Monday, September 5, 2011

"Bad Girls" (Buffy 3.14): Buffy gets scared straight

It's not until this late-mid-season episode that the Big Bad plotline really gets cranking. It's a tribute to the show's writing and characterization that nobody really cared that the meta-arc for season 2 moved so slowly. For an intra-Whedonverse comparison, see the fan frustration with Dollhouse. But that's a topic for another re-watch. Now, on to the Buffy Do's and Don't's for hanging out with that friend your parents warned you about!

DON'T trust anyone who laughs at The Family Circus.
For my money, the depths of The Mayor's demonic evil are truly revealed through his affection for this comic strip. The scrumptious Timothy Olyphant characterized it best as Todd in Go, pointing at the comic in disgust and complaining "It's always there, in the lower right hand corner, just waiting to suck."
He's not in the Whedonverse. But he should be.
But as I mentioned above, liking TFC is just the tip of the evil iceberg in this ep. Richard Wilkins the dozenth achieves 100 days of near-immortality through a fun-filled ritual, to the chagrin of his long-time enemy Balthazar.
This is what a rogue demon looks like, Wesley.
And what comes 100 days from now in Sunnydale? A little ceremony I like to call "Graduation Day"

DO be wary of following the lead of someone with impulse control problems and a "might makes right" moral compass.
"Bad Girls" is a turning point in the Buffy/Faith relationship. Faith is all id--encouraging and indulging in any desire, "Consequences" (foreshadowing) be damned. And Buffy kind of takes to the lifestyle, ducking out of chemistry tests, engaging in a little B&E, and, most disturbingly, shafting the loyal and true Willow.
Do they cover the hair-flip dance in The Watcher Handbook?
 DON'T underestimate the blowback from killing a human on this show.
The distinction between ensouled and soulless beings is something I'm going to revisit A LOT during this re-watch, particularly when Spike comes back. But for now, it's enough to mention that when humans die in the Buffyverse, it's a big old deal. The moral quandary marked by Buffy's guilt over thinking she killed Ted in season 2 comes back with a vengeance when Faith instinctively plants a stake in random Sunnydale red-shirt, um, I mean Deputy Mayor Allan.
RIP, bureaucratic bottom-feeder.
That split-second mistake is important less for the action and more for Faith's seemingly amoral reaction to it, the fallout from which is going to spread over not only the next four seasons of the show, but all the way onto Angel.

DO give the bossy, twee, and craven new Watcher a chance.
Welcome to the party, Wesley! I'd forgotten how much of an insufferable prig  Mr. Wyndam-Price can be in his first scenes in Sunnydale, and how tempting it is to align yourself with Team Giles.
Though the distinction is subtle.
But I've been to Angel season 5 and back again and think that Wesley's development is the most nuanced and dramatic of any character in the 'verse. It's a long, strange trip from "Training procedures have been updated quite a bit since your day" to "Yes, thank you, yes."
Plus, it made this possible!
For me, "Bad Girls" feels a bit set-uppy, but that's only because all the other episodes in this season are so exciting, emotional, and sharp. However, as if to reward us for wading through some rising action, we get the rad, "His name is Angel" intro from you know who.
Damn straight.

No comments:

Post a Comment