Written by Melynee, Amanda
My life got real busy all of a sudden, and I started working on my notes for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer recaps, and I realized that, um, a frickin’ lot of stuff has happened on the show and I wasn’t going to be able to get it all written out in time without much agony. At which point the lovely willa offered to help me out, which allowed me to keep my sanity. Sorta. In any event, I’ll recap the first three seasons, and then she’ll jump in for the last two. And maybe one day I’ll be able to work up the actual analysis of the show that I wanted this to be. But, uh, not this week.
So, I moved to NYC the summer after I graduated from college, in some sort of an attempt to pursue a career as an actress. For the first two months I was here, I basically lived off the generosity of two very good friends, setting up camp in their living room. One night, the first week I was there, Jeff turned on the TV and I sat through my first episode of Buffy. It was, luckily for me, the beginning of the first season reruns. I was hooked immediately. For those of you living in a pop-cultural void who somehow missed out, however, let’s get you up to speed…
The High School Era
Buffy Summers, high school sophomore with a penchant for unusual clothes, moves to Sunnydale, after non-specific problems including, but not necessarily limited to, setting fire to the gym at her old school which forces her to depart under a black cloud. She arrives at Sunnydale High ready to turn over a new leaf. She meets Willow, the kooky, cute cybergeek, and Xander, the kooky, cute, plain-old geek. Quickly bonds with both. Whoo! Makin’ friends!
Then she meets Giles, the proper, British librarian perhaps best known to TV addicts as “that hot Taster’s Choice guy.” Giles introduces himself as Buffy’s Watcher, eager to begin her training. Buffy is less than enthused. We learn that Buffy is a Vampire Slayer; one girl out of each generation who is called by a non-specific Destiny to fight evil specifically vampires, but also various and sundry demons, ghosts, ghouls and other assorted baddies with the aid of her unusual strength and agility, and the research assistance/training regimen of her Watcher. This, apparently, is what led to Buffy’s troubles at her last school, which she had hoped to leave behind with a fresh start in Sunnydale. Unfortunately for the Buffster, fate isn’t so easy to evade. Also, Sunnydale is less-than-fortuitously located directly over a hellmouth: a portal to/from the icky nether regions (or, hell, for you gutter-minded folk). It attracts quite the seedy clientele.
Students at Sunnydale start turning up dead, and also overly pale, and Buffy is dragged back into the Slaying life. We soon find out that the vamps responsible are being led by The Master, a very old, very mean vampire trapped in a dimensional portal and trying to find his way out. He has assorted vamp minions doing his bidding including Darla, a cute blonde with a breathy voice. Also making the occasional appearance throughout all of this is a tall, broody hottie named only Angel, who seems to enjoy being inscrutable and giving Buffy help in the form of obscure information and random rescues, when he’s not propping up the bar at the local hangout, The Bronze.
Buffy tries really hard to be a “normal girl” but inevitably the attempts backfire as things turn unnatural: cheerleaders spontaneously combust, a possible date goes vampy, the principal is eaten by a pack of students possessed by hyena-spirits, and the popular clique, lead by Cordelia Chase, is just plain mean.
Buffy and Angel grow closer, Angel wears lots of black and disappears at inopportune moments. Eventually, Buffy and Angel kiss, shortly after which she finds out he’s actually wait for it a vampire. And you thought your boyfriend had secrets. He is, however, a good vampire„or as good as a vampire can be; he has his soul.
Apparently, back in the day, Angel then known as Angelus was really, really bad. Really. He killed lots and lots of people. In ugly ways. Eventually, he killed a gypsy girl, and in retaliation her family cursed him with the return of his soul. Moral: don’t mess with the gypsies. He got all regretful and stuff, and now has this permanent unpleasant moody expression. Despite the unexpected revelation, Buffy deals. It prolly doesn’t hurt that for a moody vamp, he’s fairly hot.
Jenny Calendar, the school computer teacher and resident technopagan, is introduced. The school gets a new principal, Snyder, who is decidedly less caring than the first. Xander lusts after Buffy. Willow lusts after Xander. Giles and Miss Calendar sot of mutually lust after each other. Buffy lusts after Angel. Angel broods. Buffy vows many times not to Slay anymore, is forced to when someone is put in danger, and kills a bunch of monsters with the sometime assistance of her friends. Typical year-in-the-life.
Giles and Angel discover a prophecy that Buffy is going to die„and it’s connected to The Master. Buffy quits Slaying, yet again, and then goes to confront The Master. She doesn’t fare so well„he drains her of most of her blood and leaves her face down in a pool of water to drown. Xander and Angel find her “dead,” Xander performs CPR, she comes back a tougher Buffy, and defeats The Master. End Season One.
