After a breakup, all I want is wine and Woody Allen movies. I certainly don't want to be out partying, and Buffy appears to be in the same boat. She mopes at the Bronze, morosely watching the teen sexual frenzy on the dance floor beneath her. She's approached by a cute boy from her algebra class who asks her to ask him to the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance -- an American high school tradition where the girls ask the guys. Buffy respectfully declines and Willow points out she's been super-glum lately. Buffy states that she turned her last boyfriend into a psychopathic murderer so maybe it's not a good idea for her to be dating.
At the school, while Giles awaits Buffy, a young couple is in the midst of a heated argument. Things get even more tense when the boy pulls a gun on his girlfriend. Luckily, Buffy shows up just in time and disarms him while a concerned janitor runs over to investigate. The gun literally vanishes into thin air and the couple is left very confused...they weren't even fighting a moment ago.
The next day, Snyder tells Buffy in no uncertain terms, that he blames her for the events that transpired. After he leaves an affronted Buffy, the 1955 yearbook flies off the shelf of its own accord. Odd.
Giles stops by the computer lab to check on Willow, who is thriving in her new teaching position. She proudly tells Giles that she has been reading some of Jenny's techno-pagan files and has become quite fascinated. A sad, misty look appears over Giles's face and the sweetie-pie Willow presents him with a rose-quartz that she found amongst Jenny's possession, citing its healing powers and that she thinks Jenny would want Giles to have it.
Given the choice between paying attention in history class and napping, always pick the latter. Buffy snoozes at the back of the class, and dreams of Sunnydale High 1955. All the girls in their poodle skirts and bobby socks are chatting away about the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance and after class, Buffy witnesses a romantic moment between teacher Grace and student James. She immediately wakes from her dream to find her present-day teacher uncontrollably scrawling 'Don't walk away from me bitch' across the chalkboard. Was he quoting Lincoln?
Buffy is now in Hellmouth-paranoid mode as she relays the events to Xander, who dismisses her claims. However, he changes his tune after he opens his locker and is immediately grabbed by a demonic arm from inside it. Buffy wrenches Xander free and slams the door shut. When they open it again, nothing is there. At the library, they bring Giles and Willow up to speed and Giles suggests that all these bizarre happenings point to a ghost. The most common cause of a haunting is when a person dies with unresolved issues.
That night, while Giles is doing research he hears a woman's voice whisper 'I need you', and he thinks this ghost might be Jenny. He follows it out into the hall where he witnesses the janitor from last night and a teacher having the exact same lovers' quarrel as the night before. Unfortunately however, Giles is too late and the janitor shoots the teacher off the balcony. The gun, again, vanishes into thin air.
On the bad guy side of town, tensions are mounting between Angel and Spike. After Giles burned down the warehouse, Angel has found them a new pad in the form of an ancient-looking mansion. Drusilla is thrilled at her new digs and is becoming more and more attracted to Angel who is only too happy to entertain these feelings. Spike is a ball of jealousy, helpless in his wheelchair.
The next day in the library, Giles has come to the conclusion that Jenny's ghost is haunting the school. He is met with skepticism from the Scoobies -- Angel didn't kill Jenny with a gun, nor were they in the midst of a tumultuous romance. Blinded by his feelings, Giles snaps at the teens, leaving them to do some investigating of their own in the computer lab. Willow looks up past school shootings and pulls up a page from 1955, involving Grace and James, who were in Buffy's dream. Apparently the two were in fact carrying on an affair and on the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance, Grace tried to break it off but James shot her in a jilted rage and then went to the music room and shot himself. Buffy guesses that by the violent nature of the recent hijinks, they are dealing with James's ghost.
In the cafeteria, Cordelia laments to the others about the injustice that is the Sadie Hawkins dance -- the girls have to PAY! -- and believes everyone should boycott it. Ask and you shall receive, my teen queen, as the cafeteria is spontaneously plagued by snakes, one of which bites Cordelia. She's ultimately unhurt, but the school is in chaos and has to shut down. Snyder, who makes it clear he knows about the Hellmouth, gives a horse-hooey story about a backed-up sewer.
Meanwhile, without the help of Giles, Willow has hatched a plan for dealing with James's ghost -- exorcism. She believes that the school's balcony is a mystical 'hotspot' for James as that's where he killed Grace. If they form a triangle around that hotspot, throughout the school, they could cast an exorcism spell and bind James's ghost.
