In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone hasn’t packed for the conference next week. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
- Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
- Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
- Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
- Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
- Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
- The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
- All the monsters look like wieners.
- If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
- Angel is a dick.
- Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
- Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
- Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
- Science and technology are not to be trusted.
- Mental illness is stigmatized.
- Only Willow can use a computer.
- Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
- Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
- Oz is the Anti-Xander
- Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
- Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
- The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
- Smoking is evil.
- Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
- Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
- Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
- Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
- Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
- The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
- This show caters to the straight female gaze like whoa.
- Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
- Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
- Slut shame!
Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments. Even though I might forget that you mentioned it. WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. So, we’re at The Bronze, where Dingoes At My Baby are finishing up their nightly set. Xander and Willow are acting way too weird in their attempt to seem totally normal. They’re more obvious than the spies on AMC’s Turn (which is awesome, by the way, but totally obvious when they’re spying). They quickly turn the conversation about weird behavior to Buffy. They suspect she has a new boyfriend she’s not telling anybody about. When she shows up, they ask her:
Cordelia: “So, are you dating somebody or not?”
Buffy: “I wouldn’t use the word dating. But I am going out with someone. Tonight, as a matter of fact.”
Willow: “Really? Who?”
Then Faith steps up real close, throws her arm around Buffy and says:
Faith: “Yo, what’s up? Hey, time to motorvate.”
Buffy: “Really, we’re just good friends.”
And they leave together.
This, my friends, is the beginning of the Buffy/Faith queerbaiting: luring viewers in with a coy insinuation that a queer relationship might develop between two characters, without intending to ever follow through. It’s not just this one comment, but much of the Buffy/Faith relationship. This isn’t just a complaint that there aren’t enough LGBTQA+ characters in a show, or a complaint that a certain ship doesn’t become canon. It’s a serious problem in media that’s often passed off as true representation. So for the overall queerbaiting of the Buffy/Faith relationship, I’m giving this instance a #23, and I’ll point the rest out as we go along through the season.
The scene cuts to Buffy and Faith taking on cemetery vampires while Giles sits calmly by, reading. He even has a little styrofoam coffee cup. His job is pretty easy these days, what with the two Slayers. After Buffy and Faith finish off the vampires, they ask Giles what he thought of the fight. He doesn’t get a chance to answer before the female equivalent of himself–starch, buttoned-up, and English–appears to criticize them for their sloppy skills and the fact that they’re out too late on a school night. She’s Faith’s new Watcher, Gwendolyn Post.
After the opening titles, Faith tries to explain to Mrs. Post that she doesn’t need a Watcher, and that her Watchers end up dead, anyway. But it’s not up to Faith, it’s up to the Council. Post asks Giles where “the rest” of his books are, and he looks like someone just took his birthday cake and threw it on the ground.
Giles: “I can assure you, Mrs. Post, this is the finest occult reference collection–”
Post: “This side of the Atlantic, I’m sure.”
Post continues to lay into Giles about what books he has and doesn’t have, and really takes him down a peg. She also informs him that she’s not just there to watch Faith; the Council has sent Post to evaluate Gile’s performance as a Watcher, as well.
Now, I want to backtrack. They’re all in the library in this scene, and Giles says it’s the finest occult reference collection, right? So am I to understand that all of his Watcher books are just in the school library catalogue? What in the severe fuck is that about? Again, #8. Nobody in the school questions why there are these extremely archaic demon books on the shelves?!
Also, Giles is wearing his tie on the outside of his vest for some reason. Get your shit together, Giles.
Post says that a demon named Lagos is coming to town for the Glove of Myhnegon. The glove is buried in a cemetery in Sunnydale. Giles points out that there are twelve cemeteries in town, and I think this might be the first time the astoundingly huge number of cemeteries is brought up. Post goes on to further insinuate that Giles can’t do his job, utterly demoralizing him in front of the Slayers. When she leaves, Buffy suggests that they kill her. I agree.
In the next scene, there’s more half-naked tai chi with Angel, but this time, Buffy’s participating. It’s this slow, sexy thing, and they almost make out. Buffy realizes their mistake and leaves, but not before she tells him about Lagos. Angel appears to know who Lagos is. He tells Buffy to be careful. So that’s probably not a good sign
At the library, Giles is freaking out. He can’t find anything about Lagos, and he’s snapping at Willow and Xander. Not in his usual dry, under his breath way. He’s straight up yelling and bossing them around. Willow and Xander try to research, but they’re exhausted and have done way too much reading. Which of course leads to Xander and Willow making out. But this time they get caught. By Giles. Who tells them that they can stop studying and go home, because he found out which crypt it’s in. And let me tell you, Giles is a master of the I’m-not-mad-I’m-just-disappointed act. He doesn’t even address what he saw, which only makes it worse. Willow and Xander are guilty and mortified. As they should be.
