In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone just ate all those donuts. 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.
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.
Okay, so on the last episode of Buffy, there was this cliffhanger where there’s another vampire hunter. And everybody is trying to kill Buffy. This episode picks up right where the last one left off. Kendra and Buffy argue who’s the real Slayer, since there can be only one.
Buffy proposes they stop trying to kill each other, because as Professor Farnsworth always says, perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything. Kendra tells Buffy that her Watcher sent her to Sunnydale.
Giles is a part of the Watcher’s council, right? And they keep tabs on shit like, hey, maybe there’s more than one Slayer, right? Because I would assume Kendra’s Watcher didn’t track her down until her powers activated. That’s what happened with Buffy in the movie, and in the show Giles is sent to find her. Why would the council have thought they needed to track down a new Slayer if they never got the incident report I presume Giles would make when Buffy actually dies and stays dead?
But whatever. Angel is still locked up at the Tavern of Cliches, waiting as the sun slowly creeps toward him.
After the credits, Buffy is introducing Kendra to Giles. He’s heard of Kendra’s Watcher, but he’s just as confused as I am about how, exactly, she exists and he’s never heard of her. It’s possible that it’s because Kendra has no last name, and the paperwork just slipped through the cracks because of it. I mean, that’s not in the show, but I’m assuming that’s possible.
Willow comes in and Kendra is directly in her face, demanding to know who she is:
Buffy: “Back off, Pink Ranger, this is my friend.”
Buffy: “Yeah, as in person you hang out with? Amigo?”
Kendra: “I don’t understand.”
I wish I was better at conveying concepts through the power of the written word, so I could really get across just how much I hate this exchange and how xenophobic and racist it is. Look, I understand that it’s unusual for a Slayer to be in Buffy’s position, with friends who work at her side and know her secret. Kendra and Giles even talk about that in this scene. But the thing that smacks of “look at this kooky foreigner” is the idea that despite speaking English, dressing in Western fashion (but, you know, with harem pants because FOREIGN), and having been trained by a member of the Watcher’s council– whose members are consistently portrayed as stuffy British people–, Kendra is still so other that she doesn’t understand the concept of friendship. She doesn’t even recognize the word. If we look at Buffy in canon, she was popular and had friends before her training… why didn’t Kendra? It plays into the pervasive white supremacist belief that while white women have layers and can be tough and vulnerable, warm to their friends but cold when necessary, any combination of moods, modes, and feelings, black women are only capable of being one thing. Kendra can’t even understand the word “friend” or the concept of what a friend is, because it reinforces her role as the kick ass, loner black woman, and “exotic” foreigner. (12) (17)
Anyway, they get to the bottom of the two Slayers problem really quick. I’m really glad Xander isn’t there, because Willow says:
Willow: “Is that even possible? Two Slayers at the same time?”
and the “hey, Buffy, remember how I want to have sex with you?” wheedling would just explode all over the library.
Giles tells Willow that another Slayer is only called when the previous one dies:
Giles: “Good lord… you were dead, Buffy.”
Buffy: “I was only gone for a minute.”
I love that exchange.
Kendra tells Buffy that she assumed she was a vampire after Kendra spotted Buffy and Angel kissing at the ice rink, and lets it slip that she’s done something to Angel. Cut to Willy’s back room, where the sun needs to hurry up already. Willy comes in and takes Angel to the sewer, but he’s not rescuing him. He’s handing him over to Spike.
Back at Buffy’s house, Cordelia is talking to the Oogie Boogie salesman when she realizes there’s something kind of… off about him:
He dissolves into a writhing mass of fast-moving mealworms and chases Cordelia and Xander into the basement, where they attempt to keep him out by smashing his bugs and sealing up the door with duct tape. Well, Xander does. Cordelia doesn’t “do worms,” and it’s a line she’s not willing to cross, even under threat of gruesome, bug-related death.
Kendra takes Buffy to Willy’s bar, where they find Angel missing and no evidence of him being dusted. They do find Willy, though, and the two Slayers rough him up for information about Angel. Willy tells them that Angel went underground to heal, and Kendra considers the matter settled, suggesting they return to Giles for “orders.”
Buffy: “I don’t take orders. I do things my way.”