The Master makes a reappearance, and then dies again-this time for good. Willow and Xander have…possibilities. Cordelia becomes a semi-accepted but recalcitrant member of the Scooby Gang. Principal Snyder’s still mean-spirited. Ms. Calendar and Giles are still flirty.
Spike & Drusilla, the best thing to hit the vampire world since sliced bread, hit Sunnydale. The analogy is weak, but you get the idea. Spike, if I may make a little side note here, is everything I want in a man, excepting the fangs: tall, with shockingly-obviously-dyed platinum hair, a lovely British accent, and a Billy Idol sneer. Drusilla is…not all there. They’re evil, naturally. Eventually we find out that Angel, Spike and Drusilla all know each other. In fact, they’re related: Darla sired Angel(us), Angel sired Dru this is back in his soul-less days and made her crazy-bonus!, Dru sired Spike. One big, happy family, only not.
We meet Oz, the guitarist for Dingoes Ate My Baby. He’s taciturn, and maybe interested in Willow. Buffy and Angel make lots of googly eyes at each other, and he has a tendency to come to her rescue. Lots. Buffy still wants to just be normal, but it ain’t getting any easier.
Giles gets a past, including a kick-ass nickname, “Ripper,” and a trouble-making “friend,” Ethan Rayne. On Halloween, due to Ethan’s meddling, everyone has an unfortunate incident where they become their Halloween costume. This is notable mostly because Willow wears a sexy outfit and looks really fucking hot, and Xander becomes a soldier-and retains much of the military memories afterwards. It will come in quite handy, let me tell you.
There’s a bunch of jealousy: Buffy of Drusilla, Xander of Angel, and Jenny gets turned into a demon as a result of Giles’ past catching up with him. She gets turned back, but trust is lost. Good times.
Kendra the Vampire Slayer shows up. Unexpectedly, to say the least. Apparently, when Buffy “died” the call went out for a new Slayer. Voila, Kendra. She hangs around for a while, mostly being annoying, and eventually leaves.
In the midst of all this, Cordy and Xander somehow start smoochin’, but keep it secret. Willow and Oz date. Angel gets kidnapped by Spike and Dru, part of a building falls on Spike, semi-crippling him, Buffy has several run-ins with the police, Giles and Jenny start to reestablish trust, and Cordelia and Xander smooch some more.
Then things start to get
bad worse. Jenny, too, has a past-and a mysterious gypsy uncle who tells her she has to keep an eye on Angel. Spike and Dru start assembling The Judge, a demon who will, once at full-power, be able to kill with a glance. Angel saves Buffy from him and they celebrate by doing the nasty. Which you would think would go in the Yay! column, except that as a result of Angel’s *ahem* One Moment of Complete Happiness *ahem* he loses his soul again and reverts to Angelus. Needless to say, very, very bad.
Nor are the other relationships faring any better-Oz is revealed to be a werewolf, fine for dating as long as the gang keeps him under lock and key several nights a month. Cordelia dumps Xander and then takes him back again. Giles and Ms Calendar’s relationship hits a permanent snag when she figures out a spell to save Angel’s soul, but is subsequently killed by Angelus in a spectacularly grim neck-snapping moment of infamy. The disk containing the spell gets lost.
Spike recovers, secretly, from his paralysis. Xander, in another burned-into-the-retina moment, wears a speedo.
Angelus finds Acathla, a demon who, once awoken, will be able to suck the entire dimension into Hell. Kendra returns. Dru kills her, thank god. Spike, out of jealousy over the connection between Angelus and Dru, forms an uneasy alliance with Buffy.
Buffy’s mother, Joyce, at long last finds out that Buffy is the Slayer. In the quickly escalating fight that ensues Joyce delivers the ultimatum that if Buffy leaves the house she can never come back again. To save the world, Buffy must, and does. Willow finds the spell to restore Angel’s soul and successfully performs it, but his blood is the only thing that will stop the Acathla-fueled apocalypse, and in one of the classic rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it moments of the show Buffy watches the soul return just before she is forced to kill him. I’m not a B/A ‘shipper, and I still got sniffly. Spike and Dru flee town, as does Buffy. End Season two.
At the beginning of the season Buffy still hasn’t returned to Sunnydale, instead living a new, seedy life under a non-Slayish identity-Anne-in LA. Buffy gets recognized by a runaway from back home, however, and is roped into helping the girl find her missing boyfriend, reclaiming her destiny along the way. Buffy returns home.
