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Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 2 E 1 When She Was Bad
With vampire activity on the decline, Xander and Willow must content themselves with the perils of movie trivia. Xander whines that the summer has been extremely boring; But since Buffy has spent summer break in L.A. with her dad, the lack of demonic activity is a lucky break. A tender moment ensues when Xander playfully puts ice cream on Willow's nose, but just as he is about to kiss her, a vampire appears behind Willow. Xander intervenes and is barely holding out when, suddenly, a blonde tornado shows up and kicks the vampire into a proturuding tree branch. The Slayer is back in town.

School reboots. Giles gets the gang together and exposits that although they closed the Hellmouth, the mystical energy still attracts evil forces to the town. For once, Giles offers Buffy some time to settle in, but she is eager to resume her training. Whilst practicing, Buffy has a vision of the Master and begins furiously hitting a dummy. Giles furrows his brow.

Across town, a vampire pastor named Absalom preaches to his undead flock; promising them that all is not lost. He gestures to his leader, the Anointed One, sitting atop a throne.

Buffy has nightmares of The Master strangling her. She awakens in bed to find Angel in her room. He's come with a warning that the Anointed One has taken the reigns of the Master's order. Buffy coldly brushes him off. He tells her he missed her and leaves before she can reply. Meanwhile, the Anointed One is ordering his acolytes to dig up the Master's bones.

At the Bronze, Buffy arrives in a revealing dress and begins a slow, sensual dance with Xander that makes everyone squirm—particularly Willow and Angel, which was the entire point. Cordelia, who witnessed the entire scene, confronts her outside and tells her to get over her problems. The moment that Buffy stalks off, Cordy is nabbed by two dark figures. They toss her into a basement with a KO'd Ms. Calendar. Buffy walks to the grave that holds the Master, and finds it dug up.

At lunch the next day, Giles shares everyone's concerns about Buffy's mental state, unaware that she's standing in the doorway. When she reports on the Master's disappearance, Giles assures her that he has never heard of a vampire resurrection being successful. Buffy sarcastically thanks him for warning her that this kind of ritual exists. Tension between the Scoobies mount as night falls. Giles learns that a revivification spell needs the blood of the "closest" person to the deceased. On cue, Cordelia's ransom note, wrapped around a large rock, is lobbed through the library window. Buffy leaves for the obvious trap, sighing in frustration that she cannot look out for the Scoobies while doing her job. Angry, confused looks all around.

Outside the Bronze, Buffy tries to pick a fight with Angel, who ignores her and tails along. Inside, they find a brunette sobbing quietly. Buffy guesses this is some kind of lame Cordelia double, and realizes that the "trap" is not for her. At the same time, Giles realizes that the ritual requires the blood of those physically nearest to the Master when he died in other words, Giles, Willow, Cordelia and Ms. Calendar. Giles sees vampires looming on the mezzanine level. They have a full set now.

Buffy returns to the library to find a bloodied Xander, who rages that if she had worked with them for five seconds, she could have prevented this. Reality having now dropped like an anvil on our heroine's head, she doubles back to The Bronze and tortures the Fake Cordy into confession.

In the abandoned warehouse, the remaining Scoobies are hanging by their feet, suspended over The Master's skeleton. Buffy interrupts the ritual and lets the stakes fly while Angel and Xander reel the hostages out of reach. Absalom, clutching a sledgehammer, charges at the Slayer. She twirls one of his ceremonial torches like a baton, incinerating Absalom and staking another with the broken end. From the second level, Willow proclaims the battle over.

"No, it's not," mutters Xander.

As her friends look on, Buffy retrieves the sledgehammer and raises it on high. Holding back tears, she smashes the Master's skeleton to dust.

The next day, Buffy, unsure of where she stands with her friends, resignedly goes to class. Willow generously says hello, and says they saved her a seat. Aw. Xander breaks the ice and suggests hanging out at The Bronze, but Willow vetoes that idea.

"Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night."

Meanwhile, the Anointed One takes a good look around the warehouse, noticing the smashed bones.

