Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S07E14 – First Date

In the fourteenth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies navigate their various possible new relationships amidst chaos. This makes Giles really mad. Oh, and Principal Wood is the most attractive character in Sunnydale history. Also, I have a lot of thoughts. Also, the person who created Chao-Ahn deserves an underwear full of sand. Okay, I should really just get to the review, since it’s time for me to watch Buffy.

Let me say two ragey things before I get to the part where I really like this episode.

1) Man, I kinda feel like the show wasted Ashanti? Her only role was to trick Xander and then get killed. Like, for real, I acknowledge that I am far more interested in her musical endeavors than her acting, but she was just given a demon Siren role and… that’s it? No depth to her character, no explanation of where Lissa came from, not even a mention of what kind of demon she was. I get that she’s just a continuation of the joke that only demons are interested in Xander. It’s not even that funny of a joke? And neither is Anya’s continued bitterness. It’s supposed to be funny, but she’s kind of been shoved into the background with Dawn these last few episodes. Hell, Andrew, who has only appeared in two seasons, gets way more screen time than her. And Dawn. That’s… weird? Right? Anyway, I just wish there was more with the character of Lissa and that Xander wasn’t treated like a joke just by existing.

2) Chao-Ahn. I wish I had more middle fingers so that I could raise them up on high to everyone involved in creating that character. My god, the joke surrounding Chao-Ahn is LITERALLY that she is foreign and she doesn’t understand English and oh my god isn’t that hilarious? Nah, it’s not, and fuck you. What an awful, gross stereotype taken to extremely racist/xenophobic ends. This essentially fits the Ethnic Scrappy and Funny Foreigner trope, and I. HATE. IT. FOREVER. There’s nothing quite as infuriating as seeing her played against our white heroes, and it doesn’t make it better that she’s secretly insulting them all. Just.. NO. NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

I am not looking forward to seeing more of this terrible joke in the future. Like, okay, if you’re looking to bring diversity to the Potentials to show that they come from all over the world, don’t make fun of them for it.

All right, let’s move on! “First Date” alternates between being humorous and TOTALLY THRILLING AND FASCINATING for multiple reasons. I’ve noticed that there are far more funny moments in season seven so far than ten times the funny shit in season six. I do like when Buffy does humor, but this episode sort of criticizes itself? Well, at least in the form of Giles, who is furious that the Scoobies are willing to make jokes during such a serious time. (Shhh, Giles, jokes are fun.) I mostly feel like this is a warning from the writers that after this, shit will get real forever. Which is fair, but I liked the humor that came from Xander and Buffy going on first dates with someone at the same time.

Let me start off saying that I am 100% into Principal Wood’s character development in “First Date,” especially since I really didn’t want him to turn out to be evil. It seems obvious now that the First Evil was controlling him earlier this season when Buffy saw him in the basement. Beyond that, though, I am so into Buffy dating Principal Wood, mostly so I can live vicariously through her. I AM ALLOWED TO DO THIS, OKAY, MY BOYFRIEND TOTALLY GAVE ME PERMISSION. They have a fascinating dynamic, too, especially with their connection to Slayers. Buffy is a Slayer, and Principal Wood’s mother was Nikki Wood, a Slayer herself. It’s nice that Buffy doesn’t have to hide an entire part of her life; Wood already understands it, possibly better than anyone else. And he understands it because he’s working on the same side as her. I admit that I’ve just never seen anything on this show quite like that dinner they have. It’s romantic. It’s refreshing. It’s honest. You know, we just don’t see this sort of upfront interaction that often on Buffy. Well, upfront in the context. To be fair, Wood did lie to Buffy about how much he knew about her and about how he came to be in Sunnydale. But now they have ANOTHER PERSON TO HELP THEM? And he is REALLY GOOD AT FIGHTING??? I fully support this!!! Can you tell how excited I am??? Let me use even more punctuation marks gratuitously!!!

At the same time, Buffy has to figure out what she’s going to do with Spike still around. I was struck by how genuine and considerate he was of her, offering to leave town at one point. It’s so weird seeing Spike act this way because I’m so used to his biting nihilism. I think Giles is, too, and that’s why he elects not to trust Spike. It’s a tough call. I do get that Giles doesn’t want to take any more risks than absolutely necessary, and it is true that Spike has a history of double crossing these people. But I ultimately trust Buffy’s judgment, and I believe Spike’s change in behavior and demeanor. I always use the word “choice” when I talk about his journey in this season because it’s what he has left on his path to redemption. He alone has to make this choice, and he often errs on the side of caution. He offers to get out of Sunnydale. He volunteers to chain himself to the wall. (And inspires a quarter billion fics in the process. Hopefully some Spander ones, too.) THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A SPIKE LIKE THIS. And I think that’s also why Buffy refuses to give up on him, both as an ally in the fight against evil and as a really close friend.

You know, there’s that moment where Buffy very loudly states that she’s confused as to why everyone thinks she is still in love with Spike. While I don’t doubt that she doesn’t feel the same way about him anymore, you kind of can’t deny that she demonstrates something pretty strong (and adorable!) to him. She can’t live without Spike in her life, even if they both treated one another terribly. This isn’t Buffy outright saying she’s forgiven Spike, but it’s pretty damn close. That might make things complicated between Buffy and Wood, but I’m pleased to see FRIENDSHIP developing this way.

But then the First Evil says it isn’t time for Spike to be used yet, SO DAMN IT. Can’t the First just go on vacation in Hell or something? Why’s it gotta be everyone fucking everything up? It even goes after Andrew again. Again! I suppose I should have noticed that Andrew agreed far too easily to be evil once more. That was a sign that he was trying to trick the First. As silly as it is, I do think Willow’s idea of taping the First was kind of awesome. Yeah, it wasn’t going to work because the First has already demonstrated that it can control who hears it. But it was a valiant effort! Willow and Andrew deserve a gold star with “you tried” written in comic sans on it. So is Andrew a full-on member of the Scoobies now? I think he’s at least won the trust of them for setting up the First. I got to thinking about how much more interesting it would have been if Jonathan had been the one to be in Andrew’s place. Not that Andrew or Tom Lenk is uninteresting, but I was kind of fascinated by the idea of Jonathan finding redemption through the Scoobies. Though that might be because I was just sad to see him again on the show in the state he was in. That makeup was gross!

Anyway, I’ll end this with the one thing I’ve been ignoring this whole time.

HOLY SHIT, PRINCIPAL WOOD’S MOM WAS KILLED BY SPIKE. Oh no, OH NO. I can’t even cope with this horrible situation. Like, Principal Wood has every right to hate Spike and want revenge, and Spike is actually becoming a GOOD PERSON now, and the First just found the BEST WAY to dispose of Spike. This reminds me of the Holtz/Angel plot from Angel, but A THOUSAND TIMES WORSE. Oh god, things are definitely going to be super, super awful in the near future. HELP.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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