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Good. ‘Cause I’ve had it. Spike is going down. You can attack me, you can send assassins after me . . . that’s just fine. But nobody messes with my boyfriend.

My friends, before we get into this week’s recap, we need to talk about Kendra.

 

There have been very few POC on the show up to this point ““ so few I believe that I can literally name them on one hand ““ there was a black musician student and a black English teacher in the episode “Out of Mind, Out of Sight.” There are occasional glimpses of Whitney from Bring It On as one of the popular girls in Cordelia’s clique. There’s an Asian woman in Spike’s vampire gang. And”¦ that’s it. Until Kendra shows up. I get that everything about Kendra is supposed to present itself in contrast to Buffy ““ she’s the single-minded, isolated Slayer. She’s supposed to represent what Buffy was meant to be, if Buffy weren’t so damn determined to have her own life. So the show went the shortcut route by literally making her everything Buffy was not ““ black, scholarly, traditional, respectful, narrow-minded, and non-American. It’s a decision that is almost palpable in this isolated context ““ almost, because I just can’t quite give the creators a pass on the blatant exoticism going on here —  that becomes increasingly problematic as the show goes on and we’re introduced to the two other prominent non-white Slayers. The First Slayer is a primeval hunter out of ancient Africa who shows up to represent both the source of Buffy’s power and the horror of what the Slayers really are. And there’s Nikki, the 1970s Slayer who is introduced in full Blacksploitation mode and whose jacket (hide) Spike wears throughout much of the series.

The discussion of race in the Buffyverse deserves its own post and will get one, but I can’t let this episode pass without mentioning how damning the treatment of race on the show seems to be. The creators obviously try to address this in season 7, where we see Slayers of all nationalities being called to power, most of whom are treated like average kids, as well as the introduction of Principal Wood. All of which is nice, but what about the prior six years?

We’ll revisit this topic again soon. In the meantime, I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this issue.

We pick up in the middle of the Slayer stand-off.  Kendra has just declared she’s the Slayer. Buffy pushes for a truce claiming she’s the Slayer ““ and we know she is, because her name is in the title ““ until Kendra agrees to it. They immediately go visit Giles.

Kendra passes the smell test ““ she has a Watcher who Giles knows but not personally, she knows all the secret passwords, and she certainly believes she is who she says she is. Buffy passive-aggressively tries to defend the very turf she’s constantly bitching and moaning about with little asides. Until Giles points out that there couldn’t be a new Slayer unless the previous one had died.

Giles: Good Lord. You were dead, Buffy.
Buffy: I was only gone for a minute.
Giles: Clearly it doesn’t matter how long you were gone. You were physically dead, thus causing the activation of the– the next slayer.
Kendra: She died?
Buffy: Just a little.

No one seems to be looking on the upside of this new two-Slayer universe. It’s all downside and “this can’t be” and “woe is me, I died.” They’re not seeing the opportunities here! And neither does the Watcher Council.

Let’s be honest ““ the Watchers don’t seem like an entirely ethical organization. What was stopping them from creating their own army of Slayers? If they figure out that it’s the technical death (as opposed to the kind of death where you don’t get up from) that calls a new Slayer, why weren’t they killing and reviving Slayers left and right? They hardly seem to care about the actual Slayer, herself, since they just get a new one if things go wrong  – so this is a total missed opportunity on their part.

And for that matter, what’s with the shoddy record keeping? No one noticed another Slayer had been called except for her personal watcher? Did he not bother to report this to his higher-ups in the organization? Did his memo get held up in the steno pool? Why do I have so many questions?!

The Watcher Council is really a woefully undeveloped bit of the show universe.

Kendra reveals that she attacked Buffy because she assumed Buffy was a vampire. That’s because she saw Buffy kissing a vampire, which Willow angrily interjects Buffy would never do. Oh, except with Angel. Who is no longer Angelus, because he got himself a gypsy curse. Kendra lets it slip that she had run into Angel as well. The two Slayers take off to go rescue Angel from the rising sun.

Willie got there first, dragging Angel out of the barroom cage and into the sewers, where he sells our vampire to Spike. Angel is the key to the ritual that will restore Dru’s health.

 

This man is made of bugs.

Back at the Summers homestead, Cordelia is pawing through the wares of the world’s most uncharismatic cosmetic salesman. She’s supposed to be helping Xander look for Buffy ““ none of this would have worked in a world where cell phones were commonplace ““ and instead let one of the assassins into the house in exchange for a good deal on lipstick. The joke’s on her though, because the assassin melts into an aggressively evil pile of worms. Cordelia and Xander flee to the basement and protect themselves with a roll of duct tape.

