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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Buffy: "Sorry to say, Xand, slaying is a tad more perilous than dating."
Xander: "Well, you're obviously not dating Cordelia."

This episode is a delight from beginning to end. None of that wussy lovey dovey Valentine's Day stuff for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cordelia, predictably, realizes that she's losing her popularity, and dumps poor Xander on Valentine's Day. Xander decides to retaliate with magic, and Amy's spell for Xander manages to affect every female in Sunnydale except Cordelia. From laugh-out-loud funny, the episode moves directly into creepy: Angel giving Drusilla an actual heart, Willow in tears with an axe in her hands, Buffy in nothing but a short, black raincoat and heels (now wait a minute, that was pretty cool). And there's a completely satisfying ending: Cordelia decides that she is no longer going to be a sheep and will date anyone she wants. Go, Cordelia.

In a way, this episode is typical of the best of this show. It's topical, funny, silly, romantic, clever, horrifying, and has a great moral for all of us: being yourself is more important than pleasing the masses. Plus, that it's probably a bad idea to dump your honey on Valentine's Day.

Bits and pieces:

-- Giles has researched Angel and knows Angelus tends to act out on Valentine's Day.

-- Spike's and Angelus's gifts for Drusilla illustrate the differences in their characters: Spike gives Drusilla a beautiful necklace, while Angelus gives her an actual, dripping human heart that he finds "in a quaint little shopgirl." Angelus talks about Drusilla giving Spike "pity access," but it's impossible to tell which of them Drusilla prefers.

-- Xander looks gorgeous when he lets Buffy dress him. And he shows integrity in turning down Buffy's advances.

-- Willow and Oz are officially a couple now.

-- We learn that intent must be pure with love spells.

-- Angel says it with flowers, with the word "soon".

-- If I'm remembering correctly, Diana is not the Goddess of Love; isn't she a virgin huntress?

-- In this week's hair report, Oz's is light again, after being nearly black in "Phases."

-- Obligatory dog reference: Giles: (reading) "Um. 'Valentine's Day." Angel nails a puppy to the..." And Harmony tells Cordelia, "Only a sick pup would let Xander get away."

Quotes:

Buffy: "Valentine's Day is just a cheap gimmick to sell cards and chocolate."
Amy: "Bad breakup, huh?"
Buffy: "Believe me when I say, uh-huh."

Angelus: "Dear Buffy. I'm still trying to decide the best way to send my regards."
Spike: "Why don't you rip her lungs out? It might make an impression."
Angelus: "Lacks poetry."
Spike: "It doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?"
(I just love this. It's one of my favorites.)

Xander: "Do you know what's a good day to break up with somebody? Any day besides Valentine's Day! I mean, what, were you running low on dramatic irony?"

Willow: "Don't be so jumpy. I've been in your bed before."
Xander: "Yeah, but Will, we were both in footy pajamas."

Four out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

22 comments:

  1. Ah, one of the biggest boy fantasies. And, in usual Whedon fashion, it goes wrong. Amusingly wrong.

    Two lines I loved:

    "I'll date whoever I want, no matter how lame he is"

    And Buffy saying Xander invoked "the great roofie spirit". Very witty.

    (Side note: there's no good word for "witty" in Portuguese. There's one, but it is never used and sounds ridiculous. That's a pity, I like it very much)

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  2. Buffy in nothing but a raincoat and heels. At sixteen that turned me into drooling idiot. Now I'm nearly thirty and it still turns me into a drooling idiot. God, I am pathetic. But I like to think in a loveable way.

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  3. "If I'm remembering correctly, Diana is not the Goddess of Love; isn't she a virgin huntress? "

    As always, TV Tropes has an answer I think I like:

    "For the love spell, Amy calls upon Diana, goddess of love and the hunt. Throughout history, Diana has been believed to have dominion over many things including the wilderness and untamed frontiers (which may include love). She has also been depicted as a torchbearer or guide, and has been known to be invoked for issues regarding fertility. It is for these reasons that it makes sense to call on Diana for a love spell. However, because Diana is most commonly known as the Roman goddess of forests, animals, and the hunt, this could explain why the spell backfired."

    Since they called upon the goddess of the hunt instead of Venus (the goddess of love), it makes sense that there would be problems. Which I guess makes it their fault instead of Joss's?

