"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.
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!