There was a little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very good.
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

What makes one a bad girl, such a naughty bad girl? Do you have to sleep with the best man? Do you have to wear vampy lipstick and walk with your chest puffed out and your back arched, in stacked heels with your skirt pulled awkwardly to the side, hinting at impropriety (but almost threatening to seduce)? Or is it enough just to "accidentally" expose the soft flesh of the top your breast bending over?

For some of us being bad means neglecting to floss every night, and taunting gingivitis to come get some. It means taking your birth control pill in the morning instead of at night because you didn't feel like getting out of bed to drink a glass of water with it. When did my age group become so collectively boring? I'd like to blame it on my 401K and a bid to become more responsible, but since when does responsibility have to mean boring?

I sometimes want to be bad again. I could still pay my bills if I called out sick on a Friday and drove to Mexico to drown in Margaritas for a weekend. Nobody would have to know if I drove to a seedy bar and got all kinds of free drinks for hitching up my skirt and staring with black lidded eyes at the lecherous old men at the bar.

Being bad can feel so good, if you know when to stop and how far you can get before you know you're in for it. The inevitable redefinition of bad has become so bland and tasteless that I have almost forgotten what it's like to be naughty, as opposed to just tired and irritated.

When she was bad, she used to cut her jeans off so short that she had to cut the pockets out too. When she was bad she used to grab ass at concerts and stick out her tongue. When she was bad, she was fun.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode Guide

Episode 1, Season 2

Written and Directed by Joss Whedon

We open on a graveyard at night. Though later the BtVS crew would go on to build a generic graveyard set, this was actually filmed on location somewhere in Hollywood, and the difference is immediately clear to any long-term Buffy fan. Willow and Xander are strolling along the perimeter, playing the movie quote game, and showing a degree of ease between the characters that has been sorely missed these later years. The two exposition, scattered with movie quotes, that Buffy has been in Los Angeles all summer, visiting her father, and that communication has been rather absent. Still, they reason, with school starting again tomorrow, she should be back soon. Willow hops up on the graveyard wall, and Xander quotes the movie Witness while dabbing ice cream on her nose. Here we have the moment which spawned a thousand fanfic, a near-kiss, interrupted by an attacking vampire. The two are getting the worst of the fight, when along comes our heroine. Joss has said time and again that he really never expected the show to be picked up again after the end of the first season, so Buffy's "Miss me?" was intentionally irony-laden.

New credits, with some interesting new scenes, and hey, David Boreanaz has been added to the cast as a series regular. It's worth mentioning that the credits have always, in this season or any other, ended with a shot of the gang (the core members with occasional satellite additions) walking out on their way to battle, followed by a shot of Buffy on her own, looking ominous and Slayer-y.

Back on the graveyard, at night, as the two fill Buffy in on what she missed--not a lot. They buried the Master, but otherwise the summer was fairly normal. I only picked this up when I went back and watched the episode a second time, but any time they mention something even the slightest bit supernatural, Buffy tenses up. Subtle acting by Gellar there.

Cut to Chez Summers, at, take note gentle fans, for this is trivia material, 1630 Revello drive. If only they'd provide us with a zip code, that place would be flooded with hokey fanmail. Buffy's dad and mom are unpacking her bags. We will pause to note that her dad is played by the guy who was Almanzo Wilders in the Little House on the Prairie tv show, and to have a squealy fit over this fact. Joyce and Hank share mutual angst over their troublesome daughter. It seems that neither one really knows how to talk to, or deal with a kid like Buffy, which isn't really surprising, considering. It seems that Hank, like many other parents, tried his best to bridge the emotional distance this summer with lots and lots of shopping. Eurgh. Check out the 1997 plastic yellow platforms they’re unpacking. Also, Joyce’s last line intimates (to me) that the entire season’s major arcs were planned out in advance; “I’ll just be happy if she makes it through the school year.”

