A Second Look: BTVS S2D1

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Arbitrar Of Quality

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May 6, 2007, 9:33:17 PM5/6/07
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I have a bit of unfinished business that I want to take care of. I
said I'd keep people in the loop on my re-watching of the Buffyverse.
Well, we've been over Season One of BTVS again, but not the rest. Not
saying that my thoughts are particularly important or deep, but it's
just that the kind of people who enjoy vicariously enjoying a show for
a newbie's first time often will also often want to know how that
person's thoughts about the series develop.

Single episodes seemed like too brief a prompt, and full seasons would
give way too little attention to the individual parts. So going disc
by disc on the DVD set seems like a reasonable middle ground. These
threads will be started on a strict schedule of "whenever AOQ feels
like it."

These will not be full reviews, and certainly won't be done with the
kind of depth (or consistent timing) that would inspire yet another re-
watch of the shows - probably for the best. But if anyone was curious
how my opinions have changed upon re-watching after having seen where
things go, or just want to contest these opinions and shout your own
in a space where we're no longer worried about avoiding spoilers,
well, here's a venue for it.

Let's go to work.


BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

And so we kick off _Buffy_'s most over-rated season with a signal that
things will be different, one that, as OBS pointed out last time, re-
casts the end of S1 in a way that leads into the rest of the series.
I was hoping to upgrade this one to Excellent this time around, but
it's not quite happening. WSWB seems a little jumpy as it darts
around from scene to scene; feels like it's trying to do too much
without quite enough depth. I figured knowing where Buffy's head was
at would make it easier to watch, but it really doesn't - there's
something superficial about it (and self-conscious delivery of a lot
of the dialogue) that keeps it from being one of the greats. I don't
mean to seem too hard on the ep, though, since it's a good one. "When
She Was Bad" is often disturbing for the right reasons, sprinkled with
good jokes throughout, and has a few great misdirects. I don't like
to wish misery on anyone, but the angst is part of what makes Buffy
interesting - angst that's part of the teenage experience but is
uniquely her own. Now, as then, I wish Season Two had run with this
dark-but-with-ties-to-the-fun-of-S1 tone - S2 should've all been like
this, not just some of it. Sadly, it's downhill from here for
awhile...
Rating: Good


Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
Writer: Ty King
Director: Bruce Seth Green

Never much cared for this one - oddly, it was one of my brother's
favorites of the early shows. It felt especially long on re-watching,
a lot of "how are we still only in act three?" thoughts were elicited
'round these parts. Basically, after the texture of "Prophecy Girl"
and WSWB, I'm never interested in going back to a straight movie
homage - this one has little emotional connection to the main
characters (not even Cordelia, really), and the guests don't stand out
at all. It's BTVS at its most unspectacular.
Rating: Weak


Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
Director: John T. Kretcher

The epitome of over-rated episodes, "School Hard" starts off great;
Spike is a welcome breath of fresh air in the early going, as S2's
carousel of villains starts spinning, and Drusilla shows potential.
Like everyone who's seen later into the series, I'd remembered the
episode as being a big deal simply because of those introductions.
But the bulk of SH itself (i.e. during the attack, rather than the
stuff before and after) is really quite boring, an amateurish action
movie that forgets about characterization in favor of a barrage of
dimly-lit crawling and fighting. Sorry, guys, I still say it's not
anything special.
Rating: Decent


Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
Director: Ellen S. Pressman
I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
don't really know what I was enjoying so much. And the show itself is
fairly slow. I can see people getting bored, and can almost begin to
understand why some think of it as among the worst of the series.
Personally, I still consider it a relative highlight of the early
going of S2 - not that that's saying much. There're some nice scenes
with the friends, and the introduction of an intriguing new character
(well, Oz isn't the only debut-er, but he's the one who's interesting
to begin with). The use of a villain with some semblance of depth and
a stab at doing a parallel-chosen-one story both signal a welcome
direction for the series. And, well, that's somethin'. And I haven't
even mentioned Willow in that parka. Well, until now.
Rating: Decent (down from Good)


General comments on S2D1: Season Two has major pacing problems, as
will be discussed more.


Thoughts?

-AOQ

Mike Zeares

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May 7, 2007, 4:58:28 AM5/7/07
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On May 6, 8:33 pm, Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> Let's go to work.
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon
>

> I was hoping to upgrade this one to Excellent this time around, but
> it's not quite happening. WSWB seems a little jumpy as it darts
> around from scene to scene; feels like it's trying to do too much
> without quite enough depth.

I can see where you're coming from. Buffy season premieres tended to
be a bit wobbly, as if it took them a few eps to get their sea legs
back, so to speak. Anyway, I love WSWB, but I've always had this
nagging voice in the back of my head that it's not as good as I think
it is, I'm just going ga-ga over Buffy's sexy dance. Whatever. I'll
call it a high good.

> Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> Writer: Ty King
> Director: Bruce Seth Green
>
> Never much cared for this one

> Rating: Weak

I still think it has some of the funniest lines. I like all the S2
movie homage eps, cheese and all.

> Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
> Director: John T. Kretcher
>

> Sorry, guys, I still say it's not anything special.

ZOMGWTF?!? How can you say that about the episode that introduced
SPIKE, the bestest character EV-AR!!1!

> Rating: Decent
>
> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
> I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> don't really know what I was enjoying so much.

Praise Jebus, he has seen the light! Hallelujah!

> General comments on S2D1: Season Two has major pacing problems, as
> will be discussed more.

I don't know if I'd go with "major." But like I said, I like the B-
movie monster eps, which are dropped kind of randomly into the
season. But BtVS wasn't a serial yet.

-- Mike Zeares

Don Sample

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May 7, 2007, 5:38:14 AM5/7/07
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In article <1178528308.7...@e65g2000hsc.googlegroups.com>,
Mike Zeares <mze...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> On May 6, 8:33 pm, Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Let's go to work.
> >
> > BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> > Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> > Writer: Joss Whedon
> > Director: Joss Whedon
> >
> > I was hoping to upgrade this one to Excellent this time around, but
> > it's not quite happening. WSWB seems a little jumpy as it darts
> > around from scene to scene; feels like it's trying to do too much
> > without quite enough depth.
>
> I can see where you're coming from. Buffy season premieres tended to
> be a bit wobbly, as if it took them a few eps to get their sea legs
> back, so to speak. Anyway, I love WSWB, but I've always had this
> nagging voice in the back of my head that it's not as good as I think
> it is, I'm just going ga-ga over Buffy's sexy dance. Whatever. I'll
> call it a high good.

Buffy's sexy dance is one of the things I don't like about the episode.
I'm too busy feeling too much empathy for Xander.

>
> > Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> > Writer: Ty King
> > Director: Bruce Seth Green
> >
> > Never much cared for this one
> > Rating: Weak
>
> I still think it has some of the funniest lines. I like all the S2
> movie homage eps, cheese and all.

It does have its moments. "Love makes you do the wacky." This is also
the point at which I realized that no one has bothered to tell Cordy
that Angel is a vampire yet.

>
> > Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
> > Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
> > Director: John T. Kretcher
> >
> > Sorry, guys, I still say it's not anything special.
>
> ZOMGWTF?!? How can you say that about the episode that introduced
> SPIKE, the bestest character EV-AR!!1!
>
> > Rating: Decent
> >
> > Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> > Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> > Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> > I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> > first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> > was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
> > I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> > isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> > don't really know what I was enjoying so much.
>
> Praise Jebus, he has seen the light! Hallelujah!

But Willow does look really cute in that parka, and Oz is such a cool
guy, that he can see her coolness. (I spent much of the next few
seasons hoping to see Willow carrying a feather boa, and a Percy Faith
Orchestra CD.)

--
Quando omni flunkus moritati
Visit the Buffy Body Count at <http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/>

Elisi

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May 7, 2007, 6:11:52 AM5/7/07
to

Went back to my own re-watch review of WSWB, and thought I could just
do a little copy and paste... such a quick way of writing! ;)

'When She Was Bad'

The very first shot of the episode is of a gravestone inscribed with
the word 'GRAY' - and we will be shown a very grey Buffy indeed in
this ep. I'm sure I've said this before, but pretty much every issue
we see here will re-surface in S6.

