What's My Line (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"What's My Line"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy whats my line.jpg
The two vampire slayers: Buffy and Kendra
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 9 & 10
Directed by David Solomon (Part 1)
David Semel (Part 2)
Written by Marti Noxon (Part 1 & 2)
Howard Gordon (Part 1)
Production code 5V09 & 5V10
Original air date November 17, 1997 (Part 1)
November 24, 1997 (Part 2)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Dark Age"
Next →
"Ted"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"What's My Line" is a two-episode story in season two of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In Part One, Buffy endures Career Week at school while Spike hires assassins to kill her; a fierce fighter who identifies herself as "Kendra, the Vampire Slayer" shows up in Sunnydale. In Part Two, Buffy encounters Kendra, while Angel is taken by Spike for a ritual in which Drusilla is restored to health.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Part one[edit]

As career week arrives, Buffy feels trapped and apathetic because the students around her are exploring their choices for the future, while her fate as the Slayer is already set in stone. Even so, she must join Willow and Xander in filling out career questionnaires. Spike works on a cure for Drusilla as she lays out Tarot cards. He becomes frustrated with Dru's childlike behavior and ruminates on Buffy's interference in his plans. Dalton, a vampire transcriber, is unable to decipher the book stolen from the library a couple of weeks earlier which contains a cure, but then Drusilla informs Spike that they need a key because the book is in code. The cards indicate the location of the key, much to the delight of Spike.

Buffy witnesses Dalton stealing an object from a mausoleum, but he escapes when she is distracted by another vampire. She enters her bedroom through the window out of habit, despite the fact that her mother is out of town for a few days, and finds Angel waiting to warn her of grave danger, and she notes with irritation that he does this a lot. He discovers her childhood obsession with Dorothy Hamill (Dorothy dolls, posters, and haircut), and offers to take her ice skating the following day. At school the next morning, the test results are revealed, much to the chagrin of Buffy and Xander. Buffy reports to Giles, and he is distressed and disappointed when she tells him about the theft from the mausoleum.

Spike and Drusilla examine the key stolen by Dalton, a gold cross. Spike decides to call the Order of Taraka, an ancient guild of assassins, to rid himself of Buffy once and for all. Back at school, Willow is taken into a secluded lounge area to be recruited by a leading software company, along with Oz, the boy who has been watching her for weeks. At the mausoleum, Giles realizes with concern that Josephus du Lac (a member of a religious sect that had been excommunicated by the Vatican) is buried there. He is the author of the book stolen from the library, and Giles believes the key was stolen from the tomb.

In the meantime, the assassins begin to arrive. A large, intimidating man exits a bus, and a door-to-door beauty salesman walks down the sidewalk past Buffy's house to her next-door neighbors'. He gains an invitation inside, the door closes, and the lady of the house screams. A young woman attacks an airplane worker in the cargo hold of a plane, escaping with little difficulty.

Giles tells Buffy, Xander, and Willow about the "du Lac Cross" which can be used as the key, and he enlists their help with further research. Buffy manages to keep her ice skating date with Angel. She is attacked while ice skating, and Angel arrives in time to help her fight off the assassin whom she kills with the blade of her skate. Angel, recognizing the assassin's ring, asks Buffy if she knows what it means ("I just killed a Super Bowl Champ?"), and then warns her that she should leave Sunnydale and hide. Angel is wounded and doesn't want Buffy to have to touch his vampire face, but she removes her gloves to touch his face with her bare hands, assuring him that she hadn't even noticed, and kisses him. The female from the plane watches from the shadows.

The assassin next-door to Buffy's house feeds on the body he had killed by disintegrating into hundreds of writhing mealworms which can reshape themselves into limbs at will. Buffy is paranoid and jittery, suspicious of each person who passes by in the hallways at school. As Oz passes her, she panics and pins him against a locker. Oz declares her to be a "tense person". Buffy arrives at Angel's empty home and falls asleep in his bed. Angel goes to Willy's bar for information, and Willy finally confirms Angel's suspicions that Spike is behind the assassins, but before Angel can leave, he is attacked by the mysterious female. They fight, and she locks him in a metal cage in front of an eastern window, with only a few short hours until sunrise.

Giles awakens Willow, who had fallen asleep ("Don't warn the tadpoles!" she exclaims, subsequently explaining that she has "frog fears"). He reveals that the missing manuscript is a ritual to restore a weakened vampire back to health. Xander and Cordelia enter Buffy's house, and Xander searches for her while Cordelia waits downstairs. She hears a knock at the door and lets in the mealworm assassin, again appearing as a make-up salesman promising free samples. In Angel's bedroom, Buffy awakes to find herself being attacked by the mysterious woman. They fight, and the woman tells Buffy that her name is Kendra, the Vampire Slayer...

