This week on Buffy and the Art of Story: What's My Line Part 1 (Season 2 Episode 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer):
This podcast episode covers (1) how to keep exposition interesting; (2) heightening the threat by changing key characters’ behavior; (3) body language that shows emotion; and (4) Marti Noxon's Harold and the Purple Crayon moment.
As always, the discussion is spoiler-free, except at the end (with plenty of warning).
Next Up: What's My Line Part 2
Last Week: The Dark Age
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Episode Transcript for What's My Line Part 1
Hello and welcome to Buffy and the Art of Story Season Two. If you love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you love creating stories – or just taking them apart to see how they work – you’re in the right place.
I am Lisa M Lilly, author of the Awakening supernatural thriller series and the Q.C. Davis mysteries and founder of WritingAsASecondCareer.com
Today we're talking about What’s My Line Part One, Season Two Episode Nine.
Because it is the first half of two-part episode, we’ll cover cover the major plot turns only up to the Midpoint. I'll also talk about :
- more ways to keep exposition interesting (something that Buffy does so very well);
- showing how high the threat level is through a change in our core characters’ behavior;
- and using body language to show emotion and vulnerability.
As always, there will be no Spoilers except at the end to talk about foreshadowing, but I'll give you plenty of warning.
Okay, let's dive into the Hellmouth.
What’s My Line Part One was written by Howard Gordon and Marti Noxon and directed by David Solomon.
Opening Conflict In What’s My Line Part One
We start with some Opening Conflict over the Career Fair. And we know that's what's going on because we see the school and a giant Career Fair banner.
Xander and Buffy sit at a table. Xander says, “Are you a people person or do you prefer keeping your own company? Well, what if I'm a people person who keeps his own company by default?”
Buffy tells him to choose None Of The Above. But there's no box for that on the quiz or test that they are filling out with their number two pencils. Willow joins them. Not surprisingly, she is curious and excited to find out what she might do for a career.
School Spaces And Career Questions
In the DVD commentary, Marti Noxon commented on something that I think I noted an episode or two back. Which is that the characters have a lot of spaces at school where they sit around and talk. She said that's because while we see them talking about school a lot, and at school a lot, they don't actually go to classes very much. So they needed all these different areas for Buffy and her friends to hang out.
We get another nice set of quotes:
Buffy: “Do I like shrubs?”
Xander: “That's between you and your God.
Buffy, though, is not in much of a mood for jokes. She says it's all Mootsville for her. She's only doing this because it’s Snyder's latest hoop her to jump through.
Willow asks isn't Buffy curious about what she might do if she weren't the Slayer. And Buffy says why go there. Her future is a non-issue.
Dru Draws Tarot Cards
At 2 minutes 22 seconds in we switch to Drusilla and Spike. Dru is drawing tarot cards. It is a custom deck that's very striking.
Spike tells a vampire with glasses (whose name we find out is Dalton) to read a passage again from an old manuscript. Dalton hreads it, but it's in Latin. And when he translates, it makes no sense. Spike punches him and yells and rants.
Dru wants to dance, and he snaps at her. Then he apologizes but says this manuscript is supposed to hold her cure and even Dalton, the big brain, can't make heads or tails out of it. So he is very frustrated.
Exposition Through Conflict And The Story Spark
This is the first great example of getting exposition in through conflict. Something we have seen done over and over in the show. And it's so nice. Because it also tells us a little bit about Dalton, who seems so nervous around Spike. That makes Dalton very human.
Drusilla kind of holds Spike back from threatening Dalton further and says the reason that Dalton can't do anything with the book is that there is a key. It's written in code. And she turns over another tarot card that shows a mausoleum on it and tells him that's where the key is. They are both very happy. So now they will dance.
This is at 4 minutes 42 seconds in, and it is our Story Spark or Inciting Incident. It sets off the main plot of the story and it comes about 10% into this specific episode. And we go to the credits.
Notes On Drusilla
Quick side note, I had mentioned before that when I'm dictating my notes into my iPhone it does some fun things with names that it doesn't know. And Drusilla, just in that little section first was written out as “your syllabus.” And then as “gazelle.” There are lots of other fun ways it construes Drusilla, but I’ll share just those two.
