Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 5

Beer Bad

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 02, 1999 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
594 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Still trying to come to terms with Parker's womanizing, Buffy starts to hang out at the college bar where she and a group of upper-class students drown their troubles in an excess of beer. It soon becomes apparent that the local brew really brings out the wild side of the Slayer.moreless

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  • Ah yes, the episode many people consider to be the worst in BtVS.

    What's my take on it? Well, it isn't all that great, but the first half has a lot of really good material in it. The main plot isn't terrible in theory, but in execution we have a completely different tale. I'll just outright say that the big problem is that there is far too many extended sequences involving the cavemen running around and grunting. But, since I can't stand beer myself I am pretty amused of the idea that excessive beer turns people into cave men/women, which honestly isn't far from the truth anyway. This is without a doubt not even close to the worst episode of the series though.

    All of the character interaction is handled perfectly. Right in the beginning Buffy is day dreaming about saving Parker from vampires at which point he apologizes to her and says he sees how wrong he was. She's interrupted by seeing him chatting up another girl and Professor Walsh talking about the "pleasure Buffy then, very amusingly, has another dream where Parker gives her the same speech and then gives her flowers and some kind of ice cream too. I really like how the writers aren't glossing over her sexual encounter with Parker, because it's actually really important to address further. This is a big deal in Buffy's life -- an experience she's learning from. She finds out from Riley that Parker "sets 'em up and knock's 'em This is the point when Buffy stops trying to make excuses for Parker and looks to herself for blame. She tells Xander "I'm a slut ... These are natural thoughts after an experience like this and it's meaningful to see Buffy thinking about it. Xander offers a little sympathy but can't help much.

    It's at this point when Buffy begins drowning her sorrows with beer. This is understandable even though it's not fun seeing her do that to herself. Cave Buffy begins to now emerge and there's a few interesting things that happen after this point. The first is more just being entertained than interested: Cave Buffy spinning around in a chair. I can't pinpoint why I love this so much but I do. Xander walks in on her and then she starts coming onto him on a primal level. Is it just the fact that Xander's male to why she's all over him, or does it possibly have something to do with a buried attraction for Xander himself? Maybe I'm stretching, but I think this gives some possibility to a Buffy/Xander relationship post-S7.

    It's worth noting that even as a cavewoman Buffy still has instinct to help others in a time of crisis. Even though she can be selfish at times, the core of her being is selfless and will always be that way -- it's who she is. This point is brought across blindingly clear when she even saves Parker from death. After everyone is outside and safe Parker begins to actually apologize, although I honestly believe that it's only because she just saved his life and that he really isn't sorry at all. Thankfully, Cave Buffy can see right through it and knocks him out again. Can I just

    Problems are beginning in the Willow/Oz relationship. Willow is noticing that Oz has become awestruck by this new band's singer, Veruca. It's the same girl who Oz passed by and 'sensed' back in "Living Conditions". We can see Willow trying to pry Oz away from being all mesmorized by Veruca, but her charms aren't working. This issue is directly addressed in "Wild at Heart". Willow, a bit concerned about Oz, goes out for a break and sees Parker sitting down for a coffee. This is certainly my favorite scene of the episode. Parker goes on about how people should be able to engage in casual sex without expecting committment. I agree with him, but only if both partners are in 100% agreement about that. The problem is that Parker misleads people into thinking he does want a lasting relationship just to break down their barriers so they'll have sex with him; it's disgusting. Anyway, Willow acts like she's buying his act and then nails him where it hurts by saying "how gullible do you think I am?" That in combination with Buffy clubbing him over head with a stick is enough to allow Buffy, and myself, to move on. Lets not forget we also get to see Riley punch him for what he did to Buffy in "The Initiative".

    That pretty much wraps up all there is to say about this one. The cursed boys that run around grunting for large portions of the episode certainly don't spark my interest and rub off as really stupid, but I think that's the point. I think it could have been made without being boring to watch though. All the great character development going on with Buffy, Willow, Oz, and a little bit of Xander really help give this episode substance which prevents it from completely sucking and is why it avoids sinking into useless territory. I'd take something like this over "I Robot, You Jane" or "Bad Eggs" anyday.moreless
  • Terrible!

    Beer Bad

    The Good;

    Okay there is some, Willow's Jerry Springer style confession (anyone ever read the hilarious Buffy Springer Show fanfic? Much of the Xander the bartender stuff is funny. Giles describing caveBuffy as walking with a 'sideways limp'. Willow's confrontation with Parker. Buffy's great dream sequence (is that chocolate chip cookie dough fudge he's holding?)