Sunnydale High School. Courtyard. Cordelia brats to her speechless hangers-on that her summer know what? No one cares. Shut up, Cordy. You won’t become a character that I care two figs about for another year and a half, so I just refuse to put up with your snot, okay? I never noticed this before, either, but the writers really effectively managed to give Charisma Carpenter monologues all to herself for the better part of two seasons, simply by giving her these voiceless minions to ramble to. Some of the lines were funny, which is the only reason the schtick didn’t get completely tired. Cordelia spent her summer in Tuscany, if anyone cares. She and her friends walk past Giles and Principal Snyder, as the camera turns to follow the faculty. Can I just take a minute to say how much I loved Snyder? He was just so.....malignant. His speech comparing students to locusts is absolutely inspired, as well as Giles’s offhand drily British responses. As Jenny Calendar appears, Snyder rambles about the useless hormone-fueled responses of the teenagers, unaware that Giles and Jenny are illustrating those "gibbering idiot" roles better than he could have imagined. It’s a cheap gag, but it works, because Giles and Jenny were cute, dammit.

Inside, we learn that Jenny went to Burning Man over the summer. The rest is sexually charged stammering. Enter the rest of the Scooby Gang. They’re so young! I miss them this young. And it’s funny, because at this point, they were all still pretending that the secret identity was important. The conversation takes place in euphemisms, varying low and high volumes of voice, as they discuss vampires, demons, and slayer training in the middle of a busy hallway. Also, Xander won a dollar off Willow. Seems he wagered Giles would have to ‘consult his books’ about something in under ten minutes.

Library, after school. Buffy flips, punches, kicks, and generally kicks the crap out of a wooden dummy. She keeps saying that she’s “ready. Whatever they’ve got coming. I’m ready.” Giles looks faintly uneasy at his Slayer’s zeal. That’s really all that can be said about this scene. Oh, except that Sophia Crawford, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stunt double for seasons 1-4, gets a chance to show off her stuff, solo-style in this scene, and I must say, the lady is built.

A generic factory, at night. An African-American vampire (in full game face) preaches to an assembled crew of vamps about finding their way again, lost in the woods, and generally insinuates that the town’s vampire population has been adrift since the Master died. He tells us that “within three days, a new hope will arise.” I believe that this was the first black vampire on the show, as well as the first black speaking part. We never learn his name on the show, but for the sake of expediency, the script says his name is Absalom, okay? The Anointed One is present for this scene, and approves the plan, whatever it is.

Sunnydale High Student Lounge, Day. Buffy sits alone, staring off into space. String music plays. Until Xander and Willow appear, breaking her out of her reverie. She immediately says, before the question is even asked, “I’m fine”. I believe that is one of the signs to the contrary, darling. Willow and Xander, in a move that I’m unsure whether was scripted or improv’d, toss their snacks in the air, switching a Powerbar and an apple simultaneously. Whatever, it’s a throwaway, and it’s nice. Reminds us that they’ve been friends forever and hardly need words anymore. Giles comes up, tells her that there’s vampire activity. She tells him not to worry. He replies that he knows, as he’s killed her once already, and it shouldn’t be too difficult again. He then backhands her and begins strangling her, as Will and Xand sit unconcernedly eating their snacks. She chokes, gasps, and reaches up to peel off Giles’s face, revealing The Master underneath. She then wakes up. Ah, the classic revealing of issues via dream sequence. Actually, that’s revealing on so many levels. First, the Slayer’s ability of spotting trouble ahead in prophetic dreams. Secondly, we’ve seen time and again that Buffy at least sort of blames Giles, and lashes out at him as the most convenient representative of her destiny, and eventual untimely death. Clearly, the trend hasn’t changed. That the instrument of her demise would wear Giles’s face as a disguise is telling, although I’m surprised that the writers didn’t do something ham-handed and use Angel for this sequence. It was better this way, I believe. Third, I think Buffy’s perception of Willow and Xander is her fear that they will sit and let her die, that they aren’t able to help her. Dreams are funky things.

As she wakes up, we see a shot of her through her open window, and I think that’s also revealing. I bet everyone else in Sunnydale keeps their windows closed and their doors locked at night. But Buffy doesn’t need to. She’s secure in herself, in the knowledge that she doesn’t need to be afraid. Then again, they could also be setting up the next shot, as Buffy smooths her hair and touches her face, and then looks up to see Angel sitting in the open window. She snarks at him, telling him that it’s late, but then again, it’s probably only lunch hour for him, for social calls. He replies that it’s not a social call. The Anointed One is back, and gathering forces. She replies, once again, that she’s ready for whatever they’ve got coming. She dismisses him, turning over to go back to sleep. He looks so young, too! Gosh. David Boreanaz needs to stop this pesky growing habit, otherwise the role isn’t going to fit anymore. They are both vulnerable here, him looking hurt, and just as he leaves, he tells her that he missed her. She replies that she missed him too, but turns to see that he’s already gone.