We also get from Marti Noxon on the DVD commentary some thoughts about Drusilla's illness. It's there to give Spike major motivation because the two have such a strong relationship. To reverse the illness is the MacGuffin. Which is something that the writers use that seems important and it moves the plot along.
But it is a device as opposed to an end in itself.
Noxon also mentioned that Dalton is a character that she called an ongoing surprise. She says he was probably meant, as far she can remember, to be a one-off character. But either they really liked the actor or the character and so they kept bringing him back.
In the Spoilers, I'll talk about another character who turns out to be pretty major in the later seasons, who they thought would be a one-off.
Back from the credits, Buffy walks in the cemetery alone and hears sounds coming from a mausoleum. She peeks in through the slightly open door and sees Dalton chipping away at something.
She waits outside for him to leave, planning to confront him. But another vampires sneaks up behind her. He tries to sneak up. She hears him, turns around, and fights him, dusts him. Though she won that fight, Dalton is gone.
Angel Visits Mr. Gordo
At 7 minutes 41 seconds in, Buffy is about to come in through her open bedroom window. She sees Angel in the bedroom pacing with his back to her. Having a little fun, she tosses her bag through the window and onto the floor. The thump that it makes startles Angel. He spins around. He’s holding her stuffed pig.
And we get another great quote:
Buffy: Just dropping by for some quality time with Mr. Gordo?
Angel seems nervous. She tells him he doesn't need to whisper, her mom is away for the week. He asks why she came through the window, and she says, “Habit.”
Do You Have To Kill Your Darlings?
This moment and the commentary about it makes me think of the rule in writing, you've probably heard this, that you should kill your darlings. That's the idea if you have a line or a joke, or something that you really just love, but it doesn't need to be there for the story, you need to be able to take it out. Because sometimes as writers we get so enamored of a particular moment, or some little side thing, and the reader doesn't need it.
To the reader it will stand out as this thing that doesn't belong. I know that in one of my books, in particular (I'm not going to say which one in case you read it or look for them), but looking back a couple of books down the road, I realized there were a few things that I really could have left out. I just wanted to get this or that in there about the character. And it would've been better to let it come in organically.
Saving The Joke
This moment in Buffy, though, in the commentary Marti Noxon said that they realized last minute on the set, when they were filming, that it really made no sense for Buffy to come in the window when Angel is there. Because her mom is out of town. So why wouldn't she just come through the door?
But they didn't want to lose this joke with Buffy throwing her bag through the window and surprising Angel. He is always the one who sneaks up on other people. They really liked flipping that. And the chance to have some humor with Angel, who was up to that point usually so deadly serious.
So they added the question about why did Buffy come through the window, and she says, “Habit.”
And Marti commented that was a long way to go to preserve a joke.
For me, though, I think I love the thing about her coming through the window out of habit even more than the startling of Angel. So in this case I think it's great that they didn't follow that rule kill your darlings. It’s a great example that any rule, there are exceptions to it. There are times that it works regardless of what the conventional wisdom is.
This Can Never Work
We also see in that same scene Buffy and Angel reflected in the mirror, except we don't see Angel because he is can't cast a reflection. Marti commented that scene is is meant to show Buffy's isolation further. Often, though, she said they will show that (lack of reflection) to emphasize not so much isolation, but the fact that this relationship can't ever work because of this fundamental difference.
As they're talking, Buffy snaps at Angel over something. Then she apologizes, saying that it's about Career Week. Her specific line is: “It's a whole week of What’s My Line only I don't get to play.”
She goes on to say she really wants a normal life. Angel looks depressed and says a normal life with a normal boyfriend, not someone like him. But she says he's the only part of her life that's good, and makes sense.
He notices a photo of her when she was little ice-skating. And she says she loved ice-skating as a kid. Her parents were fighting a lot, and it was her escape. He tells her he knows about a rink that is closed on Tuesdays, which is tomorrow. She is very happy about that.
Careers For Characters
At school the next day Cordelia finds out she could be a personal shopper or motivational speaker. Which really seems to fit. And she laughs at Xander because the printout says he has a future as a prison guard. There's nothing on there for Willow. Which really upsets Willow. She was so looking forward to finding out, and she is puzzled why she wasn't included.
