In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone messed up her finger and has to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to do this recap, so expect some typos. 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- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?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.
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, previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy returned to the library to find Kendra dead, and the episode ended with a police officer pulling a gun on her. This episode picks right up at the same spot, with two officers telling Buffy to put her hands up and back away from the girl. One of the cops checks on Kendra, and says that she’s dead. The other cop asks about the others, and for the first time Buffy sees Xander lying unconscious on the floor. She tries to go to him, but the cops hold her back. One of them wrestles her into the hallway, where Snyder has arrived.
Snyder: “Buffy Summers. If there’s trouble, she’s behind it.”
He also tells the officer that Buffy has behavioral problems, which she pretty much confirms when the officer tries to cuff her, and she pushes him and runs away. The other cop runs into the hallway, and tries to shoot Buffy.
Okay, let’s talk about the shot this officer makes. Not only is her partner between her and Buffy, so is another civilian. She has to shoot past Snyder to have any chance of hitting Buffy. in other words, this is not a safe shot take. She communicates to dispatch that Buffy is on the loose, and very dangerous, but you know who else is very dangerous? People who don’t understand the margin of error in handgun firing.
After the opening credits, Buffy shows up at Sunnydale general, or whatever the hospital is called. She is absolutely the worst at being undercover. First of all, she’s wearing a black beanie and a leather coat. She looks like Joe Pesci in Home Alone. She also checks around a lot to see if anybody’s looking at her. And while she’s doing this, she does things that would call attention to her anyway, like act like she’s going to pick up a patient chart. Luckily, Xander is there to stop her from drawing too much attention to herself. Xander’s arm is all bandaged up, and Buffy asks him about everybody else. But some police officers walk in, and Xander has to hug Buffy to hide her face. Xander understands that people hug in hospitals, so it won’t look strange. On her own, Buffy probably would have tried to evade detection by setting herself on fire.
Buffy: “Okay. That was about equal parts protecting me and copping a feel right?”
You know it’s bad when Xander doesn’t play along with Buffy’s platonic flirting. She knows that means it’s bad, too.
Cut to Willow, unconscious in a hospital bed. Xander tells Buffy that Willow has experienced head trauma. she could wake up, but the longer she’s unconscious the less likely that is.
How come when Willow gets knocked out it’s a serious medical condition, but when Giles gets knocked out it’s just a momentary inconvenience? And can we talk about this whole Willow is in a coma thing? She’s in a room with a painting of flowers and a lamp that could’ve been on your Nana’s end table. She has an IV, but there’s no oxygen, she’s not even on a heart monitor. No wonder Sunnydale has such a high mortality rate; even if you live to get to the hospital, you’ll probably die while you’re there just because they don’t know what they’re doing.
Xander said he forgot to call Oz, but before he can, Cordelia runs in and gives him a big hug. See what I said about people hugging in hospitals? I’m always right. And you doubted me.
Cordelia is teary and concerned about Willow, and Buffy is concerned about Cordelia.
Cordelia: “I ran. I think I made it through three counties before I realized nobody was chasing me. Not too brave.”
Buffy tells Cordelia that she did the right thing, and Xander asks her if Giles kept up with her. But Cordelia didn’t see Giles. Buffy asks Xander if Giles is in the hospital, and Xander says no. Which means…
Don’t worry, everybody! Though Giles is not in the hospital, he’s definitely unconscious. We could expect no less of him. Angel has kidnapped him. Giles asks him what he wants, and Angel is like, “I wanted to throw your party for your four hundredth concussion of the series!” and a banner drops from the ceiling. The air is thick with balloons, and the confetti cannons thunder.
Just kidding, Angel is going to torture him. Since Angel can’t figure out how to do the ritual to raise his demon pal, he plans on slicing off various parts of our favorite librarian to get some pointers.
At Buffy’s house, a police detective is talking to Joyce.
Detective: “And you have no idea where your daughter is?”
Joyce: “She said she was going to her friend Willow’s house. Maybe she slept over?”
I like to think that the detective’s tone in this scene is less like, “you’re a terrible mother because your daughter is a homicide suspect,” and more like, “you’re a terrible mother because you don’t know where the hell your daughter is.” Seriously, it’s the middle of the night and she doesn’t know where Buffy is. And not knowing, it’s the fact that she’s perplexed as to why she should be expected to know where her daughter is. (3) The detective refers to Willow as the second victim. I guess Xander’s arm doesn’t count as a victim. The detective gives Joyce his card and tells her to call him if Buffy comes home.