Tropes

  • Abandoned Warehouse: The site of Absalom's sacrificial pyre.
  • Acting for Two / The Other Darrin: In the non-flashback footage, the guy under all that Master makeup is David Boreanaz.
  • Agent Mulder: Willow's insistence that the way Buffy was meanly acting proves she must be possessed. Aw.
    Xander: Are we overlooking the idea that she may be very attracted to me?! (off everyone's looks) She's possessed.
  • Almost Kiss: Just before Xander and Willow's lips touch, we see that a growling vamp has sneaked up on them.
  • Amicable Exes: Joyce and Hank appear to get along fine.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Xander's announcing that Cibo Matto will be gracing their presence at the Bronze. Willow asks if they're playing.
    Xander: No, Will, they're going to be clog dancing.
    Willow: (amazement) Cibo Matto can clog dance?! (beat) ...Oh, sarcasm, right.
  • Bad Boss: While digging up The Master, the A.O. complains that his men aren't shoveling fast enough. He forces his acolytes to dig through consecrated earth with their bare hands.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Buffy side-kicking the cemetery vamp into a nearby tree, where he's dusted on a sharp protrusion.
  • Blood Magic / Human Sacrifice: The revivification ritual requires the blood of those who were physically closest to the Master — Giles, Willow, Cordelia, and Ms. Calender — when he crashed into the library and was impaled. This proviso is obviously meant for the person responsible for slaying the Master; unluckily for the Scoobies, Buffy kicked him into a skylight beforehand.
  • Breaking the Fellowship / Putting the Band Back Together
  • Buy Them Off: Joyce is shocked at how many clothes and shoes her daughter managed to accumulate. Hank admits that Buffy seemed distant throughout the whole summer, and he "overcompensated a little" with gifts.
  • Call Back: The Master's defeat in the previous season, and Buffy's heart stopping momentarily.
    • Willow worriedly asks if Cordelia's been yapping to everybody about their "adventure" over the summer.
    Cordelia: What are you guys talking about? I'm talking about big squiggly demons that came from the ground! Remember? Prom night? With all the vampires?
    Buffy: Cordelia, your mouth is open and sound is coming from it. This is never good.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Buffy rudely dismissing Angel and snuggling back under the covers, determinedly silent.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Willow asking why Buffy is acting like such a "B-I-T-C-H." Giles thinks they're too old to be spelling out words.
    Xander: A "Bitcah"?
  • Comically Missing the Point: Buffy reads the note regarding Cordelia's abduction.
    Buffy: 'Come to the Bronze before it opens, or we make her a meal.'
  • Cooldown Hug / Cry into Chest: Buffy burying her face in Angel's chest, sobbing, following her very thorough job on the bones.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "Your day is done, girl. I'll grind you into a sticky paste, and hear you beg, before I smash in your face."
    Buffy: ...So, are you gonna kill me, or are we just making small talk?
  • Dance of Romance: Played for Drama during Buffy's intimate dance with Xander, showing what kind of person she could be without her moral code.
  • Daydream Surprise: Giles leaps on Buffy and strangles her — she tears off his face to reveal the Master.
  • Death Glare: Angel's reaction to Buffy and Xander's bump n' grind.
  • Deader than Dead: The Master is well and truly dead after this episode. Not so much in the comic series.
  • Decoy Damsel: "That's not Cordelia." Of course not — the only way to make Cordelia cry is to cut up her credit cards.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "You're Amish! You can't fight back... 'cause you're Amish! I mock you with my ice cream cone, Amish Guy!"
    • Snyder saying that he can just smell delinquency, "like a sixth sense."
      Giles: Actually, that would be one of the five.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: Buffy confessing that's she been having weird dreams. Willow blurts that the other night she dreamt about Xander— she backpedals, "It wasn't Xander. In fact, it wasn't me. It was a friends' dream... and s-she doesn't remember it."
  • Divide and Conquer: Angel pointing out that something is off about the pathetic Bronze ambush. "There's the bait. Where's the hook?"
  • The Dragon: Absalom, for all intents and purposes, serves as this to the Annointed One.
  • Dramatic Drop: Absalom combusts in a very cool-looking mass of flames, and his mallet falls with a clang. Buffy meaningfully drops her own weapon (the torch) before approaching her old adversary — the Master.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Buffy on Dream!Giles.
  • Drop the Hammer: Absalom toting a sledgehammer and calling Buffy out.
  • Dull Surprise: Buffy's reaction to news of the A.O. gathering his forces.
    "Is that everything? Y'know, 'cause you woke me up from a really good dream."
  • Dynamic Entry: Xander grapples with a vampire in a losing effort until a hand yanks the vamp away. We then see the vamp get pummeled by someone in a shiny micro-mini.
