"When She Was Bad"
Written and directed by Joss Whedon

Xander and Willow are walking through Sunnydale, eating ice cream and playing a game where they guess the sources of movie quotes. Willow runs out of ideas, resorting to, “Use the force, Luke,” and she and Xander complain about how boring their summer was. Buffy was in L.A. with her father, and there was a surprising lack of monsters in Sunnydale. Xander puts ice cream on Willow’s nose and quotes lines from Witness until she complains that her nose is cold. He leans in to lick the ice cream off, then wipes it off instead. Suddenly, there’s a spark between them and they lean in to kiss each other. They’re interrupted by a vampire, which Xander tries to protect Willow from. He starts fighting the vamp and is soon helped by a just-arrived Buffy. She takes care of the vampire and asks her friends, “Miss me?”

Buffy receives a warm welcome and learns that the vampire she just killed was the first one Willow and Xander encountered since the death of the Master (see “Prophecy Girl”). They explain that they buried the Master’s bones under a tree while she was gone. At home, Joyce and Hank unpack Buffy’s things and Joyce complains about how many clothes Hank bought her. He tells her that Buffy seemed distant, and that he didn’t know how to talk to her. Joyce says that she’ll “just be happy if she makes it through the school year.” The next day at school, Cordelia complains to her friends, the Cordettes, that her parents took her Tuscany instead of St. Croix. Snyder ruminates on the first day of school to Giles, who wonders why someone who hates kids would be a principal. He’s distracted when he spots Jenny, and they head off together, Snyder obliviously left talking to himself.

Jenny tells Giles about her summer, which included visiting the Burning Man festival, and teases him for probably spending his summer reading. They meet up with the Scoobies, who tell them about the vampire from the previous night. Jenny asks how that’s possible, since the Hellmouth is closed, but Giles says that there is still mystical energy in Sunnydale. He says that he’ll have to consult his books; Willow and Xander had a bet going that he would consult his books in the first 10 minutes of their conversation. The Scoobies head to class, and Giles tells Buffy that he wants to start training again after school. Later, in the library, Buffy trains aggressively, taking out her feelings about the Master on a dummy. “Whatever they’ve got coming next, I’m ready,” she tells Giles. Inside a warehouse, a vampire named Absalom addresses other vampires, including the Anointed One, and announces that a “new hope” will rise in three days.

The next day, Willow and Xander track Buffy down in the school lounge. She tells them that she had strange dreams the night before. Giles approaches and says that he knows why there’s been a sudden increase in evil activity. She assures him that they’ll deal with it, and he says he hopes it’s that easy. She says again that there’s nothing to worry about. “Oh, I don’t know,” he replies. “I mean, I’ve killed you once; it shouldn’t be too difficult to do it again.” He smacks her across the face, then chokes her as Willow and Xander ignore the scene. Buffy pulls what appears to be a mask off of Giles’ face, revealing the Master. Buffy wakes up in her room, looking over at the window to see Angel. She sarcastically asks if he’s there to warn her about something, and he confirms this, telling her that the Anointed One is building up forces for some reason. She tells him that she’s ready to face him, and Angel tells her not to underestimate the kid. Buffy acts like a brat, trying to get him to leave, and he tells her that he missed her. She ignores him, then turns back and tells him she missed him - but he’s already gone.

In the morning, Joyce drives Buffy to school, letting her know that she knows something’s wrong. Willow asks Buffy if she and Angel kissed at all when he stopped by. Buffy tells her and Xander that they just talked about vampires, as usual, and doesn’t let on that he said something important was about to happen. Xander mentions that Cibo Matto is playing at the Bronze that night and the three make plans to go. They run into Cordelia, who tries to insult them by calling them the Three Musketeers, but they protest that the Three Musketeers were cool. She asks if they fought any demons that summer, and they try to cover for her lack of discretion. She assures them that she hasn’t told anyone that Buffy’s the Slayer because she doesn’t want to admit that she associated with them. Buffy tells her that that’s fine - she won’t tell that Buffy’s the Slayer, and Buffy won’t tell that Cordelia’s an idiot. Willow is a little shocked at Buffy’s acidity, and even Cordelia notices that something is off with her.

