Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top 5 Episodes of Buffy Season 2

Followers of our blog may have noticed a recent increase in Buffy the Vampire Slayer related pictures and tweets. This is due to Paul finally succeeding in getting Anya to watch the spectacular (I will defend it to my grave) series. Although it may have started in large part due to Anya having to spend an hour a day in an internet free house, and Paul owning Buffy DVDs (we grew up without Netflix), she is now totally on board with the dark, witty, cheesy, and heartbreaking show, and Paul couldn’t be happier.

As Anya finishes a season, we’ll do a rundown of our favorite episodes. Season One only has 12 episodes, and while it sets up the show and has its moments of brilliance, the show did not really hit its stride until Season Two. So we’re just going to skip the first season (not sure we have enough favorite episodes to warrant an entry) and start with the emotionally-charged Season Two. Please be aware that all of these articles will feature spoilers for their, and any previous, season.

5. “Lie to Me”

“It’s just, like, the more I know, the more confused I get.”

We begin our list with “Lie to Me.” This episode is a favorite of Paul’s, mostly for its final scene. After an episode of being confronted with uncomfortable truths, Buffy asks Giles if “life ever gets easy,” and, knowing the answer, requests that he lie to her and gives her the answer that she wishes were true. Giles tells her that life is “terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.” His speech is sweet, yet incredibly tragic, especially considering upcoming events with Angel and Jenny Calendar.

Great comedic moments include Angel wearing the same clothes as a wannabe vamp, the eyeliner (oh god the EYELINER), everything about “Chanterelle” (the name, the clothes, the eternally clueless demeanor), and Drusilla talking to her dead bird (“You sing the sweetest little song. Won't you sing for me, hm? Don't you love me anymore?”).

4. “School Hard”

“Do you like daisies? I plant them, but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies.”

This episode is important for its introduction of bad British vamps, Spike and Drusilla. Drusilla is a truly magnificent secondary character. She manages to be ethereal, kooky, and terrifying all at the same time. You really never know what batshit crazy thing she’s going to do or say next, and we love it. Famed slayer of Slayers, Spike, rolls into town to up his kill count to three, and picks Parent Teacher Night, of which Buffy is in charge, to make his first big attack. We learn that subpar student Buffy is also incapable of making lemonade and that Principle Snyder and the police are somewhat aware of the supernatural goings-on and their go-to public explanation of PCP gangs.

Angel pretending to be evil with faux-hostage Xander is great, as is Spike seeing through the charade and angrily bewailing that Angel was his Yoda. If there’s anyone we quote more than Spike and Dru these days, it’s Ewan McGregor’s spectacularly pathetic “You were my brother, Anakin!” and the end of Episode III. Melding these two pop culture phenomena keeps us going through the endless days.

3. “Becoming (Part 2)”

“Close your eyes.”

This is one hell of a season closer. Willow successfully casts a spell to return to Angel his soul, but it is too late and, after a tearful reunion, Buffy is forced (still not buying the necessity of this part) to stab Angel, sending him to Hell. It’s all too much for Buffy, who then leaves town, giving us a rough end to a rough season. With Giles getting tortured, Buffy’s expulsion, Drusilla siding with Angel over Spike, and Xander lying to Buffy about Willow’s spell, there are not a whole lot of bright moments to this episode.

We thankfully briefly get the dynamic duo of Buffy and Spike. This gives us the incredible formal introduction of Spike and Joyce (“Um.. you hit me an axe one time, remember? Uh, ‘Get the Hell away from daughter!’” “Oh...So do you live here in town?”) which is perfection, even if it unfortunately dissolves into the brutal exchange between Joyce and Buffy on acceptance (“I mean, have you tried not being a Slayer?”).

2. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

“I think it’s more of a hot night, don’t you?”

We decided that we needed a safe and silly episode to sit between our third and first selections, and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” certainly serves that purpose. Though it doesn’t actually come in at second place for either of us, we couldn’t stand putting all of that sad in a row. After being scorned by Cordelia, Xander enlists the help of witchy Amy to cast a love spell on Cordy (so that he can dump and embarrass her), which goes awry and causes all of the women in Sunnydale to become violently obsessed with him. Poor Cordelia’s love(ish) for Xander can’t overcome her desire to be popular, but her getting the locket “out of her locker” pulls at the heartstrings of an especially sensitive viewer (read: not us). And how many times are those two idiots going to seek shelter in the Summers’ not-so-secure basement (Joyce must have some kind of ridiculous home insurance/If you’re okay with the constant threat of death, Sunnydale is the place for contractors and construction workers)?

By far the highlight of this episode for Anya was a creature we affectionately refer to as Buffy-Rat, and nervous little rodent intent on escaping the confines of the library and hunting down some delicious cheddar, but only in a place that is large enough for her to transform the buff. GET IT? Watching Buffy-Rat scuttle around was a close second to watching Willow try to murder Xander with an axe, uttering sentiments that are probably dangerously close to her true feelings sometimes.

1. “Innocence”

“I’ll just let it burn.”

This episode is the epitome of what Buffy accomplishes at its best: showcasing the heights and depths of the human condition through the Fantasy lens of monsters and magic in a moving way. The show attempts to do this with varying levels of success (Everybody ignored her so much that she became invisible! Be careful what you wish for!), but this is one of the times ol’ Joss got it very right. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone who turned out to not be the person you thought they were (which has happened to anyone who has ever fallen in love), can relate to plucky protagonist Buffy Summers, as she slowly (SO VERY SLOWLY!) realizes that the man she loves, Angel, has turned into a monster. Spike may criticize the evil Angelus for being too soft, but his torturous treatment of Buffy throughout this episode is pure cruelty and malice.

The scene in Angel’s apartment where he ridicules her performance in bed, calls her a needy child, and then brushes off her confession of love? UGH. This episode is light on the comic relief, highlights being Xander telling the soldier that he only needs five minutes in a closet with Cordelia and Drusilla’s eternal oddities (this episode features her stargazing through the ceiling and naming them all the same thing). “Innocence” also gives us the iconic Buffy-using-a-rocket-launcher scene and the wonderful speech from Giles, where he tells Buffy that she will only ever find support and respect from him. When Joyce asks Buffy what she did on her birthday and she replies with, “I got older,” you believe it.

Honorable Mention:
In a heavy season of dark and twisty plots and nothing great happening for anyone, Angel’s stalking and murder of Jenny Calendar (
or Gyp-say Jen-nay as the more pro-Angel among us call her) really put the sad icing on the miserable cake of this season. This is an extremely important game changing episode, featuring the first death of a major character on the show, but it does not resonate with us as much as the above sad sack selections. We knew when the disc fell that her soul restoring work would live on, but watching Giles smell that rose before ascending the stairs with a smile on his face was a heart wrenching build-up to the scene that made us realize that things with Angel really never could be the same. Ouch.


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