Thursday, 9 January 2014

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "Band Candy" Review (3x06)

Brief Synopsis: "Mr. Trick enlists Giles' old friend Ethan Rayne to manufacture and distribute boxes of candy that turn the adult population into uninhibited, irresponsible teenagers. While the adults are indisposed, the mysterious Mayor Wilkins pays tribute to a demon called Lurconis.”

"Homecoming" (3x05) quick link here                                                                                                       "Revelations" (3x07) quick link here

Two quick notes before we get started...

1)    I will be reviewing the episodes in bullet point form. This is because it makes the reviews simple to read, and helps break up the text.
2)    If you are watching the show for the first time along with these reviews, please be warned that there may be a few spoilers for things that haven’t happened yet.

With that being said, let’s get started, shall we? 

•    Before getting started on the review, I have a little note for you. I attended the ‘Hallowhedon 5 convention in England in October 2013. During that convention I watched a live commentary of “Band Candy” by Jane Espenson (the episode writer) and K. Todd Freeman (Mr. Trick). They gave a lot of trivia facts and fascinating insights into the episode. I will be using some of those trivia facts and pieces of information during this review, but I obviously can’t fit in all of them. If you want to read the entire recap of the “Band Candy” commentary, as well as a very detailed review of the entire weekend, just click this link - (it even has a .gif of Alexis Denisof doing the ‘Wesley Dance’ at one of the parties!)
•    I’ve mentioned before that season three is the most consistently strong season of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, in my opinion. There isn’t a single bad or average episode. Each and every one gives me something to hold my interest. “Band Candy” is the best episode of the season thus far. This was the Buffyverse’s first attempt at throwing the normal routine on its head and giving us an episode focused on comedic amnesia or devolution of mental state. “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” gave us a comedic episode, which showed the ramifications of Xander and Amy performing a spell wrong, but this episode lays the groundwork for season six’s “Tabula Rasa” and Angel season four’s “Spin The Bottle”, where everyone forgets who they are or reverts backwards in time. Out of those four comedic episodes I just mentioned, “Band Candy” might be my very favourite...or “Spin The Bottle”.
•    Breaking your pencil doesn’t get you out of revision when Giles is around, Buffy. He’s prepared for anything, even broken pencils.
•    In the episode commentary at ‘Hallowhedon 5’, Jane Espenson said that the writers used to joke that Buffy’s real superpower was that her boobs grew when she was threatened, as Sophia Crawford (Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stunt-double) had bigger boobs than Sarah, so Buffy’s boobs magically grew in the fight scenes.
•    Speaking of Jane Espenson, this was the first episode of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” that she wrote. The original idea she pitched to Joss Whedon was that a coffee shop opened in Sunnydale and all the adults who drank there reverted back to being teenagers (because the scariest thing Jane could think of was your parents suddenly acting like teenagers). Joss loved the idea, but hated the coffee shop. Jane then changed it to meat, that when eaten, would change the adults into teenagers (due to the comedic play on the words stake/steak). Joss liked this idea less than the coffee shop one. Finally, Jane pitched the idea of the band candy changing the adults. Joss loved it.

•    I really like The Mayor and Mr. Trick’s ever-growing relationship. Their dynamic is very buddy-cop, and it’s a treat to watch. I think Mr. Trick makes for a far more enjoyable second-in-command than Allan Finch does.
•    I understand Joyce’s reasoning, but I think it’s Buffy’s choice as to whether or not she learns to drive. Buffy is almost eighteen years old and is almost considered an adult within the eyes of the law. If she wishes to drive, she should have that choice.
•    Does anyone else think that Angel doing Tai Chi was purely an excuse for the writers to remove Angel’s top again? I’m thinking yes.
•    Kristine Sutherland and Anthony Head were both fantastic in the scene where they confront Buffy about lying. You could tell that something was slightly off with them both, but it was understated. Joyce’s facial expressions looked a bit different to normal, and Giles was saying unusual words for Giles, like “freak out”. This is our first glimpse into what teenage Joyce and Giles are going to be like. Also, I love how normal this scene was! It was like two parents telling their child off for coming home late and lying.  These are such normal, everyday problems! It was wonderful! You wanted a more normal life, Buffy. Here you go. Giles has completely fallen into his role of father-figure by this point.