Buffy goes to Giles’s apartment Where she runs into the obnoxious fedora guy from the last episode. I guess that when I said, “He’s never seen again” in my last recap, what I meant was, “I hope he’s never seen again, because his very existence is so pointless that I actually forgot he was in the second episode.” He gives a few smart ass answers that are meant to show how laid back and irreverent he is about all this supernatural stuff in an effort to lend extra gravity to whatever serious statements he might make. Buffy slams him into the wall and says what I wish someone would have said to Joss Whedon before he wrote these episodes:
Buffy: “I have had a really bad day, okay? If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you’re gonna crack jokes, then I am going to pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat.”
This scene has no information worth hearing, and is only about Whistler cracking jokes. Well, and being deep and broody, like an MRA’s Tumblr.
All that happens in this scene is that Whistler recaps everything we’ve seen so far this season. Angel was evil, then he was good, now because, in Whistler’s horrifying description, Angel and Buffy “made with the smoochies”, Angel is evil again. He asks her if she’s really ready to do whatever she has to do to stop Angel. Does everyone on this show have to question Buffy’s judgment? Seriously, the audience gets it. Buffy is willing to do whatever it takes to stop Angel. We got that like four episodes ago.
As Buffy leaves the pointless scene, Whistler shouts one piece of information that might actually have some bearing on the rest of the story and that we haven’t heard before. He tells her that the sword she was going to use, the sword that was forged for the knight who turned Acathla into stone, isn’t enough to stop Angel.
Did I mentioned that this scene was pointless?
Buffy wanders the streets of Sunnydale looking as suspicious as a person possibly can. Of course, this attracts the attention of a police officer, who gets out of his car and draws a gun on her. But Spike steps in and rescues her. Yes, you read that right, Spike has given up wanting to see the Slayer dead. The lure of spiting Angel is too much for ol’ Spike, and as the enemy of my enemy is my friend, he’s got a proposal for Buffy. He just has to get her to stop kicking his ass for a minute to listen to him:
Spike: “You wanna go a round, pet, I’ll have a gay old time of it. If you want to stop Angel, we’re going to have to play at this a bit differently.”
Buffy is sure that Spike is working with Angel to trick her, but when Spike tells her that Angel has Giles, Buffy has no choice but to listen as Spike monologues about wanting to save the world:
Spike: “We like to talk big, vampires. I’m going to destroy the world. It’s just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got dog racing. Manchester United. And you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here.”
What do you think happens next, to punctuate that evil statement?
#22, we meet again.
Spike is worried that Angel is actually going to destroy the world, so the game isn’t as fun anymore. Buffy asks why Spike would come to her for help, and he tells her that it’s because he wants to get back together with Dru. In other words, hey Buffy, can you kill the guy who used to be the guy you were in love with? It will really solve all my dating problems. And Buffy isn’t so into that:
Buffy: “I lost a friend tonight!”
Spike: “I wasn’t in on that raiding party!”
Buffy: “And I may lose more. The whole earth may be sucked into hell and you want my help ’cause your girlfriend’s a big ho?”
Okay, the line is kind of funny, but it’s also an example of #6, because even if Drusilla is a villain, we’ve still got a girl calling another girl a ho here. Especially when the line could have easily been written to insult Spike. She didn’t have to say anything about Drusilla. She could have made her snappy comeback about how pathetic it is that Spike had to ask his mortal enemy with help pertaining to his love life. But you know, funnier than I just worded that.
Either way, Buffy kind of has to agree to work with him, because there’s no better option.
At the hospital, Xander tells Cordy that he doesn’t want to leave Willow’s side, in case she wakes up. He talks to Willow, telling her she has to come out of her coma, because she’s his best friend. Oh yeah, and he loves her. She miraculously comes to at those words, but asks for Oz, who’s just arrived. Xander leaves them alone and heads off into the groundwork of next season’s cheating drama. Willow asks Oz if everybody else is okay.
