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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Homecoming

Trick: "Ladies, gentlemen, spiny-headed looking creatures, welcome to SlayerFest '98!"

I felt rather ambivalent about this episode. On the one hand, I could understand Buffy feeling rebellious about her forced maturity and overcompensating by wearing pink frills and getting in touch with the "prom queen within"; on the other hand, I was uncomfortable because I felt Buffy should have gotten past this point a year ago. I also felt a bit see-saw-y about Cordelia in this one; it was fun seeing the "old" Cordy back and bitchy, but hasn't she gotten past this point, too?

I also didn't like seeing Buffy groveling to keep a mediocre boyfriend like Scott who will obviously never understand her; but at the same time I could understand that absolute mediocrity (cuteness aside) must appeal to Buffy's longing for a normal life. But how could she just tell Angel "I'm seeing someone else" like that when he just suffered through several centuries of demon dimension hell for her?

How like Buffy the Vampire Slayer to finally put Xander and Willow together...when we don't want them to anymore. I like Xander with Cordy, and Willow with Oz. (I love Oz.) I really don't want to see Xander and Willow "spinning the whole group dynamic out of orbit." The predictable "neither wins" ending was sort of a drag, too. Buffy probably pulled a Perot on Cordelia. Either that or the population of Sunnydale High wised up.

This episode did explore some interesting adulthood issues. They are seniors this year and the entire teen cast is growing up and things are changing.

Bits and pieces:

— We got our first glimpse of the Mayor that Snyder keeps talking with on the phone. And he's a whacko, not surprisingly.

— Loved the take-out blood.

— I noticed last week that Angel miraculously acquired pants. He got a shirt to match this week, but Buffy probably supplied it so it doesn't get to be magical.

— Loved Giles' practical joke at the homecoming dance. Loved the finger food joke, too. Face it: I just like Giles a lot and they keep doing such great things with him.

— The spatula. Wooden handle, I assume?

— Faith continued to be supportive of Buffy. I still miss Kendra, though.

— If we can't have Spike and Dru back yet, I'm glad they brought back two of the more enjoyable vamps (the Cowboy and Mr. Trick).

— And yes, there's a dog reference. Willow was upset about working for Cordelia: "No, I'm not a friend. I'm a rabid dog who should be shot."


Buffy: "'Drastic distraction reduction.' Try saying that ten times fast."

Mayor Wilkins: "Your hands. I think they could be cleaner."
Allan: "Of course, sir. I mean, I, I washed them, but..."
Mayor Wilkins: "After every meal and under your fingernails. Dirt gets trapped there. And germs. And mayonnaise."

Willow: "I would never, either. It must be the clothes. It's a fluke."
Xander: "It's a clothes fluke, that's what it is. And there'll be no more fluking."

Oz: "As Willow goes, so goes my nation."

Willow: "What are we going to do? I mean, we have to do something. This is all our fault."
Xander: "How do you get from 'chick fight' to 'our fault'?"
Willow: "Because, we felt so guilty about the fluke, we overcompensated helping Cordelia, and we spun the whole group dynamic out of orbit, and we're just a big meteor shower heading for Earth..."

Buffy: "You really love Xander?"
Cordelia: "Well, he kind of grows on you. Like a Chia Pet."

Let's say two out of four stakes,

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


  1. Thank you so much for this review - I thought I was the only person in Buffy fandom who was underwhelmed by 'Homecoming'! This was the first episode of Buffy I ever saw and it put me off the show for ages because I thought it seemed frivolous and predictable. (The second episode I saw was 'The Zeppo', which was even worse. I'm sure it's hilarious if you're a fan, but as a non-fan, I spent the whole thing wondering why the end of the world wasn't the main plot and why the two main characters were so melodramatic. I didn't get into the show until season 4 because of these episodes).

  2. Not the best episode but it was fun in places. I also liked Xander with Cordy, and Willow with Oz so I hated seeing Xander and Willow spin the whole group dynamic out of orbit with all the kissing.

  3. I agree with all of you who have commented that this is not the strongest episode. I do like Mr. Trick and I do like the Mayor, but the rest feels a bit filler-ish.

    The kissing is a shame. I like Xander and Willow with the people they are dating. It feels as though their time has passed.

  4. I pretty much nodded through your whole review, Billie. It seems like they all had passed these points in their development. Sometimes we fall back to old patterns of course, but it really beggars belief for me that they would all backslide at the same time.

    At this point I'm liking Xander less and less as time goes on. Faith still hasn't grown on me. Willow, Giles and Buffy continue to work for me. And I'm struggling with Angel - sad puppy Angel isn't as much fun to watch as bad Angel. Though I did like the bit where he clearly wanted to drink the blood but couldn't do it in front of Buffy. Then she delivers the blow about Scott - ouch.

    I'm interested to see where they go with the mayor. He's got that creepy feeling like he could tip over the edge into dangerous crazy at any minute.

  5. Yeah, its definitely got that filler feel to it but it is fun enough.

    I really quite liked Scott and Buffy, they were really quite sweet together, and was sorry that he called it off, okay she had been distracted but it was a little sudden but as he said last episode, you never know what's in someone's head (or something like that). I like that Faith embarrasses Scott with his date, not that he especially deserved it but I'd forgotten she did that in support of Buffy, I like Faith in this episode.

    How could Willow do that to Oz?... I really hate that they do that! Cordelia doesn't deserve it either. I agree with you ChrisB that Willow and Xanders time was past and this turn of events is a bit jarring.

    I get where your coming from with Xander, Jane. Its easy to kind of dislike Xander in episodes like this, I think its his underlying jerkiness that makes him such an excellent character though, he's more believable that way.

    It was good to finally meet the Mayor and now he's got a new employee in Mr Trick, interesting characters, especially The Mayor.