The next morning, in the Summers’s Jeep, on the way to school. Joyce tries to make conversation, asking how classes are going. Buffy’s answer is fine. Joyce asks if Buffy would tell her what’s wrong. Buffy doesn’t answer. Ah, the blank stare. I perfected that one as a teenager.

Cut to School, Buffy’s locker. Ooh. Continuity error. Buffy, in the car, was wearing the outfit that she’ll be wearing later in the episode, tomorrow. Now she’s dressed and her hair is styled completely differently. She and Xander and Willow discuss Angel’s midnight visit, and the possibility of upcoming Hellmouth action. Then, moving on to more important things, they make plans to see Cibo Matto play at the Bronze that night. Cordelia shows up, greets them semi-snottily, and they critique her insult with objectivity. She then inquires after demon activity, and Willow and Xander step up to remind her that Buffy’s secret identity is supposed to be, in fact, secret, and that demons aren’t really the sort of thing one discusses in the middle of the hallway at school. Then maybe you should stop doing that. God. Why do they even pay lip-service to that notion? It’s not like they sincerely worry about anyone finding out. Cordelia assures them that she would hardly tell anyone about her prom-night activities, because, hey, she doesn’t want anyone to know she spent the whole night with them either. Buffy looks thrown when Cordelia mentions the Master and how scarey it all was, and then insults Cordelia pretty harshly before stalking off. Well. I think we’re supposed to think it was harsh, because the characters say so, but honestly, I’m sure first graders diss each other harder.

The Bronze, night. Cibo Matto plays. Before this episode aired, I had never heard of them, but since then I’ve become a dedicated fan. The song they’re playing as the scene begins is “Spoon”, just in case anyone cares. Willow and Xander are waiting for Buffy to show up, and taking the time to discuss her new attitude. Willow’s worried, saying that Buffy’s acting different. Xander is unconcerned, saying “Buffy’s always been different”. Willow replies that she’s never been mean before. After a pause in the conversation, Willow dabs some of the ice cream she’s eating on her nose, trying to evoke the earlier moment. Xander is distracted, looking for Buffy, and just tells her she’s got something on her nose. And my little 14 year old heart went out to that girl.

We cut to the graveyard, as the vampires dig up the Master’s bones, some of them burning their hands on the consecrated ground.

Back at the Bronze. As Cibo Matto launches into “Sugar Water”, Buffy enters, wearing a very slinky dress. She and Angel exchange words, although she looks less than enthused to see him, and pretty much tells him so. He asks if he’s done something wrong, something to make her angry. She replies that there’s nothing, just that she’s moved on. “To the living.”

She goes on to demonstrate that fact, amply, by asking Xander to dance. This scene is difficult to describe, mainly because so much of what’s going on is non-verbal. Cibo Matto plays sultrily, Sean Lennon is wearing a skirt, and Buffy dances sexily with Xander. Cordelia, Angel, and Willow all look on from the sidelines, and you can read all of their faces. Angel and Willow are hurt, each one watching the one they love with someone else, and Cordelia just looks suspicious, trying to read the situation. Even Xander knows that something’s up, because he does, after all, have his arms full of everything he wants, but the boy knows enough to know that he never gets the good end of the deal. Buffy just glides and grinds her way through it all with an amused smile on her face, finally asking Xander if she ever thanked him for saving her life. When he replies in the negative, she asks “Don’t you wish I would?” and then turns and walks off the dance floor, leaving him there, alone.

Buffy walks out into the alley behind the Bronze, with Cordelia following her. Cordelia doesn’t bother to ask her what’s wrong, but says, bluntly, to get over it. Stop acting like such a bitch, or she risks losing “even the loser friends you’ve got now.” Buffy dismisses her, and walks off, just in time to miss Cordelia being grabbed, gagged, and dragged away by a couple of thugs, who we can safely assume are vampires. Cut to some dimly lit stairs, and a room at the bottom, that Cordelia is shoved into, I believe at the same factory we saw earlier. She finds an unresponding Ms.Calendar there, lying on the floor.