    The Bad;

    Everything else, possibly the worst Buffy episode ever?

    Best line;

    Xander; "Nothing can defeat, THE PENIS!" (how true!)

    Character death;

    Nope, no one dies at all

    Knocked out

    Yep, Willow, Xander (and Parker)

    Women good/men bad;

    The first thing the cavemen do is find a pair of pretty girls and drag them back to their 'cave'. Buffy's mooning after Parker does her no favours, he's treated her badly so she still wants him? When it comes to Parker and Buffy I always wonder what if the roles were reversed, if Buffy dumped Parker and then when she changes her mind and tries to apologise he knocks her out? What would we think then? And in fairness Parker does go to help Willow when the cavemen attack.

    Kinky dinky;

    Is it just me or does anyone else deep down want Parker to succeed in 'jumping Willow's bones'? And then mid-coitus she should turn the tables on him American Pie style. "Say my name bitch!". Also Willow seems to think that Buffy had group sex with the 4 students, love the way her mind works! Buffy calls herself a slut, Veruca thinks Willow is a groupie.

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Willow tells Parker she's 'Tired of you men and your manliness'. CaveBuffy thinks Xander smells nice

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Parker tries to apologise to Buffy so she bashes him over the head with a lump of wood

    Where's Dawn?

    Apparently Joyce always said beer was evil which is weird when you see teenage Joyce in Band Candy and considering she wanted Buffy to be at a college with boys and keg parties?

    Questions and observations;

    Quite possibly the worst ever episode of Buffy although rewatching it is does have some quite good humour in it and SMG gives a tremendous performance as Cavegirl Buffy. Feels like an ep of Charmed. Again, not sure about Parker, he doesn't actually do anything wrong, he just doesn't want a relationship with her as he explains to Willow (in many ways he reminds me of Barney from 'How I Met Your Mother'). Willow compares Veruca to Faith (not a compliment in her book) Oz's growing attraction to her is clear to see.

    Marks out of 10; 4/10

  • oh dear! you got to be kidding!

    i love buffy! but this episode is just crap... bad dialogues and (i can't believe i'm saying this) actually bad acting! usually i'm a big fan of the 'filler episodes' that stands for themselves, but this one is just not working... beer turns you, especially when you're underaged, into neanderthals! oh come on! the audience can take better metaphores than this, joss. and neanderthals are sooo lame! actually this episode is pretty similar to band candy, but unfortunately way inferior.

    but let's not leave out the positive aspect of this episode...alyson hannigan was amazing and saved this one at least to some extent!moreless
  • This episode wasn't as good as most episodes!

    In this episode, Buffy is still hurting about Parker, and guys at a bar take advantage of her and give her tons of beer, which turns out that the beer has been cursed to make them act as the manager sees them. The only real good parts were when Willow led Parker on just to yell at him for what he did to Buffy, and when Buffy saved Parker and he's apologizing, and she just hits him over the head and knocks him out! All in all, not a very good episode, and it didn't live up to the Buffy standard.moreless
  • Season 4, Episode 5.

    Buffy, trying to get over Parker, and a group of upper-class students drown their troubles in an excess of beer. However, it soon becomes visible that beer does not have a good effect on the Slayer. Xander gets a job at the college bar.

    This was an obvious filler episode. It wasn't that bad though. It wasn't that good either. Sarah Michelle Gellar looked beautiful yet again in this episode, and her performance was as amazing as always. Riley and those college students were hot. I wouldn't mind living with them. ;) The thing with Oz and Veruca was weird. This episode just seemed so different. Weird episode. The series could have went on without it. I gave it a higher rating for the eye candy though.moreless
Kal Penn

Kal Penn


Guest Star

Jake Phillips

Jake Phillips


Guest Star

Bryan Cuprill

Bryan Cuprill


Guest Star

Marc Blucas

Marc Blucas

Riley Finn

Recurring Role

Adam Kaufman

Adam Kaufman

Parker Abrams

Recurring Role

Lindsay Crouse

Lindsay Crouse

Maggie Walsh

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • When Xander is ejecting Buffy from the bar, you can see a Florida Gator pennant and a Florida State Seminole pennant on the wall, near the jukebox.

    • Goof: When Xander chases the "cavemen" out of the bar with the lighter, he closes the door and then makes a motion like he is locking it. When Xander leaves the bar after talking with the bar owner about the beer, he just opens the door without unlocking it.

