The Prom

Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Synopsis | Julie's Review | Valerie's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Synopsis

Awww... A happy, nice, only slightly tear-your-heart-out episode to get us all nice and softened up for the finale, no doubt. Still cathartic and a three-hanky ep, but it's a *happy* kind of angst.

Angel and Buffy wake together in Angel's bed -- get your minds out of the gutter, they fell asleep post-Slayage. Buffy,h owever, likes this whole concept, enough to start talking to Angel about giving her a drawer and doing other couple-type things. Angel beings to mildly freak, but Buffy leaves the bed before he can truly lose it. She goes to check the time -- by pulling open the drapes and letting sunlight stream over the bed and Angel. He yelps and retreats, she winces, and another day begins in Sunnydale.

Xander arrives at school and is immediately waylaid by Anya, demon girl herself, who still hates and loathes men -- but needs a date for the prom. Xander is slightly more bearable, so she's chosen him for her date. Xander harrasses her, but finally, dateless, finally accepts. The kids discuss their prom plans -- Buffy amused that both she and Xander will be attending with demons. Angel himself is still home, and recieves an unexpected visitor -- Joyce Summers. Joyce is concerned about Buffy's involvement with Angel -- nothing new -- and tells him that Buffy deserves a normal life, which she won't have as long as she and Angel are together. "You're all she sees of the future." Angel, unfortunately, can't help but unwillingly agree. "There are some hard choices ahead," Joyce tells him. "If she can't make them, you're going to have to. I know you care about her. I just hope you care enough."

Prom talks continues into the library, annoying Giles, who is a bit more occupied with the Ascension. Wesley announces he will be chaperoning the prom, to Giles' shock; he continues to attempt to keep the conversation on track, despite Buffy's determination to have a normal high school night. Someone else has different idea, however -- a mad creature (looking more than a bit like a big gay possum (TM)) slavers and snarls in a wire cage.

Angel and Buffy stand together in a huge church, Buffy in a formal wedding gown, Angel in a tux. They slip rings over each others' fingers, then Angel pulls back Buffy's vail anf they kiss blissfully. Together, they walk back down the aisle and out the door into the sunlight. Angel blinks in the light, unharmed -- and Buffy stares in shock at him as she begins to burn. Angel watches helplessly as she is consumed with flames -- and awakens.

It's another romantic night in the sewers for Angel and Buffy, but Buffy's mind is only half on business, the rest on the Prom. A vamp only puts a pause on the discussion, which quickly turns into The Discussion -- that is, The Relationship Discussion. Finally, Angel breaks down and tells her that they don't have a future, that being together is unfair to her and that the Mayor was right. That Buffy deserves more of a normal life -- "you deserve someone who can take you into the light." Buffy argues with him, but, despite tears, pleas, and not a few hard words, Angel stands firm -- and tells her that he doesn't want to be with her, despite how much he loves her, and he is leaving town after the Ascension, if they both survive. They face each other, numb with grief and disbelief. The next morning, Buffy tells Willow about Angel's decision. Although Willow offers her staunchest support, both girls are forced, very unwillingly, to admit that Angel's decision, however painful, is probably correct. Which doesn't stop Buffy from collapsing into Willow's lap, weeping, "I can't breathe, Will. I feel like I can't breathe." And, across town, the hellhound slavers at his cage.

Xander, on the hunt for a tux, meets Cordy in the dress shop again. The two exchange the ritual insults until another salesgirl spills the beans about Cordy's employment. "I have nothing!" she informs Xander angrily. Seems her father finally got caught by the IRS, and the family has nothing left. "I can't go to any of the colleges that accepted me and I can't stay home because we no longer have one." Cordy is trying to buy her prom dress on layaway, she yells -- and Xander shoves her out of the way as a creature crashes through the front window. The creature takes Xander down -- then ignores him to attack a guy in a tux. Then, suddenly, it freezes and retreats, leaving its victims to stare after it.

In the library, the Slayerettes stare at the security tape from the dress shop. Wesley names the creature a hellhound, a demon trained to kill that feeds off of brains. He also asks what Cordy was doing with Xander and Xander, unexpectedly, covers for Cordelia's new situation. The tape shows them the boy who was controlling the hell hound, and the Sunnydale yearbook quickly identifies him as Tucker. The investigation receives very little help from a still-shell-shocked Buffy, even as intercepted email identifies Tucker's target at the Prom. Buffy wigs at the thought of her friends' perfect night being destroyed, and informs them that she will keep their Prom safe and normal, no matter what.

