Saturday, 11 December 2010
Buffy: Season 2, Episode 3 ‘School Hard’
The baddest bad couple around.
Writer: David Greenwalt
Director: John Kretchmer
What's the sitch?
It’s parent teacher evening at Sunnydale High which Buffy and fellow ‘troublesome’ student Sheila have been put in charge of organising by odious Principle Snyder. Snyder is looking forward to meeting Buffy’s mum so he can tell her all about how much trouble her daughter is to the school and how close she is to expulsion. So as well as arranging everything for the event and doing so with a largely absent Sheila, Buffy must also somehow keep her mum away from Snyder on the night itself. But that’s not all of her problems. For unknown to Buffy a certain badass platinum haired vamp has (literally) hit town for the first time and, along with his insane girlfriend, is looking to bag himself a third slayer scalp. Cue a vampire invasion of the school on parent teacher night and Buffy fighting back guerrilla style ala John McClane – hence the episode title.
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
More high school is hell stuff along with the usual thing of Buffy trying to balance her school life, home life and slaying life which is made all that more harder by the odious Snyder.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
Who do you think?
Why it rocks
1. Vampire lovers. SPIKE AND DRU! SPIKE AND DRU! SPIKE AND DRU! The pair make their Buffy debut in this episode. The rest is history.
2. James and Juliet. James Marsters and Juliet Landau as the Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen inspired vampire lovers make an instantly unforgettable impression and become a firm fan favourite. Marsters is all cocky English swagger and punk rock anarchy attitude while Landau is eerily demented and deceptively fragile. And their chemistry together is explosive.
3. This ep is a blatant but brilliant Die Hard homage with Buffy crawling through ventilation ducts and taking out individual vamps along the way then rescuing the trapped parents before having a final face off with Spike. A face off which ends in a way that could only happen in an episode of Buffy.
4. John Kretchmer who directed part 2 of the Buffy pilot does great work here. It’s tense, exciting, a smidgen scary and always tons of fun.
Why it sucks
It doesn’t. At all.
1. Spike’s iconic arrival in town by running over the Sunnydale sign
2. Buffy and Spike’s final battle with Joyce coming to her daughter’s rescue at the last moment.
Dialogue to die for
Spike: [to a rival vampire] "You were there? Oh, please! If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock. I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person, and I spent the next six hours watching my hand move."
Buffy: “Cordelia, I have at least three lives to contend with, none of which really mesh. It's kind of like oil and water and a... third unmeshable thing.”
Drusilla: [about her favourite doll Miss Edith] “Miss Edith speaks out of turn. She's a bad example and will have no cakes today.”
Joyce: [after braining Spike with an axe] "You get the hell away from my daughter!"
And another thing
Spike says that Angel was his sire but we later find out Spike was actually sired by Drusilla. Dru was the one sired by Angel/Angelus, thus making Angel Spike’s grandsire.
Spike and Dru were based upon Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen as confirmed by Joss.
Spike wasn’t for certain going to be English. Marsters did several accents before Joss and co settled on his English one.
In this episode we discover that the authorities are wise to the weird supernatural stuff that goes on in Sunnydale but are keeping it quiet. Mention is also made of The Mayor foreshadowing season 3.
Spike destroys the Sunnydale sign a second time in his one and only season 3 appearance ‘Lovers Walk’. Though that time it is an accident as he’s totally drunk.
Juliet Landau (Dru) is the daughter of Oscar winning actor Martin Landau and his ex-wife Barbara Bain and appeared with her dad in Tim Burton’s 1994 classic Ed Wood for which Martin Landau won his Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi.
How many stakes?
This time it’s 5 spikes (out of 5)