Buffy can play the part of 'cheerful Buffy' well enough - at least for
a while - but she is incredibly detatched. Something her parents
notice most of all. Her friends mostly notice her bitchiness, and even
Cordelia speaks out.

Of course it's not easy for Buffy - she still has nightmares and the
one with Giles is especially chilling:

Buffy: It is not to worry. Trust me.
Giles: Oh, I don't know. I mean, (chuckles) I've killed you once, it
shouldn't be too difficult to do it again.

For all that he is a father-figure, he's also the one who sends her to
her potential death every night...

Then of course there is Angel... and oh my but Buffy knows how to turn
a guy's head! The shot of her entering The Bronze is quite something -
she is *so hot* and she uses it to her full advantage - not sure there
is another instance of her being so overtly sexual for quite a few
years... Anyway, the word 'use' is the operative one - she uses Xander
to make Angel jealous, which is just plain nasty.

Angel of course doesn't fall for it as such (and his less than stellar
social skills are for once a bonus), but there is only a *tiny* gap
bewteen this Buffy and Buffy from 'Smashed':

Buffy: Oh, c'mon! I mean, you must've thought about it. What would
happen if it ever came down to a fight, you vampire, me the Slayer, I
mean, you must've wondered! Well, why don't we find out?
Angel: I'm not gonna fight you.
Buffy: Come on! Kick my ass!

Oh - also a lot of "Give it to me good, Buffy!" from FFL - but she of
course doesn't act upon it until S6...

Anyway, it's clear how she deals with stuff: Internalises it,
withdraws from friends, seeks/uses sex and violence. (And she's so
very chiling and playful when torturing the vampire at The Bronze!)

But - here she is of course able to deal with the root of her problem
head-on, by smashing The Master's bones. (In S6 she can't take out her
frustration on her friends, so she uses Spike instead... which of
course doesn't work all that well.) We also see the beginning of the B/
A relationship proper. Angel seeks her out three times within the
episode - the last time saying that she needs someone [him] to watch
her back. She turns him down, but later tells him (in her own way)
that they're on the same page:

Angel: We need you to distract the vampires.
Buffy: Right.
Xander: What are you gonna do?
Buffy: I'm gonna kill them all. That oughta distract them.

She looks straight at Angel when she says this and it is no doubt an
echo of what he told her in WttH:

Buffy: What do you want?
Angel: The same thing you do.
Buffy: Okay. What do I want?
Angel: To kill them. To kill them all.

Then she wanted to be left alone... not so now.

*****

As for 'School Hard' then I don't think anyone has ever written about
it better than Spring Summers: http://www.soulfulspike.com/spikecentricity/schoolhard.htm

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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May 7, 2007, 8:04:14 AM5/7/07
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> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon
>
> And so we kick off _Buffy_'s most over-rated season with a signal that

whether whedon intended or not he did a good job of showing depression
(the affect the alienation the flashes of extreme anger)
and usual amd disasterous advice on to deal with it
(if really was depression cordys style of confrontation
could provoke a crisis that either kills cordy or buffy)

depressives often do attack those closest to them
increasing their isolation because most people cant deal with it
any better than xander did

probably isnt a pleasant thing to watch

> Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> Writer: Ty King
> Director: Bruce Seth Green
>
> Never much cared for this one - oddly, it was one of my brother's
> favorites of the early shows. It felt especially long on re-watching,

as wonderfully cheesy as brain of morbius
i watch mr lobos theater insomonia
and get to watch movies like starcrash
theyre fun

> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?

as would be pointed out in this or the next season
xander is too busy worry about what he doesnt have to appreciate what he does

i think the real purpose of the episode isnt xander but buffy
how she is sacraficed
how she is expected to forego love and everything a girl should have
just to keep her people safe

perhaps the mummy is an early version of faith
the one who is to be sacraficed but turns on her destiny
and becomes a force of evil instead of good

> with the friends, and the introduction of an intriguing new character

jonath-n may have appeared in earlier episodes
but i think this is his first speaking episode

meow arf meow - they are performing horrible experiments in space
major grubert is watching you - beware the bakalite
impeach the bastard - the airtight garage has you neo

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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May 7, 2007, 8:09:11 AM5/7/07
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> Buffy's sexy dance is one of the things I don't like about the episode.
> I'm too busy feeling too much empathy for Xander.

depression doesnt make you do the wacky
that kind of behavior to deliberately antagonize people you need the most
is typical of much mental illness

and its usually successfully
few people can take it and remain close
about the only relations that can survive or sibling or parent child
because of the long history before the illness made strong enough bonds

Benjamin Pavsner

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May 7, 2007, 9:02:23 PM5/7/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...
OK, I have to agree with you: take out Spike and Dru and you really don't
have much, but that's why Spike and Dru were such great characters. At least
in this season. They're the Sid and Nancy of the Buffyverse. It's the Spike
that kills the Slayers and makes everybody else cry (and then kills
everybody else. Or sires them).

>
>
> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
> I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> don't really know what I was enjoying so much. And the show itself is
> fairly slow. I can see people getting bored, and can almost begin to
> understand why some think of it as among the worst of the series.
> Personally, I still consider it a relative highlight of the early
> going of S2 - not that that's saying much. There're some nice scenes
> with the friends, and the introduction of an intriguing new character
> (well, Oz isn't the only debut-er, but he's the one who's interesting
> to begin with). The use of a villain with some semblance of depth and
> a stab at doing a parallel-chosen-one story both signal a welcome
> direction for the series. And, well, that's somethin'. And I haven't
> even mentioned Willow in that parka. Well, until now.
> Rating: Decent (down from Good)
I remember two things from this ep: The hot chick that plays the Inca Mummy
girl and (Xander isn't the only guy who thinks with his bulbus naughty part,
ya know), yes, the introduction to Daniel "Oz" Osbourne. I still think his
idea of throwing hummus at the end of season three was pretty good.

One Bit Shy

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May 7, 2007, 10:24:36 PM5/7/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

> Let's go to work.


>
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon
>
> And so we kick off _Buffy_'s most over-rated season with a signal that
> things will be different, one that, as OBS pointed out last time, re-
> casts the end of S1 in a way that leads into the rest of the series.

Yeah, it does. Mostly by taking Buffy down a peg or two from her Prophecy
Girl high. She's not the confident gal in command of her calling that we
saw in her power walk. As I think I mentioned, this episode directly
attacks that power walk moment by repeating the shot on Buffy starting at
her feet and working up to the sound of music. Only this time it's a bad
Buffy out to hurt her friends, not save them.

There are some other things done to recast the series. Perhaps most notably
is how the episode introduces serious tension among the core friends. In S1
the friendship was easy. But right off the bat this season Xander threatens
to kill Buffy if anything happens to Willow. That's a pretty stark change.
Granted, they make up quickly. (And Xander gets a little lesson in
compassion.) But that pairing initiates an ongoing theme that will replay
itself many times through the series. Theirs is a loving but dysfunctional
family.

I've modified my feelings about Cordy a little though. She gets reset some
herself. She emphasizes her shallowness in her first conversation. ("Is it
possible to have too much character?") She's mean to Willow. And ongoing
conflict with Buffy is re-established. However, I realized this watching
how much Buffy pushed Cordy away - established the conflict on her own.
More importantly, this episode also shows Cordy reaching out. In a very
Cordy way for sure - naturally insensitive to anyone but herself - but still
reaching out. On the first day of school she goes right to Buffy to
re-establish their connection from Prophecy Girl's monster battle. Buffy
puts her down for blabbing out loud. Cordy responds in kind, but also in a
way that lets it be known that she'll keep the secret as asked. Then, of
course, there's Cordelia's attempt to advise Buffy later on.

