When She Was Bad
Synopsis: Summer break is nearly over and Buffy has returned from L.A.. But she seems to to have changed. She is closed up and snubs virtually everyone. And it gets worse: The Anointed One wants to get the Master back from the really dead. And for this he needs the people who were close to him when he died.
My Opinion: This behaviour will develop into a habit. Everytime Buffy goes through a shocking or traumatizing event she will try to shut everyone out and keep the world at bay. She will do it again at the beginning of the third season and during the sixth season. It may not be a good character trait but it’s definitively a defining one for the character. Just as the one that she will do what’s right when it matters.
The episode was also a portent for the season. When she claims that Angel has thought about fighting her and that he should try it. When Snyder states that he would love to expel her. When she was lured away from the library and that’s the place she was needed most.
I think it was a good start of the season.
Some Assembly Required
Synopsis: During her patrol in one of Sunnydale’s graveyards she discovers that a grave is empty that shouldn’t be empty. But it’s not another Vampire who has risen. The body is simply gone. So it’s either the work of flesh-eating demons or a group that wants to build an army of Zombies. But when Cordelia finds a lot of body parts in the dumpster they can safely dismiss both theories. But who needs only some parts from several young women?
My Opinion: I never liked these frankenstein-y stories, neither here nor in the fourth season. But once again I liked it that good and bad weren’t clear cut, that our Dr. Frankenstein in the form of Chris didn’t go as far as killing someone just to build a bride for his brother. But I haven’t understood what the other guy was hoping for. Why was he helping in the first place and why would he have killed Cordelia? I simply couldn’t see his motive to act the way he did.
Synopsis: Buffy and another “rebel” is ordered to organize and host the annual parent-teacher-night. And Buffy has to keep her mother far away from principle Snyder. And some special Vampire holiday is coming up. And the Vampire Spike has come to town to have some fun around here. And he will kill Buffy on Saint Whatshisname’s day. Fortunately those two events don’t fall on the same day…
My Opinion: …Unfortunately Spike isn’t the most patient guy. 😉 I loved it how he single-handedly decluttered all the Vampire rituals and my prejudice about them. James Marsters once stated that he played Spike “with a bit more soul than he was supposed to”. I knew him from Smallville and he was one of the reasons to give Buffy a chance and I couldn’t wait to finally see him here. He will develop into one of the most interesting characters on the show even though he just lost his first battle against the Slayer.
But they also made two statements about him that they will “correct” later: Giles states that he’s barely two hundred. I would assume “barely 200” means something like 190 or 180. Later they will make him just 150 years old (born around 1850). Spike also says that Angel was “his Sire, his Yoda”. But as it will turn out, Spike was sired by Drusilla who was sired by Angel. But maybe Spike meant it in some figurative way. After all, Angel is his Grand-Sire and Yoda was Luke’s second Jedi teacher after Obi-Wan.
Inca Mummy Girl
Synopsis: During a visit of the local museum one of the student tries to steal a mummy seal and accidentally breaks it. The young, female Inka mummy re-awakes, kills the student and disappears from the museum. Shortly after she takes the place of an exchange student (whom she also killed) and moves in with Buffy for the next two weeks. And naturally Xander falls for her the minute he sees her. But then there’s a mysterious knife guy who seems to be connected to the mummy and the body count is increasing. The gang has to find out what’s going on.
My Opinion: I have to say, I liked this episode. As most creatures do this young woman tried to ensure her own survival. But in the end she couldn’t kill the person she fell in love with. I also liked the comparison between her and Buffy’s fate: The be the Chosen One and not being able to have a say in it. And in opposition to Teacher’s Pet Xander could be Xander without being influenced from the outside.
In this episode we’ve also seen Oz and Jonathan for the first time but I think one notices Jonathan only if one knows him already – ironically that is exactly what this character will be about.
Synopsis: Cordelia is invited to a fraternity party by senior college students and she accepts of course. Buffy is invited, too, but refuses until Cordelia convinces her. Since it seems to be a demon-free time, she agrees. Only a bracelet with small amounts of blood on it hints to new trouble in town.
My Opinion: I knew it all along! All rich people are in league with the Devil! 😉 Or a demon in this case. I liked this episode because it showed that Humans can be as evil as demons and that the former have no problem dealing with or using the latter to achieve their goals. And Buffy’s bad luck streak with guys continues, although the pattern will emerge only later (nice guy who turns into a monster/asshole once he has what he wanted).
