Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.
Season 2, Episode 1: “When She Was Bad”
Buffy comes back from a summer with her dad in LA with a new haircut and a new attitude. Apparently the trauma of dying and being brought back to life in season 1’s premiere has had an effect, and that effect was to turn Buffy rather… chilly. She’s withdrawn from everyone, and even when Angel comes to warn her about the Anointed One, she pretends not to have missed him. Later, she disses Angel at the club in favor of doing a sexy dance with Xander, at which point both Willow and I became convinced that Buffy was actually bewitched. Even Cordelia thinks Buffy’s being a jerk and warns her to get over herself.
Meanwhile, the vampires and the Anointed One are still hanging out underground planning new shenanigans. Giles figures out what the vampires are up to when Buffy discovers that the Master’s bones have disappeared from their grave: they’re trying to enact some kind of ritual to resurrect the Master. The vampires kidnap Cordelia and Miss Calendar and use them as bait to get Buffy to come meet them underground. Buffy believes it’s a trap to use her for the resurrection ritual, but since she’s still in Ice Queen Mode, she refuses any help from Giles, Willow or Xander, pissing them all off even more.
Once she’s down there, she realizes it was a different kind of trap: the people the vampires actually want for the ritual are Willow and Giles (along with Cordelia and Miss Calendar). Buffy runs back to the library, but it’s too late, Giles and Willow are gone. Xander is totally pissed off at Buffy by this point, but he goes with Buffy and Angel to free their friends, who are all being hung upside down over the Master’s bones as part of the ritual, for reasons I’m not totally clear on. Once Buffy’s done killing all the vampires, she smashes the Master’s bones to powder with a giant sledgehammer (and then gets a big, sweet hug from Angel). Somehow this purges all of her Dark, Brooding Attitude and she decides to be nice to her friends again. Turns out she wasn’t bewitched after all! They forgive her, no questions asked.
Also Willow and Xander almost kiss while Buffy’s away, but then Xander totally forgets about Willow as soon as Buffy gets back. You suck, Xander!
Notes from a New Fan:
- Ewww, we couldn’t have lost the tarantulas for season 2’s credits?
- I kind of miss the hilariously nasal guy who did the voiceover for the season 1 credits.
- Buffy returns to school and immediately embarks on her training with Giles. TRAINING MONTAGE!! Yessss.
- Willow putting frosting on her nose to try to recreate the exact scene of her first almost-kiss with Xander is possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.
- The band playing at the Bronze, Cibo Matto, is so weird and creepy. I like them!
- I definitely thought all this was just some psychological problem Buffy was having…until she voluntarily started dancing with Xander, at which point I decided she had to be bewitched. As for Xander, his facial expression is somewhere between “Oh shit, there’s something very wrong with Buffy,” and “Oh shit, can everyone see my erection?”
- Buffy tells Angel being stalked isn’t really a turnon for girls. Heh. Some deranged fanfic writer watched this scene and thought, “Oh really? Hold my tea,” and the great crime against literacy known as Twilight was born.
- I love when Cordelia warns Buffy to get over herself. It’s a sweet little gesture of friendship despite how much they dislike each other. Great scene!
- I like how Buffy expresses that she’s willing to be nice now by pinning a green cardigan around her shoulders. Is it really a sartorial expression of harmlessness to dress up like you’re on your way to lunch at the country club?
- I did laugh at Xander’s final joke when they discuss what to do that night: “Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but gosh, we did that last night.”
Notes from a True Stan:
- Xander tried to lick Willow’s nose?? I wouldn’t even want my boyfriend to do that!
- Buffy got “the Rachel”!!
- I remember the costume designer talking on the DVD commentary about the very deliberate decision to change Buffy’s hair for this season. She said Buffy’s coloring was too warm and “earthy” in the first season, while the cooler, blonder color both signals the shift in her character and fits better into the “cute blonde saves the world” aesthetic. Which makes sense, since this is much closer to the hair color she has for the rest of the series.
- This is technically the last time we see Mr. Buffy in person. Bye, Mr. Buffy, we hardly knew ye.
- Cordelia’s rant about “adversity building character” is so channeling Bianca from 10 Things.
- I know we’re supposed to think she’s being a bitch, but Buffy’s hostile reaction to Angel coming into her bedroom without permission is actually pretty reasonable.
- Oh, but the shipper in me loves when she says “I missed you” after he’s already gone. So sad!
- Am I supposed to know who Cibo Matto is? I feel like these were all famous 90s bands, because they focus on them so much, but the only one I’ve heard of is Michelle Branch.
- Cordelia’s lipliner is out of control.
