Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Episode 3.06, “Band Candy”

That’s the reason I love this country. You make a good product, and the people will come to you. Of course, a lot of them are going to die, but that’s the other reason I love this country.

So often these one shot episodes are kinda “meh” with a side of “temporary importance.” But “Band Candy.” Oh, “Band Candy,” you retain a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because you give us a sniveling hanger-on in Snyder. Or maybe it’s Ethan Rayne’s reappearance.  But it’s most likely because we get to spend some extended time with The Ripper, with his accent and his bad boy attitude and smoking-hot Anthony Steward Head-ness.

 And Joyce and Giles totally do it. On a cop car. Twice!

Like the last episode, “Band Candy”’s lasting importance in the overall story arc of the third season is in the plot seeds that are germinating:

We get to know a little bit more about The Mayor, who keeps his liquor, his shrunken heads, and his demon worshipping supplies in the same cabinet in his office. He makes regular payments to demons for some bargains we have yet to hear the specifics on, including babies fresh from the hospital, and whatever circles he’s got pull in, they’re enough to scare even Mr. Trick. The build up to The Mayor as the Big Bad is part of what makes this season work so well. With Glory, Adam, and The First Evil, what they are is right out in front of you and their “badness” is awfully flashy. They’re monsters that you recognize as monsters. The Mayor – well, he’s insidious. He’s that weak part of us that can go bad, even while still being human. There’s probably extended universe background out there about him, but as I write this, I can’t help but wonder if he got power that corrupted him, or he was corrupted and sought out power.

Xander and Willow continue to flirt, though it seems that most of the guilt about the situation rests on the redhead’s slim shoulders.

Buffy still hasn’t told anyone Angel is returned and is “Angel” again. Also she sees him with his shirt off and looks like someone slapped her across the face. I included a picture. You’re welcome. Hubba hubba. Also she drives in this episode, and for the life of me, I cannot remember her ever being behind the wheel of a car again.

First he's like this..
And then she's like this..

Buffy is studying for the SATs and people are talking about college and her future.

All these themes are going to be revisited in the coming weeks (and seasons!). So let’s talk about the fun stuff.

The Mayor has a major tribute due to one of his demon buddies and has Trick arrange a distraction for the town. Trick outsources to Ethan Rayne, a criminally underused antagonist in the series (you can see more of him in the Buffy video game “Chaos Bleeds”), who black magics up a bunch of chocolate, which has the properties of turning people who eat it into immature and irresponsible teenagers.

Oh, and if you ever wondered where the working class and ethnic minorities of Sunnydale are in the show, apparently they all work in the warehouse the candy is stored in. I would be lying if that did not jump right out at me on this rewatch.

The plot is fairly straightforward. The enjoyment is in watching Snyder, Joyce, and Giles get to stretch their characters. We’ve heard about the Ripper before and we’ve seen glimpses of him coming out in Giles’s personality (see: when Giles storms the warehouse after Angelus kills Jenny), but this is our long-term introduction to him. He smokes cigarettes, he rolls the sleeves up on his t-shirt, and gives off that bad boy vibe that makes girls want to save him. Also note – his Ripper accent and his librarian accent are notably different.

There’s this fantastic scene in Giles’s apartment where Ripper and Joyce are sitting on the floor, listening to records and smoking, having this conversation that just makes me twitch with empathetic embarrassment – Joyce desperately trying to seem cool for this guy she’s interested in, but he’s pretending to be aloof and uninterested. It hurts because it’s a real scene. I don’t know about you, but I certainly can remember being in Joyce’s shoes. (Note ““ they’re listening to Cream’s “The Song of Brave Ulysses,” which is the same song Giles listens to alone in his apartment during “The Body.”)

With the adults acting – well, not exactly like Buffy who always has too much going on to hang out and do nothing with some guy she likes – like teenagers, the actual teenagers have to pull a full Scooby, finally noticing there’s something seriously wrong when middle-agers invade the Bronze. Also, Snyder tries to hang out with them. He likes Oz’s hair. He hits on Joyce. He’s a coward. Teenage-Snyder is pretty boss.

Of course everything comes together, but not before I have about two dozen screencaps to choose from of Buffy looking sickened while Joyce and Ripper make out. Buffy tracks down her mom and Giles, they in turn track down Ethan, Ripper and Buffy chase Ethan through a warehouse maze until Buffy uses her super skills to find him hiding in a box. Plans are thwarted! Ethan tries to brain Buffy, and Ripper threatens to kill him. I CAN CHANGE YOU RIPPER, IF ONLY YOU’D GIVE ME THE CHANCE.

Ahem. The good guys save the day in the end. The show has nothing particularly insightful to say about teenagers – it says insightful things about teenagers all the time, but watching the adults behave like kids isn’t fodder for deep philosophical introspection. Unless it’s that you can be a cool teenager who grows up to buy a dork mobile because it gets decent gas mileage and you can tote your art gallery pieces around in the fold down back, but I think everyone over the age of 12 knows that people get older and change. It is what it is: a funny, enjoyable conceit for the show to run with him.