Kendra: “No wonder you died.”
Ouch, Buffy, you’re going to need some serious medical intervention for that third-degree burn. Also, how great is Kendra’s eye roll?
And then Willy asks the two of them if they’re willing to take nude photos. No, seriously. This happens, for no other reason than to show us how skeezy Willy is, and for the viewer to laugh at how skeezy he is. The point of the joke is that an adult man is asking two underage girls to become objects for his sexual fantasy, and this makes him gross. For the record, Willy has already been depicted as fully loathsome, so there was no reason to throw this into the mix. This is what we call “normalizing,” because Willy is still being played off as the oh-shucks guy you know is a bad dude but who’s still comic relief. (6)
Back at the factory, Drusilla tells Spike that she was dreaming of spending time with him and a branding iron in Paris, and then he presents her with her sire, Angel, bound and gagged. Drusilla calls Angel a “very bad daddy” and slaps him, so if you need a cigarette right now, I totally understand. The plan is to kill Angel at the big ritual to restore Drusilla’s health and–
I just thought of something. We’ll have to come back to it at the end.
Back at the high school, Giles tells Kendra that he and her watcher have agreed that the two Slayers should work together for as long as it takes to get this whole Spike thing on lock down, especially since those assassin creeps are still out there trying to get her.
If there’s one character flaw that Buffy consistently displays in situations where she’s caught off guard or feeling insecure, it’s jealousy. When Kendra and Giles start chatting about ancient Slayer books, she rolls her eyes more than Anastasia Steele.
We’ll see this reaction again when Faith shows up, and when she believes her college roommate is moving in on her turf. You might be thinking that I’m going to mark this as an anti-feminist character defect, but I like that Buffy has such a realistic weakness. It shows awesome depth of character that Buffy can be jealous of Kendra, be ticked off that she’s there, but still works with her and makes an attempt at friendship because it’s the right thing to do in the situation.
Giles tells Buffy that Snyder has been looking for her, and that she should show up to the career fair to get him off her back. Kendra expresses disbelief that the Slayer would be allowed to be a student, and then snaps that Buffy’s probably a cheerleader, too. So, Kendra is so Slayer-minded and anti-social that she doesn’t know what a friend is, but she knows what a cheerleader is?
At first, Buffy is straight up jealous girlfriend about Kendra and Giles bonding, while Willow reassures her that she’ll always be more important to Giles than Kendra is. But then Buffy starts considering the possibility of letting Kendra take over as Slayer, so she can live a normal life.
Did I mention Cordelia and Xander are still trapped in the basement? Because they are, and they are bickering. And fighting. And getting really personally nasty and right up in each other’s faces and–
Mortified by their slip of the tongues, they decide to brave the bug man and run out of the house. But the bug man isn’t gone, he’s waiting on the ceiling and he rains down his caterpillian fury onto the head and, eugh, hair of Cordy. This is probably the grossest thing that ever happens on this show. I have nightmares just thinking about the slight weight of those wriggly bodies dropping onto my head, under my collar, falling to smash wetly beneath my feet–
You know, what? Let’s move on.
At the career fair, Oz asks Willow if she’s going to take the offer from the super secret computer guys, but Willow says she’s going to finish high school instead. Oz, having absolutely no career ambition at all, has also rejected the offer, and they have a strange little conversation about it that’s a delight to watch. And at the law enforcement booth… say, remember that redheaded police officer from the last episode?
The officer is the third member of the Order of Taraka, and she nearly gets Buffy before Kendra comes to the rescue. The assassin knows when she’s been beaten and takes off, but in the fight, Oz has taken a bullet. He’s okay thought; we find out while Buffy’s getting bandaged up that the shot just grazed him. Xander and Cordelia come in, and of course the second Xander sees Kendra, his important information about the Oogie Boogie assassin can wait while he makes a “well hellooooooo” remark.
Xander: “So, you’re a Slayer, huh? I like that in a woman.”
That’s true, he does like that in a woman. So much so that the girl he was just making out with doesn’t even seem to be there anymore, because a new girl who satisfies his Slayer fetish has shown up. Oh, and he treats Kendra just as awfully as he treats every other woman on the show.(5)
Xander and Cordelia show the gang one of the Oogie Boogie worms, which has conveniently hitched a ride to the library in Cordelia’s hair.
