With seven seasons and 144 episodes under its belt, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a surprise cultural phenomenon that went on to inspire one official spin-off series, novels, comics, video games, board games, fan films, parodies, and academic conferences. And now, Jamie Gerber is here to walk us all through it from the first episode to the last. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries and empowerment of the complete Buffy the Vampire Slayer! S2E5: “Reptile Boy” (Writer: David Greenwalt/ Director: David Greenwalt) The thing about “Reptile Boy” is that initially, I didn’t like it very much. I thought it was kind of goofy and I yearned to learn more about the larger story of the season. However, over the years I have grown to love this episode. Greenwalt’s dialogue is spot on. Every single character gets a cool moment. As far as the Monster of the Week, we get a fraternity that is essentially worshipping a giant penis monster in a dungeon and there’s nothing about that that is not awesome. To top it all off, there’s an underlying message in there about not drinking a beverage at a party unless you pour it yourself. Seriously ladies, never just take a drink that some dude hands you! The unpleasant events of this episode take place in large part, because of the sense of powerlessness Buffy has begun to feel over her own life. She is expected to carry the weight of the world on her tiny shoulders and yet, she is treated like a child at every turn. However, despite being treated like a child, she is never expected to act like one. Buffy has boatloads of adult responsibility, which makes it easy to forget that she’s still a teenager and that comes with certain rites of passage. She doesn’t get to blow off steam in any sort of traditional way. Her romantic life is certainly far from normal. Really, this episode is one of the only times in the series thus far we’ve seen Buffy act her age. Getting pissed at your non-boyfriend for not getting a clue and going to a party to remind yourself that you’ve got options makes perfect sense. Aside from that, she lies to Giles and shirks her slayer duties to do it. “Reptile Boy” opens with the juxtaposition of two scenes, one prosaic and one terrifying. Buffy, Willow, and Xander are having a fun and safe night inside watching Indian soap operas, while elsewhere a girl named Callie is running for her life from some dudes in robes. She is captured by one of them (Richard), who the next day, shows up at Sunnydale High to pick up our resident mean girl. Cordelia has been practicing her fake laugh solely to impress college guys because she is done with dating fellow high schoolers. Unfortunately for her, the other frat guy (Tom, who seems nice) is more interested in Buffy than in Cordelia’s new active listening skills. Buffy couldn’t be more disinterested, but the charismatic Tom almost reels her in, at least in part due to the indifference of a certain enigmatic vampire. After being chastised by Giles for not training enough of late, Buffy runs into Angel, who also treats her like a child. This beautifully written, well-shot scene is one of the many reasons why this episode grew on me the way that it did. Buffy and Angel, trying so hard to logic themselves out of the love that they already feel for one another, finally discuss dating, or at least getting coffee. Angel talks down to her, telling her that she doesn’t know what she wants. “This isn’t some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don’t wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after,” he tells her. “No,” she replies, “When you kiss me I wanna die.” This, compounded by Giles putting so much pressure on her, leads Buffy to make a very poor life choice. When Cordelia approaches Buffy the next day and begs her to attend the frat party (due to Tom’s interest, Cordy can’t go unless she convinces her “friend” to accompany her), Buffy surprises herself by agreeing. She follows up that brilliant move by lying to Giles about her mother being sick. Only Willow and Xander know the truth and they’re both a bit jealous, albeit for different reasons. Meanwhile, those frat dudes are doing some weird occult shit in their basement/dungeon and holding poor Callie hostage. The Scoobies are on the case, but they are one man down in solving it since Buffy has decided to take the night off. Luckily for Callie, the party is taking place directly above where she’s being held. Tom turns out to be the biggest monster of the bunch, but he manages to have Buffy completely fooled. He charms her and after manipulating Buffy into downing a drugged drink, he plans on offering her, Callie and Cordelia (also drugged) up to the demon Machida that the frat has been worshiping. It turns out, that’s why everyone in that fraternity winds up rich and powerful. Xander crashes the frat party, a move that only serves to humiliate him after he is discovered. They dress him up like a woman and make him dance. Terrible for Xander, but pretty great for us! While that hilarity is going on upstairs, the three ladies are chained up downstairs. Back at school, Willow, Giles, and Angel have tied the missing Callie to the frat house. So, Willow, who hates keeping secrets anyway, has to come clean. The watcher and the vampire are all disappointment until Willow lets them have it. “I know she’s the chosen one, but you’re (Giles) killing her with the pressure…and you (Angel), I mean you’re gonna live forever and you don’t have time for a cup of coffee?” It’s a brilliant moment for Alyson Hannigan, who rarely gets to explode. She totally kills it, saying