In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone has not caught up on her work after vacation. 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- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?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.
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’ve reached the one, dear reader. The big cry fest at the end of season two. The two-part conclusion that sets the tone for every season of Buffy that follows. I debated between doing them as one big post, or splitting them up as two separate posts. What I decided to do instead is split them up, but only by a few days. Keep an eye out for the next one soon.
The episode opens in an old timey kind of village area. Someone is doing a voiceover, but it’s nobody that we’ve really heard from before. It’s going to turn out to be this kind of cocky demon type person, like an infernal Jiminy Cricket. For a set of episodes as strong as these, this was an incredibly weak opening.
We see Angel and a friend getting thrown out of a tavern, probably because Angel’s Irish accent is so terrible. He and his drunk friend make plans to go steal from his father, but then the friend passes out, leaving Angel to spot a beautiful woman standing in a gross alley where she definitely should not be. It’s Darla, and she’s set up a trap for dumb, drunk young aristocrats. Darla tells Angel that she could show him the world, and they hop on a flying carpet, and Genie and that little monkey are there. No, wait, I’m getting something mixed up here.
For some reason, maybe it’s the horrible accent, Darla finds Angel just irresistible enough to turn him into her companion for centuries. These vampires move fast with these kinds of decisions, I’m telling you. She makes a way larger than necessary cut across the top of her boobs; I don’t understand why vampires always are going for the tits. Angel drinks her blood, and we flash forward to Sunnydale, where he watches Buffy kill a bunch of vampires in the cemetery. Xander is patrolling with Buffy, and by patrolling I mean I think he got knocked out, because he was on the ground behind a tombstone. Buffy’s bummed because she didn’t get a chance to kill Angel, and Xander asks her if she’s really that eager to meet him again. Well, Xander, Angel did kill your friend, and Buffy’s been saying for about a thousand episodes now that she’s finally ready to confront him. But you’re right, she might not be exactly sure on the timeline.
Buffy mentions to Xander that she hasn’t started studying for finals yet, and Xander panics, because he’d completely forgotten about them. Buffy reassures him with a blithe:
Buffy: “Look on the brightside; it’ll all be over, soon.”
And from the shadows, to himself, Angel says aloud:
Angel: “Yes, my love. It will.”
I don’t understand why villains talk to themselves when they’re being sneaky. I get that if they didn’t say stuff out loud, we wouldn’t get their internal process, but it seems like Buffy could have just turned around and gone like, “hold up, Xander, I think I hear Angel,” and then she could have gone over and found him and beat the shit out of him to death, and then the last two episodes of the season would be unnecessary. But I’m glad that’s not how it happens, because I like the last two episodes.
After the opening credits, we see some archaeologist type people. They’re uncovering an artifact about the size of a refrigerator, and Giles shows up. He’s there because some guy in Washington, D.C., told the head archaeologist guy that Giles was the best authority on obscure stuff like this. Obviously, this is because he’s a Watcher, but the more we hear of his resumé, the more it sounds like Sunnydale high school couldn’t have afforded to hire him. The guy didn’t even describe Giles as the leading expert on artifacts in the country, or even in California. He just said “the leading expert.” so are we talking the leading expert in the world? And nobody on the school board, when they were looking at potential school librarians, thought, “this guy might be a little overqualified for the position. Are you sure we can afford him?”
But of course, Giles is humble and says that obviously that whole “leading expert” thing was an exaggeration.
Giles inspects the artifact and even takes a sample of dirt with a little paintbrush. What’s he gonna do with that? Run it back to the lab? Of all the resources we see the Scoobies develop over the course of the series, a sort of forensic facility is never one of those. Which seems odd, considering how good Willow is at science. You’d think they’d have some sort of witchy lab set up in the basement of the Magic Box by season five. But I digress.
Giles asks the archaeology guy if they’ve tried to open the artifact. And the guy is like, “open?” and Giles points out to seam where it can be opened. Archaeology guy is stoked; he wants to open it right away and find out what’s inside. But Giles is like, “hold up, we need to translate these hieroglyphics.” Except he says in a Giles-y way. It’s pretty obvious that whatever is inside the artifact is something that Giles doesn’t want getting out.
In the cafeteria, Xander is reenacting the fight from the night before with fish sticks and toothpicks, the fish sticks being the vampire and Buffy, and the toothpick being her wooden stake. Buffy says she’s tired of people asking her if she’s ready to kill Angel. Thank you, Buffy. Your friends should listen to you.
