“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by James A. Contner
Xander is asking Buffy if a simple little heart pendant would make a good Valentine’s Day gift for Cordelia. Buffy (like Willow, but with less jealousy) doesn’t really approve of him dating the former bully. Xander responds with an oblique guilt trip about how Buffy doesn’t want him, so Cordy is his only option. Gross, Xander. Xander and Cordelia have been getting along more and more, which he is finding boring compared to the fighting.
A vampire rises from his grave, and Buffy fights him. It’s pretty straightforward. She’s also wearing a really gorgeous red peacoat that I want.
Cordelia arrives at school, and she tries to go about business as usual for the Queen Bee, but Harmony and the other popular girls are full of scorn for her because of her dating choices. Cordelia is horrified.
In class, Amy Madison from “Witch” asks if Buffy, Willow, and Xander will be going to the Valentine’s dance at the Bronze. Willow is super giddy about her boyfriend being in the band. Buffy is definitely not interested in going. Amy doesn’t have a paper to turn in, and she does some witch mind-control on the teacher so that it won’t be a problem. Xander sees her doing this and is a little freaked.
Giles meets them in the hall to talk to Buffy, just in time for Jenny to step out of her classroom. It’s a tense moment. Jenny clearly hopes to reconcile, Giles clearly isn’t interested. Buffy is still feeling pretty hostile towards Jenny. Giles and Buffy walk off one way, Jenny the other. Xander looks on stony-faced, and Willow looks a little sad.
In the library, we enter the new shot very dramatically with Giles's shoe.
Buffy is worried that Giles might be upset about Jenny, but Giles is more interested in talking about Angelus, who tends to be extra horrible around Valentine’s Day. Giles doesn’t want Buffy putting herself in danger for a while, but he also doesn’t want to tell her too much about Angelus’s patterns, because they’re…not appropriate for younger audiences.
At the factory, Drusilla is opening Spike’s Valentine’s Day gift, which is a pretty necklace. She likes it, but then the moment is completely overshadowed by Angelus, who has brought her a still-warm human heart. How sweet.
I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have bothered if he wasn’t equally as interested in pissing Spike off as in impressing Drusilla. He then puts Spike’s necklace on Dru. Spike, still wheelchair bound, can’t do much about it but seethe. Spike’s also getting impatient for Angelus to make good on his plans for Buffy.
Dingoes Ate My Baby (Four Star Mary in real life) are playing at the Bronze, and despite Oz’s many digs about how they don’t know very many chords and are generally terrible, they rock. A beaming Willow listens raptly while Oz smiles at her from the stage. So freaking cute. Xander is sitting with her, looking nervous. Cordelia arrives and gets snubbed by the popular girls again.
At home, Buffy and Joyce are enjoying Singles Awareness Day with pajamas, lots of junk food, and movies. Someone knocks on the door, but nobody’s there. When Buffy goes back to the living room, Joyce is gone. Ominous. She heads back to the kitchen, and Joyce startles her when she comes in the back door. For some reason, Joyce doesn’t find it weird that there was a black box full of roses on the back porch. The only identifying feature inside is a card that says “soon.” Yikes.
Xander finds Cordy at the Bronze. He’s actually dressed nicely for once, but that’s because Buffy picked out his clothes. (He’s wearing rather Angel-like clothing.) Cordelia is miserable about the position the popular girls have put her in, but Xander isn’t paying attention because he’s clearly been rehearsing his speech in his head for hours, and he’s gonna get it out, dang it! Against all logic, he likes her, basically. He gives her the heart necklace. She says it’s beautiful and then breaks up with him. He’s super confused and hurt that she chose to do this on Valentine’s Day, and he leaves. Cordelia is just as miserable as before.
The next day at school, people laugh as they pass Xander in the halls. He tries to grab onto Buffy for strength in numbers, but she’s too preoccupied with Angelus’s romantic threats. The popular girls lay into Xander, and Cordy is once again sitting with them. Then he sees Amy, and he decides blackmail is in order. Amy is annoyed, and then alarmed. She’ll do whatever he wants if he doesn’t turn her in to the teacher for cheating. He wants her to cast some kind of spell on Cordelia.
