Episode title: When She Was Bad
Original air date: September 15, 1997
“Well, that works out great. You won’t tell anyone that I’m the Slayer, and I won’t tell anyone you’re a moron.”
After the surprise success of the first season it was of little surprise that the second season would get a significant boost in episodes with this season consisting of 22 episodes compared to the previous seasons 13 episodes.
Having vanquished “The Master” at the end of the first season, Sunnydale has been surprisingly free of vampire activity, while Buffy has spent the summer with her father in Los Angeles, leaving Xander and Willow to carry out her patrols. It’s of course not long before the pair encounters their first vampire of the series with Buffy perfectly timing her return to dust the vampire with her usual effortless cool. However it soon seems that not everything is fine with her as she continues to deal with the fallout from last season’s finale. Elsewhere the child like Anointed One and his followers plan to resurrect “The Master” using his skeletal remains.
Not one of my favourite episodes when I originally watched it mainly because of how weird Buffy comes off for most of the episode, something that rewatching this as an older viewer can now see was the showrunners going for Buffy suffering the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder as the result of temporarily being killed during her showdown with “The Master”. Still now sporting a foxy new haircut (thanks mainly to her filming “Scream 2” between seasons) she struggles here to get back into her groove, suffering from flashbacks and nightmares about “The Master” who interestingly was played by David Boreanaz for the scenes which needed new footage. At the same time she also spurns Angel while further rubbing salt into the wound by provocatively dancing with Xander before casually casting him aside aswell.
Elsewhere the rest of the group are all working through their own issues as Willow continues to harbour feelings for a still oblivious Xander, with a potential romantic connection cut frustratingly short at the last second by the surprise appearance of a vampire which certainly kills the moment, while Buffy turning up soon after stomps it flat with Xander still being hung up on her. Elsewhere Giles continues to fumble his feelings around Techo-pagan Jenny who it seems also had the more exciting summer with her tales of naked dancing and what not. Of course both these couples are early into their potential relationships so the fumbling advances here are still fun to watch, even knowing what will happen later in the season.
If anyone was left wondering how attached to the Scoobie’s Cordelia is, after her sudden change of opinion during the first season finale, this episode sees her continuing her journey to becoming part of the group, while at the same time still wanting to keep up appearances as the queen bee as she public attempts (and fails) to insult the group, while clearly not wishing to keep Buffy’s secret clearly not understanding the importance of her role as the slayer.
While the episode does a great job of reuniting the fans with their favourite characters, the traumatised player angle this episode goes for does get abit too heavy in places meaning that it drags in places, but thankfully proves to nothing that a smash happy session with a sledgehammer can’t solve. The finale also features Buffy busting out a few kickass moves including a climax which sees her slaying two vamps at the same time! That being said the Anointed One continues to prove himself a pointless character, more so now that “The Master” has been killed and who he had such a great double act with, only now his character seems lost and at a creative dead end for the writers who clearly don’t seem to know what to do with him now, more so when he has already served his original purpose during the season 1 finale.
Rewatching the episode with the foresight of what to expect, let alone recognising what the show was aiming for does improve things slightly, while ultimately this episode provides a gentle start to the new season, while wrapping up the few remaining plot threads left over from season 1 and setting up a strong foundation for the season ahead
Next Episode: Some Assembly Required