Episode #1 - "The
Rating: * *
sacrificing her one true love in order to save the world, escaping from Hell,
coming back from the dead, running away from home, and figuring out how to
defeat "invincible" demons, the first week at college shouldn't
have unnerved Buffy as much as it did. Her angst in this episode just
wasn't consistent with the young woman that we've watched mature and
deepen. And how many college clichés can the creators pack into one
episode, anyway? (Long registration lines, a cute teaching assistant,
getting lost on campus, being humiliated in class, meeting a weird roommate,
Mom using the old bedroom for a storage area...) What's left for the rest
of the season?
The only time
my heart strings got tugged was when the phone rang (I guessed it was Angel)
and the only time I got excited and wanted to yell, "Yes," was when
Xander reminded Buffy she still had friends and said, "Avengers
Episode #2 - "Living Conditions"
Rating: * 1/2
Roommate From Hell - literally. This episode was a cross between
"The Odd Couple," "Visit To A Small Planet," "The
Munsters," and an old Hammer or Roger Corman flick. The
gross ritual footage was out of place in an episode that was essentially a
sit-com, and a poor one at that.
Episode #3 -
"The Harsh Light Of Day"
Rating: * *
makes a return appearance, but this time it's a disappointing one. All
he does is dig up a ring and have one karate fight with Buffy. (I
thought she got the ring away from him fairly easily.) His new
girlfriend, a valley girl, party queen, airhead turned vampire was funny
enough, but I miss Dru. She was one of the creepiest characters to ever
appear on TV and an utterly fascinating villain we loved to hate.
revisits the theme that pre-marital, casual sex can have devastating
emotional consequences. Unfortunately, the theme was much better
handled in the superb second half of Season Two.
Episode #4 - "Fear Itself"
and friends in a haunted house. Yawn! Other episodes have been
much scarier. This one was as overblown and overdone as the movie,
"Poltergeist." This series seems to have lost direction
post-high school and sans Angel. And once again this season, we have a
sitcom ending (although the final joke was pretty funny.)
Episode #5 - "Beer Bad"
Rating: * * *
was reluctant to watch this episode, fearing from the previews that it would
just be a rehash of the anti-drinking episode when Buffy and Cordy went to
the Frat party in Season Two.
Instead, it was
a funny commentary on the fact that deep down inside, we're all uncivilized
to some degree, no matter what sophisticated veneers we try to wear.
But the insights (such as they are) don't get in the way of the comedy.
And both Buffy and Willow get revenge on that creep Parker. YES!!
It looked for a while as if the vulnerable redhead, still really hurting over
what happened with Oz, would fall prey to the cad. But Buffy's best bud
is too smart for that. Let's hope that young women watching this show
Episode #6 - "Wild At
Rating: * * * 1/2
this is more like it! The series leaves behind such burning questions
as whether or not Buffy will get registered for her classes or even get a
normal roommate, to return to what it does best - gut wrenching human
drama. We feel Willow's pain as she realizes the one she loves may
prefer to be with someone else. We've all been there. And it's
chilling when Willow begins to turn to the powers of darkness in order to get
revenge and heartwarming when she discovers she can't do it. When Oz
finally loses his cool and commands Veruca to "Get out, NOW!" it's
a powerful scene. And the scene when he turns on Veruca in order to
save Willow is a true heroic moment, but it quickly becomes something quite
shocking as he kills the she-wolf and then turns on Willow. If you
don't cry during Willow and Oz's final scene, go check for your reflection in
a mirror. Buffy says that she herself had to run away and go to Hell
before she could learn to live with what had happened to her. She hopes
Willow can be spared all that. I've got news for you, Buff, everyone
who's ever lost a loved one goes to a type of Hell. And this series
knows that. But, Buffy, your simple statement to Willow, "I love
you," is just the kind of thing she needs to help her find her way back
By the way,
Alyson Hannigan has always been terrific, but in this episode she's
"Best Supporting Actress In A Dramatic Series" material. (Are
you listening, Academy?) And Seth Green is no slouch, either.
