Mon
Mar 12 2012 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: There Can Only Be... Two?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

It’s Career Day at Sunnydale High, which for Buffy Summers means taking superfluous aptitude tests and getting her nose rubbed in bitter, bitter reality. She’s sixteen, all her peers are contemplating possible futures, and with her birthday on the horizon she’s already years into the only real job she’ll ever get to have. And those folks at Destiny, Inc. are cheap employers, what with the no salary, no hazard pay, no medical benefits thing. It’s hardly a surprise when she starts thinking that her lot in life kinda, well, stinks.

And that’s all before Giles decides to take her to task for On the Slay slacking.

Spike, meanwhile, has ideas about inducing her to take the standard Slayer early retirement package, which consists of being extremely dead and out his way. He’s fallen back on the Master’s playbook—or maybe his actual contacts database—by hiring the Order of Taraka to bump Buffy off. Offloading the mayhem, see, frees him up to focus on curing Drusillla. It’s not a bad strategy. Sure, it means he’s given up on killing the Slayer personally, which is a little sad, but on the other hand he hasn’t forgotten what matters to him. I admire this about Spike, honestly. He’s an eye-on-the-ball kind of guy and he knows when to delegate.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

With a conventional career apparently off the table, Buffy takes a look behind door number two, her Love Life! Lurking there is her undead, centuries-old broody boyfriend and a mountain of his best baggage, crammed full of ripped up body parts packed in guilt. Oh, yeah, there’s an oasis of normalcy, right? She and Angel have one of their first real discussions about the relationship and their chances for a future. They don’t come to any conclusions except that they really like each other, Buffy used to be a figure skating fan and maybe they should hit the rink the next day.

But you can’t triple-lutz your troubles away that easily, and Taraka-types (Tarakans? Tarakkers?) are making their orderly way to Sunnydale to fulfill Spike’s contract. There are big scary guys and icky bug-men and a well-armed fake cop. That girl named Kendra shows up too, along with the other assassins, in a misdirect that leaves us to guess she’s one of the killers. This seems to bear out when she spies on the Buffy/Angel skating date.

Sure enough, she decides to divide and conquer, leaving Angel to die in a patch of sunlight before she goes a-Buffy hunting. A big punch-up ensues, and then, surprise! We learn that Kendra, like Buffy, has been Chosen to slay creatures of the night.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

“What’s My Line” is one jam-packed story. And it’s not all action—we also get major romantic developments. Willow finally meets Oz, who cements his soon-to-be-Scooby status by getting attacked by a paranoid Buffy—hey, there are assassins lurking everywhere, Giles and Angel both said so!—and then getting shot. Xander and Cordelia embark on their rigorous secret making-out regime, too.

While all that’s going on, Spike, who went to the same underling motivation seminar as Giles (and possibly Principal Snyder) successfully badgers his geekly bespectacled minion into an epiphany. Dalton works out that they need to steal a specific artifact to decode the relevant spell, so off they go to the reliquary to collect it. (As an aside, this relic, which Xander wittily dubbed “Cross-o-Matic” or “Amazing Mister Cross,” looked to me like a bona-fide piece of a Rambaldi device. Anyone else? I pretty much expected Sidney Bristow to show up and nab it from them midway through the story.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

Kendra is the big plot development, the gooey center of all this romance and combat candy. She’s living proof that Buffy’s resurrection in “Prophecy Girl”—thanks again, Xander!—has irrevokably altered the Slayer game. When she drowned, Kendra was called. This is the spark, the first sputter of the fuse that begins with Buffy’s initial death and culminates in the events of the final episode of season 7. It also cuts her free from the whole destiny thing, in a way. Though she never seriously considers it, there’s a sense in which Buffy is now a volunteer. She was chosen and died on duty. She’s done her bit and there’s a new sheriff in town. She could, technically, quit.

Or—and I’m not the only fan who’s thought of this—they could temporarily kill Kendra, then temporarily kill Faith, and so on, and so on...

But my point is that from here on in, we could argue that Buffy’s actively choosing to stay in the evil-fighting game.