  6. I totally agree that all of our characters actions were at least a little out of character, immature, and disappointing. Still, this episode was a hoot and I don't mind saying so. 'Slayer Fest 98! Cordelia and Buffy thrown together, forced to fight off attackers in formalwear? It was filler, yes, but highly entertaining filler.

    I LOVE Trick here.

    In the beginning Willow says they should make a big deal for their last homecoming, but when she's in her bedroom with Xander, she says it's their first big dance. Well, which is it, Red? Also, if it's such a big dance, why is Willow trying to find a dress in her closet instead of buying a new one? Speaking of Willow, what sort of 17 year old girl knows how to tie a bow tie?

    Cordelia's weaknesses include brie and Xander. How does $6 buy a whole lot of cupcakes?

  7. Okay, in my quest to fondly remember all the 90s technology that feels so ancient now: I loved Giles' answer machine and that phone with a cord in the cabin! Aaah, memories:) Not to mention all the great SlayerFest tech. Was it surprising that you could track someone with a computer 15 years ago? That gridded screen was awesome....

    Mr. Trick's back! The mayor's got OCD and weird knowledge about the things that go on in Sunnydale! The CowVamp has a serious vendetta now (first his brother, now his bride?)! I enjoyed all of these things, but rolled my eyes at a lot of the rest.

    This episode definitely felt like a backward slide into season 1. It would have been perfect as a May episode during that season if the show had been on for a full year...but I hated bitchy Buffy trying to be popular, nasty Cordy being a chicken, and DAMMIT Xander/Willow! As everyone else has said, I hate that they had them kiss now. I binge watched these past four episodes last Friday but after the stupid kissing I didn't feel like continuing with my binge...

    Cordy admits at she loves Xander, Oz is amazing, and Angel suffers through hundreds of years of hell for Buffy and what do their partners do? Ugh!

    Hopefully the writers' amnesia that sent us back in time can return and let us jump back to happy days without too much carnage...who am I kidding? This is Joss Whedon we're talking about!

  8. This isn't one of my favorite episodes, but I enjoy it every time I watch it, I liked Faith sticking up for Buffy with her prank on Scott. I also like how she tries to cheer Buffy up in the library. Cordy and Buffy are a fun pair, and I especially liked when Cordy frightened the cowboy vamp with her tough "slayer" talk.

    Xander and Willow's kiss is definitely not my favorite thing, but I do think it is somewhat realistic for high school kids to be tempted in that way when they suddenly see each other differently for the first time as Xander does when he sees Willow in her dress.

  9. I don't have a lot to add to what you guys have already said. It's a fun enough episode (at this point in the show, it is always at least fun), but there's many developments that I find jarring.

    I hate the Willow/Xander thing, especially because I never wanted them to get together even at the beggining. I'm not Xander's biggest fan, and while I agree that his teenage jerkiness is not completely out of character, it pisses me off. Poor Oz and Cordy. I mean, not only is Oz awesome, but Cordelia has changed and made an actual effort to be with Xander. Damn you, Josh.

    Loving The Mayor. Always love The Mayor.

    And Giles! Funny Giles is always a plus, and I love that through the seasons we get to see him get more and more comfortable with the kids and being more spontaneous and kind of silly, rather than stuffy.

  10. Wow, I'm really surprised by the negative response to the Xander/Willow pairing. I know its unfair to Oz and Cordy, but I always just assumed that at this early stage of the series, most fans, like me, would still be hankering for Willow and Xander to get together. What was fan response like to their relationship in the initial run? Do people only feel negatively about this twist in the tale because they know the future relationships of the characters?

  11. I wouldn't have had a problem with it if they weren't both in committed relationships with other people. I really wouldn't. I'm not sure I'd be doing backflips over it, but it's definitely that they're both cheating.

  12. Newbie report:

    The relationships in this episode are a mess.

    Buffy is with Scott only because Angel is/was unavailable. Now that Angel is back, Scott, without knowing why, gets that he is superfluous and bows out gracefully.

    Xander is with Cordelia because Buffy is unavailable. Cordelia is with Xander because the sex is good, and Xander is okay with that. But if Buffy turned an eye to him, he'd drop Cordy in a blink.

    Willow likes Oz a lot, but she is really with him because Xander is unavailable. The second that Xander shows an interest in her, against her will, she runs to him. And then is full of Willowguilt about it, but the message is clear. She isn't over Xander. As real as her feelings are for Oz, Oz is just a replacement.

    Oz is the only sincere one in the bunch. He thought Willow was sexy in a parka.

    Angel found pants. Boo.

  13. Excellent point about all the Scoobies being with their boos because their ideal person isn't available. I know it started that way for Willow and Oz, but I'd like to think that relationship, at least, has matured. As for Xander, if Buffy decided to pursue him, he would've dropped Cordy instantly. And for what it's worth, Cordelia and Xander aren't having sex yet. His losing his virginity is addressed in an ep later this season. :)

  14. Even though I agree with everyone’s critique about Buffy and Cordelia acting immature, they were so much fun fighting each other and then helping each other out of danger. There are several great moments, from Buffy’s “Cordelia, spatula” to Cordelia’s awesome intimidation of Gorch. Is this his last appearance on the show? He was fun, they should’ve brought him back more often.

    I didn’t remember this was the episode where the Willow and Xander subplot begun. While it’s possible to assume that Willow is not completely over Xander, Xander’s sudden attraction to her comes flying out of nowhere. Plus, the actors have such a friend-type chemistry onscreen I was having a hard time believing they were lusting one another.

    Faith is awesome. I just love how she backs Buffy up by leaving Scott totally embarrassed.

    The final scene with Buffy and Cordelia rolling their eyes over the results is priceless. Possibly my favorite moment of this underrated duo.


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