Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2


When She Was Bad

Some Assembly Required

School Hard

Inca Mummy Girl

Reptile Boy


Lie to Me

When She Was Bad

The Metaphysics of "When She Was Bad"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 5 BtVS/season 2 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

The revivification ritual: The gang figures out that the vampires of Sunnydale plan to bring the Master back to life using his bones. Giles discovers an inaccurate Latin translation of the ritual in his books. It implies that the vampires need the blood of someone connected to the Master. Later, Giles finds the original Sumerian, and discovers that what they need is the blood of the person or persons who were nearest to the Master when he died. In the actual ritual, the vampire Absalom hoists Willow, Giles, Cordelia, and Jenny up on a conveyor, hanging them upside down and unconscious above the Master's bones. Absalom kisses the blade, intending to slit the throats of the sacrifices so that their blood will drip on the Master's bones. Then he says,

(For another example of vampire revivification, see TSILA)

Psychic dream: Buffy has a dream in which Giles attacks her. In her struggle to free herself, she pulls a mask off him, revealing the Master's face. While this could merely represent her anxieties about the Master, the chance of his coming back to life is a very real threat.

Vampires and fire

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "When She Was Bad"

The Anointed One is now the master of the Order of Aurelius. The tiny heir is not much of a spokesman, though. Inspiring the troops therefore falls to the more eloquent Absalom. He tells them. "Within three days a New Hope will arise. We will put our faith in him. He will show us the way." It is unclear if he talking about Collin (the Anointed One), the Master, or someone else (perhaps the arrival of Spike?). But clearly both Collin and Absalom are working to restore both the Master and his plan to rule the Earth. They thus are an example of Evil-as-Order.

Buffy is back from L.A., but it's clear that there's a part of her that never left Sunnydale in the first place. As Giles points out, her death at the hands of the Master was a traumatic experience that she hasn't dealt with yet at a conscious level, and Buffy goes into full loner-hero mode in order to avoid her "Master" issues. She refuses her friends' help in saving Cordelia from the Annointed One's minions, and heads off to face them herself. But it is a lure to draw Buffy away so that the minions can kidnap her friends. When Buffy returns, Xander decides he can no longer step lightly around Buffy's bitca-y, standoffish attitude like he did when she teased him in the Bronze. He tells her she has to think about someone other than herself if she wants to save her friends. Later, Buffy gets a chance to work out her issues on the Annointed One's minions and salvage her friends--and friendships--in the process.

It won't be the first time Buffy gets in trouble by refusing help in deciding how she will respond to an invitation from the forces the darkness (e.g., Becoming, Fear Itself, Dirty Girls).


Some Assembly Required

The Metaphysics of "Some Assembly Required"

Reviving the dead: The gang figures out that Chris and Eric are trying to "make a girl from scraps". Chris has dismembered the corpses of three girls with careful incisions based on physiology texts (Grays' Anatomy, Morticians' Desk Reference, Robicheauxs' Guide to Muscles and Tendons) and intends to put them together in some new combination and bring the combination girl to life. Chris has already revived and stitched his brother Daryl back together.

He is obviously a brilliant high school student. But even if he is Doogie Howser, MD, his surgical equipment can't be the best. As Willow points out, Chris will not only have to stop the natural decay of the dead girl's body cells, but combine their body parts, and reanimate them. Normally this shouldn't be doable, but they live on the Hellmouth, where mystical energy can give physical forces an extra boost. An electrical current combined with an adrenaline boost might do it.

The idea of raising the dead appears in other episodes. It is clear from "Dead Man's Party" that Chris and Eric are not, strictly speaking, constructing a zombie. The combination girl had to be brought back to life, self-aware and self-sustaining, and as quickly after the death of the original girls as possible; she wouldn't have been dead if that had happened.

The birth of vampires

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Some Assembly Required"

Daryl is unable to deal with his less-than-beautiful state--his face is discolored and criss-crossed with stitches. He believes that his looks and vigor were the reason for his former glories, so he hides out in the basement, willing to forego any chance of regaining his former life (including revealing himself to his mother mourns up above, with no life but her sorrow). He makes his brother, who revived him, promise to provide him with companionship in his self-imposed isolation.