Everybody else is not okay. In fact, Giles is so not okay that he’s tied to a chair, shivering. Not in a sexy way that makes me want to get sexy. In a scary way that makes me want to rescue him. And then get sexy, after I’ve sexily tended his wounds. Anyway, Giles is withstanding Angel’s torture, not telling him anything, but here’s the thing. And I swear to G, this is not because I’m being perverted, but…and I almost hesitate to ask…is Angel crushing Giles’s balls in this scene? Is that what’s being implied here? Or have I watched that scene in Casino Royale too many times? This is a serious question, because this scene has always confused me and I’ve never had the courage to ask anybody about it. But there are like, no sharp implements that we see in Angel’s hands, and with the exception of the blood running from Giles’s bound wrists, there doesn’t seem to be a mark on him. And the position Angel is in, kneeling beside Giles… I don’t know, maybe they needed to pull back from the The Godfather II cinematography here so we could actually see what Angel is doing to Giles and I wouldn’t have to ask this embarrassing question.
Earlier in the episode, Angel makes a comment about potentially using a chainsaw to torture Giles. Now, obviously you don’t go right for the chainsaw, but I’m thinking that maybe cutting off a finger or toe or an ear or something might have been better at this stage. Yeah, you’d have to hide the actor’s finger or ear for the rest of the series, but if they could hide Gary Burghoff’s hand for nine seasons of M*A*S*H, they could hide Giles not having a pinky toe.
M*A*S*H has come up with kind of a weird frequency on this blog lately, hasn’t it? Or maybe I’m just imagining that.
Anyway, Buffy takes Spike to her house, where Joyce pulls into the driveway and launches out of the car to shout at Buffy about how she’s been looking everywhere and terrible things have happened and she couldn’t find her. Spike vocally realizes that Joyce doesn’t know Buffy is the Slayer, resulting in Buffy trying to make up a lie about playing the drums in a rock band. Just an FYI, if your mother thinks you might have committed murder, maybe don’t use the same cover story you would use to explain why you’re two hours late for dinner without admitting you were smoking dope with the bad kids on the playground. Joyce decides that now it’s time to go into assertive parent mode, but that’s exactly when vampires attack, so when she sees a vamp dusted literally right in front of her, she shifts into I-need-a-bottle-of-wine-to-deal-with-this-shit parent mode. And Buffy finally has to admit the truth to her mother:
Buffy: “Mom…I’m a vampire Slayer.”
And Joyce is, understandably, freaked out.
Back from commercial, Willow is on the phone to Buffy. She tells her she’s sorry that she couldn’t do the spell to give Angel his soul back, but Buffy is accepting of the fact that she’s not going to get Angel back exactly as he was before, and she says it just makes everything easier.
Do you hear that, Willow? NOT DOING THE SPELL MAKES EVERYTHING EASIER. SO JUST KEEP DOING THAT, WILLOW. OKAY WILLOW?
Meanwhile, in the living room:
On the phone with Xander, Buffy tells him the location of Angel and his henchmen:
Buffy: “Do you remember that funky-looking mansion you showed me that one time?”
So, hang on a minute. You’re looking for vampires. And you know there is a “funky-looking” mansion in town. So “funky-looking” that you don’t even need an address to describe it to your friends and they automatically know what you’re talking about? Why not look for vampires there?
In the living room of awkward doom, Joyce realizes that she’s seen Spike somewhere before:
Joyce: “Have we met?”
Spike: “Uh… You hit me with an axe one time. Remember? ‘Get the hell away from my daughter’?”
Joyce is spared from trying to make small talk with the vampire who tried to kill her once (or maybe Spike is spared from trying to make small talk with a human he once tried to kill) when Buffy returns from her phone call. She tells Joyce that Willow is okay, then cuts right to the chase with Spike. He tells her he’ll help her if she just lets him and Drusilla leave. Buffy tells him that she can’t let Drusilla go; Dru killed the other slayer. Spike is totally psyched to hear that Drusilla killed a Slayer, because that’s kind of his thing, and now they can bond. Meanwhile, Joyce has so many questions. Why does Buffy want to kill her boyfriend? Did Kendra explode like a vampire? Then we take a turn for the heavy-handed parallel to homosexuality:
Joyce: “Honey, are you sure you’re a vampire slayer?”
Joyce: “I mean, have you tried not being a slayer?”
Or the classic:
Joyce: “It’s because you didn’t have a strong father figure, isn’t it?”
First of all, Joyce, Buffy has a dad. Yeah, he’s not around right now, and he ceases to be around entirely once he blows off the ice show on her birthday next season. But he does exist and was a part of her life until her teens. Second, #23. To explain my yucky feelings on this one, I’m going to have to compare and contrast to one of my other favorite shows, Merlin. And I know that not everybody agrees with me on this viewpoint, but stick with me a second, because this is ultimately not about defending Merlin, but pointing out what made me really uncomfortable about this dynamic in Buffy.
