Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Michael Lange
Buffy and Giles are at the cemetery, doing both SAT prep and patrolling. Giles cares very much about Buffy’s educational future. Buffy ends up staking a vampire with her No.2 pencil.
At City Hall, the Mayor is meeting with Mr. Trick about a matter that is both urgent and delicate. Mr. Trick is planning on contracting out to “someone who’s worked this town before.” Ooh, we’ll get a familiar face. Also, the Mayor has a creepy cabinet full of black magic paraphernalia. And Scotch.
At school, Buffy is telling Willow and Oz about unpleasant SAT-related stress nightmares. Willow takes the opportunity to brag about Oz. Xander and Cordelia join them, and Willow brags again. Cordelia, surprisingly, is looking forward to the SAT test. Buffy is feeling extremely over-scheduled by Giles and her mom.
Snyder is making everyone sell chocolate bars to raise money for the marching band. Oh goodie, school fundraisers. I always hated those so much when my school did them. I already don’t like talking to people I don’t know, and that’s when I’m not trying to sell them things they don’t need. And I don’t like selling people I do know things they don’t need because I don’t like abusing my relationships.
At home, Joyce, with rolling eyes, agrees to buy twenty chocolate bars. She and Buffy discuss Buffy’s continued non-possession of a driver’s license. All past efforts have failed, it seems, and Joyce isn’t really interested in allowing more. Also she very uncomfortably brings up her lingering resentment over Buffy running away as an item on the “cons” list of Driver Buffy, which Buffy rather resents. She has no intention of running away again and she’s getting tired of the lack of trust. But now she has to go train with Giles, which makes Joyce a little annoyed.
At the library, Buffy spends about a minute and a half doing training with Giles while blindfolded, and then she leaves, citing Joyce’s controlling schedule as an alibi, instead of staying to patrol.
She’s actually going to the mansion! Where Angel is doing half-naked Tai Chi.
Buffy walks in and is unsurprisingly transfixed. He notices her after a few seconds, and he seems happy to see her. His recovery is going mostly okay. He goes down, though, and she helps him up. They have a pretty cute conversation that is also fraught with growing sexual tension. He does the audience the courtesy of not putting on a shirt.
He politely (if a bit reluctantly) asks her about things with Dweeby Guy, and she pretends that things are still going with Dweeby Guy. Buffy and Angel both worry about each other, which is definitely not code for another emotion. Soon, Angel will be recovered enough not to need her help, which he says will be “better,” which she takes to mean “I hate having to rely on you and would like to see less of you.” Oh, Buffy. That’s not what he means.
Buffy goes home, where she tries to use Giles as an alibi against Joyce. But he’s there, so it doesn’t work and now she’s in big trouble. They lecture her while eating chocolate bars, and she tries to tell them how unfair they’re being with not letting her have any time to herself. The longer the argument goes, the more informal Giles’s and Joyce’s language starts to become, and even Buffy notices and finds it weird. She goes to bed, feeling hurt and like she’s being treated like a child. Giles and Joyce sit on the couch and keep eating chocolate.
Next, we go to the factory where the chocolate is being boxed, and Ethan Rayne stops one of the workers from eating some of it. Yay, Ethan! His episodes are always fun.
It’s school time again. The Scoobies are in study hall, and Cordelia and Buffy chat, which leads to Cordelia having a cute moment about Xander. Behind them, Willow and Xander are playing footsie at their table. Do people actually do this? Do people actually find it romantic and/or sexy? Because it’s so very weird-looking. Also, why do Willow and Xander have a musical theme? That’s a ship that only exists right now at the expense of two other ships. It does not deserve a cute musical theme. Cordelia turns around to make a comment about Giles’s increasing tardiness, and they jump apart so hard they jar the desk, but Buffy and Cordelia notice nothing.
In the hall, Snyder and an elderly teacher are arguing rather childishly about how to cover for Giles’s absence. The elderly teacher heads into the study hall room and says they only have to pretend to be productive for long enough to fool Snyder, and then they can all bail. They love her.
Buffy goes to Giles’s apartment to find out why he was absent. She finds both Giles and Joyce there, which is odd. They’ve been meeting to talk about their overscheduling of Buffy, and they concede that they’ve been doing it too much. They’ll scale back just a tiny bit, with a carefully planned timetable. Buffy is just thrilled. Joyce hands her the car keys, and Buffy is shocked but not about to argue. As soon as she’s gone, Giles lights up a cigarette and Joyce opens a bottle of some kind of Grown Up Drink.
Buffy is driving Willow to the Bronze, and wow Buffy is a terrifying driver. Willow fears for her life. The next day is the SAT test, and Buffy thinks she can study at the Bronze.
Giles and Joyce are listening to records at his place. Giles is still smoking, lying on his back with one arm under his head, and Joyce is sitting cross-legged. They are very much not acting like Giles and Joyce. They’re acting like a cool teenage guy and a less cool girl who has a crush on him. When he offers a cigarette, she takes it. She asks why people call him Ripper, but he’s too busy jamming out to bother answering questions.