Eric seems to see women as objects--means to his own ends and desires. As he remarks when Chris has qualms over using a living girl, "Hell, it's just one lousy girl." He is less motivated by a desire to help Daryl than a desire to wield power over the dead girls. As Buffy says "He needs industrial strength therapy!"

Chris is codependent--he enables his brother's actions because of his own guilt over being the cause of Daryl's new life. But his guilt is misplaced. His decision to revive his brother is something any of us might do for someone we loved if we had it within our power, and it is not his fault that Daryl chooses not to rejoin the world. Chris seems to use Eric as his motivation for doing what his brother wants, but that requires that he go along with Eric's "combination-girl" plan for getting Daryl a mate. He is constantly riddled by indecision about whether to carry out Eric's evil plan because he is not motivated by evil.

The morally ambiguous Angel

Ethical Quandaries in "Some Assembly Required"

Chris Epps' choice: Chris faces an ethical dilemma--abduct an intact, living girl and mutilate her to get her head for his brother's Frankenstein girlfriend, or let his brother suffer in isolation. Chris sees this as murder, although it probably isn't. If who we are is essentially in our brains--our heads--the combination girl will be whomever the head belongs to (in this case it will be Cordelia, but with a new body), and she will not have been murdered.

Philosophies represented in "Some Assembly Required"

Why cut up three girls and put them into a new combination? Why not just reanimate one girl to be Daryl's mate? It would be a lot easier, and it is all that is necessary to satisfy Daryl's loneliness. There are two possibilities:

1. To make Daryl's "mate" more "beautiful". One reason, as Xander points out, is that creating a combination girl reflects (Eric's) desire to design a "dream" girl (what Giles calls "their masterpiece")-- to take the "best" of each and put them together. This implies that women need to answer to the standards of men, and that the "pre-made" women must be "corrected" to answer to these standards. Humans constantly change the natural world to meet their own needs and standards. Changing people, however--especially a class of people (such as women)--to meet the needs of other people, is another thing entirely. It's a practice as old as history, but that doesn't make it morally acceptable.

From a Kantian point of view, using other rational beings as means to one's own ends and not as ends in themselves (of value as human beings) is morally wrong. Buffy expresses this concern for the girls when she contemplates the combination girl walking around: "What could she be thinking?" Willow brings up the implications of treating the girls as mere means when she adds, "And what are they gonna do with her?"

The other reason is to make Daryl's "mate" uglier. A revived dead woman (even one injured in a car crash) would be willing and able to live her own life. They want a woman who will feel compelled to stay put in the world they've created for her, and so they give her, in effect, a disability, much like the Chinese tradition of foot-binding. As Daryl "And when you're finished you won't go out. You won't run away. But we can hide together." Again, turning a human being into a means to one's own ends.

School Hard



The Metaphysics of "School Hard"

Mystical nights: There are certain mystical nights in which vampires have greater than normal strength. The Harvest was one of these. The Anointed one rose from the ashes of the Five on the evening of the thousandth day after the Advent of Septus (sometime in April of 1997), The Night of St. Vigeous is another. On this night, vampires' "power" shall be at its peak--whatever strengths and abilities they already posses will be at their best--an ideal night to feast. For three nights prior, the vampires prepare by chanting themselves into a frenzy, so that they will be at their most predatory as well.

It is unclear whether the Night of St. Vigeous is a recurring event (like the Christmas holiday) or is a one-time event (like the actual birth of Christ). Giles and Jenny's mumbled conversation about calendars and calculations implies a one-time event prophesied by the powerful vampire St. Vigeous. This issue is important because if Spike just ruined a recurring vamp holiday, it is not as big an affront to the other vampires as if he ruined a one-time event.

Drusilla's psychic abilities: Drusilla "feels" the Anointed One's power at a distance. She also makes a less-than-successful attempt to "see" the slayer.

Spike's sire: Giles tells the gang that Spike is barely 200. Spike tells Angel, "You were my sire, man!" (he calls him this again in In The Dark). This would imply a 200-year old Angelus-bit William the Bloody.  But according to Joss:

Angel made Dru who made Spike. SIRE means you came from their line, not just that they made you (Jan 17 1998).

