Not every part of “Slayers” is as thrilling as Cordelia’s return, though. The series is co-written by Benson and Buffyverse novelist Christopher Golden, and it vacillates between engrossing and convoluted depending on the moment. The action starts when an unlikely Big Bad pair-up leads an alternate version of Cordelia — this one a slayer — to seek out main-timeline Spike, who’s currently babysitting a brand new slayer named Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes, a lovable standout).
The storyline is compelling enough, but it also feels as if it was overtly written around which actors were able to return to the series and which weren’t. Chipper Indira’s relationship with Spike calls to mind the vamp’s unlikely kinship with Dawn, while Clem seems as if he’s completely taking over the Xander role. Some of the patches for absent actors aren’t just obvious, but also stupid, as when Tara speaks to a particularly grating scene partner who can’t speak back.
The limited cast results in a story that feels oddly stitched-together at times, but at its best, it’s capable of recapturing the magic of the original — with a more mature thematic throughline. “Some a**holes never learn,” Spike says in his noir-tinged voiceover, and if you wonder which a**holes he’s talking about, don’t worry, he’ll explain. Spike shares some pointed commentary on the role of “bad guys” in society in the show’s first moments, and if you couple that with other characters’ commentary on their own traumas and bad relationships, it’s clear that the series is working through something that goes beyond the boundaries of fiction.