- I love that Buffy and Xander’s “sexy dance” causes so much drama and it’s so tame. They’re not even touching for half of it. [I mean, it’s not like they’re twerking, but there’s a lot of… gyrating. I would not dance with any random male friend that way! And DEFINITELY not with Xander. -Nerdy Spice]
- Love Cordelia’s “get over it” speech. She’s such an underrated character.
- I mean, it’s actually pretty reasonable to think that Buffy might have been possessed by the Master. When Xander was randomly being an asshole, he was possessed by a hyena.
- SMG plays an asshole pretty well (see: Cruel Intentions), but I cringe when she says “Kick my ass.”
- Okay, but don’t the vampires see that she’s holding a giant freaking torch? Why do they keep running towards her??
- Better question: why didn’t they just destroy the bones in the first place?? It was so easy!
- Now that I watch it again, I think it was an intentional choice to make Buffy’s powers more formidable in later seasons. She already seems more powerful in this episode, just because she’s really focusing (“honing,” as Giles would say), and because she’s getting more, well, arrogant.
- I have mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, I’m glad that they addressed Buffy’s trauma/PTSD after she died in her prom dress, but on the other hand, it’s a little sitcom-y that it’s pretty much resolved in this episode, especially with that weird uplifting music playing at the end.
- I guess there’s an argument to be made that this episode ushers in a darker tone for the show, and maybe even foreshadows Buffy’s development as a character, especially in season seven.
Season 2, Episode 2 “Some Assembly Required”
Buffy finds an empty grave while on patrol, and discovers that someone’s been digging up the bodies of young women that died in a recent accident. At first, they think it might be a flesh-eating demon, but then Cordelia finds a bunch of body parts in the school dumpster, and they deduce that a student might have done it. They quickly figure out that two creepy boys from the science club, Chris and Eric, are trying to create their own perfect girl by sewing together and reanimating parts from several dead girls. Like if Dr. Frankenstein were an incel.
But twist! It turns out that they’re not doing it for themselves, but for Chris’ brother, whom they reanimated after he died in a rock climbing accident. Chris’ brother used to date Cordelia and still holds a torch for her, so he rejects all of the dead girls’ heads, and wants to use Cordelia’s head. Chris tries to kidnap Cordelia, but then gets caught by Buffy and conveniently has a change of heart. Eric does kidnap Cordelia, and tries to go ahead with the plan to behead and reanimate her. Buffy finds them in the nick of time, with Chris’ help, and has a big fight with the zombie brother, which accidentally starts a gas fire. The zombie brother almost gets the best of her, but then he sees that the headless Frankenstein girl body is about to burn up, so he climbs on top of her (ew) and they burn up together.
There’s also a little bit of emotional fallout from “When She Was Bad,” mostly between Buffy and Angel. Angel’s all jealous that Buffy did her little “sexy dance” with Xander (LOL), so Buffy lies to him about going out on patrol so she can get a break from him. (Can’t she just say she doesn’t want him to come? I guess not, since he just sort of lurks all the time without asking permission.) In the end, they have a relatively mature conversation about how he’s jealous, not that she might like Xander, but that Xander gets to be with her during the day.
Oh, and Giles and Ms. Calendar finally go on their first date–to the high school football game. Dream big, guys.
Notes from a New Fan:
- This tiny pink satin miniskirt Buffy’s wearing to stake out the graveyard seems like an exceptionally impractical choice for drop-kicking vampires in.
- I’m not surprised that Xander finds it a turnon to be called an idiot. It’s also useful, since he probably gets called that more often than most people.
- There’s some metaphor in here about how leering at girls’ body parts is not dissimilar from literally carving them up like meat.
- Cordelia says she needs help with her science project (which we learned earlier is called “Tomatoes: fruit or vegetable?”), and Willow calmly replies, “It’s a fruit.” Hee!
- Giles says zombies don’t eat the flesh of the living. Wait, what? Then why would they even be scary?!
- Does Cordelia actually scream in every single episode?
- Oh, I love Cordelia hanging on Angel’s arm to make Buffy mad. And how Angel’s loving it as revenge for when Buffy did the sexy dance with Xander.
- These two science nerds are horrible criminal masterminds if they dump body parts from their grisly crimes at the school where they go.
- Also, Chris sticks an article about his victims in his locker? Worst criminal masterminds EVER!!
- Is Xander… seriously… projecting his Nice Guy issues about how Buffy doesn’t like him because he’s standing right in front of her, and using it to justify a creepy science experiment where two boys make a lady out of dismembered corpses?!?! Xander is THE ABSOLUTE WORST.
- Ms. Calendar totally asks Giles out and saves him from his bumbling attempt to do it himself. Aww!!!