Buffy and Faith are patrolling in town, and Faith is telling Buffy all about how guys aren’t trustworthy. She wants to know what it’s like to have sex with a vampire, because the only thing Faith is ever given to talk about is sex (#32). She volunteers to take the last cemetery so Buffy can go home, and so she can score extra points with the new, stuck-up Watcher.
And what does Faith find in the cemetery? A demon rifling through a tomb, looking for something. And he’s so pissed that he can’t find it, he doesn’t even bother to kill her. But he’s in the wrong cemetery, because this one is Shady Grove, and the Glove of Myhnegon is in a tomb in Restfield.
I wonder if all the cemeteries in Sunnydale are given canon names. We should keep track of that. I mean, I’ll definitely lose track, but I should at least pretend I’m going to try. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing a little bit, before abandoning it.
Meanwhile, over at Restfield, Xander is nervously creeping around the headstones.
Xander: “Hey Giles, here’s a nifty idea. Why don’t I alleviate my guilt by going out and getting myself really, really killed?”
Xander approaches the tomb and sees someone leaving. It’s Angel. Oh shit, Xander has seen Angel.
For confirmation, Xander follows him back to the mansion, where he sees Angel and Buffy making out. Oh shit, everything is falling right to damn apart.
Buffy and Angel continue to make out after the commercial break, and Buffy is like, what the hell are we doing, this turned out so not good last time. Before she can run off, Angel is like, hey, by the way, I’ve got the Glove of Myhnegon. You’d think that would be the first thing he told her when she showed up, but I guess not. He warns her that once the Glove is on, it can never been taken off, so she tells Angel to keep it for now, and that Giles will be happy when he finds out they’ve got it.
Will he though, Buffy? Will he be happy when he finds out that Angel is alive? Because like, my gut is telling me that you’re really underestimating the level of enthusiasm anybody you know would have upon learning that Angel is back.
At Giles’s apartment, he’s finally found a description of the Glove of Myhnegon in one of his books, and, like a conservative arguing on Facebook, Post tries to discredit the source of the facts.
Post: “The pictures are fun to look at, Mr. Giles, but one really ought to read the nice words, as well.”
Okay, my favorite part of this scene is, as she’s delivering this line, you hear a tea kettle starting to scream in the background. It so perfectly illustrates Giles’s frustration. Post notices this, and decides that another lecture is in order, because she cannot read the room. As she carefully takes the tea bag out of her cup and replaces it with a tea ball and her own tea from her purse (another absolutely brilliant touch), she talks about letting little things slip. He tells her that he has complete control of Buffy, which is the perfect time for Xander to burst through the door and announce that they have a big problem with Buffy.
The next day at school, Buffy comes to the library and is like, yeah, I got the Glove, mission accomplished. But everyone looks real, real super not happy with her. Giles tells her to take a seat, and calls her out for lying to all of them. Willow tries to run the confrontation like an intervention, which is hilarious now that How I Met Your Mother aired and Alyson Hannigan did all those interventions on there. She tells everyone to make “I statements”, which Cordelia is obviously perfect at:
Cordelia: “Here’s one. I feel worried. About me! Last time around, Angel barely laid a hand on Buffy. He was way more interested in killing her friends.”
Good point, Cordelia. Buffy has been acting like Angel’s return only affects her, when in reality, she’s putting her friends in danger, without even letting them know. Buffy insists that she and Angel aren’t together, so there’s no chance of him turning evil by way of orgasm. But Oz, who’s usually so quiet during moments of criticism, points out that she was kissing Angel. Buffy is furious with Xander for spying on her, but nobody is having it. She insists that kissing Angel was an accident that will never happen again.
Buffy: “I would never put you in any danger. If I thought for a second that Angel was going to hurt anyone–”
Xander: “You would stop him. Like you did last time with Ms. Calendar.”
Harsh, but true. Buffy had a chance to kill Angel when he went bad, but she never followed through. She had more than one chance, and because she loved him, she couldn’t do what should have been done before the situation escalated. This resulted in not only the deaths of Ms. Calendar and her uncle, as well as various other innocent people, but Willow ended up in a coma and Giles was kidnapped and tortured. I’m usually on Buffy’s side, and I can see why it was difficult for her to take on Angel. But the rest of the Scooby Gang is right: when it comes to Angel, Buffy isn’t smart and cannot protect them.
