Review 2 of 7
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, brought a new wave of girl power to the supernatural genre. Taking the typical damsel in distress scenarios associated with monster stories and flipping it on its head, creating a super hero for a new era.
Season two of Buffy takes almost everything established in season one to a much higher level. Character traits and relationships introduced in the first season are delved into much deeper. I mentioned in the last review that it was said that Buffy was originally meant to be a 12 episode mini-series and that if “Prophecy Girl” had ended it, it would have been perfectly fine…. however, when it comes to the interaction of the characters and the group dynamic that had only really just started to truly form in season one, I do think that not doing any further seasons would have wasted an awful lot of potential and left a lot unsaid.
The main arc of season two is centered around Buffy and Angel. As I said previously, Angel was cursed by gypsies with a soul. The twist to this curse is that Angel will lose his soul once again and become the ruthlessly evil Angelus if he experiences a single moment of “true happiness”. This season takes Buffy down a much darker route, abandoning quite a bit of the camp/cheesy tone of the show’s first season. Buffy is forced to grow up even more this season and there are many times where her arc in season two is pretty brutal. Buffy and Angel’s relationship goes to the next level and they finally make love, naturally resulting in a moment of true happiness of Angel and releasing his soul into….um… the ether, or wherever stray souls stray to. This leads to Angel, or Angelus, being the big bad of the season. Due to this we find out heaps more about Angel’s past, a lot of which is shown through flashbacks. We also meet more of his former allies; allies that he reunites with during his evil time this season. Namely, Spike and Drusilla.
Spike and Drusilla are probably two favourite vampires in the whole series. Not that I don’t like Angel, but Angel can sometimes be so sanctimonious that it makes you want to stake him (he’s perfect for Buffy in that way). Spike has a cheeky quality about him and a humour that was probably paramount to him staying with the show as long as he did. A little back story: Drusilla was a devout Catholic girl who was eventually cast out by her family because her power to foresee the future was thought to be from the devil. Angelus and Darla get their eyes on Dru and make it their mission to drive her mad, killing everyone she loves in front of her and messing with her head as much as possible, before making her one of them. Drusilla then found William, a bumbling amateur poet with serious mummy issues and sired him. William acquired the title William the Bloody and then later came to be known as Spike, due to his trademark of running rail road spikes through his victim’s heads.
These two make for the most wonderfully weird couple in the series; jumping from hilarious, to oddly sweet, to downright disturbing episode by episode. Without them, this season’ story arc could have been way too depressing; having bad guys like these are part of what makes Buffy and the Whedon-verse great. Finding humour in the twisted stuff.
One big surprise we have this season is the introduction of another slayer, Kendra. Buffy having briefly died at the hands of The Master in season one, the prophecy called a new slayer. Kendra is very different to Buffy, not very worldly and incredibly uptight, but in a strange way, kind of lovable. It is genuinely sad to see Kendra’s end at the hands of Drusilla… but at the same time, I’m not sure any of us were convinced she’d be sticking around.
Romance wise, this season is far deeper. Willow’s crush on Xander results in heartbreak when Willow discovers that he has been seeing Cordelia. “You’d rather be with someone you hate than be with me”.Alyson Hannigan is so great at tugging at the heart strings that all I can feel is sympathy for her character at this stage. Fear not though, as Willow soon meets a werewolf, Oz and the two hit it off, making a very cute couple, in part because Oz is tiny. Aww. Xander and Cordelia have a pretty crazy relationship, pretty much the embodiments of the “love-hate” concept in action. Then we have Giles and Jenny Calendar, a relationship that spends its fair share of time on the rocks, especially when it is revealed through Buffy’s prophetic dreams that Jenny knows more about Angelus and restoring his soul that she is letting on, but overall it is clear that they have fallen in love. Sadly, people can’t be this happy in Buffy and disaster inevitably must strike. Angelus finds out that Jenny has the ritual to bring back his soul, so kills her and sets up her body for Giles to find in a particularly heartbreaking and cruel way. It’s hard not to hate Angel in these episodes, or I suppose we should specify Angelus again, but somehow this horrendously sad story doesn’t take away from the heart wrenching finale.
In the two part final “Becoming”, Angelus goes about his mission to awaken the stone demon Acathla, a demon who will literally swallow the world. Willow takes it upon herself to perform the restoration ritual, having looked into such things after finding it on Miss Calendar’s computer. Willow manages to restore his soul (and her use of magic will become much more common next season) but not before Angelus has opened Acathla’s portal. Now back to regular Angel, he is unaware of what is happening around him. For a moment, Buffy thinks she has her love back, but soon realises what is happening. In one of the most devastating scenes in the series, Buffy kisses Angel, whispers “close your eyes” and sacrifices him to save the world.
After leaving her home once her mum discovers she’s the slayer, and being expelled from school after being involved in one too many “incidents”, Buffy leaves Sunnydale on a bus, leaving her friends wondering where she has gone.
There were also stand alone episodes that really stand out for me: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered probably being one of the best in my opinion; in which Xander has a love spell cast on Cordelia which backfires and makes everyone except Cordy fall in love with him. One of bad guys that sticks in my mind is Der Kindestod from “Killed by Death”, a pretty frightening demon who kills in a particularly gruesome way.
Buffy season two really proved Buffy to be worthy of a full 22 episode season. The emotional depth of the season two story is testament to that. Thank god they picked it up for a second season and thank Joss for doing so much more.