That night, Willow and Xander listen to Cibo Matto at the Bronze and discuss Buffy’s strange behavior. Willow tries to recreate the ice cream-relation almost-kiss, but Xander is oblivious this time. In the cemetery, Absalom and the Anointed One watch as vampires dig up the Master’s bones. Buffy arrives at the Bronze and brushes Angel off, telling, “There’s no ‘us.’” She says that she didn’t spend the summer thinking about him, and that she’s moved on “to the living.” She heads over to Xander and pulls him onto the dance floor. She then proceeds to perform the now famous Sexy Dance that has him somewhere between excited and confused. (Willow and Angel, however, are definitely not happy.) Buffy asks Xander if she ever thanked him for saving her life (again, see “Prophecy Girl”), then says, “Don’t you wish I would?”

Buffy leaves the Bronze but doesn’t get very far before Cordelia comes out after her. “You’re really campaigning for b&%@#-of-the-year, aren’t you?” Cordelia asks. “As defending champion, you nervous?” Buffy counters. Cordelia suggests that she get over whatever’s bothering her (“embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever”) before her friends don’t want to be friends anymore. Buffy rejects the advice, starting to leave, and Cordelia says that she’ll just head back inside and see if Angel wants to dance. Before she can go, she’s grabbed by two vampires. Cordelia is taken to a basement, where she encounters an unconscious Jenny. Buffy heads to the cemetery and sees that the Master’s bones have been taken.

At school the next day, Willow tells Giles and Xander that she thinks Buffy is possessed. Giles thinks that, as a typical American, she just has issues, and understandably so - she was killed, and her experience with the Master was probably traumatizing. Xander spots Buffy approaching and pretends that they were talking about trout. Buffy tells the Scoobies that the Master’s bones were taken from his grave and she thinks they’re going to be used to bring him back. She refuses the Scoobies’ aid and Xander finally tries to say something about her attitude and behavior. Snyder breaks up the Scooby meeting and sends them all to class; Giles tells the Scoobies to gather in the library later. He defends Buffy to Snyder, who predicts that Buffy will wind up getting expelled and going to jail.

At the Scoobies’ meeting, Giles tells them that he found information on reviving the Master - those who want to do so must have his bones and the blood of the person closest to him. Buffy thinks it’s herself, since they killed each other, which “promotes togetherness.” A rock flies through the window and Buffy reveals that there’s a note attached to it with Cordelia’s bracelet. The note instructs Buffy to come to the Bronze or the senders will “make her a meal,” to which Xander replies, “They’re gonna cook her dinner? I’ll pretend I didn’t say that.” Buffy tells the Scoobies that she’s going to the Bronze without them because she can’t look out for them. Willow thinks that the summons to the Bronze is a trap, but Buffy doesn’t agree. Willow tells Buffy to stop saying that she can handle things on her own, but Buffy leaves by herself.

Outside the Bronze, Buffy senses (correctly) that Angel is behind her and tells him she doesn’t like being followed. She makes a pointed comment about him being a vampire and tells him she doesn’t trust him. He replies that she has to trust someone and can’t go in by herself. He tells her that she’s not as strong as she believes and she challenges him to try to fight her. He lets her go into the Bronze, where she encounters a vampire pretending to be Cordelia. Angel wonders why the vamp has been left as bait if no one is there to attack. In the library, Xander tells Willow that he thinks Buffy is approaching a dangerous place. Giles finds more info on the spell, revealing that the people needed are those who were physically close to the Master when he died - in other words, Cordelia, Jenny, Willow, and Giles. He realizes that the summons was a trap, but not for Buffy. He looks up to the second floor to see vampires.

Buffy ties up the vampire and tells Angel to stay with her. She heads back to the library, where she finds only Xander, who has been knocked out. When he regains consciousness he tells her what happened, adding that he doesn’t care what her issues are. He points out that, if she’d worked with the Scoobies, they would be safe. “If they hurt Willow, I’ll kill you,” he informs Buffy. Xander fills her in on what Giles found out about the ritual, and they head back to the Bronze. Buffy tortures the vampire, who still doesn’t want to spill where the ritual is taking place. At the warehouse, Absalom begins the ritual as Willow, Giles, Cordelia, and Jenny, all unconscious, hang upside-down over the Master’s bones. Buffy, Xander, and Angel quietly enter and take in the scene. Buffy tells them to get the Scoobies out while she kills all of the vampires.