The Graveyard, still at night. Buffy comes up to the Master’s grave and find the remnants of digging, and the evidence that the bones have been taken out. The Master looms up behind her, practically at her throat, but when she turns around, she is alone. I’m not sure if this is her Slayer sense, giving her a warning, her own paranoid delusion, or perhaps a bit of Sunnydale ghastly weirdness.

The student lounge at Sunnydale High, the next day. Willow, Xander, and Giles discuss Buffy’s recent change in behaviour. Willow thinks that she’s been possessed, Xander reluctantly concurs, and I must transcribe these lines verbatim, as they have, after all, resulted in...stuff.
Willow: That’s gotta be what it is. I mean, why else would she be acting like such a...b-I-t-c-h?
Giles: I think we’re all a little too old to be spelling things out, Willow.
Xander: A bitca?

Heh. So, there you have it. Good throwaway: Giles’s grimace of disgust as he drinks an American canned iced tea. Giles is less convinced that this can be chalked up to mystical weirdness, and more concerned that Buffy may simply not have dealt with her death at the Master’s hands. This is about the only explanation we get for this episode, so let’s run with it, shall we? I personally have several theories about her behaviour, ranging from Giles’s, to a subconscious desire not to endanger herself or others with mundane distractions such as human relationships, to an actual residue of the Master’s psyche, and I’ve never fully agreed with any one of them, so I’ll just let it lie. Buffy comes up to the group then, and they change the subject, but not before she overhears. She informs Giles of the theft of the Master’s bones, and the group conjectures as to why someone would steal them. Giles mentions the existence of certain rituals that can be used to bring someone back from the dead, that require the remnants of their physical body, and Buffy snaps at him for not telling her sooner. When Willow tries to intervene on Giles’s behalf, Buffy snaps that civilians (meaning Willow and Xander) should stay out of Slayer stuff, and then Xander gets mad at Buffy for snapping at Willow and then....Snyder intervenes, sending the trio to class, and Giles back to the library.

The Library, just after sunset. The gang is assembled for research, and Giles recants from a book, a ritual designed to bring a vampire back from the dead. You need the bones (which is odd, since 99% of the vampires we’ve seen slain on the show haven’t left bones behind, so this is hardly a highly useful ritual), and “the blood of the closest person...someone connected to the vampire”. Buffy immediately decides that means her, as they killed each other. Really fosters togetherness. As they begin to ponder the ritual, a rock crashes through the library window, with a note attached. Attached with the necklace Cordelia was wearing the night before, issuing a challenge for Buffy to come to the Bronze. She goes charging off, despite everyone’s warnings of the obvious trap awaiting her. She also refuses to let anyone go with her, claiming it’s too hard to look after them while she’s fighting.

The alley behind the Bronze. Buffy tells Angel off for following her, and jibes at him when his claims he’s there to help. Undead American is my new favourite politically correct gem of Berkleyism, by the way. When he claims she isn’t as strong as she thinks, she challenges him, asking if he thinks he can take her. He asks if there’s somewhere she needs to be. She comes back to herself, and remembers Cordelia’s hostage situation, and enters the Bronze. Inside the Bronze, everything is dark and silent, not open yet. A girl with dark hair crouches on the dance floor, crying. Buffy warns Angel that that’s not Cordelia. The girl turns, showing her vampface, conveying Cordelia’s apologies and regrets. Angel doesn’t like the setup, as there’s the bait, but where’s the hook? The vampire charges Buffy, who easily sidesteps and neutralizes her, but realizes he’s right. Why just one vampire?

Quick cut back to the library. Willow and Xander argue, as Willow thinks they should have gone with her, and Xander wants to stay as far away from the ticking time bomb Slayer as possible. Giles is working on his translation, and discovers that he was mistaken before. The ritual doesn’t require the person who was emotionally close to the vampire, just the people who were closest to him, physically, when he....died. Giles realizes that it is a trap. It just isn’t for Buffy, as he looks up to see vampires all around them.

Buffy hands off the vampire to Angel and runs for the school, entering the library to find it trashed, obviously a fight took place. And Xander, regaining consciousness. When she goes to him, he shoves her off, blaming her and her attitude for what happened. As she tries to formulate a plan, he tells her that “If they hurt Willow, I’ll kill you.” Which is sweet, kinda, but also grossly overconfident, honey. When she asks why Willow and Giles were taken, but not him, he updates her as to the ritual requirements, and they realize that Ms. Calendar is probably taken as well, and that the ritual is almost ready to be performed.

