As “Witch” begins, we learn that Giles has a real problem with cheerleading. I can’t say I blame him. It looks very dangerous. I don’t think we should be throwing tiny girls so high into the air. But that’s not Giles’ problem with cheerleading. He equates it with some kind of cult…and also he thinks it won’t leave Buffy enough time for slaying.I say, take it down a notch, Giles. There will always be time for slaying, because if you don’t go to the slaying, the slaying comes to you.

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Do these pompoms make me look like my mother will love me?

At cheerleading try-outs, Cordelia is super-intense (we would expect no less)…

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If I don’t make the cheerleading squad, I will lit-rally cut a bitch.

…and we meet Amy. Poor, poor Amy. Poor rat Amy with her terrible mother.

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My home life is even worse than Xander’s 😦

But that’s later. Right now it’s poor Amber, because while she’s auditioning, her arms catch on fire. Buffy once again shows herself to be a super quick thinker as she grabs a banner to put the cheerleader out while everyone else just stands around in confusion. You would think there would be at least one other student with enough sense to yell out, “stop, drop and roll!” But you would be wrong. I’m starting to think that the people who live in Sunnydale may not have the sharpest survival instincts. Can an entire town win a Darwin Award?

 

 

Back at Scooby HQ (aka the library), Giles is way too excited about this new evilness. How exciting to live on the Hellmouth! Much different types of evil! Oh Giles, so young. So naïve.

Buffy has a conversation with her mom where she desperately tries to get her mother’s love and attention, but Joyce is too damn distracted by her gallery opening. Pick a lane, Joyce. Either be annoyingly involved in your daughter’s life, or be distracted and leave Buffy to her own devices. Mixing the two just makes me want to stomp up to my room and slam the door in your face.

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Back at the cheerleading try-outs redux, Amy crashes into Cordelia during a group routine, and Cordelia is like THAT WASN’T MY FAULT. Later Amy stares at a picture of her mother in the school trophy display and tells Buffy that her mom’s nickname was Catherine the Great. Hm, I bet her mom gave herself that nickname.

“Oh wouldn’t it be so funny if you guys called me Catherine the Great?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

“No, really. Call me Catherine the Great. DO IT. DO IT NOW.”

“…” *backs away slowly.

And scene.

Buffy tries to reach out to Amy and let her know that it’s okay if she doesn’t want to be a cheerleader just because her mom is obsessed with it. And once again I am struck by how open and welcoming Buffy is to basically everyone. Plus, her instincts are not just to slay, but also to help.  I wish she could remember this version of herself when she’s freaking out about the First Slayer and the whole “death is your gift” thing.

Anyway, it’s about that time in the episode for Xander to put his foot in his mouth. Let’s observe, shall we…

Xander goes on and on about being nervous to ask out Buffy. Meanwhile, there’s an adorable redhead who would love to go out with him right about now. Then Xander tells Willow: “You’re like a guy who knows about girl stuff!”

Thanks Xander, just what every woman wants to hear. Learn how to read the room, dude. Meanwhile, poor little Willow’s face falls, and I think, don’t worry, soon you won’t even be into guys! Also, Buffy will very soon in this episode tell Xander that he’s cool cuz he’s like one of the girls (in her defense, she’s under a spell that makes her loopy). So just desserts, karma, and all that.

The cheerleading roster is up and Amy and Buffy are alternates…which is apparently just code for “you didn’t make the team.” Buffy’s okay with it, but Amy is very upset. You know, probably because her mother is a terrifying nightmare who will do something horrifying to her for this failure.

And in a creepy mansion of creepiness, someone’s brewing up a witchy brew, and they are not a fan of Cordelia.

The next day Cordelia is wandering around school in a daze, and Buffy’s like, “this is suspicious!” Even though Cordelia knows something is off, the Driver’s Ed teacher makes her drive because she’s already flunked twice. I want her to ask him what’s the point, because everywhere has valet, like she’s Cher Horowitz, but alas, that doesn’t happen. Inevitably, she crashes the car and almost gets hit by a UPS truck before Buffy saves her. Then she goes completely blind. On the bright side, now Buffy’s on the cheerleading squad.