 

All of this sounds really silly when you type it out.

But stick with me, because here’s the important part. During a bout of fast-paced, ’30s-style verbal sparring, Cordy and Xander suddenly kiss passionately to the swelling sounds of a romantic score. Cordy and Xander are on!

Then they decide to take their chances with the bug man to avoid doing it again. They flee the apparently empty house and get showered with a fall of worms, which is easily washed away with a garden hose. Ultimately, I’m unsure how a mealworms monster would kill you. Do they crawl into your ears and eat your brains? Do you get so freaked out trying to avoid the mass that you stumble into traffic and get by a car? Why does this episode have so many unanswered questions?!

After the gang confirms in the library, things move pretty quickly. The bug assassin is identified. Kendra’s watcher wants her to stay until Spike is taken care of. Buffy learns there’s a Slayer Handbook that Giles never gave her because he knew she needed a different approach to her destiny. Oz flirts with Willow (in the hallway, not in the library). And then, at career day, the last assassin is revealed as the redheaded police officer, who goes gun happy once she’d determined which high school kid Buffy is. Oz gets shot in the confusion and the assassin gets away.

Meanwhile, back at the lair, Spike has turned Angel over to Dru to amuse herself with as they wait for the moon to rise. Angel’s horrible torture of Drusilla and the slaughter of her human family had been revealed in an earlier episode. Now, with him at her mercy, she delights in reminding him what a monster he was.

Drusilla: My mother ate lemons. She said she loved the way they made her mouth tingle. Raw. Little Anne – her favorite was custard . . . Brandied pears . . .

Angel: Dru-

Drusilla: Shhhhhh. And pomegranates. They used to make her face and fingers all red. Remember little fingers? Little hands? Do you?

Angel: If I could- I-

Drusilla: Bite your tongue . . . They used to eat. Cake. And eggs. And honey. Until you came and ripped their throats out.

 

I have to ask if either of you girls has considered modeling. I got a friend with a camera, strictly high class nude work - art photographs, but naked.

The Slayers are waiting too. There’s tension between them ““ Kendra is Buffy’s replacement. As much as our girl says she doesn’t want to be the Chosen One, the idea of not being the Chosen One isn’t as great as she first thought. But they bicker about fighting styles instead ““ Kendra is technically proficient, but Buffy fights with passion, and she thinks that gives her an edge. It’s not just her passion though ““ Buffy is flexible, mentally, seeing opportunities and possibilities that the other Slayer misses. When the two go to hit up Willie for information again, Kendra can only think to beat the information out of him, because that’s what she does. She’s a weapon. She fights.  Buffy isn’t opposed to a little arm twisting, but she knows she can’t get information out of an unconscious man.

 

When Willie “volunteers” to take the Slayers to the church Spike is doing the ritual in, the girls are at each other’s throats again. Kendra wants to report back to her Watcher because that’s what she’s supposed to do ““ take information to her minder and get her marching orders like a good little soldier. Buffy doesn’t want to waste any time.

Buffy: I don’t take orders. I do things my way.

Kendra: No wonder you died.

They split up. Buffy crashes Spike’s party in time to see the ritual already begun, Dru and Angel pinned together with a knife through their hands while Angel’s energy gets transferred to his “child.” Their fight has hardly gotten going before Kendra shows up ““ two slayers, no waiting!

Its all mostly academic from here. Of course our girls beat the snot out of Spike and his crew of miscreants. Cordelia and Xander kill off the buggy assassin with the help of glue and tennis shoes. Willow stakes a vamp and Willie the snitch gets away. Buffy is able to free Angel before the ritual completes and stops Spike from fleeing with a well placed censer to the back of the skull. The old church starts to collapse around them, burying Dru and Spike under burning timber while the Scooby Gang escapes.

In the end, Buffy puts Kendra on a plane back to Jamaica. The two have come to an understanding, if not exactly a friendship.

The monkey is the only cookie animal that gets to wear clothes, you know that? You have the sweetest smile I've ever seen.

Oz and Willow walk down the hallway together, discussing the sartorial choices of animal crackers.

 

Dru digs Spike from under the rubble of the burned church and carries him out, in a neat reversal of their relationship. The ritual worked just swell.

Bonus Content: Eleanor Roosevelt on “What’s My Line.”

 

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