Go Fish

Dianne's Review | SunSpeak

Dianne's Review

"Great Xander episode, but everybody else just needed to take a pill." --Chris

The Sunnydale swim team is having a victory party on the beach, and everyone's there-- Xander's griping to Willow and Cordy... while Buffy sits alone down the beach, staring into the waves.

Cameron, a swim team member, comes down to talk to Buffy, wax profound about the ocean, and assure her that there's "no pressure" on his interest in her.

Back in the midst of the party, another swimmer is having fun dunking a dork headfirst in the drink cooler's ice water. Buffy, with Cameron in tow, comes to the rescue-- pissing off Dodd, the dunker, as well as the ungrateful dunkee, Jonathan.

Another team member, Gage, pulls Dodd off to walk down the beach and cool off. Gage looks away for a moment, smells something horrible, realizes Dodd's gone missing on him, and we hear particularly gross groaning, moaning, and wet ripping kinds of sounds. Gage heads back up the beach at a run, and we have a slow, loving pan <<< gross alert! >>> up a pile of empty, bloody, ripped human skin... still sporting the tattoo we saw earlier on Dodd.

In the background we get a glimpse of... well... let's face it-- four viewers out of four spontaneously IDed it as The Creature From the Black Lagoon.


O.K., we're back :)

Willow's still teaching computers, but instead of making pie charts, Gage is playing naked-lady-deck solitaire. Snyder arrives as the bell rings to compliment Gage on his swimming, ask Willow to sub in for the rest of the year... and talk her into passing Gage for the good of the team.

Walking down the hall afterwards, Xander is properly outraged at this, but Cordy champions the 'special people deserve special treatment' approach.

Meanwhile, Buffy is being driven (back?) to school by Cameron, who is boring her to tears with his endless-- if profound-- chatter about his love for the ocean and all things oceanic. He then proceeds to make a hormonal U-turn ["I'm not about pressure. I just want you to be comfortable.... Are you wearing a bra?"] When Buffy decides to leave, he locks the doors on her. She then decides to intimately acquaint his nose with the steering column.

Unfortunately, they're in the school parking lot and Snyder has witnessed this. In the nurse's office, Buffy tries in vain to defend herself, but Snyder's not buying it. Cameron helpfully denies any responsibility, claiming she lead him on ["Look at the way she's dressed!"] and then "went psycho" on him. The coach arrives, shares Snyder's concern for the team's continued chances, then also blames Buffy (and her wardrobe) for the incident.

Buffy rants her heart out in the library, but soon notices that everyone else (Xander, Willow, and Giles) has their heads buried in books, researching away. When she pauses to check in with them, they tell her about the discovery of Dodd's skin-and-nothing-but on the beach.

Cameron's sitting in the steam room when... <<< cue scary music and camera cuts! >>>... the coach <<< awww! >>> walks in and tells him to hit the showers. We then seem him run into Xander in the school hallway. Xander proceeds to rub in the fact that-- as Cam's nose demonstrates-- Buffy's not on the swim team perk list.

Cameron leaves for the cafeteria ["It's open for _me_."] and Xander ponders the vending machine choices. A yell and a crash later and Xander's headed for the cafeteria-- to find a surprising number of chairs down... and another gruesome mass of... um... 'no-longer-occupied' skin on the floor.

He stops gagging though, just as soon as he backs into the Black Lagoon Monster itself....

Back from commercial and he's safe in the library, using Cordy as a sketch artist (as she taunts him for running away). Buffy and Willow arrive to verify that victims #1 and #2 were also the school's #1 and #2 ranked swimmers, thereby suggesting that Gage-- ranked #3-- will be victim #3.

Giles points out that if the killings are following a pattern, it suggests someone taking revenge on the swim team. The only candidate to come to mind is Jonathan, who might be taking revenge for the beach-dunking humiliation. They divvy up assignments-- Willow will question Jonathan, Buffy will keep a protective eye on Gage. Cordy takes yet one more dig at Xander's masculinity.

Unfortunately, "Buffy" and "discrete" simply don't mesh. [You're holding the magazine upside-down, dear! ;)] Willow has more success doing an all-out third-degree interrogation of the dunkee. He does break rather quickly under her expert handling... but only to reveal that his idea of revenge on the team is sneaking in and peeing in the pool.

