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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 2, Episodes 17-18

June 14, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2-17 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

A Main Character Finally Dies: A BTVS Retrospective, S2 E17-18


In the modern era where most TV shows have much shorter seasons, I have completely forgotten that most network shows typically had/have seasons with twenty-something episodes. It feels like I’ve been on season two of Buffy for an eternity already.

This is why I’m not much of a TV guy. Do you know how many movies I could watch instead of this?

And I’m considering doing a Supernatural rewatch after this? Whoof! That show was 15 seasons! Twice as long as Buffy! I’ll be here until I die!

Episode 17

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Episode seventeen opens with a montage of Angelus stalking Buffy. At The Bronze, leaving the movies, going to bed… Angelus is everywhere she wants to be. During the last instance, he enters her room and watches her sleep. He could… he could totally kill mom if he wanted to now, right? Why doesn’t he go do that? NO ONE WOULD MISS HER, ANGELUS.

Instead, he leaves Buffy sketch of herself sleeping. Siiiigh. I hate when the villains have to be moronically dumbed down for the heroes to survive.

At the library the next day, the gang talks about how Buffy has invited Angel into her home, and now she is not safe there anymore. Cordelia frets because she has invited Angel into her car, so it’s not safe, either! But you spent two years becoming the team’s wheelman!

Buffy insists on telling mom everything, but Giles refuses to let her. Secret identity and all that. That’s… short-sighted. And this show should be smarter than that trope.

Well, no. It shouldn’t. I’ve seen enough of it to know that.

I had HEARD it was smarter. But whatever. It’s not. Giles is going to do a spell instead! Giles helped a witch do a spell one time–last episode!–and suddenly he is magical? Okay, I guess.

In computer class, Ms. Calendar asks Willow if she can head up her class for a few minutes in case she is late tomorrow. Willow immediately goes all Stanford Prisoner Experiment with the idea of power over her classmates. Buffy comes along and pulls Willow away, still being a jerk to Calendar. Giles is there also, and he is still being a dick to Ms. Calendar, too. You got her possessed by a demon, guy! How does this show decide what is worse than what? Other than that Joss Whedon hates women, I mean.

Buffy opts not to tell mom she kills monsters, but DOES tell her she was dating Angel and that he has gone dangerously stalky since their break up. She tells her not to invite him in. Uh, he’s already invited, B.

Buffy talks to Willow on the phone, and Willow quickly realizes that Angel has been in her room, too. He killed all of her fish!

Angelus is the slowest moving menace in the world. He claims to want to torture Buffy and make her life hell… and he has unfettered access to her family and friends. So he is… killing fish and drawing pictures. There are no words for how frustrating this is. At this pace, he’ll move up to spray-painting the siding of Buffy’s house and digging up Xander’s garden in season three.

When he first turned heel, Angelus seemed like a legitimate threat, and the show has actively neutered him since then.

Elsewhere, Drusilla brings Spike a puppy and notes she killed and fed upon the puppy’s mom. Come on, lady, who do you think you are? Xander from season one? Spike does not want to kill the puppy. Angel shows up and belittles Spike’s current physical condition, and really… don’t vampires have healing factors? What is taking so long here? He has a SMAAAALLLLL burn on his face and a boo-boo leg. Let’s get to it already.

Spike does rightfully give Angelus crap for wasting time killing fish and not people (or slayers). Spike and I are a vibe, as the kids say. Angelus brushes this off. Dru has a little vision fit: an old enemy is coming for them!

Calendar heads to the old Gypsy Shop which OF COURSE SunnyDale has. Based on everything we know Sunnydale has, it’s essentially a metropolis. These people never have to drive far to go to a mall or a store or anything. She buys an Orb Of Thessela to find a way to give Angel’s soul back!

Willow finds another sketch in her bedroom, this one of Buffy’s mom. We cut to Angel outside Buffy’s home and approaching mom. Mom is really put-off by him, but even more so when he tells her he and Buffy had sex, ha! Okay, that’s better than killing fish, I guess. But barely.

He tries to follow mom into the house, but Buffy and Willow have just finished the spell to keep him out. Mom walks right by Buffy reading Latin from an old book without thinking anything of it. Her character only exists when the writers want her to.

Ms. Calendar is busy at work on her computer, but she tells Giles she wants to talk to him after she is done. So she will meet him later. Oh no… she is going to die this episode, isn’t she?

Drusilla heads to the gypsy shop and threatens the owner for the information she wants. Back at the school, Calendar finishes her program and starts printing it on her DOT MATRIX PRINTER! I love the past! She’ll have everything she needs in just a few hours and after having to re-align the paper in those little spoke things several times!

Angelus appears before her and shatters the orb. Then the computer. Then he burns the pages. That’s thorough. Calendar runs from him. Quick, go find one of the thirty axes littering this school! She does not; Angelus snaps her neck. Well that was fast. I thought we’d have to wait a bit more for this death. Like episode’s end.

Giles finds a rose pinned to his front door and seems to chipper up. When he gets inside, operatic music is playing and candles are lit.


When was Angel invited into Giles’ house?

Do I need to re-read all of these recaps? I really don’t remember his being in Giles’ house.

Whatever. Giles goes upstairs and finds Calendar’s body on his bed while this bothers me.

As the cops are taking away Calendar’s body, Giles calls Buffy. We don’t hear the words, but we see Angel outside Buffy’s house, watching her get the news. Wicked.

The gang shows up at Giles’ place, only to find he has emptied his weapons cache (well I hope so; his girlfriend was just found dead in his home) and left. There is a sketch there of Calendar’s dead face in his bed. They all realize he is taking the fight to Angelus and his crew; Xander pulls a belated “I told you so” about Angel’s villainy. He never liked him! But he DID call him a friend.