- Xander also makes creepy remarks about the attractiveness of some dead teens. Shut up, Xander!
- OK I actually did not see it coming that Chris’s reanimated brother was demanding a similarly Frankensteinian girlfriend. I thought they just really wanted to win the science fair. D’oh!
- Willow seems to have a crush on Chris the Body Dismemberer, which… is the only thing dumber than having a crush on Xander.
- I appreciate that his mom apparently never leaves the couch, yet Chris has plastered his basement with “KEEP OUT” signs, like, way to be stealth, Chris.
- It’s pretty cute when Willow and Xander flat-out ignore Giles’ desire to be alone with Ms. Calendar and just go ahead and steal his popcorn. There’s a cute dad+mischievous kids vibe to their relationship.
- Angel can’t enunciate at all. He pronounces “hear your jokes” like “herrrrjokes.”
Notes from a True Stan:
- I like that Buffy and Angel are fighting like an old married couple. (“Whenever we fight, you always bring up the vampire thing!”). Are they even dating at this point?
- I totally support the whole girly feminism thing, but that mini-skirt looks really hard to fight in.
- Um, Ms. Calendar is not in Giles’ “age bracket”!! The actors are more than fifteen years apart! It’s Keanu Reeves all over again.
- Willow’s hacking skills can somehow get them access to kids’ locker combinations?? But how… whatever.
- Buffy’s face when Cordelia asks Angel to take her home is priceless:
- For some reason, whenever I think about this episode, I think of the pervert kid singing “My Girl.” So creepy.
- Ew, Xander is so gross this episode. First, he defends the creeps who are harvesting girl parts with a glib, “The things we do for love,” and then he expresses his surprise that they didn’t take any of the dead cheerleaders’ heads: “I found them attractive enough.” Why must he speak??
- Every time we see the Sunnydale cheerleaders, they’re doing the same, incredibly simple cheer: “Go Razorbacks, go! Go, team go!” Is that the only cheer they know?
- Is that a modified version of the Bangel theme while Darryl is spying on Cordelia under the bleachers? Weird.
- Charisma Carpenter is a good screamer! She would have made a good 90s scream queen. [That’s what I keep saying! That she was probably hired for her amazing screaming abilities! -Nerdy Spice]
- I like that this episode serves as a metaphor for a certain type of incel misogyny, but not on board with the sympathy for Chris. Lots of people experience grief without trying to behead teenage girls!
- Also, it seems like Darryl’s personality is pretty much intact, so that should have a lot of implications for the show, right? They pretty much just retcon the idea of science-based reanimation in later seasons, for obvious reasons.
Season 2, Episode 3 “School Hard”
There’s a new vampire in town! Spike arrives home to Sunnydale, with a creepily soft-spoken paramour named Drusilla in tow. Spike is a platinum-blonde vampire with a terrible British accent and a penchant for snarky remarks. And as we all know, he and Buffy are going to make out a whole lot in later seasons. Anyway, Spike promises the Anointed One that he’ll kill Buffy on some feast day that all the vampires are excited about. Knowing the feast day is coming, Buffy’s friends–including Cordelia, who grudgingly helps out–help her make stakes in preparation.
Buffy herself has bigger things on her mind: not getting expelled from school. Principal Snyder sets Buffy and a Classic Bad Girl named Sheila to arranging a parent-teacher night all by themselves. If it’s not perfect, they’ll be expelled. Unfortunately, Sheila is a bad partner: she puts in almost no effort, and then she gets herself kidnapped by Spike as a little snack for his girlfriend.
On parent-teacher night, Buffy does a pretty bad job: she makes lemonade with no sugar in it and tries to keep Principal Snyder from telling her mom how bad a student she is by saying her mom doesn’t speak English, even though there are only like three parents there and the dude clearly is going to find out she was lying.
But things get even worse from there: Spike attacks the school because he’s decided not to wait for the feast day. He brings a bunch of his minions and locks all the school doors and cuts the power. Mrs. Buffy, Principal Snyder, and a few others get locked in the cafeteria, while Giles and Xander get locked in the library, and Willow and Cordelia end up in a janitor’s closet together.
Buffy climbs up into the ceiling and crawls around so that she can use the element of surprise against the vampires. She successfully defeats a few of them–including Sheila, who shows up long enough to almost kill Buffy with a fire extinguisher axe but then panics and runs away when she realizes how tough Buffy is. But Spike, who has already killed two slayers in the past, remains at large.
