Adapting a novel as esteemed in the horror universe as Frankenstein was going to be a tough task, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s version of it carried forward the same questions in morality, helped by a solid red herring and snappy dialogue from all of the regular cast.
This is the franchise’s first attempt at putting their stamp on one of the most well known horror characters in literary and cinematic history. The red herring thrown, that the pair who were creating a perfect female body by chopping up the parts of dead girls for their own benefit, was effectively teased. It therefore made it slightly surprising that the true purpose of the body was to give the elder brother of one of the students, who had died following a rock climbing incident. I should have spotted this from a mile off though when the deceased brother was even given a personal connection to Cordelia, thus putting her right in the firing line to become the new head to the body.
This was also one of the first episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I can remember that tries to introduce shades of grey into the antagonists, leading to it becoming a tragic tale of poor morals. This is where the episode draws more from its source material, with the living brother, living with a mother who has sunk into a depression to the point where she no longer acknowledges him next to his deceased star footballer brother, portrayed as a Frankenstein-esque figure. There is some strong acting on show with both of the brothers when interacting with each other and with the primary cast. The same cannot be said with the other student who was creating the body; he came across completely psychopathic and void of any real compassion of his own and the presence of this character did reduce the impact of the reasoning behind this unspeakable act.
Following on from the previous episode, the aftermath of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) messing with Angel’s (David Boreanaz) feelings by getting close to Xander (Nicholas Brendon) is focused on alongside the main narrative. It is clear that Angel cares deeply for Buffy, probably more than she cares for him, which made her decision last time out even more of a crappy mood. In the end, they reconcile and there is a sweet final line of Buffy offering to walk Angel home before the sun rises. Equally as sweet but also very funny is the blossoming relationship between Giles (Anthony Head) and Miss Calendar (Robia LaMorte). It really was amusing watching him attempt to deliver horrendously nervy and old-fashioned pick-up lines to an empty chair, made even better by his own reaction to how bad he is.
Generally the snappy dialogue is back on full show here, after the previous episode, which was far more emotional and moody. The Scooby gang are also being given another dimension by Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), who was far more involved in this episode in other ways other than being the damsel in distress, though she still managed to be kidnapped yet again. The way that she is able to twist the tension between Angel and Buffy in order to make the latter feel jealous is delightful and it was honestly a refreshing change to have her thank Xander for saving her life, even if it was just played for a laugh as she was interrupted very quickly.
Apart from Buffy’s relationship with Angel and the hint that new vampires are still rising from the grave, there hasn’t been that many recurring themes in the first two episodes. Next time promises a brand new vampire antagonist in the form of Spike, who I have heard brought a lot to the show in his tenure. I will see you all for my review of Episode 3, coming soon.