BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Revisiting “Welcome to the Hellmouth”
With so many shows on hiatus right now, I wanted to think of something fun to blog about. So I decided that I should start a series of retro recaps—recapping episodes of my favorite series that have long since gone off the air. Given my schedule, I can’t commit to anything as ambitious as a recapping an entire series, but I figured that I could occasionally post a recap of an “old” favorite (I’m talking classic-WB-old here, not I-Love-Lucy-old) whenever I have a chance. There were so many series that made me fall in love with television, and so many television heroines that inspired this blog (see the pictures in the Heroine TV header above). However, with so many current shows on the air, I have found little time to blog about them. As Anne with an E would say: TRAGICAL. So, to start off this sure-to-be-sporadic series of blog posts, I’ve decided on part one of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot, “Welcome the Hellmouth.”
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first premiered in the U.S. on March 10, 1997, I was sophomore in high school—same as Buffy. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch. In fact I didn’t watch the series until 10 years later. Again, tragical. But since then, I have been consumed with all things Buffy. I have made up for lost time by convincing friends and family members to watch, organizing Buffy viewing parties, buying Buffy action figures and Christmas ornaments, wearing Buffy apparel, listening to Buffy podcasts, reading Buffy blogs, reading Buffy Season 8 comics, etc. And as anyone who knows me even a little could tell you, I never pass up an opportunity to make a Buffy reference. It’s a way of life, people. Not to mention the fact that I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have seen the series on DVD. The show really feels like an old friend to me now, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, I think that it has really been life changing in some ways—not least of which was inspiring me to blog about television.
Read on for my detailed recap & running commentary on the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Welcome the Hellmouth,” originally aired on March 10, 1997:
So, the Buffy pilot—where to start? The hair! The clothes! Everyone looks so young! Cordelia’s so deliciously mean! The vampires have such ugly bumpy foreheads and they all talk with lisps! And then there’s that Vampyr book! Whenever I see vampire spelled like “vampyr,” by the way, I always pronounce in my head just like Andrew in “Storyteller.” And on that note … oh, hello there, gentle readers. You caught me catching up on an old favorite. It’s wonderful to get lost in a story, isn’t it? Adventure and heroics and discovery: don’t they just take you away? Come with me now, if you will, gentle readers. Join me on a new voyage of the mind. A little tale I like to call: Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs. [Pause to sip from my GIGANTIC glass of brandy.]
Remember how season one used to open up on that little montage with the voiceover about Buffy being the Chosen One? Yep, there was a Chosen One before Neo, and before Harry Potter. Recognize! And she didn’t have to get sucked into a computer program or go to British boarding school to fulfill her destiny. This opening montage features a graveyard, Buffy’s cross necklace, weapons, more weapons, the cover of the Vampyr book, the pages inside filled with monsters, and Buffy holding a crossbow. And it wasn’t even like this took the place of the credits—it kind of functioned like a previously. “Hey, this show is about the Chosen One, a teenage girl who hunts demons. There will be a lot of time spent hanging out in cemeteries and researching monsters in the library. Also, girl likes her weapons … and her jewelry.” Of course, the actual voiceover said the following melodramatic awesomeness: “In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is THE SLAYER.” That whole “alone” thing would change in season two, and then change even more in seasons three and seven, but this opening montage hearkens back to simpler times. Aaaah, nostalgia. Although, even these times were not exactly “simple.” From the very first moments of the series, we learn that Buffy has a destiny. She is part of something bigger than herself, and it is some heavy crazy stuff involving a lot of violence. Good luck, little fifteen-or-sixteen-year-old Buffy! (You’re going to need it.)
We then open on a deserted school. The camera moves into a science classroom, full of all sorts of science-y knick knacks. Then an arm breaks through the window and we see a “teenage” boy and girl. The girl is blonde and looks pretty scared. Hello, oh-so-young Julie Benz! Love you! (But your hair is better on Angel.) The two enter the hallway, and the blonde girl still seems scared. She says that she hears a noise, but her companion says that it’s nothing. He jokes around, playing on her fears, but after he assures her that no one else is there, the seemingly-innocent girl vamps out and bites him. Goodbye fake-teenage boy. We hardly knew you. Yes, the scared blonde alone in a dark hallway with a seemingly threatening guy, turned out to be a frakkin’ murderous vampire. Darla (yes, it’s DARLA!) is the bad guy. And that opening scene is Buffy in a nutshell—turning your expectations upside down. Joss Whedon designed the entire show around the idea of the blonde victim in the alley (a continuous horror movie trope) fighting back. Buffy takes back the night literally and figuratively. Also, you better watch out for that sweet girl in a school-girl uniform—she could be a four hundred year old vampire. Nothing is what it seems.
