LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4.E5 — “Beer Bad”

“Just how gullible do you think I am? I mean, with your gentle eyes and your shy smile and your ability to talk openly only to me. You’re unbelievable! That’s right. I got your number, id boy. Only thing you’re thinking about is how long before you can jump on my bones.”

Buffy smiles tipsily as someone pours a beer.
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

So in a bit of a departure for me, I’m writing this intro before rewatching this week’s episode, “Beer Bad.” There are a handful of episodes that loom large in my mind as terrible, horrible, no good outings. “Go Fish” is one of them. “Beer Bad” is another. As a consequence, I’ve only seen “Beer Bad” a handful of times because I try to skip over it during my rewatches. So before I take one for the team, I thought I’d write down my impressions of this one from memory and then see if time has been kinder to this ep than my memory has: Another season 4 filler episode that is supposed to be funny and misses the mark except for a couple of points – where Willow calls Parker on his bullshit, and when Cave Buffy hits Parker over the head after his apology. The caveman regression is hamfisted, Xander has a job-of-the-week, some old person is punishing young people for being annoying. Entirely useless and forgettable. Its treading water before the gut punch of Oz’s leaving.

Ok, so let’s see how my memory fared. Live recap as I rewatch follows, because I feel confident in saying that there’s not going to be a whole lot of subtext to analyze.


So, beer bad, we meet again.

So we open in an action movie type graveyard scene, where Buffy’s stunt double kicks a lot of ass as Parker looks on in the background. I wish high definition tvs didn’t make it so easy to spot FakeBuffy. I find it super distracting.

Romance movie music swells in Buffy’s imagination before cutting to her seeing real Parker in her real psychology class. Since when is Parker in her class? Isn’t he an upper classman?

Hey Maggie. Thanks for the lecture on this episode’s theme, ego and id. WHAT SUBTLE COMMENTARY.

Oh, back in fantasyland. Parker brings a pint of ice cream and flowers to Buffy. Of course he has his shirt unbuttoned. Yeah, Buffy, we know abs are your thing. We hear ya.

Xander, Willow, and Buffy meet up in the quad. I think I may need to bring back Worst Outfit of the Week, cause some of the numbers the girls wear in season 4 are just hideous. If we can CGI in exploding dust vamps, can we please cgi in a bra for SMG? Respect your girls, girl. You’re not gonna be young and perky forever.

Buffy and Kip sit at a table
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

“Nothing can defeat the penis!”

Of all the things in season 4 that I find personally relatable – I mean, who hasn’t battled a Frankenstein monster created by the government while channeling the essence of an ancient warrior woman – Buffy’s mooning over Parker hits closest to home. “˜I think he has intimacy issues because of the death of his dad.” No, honey. No. He’s just an asshole. Please tell my 20-something self that too.

This dude in the terrible green shirt pushing Xander around with his big words and most recent lesson from his economics class? Yeah, I recognize that douche too. Man, college sucks.

I do not believe that attractive blonde SMG is sitting at a bar by herself, looking lonesome, and not one of those terrible college dudes are hitting on her”¦ Oh, wait, here comes a whole gang of them.

So here we are at the Bronze again, where we get to see Veruca’s band play. I bet that’s not her real name. She’s totally the type of girl who is really, like, a Jane, but got to college and wanted to be unique, so she started a band and calls herself Veruca. Without irony. (Shut up. Slay is totally on my driver’s license.) She probably got bit by a werewolf on purpose too. And I hate her hair. Also, I’m pretty sure that Oz looked down at his penis when he said he “felt weird” when Veruca came on stage.

Willow gives Oz side-eye as he stares at Veruca
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

When I was in high school, I went to a party with a bunch of college guys. Many substances were imbibed. The cleanest part of this story, the part I can relate in public, is that the college guys were having the same Super Important Philosophical Conversation that Buffy’s new friends are having at this table in the bar.

“And then came beer.”

“And then came group sex?”

Buffy just stole some girl’s sandwich in class, which leads to one of the greatest screen captures in the history of the show.

Buffy eats a stolen sandwich with a funny sneer on her face
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

“You should come to our class on Big Thinking.” BWHAHAH.

Oh, hey, Kal Penn. How you doing?

Interlude with Oz and Willow, and why didn’t they just have ginger babies together, and next week, Oz! You’re gonna break our hearts.

Willow can’t handle her own relationship drama, but she’s more than willing to confront Buffy’s head on, specifically that Prince Eric motherfucker, Parker, in Ye Olde College Coffee Shop. She’s my kind of redhead. “You’re a good friend,” Parker says. Yeah, she is Parker. And you’re not. You are an asshole. It is known.

One of the frat boys has pulled his shirt half-off and looks confused about how to get it off the rest of the way. I have totally been there. I wasn’t planning on this recap turning into a Slay’s Greatest Party Hits story, but, well, here you go.