In FFL, we see Spike vamped by Dru in 1880, which means he can't be 200. In "The Initiative", Spike claims to be 126. This would make the date of his siring 1873. A continuity flub. The explanation?

I suck at math (joss, Oct 13 22:27 1998).

Regarding Giles' statement about Spike being nearly 200, the Watchers also have his whole background mixed up what with the William the Bloody and the railroad spike thing. I suspect that either Spike was spreading disinformation to augment his reputation, or that in the tradition of oral traditions, the fish got bigger with each telling (jengod, 19 Nov 2000 17:39).

Seems Spike learned to lie about his age from Angelus (gazoo, Nov 14 22:01 2000).

Evil in "School Hard"

The Anointed One

A1's power stemmed from his ability to control the other vampires by his use of ritual and his messianic promises of a brighter (darker?) future; Spike's strength came from his lack of respect for these same rituals. Like Buffy, Spike has broken the mold and is not bound by traditional values or constraints (aardwolfe, Jun 22 21:47 1998).

Moral Ambiguity in "School Hard"

Spike possesses obviously human traits that a creature of "pure evil" should not possess. This is a demon who knows about love (which Angelus without a soul is clueless about). He brings Drusilla to the Hellmouth to nurse her back to health, and is hurt when he realizes Angel, his "sire and yoda" has become a traitor to other vampires. More on Spike's impulsive ways

Spike and the slayer

Xander was not exactly pleased when Angel joked about letting Spike bite him as a test of whether Spike believed he was evil or not. But you have to give Xander credit for baring his neck in front of the souled vamp, whom he has never liked, or trusted.

Angel was trying to loll Spike into a false sense of security so he could take him out. He never would have allowed Xand to be bit. His comment at the end was just to ruffle the boys' feathers (Alex, Jun 9 12:18 1998).

The hermetically insensitive Cordelia

The repressive Snyder


Inca Mummy Girl
The Metaphysics of "Inca Mummy Girl"  

The mummy's curse: Five hundred years ago, the Incan people sacrificed their princess to the mountain god Sebancaya by burying her alive in a tomb. She is kept from moving by a curse on the seal buried with her (a plate with Incan hieroglyphics on it). Breaking the seal frees her.

Inca Mummy Girl was once human, now she's a mummified corpse. Although it was said that she was "buried alive for all eternity", she is, in fact, dead and has been for 500 years. In her natural state, she is a shriveled mummy--a state she can only reverse by draining energy out of the living with a kiss, mummifying them in the process. To continue to move about freely, she has to periodically find new victims.

The mummy has been on tour in museums around the country. A guard has accompanied her on her tour to insure that she doesn't awaken and escape. Somehow, the guard misses Rodney breaking the seal. Theoretically, the mummy could have escaped in any city on her tour if someone had broken the seal.

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Inca Mummy Girl"

Ampata: Through not-so-subtle comparisons between Ampata and Buffy's chosen-one and "not a normal girl" status, we come to sympathize with this young woman who must, let's face it, kill to live. Ampata seems to have a genuinely human need to live a normal life, and her evil is predatory and deceptive, but still human.

The hermetically insensitive Cordelia

Ethical Quandaries in "Inca Mummy Girl"

Killing monsters who used to be lovers

Xander is immediately taken with Ampata, and is surprised and delighted when she shows an interest in him, just for who he is (geeky and all!). He defends her from her bodyguard, is willing to tell her the truth about the Scooby gang, and is moved by her beauty at the dance. This is no random date for Xander. Ampata eventually tries to kill him, but stops herself; she wants to be with him. But when she attacks Willow, everything changes. Xander is willing to offer himself to Ampata to prevent her from killing Willow.

Is this an equivalent situation to Buffy's hesitancy in killing Angelus? While Xander's affection for Ampata does not come close to Buffy's love for Angel, the Ampata Xander loved was a killer, while Angelus the killer was not the Angel Buffy loved.


Reptile Boy

The Metaphysics of "Reptile Boy"

Machida, a huge snake-like demon, arises each year from his pit deep in the basement of a long-standing fraternity house in Sunnydale and consumes human flesh (in this case, young girls). He has human servants who provide him his meals in exchange for power, riches, and influence.