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“How can I tell if my hair looks ok if I’m blind?!” The existential troubles of Cordelia Chase.

Back at Scooby HQ, Willow and Buffy conclude that someone is hexing cheerleaders, and that someone is probably Amy because she is so desperate to make the team. Giles is quick to poo-poo that something as trivial as cheerleading could get people so worked up, but I’m like, hey Giles, go watch an episode of “Dance Moms” and then we’ll talk.

Willow, Xander, and Buffy whip up a little chemistry experiment – well, Willow whips it up while the others watch – to test whether Amy is a witch. Buffy pulls some not-so-stealthy spy maneuvers to steal some of Amy’s hair, and then spill the magic potion on Amy. Ding ding! Amy’s a witch. But something doesn’t quite add up…

Back in the creepy mansion of creepiness, there’s a weird vibe between Amy and her mother. And Amy reveals that she has stolen Buffy’s bracelet. Dunh dunh dunh!

The next day, Buffy is super loopy – singing Macho Man and drinking way too much juice – and bops her way through a cheerleading routine until she loses control of her super-strength and flings one of her teammates across the room. Xander and Willow drag her away, but suddenly Buffy’s not feeling so well.

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Side note: I’m pretty sure I had Xander’s exact sweater, or something pretty close. I know, I was a real fashion-plate.

Giles concludes that someone’s working a revenge spell on Buffy, so they head to Amy’s house for a confrontation. They don’t find Amy, but they do find Amy’s mom. Buffy quickly realizes that Amy and her mom have switched bodies. And I again feel the need to point out how smart Buffy is.

Giles and Amy-in-her-mom’s-body perform a spell to switch their bodies back as Buffy gets sicker and sicker.

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Any time you’re ready with that spell, guys. Pallid is not a good look on me.

The spell works and Amy’s mom tries to take out Buffy, but Buffy’s feeling better, and although she can’t really fight directly against magic, she employs some of her patented quick-thinking and uses a mirror to reflect a spell back at Amy’s mom. A spell which traps Amy’s mom inside the cheerleading trophy in the school display case.

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Call me Catherine the Great!

I wonder what happened to that trophy. Probably destroyed when Buffy blew up the high school. Although if it’s a magical item now because of the trapped soul inside, maybe explosions aren’t enough to destroy it. Maybe it’s still waiting in the ruins of the Hellmouth for someone to come along and release that trapped soul. And then Amy’s mom will wreak her revenge! So if you’re poking around the ruins of Sunnydale and find a cheerleader trophy, maybe just leave it there.

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Caution: evil soul trapped inside.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Cordelia gets to be a cheerleader. Buffy doesn’t have to be a cheerleader. And Amy’s not a rat…yet.

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Favorite Kicky/Punchy Thing:

The aforementioned moment when Buffy realizes she can’t physically fight against a witch, so she kicks down this mirror thing and reflects the spell back onto Amy’s mom.

The Big Bad Report:

Amy’s mom sucks. And she sets a low bar for motherly success, because at the end of the episode Buffy is absurdly happy when Joyce says she never wants to be a teenager again. Yay! Your mom isn’t gonna swap bodies with you to steal your youth! That’s…something. Sidenote: I know I bash Joyce a lot, but it’s not that I hate her or think she’s a really bad mom, I just think she…has bad timing? She’s always up in Buffy’s business at the wrong time, and when Buffy really needs her, she misses all the signals. Which might not be unrealistic, but is very frustrating. Once she knows about the slaying, I think she gets better. Well, after that very terrible adjustment period. But at least once she knows, she can actually make informed decisions about parenting. Wow, that turned into a whole thing about Joyce. What were we actually talking about? Oh, right. Amy’s mom is terrible and I’m glad she’s trapped in that trophy.

The Eric Balfour RIP Jesse In Memoriam Award…

I don’t think anyone actually died in this episode. But Amber did have both her arms set on fire. That’s probably gonna affect any cheerleading plans she may have had, so…maybe this award will make her feel better?

PRACTICAL LESSONS FOR REAL LIFE:

Don’t try out for cheerleading. Very dangerous.

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