harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
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Buffy Review: "What's My Line?" part I







Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2, Episode 9


"What's My Line?" Part I


Written by: Howard Gordon & Marti Noxon
Dir: David Solomon


Blurb: As career week at school has Buffy wondering what her future may have been like, Spike hires three professional bounty hunters to ensure she has no future at all.




Scene 01: We open at Sunnydale High on a banner that lets us know that it is career week at the school. This where students are given aptitude tests that are supposed to help them determine what skill sets they have, so they can pursue a career taking advantage of their strengths.

Willow comes in, all smiles, because she likes tests.

Xander is sitting at a table with Buffy, complaining about how such tests are designed to take the spontaneity out of life. Cordelia wanders by filling out her own quiz, making herself look much more interested in other people than her behavior, or language, or prior experience would suggest (although, this is certainly a foreshadowing of where Cordy is headed in retrospect). Buffy takes this opportunity to once again be "waaahh, I'm the Slayer, my destiny is already written, wahhhh".


Commentary: I know, I know! Being the Slayer is a burden; I get it. But honestly, Buffy? You're friggin getting boring with your whining.


Xan calls Buffy out on her attitude with a quip, and she realizes she's being off-putting with her anger issue. That doesn't stop her from whining some more, though.


Commentary: I do like the suggestion that Buffy's real issue is that she doesn't have much of a future because of the Slayerhood. This not only ties into the lingering trauma of The Master defeating and killing her in S1, but also the reality that Slayers die by their late 20's of 'job related causes'. But it bugs the hell out me, too, because she is constantly bringing everyone else down with it at every opportunity. Why can't you just let Willow have her little excited moment without reminding her that you're likely to get killed soon before you can have an alternate career? Why do you have to place that kind of burden on your friends' shoulders over this tiny thing? It's selfish.


Scene 02: At the Aurelious Hideout, Drusilla is turning over Tarot cards. As she does this, Spike is working with a vampire we'll come to know as Dalton. Dalton is an unusually bookworm-y vamp. Spike turned him in order to help with with translating a mystic tome that is supposed to tell them how to restore Drusilla to health.

Unfortunately, Dalton is having quite the problem with translating this dense tome, which pisses Spike off, so he hits him. Dru asks Spike to dance with her to the music that is only in her head. He snaps at her, impatiently. Like when she was speaking to her dead bird and annoyed Spike, she does the little manipulative whimper thingie and he immediately rushes to her side, all apologies. Oh, Spike, you're such an easy mark. Spike explains to her that he's not frustrated with her, but with the manuscript that is resisting their efforts to read sensibly.

Drusilla has a weak spell, and Spike helps her sit (we never do find out exactly what is happening to her, but it must be some sort of hex or magic because she'll be restored with a ritual). Dru expresses her confidence that Spike will make things right, and he kisses her before going back to Dalton to demand answers. Dru has meanwhile gone back to her cards.



Spike punches and threatens Dalton some more, but Dru interrupts again. According to her cards, Dalton can't help without a key to the language that the manuscript is written in. With some progress finally being made, Spike picks up Dru and spins her around and there are smiles all around.


Theme Music & Credits


Scene 03: That evening, Buffy is on a patrol when she hears the sound of a pick on rock coming from inside one of the many mausoleums of Sunnydale. She takes a peek and sees Dalton digging something out of one of the burial chambers within. Buffy silently closes the door into the tomb, and then stands outside to wait for Dalton to emerge.

She quips at him, but another vampire comes up behind her and she has to spin-punch the new foe. When she finishes off the intruder vamp, she turns expecting to fight with Dalton, but she finds him missing in action.


Scene 04: Back at her house, Angel is pacing in her bedroom. She comes into through her bedroom window and finds him holding onto Mr. Gordo, her piggie doll. She jokes with him about it.

Buffy asks him what he needs, which he replies 'nothing' to. As she tells him though, he has "something face". In a cute bit, she tells him that he doesn't need to whisper as Joyce is in L.A. on an art-thing. He asks why she came in through the window, and she gets a confused look on her face and replies "habit".


