Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by David Greenwalt
We open on Buffy, Willow, and Xander watching a Bollywood movie in Buffy’s bedroom. Xander and Buffy are each doing French braid pigtails on Willow. Xander’s is perfect and done, and Buffy’s is a sad mess.
Meanwhile, at a swanky Spanish-style villa, a young woman comes bursting through a window! Several figures in hooded robes chase after her. She climbs a wall and falls into a cemetery, where she keeps running. Eventually, they catch her. The guys in hooded robes are college boys!
At school, Cordelia is practicing super fake laughter, because there’s nothing more attractive to a guy than girls going “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA” right in their faces. Her friend listens to this advice with a nod and a smile. She does not speak, because she is an extra!
Buffy has been having lots of sexy dreams about Angel. Willow still ships it. She suggests that Buffy ask him to go out for coffee, because it’s not quite a date, but it’s a nice stepping stone to dateville. Also, Buffy’s wearing giraffe spot pants with this weird partially see-through lacy white shirt over a black bra.
Were the folks in the wardrobe department taking bets on how tacky the characters’ clothing could get before someone complained?
Cordelia brags to Xander about how she’s dating a college frat boy. Her friend is still standing there, looking amused but not speaking. Her contract won’t even let her laugh cattily when Cordelia makes fun of Xander.
Giles is annoyed that Buffy has been slacking off on her training and patrols. He tries to prove said slacking will lead to bad things by attacking Buffy unexpectedly from behind, but this backfires hilariously. Buffy is annoyed, because it’s still hard balancing all the parts of her life, and there hasn’t been a lot of supernatural stuff going on lately. (Why? Is Spike too busy snogging Dru to cause any mayhem or something?)
Buffy is determined to rebel against Giles’s slave-driver schedule, so when school ends, she chills with Xander and Willow in front of the school. A sports car drives up, containing Richard, one of the creepy guys from the cold-open, and another guy. They invite Cordelia to a frat party, on the condition that she brings Buffy with her. Cordelia is not happy, but she goes and grabs Buffy anyway.
Buffy doesn’t want to meet the frat boys, but she allows herself to be dragged over to them. She is not remotely impressed by Richard (as well she shouldn’t be; in addition to being in a cult, he’s played by the same actor as Neighbor Dan from Charmed, and even Owen had more going for him than that pointless cardboard cutout). Tom, the other guy, has a much better approach, and he manages to get past Buffy’s hostility. They do some brief cute flirting while Xander stands indignantly in the background and Cordelia fake laughs at Richard. Buffy turns down Tom’s invitation because she’s “sort of involved” (with Angel). Angry Giles shows up, tapping his watch, and Buffy follows.
Training in the library, Buffy makes short work of Giles’s attacks, and he sends her on patrol so that he can pick up the shreds of his dignity and begin painstakingly stitching them back together.
Patrolling Buffy goes! She finds a broken silver bracelet. Angel pulls a Batm—okay, you know what? I sort of think he does it more than Batman. Angel pulls an Angel, startling Buffy. There’s blood on the bracelet, which he with his vamp senses can smell. Buffy awkwardly tries to segue into asking Angel out. Angel makes it more awkward by asking if she’s trying to ask him out. Buffy makes it even more awkward by denying and backtracking. They manage to have an impressive amount of chemistry despite the conversation topic, and eventually they trip their way back out of that silly dance. The gist is that Angel doesn’t think it’s a good idea for them to become Facebook Official because of what he is. Buffy doesn’t care, and she feels insulted by his insinuation that she hasn’t thought about the pros and cons.
Okay. The “When you kiss me I want to die.” line. I get that it can be interpreted in about four ways (she's hurt, so she's lashing out with a low blow by implying that his kisses make her want to kill herself; her feelings for him are so strong that she can't handle it; a tiny, guilty part of her sometimes fantasizes about being with him forever as a vampire; or she wants to "die" just a little bit, as in "la petite morte," since she's been having all those sexy dreams about him lately), but I think I'm just a tad too literal to really be able to appreciate a line like that, so it's always fallen flat for me. (Also, you’re not 241, Angel, you’re 270. You were born in 1727. 241 years isn’t even how long you’ve been a vampire. Why did nobody ever bring a calculator to the writing room? Or, like, keep track of how old they said their vampires were when they first introduced them so that when an episode came along with a tombstone in a flashback, the dates on it wouldn't contradict earlier information?)