All in all, more underlying character depth than I remembered from the last
time I saw the episode. Cordelia will estrange herself from the group more
in time, but this aspect of her character will re-assert itself too.
Yearning to connect with Buffy and friends but completely lacking the right
social skills to do it - beyond kissing anyway. The episode Passion will be
a good demonstration of it.


> I was hoping to upgrade this one to Excellent this time around, but
> it's not quite happening. WSWB seems a little jumpy as it darts
> around from scene to scene; feels like it's trying to do too much
> without quite enough depth.

Hmmm. Well, it doesn't come across like that to me. I think the proximate
story is told clearly and directly without wasted time or scenes.

I wonder, though, if you might be reacting to the second level of
foreshadowing. As was done first season, much of this season opener is a
rehearsal for the season closer, but a lot softer. The trick drawing Buffy
away from the library. The abduction. The confrontation with Xander. A
lot of stuff. Perhaps the sensed lack of depth is that this is the softer
tease for the great horror to come.


> I figured knowing where Buffy's head was
> at would make it easier to watch, but it really doesn't - there's
> something superficial about it (and self-conscious delivery of a lot
> of the dialogue) that keeps it from being one of the greats.

Again I wonder if this is tied to the way the episode looks ahead. For
example:

Buffy: Because I don't trust you. You're a vampire. (gets a look) Oh, I'm
sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say 'undead American'?
Angel: You have to trust someone. You can't do this alone.
Buffy: I trust me.
Angel: You're not as strong as you think.
Buffy: (gives him a challenging look) You think you can take me?
Angel: What?


Buffy: Oh, c'mon! I mean, you must've thought about it. What would happen
if it ever came down to a fight, you vampire, me the Slayer, I mean, you
must've wondered! Well, why don't we find out?
Angel: I'm not gonna fight you.
Buffy: Come on! Kick my ass!

This points to the problem with trusting Angel, Buffy ending up alone, and
the great battle between the two at the end. Major foreshadowing, which
maybe feels a little disconnected to the moment. There are other similar
moments. Xander is all over the map this episode - sometimes in fashions
that seem beyond what is truly called for. Like threatening to kill Buffy.
It's a little preview of Xander's emotional ride this season too.

Snyder: They're just a bunch of hormonal time bombs. Every time a pretty
girl walks by every boy turns into a gibbering fool.

This is one of Snyder's best episodes. Comparing the arrival of students to
a plague of locusts and his sixth sense discussion with Giles are wonderful.
But his greater function is the above introduction to the season's
background theme - relationships. Not so much in a direct foreshadowing
sense, though the above leads right into Jenny/Giles. This episode more
tosses relationship tension into the air to show how it affects everybody.
It also brushes on some non-romantic relationships like Joyce/Buffy and
Giles/Buffy. I think the most interesting this episode is how much the
Master has become personalized in Buffy's mind. Emotionally there has
become a terrible bond between the two that Buffy imagines as a kind of
relationship. Notice how, when she wakes from her dream about the Master,
she turns and finds Angel sitting there. Should she love him? Should she
fear him? Should she kill him? What do you do when the answer to all three
is yes?


> I don't
> mean to seem too hard on the ep, though, since it's a good one. "When
> She Was Bad" is often disturbing for the right reasons, sprinkled with
> good jokes throughout, and has a few great misdirects. I don't like
> to wish misery on anyone, but the angst is part of what makes Buffy
> interesting - angst that's part of the teenage experience but is
> uniquely her own. Now, as then, I wish Season Two had run with this
> dark-but-with-ties-to-the-fun-of-S1 tone - S2 should've all been like
> this, not just some of it. Sadly, it's downhill from here for
> awhile...

I have to agree with that. I still enjoy early S2, but mostly it continues
with the S1 idea (including the cheap production) without as much easy
spirit. I love this episode, but I personally don't think it's close to
matched until Innocence transforms the series. (Yes, I know how much you
love Ted.)


> Rating: Good

The dance scene is one of my series favorites. Seductive and cruel. You
can definitely see why Gellar's chosen for her role in Cruel Intentions.
One moment that also grabbed my attention this episode is how Buffy snatched
out of mid-air the rock thrown through the library window. A lot of little
things that make the episode sing to me. Add the thematic and foreshadowing
elements and this is an easy Excellent for me.


>
>
> Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> Writer: Ty King
> Director: Bruce Seth Green
>
> Never much cared for this one - oddly, it was one of my brother's
> favorites of the early shows. It felt especially long on re-watching,
> a lot of "how are we still only in act three?" thoughts were elicited
> 'round these parts. Basically, after the texture of "Prophecy Girl"
> and WSWB, I'm never interested in going back to a straight movie
> homage - this one has little emotional connection to the main
> characters (not even Cordelia, really), and the guests don't stand out
> at all. It's BTVS at its most unspectacular.
> Rating: Weak

Certainly not one of the great ones. The geeks are terrible. The
Frankenstein even worse. (Makes Adam look fabulous by comparison.) Their
time on screen really brings down the episode, though I did like the scene
under the football stands when the ex-player wistfully watches the game and
then spies Cordelia. A little poignant. A little creepy.

The rest of the episode works pretty well for me though. There's some
decent suspense as they detective their way through the mystery. A good
amount of humor. (I get a kick out of the confrontation in the library when
Buffy and gang come back to find Cordelia hanging onto Angel - her head on
his shoulder. Buffy: Angel. Angel: Xander. Xander: Angel.) And
getting right to the surface of the matter, we get to see Buffy in a
mini-skirt fighting a vampire, and then go bra-less for most of the episode.
It's good to see the series has its priorities straight.

The episode mostly goes for the seasonal relationship theme. Giles and
Jenny get together. Angel and Buffy make up and walk off holding hands.
Cordy tries for Angel, then gets stalked by Frankenstein, but then is saved
by Xander - ultimately looking upon him with favor before he shoots her
down. Still, it's a big hint of what's to come. One can start to see their
bickering as foreplay.

Anyway, for all its failings, this episode has managed to work its way up to
a Decent rating from me. I think that's a notch up from last time.


> Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
> Director: John T. Kretcher
>
> The epitome of over-rated episodes, "School Hard" starts off great;
> Spike is a welcome breath of fresh air in the early going, as S2's
> carousel of villains starts spinning, and Drusilla shows potential.
> Like everyone who's seen later into the series, I'd remembered the
> episode as being a big deal simply because of those introductions.
> But the bulk of SH itself (i.e. during the attack, rather than the
> stuff before and after) is really quite boring, an amateurish action
> movie that forgets about characterization in favor of a barrage of
> dimly-lit crawling and fighting. Sorry, guys, I still say it's not
> anything special.
> Rating: Decent

The parent/teacher's night is pretty bad and the attack on the school uneven
at best (somewhat redeemed by a handful of character advancing moments).
Since that accounts for half the episode it can't really be a great one.
Though I don't think it's generally rated all that great. Really, it has
just one memorable quality to it - the introduction of Spike and Drusilla.

But that part of it really is great. Spike's car crashing through the
Sunnydale sign. Dru talking to her gagged dolls. Spike ending the reign of
the "Annoying One". Their characters work well for me pretty much
throughout - even if the story has little going for it.

Also moderately notable is, "Gang related - PCP." On the annoying front is
this year's version of Joyce and Buffy's relationship. Cordelia continues
to hang with the gang even though she complains about it and they insult
her.

It's not great, but Spike and Dru definitely make it Good for me.


> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
> I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> don't really know what I was enjoying so much.

I'm going to bet it comes and goes. Catch it in the right mood and it
works. Another time it annoys. Xander *is* kind of annoying. Always able
to step on romance in the clutch. But there is a sweetness to his yearnings
being realized and being kind of decent about it. The yellow scene when
they kiss is neat photography too. (It's a visually pleasing episode on the
whole.)

The music in that scene is really good too. (A Chris Beck score - a very
good one I think.)


> And the show itself is
> fairly slow.

I call it languid. <s> But, yes, it's leisurely paced.

