Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Gingerbread

Xander: "Oh, man. It's Nazi Germany and I have Playboys in my locker."

I thought I wasn't going to like this one because it started out (1) way too serious with child murders, and (2) looking like it was going to be a Wiccan attack show, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. How silly of me to think that Buffy the Vampire Slayer would attack Wiccans and white witches, when our sweetest character actually is one.

This episode had an interesting premise: that fairy tales have a basis in fact. (Actually, as someone who has worked extensively with children's books and fairy tales, I'm certain that the original Hansel and Gretel and the older Babes in the Wood stories were cautionary tales intended to keep kiddies from wandering around in the forest, just as the delightful book I encountered about the girl playing with matches who burned herself up was intended in the same way. But I digress.)

Joyce, originally in character and trying to be Slayer Supportive, started acting like a villager in Frankenstein as she organized MOO (Mothers Opposed to the Occult -- and wouldn't that work better as MOTTO?). I didn't think that Joyce could turn into a book burner overnight, and I was somewhat relieved when it turned out that she was under a demon influence. Buffy, with her usual wit and candor, went right to the heart of the wrongness of book burning with "What if the anti-hell-sucking book isn't on the approved reading list?"

Bits and pieces:

-- We got to see Willow's absent mother for the first time, and her absence makes a lot of sense now. Willow deserves a better mother than that.

-- I liked that the third witch/warlock was a guy, and a guy that wears makeup; it showed some implied support of diversity. And it was nice to see Buffy striking fear in the hearts of a gang of (male) high school bullies, as well she should.

-- Giles' attempts to do research on the Internet and the uncoordinated multiple rescue attempts were a hoot. I liked seeing Cordelia jump in and save the day; it showed she still cares (but we knew that she did).

-- "How many times have you been knocked out?" Just a small acknowledgement of the number of knocks the Slayerettes pick up every week. If this weren't the magic of television, they'd all be in permanent traction.

-- Giles and Joyce were still embarrassed about their encounter in "Band Candy." Perhaps a lot more happened off screen than I originally thought. How delightful.

-- Amy the witch is now a rat.

-- In this week's hair report, Buffy's finally went back to its original shade; the neon highlighting is gone. Better.

Quotes:

Willow: "Makes me grateful that my mom's not interested in my extra-curricular activities. Or my curricular activities."

Joyce: "Are you embarrassed to be hanging out with your mother? I didn't hug you."
Buffy: "No. It's just... This hall is about school, and you're about home. Mix them, my world dissolves."

Snyder: "This is a glorious day for principals everywhere. No pathetic whining about students' rights. Just a long row of lockers and a man with a key."

Snyder: "I love the smell of desperate librarian in the morning."

Willow: "Mom, how would you know what I can do? I mean, the last time we had a conversation over three minutes, it was about the patriarchal bias of the Mister Rogers Show."

Buffy: "My mom said some things to me about being the Slayer. That it's fruitless. No fruit for Buffy."
Angel: "She's wrong."
Buffy: "Is she? Is Sunnydale any better than when I first came here? Okay, so I battle evil. But I don't really win. The bad keeps coming back and getting stronger. Like that kid in the story, the boy that stuck his finger in the duck."
Angel: "Dike. It's another word for dam."
Buffy: "Oh. Okay, that story makes a lot more sense now."

Xander: "Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm still spinning on this whole fairy tales are real thing."
Oz: "So what do we do?"
Xander: "I don't know about you, but I'm gonna go trade my cow in for some beans."

Giles: "It's about, uh, lifting a veil. Um, it should, uh, make the demons appear in their true form, which with any luck, will, uh, negate their influence. And, uh, drop a toadstone into the mixture."
Cordelia: "(picks it up) This? (sniffs it) It doesn't look like a toad."
Giles: "No reason it should. It's from inside the toad."
Cordelia: "I hate you."

Buffy: "Mom, dead people are talking to you. Do the math."

Buffy: "Maybe we should get her one of those wheel thingies."

One out of four stakes,

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

14 comments:

Gus Brunetti said...

I don't like this ep either, but I consider Buffy's scene where sh'se just accidentally killed the demon and asks "Did I get it? Did I get it?" one of the funniest parts in the series. Almost worth suffering the rest of the ep.

Mark Greig said...

'Gingerbread' isn't a bad episode. I'd say it's at least worthy of two stakes. And it was rather nice of Angel to sum up the mission statement of his upcoming spin-off for us.

