Buffy: Cordelia, I have at least three lives to contend with, none of which really mesh. It's kind of like oil and water and a... third unmeshable thing.
Cordelia: Yeah, and I can see the oil.
Prompts and questions are there to spark discussion. If they're useful or interesting to you, go ahead and respond to any aspect of them. But please feel free to bring up anything else that interests you, as long as it somehow relates to the episode under discussion.
Writer: David Greenwalt
Director: John T. Kretchmer
U.S. Airdate: September 29, 1997
1. Angel & Spike
Spike: You think you can fool me?! You were my sire, man! You were my... Yoda!
Angel: Things change.
Spike: Not us! Not demons!
Given all that we know about Spike and Angel's relationship now, it's fascinating to consider what we have to go on from this episode, the type of assessment we would make based only on what happens in "School Hard". What are some of the assumptions Spike and Angel seem to make about one another? What are the reactions of the other characters to them in relation to each other (i.e., how does knowing about Spike change any attitudes about Angel?). How well are these episode-specific conclusions and assumptions borne out later?
2. New Vampires in Town
Spike: From now on, we're gonna have a little less ritual...and a little more fun around here.
Dru and Spike arrive in Sunnydale in "School Hard", and pretty much turn our expectations about vampires and villains on their heads. What are some of the most evident departures from other vampiric behaviors and appearances that we see? How do Spike and Drusilla demarcate themselves from other vampires -- what are the new defining moments, issues, activities? How is the show beginning to redefine villainy?
3. Mother/Daughter Relationship
Joyce: But we moved once because of you getting in trouble. And I had to start a new business, not to mention a new life in a whole new town.
Buffy: And you don't wanna do it again.
Joyce: What I don't want is to be disappointed in you again.
Buffy's relationship to Joyce, and Joyce's integration into the world of Buffy's high-school and slaying life, are central to this episode. What developments to the relationship occur during the course of "School Hard"? What more do we learn about Joyce that we didn't know before now? To what extent is the viewer sympathetic to Buffy? To Joyce? How do the adults' take on crisis differ from the students', and how do Buffy and Joyce influence their separate spheres during the vampiric siege of Sunnydale High?
Other potential topics for discussion: when does Spike realize Angel has his soul; Dru's psychic skills (also potentially in comparison to Buffy's); Spike as impatient and bored versus Spike as "thorough and goal-oriented"; the closed-set action of the middle act (all on school grounds); resemblances to Die Hard; the debate on Spike's sire; siring Shelia
If you're interested in guest-moderating for a future episode discussion at episodic_buffy, visit this entry and see which s2 eps are still available (as we get further along in s2, we'll open up s3 to guest-mod requests as well).
Because most of the people who weighed in seemed to support this option, our discussions will now take place once a week, in order to give everyone time to respond to the conversation and to watch the episode. Future posting days opening discussion will be Mondays. Thanks to those who provided feedback on that issue.