    • Nitpick: The beer is called Black Frost, but the beer is clearly a *light* ale.

    • Nitpick: When the guys change into the cave-dudes, you can see that they're all wearing pants, but when they go outside one of them is wearing shorts. Maybe he stripped down to his boxers?

    • Nitpick: Right after the opening credits, when they show a shot of outside the campus, you can see Buffy in the bottom left corner of the screen. It is from when first episode of season four when she's outside looking confused (the scene with the colored folders).

    • Goof: The guy who mixes the potion for the beer uses a spiral condenser to drop it into the vat of Black Frost. Usually one uses such a condenser to cool down a fluid with water. But you can clearly see that it's not connected to any water source.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Prof. Walsh: These are the things we want. Simple things. Comfort,sex, shelter, food. We always want them and we want them all the time. The id doesn't learn; it doesn't grow up. It has the ego telling it what it can't have and it has the superego telling it what it should want. But the id works solely out of the pleasure principle. It wants. Whatever social skills you've learned, however much we've evolved, the pleasure principal is at work in all of us. So, how does this conflict with the ego manifest itself in the psyche? What do we do when we can't have what we want?

    • Kip: The thing that the modern day pundits fail to realize is that all the socio-economic and psychological problems inherent to modern society can be solved by the judicious application of way too much beer.

    • Buffy: Want more singing. Want more beer!
      Xander: No, I've cut you off.
      Buffy: Did it hurt?

    • Giles: I can't believe you served Buffy that beer.
      Xander: I didn't know it was evil.
      Giles: You knew it was beer.
      Xander: Well, excuse me, Mr. "I spent the 60's in an electric-kool-aid funky-Satan groove."
      Giles: It was the early 70's and you should know better.

    • Willow: I mean, you men! It's all about the sex. Find a woman, drag her to your den. do whatever's necessary, just as long as you get the sex. I tell you, men haven't changed since the dawn of time. (Cavemen walk in with two girls) See!

    • Buffy: I went to see Xander. Then I saw Parker. Then came... beer.
      Willow: And then group sex?
      Buffy: Pffft! Gutterface. No! Just lots and lots of beer. It's nice. Foamy... comforting. It's... beer.

    • Willow: (about Parker) He deserves a torturous and slow death by spider bites. Well, for today we'll just have to throw spitballs at his neck in class.

    • Willow: "My name is Veruca. I'm in a band." "Oh, I'm Oz. I'm in a band, too. Oh, and this is Willow." "Oh, how fun, a groupie." Groupie! Buff, have you heard of this Veruca chick - dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross?
      Buffy: TV is a good thing. Bright colors. Music. Tiny little people.
      Willow: What have you done with Buffy?
      Buffy: I'm suffering the afterness of a bad night of... badness.
      Willow: You didn't. Not with Parker again.
      Buffy: No. With four really smart guys.
      Willow: Four?? Oh. Ow.

    • Oz: Hey, you got a table.
      Willow: I had to kill a man.
      Oz: Well, it's a really good table.

    • Buffy: If he were tied and gagged, and left in a cave that vampires happen to frequent, it wouldn't really be like I killed him, really.

    • Buffy: Oh, Riley - so sorry.
      Riley: You know, most people go around. I'm not saying you can't tunnel through me, I just think the other way's quicker.
      Buffy: In my defense, you do take up a lot of space.
      Riley: I do. I'm ungainly.

    • Buffy: Don't guys sometimes keep the girls they really, really like inside these deep little brain fantasy bubbles where everything's perfect? I mean, they do that, right?
      Xander: How's that fugue state coming along?
      Willow: Parker.
      Buffy: Maybe I'm in his bubble, and then, pretty soon, he's gonna realize that he wants more than just bubble Buffy, and he'll pop me out, and we'll go to dinner and... it could happen, right?
      Willow: Buffy, that is my best friend, you need to think about not-Parker. He's no good. There are men - better men -- where in the mind is stronger than the penis.
      Xander: Pfft! Nothing can defeat the penis! Too loud. Very unseemly.

    • Willow: I'm pregnant by my step-brother, who'd rather be with my best friend, and he's left me with no place to live, no food except for this bottle of Wild Turkey which I drank all up. That was me being tanked and friendless for ya.
      Xander: Gets my Oscar nod.

