BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Buffy Summers -
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Rupert Giles -
Anthony Stewart Head
Willow Rosenberg -
Xander Harris -
Joyce Summers -
Cordelia Chase -
OTHER BUFFY SEASONS
OTHER VAMPIRE SHOWS
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER returns with more breathing space and much more time in which to tell its stories. Whilst there are many different enemies popping up, there is one theme running through this season and that is the danger of putting yourself out there, of allowing someone to enter your life and enter your heart. In this season everyone gets to taste relationship fever and it really doesn't work out for anyone.
Angel and Buffy's relationship is the main arc of the series and provides the central evil character for the second half of the season, Angel himself who is turned back to the evil Angelus by a moment's pure happiness in.................. He then spends the rest of the season trying to send Buffy mad. Xander and Cordelia share a bond that both is ashamed of which starts when threatened by a bug man in What's My Line-Part One and nearly kills them both in Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered. Willow finds herself with a new beau in the shape of Oz, that shape changing into a werewolf at every full moon. Giles and Jenny Callendar's tentative romance proves to be the most tragic of them all. Even Buffy's mum gets in on the act when she meets Ted.
Aside from the whole 'love will tear us apart' vibe, hidden pasts are revealed. The new characters of Spike and Drusilla, vampire lovers from Angel's past bring the vampire with a soul's past bubbling back to the surface and Giles proves to have been a less than good boy as revealed in The Dark Age.
All of the actors have settled into their roles and are given a chance to flesh them out more and deepen the characters. All have their moments and all handle them brilliantly. Angelus is a far better character than Angel has ever been and is much more believable as Buffy's torturer than he was as her lover (that still has an icky feel to it).
The arrival of James Marsters and Juliet Landau as Spike and Drusilla as a driving force to the main plot arc is also welcome. Marsters especially brings an energy to his role as a vampire that just revels in the dark fun of what his evil that it he is impossible to dislike. You might not want to see him win, but you certainly don't want to see him lose in the permanent sense.
All in all, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has matured and become more sophisticated and confident. There can be no doubt that this is the best series about a teenage vampire slayer that there has ever been.Top
When She Was Bad
Buffy returns after a summer holiday in LA a changed woman. For a start she rejects Angel, dances with Xander in a way that is not good for his hormone levels and even manages to make Cordelia complain about her being a bitch. Then the bones of the Master go missing and her friends are kidnapped in order to carry out a blood rite that will bring him back.
Season 2 hits the ground running and lays out its agenda right from the off. There will be vampires and probably demons and who knows what, but it will also be a show that is all about its main characters. What is central here is not the plot about the rising of the Master, but the pain that Buffy is suffering following the events of Prophecy Girl last season. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder it might be called these days.
Sarah Michelle Gellar gets some serious stuff to wrap her acting gear around right from the start and there are a couple of nice dream sequences to be going on with as well. All of the action is up to par and the quips are just as plentiful as the first season.
Things are looking good in Sunnydale.Top
Some Assembly Required.
After getting into a tiff with Angel, Buffy discovers an open grave out of which the body of a girl has been dragged. The girl was in an accident that killed two others and they have also gone missing. When bits of them turn up in a dumpster, the question remains as to who is cutting up dead girls what are they using the missing bits for? The answer lies in a brilliant science student who seems to be making his own patchwork girlfriend.
OK, the plot is basically an updating of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and the fate of the reanimated football player at the end mirrors that film down to the point of plaigiarism. That said, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN was never as much fun as this, nor had the amount of witty lines. Cordelia seems to be more involved this season than she would probably like and Giles and Miss Callendar seem to be hitting it off in a big (albeit hesitant and repressed brit cliche) fashion, so there's plenty of humour to go around as well as the icky creep factor of some pretty good makeup.
Parental favourites and familial loss are referenced and the focus is on brotherly love, but when it comes to reanimating corpses and digging up dead girls, I think that fraternity can go a bit far.Top
Parent/Teacher evening proves to be something of a trial for Buffy. Not only has she to organise the whole thing, but she has to try and keep her mother and Principal Snyder away from each other. On top of all that, there is a new vampire in town, William the Bloody, known as Spike for his habit of torturing people with railroad spikes. He and his goons crash the school party and Buffy is able to take control and save the day.