•    Welcome back, Ethan Rayne! Ethan is one of the most interesting recurring characters on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” by some margin. He has an interesting backstory, which is connected to Giles, he’s really funny, and the episodes which he appears in are all memorable – “Halloween”, “The Dark Age”, “Band Candy”, and “A New Man”. He’s also in the Buffy season eight comic book series.
•    Snyder should be immature all the time. He’s so much more loveable like this. It makes me wonder what happened to him to make him turn out the way he is. Speculation leads me to believe that Snyder was probably bullied at school, and was most definitely considered a geek. Eventually, he became aware of vampires and demons, and the fact that Sunnydale High was located on top of a Hellmouth. He was assigned the role of ‘Principal’ at the request of The Mayor, and was instructed to keep an eye on the Slayer. As the Principal, he’s grumpy, rude, arrogant, and does everything in his power to make the Slayer and the Scoobies’ lives a living Hell. That’s why it’s such an interesting change of pace to have Snyder not only be a complete goofball, but also help the Scoobies. There is nobody funnier in this episode than Armin Shimerman. Here are some highlights...

“Everybody expects me to do everything around here because I’m the principal. It’s not fair...” 
“Oh! I am so stoked!”
“Whoa! There are some foxy ladies here tonight!”
“Whoa, Summers. You drive like a spazz!”
Thus proving that a Snyder with a personality other than grouchy is a very likeable character indeed. Also, special mention for his Taekwondo ‘skills’ display.

•    There’s a very, very funny line in this episode that ended up being cut due to the fact that it was unintentionally hilariously dirty! Giles tells Buffy (in relation to all her responsibilities) that “It’ll be tight, but I think we can fit it all in.” Erm...Jane’s friend asked her if that was a sexual joke, which Jane hadn’t even realised it could be taken as. Hence, the line was changed to include the emphasis on Buffy’s responsibilities – “It’ll be tight, but I think we can fit in all your responsibilities.” You’ll never be able to watch that scene the same again, I assure you.
•    Giles is smoking! GILES IS SMOKING! Hello, Ripper. I sometimes feel like ‘Ripper’ is the soulless version of Giles. I really, really wish that we’d received more backstory on Giles over the years. We find out a lot about Angel and Spike’s pasts, Willow and Xander are only 16/17 years old when they’re introduced, and we learn all the important parts of Buffy’s past as well, but so much of Giles’ past is missing! We know that when Giles was a boy, he wanted to be a fighter pilot (“or possibly a grocer”). When his father told him that he was destined to be a Watcher, he rebelled, and drifted over to the worst crowd that would take him. He became obsessed with magic, and was part of the reason why one of his friends was killed. That’s about it. For those of you that don’t read the comic continuation of the series, you do get to learn a lot more about Giles’ past in the comics, but it would have been nice for that to be explored on the television show with Anthony Head.
•    Speaking of ‘Ripper’...Giles has a line in this episode where he says he wants to go out and “tear things up”. Jane Espenson likes to think that this is how ‘Ripper’ earned his nickname – by this being his catchphrase during his teenage years.
•    I withdraw my earlier statement about how Buffy should be allowed to make her own choice about driving. Never let that woman in a car again. Ever.
•    The Cream song “Tales Of Ulysses” is played by Joyce and Giles when they are in Giles’ house. Not only is it a brilliant choice of song, but it comes up again in season five’s “Forever”, when Giles listens to it after Joyce’s funeral. I love continuity like that. Giles listening to that song showed me more about Giles’ mental state after Joyce’s funeral than any words ever could.

•    For those of you unaware, the cockney accent that Giles has when he’s teenage-Giles is Anthony Head’s real voice.
•    Joyce was a nerd with a wild side in her youth, wasn’t she? She is so desperately trying to get Giles’ attention and make him like her. It’s been hinted at previously that Joyce wasn’t very popular in high school, and that she was a bit of a nerd (Joyce talked about how she was the photographer for her yearbook, and that it made her more popular than she was previously). It’s interesting, because I’d have never pegged Joyce as unpopular. Joyce is so warm and loving, and seems so genuinely nice, that I assumed people have always loved her as much as I do.
•    ...Then Giles breaks into a shop and steals a jacket for Joyce. This act of ‘bravery’ results in Giles and Joyce having sex on the hood of a police car...twice! In full view of everyone passing by! Do these people have no sense of privacy?! At least take her behind a semi-decent smelling dumpster, Giles!
•    I think it’s rather therapeutic for Joyce to get some of her feelings off her chest when she’s teenage-Joyce. I love her “screw you!” to Buffy. Joyce has had to accept a lot in the past 6 months. She’s had to accept that her daughter isn’t normal, that her daughter is in mortal danger every single day, and that this has all been going on for years behind her back. Being teenage-Joyce allows her to say some things that she’s usually too mature to say to Buffy about the situation.
•    Giles: “You listen to me. I’m your Watcher, so you do what I tell you. Now, sod off!”

Giles and Snyder are almost the exact opposite personalities of what they usually are. I love it! It’s a great way to explain to the audience that you can choose who you become in life. Also, I love that Giles refers to Buffy as his Slayer. Regular Giles wouldn’t have been so adamant about that fact.