Ritual to join the fraternity: Taking pledges and oaths is a regular part of fraternity life, but most don't pledge themselves to a giant demon snake. A diamond symbol is carved into the pledge's (or member's) torso with the tip of a sword. It draws blood.

I pledge my life and my death to the Delta Zeta Kappas, and to Machida whom we serve. On my oath before my assembled brethren. I promise to keep our secret from this day until my death. In blood I was baptized. In blood I shall reign. In his name.

Ritual to feed Machida: Once a year, in a ceremony not unlike a mass, one fraternity brother praises and calls upon Machida while the others repeat his key phrases. Tom (who calls Machida) places the sword in Richard's (who is guarding the chained girls) arms. Richard hugs the sword to his chest, crossing his hands over his heart, then lowers the sword and rests the tip on the floor. Tom tosses the stones into the well at the center of the basement one at a time.

Good and Evil in "Reptile Boy"


Machida seems merely predatory in an albeit sexist kind of way. The real evil in "Reptile Boy" is the fraternity members. Their greed and thirst for power that is like a serial killers'. They smile and charm young women to their demise.

Is it just me, or did Buffy actually save herself and her fellow girls-in-chains with no help from her Cavalry friends upstairs? By the time they subdued the other frat members, Machida and his ring-leaders were defeated. Best line of the show: "Tom, you talk too much" *thud*.


The Metaphysics of "Halloween"

The ritual devotion to Chaos: Janus is a Roman god who represents, among other things, the dualities of human existence (much like the eastern yin and yang). These include the division of human nature into masculine and feminine, our propensity for both good and evil, etc. Ethan kneels before the statue of Janus, which has a woman's face on one side to the man's face on the other. He wounds his own hands, drawing blood which he dabs on his eyelids and forehead, and says:

The world that denies thee, thou inhabit. The peace that ignores thee, thou corrupt. Chaos. I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate son.

It is unclear whose power Ethan is invoking in this ritual. It is possible that the Roman God Janus is an actual demon, and Ethan is calling upon his/her powers. On the other hand, Ethan also states his devotion to "Chaos". Is this the state of chaos, or an entity named Chaos? It could be either in Joss's universe.

Spell to turn children into their costumes Ethan kneels before the statue of Janus again and

A wind sweeps through the city, transforming the children and teens who have costumes from Ethan's shop into the embodiment of whatever they were dressed as. It does not affect people with costumes from other places (e.g., Cordelia).The costumes therefore have some quality (a mystical power, or the mere fact that they belong to Ethan) that is an important part of the spell as a whole.

Breaking the Janus statue disrupts the spell. This implies that the presence of the statue was also vital in bringing about the spell in the first place.

The gang's costumes: Buffy dresses as an 18th century noble woman to attract an 18th century vampire, and ends up as a shallow, clingy damsel-in-distress. It also apparently dampened her strength. While it's possible that Buffy simply did not remember she had those abilities, Dru predicted, "it makes her weak." If Buffy did still have her powers, she might have pushed away Spike or pirateLarry and been surprised by how well it worked (this didn't happen). Willow is temporarily transformed into a ghost. She loses the power to effect physical objects and can in fact pass right through them. She finds a new confidence to take charge, however. Xander's transformation is perhaps the most significant of all, because his soldier abilities and knowledge will stay with him long after the army-guy persona is lifted.

Mental influence: One effect of Ethan's spell in Halloween was to make Xander, Buffy, and many of the children unaware of their real identities. Willow does not forget because she has been transformed into the ghost of herself. On some level, however, each did remember who they really were, but that part of their minds did not have control over their bodies. As Xander explained, "It's like I was there, but I couldn't get out." This is similar to his experience in The Pack.

When was Angel born? Willow, reading from a Watcher diary, says that Angel was still human in 1775, while in B1 he is shown being vamped in 1753. While this can simply be attributed to Joss's math-suckage, one can ask--why would a Watcher diary have any record of Angel's life prior to vamping anyway? Unless the Watchers found old documents on his human life, the apparent discontinuity error can be passed on to Willow misreading the diary. She does not realize that 1753 was when Angelus was born, not when mortal Liam was born.

