BuffyWatch: Season 2, Episodes 4-6

Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.

Season 2, Episode 4 “Inca Mummy Girl”

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Buffy and friends go on a field trip to a museum, where they see a 500-year-old mummy. The mummy was supposedly an Incan princess who was sacrificed to the gods as a teenager (cue heavy-handed “Chosen One” parallels). A school bully named Rodney breaks a plate the mummy is holding, and she wakes up and throttles him. Later, the Scooby gang returns to the museum and finds Rodney mummified in the princess’ place. RIP Rodney. 

Buffy’s mom decides to take in an exchange student from South America (yes, they just call it “South America,” without specifying a country) named Ampata, and Xander is all put out because it’s a “man” with “man parts.” Shut up, Xander. (Advance warning: I’ll be saying that a lot this episode.) 

Oh, and he’s also racist. He pouts that a “Latin Lover” is staying in Buffy’s house, and then jokes that the only Spanish he knows is “dorito” and “chihuahua.” Okay, Justin Bieber. Then when he sees that Ampata is a beautiful Latina girl (actually, she’s a mummy who gave the real Ampata a literal kiss of death, but they don’t know that yet), he says “Hay caramba,” and makes hand motions for simple words like “glass” and “go,” even though she very clearly speaks perfect English. SHUT UP, XANDER.

Anyway, Xander drools over Ampata, and Willow is all sad about it, especially when he asks Ampata to the school dance. Ampata is somehow charmed by Xander too, probably because he’s the only human man she’s met in 500 years, so when a man with a big knife (who was like, conjured by the seal breaking or something? Unclear [I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t figure out what was actually happening! –Nerdy Spice]) comes to the school to put her back in her coffin, she gives him the kiss of death. So she buys herself time to go to the dance with Xander, but at some point it becomes clear that she needs to continue sucking the life out of unsuspecting boys in order to keep her un-mummified body. She almost kisses Xander, but then she has a crisis of conscience and decides to kill Jonathan (Jonathan!) instead. But then Xander interrupts them and she almost kills Xander anyway. 

Meanwhile, Buffy finds the real Ampata in Ampata’s trunk, and realizes that she’s the mummy. She and Giles try to piece the seal back together, because they’ve watched enough mummy movies to know that that will stop her. Ampata’s mummy senses tell her that they’re messing with the seal, so she finds Giles, breaks the plate into a million pieces, and has a final “fight” with Buffy. Except it’s not really a fight: Buffy kicks her a couple of times, and then Ampata shoves her into a coffin, and Buffy is inexplicably out of commission for like, five minutes while Ampata tries to kill both Willow and Xander. Then, when Buffy finally decides to use her super-strength to climb out of the coffin, Ampata is almost completely mummified again, so she just sort of–separates Ampata from her arms. 

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What a weird episode.

–Janes

Notes from a New Fan: 

  • Oh boy. The title of the episode seems to signal that it may be one of those “didn’t age so well” episodes. Also, the episode is called “Inca Mummy Girl” and the kids go to the museum to see a mummified Incan human sacrifice… gee, who do you think the monster of the week is gonna turn out to be?
  • Xander refers to “this whole cultural exchange megillah,” which apparently means something akin to “this whole cultural exchange ball of wax.” I resent that Xander knows a vocabulary word that I don’t.
  • I also resent that Xander finds it appropriate to act possessive over Buffy having a man “with male parts” staying at her house, when she ALREADY SAID SHE DIDN’T WANT TO DATE HIM. Shut up, Xander. And he just keeps doing it the entire episode!! Holy crap, this is so inappropriate.
  • I like that Cordelia does drive-by socializing with the three nerds. That is very un-high-school of her.
  • I also like that Buffy basically beats Giles into agreeing to let her go to the dance. But I don’t get why he has the final say over this anyway?
  • Poor Willow, having to overhear Xander enthusiastically rejecting her.
  • The dance is a “celebration of cultures.” Oh boy, that sounds like a TERRIBLE idea.
  • Xander stuffs a whole Twinkie in his mouth at once. He’s so gross. Wow. Luckily (for him), Ampata’s table manners aren’t so elegant either.
  • When Ampata says she likes Xander back, he says, “You’re not a praying mantis, are you?” Hee! Good callback.
  • Seth Green plays the guitar at this dance. Weird.
  • I knew Danny Strong was on Buffy but totally did not expect him to be introduced as a random kid who almost gets dehydrated by sucking face with a mummy!
  • Well this episode was awkward. Like… they keep saying Ampata is from South America and not specifying the country, and Giles assumes that therefore she can translate ancient Incan texts? They don’t even know what country she’s from. And also… they know that… she’s not Incan? And that she’s not from the time period when people wrote stuff on stones? Like, what? Shut up, Giles.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • Why doesn’t Giles want Buffy to go to the dance, anyway? Later, they actually have things to do, but at the beginning he’s just being a killjoy for no reason.
  • I love that the Scooby gang makes a joke about the mummy waking up and then immediately realize they’re in Sunnydale and that’s probably what actually happened. The usual skepticism portion of the episode is so tiresome.
  • This Inca mummy seems to be based on a real mummy, not that that makes it any better.
  • Xander is, as usual, the worst offender, but the entire episode is pretty racist. Buffy says maybe Ampata could translate the Incan mummy seal because he’s “from South America.” Because all South Americans know how to translate ancient pictograms. Then Giles, who actually knows things, also asks Ampata to translate the seal because it’s an “artifact from her region,” even though she never even says which South American country she’s from. Giles! I expect better from you, at least.
  • Also, Ampata acts like a stereotypical wide-eyed foreigner who’s enchanted by America’s bounty and says all these things about her “home country” that are actually about her coffin, like “My old room was much smaller” and “It was cramped, and very dead.” It’s funny because South America is like a coffin, get it?
  • I love that Ampata sucking the life out of someone = more makeup.
  • We finally meet Oz! If you can put aside the cringiness of Willow’s costume, their meet-cute is adorable:
  • In an unexpected twist, Xander is just about the only one at the “dress up as a culture” dance who is wearing a non-racist costume.Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 11.12.29 AM
  • I like that Buffy empathizes with Ampata because she almost didn’t fight the Master in “Prophecy Girl.” NOT on board with Buffy and Xander’s intense flirtation as they talk about it. 

