When She Was Bad S2 E1 (Buffy and the Art of Story)

Buffy and the Art of Story Podcast CoverThis week on the podcast Buffy and the Art of Story: When She Was Bad (Season 2 Episode 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

For the Season 2 pilot we’ll cover (1) how the major plot points, despite all the action, are emotional ones; (2) why Giles can hang out with teenagers all the time without it being creepy; and (3) the ways the episode foreshadows so much of Season 2 (in the Spoiler section). 

As always, the discussion is spoiler-free, except at the end (with plenty of warning).

Next Up:  Some Assembly Required S2 E2

Last Week: Season 1 Overview  

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Additional Episode Links

  • Check out or rewatch The Terminator streaming (or DVD here) to see how that storyline resonates with Season 2 and the Buffy/Angel story arc.

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In addition to hosting the podcast Buffy and the Art of Story, Lisa M. Lilly is the author of the bestselling four-book Awakening supernatural thriller series and the Q.C. Davis mysteries, as well as numerous short stories. She also writes non-fiction, including books on writing craft, under L.M. Lilly. She is the founder of WritingAsASecondCareer.com.

Podcast Transcript for When She Was Bad

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

This week we’re talking about Season Two Episode One, When She Was Bad.

We’ll cover how the key plot points here, despite all the action, are emotional ones for Buffy. And why Giles can hang out with a group of students all the time and not have it be creepy. Also, I love the way this episode foreshadows the whole of Season Two and some aspects of later in the series, but you’ll need to stay tuned to the spoiler section for that.

Okay, let’s dive into the Hellmouth.

Opening Conflict In When She Was Bad

When She Was Bad Was Written and directed by Joss Whedon. In our opening conflict, we start in the graveyard, but not with Buffy. Xander and Willow are walking. They’re playing movie game, where one says a line from a movie, and the other tries to guess what it’s from.

Willow uses a line from my favorite movie of all time, The Terminator. She uses the quote: “In that short time we had, we loved a lifetime’s worth.” Xander guesses it fairly quickly, and after that the lines get easier and easier and we can tell they’re bored. They played this game a lot.

Xander in particular is talking about how the summer is dull Willow teases him about why he’s so eager for school to start – because Buffy will be back.

When they can’t think of any more movie lines Xander, who is holding a vanilla ice cream cone, dabs ice cream on Willow’s nose and uses a line from the movie Witness. Willow laughs, and the two have a moment where they almost kiss. I found this very believable. Even though before this we didn’t get any sense that Xander reciprocated Willow’s feelings for him. It’s just this really nice moment with the two of them.

So of course we see a vampire behind them. It’s 3 minutes 39 seconds into the episode, Buffy slays the vampire, and we cut to credits.

Story Spark for When She Was Bad

I had to think about what the Story Spark or Inciting Incident is for this episode. Usually that spark comes right around 10% through a book or movie or television episode, and it is what sets our main conflict in motion.

There are a number of things that happen right around that time. It could be Buffy slaying that vampire. But that doesn’t or isn’t something that is out of the ordinary for Buffy. That could set off any episode, so I don’t think that’s it.

She and Xander and Willow walk in the cemetery. It is very symbolic, as Buffy is walking between the two of them. She asks if they had any fun without her. Xander says no, and Willow says yes. It is a little bit heartbreaking for Willow because we can already see where this is going to go in terms of her and Xander, though she is clearly happy to have Buffy back.

At about 5 minutes in, they tell Buffy that there have been no monsters all summer. Which explains for me why they were just so casually walking in the graveyard. They were less worried. Everything seemed fine, since the death of the Master the first vampire they saw was just now.

It’s Like They Knew

Buffy says, “It’s like they knew I was coming back.”

I see this as the Inciting Incident because the entire episode will track Buffy’s reaction to having killed the Master and having died herself, and to her fear that in fact evil continues and the Master will return.

You could also see the Spark as the moment when Willow and Xander tell Buffy that they buried Master near the trees while she was gone, and she looks extremely disturbed about this idea. That too could drive her behavior.

Willow and Xander ask if Buffy has seen Giles. She says no, why would she do that? She’ll see him at school. And this really gives us our sense that something is not quite right with Buffy.