A love spell! For revenge. He wants Cordelia to love him so that he can break up with her and hurt her just as bad as she hurt him. Amy is reluctant, because intent has to be pure with love spells.
*record scratch* What? How can intent possibly be pure with love spells? Real love is selfless; there’s nothing selfless about manipulating someone else’s feelings with magic. It's seriously messed up, and if the goal is sex, then it's rape. The only ways I could see intent even being close to pure with love spells would be if a kid wants to do a love spell on his/her parents so they’ll stop fighting all the time (pure intent, but still not a good idea), or if someone who’s about to be in an arranged marriage wants to do a love spell so he/she and the future spouse will both be happier about it. And is Amy serious about there being spells that can make someone fall in love with someone else for all eternity? Why not call a spade a spade? Those are sex slavery spells, and they have nothing to do with love. Gross.
Buffy brings Giles the “soon” card, and insists that he give her the details on what Angelus does on Valentine’s Day. Xander finds Cordelia and demands the heart necklace back. Cordelia says it’s in her locker, and she goes to get it, but she’s actually wearing it under her weird button-up business shirt! Aww, Cordelia! She gives it back and is sad.
That night at school, Amy does the spell. A nervous Xander with red paint on his chest sits inside a giant female symbol while Amy works the mojo. The next morning, Cordelia is just as snippy with Xander as she was before they started dating. Xander is confused and alarmed. Apparently the spell was a bust.
In the library, Giles is reading about Angelus’s past Valentine’s Day shenanigans, some of which involved nailing puppies to things. Xander comes in, feeling thoroughly bummed. Buffy tells him Cordelia breaking up with him is her loss, and then she suddenly gets weird. Like, flirty. Then, seductive. Xander can hardly believe what she’s telling him, but before they can kiss, Amy shows up. He goes with her, but he keeps looking through the library door’s window at Buffy. Amy thinks the spell bombed, so they should try it again. Xander is really okay with the spell not working, but Amy doesn’t mind; they can just hang out together anyway. It dawns on Xander that something weird is happening, and when Amy says the same line Buffy just said, his suspicions are confirmed. The spell didn’t work on Cordy, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. He has about two seconds to feel really upset that Buffy’s sudden feelings for him aren’t real when a third girl shows up to ask him out!
He goes home. But Willow is there! In his bed. Also, in his shirt…and nothing else. She propositions him. Xander is extremely panicked now. She starts kissing his earlobe, and he tries to redirect her interest towards Oz, the awesome boyfriend she very much likes, but it’s not working. So he runs away.
At school, the popular girls hate Cordelia again, and this time it’s because she rejected Xander. She is understandably confused.
Xander comes back to school, and it is the most hilarious sequence of the show. “Got the Love” by The Average White Band plays while Xander walks down the hall, looking completely terrified. All the girls are ogling him with a crazed intensity. All the boys look like they’re about to introduce their fists to his face. Hats off to the director for this scene (which I’m sure was the extras’ favorite scene to film as well).
Xander makes it to the library, where he humbly throws himself at Giles’s feet. He explains what he did with Amy and how it’s backfiring. Jenny shows up, determined to talk to Giles about their issues. Before she can even finish two sentences, though, she becomes so distracted by Xander’s manly arm muscles that she completely forgets what she came here for. Nothing could have drawn Giles’s attention to the problem more effectively. Giles pulls Jenny away from him and scolds him. Jenny continues to make bedroom eyes at him until Giles drags her away to find Amy.
Xander barricades the library door, but (for this episode only, just to make this joke) they are swinging doors that open both ways. Buffy pulls the door open and strides in, wearing nothing but a short black raincoat and heels, accompanied by saxophone music. It’s her turn to proposition him. He is just as terrified as he was in the hall. If he's going to be with Buffy, he wants it to be real, not because she's under a spell. So he turns her down. Unfortunately, thanks to the spell, Buffy responds to rejection with anger. Before anger can turn to violence, Amy arrives. They argue over him until Buffy punches Amy in the face. Amy retaliates by turning Buffy into a rat!
Giles and Jenny return in time to see the Buffy rat scurry out of the raincoat’s sleeve. Now Amy and Jenny argue over Xander (Amy calling Jenny a cougar and Jenny calling Amy a child). Amy’s about to curse Jenny too, but Xander covers her mouth before she can finish. In the hall, the popular girls are turning violent against Cordelia now.
