"What's My Line? Pt. 1" [2x09]
Review by Mikelangelo "MikeJer" Marinaro
Posted by MikeJer on October 24, 2005Writer: Howard Gordon and Marti Noxon
Director: David Solomon
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
This is part one of a respectable two-parter that should have been much better. This is the big Spike 'event' we've been waiting for since he was introduced back in "School Hard" (2x03). This should have been explosive and intriguing, but instead we get a slow paced and exposition heavy letdown. These episodes aren't bad, in fact they are even decent, but they should have been fantastic. No matter, there is still a lot of good beginning with part one.
This episode begins with Xander, probably reflecting Whedon's own views, hating taking any kind of dumb standardized exam. This "career day" exam is used as a launching point for discussion about a possible future beyond slaying for Buffy. Also interesting is the pondering of what she could have been had she not been chosen. Buffy is still expressing to everyone that she just wants to be a normal girl. I really like the consistency in not only Buffy's character, but all the characters (main and otherwise) on this show.
Spike and Drusilla are finally launching their scheme to restore Drusilla to full health. I adore the scene where Spike is impatient with Dru and it hurts her feelings. To make her feel better Spike picks her up and dances around the room with her in his arms. It's so rare to actually like the villains on a show. These two get a surprsingly little amount of screen time for an episode who's plot is supposed to be about them. I think the biggest problem with this is that Spike and Dru have no contact with the Scooby Gang and instead send the boring Order of Taraka assassins after Buffy instead. The writers should have learned by now, more Spike is better!
I have to confess that I really loved all the Angel and Buffy romance material in this episode. All of it hit the right chords from their conversation in her bedroom (with Angel holding onto Mr. Gordo), to Buffy beautifully ice skating and then kissing Angel even with his vampire face exposed (they had better avoid french kissing). I like that Angel recommended going skating with Buffy, that was a smart idea. Buffy needs a breather from her Slayer duties every now and then besides going to The Bronze. I also like the Kendra fake-out during this scene. We're made to believe that Kendra is the third assassin when she's in fact, not. I also want to mention when Buffy is scared her first instinct tells her to go to Angel's place. This is a beautiful setup for the big "Surprise" (2x13) and "Innocence" (2x14) two-parter coming up.
In this part, the Order of Taraka comes off as pretty pathetic. The 'brute' guy wasn't scary at all and I don't feel that he should have just been able to choke Buffy to death had Angel not been there. The worm guy is a bit of a different story though. I actually find this guy interesting because he doesn't look like an assassin at all. He looks like the average working man. Is there a metaphor here about people not always showing you their true face? This topic comes up again in "Consequences" (3x15) when Faith says, "When are you gonna learn, B? It doesn't matter what kind of vibe you get off a person. 'Cause nine times out of ten, the face they're showing you is not the real one." I have to wonder if that is actually true, do most people really hide their true identity to others and possibly even themselves?
Unfortunately there are a whole slew of problems with this episode as well. The biggest being the horribly slow pace, the corny synthesized music, and the overload of exposition. This episode just meanders along forever while, every now and then, hitting a nice character scene. The music is reminiscent to S1's corny music, which is not a good thing. Also, there is so much exposition in here that it's hard not to fall asleep (especially if you're watching this at night). Like I mentioned before, there needed to be some involvement between Spike and the Scoobies to take this up a notch.
The problems here extend to the fight scenes as well. The directing during Kendra's fight with Angel really felt off. Most of my criticism is meant for the director, David Solomon, who just can't seem to keep everything smooth. Overall, though, there is a lot of good stuff in here and a solid setup for part two. The ending surprise that Kendra is another Slayer really does make you sit up and go "woah, now I'm all of the sudden really interested in seeing part two!"
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
QuotesBUFFY:Do I like shrubs?
XANDER:That's between you and your god.
BUFFY:What'd you put?
WILLOW:I came down on the side of shrubs.
BUFFY:Go shrubs! Okay!
BUFFY:Yeah! They had tools, flashlights, whole nine yards. What does that mean, anyway? 'Whole nine yards'? Nine yards of what? (whines) Now it's gonna bug me all day.
GILES:You're behaving remarkably im-immaturely.
BUFFY:You know why? I *am* immature. I'm a teen. I have yet to mature.
BUFFY:Uh, Giles, it's one thing to be a Watcher and a librarian. They go together like chicken and... another chicken, or... two chickens, or... something, you know what I'm saying!
XANDER:That's untrue, Buffy, you totally contribute. You go for snacks!
WILLOW:She *should* go. Y-y'know, gather her strength.
XANDER:But Ho-Hos are a vital part of my cognitive process!
GILES:Well, maybe Buffy unplugged the phone.
XANDER:No, it's a statistical impossibility for a sixteen-year-old girl to unplug her phone.
:(Willow nods approvingly)
WILLOW:(waking up) Don't warn the tadpoles!
GILES:Don't warn the tadpoles?
WILLOW:I... I have frog fear.
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