Worth a try, right? The apprehensive Scoobies arrive at the school and Ghost James makes it clear he is not pleased at their shenanigans. All the doors shut, trapping the Scoobies in the school. Cordelia's face starts to decay and Willow gets sucked into a demonic pit and is thankfully saved by Giles, who concludes that there is no way the ghost could be Jenny. Meanwhile, Buffy comes across a flier for the dance...back in 1955. She hears '50s music playing in the music room and sees Grace and James dancing. James's face turns demonic and yells for her to GET OUT before vanishing. The clock strikes midnight and the Scoobies, a little worse for wear, get in position and chant the spell. All is quiet until a plague of wasps attacks them, chasing them out of the school.
Regrouping at Buffy's house -- where the hell is Joyce? -- the Scoobies come to the conclusion that James is seeking forgiveness for killing his love, but is doomed to re-enact the same scene in a sort of paranormal purgatory. Buffy is completely unsympathetic towards James, as she draws parallels to his killing Grace, and her losing Angel his soul. She storms off into the kitchen and hears James's voice calling out 'I need you'. Almost as if in a trance, Buffy leaves her house and heads toward the school. The wasps part, giving Buffy a path into the school.
The Scoobies realize where Buffy has gone and they follow her, but stand helpless in front of the school. Giles assures the group that if Buffy is alone inside, that means there is no man for Buffy to play James's part.
Maybe not a man, but certainly a vampire. Angel shows up, following one of Drusilla's visions that there's some funky paranormal activity going on with the Slayer. He runs into an entranced Buffy and mocks her until...the former couple gets possessed, only this time Buffy is James and Angel is Grace. It would appear that Buffy and James have some mutual identification with each other. The scenario plays out as it has always done, with Buffy shooting Angel off the balcony. She goes to the music room to finish herself off but...Angel isn't dead. Guns can't kill vampires. Still possessed as Grace, Angel forgives Buffy/James and the two share a kiss. James is now at peace, and the possession is lifted. For a fleeting moment, Buffy thinks that her Angel has returned to her but that moment is shattered when Angel hurls her across the room and flees the school.
Back at the mansion, Angel violently washes himself, feeling violated for having once again felt the human emotions of love and forgiveness. He grabs Drusilla to go out hunting and cleanse himself, leaving Spike behind, trapped in his wheelchair. Or maybe not. Once alone, Spike gets up from his wheelchair and kicks it across the room. The bad boy is back, and Angel has made a new enemy.
* Ohhhh man, does this episode totally make up for the nonsensical shitshow that was last week's. All the emotions I wanted the characters to go through were present and accounted for. Buffy is feeling huge heaps of guilt for having turned Angel over to Team Bad Guy, and feels responsible for the hell he is now inflicting upon her and her friends. Meanwhile, Giles has gone emotionally blind with grief for Jenny and is not only useless when it comes to fighting demons, but a hindrance. THIS is the show I paid (Netflix) to see. The creature-feature aspect of the episode even broke new terrain, as the Scoobies have never faced a ghost before. Demons are always seeking Buffy out, usually because she's the Slayer and they want to kill her, but never has a demon picked her because he can relate to her on a human level. Much like Buffy, I was possessed...by this episode, from start to finish. Good show!
* Willow's character has really been developing this season -- we've seen her yell at Giles and Angel, let go of Xander as a love object, and kiss Oz. Now she can add techno-pagan to her resume. She is becoming more and more of an asset in aiding Buffy against her eternal battle with the Hellmouth, and now she's not just handy with a computer, she herself is coming up with ways to fight BACK. She makes nerds everywhere proud.
* Drusilla is dead to me. Shut up, I know she's already dead but what I mean to say is that I HATE her now. In the episode, she is all over Angel, practically having sex with him right in front of Spike. Spike, who cared for her when she was weak and risked death by Slayer to make her strong again. THAT is love, Drusilla, you insane idiot. I hope Spike puts YOU in a wheelchair and finds a nice vampire-girl who deserves him.
* Feminists did not come all this way to PAY for their dates. I'm with my girl Cordy -- let's boycott the Sadie Hawkins dance!
* I made sound like a broken 1950s record, but I am once again giving the Fashion Slayer award to Buffy for her jawdroppingly smoking-hot black shirt and silver pants she wore at the Bronze in the opening scene. It soooo makes up for that perma-mopey expression plastered on her face. I can totally see why that algebra cutie wants her number. And it ain't just because he likes math.
That does it for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Like Sunnydale High's first ghost? Excited about Willow's new hobby? Feel bad for Spike and just want to wrap your