I feel like I already knew that, based on the way she’s been acting, but I’m not sure I picked that up the first time around when I watched the show. Now I know it’s coming so it’s easier to spot things that seem just a little off.

Buffy’s Parents

We switch to Buffy’s parents, Joyce and Hank. Buffy spent the summer with her father. He is helping unpack her suitcases, which are full of new clothes and shoes. Joyce and Hank bicker a little bit. Hank says Buffy didn’t act out over the summer. But she was distant, and there was no connection, and at least when she was burning things down he knew what to say. About that lack of connection, Joyce says, “Thus the shoes.” And he says he might’ve over overcompensated a bit.

Joyce also says, when Hank tells her it was as if Buffy was there but not really there, “Welcome to my world.” Also she just hopes that Buffy makes it through the school year.

I liked these moments with Joyce and Hank together. It gave a sense of what happened since the divorce and of what their relationship is like. You definitely have that tension there. But you do have that joint concern for their daughter.

At School Again

Back at school, we get our first glimpse of Cordelia. She’s with her friends saying it was a nightmare. We think maybe she is talking about the Master and the vampires. But no. She is talking about her terrible summer because her parents promised to take her to Tuscany and instead took her to St. Croix.

I like this because I like the humor of Cordelia’s idea of a nightmare, so very different from Buffy’s. And because it highlights some of the socioeconomic differences here. Xander and Willow are struggling to find something to do and making up games and playing Rock Paper Scissors walking through the cemetery. And Cordelia is being taken all over the globe for lovely vacations and complaining about it not being quite to her liking.

Themes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Also I love a quote we get from Cordelia: “I think that kind of adversity builds character. And then I thought I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character?” I like this so much because it just encompasses the theme of the entire show. Cordelia is talking about a very minor inconvenience, but it is a very real question that most of us feel even if we don’t articulate it when we are facing loss and trauma.

Certainly, it’s something that could apply directly to Buffy.

Dialogue Choices Give Context

We then get Mr. Snyder talking to Giles. Snyder is saying basically how wonderful the campus was the day before when it was empty, and now there are students swarming everywhere like locusts bent on feeding and mating. Giles suggests perhaps Mr. Snyder is in the wrong career, given his abhorrence of children. This contrast between the two is so much fun.

Giles refers to the high school students as children. It’s the first of a couple times they will have this conversation talking about kids in children. And I feel like this is a lot of why we can have Giles hanging out so much in the library with three high school students (at this point I think they’re in their junior year, but when the show started, it was Buffy’s sophomore year).

In other circumstances that would just be so strange. It’s not strange for us as the audience because we know the context. But the reason I feel like it works so well without there being anything uncomfortable about it is that Giles always views these young people as children, as students.

And I never have a sense even as they age that Giles ever even considers crossing any sort of line with any of them. A large part of why that works is the language of the show (and how the actors play it). We repeatedly have Giles seeing them as students, as children.

Snyder, Giles, and Jenny

Snyder is commenting about how every time pretty girl walks by, every boy turns into gibbering fool. And we see Miss Calendar walk up, and Giles stumbles and stutters over his words. They agree to go together to the teachers’ lounge, leaving Mr. Snyder, who hasn’t realized that Giles fell behind him, going on about how terrible this is and that he might as well be talking to himself.

In the hallway, Jenny is telling Giles about Burning Man and how great her summer was and he should’ve been there, he would have…. And then she says, “Hated it.” They joke around about books and flirt a little bit.

Still On A Hellmouth

We then see Willow, Buffy and Xander. They encounter Giles and comment about being surprised at all the vampires still around. Giles says the Hellmouth still has mystical energy even though it closed.

Buffy says she’s ready to start training, and we see this training montage. It is so intense. Buffy is training so hard, hitting so fast and flashing on to the Master’s face. She finally knocks over the training equipment and she says, “I’m ready. Whatever they got coming next I’m ready.”

Giles is clearly worried about her.

A New Leader, A New Threat

About 11 minutes in we get the first scene with vampires. They seem to have a new leader. I just have him in my notes as Scary Vamp Leader because he’s so intense. He is speaking almost in rhymes, in a very rhythmic sort of poetic cadence that sounds like prophecies or scriptures. He says something about but despair is for the living, and that in 3 days a new hope will arise. And that he will show them the way.

