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16 October 2015 @ 05:06 pm
The Prom (the One You Definitely Need Tissues For)  
You may have noticed that posts on this comm have become somewhat irregular of late. This is because both your friendly neighbourhood mods are a bit short of time at the moment. Still, one post a week is probably more doable for most people anyway. Isn't it?

So, The Prom - one of my favourite season 3 episodes. It signals the end of an era in the show - a final rite of passage before Graduation Day and the end of High School.

Needless to say, for poor Buffy, it also includes violence and trauma.

The violence comes courtesy of this guy.

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Tucker Wells, Andrew's better looking, better known (hey, going by Never Leave Me in season 7, even Spike's heard of him and Spike wasn't even around in season 3) and probably more evil older brother.



Tucker's grievance is simple.

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This girl (whoever she is) refused to go to the Prom with him, so he's decided (as you do) to murder the whole Senior Year, by training a bunch of hellhounds...

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...to fly into an even more murderous rage than usual when they see people in evening dress (such as would be worn at a High School Prom), and tear them all to pieces.

Xander and Cordy get a graphic demonstration of Tucker's plan...

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...when Xander goes into a dress shop to bait Cordy,

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not realising that she in fact works there,

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and is trying to gather the funds to pay for her prom dress, as her family is now broke and she has no money.

Mind you, there wasn't any way Xander could have known this, given that Cordy was too proud to tell anyone.

Meanwhile, the trauma part of the episode for Buffy comes courtesy of Angel, who, after what the Mayor said in Choices, is clearly already conscience-stricken about what effect his relationship with Buffy is having on her.

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Then he has a visit from Joyce hammering the same message home.

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Angel breaks up with Buffy.

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Angel's decision is reinforced by a dream he's had, in which he and Buffy have a seemingly perfect white wedding,

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(evidence - I was going to say something rude about how couldn't Angel have dreamt Buffy a better wedding dress, because it is a bit meringue-y. On the other hand, she looks lovely in it, so I shouldn't carp)

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only for Buffy to burst into flames the minute they walk into daylight.

It's all Hugely Symbolic.

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Buffy, needless to say, is devastated by the breakup (though to me, she comes across as if she were half-expecting it).

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But, having cried in Willow's arms, she just gets on with things (which is why I feel it hasn't entirely come as a surprise to her). She no longer has a date for the Prom, but that's okay. She'll go on her own and deal. She'll also make absolutely sure that no one - least of all Tucker Wells - spoils it for her friends. They're going to have a good time if it kills her.

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She won't let them help her find Tucker and the hellhounds either. They're going to have a good time, dammit, even if they don't want to.

Ultimately, they do, of course.

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Willow and Oz are looking great together.

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Cordy gets her dream Prom dress...

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...courtesy of Xander, who has made the final payment for her. It's a nice moment between them, in which all bygones are finally bygones.

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Giles and Wesley are also looking mighty fine in their tuxes (though poor old Wesley is, as usual, shredding Giles's last nerve - and how come Wesley gets to come to the Prom anyway? He doesn't work at the high school, after all).

Speaking of Xander, he has an unexpected date.

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Ex-vengeance demon Anya. No wonder he looks a bit nervous.

So, Buffy kills the hellhounds, and due to some good forward planning...

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...still gets to go to the Prom looking absolutely stunning.

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What's more, in one of the most poignant moments of the entire series (get those tissues ready), the graduating class surprise her...

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...by giving her a special award. Class Protector.

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Buffy is touched (meanwhile the audience are in floods of tears). Her schoolmates might not have said anything. They might have pretended they didn't notice all the spooky goings on.

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But they did notice. And they knew it was Buffy who was out there defending them.

It's a lovely, lovely scene, rounded off perfectly by another surprise for Buffy. Yes, Angel has broken up with her. Yes, he meant what he said.

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But he's going to make sure she has someone to dance with at the Prom.

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Even Giles - not Angel's biggest fan - is all beaming approval.

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It's a lovely, bittersweet moment, made more so by the stellar soundtrack, and the perfect way, IMO, to end the Buffy/Angel romance.

Best lines:

Anya: (averts her eyes) I don't have a date for the prom.
Xander: Well gosh. I wonder why not. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with your sales pitch?
Anya: Men are evil. Will you go with me?
Xander: One of us is very confused, and I honestly don't know which.

Also,

Buffy: No! You guys are going to have a prom. The kind of prom that everyone should have. I'm going to give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it.
Xander: Yay?

