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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Dead Man's Party
October 06, 1998
3ABB02

 
Credits

Writer:
Marti Noxon


Director:
James Whitmore, Jr.


Regulars:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Cast:
Nancy Lenehan as Pat
Danny Strong as Jonathan
Jason Hall as Devon
Paul Morgan Stetler as Young Doctor
Chris Garnant as Stoner #1

 
Synopsis

When Buffy comes home from L.A., she finds that things aren't exactly as she left them. In Buffy's eyes, it seems that her friends have moved on, and Buffy doesn't seem to fit in their lives anymore. To show Buffy they care, her friends throw her a party, which manages to alienate her even more. After hearing her mom comment on the difficulty of having Buffy back home, she decides to run away again. When Willow catches her packing, a loud argument erupts between the gang. The argument is interrupted when a Nigerian mask in Joyce's room calls forth an army of zombies who crash the party. Buffy saves the day, and the gang begins to make amends.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

We started out with shades of Pet Semetary, the 1983 Stephen King novel which was turned into a 1989 movie, and quickly morphed into a George Romero pastiche. The shambling risen dead, lurching along with outstretched arms and mindless determination, was straight out of Romero's famous (and some say classic) trilogy of movies, Night of the Living Dead (1968, remade in 1990), Dawn of the Dead (1979), and Day of the Dead (1985). Then there was the mask which, molding itself to the face of its wearer, was strongly reminiscent of the 1994 Jim Carrey movie The Mask. The name of the demon who inhabits the mask, Ovu Mobani, is Nigerian for "Evil Eye."

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Dialogue to Die For

Xander: "I'm kind of tied up."
Cordelia: "You wish!"

Principal Snyder on Buffy's expulsion: "I not only have the right, but also a nearly physical sensation of pleasure at the thought of keeping her out of school. I'd describe myself as tingly."
Joyce: "Buffy was cleared of all those charges."
Principal Snyder: "Yes, and while she may live up to the not-a-murderer requirement for enrollment, she is a troublemaker, destructive to school property and the occasional student. And her grade point average is enough to... I'm sorry. Another tingle moment."

Cordelia, after Giles brings the dead cat to the library: "Nice pet, Giles. Don't you like anything regular? Golf, USA Today, or anything?"

Oz: "Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings. Shindig: dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage. And hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny."

Buffy: "I'm trying."
Willow: "Wow, and it looks so much like giving up!"

Giles: "'Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead.' Americans!"

Xander: "Generally speaking, when scary things get scared... not good."

More quotes from this episode...

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References

  • The episode title, "Dead Man's Party," is a reference to the 1985 Oingo Boingo song of the same name, which is indeed fitting — the song includes lines such as "Going to a party where no one's still alive."

  • Pat tells Buffy that her mom was reading The Deep End of the Ocean, the critically acclaimed and best-selling 1996 debut novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard about the harrowing problems a family faces when their youngest son is kidnapped. A few months after this episode aired, the movie version entered theaters.

  • "Care to throw in a little foot-binding?"  In traditional Chinese culture, small feet were considered a sign of extreme femininity and thus was a highly sought-after attribute in potential wives. To make themselves more attractive to men, women therefore practiced the painfully torturous ritual of binding their feet tightly with cloth to stunt their growth and keep them small.

  • "You got the wrong house, Mr. Belvedere."  Mr. Belvedere was an American sitcom which ran from 1985 to 1990. It starred British actor Christopher Hewitt as a British society butler who takes a position as nanny and housekeeper for a wacky American family, the patriarch of which was played by baseball announcer Bob Uecker.

  • "Man, this sucker wobbles, but he won't fall down!"  Weebles, a toy produced by Kenner, were egg-shaped figures which, due to the weights inside them, could not be anything other than the right way up. That was their selling point — "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down" was their well-known advertising slogan throughout the 1970's.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • It was hard to tell, but it didn't look like Giles turned his car off and removed the keys from the ignition before getting out to check on the person he hit. So his keys being on the ground later might be a goof.