In Merlin, magic is used as an allegory for homosexuality. Magic makes Merlin different. It’s something about him that has to be kept secret so he can continue to dwell peacefully in his home. If someone finds out that he has magic, their opinions of him will change (and he’ll get killed, also a very real consequence of open homosexuality today). The entire series centers around Merlin’s struggle to keep his magic secret; Merlin’s entire character is defined by the unfairness of the prejudice against him in Camelot, and his desire to be able to live as the person he really is without persecution.
Now, let’s compare the attempt to send Buffy on a similar arc. So far, Buffy’s character has been defined by the fact that she walks in two different worlds, the supernatural world, and the normal teen girl world. The emphasis of her arc has been trying to balance her sacred duty with the regular life she wants. If Buffy could stop being the Slayer, she would, as we hear her lament time and again. Buffy doesn’t want to live openly among the world as a Slayer; she just doesn’t want to be a Slayer, and she likes the world exactly how it is for non-Slayer people.
My personal stance is that Merlin used the parallel better, because Merlin, though he had moments of self-doubt, ultimately believed that there was nothing wrong with magic, and nothing evil about him. It was the world around him that was the problem. Buffy can’t make the allegory work, because for Buffy, the world around her is more attractive, it’s her magical powers she views as an abomination. In other words, if being a Slayer is now suddenly a metaphor for homosexuality, then what the show is telling us is that Buffy hates her Slayerness/gayness and would be better off not being the Slayer/gay anymore. And sure, you could argue that it shows some level of deeply internalized self-loathing on Buffy’s part, but it’s never explored that way. The entire show is about Buffy accepting this tragic burden and learning to embrace this horrible thing that’s been done to her (in season seven, the creation of the first Slayer is likened to rape). And at the end of the show, she gets her wish; regardless of how the comic books extended the story, the canon of the television series shows us that Buffy is free from her burden as Slayer, and can go on with her life as a normal person as she always deserved to.
But that’s just my interpretation. Your mileage may vary.
Joyce wants to go to the police. She assumes that since she believes Buffy is a Slayer, the police will also believe that Buffy is a Slayer. Buffy reminds her that they don’t have any proof, and that involving the police would only get more people hurt. Joyce demands to know what’s going on, and Buffy says:
Buffy: “Just have another drink.”
Let me tell you something. If my kid ever said that to me, I would have the same reaction that Joyce does, which is to throw my glass against the wall. And it seems pretty out of character for Buffy. Even though we always hear about what a problem child she is, we hardly ever see her mouthing off to her mom. It’s possible that this is just because we don’t ever really see her mother that often. Yeah, there’s the whole burning down the school thing and always being in trouble, but it’s rare that Joyce and Buffy are in an actual fight, saying hurtful things. On the other hand, she’s under a lot of stress, too. She tells Joyce that there isn’t time to explain what’s going on, and Joyce tells her that she better make time.
Buffy: “Open your eyes, Mom. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurrences? How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven’t figure it out?”
Joyce: “Well it stops now!”
Buffy: “No, it doesn’t stop! It never stops! Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or, god, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again.”
It is at this point that Joyce decides her daughter is crazy. Because she’s been infected with #8 and can’t see the obvious even when it’s been laid out for her. She tells Buffy that she won’t let her out of the house, so Buffy shoves her and runs for the door. And then Joyce says the thing that no one should ever say to their child ever:
Joyce: “You walk out of this house, don’t even think about coming back!”
#3. because this is 100% unforgivable. I don’t care how frustrated a parent gets. I don’t care how terrible a child is acting. If you tell your child this, they might take it seriously (as Buffy does) and you risk losing them forever. And maybe you’re a terrible person and you’re fine with that, but oh well. When you had your kid, you signed on to keep them safe. You don’t get to opt out of that. This isn’t like an adult child being kicked out of the house because they won’t stop doing drugs or they’re violent or they’re taking advantage of their family. This a minor who will have very few options if she does leave home.
Back at the hospital, Willow says that she wants to try to restore Angel’s soul again. Xander and Cordelia both point out that it’s probably not a great idea to channel dark powers while you have a concussion. Oz has missed all the conversations about the cure thing entirely, but he’s willing to help anyway. Before they leave, Willow tells Xander:
Willow: “Xander, go to Buffy, tell her what we’re doing. Maybe she can stall.”
