Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2


The Dark Age   What's My Line (Part 1)   What's My Line (Part 2)   Ted   Bad Eggs



The Dark Age

The Metaphysics of "The Dark Age"

Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 6 BtVS/season 3 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.

Eyghon's terror goes back to the pre-Roman Etruscan culture. Also known as "the Sleepwalker", Eyghon can only exist in the Earthly reality by possessing a dead or unconscious host (e.g. it transfers from the dead guy to Jenny). Temporary possession gives the host a feeling of exhilaration. Unless the proper rituals are observed, the possession is permanent. If it possesses the dead, its demonic energy soon disintegrates the host, and it must find another victim to continue living.

Eyghon has come to Sunnydale looking for victims among its former "initiates", Giles and Ethan Rayne, who it recognizes by the "mark of Eyghon"--a tattoo--on their forearm. However, it also attacks Buffy, who was not part of the original group, after Ethan gives Buffy a tattoo and gets rid of his own. The tattoos act like a homing beacon to the demon, and it seems simply to want to kill those who have them.

Psychic vision? Giles falls to the floor and has a vision in which he sees Buffy bound and tattooed by Ethan. This allows him to go the the costume shop to help save her. It is unlikely Eyghon wanted him to save Buffy, but he'd been having premenatory dreams of his past with Eyghon, as Ethan had. Perhaps Eyghon wanted to entice him over to Ethan's shop in order to kill him, or perhaps dealing with Eyghon causes a human to have psychic dreams and visions.

Good and Evil in "The Dark Age"

Eyghon: As a demon who methodically seduces and destroys his victims, Eyghon is an example of evil-as-corruption.

The good of Willow

Moral Ambiguity in "The Dark Age"

Messing with Magicks: Young Giles and his friends' experimented with magic for "pleasure and gain"--until they graduated to the "big stuff" and Eyghon took the life of one of their friends.

Angel shows up unexpectedly at the hospital on blood delivery day. Buffy still entrusted him with seeing the blood into the hospital safely, though. Why was Angel there?

Ockham's Razor be damned, complex characters defy simplicity, and that's part of what makes them interesting... Angel stealing blood. ... the blood is necessary for his survival... instead of taking lives for his survival (by killing people), he is taking blood willingly donated... now this may add to a blood shortage, but there has been no mention of a blood shortage in Sunnydale, so it looks like he has taken the route of least damage to society (Chrissy, Jun 9 12:20 1998).

It is also interesting that Angel uses the demon within him, an evil force he is always shown struggling against, to battle and defeat Eyghon. As Angel explains, the demon was just "waiting for a good fight." This implies either that Angel can control it for his own purposes, or perhaps that the demon doesn't care who he fights, as long as the fight's an enjoyable one (something which is plausible given Angelus' sadistic tendencies).

What's My Line (Parts 1 & 2)

The Metaphysics of "What's My Line"

Drusilla uses an unusual set of Tarot cards to confirm Spike's decisions and progress during the episode. When Spike decides to call in the Order of Taraka, Dru finds images representing them in her cards. When Spike is angry because Dalton can't decipher the ritual to restore Dru's health, Dru finds an image of the mausoleum where the decoder-key cross is. When one member of the order of Taraka dies, Dru knows this and turns his card over. When Spike and Dalton discover what is necessary for the ritual, Drusilla finds a picture of an angel on a card. It is unclear if the cards came this way or were affected by some sort of spell.

The ritual to restore a sick vampire: In a church during a full moon, the hand of the sick vampire is bound to her sire's. Both are stabbed in the hand, allowing the blood of the sire to flow into the open wound of the ailing vamp. Blood and energy ebb from the sire until he is dead, and the sick vamp is restored. Spike sets up this scene, burning incense and using the Du Lac Cross with a dagger inside of it to create the wounds. He says:

Multiple slayers: A new slayer is only called when the old one dies. When Buffy drowned in Prophecy Girl, she was dead--her vital signs ceased--until Xander gave her CPR. This was enough to activate the next slayer, Kendra. Kendra had already been identified as a slayer-in-waiting before her powers were activated:

The watchers pinpoint the potentials if they can. In some cultures (like Kendra's) they can announce their presence and whisk the girl off. In some, they can't. And sometimes they can't pinpoint the girl until she is called, which is what happened with Buffy (joss, Dec 3 00:23 1998).