This could be the One-Quarter Twist of the episode, because now as the audience we know something new is happening. But I don’t think that it is. Because this has been going on in the background.

What Worries Buffy

Regardless, what we do have for Buffy as she approaches the one-quarter mark of the episode is her sitting in school. In this nice little seating area – which by the way my high school had nothing like this, all this just sitting on couches and hanging out. We had 5-minute passing periods between classes and sometimes had to really run to get there in time.

Anyway, Buffy is in the seating area, and Xander and Willow are with her and they’re talking about dreams. Willow starts to talk about a dream she had about Xander and quickly backpedals. Giles comes up and says he knows what’s happening.

He seems very concerned. And Buffy says trust me, you know we’ll handle it.

The One-Quarter Twist In When She Was Bad

At 13 minutes, so very close, maybe just a little past quarter way through this episode, Giles says, “I killed you once, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do it again.”

And here is where it hits me as a viewer that this is Buffy’s dream. Xander and Willow are looking on as Giles attacks Buffy. They fight. Buffy’s friends don’t try to help her they don’t even look upset and she pulls off Giles face and underneath is the Master.

I see this as the first major plot point and the turn in the story that spins it in a new direction.

Because this is what really drives Buffy from this moment to the Midpoint. This feeling that the Master still poses a threat, which is somehow tied up with Giles. And we’ll see later how angry she is, that she feels Giles didn’t tell her what she needed to know.

Angel Appears

When she wakes up in Angel is sitting in her bedroom window which is is open. She acts like she doesn’t care that he’s there. And she’s very sarcastic with him, asking if it’s a social call. He says no, and she says I guess that means grave danger.

And she makes a joke about how his some of his relatives are in town and for barbecue and Buffy and her friends are all on the menu.

Angel tells her the Anointed One is gathering forces. He doesn’t know one why, but he warned her not to underestimate him because he’s a child.

Buffy acts like she will handle it. It’s no big deal. She doesn’t care that he’s there and she wants to go back to sleep. He says he missed her. She turns and says she missed him, but he’s already gone.

In the morning Joyce drives Buffy to school, asks her about her classes. She can tell something is wrong. And in another great quote of the episode, Joyce says, “Is there the slightest chance that if I asked you what was wrong you would tell me? Of course not. It would take the fun out of guessing.”


At school, Willow, Xander and Buffy are talking near their lockers. Cordelia comes up and says, “Oh, look, it’s the Three Musketeers.” Willow explains to Cordelia that that’s really not an insult, that the Three Musketeers were cool. Cordelia says she sees their point. Then she excitedly asks if they fought any demons. They try to cover and explain to her that they have to keep it quiet that Buffy’s the Slayer and all the things that go on and with that.

Buffy insults Cordelia and sort of insults, Willow and Xander. Or at least looks very irritated with them. It ends with Cordelia saying she will keep Buffy’s secret. And Buffy says something like, you know, that’s great — Cordelia won’t tell anyone that Buffy’s the Slayer and Buffy won’t tell anyone that Cordelia’s a moron.

Willow and Xander are a bit surprised at this outburst. At the Bronze, the two of them are talking, and Willow says there’s something wrong with Buffy. She’s different. Xander says Buffy’s always been different.

Willow Notices, Xander Doesn’t

But Willow says, “She’s never been mean.” I like that Willow picks up on this difference. I also like that while we have seen (or we’ve been told through dialogue at least) that Buffy used to be more like Cordelia — she was one of the popular girl, the prom queen — we get a sense that Buffy probably never was mean. Even before she became the Slayer and became so isolated herself.

Xander isn’t really paying much attention to Willow. She puts a little bit of ice cream on her nose, clearly hoping to remind him of that moment when they almost kissed. He doesn’t pick up on it at all. He glances at her and says, “Oh, you got something on your nose.” And I felt so sad for Willow in that moment.

We switch to the graveyard where the vampires are digging up a grave. And the leader is pushing them to dig more, including telling them to dig with their hands if they have no shovel. That burns the vampires’ hands because it is consecrated ground.

