The Last Guy to Arrive at the Buffy Party: Season 2

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I finally finished all 22 episodes of Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night and I’m officially hooked on this show.  I really, really enjoyed Season 1, but sometime around when Angel snapped Jenny Calendar’s neck, I realized that I was watching something special.  Everything I love about the first season of Buffy continued into the second season, and the show proved that it can be silly, funny, dark, scary, and clever, all while grounding itself with believable, complex characters.  I wish I had discovered this show sooner, but hey, better late than never.

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It’s tough to say just what it is I like best about Buffy.  One thing, for sure, is the show’s structure.  Like in Season 1, there’s an overarching plot throughout the season that involves all the main characters, but every other episode or so, we get a “one off” type of episode where Buffy & Co. battle the Hellmouth’s demon of the week.  It keeps the show fresh and interesting without trying to cram too many things into that overarching plot.  Personally, I loved the episode co-starring John Ritter (R.I.P.) as the psychotic robot.  The frat boy douchebags who drug high school girls were pretty memorable, too, as was the swim team that turned into fish-people.  It’s fun stuff; it’s great to see a show not take itself too seriously.

But that’s not to say that Buffy isn’t good when it’s serious.  In fact, I’d say that the best episodes – by a lot – were the more serious, darker ones that focused on Buffy’s relationship with Angel.  All the main characters grew and changed this season, a concept that is severely lacking in many television shows.  Xander can get annoying from time to time (I’m almost embarrassed when his jokes actually make me laugh), but I still find myself rooting for the guy.  Whenever push comes to shove, Xander is there, fighting vampires or getting up in Angel’s face; “You’re gonna die, and I’m going to be there” made me want to applaud.  I didn’t totally buy him being with Cordelia at first, but as the show went on, it totally worked – it makes sense that Cordelia would be intrigued by a guy who doesn’t kiss her ass and won’t put up with her bullsh*t, as this distinguishes him from the rest of the crowd.

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Spike is, at this point, probably my favorite character on the show.  He’s evil, but he’s also reserved and calculated.  I love that he actually fears Buffy and perceives her as the threat that she is; it’s this respect for the Slayer that separates him from his mindless vampire cronies.  Drusilla is great, too, but Spike pretty much owns any scene he is in.  I was pretty reluctant to get nuts over a character named “Spike,” but if “Buffy” taught me one thing in Season 1, it’s to not get too hung up on names.

I’ve always been a big Seth Green fan (he’s the one thing I liked about Entourage), so I was happy to see that he joins the cast in Season 2.  I was even happier to learn that he was a werewolf.  I certainly didn’t see that coming.  And that kind of brings me to the reason I really, really loved this season so much – the unpredictability of it all.

I didn’t expect Angel to lose his soul after finding true happiness with Buffy, but what made it even more surprising was the fact that his torment of Buffy afterward was twisted, sinister, and went places I did not expect the show to go.  One of the things I loved about the first three seasons of 24 was that almost anything could happen.  Jack didn’t always diffuse the bomb; the good guys didn’t always make it out alive.  I feel like that dynamic is in play here, too – I literally jumped off the couch when Angel snapped Jenny’s neck.  I couldn’t believe it – a prominent character violently killed by another prominent character, just like that.  When Angel accosted Jenny and then let her go to “work up an appetite,” I figured that Buffy would intercept him at the last second and save Jenny.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jenny – but I was ecstatic to have been proven wrong.

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Getting back to Angel’s torment: he takes Buffy’s virginity after she falls in love with him and then, when she’s at her most vulnerable, starts f*cking with her in ways that would drive anybody insane.  First, it was a picture of her sleeping.  Then, her mother.  And finally, a picture of Jenny’s corpse, sent to Giles.  Sick.  If you want a truly evil, sadistic villain, you can’t do much better than Angel.  And despite how strong Buffy is – both physically and mentally – even she can’t just move on.  It would destroy anyone, and it’s cool to see Buffy portrayed as a real high school girl, not some robotic superhero immune to any sort of pain.

There’s nothing simple about the circumstances in Season 2, which is why I found it so intriguing – almost every character has a difficult choice to make at some point.  For Buffy, it’s whether she should try and restore the soul of the man who she loved and took her virginity or to drive a stake through his heart and destroy what has already caused her and her friends unspeakable harm.  Giles has to balance his desire to lose control and avenge Jenny’s death with remaining collected and guiding Buffy in her role as Slayer.  Willow has to choose between resting up after a vampire attack or channeling dark magic through her body to try and help her friend.  And Xander, who hates Angel with every fiber of his being, has to reconcile his hatred toward Angel with his feelings for Buffy and whether he wants to help Buffy kill Angel out of jealousy or righteousness.  The relationships between the characters drive the choices they make, and this is by far one of the greatest things about this show.  I really can’t say how refreshing this is after watching Claire make dumb decision after dumb decision on Heroes – decisions not based on who she was, but on what was convenient to drive the plot forward.

