Buffy the Vampire Slayer: School Hard   Rewatch 
March 4, 2015 9:54 PM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Principal Snyder puts Buffy to work at parent-teacher night at the school. As if keeping Snyder and her mother apart wasn't trying enough, Spike arrives in town and crashes the event, looking to take out his third Slayer.
posted by yellowbinder (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The opener was mired in resolving baggage from last season, and Some Assembly Required was a baseline quality standalone, but we really start getting into the meat of it here. This has been one of my favourites forever and it still holds up.

Spike and Drusilla are magnetic together. They've just got the lovers body language and chemistry flowing from minute one. That almost kiss is famously what got at least one of them the job and it's easy to see why. You get a real sense of powerful love and history out of just a few moments.

I love the little way Marsters feels up his chest when saying weapons make him feel like a big man. He's a weird, threatening and exciting villain. Unpredictable as he ruins the ritual feast day to have a little more fun attacking Buffy unawares. Unbound by the increasing inanity of the Anointed, calling him the "Annoying One" and dispatching him at the end. We hear about his kills, and Angel even drops by to deliver one of his standard cryptic warnings. (And then just walks away in the middle of the conversation, giving no helpful information? What?)

Cordelia's officially in I guess, with the stake carving and everything! Yay! And we get our first indication that Snyder and other officials are away that things aren't quite normal in Sunnydale.

As a side note, there was some monster fighting game on the official website around this time. It was crappy but I played a bunch of it and a lot of the sound clips were taken from this episode, so part of me still twinges when I hear "What does the winner get?" or "I ought to rip your throat out" or "Step on up."
posted by yellowbinder at 10:10 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

"I don't like to brag. Hah! Who am I kidding? I love to brag! "

He's a character that would decay and decay hard over the course of the show, but when Spike was still firing on all cylinders, he was as much fun as the show got.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:41 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yep, Spike and Drusilla are just great and instantly make this show much better. That said, first time round I remember not liking this episode so much because Spike and Drusilla's accents are so bloody appalling. Spike's gets better, but Drusilla's remains miserable for all her appearances. Oh well, if I wait a little while longer I get to hear Angels "Irish" accent again.

Spike is a lot of fun here, not only in his disregard for the pomp that the other vampires have, but in

a)taking the time to observe the slayer in her natural environment, and fighting another vampire
b)getting bored and deciding to attack a night early

We also have a sense of history again with Angel, which worked so well with Darla previously. Although I'm still not clear on what Angel's plan actually was, other than a dramatic mislead for the audience at home. I love the clashing of Buffy's normal life with her vampire fighting one, and her natural ability to lead in a crisis. I'm not entirely sure the Joyce plotline entirely works, in that she seems remarkably unconcerned that Buffy took out a gang on PCP all by herself. Oh well....

-"Slayer!" "Slayee!" Now there's some banter!
-Some slightly on the nose scenes here "Wait until you get a job!" Buffy looks at her vampire fighting equipment and says "I already do." Yeah, we get it Joss! Slaying is a job! Buffy has lots of responsbility!
-How did St Vigeous become a saint?
-"What happens on Saturday?" "I kill you."
-"How much sugar did you use?" "Sugar?"
-"Now there's a woman who knows how to moisturise "
-Would Spike really call someone an uncle tom? Quite an American reference for him, but I guess he's spent some time there.
-During a fight with a vampire, Buffy swings an axe at a vampire, who dodges, only to reveal that she staked him at the same time. How?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:00 AM on March 5, 2015

Yeah, this is one of the good ones. Spike is really the plot injection that's needed now, a way to move on from the Mole Rat/Annoying One duopoly. He's weird and unpredictable and does a good line in banter. He gives us more of a sense of Slayer history which will become so important.

At the same time, there's some lovely little moments. Willow telling Cordelia to drink the lemonade. Ms Callender taking Giles's arm. The contrast between Spike making nice and Buffy making nice - with both giving up the pretence by the end of the episode. Spike's Anne Rice reference.

And then there's Dru. She opens her mouth and out comes that voice... I used to amuse friends by doing a Dru voice because it is so, so bad and so, so easy to mock. I almost feel affectionate towards her now.