The Powers that Be control the calling of slayers, so either they set the calling process on automatic, or they wanted there to be more than one slayer.

Evil in "What's My Line"

Spike calls in the Order of Taraka to eliminate the slayer. The Order of Taraka, who date back to King Solomon, are not predators, like vampires. As Giles says, "they have no earthly desires" to explain their deeds. Their credo is to create conflict, and their method for doing this is to rent themselves out as covert assassins (they are recognizable only by the ring they wear identifying them as a member of that group). They have no single method for doing the job, each works according to his or her own methods. They are relentless in this task. Like slayers, if one dies, another comes to finish the job. The Order of Taraka are an interesting blend of evil-as-chaos and evil-as-corruption. While their ultimate goal is chaos, they choose to bring about disorder in the world by swift efficient killing. The fact that some are not demons but humans begs the question of what could motivate a human to want to increase chaos and pain (this same question arises with Ethan Rayne).

Sadism: Drusilla pours Holy Water on Angel's chest, torturing him physically. Likewise, she knows what will get to him psychologically: his guilt over how Angelus chose to vamp her. She taunts him with tales of her family's happiness before he came, then how he "ripped their throats out". It seems unlikely that Dru has real horror of these memories, since they belong to the human soul who once inhabited her body, not the demon, and because she herself has done such deeds many times since.

The impression I got was that when Dru tortured Angel, that's exactly what she was doing - she was "playing" the traumatized child because she knew that the image would visit psychological torment on Angel. She remembered the events, including her pain, but wasn't really hurting anymore about it. And she wasn't really angry with Angelus - it was just a way to get at Angel's source of pain (Darby, 8:59:54 02/15/02).

Moral Ambiguity in "What's My Line"

Spike's normal nastiness is once again tamed by Dru. When she asks him to dance, he snaps at her and then quickly apologizes. When she falters, he rushes to her and helps her back up, begging her forgiveness. Again, we see his desire to make Dru back into a predator: "Once you're well again, we'll have a coronation down Main Street, and invite everyone, and drink for seven days and seven nights." But Spike is still a nasty SOB to everyone else. His tenderness towards Drusilla constantly causes his bookish minion Dalton to relax around him, and Dalton usually ends up getting walloped for it. Spike's jealousy of Angel emerges when he suspects that Drusilla's torturing Angel has a sexual aspect to it, but he gives him to her anyway.

The morally ambiguous Angel

Ethical Quandaries in "What's My Line"

Slayer vs. Normal Girl: Buffy's disgruntlement with being the slayer comes to a head during Career Week and she realizes her future is "sealed in fate". Buffy responds to Giles' demands on her by pointing out that she is the only slayer and he must take her as she is. She also compares her life to being dead: "I'm bored, constricted, I never get to shop, and my hair and fingernails still continue to grow." She longs for a normal life--a chance to really participate in Career Week, and to be a "regular kid" with her cradle robbing, creature-of-the-night boyfriend (!). When Kendra shows up and out-slays her, Buffy seriously considers letting Kendra take over. When she must save Angel from Spike, however, she realizes that she is good at her "line" and remains on the job.

Philosophies represented in "What's My Line"

Philosophies of slaying: Buffy vs. Kendra

Kendra's philosophy of slaying relies heavily on the application of learned technique. Buffy is a more spontaneous slayer, relying on "imagination", the things that occur to her at the moment. She's "resourceful", as Spike puts it in Halloween. Kendra believes in "even-mindedness"--emotions are weaknesses that interfere with her ability to keep her priorities straight. Buffy relies heavily on emotions. She believes they give her "fire"--extra power and motivation for the fight. She goads Kendra into feeling that anger to make her point, and later Kendra takes advantage of this when she gets pissed over her shirt ripping during a fight.

