As I work my way through the review of 'Bad Eggs', a.k.a. playing CIV IV, I pause for a moment to give you this Best of / Worst of Character Moments post. This is my very mini-posting on the moments of an episode where our characters shine forth and make us proud... and those moments where we're more throwing a pillow at them and hitting the television.
Our episode today is BTVS' Season II premiere, 'When She Was Bad' the tale of Buffy Summers' acting like a total beeyotch to her friends, just 'cause of that little thing where she went off to her destiny to save 'em, and then got herself dead for a minute.
I'd give Buffy a huggle, but she's not really in a receiving mood....
OUR CHARACTERS ARE GREAT!
Buffy Summers: Buffy gets a lot of less than stellar moments in this episode, due to her emotional fragility in the face of being deaded in Prophecy Girl. But, I did find her simultaneously staking one vampire, while setting Absalom alight with the same tiki-torch to be awesome.
Xander Harris: Xan doesn't get many powerful character moments in this episode, and of those, there aren't any 'wow' moments. I do choose to give him a kudos for not holding a grudge toward Buffy for her sexy-dance on him in The Bronze. She really left him on the dance floor feeling embarassed and belittled, but by the end of the episode he's acting like nothing happened -- that was classy of him.
Willow Rosenberg: Willow recognizes nearly immediately that the trap set for Buffy is, in fact, a clear trap. She tries to warn Buffy about rushing in without prep, but the Slayer isn't in the mood for a listen. No one knows at the time, that the trap is actually about Willow and Giles, but at least she does recognize the gist and tries to warn Buffy about it. She's one smart gal.
Rupert Giles: Giles just doesn't get any wonderful moments this episode. I can't give him a kudos in this one.
Angel: No, I'm sorry. I just don't get a power-moment vibe from any of Angel's scenes either. No kudos for you.
Cordelia Chase: Oh, there can be only one thing on this list for Ms. Chase: Her giving Buffy some advice over her new attitude is sheer Cordy-awesome. I want to hug her. But, I'm pretty sure I'd get a snide, "Do you mind...?" in return.
WHY DO OUR CHARACTERS SUCK?!
Buffy Summers: Poor traumatized Buffy really goes all out in trying to alienate everyone she knows (except for mom, who she doesn't talk to, but isn't actively horrible toward). For her most sucky moment, though, I'm gonna go with that public humiliation of Xander, hurting Angel and being smugly spiteful toward Willow all in one dance.
As I explained things in the review:
"But Buffy has not finished yet with alienating her friends and allies, oh no. Her next trick is to decide she wants to dance with Xander - knowing how Willow feels about him, and she's going to take the opportunity to sexual tease him with a way too close for friends grind."
Commentary: This, I think, is mostly for Angel's benefit in order to throw that she's "moved on" in his face, again. But, I can't help but think her anger is also directed at Xander and Willow here, too. After all, if her friends hadn't been in such immediate danger from The Master's threatened rise, she wouldn't have gone to face him down... in fact, it was Willow being so upset that acted as the impetus for her to regain her Slayerhood and go to her fate. It's hard to believe that this particular scene with Xander on the dance floor isn't being directed at her best friend as well with a particular maliciousness. I can't quite decide about how she feels toward Xander: I'm pretty sure that she's using him here as a knife toward Angel and Willow, but I'm also relatively sure that her anger is also being directed toward him. I think also that there are a three different, but related reasons for treating him like crap here. One, as mentioned, is a way to hurt Angel and Willow. Secondly though, Xan is tied to her being the Slayer, which she has a general anger toward at this point, because of what happened to her directly because of it. But, third - Xander brought her back and if it wasn't for him, she wouldn't be feeling all of the buried fear and emotional pain she is right now.
"If he wasn't included in her anger, she would have stopped at the sexy dance, but instead she adds - slinking up to him:
"Have I ever thanked you for saving my life? Don't you wish I would," before leaving him standing there, humiliated."
Xander Harris: I'm not going to give Xan a black mark on his character for this episode. He doesn't do anything repulsive, although I will say he seems a bit too insensitive to what Willow is attempting in The Bronze with the ice cream on her nose. But, I'm letting him skate by on this one.
Willow Rosenberg: OH, WILLOW. That transparent attempt to recapture the ice cream moment is so transparent that it actually hurts me to see it. It has 'weak' all over it.
Rupert Giles: Wow, Giles. That attempt to bury and guard The Master's remains is the most half-hearted, shoddy, pathetic attempt at hiding something in the history of ever. I am ... appalled... with your complete lack of attempt, here.
Cordelia Chase: Cordelia has the usual character gripes: She's shallow and self-involved, but she doesn't grate with it in this episode. You could dock her on her complaining about a summer in Italy, if you wanted or butting into business between Buffy and her friends in The Bronze, or that whole speaking in a crowded hallway about Buffy's fighting of monsters over the summer. I choose not to. Ms. Chase gets a walk by from me this time out.
Angel: The only thing about Angel that grates me is his penchant for waking her up in the middle of the night for useless trivia. I mean, really. He couldn't have just warned her that the Annointed may be plotting something at a decent hour of the evening? He had to show up outside her window and stare at her sleeping, wake her up and then give her not urgent and general warnings? STALKER.