Synopsis: Halloween is coming up and that means Vampires will stay at home. Unfortunately Snyder isn’t a Vampire and he makes Buffy, Willow and Xander “volunteers” to escort children around the blocks on Halloween. But something is wrong with the costumes: Everybody seem to turn into what they are wearing: soldier, vamp (not -ire!) ghost, 18th century lady and a whole lot of monsters. Spike is delighted! And the Slayer faints.
My Opinion: I love this episode. The introduction of Ethan Rayne as an old friend of Giles’s/Ripper’s was a great idea and I love the episodes he’s in, because there will always be some weird side effect and Giles will behave unusually. I also liked that Xander was allowed to be the protector of the ladies and I loved how Buffy had no idea what who and what she was. My favourite line was when Willow said (in regard to Buffy): “Couldn’t she dress up like Xena?”.
I noticed though that there was an uninvited Vampire in Buffy’s house. But they never explained how exactly this magic works and since Joyce seemed to be out of town and Buffy wasn’t really Buffy, maybe the house was deemed “deserted” and thus unprotected.
Lie to Me
Synopsis: An old friend of Buffy’s, Ford, has moved to Sunnydale and she’s excited about it. They went to school together for seven years and as it turns out he’s found out that she’s the Slayer. Neither Xander nor Angel are very thrilled about this development, but Buffy loves spending time with him and catching up on old stories. There’s one catch though: Ford has joined a cult that reveres Vampires, calling them “the lonely ones”. They have no idea about the true nature of these creatures and their knowledge is bade upon old Dracula movies. And they want to become Vampires themselves.
My Opinion: He committed suicide because he was afraid of death. But he deserved what he got. I would have understood it if he had made that choice only for himself even though he didn’t really understand the consequences. But to sacrifice all these naive teenagers and even Buffy to get his wish granted, was over the line. But it was also one of the rare occurrences where Buffy has to dust a Vampire that she and we knew as Humans (e.g. Jesse in Welcome to the Hellmouth / The Harvest [OK, that was Xander]) and/or that she knew before he became a Vampire (Conversations with Dead People).
The Dark Age
Synopsis: A man tries to get to Giles but gets killed by a female demon in school grounds. When the police informs him of that he can identify the man as an old friend of his. From there on Giles behaves unGilesish and he has to learn that more friends of his have died recently. As it turns out, Giles wasn’t always the virtuous librarian. Many years ago a group including the dead people, him and Ethan Rayne have summoned a demon and now he’s killing them all.
My Opinion: After Halloween this was the second time we see a glimpse of Giles’s darker side and especially his past. In just two episodes they managed to break his facade and to make him into just an imperfect human being as everyone else. I also liked how Willow established herself as “third-in-command” when Giles and Buffy were gone. She’s already developed a lot since the pilot. But it doesn’t appear to be fully serious yet, more like giving orders with a ;).
What’s My Line, Pt. 1
Synopsis: Spike has two goals now: To find a cure for Drusilla’s illness and to finally get rid of the Slayer. To achieve the latter he hires bounty hunters from the Order of Turaka whose members are both Humans and demons. They will not stop until they have Buffy and so they send one after another after her. Both Angel and Giles are really worried. And there’s someone else in town: Kendra – the Vampire Slayer.
My Opinion: I really liked the idea of a second Slayer and I liked how they set it up in a way where you had to think she is another member of the Order. I really like her accent although I have no idea where she’s supposed to come from (accent-wise). And Xander finally introduced the term “Scooby Gang”. I always liked it better than “Slayerettes”, but I have to admit that Scooby Doo and Shaggy are childhood favourites of mine and I found it very funny when SMG took the role of Daphne in the Scooby Doo movies.
What’s My Line, Pt. 2
Synopsis: When Buffy died in her fight against the Master, the next Slayer was called. But Kendra is very different from Buffy. Kendra was trained all her life to be a Slayer, she has no life outside her duty. Together they try to find Angel (OK, Buffy tries and Kendra accompanies her) who was nearly killed by Kendra. But Angel is now a prisoner of Spike’s who needs him. The blood of the Sire to heal Drusilla and the Sire will die in the process.
My Opinion: A good conclusion to the story and I am truly thankful that Joss Whedon didn’t kill Spike in this episode (as it was planned). I thought it was really great how Drusilla grabbed him from under the debris and how she carried him outside. Too bad Kendra was already leaving again but we will see her again.
Synopsis: Joyce Summers has a new boyfriend: Ted. Ted is a computer software salesman and a hobby chef. At the beginning Buffy she has a hard time accepting him but her patience is over when he threatens to hit her because she cheated at mini golf. And when he later actually hits her, she hits back – hard. He falls down the stairs and dies. But that’s not the end of the story.