Since Buffy is so freaked out about finals coming up, Willow suggests that after school, she and Buffy should study. Willow’s still teaching all of Ms. Calendar’s classes. When does Willow have time to go to her own classes? She must be missing some in order to fit teaching into her schedule. This seems like a pretty unfair burden to put on a student. Unless Willow has enough credits to graduate early, she can’t miss all of these classes in her junior year. Or maybe the school plans on letting her make the classes up in her senior year. Either way, this whole Willow-the-teacher thing is still pretty messed up.
Since Xander and Cordelia are all giggly and touchy, and Willow is sitting in Oz’s lap, when Snyder comes into the cafeteria he starts complaining about public displays of affection.
Snyder: “These public displays of affection are not acceptable in my school. This isn’t an orgy, people. It’s a classroom.”
Buffy: “Yeah, where they teach lunch.”
Snyder’s had just about enough of Buffy’s sass, and threatens to kick her out of school. This will be important in the next episode.
Willow asks Buffy if she wants to come over to study after school, too. Buffy is noncommittal; she thinks she should patrol because Angel is gonna show up when she least expects it. How weird must it be for the other Scoobies, knowing that any night could be the night that Buffy has the massive showdown with her evil undead ex? I mean, they must accept that she could die at any time. That’s kind of what being a Slayer is all about. But going up against Angel, in a hugely emotional battle, when their strength is pretty evenly matched, it just seems like the risk is higher.
We cut to a Gothic cathedral where Drusilla, dressed in some medieval middle-class garb, has come to pray. She goes into the confessional, where she tells the priest that it’s been two days since her last confession. Except it’s not the priest. The priest is dead, because Angel is on the other side of the little screen, having just eaten the dude. Drusilla confesses that she’s having visions again, so this is clearly something that she’s been worried about for a long time. Her latest was a premonition that came true about a mine cave-in. Her family has basically told her she’s an abomination; only God should see things before they happen. She pours her heart out to Angel, thinking he’s the priest, and he urges her to be evil, because that’s God’s plan for her. She’s understandably freaked out by this, and begs him to help her. But even though he gives her an act of contrition to perform, she’s obviously still afraid that what he said is true.
In the present day, Drusilla returns to the mansion, having just eaten an old man that has not agreed with her. She tells Spike and Angel that the moon told her there’s something evil at the Museum. Angel is impressed, and asks her if she can see all of that in her head. Spike replies:
Spike: “No, you ninny, she read it in the morning paper.”
Is the morning paper for vampires the late edition for normal people?
Angel reads the write up in the paper, and says something about the world screaming. Which means he probably knows what’s in the artifact. Or I could be misremembering that. He might find out later. But I do think it’s weird how all of the creatures in Sunnydale seem to have this universal knowledge of dark artifacts and horrible things that will end the world. Is there a class they take? Is there a special paper just for vampires? Is that the one that Spike was talking about? And if so, does the morning paper come out at night and the late addition come out at dawn?
These are things I need answers for.
In the computer lab, Willow is trying to encourage Buffy, even though Buffy is really, really bad at studying. Buffy drops her pencil and it rolls into the crack between the desk and the filing cabinet where we know the disk that contains the spell to restore Angel’s soul is. Buffy leans down to get the pencil out of the crack, and it seems like she’s going to miss the disk yet again. But then she has a moment of déjà vu. She lets the pencil go again to fall into the crack, and this time she reaches down and finds the disk. She gives it to Willow. Willow doesn’t recognize it, so she puts it into the computer to see if it’s something that belonged to Ms. Calendar. As the text comes up on screen, Buffy sees the word restoration, and Willow explains that Ms. Calendar wasn’t a practicing witch, but Buffy cuts her off.
Willow: “Oh boy…Oh boy…Oh boy.”
We cut to someone running through the forest, and we can tell that it’s Angel from the grunting. Angel has a very recognizable grunt. Someone is chanting around a corpse all dressed in white. A few recaps ago, there was some confusion in the comments about who the Roma girl was that Angel killed. Some people thought she was Drusilla, and I can see where they might have gotten that idea:
That does look a lot like Drusilla, to be fair.
Mingled with the grunting and the running and the primal drum music is an old lady chanting. She has the orb of Thesulah in a circle of candles, You know it’s some spooky shit when there’s candles. Angel collapses by a fire in the Roma camp. A guy comes up and he’s like “Hey, by the way, you have a soul now, and you feel this pain for all these people that you killed.”
