Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | September 11, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E2 – Dead Man’s Party

Dead Man’s Party
Season 3, Episode 2
Original airing: 10/6/1998

My Rating: 55

The Good: We get to see some real solid emotional development from Buffy, Joyce and Willow in this episode. The conversation between Willow and Buffy in her bedroom is pretty powerful. It’s a good reminder that the show always tries to develop all of its characters, not just Buffy. Willow is presented as a real person here with her own issues and desires. She wants Buffy to truly be her friend and she reminds us all that she’s not just there to serve as Buffy’s sounding board.

Buffy and Joyce also get to have some real connection as Joyce finally gets to see first-hand the type of thing Buffy is fighting against. This understanding was something Joyce needed to develop to move forward in her relationship with her daughter. The last episode, “Anne”, made a point of showing that Joyce still doesn’t really understand Buffy’s life. She blames Giles for everything that’s happened to Buffy instead of truly accepting that it’s something Buffy has to do. Now we can expect her to move forward and hopefully be more understanding of Buffy’s life.

The Bad: Unfortunately, this episode could have been really excellent if it had truly handled the emotions of the Scoobies. But the end of the episode jumps right past the potential for real serious drama by throwing zombies at the party. Then everyone hugs it out. It’s a very disappointing ending. We never get to really see Xander, Buffy, Giles, Joyce and Willow work out their issues. Because the main argument is taking place in a public forum, no one can really discuss what’s going on and everything is very vague and unfocused.

The main issue here, however, is the show trying to force drama instead of letting it develop naturally. The realistic thing for Buffy to say here is how difficult it was for her to kill Angel after he got his soul back. No one else knows the spell worked, so it’s easy for them to focus on their feelings of abandonment. However, the show refuses to have Buffy do this and therefore the arguments become circular. It’s very frustrating to watch when a show ignores the reasonable choice without a real reason. It makes the argument at the end and the reconciliation seem very false.

Favorite Moment: When Buffy turns up at Giles’ doorstep, he has to take a moment in the kitchen to recover from the surprise. His silent moment where he takes off his glasses and takes a breath is so well-acted and subtle, it’s truly the best moment of the episode.

The Bottom Line: As always, there’s a lot of very good character moments with the Scoobies. But the poor ending really cut into my enjoyment of the episode.

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