A lacklustre episode is enlivened by the presence of James Masters as Spike, the vampire with a very unconvincing British accent, but a delightful sense of fun in the havoc that he wreaks. He also has a background with Angel, having been turned into a vampire by him back in the old days when Angel was Angelus and a very bad boy. Spike's girlfriend Drusilla makes for a nice change of pace as a completely unhinged vampire with special powers, but weakened. There's a sense of scene-setting here that doesn't help the episode, but enough threads are laid down for future weaving.Top
Inca Mummy Girl
Cultural exchange is what's happening at Sunnydale High with foreign exchange students descending on the school. Buffy's guest turns out to be a very attractive young girl from Latin America who takes a fancy to Xander. Unfortunately for him, she turns out to be a reincarnated Inca sacrifice who can only live by killing others.
Poor Xander, he really has poor taste when it comes to women. First it was the giant praying mantis in Teacher's Pet and now it's a centuries old mummy. Admittedly, this monster is really just a young girl whose life was taken away from her and wants to have it back. She's very much like Buffy, in a way, her simple life victim to her duty and calling. Of course, she also sucks the life out innocent people with her kisses, but you can't help feeling sorry for her.Top
Buffy's relationship with Angel isn't getting anywhere and Giles just keeps working her till she drops, so Buffy agrees to go to a party at the local college with Cordelia, who is determined to hook up with a rich college boy. What they both encounter is a giant reptile demon bent of eating them.
Ok, so the episode's about a demon snake thing, but it's really about the threat of date rape. Both Buffy and Cordelia take up with men far more experienced than themselves and end up getting drugged and into trouble. In other words, girls, stay away from the frat boys and their spiked drinks. This episode also has a rare mis-step in the humiliation of Xander when he gatecrashes the party. Humiliation is rarely televisual and it isn't funny here either.Top
Halloween - it's the one night of the year when the demons and devils stay away. Oh the irony of it. Buffy, Xander and Willow are put in charge of children trick or treating, but a stranger in town has hexed everyone's costumes so that they all turn into what they are dressed as. Willow becomes a ghost, Xander and soldier and Buffy becomes a helpless, ignorant girl. Spike decides it's the right time to strike.
Oh joy. After the disappointment of Reptile Boy, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER comes straight back to form with an absolutely wonderful episode. The twist of seeing a heroic and capable Xander and a helpless Buffy is brilliant whilst Alyson Hannigan gets to show off a side of Willow that has remained under wraps (literally) to date. Even more so, Rupert Giles proves to be far from the mild mannered librarian that he has portrayed himself to be up until now. Those still waters certainly do run deep.
A simple plot, some fabulous dialogue and character development to boot. This is what this show does so very, very well and we love it.Top
Lie to Me
Ford, an old friend of Buffy's, arrives in the school and sets about continuing their previous relationship. Jealous, Angel looks to find out more about him and learns that he is a wannabe vampire. In Buffy, he has something to trade for eternal life. Ford, however, is not the only one who's been keeping secrets.
There are times when BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER can be slick, stylish and ultimately shallow entertainment. This is not one of those times. There is a lot going on under the surface here as Buffy shows that she is growing up and starting to learn that life is not all about cheerleading and demons. People are more confusing and occasionally more hurtful than the bite of a vampire. It's all part of maturing and the show is growing up as much as its main protagonist.
Ford's the bad guy here, there's no doubting it, but then the show throws in a curveball of motivation that pulls the rug out from under the audience's certainty as much as under Buffy's. This is class drama as well as class genre.Top
The Dark Age
A man is killed whilst desperately trying to find Rupert Giles. The librarian immediately goes into a spiral of desperation and refuses help from Buffy. An old mistake has come back to haunt him and it has already killed three with Jenny Callendar the next in line.
The maturation of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER continues. There is a darkness here that goes way beyond anything that the show has produced so far, a darkness of the soul that is scarier than any of the vampires and demons that have faced off against the slayer so far. There is a demon, of course, but it is simply the manifestation of Giles's misspent youth. You can make mistakes as we all do, but some of them will never go away.
Anthony Stewart Head gives his best performance to date and is fast becoming the most interesting character in the whole show.Top
What's My Line? - Part One
It's career week at Sunnydale High when all the kids are told what lies in their future. Of course, that's a bit redundant in Buffy's case. She's either the Slayer or dead. Great choice. Three top assassins are recruited by Spike to rid him of the slayer. One is easily dealt with, the second made up of bugs and the third, well she has an even greater surprise for Buffy.
There's so much going on in this episode, mainly because it's the first of a double-header. As a result, the main part of the review will have to come next week when the story winds out, but this is a great set up on many levels. There's Buffy's angst at not getting a normal life, the bug man paying a visit to Xander and Cordelia, Willow being recruited by some sort of secret agents (they say they're software manufacturers) and Spike and Drusilla cooking up a plan to return the latter to strength.