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  4. BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here. Please remember to click the Twitter/Facebook buttons at the bottom of the review! Thanks.

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  5. This one was a lot of fun. Poor Xander, pining so quietly after Buffy and being the good guy must have worn on him. Like Buffy in the Reptile Boy, he just slipped into selfish behavior once and look at all the trouble he got into.

    The Spike, Dru, and Angel scene was perfect. Spike is so sweet and attentive to her and Angel is so careless, but that doesn't keep her from appreciating the heart more. Even undead women have a fascination for bad boys, I guess.

    I'm kind of fascinated and horrified by Angel's obsession with Buffy - so many scary possibilities.

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  6. Delight, delight, delight.

    My, *cough*, sorry, us guys' fantasy turned into Hell. Loved it. It starts with a rather serious discussion about dating and then we have a "casual" slaying. Those vampires are really disturbing our issues. Don't disturb us in a middle of a discussion, argh.

    Cordelia really looks too old for High School. Oh heck. So sad to see Giles turning down Jenny, I was so shipping for them. Damn gypsy curse.

    The slow motion sequence when Xander walks into the corridor and all the girl give him admiring looks while all the guys have loathing ones deserves to get into my museum (of TV Anthology(, for those not aware)). I guess I'll have to build an additional wing to said museum.

    "It's time for me to act like a man...and hide !" I confess that I screamed a few "oh !" and "woah !!" during my watching. Wow. Really rooting for these people, big time.

    LMAO for the basement scene : an axe, a kitchen knife...and then a dough roller. Brilliant. And a huge LMAO of course."Here Buffy !"

    So proud of you Cordy at the end, when shoving off her shallow friends. Too bad that cliché is still accurate among teens nowadays. "Oh God ! Oh God !"

    Buffian delight.

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  7. "...What rhymes with lungs?"

    We'll leave that to pucklady's comment !

    Mark, do not worry, we're ALL pathetic. Was I drooling ? Asking the question is answering it. Rhetorical question ? Yup.

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  8. When Willow's in Xander's room, you can see a plastic bug on the wall. "You and bug people, Xander. What's up with that?" Also the word 'sheep' is written rather conspicuously on the wall. Reference to Cordelia's later speech to Harmony and co.?

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  9. One of my favourite episodes! Maybe because Xander is one of my favourite characters and even if it backfired he at least got some of the appreciation he deserved and Cordy at the end of it all. I also enjoyed the scene where Oz punches Xander and then complains about how much it hurt - manly, not so much but still he wants to hurt anyone who would make Willow cry, even if he doesn't know the reason, which is kind of sweet. Not that I condone violence or anything. Giles exasperation with Jenny is also funny. He obviously still cares for her. Buffy rat was also amusing although I was a little worried around the trap. Who can resist cheese even in human form?

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  10. sunbunny

    why not ? I often check what's written on the posters here and there to see if there's not a subliminal message...

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  11. Newbie report:

    Man, I hate to be Debbie Downer here, but I didn't like this one much. I'm always turned off by women fighting over men, even when it's under magical compulsion. Close to that is my dislike about jealousy. That pretty much takes out every one in this episode other than Xander and Cordelia, whom I loved dearly.

    Having said that, there were some things that made me LOL.

    "Where's the firesale?"
    "I found it in a quaint little shopgirl."
    The cafeteria lady. (She was great!)
    "I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here."

    Well, just so this isn't all a bummer to Buffy fans, I'll take up Celticmarc's challenge and rhyme "lungs"

    A romantic rhyme about lungs
    When kissing, it's best to use tongues
    And then if you please
    You can order Chinese
    Lemon chicken and two egg foo yungs

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  12. I have to go with pucklady here. I am never a fan of women fighting over a man, but this one was much less offensive than it could have been. As always, Xander saves it by being such a stand up guy.

    One thing, however, has always bothered me. When Buffy is trying to seduce Xander, I always get the distinct impression that he is still crazy about her and would that he drop Cordelia in a second if Buffy gave him the nod. This doesn't seem to mesh with all his angst about Cordelia's breaking up with him or their happy ending.

