Previously: A Halloween party goes awry and gives us the first very good episode of the season and also Giles with a chainsaw.
Lorraine: I’m not really sure how you introduce this episode, Whedon’s take on a public service announcement, but probably with an invitation for you all to grab a beer.
Lor: We open at the graveyard and after a second of silence, we see that Buffy is currently in the middle of kicking some vampire butt, but is momentarily distracted by Poop Head Parker, on the ground, softly calling out to her.
She instructs him to stay down and the fight sequence continues with a very cool running kick, in which she uses the side of a gravestone to propel herself. Poop Head calls out to her again, this time because he’s being apprehended by two more vampires. Buffy fights them and that includes a jump kick that knocks them both out at the same time. She eventually stakes all three, and it is after the sound effects fade that I truly notice that this whole time, some really bad video game-esque music has been playing in the background. It’s preferable, though, to the Clarinets of Mopeyness that start up when Parker comes over to thank Buffy, and declare her everything to him. Oh. So dream, then, yeah?
Sweeney: You’re so good at TV.
Lor: If I got that wrong, I was just going to come back and delete it. I mean, what? I would never do that.
Anyways, dream! Parker says he’s going to do anything it takes to get her forgiveness, and wonders if she ever will…
Lor: Not quite but the sound of a girl giggling does break Buffy out of what was actually a daydream about Parker. She’s sitting in the Evil Bitch Monster’s class not listening to a super timely lecture on the id, ego and superego. WONDER WHAT THIS EPISODE WILL BE ABOUT, GUYS. Poop Head Parker is sitting a few rows ahead of Buffy because apparently EVERYONE is in this class. I was under the impression he was an upperclassman, though it wouldn’t surprise me if he snuck into this class to perv on freshman girls.
K: Either that or he spends so much of his time hitting on freshmen that he’s failed every subject he’s ever taken and is still taking first year classes in his third year of university.
Sweeney: I mean, not to a get all applying-logic, but he could be majoring in something unrelated and have put off fulfilling social science gen ed requirements until junior/senior year so he could have blowoff classes…and perv on freshman girls.
Lor: The important part is that we all agree about perving on freshman girls.
Professor Walsh asks what happens when we can’t have what we want and Buffy goes back into her day dream, staking the same vampires. Poop Head delivers the same speech, this time with his shirt unbuttoned, and holding a bouquet of roses and a carton of ice cream. Roll credits.
We see a recycled establishing shot of UC Sunnydale. I think you can even see season 4 pilot Buffy walking through the crowd, though it may be all in this Snark Lady’s imagination.
K: I briefly considered watching that five seconds of footage multiple times to see if I could confirm/bust this theory, but then I remembered how much this episode sucked and just wanted to get it over with. So I didn’t.
Sweeney: Same. Plus, there’s a good chance someone reading this knows and will tell us, which is definitely preferable to rewatching.
Lor: We’re counting on you, Traumateers.
Buffy is sitting at a table, outdoors, and a lighter is thrust in her face. Xander asks, “rough day?” Buffy shoots him a disapproving look as he sets up the episode’s contrivance: he’s landed a job as a bartender over at the pub. Willow rightly points out that he’s too young to be a bartender, but he whips out a hilariously bad fake ID, in which he sports a mustache.
K: At first glance, I thought it was a picture of Matt Dillon from There’s Something About Mary.
Buffy points out that there is mixing drinks involved in bartending, but contrivance doesn’t care.
B now goes on to make this all about her and her problems as she whines that she’s not able to have pretend problems for Xander because her real problems are consuming her. Willow is a better friend, though, and offers Xander, “I’m pregnant by my stepbrother, who’d rather be with my best friend, who’s left me with no place to live, no food, except for this bottle of Wild Turkey which I drank all up.” Sounds like a plot point on Game of Thrones if you ask me.
Sweeney: Where are they now? Look for Willow’s name in the credits of everyone’s favorite HBO show.