Back At The Bronze

I should’ve mentioned, we have live music. This is part of what I think it gives the Bronze so much energy. That there is a different band every week. I think the Bronze would be a great place (other than the high death rate) to have in any town. And I love that the high school students can hang out there, so long as they aren’t drinking.

Buffy walks into the Bronze. We see her shoes first, which I think is just a nice little call back to Hank unpacking that suitcase with all the brand-new shoes. And then the camera goes up to her legs. We see that she is wearing this very sexy dress. Angel sees her. He says he thinks he made her angry and it bothers him.

She says she’s not angry. She doesn’t know where that’s coming from. And she tells him to get over himself, she didn’t moon over him all summer, she moved on — to the living.

We see Cordelia watching this interaction. Buffy goes over to Xander and asks him to dance. He says okay, seeming very hesitant.

The Dance With Xander

Buffy then dances with him. We have seen her dance with her friends before, and I know we will later in the series. It’s always in fun and we don’t see her dance with Xander any differently than when she and Willow are dancing or when the three of them are dancing together.

This is different.

She’s very close to Xander. She’s swaying, she’s pressing against him. We close up on Willow looking on, seeming very hurt. And right around 23 minutes in Buffy whispers to Xander, asking if she ever thanked him for saving her life. And doesn’t he wish she would? Buffy then walks away, grabs her purse from the table which is right in front of Willow, and just walks away without saying anything to Willow. Nothing to Angel. And she goes outside.

Midpoint Commitment

I see this as Buffy is throwing caution to wind at the Midpoint of the episode. She is going All in on a quest – not to defeat the Master, but on almost an emotional quest of denial to simply not deal with her feelings about having died. Having faced the Master. Her fears on a deeper level about being the Slayer and what that means for her life.

It’s throwing caution to the wind because she is alienating her friends. She already feels isolated. And now she is pushing away everybody who is close to her, who offers her support.

Cordelia Offers Advice

We then get a scene where I really start to love Cordelia, I already admire her at different points in Season One. In this episode, she follows Buffy out. There are three lines of dialogue here between Buffy and Cordelia that I think are great quotes.

Cordelia says, “You’re really campaigning for bitch of the year, aren’t you?”

And Buffy says, “As defending champion, you nervous?”

Cordelia says, “I can hold my own.” But she goes on to say she and Buffy aren’t really friends, but since Buffy has saved the world on occasion she’ll give her some advice. Which is to get over it, deal with whatever her issues are, and move on because pretty soon, Buffy won’t even have the loser friends she has.

Bad Luck For Cordelia

In typical Cordelia fashion, we get a little bit of an insult wrapped into the advice. But it is really good advice. And I really love her response when Buffy says it’s time for Cordelia to mind her own business. Cordelia doesn’t get offended. She just says, “It’s long past.”

She said what she had to say, and she turns back toward the Bronze. But she can’t resist one last little dig – maybe she’ll see if Angel feels like dancing. And this is fun because not only is she getting in a dig, I believe Cordelia’s plan is to do that.

If you remember in Season One, when she first saw Angel, she had no idea he was connected to Buffy. And she was going to go up and talk to him because she found him so attractive.

However, Cordelia never makes it into the Bronze. Because someone grabs her from behind. Buffy doesn’t see it, she’s already heading out. We follow Cordelia.

She is thrown into a dark basement. Someone else is lying there on the floor knocked out. It’s Miss Calendar. In the meantime, Buffy is walking through the graveyard, and she sees that the Master’s grave is empty.

Buffy Possessed?

We switch to school the next day, and Willow is saying to Giles that Buffy’s possessed. Xander says aren’t they overlooking that she may be attracted to him? And they all agree no, she’s possessed. Or there’s something wrong with her.

And Giles points out that she might not be possessed. The answer might be more ordinary. She may have, “What you Americans refer to as issues.” He points out that technically Buffy died, and that she had convinced herself that she was invulnerable. Now she knows that she’s not.

He doesn’t realize that Buffy is walking up behind them. Xander sort of tries to cover by saying they’re talking about trout.

Buffy is quite angry that there is a vacancy in the graveyard where the Master was buried, Giles says something about how he didn’t know of any revivification ritual that was successful. And Buffy says, “But you’ve heard of them?” It’s something he didn’t mention to her.