Hey! The Geico caveman just burst out of the bathroom. Now Kal Penn is turning into a Geico spokesman! There is no subtlety in this episode. Beer bad! Fire pretty!

Buffy looks at a caveman through a car window
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Jack, Xander’s boss, just admitted to turning the college boys into cavemen on purpose. At least he didn’t try to kill them with rat poison. Jack’s brother in law is a warlock. He taught him the transformation spell. I like Jack. He’s got the right idea about Youths these days. They deserve to be taught a lesson! With their fruity microbrews and their philosophy classes!

It always disappointed/amused me that Buffy’s transformation didn’t include caveman brows. Of course, she’s a hot chick. She must remain a hot chick at all times, even during a storyline that involves everyone else physically transforming into monsters.

Snap, Willow! I haven’t really changed my mind on this episode, but Willow’s smack down of Parker is even better than I remembered.

Now, Buffy’s weird drunk/caveman behavior in her room? Maybe that’s a little embarrassing. “Want. Beer.”

Animated gif from Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Cave Buffy saying "Want. Beer."
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

“Giles, do not make Cave Slayer unhappy.”

So one of the cave men remains completely dressed in a button down and chinos, but the other ones have all stripped off most of their clothes. Did button-down boy have an unfortunate gland issue? Or maybe a hideous full body 90s era tribal tattoo?

In the 90s, LA Looks or one of those brands used to market a product you could smear into your hair to get fake dreadlocks for a day for those unwilling to really commit to white people dreads. I’m guessing this is what is rubbed into SMG’s extensions. Like many things about this episode, I’m just feeling second hand embarrassment for her.

Yes, there are still things going on in the actual show. The coffee house is burning down, Cave Slayer saves everyone, even Parker, who she satisfyingly hits over the head with a branch before dragging him out of the burning building. She saves everyone, including the two random women kidnapped by the cavemen, to whom nothing really traumatic happens because this is a tv show on during prime time.

Parker walks up to Cave Slayer and offers a genuine, heartfelt apology for his behavior. The same kind of apology she was fantasizing about earlier in the episode. Cave Slayer hits him with the branch again. Should have picked up the pint of ice cream first, Parker.

Animated gif from Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Parker saying, "Do you think you could forgive me?" to Buffy.
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Animated gif from Buffy the Vampire Slayer of Buffy then smacking Parker upside the head with a large stick
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Next week: The Buffy recap is taking a week off, but when we come back in two weeks, we’re gonna talk about “Wild At Heart.” Bring your Kleenexes.

By [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 You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

12 replies on “Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4.E5 — “Beer Bad””

“I bet that’s not her real name. She’s totally the type of girl who is really, like, a Jane, but got to college and wanted to be unique, so she started a band and calls herself Veruca. Without irony.”

Ah, shades of Perdita X. Nitt of Discworld. The X stands for ‘someone with a cool and exciting middle initial’.
Fantasy casting for Perdita is totally Rebel Wilson, BTW.

That’s an interesting theory…I’m always intrigued by chosen names vs. given names. Like how Buffy chooses names like “Anne” or “Joan”, and Sister Sunshine/Chantarelle/Lily/Anne changed her name based on where she was and what she was doing, and with that name came a persona (Anne is much more self-reliant, independent, and has a lot more sense than Chantarelle or Lily ever did). And those are just the obvious, non-vampire examples.

Buffy’s alternate names are so absolutely Plain and Good compared to her own – she didn’t go for a Jessica or Vanessa or something, you know? That said, I have an alternate name that I use solely in Starbucks, as it’s easier to spell.

(In Discworld, Agnes’ alternate name, Perdita, actually becomes a real personality, but that’s a whole other thing.)

Oh, this episode. With Willow giving Stupid Parker the verbal smackdown, and Buffy giving Stupid Parker the smackdown-with-a-stick, and Xander feeling like a loser because everyone else is in college and he’s in job-of-the-week mode. And Stupid Veruca. And OZ NO STOP IT OZ DON’T MAKE BAD CHOICES THAT YOU WILL REGRET even if that leads to Tara.

Honestly, of all of the college-focused episodes, I think this one is the most stereotypical college experience. You have the ill-advised drinking, the excessive attention from college boys who aren’t as smart as they think, the college assholes, the dealing with the afterness of bad nights of badness (whether by hangover or by post-Stupid Parker funk), and the terrible, terrible clothing choices. We’ve already had “I don’t really fit in yet” and “my roommate is horrible”, and next week we get “my best friend’s boyfriend cheated on her and then left” (DAMN IT OZ), but “Beer Bad” just kind of encapsulates the entirety of how much freshman year of college can suck. And, well, it’s not the best episode in the series. So it fits.

And it doesn’t rip your heart open like the next episode WHY OZ WHY.

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