Buffy is assigned to a law-enforcement professionals seminar.
In the library, Buffy helps Giles steady a huge stack of books that's about to fall over. Giles tells Buffy he has been cataloging the Watcher Diaries. He says, “You’d be amazed how numbingly pompous and long-winded some of these watchers were.”
And Buffy says, “Color me stunned.”
Buffy’s Feeling Stuck
Buffy tells him she saw the vampire stealing and then says, “Giles, you're in pace mode. What gives?”
He's upset that she didn't try to figure out what was stolen. She figures it was just the usual vamp hijinks. But Giles says what if it was important?
Buffy gets irritated with him and says if he doesn't like the way she does her job he should give it to someone else. Oh, wait, he can't. She's the only one. She didn't pick this job. It choose her.
Bringing In The Big Guns
We switch to Spike and Dru. They’re studying a large ornate cross that Spike is holding with a cloth so that it doesn't burn him. Dalton says how the Slayer almost ruined it.
Spike raves and kicks things. He's afraid that they'll never find a complete cure for Dru. But then he has an idea. He needs to bring in the big guns. The Order of Turaka. Dru says they'll be at her party, and she shows three tarot cards.
Dalton gets very nervous, which helps get in some more exposition. Because he is commenting about the Order of Turaka and how frightening they are. And he says isn't that overkill? And Spike says, “No, I think it's just enough kill.”
We are at 15 minutes 56 seconds in, but remember, this is a two-episode arc. So we haven't yet reached the one-quarter point of the double-episode story. So while this is somewhat of a turn in the story that Spike gets this idea. We’ll look for the major plot turn for the episode at about 22 minutes into the episode.
Willow And Oz meet
Back at the Career Fair, Principal Snyder is looking for Buffy who has just gone off somewhere with Giles. Willow tries to cover for her, but Snyder remains suspicious.
A man in a business suit touches Willow's arm and asks her to come with him. He sounds very serious. He takes her behind a set of curtains to a closed off area classical music is playing. Someone offers her the tray of canapés.
The man is a recruiter for the world's largest software concern. They've been watching Willow, which makes total sense given how much hacking we have seen her do so far. The recruiter also tells her they are very selective. Only one other student met their criteria.
The camera pans and we see it's Oz. So they are finally going to meet. He is clearly happy to see Willow and he offers her the tray of appetizers and says, “Canapé?”
Giles Advises Buffy On Careers
At the cemetery, Giles is breathing hard trying to keep up with Buffy, who is walking fast on purpose. He tells her she's being immature. And he tries to reassure her about Career Week. He says she can find some other employment just the way he did. He’s a Watcher and a librarian.
She points out that it's different. Those two things go together. No one is going to find it strange that he spends a lot of time with a bunch of dusty old books. And then he says, “What about law enforcement?” She glares at him.
Religion In Buffy The Vampire Slayer
At the mausoleum, they find a reliquary. Giles explains that's the word for this small sort of vault-like thing that house is relics. Like a Saint’s finger or other body parts.
And Buffy says “Note to self: Religion, freaky.”
I went to Catholic mass all the time as a kid. My parents were very strong Catholics. They didn't talk about relics, but they were talking about medallions that people wore. Or sometimes statues or maybe pictures of certain sayings. I had no idea that relics also were body parts of Saints. I was so intrigued by this that it eventually ended up as a small part of my supernatural thriller series.
At 21 minutes 9 seconds in, Giles says something is coming and he can guarantee it's not good.
The One-Quarter Twist In What’s My Line Part One
At 21 minutes 21 seconds in we get what I see as our One-Quarter Twist. This is the plot turn that spins the story in an entirely new direction, but comes from outside the protagonist.
Here it is the arrival of the assassins from the Order of Turaka.
Before this point, the story is about the Career Fair and Buffy trying to find out what Dalton was up to. Now it will be about Buffy and her friends trying to deal with this new and very serious threat.
We see a bus pull into the Sunnydale bus terminal.
