Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | October 3, 2011

Robin’s Review: S3, E5 – Homecoming

Synopsis: Buffy decides to run for Homecoming Queen in part to spite Cordelia and in part to have a piece of the high school life she is missing. Their feud becomes so serious that the Scoobies put them alone into the limo they hired so that they can sort out their differences. Unfortunately the limo is hijacked by Mr Trick and a group of hunters who plan on killing Buffy and Faith as part of Slayerfest 98. Elsewhere Scott breaks up with Buffy, the Mayor recruits Mr Trick and Xander and Willow make out.

The Good: For the third episode in a row this was far too packed with developments and plotlines. There was a lot of good stuff mixed in there but none of it could thrive on its own.

Stories about Buffy not being able to live a normal life are always strong. The sense of injustice that comes with her calling makes it hard not to root for her. The build-up to her decision to run for Queen was very good. The way Cordelia forgot to tell her about the Yearbook photos was organic and a perfect illustration of her lost youth. The brief montage of photographs was a fun moment too. Then Buffy’s favourite teacher couldn’t remember her either which was poignant and believable.

On the Cordelia side of things there were positives as well. The writing and her performance have done a good job over the years making it believable that she could be so invested in her own success that she could perceive demons as just another inconvenience. She was pretty harsh to Buffy but there was a thread there where I could see her point of view. Buffy is Queen of the Scoobies so why does she have to muscle in on Cordelia’s territory.

The idea of Cordelia having to take Faith’s place at the Slayerfest was clever but didn’t really pay off. There were some passable comedy moments as she waved a spatula around and stood up to Lyle Gorch. There was a vague sense that Cordelia had learnt to respect what Buffy does once more.

Mr Trick is becoming quite the hype man at this point. This is the second group of demons we have seen him inciting and now apparently he is off to work for the Mayor. The Mayor makes quite a splash too after many hints of his existence. Not only does he know all about demons but he also terrifies his employees and seems obsessed with manners and cleanliness. It was certainly an intriguing introduction.

The biggest story of the episode though is the sudden romantic interest between Xander and Willow. In her case it’s entirely understandable because she has waited so long for him to notice her. In his case it seems more like teenage boy syndrome. He wants to be with Buffy, he wants Faith’s attention, he has Cordelia but he still can’t resist Willow. I can believe he would do that but it did feel like it came out of nowhere. Of course they are best friends but we had no foreshadowing of this moment. The sad part is of course that Cordelia admits her love for Xander just as he is betraying her.

The Bad: As I said there is just too much going on in the show right now.

The Slayerfest acted as the monster of the week story but it fell flat. It featured some of the most incompetent and least threatening bad guys that we have seen. The hunter and spiny headed demon were dispatched with ease while Lyle was always a comedy figure. The two German brothers were always going to look weak for not just gunning Buffy down on sight.

I don’t think the episode did much for Cordelia really. Her aggression toward Buffy seemed a little much. They have spent over a season hanging out together and although that doesn’t mean they have become best friends surely it should stop Cordelia from mocking her for her parents divorce? Even if we chalk that one up to the heat of the moment she came across as relentlessly selfish and there comes a point where her lack of sympathy for Buffy is just silly considering the danger she faces. Cordelia’s big moment of honesty when she fears for her life in the cabin didn’t work either. It just didn’t feel like her life was seriously threatened.

If Willow and Xander’s story felt abrupt then Scott’s breakup with Buffy was even worse. It seemed so odd that he agreed to go to the Prom with her and then decided that she was being too sad. The use of his character was odd because discerning viewers could guess he wouldn’t last once Angel reappeared on the scene. Yet the writers choose for this moment, when Buffy is actively campaigning for Prom Queen, to have Scott imply that her mind is permanently elsewhere.

The Mayor’s introduction was intriguing but it did take away from the drama of the Slayerfest. Again Faith’s presence or indeed Angel’s were in the back of my mind. Buffy certainly had more options than just running to Giles for help and that does deflate the sense that she is in real danger.

The Unknown: Seeing the two corsage bugs disappearing from screen at the same time made little sense. Were they both destroyed by bullets? Or were they supposed to be picking up a heartbeat somehow?

Best Moment: Angel’s brief appearance did lead to a tantalising moment when Buffy brings up Giles’ name. Suddenly Angel remembers what Angelus did to Buffy’s friends and the thought of resuming his life in Sunnydale became that bit harder.

The Bottom Line: This was a one step forward, one back kind of episode. Until the writers sort out the clutter these episodes aren’t going to be as good as they should.

50/100

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Responses

  1. I agree that this episode was quite cluttered. I did enjoy it, though, especially Mr. Trick’s, “Ladies, gentlemen, and spiny-headed looking creatures, welcome to SlayerFest ’98.” I also love Buffy staking Candy, Mr. Gorch’s wife, with a spatula.


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