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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Prom

Willow: "I mean, you've seen one big hairy bringer of death, you've seen them all."

Leave it to Buffy and Angel, after three years of passionate highs and lows, to break up in a sewer. It was certainly time. They've been spending way too much time together and getting awfully close to sleeping together again (snuggling under the covers? can you say playing with fire?) and Joyce paying a visit to Angel and trying to appeal to the adult in him was all it took for Angel. But even with all that, I still got a little teary when Buffy broke down and cried in Willow's lap. I want Angel and Buffy to live happily ever after, even though they can't. Ah, well.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn't usually do schmaltz, but they did it three times in this episode — no wait, four times — when Xander paid off Cordelia's prom dress, when he didn't tell anyone what he had learned about her financial state, when the senior class voted Buffy "class protector," and when Angel showed up at the prom to give her a perfect high school moment. I loved it.

I like Angel. I like David Boreanaz. He has a really interesting face and manner, he's physically imposing, and he can actually act (maybe not at the beginning of the series but he can now), and I like looking at him. Especially in a tux. The one he wore to the dream wedding was gorgeous on him. (But I digress.) Interesting that sex was the big issue here, and young people often have sex for the first time on prom night. Buffy and Angel can never have sex again. The notebook with "buffy and angel 4ever" on it is a clever illustration of Buffy's youth and Angel's lack thereof.

They've brought Anya back twice now since "The Wish" and it's just delightfully karmic that she's still trapped in high school. I'm sure Amy is still a rat, too, and that we'll be hearing about her later. Too bad that she missed her prom.

Bits and pieces:

-- Jonathan presented the Class protector award to Buffy. Which made a lot more sense after we finally saw "Earshot," which we didn't the first time. Buffy's parasol, coincidentally, matched her dress.

-- It would have been an interesting touch to have Angel show up in the same tux he wore in the dream wedding.

-- Geez. If this class has the lowest mortality rate in years, what was Sunnydale like before Buffy showed up?

-- Another red dress for Willow! Hubba hubba. I loved Buffy's and Cordelia's dresses, too. Cordelia was absolutely stunning. (She sure didn't look eighteen.) The sadness and disappointment Cordelia has endured this year has made her prettier, I think, as well as a lot more interesting.

-- The sock puppet of love. :)

-- Angel and the take-out blood again. So that's where he gets it. "Where did I think you get your blood, McPlasma's?"

-- The brain-eating hell hounds didn't do much for me, but I really enjoyed the stack of videos Tucker the bad guy was showing them. That was a hoot.

-- Seeing as this was an episode about hellhounds, there were many, many dog references.

Quotes:

Angel: "The prom?"
Buffy: "End of high school rite of passage thingy. Think cotillion with spiked punch and electric slide."

Anya: "I don't have a date for the prom."
Xander: "Well, gosh, I wonder why not. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your sales pitch?"
Anya: "Men are evil. Will you go with me?"
Xander: "One of us is very confused, and I honestly don't know which."

Anya: "Look, I know you find me attractive. I've seen you looking at my breasts."
Xander: "Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open."

Oz: "Anya, huh? Interesting choice."
Xander: "Choice is kind of a broad term for my situation. See, it's either Anya or the sock puppet of love for this boy."

Buffy: "Well, at least we all have someone to go with now. Some of us are going with demons, but I think that's a valid lifestyle choice."

Buffy: "It's not his fault. He's 243 years old. He doesn't exactly get the prom."

Cordelia: "You know the part that totally weirded me out? That thing had good taste. I mean, he chucks Xander and goes right for the formal wear."
Xander: "That's right. He left behind his copy of Monsters Wear Daily."

Buffy: "The great thing about being a Slayer, kicking ass is comfort food."

Welsey: "Mr. Giles. I'd like your opinion. While the last thing I want to do is muddle bad behavior in front of impressionable youth, I wonder if asking Miss Chase to dance would..."
Giles: "For God's sake, man, she's eighteen. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you, and stop fluttering about."

This one is at least a three and probably a four,

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

11 comments:

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes.

Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here.

ChrisB said...

One of my top ten, I have watched this episode so many times I have lost count. Every single time, I end up sobbing. SMG perfectly captures that first heartbreak, and the scene where she sobs on her best friend’s lap sets off the waterworks. Who among us has not been there?

I also love the other moments of love, humanity, and humor -- and there are quite a few. Giles being appropriately sympathetic and offering ice cream; Xander buying Cordy the dress; Cordy’s heartfelt thanks with that smashing smile; Giles’ smile when he sees Buffy in her dress; “For God’s sake, man, she’s eighteen. And, you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.” And, lest we forget, Anya in all her crazy glory. I love her; she adds just the right touch of humor to this episode.

The award is another sobbing moment. Given to her by someone whose life she has saved, Buffy’s reaction and the reactions of those who love her are just a joy to watch. Giles’ pride makes me love him even more, if that’s possible.

But, of course, the highlight of this incredible episode is the dance. As soon as “Wild Horses” starts to play, the tears that were falling for the award begin to pour. There is so much bittersweetness in the way Buffy and Angel hold each other and look at each other. It always makes me so happy that Buffy got not one, but two, perfect high school moments.

And, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I never hear that song any more (no matter which version), that I don't get all weepy thinking about the one perfect dance. Thanks for that, Marti Noxon!

drnanamom said...

