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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

April 19, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 2-02 1 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

It’s A New Season: A BTVS Retrospective, S2, Eps 1-2


Hey, it’s time for Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 2! It almost can’t possibly be worse than season 1, a dozen episodes of poor writing, mostly bad jokes, and insipid threats. And that one episode where the FBI just barges in like they just ran in from the ending of Monty Python & The Holy Grail! But hey, at least Cordelia had her Learning To Drive background subplot.

Let’s see if S2 is the improvement I have heard it is, but… I have my doubts.

Episode 1

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We kick things off near the end of summer vacation, and Xander and Willow are out playing “Guess The Movie Quote” while on a walk. They note that Buffy has been off with her dad all summer, and after The Master’s death, SunnyDale has been peaceful. After some playful goofing off, the pair almost kiss… until a vampire attacks! It is quickly thwarted by a returning Buffy, however.

At the Summers residence, Mom and Dad are unpacking Buffy’s clothes and shoes. Dad remarks that Buffy was distant all summer, even though he tried to overcompensate with a shopping spree.

Summer break is over! At the first day of school, Giles and Principal Snyder discuss how much the latter absolutely despises high school aged children, and he claims he only got into the field because SOMEONE needs to keep an eye on the brats. Giles gets distracted by the Technopagan Lady (Ms. Calendar! I learned her named again!) and wanders off.

Giles explains that the Hellmouth is still active and affecting SunnyDale, even though the door is technically closed. That’s why the vampire was around to attack Willow and Xander. Gee, it sure was nice of the Hellmouth to not decide to do anything all summer while Buffy was out of town. You’d think evil could have eradicated Sunnydale in three months given the pace it was moving at last season.

Buffy trains very hard. Or dreams about training very hard. I forget. Either way, she is having dreams of The Master killing her, and she is clearly fucked up from the experience, which is fair! She dreams that Giles turns into The Master and attacks her while her friends watch. It’s actually VERY refreshing to see a character go through this kind of trauma! She faced stuff no one should ever have to, and so often, heroic protagonists just move on like it’s no problem.

Oh, The Anointed is still around, and now people are calling him The Anointed One, which feels new. He has another group of vampires at his beck and call. Angel drops in on Buffy to tell him this, and she is a jerk to him for caring about her condition. She does turn to say “I missed you, too” after he says he missed her, but he has already gone. Do vampires have super hearing? I guess not. They better not have it later!

Cordelia shows up, and she has BANGS. Bangs like a mother fucker. Is this what we looked like in the late 90’s in high school? How sad for us. Anyway, she remembers everything, and she promises to keep Buffy’s secret. In return, Buffy insults her. Oh, so Buffy is an asshole; that’s how she is coping with her trauma. Well this season will be a complete joy then, won’t it?

The Anointed and his minions dig up The Master’s bones, and I am reminded of a complaint I had in the season one finale that I forgot to voice: Why didn’t HIS bones turn to dust? Must be made out of the same stuff as that one vampire’s ring from season one. Shit happens in this show because the plot wants it to.

Everyone is at The Bronze, and Buffy does a downright salacious dance all up on Xander just to make Angel jealous. Honestly? It’s ridiculously hot, and you have to recall these characters are SEVENTEEN. She is basically purring in Xander’s ear that she would do anything to thank him for saving her life. Jesus fuck, do I… do I feel bad for XANDER now? She knows he likes her, and she’s just fucking with him.

Also, remember 90’s WB/UPN TV shows and how much they LOVED featuring indie bands playing on a stage for their characters? Buffy does it with some frequency. Charmed did it. Ally McBeal. Pretty sure Gilmore Girls had some. Why was this a thing? We now interrupt Buffy The Vampire Slayer for 45 seconds of this band you’ll never hear of again! Hurray!

CORDELIA of all people calls out Buffy outside of The Bronze for what she is doing. Buffy storms off in a huff, and in the background, vamps abduct Cordelia like a fucking cartoon. Was this show supposed to be animated? I really keep wondering this. Hopefully they lock Cordy in a safe or tie her to a railroad track.

At the library, Buffy continues being in-fucking-sufferable to everyone, and XANDER is the one who calls her out, snapping “That is just about enough!” at her. Holy frijoles, the 180 on his character from season one. The Principal sees Buffy off, then states he can smell the future prison time on her, stating it’s like a 6th sense he has, to which Giles says “That’s just one of the five, actually”. This season is already better than S1 where I never laughed until Xander’s Vampire Bat joke.