The Bronze is crowded with adults behaving in a similar way to Giles and Joyce. Dingoes Ate My Baby are playing, and Willow and Buffy arrive. They are very confused and disturbed at what they find. The elderly teacher from before is acting like a drunk teenager. So is Willow’s doctor, who tries to crowdsurf with unfortunate results. And Snyder. Snyder’s like a total dork who’s trying to hang out with the happening people so he’ll seem cool by association. The girls know something is wrong, because all the grownups are acting like particularly wild teenagers.
At the chocolate packaging plant, Mr. Trick is inspecting the operation. He breaks the neck of a guy who may or may not have been sampling the product, just to set an example for all the other workers. Ethan is a bit intimidated by this violence.
At the Bronze, Oz has joined Buffy and Willow’s discussion about how weird the grownups are being, and Snyder swings by to compliment his hair, which disturbs him. Several drunk middle-aged and older guys are singing on the stage. Other middle-aged people are making out. A fight breaks out. Snyder is psyched. They spot someone eating a candy bar on the way out. Snyder comes with them. They head for Giles’s apartment.
A couple of adults eating candy bars get into a race at a stoplight. The mailman is reading people’s mail and laughing, and other adults are playing Frisbee at the playground. Oz thinks it’ll be okay if Giles is his sixteen-year-old self, because he’s Giles. Buffy briefly explains about Giles’s shady past.
Giles and Joyce are strolling arm in arm down the street. He breaks the window of a storefront so he can steal her a jacket she fancies, an action she describes as “sooo brave.” No, sweetie. Shoplifting isn’t bravery. A cop pulls a gun on them. Elsewhere, Buffy’s Jeep gets hit by one of the racing idiots. Giles takes the gun from the cop and knocks him out. Then he and Joyce start making out on the hood of the police car (after she dispenses with her chewing gum).
The idiot who crashed into the Jeep gets out of his car and runs away. Buffy, Willow, Oz, and Snyder are all okay. Buffy notices that with all the grownups running around like kids, nobody’s actually doing what grownups do. And yet there aren’t any vampires taking advantage of the situation. When Snyder complains about a guy stealing his candy, Buffy realizes that the candy’s behind it. So they need to find the packaging plant and stop the spread of the candy. They may also need to do some kind of counter-curse, so it’s research time. Willow and Oz head to the library, where they’ll meet up with Xander and Cordy. Buffy and Snyder head to the plant.
When they arrive, they find a crowd of adult-lescants in a state of near riot as they demand more chocolate. Also Giles and Joyce are there snogging. Buffy walks past them, then does a double-take and is extremely disturbed. Giles is at least sensible enough to know he doesn’t want to actually fight Buffy. Joyce gets all huffy and angry when Buffy tells her she can’t have more candy. Buffy very much wants her actual mom back. She tries to snap her out of it by pointing out the huge new dent in the Jeep, but Joyce’s only reaction is to be mortified that she bought such a lame car. Giles tries to send Buffy away, but Buffy stomps on his cigarette and orders him to take Joyce home. Instead, he and Joyce follow Buffy. She beats up the guy guarding the factory door, and then she pulls Joyce inside the factory with her. Giles and Snyder also follow. They find Ethan inside. Ethan and Giles greet each other, and then Ethan tries to run. There’s a really attractive Giles moment when he vaults over a conveyer belt.
At the library, Cordelia describes what her own adult-lescent parents are doing. Xander has eaten loads of the chocolate with no effect (because he is already at maximum immaturity level. He hands Willow a book, their fingers brush, and that stupid Xander/Willow theme starts up. Willow watches Xander walk back into the bookstacks where Oz is, and she’s looking at both boys with a torn expression until Cordelia draws her attention back to the research. She didn’t notice anything odd.
Buffy and Giles are still chasing Ethan. Eventually, Buffy finds him hiding in a wooden crate. Joyce and Snyder are sitting on a conveyer belt, eating chocolate, waiting for the others to come back. Snyder tries hitting on Joyce, who leaves without responding.
Ethan admits he was hired by Mr. Trick to help him collect a tribute for a demon. When he fails to tell them what demon, Buffy punches him in the face. Giles, who has been demanding violence against Ethan, punches the air in triumph. Ethan offers more info. This tribute thing is seriously bad news.
At the hospital, a gang of vampires go to collect said tribute. The tribute is four infants. None of the staff does anything to stop the vampires, because they’ve all had the chocolate.
Buffy calls the library to tell them they’re looking for a demon called Lurconis. Snyder is trying to show off for Joyce. It’s not working. Ethan tries to hit Buffy with a crowbar, but Giles pulls a gun on him. He then reluctantly gives it to Buffy. Willow tells Buffy that Lurconis eats babies. Buffy, Joyce, and Giles are going to head to the hospital now, but they need to restrain Ethan. Joyce pulls out a pair of handcuffs about which Buffy never wants any details, and they use them on Ethan.
At the hospital it’s too late. The babies are already gone. Giles actually has helpful information. Sort of. It’s buried under layers of hormones. He knows they can find Lurconis in the sewers. Snyder volunteers to stay at the hospital in case the babies come back on their own somehow. Buffy gives Giles a shape up now speech, which guilt trips him a little bit, but not enough to stop him from making out with Joyce a bit more.
