Words cannot express how I feel about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show). It wasn’t just a TV show, but a message, a way of life, and before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, I know fact from fantasy and the actors/actresses from the characters they played. But everything about the show was magic to me. The writing, the acting, those “oh my God!” moments, and well, I don’t intend to gush about the show in this post, particularly since I have already done that in (My Top Six Reasons Why Buffy The Vampire Slayer Was The Best Show Ever Created). But every great story has a beginning and this is Buffy’s… (By the way, yes there will be spoilers or the first three seasons.)
“Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.”
This was the story of the slayer, at least until it was Buffy’s turn to fill those sleek, fashionable shoes. Buffy broke all of the rules from the very beginning, and I think that is where the magic began, not with the prophecy of the slayer, and how one girl, not one boy or one person, was destined to save the world from terrible monsters. (Though the prophecy also, how cool is that?) Buffy was different from past slayers because she had family and friends. She was like Cher from “Clueless” meets Lara Croft. She did things her way, and when she wanted to. Like if she wanted go out with a hot guy, but a prophecy foretold the coming of some evil thing, her response would be: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.” (Never Kill A Boy On The First Date Buffy Episode 1:5). Much to the chagrin of her Watcher, Rupert Giles, Buffy may have listened (sometimes), but she only did what she was going to do anyway. She was a natural born leader, and the reluctant hero, and while dealing with typical teenage problems, she was also in love with a 244-year-old vampire, who was cursed with a soul. Talk about intrigue!
And then Buffy died. At the end of the very first season, Buffy faced off with a big baddy vamp, known as the Master. The prophecy was clear, if Buffy faced him she would die. But after the friends of her two besties were killed, Buffy realized she had no choice. She was only sixteen, but this was her destiny.
Buffy: You’re still not going up against the Master. [Buffy telling Giles he isn’t going to take on the Master in her place, she’s going.]
Giles: I’ve made up my mind.
Buffy: So have I.
Giles: I made up my mine first! I’m older and wiser than you, and just… just do what you’re told for once! Alright?
Buffy: That’s not how it goes. I’m the Slayer.
Giles: I don’t care what the books say. I defy prophecy, and I am going. There’s nothing you can say will change my mind.
Buffy: I know… [Buffy punches Giles in the face, knocking him out] When he wakes up tell him… I don’t know. Think of something cool, tell him I said it.
Ms. Calendar: You fight the Master, and you’ll die.
Buffy: Maybe. Maybe I’ll take him with me. (Prophecy Girl, Episode 1:12)
And Buffy did die, the Master drank her blood and drowned her, but her best friend Xander found her, and revived her. She was technically dead, for a few minutes anyway but those minutes counted, and would change everything… Buffy faced the Master again and sent him packing, straight to hell.
Master: You’re dead!
Buffy: I may be dead, but I’m still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you.
Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written. (Prophecy Girl, Episode 1:12)
Buffy wasn’t all witty remarks, however, she was a real girl, and while she was incredibly powerful she had real fears, from death to keeping her vampire lover’s interest. Of course the following year was all about tests. Buffy dealt with dying the year before and trying to navigate a love as forbidden as it comes, a vampire slayer in love with a vampire, cursed with a soul. (And this was before “Twilight” and all the vampire hype – ahead of its time. 🙂 ) And then her death, or what it caused, came back to kick Buffy in the face…
Buffy: Okay, one more time. You’re the who?!
Kendra: I’m de Slayer.
Buffy: Nice cover story. But here’s a tip: you might wanna try it on someone who’s not the real Slayer.
Kendra: Ya can’t stop me! Even if ya kill me, anodder Slayer will be sent to take me place.
Buffy: Could you stop with the Slayer thing? I’m the damn Slayer!
Kendra: Nonsense! Dere is but one, and I am she.
Buffy: Okay, a scenario. You back off, I’ll back off, but you promise not to go all wiggy until we can go to my Watcher and figure this out.
Buffy: You know. No kick-o, no fight-o? (What’s My Line? Part 2, Episode 2:11)
Yes, a second slayer was called forth, because apparently to activate the next slayer, one didn’t need to stay dead very long, physical death simply had to occur. And then Angel, Buffy’s vampire lover, lost his soul, after experiencing perfect happiness with Buffy. Imagine what it would be like to be completely in love with someone to being the cause of that person turning into a psychotic killer. And he really was psycho. He stalked Buffy and her friends, killed their pets, left them pictures – he was the ultimate creeper. And then he got ambitious and decided to wake up a demon who could suck the world into hell. The only way to stop him was to kill him and send him off to hell instead. Talk about deep, and Buffy was only seventeen at this point. Buffy’s mother also had to come out of her special place called: major denial. As Buffy is about to head out to save the world, and kill her boyfriend, she and her mom have a stand-off and one of my favorite moments in Buffy history takes place.