Cue the credits. “Daaah, da da da. Daaaaaah, da da da …” Aaah, Nerf Herder. Every time I listen to the opening theme I think of scruffy Han Solo. Also, I love the power shot of Buffy at the end, and how it changes every season. Um, have I mentioned yet that Buffy is my hero? Because she really is. Also, she is really good at those power shots. Evil better beware. This tiny blonde is not to be messed with.
Cut to Buffy in bed. Her sheets and bed spread are white and she looks so young and innocent. However, peaceful sleep is not to be her fate because she begins to toss and turn as she dreams about a lot of stuff that will happen over the first season: including the necklace Angel gives her, the vampires, the Master, the magician’s case thingy from “The Puppet Show,” a cemetery, the Vampyr book, and more. Watching Buffy’s dream is basically like re-watching the opening montage and the credits. Something wicked this way comes, in case you weren’t paying attention so far. Also, mythology moment: Buffy has prophetic dreams. Oooh, the plot thickens.
Buffy’s sleep is then cut short even further when her mother calls up from downstairs, waking her: “You wouldn’t want to be late for your first day.” Buffy grouches: “No, we wouldn’t want that.”
Sometime later, Buffy is dropped off at school by her mom. The sign reads Sunnydale High School, but it is also West Beverly High, in case you were wondering. As Buffy steps out of the car, she looks a little worried. Being the new girl is hard, people. Then we get our first glimpse of Xander as he skateboards by. (Hey, remember how Xander used to skateboard?) When he sees the cute new girl, he runs into a rail, falling. Typical Xander. Then we get our first glimpse at Willow, as she smiles at Xander. (Aaah, remember how she used to have a crush on Xander? Poor thing.) It is established that the two are friends, and that Willow is a good student, while Xander is … not. Xander: “I kinda had a problem with the math.” Willow: “Which part?” Xander: “The math.” He asks for her help that night, and she agrees. She also recommends that he check out Theories and Trig “from the library … where the books live.” Hee. Clearly this library thing is a new concept for Xander. This could possibly explain why he’s not doing so great at school. The two then run into their friend Jesse (Hi, Eric Balfour!). Jesse saw the cute new girl too, and brings her up. Xander: “What’s the sitch? What do we know about her?” Aw, a “What’s the sitch?” reference. For that small percent of the population who actually saw the original Buffy movie. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go educate yourselves: Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD on Amazon. Of course, all Jesse knows is “New girl.” Jesse is clearly a promising young man with a bright future ahead of him.
Meanwhile, Buffy meets with Principal Flutie. Awww, moment of silence for Principal Flutie. He didn’t deserve death-by-hyenas. Flutie addresses the new student: “Buffy Summers, sophomore, late of Hemery High in Los Angeles. Interesting record. Quite a career.” Again, this connects Buffy to the movie mythology. Flutie then proceeds to rip up her transcripts. “Welcome to Sunnydale. A clean slate, Buffy, that’s what you get here. What’s past is past. We’re not interested in what it says on a piece of paper. Even if it says …” At that he happens to peer down and realizes that Buffy inflicted some maaaaaajor damage at her last school (all in the interest of saving her classmates from vampires, of course, but the transcripts leave that part out). He hastily begins taping the papers back together. Oops. Buffy: “I know my transcripts are a bit … colorful.” Flutie: “Do you think colorful is the right word? Not … uh … dismal.” Buffy: “It wasn’t that bad!” Flutie: “You burned down the gym.” Buffy: “I did. I really did. But you’re not seeing the big picture here. I mean that gym was full of vampi— … asbestos.” Oh, Buffy, I love you. Flutie: “Well, don’t worry. Any other school, they might say, ‘watch your step,’ or ‘we’ll be watching you.’ But that’s just not the way here. We want to service your needs, and help you to respect our needs. And if your needs and our needs don’t mesh … well.” Oh, poor Buffy. It’s hard to escape your destiny … especially when you’re living on a Hellmouth.
As Buffy leaves the principal’s office, she drops her bag, and her stuff spills out all over the hallway. Xander quickly doubles back to help her. And he is oh so awkward: “Can I have you? […] Can I help you?” She thanks him, and he introduces himself to her. Very awkwardly. Actual words: “Maybe I’ll see you at school, since we both go there.” Sigh. After Buffy leaves, Xander mutters to himself, “We both go to school … very suave … very not pathetic.” He then realizes that Buffy forgot something—her STAKE. Oops.