Thoughts, anyone?

Mine re: the Buffy/Angel breakup, FWIW, are that, despite the fact Buffy didn't really get any say in the matter, Angel (and Joyce) were in the right. However, I accept that my age when I first saw this episode (Joyce's age, not Buffy's) influences how I see it.
 
 
 
Kiki May: If the apocalypse comes beep mekikimay on October 16th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
I've never cried during this episode? XD Like, even when I was 14 years old, no tears whatsoever.

It could be because it's been an entire season hammering the concept that Angel and Buffy can't be together. Everything feels very soap-operish in the end, with the all big drama in the sewers, Buffy crying in Willow's arms and Angel dreaming about weddings. (So he thinks that, if Buffy stays with him, he will damn her?)

Also, once again, how creepy it is that Buffy is just an adolescent who does silly drawings in her homework and Angel is older than her mom? That's messy.

The only scene I find honestly moving is Angel's apparition at the Prom. That's really touching. He remarks the concept that they won't be together and Buffy quietly accepts it and they just have one last dance. That warms my cold heart.


Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:32 pm (UTC)
I've never cried during this episode? XD Like, even when I was 14 years old, no tears whatsoever.

Not even for the class protector award scene? That always has me in floods.

I've never cried over any of the Buffy/Angel scenes - not even the first time I saw them. My daughters probably did, but as I say, I was watching with Joyce's eyes, not Buffy's.

Also, once again, how creepy it is that Buffy is just an adolescent who does silly drawings in her homework and Angel is older than her mom? That's messy.

It is. I think Joss and co were trying to hammer the message home that Angel and Buffy had no future in such a way that the audience couldn't argue with it.

Which just goes to show, they didn't understand about 'shippers, I guess.

The last scene is very sweet - bittersweet, rather. It doesn't make me cry (never has) but it makes me sad for them both.
Kiki May: Buffy's smilekikimay on October 19th, 2015 06:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, never cried during that moment. I just smile a lot when they give the umbrella to Buffy. BABY GIRL FINALLY GETTIN SOME RECOGNITION, YAY!

I also loved Bangel when I was 14, but part of the appeal was also because DOOMED!!1! This relationship just doesn't work in practical terms.
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 22nd, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC)
No. In fact, Buffy and any vampire doesn't really work. But Buffy/Angel is definitely extra-doomed.
flootzavut: Kibbsflootzavut on July 16th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
I don't cry over any of the Bangel stuff, but even just screen caps of the Class Protector award scene makes me well up with happy/proud years.
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on July 19th, 2016 09:01 am (UTC)
Yes, it's a lovely scene.
manoahmanoah on October 16th, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)
I don't always comment on these, but I do love reading them.

Well done!

(and Bangel is your quintessential teen (bad) romance).
Shapinglight: The Promshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying reading. :)

(and Bangel is your quintessential teen (bad) romance).

In some ways it is, but I think Joss did subvert the trope by making it clear it couldn't ever work out.
Butterflysnogged on October 16th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
This is really an amazing episode. Beautiful recap!
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It is a lovely episode. Like most of season 3, I prefer the one-offs (though this is chockful of build up to the finale, of course) to the arc episodes.
Sandy: spuffy love after all by insomniaxsandy_s on October 16th, 2015 08:32 pm (UTC)
I loved this episode and yes, I cried when Buffy got the class protector award and Angel showed up at the prom. It probably had something to do with the music. :o) Nice recap!
Shapinglight: The Promshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
The music is just perfect, isn't it? It had to be that particular version of the song. The Rolling Stones' original wouldn't have fit at all.
Sandy: kitty leaf by mo0nlight_shadowsandy_s on October 19th, 2015 06:17 pm (UTC)
The Rolling Stones' original wouldn't have fit at all.

Ha! So true! :o)
velvetwhip: Willowvelvetwhip on October 16th, 2015 10:48 pm (UTC)
I have to chime in and say that The Prom gives us what is probably Willow's best fashion ensemble and hair in the entire series. She looks quite stunning.

Also, I definitely teared up when Buffy got her toy surprise.


Gabrielle
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:38 pm (UTC)
Willow looks great, I agree. I really like that hairstyle on her.

Also, I definitely teared up when Buffy got her toy surprise.