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Season 2, Episode 5 “Reptile Boy”

Buffy and a handsome young man dance, ballroom dancing style, in a room with several other young couples dancing around them.

Buffy is experiencing a classic symptom of all teenagers with too many extracurriculars on their plate: burnout. She’s got hand-to-hand lessons with Giles (although they’re not exactly taxing, since Buffy can knock the guy flat by flicking one wrist), patrols, schoolwork… oh, and an undead semi-boyfriend who condescendingly rejects her when she invites him for coffee.

Not surprisingly, she decides to rebel. A group of frat boys has invited Cordelia to their party and they also want Buffy to come, so Buffy lies to Giles and heads to the party with Cordy. We already know they’re not just regular frat guys, though, because a) the episode is named “Reptile Boy,” sooo yeah, and 2) we already saw them chase down a young girl running desperately away from their house and bring her back to their dungeon.

But Buffy doesn’t know that, so she flirts with the frat boy who has the best vocabulary (doesn’t hurt that he looks like a soap opera star) and dances with him at the party. Xander, in a fit of completely psychotic and toxic jealousy, breaks into the party and receives his just deserts: the frat brothers figure out he’s a crasher and bully him mercilessly for a few hours. Meanwhile, they drug Buffy and Cordelia, who pass out in an upstairs bedroom. Then the suave, well-spoken one starts performing a ceremony in the basement dungeon to sacrifice Buffy, Cordelia, and the other girl to a giant snake thing that comes out of a well! (Cue more of Cordelia’s virtuosic screams.)

Finally, Willow, Giles, and Angel figure out that a young girl who went missing from a nearby school is being held in the fraternity. They run into Xander stumbling around outside the house, intent on getting back inside to hit on more college women and (hopefully) get beat up again. Xander’s suckitude at least has the side benefit of enabling everyone to figure out that Buffy and Cordelia are still inside the house of evil. They break in and take out a few frat boys, then head down to rescue Buffy. Before the men can even get downstairs, though, Buffy has broken her chains and fought off most of the baddies. Once her friends arrive, she manages to get a sword and kill the snake.

Great episode. I laughed a lot. And hey, the metaphor of frat boys drugging girls to kidnap them for evil snake activities may not be subtle, but it’s quite apt!

Nerdy Spice

Notes from a New Fan:

  • If this were a drinking game like our Dawson’s Creek rewatch, “Major spoilers in title” would be one of the rules.
  • This opening scene where the kids stay in and MST3K a Bollywood movie because they’re too broke to go to the Bronze is… well, it definitely did not age well. It’s cute that Buffy and Xander are braiding Willow’s hair though.
  • Giles trying to sneak up behind Buffy and being summarily humiliated is everything. Buffy so has unagi!
  • Why does Cordelia become bad at flirting because she reads a magazine article? This seems like something more likely to happen to Willow.
  • Do you feel like maybe Giles should like… outsource the hand-to-hand lessons? It doesn’t seem like he has a whole lot left to teach Buffy on that front, except how to maintain a stiff upper lip while getting the crap kicked out of you.
  • Cordelia’s date must have read The Game. He totally tries to neg Buffy into drinking by saying she’s too young for “grown-up things.” Don’t fall for it Buffy!! (She doesn’t. Whew. Although she does start pounding party punch later, it’s for her own reasons, not because she fell for his act.)
  • I can’t believe Mrs. Buffy never told Buffy not to drink alcohol she hadn’t poured herself. That was like the first thing my mom ever told me about parties. And I (almost) never did!
  • XANDER BREAKS INTO THE FRAT? What an ass. Also, his outfit–red polo shirt and khaki pants–is the exact uniform that I had to wear to work at the now-bankrupt video rental chain, Movie Gallery. It didn’t look any more stylish on me than it does on him.
  • Wait I’m so disappointed that Buffy didn’t just kick that drunk guy’s ass when he ran at her.
  • Oh God watching Buffy totter up the stairs drunk at a frat party, even if the boys weren’t serving some kind of evil reptile overlord, is honestly fucking terrifying. [Seeing both Buffy and Cordelia in that bedroom always gets me. –Janes]
  • The boys call Xander “Jerkwater.” Or is it “Jerkwadder”? Neither one is a thing… is it?
  • Willow gets distracted while talking to Giles and Angel by wondering about Angel’s lack of reflection. “Angel, how do you shave?” she says very seriously. Hee!!!
  • Why is Xander walking around outside the frat party holding his clothes? Can’t he just… put them back on?
  • Angel growls and puts on his vampire face just to have his big revelation that Buffy’s trapped in the evil frat. Willow thinks it’s romantic, but I think it’s kind of hilarious, like, get a grip, Angel.
  • Hahaha, I also love when Xander punches that guy and just groans in pain. Good try, Xander! But you’re no Buffy.
  • Willow’s killing it in this episode: “Some guy’s attacking Buffy with a sword.” No response. “Also there’s a really big snake.” Still no response. Hee.
  • Buffy kills the big snake and makes the funniest face like she just found a cockroach.Buffy makes a grossed-out face.
  • The headline in the newspaper is “Fraternity arrested.” Heh.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • Okay you can’t just say something like “there’s a hush over Sunnydale” and “there are no demons or monsters to slay.” Such a jinx!
  • This period of the Buffy/Angel saga is very confusing. They were already relationship-y enough in episode 2 that Angel regularly knew Buffy’s plans for the night and fought with her over dancing with Xander. Now it’s a big step for their relationship to get coffee together?
  • For the last time, WB, straight, opposite-sex teenagers who aren’t dating don’t grab each other’s arms!Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 11.30.12 AM
  • I mean, it’s automatically creepy that Tom is a senior in college and hitting on high school girls, but given that Angel is 241, I guess it makes sense that four years wouldn’t set off Buffy’s spidey senses.
  • Oh, Buffy. You’re never too young to learn that the “I’m just a sensitive, well-read frat boy with a self-effacing sense of humor” routine is the oldest trick in the book.
  • I feel like Giles should just bring in Angel for Buffy’s hand-to-hand training? Being able to beat up a 50-year-old librarian might not help Buffy so much against the forces of darkness.
  • I still love the Bangel melodrama, especially that line, “When you kiss me, I want to die.” I’m not ashamed.
  • Did Buffy just say “egads”? Is she a 241-year-old Irish vampire?
  • Cordelia is on fire this episode. So many great quotes.
  • Also, Cordelia goes to all the trouble to lecture Buffy about “appropriate attire” for a frat party, and then she wears this:

    Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 10.26.11 PM

    Buffy is dressed much more appropriately!

  • I don’t really know how to process the frat brothers dressing Xander up in drag. I want to think it’s part of the extended send-up of toxic masculinity, but it also feels like drag itself is the butt of the joke.
  • I think I was too young when I first saw this episode to understand the “reptile brain” significance of the very-phallic snake.
  • A lot of Buffy fans seem to hate this episode–probably because it’s one of those episodes with a “message”–but I always loved it. Whatever, frat boys do sacrifice young women at the altar of power and success

Season 2, Episode 6 “Halloween”

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It’s our first Halloween in Sunnydale, which means it’s the beginning of one of Buffy’s most cherished traditions: saying over and over that nothing ever happens on Halloween, only for something to happen on Halloween. 

The Scooby Gang buys their costumes at a new costume shop, and they all choose costumes that express their character arcs this week. Buffy sees Cordelia aggressively hitting on Angel again, so she chooses an old-timey princess gown, because she’s randomly afraid that Angel wants her to be more traditionally feminine. Willow wants to let loose (or more accurately, Buffy wants her to let loose), so she wears a sexy outfit that is–not a costume? Like, she doesn’t even bother to do the Mean Girls trick and put bunny ears on it. Anyway, she chickens out at the last second and wears a ghost costume over it. And Xander dresses as an army cadet because he feels all erectionally challenged over Buffy defending him from a school bully (yes, we hate him). 