  • Easily Forgiven: "We saved you a seat."
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    Snyder: You really have faith in those kids, don't you?
    Giles: Yes, I do.
    Snyder: Weird.
  • Excuse Question: "Guess That Movie Quote". Willow leads with "use the Force, Luke," to which Xander rightly responds with an Eye Take. Willow then complains that it's a dumb game.
  • Face Your Fears: This episode was an extended therapy session for Buffy as she deals with her feelings of helplessness and vulnerability.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Cordy calls after Buffy that maybe she'll ask Angel to play rebound with her, but a hand grabs her over the mouth. Two vamps drag her away as Buffy obliviously stomps off.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Bitch!Buffy at the Bronze.
  • Finger in the Mail: The blackmail note is held in place by a bracelet, which Buffy identifies as Cordelia's.
  • Foreshadowing: Xander and Willow going on about how the most excitement they had was burying the Master ("We got to wear robes").
    • Principal Snyder crowing to Giles that Buffy has a certain smell about her. "I smell trouble. I smell expulsion. And just the faintest aroma of jail."
    • Tempting Fate: Joyce saying she'd settle for Buffy making it through the school year without getting kicked out.
    • For the rest of the series — this won't be the last time Buffy will deal with trauma by either shutting herself off or lashing out at her friends with Jerkass behaviour.
  • Freudian Slip: As Buffy sits and broods, Xander asks what she was thinking about, assuring her she can tell them, because they're "bosom friends! The friends of your bosom!"
  • Grave Robbing: The unearthing of the Master's skeleton.
  • Groin Kick
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The Master returning, while subverted, has been preying on Buffy's mind.
  • I Don't Like You And You Don't Like Me: Cordelia to Buffy in the alley outside The Bronze.
    "You know, we've never really been close, which is nice because I don't really like you that much, but you have on occasion saved the world and stuff, so I'm gonna do you a favor."
  • I Have Your Wife: Exploited by the A.O. to get close to those he needs to.
  • I Resemble That Remark: Xander's actually looking forward to the start of school, but Willow teases that he just wants to see Buffy again. Xander says he's over that noise — then wonders if Willow's heard from her.
    • Giles wondering whether Snyder made the wrong career choice, and Snyder countering that someone has to keep an eye on the kids. "Every time a pretty girl walks by, every boy turns into a gibbering fool." On cue, Miss Calendar slinks up to Giles...
  • I Work Alone: Buffy's suicidal overconfidence.
  • I'll Kill You!: Xander warns that if anything happens to Willow, he'll kill Buffy.
  • Improvised Weapon: Fake!Cordy gargling Buffy's cross necklace.
    • In the warehouse, Buffy lands a hit on one henchvamp by smashing a crate over his head.
    • One of Absalom's torches.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Angel insisting Buffy's not as strong as she thinks, eliciting the response, "Think you can take me?" She goes on that he must have thought about what would happen if they ever fought, and the subtext here is obvious. "C'mon..." she says invitingly, "Kick my ass."
  • Insult Backfire:
    Cordelia: You're really campaigning for Bitch of the Year, aren't you?
    Buffy: As defending champion, you nervous?
    Cordelia: I can hold my own.
    • Cordy accosting the Scoobies in the hall, calling them "the Three Musketeers".
      Xander: I woulda gone with Stooges.
      Willow: The Three Musketeers are cool.
      Cordelia: (beat) I see your point.
  • Ironic Echo: Buffy tries to help up the wounded Xander, but he shrugs her off. "Vampires," he reports. "The ones you could handle yourself."
  • It's Personal: Buffy doesn't cotton to her friends being ritually eviscerated. Her cold torture of the vampire decoy is also new behavior.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Buffy removing her cross, stuffing it in the stoolie vampire's mouth, and holding her jaws shut as smoke starts to emanate from it. Angel and Xander look slightly put off. Bonus points for imitating the Trope Namer.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Absalom intoning, "For the Old One. For his pain. For the dark." The vamps join in a rousing chorus of "for the dark," except that Buffy dusts one of them in the middle of "da—".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The Scoobies reuniting with Cordelia, who loudly inquires as to whether they fought any demons over the summer.
    Willow: Oh—yes! Our own personal demons!"
    Xander: Uh, such as, as, as lust and, uh, thrift!
  • Latex Perfection: Master-as-Giles in Buffy's dream.
  • Layman's Terms: Giles suggests that Buffy "may simply have what you Americans refer to as 'issues'." Only he pronounces it "Iz-yous."
  • Little Black Dress: Dolled-up Buffy strutting into the Bronze wearing in a simple, elegant black dress.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Plays over the cathartic smashing of the bones.