It’s interesting to see her with a Slayer peer. Kendra is a by-the-book kinda vampire hunter, obedient to the Watchers and up on all the latest Slayer bulletins. She’s also picked up an unfortunate dose of Vulcan stoicism. Buffy’s a little threatened on the one hand and moved to be a mentor on the other. This transition from fighting to sibling rivalry to bonding happens at lightning speed, though, because it turns out the answer to fixing Dru is killing Angel. Spike is so up for that. And Dru’s happy to cooperate as long as she can put a few holes in Angel first. Battle ensues! Two slayers, no waiting!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

This episode resolves in much the same way as “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” did—the Scoobies think Dru and Spike are dead. Everyone’s all “Yay, no dark power rising in Sunnydale this year, let’s hit the beach!” There’s a double fake-out in play, because Dru is suddenly all strong, crazy and evil (while Spike is dirty, busted up and moaning). We’re encouraged to figure Dru for the Big Bad now. Time will show, of course, that she’s no less a warm-up act than her honey.

And apparently the Order of Taraka doesn’t trust her to pay’s Spike’s debts, because they just plain bug out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What’s My Line?

Anyway, the gang thinks they’re gone, Kendra’s headed home, and everyone’s earned themselves some... well, “Ted” and “Bad Eggs” aren’t really downtime, are they? I’ll talk about them next week.


A.M. Dellamonica has a short story up here on Tor.com — an urban fantasy about a baby werewolf, “The Cage” which made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010.

43 comments
Dr. Thanatos
1. Dr. Thanatos
Loved this one...from the introduction of Kendra "I call him Mr. Pointy" The Other Vampire Slayer to the swelling rom-com music every time Xander and Cordelia go at it.

By the way, I'm flashing on when Angelus guest-starred on Angel, heard that there was a Slayer in town, called the imaginary sister and asked if Buffy was home, then hung up and said "oh great, it's the other one..."
Anthony Pero
2. anthonypero
Ah yes, Mr. Pointy. My wife giggled when we watched that episode. I don't think she was ever able to take the wooden stake seriously again. And she objected to giving Mr. Pointy away.

I choose to remain ignorant to what she was talking about.
Dr. Thanatos
3. Gardner Dozois
The fake cop is another time that they edged too close to the easy and obvious solution to the Buffy problem--just SHOOT her--and then uneasily shied away again as fast as they could.

Giles says that the Order of Taraka "never stop," that if you defeat one assassain, they keep sending more and more assassins until one of them eventually gets you, but here they stop after the initial three, never to be heard from again. Perhaps Spike's credit card was declined.

Yes--like thousands of other fans, I'm sure--it occured to me that you could create an army of hundreds of Slayers just by "killing" the current Slayer and then resusitating her. I assume a new Slayer wasn't created when Buffy dies again because by that time Faith was the "actual" Slayer--although in spite of the torch ostensibly being passed on, the mystic force behind it all keeps communicating with Buffy as if she's still the "real" Slayer (the First Slayer appearing to her, her calling on the source of Slayer power to take out Adam), in spite of having lost that distinction in the first season by dying.

I found it interesting that it's basically Xander and Cordelia who take out the bug-man, more or less all by themselves.

This is certainly one of the better episodes of this season. I didn't much like "Ted" and "Bad Eggs."
Dr. Thanatos
4. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner,

Your concerns could be allayed if we assume that the Powers That Be (PTB) are capable of dealing with more than one Slayer at a time, even though we are led to believe that this has not occurred in the past.

You have 2 Slayers, or actually 1 Slayer and 1 Slayer Emeritus; no new one appears if the Emeritus bites it; but she's still in the game and subject to some of the same rules, else why would she still have her Slayer mojo? She's clearly not returned to a "normal" state...
Dr. Thanatos
5. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner,

Your concerns could be allayed if we assume that the Powers That Be (PTB) are capable of dealing with more than one Slayer at a time, even though we are led to believe that this has not occurred in the past.

You have 2 Slayers, or actually 1 Slayer and 1 Slayer Emeritus; no new one appears if the Emeritus bites it; but she's still in the game and subject to some of the same rules, else why would she still have her Slayer mojo? She's clearly not returned to a "normal" state...
john mullen
6. johntheirishmongol
When I saw this, I didn't much care for Kendra, but I appreciated the logic behind it. It did bother me that she knew more than Buffy, which seemed to indicate that she had a lot more training than Buffy. That didn't make a lot of sense to me.