all the things that Buffy hasn’t been able to. The three of them meet up with a disgraced Xander, who totally gets to beat the snot out of one of the frat guys! By the time they all get downstairs to rescue the slayer, she has rescued herself and cut the giant penis, I mean snake monster in half. As disastrous as her decision proved to be, Buffy wasn’t the only one to learn a lesson. Giles resolves to go a bit easier on her and Angel actually shows up for that cup of coffee, although Buffy gives him the brush off. Cordelia learned that maybe college guys aren’t where it’s at after all and ends the episode having her coffee fetched by Jonathan (Danny Strong, making his second appearance). S2E6: “Halloween” (Writer: Carl Elsworth/ Director: Bruce Seth Green) Buffy the Vampire Slayer tackles Halloween for the first time and it’s a complete success, well maybe with the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s weird southern accent. Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs) makes his first appearance and fittingly the chaos worshipper creates quite the pandemonium in Sunnydale. His surprising ties to Giles show us a whole new side to the watcher or “Ripper” as Ethan calls him. Giles’s old friend sets up shop in town, a costume shop to be exact. The catch is that the whole gang is turned into their costumed personas. As Buffy states Halloween is “come as you aren’t night” and thanks to Ethan Rayne, the Scoobies certainly do. On Buffy, Halloween is sort of a night off for the undead, a night when the Slayer should technically be able to forgo patrolling altogether. This is good news, especially since Snyder is forcing Buffy, Willow and Xander to “volunteer” to take kids trick or treating. This leads to one of my favorite quotes of the episode. “Halloween must be a big night for you. Tossing eggs, keying cars, bobbing for apples, one pathetic cry for help after another.” Ah, Principal Snyder, the one dude to whom bobbing for apples can be equated with destruction of property. You gotta love him…or you know, despise him. Speaking of guys you love to hate, we also get to meet Larry (Larry Bagby), the bully who almost kicks Xander’s ass, that is, until Buffy saves him, thereby cementing his reputation as a “sissy-man”. “Halloween” is actually a really well-written episode and it’s a bummer that this is the only one Elsworth contributed to the series. On the surface, the events of “Halloween” can be seen as an exercise in being careful what you wish for. Ethan certainly views it that way, although he’s mainly in it for the chaos. The underlying theme of this episode though is about not only accepting but also embracing who you are. After slaying interferes in Buffy’s love life once again, she and Willow get a hold of the Watcher diaries determined to discover what Angel’s type was before blood became his preferred beverage. Buffy’s findings lead her to believe that Angel would prefer some type of noblewoman, which no doubt contributes to her choice in Halloween costume. Willow too has to gain some self-confidence in this episode. Buffy dresses her up like a baby, but her debilitating shyness causes her to only keep the clothes on under a ghost costume. Meanwhile, Spike and Drusilla get their first bit of screen time since their introduction several episodes prior. Spike is watching videos he had taken of Buffy while she was fighting in an attempt to learn her weaknesses. What a creeper. “Do you love my insides? The parts you can’t see?” Dru asks him. He responds, “Eyeballs to entrails my sweet.” So much of what makes these characters instantly captivating is how much they love each other. The chemistry between Marsters and Landau is astounding. They seem like they belong together from their first shared moment on screen. We learn that Drusilla has visions. Her prescience tells her that Halloween won’t be so dead this year after all and that the slayer will be weak. That kindly shop owner (Ethan) that sold Buffy, Willow and Xander (as well as lots of kids) their ensembles is worshipping the lord of chaos, thereby making the costume personas overtake their own. This means we’ve got super cool, badass (and kind of sexy) soldier Xander, a ghost who can walk through walls (wearing the smoking hot outfit Buffy made her put on) Willow, and useless noblewoman Buffy (Lady of Buffdom, Dutchess of Buffonia, who for some reason is Southern). It also means we’ve got a whole lot of demon children. Willow remembers who she is, while Buffy and Xander have no clue. Luckily, Xander rescues Cordelia, dressed as a cat, but not one. It turns out, she got her outfit elsewhere. Willow still doesn’t know what’s going on, but when she tells Giles about Ethan’s, the town’s new costume shop, he puts the pieces together. Angel also shows up, but his demon face only serves to scare Lady Buffy away. The gang finds her, but so do Spike and his minions. Thus begins the ongoing issue of Angel’s inconsistent strength throughout the series. Sometimes that dude can take like twelve monsters at once, while other times, he can’t break a tiny padlock. More on the tiny padlock when we get to “What’s My Line?” That’s the problem here. Angel is held back by two measly demons while Spike is ready to make Buffy a meal. The day is saved by an incredibly badass Giles, who proves “Ripper” is alive and well by beating the truth out of a cowardly, but smug Ethan. We learn that he and Ethan are old friends and that Giles has some sort of secret past. Ethan’s not the only one getting his ass kicked. Private Xander experiences catharsis by pulverizing Pirate Larry (the guy