“How Can we make her life hell this week?”

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That’s the question I figured the writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were asking themselves during the second season. It started with the episode “Surprise,” where Spike and Drusilla began reassembling the Judge, an ancient demon who can vaporize a person without even touching them. Barely escaping with their lives, Buffy and Angel return to his apartment where they round third and cross home plate, so to speak. Buffy finds out in the next episode that this action gave Angel a moment of pure happiness that removed the gypsy curse, removed his soul and turned him back into the terror he had been for centuries, with a special vendetta against her for how she made him feel.

This, of course, has ramifications beyond her personal life, as the good guys have lost one of their most powerful soldiers to the enemy. (Imagine if Big Papi had switch from the Red Sox to the Yankees for a comparable switch from good to evil.)

They manage to defeat the Judge, through judicious use of a grenade launcher stolen from the military, but still face the combined threat of Spike, Angel and Drusilla.

Through the rest of the season, Buffy faces continued attempts to harass her by Angel, leaving notes and drawings by her loved ones to show that he can kill them at any time. This terrorism culminates in the murder of Jenny Calendar, a teacher at Buffy’s school and sometime romantic partner of Giles’, Buffy’s mentor (called a Watcher on the show).

Angel finally switches tactics in the two-part season finale when the demon Acathla (variously called “Alfalfa” and “Al Franken” by Buffy, who’s not that good with names) is unearthed by a construction crew. This demon, when awoken, will suck the Earth into a Hell dimension. Buffy figures out Angel’s plan but again faces setbacks when her friends are attacked by vampires working on Angel’s behalf, killing Kendra, the other vampire slayer, kidnapping Giles, putting Willow into a coma an breaking Xander’s wrist. She then is arrested by the police for the crime when she is caught kneeling over Kendra’s body and the school principal (who “never got a single date in high school”) identified her as the likely suspect, likely out of spite since he knows she didn’t do it. She escapes from the police and becomes a fugitive. Meanwhile, her mother finds out about her secret life as a Slayer and tries to stop her from going to battle Angel and saving the world. When Buffy continues to try to leave, knowing her responsibility, her mother tells her that if she leaves, she’s never to come back.

Angel manages to awake Acathla, by using his own blood as part of the ritual, opening a portal to the Hell dimension. This means the only way to close the portal is by sending Angel through the portal. Buffy is losing the sword fight she and Angel are engaging in (with some very stunt doubles standing in for them), but suddenly just as Angel tries to kill her makes a comeback.

She is just about to run him through with the sword, and sending him into hell and saving the world, when Angel’s soul is restored. (Unknown to Buffy, Willow was attempting the spell to restore the soul after regaining consciousness. Xander had been send to tell her, but didn’t pass on the message.) So, while engaging in a tearful moment with the re-ensouled Angel, she notices the portal expanding. She asks Angel to close his eyes, kisses him and then runs her sword through his gut, banishing the man she loves to an unspeakable hell dimension, but saving the world.

Having lost her soulmate and being kicked out of her house, Buffy runs away from home, leaving her mom a goodbye note while her friends ponder what might have happened and when they’ll see her again, as Sarah MacLachlin’s “Full of Grace” plays, a song I have loved ever since.

It was during the climactic swordfight between Angel and Buffy in the season finale that I created and instituted my “No Phone Calls During Buffy” policy. (My phone rang, I knew who it was, and decided he could call back.) It was this run of episodes that really hooked me on Buffy, to the point that I stuck with the show during the decline years and the God-awful Season 6. (Season 6 was so bad, that I revoked the no phone call policy.)

I’m convinced that Seasons 2 and 3 of Buffy were some of the best TV ever created. Season 2 was a little more inconsistent, more peaks, but also more valleys, while Season 3 was more consistently good. (Season 3 didn’t have anything nearly as bad as the episode with Buffy in the hospital from Season 2.)

What prompted all this was seeing the two-part finale on FX this past weekend. I flipped on the TV and caught the last half of the first part Saturday morning. That reminded me that the second part would be on Sunday morning! So I made sure I was up in time and had breakfast and said morning prayer in time to catch. Other than annoyance when I noticed some cut scenes, I loved it. (The big one I noticed was they cut the conversation where Spike and Buffy’s mom were talking in the living room about where Spike lived.)

Buffy was a great show, and I do kind of miss it. It was funny finding out all my various friends who were closet Buffy fans. When I was vice-chairman of the Wilmington Republican Committee, it was kind of understood that our executive committee meetings couldn’t begin until the treasurer and I had had our Buffy conversation. Another member of that committee who mocked me endlessly about liking the show later borrowed the DVDs from me so he could see all the episodes. (Although, he forgot he borrowed Season 6 from me and had it for months

If you get the chance, check the show out, you’ll enjoy it. (But avoid Season 6.)

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