BtvS 2.16


Promotional CD tracks

02. Twice the fool (0'46) 64kbps / 192kbps
10. Mob rush (1'32) 64kbps / 192kbps
14. The Buffy rat (1'33) 64kbps / 192kbps

02. Only one track into the promo album and Beck has contrasted his imposing cinematic 'Resurrection' cue with one showcasing his humour. A scratchy solo violin (live instrument) cavorts through just 46 seconds of madness, with trills and plenty of dissonance. The accompaniment and counter melodies are by turns complimentary to the humour and underscoring the threat of horror beneath it. Fun, imaginative, complex, way too short.

10. There is much in the dynamism and dissonance here which harks back to the robot rampage in 'Ted', which isn't surprising given the mindless brutality at work here. BBB is, however, a more ambitious score, and Beck keeps both a stronger momentum and far richer orchestration. There is also a brutality here which was only hinted at in 'Twice the fool', showing how the tone, whilst still somehow knowing, has turned so much darker as the stakes rise and implications of the plot unfold.

14. The perfect antidote to 'Mob rush', which is used for the gentler comedy of Oz chasing the Buffy rat, interposed with scenes of the mob chasing Xander and Cordelia. The episode keeps up this lively play between comedy and scares which saves it from a genre cul de sac and enriches both by emphasising the contrast. The music should bridge that gap, and the reviewer isn't too sure this is done seamlessly - however, the contrast isn't great enough to make the scene changes a jolt.

The episode

We meet the witch Amy for the first time (the poor girl cameos right through to season seven), and Xander blackmails her to help him bewitch Cordelia into loving him. The plan backfires as every female in Sunnydale except Cordelia is enchanted, and after some very amusing come-ons from the regular cast, all starts turning nasty as the poor lad is pursued through the town by adoring and jealously psychotic female gangs. All against the backdrop of a newly evil Angel wanting to make Buffy's Valentine's Day memorable by stalking and killing her friends. Watch it for Xander taking centre stage, Buffy's "slight case of nudity", and the oldest door-barracade joke in the book.

N.B. Bluntinstrument could not find 'Twice the fool' in the promotional format in this episode, unless it has been stitched together from the smallest of cues; various cues appear to relate to 'The Buffy rat'; 'Mob rush' is split between 30'05" and 35'35"

Fun quotations:
Xander: "My Valentines are usually met with heart-felt restraining orders."

Amy: "Intent has to be pure with love spells.."
Xander: "Right! I intend revenge - pure as the driven snow."

Cordelia to Xander: "Who died and made you Elvis?"

Buffy: "I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here."

Buffy: "I remember coming on to you. I remember begging you to undress me. And then a sudden need for cheese."

The music

The scoring for this episode matches it turn-by-turn as it switches between comedy and horror and then as it shifts gear and dives straight down the middle. The promo cues are a frankenstein jigsaw put together from scenes which are heavily fragmented on screen: we shift between different sets of action at ever faster pace and the music allows us to leap straight in where we left off. Only with the moments of pathos are we left with an imovable emotional core: this is about being spurned by someone you love. The message, though, is given only the vaguest brushstroke of a common theme (a consecutive-two-note *sigh*): although never poorly executed, this is totally outclassed by the action/comedy/violence music. The scoring is well-polished, showing a subtlety which belies the break-neck speed at which these episodes were being made, employing a live and devilish violin seemingly just for mischievious fun.

Cue notes

Counter-readings are approximate.

Average White Band - "Got the love"
Naked - "Drift away"

There is a wealth of thematic material in the promotional cues, but in this episode I pick out some of the themes that did not make it onto the disc. There are both throw-away and important examples.


Dissonant high strings leading to brass-led action cue as Buffy takes on a surprise vampire. High strings in parallel 6ths over tremolo low strings (minor key result): Buffy: "Slaying is a tad more perilous than dating." Xander: "Well, you're obviously not dating Cordelia." Strings given punctuation to end the scene with a timpani thump. (Not the usual glissandi, since there is no cliffhanger/oh-dear pre-titles shocker).