Still, I love everything about this episode. Everything. Especially that feathered jacket Ripper steals for Joyce.

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[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

18 thoughts on “Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Episode 3.06, “Band Candy””

  1. In regards to the ethnic minorities being the working class, I will say that most of the guest actors of color that I can remember actually held positions of status/authority/power. Offhand, the ones I can think of are Absalom, the Anointed One’s right-hand man who tried to resurrect the Master in “When She Was Bad”, the doctor who treated Buffy in “Killed by Death,” Mr. Platt from “Beauty and the Beasts,” the supremely badass Slayers (that Spike killed, sadly) in “Fool for Love,” and the psychologist who was treating Buffy in the alternate reality of “Normal Again.” Also, at least four of the potential Slayers (Kennedy, Rona, Chao-Ahn, and Caridad) were played by people of color. So I guess they are either doctors/counselors, Slayers, or cannon fodder. Not that this is any better.

    It’s unquestionable that Buffy (and the other Whedon shows, albeit to a lesser extent) are very “whitewashed.” The only Buffy characters who were people of color that were both recurring and had, in my opinion, at least some impact worth mentioning are Rona (featured Potential who now has a sizable role in the comics), Forrest (Riley’s friend/fellow Commando who is killed and later reanimated by Adam), Mr. Trick (though I always hoped his role would have become more sizable/important than it did), Kendra (RIP), Satsu (important Slayer in the comics who also slept with Buffy!), Renee (important Slayer in the comics and Xander’s love interest in Season 8), Kennedy (Willow’s girlfriend, who is also very important in the comics), Nikki Wood (badass Slayer that Spike killed and Robin’s mother), Robin Wood (who, sadly, does not appear much in the comics, but is still around), and the First Slayer (who also appears in some of the comics). In all four Whedon shows, there have only been five people of color who were series regulars, and there were none on Buffy (DB Woodside, aka Principal Wood, is the actor of color with the most Buffy appearances– 14 out of 144 episodes). I will say that the other Whedon shows showed a slight improvement, and the comics show an even more significant improvement (although I only half-count this because it doesn’t involve real actors), but it still leaves much to be desired. For a show that’s so progressive on gender, it’s sad to say it’s not the same in terms of race.

    I still love the show, though; don’t get me wrong. And this is not a problem specifically related to this show, obviously. It’s definitely a systemic problem in Hollywood/America/the world. I guess, in a way, I just expect more of shows like Buffy.

    Sorry for my lengthy ramblings, and I look forward to the future recaps! I feel like there will be lots to talk about from “Revelations” on to the end of this season, because there are far less stand-alone episodes and a lot of really important character developments!

  2. Yes, this is the only episode in which we see Buffy drive. She never gets her license.

    I absolutely love this episode (just as I love almost every episode written by Jane Espenson). My only, tiny quibble about it is that the scheme seems a bit overkill for stealing four babies from the hospital. But I’ll suspend my disbelief because it’s Buffy and because I love this episode.

    Again, Jane Espenson’s writing is so fantastic. There are so many gems of lines in this episode. Too many to name.

    I also always liked the interactions between Ethan Rayne and Buffy. You can tell that Ethan admires and respects her, in his own twisted way. I always found their interactions fascinating, and I particularly like how this dynamic plays out in the Season 8 comics. Ethan’s not totally evil; he’s just kind of a weasel who likes to cause chaos and will do anything to save his own ass.

  3. I love ASH so very much. He is so dreamy. This and him singing in Where the Wild Things Are and OMWF make me so happy. I miss Giles most of all.

    Slay, did you get the latest comic yet? I’m curious about your take on it. Although I am not allowed to go to the comic book store anymore since I walked in needing one $3 comic book and left about $100 poorer.

    1. Have you seen Repo: The Genetic Opera? I’d post a Youtube clip of ASH singing in that but they all have major plot points revealed.

      If you like crazy dystopian campy musicals with tons of ASH singing (and don’t mind crying at the end of things), you will LOVE that movie.

  4. I LOVE this episode. Love love. The Joyce/Ripper thing is completely perfect…When Ripper steals the jacket and she’s like ‘you’re so brave’. haha and ‘Call me Snyder. Just a last name, like… Barbarino.’ Oh boy I can watch this one again and again. And Giles IS the sexiest man on the show for me.

  5. I love this episode. I actually really love Ethan Rayne’s character as well, because he’s…well, an idiot. He’s not a very successful bad-thing-making sort-of villain. It’s hard to hate him because he’s so….meh.

      1. He’s one of those actors that randomly pops up in stuff and guest stars on a lot of shows. He also does a lot of voice work for video games. He is definitely a character actor, and he seems okay with that. And I love that he is so supportive of the sci-fi/fantasy genre and what it has done for him.

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