Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I Only Have Eyes For You   Rewatch 
April 29, 2015 8:30 PM - Season 2, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Sunnydale High School is haunted by the ghosts of a former student and teacher who reenact their tragic romance through the bodies of the school's current inhabitants.
posted by yellowbinder (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This episode is a really sneaky one. The ghost story is such rank cheese you think it'll be unbearable. But they make it into an incredibly effective story by having Angel and Buffy play out the spiritual psychodrama. The gender-reversal is an especially powerful twist that allows Buffy to "kill" Angel for the first time. Gellar and Boreanaz sell the hell out of it as well. All that said, I never need to hear that song again as long as I live.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:18 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

I liked the gender-reversal as well, which caught me by surprise on my first viewing.

I also really like the Giles and Willow moments in this one . There's such a gentle concern and protectiveness that they have for each other. Giles pulls Willow out of the vortex-thingy and checks up on her when she's teaching the computer class. Willow gives Giles Jenny's rose quartz for healing, and helps him reach the painful conclusion that the ghost isn't Jenny. (I really miss this sense of the characters caring about each other in later seasons.)

There's also an interesting moment where Giles asks Willow about the scapula, and when she says she used sulphur, he replies, "That's clever." There's a persistent narrative in fandom that Giles was always the voice of caution regarding magic, but I see at least as much encouragement from him over the course of the series up to the big fight in Flooded.
posted by creepygirl at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Giles was always the voice of caution regarding magic, but I see at least as much encouragement from him over the course of the series up to the big fight in Flooded.

Yeah there's a bit of both going on, both support and caution. He's a reasonably good teacher when he tries, but he's often unfocused, because, you know, the world keeps nearly ending.

This is a really good episode, and I'd forgotten how good. First of all, the haunting is pretty decent, theres a lot of imagination going into the different paranormal manifestations, and the effects make it work a lot more than usual. Then the story itself is pretty clever; James on some level doesn't deserve forgiveness. He brought a gun to talk to his teacher, and he may not have meant to pull the trigger, but he did point a gun at someone he loved. But, as Giles says, forgiveness isn't given because someone deserves it. The nature of forgiveness transcends that, it's an act of compassion, not of justice.

Then there's that terrific twist, where Buffy plays the part of James. And that's where thing's get really interesting. I think Buffy feels like, in some way, she is responsible for everything Angel does. That no matter how many times people tell her it's not her fault, she believes that it is. She's the killer, not the innocent party: Angel is dead now, replaced by Angelus. She want's Angel to come back and tell her that it's ok, that he know's she didn't mean it, that he truly loves her. And the ghost fufills that for her, by puppeting Angelus. So much so that we get a moment of heartbreak when Buffy thinks that maybe, just maybe, Buffy is back.

Finally we have a little subplot of Giles thinking Jenny might be back. Giles, not being a main character on the show, hasn't had much space to mourn the loss of his lover, and it's nice that this episode gives him room to do, so, with his folorn hope that the ghost might be Jenny.

On a performance note, I love how good everyone's version of the speech is, each pair of actors do really well with it, really selling the raw emotion attached to the scene.

-No Oz or Joyce in this episode.
-Willow has the best jumper
-"I'm no stranger to conspiracy. I've seen JFK."
-Willow increasing magical knowledge
-Why exactly do the ghosts turn up now?
-Gotta feel sorry for the janitor, who is presumably going to go to jail now
-Willow once again tracks this murder really quickly, given the number of murders that occur!
-First mention of the mayor.
-Would the Jewish Willow really refer to an exorcism as the final solution? I genuinely don't know, but it seems a little bleak a reference for her
-Willow being sucked into the floor is pretty scary
-"He can't live with it Buffy. He's dead."
-During Angel and Drusilla's chat, theres a nice bit of acting from Masters when the slayer gets mentioned. He looks soooo annoyed.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:21 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

First appearance of Angie Hart, yay! I think this was the Splendid stage. Anyway, the 50s music was nowhere near as repetitive and annoying as the Hokey Pokey, which I swear is played 50 times in the X-Files episode I watched yesterday.

The thing I don't get about this episode is why all the locker arms, snakes, wasps, etc? What do they have to do with the doomed love affair? Just weird.

I do like Snyder complaining about how hard it's going to be to come up with a halfway plausible explanation for the snakes. And he reveals that he knows about the Hellmouth! I'd forgotten he actually knew, unlike pretty much everyone else we've seen so far. It's a really nice hint that there are other, hidden factors in operation.