Snyder and the coach are walking the halls, worrying still over the team's chances... especially since they need at least one more warm body signed up to even qualify for a chance at this point. Xander overhears their conversation and clearly gets an idea.

At the Bronze that night, Buffy's protective eye is getting no more subtle. Gage finally calls her on it and-- after failing to convince him she's just a "swim groupie"-- she tells him that there's a monster killing people, and she thinks he's next. Unfortunately, he thinks she's nuts and storms out....

Where Angelus offers him a sympathetic ear-- at least until he gets to the usual pointy-teeth part. Buffy exits the Bronze just in time to hear Gage's calls for help... and arrives to find Angelus vigorously spitting out what blood he's taken like he'd just taken a mouthful of sour milk. Buffy fights him off, he dodges by throwing Gage at her and leaves. Buffy helps Gage up, and he shows the good sense to ask her to walk him home.

Swim practice the next day and Buffy, Willow, and Cordy have a seat on the bleachers. Apparently Gage took last night's incident too much to heart, because now he's waving at Buffy from mid-pool like a sap. Ignoring him, the girls get down to business-- Buffy thinks Angel may have spit out the blood because it contained steroids (thus also explaining the winning streak and the increasingly jerky behavior). Cordelia reports that there's been no luck on the research front towards IDing the demons they're up against.

Their chat is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Xander... in nothing but a small red Speedo. :) Upon spotting the girls, he tries desperately to hide himself behind a kickboard as he explains that he's "undercover" ["You're not under _much_." -- Buffy] and has joined the swim team to help keep an eye on Gage.

Xander later joins the rest of the team in the steam room... while we see scaly claws removing a locker room floor grate. Xander appears in the hall, telling the waiting Buffy that Gage is on his way out, and handing off potential-victim-watching duties to her.

Sure enough, within a minute of Xander's departure, a yell-and-crash sends Buffy running into the locker room... where she finds Gage being attacked by the Black Lagoon Creature (BLC). She arrives in time to save Gage... only to see him collapse on his own and start peeling off his own skin in horrified agony... to reveal a BLC underneath.

Buffy battles the BLCs-- earning a serious bite on the arm in the process-- long enough to be rescued by the arrival of the coach. The BLCs make a quick exit through the open floor drain grill.

As Buffy is getting patched up in the nurse's office, Giles and she break the news to the coach that none of the team members have actually died... they've just become monsters. The coach is stunned (although it seems more by the thought that they were using steroids than that they were monster-fied).

Buffy and Xander join Willow in the computer lab for a bit of hacking-- determining via the school health records that all three swimmers had been showing signs of steroid abuse... and that the nurse had treated them all. The nurse is therefore definitely involved. [Pause for a rather obvious PSA on the evils of steroid use.]

Xander is assigned to find out about the steroid connection from his new teammates, while Buffy and Giles-- armed with tranquilizer guns-- "go fishing" in the drainage (?) tunnels. While they are followed by a BLC, they don't actually encounter one.

Xander, meanwhile, ends up asking his teammates straight out about the steroids. They tell him it's administered via the steam in the steam room in which Xander is currently sitting.

The nurse, meanwhile, is trying to back out of the scheme (now that it's going so very wrong)... causing the coach to promptly shove her down a handy grate into the drainage tunnels as a meal for "his boys."

At the obligatory Slayerette conference in the library, Xander is wigging badly over his own exposure. Buffy recommends Giles find and lock up the rest of the swim team as a preventative. Willow eagerly heads off to interrogate the nurse.

Buffy goes to confront the swim coach, who explains that he's revived old Soviet Olympic-team experiments using fish DNA... then promptly pulls a gun on her and forces her down the same floor grate into the drainage tunnels. Buffy encounters the floating body of the nurse as he assures her that "his boys" have already eaten, but they still have "other needs."

Xander and Cordy arrive at the pool looking for stray swim team members, only to find it deserted. Xander, still wigging deeply, scurries off to the bathroom to check himself for scales. Cordy continues to walk around the pool, hears movement and a splash behind her and figures he's dived into the pool. As the water clears, though, she realizes it's a BLC in the pool.