Lor: Xander invites them to the pub, but Willow has a date. Buffy is going to continue to talk about herself as she theorizes that maybe one day Parker will come around and want her. Willow tries to give her tough love and say that she needs to stop thinking about Parker and seek out better men, “wherein the mind is stronger than the penis.” Xander, loudly and in a funny voice: Nothing can defeat the penis! Anyways, Buffy defends Parker and it’s painful and icky to watch. Relatable, sure, but still icky.
K: It really really is. Although also believable given how many times in the real world I’ve seen women trying to convince themselves that really shitty men are actually nice guys with intimacy problems. Ugh.
Lor: Cut to Xander struggle-busing through his bartender gig. Buffy enters clothed in something that looks rather burlap sack-ish, and OF COURSE she immediately spots Parker sitting with another girl. She creepy stares at them and ends up running into Riley, whose face I can’t entirely get behind. He’s kind of weird looking.
K: I’m gonna go ahead and at least partly blame the late 90s curtain rails style floppy hair. Because it deserves to be blamed for everything ever. But I agree, Marc Blucas is kind of weird looking.
Lor: Riley can tell that Buffy’s looking for someone, and she says that she spotted Parker. Riley comments on Parker’s panty-chasing ways and goes on to say something about being a gentlemen, but Buffy no longer cares about any other people, ever and isn’t listening. Riley excuses himself as Buffy sees Parker making out with his new conquest.
At the bar, Xander approaches a girl who is sporting some of those suuuper unfortunate, mid-forehead bangs. Mini-Bangs babbles about what a great day she’s had when some guy walks up and tells her that she’s keeping Xander from his job. Xander says it’s okay, though he is ignored as Mini-Bangs and Condescending Prick start chatting about some party plans. Xander tries to butt back into the conversation and the Condescending Prick throws out some pseudo-intellectual babble, asking Xander for his take on it all. Xander says he has beer, and CP orders a pitcher of “Black Frost,” and goes on to say that he is the future of this country and Xander is just a lowly bartender. Xander tries to ask CP for an ID, but his boss wanders by and tells him to just give the guy his beer.
Buffy is moping at the bar and I want to poke all of you who said less Angel would mean less brooding.
K: I think in all my loathing of season 4, I’d genuinely forgotten (read: blocked out) about how Buffy takes over first place in the Sunnydale Brooding Championship.
Lor: Xander comes over and asks her what’s up, and she blah blah blahs about Parker sleeping around and then threatens Parker with physical harm as women scorned are wont to do. She calls herself a slut and an idiot. Xander does his best to be there for her, but he is called back to work. Buffy grabs her stuff to leave but bumps into a guy who has a subtle hightop fade that makes me LOL. He gets flirty with Buffy and is soon joined by the Condescending Prick, who offers that Buffy is a beautiful girl who “should be covered with men.” His little posse of pricks volunteer to be those men, and offer her a glass of beer. Buffy sees Parker pass by with his new conquest meaning Buffy is going to fall for that incredibly crap line.
K: SO AWFUL.
Sweeney: It’s not even just that the line itself is awful, it’s that this entire set-up is beyond creepy. Guy 1 hits on her, and his three bros appear one at a time to add to the line, with a vibe that is less wingman and more we-are-all-collectively-hitting-on-you. Their little stair step formation only adds to the weirdness. IT’S JUST CREEPY AND SHOULDN’T BE A SUCCESSFUL PICKUP.
Over at the Bronze, Willow sits at a table and Oz brings over drinks. They small talk about class when suddenly Oz appears to have smelled something foul. Or “sensed” something, maybe, but I’m going to stick to my stinky assumption because a weird looking girl with blonde hair appears on stage. We’ve seen her before, and that time too, Oz looked at her funny.
Stinky Girl starts singing and like… fellating the microphone. Oz can barely take his eyes off and Willow notices. She offers to go back to his place, and he even turns that down. OZ YOU STOP THAT. Stinky Girl’s name is Veruca by the way, but I don’t know if I’ll call her that.
