Thursday, October 6, 2011

"The Freshman" (Buffy 4.1): What made her think that she was wise and she never compromised?

Verve Pipe song? Not that good. Buffy season 4? Not that bad! Despite lacking the reliable awesomeness that characterizes the golden seasons (we do have "Beer Bad" coming up), some of my favorite episodes are found in season 4: "Fear Itself," "Hush," "Pangs," "Something Blue." Plus, Spike comes back and Giles brings the sexy. Of course, there's also the Riley Factor. MUCH more on that later. Let's commence our pivotal fourth season re-watch with the Buffy guide to orienting yourself to college!

DO realize that in the Buffyverse, all academics are basically jackasses.
There is a pervasive and profound mistrust of college professors that runs throughout this series, and we get our first taste here. There's the d-bag Pop Culture Professor who throws Buffy out of his class, and Mean Mommy Maggie Walsh. Considering the high school teachers were by and large benign, I'm guessing this trope can only be explained through a psychobiography of Joss Whedon (who wrote and directed this episode).
Her nickname is the Evil Bitch Monster from Hell, and she is by far the nicest professor Buffy has taken today.

DO trust your first impressions.
When Buffy first meets Riley, she "accidentally" dumps a pile of books on his head from a great height. As Dr. Freud (and perhaps Dr. Walsh) would say, there's no such thing as accidents. She should continue to hit him on the head with blunt objects every time she sees him, because RILEY IS A DOOFUS. Full (now probably unnecessary) disclosure: As much as I love Angel, I HATE Riley. My reasons will become clear later . . . for now, it's enough that he perpetually forgets her name.
Introducing Captain Cardboard.

DO change some things about yourself . . .
LOVE Willow's new haircut.
Go Giles . . . Go Giles.

But DON'T change everything.
Much like at the beginning of season 3, we have a Buffy who is feeling a little disoriented and unsure of herself. She's lost Angel (again), and finds herself a small Slayer in a big university pond. As my intrepid co-watcher Jenn points out, good, heart-of-the-group Xander is back (as she puts it, at least temporarily) to save the day. He reminds her how awesome she's been in the past, and how much he admires her. WWBD? She'd slay the crap out of Sunday. At the end of the ep, Buffy realizes that she A) has still got it; and B) still needs her Scoobies and once and future Watcher to bring it.

Toldja that umbrella was going to be important later!

Jenn also noted all the foreshadowing we get in this episode--Pop culture studies; reference to Joyce having a "funny aneurysm" (sniff); Xander's line "once more with even less feeling." Joss knows what he's doing.

Remember, we're starting an Angel rewatch on Monday! I need it as an antidote to Riley! We'll be geeking out over one phone call in particular . . .

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