"We have to catch the Buffy-rat."
So, let's talk about this "having a job" thing. It has been 22 days since I last reviewed a Buffy episode. On the list of things I would like to do with my ever diminishing free time, watching Xander act like a douche for 42 minutes ranks very, very low. Welcome to Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.
I should also admit that I recently finished watching Angel (the Buffy spin-off series, if you are really not in-the-know), so it totally threw me off to jump back into this episode and hear Xander talk about his girlfriend CORDELIA! Oh my god they are a couple, what is wrong with this show. (Coincidentally, Angel is wonderful and you should watch it, Andy.)
It's Valentine's Day, and Cordelia and Xander struggle to understand if they are A Real Couple. As if having to endure Xander is not punishment enough for poor judgment, Cordelia's popular friends, led by Harmony, reject her as queen and mock her for dating such a douche. He is really really a douche though, it's hard to blame them.
Meanwhile, Xander whines to Buffy in a graveyard that really he doesn't even want to be with Cordelia, but would rather be with Buffy, who doesn't want him, poor thing!!!
Xander and Cordelia aren't the only ones with problems. Giles and Buffy steal away whenever Jenny Calendar's around cos things are just a teensy bit awkward. Buffy is like, oh yeah, Angelus. Meanwhile, Angelus is busy trying to drive a wedge between Spike and Drusilla--while Spike buys her a quaint 'lil necklace for Valentine's Day, Angelus gives her a human heart that he found "inside of a quaint little shop girl." For Buffy? He buys a dozen red roses with a note reading, "Soon."
It's date night, so everyone congregates at The Bronze to see Oz's band, Dingoes Ate My Baby. From now on it seems Dingoes Ate My Baby are the only band to ever tour Sunnydale, until Michelle Branch inexplicably bleats her way into Season 6. I miss Cibbo Matto :(
Okay, we're getting to the actual plot of this episode. But the actual plot is all about Xander. It is impossible to be an episode about Xander and not be horrid unless you are The Zeppo. So let's struggle through this together.
Xander gives Cordelia a super ugly locket and she says, "It's beautiful! I want to break up." Love Cordelia.
Xander is put off by this and, okay, fair enough. He walks through the halls, shell of a man, while random people come up to him and say, "DUDE! Way to get DUMPED!" Defeated and embarrassed, he takes a moment, summons his inner strength, and comes up with the douchiest possible way of dealing with the break-up. That is to go to Amy (from Witch) and ask her to perform a love spell to force Cordelia to want him against her will. That is terrible, and also involves Xander sitting topless and clutching onto magical candles, which is doubly terrible.
Blah blah, Xander sucks and the spell backfires. It turns out that every other girl in the world BESIDES Cordelia is now in love with Xander.
That is dull. I wonder what's going on with Buffy and Giles? They're in the library researching the old Watcher diaries to help divine Angel's next move. Buffy is spouting out the most horrible dialogue this side of "the wiggins," saying things like: "You never held out on me until the big, bad thing in the dark became my ex-honey."
But then the newly-attractive Xander waltzes in, suggests that Buffy comfort him with a lap dance, and declares himself the mayor of Doucheville. But because of the stupid dumb spell, Buffy doesn't kick him squarely in the balls, and instead comes onto him.
Jenny Calendar and Amy come this close to pulling each other's hair over Xander.
Then Willow shows up in his bed in flannel PJs and nibbles on his ear.
Angelus nearly kills Xander, but is stopped by a lovelorn Drusilla.
Eventually, he'll seek refuge at Buffy's house, where Joyce will come onto him.
Everyone together now. UGHHHHH.
I do have to say that Jenny is quite hysterical, all lustful stares, offering the wisdom of an older woman, Giles desperately trying to pull her away. Less successful is Buffy, who turns into a jealous harpie like all lovesick ladies do when Xander rejects her striptease. (AT LEAST he did that much.) Amy's like, nuh-uh, you stole my man, and turns her into a rat. I mean this all happens, and why.
There's one delightful beacon of light in this episode when Oz shows up and punches Xander in the face. Why? No reason, just that Willow cried to him about Xander for hours and Oz felt like he probably deserved a punch in the face. Things just get better when Giles intimates to Xander that he is actual human scum deserving of death. (I may have extrapolated a little.)
What's still bad is that the entire female population is now out to kill Cordelia because she wounded precious Xander. He comes to her rescue, but they're confronted by a mob of angry ladies (so HORMONAL!) fronted by an ax-wielding Willow, who says, "I should've known I'd find you with her! You don't know how hard this is for me! I love you so much--I'd rather see you dead than with that bitch!"
Say it with me. UGHHHHH.
Blah blah, Xander and Cory hide in the Summers home, where Cordelia is like SOO touched that Xander cares SOO much that he used a love spell, and maybe they can still be together <333
This Cordy's got nothin' on Angel Cordy.
Everything ends in a magical resolution. The Buffy-rat becomes Buffy. Everyone loses the memory of the spell and thinks they all ended up in a heap in the Summers' basement as a part of the "best scavenger hunt EVER!" And I have to admit, we end on what is simultaneously a happy ending for Xander AND a high note! How is this possible? Because Cordelia is so wonderful, calls Harmony a sheep, reminds everyone that she is MUCH cooler than them, and that she reserves the right to have a lame boyfriend. She rescues this episode, and the relationship, from Xander.
Favorite moment: Oz follows Buffy-rat into the basement the moment that the spell is reversed. This is probably one of two times these characters ever interact on the series, and it's quite precious.
Buffy: I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here.
Oz: But you're not a rat! So consider that an upside!