Buffy isn't sleeping well. Every night she dreams of the Master -- no, not the Joaquin Phoenix Scientology movie, the annoying vampire who lives under the school and never clips his nails. At least Buffy's waking life ain't so bad, as she gets to see her dad for the weekend. All she has to do is make it through the day without anything Hellmouthy happening. Easy as pie (or a Chocolate Hurricane), right? Weeeeellll.....
Things start out great. Buffy's in class with her friends, being taught about active listening by the provocatively-dressed Ms. Tishler (seriously Xander, you'd think you've learned your lesson on hot teachers...). Then all of a sudden, Wendell, Xander's latest tertiary friend (I miss Jesse!) opens his textbook and a bunch of big, hairy spiders come flying out. Well they don't actually fly...but it's still freaky!
The gang talks to Wendell and he launches into a (little too creepy) monologue about how spiders attacking him in class has been a recurring dream. Buffy's Spidey sense is tingling....get it, the spiders....you get it.
Weird things start popping up like Whack-a-Moles. Some kid is following Buffy around, Giles can't read, Cordy's hair goes frizzy, like 80s hair-band frizzy, Xander loses his clothes (drool!) and some girl named Laura goes for a smoke and gets attacked by a demon (Awesome subtle message there. Don't smoke, kids, because a demon will attack you!). Buffy consults the illiterate Giles and happens upon a newspaper with a pic of the kid who keeps following her. The kid's name is Billy and he was attacked after his Little League game. Now he is comatose. Giles has a theory that Billy is having a supernatural out-of-body experience, and his astral body is causing everyone to live their nightmares.
In the midst of all this chaos, Buffy's dad shows up at school. He sits her down, and in one of the more heart-wrenching scenes of the show, tells Buffy that she is at fault for her parents' divorce because she is such a shitty daughter. He leaves
She follows him and they get attacked by the Ugly Man, a demon who has been following Billy around since he was attacked. Buffy and Billy -- come on writers, you couldn't have given the kid a name that doesn't sound EXACTLY like the name of your protagonist? -- anyways, Buffy and Billy run away from the Ugly Man, who proves too strong even for Buffy, and wind up at the cemetery and it just so happens to be nighttime. The Master is there and he throws Buffy in a grave.
Things are getting bat-shit crazy at the school. Giles, Xander and Willow go on a wild goosechase involving swastikas, sketchy chocolate bars, fat opera singers and a clown (no I'm not making this up). They somehow get to the cemetery and see Buffy's tombstone, which is Giles's ultimate worst nightmare, that he failed Buffy as a Watcher (awwwwwwwww!). He pulls Buffy out of the grave and she is a bumpily-faced vampire! Yikes! (Or if you're Xander, Hot!)
Vamp Buffy squares off with the Ugly Man at the hospital, and he's no match for her with her added vampire strength. She kills him but only Billy can break the curse by pulling his face off. He does and they all go back to normal. Billy wakes up from his coma and reveals that it was his Little League coach who put him there because he dropped a ball during the game. So the overall message is that sports are evil and bring out the demon in all of us. Tell me something I don't know.
* This episode was all over the place. It tried to accomplish too much in 45 minutes and thus didn't succeed in pulling off anything. First, there is the standard Creature Feature plot that many previous episodes have successfully employed. This ep's creature was the Ugly Man, but he was barely in it. Second, there was Buffy's growing fear of the Master. WHY? His handful of attempts on Buffy's life have been beyond pathetic and he is FREAKING STUCK UNDERGROUND! It seemed as if the only reason to include him in the episode was to remind the audience that he's on the show and that he's scaaaaaary. Come on, he wasn't even involved in the nightmare plot. Third, I get that Billy's astral body was crying out for help, but the whole Little League coach ending felt very tacked on. There was nothing to hint at it throughout the whole episode and it just felt like a cheap way to cram in some more drama.
* The episode wasn't all bad, however. There were two very poignant scenes. The first was Buffy's conversation with her dad. Though what he was saying was cartoonishly mean and we as viewers kinda got that it was Buffy's nightmare, watching Buffy's reaction grounded the scene and made it absolutely heartbreaking. This is probably the first time we have seen Buffy's emotional core. We love her as the ass-kicking vampire slayer but now we can relate to her as a vulnerable teenage girl who just wants approval and love from her parents. The second mind-blowingly awesome scene was Giles's reaction to Buffy's tombstone. I've mentioned before that I crave seeing Giles out of the library and being his own character, rather than just a fountain of information. Getting to see him as not just a nagging gnat in Buffy's ear, but as someone who really cares about her was an emotional treat.
* How serial killery was Wendell when he told that story about his pet spiders? His gaze was so intense and he sounded like he would love nothing more than to seek revenge on his brother for killing his them. THAT would have made for an interesting episode.
* Seriously, the Master, you have an endless supply of minions, send one of them out for a pair of nail clippers. Those things are gnarly. You could give that Asian dude in the Guinness World Record book a run for his money!
* I understand that Xander is a typical teenage boy and the prospect of multiple free chocolate bars may trump logic, but don't you think a trail of them might be suspicious, especially when people's nightmares are coming true? Don't you think it might not be a good idea to shove them in your face, Xander? Also, what kind of name is Chocolate Hurricane? It sounds like something on Urban Dictionary that I do not want to read about!
* Forgive me, but again I must comment on how underused Cordy was this episode. She is a main character yet we have never had a chance to see what she is thinking. Would an episode about worst nightmares coming true not be a PERFECT chance to see what she is really thinking, instead of just making her look like the fifth member of Motley Crue?
* Last but not least, let me award a Fashion Slayer. I am seriously tempted to give it to Xander for his nudey nightmare, but I guess a lack of clothes would be against the rules. So the winner is...you know what? This is MY damn blog, I can give the award to whoever I want. Congrats Xander!
That's all for this week, my lovely readers. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me, that this entire episode was a nightmare? Do you want the Master to clip his nails almost as much as you want him off the show? Still drooling over Xander? Leave me a comment and let me know. Check back every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.