It's prom time at Sunnydale High, and everyone's excited. Even ex-vengeance demon Anya, who's so desperate for a date she asks the even more desperate Xander, who obviously accepts. Giles grows increasingly frustrated with the Scooby Gang, who are thinking less about the impending Ascension and more about the perfect prom dress. If only a demon would wake these kids up! Careful what you wish for, Giles, as that's exactly what happens. Once again, Xander confronts Cordelia at the dress shoppe, where it's revealed that she's working there to pay for her prom dress after her dad lost all his money to the tax man. That's when a hellhound attacks and nearly mauls a tuxedo-clad kid to death before bizarrely turning around and fleeing the scene.
Meanwhile, Buffy's world is falling apart. The Mayor's candor about her and Angel's relationship has left her vampire boyfriend with some deep thoughts. After Buffy talks about getting 'the girlfriend drawer' at his place and leaving behind a 'Buffy and Angel forever' doodle, Angel's definitely concerned. That gets amped up when Joyce drops by unannounced and tells him that Buffy will never be able to see the doomed relationship for what it is and HE needs to be the one to break it off. This culminates in him breaking up with Buffy in the sewers. Angel tells her that he'll never be able to give her the life she deserves -- a life in daylight, orgasms, etc. He also drops the bomb that after the Ascension, he's skipping town. Buffy is understandably devastated.
That's what makes Tucker Wells's timing impeccable. He's the misanthrope behind the hellhounds. As a completely logical reaction to being rejected for a prom date, he has trained a small army of hellhounds to attack anyone in formal wear, and he plans to unleash them at the prom. After insisting that her much happier friends attend the prom, Buffy confronts Tucker solo. While she makes quick work of subduing the wuss, she's too late and he's already sent them to the school. Buffy catches up with the hounds just before they ruin everyone's prom. She kills them, and shows up in all her gorgeous splendor just in time for Prom '99!
And what a prom it is. Xander suffers through having Anya regale him with vengeance demon stories, and Wesley drools over Cordelia in her sexy dress -- that Xander adorably paid for -- until Giles tells him to nut up and ask her to dance. What really turns the night into a Cinderella moment for Buffy is during the awards, when Jonathan presents her with the new category of 'Class Protector', given to Buffy on behalf of the entire graduating class. As if that's not sweet enough, Angel shows up to dance with Buffy. Talk about a perfect high school moment.
* Well, in this FANTASTIC episode, it is officially The End for Buffy and Angel. I have to confess, they have never been my favourite couple, compared to Willow and Oz, and other couples to come, but I really felt how much they loved each other. You'd have to be made of stone not to. That loss of a first love is what made this break-up so crushing, and Buffy's reaction is exactly what I would expect, and what I've had myself. First the numbness -- 'this isn't real' -- and then the crippling heartbreak -- 'I'm trying to keep from dying'. When she collapses onto Willow's lap, I don't know who cried harder, her or me. And right before the prom!
* The whole hellhound storyline was kinda meh. It was basically just a relief from the relationship drama, and I'm really grateful they didn't make it a 'creature feature' episode, with us seeing Willow and Oz interrogating the friend, etc. I find it very interesting how in the recent 'Earshot', a student about to commit mass-murder was taken with grave seriousness, but here it's just a mere piss-off before the prom. And WHAT happened to Tucker? Did Buffy just leave him chained up and released him to the care of the Sunnydale police after the prom? What did she tell them?
* Buffy should be mighty grateful she has people like Willow and Giles in her life. Both of them are smart cookies and know that ultimately, Buffy and Angel shouldn't be together, but when Angel's inevitable break-up actually happens, there's no 'it's for the best' from either redhead or ex-Watcher. All they can see is a crushed Buffy. Willow does her best friendly duties by bashing Angel, but is so lost and empathetic when Buffy bursts into tears. And that scene between Buffy and Giles in the kink cage was so moving. Giles 1.0 would be overjoyed at Bufy's decision to put aside her feelings to fight the hellhounds. But fatherly Giles is primarily concerned with Buffy's emotional well-being when he finds out about the break-up, even if he can't do much to help. 'I understand this situation requires ice cream of some kind'...oh did my heart melt.
* I have been MIGHTY hard on Xander, both during and post-Smoochiegate. With pride, I declare him fully redeemed. The Xan-man shows genuine sensitivity at the big reveal that Cordelia's broke, even though it's a perfect opportunity to rub her misery in her face. And when he PAID FOR HER PROM DRESS! Awwwww. Oh my stars, that was so sweet. Well, duh!
* Sweetness aside, this begs the question... where the Hellmouth does Xander get all his money? He has made it no secret that his parents are assholes and broke ones to boot, and Xander has no income to speak of. So how does he pay for both Cordelia's dress and his rental tux? Methinks Xander might be a 'creature of the night' if ya know what I mean.
* Anya rocks. A 1000+-year-old demon who can FULLY see the silliness of investing so much into a school dance...but still wants to go anyway! How priceless was Xander's face when Anya was going on and on with her vengeance demon stories? So much that the poor guy was actually happy to see Cordelia and Wesley. TOGETHER!
* Speaking of which, HALLELUJAH! Wesley finally made a move on Cordelia and asked her to dance. I think Giles spoke for us all when he said to Wesley, 'Just have at it and stop fluttering about.'
* Ah, Wesley. Does anyone else wonder how he has justified his presence at the school? As Watcher, Giles has still always fulfilled the role of legitimate librarian. Is Wesley playing the role of Giles's assistant? Somehow I don't think he would go for that. Then does nobody question a late 20s/early 30s well-dressed Brit heading to the library every morning? Not only that, but he's CHAPERONE at the prom.
* Yay, Jonathan. He got a date to prom!
*Double-yay Jonathan, for presenting Buffy with the Class Protector award. That was such a moving scene. Buffy finally got her perfect high school moment. *tear*
* While on the topic of awards, it's time for the Fashion Slayer. The winner is...THE SCOOBY GANG! From Cordelia's perfect dress to Willow's 'look at those' to Oz's snazzy suit to Buffy's girly princessness, everyone looked positively fab. Scoobies, take a bow.
That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Heart permanently broken for Buffy and Angel? Wondering what the hell happened to Tucker? Who really had the best prom dress? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.