Buffy instantly goes into commando mode, ordering everyone into action -- looking for Tucker, looking for his friend, investigating the magic shop. Buffy herself heads for a slaughterhouse, looking for hellhound chow suppliers. Sure enough, she gets and address for Tucker from his supplier -- and unexpectedly runs into Angel on a supply run. They converse very uncomfortably. "When I think about us," Buffy tells him, "I have this tendancy to sort of go catatonic, and I really can't afford to do that now." She tells Angel about the homicidal plans for the Prom, but turns down Angel's offer of help.

Cordy leaves her shift at the dress shop dresless -- or so she believes, since she hasn't paid it off. But someone else has. Everyone else is having a worse afternoon, having emerged empty-handed. Buffy displays her address in triumph and kicks everyone else out to do the prom thing. They fight then give in to the Buffy Gimlet Glare. Giles warns her she's being rash, but she sends him off to guard the Prom. Giles figures out what the problem is and Buffy admits that Angel is leaving. To his credit, Giles is truly upset for her, offering ice cream therapy. Buffy accepts -- after she finishes slaying.

The Prom is a rocking spot, although moreso for some than others. Xander finds himself trapped listening to Anya recite 1200-odd years of vengeance, and Wesley almost chokes on his own tongue when Cordelia enters in evening gown, looking stunning. Willow (also looking stunning) and Oz are trying to have fun, despite Willow's worries about Buffy. Xander runs for shelter from Anya by grabbing Wesley nd Cordelia -- the two tacitly acknowledge that yes, Xander did pay off Cordy's dress for her, and a real truce finally settles between the two.

Meanwhile, Buffy is monster hunting, confronting Tucker and his toys. He apparently got turned down for the Prom and is going to be a dork about it. Buffy takes him down -- but dicovers he has already released a gang of three hellhounds. Buffy immediately takes off after the ickies -- a crossbow takes down one, but the othe two go after Buffy. Leading them away doesn't work -- Kool and the Gang is a powerful motivator. She chases them into the school and goes hand to hanf, taking down first one, then escuing someone's date before he becomes demon chow. then looks up from the corpse of the last hellhound to direct the guy to the bathroom and go retrieve her gown.

The Slayerettes are deeply relieved to see Buffy arrive in full formal gear a little while later, all duties fulfilled and Prom night saved. The class awards are passed out -- leaving Xander in the dust when he is passed over for Class Clown. But the last award more than makes up for it -- on write-in votes, and with the Prom Committee's approval, Buffy receives a special award:

"We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here--"
Hyena people!"
"--But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks and gives you this. It's from all of us, and it has written here: Buffy Summers, Class Protector."

The award is a spangled umbrella -- close to tears, Buffy advances through a crowd of her cheering classmates to accept her award, as Giles and the rest of the Slayerettes look on proudly. In fact, Giles is still sprawled out in Watcher Heaven a while later, as Wesley asks his advice about Cordelia, which is probably why he finally tells Wesley, "For gods sake, man, she's 18, and you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you, and stop fluttering about!" Wesley takes his cue and heads for Cordy, and Xander and Anya close dance, actually enjoying themselves. Buffy, still alone, is found by Giles, who tells her how proud he is of her -- and of her classmates. "Every now and then, people surprise you." They do indeed -- as Giles leaves gracefully, Buffy turns to see Angel in a tux, waiting for her. They walk towards each other. It doesn't change anything, they both acknowledge, but for tonight, they'll forget about what must be. In each others' arms, as their friends surround them and the music plays, they dance -- at peace together for just one more night.

Julie's Review

Yes folks, the incoherent reviewer has returned! This means that I review things in the order my mind remembers them in, which is not necessarily the order in which it actually occurred. :)

It opens with Angel & Buffy cuddling in Angel's bed. Fully clothed. (mind, gutter, you know the drill;) They wake & Buffy begins to make talk about them being a couple...for the long term. Things such as needing a mirror or two and a drawer for her stuff. This seems to disturb Angel a bit. Buffy gets up, and thinking that it's still nighttime, opens the drapes & almost fries Angel. She apologizes and says that it must be later than they thought. Her observation turns to be the foreshadowing to the rest of the episode. That and Angel's brooding. I like watching Angel do the brooding thing, really. But this was a MAJOR broodfest. I think I'm getting annoyed. Ok, I'll give it a rest now.

