Synopsis: Buffy saves the school from some mean-tempered hell hounds in time to get dressed in her formal and go to the prom.
Review: This episode is a turning point not just in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but in the universe, affectionately dubbed the Buffyverse by fans, created by Joss Whedon. Angel announces his intention to leave which will allow for the spin-off Angel. Angel’s decision to leave has huge dramatic power. It is something we have seen coming, but we did not want to come. Just because I did not want it to happen, does not it mean it is a bad thing. It means the producers have done a good job making me feel a connection with the characters. Angel evidences his true love for Buffy by being able to make this hard decision.
As I have admitted before, I am a sucker for cheese. I loved the hell hounds concept. It was the most creative monster-of-the-week featured recently. It had all the elements necessary to pay homage to classic horror films and offer a bit of comedy in a drama-laden episode.
I like monsters and action, but I am also a sucker for the touching, dramatic moments--of which this episode is jam-packed. Cordelia is actually working for her prom dress (due to her dad making a tax mistake for twelve years). Xander discovers this fact but graciously keeps her secret. In a truly touching moment, Xander pays for the dress that Cordelia was not able to earn enough money to buy.
I judge a television series most critically by the depth of its characters. Buffy unfailingly offers three-dimensional, interesting characters. The characters have turning points and milestones. Willow had her identity episode and then had the chance to be the hero in Choices. The Zeppo was Xander's identity episode. He is now given the chance to be a hero by buying Cordelia's prom dress. Anya, the demon-turned-mortal originally seemed like a temporary guest star, but she has been developed into an interesting character that may stick around for awhile. Her exploration of what it means to be human reminds me of Data, the android in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and his quest to be more human. Additionally, it provides for many comedic moments.
Buffy dispatches the hell hounds with ease, and the episode comes to a climax with each character getting their happy ending at the prom rather than at the killing of the monster. Angel comes to be Buffy's prom date, and Buffy finally comes to the realization that his leaving Sunnydale is necessary for them both. Then they tried to stretch the sappiness a little further and have her classmates award Buffy the Class Protector Award. Although cheesy at moments (especially the mentioned award scene), this episode deserves an 8 out of 10.
Objectionable Content: This episode opens with a scene of Buffy and Angel sleeping together, but that is it—sleeping. As we discovered in season two, anything more has dire results. Buffy mentions to Angel that if she was going to be spending the night more often, he should clear a drawer for her for toothpaste and things. Although the relationship is sexless, I find it inappropriate for a senior in high school to be spending the night with her boyfriend and sleeping in the same bed.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)