I also really like Angelus scrubbing himself to get rid of the icky love germs. Nasty love, we hates it, precious.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:16 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I actually know people who hate this episode, which I just don't get. For me, it's the best one they had done so far.
posted by Etrigan at 4:33 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

For me, it's the best one they had done so far.

Yeah, agreed. It kind of feels like "Becoming, part 0," too; if you skip "Go Fish" and go straight into "Becoming" from here (as one should, really), it works.
posted by Kosh at 6:47 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's a great episode. I always laugh at the ending when Angelus is showering.

It's been discussed at great length on other parts of the internet, but this is a good episode for the Angel/Angelus dichotomy. It's very clear that Angelus does not love Buffy at all, though he's obsessed with her, and it's indicated that he can't love because he doesn't have a soul. This is pretty different from what we see from other vampires--Spike and Darla, for example, clearly demonstrate that they are capable of loving without souls.
posted by chaiminda at 7:46 AM on April 30, 2015

I always found that song creepy (maybe it's because it sounds like it's being played from a distance) and this episode did not help matters.

One thing that crops up in Whedon's shows a lot, I think, is the notion of responsibility - are you responsible for things you've done, done under the influence of something, done under duress, things that happen because of things you didn't do, lack of thought, actions you didn't take. How much of others' actions are your responsibility? All pretty messy questions, and sometimes characters get let off pretty easily for certain actions and feel overly guilty for things they couldn't control (very like life in that respect). I would say that, in this episode, forgiveness isn't just a compassionate act toward the wrongdoer; it's a compassionate act toward the self (the one who forgives).

Lots of talking about responsibility and impulse at The Bronze...Buffy to Willow in the pilot (*that* turned out well), Willow to Buffy here, Willow's turnaround on responsibility in Doppelgangland...

I love the Giles/Willow subplot as well. I remember being pretty much as excited as Willow the first time I made my class laugh.

Giles, like Buffy, seems to need to forgive himself for things he didn't do which resulted in tragedy, and I think he's able to do that, somewhat, by letting go of some of his grief with Willow's help. (The quartz scene is so sweet.)

Sunnydale High: Something Weird Is Going On.
posted by ilana at 10:44 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Such goodness here. I hadn't really keyed in to how much Buffy's anger at James is rooted in her own guilt with Angelus on the prowl before. She's unwilling to forgive herself, how can she forgive some sad ghostie who actually killed on his own?

Giles does look a little concerned at Willow's first mention of magic in the classroom (her first ever?), but yes is supportive later on with the scapulas. Good point on him being a distracted authority figure, especially here as he's desperate to hold on to Jenny.

I'd forgotten just how much spookiness the ghost gets up to here with the snakes and wasps and loch ness (err... locker) monster. It's good stuff and I love the slow reveals of the power structure in Sunnydale. Snyder is terrified by mention of the Mayor.

The only stuff I don't really like here is the continued sidelining of Spike. I feel like we've seen the "Angel and Dru flirt while Spike glowers" scene a half dozen times already. I'm actually surprised with how little Spike has had to do this season.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I may be the only person in the universe who feels this way, but I got more Spike than I wanted in later seasons of Buffy, so I don't really miss him here.
posted by creepygirl at 6:50 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

creepygirl, you are not the only person in the universe who feels this way. Spike has his moments, but overall he has far too many of them.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:15 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hahaha well put. They do drag him out forever and ever but these were supposed to be his glory days, so I'm a bit surprised in retrospect that they weren't all that glorificus... uh... glorious. We'll always have School Hard and Becoming and Lover's Walk I guess.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:49 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Uh oh. I can see I'm going to be outnumbered as a Spike defender in the later seasons. :P That's okay. More for me!
posted by ilana at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2015

Giles checking on how Willow is doing teaching Jenny's class is so tragically sad without overselling it at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:29 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I had forgotten about the gender-flip on this ... love it.

After reading this thread I'm skipping the next episode, I remember disliking it anyway.
posted by bunderful at 4:33 PM on January 5, 2016

Willow teaching a class is absolutely ridiculous to me. Why dont they have substitue teachers? What purpose does this serve in the plot other than to give Willow more stress? This high school is just really not run very well.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:09 PM on January 14

Like doesnt she get shit from the principal at one point for how bad her students are doing? Like why is she a fucking teacher in the first place??
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:24 PM on January 14

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