For the record, it is ENTIRELY MY FAULT this time that we have been offline for a couple of weeks. Finals buried me and I just completely failed all my external projects. But now we are back and I have a whole glorious summer with nothing but projects, hooray!
So I always feel like this is one of those episodes that has a lot of great ideas and things that I really want to get behind but never quite becomes an episode I love? Like there are things in it I am amused by and yet… well, we’ll get there.
Okay, so we open on career day at Sunnydale High School. I have always been SO CURIOUS about this, so help me out folks! Is this a thing? Or at least in this way? Do you fill out aptitude tests and get a box you’re supposed to fit in and booths to go to? I mean, it seems super ridiculous but also not so much that I wouldn’t believe it was possible? So fill me in all you school attending children!
Anyway. My personal curiosity aside, Buffy is super bummed out. This is more or
less the perfect thing to remind her of everything that most upsets her these days (and really for the foreseeable future) — that she will never be able to have a normal life, never be able to be excited about the things that everyone else gets to be excited about. It highlights everything about her life that she most hates and makes her feel extremely isolated.
It’s important to note though, that the rest of the Scooby gang will ALSO feel pretty isolated by this. Everyone is terrified about their future (except Cordelia, and her time is coming). Xander is afraid that his life is not going to go anywhere, that he’ll be a loser, end up in a job he hates. Even Willow will be split off from her friends and classmates, not getting a box at all. No one knows where they fit. Everyone is afraid that growing up is coming a little too fast and maybe it won’t be everything they hoped. This is certainly one of the excellent ideas that the story has that rings true…. although I never feel like it is played out as well as I’d like.
Buffy and Willow wonder if they are on the side of shrubs (I say no to shrubs personally as I feel that they are small and boring and also what would a question like that tell you about a person?) while Xander ponders his lack of future. Cordelia thinks about how much she likes to help people as long as they are not smelly and gross and I am amused thinking about her future.
What is interesting to me is that Buffy just immediately gives up on the possibility of her having another job in the future. Willow was the one who suggested looking in the Watcher diaries for previous vampire stuff when they were wondering about Angel. For this she could probably actually just ask Giles. Like I can’t imagine he wouldn’t look. What DID the last few Slayers do? Have some of them had jobs? Maybe she could find something that would allow her to work from home. Transcription or something. Or a Private Investigator like Angel becomes? Although I guess Buffy isn’t very good at monetizing her skills. But I think there really are options. That said, I can also understand how it might seem pretty bleak right now. It’s the weight of destiny and the lack of choices already that seems so crushing.
As Buffy mopes about her future, we come to Spike beating an underling vampire (we know he’s an underling who doesn’t matter because of how he’s in full vamp face the entire time) because he cannot decipher the book that they stole from Giles’ library last time. We find out that there is something in this book that contains Druscilla’s cure. I would like to note that I have always been very unclear on what is actually wrong with Dru? Like she was attacked by an angry mob and was then struck by some kind of waning disease or consumption? We never really see that anywhere else in the mythology and I really don’t understand how it fits with the vampire thing. Like how could a vampire be permanently made weak? I HAVE QUESTIONS, OKAY? Prepare for more of those.
Spike snaps at Dru when she asks him to dance and she pretty much falls into
pieces and he immediately disintegrates in the way that he does. But it’s all fine because as he is desperate about the transcriber figuring out the the strange language, Dru’s magic Tarot deck tells her that he can’t help them without the key. Not only that but apparently the deck has a picture of the exact mausoleum that it’s hidden in. Which I would say is implausible except that this picture is an incredibly generic mausoleum. So maybe he just realized it would be in Du Lac’s tomb? I don’t know. The point is he is very happy and picks Dru up and says he will dance with her all OVER the Slayer’s grave and they prance about and it’s cute in the way that they are.
Buffy sneaks in her window and sees Angel looking at her things. She frightens him and he clutches a stuffed pig. I enjoy both that that happens and also that she mocks him for doing it. Although his complete lack of humor in response to that is one of the reasons that I really just hate him. But don’t worry! More are coming!