Buffy makes Kendra's point when she charges out to save Angel and falls into the trap set for her by the double-crossing Willy. Kendra is a cautious slayer, relying on the Watcher for advice as she thinks out her game plan (but she had some strong opinions of her own on how things should be done). Buffy doesn't take orders (much). She does things her way. Good thing she has friends to bail her out.


The Metaphysics of "Ted"

Ted is a robot designed by a man who probably died in the '50s or '60's, and therefore, as Willow points out, well ahead of its time mechanically. There is no evidence that Ted actually was a robot possessed by a demon spirit and not just a robot programmed by a demented human being (the original human Ted). His method of controlling others is also unmystical--Joyce goes "Stepford" (mellow and compliant) because Ted has put Dematorin, a tranquilizer, in his cooking.

Good and Evil in "Ted"

Evil as Order: Ted has an obsessive need to control other human beings, to mechanize and subordinate them to his will. He is a monstrous representation of a human evil that is represented by serial killers and wife-beaters.

If one lived in Ted's orderly household, chaos (in the form of rebellion) would be good. Because he is a killer robot who passes as a human being, he is also an example of evil as deception.

The good of Giles

Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Quandaries in "Ted"

Buffy must deal with the possibility that she could take a human life. While Ted turns out not to be human, she attacks him and causes his apparent "death" before she knows this. Xander and Willow don't think she is really capable of killing "an innocent man" and seek out an explanation for her behavior--some hint or clue Buffy picked up on before she killed Ted that made her think he was a monster and not a person.

Buffy is capable of killing a human because she tends to act first, regret later--like many humans. ...she was a little scared of herself and her actions [in Ted], but this begs the important question "what did buffy do with this knowledge/realization?" (Eiddileg, Jan 17 21:49 1999).

Buffy is deeply troubled by her own anger, and how it led her to do what she did: "He was a person, and I killed him." While some might argue that she did it in self-defense or in defense of her property, she sees different standards for herself: "I'm the Slayer. I had no right to hit him like that."

This line is interesting because her status as a slayer leads Cordelia to the opposite conclusion: "Buffy's the Slayer. Shouldn't she have--"

Xander: What, a license to kill?
Cordelia: Well, not for fun. But she's like this superman. Shouldn't there be different rules for her?
Willow: Sure, in a fascist society.
Cordelia: Right! Why can't we have one of those?

Cordelia will come to similar un-democratic conclusions about the swim team in "Go Fish".

For more on Buffy's reaction to the possibility of killing humans, see Dead Things

When Buffy "killed" Ted, Joyce should have been concerned about her daughter's violent proclivities--after all, Buffy had already destroyed at least two school buildings. Why didn't Joyce show more concern?

If you've got a kid who's in trouble all the time and you are not doing everything you can to find out why/who/where then you are too dense to be out without a keeper. Most parents want to believe the best of our kids, but there is a limit... If Joyce Summers was on the ball then she would have found out about Buffy a long time ago (Jocor, Jun 10 14:25 1998).

The *illusion* of her being a problem child is created by her Slaying duties. Maybe Joyce recognizes that Buffy's problem-child status doesn't fit, but she can't figure out what the real state of affairs is. She hangs out with polite, friendly semi-loosers, she gets along well with the school librarian and was close with the computer teacher... her grades are low but not everyone is a straight A student. The fact that Buffy has been branded as a trouble maker doesn't correspond with what Joyce sees of Buffy at home- ie that she's is a nice, bright, well-meaning girl (Chrissy, Jun 16 13:09 1998).

