Welcome Back to the Hellmouth: “What’s My Line”

It turns out that when you’ve been having a sort of gentle, persistent, underlying existential crisis—the mental equivalent of one of those colds that’s just sniffles for weeks on end—the “What’s My Line” two-parter can be a little disconcerting.

The crisis is not solved, but Buffy rolls on. And while there’s a lot of plot in these episodes—Dru’s illness, the Order of Taraka, Ice Skating Princess Buffy, Buffy’s desire for a normal life and its conflict with her vampire boyfriend, the introduction of Kendra and her baffling accent—what most interests me is how kind they are to Buffy. Not in the fashion department, of course (lavender shoes with chunky heels!), but in terms of genuinely considering what a fated destiny would feel like to a teenage girl, and what the struggle to come to terms with that might entail.

This two-parter was Marti Noxon’s first appearance as a writer for the show. Her episodes are not universally perfect (“Bad Eggs” is rushing down the pike at us), and Noxon took a lot of the blame for the things fans hated about season six. (Here’s another take on that argument.) But given how often I’ve noticed that Buffy’s weakest episodes are written by, well, men, Noxon’s appearance here, in a two-parter dedicated to bolstering Buffy’s sense of chosen-one self-worth, is more than notable; it’s a sort of signpost, indicating the kind of influence Noxon will have on the show as the seasons progress.

Season 2, Episode 9 & 10, “What’s My Line Parts 1 & 2
Written by: Part 1: Marti Noxon & Howard Gordon; Part 2: Marti Noxon
Directed by: Part 1: David Solomon; Part 2: David Semel
Original airdate: November 17 & 24, 1997
Rewatch date: November 17 & 24, 2017

“You’re the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to me.”

Continue reading “Welcome Back to the Hellmouth: “What’s My Line””

Welcome Back to the Hellmouth: “What’s My Line”