"Yeah, you're the Slayer, and we're like the Slayer-ettes."
Likewise, the characterization of Buffy's mother is a little less broad. Whereas in the previous episode she was the butt of jokes about how ignorant she was of what was going on under her own nose, here that same problem is taken more seriously as a vehicle for drama. As it should be.
Overall, this episode provides some really solid drama and the "monster of the week" is handled like a really good procedural drama with a couple of red herrings. The big reveal, that Amy's mother body-swapped, is genuinely surprising but becomes obvious in retrospect, which is the mark of a clever and well-told mystery. The episode also provides some great material for Willow and Xander, while leaving recurring characters Angel and the Master out entirely.
As always, I'll end with some random observations:
- That final shot is a bit much, isn't it? A close-up on the statue with ominous music would have gotten the point across, I think.
- This is Amy's first appearance. [HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS] She would go on to appear at least once in every season (except season five).
- It's interesting how quickly a show with "Vampire Slayer" in the title involves a non-vampire threat--but that was always part of Joss's conception of the show.
- This is the first appearance of witchcraft in the series. [SPOILERS] Of course, witchcraft becomes an important part of the series, particularly for Willow. Because of this, there are some scenes in this episode which have accrued some unintentional irony.
- The Buffy/Xander/Willow triangle, only really hinted at previously, begins to develop here.
[SPOILERS]Obviously, the writers seem to really think that the Buffy/Xander pairing is going places, but by early next season we'll have more or less left that behind. Xander/Willow will stick around a bit longer, but ultimately this triangle is just a bunch of dead ends. Not that they won't provide some interesting drama for the series's early years, but none of them will ever go very far and that's probably for the better.