Buffy the Vampire Slayer: What's My Line   Rewatch 
March 25, 2015 11:14 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

A school career fair gets Buffy all pouty about the choices life has taken from her. Spike brings in a team of bounty hunters to keep her busy while he works to restore Drusilla's strength. A surprise second Slayer, Kendra, arrives in town, bonds with Giles and clashes with Buffy. Meanwhile Willow and Oz finally meet, Xander and Cordelia finally get a room, and Drusilla finally gets Angel all to herself.
posted by yellowbinder (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't warn the tadpoles!

Ok the accents never bothered me until now but they're all terrible. This is a fun, affecting, sprawling two parter though, well worth all of William the Bloody's "bloody"s.

Buffy's early sulking plays a bit immature ("Yes, I've yet to mature!"), especially given the heavy last few episodes. But Kendra provides a good counter to her, they're able to learn from each other and take some comfort in no longer being alone. Kendra's slaying is her identity, and while Buffy rightfully wants more, she can lose perspective on her hard duty.

Scarily hyped bad guys continue to be mostly ineffective with the Order of Taraka called in to take out Buffy. Bug guy is completely creepy though. Kendra is teased as the third member until her To Be Continued... reveal, and cop lady going for the gun and shooting Oz is a fun twist. I do wonder if Kendra's shiny pants were effective stowaway wear, but I guess they were her only pants.

First appearances of Willy the snitch and Dalton the book vamp here. Willie's double cross is a nice moment with him repeating a line with both sides back to back.

First writing credit for Marti Noxon, who shares credit with Joss on part 2.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:45 PM on March 25, 2015


Random observations:
- The cards Drusilla's using are not your typical Tarot deck, though some bear a resemblance to the iconic Waite/Colman-Smith deck.
- Buffy is seriously annoying when she gets all pouty and oh, poor me not being able to be like other girls. I'm not saying she's wrong to feel like that, but she enacts it annoyingly. Oh, and the whole nine yards? We may never know.
- I swear Kendra is wearing pajama pants. Which, let's face it, are pretty comfortable and practical in the vamp-slaying department, being nice and loose. In fact, I'm wearing some right now! Not slaying vampires though.
- Norman Pfister, man of maggots, is indeed seriously creepy. Let this be a lesson to all of us, turn down the free samples!
- Willow is doing her research on the Du Lac cross from National Geographic. Tome of ancient wisdom that it is. Yay all night research party!
- For someone determined to be immature, Buffy shows unexpected maturity with Angel in not noticing, or caring about, his vamp face.
- Wow, I had forgotten about Kendra's accent. I don't run across a lot of Jamaican accents in Australia, but it seems a bit... extreme. Interesting factoid I came across when trying to work out where Bianca Lawson is from: she was originally cast as Cordelia but couldn't take the role due to contractual obligations.
- "She died?" "Just a little!"
- Something I wondered, not for the first time: why does vampires' clothing also turn into piles of ashes when they are slain?
- Ah, the Xander Cordelia snog. At last! Eclipsed only by Xander turning the hose on Cordelia. Brilliant.
- 43 churches in Sunnydale. Extra evil vibes from the Hellmouth, it makes people pray harder.
- Okay, so Kendra has been a Slayer in training since she was very young. How come Buffy wasn't? I can't remember S7 (only saw it once, at first airing) but I don't recall any of the Potentials having been trained since they were very young either. In fact, I seem to recall all of the Potentials needing copious amounts of training to be even halfway competent. So why is Kendra different?
- Giles, work that crossbow! Just... don't forget to reload.
- Her only shirt - explains why it's too small to cover up her tummy.
- Willow and Oz are just adorable. Even knowing what I know about what happens later. Sooooo cute!

So, we have the theme of not doing it alone again. Buffy gets in trouble when she goes off trying to do things on her own, whether ice skating or rescuing Angel. We have another Slayer, who could potentially make things a lot easier for Buffy (and does), and not just in the sense that Buffy could go off and have a "normal" life and leave the slaying to Kendra. And yet Kendra goes back to Jamaica and leaves Buffy with the Scoobies, in all contradiction of the Slayer Handbook and the first lesson of the Buffyverse. Are there a lot of vampires in Jamaica? Yes, I know she comes back. But it's still weird.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:29 AM on March 26, 2015


Okay, so Kendra has been a Slayer in training since she was very young. How come Buffy wasn't? I can't remember S7 (only saw it once, at first airing) but I don't recall any of the Potentials having been trained since they were very young either. In fact, I seem to recall all of the Potentials needing copious amounts of training to be even halfway competent. So why is Kendra different?

