Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Perri's Review | Chris's Review

Perri's Review

Wheeee!!! What a ride! It's the Xander/Cordy train wreck we've all been waiting for and it sure didn't disappoint! Just when you thought there were depths to which Joss wouldn't sink -- he sinks to 'em!

Xander and Buffy are hanging around a graveyard for no apparent reason, discussing Valentine's Day, as Xander looks for reassurance about his present for her -- a heart-shaped locket. The next day, Cordy is dissed by the Cordettes for dating Xander, and Xander sees Amy (our old friend from
The Witch) using a spell to keep from turning in a school paper. The trio run into Giles in the hall looking for Buffy -- and then run into Jenny Calender, who is roundly snubbed by all concerned.

Giles warns Buffy that she has to be careful on Valentine's Day, since Angelus has always had a pattern of using the day to "act out" his emotions. Giles refuses to give her any specifics, but asks her to stay indoors at night.

At the Valentine's dance that night, Cordelia is dissed again, and after Xander gives her his present and bares his heart, breaks up with him to regain her popularity, breaking Xander's heart (or at least his pride) in the process. And at Buffy's house, Angelus leaves a present -- roses with a note reading "Soon".

The story of Xander's dump is spread around the school by the next morning, adding public humiliation to the private one. When he spots Amy, he gets an Idea -- and blackmails her into casting a love spell for him, so he can make Cordy fall helplessly in love with him and break her heart in return. Buffy tells Giles about Angelus's present, and forces Giles to tell her the details of what Angelus has done in the past. Xander demands that Cordelia give him back the necklace -- she lies that it's in her locker when she's actually wearing it. Amy uses the necklace to cast the spell.

The next morning, Cordelia is very distinctly *not* in love with Xander, and Buffy is busily being wigged by Giles's descriptions of Angelus' past deeds. Xander comes in feeling sorry for himself about the breakup with Cordelia, and Buffy offers to hang out with him that night, tells him she was happy about the breakup, and leans towards him... and only Amy's arrival prevents kissage. Xander retreats to the hall -- and Amy comes on to him, using the same words Buffy did. As does a girl from his history class. Xander heads for home, panicked -- and finds Willow waiting for him in his bed. When she starts trying to seduce him, he runs for it again.

But the situation doesn't improve by returning to school. Every girl in the place is stalking him (and Harmony is yelling at Cordelia for dumping him to please her friends), so he bites the bullet and confesses all to Giles. Who doesn't believe him until Jenny arrives and interrupts her diatribe to Giles to start hitting on Xander. Giles drags her out to look for Amy -- and Buffy arrives, to give seducing Xander her best try. Which involves stripping. Xander, though sorely tempted, resists Buffy's best attempts, and is rescued from a pissed-off Slayer scorned by Amy's arrival. A cat fight breaks out, which Amy wins -- by turning Buffy into a rat.

Harmony et al gang up on Cordelia to get revenge for Xander, as Amy and Jenny start to fight, and Oz arrives to punch Xander out in revenge for upsetting Willow. Oz stays to help look for Buffy, who has escaped the library and a really pissed-off Giles kicks Xander out. Xander arrives in the hall to rescue Cordy from the lynch mob, and they try to leave the school -- to find yet another lynch mob, lead by Willow with a fire ax. She has apparently decided she'd rather see him dead than with Cordelia.

Giles gets tired of the women whining about Xander and yells at Amy to force her to help break the spell, which she botched and left Cordelia protected from. Buffy-rat heads for the basement and has a close encounter with a cat. Xander and Cordy look for shelter at Buffy's house, were her mom joins the seduction patrol. They hide in Buffy's room -- and Angelus pulls Xander out the window. The rat bastard decides Xander will make a good present for Buffy, but he's prevented from doing damage by the arrival of Drusilla -- who tries to seduce Xander. The angry chick mob rescues Xander from Dru, Cordy rescues Xander from the mob and they wind up back in the basement where this whole thing started.

