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28 May 2006 @ 04:48 pm
2.3: School Hard  
Cordelia: You're starting to look a little slagged. What, are you just skipping foundation entirely now?
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.


2.3: School Hard
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.
 
 
 
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 29th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
Ok, first of all, please be patient, because I'm not a native speaker.
If there are left questions (and in I hope so in a way.lol) feel free to ask. :D

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?


What’s different with these two vampires?
First of all, there is the strong relationship between the couple.
Spikes feeling of solidarity and the sense of belonging to Drusilla goes out a normal measure The helplessness of Dru appeals to him. The person behind the demon feels confirmed and needed by someone.
Spike can’t deny himself even as the demon nature he is. We can see in this relationship a part of his character that was already there in many different facets when he was human. The feeling to be needed by someone, to obtain the acceptance he longed for, is one of the basic feelings that makes him act.
Drusilla stays with Spike because of her physical weakness. She turns to the one who seems to be the strongest at the moment.
Spike has got a motivation that is entirely different.
He stays with her because he loves her in some way.
Her weakness appeals to him and he feels the need to protect her.
Maybe there is the dept of gratitude because Dru was the one who freed him of the necessities of the social life he had been born in.
This gives us a first idea of a characteristic trait which is really exceptional to a vampire without a soul: to commiserate and especially humanity.
Unusual is the deep emotional attachment between Spike and Drusilla.
Until now we were shown only a typical hierarchy. One the one side there was a strong vampire and on the other side the ones who followed him.
But it is clear shortly after the arrive of Spike, that he isn’t someone who just follows full blinded.
Far from it he seems to be somehow a rebel between all these vampires, who only follows his own path and who lays down his own rules.

Drusilla is a totally new character, too. Her childish cruelness is as fascinating as frightening.
Despite her childish and naïve behavior does that absolutely waywardness make her become a real villain.

Were there in the beginning villains with a huge meaning, so in this episode- with the arriving of the bleached vampire- it changes into an interpersonal and pure private issue between the vampire and the slayer.
No more are historical or religious events important but just the personal wish of Spike to prove himself worthy.


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.


What more do we learn about Joyce that we didn't know before now?

Joyce seems to be a mother who, being disappointed in her daughter try to built up a whole new life in a new city. But in this episode it turns out, that she of course takes part in the life of Buffy. Well in that part of life of a normal teenage!Buffy.
During the episode and especially during the fighting in the high school the broken pieces of the mutual trust changes into the belief that she can be proud of Buffy because she acts responsible and helpful if necessary.
In the same way Buffy figures out that her mother, even if she’s disappointed, never will let her daughter down in any way .

your royal pie-ness: xander/joyceentrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
I love seeing Joyce's development in this episode. We see more of how she's like Buffy (as Principal Snyder accuses her during the vampire raid of the school when Joyce tells the escaping parent "Don't be an idiot!"), and we see more of how she's like herself (as this is the first episode that we learn her name).

All that being said, when she tells Buffy she's disappointed in her? Oh man. That's harsh. It's a really startling moment for me, to hear that Buffy's mom isn't just upset with her for what's happened at her various schools (and at the burning down of this second building, though perhaps Joyce doesn't know about that yet?), but that she's disappointed. It's worse, that quiet resignation to a child that disappoints you because they've failed in their character versus anger towards a child that has done a few bad things.

And now I use my highly inappropriate Joyce/Xander icon, because I don't know where my other Joyce icon went. :)
(no subject) - buffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 29th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Spike as impatient and bored versus Spike as "thorough and goal-oriented";

I don’t believe that these characteristic traits are really ambivalent in that way.
I think they’re just typical for the character of Spike.
As thorough as he takes a situation wich is important for him, as goa- oriented he goes after it.
But if something doesn’t turn out the way he wants he quickly becomes impatient and if someone can’t keep up with him he becomes bored.
For this the one leads to the other and just „inspired“ him to be even more thorough and determined.
But exactly this passion, with that he begins something, is which makes him act with in obsession bordering grimness.
your royal pie-ness: spike punk boi (shagalote)entrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Really? To me those are very adverserial traits. Being thorough and goal oriented implies you follow something through to the end, not that you get bored and change your plans when you become impatient.

I think here the difference is in how Angel sees Spike -- and perhaps a bit of projection -- and how Spike sees himself.

When Angel describes Spike? Hey, that actually sounds a lot more like Angelus, who takes time to really follow through (stalking victims, deciminating entire families, torturing and targeting his objects of interest).
(no subject) - buffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - entrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jgracio on May 31st, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn't in
the brochure.