Commentary: Of course, Angel should already know that Joyce isn't home. His enhanced senses would know if there is anyone in the house at any particular moment. But, it's a cute little moment, so we'll just except it for what it is. Which means, I didn't need to comment on that, except to let you know that I know.... Wow, I'm a prat.


Angel tells Buffy he just wanted to check on her because of a "bad feeling", which she is immediately cranky about because the only time she sees him is when he wants to impart bad news. She apologizes moments later, telling him she's been cranky all day because of school. He surprises her by knowing about career week. To her inquiry he reminds her that he lurks.


Commentary: This is another cute moment. David and Sarah have a nice, easy chemistry with one another, so like with Spike & Dru, they can sell these random moments. Plus, David's acting has gotten much improved since Season One (though, we still have no idea just how great he can be until he turns into an a-hole).


Buffy complains about how everyone else gets to play "What's My Line", but her. [Another nice moment: Buffy looks at herself in the mirror with Angel sitting beside her, but of course, he isn't in the reflection. It's just another reminder, whatever her attraction to him, that he's part of the abnormal life she is leading.]

As they talk about her desire for a more normal life (with the exception of knowing him), he picks up a photo of her as a child on ice-skates. She goes into her memory of using ice-skating as an escape from her parents fighting and her shrine to Dorothy Hamill.


Commentary: And yes, this is another small, but nice moment between them. Part I doesn't have a lot going on, because it is all set up for Part II - but it what it does have is a lot of nice acting moments throughout.


Angel notes that there is a rink out on the highway that is closed on Tuesdays that they can sneak into, which is the following day. [Aw, he's so sweet.]


Scene 05: The following day, Cordy and Xander trade snark over the aptitude quiz results posted on a board outside. Willow and Buffy arrive, talking about how sweet Angel is and the upcoming skating date.


Commentary: G'damn it. Once again, a relatively pleasant little scene is ruined by the costumer. Honestly... why can't Nicky just wear blue jeans?! Those pants are... I-I'm just, I'm appalled. I can't even imagine where you'd find these trousers.


It turns out that Cordelia's career has been suggested as Personal Shopper. Xan has been assigned to the Correctional Authority seminar. Buffy has been assigned to Law Enforcement, and poor Willow didn't get listed at all, which upsets her mightily, as she made sure to use a #2 pencil and everything!


Commentary: So, if everyone is being forced to attend seminars to explore their suggested career path, what exactly is Cordy going to learn about shopping that she doesn't already know?! Also, I don't think Cordy should be so pleased. I'm not sure she realizes that she'll be shopping for somebody else, not herself. I don't see that lasting very long.


Scene 06: In the library, Buffy checks in with Giles. She reports the previous night's activities and he's unusually short with her when she reports that one of the vamps escaped with something stolen, but that she didn't investigate it. He raises his voice at her, and she responds sarcastically about replacing her... oh, that's right, he can't.


Commentary: Yeah, yeah, I know. Yes, he can. With Kendra. We don't know that yet, stop jumping the gun.


Giles responds that they need to find out what was stolen.


Scene 07: Back at Spike and Dru's, we find out. It is a large and gaudy, golden crucifix. Dru is lying in bed weakly and informs Spike that the cross is humming to her. He assures her that this trinket will reveal how to save and restore her and then they're going to party on main street with blood letting.

Dalton brings up the Slayer. Spike bitches about her. He decides that they need to get Buffy out of the way, and since he has failed to kill her himself, decides to bring in some professionals (Yeah, Spike, tried and failed also - ). He decides to place a contract out on Buffy's head with something called The Order of Taraka.

Somehow Dalton, despite being relatively newly turned, knows all about the Order. He describes calling them in as overkill.


Commentary: If you'd like to guess now that they're going to turn out to be another set of The Three and Fork Hand Guy... i.e. talked up, but failing to kill anyone and quickly disappearing, give yourself a gold star.


Scene 08: Presumably the following day, in order to give the assassins time to arrive, Xan tells Willow that Buffy is off with Giles on a "field trip", so they have to distract Principal Snyder so he doesn't notice that she isn't at the career fair where she's supposed to be meeting up with her policewoman seminar contact.