A large white man with a scar and long hair gets out. He is wearing boots, and he just looks ominous and frightening. Then on Buffy's street we see a different man, also white. He's not ominous in any way. He's carrying a briefcase. And he's wearing a trench coat. He looks very unassuming. He has receding curly hair, wears glasses and he’s middle-aged.
The First Attack
The man rings the doorbell at the house next to Buffy's and says he is Norman Pfister of Blush Beautiful. He tells the woman who answers that he's not selling anything. But he's offering some free samples.
The neighbor says “Free?” and lets him in. The door closes. About 22.5 minutes in we hear a scream.
That scream fades into a screeching sound as we see in the next scene an airplane landing. In the cargo hold is a young pretty black woman. She kicks and knocks out a uniformed airline employee and climbs out of the cargo hold.
The Du Lac Cross
At the library. Giles tells Willow, Xander and Buffy that du Lac, the monk whose mausoleum they were in. invented the Du Lac Cross. He previously told Buffy that the Vatican had excommunicated du Lac partly because he wrote a book of spells that were dangerous. And that is the exact book that the vampire stole from Giles library back in Lie To Me.
Giles explains that the cross was created to read the book. Buffy calls it a basic decoder ring. Xander jokes about the actual name of it, which is the Du Lac Cross. And he says why would you invent something really cool and give it such a boring name. Giles snaps at Xander and Buffy for joking around.
Keeping Giles’ Exposition Interesting
This is another way to keep the exposition interesting. In the commentary, Marti Noxon said she always felt bad for Anthony Stuart head (who plays Giles) because he had to deliver so much exposition.
The writers called the library the death set because it was so easy for it to become boring with people just sitting around and talking. Also, the set itself remains pretty much the same from episode to episode. So they did things to try to keep it visually interesting. For instance, like that earlier scene where Buffy helps Giles steady the stack of books that is about to fall over. And there are similar stacks all over the table in that scene.
Here, they are sitting and talking, but they use humor and joking around to break up the exposition.
Marti also said that Anthony Stuart Head has such an air of authority that it helps sell the exposition. And the last thing she said is that they also got away with a lot of exposition by calling it out at times and making fun of it.
Buffy Bails On The Research Party
Now Giles says that du Lac destroyed all the crosses he made, except the one buried with him. The group speculates that maybe it's because du Lac realized how dangerous the book was.
Giles says they need to work late figuring out what that book contained that the vampires are so interested in it. Willow's excited and says, “Research party!” Xander tells her she needs a life in the worst way. Another good example of a joke breaking up the exposition.
Buffy leaves, promising to come back tomorrow. She claims she's not good with book research anyway. And she needs to get some rest, and she has somewhere to be.
The Skating Rink Attack
Next we see Buffy skating. Marti Noxon said that the ice-skating part of the plot was inspired by Sarah Michelle Gellar. She's a good skater and she listed ice-skating on her actor’s resume.
(I found that really interesting because I thought perhaps something about the ice-skating appealed to Joss Whedon. I’m a fan of another show he produced, Agents of Shield. In that show another character, like Buffy, says she went through a serious Dorothy Hamill phase. Also that she loved ice-skating as a kid. But apparently it initially was inspired by Sarah Michelle Gellar.)
Buffy looks very serene as she skates and does some turns and spins. When she's ready to stop, she slides. And falls a little bit, landing with her back against the side of the rink.
The big guy we saw getting off the bus attacks her from behind. They fight. Things do not look good for Buffy.
Angel Joins The Fight
But Angel comes in. He's in vamp face. He starts fighting, and then the guy gets Angel against the wall. But Buffy fights him off. She kills him by kicking and slicing his neck with her skate blade.
The scene changes, and Drusilla turns over the card that looks something like that assassin. There are two cards left. And Spike says he's not worried. All they needed was to buy some time, and they just need a little more of it. They’re close to decoding the book. So we know that.
Of course Spike wants to kill Buffy, but even if he doesn't succeed at killing her with these assassins, he will still achieve his main goal. Which is to get that book decoded.
Back at the ice rink, Angel sees the guy’s ring. He tells Buffy to go home. That they need to get her somewhere safe.
