I know that this two-parter is not a fan favorite, but I will now admit I enjoy both episodes immensely. Part 1 sets the stage with the Order of Taraka assassins, Spike’s plot to heal Drusilla, Oz’s continued gradual introduction, a mysterious new Slayer, and Buffy’s deepening romance with Angel.
Most important, however, is Willow’s outfit:
This is quintessential Willow seasons 1-2 fashion that I cannot overlook. Yes, we’ll see more overalls, but not hard candy red ones with pink shoulder straps – and not paired with that startling striped shirt that buzzes with more pink & red plus fuzzy tangerine, teddy bear brown, and key lime pie green. That much plus Alyson Hannigan’s ginger hair causes my eyes to shimmy inside their sockets – and I love it.
Her ensemble this week is rather representative of the whole episode. You’ve got to take the whole thing in and accept it and love it – or not.
Spike ordering a hit on Buffy alone starts the ridiculousness rolling and I’m already lapping it up. The Order of Taraka! Assassins of the Underworld. We know there are three, and once again, BtVS misdirects us, this time by introducing Kendra, the Slayer activated by Buffy’s momentary death at the hands of The Master, at the same time as two others, the demon whose body is composed of thousands of squirming grubs (we don’t really get his M.O. until Part 2, though) and the WWF reject who steps off the bus to some of the more ominous scoring that the show has known. Of course we assume that the kickboxing stowaway on the plane is the third assassin, but that true identity remains unknown, though the hired gun is in plain sight.
I love being led on wild goose chases as long as there’s some accountability and sound logic afterwards, and here they’ve got it down: sure Kendra’s sneaking around – she’s on an unknown mission – and it makes complete sense that another Slayer would be activated at Buffy’s death. (What’s more, this serves as foreshadowing for the series finale in s7!)
In addition, Kendra’s spying at the ice rink reminds us of how potentially wrong Buffy’s relationship with Angel is. And as we’re painfully aware on this repeat viewing, much as the romance now blooms sweetly, the new girl’s got a point.
Yeah, I know. The accent.
I’m over it.
Yes, on my first viewing I was by turns stunned and perplexed, uncertain if Kendra spoke some crazy variety of Irish-Caribbean, mid-Atlantic dialect, but now I just don’t care. Bianca Lawson has a charm onscreen that I couldn’t get at the first time because I was so confused by her speech.
Actually, I think the character captures a certain segment of Caribbean kids who wind up in the U.S. – studious, traditional, and a bit hard-nosed. I credit the actress more than the writers for pulling this off. She may have flubbed with her accent, but not with her screen presence.
There, it’s out: I like Kendra. Yet another turn for my experience in viewing the series a second time.
I also like the Order of Taraka, professional bounty hunters/assassins. (How does Spike pay them anyway?) Dru sees the trio in her tarot cards, which have been selected well.
The Taraka assassin going incognito as a nebbishy door-to-door beauty product salesman (whose human form converts into thousands of repulsive larvae, we’ll soon learn) is one of my favorite villains so far!
Also, he reminds me of Charles Nelson Reilly.
Another sweet spot for the show: Buffy’s special ice skating date with Angel. She deserves a little respite from vampires and demons, gliding around peacefully and silently at the deserted rink. Of course, her rink romance is interrupted briefly by an attack, but she thwarts the assassination attempt by presumably slashing the hired killer’s throat using a swift kick with a skate blade as the point of contact. (I think the film Limitless stole this trick to end a good chase scene.)
Buffy even kisses Angel with his game face, which I find revolting, but then I’m supposed to – she’s in love!
The multiple cliffhangers, in which Buffy battles Kendra only to learn that she is also a Slayer, Cordy and Xander are left to the non-mercy of the Taraka Charles Nelson Reilly impersonator, and Angel awaits incineration by sunlight in the bar’s storeroom cage (not so unlike the library cage!) all tantalize to keep me hyper-baited for next week. Or until two minutes is up, as the case is with streaming. Yeah, but this is only the second time I’ve allowed myself back-to-backs since I started the re-watch. The other was with Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest. I get special permission for official two-parters.