Snyder is not going to be put off however, as we know that he has a special kind of hate for Buffy (because of her whiff of jail... well, and plus that little thing that we don't know yet). He tells them not to waste their breath trying to claim that they 'just saw her' and that she's 'around her somewhere'.


Commentary: I love Armin as Snyder! His character is much more entertaining than Quark on DS9 and his every cutting line is so damned funny in a way that Cordelia doesn't always reach. Despite that fact that he can be just as small and mean as her, it's easier to take, because we're meant to dislike him so.


Once Snyder wanders away and Xan goes to meet with the prison warden for his own seminar, two mysterious gentlemen come up to Willow. They give off a familiar vibe, like those FBI/CIA/Intelligence agents that showed up to take Marcie away [And, why hasn't she been brought back to track down and try to assassinate Buffy in the S8 comic? It seems like such an obvious place to bring back a 'blast from the past'].

She's escorted to an area that has been blocked off from the rest of the room behind a curtain. [Oh, and did you notice that poor postman standing there waiting desperately for someone to talk to him... I feel so sorry for him!]


Scene 09: She's offered shrimp and canapes and informed that she's been selected to be recruited by a major software concern (a very thinly veiled Microsoft with an implication that Bill Gates himself is flying in to meet with her... which we'll never hear about again). Suit guy tells Willow that they're very selective, so despite the immediate creep factor when he informs her they've been tracking her for some time, she should feel excited about this opportunity. He further informs her that only one other student met their criteria.



She turns around, and the other student is laid-back slacker, Oz! Yay, they get to meet! He is pleasantly surprised to see the girl from Halloween sitting next to him.


Commentary: We're all pleased, Oz. We're all very pleased. Like with Giles, I'm not giving you a choice about loving him.


Scene 10: At the cemetery, Buffy and Giles continue their argument about Buffy's Slayerhood and her sacred duty and why she can't feel blessed to have her calling, etc.

She's pissed at him for being so harsh in the library. And then she's appalled when he suggests that perhaps one day she can look into law enforcement as an alternate gainful employment option.


Scene 11: In the mausoleum, they check out the burial space that Dalton chiselled into. Giles notes the tomb belongs to the du Lac family and this disturbs him greatly. It seems that the du Lacs were a religious sect, meaning that they may have had something mystical buried with them. Which means, anything the vampires might be interested in obtaining could not be good for he and Buffy.

Giles is further bothered because the book that the vampires stole in "Lie To Me" happened to have been written by one of the du Lacs, pointing to some greater plot going on.


Scene 12: Meanwhile, at the Sunnydale Bus Station, a rough trade looking dude gets off of the bus looking shifty and evil....


Scene 13: Over in front of Buffy's house, a gentleman with a case walks by her home, very obviously checking it out and filling us with a bad feeling. He passes by deliberately and then goes up to the door of her neighbor's. He introduces himself to the neighbor woman as a cosmetics salesman and asks for a moment of her time. Unfortunately for her, she lets him in. We hear a short scream moments later.


Commentary: Also, notice that he knows her name as well, so he clearly did some research before breezing into town.


Scene 14: While our two obvious assassins are setting themselves up to stalk Buffy, we see a jet come in to Sunnydale Airport (yeah, it's about here that you can stop thinking about Sunnydale as a very small town... clearly this is a city at this point and rapidly growing).

On the tarmac, a worker comes into the hold and thinks he sees someone where they don't belong. Instead of immediately calling security, he calls out to whoever it is and walks deeper into the hold. This, unshockingly, is a mistake [But at least it is slightly more plausible than the rest of the population ignoring what goes on in town... after all, it's daylight, and usually the weird deaths occur at night. It's the people who insist on wandering down dark alleys that I don't understand].

Airport Worker Guy gets his ass kicked and knocked unconscious. We then see a mysterious woman sneaking off of the plane.



Commentary: Again, with the awful clothes. Seriously, can someone please explain to me what the mandate of the costuming department was?