Giles firebombs the vampire lair and gets the early advantage on Angel, but the vamp turns things around pretty quickly. Spike refuses to let Drusilla get involved. Giles has the edge in planning, lifelong expertise, and weapons at his disposal, but his plan is just to throw some molotovs and then rush in to fight him hand to hand?

Okay okay, I guess he is distraught and grieving. FINE.

Buffy jumps in to safe him… how did she arrive just minutes after him? Well because Cordy was driving, of course! This is what happens in my head every time Cordy drives our team to the rescue:

She (Buffy, not Cordy) wails on Angel a bit, but bails to save Giles from the fire. A very “What will you choose, hero?!” kind of moment where she has to let Angel go to save a life. Hey, don’t mess with the classics!

The epilogue sees Willow taking over Calendar’s class for the time-being. Hey, a pay-off to that conversation from earlier! Good work. As she settles in, she knocks over a disk that has the info on how to restore Angel’s soul…

Episode 18

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Well we just had an episode full of main story progression, AND a main character met her final demise. So you know what that means! Monster Of The Week shenanigans!

Buffy starts off this episode hunting vampires while suffering from some kind of cold. Cordy, Willow, and Xander run into her in the cemetery, as they are out to pick up her slack and send her home. Before they can settle that, though, Angelus arrives and just puts an absolute hurting on our woozy slayer.

The others scare him away with crosses, and I don’t know… I think he could take them. ALSO! It’s not like he was going to kill her; we know this. He was probably going to call her fat and leave a sketch of her ass behind. But he flees, and Buffy passes out.

She ends up in the hospital, with the gang calling Giles and mom to come check on her. Mom is NEVER EVER EVER concerned with the fact that every time something is going on with her daughter, the fucking school librarian is there. Against Buffy’s own wishes, the hospital wants to keep her a few days. They sedate her up, and a high-as-a-kite Buffy tells her mom for at least the 3rd time in this series that she kills vampires. You’d think mom would be concerned this is a constant delusion. But no.

We get some exposition: Buffy’s cousin died in the hospital when Buffy was 8, and the future slayer was the only one around when she passed. And ever since then, she has beeen scared of hospitals.

Except at least that one time there was a boy in a coma and none of this was ever mentioned.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, Buffy wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a strange little boy looking into her room. SHOW, YOU’VE DONE THIS BEFORE ALREADY. There’s a creepy monster dude in a hat walking behind the boy. Buffy gets up, then… pictures herself as a little a girl in a much creepier hospital? With a bunch of saws and other brutal looking tools? But then she wakes up from that. Okay, fine.

She roams the halls for a while because that is a thing you can just do in fictional hospitals. Two little kids tell her Death is coming, But, like, as a person. Not just like “People are going to die”.

“CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE, EVEN IF I HATE TO” TIME: Angel shows up at the hospital to threaten/attack/draw sketches of Buffy, and Xander Big Dick Energies him away. Basically tells him that Angelus might or might not be able to get through himself, the orderlies, security, etc… but Xander would love to see him try anyway. Angel fucking BACKS DOWN. From XANDER. And deservedly so!

My world, she is upside-down.

The next day, Buffy’s fractures are healed and her fever is headed down. The gang visits, and she tells them about Dr. Backer–a hospital physician who is giving experimental treatments to a bunch of kids with a bad flu–and that the kids see Death. Giles says there are no monsters only children can see… except the true faces of bad adults! Okay, calm down there, Captain Metaphor. Quit trying to sound clever.

Giles and Willow do some research on Dr. Backer and find out he has a full past of criminal charges and questionable activity. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Buffy sees Backer pull out a vial and prepare to inject one of the kids… until an invisible force starts whipping his ass. He is dragged through the hallway past Buffy.

It turns out that Dr. Backer was burning the virus out of the kids. The invisible Whatever-It-Is didn’t like that he was curing the children, so it removed him from the equation.

At the library, Cordelia is “helping” Giles study by pointing at every monster in one of his Ye Olde Monsters book and asking “What does this one do?”. She does stumble across the episode’s threat, though! And it’s new name is… something German. But it apparently means “Child Death”. Kinder… something. Kinderdoomen. I don’t know.

KinderDoomen kills by sitting on a child’s chest to pin them and drain them of their life, and suddenly Buffy recalls… that’s what happened to her cousin!



That’s dumb.

This is dumb.

Stop being dumb.

(But it WILL get dumber!)

Until then, Buffy injects herself with some flu so she will get sick and see KinderDoomen again. I guess being a kid is irrelevant; you see it if you are ill. Okay. The kids have fled to the fucking BOILER ROOM of the hospital… and KinderDoomen is hot on their tails. Buffy is able to follow thanks to Willow and Xander running interference because NOW the hospital wants to stop unescorted trekking about.

Buffy fights KinderDoomen, and we see that it kills kids by… making, like, naked molerat mouths stretch out of its eyes? And attach to their foreheads? It’s not a great effect, though let’s not pretend this show has a great record in that regard. Also, I told you it would get stupider.

So this ancient evil that absorbs life from children must have some elaborate weakness, right? How will Buffy defeat him?! Oh, she fucking breaks its neck.

That’s insensitive. That JUST happened to Ms. Calendar. Good thing Giles didn’t see that.

Nobody thought to, like, twist this thing’s neck a little in all of its history? At all? Sure, okay.

So we had one really good episode which promises to shape the rest of the season, if not the SHOW, to come. I know I made fun of Angelus’ infuriatingly slowly moving torture (and rightfully so), but if you get past that, the show did create some great tension and genuine emotion from Anthony Stewart Head.

And then we had Buffy breaking a hat man’s neck and having an inexplicable childhood link to a German demon.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the epitome of “you can’t win them all”, man.