Buffy's not-so-happy birthdays (part one) - VIDEO
by Debra McDuffee, posted Jun 24th 2008 3:06PM
Poor Buffy. You'd think that with a life-threatening job like Vampire Slayer, she'd at least get a break once a year, on her birthday. No such luck for Buffy, but great luck for the viewers; we get really meaningful episodes, with significance to both the story arc and insight to the characters' motivations. Buffy's birthday episodes have been some of the strongest of the series.
These is no birthday episode in season one, since the series began as a mid-season replacement.
Season Two, episode 13, "Surprise"
In this episode, the Scooby Gang throws a surprise party for Buffy, but that is only one minor surprise in an episode filled with significant surprises. We learn that Jenny Calendar is actually "Janna of the Kalderash Gypsies" and that her people were the ones who cursed Angel's soul. Oz gets his surprise when he finds out that vampires are real and that Buffy is the Slayer.
Gallery: Buffy Birthdays
Other significant happenings? Xander and Cordelia and Willow and Oz have their first dates, both at Buffy's birthday party. Angel gives Buffy the Claddagh ring as her birthday gift. We see Buffy having prophetic dreams, one of her lesser-used slayer powers.
The biggest surprise of all: Buffy and Angel finally seal the deal (Buffy's first time ever) and Angel loses his soul at the very end of the episode. Bummer of a birthday, wouldn't you say?
Season Three, episode 12, "Helpless"
The word I'd use to describe this episode is poignant, and again, there are a myriad of events that are significant to the whole series. But first, what's with the Helpless?
Buffy feels helpless because she loses her Slayer powers and feels like a typical -- dare I say it? -- girl. Angel and Buffy feel helpless as a couple, because this is the first episode that they realize they will never be able to consummate their relationship again.
Giles feels helpless because he loves Buffy like a father yet he is forced to put her in danger by removing her powers and putting her through a test for her 18th birthday. To add to that, Giles loses Buffy's trust which makes him feel even more helpless. Three's the charm: Giles gets fired as Buffy's watcher, more helpless feelings.
Also significant: Angel gives Buffy a book of 44 love sonnets -- Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning -- inscribed "Always." Because Buffy defeats the vamp using her smarts, not her powers, she realizes she never was helpless. Helpless is the first script David Fury wrote by himself.
Quote: "If I were at full slayer power, I'd be punning right about now." -- Buffy
Season Four, episode 12, "A New Man"
The obvious is that Giles is a new man because he gets transformed into a Fyarl demon. But because he was feeling out of the loop -- Buffy didn't tell him that Riley was a member of the Initiative, he feels second fiddle to Professor Walsh, he feels old and lonely. All is remedied when Buffy knows the demon is Giles by his eyes and doesn't kill him.
Of significance: Buffy is first introduced to Professor Walsh as the Slayer, Tara and Willow realize how powerful they are together when they are working a spell, we first see room 314 in the Initiative's headquarters, after Rayne tells Giles about it.
Best moment of episode: When Giles gets out of the car and chases Professor Walsh down the street, frightening her as the Fyarl demon. Or maybe it was when Giles referred to Walsh as a "haridan" and a "fishwife" ... or perhaps the mere fact that Spikes speaks Fyarl. Great episode.
Tune in tomorrow for part two of Buffy's not-so-happy birthdays, seasons five through seven.