1.04: I Am Certainly Grateful to Be Ugly
The hatching egg at the end doesn't bug me (no pun intended). Part of the Season 1 horror cliche theme, and I really wouldn't have wanted another praying mantis episode. Oh, and here's Noel Murray's thoughts on it: "But I don't think the menace has anything to do with the prospect of the monster returning. It has to do with the looming subtext of teen sexuality."
Gotta mention that I liked the (Bronze band) music much better than I did in the previous episodes.
The Buffy Show: Buffy gets a heartbreaking scene with Dr. Gregory that I'd pretty much forgotten about completely, but it's also uplifting. There are still good people at the edges of Buffy's life, who have the potential to see her as she really is even if they don't know her secret identity. Okay, so, most of them get killed off for the sake of the heartbreak factor, but the point is that they can exist. Knowing that has to help her keep going when it's getting hard to remember why she does it.
Also, Dr. Gregory illustrates something that I think even most of the fanbase forgets, let alone the other characters: Buffy is brilliant. If she didn't have a huge responsibility devouring her time and attention, she'd be at the top of her class and headed toward an impressive career. Yeah, Willow and Giles are still the genius minds of the operation, but their intelligence has been nurtured all their lives through study. Buffy is propelled by an innate understanding of facts and ideas as they're presented to her. It's a huge pity that Dr. Gregory was seemingly the last of her teachers to notice this.
The Buffy and Angel Show: Happily, this episode gives us one of the Season 1 B/A gems. A guy who gives you his jacket because he wants to get on your good side is a charmer. A guy who gives you his jacket because you're cold is irresistible. A guy who doesn't want to get on your good side but gives you his jacket anyway because you're cold is Angel.
Given much later developments to Willow's lovelife, I thought it was funny that she didn't necessarily see how attractive Angel is. Xander's reaction had some precognition in it, too. Of course he's threatened; this is the first time Buffy has shown any interest in a guy in his presence.
Willow and My Feelings: I don't have much to say on her this time, but she killed me dead with this line:
No, no see, Xander is, I really like his head, that's where you
find his eyes and hair, his adorable smile...
Cordelia and Lunch: Same for her, but this line:
...medically prescribed lunch, my doctor ships it daily, I'll only be here as long as I can hold my breath...
Xander and Boyhood: Hoo boy, where to start. In the two-part premier I admired the way Xander wanted Buffy to be her real heroic self - this is the exact opposite. Now he wants her to be weak and frightened so that he can be the hero (and it's not the last time we'll see him hiding that kind of fantasy). What's going on? Why the duality? Xander respects and cares about his female friends, like Willow. He objectifies and fantasizes about women he finds attractive, like Ms. French. Buffy, to him, is both. He can't reconcile his respect for her free will with his fantasy of 'having' her, so he pretends that something else is the problem - in this case, Angel.
It's interesting to note, though, that it's only in these earliest of episodes that Xander dreams of being the super-powered action guy. He still wants to be suave and popular as the series goes on, but he's content with his relative normality (maybe because he begins to understand that Buffy really seriously just like she says isn't interested in a man with super powers). Altogether I'm just glad he grows out of this. It's very, very childish, and while understandable for a male of his age, these characters aren't meant to be just typical examples of people their age. Xander's better than this; he just doesn't know it yet, and he hasn't realized that if Buffy turned into what he thinks he wants, she'd lose everything that he loves about her.
However! I forgive him for the moment in the header I chose above, entirely. Xander is best friends with two beautiful, fun, good-hearted girls who like him for who he is. In this case, I'd say he has the right to brag a little bit.
Giles and Objects: Probably the best scene in the episode was Giles comforting Buffy after Dr. Gregoy's death...guh, the way Buffy was acting so controlled even with tears rolling down her face, and Giles was so attentive to her without showing any disrespect for her feelings...I'm already so glad she has him in her life.
I giggled like an idiot when Giles perked up at the mention of Ms. French and then caught himself and tried to play it down. He's a boy too!
Also Giles pretending that anything illicit that the kids do is something he didn't know about. Also, just Giles in general in this episode.
I didn't find much in the shooting script this time aside from this cut scene:
Dr. Gregory didn't chew me out or anything. He was really cool. But Flute showed him my permanent record. Apparently, I fall somewhere between Charles Manson and a really bad person.
And you can't tell Dr. Gregory what really happened at your old school?
I was fighting vampires? I'm thinking he might not believe me.
Yeah, he probably gets that excuse all the time.
Here lies a problem. What used to be my table occupied by pitiful losers. Of course, we'll have to burn it.
Sad, you have so many memories here. You and Lawrence, you and Mark, you and John. You spent the better part of your 'J' through 'M' here.
There was also this, after the scene with Giles complaining about the sunny weather:
(Alternate line, in case it's raining, foggy or dark.
(gazes at sky)
Reminds me of home.
Dark, dank, dreary. You must be so
He gives her a look, shoves off.)
- My fanon is that Flutie has been welcomed/threatened by the Mayor, and he's been walking on eggshells ever since. No doubt there were some pretty horrible things happening at the school before Buffy arrived, and Flutie, having absolutely no idea how to deal with them, is terrified and compensating in various stupid ways. Poor guy.
- That one little "oh boy" as Buffy and Angel parted at the end spoke volumes.
- You know what kind of sums up the difference between watching as a fan and watching when you're in the fandom? A character's middle name drops, and fandom remembers forever. It gets recorded in various places. It's ~*canon*~! Middle names are pretty much the most useless thing you can know about a person, but we're fandom, and we care.