As the mob closes in -- apparently unified in the belief that if they can't have Xander, no one will -- Buffy's spell is broken, leaving her naked in front of Oz. Just in time, Giles breaks the other spell, leaving the chick mob confused and blinking and no longer in love. They cover, Oz goes for clothes and the crisis is finally over.

At school, Willow won't talk to Xander, but he and Buffy mend fences quickly. And Cordelia finally works up the nerve to tell Harmony et al to take a hike, and walks off arm in arm with Xander.

Vampires are physically barred from entering a place they haven't been invited, like running into an invisible wall.

Amy Madison, the witch's daughter from first season, is still in Sunnydale, and taking up where her mom left off. The idiot.

Xander and Cordy have finally there might possibly be feelings between them aside from lust, and Cordy has faced down the Cordettes for Xander's sake. Ever think you'd be happy that things are working out for them?

Willow and Xander, on the other hand, have a really rough time ahead. Xander totally unable to pretend he doesn't know about Willow's feelings and Willow ready to kill herself from embarrassment. At least Oz seems to be able to deal.... And, as usual, both Buffy and Xander are able to completely ignore any uncomfortable moments and slip immediately back into their usual friendship.

Giles is avoiding Jenny -- okay, Giles is actively shutting Jenny out, but she was all set to call him on it. Those two need a major, loud, shouting, throwing things fight in just the worst way.

Angelus seems to be going out of his way to make Spike insane, and it's working. That's gonna be a bigger messy than the Xander-Cordelia-Willow stain.

Xander, Xander, Xander... We love you dearly, but we're going to have to smack you now. Hard. You go and be all sweet and sincere with your gift to Cordelia and trying to persuade her that you two might actually work -- then you go and do something so totally stupid as casting a love spell. Moron! But he redeems himself by resisting temptation, confessing to Giles right away and trying to protect Cordy from Angelus and the crazed chick mob. I don't think anyone's going to let him forget this for a looong time, though.

Cordelia earns an equal amount of smacks and redemption. She bows to peer pressure and breaks up with Xander (and Harmony was right, she is a fool), but she suffers for it -- and I'm not talking about the lynchings. She was hurting the entire next day and -- well, she was wearing the necklace. Which was cool. And, of course, she achieves total redemption by finally telling the Cordettes where to get off. Compare the Cordelia of the pilot with this one and... Is it possible a pod person snuck in? < g > Cordy is rapidly becoming my favorite character, for times like this. She's finally figuring out how to stand on her own, because, for the first time, she doesn't have to.

I was considering adding Giles to the "I have to smack you now" list, but I'll let him off the hook. He really is being unfair to Jenny, but he thinks he has reason, and he's so busy trying to protect Buffy that the people skills have fallen by the wayside again. And he handles Amy perfectly!

And Jenny, at least, is refusing to roll over and play dead. All she has to do is keep yelling at him until he can't hide anymore, and maybe they'll still have a chance. It was harsh how even the kids are dissing her (although Willow just looked miserable).

Not much Buffy this week, but she's coping with the Xander/ Willow/ Cordy/ Oz situations really well -- they're probably a welcome distraction from the state of her own life. She's playing Switzerland and trying to keep everyone from killing each other, and succeeding fairly well. But she's going to have to break down and tell her mom some things pretty soon....

Amy definitely gets some smacks, but not too hard; if I knew I had access to the kind of power she does, my temptation levels would be pretty damn high, too, especially for stupid-seeming things like schoolwork. I'd like to see her again, after she gets over the urge to maim Xander. And I want to see whether she learns to contorl her little tendancy to the dark side. If not, threefold law is going to catch up with her if she keeeps doing things like turning people into rats, and she's gonna wind up trapped in a trophy.

Best Moments:
It's hard to pick specific moments -- everything flowed together and escalated to utter insanity so smoothly that it's hard to break it down. But....

Willow's "My boyfriend's in the band". Oh, Willow's been waiting her whole life to say that!

Giles and Jenny's confrontation in the hall. He refuses to look at her, Buffy and Xander are both very careful not to touch her... Pain. Xander babbling to Cordelia about his feelings. He was so sweet and almost coherent. And their faces when she broke up with him -- I felt almost as sorry for her as I did for Xander.