> I can see people getting bored, and can almost begin to
> understand why some think of it as among the worst of the series.
> Personally, I still consider it a relative highlight of the early
> going of S2 - not that that's saying much. There're some nice scenes
> with the friends, and the introduction of an intriguing new character
> (well, Oz isn't the only debut-er, but he's the one who's interesting
> to begin with). The use of a villain with some semblance of depth and
> a stab at doing a parallel-chosen-one story both signal a welcome
> direction for the series. And, well, that's somethin'. And I haven't
> even mentioned Willow in that parka. Well, until now.
> Rating: Decent (down from Good)

I always liked the episode and still do. Not one of the greats by any
means, but still very pleasing to me. It mostly looks good - at least if
you ignore how grainy the images get at times - and sounds terrific. There
are fun one-liners. (Buffy: Oh! I know this one! slaying entails certain
sacrifices, blah, blah, bity blah, I'm so stuffy, gimme a scone.) And some
moments that make you jerk. The chosen one parallel with Ampata is
upsetting - especially the death as destiny.

A fair amount happens around the edges of this episode. Jonathan becomes a
real character. (What a wonderfully goofy costume he wears.) Dingoes Ate
My Baby perform and our favorite laconic character enters the series. One
of the background things to notice about Cordelia during the early part of
the season is how things keep going bad for her and how her social status
must be suffering as a result. There's a mildly amusing quality to her time
with Sven, but the punchline is a Cordette getting the guy and listening to
him dis Cordy. Just generally the show continues setting up the season's
relationships.

The base spook story seems fun to me too. Ampata is pretty and personable
and dangerous. The mummification is pretty neat. Men's underwear as clue
is funny enough. It all works for me.

So I'd rate it as Good.


> General comments on S2D1: Season Two has major pacing problems, as
> will be discussed more.

Pacing? We don't need no stinking pacing!

Honestly, until Surprise there's not much flow to the season. A few things
happen in the sequence they have to, but it's pretty fragmented - not
something that feels much like a great whole moving along. S1's background
story of Buffy incrementally learning what it really means to be a Slayer is
more coherent than the first half of S2. (Which is not to say that things
don't happen - just that it feels pretty random.)

Anyway, one thing that might be interesting to ponder is where this season
parallels S6. S1, 2 & 3 roughly parallel S5, 6 & 7. Sometimes pretty
specifically. Sometimes more loosely. (Sometimes not precisely the paired
seasons.) S1 & 5 share themes of friends/family, what it means to be a
Slayer, & death. S2 & 6 are the relationship years. I've never decided
what I think of the parallels beyond noting their existence. But there you
have it.

OBS


Arbitrar Of Quality

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May 8, 2007, 2:52:08 AM5/8/07
to
On May 7, 5:11 am, Elisi <elis...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Angel seeks her out three times within the
> episode - the last time saying that she needs someone [him] to watch
> her back. She turns him down, but later tells him (in her own way)
> that they're on the same page:
>
> Angel: We need you to distract the vampires.
> Buffy: Right.
> Xander: What are you gonna do?
> Buffy: I'm gonna kill them all. That oughta distract them.
>
> She looks straight at Angel when she says this and it is no doubt an
> echo of what he told her in WttH:
>
> Buffy: What do you want?
> Angel: The same thing you do.
> Buffy: Okay. What do I want?
> Angel: To kill them. To kill them all.
>
> Then she wanted to be left alone... not so now.

Hmmm... can't say I'd ever seen that connection.

> As for 'School Hard' then I don't think anyone has ever written about
> it better than Spring Summers:http://www.soulfulspike.com/spikecentricity/schoolhard.htm

I think the ME writers have a talent for, intentionally or
unintentionally, threading their episodes with things that they can
play with later. I have little doubt that no one thought about the
extent to which Spike would be seduced by and changed by his desire
for Buffy, when the scene in which he first sees her was shot. He's a
vampire (one who'll only last a few episodes) on the prowl, the leer
comes with the intrinsic sexual imagery. I haven't seen anything
that'd lead me think there was originally anything more to it than
that, but look where the show ended up going with the lust.

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

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May 8, 2007, 3:26:21 AM5/8/07
to
On May 7, 9:24 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

> More importantly, this episode also shows Cordy reaching out. In a very


> Cordy way for sure - naturally insensitive to anyone but herself - but still
> reaching out.

Ah, for better or for worse (worse for me, because she's on screen
more when he hangs out with the gang), she's been changed permanently
by what happened last year.

I think of her confrontation with Buffy outside the Bronze as the
defining moment in the change of how the show is going to use this
character. In S1, her role was to represent the cliched Popular Kids
and to be a shadow of Buffy's pre-Slayer life. That's outlived its
usefulness, so WSWB announces that she's now going to be the one who's
a little outside the mythos, commenting on the action and channeling
the backseat viewer in her tactless and plain-spoken impatience with
the characters' foibles. I think that as a character, Cordelia has
too much baggage to be as good at this as an Anya or a Jayne, but she
was the first (for Joss), so that slot in the ensemble still bears her
name in Joss's interviews.

> I wonder, though, if you might be reacting to the second level of
> foreshadowing. As was done first season, much of this season opener is a
> rehearsal for the season closer, but a lot softer. The trick drawing Buffy
> away from the library. The abduction. The confrontation with Xander. A
> lot of stuff. Perhaps the sensed lack of depth is that this is the softer
> tease for the great horror to come.

Perhaps.

> I have to agree with that. I still enjoy early S2, but mostly it continues
> with the S1 idea (including the cheap production) without as much easy
> spirit. I love this episode, but I personally don't think it's close to
> matched until Innocence transforms the series. (Yes, I know how much you
> love Ted.)

Great episode, no matter what anyone says, but it's not transformative
the way "Innocence" is. One could make a case for "Lie To Me,"
though. Mid-S2 actually gets itself on quite a roll once we get past
the first layer of bleah.

> The episode mostly goes for the seasonal relationship theme. Giles and
> Jenny get together.

Can I mention again that I really don't like the Giles/Calendar scenes
in SAR at all? I watch them in pretty much a continuous cringe (or
just FF). Some people opined that they just temporarily tipped the
trait-balance a little too far here towards Bumbling Comic Relief
British Guy, and it's not the way I ever enjoy seeing the character.
The pairing of LTM/TDA pretty much fixes things, although seeing Giles
being so cartoonishly awkward makes less sense once we know how cool
he used to be. (Well, more immature and kinda evil than cool, but
they're similar on TV.)

> Angel and Buffy make up and walk off holding hands.

This is about where their relationship started winning me over,
despite myself.

> Cordy tries for Angel, then gets stalked by Frankenstein, but then is saved
> by Xander - ultimately looking upon him with favor before he shoots her
> down. Still, it's a big hint of what's to come. One can start to see their
> bickering as foreplay.

[shudder]

> > But you know what?
> > I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> > isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> > don't really know what I was enjoying so much.
>
> I'm going to bet it comes and goes. Catch it in the right mood and it
> works. Another time it annoys. Xander *is* kind of annoying. Always able
> to step on romance in the clutch. But there is a sweetness to his yearnings
> being realized and being kind of decent about it.

Maybe one to re-watch when I'm particularly in the mood to empathize
with the guy just yearning to have a hot chick talk to him.

> Honestly, until Surprise there's not much flow to the season. A few things
> happen in the sequence they have to, but it's pretty fragmented - not
> something that feels much like a great whole moving along. S1's background
> story of Buffy incrementally learning what it really means to be a Slayer is
> more coherent than the first half of S2. (Which is not to say that things
> don't happen - just that it feels pretty random.)

Once things pick up, though, well, last time, WGF talked a fair amount
about the first half of the year as a series of coping mechanisms that
get shredded one by one as Buffy continues to deal with dying at
sixteen. Maybe we can get him to snyposize neatly, but it's not
really relevant until "Lie To Me," although one could maybe argue that
IMG and RB touch on it.