She eventually has to explain to him that she’s sad because of what’s going on at school after she is mean to him and hurts his sad demon feelers. He knows that it is Career week because “he lurks.” She
does not think this is creepy but I think that Angel lurking around a high school actually is creepy and I wish he’d stop. So she tries to explain her feelings in what is a perfectly rational way. That this whole thing makes her remember that she has no place in this world like other people, that she’s feeling shitty about that, that she just wishes she could have a normal life and Angel…. makes it all about himself because he is the fucking worst. “You mean your life would be better without me.” NO ANGEL. NO THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN OR WHAT I SAID. Maybe perhaps even if you weren’t in my life I would still be bound by destiny and totally fucked and maybe I was trying to explain something to you and I shouldn’t now be comforting you but I am BECAUSE YOU ARE A CHILD.
Okay. Deep breaths. I just have moments where I cannot stand him. That said, in this scene, I do think him wanting to take her ice skating to help her relax and escape is a nice touch and shows him listening in a way he was not even remotely only a minute before. So it’s always kind-of hit and miss. Also I love the idea that Buffy was obsessed with Dorothy Hamill enough to get a Dorothy Hamill haircut. How adorable. I mean… I have no idea what that haircut looks like but I’m sure it was adorable.
The next day we arrive back at school and Buffy is wearing an outfit that I
unexpectedly kind-of like but she is inexplicably carrying a giant fuzzy leopard print bag with it that is… I just can’t even. Baffling. Cordelia finds out that she is set to be a motivational speaker or personal shopper and I again am amused by her future. And Xander finds out that he is apparently perfectly suited for being a prison guard. Which I think would in fact be super depressing and his friends are not very supportive. Willow finds out that she’s not on the list and is distressed by this news. And Buffy finds out that she is apparently perfectly set to be a law enforcement officer, which upsets her. I don’t really see Buffy as a great police officer, honestly. And probably part of why she gets so upset about it is because she realizes it is a possibility with her destiny and stuff.
I will say that Grimm is sort of like what if Buffy were a police officer and male? And also hated females. Every female. And basically became terrible in every possible way and made you want to gouge out your eyes and… I think I’ve gotten off track.
She goes to the library and isn’t super happy. She wonders what the “whole nine yards” means as she tells Giles that the vampires she went after last night were robbing things. I fondly smile at her and tell her that someday she’ll have a smart phone and when she has a question like that she can find out the answer immediately and what a good day that will be.
Anyway. This first half of the episode is another time where Giles is really struggling to connect with Buffy and really doesn’t understand why she’s so upset. He’s also not giving her a lot of leeway, even though I think she has a good reason to be upset. Also, when your student starts talking about how it wouldn’t make any difference if she were dead or alive? That’s a suicidal warning sign, GILES. Don’t just ignore this crap. I mean, I know Buffy isn’t suicidal but in general that’s an important thing.
Spike and Dru stare lovingly at the “key” which is actually a large and ornate gilded cross thing. I have no idea how it is a key. Nor will we ever find out. We’re just taking their word for it, I guess. But they’re very happy because success.
In the meantime Spike has decided that the Slayer has just gotten too much in the way and he’s going to put a stop to it. He is going to call… THE ORDER OF TAKARA. These have to be the villains with the absolute most build-up and least pay off in all of this show. Like they spend so much time trying to make them scary and yet there is never a moment when I actually feel that. Mostly they just feel like silly, second tier bad guys. Even though everyone goes nuts freaking out about them constantly. But Dru assures us there will be three of them and for the whole first episode here, we pretend Kendra might be one of them instead of just a Slayer in pajama pants bringing an offensive and horrendous accent.
At Career Week Willow and Xander encounter Snider and Xander babbles away about how he hopes to someday fill his shoes but “not your actual shoes of course, because you’re a tiny person!” which is one of my favorite lines in this episode. Snider is obviously looking for Buffy because he basically doesn’t care about anything else. Buffy is on a field trip with Giles to a crypt because neither of them have any sense of logic.
Willow gets pulled into a back room and offered canape by men in suits. She’s told that she’s been targeted by an anonymous
major software company and her test didn’t matter. Basically this whole scene is pointless except to sit her down next to Oz. I always forget that Oz is also supposed to be a super genius? Like does that ever come up again after this? It all seems silly and forced to me but whatever.
Buffy and Giles argue through the cemetery about her possible futures and I really do not feel like he is being very empathetic. They make it to the Du Lac crypt and Giles explains how usually these crypts contain a religious relic like a finger or something exciting like that. Giles is certain somehow all these things add up. The book that was stolen was also by De Lac, he’s sure there’s a reason. He’s sure something is coming. I mean, I think all that is coming is Kendra’s accent (not insignificant) but you know.