In the library Buffy and Willow give Giles the spell Ms. calendar worked on. Xander isn’t thrilled by the discovery, but Cordelia points out that it’s a good thing. After all, now they can restore Angel’s soul, and he’ll stop being such a scary Big Bad. Giles isn’t sure that it can be done; the spell requires a ” greater knowledge” of dark magic than he has.
Wait a minute. Wasn’t there an entire episode in this season about how great Giles was at dark magic? And if Ms. Calendar knew how to do the spell, but she wasn’t able to overcome the dark magic that Giles was able to dabble in, then how is he not able to do the spell?
Willow mentions that she knows a little bit about magic now, since she’s been researching the dark arts “for fun”. And Giles makes this face:
remember what I just said about how Giles got mixed up in the dark arts when he was a teenager? Well, here’s Willow telling Giles, “hey I’m getting mixed up with the dark arts as a teenager!” This begins a theme that we’re going to see throughout the series. There are going to be numerous occasions where Giles tells Willow that she shouldn’t be messing around with magic (weirdly there’s a track on Anthony Stewart Head’s latest album titled “Don’t Mess With Magic”, which simultaneously reminds me of both Giles and King Uther from Merlin), and Willow’s like “no, I got this.” By the beginning of season seven, she starts to get that, hey, maybe Giles was right all along. But it’s gonna be a bumpy four more seasons before we get there.
Buffy agrees with Giles. She doesn’t want Willow to put herself in danger. But Willow is adamant that she’s the only person that can make the spell work and restore Angel’s soul.
Xander: “Hi! For those of you who just tuned in, everyone here is a crazy person. So, this spell might restore Angel’s humanity? Well here’s an interesting angle…. Who cares?”
Buffy: “I care.”
Xander: ” Is that right?”
Giles: ” Let’s not lose our perspective here, Xander.”
Xander: “I’m perspective guy. Angel’s a killer.”
Buffy: “It’s not that simple.”
Xander: “What? All is forgiven? I can’t believe you people.”
Cordelia: “Xander has a point.”
Xander: “You know, just for once I wish you would support me, and I realize right now that you were embarrassed, so I’m gonna get back to the point. Which is that Angel needs to die.”
Giles: “Curing Angel seems to have been Jenny’s last wish.”
Xander: “Yeah, well, Jenny’s dead.”
This comment causes Xander and Giles get into a shouting match, which threatens to turn physical. Everybody tries to stop the fight all at once, which just leads to more shouting, until Buffy shouts louder than everybody and starts giving people wounded looks.
Yet again, I find myself on the Xander’s Right train. I’ve never understood everyone’s willingness to just forgive Angel and do whatever it took to get him ensouled again. He killed their friend, and by the end of this two-parter, he’s trying to actively end the world. At what point do you put a rabid dog down? Is it the first time he bites someone, or is it after hundreds of years of biting someones? They all know that Angel was never a great guy before he ran afoul of the Roma, and that the only thing that’s keeping that in check is a spell that can very easily go wrong. Everybody gets that Buffy is in love with Angel, but sometimes we love people who are bad for us. Rather than letting Buffy learn this lesson, her friends do everything they can to make it possible for her to get back together with this guy. It’s no wonder the Buffy continues to have a series of dysfunctional relationships after this; she’s locked in an abusive relationship that literally all but one of her friends is encouraging her to stay in. (#6)
Let’s talk for a minute about how willing Giles is to aid in Operation Fix Angel. Out of any of the Scoobies, Giles is the one who’s lost most to Angel. He’s willing to entertain the idea of saving Angel, despite the fact that Angel killed Ms. Calendar, but why? Because it would make Buffy feel better, and he also knows better than the rest of the Scoobies how it feels to lose somebody that you love. He doesn’t want Buffy to go through that pain. He’s willing to sacrifice his own vengeance just to spare Buffy some unhappiness, leading me to flag this as an example of #2, because that’s not the type of sacrifice you just make for no reason. It’s definitely not a “fatherly” instinct, because no father worth his salt, no matter how much it would hurt his daughter, would encourage her to help a now-violent ex return to boyfriend status. Giles isn’t thinking right, but it’s because the seed of #2 has already been planted.
Buffy says that what happened to Angel wasn’t his fault, and Xander points out that what happened to Ms. Calendar was. Let’s go back and examine what Buffy just said. What happened to Angel wasn’t his fault? The reason he got curse in the first place was because he was running around killing people. And yes, that’s what vampires do, but they’re still responsible for their actions. He took particular delight in torturing people, so it wasn’t just an “I need to grab a quick bite” thing. So yes, what happened to Angel was his fault. Maybe not losing his soul this time, or being turned into a vampire in the first place, but really, but this whole thing is his fault.