What is that awful Nerf?]


Teen band-style underscore for Cordielia getting the brush-off from her groupies. Authorship unverified (no vocal, so could be Beck).

4'01"-4'13 "

Percussive rustle followed by a rare synth-choir effect (open fifths, sounding spare and eerie) as Amy spooks her teacher into accepting a non-existent homework essay.


Clarinet-led opening, leading to piano underscore [Ex.1] as Giles and Jenny's relationship is shown to be awkward after the revelation of her being from the gypsie clan that cursed Angel (you'd think they'd be grateful, wouldn't you?). There is something about the use of piano here which also links in to other tentative/poignant love music such as that for Buffy and Angel.

6'24"-8'05 "

Marimba(?) and oboe in triple time as Spike offers his valentine's present to Drusilla; when Angel offers his, strings gain dominance (an easier underscore for the dialogue-heavy scene), moving gradually down to very low bass (strings perhaps augmented by brass).


Song with a chorus of "Hey, I can't sleep" At the Bronze: Oz and Dingos Ate My Baby.]

9'13"-10'05 "

Tremolo cellos and sparse piano motif [Ex.2], well-accompanied for eerie effect by outdoor atmosphere (crickets, etc.): crescendo before Buffy jumps at the appearance of her mother from outside (rather than Angel, as we all expected). Low bass hum and more insistant rendition of [Ex.2] - octave doubling. Buffy's "present" from Angel is given full claustrophobic upper string whining clusters.

[10'05"-10'36 "

Cutting back to the Bronze. Same song as 8'05"]

[10'37"-12'12 "

Quieter pop. Unverified by ear, but other sources suggest it might be "Drift away" by Naked. Background to Xander's present and Cordelia's brush-off. "Do you know what's a good day to break-up with somebody? Any day besides Valentine's Day. I mean what? Were you running low on dramatic irony?"]


Xander feels alone and laughed-at. Sad cue (dificult to hear beneath the school-day shuffle) built round a single cold piano note (in several octaves) for Xander, with strings (often in expressive 6ths) and clarinet providing the warmth of our emotional response. With phrases beginning with two long notes, resolving up or down in this case, there is a distinct nudge of [Ex.1] in the thematic material here. Is this a "spurned love" thread for the episode?


Xander blackmails young witch Amy into helping him cast a love spell on Cordelia. Synth (possibly imitating choral vocals) builds from low to upper register as Xander hatches his plan, and ends with a percussive thump. Notable again for some open 5ths. This interval is becoming an idee fixe for the episode.


Abreviated return of synth from 13'35", followed by a crescendoing minor string chord (tremolo).


Cheeky link: Xander has to approach Cordelia and get the neckless he gave her back in order to make the love spell. Clarinet and woodblocks feature.


Who would have believed Cordelia had a heart? Retrieves the necklace (secretly) from her neck and not from her locker. Beck provides a neat little piano theme. [Ex.3]


Seaguing from the previous cue, we are now back with Amy as the two cast their spell. Pounding bass (possibly a combination of bass drum and low piano string - result echoes) with (almost funnily spooky) string tremolos in melodic shape (highly chromatic) and harmony very close to Beck's music for the Gentlemen in episode 4.10 "Hush". This is gradually drowned by burning magic sfx. [Ex.4]


Electric guitar band. Xander arriving next day. Are those looks of lust or loathing? We have yet to discover, but the musical choice is egging us into guessing. Guitar band only. No vocals. Unverified authorship.


Over the past few minutes NO SCORE has underpinned Xander's experiences: nothing from Cordy, then surprisingly cosy with Buffy. At long last something is happening in his head. Amy uses the same words as Buffy about seeing someone every day but not really seeing them, abd Beck enters with a string line (followed by piano) which starts with two long notes, in the same "spurned" thread we heard first with [Ex.1]. Each is different, but each shares that kind of *sigh*.


