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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dead Man's Party

Buffy: "What about home schooling? You know it's not just for scary religious people any more."

Buffy tries her best to mend her fences, but not everyone is ready to welcome her back with open arms.

The zombies and the Ovu Mobani Evil Eye demon/mask thing are a transparent metaphor for Buffy's situation that is even pointed out by Xander. Buried stuff is coming up, and masks hide what we feel. Heavy stuff happens, Buffy reacts by acting out instead of talking about it, and she doesn't ask for help. She is also feeling left out because her friends are all in couples, and she's alone, and she is not being permitted to return to school. The key here is that no one knows that Buffy had to kill Angel after he got his soul back. If they knew, they probably wouldn't give her such a hard time.

There is definite Slayerette resentment; Buffy's friends don't look all that happy to see her. They've been coping pretty well and enjoying their elevated status as real slayers to the point of giving each other code names, and now Buffy is back and the party is over. They had a whole summer, too, to nourish resentment at Buffy for running away without an explanation. The Buffy/Willow conversations were so well done; light, but with an underlying serious tone, the sort of thing this show does so well.

Joyce is trying to fit in and be a good superhero's mom, but she doesn't quite have the hang of it; inviting the whole crew over for dinner is trying to cope with an extraordinary situation by using ordinary coping mechanisms, an attempt to reduce vampire slaying to a somewhat unconventional but by all means still normal extracurricular activity. Joyce experiences Buffy's world up close and personal here for the first time (since she didn't know what was going on in "School Hard").

The "nasty, little, hard, bigoted rodent man" isn't about to let Buffy return to school without a fight. Giles is wonderful here: showing emotion only when he's alone in his kitchen, hotwiring his own car, smiling at Snyder and threatening him at the same time in a very non-Giles-like manner.

Bits and pieces:

— Angel again appears in a dream, and in sunlight (the high school courtyard).

— Willow is studying witchcraft, and Oz is still a werewolf.

— Joyce says if she has to, she'll go all the way to the Mayor. We still haven't actually seen the Mayor.

— Poor Pat. Make a friend at book club, and look what happens. Well, it is Sunnydale.

— Jonathan is at the party, by the dip.

— Just about every window in the house got broken in this episode.

— We see the Espresso Pump for the first time.

— What's with Buffy's hair? The location of her streaks seems to change with every episode.

— Canine report: Snyder says, "In fact, I noticed as I came in this morning that Hot Dog on a Stick is hiring."


Xander: "Check it out. The Watcher is back on the clock. And just when you were thinking career change, maybe becoming a looker or a... a seer."

Oz: "Hey, so you're not wanted for murder anymore."
Buffy: "Good. That was such a drag."

Joyce: "But you can't keep her out of school. You don't have the right."
Snyder: "I have not only the right, but also a nearly physical sensation of pleasure at the thought of keeping her out of school. I'd describe myself as tingly."

Oz: "We should figure out what kinda deal this is. I mean, is it a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?"
Cordelia: "What's the difference?"
Oz: "Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny."

Cordelia: "Time out, Xander. Put yourself in Buffy's shoes for just a minute. Okay? I'm Buffy, freak of nature, right? Naturally I pick a freak for a boyfriend, and then he turns into Mr. Killing Spree, which is pretty much my fault..."
Buffy: "Cordy! Get outta my shoes!"

This one works. The supernatural bits and the silly bits are well balanced with... I want to say drama but I'm not sure that's what I mean. The acting was excellent, and the dialogue absolutely crackled with wit.

Let's give it three out of four stakes,

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


  1. This is another episode I've never been too keen on but it had its moments (Giles: Unbelievable! "Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead!" Americans! :-).

  2. The metaphor in this one is a bit too on the nose for me, but I do like the realistic way Buffy's homecoming is handled. I especially like Xander's confrontation as it comes from his usual place of looking after others; in this case, Joyce and Willow.

    Giles at the end just makes me sigh. Would that all young women had such a father figure.

  3. I enjoyed this episode but since I enjoy every episode even in season 1, that doesn't mean much. I loved Giles in this, his acting talent is obvious as he expresses his emotions alone. I actually think Joyce is pretty awesome. She is trying to do her best and accept Buffy as she is. I think most mom's would wig out or go for complete denial. on the other hand, although I love him, Xander is a bit much in his attack on Buffy. Why does he get to chew her out? I know he was worried, and hurting, not just for himself but for Joyce and Willow. Can he just not deal with all the conflicting emotions he has? I mean Buffy took off but she saved the world by killing her boyfriend. She should get some credit for that. The party was an interesting way to keep Buffy at arm's length while ostensibly celebrating her return. I'm thinking while they may be angry they also feel guilty. It took a horde of zombies to repair the rift - not sure if that is a healthy resolution or not. At least the Scooby gang is back and ready to rock.

  4. I usually don't mind angsty Buffy (season six is my favorite, after all) but she annoys me quite a bit here. Fortunately angsty Buffy is nicely balanced out with humor via Giles and Oz, whose first impulse is to name the zombie cat Patches.

    I'm sure the Sunnydale glazier sent his kids to college on the Summers home. I love in season seven, when they just give up fixing the windows.

  5. Poor Joyce just can't keep new friends...first Ted and now the book club lady. It's hard to be the mother of a slayer...

    Well, after the last episode, I said I couldn't wait for the Buffy and Willow reunion and what a reunion it was. As typical high school students they were all a lot more aware of their own pain than of their friend's pain. Why has no one asked Buffy what happened with Angel and the demon? I agree that if they knew they might be a little more understanding and supportive.