Scene 15: In the library, Buffy and Giles get Willow and Xander caught up to speed on the latest threat. Giles has also found what the vampires were likely after... and found, the du Lac cross.

Giles promises a long night of research, which Willow is all giddy about and Xander is less happy with. He's just as displeased when Buffy bails.


Scene 16: So, where is our Buffy rushing off to? Her skate date with Angel of course. In broad daylight. Let me guess, the rink has convenient and roomy sewer tunnel access as well.

We see Buffy skating, oblivious to the rough trade dude from the bus spying on her.


Scene 17: Buffy skates near the side wall of the rink, and gracelessly falls, where the scary dude grabs her from behind and begins to choke her out. Angel picks this opportune moment to show and distracts the choker enough to let go of Buffy. Angel and he begin to tussle.

The scary dude appears to have some form of enhanced strength, as he's able to stun Angel with a body blow and then to begin cutting off his carotid arteries with pressure...


Commentary: ... That is SUCH a huge fan wank! The objective fact is that Joss, et al are in the habit of having vampires get choked out which makes ZERO sense, since vamps don't need air! THEY'RE DEAD.

There are two "in universe explanations" we can use... the one I've gone with, based strictly on trying to understand why Spike choking Dru later in the season would render her unconscious and that though they don't need the air, crushing the trachea can still cause enough pain that it will act as a stunning blow to their throat: keep the pressure on the windpipe and the pain will keep the vampire pliable in many cases.

Either one will work, but this is the sort of thing that it shouldn't be necessary for the fans to explain away, since the vampire-not-needing-air is one of their defining characteristics, as specifically referenced in both
Out of Mind, Out of Sight and Prophecy Girl.

Now, I know that fans can be obsessive and nitpicking and continuity-whoring when it comes to cult status-ed shows, but this is like a BASIC thing. Vampires can't be choked, they don't need the air!



Anyway, Buffy grabs netting hanging nearby for decorative reasoning, I hope, because it looks like fisherman nets and that makes no sense whatsoever. She uses it to swing up and cut the attackers throat, which is done inexplicitly, of course, but is still cool.


Scene 18: Drusilla is lying in her bed, with Spike at her side. She turns over one of her three Tarot representing the assassins and tells Spike that one of them has fallen, in her flowery way.


Scene 19: Back at the rink, Buffy makes a quip, but she's not happy-quippy. Angel inspects the body of the attacker. He notes a symboled ring on the guy's finger and immediately proclaims that she's still in danger. Buffy quips again, but Angel isn't in the mood and snaps at her that he's serious. He orders her to go home and wait for him, while she's more worried about the cut across his head.

He tells her that he wants her to hide somewhere safe, which we know is not Buffy's style. She tries to take a closer looks the split skin over his eye but he shies away from her touch. She teases him for being a big baby, but he tells her it isn't the cut: He doesn't think she should have to touch him when he's in vamp-face, which he is because of the stress from seeing her getting choked out.

Buffy removes her glove and strokes his face and tells him that she didn't even notice. She leans up and kisses him, full on vamp mouth and everything....



Commentary: So... I'm cynical enough to be repulsed by my reaction, but B/A fanboy enough to SQUEEEEEEE in delight. I LOVE this scene, just as I'm being manipulated to be. And, I can't even be angry about it. This scene is entirely too sweet for anyone with diabetes, but it is also setting us and Buffy up ... we've been conditioned to stop seeing Angel as the demonic creature that he is. And, that is why when events coming up happen, it is so much more devestating. We've been masterfully emotionally manipulated into forgetting all about those silly stories about Angel's dark past and see him in light of the TORTURED HERO WITH A DARK PAST trope, in which we know he did awful things, but they're all so far away from the man we know and care for, that we just don't let any of it impact how we see "our Angel".

It really is brilliant, exactly because of what Joss et al is going to do using these expectations that Angel did bad things, but now he is a good guy to put the screws to Buffy and then to us (
Passion is coming up soon... and it just tears me up).


As Buffy and Angel's kiss deepens on the ice rink, the mysterious girl from the airport spies on them....