-AOQ

One Bit Shy

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May 8, 2007, 2:22:02 PM5/8/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1178609181.7...@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

> On May 7, 9:24 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
>> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in
>> messagenews:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

>> I have to agree with that. I still enjoy early S2, but mostly it

>> continues
>> with the S1 idea (including the cheap production) without as much easy
>> spirit. I love this episode, but I personally don't think it's close to
>> matched until Innocence transforms the series. (Yes, I know how much you
>> love Ted.)
>
> Great episode, no matter what anyone says, but it's not transformative
> the way "Innocence" is. One could make a case for "Lie To Me,"
> though. Mid-S2 actually gets itself on quite a roll once we get past
> the first layer of bleah.

Oh, I like many of those first half of S2 episodes. I don't think of Lie To
Me as transformative, but it does lay some philosophical groundwork for the
series that'll be referenced forever. I don't even dislike the episode Ted
all that much - it's the character Ted that makes me squirm too much to
really enjoy the episode.

...Indeed it's hard to explain without it coming out more critical than I
really mean. It's just that the first half of the season tends to come
across to me as a series titled The Adventures of Buffy and her Friends. S1
was like that too, but with Prophecy Girl, expectations were raised a notch.


>> The episode mostly goes for the seasonal relationship theme. Giles and
>> Jenny get together.
>
> Can I mention again that I really don't like the Giles/Calendar scenes
> in SAR at all? I watch them in pretty much a continuous cringe (or
> just FF). Some people opined that they just temporarily tipped the
> trait-balance a little too far here towards Bumbling Comic Relief
> British Guy, and it's not the way I ever enjoy seeing the character.
> The pairing of LTM/TDA pretty much fixes things, although seeing Giles
> being so cartoonishly awkward makes less sense once we know how cool
> he used to be. (Well, more immature and kinda evil than cool, but
> they're similar on TV.)

Heh. That may have been my opining you remember. It's my position that the
initial pairing of Giles and Jenny backfired. It was intended to bring more
depth to his character, but ended up only further emphasizing his bookworm
without a life caricature. It took Ripper to provide the necessary balance.
After that the mating ritual awkwardness can exist on its own without
implying too much about the rest of his character.

I think the SAR scenes between them are quite sweet on their own once you
let go of the knowledge that Giles really should be more worldly than that.
They also serve the function of keeping Giles approachable to Buffy and
Willow and Xander. The mentor figure can easily become too distanced for
what they want in this series. Giles is an authority figure whose authority
is routinely challenged, which is normal enough. But the key to Giles is
that he sees in those challenges that he's less the authority than he
imagined. He learns from Buffy and adapts - for a while anyway. If he were
distant, Buffy would just be defiant. It'd be nothing but a power struggle.
They need the personal intimacy of friendship to really learn from each
other.


>> Angel and Buffy make up and walk off holding hands.
>
> This is about where their relationship started winning me over,
> despite myself.

Back in Angel when they kissed I went along with it 'cause it felt like they
were being pulled in by the undertow from a wave. They couldn't help it.
Here... I think it's all the talk about being the 240 year old vampire with
all the experience. 240 years of dating. (Yeah, I know - not much dating
in those 240 years. But he is an -er- worldly man.) There's a predatory
quality to it that always bothered me. Not just for the age difference, but
for Angel's angellic look and innocent manner doing it. Isn't there a lie
in that? But it's Spike who always gets criticized for being predatory.


>> Honestly, until Surprise there's not much flow to the season. A few
>> things
>> happen in the sequence they have to, but it's pretty fragmented - not
>> something that feels much like a great whole moving along. S1's
>> background
>> story of Buffy incrementally learning what it really means to be a Slayer
>> is
>> more coherent than the first half of S2. (Which is not to say that
>> things
>> don't happen - just that it feels pretty random.)
>
> Once things pick up, though, well, last time, WGF talked a fair amount
> about the first half of the year as a series of coping mechanisms that
> get shredded one by one as Buffy continues to deal with dying at
> sixteen. Maybe we can get him to snyposize neatly, but it's not
> really relevant until "Lie To Me," although one could maybe argue that
> IMG and RB touch on it.

Shredded coping mechanisms. (Sounds like a variation of what I was
observing in S1.) OK. I'll look for that. I can't say that occurred to me
before.

OBS


chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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May 8, 2007, 4:05:57 PM5/8/07
to
Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
> I have a bit of unfinished business that I want to take care of. I
> said I'd keep people in the loop on my re-watching of the Buffyverse.

Cool. Pointless curiosity: have you been rewatching them all in order?
Did you start rewatching recently, or right after finishing season 7, or
what?

> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> Writer: Joss Whedon
> Director: Joss Whedon

.

> And so we kick off _Buffy_'s most over-rated season

People who over-rate season 2 are usually under the thrall of that
incredible run of episodes from Innocence to the finale; they forget that
the first half of the season was neither as good nor as consistent. I'm
as guilty of this as anyone. Well, actually I'm far more guilty of it
than most fans.... But while the first half of the season has more than
its share of weak moments, WSWB is certainly not one of them.

I'm actually fond of all the season openers. There's something about the
way they try to re-introduce the characters and set up some of the
season's themes that always appeals to me. I sometimes think that a neat
if slightly masochistic idea for a Buffy marathon would be all seven
season openers in a row, with nothing else, not even The Harvest (or
Bargaining part II, if we take the non-AOQ view that it's two episodes).
This would be followed the next day by all seven season finales,
naturally.

The opening scene spends a lot of time teasing the Willow-Xander shippers,
doesn't it? Looking back, there's a great deal of that throughout WSWB
and all of S2, despite the fact that both Willow and Xander find other
loves this season. This leads first towards the brief but sharp pain of
Xander's profession of love in Becoming II, and then towards the fluking
of S3, neither one of which feels like it comes out of the blue. Aside
from that, the teaser is also noteworthy for the blatant foreshadowing of
the quote from Terminator (and you could easily think of ways the other
movie quotes also foreshadow parts of season 2.) And after the credits,
we get our first hint that something is wrong when Willow asks Buffy if
she's seen Giles and Buffy replies dismissively "Why would I do that?"
It's all fairly subtle and very well constructed.

So many other great scenes, can't do them all justice. One of many little
bits that I like is at the end of the scene when Angel comes to Buffy's
bedroom, when she hesitates, then tries to reach out to him, only to find
that she's already driven him away. *We* get to see behind Buffy's new
queen bitch act, but Angel misses it. I also really like the sexy dance
scene; I'll just point out the long camera pan as Buffy leaves, showing us
Willow, Cordy and Angel's facial reactions and Xander's miserable hunched
back. I remember when I first watched followup scene outside, I was so
caught up in Buffy and Cordy's confrontation that the vampire attack
afterwards caught me completely by surprise. "Oh, yeah, vampires," I said
to myself with a laugh. At that point in the episode the supernatural evil
element was little more than a bonus for me, I was so focused on the
relationships between the characters.

I always feel like quoting Principal Snyder's classic first-day monologue
every fall when the students stream back to campus. I don't really hate
students, but it's so much fun to play the grumpy relatively-old man,
especially when Joss writes my lines for me.

The final scene of reconciliation is quite sweet. A nice touch is that
Xander isn't using any of his A-list jokes here. The point isn't the
humor, it's the message that he and Willow are sending Buffy. Without
saying a word, they all understand that everything is forgiven. If only
it was always that easy.... But then again, what kind of show would we be
left with in that case? What would we spend all our time on? Killing
vampires? Please.

> I was hoping to upgrade this one to Excellent this time around, but
> it's not quite happening.

Well, I think I'll go there. A low Excellent, at least. There are lots
of great scenes and performances, and the jumpiness and self-conscious
speeches that AOQ noted fail to bother me much, when I notice them at all.

> Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> Writer: Ty King
> Director: Bruce Seth Green

.