Shocked at what's happened to him, she walks alongside the pool, feeling guilty for having caused him to join the swim team to impress her and reassuring him that she will stick by him, no matter what he looks like....

Only to shriek when Xander-- still quite human-- appears behind her. The BLC in the pool promptly lunges for them both. They run like hell.

In the library the swim members are being herded safely into Giles' little book cage. Willow announces all are accounted for except "Sean"-- who is accounted for by Xander and Cordy when they arrive. Buffy, however, still hasn't returned.

As Buffy's being attacked by three BLCs down below, Xander comes by to talk to the coach. Beating him to the gun and knocking him out, Xander hoists Buffy back up to safety... in the nick of time to be rabbit-punched by the now-conscious-again coach. Buffy, however, throws the coach, dumping him head-first down the grate in the process. She manages to hold on to one foot, but not for long, and the coach is swiftly taken care of by the BLCs.

Later, Xander refers to the joys of the plasma transfusion treatments he and the other remaining swim team members will now be on to counter possible BLC syndrome. Giles arrives to announce that when Animal Control Officers arrived, the BLCs were gone. Willow worries that they will now have to hunt them again, but Buffy is sure they won't be seen again, having gone "home".

The closing shot is of the BLCs heading out through the surf towards the open ocean.

This ep actually reminded me a lot of "Bad Eggs"-- fewer outright movie 'tributes', but the same spirit of "Yeah, it's a B-movie set-up, but let's run with it!" Surprisingly enough it was even better the second time watching, maybe because you could watch the amusing character bits and funny lines without trying so hard to keep track of the plot. :)

The major disappointment was the *way* obvious steroid PSA mid-show. They would have done better to just pause the action, turn to the screen, and have Buffy warn the audience to "Just Say No!" Come on, guys-- Even Willow isn't so clueless she needs to ask "but why do they do it?" Swing the sledgehammer at our heads a bit harder next time?

The bit with "a brush with date rape" earlier was handled more in the skilled fashion I've come to expect of Buffy-- We see the jerk being jerk-like. We see how Buffy gets unfairly blamed. We know it sucks. We hope the sleazy little

creep gets eviscerated by a monster. Message received. By the time Buffy's ranting on in the library, we're with the Slayerettes-- Uh, yes it sucks, but we've got a plot to get on with here....

Being a stand-alone ep it didn't have much reason to deal with such, but Buffy's "weird bad girl" reputation is definitely intact. Dodd and Gage on the beach are talking about how "creepy" she is. Cameron, OTOH, tries to jump her in the car while saying "I know you like it rough." And Snyder is still _so_ not cutting the girl the slightest bit of slack.

They dealt with Willow teaching at least, although they really didn't justify it in any sane way. Willow's thrilled to be a sub, but even she's got to get bored teaching pie charts (*pie charts*? isn't there usually an automatic function key that will do that for you?) and she hasn't exactly worked out the concept of keeping a slacker like Gage in line.

Xander and Cordy continue to amaze (and amuse!) by demonstrating that they actually have something other than hormonal overload going between them. They continue to snipe just as before, but the antagonism just isn't there and the body language is increasingly belying the words: Xander mocks Cordy's "pain" at how the deaths will affect the swim team's championship hopes... as they go to stand companionably at the desk together. Cordy bewails the thought that Xander might socially embarrass her by becoming a fish, he gripes back at her lack of support... as he goes to sit next to her on the library stairs.

The most priceless moment, of course, is when Cordy, thinking Xander has been 'monsterized', walks along the side of the pool talking to him, apologizing for her part in this, and assuring him they can still date... if he wants to, and offering to get him anything he needs "little bath toys?" :) It's sweet, it's hysterical, and I think it's genuine.

Yeah, the scene's a bit over the top, in keeping with the rest of the ep, but we do get a chance to see Real Cordy peeking out from behind the Social Cordy Mask. She knows he's trying to impress her, and feels bad it's led to this. For all her moaning earlier about the social stigma of dating a fish guy, she's offering to stay with him-- even seeming upset at the thought he might want to date someone else (even if it's a fish :). I'm not yet ready to swear to what would have happened in the long run if Xander _had_ become a BLC, but it's pretty evident that Chase cares more than she generally shows.... and more than just for the groping-in-closets parts.