The next day at school, Cordelia comes to find Buffy. She is determined to get her to go to the party, because she won’t be able to go herself if Buffy doesn’t. She considers this party her ticket to becoming a rich man’s trophy wife (her dream career). Buffy, who has spent the entire scene looking miserable, agrees to go.
Beneath the frat house, Richard is swearing in a new brother by carving a diamond into his chest with a sword while reciting an oath to something called Machita. (Ah, good old scarification and demon worship. Classic staples of fraternity initiation.) Once the ceremony ends, they break out a cooler of beers and start up some music. The girl from the cold-open is chained up there.
At school, Buffy explains her evening plans to Willow and Xander. She’s going to the party because Angel wouldn’t go out with her. Willow doesn’t get why Angel’s being so aloof when he clearly has very strong feelings for Buffy. Xander tries to use Buffy’s irritation with Angel as an opportunity to further vilify him, but Buffy ignores him in favor of thinking about Tom, the guy she’ll settle for spending time with while Angel’s refusing to dismount from his high horse.
In the library, Giles carefully checks to make sure nobody else is there. Then he starts sword-fighting imaginary foes!
(This is the greatest scene in the entire show. I’m grinning so hard my whole face hurts.) Buffy, Willow, and Xander enter and he hastily pretends to be a real grown-up. Buffy shows Giles the bracelet that has blood on it. Xander tries to use this as an excuse to keep Buffy busy with Slayer stuff instead of attending frat parties.
Buffy isn’t having it. She pulls the “my mom is sick I must take care of her” card, which Giles buys immediately. Willow is appalled that Buffy would lie to Giles. Buffy doesn’t care. She’s going to have fun now, then figure out the deal with the blood on the bracelet later.
Cordelia gives Buffy a list of wardrobe restrictions and behavior guidelines. She gets off a couple more good zingers at Xander. Xander continues to discuss how little he likes the frat party idea with Willow. Which is why he must sneak into said party to save Buffy! (And maybe participate in any hypothetical orgies.)
Buffy and Cordelia arrive in the party, where Cordelia bonks right into the car in front of them while parking. Inside, Richard gives them Grown-Up Drinks, and when Buffy declines, he insinuates that she’s being childish. He and Cordelia leave Buffy standing there awkwardly by herself.
Xander tumbles in through a window and grabs the first drink he can find. He’s wearing a red polo and his hair is more combed than usual. A tray of appetizers distracts him from seeing that Buffy is right behind him. Buffy picks up her drink, then sets it down again. A slow song starts. A guy across the dance floor raises his glass to Buffy, and she picks her drink back up and takes a sip. Then a very, very drunk, hollering lout comes staggering towards her. Tom swoops in at the last second, and they go off to dance.
Tom is still being cute/awkward. Buffy talks vaguely about her obligations. Tom thinks it’s important to relax once in a while, and Buffy is liking him more and more.
Just out of earshot, Xander is making a couple of girls laugh by playing Godzilla with his appetizers. This tips off Richard that he is not one of them, which means it’s time subject him to hideous humiliations.
Buffy steps outside just in time to miss the spectacle with Xander. She finds broken shards of glass on the back porch and sees the boarded up window. Before she has time to investigate, Tom finds her, and then Richard brings them both drinks. Buffy downs it in one go.
At the library, Willow and Giles are trying to figure out where the bracelet is from. Success! It’s a Kent Preparatory School bracelet, and one of their students recently went missing.
Xander is now wearing an enormous bra, a blonde wig, and far too much lipstick. He is not enjoying this party. Mere yards away, Buffy’s head is spinning. She stumbles upstairs to a bedroom and collapses on the bed. Richard follows, and for a horrible second, it looks like he’s going to try raping her, but Tom rips him away from her. Yay Tom! Oh wait no. Not yay Tom. He’s the leader of the demon cult frat! Also, Cordelia is passed out next to the bed.
Willow tries to cover for Buffy. She finds that Kent Prep School Girl wasn’t the first to disappear. Three girls have gone missing about the same time every year for a long time. Willow hastily suggests they call Angel (instead of Buffy, who is of course at home with her sick mom).
