Monday, September 26, 2011

"The Prom" (Buffy 3.20): Bring the pain

I should preface this post my admitting that my devotion to and the fervency of my emotions about the Buffy/Angel relationship is that which other (normal) people feel about things like religion and social causes. Therefore, though I know that David Boreanaz was going to leave Buffy at the end of its third season and they had to do something to break the two up, I will never accept that they should be apart. It's not rational or reasonable, but neither am I, friends. So, my Buffy/Angel shipperness will inevitably inflect this, the Buffy guide to dealing with getting your heart crushed right before Prom. This is my intrepid co-watcher Jenn's favorite episode, and it should be clear why.

DON'T underestimate the capacity of formal dances to stir up all sorts of crap.
Despite Giles's pooh-poohing of Prom, it's the catalyst for emotional apocalypses aplenty in a high schooler's life. We have Anya embracing her human desire for a date, asking Xander out, and starting a rolling ball that will careen all the way through to season 6. We have Xander and Cordy hitting pause on their mutual snark-fest and remembering what they loved about each other. And we have Angel thinking that he and Buffy are on the road to nowhere, and he's getting off. More on that later. But I need to take a moment to acknowledge that though I'm hard on Xander, when he shows up, he shows up big. Using his savings to buy the newly working-class Cordy her dream dress is sweeter than sweet and cooler than cool.
Under all those shirts beats a heart of gold.

DO remember that mom isn't always right.
Joyce jumps on the down with Angel and Buffy bandwagon, and makes a special daylight trip to the Mansion to lay a guilt trip on the soulful vamp like only a mom can. She (and the Mayor, and apparently Willow) have all been thinking that a Slayer and a vampire have no future, and it's bad that he lets Buffy think otherwise. It's so serious that even Angel has a prophetic, symbol-laden dream.
Yadda, yadda, yadda, can't get married . . . more importantly, what do we think of the dress?

So, Angel, proving that even two-hundred-plus years doesn't necessarily confer emotional maturity, dumps Buffy's ass.
Before Facebook, the worst way to break up with someone was in a sewer the day before Prom.
And at the post-break-up convo with Willow, we have Jenn and I crying for the first, but not the last, time this episode.

DO kick ass.
As Buffy tells Giles, for a Slayer, kicking ass is comfort food. This is actually pretty good advice for anyone. Broken-hearted Buffy throws herself into her work, guaranteeing her friends a nice Prom by taking out a trio of hell-hounds programmed by someone who threw themselves into a different sort of work after a romantic disappointment.
Not for nothing, I would have gone to Prom with you and your little brother, too.

Poor B has to do this a lot--even after drowning, losing friends, having to kill her boyfriend who turned evil after she lost her virginity to him--she always goes back to work the next day. It's probably why the class of '99 awarded her this:
Keep your eye on that Class Protector umbrella--it's what they call a "multivalent symbol" in the biz.

And with Jonathan's heart-felt tribute, especially relevant after "Earshot," Jenn and I are crying again.

DO embrace the pain.
Might it have been easier to make a clean break with Angel, say "freak show this," and punch him in his sensuous mouth when he shows up at Prom for one last dance? Yes. But then we wouldn't have had this moment, and Jenn and I wouldn't be sobbing in a quasi-fetal position.
Grr . . . aargh. I need a hug.

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