Xander accuses Buffy of glossing over Ms. Calendar’s murder just because she wants to get her boyfriend back. And that’s exactly what everybody is doing, except Xander and to a point, Cordelia. Buffy leaves and everyone stands around in the sad music.
At the archaeology guy’s lab, the music turns spooky and suspenseful. He hears whispering from the artifact, just before Drusilla attacks him and eats him. Angel and his vampire friends are there are to take the artifact.
In Buffy’s room, Buffy is on the phone, talking smack about Xander with Willow. Buffy is getting ready to go out patrolling, and when she looks through her stakes, she finds the ring that Angel had given her. More sad music.
Out and about in the dark of the night, Buffy senses that danger might be afoot:
Yay! It’s not danger it’s Kendra! Well I guess she would be dangerous if you were a vampire. but Buffy isn’t a vampire and is glad to see her, even though her appearance portends the rise of a very big scary.
Back at the mansion, Angel shows off his newly acquired, creepy, hieroglyphics-bedecked occult artifact. Spike’s not that impressed:
Spike: “it’s a big rock. Can’t wait show my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.”
Angel schools Spike on what the artifact is. It’s the Acathla, a demon who had been sent to earth to swallow it up. A really brave knight jammed a sword through his heart, turning him to stone. He’s inside the giant artifact thing, which turns out to be a sarcophagus. the stone demon still has a sword in its heart — wait, how did the knight know where the demons heart was? It could have been anywhere. It could’ve been in his foot. It could have been in his dick. Demons aren’t people, and they have all sorts of different parts.
Whatever. If someone who’s worthy pulls the sword out of the stone demon it will come to life and destroy the world, like some kind of reverse King Arthur, sending everyone to hell.
Giles gets off the phone with the Museum to report that the archaeologist guy is dead, murdered by vampires. Willow is concerned about the whole drag-me-to-hell thing that’s going to happen to the world if the Alcathla wakes up. Giles explains that demons live in a parallel dimension, and if the Alcathla draws a single breath, he’ll create a vortex and suck everyone into that dimension, where they all will suffer eternally.
So obviously, this is something that the Scoobies want to put a stop to.
Buffy says that the spell to restore Angel’s soul is their only hope. Kendra disagrees, siding with Xander on the whole let’s kill Angel thing. Buffy points out that while she’s willing to fight Angel and kill him if she needs to, if she’s unsuccessful (read: she dies in the attack), the only way to stop Angel from destroying the world is probably Ms. Calendar’s spell, because Angel-with-a-soul isn’t like to plunge Earth into a demon realm.
Okay, Buffy has a point there.
Willow isn’t psyched about the idea of being the world’s only hope. But Kendra points out that she doesn’t have to be; they have a sword that was blessed by the knight who vanquished the Alcathla in the first place. Giles just totally geeks out about the sword, but agrees that it’s their last line of defense. He asks Willow how long she needs to get everything for the spell, and she says about a day. She also needs an Orb of Thesulah, but she doesn’t know what it is.
Giles: “A spirit vault for rituals of the undead. I’ve got one…I’ve been using it as a paperweight.”
If you haven’t already made this connection, prepare to get your heart ripped out. The only reason Angel found out that Ms. Calendar was planning to restore his soul was because she went to a New Age shop to buy an orb of Thesulah. If she’d just told Giles what she was doing, he could have been like, “I’ve got an orb of Thesulah,” and she would have never died. Giles had the key to preventing Jenny’s death the entire time.
Willow apologizes to Buffy that since she’s got this whole do-a-magic-spell-to-restore-a-vampire’s-soul project going on, she won’t be able to help Buffy study for finals.
Buffy: “Eh, I’ll wing it. Of course, if we go to hell by then, I won’t have to take them. Or maybe I’ll be taking them forever.”
Angel has to perform a ritual before he can open the Alcathla, suggesting that they’ve got some time to plan before it happens.
Some vampire henchmen bring Angel a trussed up human. Angel plans to drink the human’s blood, at which point he should be able to pull out the sword. He gives a big dramatic speech:
Angel: “I will drink. The blood will wash in me, over me, and I will be cleansed. I will be worthy to free Acathla. Bear witness as I ascend. As I become.”
he bites the dude and drinks his blood, and some gets on his hand.