Buffy: “You and bug people, Xander. What’s up with that?”
Giles tells gives them more bad news: that the ritual to revitalize Drusilla is going to happen that night, and that the ritual can’t proceed without Drusilla’s sire. Buffy has to tell the gang that Angel is Drusilla’s sire. As the group scrambles to save him in the little time they have left, Kendra suggests their priorities are screwed up, and Xander has one of those rare moments that makes me hate him a little less:
Xander: “Angel’s our friend! Except I don’t like him.”
So, he’s willing to save Angel’s life, even though he sees him as romantic competition for Buffy and he just plain doesn’t trust vampires. That’s a point for Xander. There’s another Slayer stand-off with eye rolling and tough guy posturing, and Kendra agrees to work with them.
Back at the factory, Drusilla is torturing Angel with holy water while reminding him in the creepiest, haunted doll way possible that he murdered her family. I mean, you can’t really blame her, right? He did murder her family, even if he is a good guy now.
Back at the library, the Scoobies are researching, eating peppermints (thanks, Giles!) and sniping at each other, while Buffy and Kendra bond over weapons. We learn that Kendra never had a family, because her “people” take Slaying very seriously. They handed her over to her Watcher at a very young age for training, because apparently they already knew she was a Slayer.
Okay, so, wild inconsistencies within the Buffyverse, here. Until Buffy’s Slayer powers activated in the movie, she had no idea what a Slayer was. She wasn’t involved in some rigorous training program. Apparently the council can tell who is going to end up being a Slayer… so why didn’t Buffy get the same training as Kendra? And how can Kendra’s “people” be so into Slayer culture, when Kendra herself insists that the work of a Slayer should be protected with utmost secrecy? It doesn’t make sense for Slayers to be a secret if whole cultures know about them, and it doesn’t make sense for potential Slayers to get different treatment from the council. The rules for potential Slayers and how the Watchers deal with them are maddeningly inconsistent.
However, one point that’s important to remember with this episode is how good it is at upping the danger stakes. Let’s take a look at what’s going on:
- Two deadly assassins are still stalking Buffy
- Angel has been taken prisoner by Spike and Drusilla
- They intend to murder him as part of a ritual
- By the way, the ritual happens tonight.
There isn’t any let up in the tension, it just keeps getting worse and worse for our heroes. When you’re working on your own plots, keep this episode in mind. What’s happening right now? What could make it worse? What would make that worse? Now add in something that makes the entire situation hopeless and impossible.
Buffy and Kendra bicker over what role emotion plays in Slaying, and the conversation somehow leads Buffy to remember Willy and his unfortunate continued existence. The Slayers decide that he’s going to help them somehow.
Back at the factory, Angel tries to goad Spike into killing him by suggesting that Spike can’t sexually satisfy Drusilla. This scene seems throwaway at first, but it establishes that unlike other vampires, Spike doesn’t enjoy watching torture (he’s not present while Drusilla burns Angel with the holy water and comments that he’s not a fan of the “pre-show”), and it shows us that he still has a fairly tender human ego. It reinforces the fact that he truly loves Drusilla, because he almost ruins their entire plan out of jealousy and insecurity, though at the last moment he sees Angel’s manipulation for what it really is. (19)
Also, he calls Buffy “Rebecca of Sunnyhell Farm.” Classic Spike.
At Willy’s bar, Buffy and Kendra are working the good Slayer/bad Slayer routine, until they reverse all the progress they’ve made together and start fighting over how a Slayer should slay. Buffy wants to rescue Angel right now, but Kendra wants to follow procedure and take Willy to Giles. Then Kendra gets a little too real:
Buffy: “He could die!”
Kendra: “He’s a vampire. He should die.”
And of course, Buffy is super wide-eyes offended by this, and she takes Willy out of the bar by herself, and Willy leads her straight to the Order of Taraka assassins and some vampires, who close in on her fast.