Switch to Anya and Xander talking & Anya backhandedly asking Xander to the Prom. *snerk* All men are jerks, but he seems to be the least jerky of the lot. This is an interesting view, but not one that's surprising. Xander can be a terrible jerk, just as bad as the next adolscent male, but generally he's a nice guy. Glad to see he's settled down a bit since the Zeppo. Emotional maturity has finally come to him. Later than to the girls, but then that's normal. One of the few normal things in Sunnydale. :) Xander eventually ends up agreeing to having a prom date who's older than Angel. This surprises Buffy, Willow & Oz until Xander also tells them it's Anya or Miss Sock Puppet.

Buffy and Willow also are having a nice girl-talk about prom dresses and the like. More normalness that we normally don't see and that is all-too-frequently missing from Buffy's life. As in the opening scene, it's almost as if she's forgetting at times that she and Angel cannot ever have a normal relationship. Or maybe she's trying to forget.

We go back to Angel doing what he does best: brooding. This gets interrupted by a knock at the door and we find Joyce at the door. We now have major mom interference. She expounds on a familiar theme of that he's older and should do what's best and let Buffy have a normal life. She really lays the guilt trip.

Okay, I understand where Joyce is coming from and her wanting to protect her daughter, but...geeze, she can't protect her emotionally forever. Buffy needs to make her own decisions, right or wrong for herself. Especially as she doesn't have much of a life to look foward to. She needs to be able to control at least that much in her life, especially as so much is out of her control due to her Slayer status and Faith and the mayor. But then Joyce is probably feeling much the same, so little is in her control either, that she feels this is one thing she can do. Understandable, but still a bad choice.

Back at the library, we have Buffy and Willow still burbling over the prom and dresses and such. Giles tries to corral them back to worrying about the mayor and the assention, but the girls are having none of it. ("Can't you ever get your mind out of the Hellmouth?") Giles realizes that his attempt is futile, but in the course we learn that the mayor is to BECOME a demon. The problem is that they have no idea what kind. After Giles throws in the proverbial towel, we learn that he and Wesley the weasel are to be chaperones. (Wesley in a tux? Ugh. ::shudder::)

And now a flash of plot...a werewolfish demon in a dog cage. ::blink:: A dog cage?? Ooo-kay. Somehow I just never thought that those cages were all that strong. My bad.

I'd just like to say here that I hate Joss. Bad Joss.

The wedding dream. It was initially startling to see it. I then thought, 'okay, Buffy dream sequence.' Gave me warm fuzzies to watch but my brain poked at me a bit as they walked back down the aisle. The church and the service were looking kinda Catholic. It was a brain scritcher. Then seeing them go out of the church and behold, Buffy goes *pouf* in the light and Angel wakes up gasping. This stopped the brain scritching. Angel dreaming the church Catholic (and a bit older style at that) makes much more sense. (I know this is not what they wanted my brain working on but sorry, it does what it wants.) Anyway, we Angel visibly upset by this nightmare.

Later that day (night?) sees Buffy and Angel going sewer trolling for vamps. Buffy's all for giving up but Angel presses to continue on a bit much. ("I need closure.") Buffy wants to know what's bugging him, but he insists it's nothing. Buffy knows him better. ("No. You have a 'something' face.") The conversation begins to get a bit more tense as the vamp makes it's appearance only to have Buffy off-handedly dust it. She presses Angel for what's wrong, which he tries to put off, but ends up telling her that their relationship is over and that it's for the best for her. This gets her mad and upset and some hurtful things get said on both sides. (At this point I was pretty much cursing the upcoming spin-off [and abusing the moose]. I much prefer them in the same show working off one another. The chemistry is fantastic! An emotionally charged scene with them is more likely to make me go all snuffly than any other show on TV right now. I don't wanna give it up! Bad Joss! Bad WB! Rant over. I now return you to the irregular review.:) They leave and go to their respective homes and brood; Angel to his room and Buffy to the roof of the house. (I didn't get this, but oh well.) Later Buffy admits that it is probably for the best to Willow just before she breaks down completely and cries. This is the first time that I can remember her turning to someone and letting it all out like this. When she had problems after the Master, she did the major bitch bit and all before finally crying all over Angel, and later after she sent Angel to Hell, she ran and hid rather than let it out. It seems that emotional maturity has also come to Buffy.