I did like the strong version of Dru. As I have said before, I thought she was woefully underused, and you could have really developed her character considerably more. Especially since she seemed to have some extra psychic abilities that were never realized.
Dr. Thanatos
7. Gardner Dozois
In addition to her prophetic dreams and visions, Drusilla did seem to have the power to hypnotise or "glamour" people, like the vampires on TRUE BLOOD do, an ability there's never a hint of with the vast majority of the other vampires on the show, including high-level vampires like Angelius and Spike. It never seemed to work on Buffy, though--although it did work on Kendra later on.
Dr. Thanatos
8. Gardner Dozois
In addition to her prophetic dreams and visions, Drusilla did seem to have the power to hypnotise or "glamour" people, like the vampires on TRUE BLOOD do, an ability there's never a hint of with the vast majority of the other vampires on the show, including high-level vampires like Angelius and Spike. It never seemed to work on Buffy, though--although it did work on Kendra later on.
Dr. Thanatos
9. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner,

I agree that Drusilla had a magnetic charm, but didn't the Master do something similar to Buffy in the last episode of S1?
Anthony Pero
10. anthonypero
And Dracula later on had the same power. It's probably not an inherent vampire trick, but something for those with either a) strong or b) fractured minds. Angelus and Spike are more of the low cunning types, and weren't big on the whole "magic" thing. But there are vampire sorcerers in the buffyverse, like Dracula, and the Master. Who knows where Dru gets that from... perhaps its a gypsy thing?

@johntheirishmongol:

Actually, Kendra DID have a lot more training. People who are identified as potentials get Watchers assigned to them. I can't remember why Buffy wasn't identified, but she wasn't. No Watcher was assigned to her until after she inherited her powers. So, she got no training, and Kendra had years of training.
Dr. Thanatos
11. Gardner Dozois
Yes, the Master and Dracula were able to "glamour" Buffy, although, oddly, she seemed immune to the Master's ability after she died and returned from the dead, and she was able to shake Dracula's efforts to glamour her off fairly easily once she was aware of what was going on. Perhaps she's just unusually resistant to hypnotism. At any rate, Drusilla was never able to use that power on her, although she used it with fatal effectiveness on another Slayer.

I'm not entirely sure of this, but I seem to recall a hint that Drusilla had psychic abilities, or at least visions and prophetic dreams, BEFORE Angelius turned her, that perhaps that was even the reason WHY he turned her. So her psychic potential may have transferred over to the ability to glamour once she was a vampire herself.

People would have a fighting chance against vampires on BUFFY/ANGEL, even without a Slayer at hand to help them. On TRUE BLOOD, though, the odds are stacked so in favor of the vampires--they're superstrong, they're superfast, they're practically invulverable, they can easily glamour almost any human and make them do whatever they want them to, they can FLY--that it's a wonder they haven't completely conquered the world centuries ago.

As several have mentioned here before, the idea of Watchers being assigned to Potentials, especially Potentials from mundane families like Buffy's who had no knowledge of the supernatural world beforehand, doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. "Hi, I'm a sinister old man. Please let me take charge of your just-barely-nubile teenage daughter and be with her day and night." Sure.
Anthony Pero
12. anthonypero
@Gardner

Well, given what we all seem to think of the Watcher's Council, it's not inconceivable that they arrange for the Potential to become an orphan at some point. And we've also seen women watchers. And they may also simply bring the family into the watcher fold, and those that refuse... well, a potential is just that.

This is also not really an issue for much of the world's population. Only really in the US and Europe. Kendra was from Africa, and it is strongly hinted that she and her watcher, and even her tribe, were fighting off the demons before she received the call.
Alyx Dellamonica
13. AMDellamonica
Mr. Pointy! Yes! How did I not call out Mr. Pointy!

I like the inconsistency of some vamps having the glamor and some not, and yes, Dru did have psychic powers beforehand, so it makes sense she'd develop this even as a young (as compared to the Master and Dracula) vamp.

On thinking about it some more, it occurs to me that Buffy does perhaps become a sort of conscript again when Faith goes to jail.
Dr. Thanatos
14. Gardner Dozois
Since the Slayer title has officially "moved on" from Buffy, you'd think that ostensibly the Watchers wouldn't be keeping tabs on her anymore. She's not The Slayer anymore, and so ought to be beyond their purview.
Michael Ikeda
15. mikeda
anthonypero@12

Actually, Kendra is apparently from Jamaica. If I recall correctly, one of the DVD commentaries says that her accent was modelled after the accent of a specific region of Jamaica.

