Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 11, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E20 – Go Fish

Synopsis: The Sunnydale High Swim Team are close to a State Championship. Xander is bristling at the special treatment they receive when one of them turns up dead. He was the best swimmer on the team and when the second best is also eviscerated the gang are worried. Buffy trails the third, Gage, and is suspicious when Angel bites him but spits out his blood. The Coach and Nurse are now suspects and Xander joins the team to fill out the vacated spots.

The Good: For a while this felt more intriguing than the average monster mystery. It wasn’t clear what was happening to the swim team and the gang were all involved in uncovering it. Willow faced pressure from Snyder over grades, Xander joined the team and Buffy had to guard Gage. I liked the idea of him suddenly being smitten by her after she saved him from Angel but sadly he soon turned into a big fish too. Still the steroids in the steam idea was clever as was keeping Angel in the mix however briefly.

There was some nice comedy (see Best Moment) with Willow interrogating Jonathan and Xander trying to hide his Speedos from the girls. It was nice that Cordelia was so willing to support Xander once again, though the writing of her bordered on the farcical.

The Bad: On paper this was clearly a tempting episode to write. Sporting teams are a big part of high school and the pressure from the Principal and the Coach to succeed is a well worn story. Here the Coach goes too far and instead of turning young men into steroid freaks he turns them into actual ones.

We all make our deals with the plausibility of the Buffy universe. With each passing episode it can become harder to understand why the people of Sunnydale don’t all move somewhere else. But this story crossed a line of plausibility at some point and became hard to enjoy. It wasn’t the costume department as the fish men were more convincing than some other monsters have been. It was simply the glee with which the Coach tossed the Nurse down to be eaten. I could just about go along with the story if everyone was sad and feeling pressure and stress. But in that moment the Coach crossed into cartoon villainy and it all became too silly. It also became creepy as he needlessly implied his “boys” would now rape Buffy.

The plot also asked too many questions about what was going on. If a boy was found ripped to pieces and then another one on the same team was, surely that would be national news? It would also be the end of the Sunnydale High Swim Team both emotionally and practically.

There were also just some flubs like Buffy saying “good night” and walking away from Gaga after he just got attacked by Angel. Way to do your job Slayer! Or Buffy and Giles looking for fish-men in the sewer but wearing the same clothes and shoes that they had had on all day.

The Unknown: The ending was…interesting. It was certainly an unusual choice to show the fish-men heading out to sea as if they were now free to be with their kind. I mean, they are fish-men. They are part men. It sort of left the episode on this weird note of making me wonder what exactly they were going to do with their time now.

Best Moment: Giles locks the remaining members of the swim team in his library cage in case they turn into monsters. They are worried and he tries to reassure them by saying: “Stay calm chaps. Either we’ll find an effective antidote or or…” then he just trails off and walks away which was pretty hilarious.

The Bottom Line: Yet another monster-of-the-week episode which failed to fire. The show has to walk an awkward line with teenage problems turning into monsters and sometimes the two ideas just can’t be plausibly reconciled.

48/100

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