After we cut from Buffy sobbing over her heartbreak, we come back to the demon kennel. And, oh, gee. Look. The cage bars broke. What a surprise. I just can't figure how they held better than the much thicker, STRONGER, chains inside the cage, but I suppose we're not to mention it so forget I said anything. (I know it's petty, but couldn't they spring for stronger dog cages than for ones that couldn't hold a poodle in a temper? I think my suspension of disbelief took the dog for a walk about now. [yes, I'm nitpicky about my dog equiptment.]:)

Anywho, next we see Cordy back at the store that only we know she's an employee of. Along comes her worst nightmare to find out...Xander. She tries to pretend that she just can't make up her mind about the dress, but then another salesgirl comes along and spills the beans. Cordy, taking the offensive defensive postition, tells Xander that her family has lost everything due to her father's creative tax returns for the past twelve years and she's working just so that she can buy the dress on layaway. (Wonder why no jail time for daddy dearest?) Just as she finishes her mini-rant our escapee from the demon kennel bursts through the window. Xander immediately pushes Cordy out of the line of fire and makes a go to try to fight it. It tosses him like a ragdoll and then stops only to attack a guy in a tux. It pretty well tears the tux guy apart then abruptly leaves. The sharp-eyed see a guy outside the shop fiddling with something. Hmmm.

Later, back at the library, all are gathered watching the security camera tape of the incident. (How'd they manage to get it anyway? Bet the police just *love* them.:) Buffy pulls away from the rest and pretty much keeps herself isolated for most of the discussions and research. In some ways she still seems to be doing some emotional/physical withdrawl while she's upset, but she still seems able to overcome it somewhat. Wesley id's the beast as a hellhound and mentions it 'lives' on brains. (Ewww.) Wes then gets a touch of jealousy and asks just what *was* Cordy doing at the shop with Xander. Before Cordy can come up with something (or maybe she was going for the truth?) Xander speaks up saying she was just blowing her father's money, same as usual. Lovely to see this, Xander becoming emotionally adult enough not to take advantage and humiliate Cordy as he probably would have a few months ago. This also seems to signal the begining of the end of the Cordy/Xander war. Nice of Joss to let them mend fences before Cordy leaves.

The gang spots the skulking guy who was outside the shop on the video (did that sentence make sense?) and the manage to ID him. Cordy makes an observation that they realize does have some merit: the hellhound went after the tux guy because he was wearing a tux. The go to work researching the hounds and Willow cybersleuths to find out more about the hellhound raiser. Buffy is still maintaining a physical distance from the rest by staying on the short stairs to research. Willow discovers some emails from skulking guy and it's aparant that he means to loose the hellhound at the prom. Nobody is overly surprised. ("Once again the Hellmouth puts the 'special' in special occassion.") They all begin to talk of not going to the prom when Buffy interrupts by coming out of her selk-imposed isolation. She tells them that they're going, she'll handle it. The Slayer mode is very much on and she has her plan forming. She sends out the troops for fact-finding missions. She sends Wes and Cordy to check out the guy's house. Xander is to go to the magic shop (conviently next to the dress shop:) to see if anyone been stockpiling supplies to call up a hellhound. Oz and Willow go to check out the email recipient. Buffy asks Giles if the hellhounds can eat 'any' brains. receiving the affirmative, she goes to the local slaughterhouse. A man there confirms that some 'weird kid' comes in a couple of times a week and orders cow brains. (And he doesn't wonder why she's asking?) Then Buffy looks up to see Angel making his blood purchase. [moose abuse time here.] They make a slightly stilted conversation until Angel tells her he misses her. She cuts him off from saying more by telling him not to say more as "when I think about us I have a tendancy to sorta go catatonic and I really can't afford to do that right now. She tells him the bare bones of what's happening. Angel offers to help but Buffy just cuts him off and out saying that she can handle it and walks away, leaving a deflated and depressed Angel (and audience).

Cordy hits the dress shop and her co-worker (the one that spilled the beans earlier) asks her why she hasn't picked up the dress & left yet. Cordy tells her she didn't get it all paid for so it's a no-go. The girl tells her that it *is* paid for, much to Cordy's surprise. (I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm feeling very proud of Xander in this ep.)