•    Snyder totally hit on Joyce. I guess all those times he was rude to her was just misplaced passion. It certainly raises a whole other issue regarding his “tingle moment”, when he’s in the same room as Joyce during “Faith, Hope & Trick”.
•    I love Giles’ celebratory arm-flail of joy and jumping in the air when Buffy punched Ethan in the face ----> \O/
•    During the midst of all this hilarity, the episode suddenly takes a much darker turn, when a group of vampires steal some babies from a hospital.
•    Oh my God! The look of disgust on Buffy’s face when Joyce produces those handcuffs!...I can’t breathe. The laughing isn’t stopping – send help!
•    The Mayor: “Call Dave on the public-works committee tomorrow about sewer maintenance and repair. I have some concerns regarding exposed gas pipes, infrastructure, ventilation. And um…cancel my three o’clock.”

This is why I love The Mayor. He is in the middle of a ritual sacrifice, and he’s on the phone about gas pipes. I really enjoy the fact that he is evil, but he genuinely wants to do a good job, and genuinely loves the people of Sunnydale...even if he does intend to kill and eat them all eventually.

•    The C.G.I. for Lurconis is not convincing. It looks very unrealistic. However, this is 1998, so I won’t complain too much about it.
•    Willow: “Kiss rocks? Why would anyone want to kiss…oh wait, I get it.” - Willow! You date a musician! You should know these things!
•    The episode ends on a fittingly awkward note between Giles and Joyce. I really wish they’d had a fling at some point. Not only would it have been comedy gold having Giles sneak out a window of the house as Buffy is sneaking in from patrolling, but it also felt like there was sparkage between Giles and Joyce.

Quote Of The Episode

Snyder: “You will sell it to raise money for the marching band. They need new uniforms.”

Xander: “Yeah, those tall fuzzy hats ain’t cheap.”

Oz: “But they go with everything.”

Ordinary I would have gone with one of Snyder’s one-liners from this episode, but I always try to make the quote of the episode an exchange, rather than a few words. This is a classic example of Oz being underrated for his comedic contributions to the Scoobies.


So what are your thoughts on "Band Candy"? Did you enjoy this episode? Dislike it? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. I'm gonna comment on this. I didn't know Snyder was sent to Sunnydale to watch Buffy. Wow. I knew he knew he was on a hell mouth because he mentioned that I think in I only have eyes for you with the snakes but that would explain why Snyder knows the Mayor. The things I still learn about this show. And yes. There's always an excuse to see Angel shirtless. A good one too. I can't think of any but there ALWAYS is. YATHZEE

  2. there's specualtion in fandom that Snyder isn't evne educated in school admin., let laone qulaifed by experience to be principal.
    And no, no sense of decency in the neo-teenagers! I realize I'm splitting hairs, butr if they unifiormly reverted to 16, it means "Ripper" ran away from the Watcher Academy, not Oxford. Which basically makes giles Tony's age, rather than younger, ie. a bit less than two years older than (Making him and MErcedes as the only ones palyign thewir actual ages, ELiza playing up a couple years asumign Faith is already 19 when we meet her, and everyone else playing down by between 10 ( Charisma and Liz) to 2 (Sarah) as per usual in "the Biz."
    The problem of a Watcher and a Slayer's parent having an *actual* romance is the Slayer herself. By deifniton, they have different and ultimately incompatible intentions for "their girl." /But yes, I like G&J together (?Goyce?) and evne did that in a non-supernatural fic. D'C'A'

  3. :D Oh this episode. Oh Giles, oh Ripper, oh Watcher. Be still my beating heart *sigh*

    I bet Giles has a cupboard with a line up of pencils all lined up perfectly, all perfectly sharpened. Right next to the cupboard of perfectly sharp and lined up stakes!

    I have never noticed the magical growing boobs.

    The Mayor and Mr Trick together are great. I'm sad Mr Trick wasn't around to the end.

    It's sad the Joyce won't let Buffy learn to drive. One more normalcy taken away.

    Oh Joyce and Giles in this episode are just super!

    Well hello Mr Rayne. Good to hear he is in the comics!

    I love Snyder in Band Candy and I can't hear the word "spaz" without thinking of him. he acts like one of those poor kids (or my brother in law) in high school that try can act like on of the cool kids and in crowd but fail miserably. A bit like Xander in school photos trying to be suave.

    Great. I will never be able to watch that scene the same way again!! "fit it all in" pfffff bahahahahah. Thanks Shane!!

    I wish we saw more of Giles' past too. Also, I think we should just decide that yes, that is exactly how Giles earned the nickname Ripper.

