In the interest of honesty, and because it’s a dumb story no one else is going to hear or care about, my wifi was out for about four hours just now, and during that time I finished this review, tried to post it, failed, because you cannot post things onto the internet when you do not have access TO said internet, and decided to screw everything and just start on “What’s My Line” Pts 1 and 2. I made up the rules, I get to bend them at whim. My notes for “What’s My Line” are finished, I just have to watch the audio commentary tracks (something I’ve decided to start doing when they’re available) and then I can get started writing. “What’s My Line” is probably going to take a few days to get finished; since it’s a two part episode I’m fairly sure this is going to be a long review.
There are some very dated elements to this episode, particularly the flashbacks, but the dated feel contributes here to the overall feeling that we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen it, and we did it better literally two episodes ago in “Halloween.” I didn’t think I was going to agree with Passion of the Nerd on this one, but Ian hit it on the head—we’ve already seen all these elements before, and putting them all together into an episode doesn’t really seem justified.
In other reviews I’ve read and watched of this episode, there’s a lot of discussion of existentialist philosophy and how that relates to the Buffy/Ford dynamic in this particular episode. It’s all very deep and interesting, particularly as I think Joss is definitely coming at this show (and Angel, and Firefly, although I’d argue that his existentialist metanarrative drops off after the ends of those shows and he focuses his philosophical interest elsewhere in his later works) from an existentialist perspective. There’s solid evidence for this, in any case, and if you’re interested in hearing more about it, I’d go check out some of Joss’ interviews on youtube, or the Buffy Guide for this episode over on Passion of the Nerd’s youtube channel.
For me, though, this episode strikes an entirely different note. This episode is forever shaded by my own relationship with my friends, and two friendships of mine that soured instead of maturing.
Not gonna lie, most of my notes for this episode were just peoples’ names with exclamation points behind them. But aside from how awesome it is to actually see Oz doing more than just playing his bass, I did want to talk about a couple interesting thematic elements to this episode.
This episode review contains minor spoilers for the remainder of the series. You have been warned, boys and girls.
What’s more fun than a twenty-foot tall snake? Nothing, clearly.
Except that cold open, my gosh. I love the bafflement of Xander and Buffy, and the implication that Willow understands Hindi. That’s just a great nod to her quick mastery of Latin later on, I think. Or maybe not, maybe it was just random.
(OMG SORRY I TRIED. THIS EPISODE KILLED ME.)
The funny part is, I actually enjoy this episode. I like Ampata, I like Xander being all sweet and in love with someone he doesn’t feel like he has to hide from his friends. I love Eskimo!Willow catching Oz’s eye.
I just don’t like pretty much anything else about it.
Accurate representation of my face when Spike’s DeSoto knocks down the Sunnydale sign:
We’re getting to the good stuff, people!
In the world of journalism, “Some Assembly Required” would be a fluff piece. Something nice that you skim over on your way to the sports pages or the crossword puzzle. This is not the kind of episode with the hard-hitting, emotional depth of some of the other episodes this season. But it’s also not horrible, the way I think of episodes like “I Robot, You Jane,” or “Teacher’s Pet.” Mostly, I think the episode suffers from pacing issues.
There are, however, some really great things about this episode, and they almost all can be summed up with two words: Cordelia Chase.