A creepy man goes up the Summer’s street, goes to the house across the street and knocks on the door. He makes his way into the house by promising free beauty supplies. I was a little baffled by the idea that you would just accept that someone was walking door to door with beauty products. Is that a thing that still happens, even like 15 years ago? Also when he comes in, she screams at the top of her lungs and I was also confused why no one anywhere in the neighborhood heard this and called someone but maybe in Sunnydale no one listens to screams anymore.
SMG skates around the rink and looks like she’s having a pretty good time. It’s
nice. I wish she had gotten to have her date but of course she does not get nice things. Since as she is sitting on the ice (apparently she forgot that whole stopping thing since she was a child) she is attacked by an assassin. Angel rushes in and the two of them fight him off. I am sort-of touched by the whole thing where she doesn’t even notice that he’s in vamp face. I mean, it’s dorky but I like it. Although I also always think when she’s making out with him that his vampire teeth are very sharp and what if he like nicked her tongue or lips?
Anyway. Angel is insanely freaked out about the ring showing that they are from the Takara people, just like everyone else will be and also for no reason. Also, while they’re making out Kendra is watching them.
Giles lies glibly to everyone in the library that Angel had every reason to be terrified and he proceeds to make them all terrified as well. He explains that the order is “A society of powerful assassins, dating back to King Solomon” which makes me crack up every time. I mean, the idea seems to be that there are just too many of them and they’ll just keep coming and she’ll never be able to kill enough of them but they do not seem that hard to kill REALLY. I guess it’s like being attacked by lots of ants.
Although he may not have terrified me, he certainly succeeded at terrifying Buffy
who walks down the hallway feeling terrified and paranoid of everyone. I would like to suggest that this is not actually a great way to make sure your Slayer is prepared for things. Especially since she attacks Oz in the hallway. Fortunately Oz just shakes it off after and endearingly says “That’s a tense person.” Because he’s adorable. Still. The point is that your Slayer is going to go nuts and just start killing people in that state. It’s not a solid plan.
She doesn’t want to go home (which was probably pretty smart and I can’t believe they were going to let her) so instead she ends up going to Angel’s place. I would like to note that it is especially in this episode that I have noticed that the bedroom sets are SUPER poorly lit? Both Buffy’s and Angel’s. Anyway. She curls up in his bed, which here has a red blanket but white sheets, but will later (like all men Buffy first has sex with) most definitely have red sheets.
Angel is not there because he is at Willy’s place. I would like to note that I forgot about Willy existing. And if you had pressed me I could probably have
remembered that he existed, but not necessarily if he was in Buffy or Angel. Anyway, Angel claims to be trying to find out who sicced Taraka on Buffy. But that seems a little pointless because he obviously know it’s Spike. So mostly I guess he wants to know where to find Spike? But he doesn’t start with that and by the time he gets around to demanding that information Kendra has appeared and has an exciting fight where she knocks him into a cage before we finally have to hear her speak. I am saddened that the subtitles give no clue of her accent because that’s ridiculous. Anyway. Kendra leaves Angel in a cage with east-facing exposure and heads off to find Buffy.
In the meantime Giles is super worried about how no one has heard from Buffy so he calls Xander and tells him he should go over to her house and probably call Cordelia for a ride. I feel that perhaps this is a wildly stupid. Like Giles knows that a deadly group of assassins who are looking for Buffy and presumably her house would be one of the first places that they’d look? And in fact a man made of bugs is right across the street. So possibly sending Xander and Cordelia is not the best possible plan. In fact, it will not be! Way to go Daddy Giles.
He then goes to tell Willow that he has figured out what the vampires were after. That what Du Lac had in that book was a magic spell to restore a weakened vampire back to health. Which… why would he have that? What possible good purpose could that serve? Why wouldn’t he have destroyed that shit? But apparently he was an idiot and did not.
So Xander and Cordelia snipe at each other and say amusing things and Cordy looks incredibly sporty in her outfit and then she is… bizarrely stupid and not only opens Buffy’s door (which why?) but also for some reason
believes that a salesman is wandering around handing out free beauty samples at what cannot be later than like 7am. And lets him into Buffy’s house, which is like an impossibly stupid thing for her to do, which I dislike because Cordelia is not stupid. Grumble.
Angel struggles to get out of the cage as the sun rises. Buffy is attacked by Kendra. They fight and finally, in the final line, the big reveal that Kendra is the Slayer. DUN DUN DUN.