It's such a lovely moment. We've been through three years of thinking that no one at the high school outside the gang had noticed what was going on and that they all just thought Buffy was weird. Then we find that...well, they do think she's weird but they really, really appreciate what she's done for them.
flootzavut: Kibbsflootzavut on July 16th, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
"It's such a lovely moment. We've been through three years of thinking that no one at the high school outside the gang had noticed what was going on and that they all just thought Buffy was weird. Then we find that...well, they do think she's weird but they really, really appreciate what she's done for them."

I love this summary.
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on July 19th, 2016 09:02 am (UTC)
:)

Thank you. Reading your comments on here has reminded me that doing this recap was quite fun. If a little unrewarding at times, if no one much commented. I'll pm my fellow mod and see if she wants to start again, but I suspect she'll be too busy.
Sandy: willow oz werewolf in love by mesandy_s on October 19th, 2015 06:19 pm (UTC)
She did look lovely! :o)
devilscrayondevilscrayon on October 17th, 2015 01:24 am (UTC)
I cried a little just reading this recap. I'm usually a big ugly mess by the end of the episode. I also think it's the right way to end the Angel relationship, and the Class Protector award.. *sniff*
Shapinglight: The Promshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's beautifully done all round, even to not wasting too much time on the villain and his non-motivation.
Dannachasingdemons on October 17th, 2015 01:36 am (UTC)
I loved this episode so damn much, and blubbered all the way through it. Sarah's acting is fucking amazing.

I don't know if I believe Buffy expected the break up. But when it came, I think she knew in her heart it was the right thing. It causes me to reflect on the implications for Spuffy.

Giles offered ice cream when he found out about the breakup, but Buffy said kicking ass is comfort food for her. I think her sense of purpose as a slayer as well as her acts of sacrifice give her an escape from her problems. One minute she was sitting on the stairs moping. The next minute, she had mission and she was on it. It's incredibly courageous and takes so much heart that it amazes me she is still only a teenager. But it's also a way to not deal.

I thought Giles was incredibly compassionate and caring. He is very kind.
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
I loved this episode so damn much, and blubbered all the way through it. Sarah's acting is fucking amazing.

She's brilliant, I agree. I usually find that she over-emotes slightly in the big dramatic scenes with Angel, but not this time.

I don't know if I believe Buffy expected the break up. But when it came, I think she knew in her heart it was the right thing.

Yeah, maybe this is what I meant really. She accepts it so readily it does make you think she knew deep down it couldn't last, even though it upset her so much.

It causes me to reflect on the implications for Spuffy.

Well, obviously, outside the realms of fanfic that can't really last either. It's just not viable. Despite the fact that, unlike Angel, Spike doesn't come across as 'old'.
lusciousxanderlusciousxander on October 17th, 2015 04:31 am (UTC)
I'm the kind of person who cries at heartwarming moments in cartoons, so it's safe to say that I did cry watching this episode.

I've seen a lot of hate for Joyce regarding her talk with Angel in this episode, but I gotta say that I support her 100%.

However, I wish Angel broke up with her after the Prom.
Shapinglight: Wild Horsesshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)
I've seen a lot of hate for Joyce regarding her talk with Angel in this episode, but I gotta say that I support her 100%.

I haven't really seen that, have to say. I do realise that Angel and Joyce were making choices for Buffy without her input, but I still think Joyce was right to press the case for Angel leaving, and I think she didn't have to persuade him very hard. He'd already made up his mind.

However, I wish Angel broke up with her after the Prom.

It might have been better, I agree. I'm not 100% certain, though. Maybe Angel just felt it would be wrong to take Buffy to the Prom under false pretences?
gillo: Broodygillo on October 17th, 2015 05:32 pm (UTC)
I agree that Angel leaving was the right thing, both in-universe and out of it. He's much more interesting in his own show.

The Class Protector moved me far more than the teen break-up stuff. It felt like a perfect end for a class with an impressively low mortality rate. (And if we pause to count them, it's still a lot of dead students.) Lovely to see Sunnydale Denial can sometimes be broken.

It's a good episode, though it is also full of setup for the finale.
Shapinglight: The Promshapinglight on October 19th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
He's much more interesting in his own show.

He is more interesting. Definitely.

The Class Protector moved me far more than the teen break-up stuff.

Me too. It's nice to learn that, even if they all kept silent, the graduating class knew exactly how much they owed to Buffy all along.
gillogillo on October 19th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC)
It also makes a lot more sense of what we see of Jonathan over succeeding seasons.
Shapinglight: The Promshapinglight on October 22nd, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, definitely.