Episode Title: Homecoming
Original Air Date: November 3, 1998
“I thought, Homecoming Queen, I could open a yearbook someday and say, ‘I was there, I went to high school and had friends and for just one minute I got to live in the world.’ And there’d be proof. Proof I was chosen for something other than this. Besides, I look cute in a tiara.” – Buffy
It’s another mixed bag this week as well as an episode which I remember enjoying more the first time than I did for this most recent rewatch. At the same time its hard to fault its importance on the series as with Homecoming approaching Buffy and Cordelia soon find themselves on a collision course as they both battle to be prom queen. Meanwhile Mr. Trick plans to take out both Buffy and Faith by holding the competition “SlayerFest ‘98” were the competitors get to hunt the slayers for sport.
Despite the tantalising prospect of “SlayerFest ‘98” the majority of the episode is surprisingly spent focusing on the relationships of the Buffy and the Scoobies as Scott breaks up with Buffy feeling that she is too distracted for them to be in a relationship which I guess is understandable on Buffy’s part what with her slaying duties, caring for a still weak Angel and generally being responsible for protecting Sunnydale it’s safe to say she has a lot on her plate. Still I don’t think any Buffy fans were especially upset over this break up, especially when a large portion were still rooting for her to get back with Angel. Proof once more that good looks and a broody nature will help you over look most things including the fact that he killed your watchers girlfriend!
Xander and Willow meanwhile finally kiss in this episode which would normally be a cause for much celebration, especially when they’ve had feeling for each other for so long, while never being able to act on it. Of course the downside is that Willow is with Oz still and we all like Oz, making our feelings as the audience just as conflicted as they are.
Meanwhile on the big evil front we finally get to meet this season’s main villain Mayor Wilkins who is hideously….nice! Okay perhaps this isn’t entirely true as we will find out later in the season, but from his introduction in this episode his main concern is over whether his deputy washed his hands properly or not though by the end of the episode we can already see the start of his alliance with Mr. Trick who wants to share his plans to control the youth of Sunnydale. Mayor Wilkins whose presence has frequently been hinted at in the previous season and now finally revealed is unquestionably one of the more interesting big evil’s that Buffy will face over the course of the series, with a lot of this being down to the performance given by Harry Groener which makes him so memorable especially when he constantly seems so happy while at the same time giving an undertone of threat to his word and actions.
While this episode might feel in many ways like it’s just the various characters on the board being moved around so that their storylines can be furthered or developed more so when “SlayerFest ‘98” is shunted to the last ten minutes of the episode when it does happen the wait is thankfully worth it. It’s also a competition which brings back to Sunnydale the cowboy vampire Lyle Gorch (last seen in Bad Eggs) and his new bride Candy. The also get a pair of german twins, the demon Kulak from the Miquot Clan who can seemingly use his own forearm bones as weapons and the hunter Frawley who I did initially mistake for being the werewolf hunter Gib Cain as both have werewolf tooth necklaces. All these competitors bring their own skills to the event, while the fact that Buffy is forced to team up with Cordelia to defeat them only adds to the fun, especially when she is proposing using a spatula to fight them, a weapon which ironically comes in actually quite handy in the end with Candy being perhaps the first (and only) vampire to be killed by a sharpened spatula.
Despite the initial setup the main focus being on Buffy and Cordelia politicking for homecoming queen votes might seem alittle out of place for the series, but strangely it works mainly thanks to the strong humorous vein which runs throughout it. At the same time its an episode whose relevance can be seen later in the season even if it feels like several ideas tossed together in the same episode.
Next Episode: Band Candy