Written By: Marti Noxon
Directed By: David Semel
Broadcast Date: 24 November 1997
The introduction of a new Vampire Slayer brings some much needed bite to an episode that wastes several elements and feels like a prelude of what is to come, rather than the conclusion of a two-part story.
Last we left off, Spike (James Marsters), hunting for a cure to a constantly weakening Drusilla (Juliet Landau), searched for an artifact that will allow him to complete a ritual – one that required Angel (David Boreanaz). To finally rid the vampire population in Sunnydale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Spike sent bounty hunters from the Order of Taraka after her and her friends. With the assassins making their moves, Buffy faces off against a young woman who she mistakenly believes is one of them, but she reveals her identity in a particularly shocking moment.
“I am Kendra… the Vampire Slayer”.
Bianca Lawson as Kendra, the Vampire Slayer called after Buffy temporarily died in the final episode of last season (I’m glad that the writers didn’t forget that), brought some much needed zap to this episode. She is an exciting presence as she is the complete opposite of Buffy, without friends or family, shy in front of boys, very dedicated to her studies and treats being the Slayer as who she is rather than just as a job. When this final point is stated to Buffy at the close of the episode, I think that might be the moment that finally gets Buffy out of her funk, that is until other writers decide to drag her back. Kendra has a lot of potential as a character, so I really hope that viewers see her again for an extended stint and not killed off again as soon as she returns to the show.
Her presence elevates an episode which honestly feels a bit lacklustre for the second part of a story. Spike and Drusilla’s plan for the latter to gain her powers back involves her being strapped in a church to her sire (Angel), as the ritual takes the life force from him. Though nothing like this has taken place before, I am starting to have the same attitude towards Spike as I had towards The Master in Season 1, that is he appears as a major player too often in individual episodes, that his scheming is already becoming slightly tiresome. At no point either did I feel like Angel was in real danger of being killed off, which really reduces the dramatic tension. Drusilla did ultimately gain her full powers by the close of the episode, carrying a severely injured Spike out of the rubble of the church. I am looking forward to Drusilla becoming a big threat for Buffy, as she is far more unhinged, unpredictable and dangerous than her lover.
The so-called powerful members of the Order of Taraka were also a complete let down; the Mealworm Man was dispatched using glue and some pretty vigourous stamping from Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and Xander (Nicholas Brendon). I also knew nothing about the Tigress assassin except that she used both knives and guns, and could infiltrate the school dressed as a law enforcement officer, before she too was defeated by the Scooby Gang. Maybe this bounty hunter card should have been used by writers in a separate episode, as they were treated as common thugs, where they should have been a dangerous threat in their own right.
Two new couplings were made during the course of this two-parter and one of them definitely succeeds more than the other. Oz (Seth Green) finally meeting Willow (Alyson Hannigan) was cute, though I still wished that the writers actually gave them more time. He did take a bullet from the Tigress bounty hunter to protect Willow, so I guess writers got tired of the softly-softly development between the two. The scene at the end with him being adorably geeky and her laughing was incredibly cute; I am pleading with the writers at this point to get this developing relationship right, as Willow deserves this after her treatment by Xander for the past season, and I also hope that we can see Oz becoming more of a major player in the future.
Coming off less well was Cordelia and Xander, who finally broke the tension of arguing every five seconds by angrily kissing each other, twice. It’s not exactly a bad decision because they are complete opposites and they shouldn’t work, and made me chuckle when it occurred both times. The main issue I have is that this is played for laughs more than anything else, and though I am starting to warm to Cordelia’s sarcastic tones, it doesn’t really give her any additional layers. Likewise, Xander has potential as a character and this does nothing for that, but I guess it also means he will stop his pining after Buffy for five minutes. I am interested to see what will happen, even if it doesn’t excite me as Willow and Oz do.
Verdict: After a shocking reveal, the presence of Kendra the Vampire Slayer brings some much needed zip to this episode and may help Buffy’s attitude towards being the Slayer in the future. The developing relationship between Willow and Oz was also cute to see on screen. On the flip side, the narrative was a bit too predictable, and the so-called powerful bounty hunters were completely mistreated as common thugs. It wasn’t a bad episode but I did expect more after the strength of the first part.
Episode Rating: 6.5/10
The next episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer sees Buffy’s mother introduce her to the guy she has been seeing… but is he all that he seems? My review of Episode 11, “Ted”, will be published in a week’s time, on the 30th April.
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