TV - Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 2

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

steven harris takes his journey of Sarah Michelle Gellar staring into Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

It’s hell at the hellmouth. Well, I suppose it would be. After a successful short (for US TV) first season, Buffy came vamping back in September 1997 with 22 new episodes, all as sharp as a pointy stake to a vampire’s heart.

Ghosts, werewolves, witchcraft, another Slayer, a freakazoid android, fish-beasts, wriggly-wiggly yuck things emerging from eggs and controlling humans by perching on their backs in a manner that Robert Heinlein would have found a little too close to his Puppet Masters plotline, Giles gets a back story and a girlfriend, Willow gets a boyfriend, Xander and Cordelia start dating, Buffy snogs Angel a lot for a while until his soul is ripped away from him because they do the wild thing and he goes all bad-ass for the rest of the season.

Wait. What? Xander and Cordelia? Yup, they get it on. She actually becomes a softer character and de facto Scooby Gang member although she remains obsessed with fashion, her appearance, herself and continues to be queen of the bitchy put-downs.

Wait. What? Buffy and Angel have sexual congress? Yup, they get it on. No we don’t see much. It’s not that kind of show, people.

It is a fightier, more kick-ass show than before. Sarah Michelle Gellar has evidently been working out and I say this not just because of the scene in which her choice of music to do aerobics to – KLF – drives Giles mad but because she quite literally throws herself around much more in the increased fight scenes.

Oh yes, and joy of joys, Spike and Drusilla rock into town. Dru is the first of creator Joss Whedon’s insaniac seer type women, a model perfected in the Drusilla/Buffy hybrid that was River Tam from Firefly. Dru is as froggy as a box of madness but sees portents and looks great in a 19th century corset. Spike is played with an almost-decent attempt at an English accent by James Marsters, he of the razor-sharp cheekbones and smouldering bad-boy looks. Finally, a vampire with genuine character and malevolence rather than thuggish brutality or, in the case of Angel in Season One, too much hair gel.

If this season as a whole had a title it would probably be ‘Consequences’. Buffy’s love for Angel ultimately ends up sending him back to his evil ways which in turn leads to the death of Giles’s love interest, computer science teacher Jenny Calendar. On the flip side, positive consequences of smaller events are in evidence too. Once it becomes an open secret that Xander is joined at the lips to Cordy, Willow can at last begin to move on from her forever crush on him and start dating Oz. Okay so he happens to be a werewolf but he’s Seth Green and we all forgive him. Jenny’s death also means that Willow begins the interest in witchcraft that allows her to become more than the compassionate heart of the gang: in future seasons she will grow in power and influence.

Buffy herself is the most burdened by the consequences of her own actions. The first half of the season sees her still attempting to live some kind of normal high school girl life. Once Kendra, the other slayer, turns up with her terrible cod-Caribbean accent, Buffy starts to understand that it really is her destiny to save the world on an almost daily basis. Even if that means shoving a sword through the heart of the now-nasty vampire who was once a nicer-vampire she loves. Which she does in the last episode. Then leaves town. Accompanied by sad music. And the credits roll.

We know she returns. There are five more seasons to come. But for now it seems that she can no longer bear the weight of putting her friends and family in danger all the time or of sacrificing so much to fulfil the role of slayer. Jenny Calendar is not the only significant death in the series: Kendra reappears for the two-part finale and is killed by Drusilla. And, by stabbing Angel in the heart place, Buffy sends him to Hell. Or Vegas, whichever is the more disturbing for the soul.

As ever, Whedon balances the serious issues and body count with wit and a sense of loving camaraderie amongst the Scooby Gang that ensures audience sympathies remain with Buffy and friends even though they occasionally overstep the mark themselves when it comes to fighting evil.
 But they never turn to anger because anger leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side. Or is that Battlestar Galactica?

Image - IMDb.