Episode #7 - "The
Rating:* * * 1/4
this episode, the series returns to mixing chills and sophisticated, satiric
comedy. Spike's vampiric attack on Willow starts out disturbingly like
a rape, but then, after the commercial, becomes fall-out-of-your-seat funny
as the two discuss Spike's lack of ability to "perform."
Other great bits: Zander's "fight" with Harmony; Spike believing
that The Slayer has gotten "funded;" Riley's cute, bumbling
attempts to woo Buffy.
(government?) organization subplot finally moves ahead. And it was
great to see Buffy kick some para-military butt. I got a kick (pun
intended) out of the "soldiers" telling their commander that
"It was a big guy!"
wish Buffy could meet a normal, well-adjusted guy for once, though. Of
course, what fun would that be?
#8 - "Pangs"
Rating: * * *
some of the humor and inter-group conflict seemed a little forced this time
around, there were some good bits, like Spike taking the arrows and the gang
riding to the rescue on the bikes. There was also an interesting
juxtaposition of Angel and Spike being outsiders looking in on lives they can
no longer have. And there's a great final battle. I thought the
follow-up on Angel's show was contrived, with the creators finding a way to
give Buffy and Angel their relationship back, then finding a way to break
them apart again while increasing Angel's suffering and burden at the same
time, all in the space of one episode. Still, the couple's goodbyes are
heart-rendering and Sarah and David get to show their acting chops. I
rate it * * *.
Episode #11 - "Doomed"
Rating:* * *
and Riley make a cute couple as they get to know one another and work
together to prevent the Hellmouth from reopening (although Buffy and Angel
were more than cute - they made the screen catch fire!). Sarah is good
portraying a Buffy who is understandably reluctant about entering into
another relationship, but the real star of this episode is Spike who's trying
to come to terms with the fact that he's just not scary any more. The
interaction between he and the gang is hilarious, along with his "rousing"
speech at the end urging them all to get out there and fight evil. Yay,
Episode #12 - "A New
* * 1/2
very amusing bits, particularly when Giles, who has been transformed into a
demon, teams up with Spike, but otherwise kind of a routine episode.
The subplots of The Initiative, Willow's new "friend," and Buffy
and Riley's relationship are advanced. Not much suspense or emotion,
though we do see that Giles and Buffy have a father-daughter relationship.
It was shown more effectively in such episodes as "The Prom" and
"Graduation Day - Part 2", however. All in all an okay show,
but nothing to write home about or to spend any more time writing a review
Episode #15 -
"This Year's Girl
One of A Two Part Story)"
Rating:* * * 1/4
slayer Faith returns! (I mean that she's a slayer who's evil, not that
she slays evil.) Even though I thought the whole Buffy/Faith rivalry
had been satisfactorily resolved in "Graduation Day - Part 2,"
Faith's dreams and the way she came out of her coma were sufficiently creepy
to warrant bringing it up again. And it was great to see the Mayor
again, albeit in flashbacks. It also brought some disquieting suspense
to the series to have our heroes stalked by a more "normal" and
Yes, it was
predictable that Buffy would come crashing in to Joyce's rescue after Faith
mocked the whole idea, but it was still thrilling. And I loved Buffy
and Joyce's', "Hi, Mom," "Hi, Honey" in the midst of the
I saw the
cliffhanger ending of Faith and Buffy switching bodies and the real Buffy
being carted away coming, but it still had me eagerly buzzing forward on the
tape and staying up way past my bedtime to watch Part Two. How did you
who had to wait a week between episodes stand it?
Episode #16 -
"Who Are You?
Two of This Year's Girl)"
* * * 3/4
Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku do excellent jobs of portraying each other's
characters using tone of voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms.
