Episode Reviews (31)
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Dead Man's Party
This episode has two distinct halves to it, one which is great and the other which is poor. The first half is dealing with the unresolved issues from Buffy skipping town in "Becoming Pt. 2" (2x22). The second half is a somewhat poorly done zombie plot that seems to happen right when important dialog is about to be said. I can't help but feel cheated by the fact that all is forgiven just because they killed some zombies together. This is a cheap way out of having to find real solutions to the problems everyone has with Buffy taking off and not telling anyone. There are a few really powerful scenes, though, which help elevate this a bit beyond failure.
The episode begins with Joyce telling Buffy she wants to put this whole mess behind them, which we find out later isn't that easy. The group's initial reaction to suddenly seeing Buffy back is perfect: they all looked kind of dazed and confused. None of their reactions can compare with the beautiful piece of subtle acting by Anthony Stewart Head when Giles, alone in his kitchen, gives us a potent emotional sense of happiness and relief just by his expressions. This is possibly one of my favorite "small moments" in the entire series.
I was very pleased to see that it isn't going to be too easy for Buffy to get back into school. I do, however, love Giles' pressuring of Snyder at the end. I have some real issues with some of the characters' reactions though. First of all, while I can buy that the group has issues with how Buffy took off, they seem to be overdoing the anger and not at all understanding what she went through. This seems a tad out of character, especially Willow being so avoidy. However, the scene between Buffy and Willow in Buffy's bedroom helps exlpain why she feels the way she does and is quite touching.
While walking around the stupid party she didn't even want, Buffy understandably gets the impression that everyone is ignoring her and would prefer she not even be there. She hears a guy say the party is for a "chick on rehab." Joyce even says that things were in some ways better before Buffy came back. I could feel Buffy's sadness and can understand why she nearly took off again. This leads to the big confrontation downstairs where Joyce and most of the Scoobies all start attacking Buffy for leaving without telling anyone. The group should be more understanding of what Buffy went through! I agree that she should have left some indication that she was at least 'okay,' but poor Buffy! It's great to see that at least Joyce admits she made a mistake when she gave the ultimatum to Buffy in "Becoming Pt. 2" (2x22).
It's here when the zombies come literally crashing in and ruin the rest of the episode. These guys are hokey, boring, and completely spoil the incredibly important argument that was being had. So the final verdict is that I loved most of the scenes dealing with Buffy's return and really disliked all the zombie stuff. I would have been perfectly content if there was no supernatural threat. Overall it's an 'okay' episode at best.moreless
Good but not brilliant
Dead Man's Party
Cordy's outfit, Buffy's homecoming. Joyce's friend Pat. Jonathon. The attack of the undead, another Sunnydale High cheerleader seemingly amongst them. Giles's 'Americans' line and his hotwiring the car. Oz's party definitions. 'Ripper' threatening Snyder
Before Giles arrives the house is full of zombies, after he gets there they all disappear? Also would Joyce really choose to hang that horrible mask in the bedroom, even if it is art?
Oz; "And a hootenany. Well that's chock full of hoot. With just a little bit of nanny" (How effortlessly cool is Seth Green in this scene?)
Character death; So long Pat, we hardly knew you. But at least the actress goes on to be Earl's mum in 'My Name is Earl'
Tied up; none although when Xander says he's tied up tomorrow Cordy says 'You wish'??????
Kinky dinky; Buffy is aghast that Joyce wants her to go to private school where she'll have to wear a schoolgirl's uniform. Well it worked for Britney. Cordy says that Xander turned her on with the whole 'Nighthawk' vamphunter look (she also seemed to like him in his army gear in Halloween) Her party dress has to be seen to be believed. Also see 'Tied Up'
Calling Captain Subtext; this time it's Oz and Cordy who end up in the closet together
Questions and observations;
So where is Dawn in all of this? Snyder advises Buffy to get a job in fast food which she eventually does. The confrontation between Joyce and Buffy is really long overdue and Joyce really does have a point. Willow is studying to be witch. Jonathon gets in on the demon fighting for the first time as do Joyce and Devon. After this it's business as usual and we're glad to get back to the status quo in Sunnydale. Joyce's tipple is schnapps and she has a book club (which she later attends in season 5). She also skis to judge by the weapons Oz and Cordy use in the closet. Xander calls himself Nighthawk on patrol, they seem to be pretty good at the vamp staking, having killed at least 6. I'd love to see if they handled any other supernatural threats during the summer. The Mayor is mentioned again and the first appearance of the Expresso Pump. Cordy refers to Buffy as a freak but she'll later become one herself on Angel. Presumably the Watcher's Council used their influence to help get Buffy back in school (see also Checkpoint). Willow is still practicing witchcraft and growing more proficient.