    Oz still remains my favorite character...he doesn't have a lot of lines but I feel like just about all of them could be in the quotes section each week. Patches is the perfect name!

    And Giles with the principal is great. I love seeing the dark dangerous side of Giles!

  6. Loved:
    Xander's giant cross for slaying.

    The party that your friends take over and invite more people to, but this time mom is home for the free-for-all.

    Giles - pretty much all the way through.

    Buffy & Willow's fight in Buffy's bedroom and their scene at the end.

    Made me go hmmm:
    Joyce's inexplicable desire to display the ugly zombie-homing-beacon mask in her pretty, traditional bedroom. A little plot device-y.

    Principal Snyder's "tingly feeling" is starting to make me wonder what's up with him.

    Didn't really like:
    Like others have said, I'm not fond of the way that everyone piled on Buffy. Yeah, she screwed up but I'm never fond of scenes like that when a whole group unloads their self-righteous stuff at someone

  7. I loved all of the dialogue and character moments in this one, but have never liked the zombie storyline. I think I like it even less now that I have seen zombies on TWD.

    As for the confrontation scene with Buffy, I have always respected that apscene a lot. Most shows wouldn't have a scene like that one. Joyce was great. Xander was too abrasive, but I find that to be completely in character for him. Willow shows how hurt she is in such a sympathetic way that I can't blame her for her reaction. I also remember being a teen and the way that emotions with friends can get out of hand with unkind words and tone of voice resulting from feelings of rejection. I think that is what happened, I didn't blame Buffy for being hurt, but she forgot that her friends had been in this with her all the way and they didn't deserve to be abandoned with no explanation.

    My favorite part was seeing Giles smile in his kitchen and then when he mocks Joyce and the mask in his car.

  8. What I like is that I really feel for both sides of the argument. Buffy is angsty, insecure and confused and with very good reason, she's been alone all summer after having to kill her boyfriend, and equally Joyce and the scoobies are understandably upset and awkward about Buffy not being in touch, and her leaving like that in the first place. Xander is very harsh, but he's never shy to speak his mind so it fits well.

  9. For me, this is a ho hum episode except for Oz and Giles. The mask has to take the prize for tacky decor!

  10. Newbie report:

    Seth Green is a regular! Hoot! But first, a word from our sponsor:


    (I tried making a hyperlink, but this editor didn't allow it. Copy and click. You won't be sorry.)

    In spite of all the Xander hotness (that guy really knows how to wear his Brylcreem!), this one didn't do much for me. Why is everyone ragging on Buffy just when she needs friends the most? I don't even like the chick, and even I thought she deserved better.

    Dream cameo by Angel, just to remind us that Buffy is a vampire slayer, even though this show doesn't seem to be about vampires much. I don't remember seeing David B in the opening credits. I guess Seth G is now a regular, and DB isn't?

    Principal Snyder is the worst perv. I think he's about due for his limerick.

    Uh-oh. Giles knows how to hot-wire cars? I'm guessing he has some badass backstory they are foreshadowing.

    Who invited all the party guests? Or does a mob just follow the band around?

    "You, by the dip!" (Hee!)

    The last two minutes is what the whole episode should have been. Buffy have small moments with the ones who love her, and being funny.

  11. "Principal Snyder is the worst perv. I think he's about due for his limerick." - Pucklady, this made me laugh. Limerick as punishment, I like it.

    (Sorry for the old school quote, I've never gotten comfortable with HTML.)

  12. I could understand Joyce’s and Willow’s behavior towards Buffy, but Xander was absolutely horrible. Urgh, so self-righteous. So far I’m liking Xander less on this rewatch. I didn’t like his obsession-y crush on Buffy on season one nor the way he treated Cordelia on season two. I always loved Xander and how brave and noble he can be, though, so I’m really hoping to see him moving away from his not-so-noble qualities.

  13. This one may be my least favorite episode of the series. After the great Season Premiere, here we have Buffy's friends and family (except for Giles) acting like total douches to her. I've seen this episode only twice-- the second time on Dvd, just to see if it was as bad as I thought-- and unfortunately it was.

    Season 3 was my third favorite season of the show, overall, though.

  14. My issue with this episode is things could have worked out. If they just talk to each other. Willows gives buffy a chance but she does the you wouldn't understand line. Xander is so quick to judge buffy referring to buffy killing her boyfriend as just boy troubles wth.

  15. Like a number of others, I can understand the hurt coming from all sides, but think that one of them went way beyond what actually was justified for them. Unlike most of the others, the one that I would call out isn't Xander - it's Joyce.

    Don't get me wrong. I would have been completely with Joyce's whole "Your Mom's not perfect and I didn't handle this giant news perfectly; but you needed to cut me some slack, too" routine for almost anything that could have said or done in that situation at the end of season 2. The problem is that Joyce actually said just about the only thing that I can think of that would triggered an exception to that. Breaking out the "then don't ever come back" line on your child is the thermonuclear line that doesn't get any slack cut from me. If you break that line out and the child believes you, then you don't get say that it's the child's fault.

    Also, I think that Joyce's unloading on Buffy probably never would have started in quite that way if Buffy had mentioned that she had overheard the "almost worse since she's back" conversation right before going upstairs and pulling out the bag and clothes.

  16. I considered this episode, "When They Were Bad", that it was role reversal from the season 2 premiere when Buffy acted like a jerk. I wasn't surprised about Xander and Cordelia, but I was surprised by Willow no showing on Buffy. I loved Giles's reaction "Do you like my mask? It raises the dead! Americans!"


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