Scene 20: Later in the library, Giles is examining the ring. Buffy tells Giles about how freaked out Angel was over the symbol on it, and Giles confirms that he had good reason. He explains a brief history of the Order of Taraka to Buffy.

Xander tries to lighten the mood with his usual joshing, but Giles snaps at him harshly, showing just how worried he is that the Tarakans have come into the picture. When Giles suggests that Buffy hide out until they can come up with a plan, she gets freaked out, too. Since when does Angel and Rupert agree on the Slayer running and hiding?

He explains that the Tarakans are especially trained to have no earthly desires -- there is nothing to distract them from their bounty and where one fails, another will come in his or her place... they simply will not stop coming until the target is eliminated. And, there number is far greater than The Three, one would imagine.


Scene 21: Giles explains in VO, as we see the makeup salesman surrounded by bugs and watching Buffy's house, that the Order is made up of demons, humans, and who knows what else. Each of them works alone and doesn't know the others on an assignment, so if one is captured, he or she cannot give out any information on anyone else. And, she won't know who any of them are until they're standing in front of her and killing her.

We see that Norman Pfister, the bug guy, has the creepy crawlies not just surrounding him but on him, giving us a hint as to what may have become of Buffy's ill-fated neighbor.

As we focus on "Norman", we see him form an arm completely out of bugs (I think they're harmless mealworms, but I'm sure they're meant to be threatening) so he can have a cup of tea.

So, we've had Rough Trade Guy, who is dead. We've got Norman Pfister - made out of bugs. And, we've got mysterious cargo plane chick in the night club disco-pajamas, thus far.


Scene 22: In the hallway at school, Buffy's nerves are taking a toll. Every bang in the hallway, every person giving her a side-glance, every student that may bump into her has to be considered an potential assassin working for the Order.


Commentary: This is nicely directed in order to give us a sense of Buffy's paranoia and the impact it's having on her as she walks down the busy, crowded school hallway.


One of the people that Buffy focuses on are a Policewoman, that she should be having a seminar with later as part of career week, and a man who looks like he's reaching for a switchblade, but it turns out to be a comb. Buffy senses something or someone coming up on her and she spins in a freak out and slams a student against a locker.

But, this isn't an assassin, it's just cutey-Oz. Cutey-Oz can't hurt anyone... right?



Commentary: Yeah, y'all know why it's so interesting in retrospect that Buffy's senses would have honed right in on Oz.... Neat foreshadowing.


Buffy apologizes to him. Oz just shakes it off as Buffy being an intense person.


Scene 23: That night, Buffy is limping down her street (her knee is still banged up from her fight earlier --- which... hmmm... not really buying). She stops in front of her house, but with it being empty (Joyce is presumably still in L.A.), she bypasses it with a look of worry.


Scene 24: In the library, Willow and Giles are working on trying to identify what was in the book the vampires stole in order to figure out what the game plan is. Perhaps if they can stop it, the Order of Taraka contract can be nullified (I guess is the thinking). The gang worry about where Buffy is when Xander comes in to report that Buffy isn't answering her phone at home and he confirms that Joyce is still out of town.


Scene 25: Buffy has gone to Angel's place, instead, to hide out. He's not there, but it's easy for her to snap the doorknob lock and let herself in.



Buffy wanders to Angel's twin bed, and sit down, allowing herself to relax for the first time all day.


Commentary: And, this scene has so much portent in it: Angel is not here when Buffy goes to his bed and she's able to be at peace. Later, when Buffy comes to Angel's bed and he is there, there will be no peace. In fact, it will portend the changing of everything and shatter Buffy's sense of safety with Angel forever. I love the stringed instrument playing over this scene... there is something melancholy in it, which you could read as another foreshadowing that Buffy cannot find the sense of safety that she's looking for here, not only because of the attack that is coming, but because of the greater Angel issue that will be a driving force in this Season.


Buffy lies down to wait for Angel and to rest her weary body.


Scene 26: We cut to a bar, where we meet the weasely barowner, Willy. Angel has dropped in to seek information from the whisperings of the underground, which Willy is in tune with.

