My season 2 rewatch is in progress

I'm about to rewatch "Passion", and attempting to work myself up to it. That is the episode that turned me into a raving fan, but it's painful. Here's a quick rundown of mid-season reactions.

The character flaws that will lure Buffy into her disastrous decisions in "Becoming" are on display in the very first episode.
We're also told, clearly and repeatedly, that Angel is dangerous.
This is the season of Giles. He gets more character development than he ever will again, and a serious (and heartbreaking) arc.
His relationship with Jenny, if allowed to continue: many thoughts in my head about this, which will probably be expressed in the form of story. He's twice shown making it clear to all that his loyalty is to Buffy, no matter how painful it is for him personally.
Xander annoys me.
Willow delights me.
This reaction will flip soon, and I'll be entirely out of sympathy with Willow by the time Oz leaves. From S4 on, Xander will be my favorite non-Giles Scooby.
Speaking of Oz-- he's a bit of a Mary Sue, but it's okay because I like him.
This is the season when I like Spike. And root for him, even though he's evil.
Angel is much more interesting evil than ensouled. He's smarter, too.
I could do with 50% less Cordelia.
The entire series needed far more Ethan Rayne than it got, because he's hugely interesting and fun. All of his episodes are stand-outs.

What do you make of Buffy season 2?
  • Current Music: Water from a vine leaf : William Orbit : Strange Cargo 3
I agree about Ethan Rayne, there should have been more of him generally. If only he'd appeared to relieve the boredom in the final two seasons.

And, B/G shipper though I am, I wish they'd made him and Giles lovers, however briefly, instead of just going for heavy hints. It would've been much more interesting than Willow's 'I'm at college and exploring my boundaries' thing.
Ethan represents Giles's backstory for me. I want a little more of it canonically. I realize that part of the fun of Giles is that most of him is left available for us to invent, but maybe a touch more?

The last two seasons. Sigh. I still haven't watched most of S7. Terrible confession, I know. I read scripts and couldn't bring myself to watch.

I loved Tara, and was happy to have the opportunity to meet that character. Willow's two lovers were such neat people. Willow herself, after a while, was too much for me to take. That much power is boring, and the "magic == drugs exactly" storyline was tedious.

I should rewatch Passion as well. It's been awhile because, as you say, ouch.

My favorite Spike moment ever is in Becoming pt 2, I think, when he says, watching Angel and Buffy battle it out, "My God, he's going to kill her. Oh well" and just leaves.

Giles and Jenny were always doomed. I'm sad they never gave him anyone else (Olivia notwithstanding). An explicit relationship with Ethan would have been good, but likely not have appealed to the young target audience as much as Willow and Tara's arc (and I do love Tara).
I agree on the doom-- it might even explode messily instead of ending sort of quietly (as in Rari Coss's "Friends and Lovers"). I got a story here. Will be telling it.
The m/m thing is more "edgy" for television than f/f. Insert standard cynical explanations about why.
Another sheep reporting in.
Ya, pretty much what they said. I'm thinkin its time to rewatch th whole series. & Robin Sachs insists he was in 'every episode of Buffy. They cut me out!' Heh, don't we wish!
Re: Another sheep reporting in.
That much Ethan would have been too much Ethan. But I would love the opportunity to find out so I could complain.
I love Oz, in all the seasons. He was just underused.

Spike is great in this season. I agree, the best season for him.

Yes, more Ethan needed, for the entire series. I wish we'd had more of him in the later years.

Other than that, season 2 is a okay season, leading to the best season of Buffy, season 3.
He was wonderfully bitchy in "The Yoko Factor" as well. Evil!Spike is my favorite Spike. And I love him with Dru. Mmmm, crazy Dru!
Ok, your fault ")!
I´am, re-watching Buffy, onesmore ")!

And? I like Oz... *smirk*
It is always fascinating to hear other people's views, especially when they are all but diametrically opposed to my own. :-)

I would definitely agree that Season 2 (and Season 3) are the best plotted and best paced of the series, and Giles' arc (and for me, characterization) begins here.
Only Buffy gets much time in S1, I think, beyond basic character introductions. I love seasons 2 & 3 best for their stories, though there are aspects of later seasons I also adore. The Mayor storyline, in particular, continues to satisfy.
S2 is easily my favorite of all the seasons, for a lot of the reasons you mention. S1 was sort of feeling around the mythos and the characters. In S2, they all got to develop and really stood out as fully rendered.