Part two[edit]

Buffy and Kendra go to Giles for assistance in explaining their situation. They learn that Kendra is the slayer who was 'called' when Buffy temporarily died in her fight with The Master in "Prophecy Girl". Their discussion reveals that Kendra had locked Angel in a cage, leaving him to be dusted at sunrise. Buffy and Kendra arrive to find only an empty cage; Buffy fears the worst, but Kendra points out the absence of dust.

Willy (the bar guy) had saved Angel from near-death, only to dump him in a sewer with Spike. Spike takes Angel back to the warehouse, where he will be held until he can be sacrificed to restore Drusilla to full strength. Bound and gagged, Angel haplessly listens as Drusilla asks Spike to let her torture Angel. Although Spike briefly hesitates, he soon smiles and agrees, unable to resist indulging her whims. Meanwhile, as Buffy ruminates on the co-existence of two slayers, she entertains the possibility of quitting and letting Kendra take over her Slayer duties.

Giles begins to bond professionally with Kendra, who seems to be more dedicated to her calling than Buffy, on a professional, intellectual and academic level. Xander and Cordelia face even bigger problems when they find that the salesman that Cordelia let into the Summers' house is actually an assassin who can transform himself into thousands of mealworms. They run and hide in the basement, although before long they are fighting each other. After an unexpected kiss, Xander and Cordelia rush to escape the basement, running past the attacking worm-monster. At school, the career placement test has thrown Willow and Oz together, and they discuss their similar interests. Buffy, whose test results recommend a career in law enforcement, attends the career fair seminar to appease Principal Snyder. The police officer leading the seminar calls Buffy's name, but when Buffy identifies herself, the officer draws her gun and points it at the Slayer. Buffy avoids the bullet, which instead hits Oz as he pushed Willow out of harm's way. Kendra comes to Buffy's rescue, and they fight off the attacker. The Scoobies then gather in the library, where Giles announces that Spike intends for Angel to die in the ritual to restore Drusilla. Buffy angrily announces that Spike can do anything to her, but he had better not mess with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Angel is being tortured by Drusilla, both emotionally and physically; she pours holy water on him as she reminds him about how he killed her whole family. Spike comes in and announces that it is time for the ritual to begin. Angel taunts Spike with insinuations that Spike is unable to satisfy Drusilla, in hopes that Spike will kill him before he can be used to cure Drusilla. Spike is infuriated, but does not lose sight of the big picture. Meanwhile, Kendra gains a newfound respect for Buffy's qualities as a Slayer. Later, the Slayers go after Willy to learn what happened to Angel; they force Willy to take them to the location of Spike and Angel. However, Willy leads them into the assassins and they arrive too late to prevent the ritual. Buffy attacks Spike to save Angel, and Kendra and the Scooby Gang arrive to back her up. Xander and Cordelia work together in the hallway to kill the worm assassin; since he can only be destroyed in his "disassembled state", they lure the worms underneath a door into a sticky trap. Willow and Giles work together to stake a vampire while Buffy and Kendra fight several of their own. Spike starts a fire and rushes to rescue the unconscious Drusilla, hoping that the ritual has had time to cure her. However, Buffy prevents their exit, crushing them in falling rubble. She rushes to the floor to help the weakened Angel, while everyone watches in awe, and she helps him exit the building.

With the danger over, it's time for Kendra to leave. Buffy and Kendra discuss Angel (with Kendra admitting he's 'pretty cute') and also their position as Slayer. Kendra remarks that Buffy considers slaying to be a job when it isn't, it's a part of who she is. The two, now friends, say their goodbyes and Buffy is left with a new outlook on her position as the Slayer, as well as the knowledge that she is no longer alone in her calling.

At the remains of the church, Spike lies seriously injured under the rubble... when Drusilla rises, the ritual having worked and restored her to full power. She carries her partner out of the debris, promising to return the favor and make him as powerful as her.

Production[edit]

  • The hold of the plane in which Kendra arrived in Sunnydale was turned upside down and used as a sewer tunnel in later episodes.[1] The ice rink, called Iceland, is found at 8041 Jackson Street in Paramount, California, around 25 miles from where Buffy was filmed.[2]
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar is a fan of ice skating in real life, and lists ice skating as one of her hobbies,[3] which, according to writer Marti Noxon in the DVD commentary for the episode, is the reason ice skating was incorporated into the episode.
  • Bianca Lawson commented on her accent during her stint on Buffy in an interview with SFX magazine:

I really hated that accent! I got the part, and I didn't originally have an accent. Then, literally the night before, they said, "What about a Jamaican accent?" So it's one of those things where, y'know, I just had to put it on tape, but I didn't have a chance to get comfortable with it. And the thing is, certain things - if you say it properly [in Jamaican patois], people don't really fully understand it, so they would change things. They'd say, "Well, say it like this" and it's like, "Would that be accurate in that accent though?" "It doesn't matter because no-one's going to understand you!" So different people were giving their interpretations of it. I was like "But everyone's going to think that I'm doing it wrong!" So personally, I wasn't happy with the accent!