But the moment is lost: this isn't a tragic episode of Buffy. The characters get hurt emotionally, but the audience is set for a rollercoaster. At this point the previous set-up is unceremoniously ditched: the ramifications of Amy's confirmation that the spell had gone awry are finally starting to sink in. Perky but persistent pizz upper strings start the wheels in motion with a jaunty rock between intervals of a minor 6th and perfect 5th, this leads to a devilish violin solo which riffs on the idea [N.B. the idea of the devil as a fiddle player is an old one, and is reprised in season 4 when Whedon uses Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, famed for its harsh violin solo opening, as a backdrop to Giles's silent lecture on the Gentlemen for episode 4.10 "Hush"], with a bass clarinet giving a chromatic-heavy counterpoint in double speed. These are the seeds from which most of the rest of the score grows, and certainly the basis for Beck's promo cue "Twice the Fool". All comes to a screaching and dissonant (but for the moment not too loud) halt as Willow is next up to seduce the "poor" lad... in his bed.


Violin re-enters, this time expanding on an upward chromatic scale thrown out in the 20'11 cue. This is over more pizzicato strings, and ends with another jolt - this time quieter, with an almost pizz bass note: Cordielia is brought to a halt by her friends. Trouble?


Xander is back. And the spell's in full swing! Classic cool from "Got the love" by Average White Band. Fades out as Xander comes clean to Giles.]


Fiddler returns (ably using the 20'11" material) to cover Xander's barricading of the library door, in the oldest joke in the book, because...


The door opens in the other direction and Buffy enters, fully prepared to seduce Xander. Beck makes a 10 second break to accomany the oldest joke with the 20th century's most blatent sexual musical device: the languid saxophone. [Ex.5]


It all starts to unravel as Buffy and Amy stand-off, Buffy doubting Xander's devotion to her and Amy turning Buffy into a rat. Beck uses an almost inaudible cluster chord of flutes and then develops the idea linearly with piano (B-C#-C), overwhich a slower string line etches a similarly spooky melody (different to that at 9'13 but with similar effect). Genuinely unsettling: is this comedy or horror? The tremolo strings from 16'17" re-enter as Amy casts her spell; all ends in more fizzling sfx, befor the "oh my God" moment, punctuated by dissonant trilling strings ending with a high piano note/low bass/percussion *plonk* - so achieved through the high-low extremities used in the chord.


[Post-adverts] Bass drum beats over descending strings and the barest hint of glass harmonica whine: Giles enters to discover the mess.


Low oboe filligree over an accompaniment of light percussion, off-beat clarinets and long string notes (probably not a throwback to the long note idea first used in [Ex.1]). Possibly from the promo cue "The buffy rat". This is interrupted by Amy's aborted attempt at another spell (more tremolo strings from 16'17")


An altogether less friendly kind of scare: Cordy is picked on by her friends for spurning Xander. The thumping brass/timpani from 28'13" mean business, and high snarling trumpets act like psycho slashes as she is attacked


Glass harmonica this time leads us into the fun chase fo the Buffy rat: pattering percussion (good for scampering rats) with staccato strings and upper wind to add bounce. Possibly from the promo track "The buffy rat". This is interrupted (again! Beck's promo cue is patched together in a truly miraculous fashion) by Oz venting his frustration on Xander with his fist.


More "spurned" music: slow two-noter (originally from [Ex.1]) with a simple repetitive ocatave accompaniment as Xander is told to leave Giles and Oz to the mission of finding Buffy-rat. But this meandering is halted as he find Cordelia in trouble...


The first 20 seconds of the promo track "Mob rush". Wild string leaps, violin+metallic sound slashes (sounding reminiscent of the domestic robo violence of Ted in 2.11), plenty of backup from brass including sliding trombones. Here it is completely impossible to know whether Beck is scoring the horror or the humour because at this point both plotting and scoring are dense with both.


Xander and Cordelia run into an axe-wielding Willow with a gang of teens willing to kill him rather than let him spurn them. Here Willow is perhaps externalising and warping his own feelings after being dumped by Cordelia previously. The music is again firmly in terror territory, recycling that from 27'58", until 31'27", at which point Cordelia's friends catch up behind them to stop them from killing Xander - here, the swiping music from 30'05 returns.