Giles orders Jenny and Amy to sit down at the study table, and Xander almost succeeds in catching the Buffy-rat when Oz (blond now) shows up and slugs him in the face for making Willow cry, but then he helps him up when he realizes he didn’t make Willow cry on purpose. Buffy scampers out of the library. Giles sends Xander home and enlists Oz’s help finding Buffy. Xander leaves, deeply shamed. In the hall, he sees the crowd attacking Cordelia. He helps her up and carries her away.
In the library, Giles tells Jenny and Amy the difference between love and obsession. Jenny leaves while he’s talking, but it seems to be enough to convince Amy to actually help reverse the spell.
Xander and Cordelia make it outside, where Willow, wielding an axe and crying, stands at the head of an army of heartbroken girls.
Oz tracks the Buffy rat into the school’s basement, where there are predictable obstacles like a cat and a rat trap. Also, some of the shots of the Buffy-rat are obviously of a male rat, but others are of a female. Weird.
Xander and Cordelia run to Buffy’s house to hide. Joyce is there, and she sends Cordelia to go find bandages to put on their injuries. Then she starts coming onto him pretty hard. He is so done with this that he just slams his head down against the kitchen island and sits there. Cordelia comes back into the room to see Joyce kissing Xander’s neck, and, revolted, she shoves Joyce outside and locks the door. But Joyce breaks the window and tries to get back in, so they run to Buffy’s room. (Also, Cordelia has guessed that the only way this could be happening is magic.)
They’re in Buffy’s room for about two seconds when Angelus shows up and grabs Xander through the window. He throws Xander off the roof and jumps down. He’s looking for Buffy, but he’ll settle for killing one of her friends. Before he can, someone with super-strength throws him into a tree. Xander thinks it’s Buffy, but it’s Drusilla! The spell got her too, and now she’s trying to sell Xander on the benefits of eternal life. He’s so terrified that he can’t move, but the army of angry girls reach Buffy’s house before she can bite him. Cordelia manages to drag him free of the mob and they run back inside the house. But a door is no obstacle to a vampire like Drusilla! She knocks it off its hinges and tries to enter the house with the rest of the spell-crazed ladies, but she hasn’t been invited inside.
Xander and Cordelia flee to the basement to get away from Joyce (who is now wielding a butcher knife) and all the other women coming in the back door. They board up the basement door a bit ineptly, and they start arguing. Buffy’s basement always seems to do wonders for Xander and Cordelia’s relationship. He tells her (angrily) that the spell was for her, and she’s touched, not realizing that he only wanted to make her love him so he could dump her (and that love spells are generally gross).
Giles and Amy reverse the spell on Buffy just in time to save Buffy-rat from getting killed by the rat trap. She turns human again and is very disoriented. Also mortified, because she’s naked. Oz tactfully turns off his flashlight and leaves to get her clothes. Giles and Amy continue with the spell reversals, and they undo the love spell just in time to save Xander and Cordelia from getting killed by all the angry ladies. Cordelia suggests that the whole thing was a scavenger hunt, and all the ladies, who are now super confused, buy the story so they don’t have to deal with what they’ve just spent their day doing.
The next day at school, Buffy tells Xander that Willow is very upset because she was the one who already loved him. Buffy also thanks him for not taking advantage of her when she was coming onto him. Yeah. Go Xander.
Cordelia and the popular girls literally run into Xander, and Cordelia has a defining moment. She tells Harmony to shut up, calls her a sheep, and says she doesn’t need her approval on anything. Then she catches up with Xander and grabs his arm, now panicking about having just committed social suicide, but Xander finds it very endearing.