  • Long Bus Trip: This is the final "real" appearance of Buffy's father Hank Summers on the series. All subsequent appearances will be in the form of flashbacks, dreams or hallucinations.
  • Love Theme: This is the first recognizable appearance of the melody that will become "Close Your Eyes," Buffy and Angel's love theme. It begins as Buffy smashes the Master's bones and continues over Angel comforting Buffy.
  • Man on Fire
  • Mating Dance: Lampshaded in the following episode.
    Angel: "Danced with" is a pretty loose term. "Mated with" might be a little closer.
  • Meet the New Boss: The Annointed One.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Buffy worries the damage done to her friendships will prove irreparable.
    Giles: What are you gonna do? Crawl inside a cave for the rest of your life?
    Buffy: Would it have cable?
    • Well, in season 6, Buffy does spend most of her time inside a cave below a certain crypt with cable, although I don't think she's watching TV.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "I don't know what your problem is, what your issues are. But as of now, I officially don't care. If you'd worked with us for five seconds, you could have stopped this."
  • Not Herself: The clincher is Buffy leading Xander on, right in front of Willow and Angel. Even Xander, who's getting his fantasy fulfilled, seems caught between arousal and a nagging feeling that something's not quite right.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Principal Snyder accompanying Giles down the hallway, likening the students to locusts. Giles and Jenny decide to head off to the faculty room together, leaving the oblivious Snyder behind.
    "I try and tell 'em about the important things in life. Discipline, responsibility, punctuality. Might as well be talking to myself."
  • Not So Different: It's left to Cordelia to point out to Buffy that she's alienated everyone close to her. In playing the bitch here, one could imagine Gellar playing the Cordelia role fairly well.
  • Not so Dire: Cordy commiserating with Miss Calendar about how awful their ordeal was. "It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell you. None of that rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you can dry clean till judgment day, you are living with those stains."
  • Nude Nature Dance: Giles asking Miss Calendar how her summer was, to which she replies that she went to Burning Man, which had, among other things, raves and naked mud dances. Giles's dilemma between "hippies" and "naked Miss Calendar" is palpable.
  • Offhand Backhand / One-Hit Polykill: As Absalom rushes at her blindly, Buffy snaps a large wooden torch in half. She swiftly stakes one henchvamp and sets Absalom on fire.
  • Oh, Crap: "It is a trap. It just isn't for her."
  • Opaque Lenses: Buffy riding in the car with Joyce. Emotional deflector shields up, Captain.
  • Operation Jealousy: A particularly cruel version — Buffy dances intimately with Xander (with Willow watching) in order to hurt Angel (and possibly flaunt her power over Xander as well).
  • Percussive Therapy: Buffy training on a wooden dummy that has pads attached to it. Giles tries to call her off, but she keeps going until she breaks the dummy in two with a side kick. Giles worriedly notes that she's stayed in shape.
    • Buffy pulverizing the Master's bones with a sledgehammer.
    Willow: Where's Buffy?
    Xander: Uh, she's working out her issues.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Buffy telling Angel she doesn't trust him anymore, as he's a vampire. He bristles, and she snarks, "Oh, I'm sorry, is that an offensive term? Should I say 'Undead American'?"
  • Poor Communication Kills: Buffy almost reveals how much she's hiding her pain when she tells Angel "I've missed you—", but he's already flown the coop.
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: Xander whining that his hand's cramped up from "Rock, Paper, Scissors". Willow deadpans that if you're always scissors, it's hard on the tendons.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: David Boreanaz is in them now. Thousands rejoice.
  • Ransacked Room: By the time Buffy backtracks her way there, the library is full of overturned tables.
  • Rescue Romance: Lampshaded, then averted.
    Buffy: Xander, did I ever thank you for saving my life?
    Xander: No...
    Buffy: Don't you wish I would? (walks off)
  • Retail Therapy: What Buffy got up to in Los Angeles.
  • The Reveal: The A.O. on his throne.
  • Right Behind Me: Giles suggesting that Buffy may have residual trauma from her bout with the Master, just in time for Buffy to appear in the doorway. Xander: "It's a very interesting point about trout, you just brought up now." Nice save, Derek Jeter.
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: Xander touching his ice cream cone to Willow's nose. At the Bronze, Willow tries in vain to recreate the moment while Xander anxiously cranes his neck for Buffy. "You got somethin' on your nose."
  • Secret Keeper: Cordelia assures Buffy that her secret identity is safe. Coulda fooled me.