Willy tries to nervously beg off telling Angel anything, but quickly folds. It's quickly obvious that Willy and Angel have some sort of past history in an informant/threatener type of way.

Angel threatens Willy with some deep hurting, and Willy confirms that it is Spike who called in the Order. But, before Willy can spill what he knows about why - Angel gets knocked to the floor, suddenly! Standing over him is the mysterious cargo plane chick, and she's snaps a pool cue in half to make a pair of improvised stakes!

She lunges with the stake as we cut to commercial.


Scene 27: The mysterious woman misses, as Angel rolls out of the way. Willy takes the opportunity to take off, while the mysterious woman beats the hell out of Angel.

Angel gets knocked on his ass into a storage cage -- and like the book cage in the library, it and its lock is made out of Sunnydalearium, which is immune to vamp!strength. The girl tells Angel that she's on her way to take care of his girlfriend, and he threatens her. She just laughs smugly at him. She tells him he better hurry, as she's left him locked in the cage with an eastern exposure via window. In a few hours when the sun rises up, he'll be dust.



Commentary: So, we have to discuss this scene, but it involves covering the reveal at the end of the episode, so I'll wait.


Scene 28: In Giles' library office, he phones Xander who has returned home at some point. Because they haven't heard from Buffy, Giles wants Xan to go to Buffy's house to check on her. He tells him to get Cordy to drive him over there.


Commentary: This exposition is kind of awkward. I just don't buy that Giles would send Xander over to Buffy's house, putting him in risk if the assassins are there waiting for her. I'd feel better about this scene if Willow had called him, whispering behind Giles' back, and telling Xan that she's really worried. She could then tell him that as Scoobies, they have to help Buffy, no matter how dangerous Giles says it may be. She could then make a catty comment about Cordelia, but admitting since she is the one with the car, he should go ahead a call her.


He returns to the library room proper and finds Willow passed out in front of the computer. Willow has been there all night and she gets startled awake with a "Don't warn the tadpoles!" She explains to Giles that she has frog-fear. She apologizes for conking out.


Commentary: Willow's immediate concern that she isn't doing enough is interesting in retrospect, because here it is being used as the set up to the cute, little frog-fear thing. But looking back, you can also see this as an indication that Willow puts a lot of pressure on herself over helping Buffy. Such pressure, that she berates herself for common human fallacies, like falling asleep 'on the job'. One has to wonder if this might not be a driving factor later in her obsession with making everything "right" for Buffy and her friends... even if she has to use immoral and irresponsible means to do it. Willow feels too much responsibility for everything that happens around her that she, as far as she believes, could have and should have done something to prevent. And when she actually begins to develop the ability to intervene more directly, it quickly spirals out of control with the lines blurring between helping her friends, and simply with 'wiping away' everything that might be hard or painful. By S6, we see Willow's deep desire to "save everyone" turn into a more selfish desire to make things easier for herself.


He blows off her concern about falling asleep, but shares with her that he's found something useful about the du Lac manuscript/cross thing-a-mabob involving a ritual to restore the strength to a sick vampire.


Scene 29: At the hideout, Dalton has been able to piece together the translation of the ritual Giles spoke about. Spike is very pleased and informs Dru, but she's now aware of what they needed this whole time, as well.


Commentary: Putting the bruises on Juliet's arms was a good, subtle way of showing us just how weak Dru has become over the last few episodes. This whole plot point still seems to come out of nowhere, to me though, as she certainly didn't seem very weak in "Lie To Me", when she was hanging out in the park.


She places Spike's fingers on one of her Tarot cards... the picture of an Angel....


Scene 30: Cordelia and Xander arrive at Buffy's house, where they trade insults back and forth. They check Buffy's home for her. While Xander is checking upstairs, there is a knock on the door. When Cordy answers, it is our buggy salesman, offering free makeup samples, which naturally Cordelia leaps on. She invites him into Buffy's house in a direct echo of Buffy's neighbor, so we know that Cordy and Xan are now in deadly danger.


