Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dead Man's Party

Summary

Buffy's back, but everything's not quite normal. Neither her friends not her mother feel quite at ease around her. Her mother, now knowing she is the slayer, is more worried than ever. Her friends, who have taken over the slaying while she was out of town, feel abandoned and betrayed. No one, except possibly Giles, seems to know how to talk to her. And Principal Snyder absolutely refuses to let her back in school.

To celebrate her homecoming and overcome the uncomfortable distance between them, Buffy's mom plans a party. She invite Buffy's friends and a woman she has recently become friends with. And Buffy's friends opt to turn the party wild, against Giles' better judgement. They get a band and invite half the kids in town.

But Buffy notes she still can't talk to her friends, not even Willow. And she feels more isolated than ever. She decides to leave once again. Willow finds her, tells her mother, and a huge fight ensues in the middle of the party with everybody getting involved.

A lesser show would use this as a moment for the characters to work out their aggressions and reunite. But this isn't a show about psychoplay, it's just psycho. Buffy's mom has acquired a Nigerian mask with the power to raise the dead. And just as the argument gets into full swing, murderous zombies invade the party.

Analysis

In Anne Buffy came to grips with her identity. This week, she has to reintegrate herself into a society. A society which still feels hurt by her abandoning it. It's not an easy return home, nor should we expect it to be.

While Buffy finds it easy to face monsters and demons, she doesn't find it at all easy to face up to her friends and how they feel. It's a lot easier to deal with clear cut conflicts between good and evil and with externalized enemies. But now Buffy is forced to recognize that evil exists even within the best people - even Willow is less than kind and many of the things said during the argument are cruel. And the toughest enemies to battle are the ones you can't see.

While everyone is a lot happier by the end of this episode, many of the problems aren't really resolved. The fact that they all come together to destroy the zombies says something about the strength of their friendship. It also reassures Buffy's mom who realizes her daughter is not truly alone in her battle against demons. It also gives Buffy's friends a chance to show what they can do and to accept Buffy back in her role as slayer.

There are two scenes in this episode I especially liked. And they both came at the end. There is the conversation between Buffy and Willow in which they slag each other. After the awkwardness that marked their conversations earlier in the episode, this is a nice return to normality. There is a comfortableness between them without which this kind of conversation would be impossible.

The other scene is the confrontation between Giles and Snyder. We know how much Buffy means to Giles. But in this scene it becomes clear he cares for her as a person, not just the slayer. In school or out, she could perform her slaying duties. And Giles could still function as her watcher. But he wants her to get her life back. And he's willing to do some very unGileslike things to help her. Including assaulting the principal.

One final note, the woman who played Buffy's mom's friend was extremely annoying. She seems to have made a career of playing annoying people. I believe she's playing one right now on Caroline in the City. Anyway, her demonization and death were easily the highlight of the show for me.

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