Angel: “Everything that I am, everything that I have done, has led me here.”
He’s about to grab the sword when we cutaway. It’s a flashback to Angel, filthy, in an alleyway. He sees a rat, which he’s obviously going to eat, because that’s what vampires do when they don’t want to eat people. For some reason, they prefer to eat rats. Why don’t they just eat something that isn’t cute?
A really annoying dude who seems like the member of the Rat Pack that nobody liked and didn’t invite to things, hops out of the shadows. He taunts Angel about being a vampire with a soul, and takes some for a little walk. He tells Angel that instead of rats, he should probably be eating blood from a butcher shop. Something that he figures Angel hasn’t done because he hasn’t been out in the “real world”. But, uh, didn’t they have butcher shops way back in ye olden days? Why wouldn’t Angel have come to this conclusion on his own?
Annoying dude’s name is Whistler. Because I guess that’s just what a vampire sidekick is called these days, I guess. See also, Blade. Whistler tells Angel that he has a choice. He can either keep skulking around, eating rats, or he can do something good with his life. Then Whistler tells Angel that there’s something he should see.
Cut to Angel in a crappy car with blacked out windows, wearing filthy clothes, pulling up in front of a high school and generally acting suspicious.
In the non-TV world, the police are already en route.
The thing Whistler wants Angel to see is Buffy. Only this is a younger version of Buffy, who acts a lot like Cordelia.
She’s expecting a guy to crawl on his hands and knees to ask her to a dance later (no, really, literally crawl), so she hangs around on the steps. She’s approached by a guy in a suit and tie. Buffy’s concerned that she’s been caught for some shoplifting that she’s done, but the guy tells her that she has to come with him because it’s really important. Because of her destiny. He tells her that she is the chosen one, and that she alone can stop the vampires. Buffy’s response?
Cut to a graveyard at night, where Buffy artlessly fights a vampire as Angel watches from the shadows. She ultimately manages to stab the vampire in the heart, but it takes a couple tries. This is the first time she’s slayed.
So in this version of the Buffy mythos, Buffy’s first Watcher is not Donald Sutherland (like a WB show was realistically going to get Donald Sutherland. I have to give them some leeway here), but the guy from Office Space who gets fired, paralyzed, and invents that stupid “jump to conclusions” mat. So, serious downgrade from the movie, and serious upgrade when Buffy moves to Sunnydale and gets the hot Watcher.
Still in flashback, and still in Angel’s POV, we see Buffy arguing with her mom about coming home late. Joyce blames Buffy’s boyfriend for her lateness, and Buffy goes into the bathroom where there’s a giant big window for some reason. Because who doesn’t love the idea of their neighbor being able to watch them pee? She stands at the mirror and cries as she listens her parents fighting about how to raise her, and Angel watches the whole time.
Angel tells whistler that he wants to help Buffy, and Whistler says that Buffy must be prettier than the last Slayer. Gross. Angel asks Whistler to train him, and Whistler agrees.
Can we discuss for a minute how creepy this addition to the Buffy/Angel “romance” is? The first time I watched the series, I thought to myself, “wow, he was in love with her before they ever met.” Now, I think to myself, “wow, he was basically stalking a 16-year-old. And then he fell in love with her. And then he followed her to a new town when she moved. And then he got involved with her without telling her that he’d stalked her before. This is messed up.” Some commenters disagreed when I said that Angel was as bad as Edward Cullen; well, is pretty Cullen-like behavior. despite the attempt to make us buy this as romance, labeling this as #9.
Back at the Alcathla, Angel is still monologuing, because The Incredibles hasn’t come out yet, so he doesn’t understand the danger.
Angel: “I have strayed. I have been lost. But Alcathla redeems me. With this act, we will be free.”
Angel grabs the sword and there’s a lot of lightning. But after a fade for commercial, we see that the attempt was ultimately unsuccessful. Spike sing-songs:
Spike: “Someone wasn’t worthy.”
Angel is furious, Dru is about to have a meltdown, and Spike thinks the whole thing is hilarious.
