Buffy is dead, and in her place, the Scoobies are attempting to slay vampires as a gang, including Spike, the newly restored Tara, and even BuffyBot. (Janes explained this to me: apparently no new Slayer was called during this death because each Slayer only spawns (so to speak) one new Slayer, and Buffy’s first death already led to Faith being called, so this slightly more real death doesn’t cause any new Slayers. I feel like this is not made clear enough in canon.)
“The Body” feels less like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more like a short film about grief. There are no gods in this one, no big battles, no Slayer quips, and aside from a quick, perfunctory vampire at the end, almost no supernatural elements at all. There’s just a body.
So, this is the end of season 2. I know that a lot of people have felt that this season was a letdown after last season, which was a sort of perfectly formed pearl of excellent TV that came at the exact right moment to be maximally appreciated by everyone. As countless people have written, last year our lives were taken over by tragedy and darkness, and we had suffered through years of TV producers apparently believing that tragedy and darkness and antiheroes were the only signifiers of auteur TV. Ted Lasso provided an unexpected and badly-needed antidote: a high-quality TV show that was actually sweet and uplifting.
For once, a little good news. After anxiously waiting for Buffy’s mom to get out of surgery, the doctor-with-no-bedside manner tells them that the procedure was a “complete success.” They’ve removed the tumor, and Joyce should make a full recovery. Yay!
But of course, this is a Joss Whedon show, so good news must be counterbalanced with bad news. Now that the crisis is over, Buffy and Riley get time and energy to focus on their relationship, and it’s in trouble–in Riley’s mind, at least. They have a well-deserved romantic night together, complete with slow-dancing and sex–and for the record, Buffy seems super into it! She matches him gaze for gaze and tells him everything is “perfect.” But then he expresses admiration that she “never even cried” during the whole ordeal with her mother, and she admits that she “cried so hard she thought she’d never be able to stop.” So she’s opening up about her feelings, but he’s all upset because… she didn’t cry right in front of him, I guess? Those are super specific parameters for what it means to be emotionally available in a relationship!
This was a fantastic episode! Such a contrast to last week’s episode, where nothing really happened, and we were deprived of the sweetness of Sam, the fierceness of Rebecca, the awesomeness of Keeley, and the puppyishness of Danny Rojas. All of which come in to play in this episode.
You guys, I’m not even going to pretend I’m putting a lot of effort into this recap. It’s a Beard-centric filler episode, which should strike boredom into the hearts of even more pro-Beard viewers than I. But as for me, I have already established that I am incapable of finding Beard compelling as a character, and this episode, in which Beard wanders around for a night getting into trouble, did nothing to change it. It just made me mad that I had waited all week for a continuation of plotlines I’d grown truly invested in–Jamie’s quest to become a worthwhile human being, Rebecca’s bizarre thing with Sam, Ted’s therapy with Dr. Sharon–but instead I had to spend forty-five minutes watching something completely unrelated. Gah.