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here.

Should I up the stakes on this episode to two out of four?

ChrisB said...

Not the greatest of episodes, but there are some great moments. I love the fact that all Willow's mother "remembers" at the end is that she is dating a musician. What mother wouldn't be thrilled with Oz?

Jane said...

Yeah, I didn't think it was terrible but I think I'd probably skip this one if I were doing a rewatch some day.

I loved Joyce deciding to be supportive at the beginning and joining Buffy on her patrol. Such a mom.

One thing that keeps coming up for me. Why does anyone live in Sunnydale? All of the things that people see and they just shrug them off. So sometimes it seems that we are supposed to believe they are in denial. Other times people have various throwaway lines about how Sunnydale isn't a nice place and everyone seems to agree with that and be in the know. All I can figure is that property values are low so it seems worth the occasional demon apocalypse?

sunbunny said...

I'm surprised there are so many people who don't like this episode. No, it's not one of their finest hours, but it's not bad. I don't have a huge amount to say about this one, except this: NO GOOD CAN COME OF BURNING BOOKS.

drnanamom said...

I enjoyed this episode but didn't really remember it which says a lot since I have re-watched the series several times! But as others have said, even in a sub par episode there are very funny bits and great one liners. I wasn't keen on the psycho mom theme - even as a result of demons but like Gus I loved the bit where Buffy stakes the demon but can't see if she's been successful. I also enjoyed Willow's mom calling Buffy, Bunny and the end where Buffy suggests getting Amy the rat a wheel. That last bit just sums up the Buffy world - yes, Amy's a rat,oh well let's make the best of it!

Annie said...

I was surprised when I really enjoyed this episode, I'd read most of the comments and couldn't really remember my original opinion.
I found it fun to rewatch there's lots of good banter and I enjoyed the story well enough.

I do think one stake was a bit harsh Billie! :)

Suzanne said...

I also enjoy this episode more than some people here seem to like it. Cordy saving the day is a highlight. I was glad to see that she couldn't stay away from the action, and that she was too smart to get swept up in the mania. Seeing her and Giles working as a pair was a hoot.

Oz and Xander trying to save the girls was fun, too, especially when it turned out that they just fell from the ceiling a bit too late. Obviously, Joss and co wanted the girls to save the day, but in some ways they had to go to extraordinary lengths to make this happen what with Angel being no where in sight during the climax scene.

For that matter, where is Faith when we need her? If there is a complaint to be made about Season 3 it is the convenient absence of Angel and Faith in situations where they could have easily helped Buffy and the gang defeat evil, but obviously, the writers didn't want the story to go that way.

One more good scene was when Joyce becomes critical of the job Buffy does. I liked the tension and back and forth in this one and almost wish they hadn't gone so far with the demon story so as to make that scene null and void. As a mom of a teen daughter myself, I can only imagine what it would be like to have to let go of my protector role to allow her to be in charge. Yet, seeing everything from Buffy's side as we do, it was hard to see Joyce being so critical while being so clueless. That scene had great emotional impact.

Like many other said, the last scene "Did I get it" makes the episode worthwhile every time.

Mrs. Darling said...

I like any episode with Amy. I couldn't get over the scene where the MAN, or should I say the MOO,were taking Giles books. That would be a nightmare. I may have to start hiding mine, you know, just in case.

a.m. said...

I thought this episode was okay. The Angel/Buffy (mini)moment was nice. Plus, I loved the Giles/Snyder confrontation, even if Giles didn't come out on top this time. The idea that all those adults were going to burn 3 kids and a ton of books indoors without sprinklers going off was totally absurd but the boys falling through the ceiling was hilarious. I probably would give it 2 stakes and say that it was better than many from season 1...

Will the Amy as a rat issue get resolved at some point? Also, do we get to see the Oz vs Willow's mom dinner? I guess I'll have to keep watching to find out...

David Young said...

Yeah, I'll step up for this one. Cordy and Giles "How many times have you been knocked out?" Oz and Xander "What's with the Grim?" (get it?) and Amy's fate for the next 2 (?) seasons with Buffy's quip about getting her a "wheel-thing" - funny stuff and highly enjoyable.

Lamounier said...

Not the greatest of episodes, and the tone certainly was off at some moments. Still, there were several great lines (amazingly delivered) and Cordelia rocked. “I liked the two little ones better than the one big one.” Hee!

Unknown said...

Agree 100%!!! Love that moment so much!