At school, Buffy’s taking her finals. A cloaked figure enters the classroom. It’s a vampire, and she tells Buffy to go to Angel that night or more people will die, before flinging off her cloak and self-immolating in front of the entire class. First, I think those kids should get a do-over on their exam, because that’s a pretty big distraction. Second, this was just seen by everybody, and they’re all still going to go about their lives in Sunnydale for the rest of the entire show and barely ever talk about any supernatural stuff that happens in their midst. What. The. Fuck. (#8)
In the library, Buffy argues with Giles, saying that since more people are going to die if she doesn’t go to Angel, she kind of has to. Kendra volunteers to go with Buffy, but Buffy thinks it’s better if Kendra stays behind to protect the others. She also points out that if Angel is busy fighting her, he can’t do the ritual. Willow says she needs more time to figure out the spell, but Buffy tells her that if it’s going to happen she has to do it right away. So, no pressure, Willow. Giles tells Buffy to hold Angel off until the spell works, and that she’ll know when it does. Cordelia thinks Buffy should wait in the library until they know if it works, but Buffy won’t risk the lives of anymore innocent people. Kendra gives Buffy her stake, which she has named Mr. Pointy.
Angel meets Buffy in the graveyard. He tells her that she’s the one thing in this dimension that he’s going to miss, before taunting her by saying he wants to get back together. They launch into a fight. Meanwhile, the Scoobies start the ritual. The library is soon flooded with vampires. Cordelia and Willow run from them, and Xander and Kendra fight. Giles gets a pretty good shot in, shattering a vase or something over a vampire’s head. One of them pushes a bookcase over, trapping Willow beneath it, and Xander saves the petrified Cordelia from a vampire, but he’s been bitten. Naturally, Giles gets knocked out.
In the cemetery, Angel has caught on to the fact that Buffy is trying to stall. But Buffy hasn’t caught on to the fact the Angel is doing the same thing:
Angel: “You never learn do you? This wasn’t about you. This was never about you. And you fall for it every single time!”
Buffy realizes that this has all been a trap (P.S., if she’d followed Cordelia’s advice, none of this would be happening), and runs to save her friends. Drusilla joins the other vampires in the library and they back off at her command. Kendra is gearing up for a fight, which Drusilla isn’t terribly good at, but she uses some sort of hypnotic power and slashes Kendra’s throat. Dru the vampires to get what they came for, which is Giles. They drag him off, unconscious. You know, considering how many times he gets knocked out, it’s a miracle that he can remember any of this mystical knowledge the vampires are after.
Next comes what is one of my favorite visuals of the entire series: Buffy’s futile slow-motion run through the halls of Sunnydale high to save her friends:
This scene is so, so heartbreaking. The look on her face as she’s running through the hallway is one of hopeful determination. She’s going to save her friends. She can imagine no other way that this is going to go down. She’s going to win and save everybody. And she’s going to do this because she’s the Slayer, and she’s driven to protect the people she loves. She has no idea at this point that it’s too late. She still has hope.
Unfortunately Whistler, who turns out to be the unseen narrator from the beginning of the episode, starts talking in voiceover. I don’t know why Joss Whedon, when writing this episode, thought it would be a great idea to frame it with musings from a character that we’ve never seen before, and will never see again. I do know that Whistler is obnoxious. He’s the overused fedora guy who talks in stereotypical tough guy speech, who we’re supposed to see as an irreverent mentor with all this wisdom. He’s a tiresome combination of cool and dorky; the indispensable geek with a cocky attitude who guides people to their destinies.
Gosh, I wonder why Joss Whedon would have chosen such a character to become a canon device in what is, at this point, the most important episodes of the series. It’s a mystery for the ages.
The voiceover isn’t even that good:
Whistler: “Bottom line is, even if you see ’em comin’, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what, are we helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come; you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are. You’ll see what I mean.”
This unsolicited input from a character who can’t even be classified as “minor”, totally intrudes on this “big moment”:
Buffy has just found Kendra dead. A Slayer, just like herself. Buffy has died before, so she knows it can happen. She knows that Slayers die. But this is the first time there have been two Slayers. It’s the first time that Buffy isn’t the only one of her kind. And the only person who truly understands her experience, the only other Slayer on the planet, is dead. With just silent facial expressions, Sarah Michelle Geller portrays everything Buffy must be going through at the moment: shock, despair at her failure, and a new realization of her own mortality.
And we have to listen to this low-rent Dean Martin jackass talking over the whole thing, because Joss Whedon loves the self inserts.
As Buffy kneels over Kendra’s body, someone shouts freeze, and a gun appears on screen before we cut to the end credits.
Barring the unnecessary addition of Whistler, this episode is so solid, it doesn’t feel like its 45 minute runtime. With the little, breathtaking allusions to what could have happened and what will happen in the future (Giles’s Orb of Thesulah, Willow’s introduction to dark magic), it must’ve been hell to wait a full week to see what happens next.