Episode title: Reptile Boy
Original air date: October 13, 1997
“One day I’ll have money. Prestige. Power. And on that day they’ll still have more.” – Xander
Kind of a weird episode this week as Buffy investigates a missing high school student, while struggling once more to balance a normal life outside of her slayer responsibilities. At the same time her confused feelings for Angel lead to her attending a frat party with Cordelia only to discover that the fraternity members hide more than a few secrets of their own.
Opening with Buffy, Xander and Willow on a rare down moment with the trio trying to decipher the complexities of Bollywood cinema, it kind of sets the tone for this episode as this one is more about the jokes than anything particularly interesting plot wise with the episode coming off as a good idea whose plot couldn’t be stretched to cover a full episode. As such the episode seems to constantly be looking for sub-plots and distractions to make the running time.
Essentially a send up of the secret college societies such as “The Skull and Bones” whose members have gone on to hold positions of power, here the members this secret society we find are holding yearly human sacrifices to the snake demon Machida who lives in the cavern under their frat house and who in return grants them money and power. It’s equally fitting that this episode features its bizarre Bollywood motif, especially with the monster of the week taking a half human, half snake form similar to the Naga’s which feature in Indian mythology, with some parts of southern India still worshiping these creatures which are seen as bringers of fertility.
One of the main sub-plots of this episode is the on-going relation relationship between Buffy and Angel who here are still trying to get past the fact that they incompatibly matched, what with Buffy being a slayer and Angel a vampire (if one with a soul). Buffy of course is head over heels with her infatuation, while Angel who despite being equally interested in Buffy is struggling to deal with his feelings let alone the fact there is a 226 year age difference between them. Their awkward conversation in the graveyard is really quite adorable and its nice on this revisit to see that Buffy holds the power in their relationship as at the end she doesn’t immediately take up Angel’s offer for coffee at the end.
As I mentioned already this episode is heavy on the humour element with Xander being a great fall guy in his ill thought out plan to sneak into the Delta Zeta Kappa frat house which ultimately sees him being dressed as a woman and forced to dance for the amusement of the members. We also some great back and forth dialogue between Giles and Buffy who continues to play the father figure in her life, which honestly is one of the most understated relationship in the series and one that’s often lost amongst all the various romantic interests and monsters of the week, but here it’s clear that their relationship even this early in the series is a lot deeper than a mentor and apprentice relationship.
While the episode might be severely lacking in a decent villain to go with the great creature design for Machida, we do have frat member Richard played here by Greg Vaughan and not the porn star turned actor James Deen (don’t google his name at work) who fools Buffy with his good lucks and general charms into coming to the party unaware that he plans to use her and Cordelia for their yearly sacrifice.
While this isn’t the best episode in the series it still has enough humour and interesting moments to carry it through even if its main plot is a little paper thin and while it might not make my top episode list its hardly a chore to watch either.
Next Episode: Halloween