What makes you call Oz a Mary Sue? Other than the frequent changes of hair color. lol
Oz. Understand that this complaint doesn't have teeth in it, and I don't want them to have handled Oz differently. But:
- He handles becoming a werewolf so well.
- He balances his own needs with Willow and her muddled motives perfectly, declining her request to make out gracefully. Far beyond the emotional skills of any teenager I knew.
- He's in the band!
Oz, too cool for his shoes.
I've never considered Oz a Mary Sue. How much of that was the writing and how much Seth Green's acting, I've never sat down to consider. All I know is when he said "Freeze frame. Willow kissage." it just sounds like the most delectable possible thing and gives me a happy shiver.

S2 Spike rocked my world, and Dru...well, by the end of the two series', she was the only vampire I still loved and feared. Spike and Dru were the perfect villians of the Buffverse. I think the thing that killed Spike as a character for me was the insistance on using him far more than he should have been in later seasons, which meant the character had to change...which made him no fun anymore. As much as I adore Ethan, I'm very glad they never did that to him. I honestly think if they'd used him much more, they would have had to defang him and make him annoying, too. I like my Ethan dangerous and smoothly evil, just as I like my Spike out for random mayhem and blood.

I hate to say it, but Ethan mooning after Giles would have been just as pukeworthy in my book as Spike mooning after Buffy was.

And what is it about a soul in Joss' world that leads directly to idiocy? We saw it with Angel, Spike's case it didn't actually make any difference in his behavior, so he can't have had much of a soul, can he? But he did seem to get stupider, though not as violently so as Angel did. So I guess the stronger the soul, the dumber it makes you...which has some interesting connotations for Brainy Willow and Dawn the Amazing Brain of S7 vs Dawn the whiny child of S5&6.

I may have just plotbunnied myself with extra crack on top.
Woah, thought-provoking response! I agree with you that a defanged, mooning Ethan would have been unsatisfying. Please, lord, no, don't make the character into milquetoast. Or warp the show into being about Fonzie/Spike/uninteresting formerly-cool bit character, because we saw how sad that was. But! A snarking troublemaking Ethan, more of the backstory for Giles that he provides, appearing in maybe 3 eps a season: that would have been glorious.

Oz is just too perfect. I love him too much. He needs a downside, and I don't mean an external one like "3 nights a month is a werewolf". Because he handled that news a little too well, you know? I am fond of him, though, and am not complaining for real, just kinda musing about his perfection.
Agree with you on all items. More Ethan would have been very nice. I remember craving more background on Giles and really wanted Ethan to come back even more dangerous. I always thought there would be a Ethan/Giles showdown and thought that would do those characters justice. While I love the concept of Giles/Ethan in fanfic, I think leaving it to the audience imagination worked very well and also made for funny Cordy moments in the show *Giles pulling Ethan to his feet in the library and Cordy's reaction*. Spike was excellent then. I loved him and Dru and rooted for them through the entire season. Angelus came between them which made him all the more a big bad which worked very well. I loved Oz and did see him as the a character to play a mary sue for the audience. But he certainly came into his own in season 3. Season 2 stands out as a brilliant angst-fest which I adore.
The season 2/3 overall arc (the doomed Buffy/Angel romance) is why I adore the series. Angst, baddies to enjoy on many levels, humor, hope, quippage and vamp slayage. No grinding misery and clinical depression mistaken by the writers as a "time to grow up" theme.

Maybe that's what I'm longing for with the Ethan/Giles storyline: closure. "A New Man" didn't really give it to me.
"Passion" is one of the best episodes ever. Giles' blank face while they are taking Jenny's body, on Puccini's music. So painful, so beautiful. It's true tragedy.

Season 2 gave us Spike which was huge, and had great episodes but also a few weak ones, and I still think that the writing kept improving in depth afterwards. I actually consider season 4, 5 and 6 to be better. Season 4 and its many brilliant episodes is the best for me.