Anyway, it turns out this new costume shop is run by a new villain named Ethan Rayne, who casts a spell that turns everyone into the costumes they’re wearing. Xander turns into an army cadet, Buffy turns into a useless 18th century noblewoman, and Willow, who turns into a sexy ghost, is the only one who remembers her identity. Hilarity ensues. Willow finds Giles, and they confront Ethan at the costume shop. It turns out he has a mysterious personal history with Giles, whom he calls “Ripper” (!). 

Spike, who loves eschewing tradition, decides to take advantage of the chaos and try to kill Buffy, Halloween or no. He goes after her with an army of children-demons (yes, all of the trick-or-treaters have also turned into their costumes, it’s very traumatic), and immediately overpowers her. It looks like he’s going to kill her, but as Nerdy Spice would say, he’s foiled by his need to bite her extremely slowly and dramatically, and Giles tortures Ethan into reversing the spell before he can finish the job. They all change back, Buffy fends off Spike, and all is well in the world–except that Ethan escapes and leaves Giles a note that says “Be seeing you…” Enter the Ripper era.

–Janes

Notes from a New Fan:

  • It’s weird that Angel laughs at Cordelia’s terrible story about insulting her date’s car. It doesn’t seem to have a very good punchline. Is this, like, early evidence of him being attracted to her? (I think they date at some point on Angel, although I’m not entirely sure.) [I thought that too! I think this was the first time we actually see Angel laugh, which annoys me. –Janes]
  • I don’t get why Buffy has time to show up at the Bronze just to tell Angel she can’t date him because she doesn’t have time for facials. And Angel just kind of stares blankly at her. It makes no sense. Like, Buffy, you’re already at your date, so pretty clearly you do have time for dating. Is this some way to build up the notion that they’re star-crossed? Because honestly, if you cancel a date with someone because you don’t like your own hairdo, maybe you just don’t like them that much.
  • Giles says his favorite hobby is “cross-referencing.” Heh.
  • “When it comes to dating, I’m the Slayer,” Cordelia tells Buffy. Hee! She should get that on a business card.
  • When Buffy looks at the princess costume, Xander immediately says, “Too bulky. I prefer my women in spandex.” OK, Xander, but no one asked you, nor has Buffy ever expressed an interest in being the kind of woman you prefer. His narcissistic belief that it matters one iota what he finds attractive, and his compulsion to share whenever anything remotely related to a woman or her appearance come up, is actually worse than almost any other guy I’ve ever seen on TV, even in the Dark Ages of the 90s. Even the creepiest characters fondly known at the time as “male chauvinist pigs” usually confined most of their comments to saying what they did find attractive–not complaining about what they didn’t and expecting women to dress to avoid unattractiveness at all times, even on holidays. In short, Xander’s an ass, and I hope Angel eats him.
  • Ethan’s old-timey grammar is terrible! Doesn’t he know it’s “thou corruptest,” not “thou corrupt”?
  • What is Willow’s costume, exactly? Mena Suvari from Loser? Did they ever say, or am I supposed to know what it is?Willow stands in front of a doorway wearing a choker, a messy bun, a red crop top, a leather skirt, and sheer black tights.
  • Regardless though, she’s rocking some serious abs.
  • “The ghost of what, exactly?” says Giles with an expressive look at Willow’s bare midriff, when she says she was turned into a ghost. Hee. I mean, it was a little creepy, but I think I’d have asked the same thing.
  • As usual, Spike actually has plenty of time to kill Buffy before the spell wears off, but he spends so much time grinning evilly into her face that the spell wears off before he can. It’s fun to watch Buffy come back to herself and punch him out, though.
  • So Buffy learns to love herself, and Willow learns… to walk around with her bellybutton hanging out. A very special episode for everyone. Xander also mentions something about “sit down and shutting up,” so… let’s hope he learned a lesson too.
  • It annoys me that Angel pulls the “you’re not like other girls” thing to reassure Buffy. Saying that all women in the 18th century were simpering morons? Ew. Maybe instead of hating them, hate the society that… oh, you know what, you all know the rest.
  • “Ethan’s costume shop” is a kind of amusingly dull name for any costume shop, let alone one that can turn you into the ghost of Mena Suvari.

Notes from a True Stan:

  • The premise of this episode is brilliant. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t been a plotline on every supernatural TV show.
  • I love that Buffy’s version of “looking trashed” for her date with Angel is having one tiny little twig in her otherwise-flawless hair.
  • Speaking of which, Buffy made such a big deal about wanting to go on a date with Angel, and then she’s a few minutes late and sees Cordelia hitting on him, so she just… leaves? This makes no sense.
  • Ew, I hate when Xander suggests Buffy wear spandex. He’s so relentlessly gross.
  • “She couldn’t have dressed up like Xena?” YES. Amazing.
  • Aw, I love when Oz says, “Who is that girl?”
  • When does Cordelia actually find out that Angel is a vampire? I’m not sure this question is ever answered.

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