> Never much cared for this one -

Well, who does? (Aside from your brother.) Thinking about this reply, I
realized I haven't watched SAR from beginning to end for a long time.
Like, years. Still, there are a few parts that I remember fondly. One is
Giles getting caught practicing to ask Jenny out, and the ensuing
merciless teasing from Buffy and Xander. Another is the grave-checking
scene. "Am I ever going to live that down?" "Nope." I like Cordy's
interest in being part of the group despite herself, and Angel's final
confession that he is a little jealous of Xander.

One tiny good moment that I rarely see mentioned is in the scene between
Buffy and Mrs. Epps. Darryl's mother sits in the dark enthusing over
tapes of his old games and at first she's just a caricature of a creepy
crazy person living in denial. Then she adds the wistfully bitter line
"He would've been 19 next week" and suddenly the one-dimensional crazy
woman snaps into focus as a real character struggling with pain and loss.
It's amazing what one simple line can do sometimes.

I sometimes consider making Willow's line "Since then Chris has been real
quiet, kind of in his own world" my new .sig quote.

> Rating: Weak

Eh, I'm feeling generous, so I'll give it a low Decent.

> Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
> Director: John T. Kretcher

.

> The epitome of over-rated episodes, "School Hard" starts off great;
> Spike is a welcome breath of fresh air in the early going, as S2's
> carousel of villains starts spinning, and Drusilla shows potential.
> Like everyone who's seen later into the series, I'd remembered the
> episode as being a big deal simply because of those introductions.
> But the bulk of SH itself (i.e. during the attack, rather than the
> stuff before and after) is really quite boring, an amateurish action
> movie that forgets about characterization in favor of a barrage of
> dimly-lit crawling and fighting. Sorry, guys, I still say it's not
> anything special.

Gotta agree with all that. The introduction of Spike and Dru is great,
but the "school hard" sections range from ehhh to ouch! to <snore>.
(Though I do enjoy seeing Willow brain that one vamp, and the "undead liar
guy" scene is all right.) I'm also unconvinced by the overdone Sheila
character. And the Annoying One's performance ... well, let's just say
that it was wise to kill him off rather than waiting to see if he'd
improve.

But still, Spike and Dru make up for an awful lot -- and I'm not even
remotely sympathetic to the Cult of Spike. They bring a note of
excitement to the post-Master Buffyverse's very concept of vampires.
Their first scene is a classic; I particularly like the moment when Dru
cuts Spike's cheek and licks a drop of blood of blood off. Spike's
menacing appearance at the Bronze is also thoroughly enjoyable. (There
are also some good non-Spike chuckles in that scene, like the extreme
difficulty of getting Buffy to stop studying, and Xander finding a tampon
in Buffy's purse and dropping it like a hot potato.) Even during the most
tedious moments of the school siege, Spike is still worth watching,
because he's just so damn cool. IMO it's the kind of cool that works
better with a pure villain than a sympathetic villain, let alone a hero;
but that's a discussion for another day.

> Rating: Decent

A high Decent.

> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman

This is another one that I haven't watched in full for at least a year or
two. That's a long time by my standards. But as with SAR, there are a
few scenes and jokes that I remember fondly. A good one is in the
library, when Buffy and friends joke about how Rodney might have awoken
the mummy ... and then the laughter fades as they all simulataneously
realize that that is *exactly* the kind of thing that would really happen
in Sunnydale. Another good laugh is Buffy's insistence that "I don't
always use violence. Do I?" "The important thing is that you believe
that." And then there's Ampata's reply to the discovery that she is a
girl: "Yes, for many years now." Heh. If only they knew.... Ampata
herself is not only cute but quite sympathetic, one of the most
sympathetic villains of the whole series.

On a negative note, this has got to be one of the most unimaginative
episode titles of the whole series. Even just calling it "Ampata" would
have been better.

Buffy and Xander share a weird little moment at the very end, full of
understanding and cameraderie and a sort of melancholy and just a *little*
hint of attraction, to keep the B-X shippers from losing hope too soon.

> Rating: Decent (down from Good)

Fair enough.

> General comments on S2D1: Season Two has major pacing problems, as
> will be discussed more.

True. Although what really strikes me isn't the pacing so much as the
quality distribution, with most of the best episodes clustered near the
end and all (IMHO) of the worst episodes in the first half. The only
other one like that is season 6, where all the weak stuff is concentrated
in the middle of the season.

About the S2 DVDs in general: The elaborate animations when you select an
episode seemed really neat the first time I saw them. By the end of my
first run through the season, I was heartily sick of them.


--Chris

______________________________________________________________________
chrisg [at] gwu.edu On the Internet, nobody knows I'm a dog.

One Bit Shy

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May 8, 2007, 6:10:00 PM5/8/07
to
<chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu> wrote in message
news:1341m15...@corp.supernews.com...

Ooh, Ooh! I forgot to mention that. The scene is a big part of why I like
this episode.

Buffy: Ampata wasn't evil. At least not to begin with, and... I-I do think
she cared about you.
Xander: Yeah, but I think that whole sucking the life out of people thing
would have been a strain on the relationship.
Buffy: She was gypped. She was just a girl, and she had her life taken away
from her.... I remember how I felt when I heard the prophecy that I was
gonna die. I wasn't exactly obsessed with doing the right thing.
Xander: Yeah, but you did. You gave up your life.
Buffy: I had you to bring me back.

There are a few things about this scene that I like. First is how it
hammers at the BtVS theme that it is Buffy's friends that make her special
as a slayer. Back in S1, devotion to her friends motivated Buffy to be a
Slayer, and her decision to keep her friends while being a Slayer was her
first attempt at defeating the Slayer trap. But it wasn't necessarily
clear - nor clearly stated as far as I recall - that her friends made her
stronger. Not until the rather blatant impact of Xander reviving her in
Prophecy Girl.

This season M.E. has decided to emphasize the point. In the previous
episode, Spike whines to Drusilla, "A Slayer with family and friends. That
sure as hell wasn't in the brochure." Buffy survived Spike only because of
the direct aid of Joyce and the more general aid of a group of friends there
for her. The idea is even stronger this episode - largely because it's
Buffy herself recognizing the truth. Ampata had been set up as
representative of the Slayer trap that Buffy knows too well. But the
difference between them is that people are there for Buffy.

Which only goes to the perversity of Joss. After building that up, this is
of course the season that ends with:

Angelus: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends... No hope.
Take all that away... and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

One little thing about the scene I like is how it reminds us of Xander's
symbolic act - breathing life into Buffy. In effect he was doing the same
for Ampata when they kissed. Xander the giver of life. Heh.

The biggest thing about the scene for me, though, is the connection between
Xander and Buffy. In When She Was Bad, Buffy toyed with Xander when she
teasingly asked if he wished she would thank him for saving her life. Buffy
doesn't exactly thank Xander for real here, but I think she does something
more. She acknowledges a unique bond between them - even implies a
dependency on Xander.

That had to have been gratifying for Xander then, though I'm not sure it
proved to be a real blessing. For quite some time to come Xander is going
to be burdened with the sense that Buffy needs him to stay alive. Arguably
the biggest motivation to his character for the next year or so - including
when he acts badly.

But right now it feels really good. And, hey, he's getting pretty good at
the saving people business. He saved Willow this episode. A couple back he
saved Cordelia.

OBS


Don Sample

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May 8, 2007, 6:38:22 PM5/8/07
to
In article <1341t9t...@news.supernews.com>,

"One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

> Buffy survived Spike only because of
> the direct aid of Joyce and the more general aid of a group of friends there
> for her.

While Joyce helped, it is by no means certain that Buffy's survival was
"only because of the direct aid of Joyce." She was uninjured, and lying
flat on your back is actually a pretty good defensive position. Without
Joyce's intervention, Buffy might have caught that 2x4 Spike was about
to try to hit her with, kicked him in the family jewels, and then staked
him with the hunk of wood she'd just taken from him.

