Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 8, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E05 – Beer Bad

Beer Bad
Season 4, Episode 5
Original airing: 11/2/1999

My Rating: 40

The Good: I remember this episode as just being absolutely terrible. But I was surprised that it actually had a few good moments of humor and the first half wasdecent. It also builds the groundwork for an interesting Oz and Willow storyline, although it’s a bit clumsy with that part. And it led to a rather excellent scene with Parker and Willow.

I chuckled to myself a few times in the beginning of the episode. Xander’s earnest attempts to practice his bar-tending manner were cutely encouraged by Willow’s outrageous story of being knocked up by her step-brother who’d rather be with her best friend. It also led to the predictable, but decent, humor of Xander being overwhelmed and mistreated at his new job. Then the humor took a giant break when the cavemen appeared (The Bad). But I certainly appreciated the moment at the end when Buffy got to wallop Parker with a giant stick, not once, but twice. Again, predictable, but I still really appreciated it. Plus, he really deserved it.

We also learn a bit more about Oz’s sniffing pal from Living Conditions (S4E2). Her name is Veruca, she sings in a band, and her voice is annoying. Maybe that’s personal spillover on behalf of my love for Willow, but I did not enjoy her performance. I thought this played ok. It was a bit ham-handed and it’s silly that the normally INCREDIBLY ASTUTE Oz doesn’t put it together that Willow is uncomfortable with Veruca. He’s picked up on some way subtler stuff in the past. Plus, he’s been able to smell her fear before (Lover’s Walk S3E8), so why can’t he smell other emotions like discomfort and jealousy?

Finally, I really enjoyed Willow’s moment to step up and squash Parker. He’s having a rough night after Willow leads him on and then calls him on his absurd attempts to manipulate her. Then Buffy cracks his skull with a giant stick twice after he’s almost suffocated to death in a fire. And yet, I just don’t feel sorry for him. The show has done a very good job of making him despicable.

The Bad: The entire second half of the episode was pretty terrible. I can pin point it starting with the moment when the frat guy starts mocking Xander at the bar. That scene is so incredibly uncomfortable to watch and it just gets more painful from there. Buffy and the frat boys attempting to act like devolved humans was just silly. We had to watch them “discovering” the world. Even devolved, wouldn’t they maintain some of the knowledge they have? Shouldn’t they already understand things like trees and cars? Maybe not how cars work, but the fact that they exist? It was just absurd.

And Buffy as CaveSlayer was painful as well. Granted, she did the best job and a few of the moments she has in her dorm room with Giles and Xander are actually a little intense, but overall, she’s just too inconsistent.

The moment when Giles and Xander discover her and she’s cave painting is heightened by her incredibly disturbing expression. And I like when she pounds her chest and declares she’s strong. As Xander points out, Buffy now has few morals, most likely, and could do some serious damage. As silly as the problem appears, it is a real problem.

But the main issue I had was how Buffy retained some morality and intelligence when the boys had none. I wish they had at least been consistent. Buffy is able to recognize the danger of fire, get everyone out, and even save Parker when she hates him. Buffy even recognizes that a fire extinguisher can be useful, if you know how to use it. The boys are too stupid to realize they’re even in danger from the fire. So Buffy retains quite a bit more intelligence which keeps her from crossing a line of actually killing a human, namely Parker. One could expect that in her devolved state, she might just leave him. She even jokes about it a bit earlier in the episode. But that would of course raise the same issue of Buffy killing an innocent human which was danced around in Ted (S2E11), Bad Girls (S3E14), Graduation Day, Part I (S3E22), and Living Conditions (S4E2). The show just won’t go there.

Favorite Moment: I love the moment when Willow reveals she’s been leading Parker on and calls him on his bull. He obviously thought he had her in his pocket and is very uncomfortable when she points out that he’s a big old fake. Nice job, Willow!

The Bottom Line: This was not a good episode, but it had more redeeming moments than I remembered. In terms of comparison to other Buffy episodes, it largely fails and I wouldn’t recommend rewatching it if you aren’t rewatching the whole series. But I wasn’t as much of a torture as I thought it would be.

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Responses

  1. What I did like about Beer Bad (which is hard to find, but I’m an optimist) was the beginning daydream when Buffy fantasizes about saving Parker. This daydream summarizes what Buffy the series is: a show about a female hero who does the opposite of what conventional television females of the time did, or even frequently, still do. Instead of being saved routinely by a man, Buffy wants to be the one to do the saving. This is what hooked me to the show, precisely what Joss Whedon wanted to do: take the typical little blonde girl and throw all expectations out the window.


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