“My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for that touchy- feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You’re in my world now. And Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time.”
This week we climb out of the doldrums of “I Robot, You Jane” into the vastly superior “Puppet Show.” It would be a great episode if all it featured is the introduction of Principal Snyder, the poor, consumed Principal Flutie’s replacement, but we also get Giles organizing a school talent show, Cordelia’s “talent,” and a murderous ventriloquist dummy. A creepy, creepy dummy.
We open on the busy Sunnydale High stage, where students are preparing for a rehearsal of the school talent show. Hello, flexible dance and unnecessary shot of dancer’s crotch. Hello, bad student magician. Hello, weird-looking student we haven’t seen before and your creepy, creepy dummy. And helloooo, Cordelia, whom we have missed over the last couple of episodes. Cordelia’s contribution to “talent” is a warbling, off-key rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” We’re not the only ones being subjected to this atrocity ““ there’s Giles in the audience, whose face of doom tells us he’s not there of his own free will.
Buffy, Xander, and Willow show up to rub Giles’ new responsibilities in his face. It might seem mean spirited, if you haven’t been watching all season as he browbeat Buffy. After all, as she says, “to every generation is born one who must run the annual talentless show. You cannot escape your destiny.” Principle Snyder appointed Giles the faculty coordinator so he would have more contact with the students — something, as a librarian, Giles tries to avoid.
The very same Principal Snyder, otherwise known as Quark from Star Trek: DS9, drops the hammer on the Scoobies for making fun of Giles, and forces them to join the talent-less show too.
And there’s our set up, kids. Every single thing that comes out of Principal Snyder’s mouth on this show is gold. This episode is very noir-y investigative and is paced oddly, but it’s worth hanging out to hear Snyder drop gems like this:
I know the three of you will come up with a wonderful act for the school to watch — and mock — and laugh. At.
Kids today need discipline. That’s an unpopular word these days, ‘discipline’. I know Principal Flutie would have said, ‘Kids need understanding. Kids are human beings.’ That’s the kind of woolly-headed, liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
There are things I will not tolerate: students loitering on campus after school, horrible murders with hearts being removed, and also smoking.
On stage, the ventriloquist is setting up his run through. His jokes are painful, his mouth is moving – Giles can’t even watch the kid humiliate himself. But the dummy, Sid, takes over, cracking lines that were fresh in the Catskills in the ’50s, but none of these kids were alive then, so everyone laughs at them. I am giving nothing away when I say it’s the dummy dropping the jokes – possessed dolls are, like, one of the oldest tricks in the books. Because they’re fucking scary, man. It’s the dead eyes. Continue reading