And back they go to the Bronze, to interrogate the female vampire. Y’know, that’s just sloppy on the vampires’s part. Why even have a vampire there at all? I realize that they needed to lure Buffy away from her friends, but an empty Bronze would have worked just as well for a meaningless trap, with the added bonus of not leaving someone in the Slayer’s hands who she can then question about your whereabouts. Buffy gets her information in a variety of ways, not limited to, but including, holding the vampire’s mouth closed with a crucifix (and I believe that’s the necklace Angel gave her as a present, in the episode, uh, Angel) inside.

The factory. The vampires prepare for the ritual, with various spooky ingredients, the Master’s skeleton laid out on a table, and four Scoobies chained to a moving rack by their ankles, dangling from the ceiling, unconscious. Alyson Hannigan and Robia La Morte later stated that the filming of shots in which they had to be seen was done all in one go, in 5 minute increments so that none of the actors would actually faint, and edited selectively into the episode. Buffy, Angel, and Xander enter the factory as the ritual begins, and Buffy instructs the boys to get the others out, while she distracts the vampires. When they ask how she plans to do that, she replies “By killing them all.” Slayer logic.

And they fight. Buffy stakes one as he parrots lines during the ritual, before the rest of them know she’s there. Two others busy themselves with her, and Absalom hurries the Anointed One to safety, while Angel and Xander tow the Scoobies back up to the upper balcony by their ankles. The two of them are attacked and Angel fends the minion off while Xander frees the captives. Ms. Calendar and Giles offer each other, ahem, comfort, and when Giles inquires after Buffy, Xander looks up from where he cradles a still unconscious Willow and tells him “She’s working out her issues.” Buffy is still fighting with one last vampire down on the floor, and Absalom threatens her with a sledgehammer, telling her he plans to “Grind you to a sticky paste, and hear you beg before I smash in your face.” With her typical aplomb, Buffy asks if he plans to kill her, or are they just making small talk. He roars, the other vampire roars, and both charge her at once as she calmly breaks off a torch from it’s stand and stakes the nameless vampire with the broken end, and lights Absalom on fire with the other. Voila. Vamp flambe. As the others look on, finally all awakened on the balcony, Willow says it’s over. Xander replies “No it’s not.” They watch, silently, as Buffy picks up Absalom’s discarded sledgehammer and turns to look at the Master’s bones. She pauses for a long while, looking very small. Vulnerable. Young. And then smashes his skeleton, again and again, before finally breaking down in Angel’s arms.

Sunnydale High School exterior, Day. Cordelia and Ms. Calendar walk along, discussing the events of last night, presumably. Ms. Calendar can barely keep a straight face as she realizes that Cordelia is far more concerned about the damage to her wardrobe than about any lasting emotional trauma that being kidnaped and used as an ingredient in an unholy vampiric resurrection ritual. Crossing the shot, and then being followed, Giles reassures Buffy that she can, indeed, face her friends. Buffy worries that, having been so cruel and then placing them in mortal danger, they may not forgive her. Giles tries to point out that this is hardly the biggest mistake she’ll ever make in her life, or in her career as a Slayer, but they both realize that’s not entirely comforting. The bell rings and she proceeds to class.

At the classroom door, she pauses, hesitant. Willow and Xander look at her, then look away, and she hangs her head and looks at an empty seat. Willow, ever the peacemaker, greets her, and Buffy responds softly. Willow points at an empty chair next to her, and tells Buffy that they saved her a seat. Xander makes a crack about the boring teacher, and Buffy weakly responds. Willow makes another joke, and Buffy starts to smile. Then Xander asks if they’re going to go to the Bronze tonight, and Willow says that it’s kinda dull on Wednesday nights. Xander cracks that they could grind their enemies into powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, they did that last night. Buffy snickers and Willow lights up and their words fade into the music as the equilibrium of the gang is restored.

Cut to the factory. Just to remind us that this plot arc isn’t finished yet, the Anointed One walks out of the shadows and looks at the shattered fragment of the Master’s skull on the ground and addresses a sullen “I hate that girl” to the air.

Grrr. Argh.

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