Arbitrar Of Quality

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May 8, 2007, 7:01:35 PM5/8/07
to
On May 8, 1:22 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

> Back in Angel when they kissed I went along with it 'cause it felt like they
> were being pulled in by the undertow from a wave. They couldn't help it.
> Here... I think it's all the talk about being the 240 year old vampire with
> all the experience. 240 years of dating. (Yeah, I know - not much dating
> in those 240 years. But he is an -er- worldly man.)
> There's a predatory
> quality to it that always bothered me. Not just for the age difference, but
> for Angel's angellic look and innocent manner doing it. Isn't there a lie
> in that?

He's never been in love before.

There's a disturbing side that the show didn't address so much that
emerges after we learn how Angel found out about her in the first
place, although at least it sets the stage for a love story that's
both based on and ultimately hindered by irrational sweeping idealism.

> But it's Spike who always gets criticized for being predatory.

Yeah, some people just overreact to characters who'll sneak into a
girl's home and steal her underwear.

-AOQ

One Bit Shy

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May 8, 2007, 7:07:42 PM5/8/07
to
"Don Sample" <dsa...@synapse.net> wrote in message
news:dsample-3176EC...@news.giganews.com...

> In article <1341t9t...@news.supernews.com>,
> "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
>
>> Buffy survived Spike only because of
>> the direct aid of Joyce and the more general aid of a group of friends
>> there
>> for her.
>
> While Joyce helped, it is by no means certain that Buffy's survival was
> "only because of the direct aid of Joyce." She was uninjured, and lying
> flat on your back is actually a pretty good defensive position. Without
> Joyce's intervention, Buffy might have caught that 2x4 Spike was about
> to try to hit her with, kicked him in the family jewels, and then staked
> him with the hunk of wood she'd just taken from him.

Perhaps. I'm sure Spike didn't see it that way - hence his remark about a
Slayer with friends. Personally I think the episode was going for the
notion that Buffy was helpless at that moment, but it's not essential. The
important message was that Buffy had people there for her. Though, of
course, she'll lose Joyce at the end of the season too.

OBS


Arbitrar Of Quality

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May 9, 2007, 2:14:02 AM5/9/07
to
On May 8, 3:05 pm, chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu wrote:
> Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I have a bit of unfinished business that I want to take care of. I
> > said I'd keep people in the loop on my re-watching of the Buffyverse.
>
> Cool. Pointless curiosity: have you been rewatching them all in order?
> Did you start rewatching recently, or right after finishing season 7, or
> what?

We've been slowly re-watching pretty much since finishing, with all
the extras and such this time around.

> > And so we kick off _Buffy_'s most over-rated season
>
> People who over-rate season 2 are usually under the thrall of that
> incredible run of episodes from Innocence to the finale; they forget that
> the first half of the season was neither as good nor as consistent.

I guess I'm disputing even the unconventionally conventional wisdom,
then. I say the second half pf the season is paced at least as badly
as the first, and that between "Innocence" and "Becoming" there's only
one episode ("Passion") that's even remotely near "incredible." My
favorite run of S2 as far as consistency goes is actually mid-season,
from "Halloween" through "Ted," remembered fondly as the first time
the show got on a streak, ratings-wise.

> I remember when I first watched followup scene outside, I was so
> caught up in Buffy and Cordy's confrontation that the vampire attack
> afterwards caught me completely by surprise. "Oh, yeah, vampires," I said
> to myself with a laugh. At that point in the episode the supernatural evil
> element was little more than a bonus for me, I was so focused on the
> relationships between the characters.

You know you're watching a Joss Whedon show when...

> I always feel like quoting Principal Snyder's classic first-day monologue
> every fall when the students stream back to campus. I don't really hate
> students, but it's so much fun to play the grumpy relatively-old man,
> especially when Joss writes my lines for me.

Agreed with those who think it's one of Snyder's best episodes. The
character never really worked for me, but it's hard to resist his
glowering quotables here.

> One tiny good moment that I rarely see mentioned is in the scene between
> Buffy and Mrs. Epps. Darryl's mother sits in the dark enthusing over
> tapes of his old games and at first she's just a caricature of a creepy
> crazy person living in denial. Then she adds the wistfully bitter line
> "He would've been 19 next week" and suddenly the one-dimensional crazy
> woman snaps into focus as a real character struggling with pain and loss.
> It's amazing what one simple line can do sometimes.

Well, I mentioned it in my original review, so, uh, yay me. One of
the best moments of the episode.

> Even during the most
> tedious moments of the school siege, Spike is still worth watching,
> because he's just so damn cool.

The original take on Spike is very limited for me, despite a strong
start. By the time we get to "use your head!" I'm pretty thoroughly
bored with the character, He gets a few points back for his groveling
before the Annoying One.

> On a negative note, this has got to be one of the most unimaginative
> episode titles of the whole series. Even just calling it "Ampata" would
> have been better.

[shrug] "Inca Mummy Girl" has a ring to it. Better than its much
more nondescript companion title, "Reptile Boy."

> About the S2 DVDs in general: The elaborate animations when you select an
> episode seemed really neat the first time I saw them. By the end of my
> first run through the season, I was heartily sick of them.

Uggh, very annoying. Play the damn episode.

-AOQ

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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May 9, 2007, 2:30:42 PM5/9/07
to
Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> Agreed with those who think it's one of Snyder's best episodes. The
> character never really worked for me, but it's hard to resist his
> glowering quotables here.

BTW, if you like Armin Shimerman, you might enjoy this video interview
where he talks about both DS9 and BTVS:

http://www.interviewinghollywood.com/videos/video-192.html

>> On a negative note, this has got to be one of the most unimaginative
>> episode titles of the whole series. Even just calling it "Ampata" would
>> have been better.
>
> [shrug] "Inca Mummy Girl" has a ring to it. Better than its much
> more nondescript companion title, "Reptile Boy."

Of the two, I think I prefer Reptile Boy. Less ring, but I give it credit
for at least attempting a double meaning (reptile-worship and reptilian
behavior).

Arnold Kim

unread,
May 10, 2007, 5:14:52 PM5/10/07
to

<chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu> wrote in message
news:13444qi...@corp.supernews.com...

> Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Agreed with those who think it's one of Snyder's best episodes. The
>> character never really worked for me, but it's hard to resist his
>> glowering quotables here.
>
> BTW, if you like Armin Shimerman, you might enjoy this video interview
> where he talks about both DS9 and BTVS:
>
> http://www.interviewinghollywood.com/videos/video-192.html

I like how he manages to praise Joss Whedon and knock Rick Berman at the
same time.:)

Arnold Kim


Apteryx

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May 10, 2007, 10:32:04 PM5/10/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season Two, Episode 1: "When She Was Bad"
> mean to seem too hard on the ep, though, since it's a good one. "When
> She Was Bad" is often disturbing for the right reasons, sprinkled with
> good jokes throughout, and has a few great misdirects. I don't like
> to wish misery on anyone, but the angst is part of what makes Buffy
> interesting - angst that's part of the teenage experience but is
> uniquely her own. Now, as then, I wish Season Two had run with this
> dark-but-with-ties-to-the-fun-of-S1 tone - S2 should've all been like
> this, not just some of it. Sadly, it's downhill from here for
> awhile...
> Rating: Good

Good for me too, but a highish good. It does what it needs to do in setting
up season 2 and manages to have some fun too. The actual plot of the attempt
to bring back the Master is not the greatest, but it's only there to hang
the important stuff on. Love the foreshadowing of the end of the season,
especially Buffy challenging Angel to a fight. Currently my 29th favourite
BtVS episode, 8th best in season 2 (last year was 28th and 7th)

> Season Two, Episode 2: "Some Assembly Required"
> Writer: Ty King
> Director: Bruce Seth Green
>
> Never much cared for this one - oddly, it was one of my brother's
> favorites of the early shows. It felt especially long on re-watching,
> a lot of "how are we still only in act three?" thoughts were elicited
> 'round these parts. Basically, after the texture of "Prophecy Girl"
> and WSWB, I'm never interested in going back to a straight movie
> homage - this one has little emotional connection to the main
> characters (not even Cordelia, really), and the guests don't stand out
> at all. It's BTVS at its most unspectacular.
> Rating: Weak

Lowish Decent for me. The A story is, well, awful, but there is a lot of
good stuff going on here:

"C'mon, Stephan, rise and shine. Some of us have a ton of trig homework
waiting."