6/10, good but not brilliant
I think I know what they were going for, but it just fell far short.
Its kind of like Marvel's Civil War - the side that has the better argument is acting so contemptuously and demonstrating so many of their worst in-character traits that you find yourself rooting for the side that actually is wrong. Yes, Buffy should not have run off, left the Slaying to the Normal Scoobies, and stayed out of touch for three months. But to use a military analogy, Buffy deserved to be napalmed, but instead she was nuked. Xander and Willow briefly became the characters they would become in later seasons, shrill caricatures that knew how to lecture. Joyce briefly became the flaky idiot of S1. I don't think she had a lower moment than when she casually dodged Buffy's pointing out that Joyce's ultimatum played a role in Buffy leaving. 'Mommy's Not Perfect' is so shallow a thing it rings in my ears years later.
Let's not forget Willow, who could have calmed things down when she found Buffy packing, but instead ratted her out. If one wants to see where the Xander who left Anya at the altar and the Willow who made snarky threats while trying to kill her friends came from, lookie here.
Looking back, maybe this firestorm was needed, but I will still remember this as the episode they cornered someone who couldn't fight back without hurting them and used that against her. All the traits that normally endear the Scoobies made me want to see them turned into Scoobie Snacks. Oh, and Joyce? Next time you make casual friends, tell them that you can lecture your daughter, but they can't? If her pal from the book club had been an old family friend, that's one thing. But you've empowered a complete stranger to talk trash in a situation she knows nothing about. Worst ep in the best season.moreless
Dead Man's Party
Dead Man's Party was a great episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayers third season. This was a fun episode centering around Buffy's return and every one reacts in their own way. The Gang were on patrol when Buffy found them and it was funny. Buffy's mom Joyce was very mature in handling Buffy's return and she was great in this episode. The sub story in this episode was about Zombies which was cool. The writers keep things original and unique, yet familiar and cliche however cliches are so for a reason, and making fun of them is fun too. The characters are all engaging and relatable.moreless
Season 3, Episode 2.
Buffy has returned to Sunnydale, and her friends secretly resent her for leaving. However, she is no longer wanted for murder, but returns just in time for some zombies to rise from the dead.
I liked when Buffy met with Xander again, and then Willow, Oz, and Cordelia all came. Principal Snyder is unbelievable. I can't believe Willow stood Buffy up! I highly doubt that she got held up. I liked seeing Buffy wander through Sunnydale High. Plus, the sexy David Boreanaz was in this episode, which is always good. :) Things are moving a little slow so far this season, though. Decent episode.moreless
Oz: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig: dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.
So, Buffy is not quite greeted with open arms upon her return to Sunnydale. I love how she interrupts the group slayage to get the job done. Then the lukewarm reaction that she is faced with as the gang doesn't know how to deal with her presence. The party is a good culmination of everyone's feelings and Xander and Cordelia are hilarious with the whole nighthawk thing together. Willow and Oz continue to be very cute in this episode as well. I love the confrontation that begins when Willow sees Buffy packing and calls her out on her behavior and how everyone's life is hard, not just her own. Then Joyce gets into the mix just as a group of zombies attack the group. The fighting scene that ensues is really funny and everyone does their part to fend of the enemy.moreless
Certainly not the best episode in terms of the demonic element, but it's a good second installment in a third series that needed to follow 'Anne'.
Marti Noxon does her stuff here in terms of some great one-liners and repartee. She also manages to get over the difficulty of the transition from 'Buffy killed Angel and left' to 'Buffy's home' with the 'her mother and friends don't know what to do about it'.
The zombie mask stuff is much secondary to the need to get Buffy back into the series. The fight sequences at Buffy's place are almost unnecessary - and for a single mum who has been struggling to keep everything together, Joyce must be mightily sick of shelling out for new front doors and windows!
The highlights are the comedic moments - pointy sticks, the Hellmouth petting zoo, 'MOOOOOM!' and all that good stuff. But it also has some very poignant scenes. Tony Head in the kitchen as Giles taking off his glasses and just having a moment of relief and emotion because Buffy's returned; the inability of Buffy's friends to respond properly to her coming back; Joyce being afraid she's going to leave again.
So although it does have a credible threat with the zombies, it's really a character piece, pulling together all the threads that had unravelled since the events of the end of season two. Not an easy task whilst trying to write a complete episode that will still entertain.moreless
Okay, Who Invitied The Zombies?
Dead Man's Party-Buffy returns home, but finds that picking up the pieces of the life she left behind may not be as easy as she had hoped. Her mother is trying to accept her back with open arms, but she doesn't seem to trust that Buffy won't just run away again. Her friends seem happy to see her, but their odd behavior makes it appear that they silently resent Buffy for taking off. And, of course, before these problems can be laid to rest, the dead of Sunnydale start to rise.