K: I’d stick with it. Because in the UK, a verruca is another name for a plantar wart. Which is what she is. A big disgusting wart that should be frozen off with liquid nitrogen. #TeamHeartlessCowhasfeels
Sweeney: To be clear: having feels moments means that you need to come to the couch. #justsaying
Lor: Back at the pub, Buffy is chugging her drink and Condescending Prick is praising beer. Buffy says her mother said beer was evil. CP: “Evil, good. These are moral absolutes that predate the fermentation of malt and fine hops.” SHUT UP. We also see that Kal Penn is one of the Prick Posse. I laugh for too long.
The next day, Willow walks into the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room mock-recapping a conversation we presume happened at the Bronze the night before in which Veruca called Willow a groupie. Yeah, fuck that, she’s Stinky Girl.
Willow asks if she’s heard of Stinky Girl who “dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross.” I love Willow so much.
K: So do we all.
Lor: Buffy is busy though being self-involved, hungover and… a cave man? I don’t know. The first two things for sure, though.
Willow wants to know WTF is wrong with her, and she replies, “I’m suffering the afterness of a bad night of… badness.” I would only add and of a rogue hair crimper. What’s up with her hair? Will assumes something happened with Poop Head, but when Buffy says she was with four guys, Willow jumps to conclusions. “Oh,” she says surprised. “Ow.” She immediately goes into understanding friend mode though and asks if she wants to talk about it. B recaps that she went to see Xander, met the four dudes and, “group sex?” Will fills in. No! Buffy protests, calling Willow “gutterface.” All that happened was lots of beer. Buffy tries to go to class in pajamas, but Willow reminds her to get dressed. In my college experience, nope. Getting dressed was not actually a class requirement.
K: It has been at mine, but then again about 95% of Australian university students don’t live in halls of residence.
Sweeney: That’s really unfortunate. Living just up the street from class and attending in your pajamas at least once is like an essential part of the American college experience.
You know what’s not an essential part of that experience? Non-lab-or-language classes meeting on consecutive days. Am I the only one confused by the fact that this psychology class meets two days in a row?
Lor: Nice catch. Also not a thing that I’ve seen happen.
In the Evil Bitch Monster’s class, she’s doing the lecture thing and Buffy is doing the embarrassing herself in class thing. Riley notices. Buffy steals another student’s sandwich.
We cut to some dark and nefarious place where we see a spread of various flasks, mostly of the round-bottom variety. A rubber-gloved hand sneaks into the frame and begins to siphon some green liquid into a keg of Black Frost beer.
Buffy is back at the pub with the Prick Posse and they are totes wasted and reduced into their caveman states. Xander watches from the bar and a woman with an unlit cigarette says she’s having the worst day, and asks Xan for a light. THIS IS IT! HIS MOMENT. But, alas, he’s busy watching Buffy and simply flashes the young lady a no-smoking sign. Back over at Buffy’s table, they are smacking each other and calling each other stupid.
Willow exits her dorm room and Oz calls out to her. He’s been trying to call but she claims to have been in the library. She asks if he’s okay because he missed class again. Oh, Oz. He was practicing with his band, and what’s more, Stinky Girl’s band has asked him to play with them that night. Willow passes and basically says studying would be more fun. They stare at each other and the tension is breaking my heart. They clearly both have things they want to say but they don’t and I might cry.
K: Right there with you, Lor. Right there with you.
Sweeney: BRB, stocking up on tissues.
Lor: Back at the pub, the drunk gang talks and makes me want to poke my eyes out. Xander plays something on the jukebox and this calls Buffy’s attention. Xander takes this opportunity to tell Buffy she’s cut off (“did it hurt?”) and he proclaims beer bad, earning him today’s Gold Star, though our glittery wonder seems too good for merely saying “beer bad.” Oh well. Rules are rules.
Xander sends Buffy home. Drunk. Alone. MMKAY.
Sweeney: This decision, like many in this season, gills me with more Writer Rage than Character Rage, because sending Buffy home alone so drunk she’s nearly incapacitated was a really OOC move for Xander, and I just want this badly written PSA to be over now.
Lor: Elsewhere, WHAT THE FUCK IS WILLOW WEARING? A floor length skirt with sneakers. It’s like a green skirt with a multi-colored stripped band at the bottom. This is truly hideous.