[insert ominous music]
So, Angel is still torturing Giles. Even though Gilles doesn’t look like he’s been been tortured all. He just looks sweaty, and his top button is undone. I’m not complaining. But like I said before, why aren’t we seeing missing fingers? Why aren’t we seeing gaping wounds and awful things? I don’t want that to happen to the character, because we all know I love Giles, but for this big, bad, awful, evil vampire, Angel’s torture isn’t as messy as I assumed it would be, or as he’d made it out to be. Giles lets Angel believe that he’s about to break and give up all the information Angel needs to perform the ritual. But you know it’s not going to go down like that, because Giles is a bad ass:
Giles: “I order to be worthy, you must perform the ritual…in a tutu. Pillock.”
Angel yells for somebody to get the chainsaw (finally), but Spike intervenes. After all, he has to keep Giles safe in order to assure that Buffy won’t kill Drusilla. Spike points out that if Angel saws Giles up, he’s not going to get the information he wants.
Angel: “Since when did you become so level-headed?”
Um… since this whole time? Because of the two of you, only one of you is trying to open a portal to suck the entire world, including you, into hell. Spike reiterates how stupid it would be to kill Giles and mess up the chance to destroy the world. Spike also says that he doesn’t want to be cleaning librarian out of the carpet, which is one of my favorite Spike lines ever. He tells Angel that there are other ways to get the information, then calls Drusilla in, which seems like the worst idea if you’re trying to keep somebody alive. But whatever.
Buffy goes back to the library, where the lights are still on, and all of the witchcraft stuff is still set out on the table. Another thing I’ve never understood: when the police searched the scene, didn’t they notice all the weapons Giles has stockpiled in the library? Didn’t they notice the very obvious magic ritual that was going on right there in the middle of the library where the dead girl was? In season three, we see Sunnydale go through a satanic panic, but only because they’re cursed. It takes a literal curse to break #8. So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that there are no repercussions for Giles, Willow, or Xander after the police found the remnants of their dark ritual.
Snyder shows up to gloat about the fact that he now has evidence to justify expelling Buffy. He also says that the police in Sunnydale are really stupid, which I have to agree with. And I have to give Snyder credit here. Even after Buffy pulls a sword out of her bag in an attempt to intimidate him, he just kinda stands there. He doesn’t look afraid. After she leaves, he makes a phone call to tell the mayor that he has good news. At this point, the mayor is already invested in getting rid of Buffy, which set us up for season three without forcing too much for shadowing down our throats. I still believe in #28, by the way. I don’t think that Snyder is aware that the mayor is evil.
At the mansion, Drusilla hypnotizes Giles into believing she is Jenny Calendar, and Giles’s mind is basically so broken down by the vague, bloodless torture that he believes it’s really her. Jenny-Drusilla promises that they can be together if he tells her about the ritual, which he kind of does, at least enough that Angel can figure out the missing information. The blood Angel uses in the ritual can’t just be any sacrifice, it has to be his own blood. Now that Giles has given up the information, Angel decides that he is of no use to him anymore, but Spike buys Giles more time by suggesting that he could be lying. Spike is pretty good at thinking on his feet, which makes you wonder why so many of his brilliant plans go awry in later seasons. Meanwhile, Drusilla is happily making out with Giles, long after they’ve gotten the information that they need. Look, I’m not going to blame her. I think it’s what we would all do in that situation. Plus, it gives us some much-needed comedic relief, because Angel and Spike look like this:
On the other hand, when Giles realizes what happened, his face is the worst:
back at Giles’s apartment, that obnoxious Whistler dude is still there going through all of Gilles’s kitchen stuff. Buffy comes in and asks Whistler what he meant by the sword not being enough, and Whistler of course takes his time answering, trying to be funny. I don’t think I can express how much I hate this character. In the comments section of the last recap, a few people pointed out that Whistler was supposed to be the character that became Doyle on Angel, but thank God he didn’t. Glenn Quinn wasn’t even 1/10 as annoying as this dude. Whistler tells Buffy that since Angel’s blood opens the portal, Angel’s blood has to close the portal, but it would be better for her to kill Angel before he wakes the Acathla. Which I’m pretty sure is news is that, again, we already had. And, again, the scene ends with Whistler saying something cryptic. There is nothing about this character that introduces new information. He is completely unnecessary.