Party’s over! Xander gets kicked out of the frat house. He never found Buffy and Cordelia. They are in the basement, chained up next to the missing girl, who is very pessimistic about their situation. Buffy sees Tom, who has the most diamond scars of any of them. And a prettier robe! (Oh wait is he the Reptile Boy? ‘Cause of the whole nice façade and then the being evil?) Time for some human sacrifices! Cordelia is furious at Buffy for convincing her to come to this party. (Yeah, Buffy! How dare you?)
Angel is at the library. He, Willow, and Giles realize that the place where Buffy found the bracelet suggests that the missing girl could be somewhere near the college. (Is this college UC Sunnydale? I’m gonna go with yes, just for continuity’s sake.) Willow confesses that Buffy is at the frat party. Giles is indignant that Buffy lied to him. Angel is indignant that Buffy had a date. Willow is sick of both of them. She chews them both out, Giles for micromanaging Buffy and Angel for daring to be jealous if he’s not even willing to go out with Buffy anyway. They both look thoroughly chastened, and the three of them go to help Buffy.
An annoyed Xander sees Cordelia’s car outside the frat house and realizes that the girls haven’t left. Inside, Tom continues with the ritual to summon the Machida thing. Sacrificing girls to this monster is how the fraternity members stay wealthy and powerful. Enter Machida! It’s…a guy in a rubber snake suit, with a really long snake tail like a mermaid tail. Buffy struggles to pull her chains loose.
Willow, Giles, and Angel arrive at the frat house, where Xander has obtained a robe from the dumpster so he can sneak in. Angel vamps out. He’s not happy that Buffy is in danger. It occurs to Xander that Angel might be useful to have along when Buffy needs rescuing.
Buffy tries to distract Machida so he’ll attack her first, and Tom tells her to shut her female face. Xander and Angel break in on the ground floor and start beating frat boys up. (Wait a second. How did Angel get inside? Xander couldn’t shove the first guy out so that Angel could threaten an invitation out of him?) Tom hears the commotion and encourages Machida to get on with his dinner. Buffy breaks free! She makes with the pummeling.
Upstairs, Xander, Angel, and Giles are too busy fighting frat boys to get downstairs to help Buffy. Buffy disarms Tom of his sword and slices Machida in half before he can start eating Cordelia (also before the rest of the Scoobies make it all the way downstairs). Cordelia hugs Angel in gratitude. The day is saved! Buffy sheepishly apologizes to Giles, but he’s more interested in apologizing to her for being too slave-driver-y.
At the Bronze, Jonathan is getting a super complicated latté for Cordelia. (Wait, is she dating him now? SHE IS. Holy crap.) Xander is reading the newspaper article to Willow and Buffy about all of the frat boys being arrested and all the frat’s former members suffering horrible misfortune of the bankruptcy, lawsuit, and suicide varieties. Justice!
Angel arrives! He asks Buffy to get coffee. Sometime. Maybe. She agrees! Sometime. Maybe. Then she walks away smiling, with the other three watching her go.
The moral of this episode is that underage drinking is bad. No, wait! It’s that all frat boys are misogynistic douchebags—even the ones that seem nice at first. No, that’s not it either. It’s that you should never trust a guy named Tom, because even if he seems nice, Tom is always secretly in cahoots with giant snake monsters. Yeah! Anyway, “Reptile Boy” isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s not a terrible episode. It’s the show’s first pass at the underage drinking issue. I can’t really tell if they handled it well or not, because I’ve watched The Vampire Diaries several times since I last watched “Reptile Boy,” and in that show, underage drinking is so rampant that even though one of the main characters is the daughter of the town sheriff, nobody ever gets in trouble for drinking. Most of the characters who are old enough to drink actually enable it in the underage characters, and not a single underage character doesn’t participate. I don’t care if that’s more realistic (and I don’t believe it is); it’s still super irresponsible to put on a TV show aimed at teenagers. But this isn’t the place for ranting about The Vampire Diaries’ problems, so I’ll stop there. It’s just that, if I have to choose, I’ll take Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s clumsy attempts at being a cautionary tale or a good example or something over The Vampire Diaries’ blatant permissiveness any day. In any case, underage drinking is just a tiny part of the episode. The rest belongs in the character discussion. Oh! Except for Machida. I applaud the people who worked hard to make the practical effects for this show, but the number one rule of making a snake monster scary is that it needs to have a bigger mouth than a human.