An episode that has the writers making fun of the series by taking a ridiculous storyline and making it quite hilarious. The episode is pretty dramatic with all the characters dealing with Buffy's return home and the exotic mask-zombie plot pretty much being almost irrelevant. First, the scene of Buffy reuniting with her friends ifs hilarious as she finds out they have a sting operation of killing vampires, not to mention her reaction to Xander's codename "Nighthawk". But there are also some serious issues like Giles being very protective of Buffy while Willow avoids Buffy as she is angry at Buffy for not being there when she needed to talk to someone. Joyce is also overwhelmed and almost believes Buffy's return made the situation worse. The whole confrontation during Buffy's welcome home party is great as everyone finally gets their issues out about how Buffy's decision effected them. But what's turns out to be a dramatic scene turns to a chaotic comedy as the whole house is attacked by zombies.
The first time viewers say Joyce hanging that mask it was too obvious that it would lead to something evil and the way the writers set it up as cheesy horror movie is too funny. I loved how Giles makes fun of Americans as their to stupid to know when exotic artifacts leads to danger. I especially loved how Pat, Joyce's bookclub friend, dies and ends of becoming the zombie king. It's just too hilarious how the writers set up such a harmless yet annoying character to become the villian in the end. But it does lead to stunning special effects as Buffy stabs Pat in the eyes with the shovel. But what great about the episode is how after the events of the zombie invasion, the group comes back together because they are reminded how they work so well together when in times of crisis. All and All, a clever episode with hilarious scenes, great drama, and cool zombies.moreless
Just a horrible mess.
With Buffy realizing slaying can't be avoided and that she needs to go home in the last episode, this episode seeks to reintegrate her with her friends, while addressing several unresolved personal issues between them. Meanwhile, a random zombie invasion begins thanks to an artifact Joyce collected from her work at the gallery, which must pay really well to afford all the reconstruction the Summers' household takes throughout the series run. Put them together and you get possibly the worst episode of the season.
As said in the last review, the beginnings of the Mutant Enemy seasons tend to be lacking the bang of its conclusions. "Anne" was a mediocre beginning, but this one is just plain bad. Unlike many of the other subpar episodes from this period, this one is tied into the overall story and can't be dismissed as a self-contained episode. One could wonder if this episode could've been ignored and had the action go straight to "Faith, Hope and Trick", but it wouldn't have been right not to tackle the reunion between Buffy and her friends.
The overall plot of this episode is inherently flawed. Why would Buffy's friends think it was even close to a good idea to have a welcome home party for her? It's not like Buffy spent a semester studying abroad or something. She bolted from Sunnydale when her life collapsed. Anything more elaborate than a quiet get together with only Buffy's closest friends is inappropriate.
This contrivance ultimately leads to the confrontation between Buffy and her friends and mother. While it could've been played to make everyone else's side reasonable, but instead, they act like total jerks. Instead of being upset that Buffy didn't turn to them for help following the end of season two, they make it seem like what she did to them was a worse than all the bad stuff that happened to her, which is the wrong way to read it. By choosing the latter, the story gets too melodramatic. Who thought it was a good idea for the central characters to express themselves that loudly in front of a crowded room of strangers? It's like something you'd see on a daytime TV talk show. At least Oz shows some discretion.
Then came the zombies. Generally episodes focused on stock horror characters (Frankenstein's monster, mummy, sea monsters) tend to be lackluster. While I like a good zombie story, the zombie analogy fitting into the episode's story is at best forced. Even past efforts to bring in the greatest hits of horror had some tangible connection to what was going on in the episode. They barge in on the confrontation towards the end of the episode, making those theatrics more or less irrelevant. Perhaps it would've been better to have the mask serve as a metaphor for the façade Buffy's putting on to keep people from knowing what she's really feeling.
While this has little to do with the overall story, one part got too far under my skin to ignore. Just what is a dead cat doing on top of that shelf with the nice plates in Buffy's basement? It may be a minor nitpick, but in a better episode it would be easier to ignore. If Buffy's house was really old, dirty or decrepit like some of the demon hideouts, it would make sense, but this doesn't whatsoever.
The one redeeming element of the episode involved Giles provoking Snyder to reenroll Buffy at Sunnydale High. "Becoming, Part 2" hinted at ulterior methods behind getting Buffy out of school going to the Mayor. However, Snyder is quite the pushover, and we know Giles has a dark side that wouldn't hesitate to make good on his threat.
Overall, this episode is a mess and the worst episode in some time. The elements don't gel at all. The major conflict among Buffy and her friends gets way overblown, making the resolution far too convenient. Also, the zombie subplot serves only as a distraction as it doesn't fit into the emotional story of the episode. However, like the previous episode, it's easily forgivable considering where this season will go.moreless