When She Was Bad

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"When She Was Bad" is also the name of a book by Patricia Pearson
"When She Was Bad"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 1
Directed byJoss Whedon
Written byJoss Whedon
Production code5V01
Original air dateSeptember 15, 1997
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 2)
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"When She Was Bad" is the first episode in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode was written and directed by series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon. The narrative follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) returning from her summer vacation and behaving strangely following her encounter with The Master in the previous season's finale. The Anointed One (Andrew J. Ferchland) attempts to revive the Master with a ritual involving his bones. However he requires something from the Slayer and sets a deadly trap in motion.


Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) are quizzing each other on film quotes on the outskirts of a cemetery. A tender moment ensues when Xander playfully puts ice cream on Willow's nose, but just as he is about to kiss her, a vampire appears behind Willow. Xander intervenes but is barely holding his own when Buffy shows up and kills the vampire.

At school, Giles finds the gang and explains that although they have closed the Hellmouth, the mystical energy still attracts evil forces to the town. Cordelia runs into the gang, remembering her previous encounters with the supernatural, and promises not to tell anyone Buffy is the slayer. She still thinks of Buffy and her friends as outsiders. Giles asks Buffy to resume her training after school. Whilst practicing, Buffy has a vision of the Master and begins furiously hitting a dummy. At night, she dreams of being killed by him; when she wakes, Angel (David Boreanaz) appears in her room to warn her of the childlike Anointed One (Andrew J. Ferchland). Buffy coldly brushes him off. He tells her he missed her and leaves before she can reply. At the Bronze, Xander and Willow wonder about Buffy's behavior. Willow tries in vain to recreate the ice-cream moment. Buffy then arrives in a very revealing dress and mocks Angel. She begins a slow, sensual dance with Xander. Buffy brushes him off, having only danced with him to make Angel jealous.

Meanwhile, the Anointed One and his acolyte Absalom (Brent Jennings), are forcing their vampires to dig up the Master's bones barehanded through consecrated earth.

Cordelia confronts Buffy and tells her to get over her problems. Buffy leaves and Cordelia is kidnapped by two dark figures. They throw her into a basement with an unconscious Ms. Calendar. Buffy walks to the grave that holds the bones of the Master, and finds it dug up.

At lunch the next day, Giles shares Xander and Willow's concerns about Buffy. He speculates that she has had a tough time handling her traumatic encounter with the Master. Buffy shows up to tell them about her discovery. Giles remembers the existence of some revivification spells and Buffy is angered that he never told her about them. That night, the Scoobies learn that a revivification spell needs the blood of the "closest" person to the deceased. Buffy thinks she is the target, as she and Master were close. Cordelia's necklace, wrapped around a large rock, is thrown through the library window. Though Willow calls it an obvious trap, Buffy leaves, saying in frustration that she cannot look out for them while slaying.

Inside the basement where she has been led, Buffy and Angel find one female vampire. Buffy realizes that the trap is not for her. At the same time, Giles realizes that the Latin text actually said that the ritual requires the blood of those physically nearest to the Master when he died – in other words, Giles, Willow, Cordelia and Ms. Calendar. Giles and Willow are kidnapped by several vampires. Buffy returns to the library, where she finds a bloodied Xander, who is upset with her for abandoning her friends and threatens to kill her if anything happens to Willow. Buffy tortures a vampire for information on their whereabouts. Buffy interrupts the ritual and slays several vampires while Angel and Xander rescue the others. Before she leaves, Buffy smashes the Master's bones to bits with a sledgehammer.

The next day, Buffy apologizes for her behavior and is pleasantly surprised to find herself forgiven. Meanwhile, the Anointed One gazes at the scene of destruction, and simply remarks, "I hate that girl."


"When She Was Bad" drew an audience of 2.9 million households. When the episode was aired as a repeat in November 1997, it scored a higher 3.1 million household rating.[1]

Noel Murray of The A.V. Club gave "When She Was Bad" a mixed review. While he praised the opening and closing scenes as well as other smaller moments, he felt that it dealt with the characters' emotions "erratically" and was not positive towards Buffy's attitude and carrying over the Master plotline.[2] A review from the BBC called "When She Was Bad" "another excellent episode", praising its tying up plot threads from the first season and developing the relationships between characters.[3]


  1. ^ "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season". Archived from the original on 23 August 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  2. ^ Murray, Noel (3 July 2008). ""When She Was Bad", etc". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  3. ^ "When She Was Bad: Review". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2013.

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