They’d have been better off making a giant snake puppet that could wrap Cordelia in its coils before Buffy succeeded in chopping its head off.
Buffy is struggling against Giles’s renewed insistence that she devote all her time to Plot A. She’s also struggling against Angel’s reluctance to participate in a Plot B romance because he is a creature of Plot A. Plot A is basically ruining everything for her, so she tries to rebel by going to a frat party that she didn’t even want to go to…where the Plot B stuff is alternately super boring and super date rape-y, and then she nearly gets eaten by Plot A anyway. Even when she tries to escape the supernatural, she just ends up running straight into it. (Destiny!) Why can’t Buffy do something she enjoys if she’s going to punish Giles for being a control freak and Angel for being aloof? In S1, she accomplished the exact same thing by going out with Owen, and she mostly had a good time. This season, she just feels guilty, even though the only hint of Plot A shenanigans is a broken bracelet. She’s definitely grown up a lot since “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date.” She knows how important her calling is now, so she can’t just blow it off for Plot B without feeling bad about it.
Xander has some inferiority issues, not only about the guys Buffy likes instead of him (Seriously, man, quit looking at it that way. It’s not a competition; she just doesn’t like you like that.), but also about being lower middle class and not respected by other guys. I seriously think it’s a problem that he never gets another male friend after Jesse’s death, but I’m blaming the writers more than I’m blaming him. At least he gets to vent some of his issues by whaling on a frat guy.
Willow is awesome. Her outburst at Angel and Giles is just the best. I think that was actually the first time she directly interacted with Angel, which makes it even more impressive. Buffy couldn’t ask for a better friend right now. Can we please have a Willow-centric episode soon? (But only if it’s a better one than “I Robot, You Jane.”)
Giles, quit relapsing into your S1 habits! Buffy is not being irresponsible by wanting a little bit of time for social life stuff, especially when it’s been weeks since the most interesting villains in town did anything at all. At least he eases up by the end, but if he does it again anytime soon, I’m gonna have to smack him. (Actually, I probably would have been fine with Giles’s attitude if he’d been suggesting organizing a preemptive strike against Spike.) Maybe he’s just bored, because he lives for Plot A stuff and there’s none to be found, and there’s no Jenny in this episode to distract him with his own Plot B.
So…last week, Cordelia was dating Devon. This week, she starts out dating Richard (or at least following him around like a very high-maintenance puppy), and ends dating Jonathan. The main aspect of Cordelia’s character in this episode is that she is incapable of taking responsibility for anything unpleasant that happens to her. She crashes into a car; it’s the other driver’s fault (even though that car was parked in a perfectly acceptable spot). If she doesn’t have a fabulous future filled with riches and jewelry, it’ll be Buffy’s fault for making her look bad at the party. If she gets chained up and almost sacrificed by crazy demon worshippers, it’s Buffy’s fault she even came to the party. If her life has been threatened by a wide variety of monsters EIGHT TIMES (Count ‘em. I’ll wait.) since Buffy moved to Sunnydale less than a year ago; that’s the fault of Buffy and her friends—never mind that Buffy and her friends saved her all eight times.
Angel, you learned three episodes ago that Buffy doesn’t take kindly to any implications that she is less capable of mature, rational thought than you (even if it’s kinda true). This isn’t the best personality trait to hang onto. (Alas, I’m pretty sure he actually never loses it. I can think of at least three more examples of it off the top of my head.) Despite everything that’s happened between him and Buffy since S2 began, he’s too worried that things will go badly to want to risk it. I think this is mostly about his self-loathing issues. He doesn’t see that he has anything good to offer Buffy. He thinks he’d be the only one benefitting from a relationship with her, and he cares about her so much that that’s not what he wants for her at all. Self-loathing doesn’t mix well with selfless love, but it could be a lot worse. And all he needed was for Willow to yell at him to make him snap out of it.
“Oh, uh, the reflection thing that…you don’t have. Angel, how do you shave?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.