My Opinion: I loved the appearance of John Ritter in this show. He was a great robot. I especially like this episode for the scenes after the apparent death of Ted. How Buffy tortured herself for killing a human being. It shows how human she herself is even though she has to kill demons nearly every day. She will harden throughout the series and especially in the last two seasons but in the end her heart will always guide her.
Synopsis: Both Xander’s and Cordelia’s as well as Buffy’s and Angel’s relationship is intensifying. But Xander and Cordelia don’t know yet what kind of relationship they actually have and they keep it as a secret for now. On this very day the health class gets the assignment to parent a chicken egg and document the care. Since Buffy wasn’t there (as usual) she becomes a “single mother”. But these eggs aren’t chicken eggs at all.
My Opinion: The body-snatchers episode. Nothing special about it. The bugs reminded me of the alien creatures in Star Trek TNG‘s episode Conspiracy who tried to take over the Federation in pretty much the same way this episode did.
Synopsis: Buffy’s 17th birthday is coming up and the gang has planned a surprise party. But Drusilla and Spike have also something planned: They want to reassemble the Judge, a demon who could bring forth Armageddon and destroy the Human race. And Angel and Buffy are getting closer and closer but the Gypsies who once cursed him will not allow that he is happy and they have an “agent” right in the gang’s midst.
My Opinion: Maybe it’s due to his frustration of sitting in a wheel chair, but reassembling the Judge contradicts Spike’s statement in the season finale that he likes the world as it is (“Millions of ‘Happy Meals’ on legs.”). But I liked this (and the following) episode very much and I really liked Vincent Schiavelli’s appearance as Gypsy elder even though it was short. This episode also starts the tradition that Buffy’s birthdays will always be terrible.
Synopsis: When Buffy and Angel have slept together, Angel experienced a “moment of true happiness” and subsequently lost his soul again because the curse was lifted. He’s now Angelus again and teams up with Dru, Spike and the Judge. Buffy is crushed and has to deal with it, but she also has to stop the Judge of whom is said that he can’t be destroyed by any weapon forged by men.
My Opinion: Angelus is back! I love David as Angelus. He’s cruel, he’s an asshole and he’s still obsessed with Buffy. And he plays it very well. I’d say he plays the soulless Big Bad better than the tormented ensouled Vampire. I also love the idea to recruit the Big Bad from the good guys. It was also a great idea to kill a demon with some modern day weaponry instead of trying to slice and dice him with swords and the like. And I thought it was a great idea that Xander retained some of the memories from when he was a “real” soldier in Halloween.
Synopsis: When Cordy and Xander make out in Lover’s Lane they are attacked by a Werewolf but they can escape. Since a Werewolf is a normal human being at day and only a Werewolf three nights a month there’s only a short time for Buffy and other hunters to get him before he attacks more people and then goes dormant for a month. And Willow is frustrated that Oz won’t make a move on her.
My Opinion: So, Oz is a Werewolf. Our trio seems to fancy more extravagant partners. 😉 I really like it how people – who are way different – are accepted by the gang as long as they don’t do evil. This kind of acceptance and (later) alliance will help them to survive and defeat the true evil. The Werewolf costume didn’t look really convincing but I assume it’s hard to create a realistic one. It doesn’t even always work when you use CGI. For example, Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was also not a convincing CGI-Werewolf. But I really liked the Werewolf-CGIs of Underworld.
The growling contest between Angelus and Oz was also great.
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Synopsis: After their relationship has become public knowledge, Cordy dumps Xander Valentine’s Day, even though she (secretly) still has feelings for him. Xander is crushed, laughed at and furious. After he’s witnessed Amy using a spell on one of their teachers he blackmails her to cast a love spell on Cordelia for that she may feel as tormented as he does. But the spell seriously backfires.
My Opinion: This episode managed to keep the balance between comedy and drama. The scenes between Xander and (all) the girls were hilarious but Giles managed to point out the seriousness of that whole affair. This also starts the tradition that using magic for one’s selfish purposes will ultimately backfire and that magic is always to be handled with care.
Synopsis: Angelus is stalking Buffy and the others, he draws pictures of Buffy when she is asleep and leaves them on her pillow. The gang has to find a way to un-invite him from their homes. And there is still tension between Jenny and Giles and the gang but Jenny plans to do something about it: She translates the ancient texts and wants to perform the curse again that will restore Angel’s soul.
My Opinion: A very strong, powerful and sad episode. I thought that the murder of Jenny was a “point of no return” for the season. Until now Angelus had bitten nameless people and he had done what the average vampire does. But now Buffy is out for blood. Here there won’t be a simple “Sorry, I was possessed by Red Kryptonite / an evil witch / …” apology and everything is forgotten.