Angel Is Afraid
Angel gets angry when Buffy jokes about it. She thinks he is partly upset because his face got cut. He jerks back when she touches it. But that's not the issue. He says she shouldn't have to touch him when he's like this, meaning when he is in vamp face.
I have a little bit of a question about this because later we will see that vampires can pretty much go in and out of vamp face whenever they want. In fact, I think that we already have seen that. And here it seems like Angel is not able to change back to his human face.
But I'm willing to go with that inconsistency because it gives us this really nice moment where Buffy says she didn't even notice. And she kisses him.
The young woman from the cargo hold watches from a distance.
On the DVD, Marti Noxon commented that this scene showed that Buffy had finally really accepted Angel’s vampire side. She's not afraid of him anymore. And we saw in the pilot, When She Was Bad, that she did feel wary of him. And had concerns because of his vampire side.
Also, Marti commented that this was a scene they needed for the plot. Because they needed the young woman from the plane, whose name will find out is Kendra, to see Buffy kissing a vampire. But there was no way that Kendra could know from a distance that he was a vampire unless he was in vamp face.
So the scene came about due to a very practical need in the story, but led to this wonderful emotional moment for Buffy and Angel.
The Order Scares Giles
At the library, Buffy shows Giles the ring and he tells her about the Order of Turaka. That they are deadly assassins and bounty hunters. He tells her their credo is to sew discord and kill the unwary.
Giles yells at Xander when he jokes around about it. Much the way Angel snapped at Buffy. Giles tells Buffy they need to find a secure location for her while they figure out what to do.
This really scares her. Because now both Angel and Giles said she needs to run and hide.
Behavior Changes Show The Stakes
This is a great example of how to convey not just to Buffy but to the audience how serious this threat is. We have two characters we trust who always have great confidence in Buffy. And they both tell her to run and hide. Neither has ever suggested this before.
They also both snap at her, which is really unlike them.
Yes, Giles gets irritated sometimes when Buffy jokes around. But he rarely shows genuine anger at Buffy. Same thing for Angel. Having them both change their behavior this way and suggest she hide, which is also so counter to what the Slayer is supposed to do, is so much stronger than if they simply described the Order of Turaka and who they are.
It's really good example of the idea of showing your reader or audience something
And More Exposition
Notice, though, that we do also have Giles tell Buffy information after we have had the tension raised. He says of the Order that they are breed apart. Unlike vampires, they have no earthly desire other than to collect their bounty.
I think that such an interesting distinction from what we see from Spike and Dru, who behave with very humanlike emotions of love and jealousy.
Giles sees that as making these assassins more dangerous. Probably because there's no way to trip them up. No way to appeal to them. He also says where there is one, there's another. They find a target, and their only goal is to eliminate it. They won't stop until the job is done. Some are human and some aren't. So Buffy won't know who they are until they attack.
The Worm Man
We switch to the neighbor’s house.
So now we're going to see an illustration of that (not knowing until they attack). There are worms everywhere and they are gradually forming back into Norman Pfister, who is drinking a cup of tea.
Marti Noxon mentioned that when you use animals in the show they are trained animals, even if it's worms. So they had a worm wrangler on set as well as someone else there to make sure that no worms were hurt.
She also referred to this character as The Bug Man. And the worms do look a little bit like elongated bugs.
Buffy Feels Vulnerable
We next see Buffy walking in the hall at school. We can tell from her body language how vulnerable she feels. She has one arm over her stomach. She startles at every loud noise. And she's peering this way and that whenever anyone makes any sort of move or even looks at her.
We see this woman police officer look over at her, and Buffy kind of jerks away. She hones in on a man who pulls out a comb. Discordant music plays in the background. Buffy is walking very slow which is very much not like her. It’s such a contrast to her with Giles in the cemetery when she was walking so fast Giles couldn't keep up.
Oz walks up behind Buffy and almost overtakes her. She spins, grabs him by the throat, pins him against the wall, and says, “Try it.”
Oz says, “Try what?” Buffy apologizes, and Oz says, “I'm still not clear what I'm supposed to try.”
Buffy apologizes again. As she runs off, Oz says, “Intense person.”
Buffy On The Street
We cut to Buffy walking alone on the street in the dark. She pauses across from her house and looks at it. It's dark, and she leaves.