Vampires and video tape

Good and Evil in "Halloween"

Ethan's chaotic evil

Xander-the-soldier has few problems taking orders from ghostWillow and has little patience for noblewomanBuffy's helpless female act.

I've seen numerous articles about how Buffy provides positive female role models (you could especially use the Halloween episode, where Buffy was turned into a "helpless" female but was chastized by Angel, who said he much preferred a woman with brains) for young girls (Closet Buffyholic, Jun 10 13:54 1998).

Angel's words are especially important because they come after Buffy's puzzling line, "I just wanted to be a real girl for once." Why should any one role or persona qualify as a "real" girl? SlayerBuffy is just as "girlie" as the 18th century lady.

Moral Ambiguity in "Halloween"

Spike's devotion to Drusilla is obvious in his endearments and tender treatment of Dru's frailty (see Spike's moral ambiguity). However, it starts to become clear in Halloween that Spike is attracted to Drusilla for her evil predatory power. He hates seeing her ill and unable to hunt. He spends time studying the Slayer so he can kill her, but also to let Dru have her run of "Sunnyhell".

Highlights of the Ripper

Lie to Me
The Metaphysics of "Lie to Me"

Angel believes that he is responsible for Drusilla's madness, and certainly Angelus was a key factor in driving the young woman over the edge. But Drusilla is neither frothing-at-the-mouth mad, nor is she simply an excitable psychotic. And she displays no genuine disdain for the vampire who aided and abetted her mental breakdown. The sort of insanity she displays has a very organic quality which isn't the insanity of psychological trauma alone. She seems locked into perceiving the world around her in limited, specific ways, with moments of lucidity that come and go.

One of the ways she perceives the world is through the lens of her psychic ability. When her visions are in full swing, she cannot communicate her thoughts, sensations, and feelings to others outside the language of this lens. Another way she perceives the world is through the lens of a child. Even after she recovers her vampire strength, she still allows others around her to treat her like a little girl only concerned with dolls and games. It is possible, therefore, that Angelus tipped the scales for a young woman who already had a propensity towards schitzophrenia.

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Lie to Me"

What Billy Fordham does is truly despicable, but his reasons are at least sympathetic. Ford offers to give Spike and Drusilla the slayer in exchange for being made into a vampire. He wants to be a vampire because it is either that or death in six months from a painful and debilitating cancer (Ford seems to realize on some level that the vampire with his body would not be him, but is at the point of desperation). He also uses the impressionable trust of the members of the vampire wanna-be cult in his plan. They think they will also be turned into vampires, but in actuality, they are part of Ford's offering to Spike.

The vampire wanna-be cult, as Ford explains, are sheep. Diego, Chantarelle and their friends believe in "friendly vampires" and imagine that becoming un-dead will counteract their loneliness and boredom. Angel insinuates that there have been such vampire wanna-bes before.

Spike: Drusilla turns the normally assertive Spike into a puppy dog. In Lie to Me, we see hints of Spike's jealousy of Angel(us) as he questions Drusilla about her meeting with Angel. When he gets irritated at her ignoring him and doting over a dead bird, Dru is hurt and he apologizes profusely. Spike leads the gang to chomp down on the vampire wanna-bes, and takes Chanterelle by the neck violently. But of course, Spike gives up a room full of easy kills to save his lady-love's un-life when Buffy threatens her.

Angel: There is no clearer example of the blurred distinction between Angel and Angelus than Angel's "confession" to Buffy in Lie to Me. After killing the mortal Drusilla's entire family and taunting her into madness, Angelus turned her into a vampire. Angel is understandably reluctant about sharing this story with Buffy, but was Angel responsible for Drusilla's fate?

Ethical Quandaries in "Lie to Me"

Let Buffy and the others die to gain a (dubious) immortality? Ford feels he doesn't have a choice, because he takes ending his own pain and saving his own life as a priority. As Buffy points out, he does have a choice, although its not a good one. He has chosen to be responsible for mass murder. In the end, she leaves Ford in the bomb shelter with the vampires. It was what he wanted, but...

Pictures are copyright © 1997-98 The WB Television Network.
Screen shots credits
Translations are by I. Meyers (Halloween) and Alexander Thompson
This page last modified 7/21/08

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