Written and Directed by Joss Whedon: When She Was Bad

Today I will look at the season 2 premier When She was Bad of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

Being a Buffy season premiere, it of course starts in the graveyard. The camera pans out as Willow and Xander play a movie quote game. There is a great tracking shot that lasts over a minute as they play the game, and Willow sits on the fence. They talk and they have a sweet moment, and are about to kiss before a vampire interrupts. Buffy returns and has a great kill by kicking the vampire into a tree branch.

 

 

After the credits Buffy talks to her friends and they briefly talk about their summer. When Buffy hears about the master she gets very serious. I think the music is over the top.

Buffy’s father talks about not being able to connect with her. At school there are two great tracking shots following Cordelia and Giles and Snyder. I love Snyder’s scene he rants to Giles about children.and he does not notice him with Mrs. Calendar. I love the two of them.

There is a great scene where The Scoobies meet Giles. Buffy is very distant, But it is cute how happy Willow and Xander are to see him. Buffy and Giles agree to have a training session,  Maybe the training scene is over the top with the music, but it clearly shows that her trauma is not over.

There is a terrifying dream where Giles turns into the master and strangles her. It is very effective because it is hard to tell that it is a dream.  Giles can be very scary when he gets to play evil. I also like the dialogue before it is revealed to be a dream.

When she wakes up Angel is there warning her about the Annoying One. Buffy is very mean to him, and taunts him, but says she missed him after he leaves. This is one of the few scenes where she is warm all episode.

She talks with her friends, and they go to the bronze.Cordelia meets with them. Buffy is really mean to her and calls her a moron.At the bronze Xander and Willow start to suspect something. Xander is uninterested in willow. It is interesting to notice how much better the lighting is this season. The vampires dig up the masters remains.

Next is the great scene where Buffy taunts Willow and Angel by dancing with Xander. THis is one of the best scenes of the season, and shows for the first time Whedon is a great director, not a great writer. (MOre Bellow) Cordelia confronts her and is kidnapped.

Cordelia is one of my favorite Buffyverse characters, because she says whatever she thinks. As superficial as she, there is no bullshit with her. In this episode she is the only to confront Buffy on her behavior.

Buffy goes by the graveyard and The Master is gone. At school Xander and Willow think Buffy is possessed. Of course here we get Xander thinking she is spelling out a “bitca?”. Giles is closer to the truth and realizes it is trauma from her death. Giles some great lines in the cafeteria, especially when he insults Snyder.

They talk in the  library and they get the note from the vampires, saying they will make her a meal (“they are going to cook her dinner”).  Buffy is very impulsive and falls into the obvious trap. Of course Angel goes with her and they find only one vampire. The trap is for her friends

Willow and Giles get kidnapped, leaving only Xander. Xander tells Buffy if anything happens to Willow he will kill her???? This line makes no sense.

 

Buffy tortures the vampire with a cross down the thought. This is  cool and shows her ruthlessness.

 

 

This is a pretty good fight, although where was her stake for half of the fight? Great moving killing the two vampires at the torch at the same time. Abolsam is great villain and probably should have been in more episodes

Buffy has her catharsis when grinding the masters bones. Very powerful, especially as the Bangel Music plays. Whedon always gets great performances from his actors.

Good ending scenes with Giles and her friends, as they forgive her. Maybe the very end was to much

Overall probably the best season premiere. This does a great job showing what Buffy is going through at this point. Although it can be painful it is one of the first episodes that really covers what she goes through, and deals with her trauma(Season six). This is one of the many very risky episodes; for the season premiere to make the main character so unlikable.  The actors commit 100% and they pull it off

This is definitely  a flawed episode, with a few moments that feel tonally off. Xander has some great lines but I wonder if they made him a little too dumb. In addition at times they do overdo some of Buffy’s angst, which makes the episode unpleasant to re watch.

Despite this, the episode just has an an energy to it that most season one episodes don’t

Whedon’s visual style has continued to evolve. He is clearly a fan of tracking shots, and includes several fairly lengthy ones.  He likes to move his camera, and saves his close ups for dramatic moments. These techniques are fairly commonplace, and would not redeem the show if the writing was bad, but he is clearly showing a developing style that will continue.

 

 

 

Scenic Routes

The scene is the bronze is one of the best of the season. It is flawlessly directed, shot, edited, and acted.  After insulting Angel, Buffy grabs Xander and starts to dance provocatively with him, despite knowing how Angel and Willow will feel. The cinematography is great, working with limited light on Buffy and Xander. It is hard to watch Willow’s face as she watches them. There is a good use of a zoom on Angel and Willow. You can also see Cordelia observing the scene.

There is something very cinematic about the way this is shot. The music fits the scene perfectly. Also there are some well timed pans to the singer.

This is one of Buffy’s cruelest moments, especially as she teases Xander with a kiss and asks if she ever thanked him then takes it away (Dont you wish I would). Her mission of hurting her friends is complete and she leaves.

 

80/100

 

 

 

 

 

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