"I Only Have Eyes for You" is often considered one of the high points of Buffy's celebrated second season, and that's a reputation that's well deserved. It's a pretty damn enjoyable episode of Buffy, and more emotionally raw than many, and it contains some pretty damn good performances. It's a shame that my current rush to catch up on reviews doesn't allow me to say as much about it as I might otherwise like to, but there are a couple of things that need to be said.
I think one of the reasons this is such a great episode is that it's so grounded in human emotion. It's surprising that it took this long for Buffy to delve into a ghost story. Among supernatural creatures, ghosts are probably the most "human." Vampires have an element of the demonic, werewolves of the bestial, but to be a ghost is simply to be a human in a different situation from the rest of us, if that makes sense. For this reason, writer Marti Noxon (known to some fans as the writer who "ruined Buffy") doesn't have to work terribly hard to connect the human drama to the supernatural. In this case, the supernatural is humanity anyway. Which isn't to say that this episode does nothing interesting: the way in which Buffy and Angel come to play their parts, with the gender roles reversed, is certainly surprising and fascinating as well as emotionally affecting.
Another is that I think this episode is probably David Boreanaz's best performance to date. The boy has come a long way since I criticized his performance in The Harvest, and while I stand by that (he really was awful in that particular episode) he's fairly quickly become a lot more interesting to watch. I don't know if he's just grown as an actor, or it's the fact that he's been given some more engaging material as the show has gone on, but you can see the emerging TV star power that carried Angel for five seasons and now helps carry Bones. Apparently it was after watching Boreanaz's performance here that Joss decided he was strong enough to carry his own show, to which I say "good call."
- The ending scene, in which Spike suddenly reveals that he can walk again, obviously has significance for the story, but doesn't have much to do with this episode in particular. I feel like in the second half of the season, Spike and Drusilla have been somewhat mishandled overall, with the writers choosing to focus instead on Angel, which is of course understandable because he's a member of the main cast and the other two are only recurring guests.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the mansion, a set they'll get a lot of mileage out in the rest of this season and the following one as well. And why not? It's a great set.
- In School Hard, we learned that Snyder was aware of the existence of vampires. Here, we learn a bit more: Snyder is aware of the Hellmouth (as is the police chief he speaks with), and has apparently been appointed to the position of principal based on his alleged ability to "handle" the job. Also, Snyder is threatened with a mention of Sunnydale's Mayor...