Cut to Buffy in history class. There are some notes about the Black Death and germ warfare on the board. Hmmm. Also, in rewatching this scene I was particularly fascinated by one girl’s clear plastic coat with bright orange and yellow polka dots. Oh, the 90s. What a decade. I remember reading a fashion spread in YM back in the day and coveting a pair of clear plastic Dr. Martens. Seriously. But enough about that, because then we get our first glimpse of Cordelia. I LOVE YOU CORDELIA! Buffy is seated near our favorite mean girl, and leans in to share Cordy’s text book. When class ends, Cordelia recommends that Buffy find a textbook in the library and even offers to show her the way. Awww, she’s so sweet. Sometimes. She knows a little bit about Buffy’s background and comments: “I would kill to live in L.A. That close to so many shoes!” She adds: “You’ll be okay here. If you hang with me and mine, you’ll be accepted in no time. Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You’re from L.A. so you can skip the written, but let’s see…” She then begins a series of questions. Cordelia: “Vamp nail polish?” Buffy: “Um, over.” Cordelia: “So over. James Spader?” Buffy: “He needs to call me.” Really, girls? James Spader? In 1997? As if. Cordy: “Frappucinos?” Buffy: “Trendy but tasty.” Cordelia: “John Tesh?” Buffy: “The devil.” Again, that doesn’t really register with me when channeling my teenage-self. Sorry, Joss. Work on those pop-culture references a little bit more. Cordelia declares: “That was pretty much a gimmee, but you passed!” Well that’s a relief.
However, as the two girls make their way down the hall, our beloved Cordy proves herself to be a little less than kind to our favorite red-headed witch. Willow is drinking from the water fountain (how QUAINT!) when Cordelia comments: “Willow, nice dress. Good to know you’ve seen the softer side of Sears.” Bad Cordy! (But also oh-so-good. Best mean girl EVAH!) Willow, completely oblivious: “Oh, well, my mom picked it out.” Awww. Cordelia: “No wonder you’re such a guy magnet. Are you done?” The dress in question, in case you don’t remember, is a plaid jumper, and with her long hair (remember how long Alyson Hannigan’s hair used to be?) she just looks so young and adorable. And really, given the deluge of multi-colored overalls that is to come in future episodes, this dress may be the least offending thing in Willow’s early-season wardrobe. I mean, I’m just saying that if Willow was wearing this or one of her fuzzy sweaters, then maybe Cordelia would be a little more justified. Having burned and brushed off a lowly geek, Cordelia tells Buffy: “First rule here: know your losers. Once you can identify them all by sight, they’re a lot easier to avoid.” To Buffy’s credit, she does not look happy about this.
Cordelia then invites Buffy to come to the Bronze (the first mention of THE BRONZE, guys!) to hang out. She explains: “It’s the only club worth going to around here. They let anyone in, but it’s still the scene. It’s in the bad part of town.” Buffy asks where that is. Um, THE WHOLE FRAKKIN’ TOWN BECAUSE IT IS ABOVE A FRAKKIN’ HELLMOUTH. Of course, no one knows this yet, so Cordy says: “About a half a block from the good part of town. We don’t have a lot of town here. But, um, you should show.” Hee. Cordelia then leaves her new potential minion at the library, but says she’ll see her in gym: “You can tell me absolutely everything there is to know about you.” Buffy says sarcastically to herself: “Oh, that sounds like fun.” I can just imagine. “Well, there was this one time at a school dance where I torched the gym to kill a bunch of vampires. Also, I am really handy with a crossbow. Want to go get mani-pedis?”
So anyway, Buffy goes into the library for the first time, but it looks empty. I should note here that I love the look of the Sunnydale High library, and always thought it was a really awesome set. I missed it post-high school. Sniffle. Buffy calls to ask if anyone is there, and as she looks around, she sees a newspaper featuring a story about missing boys—the story is circled in pen. Suddenly, a man in a tweed jacket and glasses startles her. Giles! Buffy: “I was looking for some … uh, books.” Giles: “I’m Mr. Giles, the librarian. I was told you were coming.” She then starts to list off the names of books she needs, but Giles interrupts: “I know what you’re after.” He then puts a weighty tome entitled Vampyr on the counter. Yeah, that’s right, gentle readers. Buffy does not want anything to do with that book, however. Giles is confused: “Are you sure?” Buffy: “I’m waaaay sure.” Aw, I love Valley Girl Buffster. Giles: “My mistake.” Buffy rushes out.