The only other relationship point would be to note that, while Buffy's still not dating, she is willing to have a no-pressure guy friend... or at least she _was_....

No Oz this time. That just bites on general principle.

Buffy's still mopey, but dealing. Unfortunately, something's wreaked absolute havoc with her reflexes; her responses all ep were way too slow. She hears Gage yelling for help when Angelus attacks him... and she pauses to look about for a while before following-- usually someone yelps and she's _there_. Worse yet was watching her turn her back on BLC #1 in order to watch Gage monsterfy. Yeah, the first BLC kindly refrained from making any threatening moves towards this antagonistic person's back for a few minutes while she was utterly distracted (even though she was all of a good three feet in front of him) until the floor show stopped and she had time to recover, but how long do you think OFSlayer is going to last counting on that kind of consideration from the baddies? Yo, _hello_, Buffy? You're a professional-- you've seen weirder and kept your head before. Snap out of it, girlfriend.

As for other major characters, Giles is just around for research support. Angel/us has simply slipped into the role of "annoying CPD of the week." Willow, OTOH, has definitely been watching too much X-Files of late. :) We decided that she's taken Scully-- bright, science-oriented, redheaded female-- as a role model. She just was having _too_ much fun getting to be 'the heavy' this time.

Cordy I pretty much covered in the 'relationships' section-- the mask slips further every week. She starts out concerned for the team's chances, instead of their mortality rate. Then has to deal with the belief that Xander's been monsterized. By the end she's back to Ms. Shallowness ("You were courageous! And you don't have to join the team next year to impress me... I'd be just as happy if you played football!")-- but take a good look at her face and it's clear it's a deliberate tease this time. The mask isn't just slipping anymore, it's becoming an optional wardrobe accessory with her.

Xander was... well *nude*. < g > [Watch Willow go thud! (Watch Celli go thud! :) Watch Buffy be amused. Watch Cordy seriously re-evaluate the whole "groping only with the lights _off_" thing.] Oh, o.k., so he wasn't actually _nude_... but _my_ didn't he look nice in that Speedo? < g > Characterwise, he was great when he was reinforcing the "Don't mess with Buffy" message with Cameron. Found something helpful to do for the group effort all on his own, and it turned out to be essential that he did so-- for all it was largely to impress Cordy [Yes, Perri, I think it was definitely aimed at Cordy, not Buffy. < g >], and that it required plasma treatments afterwards. He also spent much time with a minimum of clothing, which-- let's face it-- was his primary contribution to the ep this week. ;)

Snyder, OTOH, was really off-- to the point of being out of character, frankly. Since when is Snyder this concerned about school spirit? It's not like he's been waiting years for this moment... he only signed on for this job last year. So what's suddenly up with him? Especially when it's resulting in more school-weirdness of the type Snyder is forever trying to suppress? It was odd and seemed forced to me. (My best "stretch it til it breaks" rationalization is that he was figuring a winning swim team would distract attention from what we _know_ he's concerned about-- covering up the weirdness at his school. But then again, I was an FK fan, I can rationalize *anything*... < G >)

Guest shots:
O.K., tell me it wasn't just me, but that Cameron both looked and _sounded_ an awful lot like Angel(us)/David. I didn't catch the actor's name, but I was starting to think they'd drafted a relative or a stand-in or something.

Other Things:

* Let's see, we came up with at least three different levels of meaning in "Go Fish" ('turn into a fish', 'go catch a fish', 'Go Sunnydale! Go Swimmers! Go... uh... fish?' :) We suspect there are more, but we were getting punchy by then.

* Both the FX and makeup crews had *entirely* too much time on their hands. :)

* During the "equality or privilege" discussion, Xander, Willow, and Cordy were frighteningly color-coordinated. In fact, Willow and Cordy seemed to be wearing the same thing, just with different strategic placement of the stripe.

* Could they possibly have used the word "team" more times in a single episode? Gee, think varying concepts of "team" and "teamwork" were this week's assigned theme? (True or False, discuss. Please explain your answer. Give concrete examples....)

Best Bits:
* Cordy promising to stand by the fishified 'Xander' at the pool.

* Willow grilling Mr. Dunk-ee.