Great review Billie and I agree about the schmaltz. I like this episode because it is just one big gooey, sugary cliche done Buffy style. That stack of Prom movies included all the elements we saw in this episode - heartbreak, horror, great dresses and "the guy" making the entrance for the slow dance. The break-up of Buffy and Angel was inevitable. It was obvious though that Angel didn't get the prom. You break up with the girl after the prom!! In 243 years he hasn't learned much about women. I was also glad that Buffy got recognized by her classmates. It took the sting out of her break-up just a little bit. There wasn't a lot of edginess in this episode and I missed it but then proms weren't my favourite thing in high school so that might be why this episode didn't hit my list of top episodes. Although I enjoyed the cliches I would have also enjoyed some anti-cliches Buffy style.

a.m. said...

This episode was another great one--in fact, the end of the season has been filled with great episodes. So many of the moments (most mentioned in the review or above comments) were great. I also really enjoyed the quick death of the vampire as Buffy and Angel were beginning their serious conversation. Sometimes I wonder if Buffy just drags t the killing to get a good fight in, so the quick stake to the heart made me laugh.

Unlike drnanamom, I am glad Angel broke up with Buffy before the prom (maybe that was Joss and crew's way of subverting the cliche?). Buffy had all these hopes/desires/wishes about how special the prom was going to be and Angel was already thinking about moving on. If they had gone together, either it would have ruined the moment or the memory would have been ruined when he broke up with her afternward. By breaking up with her beforehand, her expectations were squashed but she could then really appreciate the senior class award and that one final dance. I agree with ChrisB about that song too--like much of the music on Buffy, it was just perfect. This show does a great job of perfectly timing lyrics to different moments and the look in Angel's eyes as she sings "wild horse couldn't drag me away" was just amazing.

I can appreciate why you couldn't decide between a 3 or a 4 (those hellhounds were horrible looking) but 3 out of 4 WHAT, Billie? I'm going to go with 3 out of 4 pretty pastel parasols of protection...

Jess Lynde said...

There are many fun moments in this episode (especially Anya), but I always think of it as the one with The Dance. I can't hear 'Wild Horses' without thinking of Buffy dancing in Angel's arms. As previously established, I love me some good tragic heartbreak once in awhile, and I love how this one plays out in this moment. Not epic. Just quietly bittersweet and aching. Beautiful.

sunbunny said...

Not one of my all time favorites, but a very good episode. Lots of graceful wrapping-up (and setting up) pre finale.

Charisma Carpenter never looked more beautiful than she did here and I loved Xander buying her dress for her. It provided some nice, long-awaited closure to that romance.

The students giving Buffy the award totally contradicts "Homecoming," where it seemed that no one knew she existed, but it doesn't matter. It was lovely and I do always well up at Jonathan's speech.

I loved the dramatic flashback to Tucker's past: the totally predictable and underwhelming "no" from a girl he was asking out.

I sort of hate how fast girls get ready for prom in TV and movies.

Annie said...

I love a bit of schmaltz so this episode is a hit with me. My favorite schmaltzy scene is when Cordy thanks Xander for the dress.

I also think it was right of Angel to break up with Buffy before the prom for the reasons a.m. mentions. Buffy's memories can be bittersweet, if he broke out afterwards they'd probably be simply bitter.

Josie Kafka said...

I love this episode, perhaps because I did not go to my high school prom. I always tear up when Buffy gets the Class Protector award (and since I’m always already laughing about “lowest mortality rate,” it’s not a pretty moment).

Jane said...

I love how this show isn't afraid to fling the big anvils with the dialogue. Buffy's "I guess it's later than we thought," at the beginning made me laugh (and also feel a little sad.)

Joyce going to see Angel felt a little like piling on to Angel's own dawning awareness, but I liked how the scene was written and acted so I'll just dodge that anvil.

Buffy's ultra-girly clothes often amuse me. This time her sequined lilac sweater in the sewer for patrolling really caught my attention.

Like everyone has said, the class protector award and final dance scene were made me teary too. I do love some well-earned sentimentalism.

Surprisingly, no Willow quotes stood out for me this time. I do like her scene comforting Buffy. Willow being the loyal friend ragging on Angel for being an idiot before the two of them admitted that Angel was right to break up with Buffy was great.
I'm starting to think Willow is the toughest one of the bunch. She doesn't flinch from the truth even in scary situations which is pretty impressive since she doesn't have Buffy's slayer powers to protect her.

Suzanne said...

This is a favorite of mine, too, and one I have revisited often. I am a romantic at heart so the emotional moments in this episode definitely touched me. As was mentioned before, I thought the scene with Willow and Buffy was great. It seemed familiar to me since most women have probably had a conversation like this one with a friend at some point in life. SMG played it perfectly here. Of cours,e I also love the class protector award and the Wild Horses dance. Another bonus is the closure with Xander and Cordy.

Lamounier said...

Aw, this episode. It made me feel so nostalgic, especially because I just discovered Netflix has the dubbed versions of the episodes, and, boy, rewatching a couple of scenes in Portuguese made me go right back to the beginning of my teen years when I first watched season three. I noticed how they changed completely some of the dialogues. For instance, when Wesley asks Giles if he should ask Cordelia to dance, on the original version Giles encourages him to ask her out, on the dubbed version, he tells Wesley to take it slowly.

So Angel and Buffy broke up. Finally. I used to love them together on my teen days, but now their relationship felt like a placeholder for the characters. Still, it was heartbreaking to watch it. I did love how Buffy went from heartbroken to take-care-of-business girl. She had two great lines (“even if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it” and “great thing about being a slayer, kicking ass is comfort food”) and I liked Giles offering ice cream of some kind. Of course, there are many other terrific moments, and you all covered it so I don’t have much more to say.