"It's like they knew I was coming back."
We start the episode with some sweet moments between Xander and Willow. It's striking how firmly these characters are positioned as audience identification figures: they haven't seen Buffy all summer, because we haven't seen Buffy. In any case, this scene shows how much more assured the show's sense of humor is now. In this episode, the proportion of successes to misfires in the show's attempt at comedy is far better than it ever was in season one. The dialogue between Willow and Xander is quite funny (in part because Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan have great chemistry), and there are plenty of other funny moments, such as the gang's reaction to Cordelia's mention of the Three Musketeers and the conversation with Giles about "trout."
Cordelia's also given some rather interesting moments here. Her inclusion in the Scooby Gang is a bit forced, but the show acknowledges that and uses it as a source of drama and comedy. But it's rather unusual to see her as the moral center of the show, and that's what she is in this episode when she lectures Buffy outside the Bronze. I'm not sure the writers have really earned that. It really only highlights the problems with Buffy's character in this episode. Buffy's motivations here are really inscrutable, and that's bothersome. We can tell that she momentarily starts to think of her friends as liabilities (which, by the way, will be a major theme of this season) but that explanation doesn't really do it for me.
- This episode begins with a "Last season, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" recap, narrated by Tony Head. From what I understand, "Previously on" was a regular peature of the televised episodes but it almost never appears on the DVD, so this is a bit strange to see.
- Starting with this episode, David Boreanaz is promoted to series regular. So they'd better figure out something to do with his character.
- Speaking of which, Buffy tells Angel, "You know, being stalked isn't really a big turn on for girls." I guess Stephanie Meyer disagrees?