Xander blackmailing Amy. < g > Blackmail is an ugly word...

Xander taking the necklace back from Cordelia. So sweet that she was wearing it, so painful watching both of them pretend it didn't hurt.

Jenny attempting to seduce Xander while Giles tries to yell at him and stay between him and Jenny. Xander looks like a whipped puppy, Giles is going insane, and he almost forgets to take Jenny when he leaves!

Buffy trying to seduce Xander. Not the seduction, per se, but Xander's face as he manfully resists temptation.. and realizes just how much trouble he's actually in.

Oz punching Xander. He just can't quite manage to stay mad. *g*

Giles telling Xander to leave. One of the few times we've seen Giles truly pissed.

Xander rescuing Cordy -- we knew those muscles weren't just there for decoration!

Willow and the ax. Geez. Never piss this girl off.

Angelus' appearance at the window. Shriek city! And the whole time, Xander's yelling at Cordelia to get away. Sooo sweeet.

Everyone's collective expressions when Dru 'rescues' Xander. *giggle* And he thought he'd been panicked when it was Buffy!

Buffy and Oz when the rat spell is broken. He flips that flashlight up and away so fast! < g > But Dianne's right -- if anyone understands what it's like to wake up in a strange place naked, it's Oz.

Cordy finally letting Harmony and the others have it -- and hyperventilating afterwards. We've waited a long time for that confrontation and it was worth it! And the growing smile on Xander's face as he realizes what's happening was just precious!

Questions and Comments:
I'm not even gonna say anything about the heart. Not one. Blessed. Thing. Well, maybe one thing. EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

At least we know how Amy screwed up. Diana is the virgin goddess of the hunt, guys, invoking her for a love spell is asking for trouble; for love, invoke Aphrodite/Venus. Got it? Oy.

Seth? Sweetie? Please dye your hair back to brown. You look much cooler that way, and Spike carries off the bleached look much better.

Seen in Xander's room -- pool racks and a guitar. Interesting.... Wonder if he started playing before or after Willow met Oz? Or is it just a teen guy thing?

Apparently if Amy is in an episode, fire axes will be involved. Kewl.

And the FX guys are happy because they get to play with their 'witchcraft' toys again. < g > Very nice effects on the spellcasting.

How did it become dark between the scene with Willow's mob in the middle of the school day and the scene at Buffy's house? I know, it needed to be dark so Angelus could show up, but that's weird time passage even for Sunnydale.

Loved the music all the way through; the seventies stuff when Xander's going down the hall, the perky "someone's gonna die" music in Xander's bedroom -- lovely job.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. They turned Buffy into a rat. And Mrs. Summers hit on Xander. Cordelia told off the Cordettes. This ep never slowed down, never stopped twisting and delivered some good wiggins' in the middle of major laughs, not to mention outstanding performances from Nick and Charisma. Really well done; Marni Noxon must write more.

Chris's Review

Hooooo, boy. It's probably illegal to be this amused at what is pretty much one character's expense, but Xander _so_ deserves this, and the ending with Cordelia is _so_ satisfying, that I think this has to be one of my favorite episodes of the season (up there with Halloween).

Why does this show work so well, when other stand-alone eps (Killed by Death), or other "funny" eps (Bad Eggs, for example) don't work *nearly* as well? It's got to be the pacing.

You start with the inevitable: Cordy gives in to peer pressure and dumps Xander. We all knew this was coming, but that she does it in such a hurtful way, her timing sucking as horribly as it does, and that she's obviously torn about her decision, doing this against her better judgement and true feelings, just makes a really good payback that much more necessary.

Plus, this is Xander we're talking about; never the most mature of males when his ego has been squashed, not to mention a good chunk of his heart. Of *course* he's going to retaliate. And of *course* it's going to get ugly. The glee level of your average sadistic audience member (namely, me) gets turned up a notch.