“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” is the first Xander-centric episode that I actually like. It’s probably the funniest episode of the show so far. The way the spell backfires is such an excellent example of “be careful what you wish for.” Angelus’s involvement doesn’t feel quite as tacked-on as it was in “Phases,” Cordelia feels more like a human than she ever has before, and the writers bring Amy back instead of creating a whole new character we don’t remotely care about. All of the plotlines are loosely (but comfortably) unified by the Valentine’s Day theme. As Spike’s injuries slowly heal (I’m guessing his spine was broken in several places when the organ fell on him, for it to be taking him so long to recover), the tension slowly builds between him and Angelus. Eventually, that’s going to snap, but for now, it’s not exactly clear how. Just like Angel hinted in “What’s My Line: Part 2,” Drusilla is rather more impressed by Angelus than by Spike, and in Spike’s current position, there’s not much he can do about it. I find it interesting that Spike is more angry at Angelus than hurt by Drusilla. Surely this should be more about Drusilla than Angelus, but then, we are dealing with soulless vampires. What matters with them isn’t having someone’s love, but having them, as possessions. Angelus is taking away Spike’s possession.
Buffy has a pretty small role in this one. First, she’s focused on Angelus rather than the main plot, then she gets controlled by the main plot, and then she’s a rat. In the brief window of the episode where she’s still herself, we see her bonding with her mom and still hurting pretty badly over losing Angel. She’s getting closer to being able to confront Angelus, but not very quickly. It’s already been nearly a month.
There’s not a whole lot of Willow in this episode. I kind of wish she’d had a tag at the end, after she was back to normal. If she was hit hardest by the spell, then that’s something I want to see, not hear about from Buffy. The spell forced her to be extremely forward about something she’s kept locked inside her for years. That’s a massive incursion on her feelings. Not showing us Willow dealing with the aftermath was a particularly unfortunate oversight, considering a lot of her future actions regarding the sanctity of other people’s minds and feelings.
Giles and Xander finally have their first scenes with just the two of them! Unfortunately for Xander, since these scenes are because of a problem he caused, their one-on-one time doesn’t exactly improve their relationship. Based on what little we already know about Xander’s home life, though, even a stern Giles who only interacts with Xander when he has to might be a more effective father figure and role model than Mr. Harris. Even though this is one of Xander’s more endearing episodes, it helped me identify one of the things I don’t like about him. For a guy whose only two friends are girls, he has a really sleazy sense of humor sometimes. He’s enough of a gentleman to not take advantage of any of the girls while they’re under the love spell, including the one girl he’s been crushing on since he first laid eyes on her, but his attitude towards women in general isn’t particularly respectful. He regularly responds to Cordelia’s jabs by insinuating that she’s a whore (even after they’re dating!), and I don’t know about you, but if one of my best friends (whom I had already rejected after he asked me out) made a lap dance joke when I was trying to console him about his breakup, I would feel deeply uncomfortable.
In this episode, Cordelia is almost as important as Xander. It’s as much about her struggle between doing what she wants and doing what other people expect her to do as it is about Xander being punished for his petty revenge. I really like how much of a struggle it is for her to break away from people’s expectations and do her own thing. Anything less would’ve felt fake after over a season and a half of Queen Bee Cordelia. We’ve seen hints before of how Cordelia uses her popularity and cattiness as a shield to hide her vulnerability, and that really comes out here, particularly in the scene where she hides behind her locker door so Xander won’t see that she’s actually wearing the necklace he gave her.
Giles’s reluctance to tell Buffy details of Angelus’s habits is further indication of how deeply he cares about her, but this isn’t always a good thing. As the Slayer’s Watcher, he should be arming her with all possible information. He’s making the mistake of caring more about her feelings than about her safety. As much as he's come to play a paternal role in her life, he isn’t her father. He’s her mentor. His job is not to protect her from the world but to send her onto the front lines to protect it. She straightens him out about this. She can’t go into her fight against Angelus blind, especially if he’s making the first move. However, neither of them so much as suggests taking the offensive against Angelus. By the end of the next episode, they’ll wish they had.
“Buffy, might I have a word?”
“Have a sentence, even.”
“Blackmail is such an ugly word.”
“I didn’t say blackmail.”
“Yeah, but I’m about to blackmail you, so I thought I’d bring it up.”
“I don’t know, Xander. Intent has to be pure with love spells.”
“Right! I intend revenge, pure as the driven snow.”
“Friendships change all the time! People grow apart…they grow closer.”
“This is good! How close we are now. I feel very comfortable with this amount of closeness. In fact, I could even back up a few paces and still be happy.”
“Who died and made you Elvis?”
“I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.