In the library, Giles is worried about Buffy because she just took off. Xander says there's no answer at her house. Giles says maybe she unplugged the phone, but Xander tells him no. It's a statistical impossibility for a sixteen-year-old girl to unplug her phone. Willow nods.
Giles says maybe he scared Buffy with his intense warnings and Xander says, “You think?”
Willow reassures Giles that it's good that Buffy took him seriously. Buffy in the meantime is gone to Angel’s underground apartment. He's not there, showing even more isolation for Buffy. She looks around his place a bit.
Angel’s Apartment Tells Us About Angel
I love the way it's decorated. It is mostly underground. We only have I feel like a couple windows up the top. It's dark. The lighting is indirect. We see these beautiful sculptures, one is in a glass case. And there are paintings arranged very artfully on the wall.
Marti Noxon in the DVD says they really thought about Angel's home, and the fact that he lived hundreds of years. So they figured he would have accumulated a lot of artwork from different time periods.
This is a great example of showing something about the character and reminding the audience of his background by carefully choosing his surroundings and where he lives.
Buffy is wearing a flannel shirt over a tank top. She sits on the bed, sighs, and lies down curled up on her side. Almost in the fetal position. More body language showing how vulnerable she feels.
Angel Grills Willie
Angel is at a dive bar. He walks in, and the proprietor, Willie, says, “Hi Angel.” So we know that they already know each other. Willie seems a little nervous. And we find out why, because Angel immediately starts threatening him.
He wants to know who called out the Order of Turaka. Willie claims that he turned over a new leaf. He's not trading an information anymore. But Angel doesn't buy it. He gets Willie in a choke hold. Willie spills out that Spike will draw and quarter him if Willie tells Angel what's going on.
Of course he has already told him that Spike is behind it. But Angel wants more, and he continues to threaten Willie.
Kendra knocks him with a board from behind. The two fight. She's a great fighter, and she kicks him into a cage and locks him in. She asks him about his girlfriend, but he won't say anything. She points out that the sun will rise in a few hours when he threatens her and says she won't have to kill him, the sun will do it.
Willow’s Frog Fear
In the library, Willow has fallen asleep hunched over the books. Giles wakes her and she says something about “don't warn the tadpoles.” She's very confused. And she says, “Giles, what are you doing here?”
He tells her she fell asleep asks about the tadpoles. And she says she has frog fear.
Giles found something. He calls Xander, who has gone home, and tells him to go to Buffy's house to check on her. Xander must've said something about not having a way to get there because Giles says to get Cordelia to drive him.
Giles tells Willow that he learned that the book includes a ritual to restore a sick vampire to full health. They realize what Spike is up to.
More Story Questions
Then we see Spike reading a page from the book. He says they've got it, the missing link. And Drusilla says it was right in front of them the whole time.
This is a great story question. Before we were in suspense to see if Spike would succeed in getting this translation. Now we raise another question: What is the missing link? What do they still need to make this work? And how is it that it was right in front of them?
That is a great example of questions to keep the reader coming back to Part Two.
The Scooby Gang Debuts
Cordelia and Xander bicker as they walk toward Buffy's house. Cordelia is complaining that she isn't there just to give Xander rides. He tells her she wants to be in the Scooby gang she has to be willing to be inconvenienced.
I'm pretty sure this is the first reference to Scooby Doo and the Scooby gang that we get in the series. Fans really picked up on it and quickly started calling our core group of friends the Scoobies. As best as I can remember, we’ll see as we go through, I don't know how often the characters themselves say it.
Cordelia responds by saying something like, yes, she lies awake “hoping that you losers will include me in your group.”
No one answers the door at Buffy's. Xander pretty easily gets in through the front window and let's Cordelia in. He goes upstairs to look for Buffy. Cordelia is on the first floor when there's a knock on the door. It's Norman Pfister offering her free samples. She lets him in. This too is a great story question because we aren't going to see what happens to Cordelia during this episode.
Starting A Midpoint Reversal In What’s My Line Part One
I feel like this (Cordelia letting Pfister in) is the start of our Midpoint Reversal. So normally we will see this reversal for the protagonist or a major commitment at the Midpoint. Which here is going to be the end of the episode.