Cut to the girls’ locker room, where two never-to-be-seen-again girls discuss Buffy. Girl #1: “The new kid, she seems kind of weird to me. What kind of name is Buffy?” Good question, Girl #1. However, then Girl #1’s credibility is shot when another girl walks by and greets her: “Hey, Aphrodesia.” Hee. Girl #2: “Well, chatter in the caf says that she got kicked out and that’s why her mom had to get another job.” Aphrodesia: “Neg?” Girl #2: “Pos! She was starting fights.” Aphrodesia: “Negly.” Hmmm … “negly,” anyone? Maybe “neg” + “really”= “negly”? Girl #2: “Well, I heard from Blue, and she said—” But Girl #2 is cut off when she opens her locker and the dead body of the boy from last night falls out (aka Darla’s dinner last night). The girls scream. Uh oh. I kind of love how Clueless-esque the dialogue is here, but I’m glad that this type of thing was toned waaaaay down later, and Buffy developed its own unique rhythm, cadence, and style. Pos.
Cut to Willow eating lunch by herself out in the courtyard. Buffy approaches and Willow looks nervous. Again, pilot Willow is so adorable and young. She asks, “Did you want me to move?” Buffy: “Why don’t we start with ‘Hey, I’m Buffy.’ And then let’s segue directly into me asking you for a favor. It doesn’t involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while.” Willow: “Aren’t you hanging out with Cordelia?” Buffy: “I can’t do both?” Willow: “Not legally.” Buffy: “Look, I really want to get by here at this school. And Cordelia’s been really nice … to me anyway, but um… I kind of have this burning desire not to flunk all of my classes, and I heard a rumor that you were the person to talk to if I wanted to get caught up.” Willow enthusiastically agrees to help and offers to meet her in the library. Buffy is not thrilled with that choice of locale: “Or not. Or we could meet some place quieter … louder. Uh, that place just kind of gives me the wiggins.” Aw, the wiggins. I love this show. Willow: “Oh, it has that effect on most students. I love it though. It’s a great collection and the new librarian is really cool.” Apparently, the librarian is new and he came from “some British museum” or “The British Museum,” and brought a lot of books with him. Willow then worries that she is “The single dullest person alive,” but Buffy assures her that she is “not at all.” So sweet. The beginning of a beautiful friendship. Don’t mind me … it’s just a little dusty in here.
The two ladies are soon interrupted, however, by Xander and Jesse. Willow makes the introductions, but Xander protests: “Oh, me and Buffy go way back. Old friends. Very close. And then there was that period of estrangement, when I think we were both growing as people. But now here we are, like old times. Quite moved.” Hee. So … Whedonesque. Jesse: “Is it me, or are you turning into a babbling idiot.” Xander: “No, it’s not you.” Agreed. Buffy: “Well, it’s nice to meet you guys … I think.” Well done to question that, Buffy. Jesse: “Well, you know, we wanted to welcome you, make you feel at home … unless you have a scary home.” Xander then returns Buffy’s stake, commenting, “The only thing I can think is that you’re building a really little fence.” Buffy: “Ha. No. Actually, it was for self defense. Everybody has them in L.A. Pepper spray is so passé.” Hee. Xander and Jesse then grill her on her likes, dislikes, and secrets. Awkward. Buffy: “Gee, everyone wants to know about me. How keen.” Xander: “Well, not much goes on in a one Starbuck’s town like Sunnydale. You’re pretty big news.” Buffy: “I’m not. Really.”
Cordelia approaches, and asks, “Are these guys bothering you?” Buffy: “Uh, no.” Willow quickly covers, “She’s not hanging out with us.” Jesse: “Hey, Cordelia.” Cordelia: “Oh, please. [To Buffy] I don’t meant to interrupt your downward mobility, but I just wanted to tell you that you won’t be meeting Coach Foster—the woman with the chest hair—because gym was canceled due to the extreme dead guy in the locker.” FAVORITE! Hee. When asked to explain, Cordelia adds, “Some guy was stuffed in Aura’s locker.” Ah, Girl #2 is named Aura. Nice. Buffy: “Dead?” Cordelia: “Totally dead. Way dead.” Xander mocks, “So not just a little dead then?” Cordy: “Don’t you have an elsewhere to be?” Love. Buffy: “How did he die?” Cordelia: “I don’t know.” Buffy presses, “Well, were there any marks?” Cordy: “Morbid much? I didn’t ask.”