As a sort of aside, I loved when Xander told Willow and Cordelia that, basically, “I had Angel pinned from day one, and I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.”  I probably would have done the same.

Like I wrote after seeing Season 1, I am watching each episode totally spoiler-free and without any clue as to what happens as the show goes on.  Obviously Angel is going to be back next season (and I’m guessing Spike, too), but other than that, I have no idea where the show will go.  I can’t wait to start up Season 3.  I’ll probably start tonight.


  • Candee

    Whoo hoo!

    I think season 7 is my favorite. Mmm…yeah. Seven.

  • Gill

    Spike only gets more awesome, man. Hope you continue to enjoy the TV sweetness that is Buffy!

  • Gill

    Oh, and Season 3, Episode 8 is probably the best of the whole series, in my opinion. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

  • hugo fitzpatrick

    Season three is possibly the best, plot wise, and as a whole.

    It is so well connected and all the character arc’s so good that you will not be disappointed.

    And the ending, what an ending! You can’t top that, season 6 tried, but Season 3 was the best.

  • jaromir

    Heh, the other day me and my brother were actually watching a rerun (they started showing repeats again over here in Canada on the much music program). I believe they’re showing season 4 right now and I was telling him how awesome it is that the show still holds up.

    I’m about to start watching this show with my g.f., I got her hooked onto “Dexter”, I’m hoping she can look past all the superficial demon looking characters and get hooked on the story. Hmmm we’ll see.

    The thing that is good about you catching the show later, is that when the show is done, you can catch “Angel” right after. (I remember thinking when the show would air, of how much of a douche I thought Angel was, but then about second season of the show I got hooked, probably even more so than Buffy.)

    Anyways glad to hear that you’re enjoying it. IMO mid season 3 is when the show really starts to blast off.

  • Galahad

    Spike keeps getting cooler as the show goes, and Angellus (Evil Angel) is indeed one of the best villains. They mention flat out in Angel’s spinoff show (which should be your next thing to watch) that Angellus is way smarter than Angel, which makes him *Angel’s* scariest enemy as well.

    Angel and Angellus are basically two distinct entities that loathe one another. If it helps, just think that everyting he’s doing to torture Buffy is also being done to torture Angel. He’s a nasty piece of work.

  • hun23

    I watched season 1 and 2 when it was reruning on a local channel a few months ago. Then I bought a hard drive for my DVR and just recorded all of season 3. Then the hard drive burnt out. I managed to look through my recordings and found the episode “Hush”. Either way, I’ve missed all of season 3 (apart from the first episode) but will probably continue to watch Season 4.

  • ford

    Buffy got me back into TV, and the first seasons are raw awesomeness, but Angel, the spinoff, is where it’s at. Make sure you check that out after. Season one is kind of a bore in spots but it picks up in season 2 all the way to a three season arc, plus the best series finale I’ve ever seen.(Maybe the Shield, maybe the Wire, who knows. Maybe BSG, I should rewatch that.)

  • Vala

    Season 3 is soooo good, and I don’t know if you’re watching it on DVD but some of the episodes have great audio commentaries, even though it’s usually only the writer (love David Fury)
    Season 3 and season 7 are my favorite…I think season 6 is probably my least favorite, but I still like it and it has great episodes.

  • Velovan

    I (we) told you so. Now that you’ve completed Season 2, there’s no going back. My thoughts:

    Xander’s kind of a mixed bag. He has brilliant moments, deep moments, lame moments and moments when he’s an unlikeable ass. You learn to appreciate him as the show goes on.

    I never cared for Angel. He was okay, but the Mr. Broody Vampire thing got old after a while. Angelus, on the other hand, is a 15 out of 10 on the mind fuck scale and easily makes it as the show’s best villain. That speech in his bedroom in Innocence makes me cringe every time, knowing that it’s pretty much a girl’s worst nightmare come to life. Jenny Calendar’s death is, in my opinion, the turning point for the entire show.

    Spike is amazing and plays a major role later in the show. His character undergoes a lot of changes and I’m very interested to read what you think of them. Sadly, he’s only in one episode of Season 3 so you’re going to have to wait. I love Drusilla in both Buffy and Angel. You know you’re really hooked when her non-sequitur lines start making sense.