Buffy’s Anger

She’s rude to Xander and Willow when they try to chime in and talk about how they buried the Master and went through a ritual. She says this is Slayer work, it’s not for them.

This too is a different thing for Buffy. Yes, in the very first episode, our pilot, she pushed back against the idea that it that they could help saying you know it was her job, not theirs. But since then she has mostly appreciated having their support and has turned to them on many occasions. So now she is pushing back and trying to shut them out.

Mr. Snyder interrupts and they go back to class. Snyder tells Giles that he smells trouble, and it’s Buffy. He smells trouble, expulsion, and the faintest aroma of jail. He also finds it weird that Giles has faith in these kids. So we have another reference to them as kids or children. And he shakes his head at what he sees as Giles naïveté.

The Trap In When She Was Bad

In the library, we see Giles telling our friends about the ritual. That they need the Master’s bones and the blood of someone close to or connected to the Master. Buffy says it’s her. She killed him. You can’t get more connected or closer than that.

About 29 minutes in, a rock is thrown through the window comes crashing through and Cordelia’s watch is wrapped around it. There’s a note telling Buffy to come to the Bronze.

Willow and Xander argue with Buffy. They say she can’t just head off to the Bronze in response to the note. willow says what about the rest of the note where it says it’s a trap? Of course that’s not written there, but it might as well be, as Willow points out.

Buffy says she can handle it. “This is my fight.”

Buffy Calls Out Angel’s Stalking

In our next scene, Buffy is heading for the Bronze and Angel appears. He takes her by surprise. And she says, “You know being stalked isn’t really a big turn on for girls.”

That is one of my favorite quotes, not just of the episode, but of the whole series.

But Angel says she needs help, and Buffy says she doesn’t trust him. He’s a vampire. She is again very sarcastic about it. I feel like Buffy’s sarcastic tone throughout the episode tells us so much about how afraid she is. Because while Buffy has always been — she jokes, she quips, she has a sort of dry sense of humor — she isn’t usually sarcastic with anyone. In fact, there was that wonderful quote where she told Giles he was abusing sarcasm.

So we see that Buffy is using this to try to keep everyone at a distance and to keep her own feelings at a distance. Angel tells her she has to trust someone. And she says, “I trust me.” He says she’s not as strong as she thinks. And she’s saying, hey, come on, let’s fight. “You must’ve thought about it. You’re a vampire, I’m the Slayer. What would happen if we fought?”

But he refuses and reminds her that she has somewhere else to be.

Three-Quarter Turn

We then get to the third major plot point. Which generally is around three-quarters into the episode and spins it yet again in a new direction. Here, as it should, it arises from Buffy’s actions at the Midpoint. And I say that because it’s from Buffy’s emotional Midpoint where she threw caution to the wind and really just gave in to — gave and is the wrong word.

But she really embraced her fear and her denial of what was happening. By that dance with Xander and coming on to him. Despite that she knew how much that would hurt Willow’s feelings, and that she knew it would ultimately hurt Xander. But she is so afraid and in so much so much pain and turmoil that she did it. That has driven her forward.

So now she was headed off to the Bronze. Without her friends, leaving them unprotected. Which sets the stage for this plot turn.

Giles again in the library. He figures out through the translation that he is finishing that closest to the Master means physically close. It’s the nearest of those who were with the Master when he died. And Giles says,”It’s a trap, it just isn’t for her.”

That line comes at 32 minutes 55 seconds in, so right around that three-quarter mark through the story.

It’s Not Cordelia

In the Bronze, Buffy finds a vampire who at first looks like Cordelia. But she realizes very quickly it’s not. No one else is there, Buffy then figures out that they did set this up not to trap her but to leave her friends vulnerable.

She leaves Angel with the vampire, telling him not to kill her unless he has to. She runs back to the library, finds things just a mess. Everything knocked over. Xander is still there. He’s injured, Giles and Willow have been taken.

And Xander tells her he doesn’t know what her problem is, he doesn’t care. If she had worked with them for five seconds, she could have stopped this. And he says, “If they hurt Willow I’ll kill you.” And he explains to her that they need whoever was near the Master when he died.

