Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 13, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E11 – Gingerbread

Gingerbread
Season 3, Episode 11
Original airing: 1/12/1999

My Rating: 67

The Good: I like that the show finally played more with Joyce’s reactions to her daughter’s vocation. I love the idea of Joyce wanting to tag along on patrol with Buffy. I think that’s very in character, as is her horrified reaction to finding the two dead children. I think her decision to start a movement in response is excellent. Instead of just sitting back and letting her daughter handle it, she takes action. The show did a great job of making this all seem very reasonable, right up to the locker searches. Suddenly, it got intense and scary, which the show explained by introducing the influence of the demon children.

I thought the writing of the story was very well-handled. The demon children were particularly creepy because they were children. We often see some very unrealistic monsters on Buffy (which we are treated to again at the end of the episode), so I think grey-eyed dead children really stand out as disturbing. The concept that they injure you by amplifying your normal fears into outrageous behavior was also well-done. Joyce and Sheila (Willow’s mom) come across as very calm and rational while they do some very irrational things. It was an excellent transition from being just freaked out to willing to kill your own child for the good of the community. Giles calls out the parallel to the Salem Witch Trials and it’s very appropriate. Stir up enough fear, and people will go crazy.

It was interesting to finally meet a member of Willow’s family. Sheila comes across as extremely intelligent, intellectual, and logical. It’s easy to see where Willow’s brains come from. It’s interesting to learn that Willow apparently spends quite a lot of time alone and not just at Christmas (S3E10).  I also loved the little hints that they gave concerning her jealousy over Buffy’s relationship with Joyce. Wonderful little character building moments.

It was also fun to see Amy back and the small coven she’s apparently built with Willow and another witch from school, Michael. The show did a good job of presenting their ritual scene as a red herring for the story and it was interesting to see Willow in full Witch mode. It’s also interesting to see that Willow really is still a dabbler. Amy can turn herself into a rat and Willow can still barely lift a pencil. I like that she isn’t becoming an all-powerful witch overnight.

I appreciated Cordelia’s inclusion as well this week. She’s been very side-lined lately and I love the idea that no matter what she does, she’s gonna get sucked back in. Here she is basically forced into helping Giles with a spell and then turning a fire hose on half the town because if she doesn’t, she’ll never get her black clothes back. AT the heart of it though, Cordelia is one of those people who can’t just turn away when she can help. She doesn’t go home after waking Giles up, she helps him. She does it all with a sneer and complaint, but she’s there nonetheless.

The Bad: My main issues with the episode came all at the end and were logic based, as usual. Why, oh why, would anyone have a witch burning inside? And how in the world were all those books on fire and there was no smoke? Finally, where in the world did that giant fire hose come from and how did Cordelia get strong enough to handle it on her own? In terms of the story, these questions don’t really matter. But in terms of getting lost in an episode of television, they were extremely distracting.

Finally, we get to see the make-up department rear its ugly head yet again at the end of the episode. Why couldn’t the demon’s true form BE little kids? Is there a law against that? Giles still could have broken it’s hold over the town without it turning into a giant distracting nasty. I know it makes the change in the town’s attitude more visual and easier to grasp quickly, but it was yet another thing that distracted me from an episode which has built some real tension.

Favorite Moment: I just love that Buffy can intimidate anyone in the school with a look. When the bullies are threatening Michael and Amy, Buffy just pops up behind them, arches her eyebrows and they run scared. Love it.

The Bottom Line: A pretty intense, well-planned episode. I enjoyed watching this right up until the end.

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