Best of all, there is the female character who introduces herself with the last line of the episode and what a last line it is.Top
What's My Line? - Part Two
Kendra the Vampire Slayer - it doesn't quite trip off the tongue like Buffy does, but there's a new girl in town, activated when Buffy died (temporarily) in Prophecy Girl at the hands of the Master. Her presence comes in handy, though, as Spike and Drusilla now have Angel in captivity and intend to use him to bring Drusilla back to full strength, something that will kill Angel.
The resolution to this two parter is straightforward and entertaining. The gang get together, figure out what's happening with Angel and go to get him. Not a lot to think about, but plenty of the usual snappy interplay and the classic moment when Buffy utters the immortal lines 'You can attack me, you can send assassins after me, but nobody messes with my boyfriend.'Top
Buffy's mother's got a new boyfriend and Buffy's not too happy about it. Everyone else, however, loves the guy. He makes pizzas to die for and gives willow free software. But is Ted a little too good to be true? When Buffy kills him and that proves not to be the end it would seem so.
It's never easy on the kids when a single parent finds a new partner in their lives. When it turns out to be a homicidal robot guy mattes can only be worse. This is a lively episode, fizzing with energy and wit, mainly thanks to the presence of John Ritter as the eponymous Ted. He really is too good to be true and when his platitudes and earthly wisdom get tinged with deadly threat, he is completely believable. It's a very different kind of threat to Buffy, but one that most kids could relate to on a much more basic level than vampires and demons. A new father come to steal your mother away.Top
As part of sex education, the class is given eggs to look after for a week to try out parenting skills. Unfortunately, these eggs prove to be a little more than the usual variety and soon the possessed kids, teachers and parents of Sunnydale High are in the basement harvesting eggs to send out to the world.
Yes, it's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS Buffy-style. The episode starts off differently enough with the egg experiment and it's fun to see that Xander's cheating actually saves him, but then the plot completely rips off the film and steals scenes wholesale. It's also not enough to fill the entire episode and so the subplot of two cowboy vampires seems to have been added purely as filler. Filler in Buffy? Not the best episode, then, but even average Buffy is way above most shows.Top
It's Buffy's birthday, but she is not the only one getting presents. Spike has been collecting body parts from around the world that, when put back together, will create a being called the Judge, a demon who can sense a person's humanity and burn them alive. The last part is saved and Angel plans to leave the country with it, putting his relationship on hold, but they are attacked at the docks and the Judge is assembled.
It's time for Buffy and Angel to get serious about each other, declare their true emotions and finally get it together in bed. This proves to be a bad idea as we have learned that Jenny Calendar is part of the romany clan that cursed him and a moment's true happiness will lose him his soul again. It's a set up that relies heavily on the growing relationship between Buffy and Angel, a relationship that still fails to convince. I mean a centuries old vampire and a 17 year old girl? Sorry, but no.Top
After their night together, Angel (now without his soul) rejects Buffy and reduces her to an emotional wreck. The truth about Jenny's part in the plot against Angel is revealed and Xander comes up with a plan to get rid of the Judge who 'cannot be killed by any weapon forged'.
It's called Innocence, but it's about innocence lost. Buffy slept with Angel and he just doesn't respect her in the morning. Sure, it's because he's a vampire who's lost his soul, but the subtext isn't exactly that hard to read, especially when hammered home by the revelations about Jenny and Willow's coming to terms with Xander and Cordelia's relationship.
Funnily enough, the dark version of Angel is much more fun than the good one, but David Boreanaz seems much more at ease as the bad guy and actually turns in his best acting of the show to date. Sarah Michelle Gellar also gets to show her acting abilities as she is devastated by Angel's rejection. Oh and the bit with the Judge is pretty funny as well.Top
There's a werewolf in town and it's down to Buffy to catch it before a visiting hunter kills it to sell the pelt in Sri Lanka. It is, after all, still a human most of the time. It's also one that's well known to the gang, which just makes it all the harder.
Teenagers go through a lot of changes and, this being BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER those changes are made flesh. It's a fun episode, but feels a little slight after the events of the last two. Angel leaves Buffy a calling card in the shape of a newly risen vampire, but is otherwise out of the picture. This is about the first flowerings of affection between teens (in this case Willow and Oz) and the confusions that causes in the inexperienced, not to mention the trauma of being gay and fighting against the realisation of it. Oh, and there are werewolves in it.Top
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Cordelia is rejected by her friends because of her relationship with Xander, so she breaks up with him on Valentine's Day. In revenge, he enlists Amy (from season one's Witch) to create a spell to make Cordelia fall in love with him so that he can dump her in return. The speall horribly backfires and every woman in Sunnydale is besotted with the exception of Cordelia. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but a whole town of scorned women - that's real trouble.
