I think this could very well have been the episode that captured me. After all, we see Buffy as a cheerleader again - as she was in the movie. Up until this episode, I really couldn't see how the movie and the TV series connected and for me, that made the series a fraud, untrue to its roots. So yay! I guess I never really did understand how, with all her Slayerness and her LA background, she didn't qualify for the team. But then ... the cheer practice would really have gotten in the way of the hunting and slaying, which is of course the point of the show.
Yellow!! I love the stark contrast between the lighting in this episode to the previous two, which really do seem darker in comparison. Here there is light. And a lot of yellow. And Buffy and Willow and Xander trying to just hang out and be high school kids. Here we see a kind of standalone episode and the fact that the monster doesn't always lurk in the shadows, but is sometimes right there in the light, hiding behind smiles and cheers. I like that this is a sort of discrete episode, open and shut with the villain and with all returning to a somewhat upbeat, if slightly philosophical end.
This episode is the first of many to succeed it which act as comic relief to break up the ongoing, draining intensity of the enslaught of Evil and the fighting of the good fight. As a regular viewer, you need these to come back to the show after a particularly gruelling episode the week before. And my don't some of the episodes utterly rip your insides out. But Joss never ever lets comedy and lightheartedness and laughing into the face of despair be far away. And that's the utter drawcard of this show - never ever lose your sense of humour. No matter how bad it gets, if you have a quick quip, you're okay.
This episode sets up a lot of our ensemble cast in a way that the two earlier episodes didn't necessarily nail. We see Cordelia in full flight. We see other elements of school life. We see Buffy's contempt for Giles' authority. We see future keepers of Buffy's secret. We see the rapport between Buffy, Xander and Willow, before things get too multilayered in meaning and we see glimpses of the foundations of their friendship upon which they will all draw in the seven (eight!) seasons to come. And most of all, here, in the third episode of it all, we see key elements laid down that will be vital plot points in episodes far far ahead.
The writing of this show and the loose ends that are so carelessly thrown out and then so carefully picked up just when you have forgotten them make this whole series a thrill to watch unfold.
Yep, even if there hadn't been that "Macho macho man .. I want to be .. a macho man" scene, I would have fallen just as hard and just as deep into this love affair as I did.