The hermetically insensitive Cordelia

Bad Eggs

The Metaphysics of "Bad Eggs"

The Bezoars are one of the more unique baddies on the show because there does not seem to be anything supernatural about them at all (they are fictional, but that is another matter). The mother Bezoar is a disk-shaped, non-mobile, tentacled life-form that lives underground laying eggs. The baby Bezoar is an intelligent parasite (a creature who performs some function necessary to its survival--typically eating, although not in the case of the Bezoar--by direct use of another creature). (Other examples of parasitic behavior--Tahlmer's host jumping, the Hacksaw Beast's procreation, the Sluks).

The role of the human host in the Bezoar life-cycle is to spread the eggs, and thus the offspring, to other human hosts. Although baby Bezoars are highly mobile upon hatching, humans are more mobile. By spreading the offspring over a wider area, there is a greater chance that some will survive to the age in which the females will find a place to hibernate and procreate. Human hosts are also used to uncover the mother at the time of egg dissemination. The resemblance of Bezoar eggs to chicken eggs provides camouflage. All these adaptations enable the Bezoar to spread their offspring farther and faster before they are slaughtered by humans, and make sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

"Neural clamping": Bezoars clamp their bodies onto the spines or the base of the neck of the human host. From this position, they can insert tentacles into the nervous system and send electro-chemical impulses to the brain, blocking the host's ability to make use of higher-level cognitive functions (e.g., decision-making), and allowing the Bezoar to send their own instructions to the motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement). Since Giles, Willow, and Cordelia appear to be speaking and interacting in a more or less natural way while under the influence of the Bezoars, the mama Bezoar might not call on their services until they're needed. However, both Giles and Willow also act like themselves at some points while they are carrying out mama's bidding, so it is safe to say that the Bezoars take control of the host's cognitive functions as well. Since the host does not control their mind or their body while under the influence, it makes sense that the students and faculty were left confused after the incident and did not remember what happened while they were under the influence of the Bezoar.

Vampires and human procreation: Vampires have a lot of "normal" physiological functions, but it's been made somewhat clear on the show that procreating the natural way isn't one of them. Angel explains this to Buffy:

Buffy: ...Like I'm really planning to have kids anytime soon. Maybe someday, in the future, ...but right now kids would be just a little too much to deal with.
Angel: I wouldn't know. I don't--Well, you know, I can't.
Buffy: Oh. That's okay. I figured there were all sorts of things vampires couldn't do. You know, like ...volunteer for the Red Cross, or have little vampires.

Vampires can "sire" other vampires by an exchange of blood. But they can't have human children (but see Lullaby).

Evil and Moral Ambiguity in "Bad Eggs"

There is nothing truly evil about the Bezoar; she's just trying to procreate. What is undesirable from a human perspective is that she uses human beings to do it, and does so by putting them in a robotic servile state of mind. The Bezoar is therefore an example of Evil-as-Order.

The Gorch Brothers: Lyle Gorch and his brother, Tector, are from Abilene. They massacred an entire Mexican village while they were still human in 1886. One wonders how they had the brains or bravado to do this or anything else. Perhaps this is an example of how becoming a vampire can change the personality in unexpected ways.

"Machiavellian ingenuity"


The Metaphysics of "Surprise/Innocence"

The Judge's power works like a battery. Weak upon reassembling, with enough "charge" to attack only with a touch, he gathers strength until he can zap the people at the mall at a distance. He kills by inducing physical combustion in his victim. The Judge reaches out his arm and an arc of energy emanates from his hand to the victim, who freezes in place until they combust. This power can also shoot out from one victim to another, holding them all in place in a web and destroying them en masse. There is a supernatural aspect to this energy. The Judge does not simply "know" who has humanity and attack them (although he can do this--e.g., Dalton); the power itself is attracted to humanity--it cannot combust the purely evil. The properties of "purely evil" and "humanity" it responds to are therefore properties of the soul, not the body, since vampires have human bodies (albeit vamped ones), but not all vampires combust at the Judge's touch (e. g., Angelus) (for the opposite situation, see the beacon of the Scourge).