Gardner Dozois@14

She may not be in the line of Slayer inheritance (in that her death may no longer call another Slayer) but she's still a Slayer. And it isn't entirely clear whether or not the Watcher's Council thinks that Buffy's death would call another Slayer.
Dr. Thanatos
16. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner,

We may presume, given that resuscitative technology is fairly recent and people using "raise the dead" spells ala The Zeppo would not raise a Slayer, that the Slayer dying and then coming back is a new situation.

All discussion about what happens when the Slayer dies is predicated on dead meaning, well, dead. So here's a situation where a new Slayer is activated and the formerly dead Slayer keeps her Slayer Mojo (patent pending) and functions as A Slayer, even though she may not be The Slayer.

Having said that, it appears clear that even though Kendra and then Faith were The Slayer, Lady Buffington clearly demonstrated that regardless of being Slayer Emeritus she was Boss Slayer. Regardless of lines of succession or any theories of the Council.

Did I get the impression from Kendra that she was in some kind of training camp? And can we infer from this that the fact that Lady Buffington was treated differently i.e. not contacted by the stalker (oops Watcher) until her powers had appeared is the key difference that made her more successful Slayer than her antecedants?
Dr. Thanatos
17. Gardner Dozois
Actually, it was said several times that the key difference between Buffy and other past Slayers, the thing that made her more effective and kept her alive longer than Slayers usually stayed alive, was that Buffy had FRIENDS, rather than functioning entirely alone except for her Watcher, as was the Slayer norm. And it may well be that she made friends after becoming the Slayer because she had been a "normal" teenager, unindoctrinated by the Council, before getting her powers, used to having friends and making friends. So the real edge that Buffy had that past Slayers did not was the Scooby Gang--as was demonstrated pretty clearly in a few episodes, in fact (among other examples, it's the reason she comes back to life rather than being killed dead by the Master, as a Slayer who didn't have a Xander to come after her and resusitate her would be).

You'd think that after hundreds of years it would have occurred to somebody on the Watcher's Council before this that Slayers functioned better with an efficient support staff--but no.
Dr. Thanatos
18. EmmaPease
I've long assumed the Watcher Council (at least the senior members) didn't want slayers lasting too long since an established experienced adult slayer might think she should be in charge, not the council.
john mullen
19. johntheirishmongol
One other thing occurred to me in this discussion is how the heck did they figure out who was going to be a Slayer anyway? It isn't like the girls glow in the dark, or they did anything special beforehand. If it was a single family line, that would make some sense, but that certainly wasn't true. I suppose it was a mystical thing but they certainly never bothered to explain it.
alex
20. jerec84
Now remembering Kendra's ridiculous accent.
Anthony Pero
21. anthonypero
@johntheirishmongol:

I imagine it was some sort of spell that they did regularly that located them. That might have provided some component for the spell Willow used at the end of the show to turn them into Slayers.
Dr. Thanatos
22. tarbis
In a lot of ways this was a solid two parter, but there are a few things that bug me about it.

The first is that Kendra is emblematic of several problems in the series. I like having a non-white face that gets lines and doesn't die at the of their first episode, but she does foreground that more than twenty episodes into the series she is the only one so far (and one of a handful in the entire series). My second problem with her is that she ended up being used as an object lesson in why American white middle class modes of behavior are best. If Kendra had managed to be right or superior once it might have overrode that lesson, but she wasn't so it stood out like a sore thumb that she recieved and acknowledged the blonde girl's nonwisdom before leaving.

My second problem relates to later events. Over the course of this two parter two people that demonstrate no demonic traits or abilities are killed by our heroes. The big ugly guy and the not-really-a-cop both die before proving to the characters or the audience that they weren't human. This leaves me with an urge to smack Buffy upside the head for the rest of the series when she starts on her "I only kill monsters" or "I don't kill people" jags. She sliced someone's neck open with an ice skate without proof that they were non-human and it can't be defended as demonic by association because the order was still unknown to her at the time.
Dr. Thanatos
23. Gardner Dozois
To be fair to Buffy, she was beingly suddenly attacked with extreme deadly force out of nowhere with no warning. I think she has the right to defend herself, even with deadly force, if that's what it takes to keep them from killing her first, without needing to stop and ask them for their credentials as demons. That would be true even if it WAS a human who were so attacking her, wouldn't it?
Alyx Dellamonica
24. AMDellamonica
I also assumed that the Watcher's Council preferred to have young slayers with minimal experience. Otherwise, why the sadistic 18th birthday ritual, really? But then I tend to be suspicious of authority figure types.