K: It’s so ugly that it makes me pine for the days when she wore fluffy pink jumpers covered in plastic daisies and carried a smiley face backpack. Well. Almost.
Lor: Willow is in some sort of deserted coffee house. Deserted except for, OF COURSE, Poop Head Parker because he is everywhere. She confronts him about using Buffy the way he did. Parker says he doesn’t need to explain his actions, but he will if that’s what she wants. She sits and he begins that some relationships hinge on deep emotional ties or friendship but most are just two people passing through life and briefly interacting. “Just for one night, can’t two people who feel an attraction come together and create something wonderful? And then go back to their lives the next day better for it but never over-analyzing it or wanting it to be more than it was?” Willow looks doubtful and says that people like Buffy (and her) assume sex means a lot more. Parker retorts that he shouldn’t have to preface casual sex because it “takes the fire out of it.”
This could’ve been a decent argument in favor of casual sex, had the Parker thing been handled slightly differently. Basically, he’s just creepy, though, because the terms of casual sex should be laid out up front, especially if you spend the prior two weeks hanging out with a girl constantly. He clearly manipulated Buffy and now he’s doing the same to Willow and dear God, when will he leave my screen?
Back at the Pub, the Prick Posse has become even more grunty and caveman like. Condescending Prick heads off to the bathroom while Xander collects payment and has a little fun at the drunk guys’ expense. There is a loud crash from the bathroom and out comes Condescending Prick and, oh, I see. He’s a full on caveman. Like, he literally turned into a caveman. I see now, everyone. Wow.
K: My archaeology degree is trying to put itself to good use and determine whether they’re supposed to have turned into Neanderthals or Cro-Magnon man based on the facial structure, but that seems like far too much logic to insert into this crapheap of an episode. Besides, even Australopithecenes walked upright without shambling like zombies, so this is just clearly a trainwreck in regards to historical accuracy.
Lor: It’s cute that you even said “historical accuracy” in this recap.
After a Not-Commercial Break, the others in the Prick Posse have apparently insta-sobered up and are able to speak full words again. They want to leave but soon they too are becoming cavemen. Xander manages to hold them back with his lighter. CP says, “fire bad, fire pretty,” and I’m taken back to “fire bad, tree pretty.” Aw. Anyways, the Neanderthals leave.
Xander runs to the storage room to warn his boss Jack that some of his patrons are turning into cavemen. Jack simply says they had it coming (K: “He had it cooooooming allllll alooooooong!”) as he puts a crate of bottles down on a keg of Black Frost and the Zoomy Cameraman zooms in on it. THE BEER DID IT! Wait. We knew this.
Outside, the Neanderthals are running amok. (Amok amok amok!) Remember those Geico commercials with the cavemen, all centered around the premise that cavemen would be insulted by “so easy a caveman could do it?” Those cavemen clearly never saw this shit.
Back at the pub, Jack explains that he’s been taking abuse and condescension from kids for a long time, and Xander puts together that the beer is the thing. Jack says he has a warlock brother-in-law who taught him that handy prick-to-caveman-conversion spell. Xander realizes that Buffy drank that beer, too! Jack tells him to calm down because it’ll wear off in a day or so, but someone could die by then! Xander runs off.
More running amok and one of the Neanderthals gets hit by a car. Xander and Giles make their way towards Buffy’s dorm room, and Xander is saying she didn’t have nearly as much as the other guys.
Giles: I can’t believe you served Buffy that beer.
Xander: I didn’t know it was evil.
Giles: But you knew it was beer.
Xander: Well excuse Mr. “I spent the sixties in an electric Kool-Aid funky Satan groove.”
Giles: It was the early seventies and you should know better.
This is pretty on par with how Giles reacted back when Buffy was roofied back in season 2, but not as much on par with the accepting Giles of late and of hands off Giles of this season. I guess that’s really the least of this episode’s worries, though.
Xander says Buffy is a grown-up but they walk in on her drawing on her walls, cave painting style. There is a stick figure man and Buffy pounds it and proclaims Parker bad.