Special commendation goes to Sarah for playing the part of Faith, in Buffy's
body, trying to pretend to be Buffy. And a special commendation to
writer/creator/director Josh Whedon for using one of the Faith-Buffy's
mocking lines at the beginning of the episode as the real reason she returned
to help the besieged people in the church.
Faith's wrestling with the good inside her was fascinating to watch.
She disdains a mother's love, yet desperately wants it at the same
time. She's genuinely touched by the "thank-you" she receives
from a vampire's would-be victim and you can see her realizing that this is
what she was meant to do even though she intends to fight against it by
trying to live for self. But living for self isn't all that it's
cracked up to be as she realizes during a tryst with Riley. In him,
she's met someone who equates sex with committed love and she can't believe
it, yet wants it, yet is convicted and therefore repulsed by the whole
idea. She finds that she can't (and actually doesn't want to) use Riley
the way she's used so many in the past. And then, as I mentioned
before, she goes to rescue the captives instead of skipping town when she had
the chance. The episode ends with Faith, back in her real body, confused
and troubled as she rides the rails. As a Calvinist, I can save Faith a
lot of agony. When The Higher Power chooses you to be His servant, it
doesn't matter how much you fight it - you're going to end up His
servant. And you'll find that it's not so bad, after all. You'll
feel that it's right. It's what you were born to do. Again, kudos
to Ms. Gellar for portraying all of this. I find myself partly wishing
that another spin-off would be created so that we could watch Faith struggle
against, yet come to grips with, her destiny. Certainly Ms. Dushku is
talented and beautiful enough to carry her own show, but I'm wondering if the
concept can sustain yet a third series.
Adam, a new creature who rebelled against his makers, is urging demons to
shake off their greatest fear (the Lord, who is actually mentioned by name in
this episode!) and do their own thing, actualizing their potential in
escalating their rebellion against God. For further information read
Genesis 1-6, 2 Peter, and Jude. It didn't surprise me that the vampires
(demons in human bodies according to the mythology of the series) felt
comfortable in the church. I've unfortunately known many congregations
where demons were right at home. I thought it was interesting that while
the vampires mocked out the Lord asking where He was and how He was going to
save His people, God was already there in the persons of Buffy, Faith, and
Riley. We are God's agents, His servants, His hands and feet, His Body
in this world. It was good to find out, too, that Riley wasn't on the
scene because he got an emergency call, but because he regularly and
willingly goes to church. We need more characters on TV who are
church-goers. There are an awful lot of us in the viewing audience who
I need to say a
few things about the lesbian subplot that's developing, as I know it will
make some Christians uncomfortable. I have to admit it's certainly not
my favorite thing about the show right now. However, let's wait and see
how it all plays out. This series is one that has constantly surprised
me. Also, I see the storyline being less about homosexuality as it is a
study in how, in college, lonely people often get thrown together and cling
to one another, and how college students start trusting people they really
don't know only to find out they have different lifestyles, world views, and
agendas. Did I say college? Actually life outside of college is a
lot like that, too. Besides, Tara is portrayed as a nice, but troubled
and unsure person. Shouldn't the Church Of Jesus Christ reach out to
people like this? Don't they need God's love? Not all homosexuals
are the student militants you see screaming on the news.
character Anya continues to be a laugh riot as she's still not used to being
human and speaks too bluntly about inappropriate subjects.
Episode #17 - "Superstar"
one joke premise, an unpopular nerdish fellow remakes the world so that he is
the idol of millions, stretched out to fill an hour show. Some aspects
of Jonathan's James Bondian fantasy were amusing, but enough's enough!
And did we really need yet another altered reality/alternate universe
I might have
thought inserting Jonathan into the credit sequence was clever, if I hadn't
seen the same thing done on "Pinky And The Brain" in the episode
"Pinky And The Brain And Larry." Oh well, both
"Pinky" and "Buffy" are Warner Brothers' shows, so I
guess you can steal from yourself.