Giles said MOST vamps can survive the judges touch. See, a vamp is a human possessed by a demon. Not pure -- a pure demon has no emotion. But vamps are diluted, they have some human traits (like Spike and Dru, who love each other in their twisted way.) Dalton (the nerd) loved learning and reading and was just too human not too burn (joss, Jan 23 23:06 1998).

The Judge can't be killed, nor can he be injured by most weapons, only dismembered so that he can't function (which means reassembling him makes him functional again). An army was needed to overwhelm him in ancient times. Little ol' 20th-century Buffy used an anti-tank rocket launcher.

Buffy's psychic dreams in Surprise and Innocence are particularly relevant to her real life, but nevertheless steeped in misdirection.

Drusilla has two psychic episodes in S/I: The first is when she says to Buffy and Angel in the factory "I only dreamed you'd come", implying that she dreamed of this event now actually taking place. The second is when she senses the loss of Angel's soul at a distance. First, she feels his pain and collapses to the floor. Then she senses the powerful presence of Angelus unfettered by Angel's soul and smiles. She does not actually realize what is behind these sensations until Angelus arrives at the factory and does not burn at the Judge's hand.

"The happiness clause": The curse that restored Angel's human soul had a rather strange condition attached to it. If Angel achieved even just a moment of true happiness, he would lose his soul, and Angelus would once again have free reign on the body. Theories about the reason for the happiness clause:

  1. The gypsies' desire for vengeance was petty; if it cannot torture, if it cannot get the revenge it wants, it basically restores the very situation that caused the trouble in the first place: it brings back the killer.
  2. I think that the *happiness clause* was the price the gypsies had to pay to get Angel's soul out of the ether. Whom/Whatever granted the power of the spell to the gypsy elder woman also placed the burden of the *happiness clause* on the gypsy clan. It was their duty/fate/price to spend the rest of their lives to insure that Angel never knew happiness. They failed and the soul was returned to the ether. The *happiness clause* wasn't the gypsies idea, it was a burden/penalty put upon the gypsies (gazoo, Jan 4 22:10 1999).
  3. Demon ascendance is simply a metaphysical side-effect of experiencing happiness (see Eternity)

Evil in "Surprise/Innocence"

The Judge: the role of a judge in a court of law is to determine who is guilty and who is not and eliminate the influence of the guilty on society. The Judge, a blue-horned demon sent forth long ago to eliminate humankind from the Earth, serves a similar function for the demon agenda. The best way to understand this is to go back to Giles' statement in The Harvest: "For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their Hell. But in time they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for, for man." If the Judge can eliminate all creatures of humanity, the demons can once again rule the Earth. As a demon who disdains all that is human, wishes to see our destruction, and has the power to do it, the Judge represents evil-as-corruption.

Drusilla revels without any empathy whatsoever in Dalton's death and the thought of Angel watching Buffy die. We also see that she is more unhinged than ever, given her reaction to the decorations at her party and her anger at Dalton losing the Judge's arm.

The evil of Angelus

Spike: So you didn't kill her then.
Angelus: Of course not.
Drusilla: You don't want to kill her, do you? You want to hurt her. Just like you hurt me.
Angelus: Nobody knows me like you do, Dru.

Angel (Angelus) definitely has feeling for Buffy, but he is so stinking evil and twisted that no matter what, those feelings can only manifest themselves in hateful, destructive DEMONIC ways. ...Demons are immortal monsters that thrive on darkness and chaos. And Angelus is the badassiest of them all (joss, Jan 31 1998).

Moral Ambiguity in "Surprise/Innocence"

Spike and Armageddon: In B2, Spike is anti-apocalypse. In other words, he does not want to see the end of human beings on Earth. This leads to an interesting question--why was Spike so blasé about the Judge? He in fact scolded the Judge for not getting on with "destroy[ing] the world already", and he gave the Judge to Drusilla as a gift. The unanswered question here is: was the Judge Drusilla's idea, or Spikes? Drusilla clearly knows about the Judge and is delighted at the gift, taking full advantage of it. But did she indicate her desire for it to Spike at some earlier time? Regardless of who is responsible for the Judge, though, Spike changes his mind about the value of an apocalypse before B2.

