Joyce drops Buffy off in town, telling her they'll work something out in regards to school. Cut to Buffy looking at her watch, clearly having been stood up by Willow. Oh man, that suh-uh-ucks. I'm sorry, but no excuse. This is the first of many horrible acts of behavior in this episode from the characters, and it makes me wonder what Joss was smoking when he wrote it. Then I remember that Marti Noxon wrote this episode, and I wonder what Joss was smoking when he hired her. Cut to Buffy arriving home. She bumps into a middle-aged, heavy-ish blonde woman coming out chez Summers. After cooing about what a "picture" Buffy is, she introduces herself as Pat, from Joyce's book club. Okay, two things. First of all, I hate her already. Second, I know that Ace and Sep have bitched about the writer's growing tendency to exposit past plot points of which we knew nothing to fit what they want to happen currently, and I couldn't agree more. Well, case in point. "Hi, I'm Pat, from your mom's book club, of which you know nothing about. And even though you've been gone only two months, and your mom has never had any friends on the show, I'm now her best friend and confidante." It's a minor, possible even forgivable, example, but even though it may shock you, I'm not giving Marti Noxon the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, Pat gives Buffy a speech about "rebonding," "empanadas," and The Deep End Of The Ocean, so you can imagine that in an already dialogue-heavy episode, I'm not going to say any more about it except that it succeeds in making Buffy hate Pat and making Buffy feel even crappier than she already did.
Buffy's in the kitchen with Dinah. Oh, my bad, it's Joyce. Joyce tells Buffy that Willow got held up, but it's obvious that even Joyce realizes the flimsiness of Willow's story. Joyce glosses over it to ask Buffy how she would feel about having the gang over for dinner the next night. "Dinner" -- remember that, it'll be important later. At Buffy's pause, she admits that she already invited them. Buffy insincerely says that it'll be fun. I know there's been heated discussion in the forums about how poorly people behaved in this episode, and whether Buffy was to blame or a victim. So in order not to keep you in suspense, here's my two cents. Although she certainly did some questionable things, I'm on Buffy's side. Here's an example: knowing that Buffy's best friend just blew her off, Joyce doesn't even acknowledge that it might be awkward to have the gang over, or that Buffy's feelings might be hurt. And I really must apologize for the length of this recap, but Marti Noxon brings out the diatribe in me. Joyce sends Buffy to the basement to get the company plates: "We never have guests over for dinner." Yeah, because you have no friends, Joyce. Except your new bestest pal, Pat. Not buying what you're selling, Marti. It's so contrived.