There are a couple things that happen here that are a significant reversal for Buffy and her core team. This first is Cordelia letting one of the assassins into Buffy's house when she and Xander are there without Buffy or Angel or anyone supernaturally strong.
Next we see Angel in the cage.
He’s cowering against the back wall as the sun rises and shines over most of the cage. This is a bit undercut because we see that the lock on the cage is really small padlock. And Marti Noxon commented on the DVD about how disappointed they were when they did filming and saw that it was this tiny lock.
She said it's very inconsistent how strong Angel is. Sometimes he can move mountains, other times a bicycle lock stops him. This is an example of one of those things where (I assume) they needed to film a certain amount that day, so there wasn't time to go in and get a different lock. One that would look serious enough to keep Angel in.
Kendra Fights And Ends With A Hook
We switch from that scene where we know Angel is at the point of death to Buffy waking up. She’s still in Angel’s bed. The sunlight shines in her eyes. She opens them just as Kendra attacks her.
Buffy says, “You must be Number Two.”
Meaning the assassins because she doesn't know about Pfister, so she's aware only of that first guy she fought in the ice rink.
Kendra and Buffy fight in the middle of Angel's place. They have a somewhat similar fighting style. Sometimes one gets the better of it, sometimes the other. Finally they reached a point where they are facing each other almost in the same fighting position.
Kendra: “Who are you?”
Buffy: Who am I? You attacked me. Who the hell are you?
Kendra: I'm Kendra. The Vampire Slayer.
And we cut.
What a great hook. This is such a major story question. Is Kendra really a Vampire Slayer? She says it was such conviction. She clearly believes she is, so how can there be another vampire Slayer and what does it mean? Wonderful end to the episode.
A Harold And The Purple Crayon Moment
There are a few other things from the DVD commentary that I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the story for.
First, these custom tarot cards that are so striking. Marti Noxon says this was her first what she calls Harold and the Purple Crayon moment. Where she created something in the script and described it and a few days later there it was on the set.
I really love this because just last week I was thinking about what was the first book that I felt this sense of wonder over, that really drew me into a magical world. And it was Harold and the Purple Crayon. If you have never read it, it is worth looking at, even as an adult. It's a picture book and, as you might guess this little boy, gets a purple crayon and whatever he draws becomes real.
Support Your Local Bookstore
As some of you know, in Illinois we have right now a shelter in place order. So everyone is looking for ways to entertain themselves while they're at home. And I thought it might lift my spirits to see this book again. So I went ahead and ordered it from a children's bookstore that one of my friend’s daughters runs. He had put something out there asking that people place orders to help support local bookstores. It seemed a like a great way to support the store and do something fun and revisit something from my childhood.
I just got the book yesterday.
It is beautiful and I will put a link in the show notes to Flashlight Books in case you would like to do something similar. Once I’ve gone through the book probably I will donate it to our local Open Books in Chicago. It is an organization that supports literacy.
That is it other than Spoilers. If you are not hanging out for that, thank you so much for listening. I hope you will come back next Monday for What’s My Line Part Two.
And we're back for Spoilers.
First, the other character that Marti Noxon mentioned that they thought would be a one-episode character is Anya. I don't remember if I knew that before. And I find that so striking.
A Vengeance Demon
The Wish, where we first see Anya, is one of my favorite Buffy episodes ever. That is where Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Anya, who has been posing as a teenaged girl new to the school turns out to be a vengeance demon. She comes back and Dopplegangland. I assume that at least was something that was planned.
The fact that the writers didn't know Anya would be a series regular doesn't entirely surprise me. Because I don't think early on they knew that Angel would become a spinoff show. So most likely they figured if they continued, Cordelia would stay on Buffy.
She eventually leaves to be part of Angel, the show. And Anya in some ways steps into Cordelia's role. She is a different type of character. But there are some similarities in that she is a truth teller – someone who bluntly says whatever comes into her mind and doesn't worry about social niceties.
Also, she and Xander will get in a relationship. So in that sense, too, she sort of replaces Cordelia.
I can't wait to talk more about that, because she is a very different type of character. So much in the way that we saw Principal Snyder comes in and replaces Principal Flutie in terms of a role for a principal, he is nonetheless a very different person.