So when he starts talking blackmail with Amy, there's no question what he's going to ask for. And there's no question that---say it with me, "this being the Hellmouth and all"---they'll screw it up. She's got less experience than she should, his motives are impure, and they went and invoked *Diana*. Oy. Stupid, stupid, bad, bad, bad Xander. He knows better. Therefore he's really going to pay for this. More gleeful anticipation as we wait for them (and Cordelia) to reap the consequences.

Maybe the audience could see the next development coming: the entire female population of Sunnydale falling for Xander with the sole exception of Cordy. But there is no *way* you could be ready for the things that happen after that---every single silly thing that you'd swear couldn't be done believably, is.

Confessing to Giles *immediately* was the smartest thing Xander did. He got the talking-to he so richly deserved, but only in part. More of that came later; I think everyone wailed on Xander at some point in this episode, and you can't disagree with any of them. He really messed up. But watching Giles get more irked as Jenny feels up Xander, getting sillier and more obsessed by the second, was both funny and scary, underlining the real risk Xander is running while the spell lasts.

The whole scene with Willow is something that anyone who ever wanted them to get together really, really hoped to see; and while they can't be together now, (what with Oz, and Cordy, and various other historical events in the way) I'm betting Xander won't forget that it happened, or that she looked cute in his nightshirt. Plus, the look of sheer terror on his face... just a _hint_ of things to come. (You think things are bad _now_, Harris? wait.)

Buffy's striptease was another long-awaited dream-come-true; for Xander, anyway---which he had to pass on, because she was bewitched. Torture him, torture him, bad, bad Xander; this is what happens when you mess with black magic. Sheer giggles, all the way through.

Then Amy turns Buffy into a rat! And the rat escapes!

And we're only half-way through the ep. Okay, so how much worse can things get???

While all this is going on, a very confused and angry Cordelia's being lynched! It's Xander to the rescue! Very, very cool! Run away... whoa. Willow has an axe. That's not a good thing. Many, many other angry women, also a bad thing---how did they get away from them again? Oh well, it's not important, because everything's happening too fast for you to wonder about that for a while.

More running, and finally, Xander and Cordy find sanctuary---only to have Joyce hit on Xander (eewwww!). Even while you knew it had to happen, actually *seeing* Buffy's mom put the moves on Xander is another thing entirely... And still, I was happy. See, Xander? Black magic is bad. Baaaad.

Then Angelus shows up, and the giggles stop for several shrieking seconds---and then you get the shivers *and* the giggles when Drusilla starts coming on to Xander. Partly at Angelus's expense; he just can not _believe_ this is happening. (Deal, Dead Boy. She's not talking to you.) I think this is the point at which I finally felt Xander had paid enough for this dumb stunt. Scared out of his mind is one thing, dead is another.

That the chick mob saves him after they nearly killed him before is just perfect symmetry.

So there's no way out, and it's just a matter of Giles and Amy reversing the spell before anyone gets permanently dead (broken up by the hilarious Buffy and Oz conversation in the basement, once she's re-humanized)----and then--- there's the revelation where Cordelia *finally* finds out what jerk Xander has been for her sake, terribly sweet, she got the point awfully fast---and then---boom, back to normal, everyone wondering what's up.... and Cordy comes through with the Scavenger Hunt explanation.

You can now breathe. :>

The final scene where Cordelia has an epiphany, tells off Harmony and the Cordettes, insults *and* walks away with Xander, and then panics, is wonderful. *Exactly* what we wanted to see, and how you wanted to see it. Even the insult is perfect, since Xander's used to that, and he would rather have her insulting him to his face as his girlfriend than ignoring him completely, like she was trying to do earlier.

See what I mean? It's go to be the pacing. Yup. And the silliness. And, well, getting to see lots of scenes you've wanted to see, just skewed and twisted and warped like Silly Putty. (Plus some of the Warm-and-Fuzzy moments with Xander and Buffy, and Xander and Cordelia, are really cool. So I'm a sucker for the sappy emotional stuff, sue me.)

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. One of the perfect stand-alone episodes. As well as a great antidote to any Valentine's Day blues that might be hanging around.

Back to Episodes.