* Xander in the Speedo (duh! :) Watching him see the girls and _freak_ to cover himself was hysterical... as was watching him trying to cover his rear with a handful of swimcap as he walked away. ;)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Heck, I dunno. I tend to be in the camp of "even bad Buffy's pretty good" anyway. It wasn't deep, it lagged in places, but it had some great bits too.

["We"s above refer to some combo of Perri, Chris, and Lizbet, with whom I phone-watched at various points. ;-]


"Raise your hand if you think the Ultimate CPD--a/k/a the Hellmouth--had some influence over the actual *effect* of the weird Soviet DNA experiment that *suddenly* decided to work for a demented high school swim coach when it wouldn't for the scientists..." -- Valerie

"Yepyepyepyepyepyepyepyepyep. He's a demon. (Gosh, that was coherent and persuasive...) I did think, though, that the obsessive school-spirit thing was very anti-Snyder. By-the-Book-With-Superglue Man trying to intimidate Willow into changing a GRADE??????? Hell, I would expect him to share Amy's belief that sports don't belong in school at *all*, and take it to its most fanatic extreme. He's showing his true demonic colors, I'm tellin' ya." -- Valerie

"o/~ Hang on Flukie, Flukie hang on. o/~ Was this episode not just a total homage to the X-files??? We had the red speedos, the fluke-like monster, the evil Soviet biogenetics... All we needed was Deep Throat..." -- Abby

"Number one: May I just say how delighted I was to see the subject of Buffy's wardrobe mentioned--in a way that points up how petty the whole thing is? The "asking for it" mentality displayed by Gage, Snyder and the coach is of course obvious to the point of absurdity; but the persistent "why do they dress her like a tart?" thread running through the fandom makes me very nearly as nuts. Probably because, weather permitting, I dress much the same way, and I am in *no* way, shape or form advertising that I am either helpless or up for grabs. I don't believe Buffy is either; it's simply what she likes and, being Buffy, she sees no need to excuse or explain her preference to others." -- Valerie

"Willow has completely overshot outgoing and landed on sadistic and twisted. That's the trouble with trying to break out of your shell on a hellmouth. " -- Mary Beth

"Angel in the alley outside the Bronze: a convenient way to use him in the plot, and it brought us our one "preparing for the season finale" moment: He's recruiting???? *gulp*" -- Mary Beth

"Oh and Oz was there, he was! In the Bronze scene, the cake pan next to Buffy was filled with boxes of animal crackers!" -- Mary Beth

"Snyder has bigger problems. If he's getting so desperate that he'll let Willow teach (assuming that it's not just because he can order her around; I _loved_ that whole "team player" commentary he aimed at her) and he's now lost a school nurse and another coach, Sunnydale High is _really_ hurting for faculty. We saw two teachers die in School Hard, and Jenny is MIA until otherwise proven back.... The nurse who just died is *not* the same one we saw in IRYJ, so that one might have quit too (or not, maybe she's still around), an English teacher and the janitor were taken off staff last week... I mean, when they ask for subs, they'll probably take *anyone*. No wonder no one's questioning Giles's teaching credentials. They're just happy he's lasted this long without quitting, dying, or having a psychotic episode. " -- Chris

"That whole monologue by the pool was *soooooo* bad-fifties-creature feature. "I'll love you, honey, even though you now have the head of a fly... I'll love you, sweetheart, even though you're now invisible and psychotic... I love you, even if you aren't really from this planet...." Cordelia's probably been *expecting* something like this to happen; everyone else's love lives get a touch of Hellmouth, why shouldn't hers? < g > " -- Chris

"Y'know, Giles, Buffy, and the Slayerettes seem to have given up any thought of discretion or something. I mean, if you were a student at school after hours, and you got hurt in the gym/sport/whatever section of the school, would you see to it that the school librarian or other favorite teacher went to see the school nurse with you? And what was all that with putting the swim team in the library cage. Won't people ask questions about *why* the librarian is imprisoning students? The librarian?" -- Betsy

"I think Jonathon is the Mayor. I think he is the evil incarnate in all Sunnydale masqurading as a wuss. He could be Satan, that's what I'm guessing at least. I think Snyder is Monk from Carton. Just a hunch" -- Sasha

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