Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buffy: Reptile Boy (2.5)

Buffy always managed to create vivid metaphors for teenage existence without being obnoxious or preachy. Looking back at the high school years, so many stories (even the major Angel story this year) rely on the idea of screwing up in some way and the consequences that follow. Of course, being this show, those consequences involve actual monsters and demons. The events depicted in Reptile Boy are quite clearly a metaphor for a girl getting in over her head with a sleazy older boy, potential date rape ensues, and before long the girl gets chained up and fed to a giant snake in the basement. This stuff happens, people!

Reptile Boy plays badly mostly on retrospect, since the entire season changes gears and ups its game from the very next episode. It feels a lot like treading water, most of the frat house set pieces overly familiar by now (even at this point in the show), and the basement finale eerily similar to Teacher's Pet, which this episode emulates a lot.

The real fun, like always, occurs via the main cast. Cordelia's social aspirations and shrill fake laugh are hilarious, Buffy is at her pouty, sullen best, and Willow completely rocks. I have no idea if it was intentional or if Alyson is truly owning this character by now, but Willow is just awesome here. From her funny monologue to Giles and Angel to that great moment where she's attempting to find Angel's reflection, she has a number of great lines, becoming suddenly so quick-witted and kick-ass.

Also floating around on the periphery of the episode is Buffy and Angel's almost-relationship. Most of their time together revolves around her slaying, there's far too much blood in their lives. Buffy just wants something ordinary with him, and they eventually settle on having coffee at some time down the line. It's so cute to see these two supernatural people attempting to be just as normal as possible. It's gonna be tricky to achieve, but their desire to at least try is so evident.

Besides School Hard, season two has had almost a run of episodes with weak antagonist elements. Reptile Boy is no different. But the characters are so rich and entertaining to watch that you just enjoy following them during mundane everyday activities, like going to class or watching incomprehensible Bollywood movies. You love these kids. C

Guest stars Greg Vaughn (Richard Anderson); Todd Babcock (Tom Warner); Jordana Spiro (Callie Anderson)
Writer David Greenwalt Director David Greenwalt

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