Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | September 25, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E4 – Beauty and the Beasts

Beauty and the Beasts
Season 3, Episode 4
Original airing: 10/20/1998

My Rating: 46

The Good: There’s not too much good here, unfortunately. This episode was, overall, a pretty dramatic backslide into some Season One crappiness. However, some Scoobie moments continued to shine. The scene at the morgue with Willow, Xander and Cordelia was amusing despite the grim setting. They work well as a comedy trio. In fact, Xander’s reactions throughout the episode are consistently funny, though he’s mainly just here for humor this week.

But, there were only really two highlights in this episode: Oz and Buffy. We really got to see some emotion from Oz over his frustration at his condition and his fear that he might hurt someone. He even coldly tells Willow to stay away from him at one point, just before his change. It’s nice to see a bit of depth and emotion from this character who has been nothing but snarky and laid-back. There’s a real person under some of that! Kudos. Unfortunately, the werewolf transformation still looks terrible.

 

The only other part of this episode I really enjoyed was Sarah Michelle Gellar’s facial expressions. She went through a heck of an emotional rollercoaster in this episode when she violently learned Angel had returned. She even studied about it! She spends a good amount of time here silently watching Angel and wondering. The audience can only really imagine her thoughts and feelings at this stage. Is she even happy? Is she too confused and bewildered to feel anything else? The moment when Angel speaks her name and hugs her stomach, she doesn’t even respond. She stands tall and wooden as he collapses at her feet. It’s nice to have something understated and underacted in this episode in a way that feels marginally real.

The Bad: I don’t think the show could hit the audience over the head more with the Big Message – Abusive Relationships Are Bad. The almost obnoxiously obvious Jekyll/Hyde reference of the story was underscored at the end when Willow specifically said it was a Jekyll/Hyde scenario. Was that necessary? The newly introduced character Pete beats his girlfriend, blames it on her (which she believes), and does so after having ingested a green, glowing liquid that turns him into a nasty monster version of himself. Thanks, Willow. I think we got the idea.

The show has always taken high school and real life scenarios and tried to blend them with a supernatural bent. That’s nothing new. But it’s never been quite so poorly done as this. The episode felt like it was someone’s very first attempt at the script without any refining.

On top of the obvious were some glaring Angel issues. It’s disappointing that he went from snarling animal that attacks Buffy on-site to weepy guy capable of speech in one episode. And we saw no reason for that to happen. How did he know Buffy was in trouble when she was at school and he was in the mansion (presumably far away on the outskirts of town?) How did he know exactly which room to go to? Why did he suddenly defend Buffy when he’d tried to kill her earlier? Where in the world did he find pants when he was still barely capable of standing upright and could only snarl?

The main problem here was everything felt rushed and two-dimensional. Pete and Debbie’s characters were complete stereotypes with absolutely no depth. Even Scott’s mourning over them at the end felt empty despite the fact that he’s supposedly known them for about 15 years. He even says to Buffy “I’ll be fine”. Two of his best friends died brutal deaths the day before with no clue as to why and he’s fine? Absurd.

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment of this episode was truly a moment, when Buffy cries a single tear after Angel has broken Pete’s neck and collapses at her feet. She doesn’t say anything or try to hug him back. She just stands there and tries not to completely lose it.

The Bottom Line: This felt like a season one episode, and not one of the good ones. The show has progressed so far beyond this type of writing and poor characterization. Very disappointing.

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Responses

  1. I completey agree with you, this felt like such a step back. The beginning of season three feels like a right let down after a fantasic end to season two.


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