I don't remember if it's ever spelled out on the show, but there seems to be a sense that some Potentials are detected and trained before being called as the Slayer and some aren't. Kennedy had a Watcher (who was killed by Bringers) and seemed competent enough even as a Potential. Faith had a Watcher but does not give the impression of someone who had been trained since she was very young.

Other thoughts:
The first time I watched the show, I was irritated that Spike was hyped as some sort of unstoppable badass in School Hard, and then was remarkably ineffective at everything he tried. By the time Spike started subcontracting out to other villains, I thought the show was setting us up for the reveal that Spike was not actually the Slayer of Slayers, but the flamboyant front for Drusilla, who was the actual Slayer of Slayers. I thought Drusilla would be the main antagonist for Buffy after being healed. I don't really have a complaint about the way Season 2 ended, but there's a part of me that's disappointed that the Buffy/Dru showdown never happened.

I love the Willow/Oz animal crackers discussion at the end. Hannigan and Green had such a lovely natural rapport together.
posted by creepygirl at 8:13 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I get why people love this episode, but I found the racism to be really distracting.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2015


Yeah, Spike's pretty impotent already and they are setting up Dru as the real big bad. She never really achieves that, she has her coming out party with the Judge but even that's overtaken by the Angel turn. I always loved her and I guess I still do, but she doesn't really do much, does she?

The accents are bad but I didn't find this particularly racist. Kendra is an Other but it's more in the sense of presenting a perfect, fastidious Slayer, at least according to the handbook. Buffy imitating Kendra's accent definitely skirted that line and made me cringe though.

So the Watcher's Council is just really bad at their jobs, right? Or at least at communication? They don't mention there's another Slayer out there? They don't invite Giles to their retreats, even though he's the one doing The Job. They apparently send a memo about lady watcher in S3 going rogue, but then they think newbie Wesley can handle two of them? They kind of really suck.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:32 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also Spike calls Drusilla "Ducks" in part one and oh man am I glad that never caught on.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:36 AM on March 26, 2015


I don't remember if it's ever spelled out on the show, but there seems to be a sense that some Potentials are detected and trained before being called as the Slayer and some aren't.

I can't find a link for it, but one of the main non-Joss writers once confirmed that it was kind of a hand-wavey "Magic isn't predictable" explanation -- sometimes a Known Potential becomes the Slayer, sometimes not; and Potentials become Known at varying times in their lives.
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on March 26, 2015


In season 7 many of the potentials had already been killed before Buffy & co caught on, right? Perhaps the First's minions targeted the trained ones first so they could catch them unawares.
posted by lilac girl at 6:05 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first time I watched the show, I was irritated that Spike was hyped as some sort of unstoppable badass in School Hard, and then was remarkably ineffective at everything he tried.

I felt the same. I always assumed he was all talk and very little action. It came as a bit of a surprise when they actually got round to more of his backstory and you find out that yeah, at one stage he really was formidable. And yet even more pathetic as a human than he was as a vampire. The more I think about it, the more implausible his Slayer-killing seems. Almost as if they couldn't make up their minds: is Spike to be taken seriously, or comic relief? Not the only time that particular conflict comes up in the show, and I guess the answer can be both rather than one or the other.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:22 PM on March 26, 2015


So the Watcher's Council is just really bad at their jobs, right? Or at least at communication? They don't mention there's another Slayer out there? They don't invite Giles to their retreats, even though he's the one doing The Job. They apparently send a memo about lady watcher in S3 going rogue, but then they think newbie Wesley can handle two of them? They kind of really suck.

It's all laboriously documented for the archives first, then later hand copied by scribes and sent out as updates via owl. So they either show up late or they're piled up in the individual watcher's office like OSHA binder changes and get overlooked.

That's probably only funny if you ever had a job where you got OSHA sheets...
posted by phearlez at 9:10 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Any bureaucracy will eventually evolve to support the needs of the bureaucracy rather than the mission.
posted by Etrigan at 9:20 AM on March 27, 2015


Almost as if they couldn't make up their minds: is Spike to be taken seriously, or comic relief? Not the only time that particular conflict comes up in the show, and I guess the answer can be both rather than one or the other.