This is a fantastic episode that deals with all the angst and heartache that goes with wanting to be popular, struggling to find your own personality and, of course, of being dumped. What it's really about, though, is the sheer delight of seeing Buffy, Jenny Calendar, Willow and everyone else trying to seduce Xander and his abject terror as a result. Even Buffy's mother gets in on the act (and that's less icky that Drusilla turning up as well). If anyone considered that any of the women in this show aren't sexy then they need to watch this episode. That'll cure any doubts they ever had.Top
Angel steps up his tormenting of Buffy, sending drawings of her and Willow when they are asleep, threatening her mother, generally being a pain. As the gang look for ways of keeping him out of their lives, Jenny Calendar comes up with a way of getting his soul back, something that Angel isn't about to let happen. This puts the computer teacher in mortal danger.
Considering he was considered such a badass, Angel has been, to this point, completely ineffectual as Buffy's tormentor. Sure he upset her somewhat by casting doubts on her abilities in bed, but that aside it's been pretty lame stuff. No more. People are going to die and others are going to face the loss of loved ones. When it happens, it's shocking, brutal and abrupt. This is the kind of torment that a demon might conjure up.Top
Killed by Death
Buffy's ill and ends up in the hospital where she finds that the kids on the children's ward are being threatened by an evil creature that kills them at night. Whilst the others search for clues about a monster that might just be Buffy's fear of hospitals made flesh, she deliberately infects herself in order to see the creature and decides to fight it with good old fashioned violence.
On the whole, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has stayed away from straight horror, mixing the chills with humour and a left-field view of the world. This episode, though, is straight horror. There's a monster, there's helpless kids and the way that they die is pretty grotesque - so much so that they use it twice. The resolution is a bit rushed and Angel's presence is somewhat perfunctory, but there are moments playing with the undercurrents of Xander and Cordelia's relationship that don't bode well for the future.Top
I Only Have Eyes For You
Buffy's not the only one having love problems. Random men and women are being possessed by ghosts from the past and forced to play out a final act in the spirits' doomed relationship, an act that ends in murder. The cycle seems destined to continue unless Buffy can find a way to stop it, but that means killing a man.
On the whole, ghosts haven't played a big part in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. The doomed love story being played out is somewhat tragic, but the snakes in the cafeteria that they can conjure up just seems to be padding to a story that hasn't quite got enough story to fill out the full running time. The resolution, in which Buffy does shoot a man to death is innovative, at least.Top
Something wierd has happened to the Sunnydale High Swim Team. For one thing, they're winning. They're also acting like jerks and falling prey to a creature that leaves only their skin behind. Or is something more earthly at work here?
This is an absolutely bonkers episode, but is all the better for it after the darkness that we've been having recently. There is a glorious stand out moment for Cordelia when she declares undying love to a fish monster and fans of Nicholas Brendon get treated to a slo mo shot of him in swimming trunks.
OK, so it's a bit about the pressure to excel in sports in US schools and the pressure to use steroids and other drugs to get that success, but mainly it's about fish monsters and we're OK with that.Top
Becoming - Part One
A box has been dug up in Sunnydale, a box containing a fossilised demon capable of passing the whole world into a hell dimension if only Angel can figure out how to take the sword out of its body. He challenges Buffy to a duel, but it's all a trick to kidnap Giles. The team get badly beaten up in her absence.
The first part of the climactic double header and things aren't looking too good for Buffy. Her watcher's kidnapped, her friends are beaten up and the curse that Jenny Callendar thought would restore Angel's soul fails to do so. The big showdown is coming, but first she has to avoid being arrested.
We're also treated to a potted history of Angel, his turning, his torture of Drusilla, his cursing and his salvation from life as a street bum. Interesting enough, but not really enlightening and David Boreanaz's Irish accent is well dodgy.Top
Becoming - Part Two
Kendra's dead and the police think Buffy's done it. Her mother knows what she is and has told her to stop or to leave. Giles has been tortured into giving up the secret to freeing the world-ending demon. Only Buffy and a sword can save the day. Willow, though weakened, wants to retry the curse to return Angel's soul. That puts Buffy in the worst position the slayer could have imagined.
The second series of Buffy has taken the slayer to some very dark places indeed and this final episode has the nerve to take her to possibly the darkest place she, or the audience, could have imagined. By the closing moments she has murdered her boyfriend to save the world, knowing that his soul had been returned, been expelled from school, been kicked out of the house by her mother and lost all her friends. It's a real downer of an ending, but it is spectacular in its audacity.Top
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