I also wondered this time round: given they had an actual Brit on the cast, why didn't they ask him for some tips? Why didn't Head ever tell Marsters that it's not pronounced poohfter? They couldn't afford dialect coaches, I get it, but they could have tried a little.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:19 AM on March 5, 2015

I also wondered this time round: given they had an actual Brit on the cast, why didn't they ask him for some tips? Why didn't Head ever tell Marsters that it's not pronounced poohfter? They couldn't afford dialect coaches, I get it, but they could have tried a little.

Head kind of was Marsters' dialogue coach (Head's natural speaking voice is much closer to Spike than it is to Giles), but that only started once they realized he was sticking around:
I patterned the accent after this guy I was in a play with, but that was three years ago. Now I'm listening to Tony Head, who sounds kind of like Spike in real life. It's much more tough-guy talk in real life. His accent (as Giles) is just as fake as mine. His is nice and gritty, but it's not North London. I'm always afraid that I'm morphing over into Tony Head, wherever he's from.
posted by Etrigan at 4:19 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Okay, so we're getting into episodes I really paid attention to, and this one was where I went "Holy smokes, I think I like this show. A lot."

We had a punk rock vampire and his gothic ladyfriend. We had vampires tearing shit up. We had Joyce trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and still kicking ass at the same time.

We had Cordelia and Willow in a broom closet together. And lo and behold, Buffy femslash started growing up.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:15 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ha, yeah I had that same reaction to Cordelia and Willow in a closet this time round!

Yeah Master's talks about Head helping him with his accent, and it does noticeably improve as time goes on. There are still occasional times when he (or even Giles) has a line of dialogue that no British person would ever say, which always takes me aback. Then again, I'm currently rewatching Frasier, and it's remarkable how much nonsense Jane Leeves will say as Daphne, and tolerate all the actors who are doing appalling accents, including an ex-boyfriend Clive who pronounces her name "Daff-ah-nee".
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:27 AM on March 5, 2015

Like others in this thread, I remember always being bothered by Spike and Dru's accents, and it wasn't until Spike got folded into the Scoobies mid-season-4 that I finally succumbed to being charmed. But now that I'm watching these in aired order for the first time in 10+ years, it seems pretty obvious that Spike fills a charismatic villain gap that has been vacant since Darla got staked. It's interesting to note that the sexual tension (maybe closer to taunting) between Spike and Buffy has more or less existed from their first confrontation, so I'll have to see if any other hints of that emerge in these early eps.

This time through the series, I've also been trying to keep track of secondary and tertiary characters, specifically ones who are still alive and/or not explicitly written out at the end of their first episode. And so it was with Sheila, who in retrospect seems a bit like a first draft version of Faith; I'd forgotten that she was sired instead of merely killed, and that she did the smart thing for a vamp and ran away instead of getting staked. According to her Buffy wiki page, she never appeared on the show again, but I can't help but think that somebody in fanfic/extended universe-land must have brought her back for more.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the link, Etrigan, that's really interesting. Spike's accent is - even at the very beginning - much better than Drusilla's, and it does get better over time. For me, the really egregious error was "pooh-fter", which he talks about:
I have a question on your accent—why is it poof and not puff? (2001 Australia con)

Because I’m a dumb American, is it supposed to be puff? Tony tries to help me with this stuff but it just, sometimes he’s not on the set. Poof, puff, puff? [gets it right] Now is that Australian or English? It’s both. Puff. [tries again] I’m gonna have to tell them to not write that word in, I just can’t get it right. He once told me ‘James, say ass. It’s not arse, its ass, we say it like the rest of the world’.
Which is interesting, because in Australia it is definitely arse, not ass, so we are apparently not the rest of the world. Maybe because we are the arse end of the world? Mind you, I say "ass" because as an expat yank, I sound hilariously stupid when I try to say "arse". Which, for Americans, doesn't have an "r" in it - it's more like "aaaahhhse".

So I am intrigued: any Brits here that can enlighten me? Do you really say "ass" the same way Americans do? (My IPA is really bad, I can't remember how to describe it; but it's a kind of nasal sound from the back of the throat rather than the mellow aaah you get when your tongue is held down by a tongue depressor.)
posted by Athanassiel at 5:40 PM on March 5, 2015

As an American, "arse" sounds like a minced oath and using it seriously comes off to me like you're saying gosh or heck unironically.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:37 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, in Australian anyway, if it's used as an insult it's "arsehole" or possibly "smartarse" for someone who is being excessively clever. "Arse" is mostly just a word, like bum, for the human posterior. So if you work a desk job, you spend a lot of time sitting on your arse.

