And we get Angel backstory. I WANT MOAR. Evolving from a smoldering, broody piece of scenery into an actual character before our very eyes.

While sending the Anointed One up in smoke is meant to signify “a little less ritual and a little more fun” for the vampires in Sunnydale, that line is perfect because it also opens up the vampire mythos on the show, which until this point has been shrouded in ancient prophecies and stifled by formal ceremony and hierarchy and the stuff of open-collar velvet shirts. What used to lurk around in graveyards will now be loud and brash and in your face.

Most of this episode was given over to introducing Spike and everything, but there was a nice continuation of Buffy’s problems at school. I can’t say I can really relate to that sort of thing, but it is quite sad to see her work so hard and still have her bad reputation follow her around. There was also that other girl Sheila basically just there to be a foil to Buffy – she’s someone who truly doesn’t care what happens and never bothers with school at all. I feel like she would have quite enjoyed being the slayer, which is an interesting thought. Buffy struggles so hard to keep up a normal life with friends and family, and that (according to Spike at least) is what makes her such a unique and ultimately powerful Slayer. Principal Snyder is just as obnoxious as ever, but his conversation with the Police Chief guy at the end suggests he might not be as oblivious as we thought. Holy shit, people are actually noticing this stuff!

I love this episode so much!!! It is such a great introduction to two new characters, and it flips everything you thought you knew about this season upside down. Plus it has so many great moments of dialogue from the incredibly genre savvy this:

Xander Harris: As long as nothing really bad happens between now and then, you’ll be fine.
Buffy Summers: Are you crazy? What did you say that for? Now something bad is gonna happen.
Xander Harris: What do you mean? Nothing’s gonna happen.
Willow Rosenberg: Not until some dummy says, “As long as nothing bad happens.”
Buffy Summers: It’s the ultimate jinx.
Willow Rosenberg: What were you thinking? Or were you even thinking at all?

To practically everything Spike says:

“Yeah, I did a couple o’ Slayers in my time. I don’t like to brag….Who am I kidding? I love to brag!”

“So, who do you kill for fun around here?”

“I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person and I spent the next six hours watchin’ my hand move.”

Spike: I was rash, and if I had to do it all over again…
[laughs evilly]
Spike: Who am I kidding? I would do it exactly the same, only I’d do this…
[grabs the Anointed One]
The Anointed One: No!
Spike: …first!
[Spike sticks The Anointed One in the nearby cage and starts pulling a chain, lifting the cage up from the floor]
Spike: From now on, we’re gonna have a little less ritual… and a little more fun around here.
[the cage is lifted into the sunlight. The Anointed One screams as he dies]
Spike: Let’s see what’s on TV.

Plus, James Marsters is just way too pretty.

Also, Principal Snyder is hilarious:

“On the one hand, Buffy hasn’t stabbed a horticulture teacher with a trowel.”

About Cherie

My name is Cherie, and I’m an Australian Occupational Therapy Student who hopes to help people with any condition that inhibits their ability to participate in valued occupations, tasks, activities, as I believe they’re an essential part of identity, happiness and health. My favourite occupation is hiking, which enables me to move past through the forest literally and metaphorically! View all posts by Cherie

5 responses to “Buffy Rewatch – School Hard

  • kjewls

    Awesome recap. Made me want to watch the episode. I caught a few of the later episodes of Buffy, back when they used to re-run them late nights on the Sy-fy channel, but didn’t actually catch the show, back when it was in its initial run.

    I always really liked Spike, and much preferred him to Angel, as a mate for Buffy, probably because the first Buffy episodes I watched were the ones during which a recently revived fully-confused Buffy was secretly turning to Spike for comfort, out of guilt and shame, and he was quickly falling for her in a very real way.

    I’m always a sucker for things like that.

    Speaking of supernatural high school fare. I just caught this movie on Netflix called “All Cheerleaders Die,” staring Caitlin Stasy (sp?) from “Tomorrow When the War Began,” and it was super campy and really weird. But I kind of liked it, despite its flaws, and thought you might too . . .

    As for Spike, James Marsters is currently playing a total prick on the not particularly good Witches of East End . .. It’s kind of ruining my Spike mental image. I may have to binge on some Buffy to repair the damage

    • Spidey Sense

      Hi Julie! Have you watched the full run of Buffy? If you loved Spike in season six, you will absolutely adore him in season two. He has enough snark to make Damon Salvatore proud.

      I think season two was the best season of Buffy, so be sure to watch along. I’ll include little Spike tidbits along the way since you’re such a fan.

      Caitlin Stasey is a great Aussie actress so I will definitely check that flick out. Thanks for the tip!

  • Andre

    Oh yeah that episode. Thinking back I really cannot remember seeing a villain like Spike again. Rather bad copies… the current supernaturals surely aren’t anything like him. Even the vampires who enjoy being vampires are not like him… seriously is it that difficult to create a character like him?

    • Spidey Sense

      There’s no imitating the original I guess. Spike’s backstory was also really well fleshed out and not all vamps have the same level of detail behind them. I think today’s vamps are woobified much earlier whereas Spike was woobie free for much of Buffy’s run.

      • Andre

        I rather think most have not even tried later on. I don’t even think most vampires now get woobified much earlier or anything, but rather that their homicidal tendencies are excused and romanticized. There was Spike’s love for Buffy later on but it made sense since he was still capable of positive emotions and it was used well, and afterwards it was interesting that Buffy actually demanded to see the old Spike again when he also had a soul and searched for it on his own, unlike with Angel who had it thrown at him, so Spike is way more interesting. In some way it reminds me of Sora from Kingdrom Hearts whose heart was so strong parts of it stayed with him even when he became a heartless. The whole thing also reminds me of Anya and De’Hoffrin.
        However, Buffy as a show never romanticized the vampiric aspect and cut a clear line between killing for food and killing because you enjoyed it. Something shows like True Blood and TVD have never truly done with their vampires. One of the many reasons I just don’t like these shows anymore.
        And quite frankly, despite e.g. Cho’s claims about Teen Wolf breaking stereotypes, I don’t think any of these currently popular supernatural shows and books are feminist in any way, they do nothing Buffy didn’t do already back in the days and do even less. They are bad copies, where they don’t even try to do anything new and further the progression. They stand still at best or regress at worst. Well I guess you know what I think about Teen Wolf and TVD regarding feminism from my comments over at Julie’s site.

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