I seem to remember reading that the actress playing Kendra had the accent foisted on her at the last minute, and felt it didn't go well.

I agree that BtVS did so well in so many areas that it's easy to forget they didn't do well with racial diversity. Your point about Kendra never being white, Tarbis, is spot-on. We never get much in the way of non-villainous characters of color. I like Robin Wood, but he comes into the game so late.

The Buffyverse always had these annoying inconsistencies--things about the Watcher's Council that don't make sense, the demon lore. From the outside, it always felt to me as though they could have been tidied up if anyone had cared to take the time and trouble, but then I mostly work solo, on books where I have total control over every law of the universe, physical and magical. And it's not as if my stuff always comes out a shining, egg-smooth whole, so... I wonder sometimes if I'm expecting the moon.
Michael Ikeda
25. mikeda
Gardner Dozois@23

The other thing is that Buffy has never had (and never claimed to have, IIRC) an ironclad policy against killing humans under any circumstances. She DOES have a policy that she only kills humans in immediate self-defense or defense of others, with a fairly restrictive definition of "immediate". And with one exception (in Graduation I) she does follow this policy.
Dr. Thanatos
26. tarbis
She absolutely has a right to defend herself. She also has a responiblity to not gloss over the event in the future and to be honest with herself.

Buffy cut open someone's jugular with an ice skate. Kendra took out the not-a-cop. Faith stabbed someone that was hiding in an alley. Only one of these characters spent time later in the series talking about how a Slayer isn't a killer and how killing people is wrong.
Dr. Thanatos
27. Dr. Thanatos
I really don't want to get into this, because it's not what I watched the show for, but I need to say that it alwasy seems that when people talk representation they go to skin color. I've heard that Buffy lives in a WASP world, but I do need to point out that representation depends on your perspective.

This show is primarily an allegory of high-school life (at least in the early seasons). When I was in high school, I got beat up for being a nerd, and for thinking that studying had value (this form of marginalization continued into college, where anyone who studies instead of partying is prone to being ostracized). I also faced physical and verbal abuse for being Jewish; I was denied opportunities in social organizations explicitly on that basis; I underwent harassment even as late as post-medical school training. I also know that people I knew in school were bullied if there were even rumors that they were gay. In the universe that Buffy inhabits, the nerds, Jews, and gays are not the cool insiders.

Can everyone please say "Willow"?

Unlike most studious characters on contemporary tv, the Willow character was generally not ashamed of being studious; she practically gloried in it. Unlike anyone on Seinfeld, Nanny, or other programs featuring Jewish characters, she didn't go along with the Christmans or Easter stuff. And I quote "Jewish, remember?" and "Again---Jewish" (Especially in a venue where you frighten off bad guys by showing them a cross...). And when she came out, it wasn't made into "a very special episode of Buffy." It just was what it was.

Agreed that a show set in suburban Southern California could have had more characters that weren't, well, typical Southern Californians; but I think having a nerdy gay Jew as one of the main characters and it's not even a big deal is a lot of representation, especially for the time that this show was made.
Dr. Thanatos
28. Gardner Dozois
You could also argue that after the first few seconds of the attack, Buffy knew that the one attacking her was super-strong, and thus probably a demon or a vampire or some other kind of non-human creature, but that's a quibble. She would have been entirely justified in acting as she did even if it HAD been a human attacking her, if she knew herself to be in imminent danger of being killed, just as Kendra was justified in taking out the individual, human or not, who was spraying the high-school cafeteria with bullets. I also always wondered why they made such a big deal about Faith accidently killing a human, since it was a perfectly justifiable mistake in the heat of combat, when you have a group of vampires which he was accompanying attacking you and trying to kill you, in the dark. Buffy was somewhat self-righteous about it--but then, she always tended to be a bit of a prig anyway. I suspect that the whole point of that, and and the real reason why Buffy had an inconsistant reaction to it, was that the writers wanted to start turning Faith to the Dark Side of the Force, and were using the accidental killing as a catalyst.