You know what would have been cool in this episode? If Kendra was the Slayer and a member of the Order of Taraka. Like, if the training she received wasn’t incongruous with the secrecy of the Slayer role, but a part of her upbringing as a potential assassin for the Order. And then, whoops, she became a Slayer, and her goal the entire time was to goad Buffy into taking off on her own, so that she would be angry and vulnerable– a call-back to Buffy’s earlier assertion that emotions are necessary for a Slayer’s success– and easy prey for the other assassins. And then she could have been a recurring villain for the show.
Anyway, at the church, Spike has already started the ritual. Dru and Angel are tied together, and Angel’s life force or whatever is seeping into Drusilla, but it’s kind of a “bake until done” situation, so it doesn’t immediately kill him. Willy and the assassins bring Buffy in, which is fucking stupid. The assassins were hired to kill the Slayer, right? They’ve all been ready to use deadly force against her. I’m pretty sure Giles might have called them bounty hunters before, but it seems like they’re not out to take her in alive. Why didn’t they just kill her in the hallway, where she poses no threat to the ritual, and they still get paid?
I would make such a better Buffy villain than these chumps.
Spike agrees with me that bringing the Slayer in is a bad idea, and he tells Buffy it doesn’t matter anyway because Angel only has five minutes to live. Officer Ginger is about to put a bullet in Buffy’s head when Kendra backflips into the sanctuary and saves her, then the Scoobies join the fight. Giles shoots a vampire through the heart with a crossbow, which is probably something he learned in Watcher school, but let’s add that to the list of amazing shit Giles can do without any explanation given. Cordelia and Xander trap Oogie Boogie by pouring paint on the floor and stomping his bugs, and Kendra’s shirt falls casualty in the battle:
Kendra: “That’s me favorite shirt. That’s me only shirt!”
HA! Because people from other cultures are poor. (17)
Sensing he’s outnumbered, Spike cuts the ritual short and buys time for an escape by setting the church on fire. But Buffy uses an incense censer (I typed “incest” like twenty times trying to put that phrase together) to knock him out. Due to some structural damage and the fact two vampires just crashed the fuck into it, the giant pipe organ collapses on Spike and Drusilla, burying them.
Hey, they said this was an abandoned church. Why is all this church stuff still in there? Organs are like, massively expensive. You can sell those.
Where was I? Okay, we’re in a burning church, Angel is still alive, Buffy holds him like they’re a motherfucking vampire Pieta while everyone awkwardly looks on, and then they all just… leave.
They leave. With two vampires crushed, but not necessarily dead under all that pipe organ. I get that the place is on fire, but wouldn’t they want to hang around until the firefighters put it out, just to make sure they’re dead? I mean, this is kind of an issue here. There’s no guarantee that a splinter pierced their hearts or anything like that. You’ve gone to all this trouble, why not make sure? I mean, at least show them trying to make sure, and Spike and Dru making a lucky escape. Don’t let it be from Scoobie incompetence.
At school, Oz just randomly drops:
Oz: “You have the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen.”
into a conversation with Willow. Oh. My. Swoon.
Cordelia and Xander argue over who kissed who, and it goes like this:
Buffy sends Kendra off to the airport, and they make peace with each other. Kendra tells Buffy that Slaying isn’t a job, it’s who Buffy is. This is the theme for literally the rest of the series, and it surprised me to rewatch this episode and hear that line. I thought the “you’re a killer, Buffy!” stuff didn’t start until Faith shows up.
Cut to the church, where the exact thing I said was going to happen happens. Drusilla– now back at full power– pulls Spike from the rubble and carries him off, promising vengeance. And it all happens because the Scoobies were incompetent. There had to be a better way to write that, because the audience knows they know better.
Here’s the thing I said we’d need to talk about later: in his next few appearances, Spike will be in a wheelchair as a result of his injuries. Then, out of nowhere, we’ll see him stand up and surprise, he’s all healed. But… they didn’t do some big ritual to help him. So, why did Drusilla need a healing ritual? How badly was she hurt? Was it worse than having a pipe organ drop on her? When we first meet her, she’s not ill enough to need mobility aids, she just kind of swoons or gets upset every now and then. One could argue that this was her injury, but she never un-crazies, so the ritual couldn’t have worked. What was the ritual for? Why can some vampires heal themselves, but others need the ritual? Was something paranormal done to her in Budapest? Because all we hear is “angry mob.”
I will never have closure until I find the answer.