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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 2 - Some Assembly Required

7 February 2013

Synopsis: Buffy is out slaying when she comes across a grave that has been recently dug up. The gang find out that the grave belonged to a girl who died in a recent car crash. They investigate and find that the bodies of two other girls who died with her are also missing. When Angel and Cordelia find pieces of the girls in a dumpster at the school suspicion falls on Willow's friend Chris. Meanwhile Angel admits to being jealous of Xander and Giles asks Ms Calendar out on a date.Daryl puts pressure on Chris

The Good: A lot of what went on here was good. Xander was in good form making jokes throughout and Cordelia now seems naturally blended into the world of the Slayerettes. There was also plenty of fun to be had with Giles as he awkwardly asked out Jenny and then continued to be very English throughout their date. Angel and Buffy finally reach a point where you can imagine them dating and spending more time together.

The actual reanimation story was definitely creepy. I thought the reactions of the characters to the prospect of dead bodies being chopped up was played well. Vampires and demons are inhuman and therefore removed from everyday experience. Whereas the idea that a fellow human was messing around with the dead did seem more relatably disturbing. The writers provided a thorough back-story as we saw the effect Daryl's death had had on his family. Neglected by his broken mother and encouraged by creepy Eric, it was clear why Chris had tried to bring his brother back.

The Bad: However despite the effort put in the story never quite felt right. There was almost too much going on in the story for it to hit the right emotional note. It wasn't clear if Daryl was meant to be a sympathetic figure or if he had come back from the dead warped and changed. He certainly had superhuman strength given that he almost kills Buffy. It also wasn't clear why Eric was such a filthy creep. The fact that we didn't see what happened to him or Chris didn't help. It's a tricky balance for the show to keep because how could either boy be put on trial for attempted murder without disclosing details that would change the world forever. "Boy reanimates the Dead" is not a headline the world could ignore. But even if Buffy forgave Chris, how could they leave Eric unpunished?

Even if you ignore those difficult questions there was something cheesy about the final moments of Daryl's life as he lumbered back to his burning "girlfriend" as if he were Frankenstein's monster. Again it hit on the problem of whether we were meant to think of him as Daryl or as a weird zombie creation. We also saw no excuses being given to the authorities about how the fire got started. Considering Buffy burnt down her old school you would think Snyder would be all over this. It also felt a bit awkward that Cordelia had to be captured twice. I can believe that her ego would drive her out to lead cheers despite a near kidnap attempt but couldn't the story have been written to not have to go this route?

There were a couple of moments that seemed too "on the nose." Xander explains that people don't fall in love with what's in front of them, they look for the unattainable. It didn't seem especially apt in relation to Chris and Eric, yet it neatly summed up his feelings for Buffy and perhaps hers for Angel. Then we had Eric cutting Cordelia's head off of her photo which was done only for the creepy visual and no real practical reason.

The Unknown: The shovel Buffy used to kill the vampire disappeared when the vampire died. Does that normally happen or was that just an effects mistake?

Best Moment: Xander and Buffy walk in on Giles practicing his pick up lines on a chair. Cue a bunch of really funny lines from Xander when he figures out that he will be asking out Miss Calendar including "She already knows that you're a school librarian, so you don't have to worry about how to break that embarrassing news to her." And "Now is it time to have a talk about the facts of life?...coz you know that whole stork thing is a smokescreen."

The Bottom Line: This wasn't bad but it never quite found the right tone.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Some Assembly Required

Season 2, Episode 2
Original airing: September 22, 1997

My Rating: 66

The Good: I love that some of the effects of When She Was Bad (201) is seen in this episode. Angel is angry with Buffy and jealous of Xander. And Willow lets Buffy know that she will forever be The Girl Who Mated With Xander Harris on the Dance Floor. And Buffy has to live with these things going forward, as well as Cordelia's new-found attraction to Angel. Xander's also continuing to display his dislike of Angel, which is all good long-term character development.

It's also wonderful to see Giles acting on his feelings for Jenny. He is truly the definition of adorable in his fumbling attempts to ask her out and his unalloyed joy when she's into him as well and wants a second date. This match makes sense and I applaud the show for taking time to develop it slowly.

Chris is a reasonably well-developed secondary character, especially in comparison to Darryl and Eric (see The Bad). His life has been strongly affected by his brother's death. Not only has he lost a sibling, but his mother as well as she sinks into a complete depression. His desire to resurrect his brother is understandable, although a bit far-fetched in the technology department. But that detail aside, his motivations for what he does are understandable. He feels responsible for helping his brother be happy now and is willing to use already dead people to build a body. But he does draw the line at killing someone to complete it. While he first is compelled to it by Darryl, he quickly turns to helping Buffy. He's generally a good guy who's stumbled too far down a path he doesn't understand. His devotion to his brother and the heart of all his decisions is clear as Buffy has to hold Chris back from the fire at the end of the episode. A lovely and strong commentary on sibling love from the show.

The Bad: This is another Monster of the Week episode, which is a bit disappointing after the strong season opener which carried through the themes from the death of the Master. Darryl was a confusing villain as he was always described as likable, handsome and kind in life. Chris even says Darryl didn't want to be a zombie and that it was a mistake. Then Darryl reaches a point where he's willing to kidnap and behead Cordelia (apparently without anesthetic, even). We as the audience don't get to see the change Darryl goes through to reach this point, we just know he's lonely.

Darryl is egged on by Eric, a character suffering from a Season One lack of development. Whereas Darryl has some reasoning behind his behavior, Eric is apparently just evil. There's no reason given for his participation in the building of a zombie girl. Perhaps he derives pleasure from the feeling of power over women, a group who seems to wholly ignore him for being creepy. Regardless, as a viewer I shouldn't have to speculate over his basic motivations.

Favorite Moment: The second scene of the episode puts the show's trademark humor front and center. It begins with Giles' charming attempts to rehearse asking Jenny to dinner. Practice he later uses in the episode during his failed attempt to actually ask Jenny out. He's interrupted by Xander and Buffy who give him some advice about Things and Storks. The trio continues to be humorous during their discussion of graverobbing and dead girls. The fact that there can be a funny discussion about graverobbing and dead girls at all is what makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer the show that it is - wonderful.

The Bottom Line: Another clichéd storyline with subpar, underdeveloped villains, but done this time with some humor and heart.

('DiggThis)

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