Back at the library, everyone but Buffy struck out on the hunt. She tells them that she's got an address and will take care of it. They all try to talk her into letting them help, but she's adamant that they go to the prom and have fun. They finally give in and leave to prepare. Quickly. *grin*

Giles, who has been quietly watching Buffy's actions all day, asks her if she's sure about going it alone. She tells him yes. He then makes the observation that Angel isn't going to the prom with her. This temporarily deflates her Slayer momentum as she tells him that not only is Angel not going to the prom, but he'll be leaving Sunnydale permanently as well. Giles offers her quiet and sincere sympathy. Then he makes her smile by saying he knows that something like this requires ice cream of 'some sort.' She tells him it's not quite the ice cream stage, but that for Slayers 'kicking ass is comfort food.' (This certainly has been shown time and time again in the series, not only by Buffy (like in Innocence and Anne) but also by Faith, who only seems truly happy when she's in Slayer-mode, such as when she offed the hell-spider last week. She seemed to have surprised herself by how good she felt after having done it.)

Prom is getting into full swing. We see Xander quietly suffering Anya's boorish conversations. Poor Xander. Then we see Wesley decked out (eww) as well as Giles (oooo:). Cordy enters and literally leaves Wesley speechless. All the usual prom stuff is happening (or so I assume-I skipped mine), couple dancing and getting their pictures taken. Willow and Oz show up looking wonderful. Willow wants to dance before something happens to spoil the prom, but Oz tells her nothing will happen, he has faith that Buffy will prevent it from being spoiled. Willow concurs and they go get refreshments.

Cordy and Wesley meet up with Xander and Anya, and Cordy quietly thanks Xander for the dress. They part on good terms.

Buffy finds Tucker the skulking guy and the hellhound and ties him up with a lamp cord but then discovers that the moron had three more hellhounds that are already on their way to the prom. (I loved how he trained the hounds with making them watch tapes of 'Carrie','Pretty in Pink' and 'the Prom'. Snerk!) We also see a flashback of what set moron boy off...being rejected by Harmony when he asked her to the prom.

Buffy gets to the prom just as the hounds do. She picks one off with her crossbow and tries to get the others to chase her away from the school. This works until the song "Celebration" starts playing. The hounds about face and head back to the school. She follows and takes them both out, the last just before it has a chance to get some guy who wandered out looking for the men's room. Buffy cleans the mess from sight and then gets decked out for the prom. When she enters, she lets Giles know with a nod that she took care of business then goes and embraces Willow and Oz, reassuring them that all is fine. Buffy then goes for refreshments as the class awards are announced. Xander is upset as he loses out as Class Clown. The the MC on stage changes (to the short guy who wanted to make the swim team from 'Go Fish'. [Continunity...I love it!]) He asks if Buffy Summers is there as they had something special for her. Even though most of them never got to know her, they noticed her & what she had done for all of them by saving them from the wierdnesses that abound in their school (like hyena-people [that continunity again] and Snyder *g*) and know that many of them are only alive due to her efforts. In appreaction of this, they made a new award, Class Protector, just for her. (more moose abuse throughout this last scene. I hate Joss, but for scenes like this I love him too.)

We switch to seeing Giles and Wesley sitting down. (My,my,my has Giles got that nice sprawl going. *bg*) Wesley starts trying to talk himself into going to dance with Cordy when Giles, incredibly tired of Clueless Morgan there, finally tells him, "for God's sake man, she's 18. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it and stop fluttering about." Lol! It seems that we're seeing more and more just how much of what we were used to seeing of Giles was actually the Watcher persona he used and how much Ripper there still is in the man. Frankly I find him much more fun this way. It makes me wonder if her could ever stuff himself back into that shell if he ever got reinstated as a Watcher. Hmmm. Anyway, Giles goes over to Buffy and talks with her then spots something that makes him gently take her award to hold...Angel in a tux. *sigh* ::drool:: (sorry) They make it clear that this is strictly for tonight, then settle in for a slow dance.

Waah! I'm back to hating Joss and the Neilsons and the WB and whoever thought up spin-offs!!! I want Angel and Cordy to stay, dammit!! It just won't be as good. Grrr.

Overall, I loved the ep in spite of the few problems with it. Geeze, only two more this season (not counting the pre-empted ep.) I'm having Buffy withdrawl already. No Buffy. No Buffy and Angel next fall. Bite city. :(


Valerie's Review

Still in Random Comment Mode, as there's a WACK of neglected sewing waiting for me in the basement...

Amid all the "wow, are they growing up before our eyes!" stuff going on, I'm finding my main reaction is that I now officially admire the living hell out of Cordelia. The world, as she's known it for the last 18 years, has quite literally ended. Her father is not who she thought he was--and while I didn't get the impression they were ever terribly close, I really don't think she would have judged him capable of financial choices that crossed the line into the criminal realm. Her safety net has *vanished*...and that angry, defensive confession to Xander was the first time she has made the slightest bobble on the tightrope. The girl has survival instincts that would do Janette proud.