They also were uneven about this on ANGEL--sometimes he seemed to be obeying an injunction not to kill humans, sometimes it seemed to be okay if they were Evil or he had sufficient justification, by the last season he was occasionally killing human in whole groups, like the Evil SWAT team he slaughters.

No, BUFFY was not particularly good in representing people of color, especially as you'd think there be a lot more of them in the student body in a California school. Partially that's the time it was filmed, when there weren't that many people of color anywhere else on TV either, perhaps also, as Dr. Thantos suggests, because the focus of the show was "real people," people who counted, against underdogs and bookworms and nerds (something I appreciated, as someone who also got beaten up, sneered at, and bullied a lot in high school), and most of the discussion of prejudice was channeled through that narrower focus rather than the wider one of racial prejudice. I suppose, in retrospect, there's no reason why one of the Scoobies couldn't have been black--although back then there may well have been network focus groups recommending against that. Or maybe it's a weakness in the way that Josh Whedon himself sees the world.
Dr. Thanatos
29. tarbis
I won't disagree that there might be valid story and marketing reasons for Buffy taking a "killing humans is bad" stance (opposed to Giles view that they're fighting a war and sometimes people die or have to be killed), but it still makes me on personal level want to smack her in the back of the head until her brain reboots.

From a network point of view I can see reasons that none of the main five had to look white. My main complaint is that recurring background characters (Larry, Jonathon, Deavon, etc.), secondary characters (Principle Synder, Jenny Calendar, Harmony, etc.), and even people in crowd shots were so very very white. Southern California has a lot of Latinos and much more than a handful of Asians, but none of them were in Sunnydale (and amazingly few in that world's Los Angeles).

I'm inclined to consider the lack of race to be a failure of Whedon's worldview. The same way the class subtext through BUFFY and ANGEL is probably a failure of his worldview also. The rich are always corrupt and undeserving (the Chase family, Virginia's family, Wolfram and Hart clients) while the poor and working class characters are pitiable (Xander), thugs (Gunn), yokels (Fred's parents), evil (Tara's family), or dangerous and immoral (Faith). Enjoyable series, but the second time through there are a lot of things that make you go "wait a second."

Willow is a difficult case. There's never any sign that her or her family practice in a religous sense. We only ever hear her self-identify as a Jew and even that ends by the fourth season. If a character looks standard American whitebread middle class, acts that way, and only gets mentioned as anything else a handful of times are they anything but American whitebread middle class from the audience perspective? The fan audience that as seen every episode and do dialouge by heart will say they aren't. The casual viewer will probably never seen any but American whitebread middle class. How that actually works out when scoring representation I don't know, but it makes a difficult and interesting question.
Dr. Thanatos
30. Dr. Thanatos
Never said Willow was observant; I've given up waiting to see that on TV...

Is anyone bothered that all the Big Bads were Anglo-Saxon? (Lord knows what the Master was...) Mr. Trick is the only non-European bad guy I remember. If there's no representation, at least it's even-handed...
Alyx Dellamonica
31. AMDellamonica
I noticed, then and now, Thanatos. But I think believe shows have gotten enough stick for primarily casting people of color as bad guys and cannon fodder (Star Trek's Klingons are usually played by African-American actors, aren't they?) that Joss and Co. would have had to be very clueless to villain up in that way.

I'm basic this statement on imperfect remembrances of Interwebs discussion of various SF shows... I have no figures handy to offer.
Dr. Thanatos
32. Dr. Thanatos
My point is that the complaint originally voiced regarded the lack of representation among the good guys. You could argue that the bad guys are less diverse than the good guys on this show (Team Scooby has a gay jewish nerd witch, a reticent werewolf, an imaginary sister, a former demon suffering from lapinophobia, Ripper, a couple of vampires in remission, and a few token WASPs; Team BigBad has evil Europeans, a Master not otherwise defined, and a chubby kid who didn't make it past S2-2). Where's the outrage?
Dr. Thanatos
33. Gardner Dozois
Mr. Trick was a very enjoyable villain who was sort of wasted, and should have gotten more of a storyline; as I recall, he's killed almost off-handedly at the end of one of the episodes, and he really deserved more attention than that. Of course, as he was in competition with The Mayor, perhaps the best villain in the entire show, there was no way he was ever going to be that season's Big Bad.