But keep in mind, these are pronounced "ahsshole", "smartahss" - no "r" at all. And if you ask an Australian to say the letter on its own, it sounds like "aah". Unless they've watched too much American TV, in which case it's more like "are", sort of awkwardly exaggerated.

I'm still insanely curious as to what Head meant. Consensus amongst Australians I've asked so far is that it's nonsense, Brits say "aah" just like Aussies, unless they have become corrupted by Americans.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:16 PM on March 5, 2015

I (a UKIian) say arse and poohfter. But I know the latter phrase varies on region. Arse (pronounced with the r) is pretty standard for English people though, maybe Head had spent too much time in Hollywood at the time. Random fact, Head lives or lived near Bath, and I studied my undergraduate degree there. I spotted him once, in the distance, with a very expensive looking car. Sadly he was too far away for me to run over and gush to, and ask when Ripper was going to be made.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Marsters was magnetic as evil Spike, one of the very few dudes I've ever crushed on. (I liked him a lot as good Spike too, but evil Spike was sex on wheels.) His accent sounded odd even to my American ears, but it was amazing how powerful his performance managed to be, even with that iffy accent. I thought that guy was going to be a bigger star. I mean, he's become a go-to guy for genre shows, but I thought he was destined for the A-list. Man, was he ever pretty.

But one weird thing about Marsters is that his American accent doesn't quite sound natural either! It sounds a lot like one of those accents that English people do when they're trying to talk like Americans. You know, "Hulloh! I yam an Ameri-cun!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:08 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

He's a friend of Xanderrrr!

(I recall reading that he asked for Tony Head's advice on how to sound like a Brit impersonating an American and was told to overemphasize Rs.)

I know we're not quite there yet, but after hearing Alexis Denisof speak with an American accent for the first time, probably on Dollhouse, I thought it was one of the worst American accents I'd ever heard. I still have a hard time accepting that it's real, even knowing his origins.
posted by casualinference at 6:26 AM on March 6, 2015

We had Cordelia and Willow in a broom closet together. And lo and behold, Buffy femslash started growing up.

I'll be in my bunk.
posted by phearlez at 7:54 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

This episode is great; Spike is one of my favourite characters in all his iterations. Billy Idol should be proud to have taken his look from him. :) He's definitely a breath of fresh air immediately, and I had a huge crush on him growing up (along with my huge crush on Giles. All the Brits and fake Brits, I guess...they filled different niches). I wonder what a Spike-Giles confrontation in the 1970s would have been like...

Agreed on both Marsters' and Denisof's real accents. I cannot get used to them!

We also have Badass Joyce ("get the hell away from my daughter") which makes me kind of wish she could have occasionally come on missions with the Scoobies. I'd be scared of her.

Of course, there's the first instance of Spike crashing through the Welcome To Sunnydale sign, which has awesome callbacks later.

In Nice Callback Moments to Willow and Xander's History:
Willow: She was already smoking in fifth grade. Once I was lookout for
Xander: (to Willow) You're bad to the bone.
Willow: I'm a rebel.

I guess Buffy should really thank Spike for getting her out of trouble with her mom. Also, this episode sets up the whole "sire" history thing that had to get somewhat retconned (grand-sire, totally the same thing).
posted by ilana at 1:07 PM on March 6, 2015

I like Willow's style in this episode. I admit I can't remember anything she wore for the past 2, but the braided pigtails, black overalls and funky tee hint at a change for her.
posted by bunderful at 7:40 PM on January 2, 2016

Latest rewatch just got here. God damn it feels good to finally have a better class of Vampires up in this show.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:44 PM on September 9, 2022

I was so hoping for Joyce to finally find out Buffy's a slayer. Joyce thinks she's a bad mom with a bad relationship with her daughter when it's just the slayer secrets keeping them apart. At least she did get to be proud of Buffy this episode, even if she doesn't really know what's going on.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:15 PM on January 10

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