And Ethan, dear Ethan, is the best recurring character BTVS had. Robin Sachs was wonderful and should have returned. It's a shame we didn't see him again after "A New Man".
That moment, when I heard La Boheme and saw what they were about to do with Giles-- that was the moment I turned into an insane fan. The agony of watching him read the note and head upstairs, knowing what was waiting for him, poor man. Ah! That's what I watch TV hoping for.
Oz's character could have been better developed. We know virtually nothing about him except he lived in a very nice home that apparently didn't have any adults around to question his behavior or get eaten when he wolfed out. I saw about as much of Ethan as I wanted. He was a great character, swooping in from nowhere to rain on Giles' parade, then out again. I don't care about the slash aspects of any previous relationship because that isn't important to me. Something obviously happened to make Ethan want to hurt Giles, but I tend to think it was something more serious than a lover's spat. Ethan couldn't be that wrapped up in anybody who wasn't himself to hold a grudge that many years unless he was seriously hurt-and I'm not talking emotionally. I would even go so far as to speculate that the Council punished him after the Randal thing. Where else was he for 20+ years? Punishment that he blamed on Giles. That makes more sense than a spurned lover, no matter how romantic. As for Spike, he was a good villain and I didn't even mind him as a stalker, because that was just creepy. He was OK till he was forced down our throats and the show became more about him and his stupid love-life than about Buffy and her friends. I don't see what the big deal was with Buffy having a fling with Spike. It wasn't the best thought-out plan she could have had, granted, but he kept her from killing herself to get back to heaven. None of the rest of them had a clue. I firmly stand by my conviction that Dawn needed to be smothered in her sleep in any season. Willow and Xander--I don't know. I wasn't interested in the Tara storyline, but feel that she got short-shrifted on character. I got very tired of Xander and his issues with women. He never valued Anya, didn't respect her as a person and a being with 1100+ years of knowledge and experience. We see from his snotty remarks at the beginning of season 3, just exactly how he felt about Buffy running away and actually trying to heal on her own. His entire relationship with Cordelia is quite disturbing--he doesn't like or value her either, he just lusts after her. He acted like a paternalistic, judgmental snot who needed a good kick in the pants and I began liking him less and less. For somebody who's supposed to 'see' what's really going on, he was pretty blind to his own actions.
I think inventing a range of explanations for Ethan's absence and the continued strong feelings both of them have: that's what fanfiction is for! A hundred stories, exploring a hundred possibilities. What the relationship was: friends, lovers, allies, enemies. Why it fell apart. Why they speak to each other now. I love watching Robin Sachs in action, and the character grabbed my attention, so I'm curious about these questions.

Poor Dawn! I don't think she asked to be stuck into the middle of Buffy's life. And at that age, she had a hard time figuring out how to handle it.
In no particular order:

I very much liked the writing and arc overall. It felt like the series was getting its groove but was still fun and full of juice and on the upswing.

Back to Season 2...lots of character development esp for Giles, yay. One of my regrets in the series is that he never again got to have anything for himself; other characters got to do further development thru romance and friendships, but after Season 2, it's all work and no play (friends or lovers) for Giles, which seemed like a missed opportunity. I thought Jenny was OK, as a character and as performed by the actor, but I never strongly emotionally connected with her.

Lots of character challenging situations in Season 2 for Buffy too, but not much character development per se (yet). I confess that seeing her repeatedly do the dumb indecisive teenage crush thing, despite multiple warnings, annoyed me. I prefer my heroes more mature. Yes, that's unfair to the character, given her age. It made her look stupid, and I honestly didn't see a lot of chemistry between her and Angel.

I found Angel more of a Mary Sue than Oz. Yeah, we know more about Angel, he's got a whole backstory and his own spinoff, but his character felt like every teenage girl's wet dream (so to speak): the tall dark handsome emotionally tortured stranger that magically for no good reason falls in love with you and only you. And I dunno, the actor's performance didn't do anything for me. Too bad, because aspects of the character seemed like they'd be great and right up my alley, as I love emotionally conflicted but fundamentally ethical characters, but I just never was able to care much about Angel.

I thought Oz was great, and Ethan an interesting and new take on the villain, but both of them were left as cyphers -- their roles hinted at far more backstory and future potential, than either character ever got, so that was a little frustrating (if great for fic bunnies).

Per Willow: I loved her in the first few seasons, then found her annoying and then boring. Odd that the more powerful she got in the series (as a wicca) the less interesting I found the character. (I felt the reverse for Xander: found him really annoying and cardboard comic relief in first few years, then towards the end he grew into a full and lovable character).

