“It’s devastating. He’s turned into a sixteen year old boy. Of course, you’ll have to kill him.”
Which is not to say that there's no humor in the episode. Giles provides a few good moments, notably his attempt to do combat training with Buffy and also his initial dismissal of Xander in the above quote (highlighting another example of the series literalizing a metaphor--teenagers behaving like animals). The episode also concludes on a humorous character moment between Giles and Xander, which is quite effective and breaks the streak of bad conclusions I complained about yesterday.
But mostly, this episode goes for the character-based drama, relying again on the love triangle but discussing it more openly than ever. Xander's cruelty to Willow really hurts, and her reaction to it is pretty devastating. A lot is brought out into the open here... and then put back into the box, as the characters choose to act like it never happened. Ah well.
- Once again, we get an episode that focuses on Xander, and while Willow gets caught in the crossfire we've yet to get a real Willow episode.
- I think the zookeeper in his makeup is probably the first example of something we'll see a lot in Buffy and Angel: Something with a horrific appearance, undercut by a matter-of-fact vocal tone that sounds like just any random guy. This juxtaposition for humorous effect will be used again and again.
- I think this is the first use of the cage. Why a high school library has a cage isn't ever really explained, is it? But it has an armory and a massive collection of rare occult books. So maybe it's best not to ask.
- Xander attempts to sexually assault Buffy in this episode. Obviously, Xander's not himself, but even so, you'd think there would be some kind of dramatic ramification from this, particularly given the fact that Xander has full memory of it happening. But we can't explore this because, again, they pretend it never happened, for the sake of a laugh. I know yesterday I said that funny is often reason enough, particularly with Xander, but today I'm not so sure about that.