As the conversation devolves into accusations, Giles cuts them all off and sends them back to their classes. Buffy follows Giles to his office and thanks him for bailing her out of the intervention, but Giles is also not having any of her bullshit:
Giles: “Be quiet. I won’t remind you that the fate of the world often lies with the Slayer. What would be the point? Nor shall I remind you that you’ve jeopardized the lives of all that you hold dear by harboring a known murderer. But sadly, I must remind you that Angel tortured me…for hours…for pleasure. You should have told me he was alive. You didn’t. You have no respect for me or the job I perform.”
At least this makes Buffy realize that she’s maybe done something wrong. It’s really difficult for me, and probably most viewers, to see Buffy acting so selfishly. And the worst part is, at this point, we don’t know if Angel will hurt anyone again or not. It’s hard to understand why Buffy trusts him, when the rest of us can’t. In this respect, the story is making us side with Buffy’s friends when they’re saying stuff she doesn’t want to hear, and it’s why this show is way more complex than it gets credit for.
At Faith’s hotel room, Post shows up to try and mend fences. She tells Faith that she can make her into a better Slayer, a Spartan warrior, etc. Faith just has to trust her. And how does Post win this trust? By telling Faith that Giles isn’t a very good Watcher, and mentioning the “secret meeting” the Scoobies had without Faith. And of course Faith knows nothing about this, and feels left out, which is the perfect opportunity for Post to get closer to her.
Buffy meets Willow at her locker and finds that Willow is a lot more forgiving than one would expect.
Willow: “You were scared, you kept a secret, you know? It’s okay. I mean, secrets aren’t bad. You know, they’re normal. They’re better than normal. They’re good. Secrets are good. Must be a reason why we keep them, right?”
Then she immediately changes the subject. So, Willow is using her guilt over creeping around with Xander as a reason to rationalize and support Buffy’s behavior. Ah, nothing like a tall, cool glass of enabling.
Later, at the Bronze, Xander is playing pool when Faith approaches him. She thinks the Scoobies were talking behind her back about the Glove, but Xander is pissed, so he tells her that Angel is alive and has the Glove. He tells her that Buffy not only knew Angel was alive, but gave him the Glove. Faith is as pissed off as Xander, and heads off to slay Angel, Xander in tow. Because he wants to watch.
So, in the past, I believed that Xander’s hatred of Angel was primarily motivated by jealousy. For a long time, it was. But I firmly believe that at this point, it has nothing to do with wanting to nail Buffy. Being stalked by a dangerous person is no fun.
Giles calls Post to his office to tell her about the Glove. First, though, he says something that strikes me as odd. He asks Post if Faith is her first Slayer, like he can spot a newbie. Is Buffy not Giles’s first Slayer? What happened to the other one? Why isn’t she ever mentioned?
Anyway, Giles tells Post exactly where the Glove of Myhnegon is. Like, he even gives her the street name. She’s all, we need to go get it and re-hide it, but Giles is like, I totally have the answer here, let’s destroy it with this fire spell thing I figured out. And then Post knocks him out. Because why wouldn’t she?
After the commercial break, Buffy and Willow are waiting to ambush Lagos, and talking about how hard it is to keep secrets. Willow finally hits a wall with all the guilt stuff, and she’s about to confess to sneaking around with Xander, but Lagos shows up and interrupts. He and Buffy fight, she decapitates him, and Willow makes up a stupid lie about what her secret was. They head off to tell Giles that Lagos is taken care of.
Faith and Xander go to the library to check out some weapons, and while they’re there, they hear Giles groaning in pain. Like Giles often does. They find him unconscious on the ground, and Faith instantly blames Angel. Xander argues that it’s not Angel’s style, and there are no bite marks. He calls 911 and tells Faith that if they leave, Giles could die. But she’s hellbent on killing Angel, and leaves Xander to deal with Giles on his own.
At the mansion, Angel is doing the spell to destroy the Glove. Now…hang on a second. How does Angel know how to do this? I can’t remember if it’s ever addressed. Giles didn’t go see him and tell him how to do it, and it’s apparently some arcane thing. Are we just going to fill in that plot hole ourselves then? Why do we have to do all the work?
Buffy arrives at the library and finds the EMTs taking Giles away. He tells her to destroy the Glove with living flame, but they have to rush him out because this time, it’s a life or death kind of head injury. Buffy asks Xander what happened, and even though he knows Angel didn’t do it, he blames it on him. He tells Buffy that Faith is going after Angel, and Buffy rushes off to save him.