K: I feel the same, Buff. Only slightly more eloquently. Also, I feel the need to note that her crimped hair from earlier has now turned into something resembling curly dreadlocks.
Lor: She’s also lacking the more pronounced caveman brow ridges the Prick Posse is sporting. Not enough enchanted beer for those?
Back in the coffeehouse, Willow and Poop Head Parker have moved to some lounge chairs and Parker is putting the moves on her. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Parker puts a hand on Willow and says he’s enjoyed talking to her. Willow’s got this little baby-doll voice going on when she says she’s wondering something about him. “Just how gullible do you think I am?” OH THANK GOD. Though I am suddenly wondering why the hell she was entertaining this guy at all, but whatever. She calls Parker “id boy” and says that men haven’t changed since the dawn of time.
K: Willow’s the best.
Lor: Cue Neanderthals busting into the place and promptly knocking Willow and Parker out.
Back at Buffy’s, she spinning around on a roley chair. This is kind of like me at 4:30pm on a Friday. True story.
Giles thinks Buffy isn’t in too much danger, but then Xander mentions beer, and Buffy wants beer. Giles says she can’t have any and she gets mad. Xander thinks they shouldn’t make the “cave slayer” mad. Buffy pounds her own chest and says she’s strong. She pushes the boys out of the way and takes off.
Back at the coffeehouse, the Neanderthals are destroying stuff, making monkey noises and lighting fires. Which is great, considering that a few scenes ago, they were scared away by a lighter. WHAT IS THIS EPISODE?
K: I believe Ian Malcolm can best summarise this episode for us:
Lor: Thanks, that helped.
Xander finds Buffy who is sort of standing around campus, disoriented. Xander tries to speak caveman to her and finally just asks if there is any part of Buffy left in her. At that, B smells smoke and sees where it’s coming from. She proclaims fire bad and runs in that direction.
Once there, she makes an attempt at using a fire extinguisher, but this consists of throwing the fire extinguisher into the fire. Okay, I giggled. Buffy spots Willow through the fire and more understanding seems to dawn on her. She sort of Supermans across the fire to Willow’s side.
Xander’s just now reached the coffeehouse and he wonders where Giles is. Giles is asking a random boy in the dorm hallway if he’s seen a blonde girl with a sideways limp. The guy stares at him blankly.
Buffy spots a window and jump up to grab hold of some SPRINKLER PIPES that she uses to climb to a window and kick it out. SPRINKLER PIPES IN A ROOM ON FIRE.
K: Contrivance, Lor. Don’t question it.
Lor: The Neanderthals climb up and out, followed by the conscious hostages. Buffy carries Willow up and Xander helps her out. The last person left is Parker and he starts freaking out about not being able to breathe. How’s that fire going for you now, Poop Head? Buffy clunks him over the head, knocking him out again and we cut to later with firemen and police and stuff. Xander asks if they’ve had enough fun for the night.
Buffy: Buffy tired.
Xander: And was there a lesson in all this huh? What did we learn about beer?
Xander: Good, just as long as that’s clear.
I hope the writers didn’t spend too much time wonder why they didn’t get funding for this episode.
Sweeney: Right? I don’t know how they expected to receive it in the first place.
Lor: Later, Parker comes over to apologize to Buffy for how he treated her. The music swells, and he finishes his speech in a way reminiscent of the daydream from the start of the episode. I must say that SMG’s expression during this whole thing is particularly entertaining. Parker wants to know if she’ll forgive him and after a beat, she clonks him over the head again and down Poop Head goes.
The Scoobies walk over and all consider him for a few seconds, Willow smiling and clearly approving, and then they all walk away.
K: He deserves so much worse than unconsciousness and concussion. That said, I approve too.
Lor: I’m not sure what this episode was aiming for at all. Don’t drink all of the magical tainted beer in the world because you’ll become a caveman?
I’ll be sure to write that lesson down.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: We all feel a little bit better about calling Varuca Stinky Girl in S04 E06 – Wild at Heart.