  • It was also hard to tell, but when Joyce found Pat in the upstairs hallway towards the end, it looked an awful lot like Pat (or at least actress Nancy Lenehan) was moving and walking when they picked her up and brought her into the bedroom, even though she was supposed to be dead. Maybe she had already risen because of the mask, so this is also only a possible goof.

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Notes

  • This episode introduces a new location, a downtown corner plaza with an espresso bar.

  • There is a private girls' school called Miss Porter's in Sunnydale or at least in the vicinity.

  • Willow has started studying witchcraft.

  • When he hotwires his car, Giles mutters, "Like riding a bloody bicycle," implying that he has hotwired cars in the past.

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Music

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Comments

Brian:
This episode comes from the writer-director team that gave us one of the best episodes of the second season, "I Only Have Eyes For You," and last season's second episode was amazing following a mediocre season premiere. I was hoping for a repeat of both trends, and thus my expectations were high. Too high, perhaps. This episode was indeed intense, and that was good. It also touched on all the important issues which were left hanging after the season premiere, and that was also good. BUT — and this is a big but — while Marti Noxon has proven in the past that she understands and writes the show's characters better than just about anyone (maybe even Joss), she dropped the ball tonight with the monsters. The episode's secondary storyline (or main storyline, depending on how you look at it), the Nigerian mask and the walking dead, was too intense and in my opinion overwhelmed the more important storyline involving Buffy's reintegration into her life. Yes, Buffy can be dark and death is a prevalent theme what with them being on the Hellmouth and all, and the zombies breaking into Buffy's house in the middle of that wonderful emotional group confrontation was about par for the course. But when the zombies started casually breaking partygoers' necks and then Pat was killed too, it just was too much death too quickly and it wrecked the emotional balance of the episode for me. And the confrontation was not actually resolved. If a bunch of Romero retreads busting up Buffy's house was all it took for reconciliation, permanently derailing the completely engaging and emotionally intense story that was in progress there, then I will be highly disappointed. On the other hand, I'm getting the distinct impression that all the characters have been deeply and drastically affected by Buffy's sudden departure and the intervening summer, and that we're only beginning to get a glimpse of the extent of those changes. When they all come out into the open, I think there's going to be some fireworks. But all of that is just conjecture — as for what we were actually given, it was ten out of ten for the delicately handled and excellently acted "Buffy returns" storyline, but only half that for the too-heavy bludgeon that was the monster storyline. Oh yeah, and points off too for yet another contractually obligated and gratuitous Angel dream sequence. (7/10)
Will:
I found myself depressed for most of this episode. I truly felt bad for Buffy and the treatment that she was receiving from her so-called "friends." Willow stands her up and gives her the cold shoulder. Buffy's mom didn't seem to understand at all or take responsibility for the part she played in Buffy leaving at the end of last season. Finally, Xander's verbal assault on Buffy was uncalled for and downright mean. For me, the most dramatic and touching moment of the episode was when Willow revealed that Buffy was her best friend. Overall the episode was pretty good, and definitely a step up from the season premiere. I have made one conscious decision though: Joss had better do one of two things, either bring Angel back soon or get rid of the cheesy, annoying dream sequences reminding us that Angel existed. They are not necessary, in my opinion, aside from allowing him to appear in the episode to validate his contract. Two positives about the episode do exist in my mind. Firstly, the scene in the library with the smelly dead cat and Oz describing different types of parties was great. Finally Cordy admits that she is the dip. The second thing that I rather liked was the "bad guy factor." Admittedly, it was a ripoff of Night of the Living Dead, but I did think that it was cool. Joss, I am expecting better in the future, but I am sure you are just getting warmed up. (8/10)
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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
October 06, 1998 4.3 85 of 126
December 22, 1998 2.9 89 of 127

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