At the mansion, Angel has just summoned up the living flame when Post arrives. She says Giles sent her to help destroy the glove, and Angel looks not-at-all surprised that Giles knows he’s alive. So, did Giles give him the spell or what? Is this something Angel just knows how to do and has the ingredients to do it? Post asks where the glove is, and once Angel tells her, she knocks him out. Post is trying to break into the trunk that allegedly contains the Glove when Angel gets up, vamped out to the nines. Post didn’t realize that he was a vampire, but now that she knows, she’s ready to fight to the death with a broken shovel handle. Let me tell you a tale, dear reader: Post isn’t from England. She’s from a small hick town like mine, because I know for a fact that I’ve threatened somebody with a broken shovel handle in fight. That’s what my people do. It’s our thing.
Angel and Post are fighting when Faith shows up. Remember, her last Watcher was murdered right in front of her. So this is high stakes for her.
She’s about to kill Angel when Buffy arrives and stops her. So now we have a real fight going on, okay? We’ve got Faith, who doesn’t know her Watcher is evil, fighting Angel, who doesn’t know she isn’t evil, and Buffy fighting Faith. Meanwhile nobody is keeping tabs on Post, which is unfortunate, because Willow and Xander have finally figured out what the Glove does, and they’re booking it over to the mansion.
While Faith and Buffy fight, Xander and Willow arrive. Post tells them the Glove is in the trunk and they have to get to it. She sends Xander to help Faith, then knocks Willow out with the Glove. Then Post puts the damn thing on, says a spell, and starts conjuring shit. The Slayers stop beating up on each other, discovering too late that they’ve been fighting the wrong enemy all along. Then, in what has to be the cruelest blow, Post says:
Post: “Faith. A word of advice. You’re an idiot.”
Man, really think about this. Faith’s last Watcher died. She’s spent all the time in between then and now trying not to get close to people. She starts to get close to the Scoobies, only to have Post tell her she’s being left out. So she trusts Post instead, and then she turns on her. No wonder Faith is so easily manipulated by The Mayor later in the season.
Post uses the glove to shoot lightning all over the place, and Faith runs out to distract her. As Post boasts about how she has all the power and nobody can stop her, Buffy hurls a piece of glass and cuts her whole damn arm off. You know, since the Glove of Myhnegon can’t be removed. By the way, the consequences of removal? Are pretty dire:
After she burns up and disappears, the Glove releases her severed arm.
At school, Oz, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia talk about how the Glove is gone and maybe Angel isn’t so bad, after all. Buffy walks in on their conversation, and she promises them that Angel isn’t her boyfriend. She wants to know if they’re all cool, and they are. Even Giles, who has a bandage on his head and a black eye. He tells them that Gwendolyn Post used to be a Watcher, but she was kicked out for using dark magic. He also makes mention of a memo from the Council about it, and it sounds like he never got it.
Okay, this is yet another part of the really upsetting and nonsensical part of this season’s plot. As I have pointed out before: Giles is the Watcher to the only Slayer on the planet. The only one. Which doesn’t make sense at all, but that’s too big a problem to deal with right now. The problem here is, he’s the last person to know anything. They didn’t send him information that a Watcher went rogue? They don’t send him the books he needs to have whatever would be a better library? He’s not invited on the Watchers’ retreat? Shouldn’t Giles, the guy who takes care of the actual Slayer, play a more important role in the organization?
It would be one thing if the Council wasn’t dedicated for and built around the Slayer. If they were an ancient governing body over all things paranormal. If the Slayer was just a small part of their puzzle. But all they do is train potential Slayers. That’s their entire job. And the one guy they send in to do the actual Watcher-ing? They don’t even bother to keep him up-to-date on shit like “Um, btw, there’s a rogue Watcher running around doing dark magic.”
You know, on second thought, maybe they were just relieved that the rogue Watcher running around doing dark magic wasn’t Giles.
Buffy goes to Faith’s hotel to apologize for what happened, especially the lying about Angel thing. She tells Faith that’s not on her own, but Faith rejects her offer of Slayer friendship. I mean, it makes sense, since Faith has been through so much and lost so many people. She just finally opened up and trusted someone and BAM it happened again. Buffy leaves, and the episode closes on Faith sitting alone in her hotel room.
I like this one. It’s pretty straight-forward and doesn’t have much stuff in it that would make me go, “mehhhhh.” At the same time, it’s not one of my favorites, because it’s hard to see Buffy hurt the people around her. Still, it’s a lot better than seeing Willow and Xander hurt the people around them. That’s up next.