  • Seth Green mentioned in an Ultimate TV talk that the line "I mock you with my monkey pants" was initially dreamt by Alyson Hannigan. Joss Whedon decided to insert it in the episode. Marti Noxon said in her DVD commentary for the episode that all the lines after Oz's compliment about Willow's smile were ad-libbed by Seth and Alyson.
  • At the end of the episode, Buffy warns Kendra to not watch movies with Chevy Chase or animals while on the airplane. This is likely a reference to the Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm, in which Gellar had a small, uncredited role.
  • This episode is later referenced in the Season 8 issue, "Time of Your Life", when Buffy tells Melaka Fray's sister she "...thought about being a cop. A law. In high school. I took a test, said I fit the profile." after Buffy's career test results recommend a career in law enforcement for her.
  • Spike was originally intended to be killed off in this episode. However, due to his popularity with the fans and James Marsters' performance, Joss Whedon decided to keep him alive, instead having him paralyzed.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Dorothy Hamill: When Buffy talks about a "Dorothy Hamill phase," she means ice-skating since Hamill was an American ice-skater who won a gold medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics.
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: The software recruiter says to Willow, "The jet was delayed by fog at Sea-Tac, but he should be here any minute."
  • The Simpsons: Buffy says to Giles "Have a cow, Giles." She is playing on The Simpsons phrase used by Bart Simpson, "don't have a cow" (which means "don't get worked up").
  • What's My Line?: An American game show which ran from 1950 to 1975. Celebrity panelists tried to guess the unusual occupations of contestants through yes-or-no questions. The UK version featured the contestants miming their jobs.
  • My Fair Lady: After Dalton has a success, Spike says "By George, I think he's got it," playing on Henry Higgins' (played by Rex Harrison) singing line "By George, she's got it! I think she's got it!"
  • White Noise: Principal Snyder tells Xander "Whatever comes out of your mouth is a meaningless waste of breath, an airborne toxic event," which is a reference to the "Airborne Toxic Event" that Jack Gladney was exposed to in Don DeLillo's 1985 novel, White Noise.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: When Kendra challenges Willow, Buffy says "Back off, Pink Ranger". Sarah Michelle Gellar's stunt double, Sophia Crawford, was also the stunt double for the Pink Ranger.
  • The Beatles: When Xander finds out the identity of the mealworm assassin, he references the Beatles song, "I Am the Walrus".
  • Super Bowl ring: Buffy likens the ring worn by the Order of Taraka to that awarded to the winning team in the Super Bowl.
  • Molly Ringwald: Buffy says to Kendra "Possibly something from the Ringwald oeuvre." She is referring to 80s teen star Molly Ringwald. Ringwald was the star of several John Hughes films of the 1980s. Her "oeuvre" includes Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), and Pretty in Pink (1986).

Reception[edit]

Part one pulled in 3.5 million households on its original airing, while part two had an audience of 3.9 million households.[4]

Arc significance[edit]

  • This episode introduces the character of Kendra, the first vampire slayer besides Buffy to be featured on the show.
  • Buffy's death in "Prophecy Girl" activating a new slayer (thus allowing there to be two slayers) will remain important throughout the series, especially after the introduction of Faith.
  • Willow and Oz finally meet - having almost done so in previous episodes "Inca Mummy Girl" and "Halloween"
  • Buffy and Oz also meet each other in an awkward way.
  • The term "Scooby Gang" is used for the first time, when Xander tells Cordelia, "You want to be a member of the Scooby Gang, you gotta be willing to be inconvenienced every now and then."
  • Willy’s Place is seen for the first time. The bar also appears in many other episodes including "Amends", "The Zeppo", "Goodbye Iowa" and "Family".
  • The bespectacled vampire, Dalton, later appears in "Surprise" and is killed by the Judge.
  • Darla asks Angel in the season one episode "Angel", if he believes Buffy would ever be able to kiss his 'real face'. She does in this episode.
  • Cordelia and Xander kiss for the first time.
  • The female Order of Taraka member is played by Spice Williams-Crosby, who will later play a prison inmate hired by another demon group, the First Evil's Bringers, to kill Faith Lehane in "Salvage."
  • Despite dialogue in this episode to the effect that the Order of Taraka never calls off an assassination once hired, the next episode, "Ted," reveals Angel to have persuaded the Order to do so with, apparently, no dire consequences.

Continuity discrepancies[edit]

  • In part one, during the conversation held between Buffy and Angel after she climbs in through her window, Angel walks in front of a small mirror hanging on the wall with pictures taped to it and you see his reflection, while only moments before there is a shot of Buffy talking to him while looking into a much larger mirror in which he has no reflection.
  • In part two, Kendra and the rest of the Scooby Gang found the church without Willy's help.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Golden, Christopher; Holder, Nancy, The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Simon & Schuster, p. 95 
  2. ^ Golden, Christopher; Holder, Nancy, The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Simon & Schuster, p. 96 
  3. ^ Episode Guide: What's My Line Part One, BBC 
  4. ^ "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season."

External links[edit]