Angel arrives to help Buffy save Cordy, but Buffy IS STILL AWFUL and challenges him to a fight. He reminds her she doesn’t have time for this. Look, I GET IT. She’s going through some stuff, but this development is too sudden. Let’s see her fall from grace for a few episodes to get to this state. But no, she is Zero To Bitch in one episode.

It turns out the vampires need to sacrifice the humans who were closest to The Master when he died: Cordy, Willow, Giles, and Ms. Calendar. After having lured Buffy away to try to save Cordy, the vamps jump the rest of the team. They beat the snot out of Xander and leave him bloody… but alive. Man, back in season one that would have INFURIATED me. Now I just see it as dumb plot armor. When Buffy arrives, Xander gives her shit for bailing on the team, and I am very internally confused by what this episode is doing by making me like this douche.

Buffy, Xander, and Angel break up the sacrifice, and I am amazed at how vampires always pick battlegrounds that are chock full of breakable planks of wood. Buffy gets a sledgehammer and goes full HHH on The Master’s bones. Catharsis! I am sure there are going to be at least three more “once in a lifetime” prophecies in the next 9 months that The Anointed can use to revive The Master.

Buffy apologizes and everyone forgives her. So is this plot line already over? She’s better? Wow, okay. Not that I wanted ten episodes of THIS Buffy, but it feels like PTSD shouldn’t be a one episode wrap-up.

There is an epilogue that makes me think “Oh, of course we can’t just leave our heroes on a happy note”, but all it is is The Anointed finding The Master’s busted bones and saying “I hate that girl”. Hahaha, this is the best episode of the show so far.

Episode 2

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

The episode kicks off with Buffy sitting in a graveyard, waiting for a new vamp to awaken. Angel shows up and they talk a bit. Buffy apologizes for her S2E1 behavior but NOW ANGEL IS A DICK TO HER. God, I hate TV show tropes. Why can’t characters ever be on the same page? They stomp the new vamp out, but then notice something unusual: a nearby grave has been dug up and the body inside dragged away.

At school the next day, there is a MANDATORY SCIENCE FAIR. Which I love because it forces people like Cordelia to come up with an experiment. She chooses: Tomato – Fruit Or Vegetable? Never change, Cordy. You are clearly the best character of this show.

A skeevy kid named Eric is taking pictures of all the girls in school. He is apparently friends with or the brother of or SOMETHING with Willow’s science rival, Chris. They talk after the protagonists leave. He mentioned Cordelia is “alive”. I mean, yeah. She is. Also, apparently he had an older brother that died.

Cordelia is full-on part of The Team now. She is involved in the group meeting as they try to figure out why a grave was robbed. She is “with them” now, but she refuses to go grave-digging with them. She has cheerleading to attend to!

The Team dig up the graves of some other recently dead young women, but all of the bodies are missing! Meanwhile, Cordy is stalked by someone outside of cheer practice. She hides in a dumpster but is found by… Angel. As they discuss Buffy’s current status, Cordelia finds a hand.

The Team performs an after hours locker-by-locker search which confirms Eric and Chris are behind everything. At their little evil lair, they have the photos of all of the girls from SunnyDale. We discover that Chris has Frankenstein’ed his brother back to life. Which… is weird. Like, did he need new body parts? I missed how he died, but was it in a way that left his body parts all destroyed? Whoof. Also, Frankenstein Brother (hereby called Frankenbro because I don’t care about his name) looks like Kane. The trio are making a Bride for him… and he wants Cordelia’s head for it!

Buffy breaks into Chris’ house and figures out their plans to kill Cordelia and Bride her up. She manages to get to Chris and Eric just as they attack Cordy. Oh wonderful. Is Cordelia now the official Damsel In Distress of the group since she is on the inside? Fantastic. After fighting the boys off, Buffy starts trying to get through to Chris and remind him he isn’t a killer.

Eric and Frankenstein go out to find a new head. Or, I guess, the same head they already wanted. It was ambiguous until they attacked Cordelia under the bleachers of the football game. Because that is apparently where they keep the water cooler for the cheerleaders.

I immediately start wondering… why do they need to kill Cordy? She already looks like what FrankenBro wants, so why not just… keep her? Well they bother to explain that! If they Bride her up, she will be a monster like him, and then she won’t try to run away. Okay, fair play, episode! I feel like season one would not have bothered explaining their plan in that much depth!

The team shows up to save Cordy. Buffy fights FrankenBro, causing the lab to burst into flames. Xander runs in and saves Cordy, who is strapped to a table! GOD DAMN, Xander.

As the episode ends, Cordy comes on to Xander to thank him for saving her life, and JESUS is Whedon living vicariously through Xander these first two episodes. An oblivious Xander brushes her off and asks Willow why he can never find a date.