I think he's one of those characters who's most susceptible to evolving to fit whatever the needs of the show are at the time. Originally, as I understand it, Spike was supposed to die in this episode, but massive fan popularity brought him back (and again, and again). He's generally talked about as one of those "elite"-class vamps (like the rest of the Whirlwind), and he usually does quite well against other vamps, demons, and so on. He and Angel are generally the only characters with multiple seasons of screen time who are shown to be able to fight on something approaching Buffy's level (aside from Faith, for obvious reasons). He usually fares relatively poorly against Buffy, but she refuses to stake him despite numerous opportunities for thinly-constructed plot armor reasons (and the one time he does get staked, he's wearing the armor provided by the Gem of Amara), when the real reason was that he was popular and, after Cordelia's departure especially, they needed another character to be that kind of voice. But keeping him around forces them to reconcile his nature as a soulless vampire with his later alliance with the gang, a reconciliation that isn't really complete, and exists in a weird tension with the Initiative chip thing, until he regains his soul.

I mean, I think he works, as long as you don't look too closely at it. But a lot of the stuff on this show is like that... you can, and people have, write zillions of words on how souls work in the Buffyverse in an attempt to make it all fit, but the most enjoyable way for me to deal with it is just take the show at face value and try not to examine those nitty-gritty things too much. Tempting as it is.
posted by Kosh at 2:19 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


So what you're saying is that someone like him has always been there
posted by phearlez at 3:26 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


After consulting with a couple of sources (Wikipedia, the official Buffy Watcher's Guide), I can confirm this episode as having the first canonical use of the phrase "Scooby Gang" (by Xander) to refer to our main group. I don't remember how long it takes before it comes into frequent usage on the show (I remember it becoming a thing in fan discussions before the show really latched onto it.) but it's definitely a crucial part of the show's pop culture mythology, appearing just a few weeks before Shit Officially Gets Real with the "Surprise/Innocence" two-parter.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:16 PM on March 29, 2015


Re Drusilla: but she doesn't really do much, does she?

Well..apart from one thing of course.


So the Watcher's Council is just really bad at their jobs, right? Or at least at communication? They don't mention there's another Slayer out there? They don't invite Giles to their retreats, even though he's the one doing The Job. They apparently send a memo about lady watcher in S3 going rogue, but then they think newbie Wesley can handle two of them? They kind of really suck.


Yeah the world building on Buffy has always been quite bad an piecemeal. It makes sense to me that potentials would be found in different stages of their life (and maybe one thing that makes Buffy so different is she was only found after becoming a slayer), but it doesn't make sense that no-one would bother to mention to Giles that there's another slayer about. The idea of a Watchers council really only crops up next season.

So this is a good episode. I do think Kendra is quite a good character, terrible accent aside, she provides a nice contrast to Buffy, who has something real to complain about this week: a realisation that she will never get to have a real job (although, I think Buffy would be a good police officer!). The Order of Takara are the first league sent after Buffy that come across as actually threatening, although once again they get set up as unstoppable and promptly stop at the end of this episode. Watching it again, the Kendra mislead feels like a bit of a waste of time, and if this was structured as an hour and a half special I don't think they'd have bothered, and spent more time with her and her relationship with Buffy.

I like Spike a lot in these episodes. I think Spike fights brutally and quickly, but isn't much of a thinker, or is terribly patient. He's killed two Slayers by catching them by surprise and defeating them: note that this almost worked in School Hard, and now he doesn't really have much to do. I love grumpy Spike, who we will see more of in his wheelchair. This episode also reintroduces the geeky vampire, who is my favourite. I had a memory that he actually sticks around for longer, but he is not long for this world.

This episode (and the ones that follow) also takes the time to progress Buffy and Angel's relationship, which is super important. For a serial show that is often filmed out of order, continuity in this season is actually pretty strong.

-Oz and Willow meet, with the introductory line of "canape"
-How does Buffy know where Angel lives?
-Angel has an art collection. He lived in gutters for a century
-Giles calls Xander at night to go to Buffys. He and Cordelia arrive in daylight, although Cordelia is complaining about getting out of bed. What the hell?
-"Don't warn the tadpoles!"
- Willy the snitch!
"I do things my way!" "No wonder you died?" "Have either of you girls considered modelling?"
-Jonathan gets held hostage!
-"Angel is our friend! Except I don't like him."
-"All monkeys are french, didn't you know?"
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:11 AM on March 30, 2015


Appropos of nothing, the Toast does Buffy arguments
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:11 AM on March 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


That link is brilliant Cannon Fodder!

This episode (and the ones that follow) also takes the time to progress Buffy and Angel's relationship

I've been really impressed with how slowly but consistently they've advanced the relationship. Every ep or two you'll get a quiet scene of them probing their confusing feelings for each other, getting a little closer each time, so when the makeouts and other significant events happened they feel completely earned.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:30 AM on March 30, 2015


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