Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When She Was Bad

In the season 2 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we fast forward to the end of summer, which Buffy has spent moping in LA and apparently getting possessed by a slightly bitchier version than herself.

As Willow and Xander are amping up the sexual tension on a late night "patrol" (seriously, if they found a vampire, what could they possibly do by themselves at this point?), a vampire shows up and Buffy dusts the hell out of him.  Welcome home, Buffy!

But this is a sadder, wiser, and slightly more sexually aggressive Buffy than the one we're used to.  She's curt with her friends and seems like she would rather not have them around.  Buffy's working through a lot of Master-related issues, and I don't think it would be too far off the mark to suggest that she's got a slight bout of PTSD.

What she really needs is some closure with the Master.  Which she gets, when the Anointed One and his groupies devise a cunning trap to kidnap all of Buffy's friends, so that they can perform some voodoo spell to bring the Master back.  Oh hell no.

Luckily, Buffy snaps out of her bitch mode in time to rescue her friends, and grind the Master's bones to make her bread (not literally.  Well, kind of literally, but not the bread part.)  In one of the cheesiest moments in Buffy history, her friends forgive her, as they smile at each other while soppy music plays in the background.

Things I Like:

I like that the Willow/Xander relationship is becoming a little more two-sided.  Their scene at the beginning of the episode where he wipes the ice cream off her nose is genuinely sweet.  Stupid cockblocking vampire had to show up and ruin everything.

I do enjoy the way Angel talks to Buffy in a tentative voice that men use with their cranky, pregnant wives.  It's nice to see him being supportive, even though Buffy isn't at her most likeable right now.

I love everything about the conversation in the alley between Cordelia and Buffy.  It's really well-written and well-acted, especially for Charisma Carpenter, who's finding some genuine depth for the character.  "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...I'm gonna give you some advice. Get over it...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."  This is exactly what the Buffster needs to hear right now.

Speaking of Buffy being a bitch, I'm actually really happy that they were willing to do that on the first episode back.  I don't care what anyone says, it's always a risk when you make your lead character unlikeable, even if it's only for one episode.  You can lose people when you do that.  But in a lot of ways, Buffy needed to go through this, and in making her distant and cold, they were staying true to the character's emotional state.

Things I Don't Like:

I'm sorry, but I need to comment on the fact that Buffy's stunt double is about fifty times more muscular than she is and it is 100% noticeable.  They show cute little Sarah Michelle Gellar pounding on a practice dummy and then they cut to Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag.

Poor Xander.  It's no fair at all teasing him like that.  Also, it's kind of like watching a brother and sister dance, but if the brother is massively attracted to his sister.  Or maybe that's a sign that I've been watching too much Game of Thrones.

On the other hand, I have a hard time feeling that bad for Xander after he dropped Willow like a bad dream the second Buffy came back to town.

Wouldn't it have been prudent to smash the hell out of the Master bones before burying them and consecrating the ground?  I mean, if that's all it takes to make sure the Master's dead, why not just, you that?

I remember season 2 was about the time when I was like, "Seriously?  None of the girls at Sunnydale find Xander attractive?  This guy is supposed to be the social pariah?  Oh WB, you're silly."

Ugh, what a disgusting human being.  Get him
off my TV screen, post haste!

Verdict:  This is a good enough premiere that provides closure for some of the stuff they didn't get to deal with in the season one finale.  On account of not knowing if they would even get a second season.  Still, I don't know if it's one of my faves.

6 Stakes Out of 10

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