Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When She Was Bad

"There are some things I can just smell. It's like a sixth sense."

"No, actually that would be one of the five."

This is a bit of a perfunctory season opener, I suppose. It isn’t much to write home about, but it does what it’s supposed to, namely remind us what this series is about in case we’ve forgotten during the gap since the first season ended.

Buffy acting like a bit of a bitch because of her unresolved “issues” over “dying” don’t exactly ring very true, mainly because the reset button is pressed at the end and none of this can exactly be classed as character development. Nevertheless, there’s cool stuff in you look for it. The first seeds of the inevitable Willow / Xander relationship are sown, while Snyder continues to be hilarious, once again balancing menace and comic relief perfectly. It’s also nice to see that Cordelia, while still very much the vacuous queen bee on the surface, has enough intelligence not to go into denial about what happened just before the summer. It’s also nice that she should reveal a glimpse of her not-vacuous inner self as she calls out Buffy for her behaviour outside the Bronze. There’s actually a deeper and more likeable character inside, although of course we all love the surface Cordelia’s dialogue. Long may she reign.

There are a couple of very nice bits of metatextual fun in this episode, too. For a start, Buffy pretty much says out loud that the vampires and demons have taken the Summer off, out of sheer plot convenience, so that she can stay in LA with her dad! And the last shot leaves us in no doubt that Joss Whedon is well aware that the Anointed One is a rubbish villain. We shall have to look elsewhere for our Big Bad of the season.

Speaking of whom… I notice that David Boreanaz has now made it into the opening titles. Robia LaMorte hasn’t, but it still seems as though the expanded Scooby Gang is here to stay. And it’s very, very obvious that there are now sparks flying between Jenny and Giles.

Other than that, there isn’t much to say about this episode. I suppose Buffy’s “journey” (much though I hate to use the word like that!) is a bit of a microcosm of her character arc from last season in that she rejects the help of her civilian friends only to prevail by accepting them. I trust she’ll be back to normal this episode, although her out-of-character behaviour was cool for one thing; I love the bit where she goes all Batman and starts beating up random vampires for details on where her friends are being held!

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