The ritual is interrupted when on of the vampires is killed by Buffy. The fighting begins and Xander and Angel get the Scoobies down. Once they’re safe, Angel joins the fight. Xander tells Giles that Buffy is “working out her issues.” Absalom tells Buffy that it’s over for her, but, of course, it’s actually over for him, as well as for his friends. After killing the vamps, Buffy picks up a sledgehammer and gives the Master’s bones a good shattering. When she’s finally done, she cries on Angel’s shoulder, having finally worked through her problems. The next morning at school, Cordelia laments to Jenny that the blood from the night before is going to be hard to get out of her clothes. Buffy tells Giles that she’s worried Willow and Xander will be mad at her for getting them into such a dangerous situation. He tells her that she has to face them sooner or later, and that she’ll make more mistakes anyway. When Buffy arrives at class, she sees that Xander and Willow have saved a seat for her. They make slightly awkward conversation until Xander breaks the ice with a comment about the Master’s bones and the three are back to normal. In the warehouse, the Anointed One looks at all of the damage Buffy caused and says, “I hate that girl.”

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Spanking your inner moppet makes things better (and is also fun to say).

GRADE: B+ Buffy’s reliance on the Scoobies is becoming a big theme.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Xander: “‘It’s a madhouse! A mad--.’”
Willow:Planet of the Apes.
Xander: “Can I finish, please?”
Willow: “Oh! Sorry, go ahead.”
Xander: “‘…House!’”
Willow:Planet of the Apes.

“No one has suffered like I have. Of course, I think that that kind of adversity builds character. Well, then I thought, I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character?” - Cordelia

Willow: “Buffy killed a vampire last night.”
Buffy: “Uh, I think you can get a little more volume if you speak from the diaphragm.”

Xander: “Dreams are meaningful.”
Willow: “Tsh! Tell me about it. The other night I dreamt that Xander…. Uh, i-it wasn’t Xander. I-in fact, it wasn’t me. It was a friend’s dream, and she doesn’t remember it.”
Buffy: “I bet she doesn’t.”

Willow: “Angel stopped by? Wow. Was there…. Well, I mean, was it having to do with kissing?”
Buffy: “Willow, grow up. Not everything is about kissing.”
Xander: “Yeah. Some stuff’s about groping.”

Xander: “Oh, hey, did you guys hear that Cibo Matto’s gonna be at the Bronze tonight?”
Willow: “Cibo Matto? They’re playing?”
Xander: “No, Willow, they’re gonna be clog dancing.”
Willow: “Cibo Matto can clog dance? Oh, sarcasm, right.”

Cordelia: “So your secret’s safe with me.”
Buffy: “Well, that works out great. You won’t tell anyone that I’m the Slayer, and I won’t tell anyone you’re a moron.”

Cordelia: “You know, we’ve never really been close, which is nice, ‘cause I don’t really like you that much, but…you have on occasion saved the world and stuff, so I’m gonna…do you a favor.”
Buffy: “ And this great favor is…?”
Cordelia: “I’m gonna give you some advice. Get over it.”
Buffy: “Excuse me?”
Cordelia: “Whatever is causing the Joan Collins ‘tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. ‘Cause pretty soon you’re not even gonna have the loser friends you’ve got now.”

Willow: “She’s possessed!”
Giles: “Possessed?”
Willow: “That’s the only explanation that makes any sense. I mean, you should’ve seen her last night. That wasn’t Buffy.”
Xander: “Are we overlooking the idea that she may be very attracted to me? (Willow and Giles give him looks) She’s possessed.”

Willow: “I mean, why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?”
Giles: “Willow, I think we’re all a little too old to be spelling things out.”
Xander: “A bitca?”

Snyder: “There’re some things I can just smell. It’s like a sixth sense.”
Giles: “No, actually, that would be one of the five.”
Snyder: “That Summers girl. I smell trouble. I smell expulsion, and just the faintest aroma of jail.”
Giles: “Well, before you throw away the key, you might consider giving her the benefit of the doubt. She may surprise you.”
Snyder: “You really have faith in those kids, don’t you?”
Giles: “Yes, I do.”
Snyder: “Weird.”

“You’re a vampire. Oh, I’m sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say ‘undead American’?” - Buffy to Angel

Buffy: “You think you can take me?”
Angel: “What?”
Buffy: “Oh, c’mon! I mean, you must’ve thought about it. What would happen if it ever came down to a fight, you vampire, me the Slayer. I mean, you must’ve wondered! Well, why don’t we find out?”
Angel: “I’m not gonna fight you.”
Buffy: “Come on. Kick my a%$.”

Cordelia: “It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell you, none of that rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you can dry clean till judgment day - you are living with those stains.”
Jenny: “Yeah, that’s the worst part of being hung upside-down by a vampire who wants to slit your throat: the stains.”

Xander: “So, we Bronzin’ it tonight?”
Willow: “Wednesday; it’s kinda beat.”
Xander: “Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night.”

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