Scene 31: In the utterly indestructible storage cage at Willy's, Angel is quickly weakening as the sun rises higher in the sky and threatens to reach his skin.


Scene 32: Meanwhile, Buffy had fallen asleep in his bed. She comes awake, JUST IN TIME to avoid an axe at her head!

The axe is wielded by the cargo plan chick and she and Buffy have a fight as mystery girl tries to hack her to death.


Commentary: First, kudos for the exciting introduction of Kendra to Buffy. Second, I like the fight coreography here as well as Buffy continuing to quip, while mysterious chick stays silent and focused. When she does response to Buffy, she seems thrown off by her verbal sparring which perfectly encapsulates the differences between the two women.


In a break from the physical fight, with both girls apparently having found their foe a little stronger than they'd expected, the mysterious girl asks who Buffy is?! Buffy turns the question back on her, as she of course thinks Kendra is the Tarakan assassin who came for her. But, the fact that Kendra doesn't know who Buffy is, seriously messes up this assumption.

That is when we get our bomb drop, as Kendra introduces herself as, "I'm Kendra! The Vampire Slayer."

Buffy is left with "WTH"-face. And we jump to a "To Be Continued" blurb.



Commentary: Which lead us back to scene 27. Once we learn that Kendra is a Slayer, it just doesn't make any sense that she wouldn't have immediately staked Angel to finish the job. What we learn of her in the next episode and when she returns to Sunnydale later, is that she is a no-nonsense type of Slayer ... the exact opposite of the Slayer that Faith will be. There just isn't any justification in her character for why she'd leave Angel alive in the storage cage before going after Buffy.


The Good: I like Dalton, the book worm vampire.

I also like the dialog throughout between our characters that keep what is basically an "all set up" episode moving and engaging, where it could have been boring and static.

The small moments between Buffy and Angel are really wonderfully acted by Sarah AND by David. I'm really liking the way that their romance is developing at this early stage, probably largely because of the way that Sarah and David work with one another.

Armin Shimerman continues to be wonderfully spiteful and funny as Principal Snyder.

I deeply love the scene with Buffy not noticing Angel in vampire-face, while he is feeling disgusted that he can't morph back to person-face because of the adrenaline... or whatever the vampire equivalent is. Despite my naturally bitter cynic, this scene always fills me with a warm sense of awwwwwwwww.... Ick, really. I don't know how I'm allowing my heartstrings to be pulled this way.

I like Kendra being set up as an assassin with the Order, only for her to claim to be a Vampire Slayer at the cliffhanger. I also find the fight leading up to this claim to be fun.


The Bad: Only small things that are always ridiculous -- like the habit of thin wire cages and bicycle locks to resist super strength when the script demands.

There are a few small scenes that seem more designed to eat up time, then actually advancing plot: Willow being escorted to the curtained off area (which comes off as slightly sinister for no reason -- look at the way the suit guys are holding her elbows), her meeting Oz just sits there, Buffy grabbing Oz in the hallway... these are all a way to sort of bring Oz into the group, but they aren't necessary, because Oz has already been introduced as being interested in Willow and he'll have a more direct role in getting involved with the Scoobies/interacting with Willow in Part II ... his scenes here aren't doing anything. And, much as find Snyder amusing, his "where is Buffy / I don't believe you, but I'm wandering off" doesn't really do anything either.


Other Thoughts: When you really sit down to analyze this episode, you realize that things just sort of wander along. But, this is really the way to handle a set-up episode. Things don't drag, even in scenes that don't really advance the narrative any and the dialog between the characters keep things humming along, so you don't realize that not much happens because it's being saved for the resolutions in Part II. I do find Buffy's continuing angry outbursts toward her Slayerhood to be annoying and repetitive at this point, though.


The Score: I like this episode, even divorced from the resolution of the story in Part II, because of the character interactions and the fight scenes. I like the way Kendra is handled (we'll discuss the accent issue next episode - but can we give Bianca a break on that, now, please?) and the way Buffy and Angel's relationship is advancing.

3.75 out of 5



-end-

Tags: buffy season 2 reviews
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