Mind you, the tightrope is fraying--she's still functioning on the values instilled in her by that world that no longer exists. It's still all about appearances. In an odd way, though, that's what impresses me the most (even as it makes me incredibly sad for her): it's not about denial, because she knows acutely, probably every second, that things are not what they were before. But instead of moping or denying or surrendering, she's sucking it up and doing what is necessary to maintain The Image-- to keep alive that which is all she's ever truly believed she was anyway. It doesn't matter if it's an illusion; if others buy it, her duty is fulfilled.

It's an interesting choice that they did senior awards at the prom, and apparently didn't have royalty. It could be argued that they pretty much exhausted that topic between "IG" and "Homecoming", and there wouldn't have been room for it with all the other, more important stuff that needed to happen in this ep. But the crown would mean something very different to Cordy this time than it has at any other time, and I still wish we could have seen it explored. My best guess is that it would have been crucial to her duty to The Image, but would have felt mighty hollow.

The next few steps to adulthood are going to hurt a lot more...because if she had any plans for who she wanted to be once she graduated (thus completing her obligation to The Image), they're toast. She knows it. She knows she has to find a new set of values; and her involvement with the Scooby Gang has started to instill them, but not nearly enough to make a smooth transition into the *complete* unknown she's about to enter. I reallyreally hope she finds the courage to come clean with the other Slayerettes (preferably *before* graduation and the Ascension, because the sooner they know the sooner they can help), but I have this awful vision of her getting her diploma, hitting the parties, and then having a solitary funeral for The Image before quietly pulling a Buffy and slipping away. (This is figuring without the Ascension, actually, during which I wonder if she won't at least momentarily consider just letting something eat her.) This is the first time I've been glad to know the little bit that I know about the Angel spinoff, because oddly I feel a bit less scared for her knowing that she'll be there. She needs the clean break with Sunnydale more than Buffy ever did; the only part of her life there that wasn't built *entirely* on lies has been Slayerette stuff, and I think it would be too much to have to deal with that while trying to reinvent herself from scratch. Presumably she'll still be dealing with some of it in L.A., of course; but not at the intensive pitch generated by the Hellmouth.

I'm also really curious now to see whether she and Angel will know in advance that they're going to the same place.

Okay, that got verbose. Other thoughts...

Poor Amy. I was really hoping she might get de-ratted for the prom. She needed that One Brief Shining High School Moment as much as Buffy. Between her mom's body- switching and her tenure as a rodent, she's been robbed of too much of high school already.

I am proud beyond belief of Xander, and prouder still to realize I'm not surprised. Not to say that he mightn't still slip, but not for the world would he *intentionally* hurt Cordy as badly as he knows revealing her secret would. And while I'm not sure he fully understands to what extent The Image is all she has, he understands enough to know how much it would hurt her not to make it to prom in her dress. For all his screwups and infuriating Guyness over the past couple seasons, there really is a prince in there.

No wonder he can even make a dent in the cynical resolve of the man-hating former demon genie. :-) I can't believe how brilliant that whole thing was...I would never have predicted it in a million years, but the second she walked up to him I was like "Oh!! Of course!!!!!!" Marti should be very proud of what she's created in Anya--she's such a wonderful representation of the kind of immature knee-jerk scapegoating "feminist" I frequently wanted to throw out windows in college. And, true to classic Buffy form, she managed to get a hilarious gag and a character insight into the same device: I wonder if it occurred to Xander, in the midst of wishing himself somewhere far far away from her litany of revenge wishes, that this brilliant career Anya wants so desperately to get back to doesn't sound like much fun at *all*.

I *have* been wondering, between renting his uncle's car in "The Zeppo" and the dress thing, where *he* gets his money. I kinda doubt he has a secret job, so he must have a pretty darn healthy allowance--lending extra credence to the theory many of us have long held about the exaggeration of his family's supposed lower-class circumstances. Which also tells us something about Sunnydale's overall affluence-- that a middle-middle-class (*maybe* lower-middle-class) kid like Xander could be the closest thing they have to a wrong-side-of-the-tracks ridicule target.