Back with Oz, the Buffy rat music is in full swing: the music from 27'18" is now given added colour from tremolo strings, using the chromatically moving chords from 16'17". Oboe sound is now more of a cor anglais tessitura. This uses the first half of the promotional cue "The Buffy rat"


Galloping string underscore with horns rising through a scale, building up to Xander and Cordelia's hurried arrival at Buffy's house (with Joyce letting them in).


Pizz strings from 20'11" combined with tremolos from 16'17": modulating higher and higher until Cordelia shuts the lustful Joyce out of her own back door. "Keep your mum-aged mits off my boyfriend - former!"


Promo cue excerpt. Definitely on the scary side: full orchestral clashes herald a return of the psycho metalic stabs of 30'05". "Honey, let Joycey in."


High string note (tense) as Xander checks out the bedroom window. Is it safe? Angelus appears (heavy low brass note) and drags Xander outside (Beck introduces pounding train-like triplets for full orchestra [Ex.6] ending with high trumpets.


We swing straight back to Oz's search for the Buffy-rat. Immediately the scurrying score is back (complete with unifying tremolo strings from 16'17"), lifting the tone back to humour.


Madly dashing back to Angelus/Xander we return to terror. Underscore now is all horror (tremolo strings, thumping heart-beat bass..), with little in the way of thematic reminders. At 34'39" Drusilla has taken Xander from Angelus to make him hers: Beck uses strings only with twisting harmonies beneath a chromatically flecked melody. At 35'10" a high piano enters with spooky effectiveness over the backdrop of a humming bass pedal, icy-quiet chaotic strings and growing trills. // The following section is from the second half of the promo cue 'Mob rush': "How do you feel about eternal life.". At 35'35" Dru is rudely interrupted by the rushing mob, accompanied by inverted psycho strings, metallic stabbings, violent brass blasts - all gaining speed as everyone converges on Buffy's house and Xander/Cordelia are chased into it. A low hum (finishing the Promo) is left behind outside along with the uninvited Drusilla.


But all is not over. Upward zither-like strum as Joyce re-appears to "end it". Big brass over rushing repeated string scales accompanies Xander/Cordelia's final flight into a box room - the door closing just in time with upward brass glissandi.


With tension at its peak, we are wrenched back to Oz searching for Buffy, and Giles and Amy preparing a spell to set all to rights. Buffy-rat music is deemed less appropriate here, so low humming bass notes and glass-harmonica sounds are employed.


Cordelia: "You mean the spell was for me?" Soft piano rendition of [Ex.3] in a higher register (first heard in this episode at 15'54" when Cordelia relinquished her necklace to Xander.


The mob breaks the door down and closes in: cymball clash heralds the final hurdle: action-packed orchestral scoring. This is interrupted as we flash back to the library where Amy casts the withdrawing spell for Buffy (trilling strings, ominous pizzicatos giving way to pounding timpani). As the spell takes effect we are treated to a final volley of spooky tremolo strings (from 16'17") before an sfx crunch.


Back to Cordy/Xander and orchestral frenetics. And from there back to Giles and Amy chanting their second withdrawing spell over the drum beat. Back to Cordy/Xander (backed into a corner) with orchestra joined by metalic/brass scrunches (higher and higher), now over the same distinct pounding drum. Choral effects and synths battle with the spell's sfx.


Flat strings descend in chordal sequence, dissipating the tension as the mob returns to a (confused) state of normallity.


The flat strings reappear, harking back to the "spurned" sighing.. but Cordelia has come through, and joins Xander. Rather than using a love theme here, we get teen guitar band fading in. Unverified authorship. Notable here is that the style is more relaxed, not as punkish as used at 16'50".


Nerf or nuffing.]

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi] Giles and Jenny in romantic difficulties. 4'43"

Ex.2 [midi] Suspense motif. 9'13"

Ex.3 [midi] Cordelia's necklace. 15'54"

Ex.4 [mp3] Amy's spell.

Ex.5 [mp3] Buffy the seductress.

Ex.6 [mp3] Angelus snatches Xander.