Xander catches up to Buffy at sunrise. Buffy tells him to help rescue Giles, but overall stay out of the fight. Xander doesn’t deliver Willow’s message:
Xander: “Willow…she told me to tell you…”
Buffy: “Tell me what?”
Xander: “Kick his ass.”
Now, I believe that this is motivated by Xander’s jealousy (#5). He knows that there’s a real chance that Willow could pull this off and cure Angel. He could tell Buffy this, and let her act of her own agency, make the decision to either kill Angel or stall to see if Willow manages to work the spell. What he does here is take the choice out of Buffy’s hands, because he thinks he knows better than she does. And that’s awful, and bad, and unforgivable (and never brought up again until season seven, which is a massive oversight on the part of the writers). But I agree with him. We’ve seen what happens when Angel loses his soul. He doesn’t just become a vampire again, he becomes an especially sadistic vampire who kills not just to feed, but to rack up a high body count. Without his soul, he is pure evil, and if he loses it again we’ll see get the same results. I am 100% team kill Angel.
All that said, Xander was particularly cruel here, and he never pays for it. Not even in season seven when it does come up again. It’s just kind of brushed off when they move on to more important things.
Angel is ready to try the ritual again, but this time he’s saying a bunch of Latin words. So, did he not know this part of the ritual before when he tried it? All he got from Giles was the information about the blood. Whatever. I’m done looking for consistency in this particular storyline. I’m just going to give myself over to despair.
Also, when Angel cuts himself, he cuts himself across his palm in the time-honored tradition of all on-screen bloodletting. Usually, I would complain about this; it’s never made sense to me why someone would cut right across their palm. Why not the back of your wrist? Why not your pinky finger? Why put the whole hand entirely out of commission like that? But since Angel is a vampire has really quick healing abilities, I let this one slide.
In the hospital room, Willow, Oz, and Cordelia are ready for to perform the ritual. They’re burning sage. The fact that this doesn’t alert any of the hospital staff to like, a fire or somebody smoking, further convinces me that Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make it a list item. I’m going to now. #31: Sunnydale general is the worst hospital in the world.
So, Angel’s doing the ritual, and there’s this random vampire henchmen standing there watching. All of a sudden random vampire henchman’s head comes popping right off, giving Buffy this dramatic reveal thing. Angel asks her if she’s planning to really take on him and Drusilla and Spike, and she tells him she’s not just as Spike stands and bashes Angel in the head. And Drusilla looks pretty surprised to see Spike not just miraculously cured of his paraplegia but also wailing on Angel with a crowbar. Another random vampire henchmen runs at Buffy, and Drusilla lunges at Spike before he can get a chance to kill Angel. Dru squares up with Spike, who says he doesn’t want to hurt her, but when she attacks him he knocks her down. Let’s be honest, that was the only way she was leaving the scene without Angel. You know, he was her sire. She was willing to go down with the ship. And it seems kind of obvious that she’d chosen Angel over Spike a while ago. So, while the first time I watched this series I saw Spike as being devoted to his one true love and protecting her and being all gallant, he was basically pulling a Han Solo in The Courtship of Princess Leia. He’s kidnapping her to make her love him. Which really explains why Dru leaves him next season. I always thought of Dru as being flaky and jumping from demon to demon, but what she was really doing when she left Spike was escaping an abusive relationship.
Willow continues the ritual from her hospital bed, and Xander rushes in to save Giles. At this point, Giles can’t trust his own mind, so he doesn’t believe that it’s really Xander:
Giles: “You’re not real.”
Xander: “Sure I’m real.”
Giles: “It’s a trick They get inside my head…make me see things I want.”
Xander: “Then why would they make you see me?”
Giles: “You’re right. Let’s go.”
While Buffy is distracted fighting random henchman vamps, Angel manages to wake Acathla. Which, if as you recall, is not great.
So, now the vortex is open. I hope you’re happy Giles.
Oh my gosh, I’m totally kidding. I feel guilty even writing that
In the hospital, candles are still burning, sage is still smoking, nobody, not an orderly, not a nurse, not a passing doctor or visitor has noticed this fire hazard as Willow works on the spell.
