Okay, so now that we know the origin story of our beloved Buffy, we can dive into the series, where she became more…well, just more.The series started as a “monster of the week” type show, with parallels between monsters and demons and how high school really is. I’m gonna be honest: I didn’t like season one. It was really awful on the production side, but writing and performance are what saved the show in my opinion. The characters are what made the series so popular. In every group of friends, there’s a Xander, there’s a Willow, and as much as we hate it, there’s a Cordelia. We could all relate to each main character, even Giles, the constant voice of reason. Almost every girl wanted an Angel of her own, to some extent.
Clearly, Stephanie Meyer did, but she just got it all sorts of wrong. We can just forget that The Master was even a big bad, because that was just…awful. But! It set up a huge overall arc that comes into play throughout the entire vampireverse.
Season two is when it gets good. For me, at least. We’re introduced to Spike and Drusilla, a homicidal vampire couple. Oh, and Angel, Buffy’s vampire boyfriend, is the one who sired Dru. So there’s the whole “oh god can I trust you” element in their relationship for a little while. Then everything goes to hell. Pretty much literally. Buffy and Angel have sex, and we see why a bunch of Gypsies cursed him with a soul. Xander and Cordelia start dating, which no one really understood (I swear my opinion of Cordy changes). Willow starts learning magic and falls for Oz (my third favorite character ever). We see how the gift of being the Chosen One really does carry from one person to another. We have two Slayers, Buffy and Kendra. Except Kendra dies. And that sucks. The real dynamic part of season two was the relationship between Buffy, Angel, Spike, and Dru. The season finale marks the first time Spike
and Buffy work together. True, it was for their own separate reasons, but still. It sets that up for later seasons. And that’s exactly why I love Joss. The smallest thing in one season can lead up to something massive in later seasons.
Season three: the graduating class. We’re introduced to Faith Lehane, Kendra’s replacement. This sets up the theme of having multiple Slayers, and good lord does that become a big deal later. I personally love Faith. She’s good at her core, but she has such a strong need for love and acceptance that she does a lot of not-so-great things. That’s why she joins Mayor Wilkins, the big bad of the season. And we get Anya, my other favorite side character. Words cannot describe how much I love that vengeance demon. She’s essentially a child stuck in a very adult world, trying to learn how to be human again. The rest of the season is just full of angst. Yes, I know it’s graduation, but jeez guys, it’s only the apocalypse. Again. After the showdown with Mayor Snakeykins, Angel and Cordy disappear into spinoff land, aka: Los Angeles.
The Scooby Gang (well, some of them) head off to UC Sunnydale for their first year of college in season four. Season four isn’t my favorite, not until the end at least. Buffy starts dating Riley, a TA for her psychology class. He’s also part of this secret military organization called The Initiative. Or, as I like to call them, The Reason Everything Goes Wrong. The Initiative captures Spike and they put a chip in his head that causes excruciating pain if he hurts someone good. But if he hurts a demon, he’s fine. So he joins with the Scoobs and fights alongside them. Oz leaves Willow, so she falls in love with Tara, the most adorable witch ever on television. Xander and Anya become a thing, and it’s pretty precious. Oh, right, and the big bad? Adam, a demon-cyborg that The Initiative created to take over the world. Let’s be real, Adam wasn’t at all scary. It’s like Terminator all over again. The real scary part of season four? THE FREAKIN GENTLEMEN.
The Gentlemen appear in Hush, the episode that got Buffy its Emmy nomination for Best Writing. The best part? There are only 17 minutes of dialogue in the entire episode. It’s the single scariest episode of Buffy ever. And it’s easily one of my favorite episodes, too. You can expect a full blown look at Hush at some point.
This concludes part one of the Buffy/Angel retrospective. Part dos will probably be up tomorrow. Or something.