Call Back To Season One

This explanation made me realize this is why in the season finale of Season One, remember how Angel and Xander were posted outside the library? To kind of keep watch and stand guard. And now I think, okay, the writers did that because they wanted to set this up that it was Giles, Willow, Jenny Calendar, and Cordelia who would be at risk in this episode.

Back at the Bronze, Buffy tortures the vampire. She’s trying to get her to talk and vampire says what will you do, kill me? And Buffy says yes, but the question is what we do until then.

And she’s putting the cross, her cross that Angel gave her, into the vampire’s mouth and it’s smoking. Finally, the vampire tells her where everyone is.

Climax Of When She Was Bad

We switch to this old warehouse. The Anointed One is there. He gives the small box to the vampire leader. We see that Cordelia, Jenny, Giles, and Willow have been hung upside down by their feet. They are reeled out on a pulley system to hang over the Master’s bones, which are on a table.

The leader is reciting more poems or prayers of resurrection. So it’s this ritual ongoing as Xander, Buffy, and Angel sneak in. She tells the two of them to get the others out. Angel says she needs to distract the vampires and in a great quote, Buffy says, “I’m going to kill them all. That ought to distract them.”

We see the vampires performing the ritual from behind one of the vampires. As he’s answering Leader’s chant, he’s dusted, and we see Buffy there. There is a huge fight. The Anointed One climbs up and out of the way and watches Angel and Xander wheel our four friends on the pulleys away from the fight and get them down.

Buffy kills multiple vampires. Angel fights a vampire. Jenny and Giles wake up and Giles says where’s Buffy? Xander says she’s working out her issues.

The Leader confronts Buffy. He’s giving this monologue about how he’ll grind her into a sticky paste and hear her beg. He lunges at her with a mallet. She grabs this torch – who knows why vampires have torches around, but I feel like that is the show’s call out or shout out to vampire lore — she takes his torch and turns it sideways.

With one end she stakes one vampire heading toward her. With the other she sets the leader on fire. His Mallet drops he’s gone.

It’s Not Over

Willow, who has been watching, says it’s over. And Xander says it’s not. Buffy picks up the mallet and smashes the Master’s bones with it.

One after the other, over and over. And I always tear up at this, I think it’s because of that symbolism of her really trying to smash death, trying to kill her vulnerability.

Then with her hands over her face she cries. And Angel goes behind her and holds her and tells her very quietly, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

I am pretty sure I didn’t even hear him saying that the any of the other times I watched because it’s very quiet in the background. I think you have to have earbuds on to hear it. Or maybe really good speaker.

Falling Action

The others look as Buffy cries. Now we are at the Falling Action. 41 minutes 30 seconds in. This is where we tie up the loose ends of the episode.

So I guess I skipped right over the Climax. It’s obvious the Climax was Buffy’s confrontation with that leader and smashing the Master’s bones.

That is the catharsis that Buffy needed. So I don’t think that it was the fight itself. It was getting rid of that leader and all the vampires. But more important, smashing the Master’s bones.

Dealing With Trauma

Now we see it’s a sunny day. Cordelia and Jenny are walking across the lawn. And Cordelia says what an ordeal that was. And the worst part is it stays with you forever — none of that blood and rust ever comes out of your clothes no matter what they tell you.

This is such a nice bookend to Cordelia’s part in the episode because we started with her talking about a nightmare that turns out to be about vacation, and now she’s talking about an ordeal that turns out to be the trauma to her. The lasting trauma is her clothes, and the drycleaner not being able to fix it.

And Jenny says yes of course that is the worst part. Something I never noticed before: I always thought of these types of lines from Cordelia really being there for humor. But I also think this is why Cordelia can cope with things. The fact that she frames the experience this way leaves her with less trauma than probably Jenny suffers or Willow or Giles.

Obviously, this is not a realistic show when it comes to how people deal with trauma. If if someone went through that kind of experience it would have such a lasting effect. And yet we have our main characters going through these things all the time in the world of the show. Where these types of experiences, rather than being once-in-a-lifetime, just happen on an ongoing basis.

I do see Cordelia being able to almost trivialize it for her being a strength.