Buffy: I told you. I’m a Vampire Slayer.
Joyce: Well, I just don’t accept that!
Buffy: Open your eyes, Mom. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven’t figured it out?
Joyce: Well, it stops now!
Buffy: No, it doesn’t stop! It never stops! Do-do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or… God, even studying! But I have to save the world… again. (Becoming Part 2 Episode 2:22)
And then one of the most empowering statements (and defining for our heroine) takes place when Angel has the upper hand in their big battle:
Angel: Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends… No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?
Buffy: Me. (Becoming Part 2 Episode 2:22)
Such a simple statement, and yet it says more than anything else in the past two statements combined. And of course Buffy wins, and sticks a sword in Angel’s heart, closing the gateway that would suck the world into hell. But this is a tragic tale, so to make killing her boyfriend sting a little bit more, seconds before Buffy finished Angel off, he was reensouled. Yes, he got his soul back. And he didn’t remember a thing, but it was too late. The portal had been opened. So Buffy told him to close his eyes, told him she loved him, kissed him, and then killed him.
Such a traumatic thing was even too much for Buffy, and she ran off, changing her name and hoping to start over. Of course, trouble finds a slayer in hiding, no matter what she does. Buffy returns to Sunnydale, and it’s awhile before she tells anyone what happened that night, but somehow Angel returns from hell, and when Buffy finds him he has spent thousands of years suffering torment in whatever hell dimension he was in. So Angel isn’t Angel anymore. At the end of the last season, Kendra the second slayer was killed, and so a new slayer, having been activated by Kendra’s death comes to town. Her name is Faith and she’s a wild child. The season also introduced a new watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, because the Watcher’s Council thought Giles was too attached to Buffy, you know he thought of her as a person. We learn that the people in charge of the slayers are not all they’re cracked up to be, and Giles was one of the good ones.
But season 3 is mostly all about limits. That’s why Faith was a great dynamic for the Buffyverse, we got to see what happens when a slayer is seduced by the dark side. Power, money and adrenaline can all be pretty intoxicating. By the end of the season we also got to see just how far Buffy would go to protect the man she loves, which coincidentally was the same man she killed and sent to hell just a year before. When Faith goes all homicidal and almost kills Willow, Xander and other innocents on occasion, Buffy knows a showdown has to happen. But is isn’t until Faith poisons Angel that Buffy is set on finishing it. Because the only cure to the mystical poison is the blood of a Slayer…
But after Buffy won, she could not bring herself to kill Faith, because she was a true hero. And Wesley and the Council refuse to help because soul or no soul, Angel is a vampire. And that’s when Buffy gets it. She’ll always be the slayer, but being the slayer doesn’t mean she has to follow orders from a bunch of stuffy men in England.
Wesley: “The Council’s orders are to concentrate on …”
Buffy: “Orders? I don’t think I’m gonna be taking any more orders. Not from you, not from them.”
Wesley: “You can’t turn your back on the Council.”
Buffy: “They’re in England. I don’t think they can tell which way my back is facing.”
Wesley: “Giles, talk to her.”
Giles: “I’ve nothing to say right now.”
Buffy: “Wesley, go back to your Council and tell them, until the next Slayer comes along, they can close up shop. I’m not working for them anymore.”
Wesley: “Don’t you see what’s happening? Faith poisoned Angel to distract you, to keep you out of the Mayor’s way, and it’s working. You need a strategy.”
Buffy: “I have a strategy. You’re not in it.”
Wesley: “This is mutiny.”
Buffy: “I like to think of it as graduation.”
And it was. Buffy graduated. She and her friends survived high school on the Hellmouth, but her journey was far from over because everyone knows that life after high school is just a wee bit more complicated, as hard as that may be to believe. 😛 So make sure you check out the continuing story of the Slayer this Thursday: Buffy – The College Years! 😉
Buffy: “Strong is fighting! It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day.” (Amends, Episode 3:10)
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