Buffy's emphasis on friendship stands in sharp contrast to most of other depictions of superheroes in pop culture.
Buffy shows us the power of friendship and family and prompts us to ask why friendship and family makes us so much stronger.
How does Buffy's family and friends influence her fight against the evil?
What does that mean for Spike who has known up to now that the Slayer faces her destiny alone and doesn't allow other persons, besides her watcher, to interact in her life?
What is his reaction to that totally new situation?
your royal pie-ness: Xander green Entre (me)entrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
You might just want to jump into the discussion rather than posing discussion questions (though hey, good form for the week when you are the one posing topics *g*).
(no subject) - buffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - entrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buffysvampire on May 31st, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
your royal pie-ness: don't speak latin (mouthfullofdust)entrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
One of the things that has always intrigued me about this episode -- I cannot help wondering what the hell happened to Shelia.

It's interesting to see a vampire get away, even this early in the series. Of course Buffy has bigger fish to fry, but we actually see Shelia back off (as oppose to say Sandy or Harmony, who seem like they meet their deaths but emerge episodes later as vampire characters).

I've always assumed that Dru turned Shelia, but I'm curious to hear if anyone else has thoughts on that. It seems like Spike intended her to be food only (and only played with her/lured her on b/c he wanted to get her to Dru) but Drusilla seems interested in making another vampire here.

When Shelia does turn up in her vampiric identity, she doesn't appear to be part of Spike's coordinated holding of the school. Rather, she seems to be acting on her own, which is an interesting thing for a recently made vampire who didn't seem to have that much ambition as a human.

And I'll confess I'm interested in Shelia partly because she's so poorly presented. I don't know if the actress did well in other projects, but here she's strained and awkward, though of course Shelia is a pivotal character to the episode as Buffy's bad-girl trouble-seeking antithesis.
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
though of course Shelia is a pivotal character to the episode as Buffy's bad-girl trouble-seeking antithesis.

I think that's almost the one intention Joss had for the character of Shelia:
To show what happens to the bad girls in school (which we all know to well, don't we)just lurking around and not having a real future.
Like my mother always told me: these guys are no company to keep with, and it will all just end bad if you stay with them
cordelianne: Buffy Girl Powercordelianne on May 31st, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
I agree that the actress who plays Shelia isn't the best actor. Some of her line deliveries make me cringe. I wonder if she doesn't reappear because they weren't happy with her performance?

I've also always assumed that Dru turned Shelia for similar reasons. I do enjoy the contrast of the "bad girl's" fear when she's faced with vampires as opposed to the not so bad girl's take charge reaction. And that Buffy doesn't have to fight Shelia to scare her off is fun (ie. the supposed bad girl's not so tough after all).

However, you make a good point about why she's at the school, because she seems to have arrived alone. It works alright as a surprise/reveal for the audience. But if you were someone who hated school as much as Shelia seems to and are turned into a vampire, why would you go back to school? Unless it's to kill everyone? Although the evening was ending. Maybe Dru sent her there? I'm in agreement that it seems like a weird decision.
zandra_x on May 30th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
It's hard to separate all the impressions we’ve gathered of Spike from all the subsequent episodes we seen him in, all the fanfic written about him, all the background that's been provided for him, and look at him with fresh eyes. I saw BtVS in reruns and out of sequence; I wish I had had the experience of seeing him appear in this pristine condition.

The tone of the Spike-Angel interaction strikes us as odd because of all that comes after, revealing their history, just as the Darla in the first season is hard to reconcile with the sophisticate we see roaming the world with Angelus. And of course, we have that conundrum that baffles every newcomer to the series, But, but, Spike says Angel's his sire, but I thought Drusilla was. And there's the 'when did Spike find out about Angel's soul?' question, because he obviously knows about it now, but didn't in their submarine journey. If only the writers had known how much Spike there was going to be in the series. As it is, there is a lot of canon; the two Slayers he killed (one in the Boxer Rebellion), William the Bloody, his long association with Angel. I think one of the reasons people respond to this series is the care the writers took in weaving the storylines as best they could. It makes the series as a whole hang together and repeat viewings, gratifying.

I think that Buffy establishes a personal relationship with Spike right from the start. She calls him by name. She wants to fight with him a more (should we say) intimate way, discarding their weapons. Most of the vampires she’s staked have left the wisecracks to her, replying with grunts or with wit on the level of ‘so’s your old man’. With Spike, Buffy engages in banter.

Does Joyce see Buffy as another Sheila, or is this teenage hyperbole? I always see Joyce as a lax disciplinarian, considering Buffy’s background (what with the arson and all), but she’s given to fits of over-restraint when she feels scared about what’s happening. (Ha, it’s a family trait, when she gets scared, she gets mad.) But the ease with which she accepts Buffy’s leadership in the crisis points to her having a bedrock belief in her daughter.

Has anybody written a fic where Angel did come to the Bronze that night?
your royal pie-ness: buffy iconentrenous88 on May 30th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
Does Joyce see Buffy as another Sheila, or is this teenage hyperbole? I always see Joyce as a lax disciplinarian, considering Buffy’s background (what with the arson and all), but she’s given to fits of over-restraint when she feels scared about what’s happening. (Ha, it’s a family trait, when she gets scared, she gets mad.) But the ease with which she accepts Buffy’s leadership in the crisis points to her having a bedrock belief in her daughter.