But I also liked that they showed the road to salvation in the very same episode.
Killed by Death
Synopsis: Buffy is weakened by the flu and when she faces Angelus in a graveyard he pummels her until the gang can drive him away. They have to bring her to the hospital. But Buffy doesn’t like hospitals; she was there when her cousin died in one. And the flu causes delirious dreams in which she sees a demon that is killing the children in this hospital: Der Kindestod.
My Opinion: It was an OK Demon-of-the-week episode but I would have liked more Angelus action at this point of the season.
I Only Have Eyes for You
Synopsis: Buffy feels guilty about what has happened in the last months. She blames herself for turning Angel into Angelus and not stopping him when she had the chance and thus not preventing the death of Jenny Calendar. But suddenly weird things are going on on Sunnydale High. A male student tries to kill his girlfriend but has no recollection of why and how afterwards and the gun mysteriously disappears. And Buffy begins to dream about events that happened over 40 years ago.
My Opinion: I thought it was a clever solution to give Buffy the role of the student who shoots his lover (Angelus) and since Angel cannot be killed by a bullet this was the only way to end the torment of the Poltergeist. I also like the very emotional scene were Buffy won’t forgive the murderer because she can’t forgive herself what she has “done” to Angel.
Synopsis: The Sunnydale swim team has brought fame to the school and is about to compete in the state finals. But after a party on the beach one of the members is found death – eaten alive and only the skin remained. And then a second swimmer is killed in the same way. Xander joins the swim team and investigates undercover (although not under much cover :D) in places where Buffy cannot go.
My Opinion: A very visual representation of steroids destroying one’s body. 😉 But it also represented an aspect of the american education system that I will never fully understand: That you can get a high school and even college degree just because you are talented in some form of sport (in this case swimming). If I were recruiting officer and someone would applying for a job who has a college degree but was also in the Football team I would have serious doubts whether this diploma is worth the paper it was printed on. But what if he is one of the persons who actually worked hard for their degree? As Xander said: “It’s a slap in the face to every one of us who studied hard and worked long hours to earn our D’s”.
Becoming, Pt. 1
Synopsis: A series of flashbacks shows us how Angel became Angelus the first time, how he drove Drusilla into insanity, how he was cursed by the Gypsies and how he finally found his way to Sunnydale, to help Buffy. But in the here and now he has stolen Acathla, a transfixed demon who will swallow the world if he is re-awakened. But Buffy gets help: Kendra is back. And Willow wants to perform the curse to restore Angel’s soul.
My Opinion: I never noticed it before that Darla says “Close your eyes” before she turns him – a sentence that Buffy will also use at the end of the next episode. And I really liked how they argued about how to deal with Angelus with Xander being the advocate for killing Angelus. He never trusted Angel or any Vampire for that matter and that won’t change until the end of the show and this distrust will lead to serious arguments with Buffy again, especially in the sixth and seventh season.
And sorry to sound like a broken record, but when Xander asked whether Buffy wanted to restore Angel’s soul, go on “with the smooches” and pretend as if nothing had happened I involuntarily registered that as a side-remark towards Smallville. But that’s impossible since Smallville wasn’t even produced yet.
Becoming, Pt. 2
Synopsis: After Dru has killed Kendra and taken Giles to the mansion, Buffy is wanted for murder by the police. She has to sneak into the hospital to visit the injured Xander and the comatose Willow. But she has a lucky break: Spike (who secretly can walk again) teams up with her in order to defeat Angelus and get Dru back. Meanwhile Angelus tortures Giles to learn how to awake Acathla.
My Opinion: In just one episode Buffy’s world fell apart. She has saved the world (again) but had to sacrifice pretty much everything for it. It must have been so hard for her to kill Angel – whose soul had been restored just moments ago – to close Acathla’s vortex. She was thrown out from home, expelled from school and had to kill her boyfriend – can it get any worse?
But I also found the events that happened before the final fight very interesting, especially her temporary alliance with Spike whom she also hates but who was the lesser of two evils at that moment. And that Xander lied to her and didn’t tell her that Willow was trying the soul restoration again will also become an issue again.
These two episodes have a place on the Olympus of season endings and together with the ending of season five this was the strongest ending of any Buffy season.
The Season – My Opinion: I’d say Angelus was the best of all Big Bads this show had to offer. Others were great, too, but due to Angel’s personal relation to Buffy and the gang he could hurt places the other Big Bads simply couldn’t touch. And even though he was just a Vampire I had the feeling he was a more threatening opponent than other “Überdemons”.