Buffy: Well, I didn't come here to fight.
Newly raised vampire lunges at her
Buffy: Oh, right, I did.

Giles and Jenny (it's not SAR:Giles's fault that they later decided to take
his character in a different direction

Giles: Grave robbing? That's new. Interesting.
Buffy: I *know* you meant to say gross and disturbing.
Giles: Yes, yes, yes of course. Uh, terrible thing. Must, must put a stop
to it. Damn it.

Xander: So, we dig up some graves tonight?
Willow: Oh, boy! A field trip!

Cordelia: Darn, I have cheerleader practice tonight. Boy, I wish I knew we
were gonna be digging up dead people sooner. I would've cancelled.

"Sorry, but I'm an old-fashioned gal. I was raised to believe that men dig
up the corpses and the women have the babies."

Not to mention the start of Cordy/Xander:

Cordelia: Xander? I just wanted to thank you for saving my life. What you
did in there was really brave and heroic, and I just wanted to tell you if
there was anything that I could ever do to...
Xander: Do you mind? We're talking here.
Xander: So where were we?
Willow: Wondering why we never get dates.
Xander: Yeah, so why do you think that is?
(before this there was genuine casual contempt in their insults of each
other - after it they are still dishing the insults, but there is bitterness
betokening suppressed feelings, especially from Cordy.)

Of course, while all that makes it worth watching, it's hard for the episode
to compete with episodes that have good stuff too, plus stories that are
worth watching, so its only my 121st favourite BtVS episode, 21st best in
season 2 (was 114th and 21st).


> Season Two, Episode 3: "School Hard"
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon
> Director: John T. Kretcher
>
> The epitome of over-rated episodes, "School Hard" starts off great;
> Spike is a welcome breath of fresh air in the early going, as S2's
> carousel of villains starts spinning, and Drusilla shows potential.
> Like everyone who's seen later into the series, I'd remembered the
> episode as being a big deal simply because of those introductions.
> But the bulk of SH itself (i.e. during the attack, rather than the
> stuff before and after) is really quite boring, an amateurish action
> movie that forgets about characterization in favor of a barrage of
> dimly-lit crawling and fighting. Sorry, guys, I still say it's not
> anything special.
> Rating: Decent


Mostly agree, though I'd still rate it a lowish Good. The attack on the
school is pretty poor, but otherwise Spike and Drusilla are cool right from
the start. Its my 66th favourite BtVS episode, 13th in season 2 (was 75th
and 15th).

> Season Two, Episode 4: "Inca Mummy Girl"
> Writers: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
> I aroused a (very minor) amount of controversy for liking this one the
> first time around, especially after the lack of enthusiasm for SH. I
> was swept up by Xander having a sweet love story. But you know what?
> I'm actually going to have to back down on that. Xander's romance
> isn't so interesting, and is actually on the annoying side, and I
> don't really know what I was enjoying so much. And the show itself is
> fairly slow. I can see people getting bored, and can almost begin to
> understand why some think of it as among the worst of the series.
> Personally, I still consider it a relative highlight of the early
> going of S2 - not that that's saying much. There're some nice scenes
> with the friends, and the introduction of an intriguing new character
> (well, Oz isn't the only debut-er, but he's the one who's interesting
> to begin with). The use of a villain with some semblance of depth and
> a stab at doing a parallel-chosen-one story both signal a welcome
> direction for the series. And, well, that's somethin'. And I haven't
> even mentioned Willow in that parka. Well, until now.
> Rating: Decent (down from Good)

Still a (low) Good for me. And how could you ever have rated the episode
without taking account of Eskimo Will (or lovelorn Willow in general, and
especially Willow's Choice). The A story is more significant, for comparison
with that other Chosen One (the one who would rather be the Overlooked One)
than actually interesting, but there is still fun going on all around it:

"You just don't like him 'cause of that time he beat you up every day for
five years."

"One day I'm gonna live in a town where evil curses are just generally
ruled out without even saying it."

And the one that is doubly funny on rewatching:
Willow: So, Ampata. You're a girl.
Ampata: Yes. For many years now.

But yeah, a better story to go with the great lines would be a help. It is
currently my 71st favourite BtVS, 14th best in season 2 (was 66th and 12th)


--
Apteryx


Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
May 10, 2007, 11:55:20 PM5/10/07
to
On May 10, 9:32 pm, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1178501597....@n59g2000hsh.googlegroups.com...

> Giles and Jenny (it's not SAR:Giles's fault that they later decided to take


> his character in a different direction

Already covered my disdain for that, so no comment.

> Not to mention the start of Cordy/Xander:

NO COMMENT.

> Mostly agree, though I'd still rate it a lowish Good. The attack on the
> school is pretty poor, but otherwise Spike and Drusilla are cool right from
> the start. Its my 66th favourite BtVS episode, 13th in season 2 (was 75th
> and 15th).

So it seems the consensus is that people like "School Hard" because
they like the characters it introduces, and almost everyone agrees
that the A-plot is weak. Spike and Dru are intriguing in small doses,
but don't click to nearly the extent that people seem to think. Spike
in particular is a hell of a lot less interesting than he'll later
become (even just as a villain, I mean) as the show gets a handle on
him as Season Two progresses.

And I haven't
> > even mentioned Willow in that parka. Well, until now.
> > Rating: Decent (down from Good)
>
> Still a (low) Good for me. And how could you ever have rated the episode
> without taking account of Eskimo Will (or lovelorn Willow in general, and
> especially Willow's Choice).

Um, I never did.

> And the one that is doubly funny on rewatching:
> Willow: So, Ampata. You're a girl.
> Ampata: Yes. For many years now.

That's almost an Anya line, although of course it's said for different
reasons.

> But yeah, a better story to go with the great lines would be a help. It is
> currently my 71st favourite BtVS, 14th best in season 2 (was 66th and 12th)

Does this mean you're doing yet another re-watch?

-AOQ

Apteryx

unread,
May 11, 2007, 3:21:29 AM5/11/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1178855720.5...@w5g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> On May 10, 9:32 pm, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
>
>> Not to mention the start of Cordy/Xander:
>
> NO COMMENT.

:)

>> Mostly agree, though I'd still rate it a lowish Good. The attack on the
>> school is pretty poor, but otherwise Spike and Drusilla are cool right
>> from
>> the start. Its my 66th favourite BtVS episode, 13th in season 2 (was 75th
>> and 15th).
>
> So it seems the consensus is that people like "School Hard" because
> they like the characters it introduces, and almost everyone agrees
> that the A-plot is weak. Spike and Dru are intriguing in small doses,
> but don't click to nearly the extent that people seem to think. Spike
> in particular is a hell of a lot less interesting than he'll later
> become (even just as a villain, I mean) as the show gets a handle on
> him as Season Two progresses.

It would be disappointing if he hadn't developed, but right from the start,
Spike and Dru are very different vampires from what we have seen. Mainly
Dru's madness, and Spike's obvious concern for her, plus his different
attitude towards traditional methods.

>
>> But yeah, a better story to go with the great lines would be a help. It
>> is
>> currently my 71st favourite BtVS, 14th best in season 2 (was 66th and
>> 12th)
>
> Does this mean you're doing yet another re-watch?
>

A partial re-watch, with heavy use of the fast forward button. I have made
small changes to the ratings of WSWB and SAR (which caused WSWB to rise 1
place and SAR 2, despite the fact that they have both made a net fall since
last year), but most of the movement in the rankings for all of these
episodes comes either from a selective re-watching of most S2 episodes I did
last November, or simply from the effect of other episodes being re-rated
above or below these episodes since the time of your original review.

--
Apteryx


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