I think Dru was the impetus behind the Judge business- it was her party, her present, Angel said she was crazy enough to do it. A 'whatever Princess wants, Princess gets' deal. I also think that the Judge himself, with his disdain for vampires and their lingering humanity, might have had Spike reconsidering the value of an apocalypse (Pathetique, Jun 3 07:47 1998).

Would Spike and/or Drusilla have combusted if the Judge had decided to touch them? My guess is that Spike would have, for obvious reasons (see the section on Spike's moral ambiguity). "This one is full of feeling" the Judge said about Dalton. This could be said just as easily about Spike. When Spike reminds the Judge who brought him forth, he touches the Judge briefly and nothing happens; however, the Judge is not up to full power yet. Drusilla is another matter. While she has affection for Spike, she is a greater creature of evil than he is, colder and more sociopathic. An open call whether or not Drusilla would have burned.

Did Jenny betray Giles and Buffy? In Surprise, we find out that Jenny is a gypsy (Janna of the Kalderash people), sent to Sunnydale by her people to watch Angel. Presumably, her task was to make sure Angel still suffered. Once The elder woman of the gypsies read signs that told her that Angel's suffering was decreasing, Jenny's uncle Enyos arrived to tell Jenny to separate Buffy and Angel, but didn't tell her why. She tried to do this by sending Angel out of the country to bury the Judge's arm. This fails when Buffy and Angel are attacked on the docks. When Jenny goes to talk to her uncle again, she is finally told about the curse, but by then, it is already too late. The upshot: Jenny was sent on a mission without sufficient information. The only thing she is guilty of was not telling Giles and Buffy why she was there and who she was. Although she was part of the causal chain that lead to Angel losing his soul, she was not responsible  for Angel losing his soul.

Ethical Quandaries in "Surprise/Innocence"

Is Buffy responsible for Angel turning in Innocence?

Buffy tells Giles, "this is all my fault". She's feeling guilty because when Angel said, "maybe we shouldn't [make love] ", she insisted. While Buffy's sleeping with Angel was the direct cause of his change, responsibility is a matter of intent and negligence, and Buffy neither intended to turn Angel, nor was she negligent because she did not seek out the possible mystic consequences of sleeping with him. Giles insists that what happened isn't Buffy's fault, and in IOHEFY, Willow echoes this view. In DMP, Cordy claims, rather thoughtlessly, that it was Buffy's fault.

Philosophies Represented in "Surprise/Innocence"

When is vengeance not justice?

For those who see revenge as a form of justice, this line by Jenny's uncle must seem a bit strange:

"It is not justice we serve. It is vengeance."

Enyos, a representative of the Gypsy's point of view, is a good example of the philosophy of Retributivism (the biblical "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" philosophy). Unlike Jenny's Utilitarian stance, Enyos is not interested in Angel's redemption, or any other consequences of his Retributivist principle, even the destruction of the human race at the hands of the Judge. Nor is his principle a simple "tit-for-tat" vengeance--"like commerce"--which assumes that revenge is the tool of those who apply it. For him, the reverse is true: he sees himself as the tool of vengeance, the subject of a principle much larger than himself or his tribe. Vengeance demands the indefinite torturing of the vampire who killed the gypsy girl and her loved ones back in 1898: "It commands", he says, and "we merely play a part."

Enyos and Jenny understand the ethics of how to deal with Angel very differently. Jenny is interested in the consequences of their actions. Seeing Angel suffer is all well and good until the cost of his suffering is too high. Jenny would rather see Angel make amends by doing good deeds, such as saving Jenny from Eyghon and the world from the Judge (a more Utilitarian view).

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This page last modified 9/19/02

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