Lots of great stuff in your comment, and I'll have to take up more when I get home from work, but I just love this paragraph/observation so I wanted to jot something down before I took off. Joyce is something of a lax disciplinarian, I agree, and she does seem to have that too-much-turn-about quick angry reaction similarto Buffy's. I actually find the way the Principal and other parents react to Joyce, as irritating and too-harsh with them, as kind of charming, given how it gives us a tie between Joyce and Buffy in the way they respond to a crisis.

I still wonder, though, whether Joyce's laxness doesn't go beyond discipline into a type of wilfull ignoring. She just lets the fact that Buffy can shimmy into ceilings and take out a gang on PCP go? Sure, it's wonderful Buffy thinks of others first, and it makes sense in the show not to have Joyce examine things too closely.

But it's certainly an odd little development in her comprehension of what Buffy's life is like, though also helpful preparation for when she later learns that Buffy is the Slayer.
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 30th, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
And of course, we have that conundrum that baffles every newcomer to the series, But, but, Spike says Angel's his sire, but I thought Drusilla was.

Oh yes! And this is the only sequence of the whole serie that the german translation is more definite than the english words are.
Because I think Spike telling Angel(us) that he was his sire is more about that he was his paradigm (hope this is the right word, huh).
His mental leader like it is said in the german version.
(no subject) - zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cordelianne: Spike No Angelcordelianne on May 30th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
1. The Spike and Angel scene always makes me wonder if Spike already had an idea about Angel's soul, and is trying to determine if it's true. He's clearly sussing Angel out by saying things like: "I haven't seen you in the killing fields for an age." I know that with Spike his impulsiveness often causes people to perceive him as stupid - and it's not like he spends hours creating complex plans because that wouldn't be fun - but he's not a complete idiot and does seems suspicious of Angel. Now that we know the vast history together, I also wonder if Spike just picks up something different about Angel (although he didn't notice the soul in the "Why We Fight" flashbacks).

Knowing what happens later on in the series (ie. Spike's changes), I always laugh at that exchange between Angel and Spike that is quoted above. I think it's there to emphasize how different Angel is from other vampires - and not as some ironic foreshadowing - yet it's really amusing that Spike also changes throughout the years after his declaration that demons don't change. Oh Spike, are you going to eat your words (as does ME when they decide that Dru should be Spike's sire not Angel)!!


One thing I really enjoy about the episode is how it reworks the movie Die Hard, ie. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the man who basically single-handedly saves his wife and others held hostage by terrorists in a building. It's neat to see this teen-aged girl - who does have superpowers - worry about getting expelled and disappointing her mother, and also be the one in charge of rescuing the hostages and facing off with the baddie. I love that she's wearing very female clothes, ie. a skirt, while crawling through the ceiling and taking out the hostages one by one (which I believe also happens in Die Hard without the skirt! - I haven't seen the movie in a while). It's very fun - and what I love about the show - to see a traditionally male action hero role transformed into a female one.
your royal pie-ness: Xander pimp (heatxdamage)entrenous88 on May 31st, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
It's something I didn't notice in the first viewing, but when Spike and Angel embrace, Spike's expression seems to change to one of disgust. So an argument could be made that he either already knows Angel has his soul, or that he somehow senses that as they hug. The latter to me seems odd, that vampires might be able to sense souls, and that's certainly not the case as we learn more about the Fanged Four once Ats is underway. But hey, we're at an early point in canon, so it could be that sensing souls wasn't entirely discounted. Of course, we could also just argue that JM played the scene that way.

Agreed -- Spike changes perhaps more than any other vampire we encounter.

Dude, I've always loved ME's backtracking and Joss's "yeah, but what I meant was..." They changed their minds.

Heee! Glad you talked about the Die Hard connection (David Greenwalt must have been a big fan of the film). As to her girly clothes, I seem to remember that Buffy wears a skort (skirt over shorts), but that's even more feminine somehow. :)
(no subject) - cordelianne on May 31st, 2006 04:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aycheb on May 31st, 2006 05:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cordelianne on May 31st, 2006 06:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buffysvampire on May 31st, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buffysvampire on June 1st, 2006 04:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Spaced Out Looneyspacedoutlooney on June 14th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
SPIKE!!

Ahem.

The "you're my sire" thing has never bothered me, because I just take it to mean you're my yoda, you're my sire. Not physically, but mentor-wise. Of course, I'm not one to see "ret-cons" per se, but just that when you get to the end of a story, you're going to see the beginning a bit differently, but what's important is seeing how it all ties together.

IMHO, that scene where Spike watches Buffy entranced is what starts it all for him. So subtle, so well done. It's interesting, because there are so many opinions on when and why Spike falls in love with Buffy and starts to change.