Buffy’s Fears At The End Of When She Was Bad

We then see Buffy and Giles. And she is saying she doesn’t know how she can face her friends. She really feels the weight of having run off because she wasn’t dealing with her emotions and having left them vulnerable.

She says what is she gonna say to them? “Sorry. I almost got your throat slit and got you killed on the first day of school.”

Giles tries to comfort her. But maybe doesn’t do such a great job because he says it’s hardly the worst mistake she’ll ever make. And then he says oh, that wasn’t as comforting as he meant it to be.

I love that interchange because it is a very real thing. Anyone who is not just young but new at whatever their profession is (or their pursuits) is going to make mistakes. And sometimes that is exactly true. It feels horrible and it’s not the worst mistake she’ll ever make.

So there is comfort in that. And then there’s not.

But I feel like Giles is pointing out, yeah, you, you can make mistakes too and your friends are going to understand.

Buffy Faces Her Friends

Buffy isn’t convinced. She goes to class. We see her hesitating in the doorway.

There’s an empty seat next to Xander and Willow who are joking around. They look up, and I think it’s Willow who says, “We saved you a seat.” Buffy sits down. Her body language still tells us she’s a little hesitant. She’s holding back a bit, waiting to see what her friends will say. Xander and Willow make a joke about the teacher. They talk about what they’ll do tonight. And Xander says, “Well we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but gosh we did that last night.”

Willow gives Buffy just the best smile. Kind of a little wicked grin telling Buffy it is okay. Buffy smiles back, and they all start to talk. And this part always makes me tear up as well because these friends are just so amazing for Buffy.

We would think that is the end of the Falling Action. We have seen all of Buffy’s part of the story wind up.

Just One More Thing – A Hook

But we are back to the warehouse. I sort of the first time around forgot that the Anointed One had gotten away from the fight, so he was not one of the ones who was killed.

We see him standing in the warehouse, some fragments of the Master’s bones around him. And he says, “I hate that girl.” And we close the episode.

Such a nice way to end. Because while we wrap up the story, we also add that little hook. That little question I love. Yes, the Anointed One is still here, and what is he going to do next?

That covers the plot points and the other elements of this episode itself. There is a ton of foreshadowing in there for the rest of the season, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for the Spoiler section.

Connect With Lisa M. Lilly

If you’d like to connect or send me your thoughts about Buffy or the podcast you can tweet me @LisaM Lilly #BuffyStory. Or you can email me.

You can also find my fiction, including mysteries and supernatural thriller at LisaLilly.com or visit WritingAsASecondCareer.com for articles on writing, time management, and publishing.

If you’re not sticking around for the Spoilers, thank you so much for listening.




Spoilers From When She Was Bad

And we’re back to talk about Spoilers. We get them from the very start of the episode. Or rather, we don’t get Spoilers.

Buffy, Angel, and The Terminator

We get foreshadowing from the very start of the episode with Willow quoting that line from The Terminator. That in the short time we had, we loved a lifetime’s worth. If somehow you have not seen Terminator, I’m about to spoil part of it, so will give you a second if you want to fast-forward or you change your mind about Spoilers. But I hope not.

In that movie we have Kyle Reese come back in time to protect our protagonist, who becomes quite fierce herself, Sarah Connor. And the two of them fall for each other in the midst of all of this action going on and they have one night together, and that is it forever. So that is Willow’s quote and it so foreshadows not just this season, but the entire Buffy and Angel romance and relationship.

Because this season, they will have that one night together and then everything goes horribly wrong. Angel turns on her, turns into Angelus and becomes the villain of the season. And while later down the road he does become Angel again, they never are able to make that relationship work.

So it is such a great line to put in the beginning of this episode starting episode of Season Two. Where our main arc is what happens with Buffy and Angel and her having to fight him.

The School Year’s End

The moment where Joyce says “welcome to my world” and she just hopes Buffy makes it through the school year. I never noticed this before, and it struck me because I didn’t realize how we started getting the audience member ready in that first episode for the end where Buffy is kicked out of school.

And we get Snyder also foreshadowing this when he is saying he smells trouble, expulsion, and the faintest aroma of jail. All these things are coming. Not literally jail. But Buffy does get expelled. And after Kendra is killed, Buffy is the main suspect for some time. Snyder knows that she didn’t do it. He tells her that the police will not care. They will come after her.

