Buffyversed is a week by week, episode by episode, re-exploration of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Look for it every Friday on Goomba Stomp.
If the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows us anything, it’s a renewed sense of confidence in itself. Like its characters, Buffy is a hell of a lot more sure of itself in its second year, particularly as the season goes on. While “Halloween” showed that this show was more than willing to get silly for an episode, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” doubles down on that to glorious effect.
The set-up is classic Buffy bait-and-switch, as early on in the episode, Giles takes Buffy aside to tell her that Angel has a special knack for torturing those he loves on Valentine’s Day. As we hear lurid stories of Angel stalking women in the dark of night and nailing puppies to their front doors, the episode pivots to let us know that the word is out on Xander and Cordy’s secret trysts.
So, what does that have to do with Angel’s plan? Well, it turns out that’s on the back burner, because Xander takes some rather drastic actions after Cordy decides that the approval of her friends is more important than following her heart.
You see, Cordy’s clique isn’t exactly cool with their Queen C slumming it with a nerd, and so, they ostracize her. This crushes Cordelia, and leads to her breaking up with Xander, just as he was preparing to ask her to go steady with him. People still say that right? No? I’ll see myself out.
Either way, after last week’s callback to the season one episode, “Witch”, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” goes for broke by bringing Amy back after a 25 episode absence, and hoping we remember her. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe would absolutely assure us, this is something they call “world-building” nowadays, and it’s invaluable to a brand. Wait, who was involved in the building of the MCU again? Ohhhhhhh.
So Xander decides to ask Amy to help him with a love spell, which she does. His rather petty motivation is that he wants Cordy to fall in love with him so that he can instead break her heart. Unfortunately, the spell backfires, and every other woman in Sunnydale falls for Xander instead.
And when I say every other woman, I mean EVERY other woman. Now, what might at first seem like every teenage boy’s dream come true, soon reveals itself to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. First off, being a decent person, Xander doesn’t want anyone’s phony love or lust, and even turns down his longtime crush, Buffy, when she approaches him in the library wearing just a tiny raincoat and nothing else.
Second, as if this weren’t enough trouble, the women of Sunnydale grow increasingly jealous of Xander’s love, and begin attacking him, each other, and the girl who broke his heart, Cordelia.
This leads to some truly great comedy, as Ms. Calendar shows up to try and make up with Giles, only to start feeling up Xander’s biceps during the attempt. It would also be a mistake if we forgot to mention the fact that Xander barricades the door on the wrong side not once, but twice in his attempts to escape.
This really is Xander’s episode, and it’s a pretty major growing experience for him in terms of his maturity. As Buffy says toward the end of the episode: “Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”
Speaking of endings, Cordy grows to, as she decides to ditch her judgmental friends and go for what she wants. And, for the first time, Xander and Cordy are a real couple, and a great one at that.
“Cristina Says,” is based on observations my fiancèe makes. This is my 4th time through the series, but Cristina is a first-time watcher with modern TV sensibilities.
“Did she say ‘almost, really’? I like that!” (Cristina admires Buffy’s honesty in terms of her approval for Xander and Cordy’s relationship.)
“He’s kind of a weird looking guy, huh?” (Reacting to Willow’s mooning over an on-stage Oz, performing at The Bronze. It’s hard to argue that Oz is far from a conventionally attractive male, but that’s sort of what makes him a great match for Willow, as Alyson Hannigan’s general attractiveness is also regularly down-played in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)
“Wait, so is Buffy in love with him instead?” (Cristina begins to form her thesis on what exactly is going on in “Bewitched, Bewildered and Bothered”.)
“Is that a reference to The Witches?” (If you don’t know what The Witches is, you could absolutely be forgiven for your ignorance, especially if you’re not Canadian or British. Either way Cristina’s question is actually pretty god damned valid, and something I hadn’t, at all, considered.)
Whedonisms are a sort of term for (Buffy creator) Joss Whedon’s style of dialogue, and something we’re using as a catch-all for particularly fun or witty lines.
“Might I have a word?”
“Sure! You can have a sentence even!” (Poor Giles, being mocked at every turn for his genial British ways.)
“I found it in a quaint little shop girl.” (Angel drops some pretty solid punnage as he explains how he came to possess a warm heart on Valentine’s Day.)
“Actually I’m really happy with this level of closeness. I could take a few steps back even… see!?” (Xander deals with the fact that Willow is literally waiting in his bed when he gets home.)
“Keep your mom-aged mitts off my boyfriend! …Former!” (Cordelia warns Joyce to stay away from her ex, who she definitely doesn’t have feelings for.)
“Please, the only way you could make a girl fall for you is through witchcraft!”
“Well, okay, yeah, you got me there.” (Xander admits that there really is only one reason that the women of Sunnydale are suddenly fawning over him to such a dangerous degree.)
(Featured image credit: Basement Rejects)
Next week… well, next week is a bit of a doozy. I hope you’ve brought your “Passion”, because in 7 days you’re really gonna need it.