So, she’s back, but things are still a bit off. A new-new Slayer appears-Faith-this one called by Kendra’s death. Also making appearances: Mr. Trick, a vampire baddy, and, wonder of wonders, Angel! Back from Hell! Only, no one knows for a while except Buffy, and he’s, um, not quite the same as he was before he got sucked away; he’s reverted to an animalistic state. This means, however, that Buffy gets to nurse him, and keep him in chains…mmmm…
Right. Distracted, sorry. Other secrets that develop this season include Willow and Xander FINALLY getting with the illicit smoochies and Giles and Joyce, um, trading bodily fluids due to the influence of some bad candy.
Sunnydale’s Mayor emerges as a force to be reckoned with. Much of the unnatural activity in the town this year can be traced to him preparing for an event simply known, for most of the season, as The Ascension.
The Scooby Gang finds out Angel is back, and are less than enthused, although Angel has returned by this point to his usual, souled, mopey self. Buffy and Angel tell everyone including each other that they’re just friends. Spike returns to Sunnydale long enough to disavow them of that notion and then skips out again. Willow and Xander’s secret moments of lurve also get exposed; Cordy ends up injured and Oz dumps Willow.
Cordelia’s, er, distaste for her former boyfriend awakens a demon, Anyanka, who feeds off jilted lovers. Through her we get to see an alternate universe where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, and more importantly, Xander, and especially Willow, were incredibly sexy vamps who wore lots of leather. Giles eventually fixes it, and all returns to normal, or what passes for it in this town.
Angel has regrets and decides to commit suicide, but is saved by a freak snowfall. Really.
Through an unfortunate series of events involving the Watcher’s Council and Buffy’s 18th birthday, Giles helps to make Buffy temporarily powerless. She survives the test with some last minute assistance from a regretful Giles, and he gets fired for showing her fatherly love. The Watcher’s Council is harsh.
Faith, always leaning towards the naughty, gets progressively more so. She seduces Xander, ends up killing a human accidentally, and then refuses to feel remorse over it. Eventually she makes an alliance with the Mayor, which soon morphs into a highly creepy and yet also somehow touching whacked-out-1950s-dad and leather-fetishizing-mildly-psycho-bitch-daughter relationship.
Anyanka makes another appearance, as does SexyVampWillow, only this time Anyanka gets stuck in a human body. Permanently. Faith continues down the slippery slope. “Earshot” doesn’t air due to unfortunate Columbine timing. Plans for the Ascension continue apace and the gang tries to figure out what to do after graduation. Angel and Buffy break up, again, but he makes an appearance at Prom anyway, where Buffy is given the Class Protector award: a lovely parasol.
Faith poisons Angel. The only antidote? Blood of a Slayer. Buffy decides that Faith can make the ultimate sacrifice, but Faith manages to escape, possibly near death. Buffy ends up feeding Angel herself, literally, and ends up in the hospital. Graduation day comes, and the Mayor at long last ascends… turning into a very large, very crusty looking snake-type thing. The Scooby Gang eventually destroys him/it/whatever, blowing up the majority of the school in the process. Faith is found. In the hospital. In a coma. End Season Three.
The College Years
Season Four was bound to be different than the previous three, for several reasons. First, the gang was finally out of high school and heading off to college, leaving many fans to wonder how Joss Whedon’s self-proclaimed “high school as hell” analogy was going to play out. Second, Angel went off to fight evil in Los Angeles, and was officially meant to be out of the picture as far as Buffy’s love life was concerned. Third, there were some big shoes to fill in the evil category with the Mayor all blown into little bits. Everything felt a little off-kilter.
The transition out of high school was a rocky one. Willow thrilled at the opportunity to be in a place where learning was cool, but spent seemingly every waking moment with Oz. Xander took on a string of meaningless part-time jobs, shunning the book-learning he was so fond of mocking in seasons past. Giles struggled to find a place in a world where he was not a Watcher, or a Librarian, or an essential part of the lives of the Scooby Gang members. While Buffy herself struggled to keep up with her classes around the usual rigors of slaying. The gang, in essence fell apart as everyone went their separate ways to discover what the freedom of being in college could provide them.
Buffy almost immediately meets a tall blond with a “duh” look about him, but no apparent supernatural powers. She is thrilled to be attracted to an actual human, until she learns at some point that he is part of a secret underground military operation that skulks around capturing demons to experiment on. So much for a normal boyfriend. Good old Riley is instead “Special Agent Finn,” the favorite boytoy of Buffy’s psycho psychology professor and person-in-charge of The Initiative.