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  13. Of the really funny episodes, this is one of my favs. I always get such a kick out of seeing Xander walk down the halls with the contrasting looks on the boys and girls faces. I also love the lunch lady chasing after him with the rest of the women.

    However, watching this for the third or fourth time, I couldn't help but focus more on the serious side of this episode rather than the funny side. That made the episode seem even better to me in many ways because I think it is a rare show that can merge the two tones so well. My favorite example of this blending is the scene with Drucilla. I was very fearful for Xander when Angel was threatening him, so having Dru save him was great and hilarious at the same time. Yet, when she begins to seem obsessed over him, it began to get dark and creepy. The mob couldn't come too quickly. However, that became frightening really fast, too.

    Also, I love Cordy and Xander. The ending always makes me happy. I am a romantic at heart.

    Great episode!

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  14. As Valentine's episodes go, this one is great. I especially loved Angel giving Dru an actual heart for V-Day! She looked so excited, and poor Spike looked crushed. That "pity access" comment could have so many meanings...

    Yeah! Oz has red hair again. I loved the Xander punch scene. Plus the "my boyfriend's in the band" and "I think I'm a groupie" comments were so Willow (I.e. so cute)!

    I loved that Amy was back--will we see her again? They really could have used her in some other episodes, even just as a background person. Plus, I really liked that she had taken on the family work...from what I read online, it looks like Diana Hecate is important in the Wiccan religion.

    I loved all of the fawning over Xander because it was so comedic and not genuine. I hate it when it's real, but in this case it was amusing and Xander really behaved so well. ChrisB, I know what you mean about him turning down Buffy only because he knew she didn't mean it and not because he loved Cordy more, but maybe part of that was also because he was still mad a at Cordelia.

    The scene walking down the hall was hilarious but what I really thought was "wow there are a lot of 30 year olds at sunnydale!" They couldn't find any teenagers to be extras in this show?

    "We have to get the Buffy rat!" So classic! Great episode and review.

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  15. "wow there are a lot of 30 year olds at sunnydale!"

    LMAO

    My So Called Life had a 15 year old Claire Danes in it (oops, (almost) the rest of the cast were in their 20's; oh heck). Besides that, well, a.m., I rest my case; high school makes you look older on TV.

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  16. If you use minors as "background" (the pc term for extras), you have a bunch more hoops to jump through. You can only use them a certain number of hours a day, you have to have a tutor (or tutors) on set, etc. It's cheaper and easier to use older people, which is why they do that on practically every show set in a high school ever made. :)

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  17. Stupid child labor laws ruining my entertainment :)

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  18. Indeed, I had completely forgotten about that sunbunny. Indeed.

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  19. Newbie report here.

    Lots of glowing reviews for this episode.

    I was uncomfortable watching it. Growing up, love potions were in lots of fiction and usually described somewhat innocuously or even romantically. Only later on it became obvious to me how icky they are - being a removal of agency, of the ability to consent. Xander abused this. He did not go further than having the spell cast, but the act was creepy in itself. The in-episode critique of his behavior was mostly about the hazards of the spell though, not its creepiness (outside of the great 'roofie' remark and perhaps the karmic results of the spell). Perhaps societal attitudes have changed since this episode.

    His character, even with/after the commentary in this episode, still feels off to me, due to the jealousy and the funny but derailing jokes he makes. He might show his love for the women in his life by helping/saving them; but the way he constantly rejects their agency or meddles with their love lives, is creepy and entitled. And despite the remarks about it here and there, it's portrayed too much as "normal" for my taste (is it bad for a series to portray all-too-common but bad behaviors as normal? must they do something else? I don't know.)

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  20. Frank, welcome to Doux Reviews, and I'm enjoying your comments. (Sorry they were on moderated last night; we've had a persistent troll problem lately.)

    I think there *has* been a bit of societal change in the past twenty years re: entitlement and the creepiness of what Xander did here. But it still feels like something some people would do without thinking of the consequences. The characters in this show were far from perfect and made a lot of mistakes. Your comment made me think of what has happened lately to showrunner Joss Whedon, who has often said that he is Xander.

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  21. Thanks for the welcome!

    And for the tidbit about WhedonXander. Unfortunately, that makes sense.
    Agree that all characters here have flaws. Except Willow, maybe.

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