Giles's statement that they're fighting a war and sometimes people have to die or be killed is interesting in the light of the fact that, as far as I can recall, Giles was the only Good Guy on the show ever to deliberately kill someone in cold blood, not in the heat of battle--when he smothers the semi-conscious Ben to death, while sadly commenting that Buffy wouldn't do that, since she was a hero, but then saying, "I'm not a hero." Eminently sensible, since the last thing you wanted to have happen was to have Glory recover and come back to fight again, and I was hoping that somebody would do it, but it shows a degree of bad-assery that none of the other Scoobies had.
Michael Ikeda
34. mikeda
tarbis@29

Buffy has never taken the position that killing humans is forbidden under all circumstances. She does take the position that it's only done in immediate defense of herself or others but she's been willing to kill humans under those conditions since at least Season 1.
Dr. Thanatos
35. tarbis
I won't speak for Dellamonica, but my griping on representation was more general and not hero focused. Sorry if initial comment seemed misleading on that.

That said it is next to impossible to argue that the Buffyverse was better at having recurring villians in a color other than white. The only three that come to mind are Mr. Trick, Gavin Park (who was really Lilah's antagonist), and Jasmine.

Mr. Trick was fun if for no other reason then he pointed out the shows problem with representation within two minutes of his introduction. (Now if only the casting director had watched that part of the episode closer.) Mr. Trick represented probably the last time on BUFFY that a vampire could be considered a threat to the heroes. It would have been fun to have more of him, but his death did creative the narrative hole for Faith to take his place with the Mayor which was arguable one of the more interesting arcs in the series.
Dr. Thanatos
36. JohnnyMac
For those who might be interested there is a link to an excellent interview with James Marsters ("Spike") above at the Morning Roundup, Wensday, 8AM, March 14th.
Dr. Thanatos
37. Gardner Dozois
Thanks much for pointing this out, JohnnyMac. I never would have noticed it on my own, since the link was buried in a list of other links.

Interesting that Whedon had to have his arm twisted by his writing partner to put the character of Angel into the show in the first place, that he disliked the character of Spike, and wanted to get rid of him as quickly as possible...and that the more popular Spike became, the more he disliked him. Apparently Whedon was against the whole idea of Romantic Vampires that Buffy would get involved with. He wanted his vampires purely evil and monsterous. Good thing he didn't get his way, or the show would have been a much weaker one.

A couple of minutes thought is all it takes to come up with a way around Marsters objection that he's too old to play Spike any more. Just say that he'd become mortal for some mystical reason, and is now aging like a normal human being--that would actually be kind of interesting, how Spike would feel about that, although I suppose that wouldn't fit with the comic book chronology (which I'm unfamiliar with).
Alyx Dellamonica
38. AMDellamonica
Where there's a dedicated fan, I'm convinced, there's a workaround.
Dr. Thanatos
39. JohnnyMac
Gardner Dozois @37, you are welcome.

As to your comment about the episode of Giles killing Ben, @33, I have always found that a very strong scene. Two reasons: one, it is the apogee of something I have mentioned before: the way in which the character of Giles was taken from being the funny, fussy British/Librarian Guy to being a far darker and more complex figure. One who is in his own right a very dangerous man. Two, the fact that this cold blooded killing is shown as primarily motivated, not by seeking to save the world from Glory the Demon/Goddess, but by seeking to save...Buffy. This ties into his role as Buffy's father figure. After all, being willing and able to kill in defense of one's children is a very primal and primitive part of being a father (as it is for a mother also).
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
40. tnh
I love the scene with Giles and Ben under the tower. I've watched it multiple times, trying to identify the cues that told me the first time I saw it that that was Ripper, not Rupert.
Alyx Dellamonica
41. AMDellamonica
It's a favorite scene of mine, too. How can it not be?
Matthew Kurnick
44. mkurnick
Someone please help me out with this. Buffy "dies" at the end of the school year, and thats when a new slayer is chosen or whatever. Kendra, the new slayer, tells Buffy she has dedicated her life to becoming the slayer and was given to her watcher as a baby. This episode was what, midseason maybe. Kendra looks a heck of a lot older then 5 or 8 months. Is there some explination for this or are we just suppose to let that one go? Do slayers have crazy regenerative powers or grow up in the hyporbolic chamber they have in Dragonball Z?
Matthew Kurnick
45. mkurnick
Whoops, I finally found what I was looking for in the comments. Thanks

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