Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Episode 3.01, “Dead Man’s Party” | Persephone Magazine
Joyce’s gallery — which I’m not clear if she owns or just manages, its never elaborated on and Buffy never sets foot in it — gets in a shipment of “primitive African art,” in which a zombie demon god mask is included, which Joyce hangs in her bedroom because it seems “cheerful.” Joyce has problems. The fact that she considers a demon mask “cheerful” is one of them. Another is her complete inability to deal with Buffy’s homecoming — she doesn’t know what to do with her daughter, seems unwilling to admit that telling her to never come back to the house ever again might be the reason Buffy didn’t come back to the house for three months, and misplaces her guilt over this all over Buffy (and Giles, but that came up last week).
Unfortunately for all involved, there is not a single person among the Scoobies that is capable of dealing with their emotions. No one wants to acknowledge they resent Buffy for disappearing for a couple of months, and no one seems able to put together the clues that something really awful happened to her. All they see is her disappearance. But only a year before, Buffy had died, I mean literally died, and she didn’t take off for parts unknown after, so intelligent people might be able to figure out that something worse than dying happened to her. Instead of calling Buffy a therapist, they throw her a house party.