What’s My Line? Pt. 1
Written by: Howard Gordon/Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Solomon
Air Date: November 17, 1997

Ah, Kendra the Vampire Slayer. We hardly knew ye. Now, I’m jumping ahead a bit, here, since she doesn’t even receive a full introduction until the last seconds of this episode and she’s got three more to go, but the truth of the matter is, I always liked Kendra. Maybe I just thought she was attractive? I don’t know, really. I just know that – as a character – I found her to be an interesting foil to our titular Slayer, Buffy. But I digress…

The first two-part narrative arc of the entire series, “What’s My Line?” offers up some great story, some awesome character work, and some excellent action sequences. But to the best of my memory (I watched them back to back, mind you) most of this comes from the second half. Instead, this first half is aaaaaaaaaall exposition. The scenes where the bad guys try to discern what is hidden in Giles’ book (stolen way back in “Lie to Me“), the fight sequence on the ice rink with the big assassin dude, and even most of the time we spend with Willie (who gets his first – of many – appearances in these episodes!) seems drawn out and leading toward the second half and less inclined to make the first half interesting.

What we do get is pretty decent, though, I mean… for the most part. I do like that we’re to believe that Kendra is the third assassin Spike hires to kill Buffy. It leads to her fight with Buffy in Angel’s home and the twist ending (once again, credit where credit is due: SMG uses her eyes to the full extent of facial acting upon hearing who Kendra is) and this is, without a doubt, the best part of the episode. Well, aside from all the scenes with Spike and Drusilla. I particularly love the scene where he gets annoyed with, and tells off, Dru and then feels immediately guilty about having done it. The levels of complexity these characters have as individuals only go that much deeper when they are together. As much as I love these two characters any time they’re on screen (including Spike’s run in the later seasons of this show and Angel’s spinoff), they are better together. They are creepy, they are lovely, and they are deliciously wicked together.

The entire plot device of the “career week” thing seems a little… unnecessary and while I understand that it is a television program and all that, it seems rather coincidental that this whole “I don’t wanna be the Slayer”-thing Buffy keeps doing happens to coincide with the fair and the appearance of a second Slayer. But we’ll touch on that in the next episode. What we do have are some cute moments between the core gang, and a first chance meeting between Willow and Oz (and Buffy and Oz… the latter of which gets tossed into a locker by the former!). And, once again, the relationship between Slayer and Watcher becomes more interesting after Giles starts freaking out (likely because of all the shit that went down in “The Dark Age“) putting Buffy on edge.

We’ll get to see more of Kendra coming up in the next episode, as well as the actual meat of this story. I wish there had been more for the characters to do based on this script, but it was what it was: setup. Setup for the next episode which is ten times as good, with better lines, better moments between the characters, and much, much more screen time for Spike and Dru. If I have one complaint to lodge against this two-part story its that the first part is weak-weak-weak as an episode, but even more so as a first episode in one story. The twist ending makes you want to come back for the second half, yes, but it just wasn’t that great an episode. Next time, though? Oh yeah. Bring the popcorn.

Episode Rating: 78

Additional Notes:
-OK… I’m not a huge Angel/Buffy fan but good god is the ice skating idea and sequence just downright sweet.
-Not sweet? Buffy kissing him when he has his vampire face on. Don’t French him, Buffy!
-Mr. Gordo
-Best line?
Snyder: “Whatever comes out of your mouth is a meaningless waste of breath. An airborne toxic event.” – to Xander
-Why, if she doesn’t trust her daughter and has fears about her life choices, does Joyce
never take Buffy anywhere with her? Or leave a guardian? Seems iffy.

 

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