    Anyways, you’re in for another treat. Season 3 is one of the strongest years of Buffy. The Mayor is a great villain, but for different reasons than Angelus. Naturally, there’s plenty of drama and laughs and several new characters that make the show even better. S3 also has several of the best non-big bad episodes in all of Buffydom. Band Candy, The Wish and Doppelgangland are all great. Enjoy!

  • Cream

    Are you going to watch Angel (the tv series)? Because when you get to the fourth season of Buffy, that’s when the first season of Angel starts, and when it gets to later series there is a certain order you have to watch them for the plots of both to align. If you go on IMDB there’s info on the order, I think if you type Buffy in and click the FAQ link.

    I’ve also started to watch Buffy and Angel on Netflix, and I’m so happy I didn’t skip out on them like I did years ago when they were on tv. They are surprisingly well written and I love the way the show portrays Spike. His attitude makes him my favorite character.

  • carx

    Wentworth Miller was in the swim team episode.

  • We featured this season on Pajiba’s “The Best 20 Seasons of the Past 20 Years.” (It eventually became 20.) And I’m not just telling you because I wrote the piece on it.

    http://www.pajiba.com/guides/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-two.php

  • Oh actually, now that I think of it. Maybe don’t read that. It’s a smidge spoilery.

  • Tron

    S2 and S3 and prob my fav seasons.

    but that’s possibly (mostly) due to the fact that spike is my fav character (well spike and dru) lol.

  • Devi

    Finding this article today just made my day. Buffy’s been my fav series since it came out, and still rewatch the DVD’s to this day. Really enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of a newbie. Think 2’s good? Wait till you get to 3. Some people don’t like it but 6 is also brilliant, and the series finale made me tear up.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the series!

  • Orleanas

    If you’re the last guy than I’m the last girl to get hooked on Buffy. A couple of weekends ago, a cable network was having a top 30 fan favorite countdown and I watched a couple of episodes. Those two eps that I watched made me kinda regret that I didn’t get hooked on the show when it aired. I say “kinda” because the show is so good I would have hated the week to week and season to season suspense. Now that the seasons are available, I can satiate my appetite for “What’s going to happing next?” by putting in the next DVD.

    In any case, I missed out on Buffy, like Lost and other so-called “must-see tv”–OMG, like Life with Damian Lewis–because I hate picking up a show that’s been hyped–not in the case of Life, apparently,–and that I did not get started with on the jump. Either way, planning on getting whole series, so impressed was I with the two eps I saw: humurous, dark, raw, real. Oh, yeah…and I found Spike so damn sexy!

  • Tishy

    Man, I’m loving this. It’s so cool to see Buffy through the eyes of someone who hasn’t watched it for years. Keep up with this!

  • Scotty

    Welcome, glad you could make it!

  • Lance

    I am glad you are liking it. But, for me the show started to stumble a bit when she got into college. Then I felt like it picked back up the final two seasons. It will be interesting to see if you feel the same.

  • Libby

    I too was late to the Buffy party. I think I watched all 7 seasons in one month, much to the chagrin of my husband. He even admits that it’s not “the worst”. I agree with you, Spike is the best and he just keeps getting more awesome.

  • hey, i´m going to be fast beacuse is really late i´m about to get sleep on top of the keyboard!!!

    i like the y way you talk about every character and hope great and correct (for me) are your words.

    so, like i said before one you see these season isn´t way to go back!!!

    when i read about Claire and the Lost thing, i thought how lucky u are to see Buffy after seing those show first, beacuse the perception of how much u get to miss Buffy and the great screaps, how u said, how the relations are well drive and no so incomplites some times, even a think Heroes a Lost are great, before a wacth only one show and got all and now a got to see la 3 or more to get one.

    and that all for now, i´m tired to think, later a check if you see the 3 season. that is my favority of all them.

    saludos

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  • Nick

    Yep, Buffy rules! I’ve been a huge fan since it first aired.

    For me, season 2 is a close run second to season 3 as my overall fave. I adored season 1 right from the off but it was the season 2 double of ‘Surprise’ and ‘Innocence’ where Buffy kicked up a gear from being a great show in to being something truly special. And, yes, the ep where Jenny gets offed by Angelus (‘Passion’) is arguably the best one of the season and one of the best ever. And then it all ends with ‘Becoming parts 1 & 2.’ After watching part 2 I always feel just like the little Mutant Enemy dude at the end of the credits…”Oh I need a hug.”

    Buffy forever.

  • Luckie

    We all told you season 2 would be amazing, did we not? Well, maybe I didn’t actually say it, but everyone else did…

    And yes, Angelus is so demented and sadistic that he’s perfect. I wouldn’t mind being tormented by him…

    Anyways, can’t wait until you get to season 6, or I read what you write about it.

    ~Luckie