In the sewers, vampires are chanting, and one of them is anointing the heads of all the babies with some liquid. The Mayor makes a call about sewer maintenance. Before Lurconis can show up and start eating babies, Buffy arrives and starts slaying vampires. Giles and Joyce take the babies to safety while Buffy has the vampires distracted, and then Giles joins the fight. He knocks one of the vamps into a pool of water, and then a rumbling noise starts up. We get our first awkward computer-generated villain in Lurconis, which is a giant snake. It eats the vampire in one bite. Then Giles tries to fight Mr. Trick and gets knocked into the pool himself. Buffy fries Lurconis by pulling down a gas pipe and lighting it on one of the torches. Mr. Trick gets in a final taunt before fleeing.
At City Hall, the Mayor is not pleased with Mr. Trick’s work. Mr. Trick tries to spin it into a positive thing. The Mayor tolerates it, but it’s a one-time pass.
At school, Xander makes fun of Snyder, who is an adult again and doesn’t appreciate it. He orders the Scoobies to scrub the “KISS Rocks” spray-paint off the lockers. Buffy doesn’t feel like she did well on the SAT test, but Giles tries to reassure her. They encounter Joyce at the curb. Buffy has told her that the dent in the car was acquired in a battle against evil, so she’s not in trouble. Buffy is relieved that she got to Giles and Joyce before they did anything major, and then she leaves. Giles and Joyce look at each other awkwardly, then hastily separate.
Maybe “Homecoming” is fun for people who actually feel nostalgic about high school dances and stuff, but for me, “Band Candy is the first truly fun episode of S3. And it’s not purposeless fun, either. Adults regressing to adolescence—psychologically, at least—is a fantastic concept, and we’ve spent enough time with adults like Giles, Joyce, and Snyder for the jokes to really land. I love how the episode begins with Buffy feeling smothered by too much parenting, creating a “be careful what you wish for” scenario once the adults are suddenly less responsible than she is. It's also an arc episode! (If loosely.) It's not just Ethan causing chaos for his own sake; he's contracted with Mr. Trick and the Mayor. The Mayor's scenes show us more about how scary this guy is under the affable exterior. Even Mr. Trick finds him unnerving, and his previous employer was the brutal Kakistos. It's all great. The only things that aren't great are Buffy's ongoing contrived secrecy about Angel and Willow and Xander continuing to explore their forbidden romance. Definitely not loving that.
Buffy feels overwhelmed by studying for the SAT test on top of all her regular schoolwork and Slayer responsibilities, AND she has to take care of Angel without giving in to the sexual tension. On the whole, the very idea of responsibility is starting to drag on her, especially when Giles and Joyce aren’t treating her like someone capable of being responsible. Joyce won’t let her drive and Giles won’t let her patrol without him. Then she finds out what it’s like when nobody deals with their responsibilities, and it puts adulthood into a whole new perspective.
There aren’t any new kissing scenes between Willow and Xander (yet), but they’re certainly not trying to put a stop to whatever’s going on between them. Buffy learns about the importance of responsibility and maturity in this episode, but Willow and Xander absolutely do not.
Oz and Cordelia continue to be very oblivious to what’s going on with their significant others. Cordelia is still acting very sweet and affectionate about Xander, and the same with Oz for Willow. This is going to hurt.
Giles! We’ve learned bits and pieces about Ripper, but this is the first time we get to meet him in such a distilled form. I love that this happens in an episode with Ethan Rayne. Ethan always seems to bring out the worst in Giles, and now it’s on a mystical level. I think the reminder of what it was like to be a teenager was as important to Giles (and Joyce) as seeing that all adults were once teenagers was for Buffy. He had started to get a little too overbearing again, and his trip back into his own adolescence showed him how very responsible Buffy actually is. She doesn’t need helicopter parenting (or Watcher-ing) in order to use her time wisely, for the most part. There’s a difference between guidance and control.
We saw Angel(us) fighting quite a few times in S2, but the shirtless Tai Chi scene is, I believe, the first on-screen evidence that he actually has formal martial arts knowledge. I’ve seen a few complaints that he isn’t doing it right at all, but just because David Boreanaz isn’t awesome at Irish accents or Tai Chi doesn’t mean we can’t allow Angel to be. Anyway. The sexual tension is just as thick on his side as on Buffy’s, and even though he’s resisting it too, it doesn’t mean he’s sorry to see her. I don’t think I’ve talked before about how much it must mean to Buffy that he doesn’t seem to blame her for the time he spent in hell (like she clearly feared he would, judging from her nightmares). If they’ve discussed it, then it hasn’t been onscreen, but he understands why she did what she did. Not only does he not blame her, but he’s happy to see her. He doesn’t need to get used to her again, like when Jenny needed time to forgive Giles after “The Dark Age” and Giles needed time to forgive Jenny after “Innocence.” Buffy feared Angel would never forgive her, not only for sending him to hell but for breaking his curse, but Angel doesn’t even need to forgive her because it hasn’t occurred to him that she is at fault.
“Whoa, Summers! You drive like a spaz.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.