    Cordelia: Are you nuts? Do you think I would tell people that I spent the whole evening with you?
  • Selective Obliviousness: From the moment she arrives in town, Buffy takes on that patronizing, barely tolerating tone with Xander and Willow, and it takes a full day to pick up on it.
  • Scary Black Man: Absalom, who doubles as The Dragon and Mouth of Sauron for the Anointed One.
  • Screaming Warrior: Absalom, because Buffy keeps ruining his ultimatums.
  • Sex for Solace: Alluded to on the dance floor. Was Buffy really interested in Xander, or was it just a way to snub all her friends at once?
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Buffy spent the holidays away from Sunnydale, which ironically led to her brooding and turning the near-death trauma over in her head rather than really deal with it.
  • Shout-Out: The movies Xander and Willow reference are, in order: The Terminator, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Witness.
  • Side Bet: Willow and Xander betting on how long it will take Giles to "consult his books." Everyone smiles at Giles. He fake-smiles in return.
  • Sinister Minister: Absalom.
  • Slashed Throat: The ceremony involves the Scoobies being hung upside-down with their throats cut, anointing the Master's bones with their blood.
  • Slasher Smile: Dream!Master
  • Smash The Symbol: You don't need to be a therapist to know what the bones represent.
  • Smug Super: Willow tries to defend Giles on the revivification matter, but Buffy snaps that she'd like to "have a little less from the civilians."
  • Snub by Omission: Buffy asking if the Scoobies had any fun without her. Simultaneously, Willow says "yes" and Xander says "no." Aw. Poor Willow.
  • Songs of Solace: Buffy riding mute in Joyce's car is overlaid with "It Doesn't Matter" by Allison Kraus and Union Station.
  • Stalking Is Love: Angel of course, and lampshaded by Buffy.
  • Suppressed Rage
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The song playing while Buffy is in the car with Joyce.
    "It doesn't matter what I want/It doesn't matter what I need/It doesn't matter if I cry/Don't matter if I bleed/You've been on a road/Don't know where it goes or where it leads."
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: Ironically, the people most responsible for the Master's demise (Buffy on the school roof, Xander and Angel on the stair landing) are exempt from the A.O's list, by virtue of not being in the library when it happened..
  • Tempting Fate: Joyce says she hopes Buffy can make it through the school year without getting kicked out. At the end of the season Buffy does get kicked out.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Giles giving Buffy a verbal pat on the back, saying her actions this week were "hardly the worst mistake you'll ever make." At Buffy's horrified look, he says he meant that to be more comforting.
  • Ticking Clock: 3 days to go until the Master's revival.
  • Too Much Information: Willow asks if Xander really doesn't miss Buffy, and he admits that maybe he does a little, as he has "certain needs." Willow says she doesn't want to go there.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: A decidedly unkinder, ungentler Buffy, as hinted in her first scene when she snits at having to go face Giles.
  • Torture Always Works: Buffy jamming her necklace down a vampire's throat like a particularly potent Alka-Seltzer.
  • Training Montage: Aggressive rock plays as Buffy does a series of karate and gymnastics moves.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Buffy insists on it, even though everyone thinks it's a grave mistake.
    Willow: Well, what about the rest of the note?
    Buffy: What rest of the note?
    Willow: The part that says, 'P.S. This is a trap'?
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Dream!Giles choking Buffy as the other Scoobies chomp on their snacks without a care in the world.
  • Unwilling Suspension: A pulley above the Master's bones, from which Willow, Giles, Cordy, and Miss Calendar sway upside-down.
  • The Vamp: Buffy taking our her frustrations on both Angel and Xander in a very cruel way.
    "Look, Angel, I'm sorry if I was supposed to spend the summer mooning over you, but I didn't. I moved on. To the living."
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Abalom quickly hustling the A.O. out of the melee.
  • We Need a Distraction: Parodied.
    Angel: We need you to distract the vampires.
    Buffy: Right.
    Xander: What are you going to do?
    Buffy: I'm going to kill them all. That oughta distract them.
  • Welcome to My World: Joyce empathizes with Hank, saying she hasn't been able to get through to Buffy for a long time.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Xander gives a bristling one to Buffy, including threatening to kill her if Willow is hurt because of Buffy's refusal to work with them.
    • Cordelia of all people gives one after witnessing Buffy's behavior at the Bronze.
  • Window Pain: A rock with a note attached.
  • You Are Too Late: Cordy's double taunts Buffy that her friends are probably dead already.

Prophecy GirlRecap/Buffy the Vampire SlayerSome Assembly Required

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