And we will see that with Anya as well. She may take on a Cordelia-like role in certain ways, but she is definitely her own person and not just someone kind of slid into that slot.
Spike And Drusilla
On to Spike and Drusilla. I loved this quick reference by Giles to contrasting the assassins, who have no earthly desires, unlike vampires. In a few episodes we will see the character of The Judge who comes to rid the world of the scourge of humanity. And he finds that Spike and Drusilla are somewhat human. More so than he thinks is appropriate.
You get the sense that he could burn and destroy them because they are more human than the other vampires. I think that also applies to Dalton, but I can't recall if that's when Dalton meets his end. I think that might be right. We’ll see. But it's interesting that Giles makes this little comment here about vampires in general having earthly desires.
So we’ll probably talk more about how that plays into the whole issue with The Judge when we get there.
Paranoia And Frogs
I also love that we get this glimpse of this woman cop in the hallway. I am sure that something I didn't notice before other than it shows Buffy's paranoia. But then we see her again on Career Day, and it turns out she is one of the assassins.
I just love how well that fits because, yes, Buffy was being paranoid. She was wrong about the guy with the comb. She was wrong about Oz. But she was right about that cop.
And a quick, fun foreshadowing: When Willow says she has frog fear. In the episode later in the season (Killed By Death) where Buffy is in the hospital with a really bad flu. Willow will distract the orderlies by pretending that frogs are crawling all over her. Basically pretending to have kind of a psychotic break or episode so that they think she is the escaped patient, not Buffy.
Xander And Cordelia
And of course we have Cordelia and Xander bickering more.
And Marti Noxon commented on the DVD how much she enjoyed getting to write Xander and Cordelia. She thought it was so much fun to gradually build their relationship to this point where they kiss. And she says she doesn't think the audience saw what was coming.
As I mentioned before, I didn't. Maybe other people did. She and the other writers were trying to weave this in and yet not make it obvious. I think they did a great job at that.
I also love Buffy's line to Kendra: “You must be Number Two.” At that moment she says it, we think she's talking about the second assassin. The first time I watched, I was fooled. I thought she was one of the other assassins. And they do some other things to suggest that. I don't think I mentioned that at one point, Drusilla points to another tarot card right before we see Kendra, implying that she is one of the other assassins.
And this line is such a quick hint that in fact Kendra is the second Slayer.
And all of Part Two of What’s My Line we're going to explore that Kendra was called when Buffy died. I think Buffy says something like “it was only for a minute.” And how Buffy feels about this.
She has been complaining this whole episode about her destiny – and I shouldn’t say complaining because that makes it some kind of petty. She's been struggling with this idea that she was chosen. This is her destiny. She is the only one who can do this, and she really feels the weight of that.
But now in Part Two, she will deal with jow does she feel when there is someone else. There is a Number Two. A second Slayer.
I also love that Kendra likewise is very different from Buffy. So again we will see the writers not just bringing in a Buffy clone but someone who has a totally different background, a different take on slaying. A different approach.
Kendra also will bring out the difference between seeing slaying as a job or something imposed on you versus part of your identity.
And Kendra is so full of confidence when she says that she is Kendra the Vampire Slayer. Not just confidence but pride. I feel like it echoes what we saw from Buffy in the pilot episode. Right at that Midpoint where she said, “Don't you know who I am?” Where she really embraced being the Slayer.
And we see that that is how Kendra feels. Buffy I think underneath does still feel that to some extent. But she also is really struggling with this being imposed on her. So it's wonderful that Kendra's intonation, the way she feels, also signals what Buffy is going to grapple with in the next episode.
That is it for the Spoilers. If you'd like to connect, you can tweet me @LisaMLilly #Buffy story. Or email me Lisa @ LisaLilly.com.
And you can find articles on writing, time management and publishing at WritingAsaSecondCareer.com.
Music for this episode was composed and performed by Robert Newcastle.
Thank you so much for listening, and I hope to see you next Monday for What’s My Line Part Two.
The podcast Buffy and the Art of Story is a production of Spiny Woman LLC, copyright 2020.