“For a hundred years I offered ugly death to everyone I met, and I did it with a song in my heart.”
All is not well in Sunnydale, if you’re the Master. You’re still stuck underground after that botched Harvest thing, your face is permanently bumptastic, your best remaining henchmen is a petulant blonde with a habit of dressing like a naught schoolgirl (which is so last decade), and that pesky Slayer keeps thrashing your army. You’re supposed to be this big-deal vampire bigshot and you’re constantly getting bested by a fifteen year old girl. At least you’re past the age where you need to assume it’s an insult on your manhood (coughXandercough). We get a little glimpse into the Master’s hideout as this episode opens, where his only company is Darla and the Annointed One. Darla offers to take out Buffy even though the Slayer has been carving a swath through the vampiric community and Darla cut and run the last time they came up against each other. But there’s no need for Darla’s offer; the Master has a plan.
There’s always a plan. Just often they’re not good ones.
As we cut away to check in on the Scoobies, I find myself really struck by the close ups of Buffy and Willow. SMG was 19 when Buffy started filming in 1997and AH was 23, yet they both looked convincingly teenager-ish. And part of it was the softness in their faces ““ there was still some puffiness in their cheeks, their jawlines didn’t look sharp enough to cut glass, their collarbones weren’t deadly weapons. As the series progresses, the actresses (with the exception of Tara) get smaller and tighter, their hair gets blonder (or redder, in Willow’s case) ““ they seem to move farther away from girls you might know and become more Actress! looking. It’s a curious thing to look back on. The tiny, tight, well cut look is a staple these days. It’s just the accepted and expected look to see on screen, but it wasn’t always like that. This change didn’t spontaneously happen in the late 90s ““ it had been going on for years, this streamlining of women’s bodies, yet its striking to see it play out over the course of one show. Especially a feminist show. And let’s make no bones about it, Buffy is a feminist television show.
Let’s get back to the episode. Continue reading