We get a great quote from him in that episode, and I think it is the finale. It might be the episode right before that. But Buffy is saying, the police will figure it out. And he says something like the police in this town are deeply stupid.

Police In Sunnydale

So we get all of this foreshadowed in this line from Snyder. And that reference to jail, that reference to law enforcement, foreshadows that we will see the police in this season of Buffy. We will get a greater sense of who the police are. Maybe what role they play in Sunnydale.

I remember when my oldest niece started watching Buffy. At one point she texted me and said, “Okay, I like the show, but there’s always stuff going on — where are the police?” I said wait, they’re coming. You will get to learn more about them. That the police aren’t huge part of the story arc, but they are pretty key this season. Especially when they are thinking that Buffy committed murder.

And actually more than once in the series the police will be a main part of the story when it looks like Buffy has committed murder.

The Buffy And Angel Arc

We also have major foreshadowing of the Buffy and Angel arc in the interplay between the two of them. This is the foreshadowing that I remember striking me when I rewatched the series for the first time on the DVDs. Because I’d obviously had seen the whole series already. And I watched this first episode and when Buffy and Angel are talking on her way to the Bronze, and she says you must’ve thought of it. You’re a vampire, I’m a Slayer. What would happen if we fought? Who would win?

And I thought oh, right there in the first episode is what is going to happen in the last episode. Buffy fighting Angel and having to fight to the death.

So we are putting that right out front, but in a way that doesn’t tell the audience that, in fact, that will happen. Because right now we have no reason to believe that Angel would be trying to kill Buffy.

The Subtle Approach

Also, the reason that the scene doesn’t give that away is because there is such a good reason for Buffy to say it. Through the whole episode, she is grappling with her role as a Slayer. The fact that a powerful vampire killed her. And remember, it wasn’t Angel who was able to bring her back to life. It was, Xander, a human being. She has every reason on an emotional level to equate her fear of death, her fear of the Master, her feelings about being the Slayer, with Angel, who is a vampire. So we think, we know, it is coming from there.

But that masks that it is a real fear. It turns out this is a well-founded fear.

She has every reason, it turns out totally aside from the emotional issues she’s dealing with, to have this concern. What would happen if she and Angel had to fight each other?

Buffy’s Strength

We also get a little more foreshadowing there of a key moment in the season finale. And this I didn’t pick up on it until I watched it this time. When he is telling her you have to trust someone and she says I trust me.

This foreshadows that moment in the finale when they’re fighting and he’s got the sword almost at her throat and Angelus says to her everything’s stripped away, no friends, no family, what’s left? And we think is going to kill her and she says, “Me.” She claps her hands around that sword he’s thrusting and stops it.

And this strength that Buffy has inside herself is key to that season finale. And also so heartbreaking.

I love the way this season pilot episode foreshadows all of that. And it encapsulates a conflict that will continue not just for the season. But for the series. The conflict between Buffy as the Slayer — of her role being defined as being the only one in all the world and being isolated — and yet her breaking with tradition. Having close family ties, caring about her mother having, these close friends who do get into the fight with her. And that struggle that she has with whether it’s harder to protect them — could she fight better all on her own — or can they help her?

Buffy’s Friends, Sidekicks, Both?

And their struggle with their roles both as friends and —are they just like sidekicks? Willow will struggle with that.

And their feelings about wanting to be part of the fight, needing to be part of it, and also that they do make very real contributions that sometimes Buffy overlooks. So we have that great line in Season Four, where Buffy says, “I guess that’s why there’s no prophecy about the Slayer and her friends.”

So we will see this conflict come up again.

Does it work to have the Slayer and her friends? Ultimately think the show says yes, but it’s a difficult balance. That balance between (a) she has to have all the strength in herself and (b) she also has strength because she has these close relationships.

So that is it for Episode one of Season Two. I am so happy to have been able to share this with you. This is one of my favorite episodes, and it is my favorite season opener of all the Buffy seasons.

Thank you so much for listening and I hope to see you next Monday.

The podcast Buffy and the Art of Story is a production of Spiny Woman LLC. Copyright 2020.