Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When She Was Bad   Rewatch 
February 25, 2015 11:23 PM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Buffy returns from a summer in LA, but she's got some personal demons to slay. A vampire cult hooks up with the Anointed in hopes of resurrecting The Master.
posted by yellowbinder (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This episode begins the trend of downbeat first episodes of Buffy. I don't think this trend is broken until Season 7 (Buffy vs Dracula is goofy, but also quite downbeat from memory). But I think episodes like this are really why Buffy bears rewatching. On a first, even a second watching of this episode, I didn't like it that much. It's deliberately downbeat, and quite different to a traditional episode of Buffy. Tonally, this episode is much closer to Season 6. But of course, that's what the writers are going for, and if you manage your expectations, this is a really great episode.

It manages to capture perfectly someone who is dealing with a trauma none of us have suffered. Buffy is upset and angry, and taking it out on those she loves, no more captured than in the dance she does with Xander in the Bronze, and her cruel taunting last words to him "Don't you wish I would?" There's that lovely opening scene, with a hint that maybe Xander is starting to have romantic feelings for Willow (that will take a little bit to come back again!) almost vanishing with the distraction of Buffy. And then Buffy, trying to avoid feelings and focus on her job, tries to face the vampires alone, having learnt completely the wrong lessons from Prophecy Girl. Oh and hey, Cordelia gets to be pretty great here, she keeps getting MVP award in these early episodes.

One real down note for this episode is the really nasty torture scene, where Buffy shoves a cross down a vampires throat. It's horrid and unnecessary.

Stray observations

-"We'll make her a meal!"
"they're going to cook her dinner?"
-"Cibo Matto can clog dance?"
-That Buffy nightmare is actually super scary. Head is terrifying here.
-I'm so happy these boring speechifying vampires will be dead soon
-They really should have smashed the Master's bones in the first place.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:21 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention that the music in that closing scene is goddamn terrible.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:36 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh my god, I love Armin Shimerman in this episode.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:51 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh my god, Burning Man references in the 90's. So very, very 90's.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:52 AM on February 26, 2015

- Buffy's dad makes an appearance! He and Joyce seem to get on very well. Meanwhile David Boreanaz has been promoted to the credits while Kristine Sutherland is still a guest star.

- The Anointed One is still disappointing. Even if he does get the last line.

- Cibo Matto are awesome. Poor Xander looks constipated. Yes, I know.

- Spank your inner moppet! Ok, clearly it's this season where Cordelia really starts to shine.

- Bitca? Sometimes it's hard to tell whether Xander's doing it for comic relief or if he really is that dense.

- Buffy's challenge to Angel, and her working out her issues through violence, foreshadow a developing theme. It makes sense, of course, with the heightened emotion of fighting being similar to the heightened emotion of sex. But it's still a bit disturbing to hear the sexytimes note in Buffy's voice as she suggests Angel could kick her ass.

Not as disturbing as that music in the penultimate scene though. WTF?
posted by Athanassiel at 3:04 AM on February 26, 2015

I'm way late too my own party, finally getting around to adding my thoughts before I watch this week's installments.

Xander and Willow are obviously adorable in the opener, and Willow's attempted callback to the almost kiss later in the episode is sad but sweet. I love the detail that Xander always picks Scissors. I'm sure he thinks Willow would consider him a Rock guy but no matter how insightful at first you can't pull the same trick every time.

The entire Cordelia scene beginning with the failed Three Musketeers insult is a delight, Whedon writing at its best. She continues to be drawn into the fold here, but you'd think they'd fill her in on the whole "secret part" sooner. Also love how she considers a summer in Tuscany a brutal, beachless, character-building experience.

I'm pretty sure this is the last non-flashback, non-hallucination appearance from Hank Summers, and he does seem caring and on board. I wonder when the secretary came around.

I would not put it past Cibo Matto to clog dance. THE dance is so awful and mean and painful that even Cordelia knows it. Buffy's in a bad place here, it's never as simple as partying the pain away. The short scene with Buffy and Joyce in the car kills me. Good call Cannon Fodder on pointing out the downers that are season openers, I'd never quite put that together.

Should we advance the Giles knocked out count? It doesn't happen onscreen but he's definitely out. And is this the first decoy trap without a hook?
posted by yellowbinder at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2015

Ha, yes I wasn't sure whether to count off screen knock outs or not: theres the same problem in Inca Mummy Girl. Let's say so, up to 4 then!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:49 AM on March 4, 2015

According to the end titles, the score for this episode was done by regular series composer Christophe Beck, so I guess the blame for the dippy public-service-announcement music at the end lies with him. Then again, this was his first episode with the show, so maybe he had to go through a slight learning curve with regards to balancing the "horror movie" and "high school comedy" moods in the score.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:13 PM on March 5, 2015

"Personal demons such as lust and, uh, thrift!"
posted by bunderful at 6:39 PM on January 2, 2016

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