As the Buff Scholar, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit scouring the catacombs of the academic Buffyverse trying to find a scholarly redemptive quality regarding the first episode of tonight’s #BuffyRewatch, “Beer Bad.” (A daunting feat, as I know the vast majority of fans consider this episode down there at the bottom of the poker kitten pile next to “Bed Eggs,” “I Robot You Jane,” and even (shudder), “Doublemeat Palace.”) To quote our friend @BonelessThurs, “On a scale of ‘Doublemeat Palace’ to ‘Once More with Feeling,’ it’s probably a 2.5…”
So yeah, monumental task here. (Spoiler Alert… and also very little redemptive quality alert)
I’ll gloss over the introductory scene which overtly (c’mon, this could have been woven in with a little subtext instead of an outright lecture somehow?) dives into Freudian psychology and the id. Yes Professor Walsh, we understand this is Psych 101, and this is to be expected, so as far as continuity it fits as Buffy daydreams about “Stinky Parker” in rescue scenarios only to awaken to watching his pleasure principle in full mackin’ action on a chick in their class.
This leave us with an episode with very little “visual reading” left to do and about which I couldn’t find a single scholarly article (if you find one, send it my way!).
If you look hard, you can find just a pinch of character development.
Buffy: Makes the turn from, “maybe Parker and I can work it out,” to “I’m a slut,” and eventually, “Parker Bad,” and a smack on the noggin with a tree limb. This catharsis leaves us feeling better about Buffy’s mind and heart. Yay, Buffy’s back!
Side note: Even when she’s Cave Slayer, Buffy puts others’ lives first. During the fire she saves them all… even Parker the id-boy.
Willow & Oz: There is major plot progression that will soon be brought to light regarding Veruca (“dresses like Faith, voice like an Albatross…” and Oz’s obliviously intense obsession with her.
Xander: Finally Xander finds a way to engage in the college life experience by becoming the bartender, but it is yet another futile attempt to infiltrate a subculture to which he does not belong. Keep on pluggin’ Xander the “townie” askin if a patron wants his ice water “on the rocks.” (Great Xander line…”This will give them some time to ponder the geo-political ramifications of Being Mean to Me!”
We’ll put this episode to rest by saying, it’s kinda fun watching Cave Slayer spin around on a chair and watching Tony Head giggle a little when he says, “Yes, Buffy strong.”
This episode was simply much more literal in its “messages” than other better-written/executed episodes.
- Message: Beer turns frat boys and girls into Cave Men.
- Message: The id is always at work and it takes maturity and morality to keep it in check.
- Message: “Nothing can defeat the Penis.” – (okay, that one was just another Xander quote.)
You can find an entire transcript of this episode at BuffyWorld.com.