The whole bit
of Buffy and Riley reconciling left me cold. The fantastic dilemmas
that the characters face on this show work best when they have some basis in
reality or are analogous to things we all experience. I don't know
about you, but I haven't had to deal with the whole "Is it really
cheating if I thought I was making out with my girlfriend when it was really
her archenemy inhabiting her body" question for years now.
Episode #18 -
"Where The Wild Things Are"
* * * *
This episode isn't for everyone, as it pushes the envelope and delivers more
genuine chills than usual, not only because of horror movie-type scenes and
situations done well, but also because of its theme, sex, which can be
genuinely terrifying in itself. Who among us really understands
why and how it does what it does to us? In this episode, every
aspect of sex, as experienced by young adults, is explored - its glory, fun,
and pleasure; its joyous mystery and revelations; the fears it brings; the
animal within it seems to unleash; the danger of it linking people together
who aren't ready for commitment; how it can cause you to withdraw from the
world and from people who love and need you; the way it can make you feel
guilty, violated, dirty, and invaded; the power it has to either affirm or
destroy one's self-image; the way it can bewitch you, as though you were
under a spell. Add to all of this attacks by troubled spirits, things
going "bump" (or worse!) in the night, and a warped view of
Christianity wielded like a weapon by an abusive personality, and you've got
the makings of a nightmare. Chilling moments include: Zander being
drowned in the tub: Willow alone with something in the bathroom; Buffy
hearing Willow's screams and not caring; Julie locked in the closet, chopping
off her hair and sobbing, "I'm bad! I'm bad!"; Tara's
"Don't touch me!"; and Buffy and Riley slowly moving farther and
farther into the middle of a darkened screen as they let their passions rule
Of course, this
being an episode of Buffy, it has its share of laugh out loud humor as well.
There's self-mockery ("Is every Frat House on this campus
haunted?") and biting the WB hand that feeds them (the Felicity
reference). I also enjoyed Willow cheerfully comparing Adam to Martin
Luther King, Jr., her coming up short during the seance and telling the
spirits, "Get over it," Zander's "It's what you said, only
faster," Spike and Anya consoling one another, and the gang saying they
can't believe that it really happened - talking not about their ordeal, but
about Giles' singing an acoustic set of Bee Gees' songs.
Academy, if there's a better written show than this on TV, I haven't seen
it. Where's the Emmy?
Episode #19 - "New Moon
* * * *
tale against prejudice, as many of the characters have to face up to their
own and find out that it's easy to hate people when you label them, it's
harder if you actually get to know them as individuals. Oz was truly
beastial (and who could blame him with all the poor guy suffered in this
episode), Buffy was righteously indignant (showing the fierce love she has
for her friends), and Tara expecting Willow to go back to Oz was
heartbreaking, regardless of her sexual orientation. I'm sure the
right-wingers will be upset by this episode, but it never hurts to remember that
opponents on the other side are people, too. I can't imagine, though,
that gay activists would be happy either, as Willow was clearly tempted by Oz
and has enjoyed the company of men in the past and shows every indication of
being willing to in the future. So, there are no cut-and-dried
answers. Just like in real life.
Episode #20 - "The Yoko
Rating: * *
episode of endless talk and a very contrived meeting/battle between Riley and
Angel. I did enjoy Angel's final comment to Buffy about Riley, though,
and the fact that the writers didn't want to leave the Buffy/Angel
relationship where it was on Angel's series. However, this was mostly
just a set-up episode for the big battle with Adam.
Episode #22 - "Restless"
* * * *
brilliantly creative character study with a spooky, supernatural mystery
propelling the episode along. We enter the dreamscape of our sleeping
heroes and see what's going on inside their heads. Each dream behaves
according to the rules for a dream - over-arching themes and emotions, but
with constantly shifting environments, players, and situations. And
each nightmare was very consistent with the character having it. The
ending, with Buffy looking wistfully into her old bedroom at home while
remembering the words, "You only think you know what you are. You
have no idea what you will become," is one that every college student
can relate to, even if you're not called to be a Slayer. More
exceptional writing from the series' creator.