    Hahahahaha, Buffy drives like a spaz alright, but what do you expect when no one has taught her to drive! I stalled the car 4 times before being told I needed to take the handbrake off! Geeez! I didn't know!
    I love "Tales of Ulysses" and I love that Giles listend to it again after Joyce's funeral, which does show something of Giles' character and how awesome he is. (Speaking of funerals, very gutted we never saw Buffy's or explored their grief and how hey coped. I Just finished the first of the Origins fanfic and it was nice to read of the authors version of the funeral and how they coped. Makes me wish we has seen it. Or at least heard more about it.)

    Hmm, I'm warm and loving and I wasn't popular. Cordy is popular but really not warm and loving, so... interesting.

    To be fair, that jacket is pretty cool. Joyce has to accept a lot yes, but what about Buffy. Her life will never be normal. The only time it will be is when she dies. Again. Till she is brought back. I do get that Joyce needed to get that out. Not every parents dream for their child I suppose.

    Hahaha, Giles' arm-flail and jumping was quite awesome.

    :( the babies!! I can't deal with the babies being take - the first time I watched this I just couldn't deal. I can now, knowing that they are ok.

    I think I'd feel like Buffy in the handcuff situation.

    Oh Mr Mayor. You are awesome. You really do have to fix those pipes.

    haha, Kiss rocks. Oh Willow, yes, you really should know these things.

    Oh, I ship Joyce and Giles so much. I wish there was something there, I really do.

    And I love that Oz is in the QOTE. He is just so adorably cute.

    Here endth my commenting. Till next time Cap'n!! Peach and light

  4. Well, this is one of my absolute favorite episodes because I related to the elders! Kiss Rocks! Willow is a nerd and she barely knows the music from her own generation much less ones from 100 years ago! Joyce was probably a "good girl" not a bona fide nerd. She got straight A's and was kind of goofy looking albeit probably cute, so having someone like Ripper pay attention to her...! She doesn't realize that she is now "hot" and Giles, nee Ripper has always shown a little attraction to her from the first time they met in the hospital. They don't profess "love" because they know they don't "fit", it's just a fluke situation and they are going to take advantage of it. I love this because we've all had those "one night stands" we never talk about! (I know, eeuuuwww! mother's never acted like that !) Snyder! Where's the garbage can! How many insides of lockers did he see?! Didn't really pay attention to the backstory that much because the parents were so much fun! Too bad Spike and Joyce didn't have a chance to be alone. Technically he was old enough for her and had he seen her in her teenage get-up I think he may have bit (metaphorically I hope!)

    1. "Willow is a nerd and she barely knows the music from her own generation much less ones from 100 years ago!"

      Bwahaha! "100 years ago"! I died of laughter when I read this sentence *wipes away tears* :'D

      - Shangel

  5. Angela Aranghelovici19 January 2014 at 11:34

    Great review Shangel, I was sad when I got to the end, I wanted it to be longer! :D Thanks for including the bits from Jane's live commentary at Hallowhedon, they were really interesting!

  6. Just re watched this ep last week on Pivot and roared. This is one of the funniest eps from Oz's sardonic humour about the band's fuzzy hats to The bare chested male teachers singing "Louie Louie" at the bar. My non Buffy loving bf could not understand why I was laughing so hard at a show that is supposed to be scary. Sigh he just doesn't get it. Anywho this is our first semi glimpse as the Mayor in the sewers as the big bad for the season. PS How did he get cell reception there anyways? Mr Trick shines as usual and I'm glad to see I'm not alone in my sentiment that I wish he could have hung around longer. I also wish we would have had more of a back story on him. Snyder was great in this ep as well, proving what we all suspected, that he was a get wit (person that does anything to try to hang with the cool kids) geek in his youth. We thought at this point this is why he hated Buffy, because she represented the girl(s) he couldn't get in HS. Hence his hitting on Joyce. To have Joyce be slightly the same was refreshing since it set her up with Ripper. And how cool was Giles in this ep? Loved the cockney accent. It seems that he and Spike switched places as it were. Spike was upper class and Giles (by the cockney accent) was slightly lower class and they switched once Giles grew up and accepted his fate as a Watcher while Spike stepped down in a sense once he was turned. Ethan shined in his short scenes with the Scoobies. The scene with Giles jumping for joy when Buffy hit him... priceless. Plus she proved she could locate a foe by kicking in the crate that Ethan was hiding behind. Nice continuity with Giles having her throw the ball to hit him in an earlier training ep in the same ep. I understand, for story purposes anyways why Joyce won't let Buffy drive. How could a person who just got their license at 17 drive around at night and patrol? Plus even if she had her license at the inception of the series the show would loose some of it's oomph. We like to see our heroine running and showing her strength when fighting the baddies not searching for a great parking spot in order to get a better vantage point. Plus it showed how concerned Joyce was and that she knew Buffy could handle herself after saving the world, twice at this point. Best part of the ep was at the end when Joyce and Giles awkwardly looked at each other and walked away. This ep goes down in history as one of the funniest in my book.