that bullied him earlier). After Giles breaks the spell, Buffy, now so grateful to be herself, wails on Spike as well. Not only is she grateful to be herself, but also later learns that Angel prefers her to any of those “simpering morons” from his human days. Seems as though she should’ve known that, but that guy is pretty aloof. Interestingly, while her costumed persona robs Buffy of her sense of self, Willow and Xander are granted confidence by theirs. Willow wakes up where her body fell when she “died” at the spell’s onset. She discards her ghost costume and walks home in the sexy outfit she was too embarrassed to wear earlier. She is seen by Oz (Seth Green), who once again wonders, “Who is that girl?” It’s an empowering moment for her and really ties “Halloween” together thematically. S2E7: “Lie to Me” (Writer: Joss Whedon/ Director: Joss Whedon) “Lie to Me” is a really good episode. It asks tough questions about loyalty, love and general morality and doesn’t shy away from real answers. Aside from that, it deepens Angel’s mythology by fleshing out his backstory, revealing another fragment of time when he was more monster than man. We are introduced to Billy “Ford” Fordham (Jason Behr), who despite being in only one episode leaves quite an impression. This is due to the fact that Joss Whedon does not write throwaway characters and he took what could have been a very two-dimensional villain and made him a boy full of complexity and contradiction. Whedon improved drastically in terms of both writing and direction from Season 1 to Season 2. The beginning of this episode is at once creepy and compelling. Drusilla, whose innocence masks the demon within, has a confusing conversation with Angel, during which he tells her to take Spike and leave town. Buffy happens to catch the end of it (which looks a bit too friendly) and is none too pleased when Angel fails to mention the encounter. Her frown is momentarily turned upside down when she runs into Ford, a former crush from her old school in LA, now matriculating at Sunnydale. “I moped over you for months. Sitting in my room listening to that Divinyls song “I Touch Myself”. Of course, I had no idea what it meant.” However, Ford has ulterior motives. He knows Buffy’s the slayer and has for quite some time. While he appears to support her, on his own he’s spending time with a weird vampire-worshipping cult. This marks the first appearance of Julia Lee as Chanterelle. While she plays a relatively small role here, she will reappear next season and go on to guest star on Angel several times. Buffy might trust Ford, but Angel’s not so sure. Jealous though he may be, he’s right to doubt her old friend. Hilariously, he seeks help from Willow, who invites him in despite not being allowed to have boys in her room. It’s a sweet scene that really begins a bond between two characters that up until this point haven’t really shared screen time one on one. Once Willow’s research confirms that the facts of Ford don’t add up, she, Xander and Angel head over to the mysterious address she was able to track him to. Hanging around the vampire cult doesn’t go great. Willow and Xander are attempting to fit in, but Angel’s not having it. Calling Chanterelle a fool, he dries up their main lead. “These people don’t know anything about vampires. What they are. How they live. How they dress.” Of course, as Angel makes this observation, he nearly collides with a dude wearing the exact same outfit as him (why Angel is wearing that red, satin shirt, we will never know). Meanwhile, Ford is off attempting to make a deal with the devil, which in this case is Spike. He offers the slayer in exchange for eternal life, which is an offer Spike can’t refuse. Due to some inconsistencies in his story, Buffy is pretty much onto Ford by that point. Angel shows up to confirm her suspicions and their conversation is one of the best scenes in “Lie to Me”. He wants Buffy to know the truth but recognizes that this means revealing more of his monstrous past. This exchange is the first time Buffy admits her love for Angel, although her trust in him is not absolute. At this point in the series, it is very difficult to reconcile the horrors of Angelus’s past sins with what we know of Angel. The audience understands the vampire’s past only in the abstract. This will change by mid-season, but for now, when Angel explains the torture he inflicted on Drusilla, his actions are hard to fathom. He didn’t just sire her. First, he drove her mad, killing her loved ones and destroying all that she held dear, only turning her into a demon after she fled to a convent. We have seen enough of Spike’s paramour to know that she is broken, but we now know that Angelus is the one who broke her. Buffy arrives early to the trap Ford has set for her in the hopes of catching him off guard. Unfortunately, he’s ready for her. Buffy puts together the pieces of his villainous plot as it is already beginning to take shape. The poor sheep Ford has been surrounding himself with will be nothing but “the all-you-can-eat moron bar”, as Buffy points out, although they think they will be changed. However, Ford is the only one of them who struck the bargain of immortality. It turns out that he is already dying, with maybe six months to live. “Lie to Me” centers on questions of morality and Ford’s decision to trade Buffy’s life and the lives of others so that he might live is at the heart of it. Despite foiling his plot, Buffy cannot help but feel sorry for him. “You have a choice. You don’t have a good one, but you have a choice,” she explains. Difficult decisions always abound in BtVS