Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Review and Core Episodes Guide
Twistier, snappier and a whole lot darker, Season Two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer returned in the fall of 2007 with a full serialized 22-episodic arc that culminated in a shocking and heartbreaking conclusion. Nightmares, love, lust and loss took centre stage in the sophomore season that began to fully explore the lives of its characters.
After a fierce fight with The Master in Season 1, Willow and Xander lament the lack of vamp activity during the summer as Buffy has been away in LA. Greeted by a freshly risen vampire who gets a swift roundhouse kick from a certain blond slayer, Buffy arches an eyebrow and grins, “miss me?” When She Was Bad (Episode 1), showed an edgier Buffy, tormented by recurring nightmares of The Master and her brief death. “We killed each other. It really promotes togetherness,” she tells the gang as she secretly tries to process her fear. Returning to Sunnydale with a major attitude, the episode has one of the sexiest scenes in the show as Buffy glides into The Bronze, and in a matter of minutes manages to toy with Xander’s emotions, hurt Angel and Willow and severely piss off Cordelia, who tells her, “You’re really campaigning for bitch of the year, aren’t you?” Pushing her friends away and then needing them give her strength, this episode cements Buffy to them as a team; emotionally tied as a monster-fighting family.
“Love makes you do the wacky,” is the theme of Some Assembly Required (Episode 2), as Buffy uncovers the sick plan to create a woman with the body parts of several dead girls. Buffy protects the women of Sunnydale while she slowly loses her heart to Angel. The romantic and sexual tension also grows between Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte, Spawn, Rescue 77) the computer teacher and Giles as Xander philosophizes: “the more unattainable, the more attractive…. the things we do for love.”
And every slayer needs a formidable opponent. When an old car drives over the Welcome to Sunnydale sign and out steps a platinum-haired Brit with a taste for blood, it heralds a most delicious entrance: Spike (James Marsters, Smallville, Hawaii Five-0) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau, Angel, Justice League Animated) are “home sweet home.” School Hard (Episode 3) introduced a bizarre, whimsical and evil Sid & Nancy-esque team of terrifying vamps that showcased a complex set of emotions, intellect and understanding of life that made them utterly entertaining to watch. They also brought to light a past history with Angel. Spike kills innocent humans, sets the Anointed one ablaze and does it with glee, charm and dramatic flair, establishing him as a true threat to Buffy and her friends. Buffy’s home life, school life and slayer life all collide in an exciting and suspenseful episode. “A slayer with family and friends. That sure wasn’t in the brochure,” Spike remarks as he takes on his new challenge: kill the slayer.
Xander’s terrible luck with women continues in Inca Mummy Girl (Episode 4) when he falls in love with a gorgeous exchange student who happens to be a thousand year old mummy. This episode also introduced Oz (Seth Green, Family Guy, Robot Chicken) who becomes enamoured with the very sight of sweet Willow. Reptile Boy (Episode 5) introduced the ongoing banter and sexual tension between Xander and Cordelia and the growing feelings between Angel and Buffy as she’s forced to face the improbability of their relationship. Dragged to a college frat party by an insistent Cordelia, Buffy chooses to ignore her instincts and becomes a human sacrifice for a frat house cult and a giant, slithery demon. The dangerous practice of college initiations, drinking and lying to a parental figure all culminate in a frenzied fist fight.
In a highly entertaining episode where characters dress up for “come as you aren’t night,” Halloween (Episode 6) introduced Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs, Babylon 5, Torchwood), a man from Giles’ past. Casting a chaos spell that forces everyone to become the thing they dressed up as, the episode explored the insecurities of each character. As Giles’ past alter ego, Ripper, is introduced to the audience, the episode examines the division of self and the return to the thing that makes one whole: faith in oneself. Trust, past mistakes and death become the theme of Lie To Me (Episode 7) when Buffy’s old friend Ford transfers to Sunnydale seeking friendship and offering some truth: “everybody lies.” With her trust in childhood friendship shaken and the discovery of how Angel/Angelus tortured and killed people a century ago, she tells Giles, “the more I know the more confused I get.” “I believe that’s called growing up,” he wisely informs her.
Mistakes of the parent passed down to the child are explored in a continuation of Giles’ mysterious and dark past. Ethan Rayne returns to warn Giles about a spell they created years ago: the conjuring of a deadly demon that wants their soul. In The Dark Age (Episode 8) Buffy’s life is put into danger because of Giles’ old alter ego, Ripper, which also puts Jenny’s life in danger. Giles must deal with the loss of something dear to him and Buffy’s realization that “I’m so used to you being a grown up, then I find out you’re a person.” The ongoing banter between Cordelia and Xander provide much-needed comic relief.
In a two-part episodic arc penned by Marti Noxon, a huge change in the slayer mythology is revealed. In What’s My Line (Episodes 9 & 10), Buffy faces off against a formidable opponent – a new slayer, Kendra (Bianca Lawson, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars). Initially clashing on battle techniques, knowledge and practices, Buffy and Kendra eventually teach each other the usefulness and power of family, friends, improvisation and sharing the title of ‘freak.’ As well, Oz finally has a chance to speak to Willow: “you have the sweetest smile I have ever seen.” And finally, this arc culminates in the bound-to-happen smoochage of Cordelia and Xander, assisted by a world of worms and heightened emotions. And the history between Angel, Dru and Spike is further revealed as a power shift puts Drusilla in charge.
Taking a brief break from the intensity of the two-part episode, Ted (Episode 11) introduces the theme of ‘upgrading’ the family unit. Buffy’s mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland, One Life to Live, The Following) has a new boyfriend, Ted, (the fabulous John Ritter, Three’s Company, 8 Simple Rules) whose presence doesn’t sit right with Buffy. The episode gets very dark and serious as Buffy is forced to deal with parental issues, realizing that for everyone – grown-up or teenager – “loneliness is the scariest thing there is.” Xander and Cordelia begin their utility closet make-out sessions and Giles tentatively approaches Jenny, resuming their sweet courtship. Bad Eggs (Episode 12) explored the issues of sex and consequences, parenting, desire, lust and responsibility. Both Buffy and Angel and Xander and Cordelia are hot and heavy. The school is given the ‘egg parenting test’ and the eggs take on a supernatural life of their own.