Per Willow, I did find the idea of a powerful wicca/sorcerer teaming up with the slayer to be a clever idea, and it made me wonder why Giles (who's obviously got some Power) didn't take that role. Plenty of bunnies there: was that role unacceptable given his Watcher obligations, did the Watchers forbid it (or supress or purge his talents in some way), was he so emotionally traumatized by the events in his youth that he suppressed it or did something to purge himself or lock away his power somehow.

Cordelia was just annoying IMO and I could have done without her entirely. It was like she wandered into the script from some stereotypical high school movie about mean girls. (Although they did do a few nice touches with her.)

Spike I liked both as evil and as good/chipped. Which is more of a compliment to the actor, IMO, for being able to convincingly and entertainingly convey both aspects. I didn't mind him later on, and thought the whole unrequited love, getting his soul back, self sacrifice etc to be sweet, if not very logical from a plot arc perspective. But again I think a lot of that was how the actor carried it off. It did feel like it dragged on for awhile, but the whole last couple of years of the series felt like it dragged on too long; feels like they should have compressed it to one year.

Dru was fascinating and scary as hell and the whole mind-control aspect of vampires was way underutilized in the series. We see it once when she mindwhammies Giles, then never again. Too bad. A vampire could have all kinds of fun and cause havoc by playacting other people in a victim's mind.
Plenty of bunnies there: was that role unacceptable given his Watcher obligations, did the Watchers forbid it (or supress or purge his talents in some way), was he so emotionally traumatized by the events in his youth that he suppressed it or did something to purge himself or lock away his power somehow.

Cough. I think I have stories in progress for all of these options. More than one in some cases. Because I agree that this role would be natural for the Watcher to fill for the Slayer.
Wow. Interesting comments.

You start to like Xander when I start to hate him. His relationship with Anya is far too patronizing for my taste. In the early seasons he's a jerk, because he's the character who says the things no one wants to hear. Makes him sound like a dick, and he's obnoxious as hell, but remains amusing.

Willow's cute as a button, but I don't really begin to dislike her until the fifth season. Arrogant!Willow is much less charming, but that doesn't really happen until the fifth season.

Ethan's fun, but he does really evil things. I cannot get over how tying down Buffy and tattooing her against her will (kinda rapelike if you ask me) is so easy overlooked by fandom. Giles believes Ethan is dangerous and bad because he is. He's not just some Puckish creature we should find alluring. His great function is to allow the writers to add some much needed depth to Giles. We get Wesley in 3rd season for that as well.

Oz is not just a wonderful guy. I can't stand the way he's in charge of his relationship with Willow: I'm not going to kiss you now, I don't think we should have sex now, we're about to die, so now we can have sex. Bossy boots in a cool, understated way throughout the 2nd season. By fourth season, he's a cheating, self-absorbed sob, who breaks our poor Willow's heart. Wolf metaphor=sexual "predator", pure id drive. He's no milquetoast.

Giles is finally given something other than simply "I enjoy cross-referencing" character development. Not jut a fish out of water, but a dangerous one beneath the surface. Writers imply he could be evil, tossing out a name like Ripper in Halloween, but then they kind of back off that in The Dark Age: JennyasEyghon's line about him always having been such a woman: this-isn't-right, crying-at-every-funeral. Not so wicked, even if he did play with dark magic in his youth. Fell in with baddies and then just as fast fell out, and hasn't felt anything but remorse for those times. Ethan appearing in Sunnydale, drawn because of the dreams? I don't think the original intent was to have him continually reappearing, but once the writers saw what fun was to be had with him, he became much more significant than he might have been. And we the fans are left scrambling and assigning all sorts of aspects to his relationship with Giles, because why else would Ethan keep coming to Sunnydale? It doesn't make any sense. Which is not to say they weren't lovers at one point, but in love? I feel Ethan clearly resents Giles for things we'll never know, but not necessarily because they were once in love. And Giles obviously feels no remorse for his abuse of Ethan. He thinks Ethan's bad news and wants to keep him away from them all.

I don't dislike Cordelia at all. She amuses me, and she's not a major enough character to irritate me until she's on that vile show Angel.

I've got lots more opinions, but I've probably rambled enough for now.
Ooh, and I never stop liking Spike. "From eyeballs toe entrails" is brilliant. But he's awesome evil, sympathetic, pathetic, needy, angry, devoted, obsessed. One of the best characters ever, even though I no interest in reading more of his exploits in fanfic or comic books.
A gorgeous man, an interesting character... overused in the same way people above fear Ethan would have been overused.