Meanwhile, Giles sends Xander out through some secret exit in the library to get Angel to help them defeat Spike. Angel uses Xander as bait to try to convince Spike that he’s still on Spike’s side. Unfortunately, Spike doesn’t take the bait, and Xander lives to creep another day. Xander and Angel end up outside fighting the rest of Spike’s crew, while Spike and Buffy have a showdown in the hallway right outside the cafeteria. Spike bests Buffy and is about to kill her when Mrs. Buffy appears out of nowhere and bonks him on the head with the side of the axe, saving Buffy. Yay, Mrs. Buffy!! After that she tells Buffy she’s proud of her because she thinks of others in a crisis. Aww!!
Spike returns underground, defeated. The other vampires think he should sacrifice himself as penance, but he decides to just kill the Anointed One instead. He says there’s going to be more fun around here now. I’ll say!
Notes from a New Fan:
- Principal Snyder accuses Sheila Martini (…OK, sure) of stabbing a teacher with a trowel, and she corrects him that it was pruning shears. I mean, yeah… how would you stab a teacher with a trowel?
- Not gonna lie, I didn’t realize Spike showed up this early, and I’m kinda psyched about it.
- But his accent … sounds surprisingly fake. So fake I almost started to wonder if there was maybe another platinum bottle blonde vampire (until he said his name was Spike). Is this accent situation gonna improve over the next five seasons? [It does sound fake here! He gets a lot better after James Marsters studied Anthony Head’s accent on set. –Janes]
- OK, Drusilla is so creepy! WTF. This is all very upsetting.
- Mrs. Buffy condescendingly tells Buffy if she thinks she’s stressed now, “Wait till you get a job.” As usual, she is so out of her depth.
- Once again, a vampire thwarted by his need to lean over Buffy and gloat before biting her neck. Don’t these guys ever learn?
- So I feel like I heard Xander and Cordelia eventually get involved, and I see why they’re kind of perfect for each other: they’re both selfish assholes who eat out of party platters before the party starts.
- Spike’s original name is “William the Bloody,” but Spike is a nickname. So is “the Bloody” like, his… birth name? [Of all things, this mystery is actually solved later! –Janes]
- Giles gets an idea to get help from Angel and tries to send Xander, who declares, “I’m not going anywhere till I know that Buffy and Willow are OK.” Like he gives one shit about Willow. Puhlease. Also, it’s like, OK, good for you? You’re a hero? Instead of getting help you’re going to stay in a completely different room wondering if your trapped friends have died yet? (Luckily Giles convinces him to go.)
- I like that Mrs. Buffy still thinks she can order Buffy to come escape with the rest of them. Has she not figured it all out yet? Silly lady. It’s cool that she saves Buffy by beaning Spike with an axe, though.
- I always thought it was pronounced “AnJELLus,” but Spike pronounces it like the city, “AN-geles.”
- Xander actually totally does leave the school without figuring out if Willow is OK, leaving her trapped in the closet with Cordelia. I knew he was lying about caring about Willow.
- I don’t see much in the way of flirtation between Buffy and Spike–I’m curious to know whether they had chemistry all along or whether the later developments were more or less a surprise.
Notes from a True Stan:
- It’s Spike’s first episode! And what an introduction.
- Can Snyder really expel them for messing up banners? That doesn’t seem real.
- Spike’s “If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock” line is perfect. I think about that all the time.
- Drusilla says she could “feel” the Anointed One’s power from outside, but what power exactly? Does he actually have any powers, other than the ability to boss vampires around?
- Spike and Drusilla’s PDA is the perfect amount of disturbing.
- They also both have amazing vamp faces.
- I don’t understand, what would Joyce find out at the parent-teacher conference? That Buffy has bad grades? Wouldn’t she find that out from her report card anyway?
- And why did Snyder sell her out? She did such a good job with the banners!
- I love that when a man gets pulled out the window, Joyce doesn’t hesitate to just close the window behind him. Ice-cold.
- The siege on the school is actually terrifying. This came out about a year before Columbine, so it probably wasn’t as much of a gut-punch to see things like Willow telling Cordelia to “pray,” but it’s really scary now.
- It’s funny that Spike makes a big deal about calling Angel his “sire” this episode–but I guess “grand-sire” doesn’t sound as cool.
- “Nobody lays a hand on my daughter.” Yesss, go Joyce!
- But then she doesn’t ask Buffy any questions about where she learned to fight like that? What kind of mom is she?
- Shipping aside, Spike fits much better with the tone of the show than Angel does. Angel is sort of like the vampires of old–dark, broody, Gothic–while Spike is a modern type of vampire who eschews tradition and cracks jokes. He’s basically the vampire version of Buffy, ignoring prophecies and all that.
- Love the meta-ness of Spike killing off The Anointed One, who was creaky and kind of pointless, while saying, “We’re going to have a little less ritual and a little more fun around here.” Such a Buffy move.