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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.
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. :)
cordelianne: Connor&Darla  Shared a Soulcordelianne on May 31st, 2006 04:07 am (UTC)
But hey, we're at an early point in canon, so it could be that sensing souls wasn't entirely discounted.
It's interesting to me how the whole sensing a soul thing can sometimes seem, er, flexible. Like how Anya - as a vengeance demon, so maybe it's different - can sense Spike's soul in season 7. And how in "Darla", Darla says that she can smell Angel's soul (although she already know about it), yet Spike and Dru are oblivious. And I'm sure I recall demons (I'm not sure about vamps) who have immediately recognized that Angel has a soul, but there's also instances when they're surprised he does. So, I'd say it's entirely possible that iin this episode - and as you note, this early in the show - Spike does sense it. I've always liked to imagine that he's heard the demon gossip about Angel which makes him suspicious. I'm fond of that because the idea of demons and vamps gossiping entertains me. Oh! I just thought, wouldn't he have heard about Angel being all soul-having from the Anointed One's lackeys?

hee! to the ME backtracking. I appreciate that on the dvd commentary for "Innocence" Joss tries to give a lame reason for the timeline discrepancy and then admits it was a mistake.

I hadn't realized it was a skort!! That's so awesome, and definitely more feminine! *g*
aycheb: sellackaycheb on May 31st, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
In the Five by Five flashbacks Darla works out that the gypsy spell has given Angelus back his soul on very little evidence given that she's unlikely to have encountered any previous instances of vampires with souls. Angelus is talking very strangely about all his victims and she's right up close with him. Maybe souls have a very faint smell that demons only recognise when they already have some idea of what to expect. It would fit with Spike seeming to confirm previous suspicioins in School Hard. I don't think he ever gets nose to neck with Angel in Why we Fight and Angels's still being a dick. Or he just wasn't paying attention or things smell different at 50 fathoms.
cordelianne: Spike No Angelcordelianne on May 31st, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
I'd forgotten about that flashback in "Five by Five". Thanks for reminding me! It does suggest that Darla's sensing his soul. Because, as you note, it's not like there were lots of vampires with souls for her to arrive at that conclusion. It's also likely that knowing the gypsies had done a spell on Angel helped Darla arrive at that conclusion.

or things smell different at 50 fathoms. heeee! I'm sure that's it. *nods*

It does make sense that Spike's testing out rumours and suspicions which are confirmed by his interactions with Angel and perhaps by sensing the soul (because he knows what to look for).
zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
I never thought of the ironic quality of Spike's remark about changing. Very insightful.
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on May 31st, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and how ironic to hear him declare, that demons don't change and so much later telling Clem (who says:"Things change") "They do. If you make them."
I have the feeling that even if he doesn't want that changes (like he told his mother that he transformed her so she never will age or die) he's already in the development of the changing process.
He faces the group of vamipres of the Anointed One in vampire face but in the moment Drusilla enters the scene his face changes from vampire to human.
He cares about her health and with this love for his "Princess" I think he's already onto the way from a souless killer to full humanity.
zandra_x on May 31st, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
he doesn't want that changes (like he told his mother that he transformed her so she never will age or die)

Yes, and that's probably one of the reasons he stayed with Dru for so long and was completely devoted to her. But he was already changing and he lost her.
buffysvampirebuffysvampire on June 1st, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
Oh yes, with the beginning of hunting the Slayer he's loosing her and he becomes more and more impatient with her.