    • Xander: Rough day? (flicks a lighter) Come on, Buff, be a lonely drunk. (flicks a lighter) Rough day?
      Buffy: Stop flicking at me.
      Xander: Work with me here. I'm finally an essential part of your college-y life. No more looking down on the townie. I'm the new bartender over at the pub. Got my lighter, my rag, my empathy face.
      Willow: Aren't you too young to be a bartender?
      Xander: Au contraire, mon frere.
      Buffy: "Mon frere" means brother.
      Xander: Mon girl-frere. Behold. (Xander shows his very fake I.D.)
      Willow: I don't believe this is entirely on the up-and-up.
      Xander: What gives it away?
      Willow: Looking at it.

    • Cave College Boy: (Xander whips out a lighter to scare away the college boys that have turned into cavemen) Fire bad!...Fire...Fire pretty...
      Xander: Fire angry!! (The cavemen yell and grunt and run out of the bar)

    • Buffy: Buffy strong (pounds chest), Buffy get Beer!

    • Xander: And was there a lesson in all this? What have we learned about beer?
      Buffy: Foamy.

    • Buffy: Buffy want beer.
      Giles: You... can't have any beer.
      Buffy: ... Want BEER!
      Xander: Giles, don't make Cave-Slayer angry.

  • NOTES (6)

    • The music video Buffy was watching was Luscious Jackson's video for "Lady Fingers." Jill Cunniff, one of the vocalists for the band, knew Joss Whedon as a child (as reported in an interview with Cunniff in issue #5 of the official BtVS magazine).

    • The name of Veruca's band is Shy, but the music is actually done by the real band THC.

    • Poker's Light and Black Frost are not real beers.

    • This episode received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series in the 52nd Annual Emmy Awards.

    • Notice here how Buffy says, "Fire bad,"? A repeat of a line in "Graduation (2)" when Buffy's talking to Giles after the destruction of the High School and the Mayor/Demon about how her brain's mush. "Fire bad, tree pretty," she says.

    • This episode has an underlying message of the dangers of alcohol, a subject lightly touched upon in several previous episodes. This episode also has the notoriety of ranking amongst many fans least favourite episodes.


    • Xander: Well excuse me, Mr. 'I spent the sixties in an electric-kool-aid-funky-satan-groove.'

      This is most likely a reference to the "electric kool-aid acid tests" of the sixties, which were reportedly staged events where hundreds of volunteers were given Kool-Aid spiked with LSD (i.e. Electric Kool-Aid) to see how it affected them. Electric Kool-Aid is also a cocktail consisting of Amaretto, Midori, Cherry Brandy, Southern Comfort, Triple Sec, sour mix, cranberry juice, and grenadine.

    • Cave Guy: Well, Thomas Aquinas...
      This is a reference to Saint Thomas Aquinas who was an Italian philosopher and theologian, he is said to be the most influential thinker of the medieval period.

    • Lead Cave Guy: Evil, good. These are moral absolutes that predate the fermentation of malt and fine hops.

      Malt and hops are two of the main ingredients of beer (along with water and yeast). Malt is a germinated grain, usually barley. Hops are the dried ripe conelike spikes of any female flower of the genus Humulus.

    • Riley: Sets 'em up and knocks 'em down.

      This is a reference to bowling (and other similar games), in which one sets up a set of pins, rolls a ball toward them, and tries to knock them all down.

    • Xander: Gets my Oscar nod.

      The Oscars also known as the Academy Awards are the annual presentation of awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The awards are for excellence in film performance and production and the symbol of the award is a small statue called an Oscar. An Oscar is considered the highest honor one can receive in show business.

    • Willow:...no food, except for this bottle of Wild Turkey which I drunk all up.
      Wild Turkey is a line of Kentucky bourbon whiskey, its most common variety is 101 proof as compared to the standard 80 proof for bourbons.

    • Buffy: Fire bad!
      This is an oft misquoted line from the 1931 movie Frankenstein. When confronted with fire, the creature in the film only roars incoherently. When imitating the scene in later years, many comedians inserted the phrase "Fire bad!" to drive home the joke. This has led many people to erroneously believe that the line is actually in the film.

    • Xander: How much beer would you say a person needed to consume before they started seriously questing for fire?
      Quest for Fire is a 1981 film about three prehistoric men searching for a new source of fire.

    • Xander: (on knowing how to mix drinks) Oh, I've seen Cocktail. I can do the hippy-hippy shake.
      Cocktail is a 1988 film starring Tom Cruise as a flamboyant bartender. "Hippy Hippy Shake" is one of the songs featured in the movie.