Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 19, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S2, E01 – When She Was Bad

When She Was Bad
Season 2, Episode 1
Original airing: September 15, 1997

My Rating: 68

The Good: Buffy really grows as a three-dimensional character in this episode. My common complaint is that characters often ignore and quickly move on from horrifying and traumatic experiences in the Buffy-verse (102, 103, 105, 106, 112). But this episode spends it’s entire 40 minutes dealing with the trauma Buffy suffered from dying at the end of the last season. She acts out against her family and friends, hurting them as she’s hurting inside. This episode showcases a darker side of Buffy which might be part of the reason she’s the Slayer in the first place. She has to have a strong, dark core to her soul to kill vampires and demons every night. But one of Buffy’s greatest strengths is that she doesn’t let that darkness overwhelm her life. Normally, she controls it and focuses on being genuinely good. It’s a bit unsettling to see Buffy hurting her closest friends and torturing a vampire. But it’s all part of who she is as a person. At the end of the episode, she begins to consciously deal with her issues by smashing the Master’s skeleton and allowing herself to draw comfort from her friends.

The Bad: There are several dropped threads in this episode which may come up again, but felt abandoned and overshadowed by the story. The major one being Willow and Xander’s almost kiss. Xander has been obsessing over Buffy and Willow has been obsessing over Xander the entire show. So having them almost kiss in a way that seemed familiar to them and then not talk about it was stressful for me as a viewer. It’s especially painful to see Willow’s later attempt to distract Xander into the same kind of moment. It feels like this should have been more of a subplot and it was instead used to open the show, then conveniently ignored.

The Anointed One also seems a bit wasted in this episode. Angel describes him as someone other vampires will do anything for. We do see vampires sacrificing themselves to do his bidding and to help him escape Buffy, but it seems wasted that he isn’t bent on seizing power for himself. All he’s focused on is resurrecting the Master. It would be nice to understand more of his motivation.

Favorite Moment: Buffy reveals how much she’s hiding her pain when she tries to tell Angel she’s missed him, but he’s already left her bedroom. It’s an extremely vulnerable moment for her made all the more painful because he didn’t wait to hear it.

The Bottom Line: This is a very good episode dealing with a situation that desperately needed to be dealt handled. Buffy’s vulnerability and good qualities are heightened by her trip into the darkside and it appears she’ll come out of it all as a better person and a much more interesting television character.

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