LadyGhosts of TV Past

Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S2, E9 “What’s My Line, Part 1″

No, Angel, it’s not you. You’re the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to me. I just get messed sometimes. I wish we could be regular kids.

This is the point in the second season where everything starts to change. If you’re new to the Buffyverse, you’ve probably heard rabid fans talk in awed tones about Season 2. If you’re a rabid fan, you’ve probably been eagerly waiting for “What’s My Line” to hurry up and get here. “What’s My Line, 1 & 2” are the episodes that put in motion everything that happens in the later part of this season; from here we’re going to see “Surprise” and “Innocence” (another two-parter), “Passion,” “I Only Have Eyes For You” (vastly underrated, in my opinion), and “Becoming 1 & 2.” For my money, “Becoming, Part 2” remains one of the best episodes of televised storytelling, full stop.

But to get there, we first need to figure out “What’s My Line.”

It’s Career Week at Sunnydale High, and the gang is busily filling out dots on their standardized personality profiles. Of all things Buffy is not going to have ““ a normal life, a normal romance, a chance of dying from old age ““ a career in the non-Slaying fields is among them. Which leads me to a completely reasonable question: why doesn’t the damn Watcher Council give her a salary? It’s not so important now while Buffy is in high school and Joyce is footing the bill, but why should the Slayer even worry about career week? Wouldn’t you want your warrior against evil to not have to worry about paying the mortgage? Buying new swords? Where she’ll get the wood to whittle her stakes from?

We need to check in with our favorite dead couple, Spike and Dru. Drusilla is still weak from whatever the mob did to her in Prague and Spike’s been on the hunt for a way to cure her, except that Buffy is always getting in the way. One of their lackeys ““ a smart one, since he wears glasses —  is attempting to translate some ancient tome or another. It’s a mess of not-Latin that doesn’t make any sense. Spike tries to slap some sense into him, not that it works.  It’s Dru and her weirdo psychic powers that lets them know that the key to deciphering the book is in a crypt somewhere in Sunnydale.

While doing her current gig, Buffy runs into a couple of vampire thieves breaking into one of Sunnydale’s many mausoleums. She’s only able to dust one of the vamps. The other runs off. She doesn’t think much of this, since vampires running from her is, you know, normal. Plus, it gets her home earlier to find Angel hanging out in her room, clutching Mr. Gordo, her stuffed pig. He had a bad feeling about her ““ which is also normal. Something is coming. Something is always going to be coming, when you’re a hero, and when he sees how badly Buffy wants a moment of normality in her crazy life, Angel offers to take her ice skating.

TNMAS, Buffy is getting debriefed by Giles. She absently mentions running into two thieving vampires and only getting one like it’s no biggie. Giles begs to disagree. In fact, he begs to disagree most vehemently, dressing Buffy down for not doing her job and getting distracted too easily. He could always get a new Slayer, Buffy points out, but oh, wait! He can’t. He can have a new Slayer if she dies ““ and neither of them mention that she already has.

Speaking of jobs, the career placement tests have come back. Cordelia is pegged as a personal shopper or motivational speaker. Xander is looking at a future as a prison guard and Willow’s result is”¦ missing. The mystery of Willow’s placement is soon resolved when she’s plucked out of the career fair by a pair of suits and deposited in a ritzy private “suite.” She’s being headhunted by the world’s “most important software conglomerate,” who has been tracking her progress for “a while.” It’s all very ominous. There’s only one other student who has met their qualifications ““ Willow turns around to see Oz sitting behind her. The moment that Oz looks over and sees who has joined him is tooth-achingly sweet. His face is so expressive, so happy and stunned to see this mystery woman he’s been mooning over for the past couple of weeks, its quite touching.

Since Giles was so hot to find out what the vampires were looking for, Buffy has ditched school and leads him on an angry hike through the cemetery. It turns out that the crypt in question belongs to Du Lac ““ who also happens to have been the author of the book that was stolen from the library a few weeks ago. Now that his crypt has been raided too  — well, that raises major red flags for our watcher.

He explains as much back at the library and add that he suspects what was stolen was a “Du Lac” cross – a sort of mystical decoder ring that should unlock the stolen book. Willow excitedly declares the need for a research party. She needs to start dating Oz as soon as humanly possible, because the girl has a very limited idea of “exciting.”  To completely underline everything Giles was complaining about not a scene before, Buffy jumps up and says she’s going to take off. Research isn’t her thing, see, and she’s got places to be! Like skating with Angel! Buffy bolts without really telling the gang where she’s going.

While all of this is going on, we’re treated to a couple of brief cut scenes. A big man with a dead eye and a nasty look scar gets off a bus at the Sunnydale terminal. A pasty looking salesman is walking through the Summers’ neighborhood, skipping Buffy’s house and heading for the neighbors’. He explains he’s a make up salesman when the neighbor opens her door, but she starts screaming after she lets him into the house. At the airport, a young woman pummels her way out of the cargo section of a plane.

Apparently, SMG was a skater in her youth, so they incorporated her talent into the show with this scene at the ice rink. Buffy makes a couple of passes around the ice while she’s waiting for Angel to show up. After she laughingly slides into the board, a hand grabs her from behind and tosses her into a bench ““ it’s the one-eyed brute from the bus station. Angel shows up to pummel the guy a bit before Buffy handily dispatches him by slitting his throat with her skate. Marti Noxon says in the special features that she wrote this scene with Fargo in mind and planned a Shining-level blood bath that was not going to be allowed on network TV. Angel finds a signet ring on the dead guy that will be significant, because signet rings always are. He and Buffy kiss for the first time with his vamp-face on while the girl from the plane watches them.

The ring identifies the wearer as a member of the Order of Taraka, a group of assassins that are Serious Business. Spike has called them into town to take care of the Slayer, not that Giles knows this part of the story when he fills the Scooby Gang in at the library. He’s short-tempered, snapping at Xander when he makes a typical Xander crack about the situation, and all the kids seem to suddenly understand how serious the problem is. Giles suggests that Buffy hide out for a bit while they try to figure out who the killers are. Angel had told her to hide too and this double whammy really freaks Buffy out.

She walks through the halls of school, freaking out at every turn. Every person she runs into could be a potential assassin and we’re treated to a montage of exaggerated threats ““ a balloon popping, a guy pulling a comb out of his pocket, a cop from the career fair looking mean. When she grabs Oz by the throat and throws him into the wall for walking up behind her, Buffy realizes this is not the place for her and splits.

Buffy walks past her dark house and checks to make sure no one is following, and keeps going. She ends up in Angel’s apartment. He’s gone, off looking for information about the Taraka killers, so she crawls into his bed alone and goes to sleep.

Angel is skulking around one of the demon bars, threatening the twitchy bartender for information on the Order of Taraka. Before he can beat it out of Willie, Angel is attacked by the plane girl. Angel is no shlub in a fight, but this girl is handing him his ass on a platter. She beats him into a cage behind the bar, slams it shut, and lets Angel know that she’s going to go visit his girlfriend. Angel is free to try to stop her if he wants, but the sun is rising in a couple of hours and his makeshift jail has a western exposure”¦

During the course of the night, Giles has managed to figure out what was in the Du Lac book that Spike wants; it contains a ritual to bring a weak or ailing vampire back to health. Now he just needs to find Buffy and tell her.

But our mystery girl has found Buffy first. The girls throw down, kicking and punching, with a little scratching and hair pulling for good measure until they fight each other to a standstill. Buffy demands to know who her attacker is.

“Kendra, the Vampire Slayer,” she spits back.

Bonus Content: Salvador Dali on “What’s My Line.”



By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

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