Angel pulls the sword from the Acathla, beginning the epic showdown we’ve been waiting for this whole season. Well, at least half this season. The fight isn’t as tense as I remember it being the first six or seven times I’ve watched it. Maybe that’s why, this time, I noticed how incredibly obvious the stunt performers are. Now, this is probably a really mean thing to say about a show I love, but the cuts between Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz and their respective doubles was laughably ill-disguised here. But I’m going to look on the bright side: I only noticed it years later, after multiple viewings, and in comparison to the usually excellent editing during the fight scenes.
Anyway, they do swords. There’s not much I can describe here, because it’s this massive, fast-paced fight. You guys know what a Buffy fight is like, you get the idea.
Willow is really getting into her spell now, and for the first time, she does the thing where the presence of magic is indicated by a sharp look straight up:
This is going to happen again a few times.
Buffy and Angel are still fighting, Acathla is rumbling, and Spike finally manages to choke Dru into unconsciousness. As he leaves, he sees Buffy unarmed and cornered by Angel.
Spike: “God, he’s gonna kill her.”
Then he shrugs and walks away.
Angel has Buffy beat. So obviously he stops to gloat:
Angel: “That’s everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what’s left?”
POW! Our girl stops Angel’s sword from slicing into her by grabbing the blade with her bare hands, and the ass-kicking continues. Spike drives off with Drusilla in their car with blacked out windows, and Willow is straight up shouting in some archaic language, but still nobody from the hospital comes in to check on her. The Orb of Thesulah glows and vanishes, and suddenly:
Angel’s soul is back. At the worst possible time. And at first, she can’t believe it’s not a trick. Honestly, I would have cut his head off by now. Like, yeah, sure you’re suddenly ensouled again. Fuck off. And then I would wipe his head right off.
But Buffy finally does recognize that it’s real, and, as the Acathla opens the portal, that it’s way too late for that to do any good.
Buffy knows what she has to do. She kisses him, so we’re treated to more of the show’s trademark disgusting kissing noises (seriously, why must we hear these mouth sounds? Why do so many shows make the stomach-churning mistake of amplifying spit and tongues and smacking lips, turning kissing into something more squeamish than romantic?). As the portal opens behind him, she tells him she loves him and to close his eyes, then she stabs him with the sword. He gets sucked into Acathla (in what is probably the most awkward looking special effect this show has ever and will ever employ) and is gone. Buffy stares in disbelief at the now-inert statue that’s just eaten her boyfriend, then dissolves into tears. And I’m posting a screencap, because I love Sarah Michelle Gellar’s cry face. She has one of the best cry faces out there:
Buffy walks home to the sound of Sarah McLachlan’s “Full of Grace.” We see Joyce go into Buffy’s room, where she finds the closet ransacked and a letter we never get to see, but which we can assume is Buffy saying, “I’m out of here.”
The Scoobies convene outside of the school. Willow is in a wheelchair and her head is still bandaged, and Giles has two splinted fingers and a cut on his head, which seems like a pretty good outcome for having been tortured by a sadistic vampire. Nobody has seen Buffy. They went to the mansion, but no one was there, so they all throw up theories. Willow knows that her spell worked, because she could feel it, and Cordelia agrees, because the orb glowed. Xander suggests that the cure didn’t work and Buffy had to kill Angel (and looking at his face, you fucking know that he knows that’s not how it went down). Willow optimistically hopes that the spell did work and Buffy and Angel ran away together. Giles does not look thrilled at this prospect, because, you know. The dude killed his girlfriend and tortured him, let’s not get all excited about him getting a happy ending. I’m on his side in this one. Basically, none of them are ready to accept that Buffy could be dead (or maybe sucked into hell with Angel, which is a possibility I don’t think any of them ever bring up next season when she comes home). As Sarah McLachlan’s music swells majestically in the background, Willow says:
Willow: “She’ll be here in a while.”
And she doesn’t believe it, and none of them believe it. The camera pans back to reveal Buffy watching her friends from the street. She turns away and walks down the sidewalk, then we cut to Buffy on a bus, headed for parts unknown, past the “Now leaving Sunnydale” sign.
Sarah McLachlan could ask me to adopt a hundred dogs right now, and I would say yes. That’s how sad I am.
And that’s how season two ends. Even with as amazing as the show continues to be, I’m not sure anything, even “The Gift”, tops this two-parter in terms of best season endings. Yes, Whistler is pointless and wastes time, and yes, some of the stuff doesn’t make sense on closer examination, but god, does it make you feel things. The second half of season two is where the show really finds its tone for the remaining seasons, and these episodes are the strongest example of that.