Buffy Rewatch – When She Was Bad

In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will recap every single episode of season two and three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ask you to come along for the ride. She is no MJ Watson. She is Spidey Sense.

Please use her reviews responsibly. Do not read while operating heavy machinery. Side effects for reading include difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality, spontaneous smushing of names in romantic ships, inability to watch fluff without a big goofy grin descending on your face or pain without tears rolling down your face in a flood of feels. This review is a gateway to further fannish involvement such as blog comments and twitter reviews, so hopefully this review will be the drug to get you there. Ask your doctor if you are already taking fan fiction and fan vids if it is okay to take this fannish specimen.

God bless fangirling for simultaneously reminding me that a) I’m an adult with a sense of proportion and emotional control and b) I’m a fucking fourteen-year-old on the inside with feels that I cannot always control.

This emotional rollercoaster is not unlike the key theme of season 2, which is becoming. Becoming an adult while retaining the passion of a child that cannot always be controlled. Becoming who you are without entirely leaving your old self behind.

Falling in love and dealing with all the fallout that comes with sex is one of the key ways that this internal battle emerges in season 2 of Buffy.

In the cold open Willow and Xander are going in for imminent kissage when a vampire that is creeping on them springs up and cockblocks their moment. Just as Willow and Xander almost going at it spawns a demon, Buffy and Angel later really going at it brings about the Biggest Bad of the season.

Hard to believe it but Principal Snyder points us in the direction of what will happen this season. On the first day of school he says to Giles, “There are children everywhere, like locusts, crawling around mindlessly bent on feeding and mating, destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist… they’re just a bunch of hormonal time bombs”. The subtext here is that hormones and growing sexuality can actually be scary as hell. It’s hard to know when the time is right for sex and whether you made the right decision to have sex, even the morning after. Our hormones can make for risky decision-making and we’re not always ready for the consequences.

This episode we also deal with the emotional fallout of Prophecy Girl. Buffy was clearly shaken to the very core by the fact that she faced the Master and died before being revived. She was disconnected from her dad all summer and got scary intense in her training with Giles as she aims to prove to herself and everyone around her that she is okay when she very clearly is not.

Buffy’s near death experience has left her pushing away those closest to her, and she struggles with her complicated feelings towards Angel who will never die (a point she makes in Prophecy Girl). Buffy’s descent into being a bitca culminates in her sexy dance with Xander which is unfair to Angel, who she deep down loves and missed during the summer, to Xander, who she knows has a crush on her, and to Willow, who she knows carries a torch for Xander.

BUT OH GOD. THEN CORDELIA CALLS BUFFY OUT ON HER BEHAVIOR AND IT IS GLORIOUS.

Cordelia: You’re really campaigning for bitch-of-the-year, aren’t you?
Buffy: As defending champion, you nervous?
Cordelia: I can hold my own. You know, we’ve never really been close, which is nice, ’cause I don’t really like you that much, but… you have on occasion saved the world and stuff, so I’m gonna… do you a favor.
Buffy: And this great favor is…
Cordelia: I’m gonna give you some advice. Get over it.
Buffy: Excuse me?
Cordelia: Whatever is causing the Joan Collins ‘tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. ‘Cause pretty soon you’re not even gonna have the loser friends you’ve got now.
Buffy: I think it’s about time you start minding your own business.
Cordelia: It’s long past.
Buffy: Nighty-night.
Cordelia: I’ll just see if Angel feels like dancing.

OH GOD. I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT SCENE CHOOSES TO BE.

When Buffy finds out that the Anointed One is trying to bring back the Master, she freaks out. She goes off to find the Anointed one and  Angel shows up as back up. Buffy tries to antagonise him into fighting with her.

Buffy tries to keep Angel and her friends at arms length and nearly gets everyone killed in the process, leaving her friends vulnerable as she goes off on a one-woman mission. Ultimately she rescues the Scoobies who have been kidnapped by the Anointed One’s gang for a ceremony to bring the Master back.

She destroys the Master’s minions and then his bones, working out her issues and physically and symbolically overcoming him once and for all. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays the hell out of Buffy’s grief when she is pounding the Master’s bones into dust and seeing how Buffy was affected destroying the bones let’s them quickly forgive her for her bitca behaviour the next day at school.

How awesome is it that season 2 doesn’t open with shiny new things but the emotional fallout of the previous season? With Buffy, we don’t just see the actions of the characters but see them dealing with the fallout afterwards.

So what did you think, fellow Slayers? These recaps will get longer as the episodes become more complex, but this one was short, sharp and shiny.

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About Spidey Sense

Pop culture junkie, fangirl, arts and theatre lover, and The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and The Walking Dead obsessive. View all posts by Spidey Sense

5 responses to “Buffy Rewatch – When She Was Bad

  • Sophie

    How i’ve missed your writing. It’s always insightful and fun.

    This reminds me of how much I adooore Cordelia. My rewatch will probably follow soon, but I look forward to your posts in the meantime! 🙂

    • Spidey Sense

      Hi Sophie! Glad you could swing past and post a response 🙂 Thanks for your kind words about my blogging.

      Cordelia is a breath of fresh air. I love how she is hyperfeminine while also being kickass. Her honesty is a palate cleanser.

  • Andre

    I have the feeling that we will disagree about alot on Buffy, e.g. I never considered the whole thing to be much about sex, but maybe that because I am from a different culture and we have a more relaxed stance about sex than American shows do (albeit we also have our fearmongers regarding hypersex and pornos). I noticed that Buffy was pretty self-centered in that episode and looking back I think it was good that they did not just forget what happened to her in previous episodes as so many supernatural and superheroe shows are prone to do, to a degree that the only logical answer is the writers unwillingness to deal with anything that goes deeper than the current villain of the month and with anything that goes against their preplanned plot (looking at you TVD and Teen Wolf).

    Also I must say that I honestly had to look up who the main villain of season 3 was and what happened there. It was all blocked in my mind. Only when I saw who it was did it all come back. I knew what happened in season 1,2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, but season 3 I had completely forgotten and needed the villains identity to bring it back 😀
    Maybe the mayor really was so untypical that it was difficult to remember him as a villain. And actually I do not know of any other example that ever did such a thing. Do you know one?

    • Spidey Sense

      Hi Andre! The mayor was an incredibly unique villian, I don’t recall there being a villian to match him. I loved everything about him… his affection for Faith, his fear of germs, his love of cleanliness, his ability to switch between genial and sinister on a dime. It will be a lot of fun to recap season three when I get there, and I hope that you’re along for the ride.

      I don’t necessarily think Buffy is about sex so much as growing up in season 2, but the main arc in season two does deal with Buffy losing her virginity and the implications of this. What are your thoughts on Angel losing his soul because of one moment of true happiness?

      • Andre

        Well, the whole Angel loosing his soul thing is good for drama, but as a punishment it doesn’t make much sense. After all if all that is needed is one moment of his sould not torturing him wouldn’t he turn everytime he sleeps? Unless the true happiness moment is definitely required, they had it later in Angel albeit induced by drugs and so it would not last and it didn’t last, but there you have to ask yourself why it would not last. After all the true happiness didn’t last here either.
        So I would say it is at its base a plot device and nothing more. After all being tortured by your soul doesn’t necessarily keep you from killing or tormenting other people.

        Plus. Being cast by “gypsies”…. pretty stereotypical. Also can anyone remember where and when he was cursed? Because that might answer who that “gypsy clan” belonged to.

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