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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' recap: Something smells fishy in Sunnydale

Season 2 | Episode 20 | “Go Fish” | Aired May 5, 1998

What’s the bigger crime of this throwaway episode leading up to the big two-part season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the slut-shaming and utterly unsubtle date-rape metaphors, or how dreadfully boring this week’s creature mystery turns out to be?

Sunnydale’s teens celebrate the swim team’s victory at a beach party. (It’s about time the school excels at something besides a high mortality rate, Willow says.) Chlorine jock Cameron hits on Buffy and waxes poetic about the beauty of the ocean. The swimmers dunk Jonathan in a bucket of ice water as a prank, but he’s ungrateful when Buffy rescues him. Dodd, the bully, takes a walk with teammate Gage (Prison Break‘s Wentworth Miller in one of his first roles) to cool off. But moments later, Dodd disappears, leaving behind only a heap of skin and clothes, and a merman sea monster slinking off under the boardwalk.

Willow scolds Gage for playing solitaire instead of studying. Principal Snyder offers her a permanent teaching job for the rest of the semester—and strongly suggests she recheck her records and give Gage a passing grade, for the team’s sake.

Xander is irate at the perks the swimmers are enjoying. That’s how the world works, counters Cordelia; winners get special privileges.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Go Fish - Buffy in the nurse

Buffy misses the debate because Cameron is giving her a ride to school. Hey, baby, no pressure, he promises, then turns on a dime and locks her in the car. She doesn’t dig his vibe and fights back, slamming his head into the steering wheel.

In the nurse’s office, all the men, from Cameron to Snyder to the coach, blame Buffy for leading him on and dressing like she’s going out to a club. (What’s with the Slayer shaming?)

Buffy wants to vent about the unfairness of it all, but Giles and the others have bigger worries: Dodd’s remains were found on the beach. Snyder has ordered it be kept quiet so as to not upset the team.

That evening, Xander runs into Cameron in the hallway, and can’t resist a jab about Buffy’s superior strength. Cameron blows it off and heads to the cafeteria, even though it’s after hours (privileges). He smells the same thing Gabe smelled on the beach right before Dodd disappeared.

Xander hears a yell, then finds overturned tables and chairs, and Cameron’s steaming, empty skin suit. He and the sea creature come face-to-face, and then run away from each other.

Did someone summon a sea demon to exact revenge on the popular kids? Willow interrogates Jonathan, who didn’t make the team. He admits he peed in the pool, but isn’t responsible for any black magic.

With Dodd and Cameron dead, Gage might be next. Buffy takes surveillance duty, following him around school, and later at the Bronze. He catches her, and she comes clean about the stalker act. He doesn’t buy that he’s in danger and blows her off.

Angelus commiserates with Gage about that bitch Buffy in the alley outside the club. He tries to feed, but is repulsed by something in the swimmer’s blood. After Buffy walks him home, Gage seems to have a little crush on her.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Go Fish - Xander on the swim teamWatching swim practice, the ladies speculate the swimmers might be taking steroids, which would explain their winning streak, and possibly the vampire revulsion and ocean monster attraction, too.

They’re distracted by the dripping wet beefcake Mr. Alexander Harris, wearing nothing but a Speedo and swim goggles. He’s going undercover as the team’s newest member.

It’s too late for Gage. Buffy hears a commotion in the locker room and watches as Gage painfully, literally peels off his own skin to reveal a sea creature underneath. Aha—the monster isn’t after the swimmers; the monsters are the swimmers! One of them bites Buffy, but the coach saves her, and the monsters dive into the sewer.

Giles gets the coach to admit he was suspicious of the team’s sudden athleticism, but was afraid to dig into it.

Willow hacks the athletes’ medical records, and finds they suffered symptoms indicative of steroid use.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Go Fish - Sea MonsterXander asks around in the steam room, and is horrified to learn he’s been soaking up the mystery drugs the whole time—it’s in the steam! (Cameo by a young Shane West.)

The nurse warns the coach against continuing to expose the team to the chemicals (which means they were both in on it all along). He doesn’t want to hear it, so he throws her into the sewer.

The episode takes a turn for the insane (and not in a good way) when Buffy questions the coach, who tells of her secret experiments the Soviet Union performed on their Olympic swimmers. (The Russians couldn’t crack the chemical code, but this meathead high school coach could?) He forces Buffy into the sewers at gunpoint (the Slayer couldn’t just kick the gun out of his hand?)

Waist-deep in water, she can’t find a way out. The coach lets her know the nurse was dinner. Buffy is there for the boys’, ahem, other needs.

Wait. So is their group attack on Buffy, who earlier was slut-shamed by half the school, a Hellmouth metaphor for gang rape? And then, when the coach stumbles into the sewer, what are they doing to him that leads Buffy to quip, “Those boys really love their coach”?

In conclusion: The team will undergo plasma transfusions, the sea creatures have taken up residence in the ocean, and all’s well again in Sunnydale.

I’m so uncomfortable right now.

Sandwiched in between the eerie ghost love story of “I Only Have Eyes for You” and the upcoming season finale, this is such a stumble, I wonder if the interns took over for a week. Let’s just all agree that this is the epitome of throwaway episodes, and look forward “Becoming.”

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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