and once again, Whedon subverts expectations, taking an arch villain and making him a boy who simply doesn’t want to die. Spike’s Achilles’ heel is revealed to be Drusilla and it is her accompanying him to the would-be massacre that proves to be his undoing when Buffy takes the weakened vampire hostage. Ford does receive his “reward” and is staked by Buffy for his troubles. In a touching scene between Buffy and Giles, she asks him to lie to her about life. The sad and difficult truth is that Buffy’s own life will be brutal and likely too short, but she already knows that. She understands and accepts the harsh reality she faces with a serenity that makes it easy to forget that Buffy is only sixteen years old. S2E8: “The Dark Age” (Writers: Dean Batali & Rob Des Hotel/ Director: Bruce Seth Green) “The Dark Age” isn’t one of the season’s greatest offerings, but it does expand on the man we know as Rupert Giles. We caught a glimpse of “Ripper” in “Halloween”, but BtVS gave this revelation an episode to settle in and it’s no coincidence that episode was “Lie to Me”. Giles is Buffy’s rock. He’s the adult that she can count on to take her seriously and always be straight with her. To her, he is a tweed-clad librarian with some serious research chops, whose main purpose is to guide her on her hero’s journey. As this installment reveals, Buffy really didn’t know Giles at all. This episode marks the return of one Ethan Rayne, the mysterious man with ties to Giles’s past, whose chaos-worshipping ways wreaked havoc on Sunnydale during All Hallows Eve. That’s not the only shady connection to Giles though. A man came to the high school to find him but was murdered by a scary looking woman, who pretty much turned to goo, before infecting him with whatever was infecting her. When this dude turns up dead with Giles’s info on him, the cops are looking at the librarian as a suspect. Of course, the guy is more undead than dead, but we’ll come back to that. Notably, this episode features the gang playing “Anywhere But Here”, a game that they have apparently played fairly often. Buffy is getting a foot rub from Gavin Rossdale at a beach on some island. Willow is in Florence eating ziti and gets seated with John Cusack. For Xander, it’ll always be Amy Yip at the Waterslide Park. Giles doesn’t need to imagine a better time and place because things are heating up between him and Jenny Calendar. Too bad his old demons have to settle old scores and by that, I mean demons literally. Giles is spooked when the cops confront him with the murder of Philip Henry, who turned out to be an old friend. This former acquaintance also happens to be sporting a tattoo, a tattoo that we discover Giles has as well. When the Watcher starts shirking his responsibilities, Buffy is concerned, because let’s face it: that guy’s not much of a shirker. Meanwhile, Giles is discovering that the woman who killed Philip at the episode’s beginning, Deirdre, is also deceased. While he’s busy putting the pieces together, his old buddy Philip is waking up in the morgue. It turns out that Giles wasn’t born wearing tweed. In fact, the guy was kind of a huge badass. Unfortunately, this extended beyond the typical traits of teenage rebellion. Giles and his college pals experimented with raising demons and now that demon, Eyghon, has come a calling. The last two men standing on the demon’s path to vengeance are Giles and Ethan Rayne. While Buffy is catching up with Ethan, Giles is home drinking himself into a stupor. Eyghon shows up, wearing Philip’s skin, but apparently, no dead human can contain the demon for long. He turns to goo much like poor Deirdre and as for the demon…Jenny was knocked unconscious during the altercation, giving Eyghon an out, unknown to everyone else. Giles isn’t talking, so the Scoobies need to do some digging on their own. Back at Giles’s place, he’s cozying up to Jenny, completely ignorant of the fact that Eyghon is pulling her strings. By the time the gang figures out where Eyghon is, Giles is getting his ass kicked by the demon. The possession of a live host will be permanent unless they can figure out a way to make Eyghon leave, but the demon is hell bent on killing Giles and Ethan first. Ethan, brave soul that he is, attempts to send Buffy to her death in his stead, by tattooing her with the demon’s mark after removing his own. It’s actually Willow who winds up saving the day here. By calling on Angel to fight the demon (who when threatened, will jump to the nearest dead or unconscious person), she found someone that could not only contain the demon but destroy it. “The Dark Age” isn’t a stellar episode, but in terms of character development, it gets the job done. The sexual tension between Xander and Cordelia begins to percolate and Willow continues to come into her own. Buffy discovers that Giles isn’t perfect and this revelation only deepens the bond between them. That relationship will only continue to grow stronger throughout the season, but this installment helped them to see one another more clearly. This episode continues to explore the contradictions inherent in human nature that were raised in “Lie to Me”. The saddest development of “The Dark Age” is Jenny’s rejection of Giles after the Eyghon ordeal. The girl really shouldn’t be throwing stones, considering her own ulterior motives, but more on that later. See larger image Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Complete Second Season (Slim Set) The complete second season of the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. New From: $24.99 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.