For a while viewers were supposed to believe that The Initiative itself was the Big Bad for the season, but we soon learned that one of the experiments was going to fill that role. Adam was created for, um. Gosh. The reason escapes me. Why did Maggie Walsh create him again? Anyhoo, he was big and made up of lots of demon parts and at least one Boy Scout. And he was boring, and sort of non-threatening, until Maggie’s gang put a chip in Spike’s head making him unable to attack humans, and Spike became Adam’s right-hand man.
Angel and Buffy have a final show down over Faith, who has awakened from her coma and vowed revenge on Buffy, sleeping with Aw Shucks Finn while inhabiting Buffy’s body. Angel sort of becomes human for a day, he and Buffy have sex and there is a gross scene with ice cream and a bare chest that occurs during a Crossover Event. Faith disappears from the show again for a while.
Oz has less and less control over his wolfiness, and his remaining control is thwarted by a deep-voiced alt. rock singer (and really horrible lip-syncher) named Veruca. Also a werewolf. She urges him to embrace his inner dog, which he does by locking himself in a cage with her so they can have animalistic sex. Woo! Willow finds out and it destroys her, leading to some ugly experiments in magic. Oz leaves town, leaving Willow to meet a cute girl named Tara in her Wicca group. Commence the lesbian storyline!
Xander dates Anya, who wants to have lots of sex, but who has one of the best lines of the season with the explanation of Thanksgiving, “It’s ritual sacrifice. With pie.” Giles becomes more and more like a father to Buffy, and Spike lives in his bathtub. Joss writes and directs an episode with almost no dialogue and still doesn’t get an Emmy.
In the final showdown of the season, the gang has to overcome the rifts that have developed between them to defeat Adam, who wants to raise a great demon army to take over the world. I think. Again, I can’t remember what he was for. He was that boring. Giles, Xander and Willow combine their essence into Buffy’s body so that she can go all Matrixy on Adam and rip out his energy core.
But that’s not all! In a rare move of having the climax of the season before the finale, Buffy and the gang are shown alternate realities by the First Slayer, an ancestor who wants Buffy to go back to the original way of slaying: alone. Riley got to be a cowboy, and thus it was really scary. End Season Four.
The gang is all happy again, except for Spike, who still has the chip in his head. Buffy suddenly has a sister, and everyone behaves as if she’s been there all along. Dawn is really The Key, an ancient energy put into human form by some monks who end up dying for the cause.
Dawn has a crush on Xander, Anya likes to beat her at the game of Life and Willow and Tara like to baby her. Buffy spends a lot of time having sex with Riley and trying to have a normal life, right up to the point where she learns what Dawn is and that her mother is suffering from a brain tumor. Everything really goes downhill from there.
Evil this season arrives in the guise of a neurotic blond named Glorificus, or Glory, or Her Supremely Glowy Fantastical One. She’s a god, you see, banished from her world for being too evil and given residence in the body of a human male. She’s looking for The Key, which will unlock the gates between the dimensions, allowing her to rule in the demon realm as well as on Earth. End of the world, blah blah.
Glory’s human host, Medical Intern Ben, becomes chummy with Buffy and friends during the brain cancer thing. Oz comes back to get back his Willow, only to learn that she has moved on with Tara. Unable to contain his wolf persona under these circumstances, he leaves. Xander professes his undying love to Anya, I (Amanda) secretly hope this is the equivalent of handing her a red shirt. Giles runs a quirky little magic shop where the gang all meets to talk-loudly-about demons and such in front of paying customers.
Eventually everyone is in on the secret about Dawn, but not before Riley has gotten mad at Buffy for not crying on his shoulder through her mother’s brain surgery. Which goes off without a hitch, by the way. Instead Riley turns to the ugly world of vamp prostitution, paying money for them to suck him off. His blood. Off his arm. Sheesh. They fight and he gives ultimatums and Buffy makes her choice too late and he’s gone. Opening the door for Spike to get a major crush on the slayer and start doing good deeds to win her love.
And then Joyce dies. And Joss writes/directs his second ground-breaking episode, only this time airing it without a musical score. He still won’t get an Emmy, I’ll bet.
Ben unwittingly helps Glory figure out that the monks hid the key in human form, but Glory wrongly thinks it is Tara. When she realizes it isn’t, and that Tara won’t tell her who is, Glory sucks out her energy and leaves her a mumbling shell of herself.
Which brings us to now. With the gang on the run from Glory, only to lose Dawn to her following a battle with a strange army of Knights, and Buffy sliding into catatonia. We’ll finish this up in a couple of weeks, when the gang has come up with a new, improved, ingenious plan to take out the latest would-be Destroyer of the Universe.