I didn't mind Willow not having much to do, not when we got to see her just *being* in such a happy, self-confident kinda way. She knows what she wants, she knows where she's going, and she's ready to put the "commence" in commencement in a beautiful way that only Willows can.

And she found a prom dress with a built-in Wonderbra that must have had Oz even more speechless than usual. ;-)

Angel. Brooding. Wrong. But then, everyone has to be once in a while.

His own doubts make him too vulnerable to Joyce's mom-fear to reassure her rationally...and I really do think Buffy was the one actually being rational about the whole thing. How rational she'll be if she knows Mom went behind her back to enlist Angel in the campaign to "save" her is another question entirely. Neither of them have noticed that Buffy has grown up to an extent that really does make her capable of choosing, and dealing with the consequences, for herself.

Overall, I'm quite certain that Angel is wrong to leave. But I also think maybe he has to go through with it to really learn that. Hopefully, by the time he does learn, it won't be too late.

Wesley and Cordy. Bizarre, flakey and surfacey, but adorable nonetheless. And Giles' admonition to "have at it" was *utterly* priceless. Wes definitely scores much higher on the "I'll allow him to live" meter when he's not trying to assert his Watcherly authority, with which he's so obviously insecure.

Buffy's little golden umbrella. Now she can look in the yearbook and say "I was there", in a way she (and certainly I) never, ever expected. So being the Slayer is a legit extracurricular activity after all! *beam* I got teary. And it was especially cool that Jonathan got to present it. "Not exactly a medal and a book deal", but mighty close indeed. Maybe better. And a fabulous gift for us. I love having a WAFF at the end of a Buffy ep--partly because it's so rare, sure, but also because they give us such amazing ones when they give them. *more beaming*

Done now. Must sew.


"I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. :> With no suicide aftertaste. You might want Kleenex, though." -- Chris

"I admit... at the moment the first hellhound escaped (conveniently placed after Buffy fell sobbing into Willow's arms).... I desperately wanted to give it Joss' address and send Joss a tux for a present. More later... when my eyes hurt less." -- Mary Beth

"It's George Frankly! And he's a mathematician.... Uh, sorry, Mathnet flashbacks hit during the wedding scene. I'm not into Angel, so at least the scene was redeemed." -- Abby

"I *like* how they are spliting up Buffy and Angel. They're doing it in the least painful way possible -- then milking it for all it's worth. While I agree that Buffy is quite old and quite mature enough to make up her mind (and wouldn't I have *loved* to see the fight where Buffy realized that her Mommy went to her boyfriend and talked about her behind her back), there's the very basic fact that It's Not Safe For The Two Of Them To Be Together Not In That Kind Of Way. Unless Giles has a supply of Orbs on had. With the best of intentions, the two of them have *way* too many hormones going to reliably abstain. OK, I'm done now." -- Lizbet

"In five minutes, Xander displayed more maturity and sympathy than he has for most of this season. Keeping Cordelia's secret and buying her the dress makes up for a lot, and it's obvious that her painful anger is over. Love (if there was any) is gone, but the pain has left as well. " -- Lizbet

"Can I just say that this exchange here, couple with her appearance in Dopplegangland make me wonder if Anya won't be sticking around to go to UC Sunnydale next year? I like her. I hope so. She doesn't have to be regular... but what fun it is to have a bitter former-demon around to liven things up now and then."
"And apparently she's in next week's episode! *That* was surprising. It would look like she's being developed as a new semi-regular. It could be amusing watching her trying to cope with teen-culture in So. Cal. with her _distinct_ lack of social skills. " -- Mary Beth and Maureen

"AND can I just say that if Anya can be a former demon trapped in a 12th grader's body *cough*My Eye!*cough* It gives me hope that somehow, someway, someday -- after Stupid Vampire Guy realizes that he's wrong and he and Buffy have had their Mandatory Angst-Inducing Character Developing Conflict Creating "Time Apart" -- there's hope for him to become a former demon trapped in a 20something body that won't be too old for Buffy at all." -- Mary Beth

"This moment... I was laughing *and* crying. Some may think it hokey or that it goes against canon or something. Not me. I think this was absolutely the perfect ending. They don't know *why* she does these things. But they do know. And they are, as Giles said, gracious enough to say thank you. They've justified every moment that Buffy has sacrificed for her duty and proven to her that what she'd done is worthy and appreciated and that she won't be forgotten. An unexpected gift... a perfect high school moment along with the dance at the end. Something I desperately needed.... as did Buffy."
"And what's so wonderful about it is that we get the perfect high-school-moment, Buffy realizes that her classmates *do* appreciate her efforts on their behalf... and then in two weeks things go smash. The lows aren't as low, without the drop from the happy heights. Joss is beyond evil - I'm trying to find words to describe his evility, and not succeeding." -- Mary Beth and Maureen on the award ceremony

"Okay, I want to know if other people heard this the way I did: that Angel *wasn't* saying he didn't want to be with her, but that, literally, he didn't want _her life to be with him_."
"Absolutely. And to be honest, I think Buffy knows it too, and is simply (okay, complicatedly and with no small amount of sarcasm) not accepting it."
"He's clueless-boy, but he's not that mean! He wants her to move on, despite how much he loves her."
"He's actually rather better at it that CERTAIN angsty vampires I could name...funny how honesty (with oneself and one's loved one) will do that. *sigh* Doesn't make me contend any less that the opinion about which he is being honest is still wrong, but he scores major points for being true to himself in the process." -- Maureen and Valerie

"All of his comments were definitely about him. He steered far away from mentioning his feelings at all costs, save a "You know how much I love you. How hard this is for me." or a "I'm trying to think with my head, not my heart." It was all about Buffy and his belief that she deserves better than him. As a matter of fact, he very pointedly said *nothing* in response to her "You don't want to be with me?" Because he *does*. He loves her. He'd like nothing more than to spend the rest of his life fighting by her side, protecting her, holding her. But he believes that she deserves a "normal life." Here's where I agree with Val that he's being a Stupid Vampire Guy.... He's right that they need time apart. He needs it as much as she does. They need to be apart... to experience other things so that they'll have something to compare their love *to*. I don't disagree there. But ... that they can never be together? Please! In this fictional world where circumstances change weekly, a world filled with curses and spells and other demons that are now human.... in a world that has evil fighting to keep them apart and good intervening to keep them alive and give them a chance.... anything can happen." -- Mary Beth

"Your second point brings up something that occurred to me watching this, though: why this season has been so dark. Hellhounds are a pretty wimpy threat now, but during first season, it wouldn't have been anything to scoff at. The problem with the show is, Buffy's just gotten too good at what she does --- so they have to give her bigger, darker challenges all the time, in order to make it difficult for her. If it's not the end of the world or the world being eaten, now, it's not as impressive. If it isn't as bad as sending Angel to Hell or killing off Miss Calendar, they have to find something equally wrenching. They're starting to reach the point of overkill, but hopefully the show can go back to what we liked, and what it did best, in mixing real-life challenges with Slaying next year. With new problems posed by college and finding a career and growing up after high school, they can maybe cut back on the darkness factor." -- Chris

"I loved Giles, I loved Giles, I loved Giles through this whole ep. Okay, goes without saying, but... First, he was snarking at the Prom, which almost made it seem like old times. Then when he realized Buffy was upset about Angel, he handled it *beautifully*. Not a trace of "it had to happen", not a hint of relief, not even a glimmer of anything other than concern for Buffy. The ice cream offer was the best. (I love this man.) He really is over what happened between him and Angelus a year ago, and the way things fell out this fall and over Christmas. He'll have scars forever, but he's healed. Yayyy! " -- Chris

"Xander and Anya... hehehehehehheheehee. Way too much fun. Xander *did* get all the good lines last night, though I think "Yay?" was my favorite. That or the Miss Sock Puppet conversation. I am soooo proud of him. He's finally putting the pieces of his brain together to form something he can use, and his heart's back in the right place. There's finally a truce between him and Cordy, and it is due entirely to him knowing when to let go of a grudge. They can't get back together again, but it is wonderful to know that when she leaves town, they won't be actively hating each other, or have any leftover enmity to put to rest. She forgave him. He gave her the night at the Prom, something she really wanted, and kept her secret, and that was enough to make up for the humiliation and pain he cost her. Happy, happy me." -- Chris

"The most painful scene last night (for me) was watching Buffy cry on Willow's lap. I've been both of them at different times; I've cried myself sick to my mother or to a friend, and I've had friends cry themselves blind on my shoulder too. Really, really hard, when there's nothing you can do but hug them and let them cry, because it's nobody's fault and there's nothing you can say to make it better, and they're hurting so much. Willow did a lovely job of being willing to either crucify Angel or just stroke Buffy's hair when she lost it. " --

"May I just say that Marti nailed *every*single* character in this one? I guess I just did...." -- Mary Beth

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