Buffy then goes off to investigate, and uses her super strength to enter the locked locker room. She lifts the sheet so see a dead guy with fang bites on his neck. She sums up this revelation sarcastically: “Oh, great.” Poor Buffy.
Cut to Buffy entering the library. She asks Giles, “Okay, what’s the sitch?” Giles is not up on his made-up American slang: “Sorry?” Buffy: “You heard about the dead guy, right? The dead guy in the locker? Because it’s the weirdest thing—he’s got two little holes in his neck and all his blood has been drained. Isn’t that bizarre? Aren’t you just going ‘oooh.’” Ha! Giles: “I was afraid of this.” Buffy: “Well, I wasn’t. It’s my first day. I was afraid that I was going to be behind in all of my classes, that I wouldn’t make any friends, that I would have last month’s hair. I didn’t think there’d be vampires on campus. And I don’t care.” Aw, Buffy, we know better. Giles: “Then why are you here?” Buffy: “To tell you that I don’t care, which I don’t … and have now told you, so … bye.” Hee. Giles: “Is he … will he rise again?” Buffy: “No. He’s dead.” Giles: “Can you be sure?” Buffy explains: “To make you a vampire, they have to suck your blood, and you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly, they’re just gonna kill you.” Best description of how to turn a vampire EVER. I love this show. Giles: “You really have no idea what’s going on, do you? Do you think it’s just a coincidence you being here? That boy was just the beginning.” Buffy: “Why can’t you people just leave me alone?” Giles: “Because you are The Slayer. Into each generation a slayer is born—one girl in all the world. A chosen one. One born with the strength…” Buffy cuts him off: “The strength and skill to hunt the vampires. To stop the spread of their evil blah blah blah. I’ve heard it, okay.” Giles: “I really don’t understand this attitude. You’ve accepted your duty. You’ve slain vampires before.” Buffy: “Yeah, and I’ve both been there and done that. And I’m moving on.” Giles: “What do you know about this town?” Buffy: “It’s two hours on the freeway from Neiman-Marcus.” Ha! Giles: “I believe this whole area is a center of mystical energy. Things gravitate towards it that you might not find elsewhere.” Buffy: “Like vampires?” Giles: “Zombies, werewolves, incubi, succubae. Everything you’ve ever dreaded was under your bed but told yourself was not real. They’re all real.” He then pulls out some books. Buffy scoffs: “What? Did you like send away for the Time Life series?” Giles: “Uh, yes.” Buffy: “Did you get the free phone?” Giles: “Um, the calendar.” OMG, have I mentioned how much I LOVE this show? LOVE. Buffy: “Cool. Okay, first of all, I’m a vampire slayer. And secondly, I’m retired. Hey, I know! Why don’t you kill them.” Giles: “I’m a Watcher. I haven’t the skill.” Buffy: “Oh, c’mon. A stake through the heart, a little sunlight. It’s like falling off a log.” Giles: “A slayer slays. A watcher …” Buffy: “Watches?” Giles: “Yes. No! He trains her. He prepares her.” Buffy: “Prepares me for what? For getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them? Go ahead, prepare me.” Buffy quickly exits, and Giles mutters, “Damn.” I don’t envy the Watcher who has to watch Buffy. Good luck with that, Giles! Then Xander comes out from behind the bookcase. Uh oh. Seems like he heard everything.
Cut to Giles catching up with Buffy in the hallway: “It’s getting worse.” Buffy: “What’s getting worse?” He pulls her aside and continues: “The influx of the undead, the… supernatural occurrences. It’s been building for years. There’s a reason why you’re here and a reason why it’s now!” Buffy snarks, “Because now is the time my mom moved here.” She starts to move away, but Giles puts his arm out to stop her. He warns: “Something’s coming, something, something… something is, is gonna happen here. Soon!” Buffy: “Gee, can you vague that up for me?” Such a classic line. Love. He elaborates, sort of: “The signs, as far as I can tell, point to a crucial mystical upheaval very soon. Days. Possibly less.” Buffy: “C’mon, this is Sunnydale. How bad an evil can there be?”
Cut to outside the school, where the camera sinks below ground in order to show us just how-bad-an-evil can live in Sunnydale. We see the Master’s Lair for the first time, and then a scary voice says, “The sleeper will wake and the world will bleed.” It is a very scary looking vampire with a seriously messed up forehead. (It’s Luke. No, we don’t see Fruit Punch Mouth yet.)
Cut to Buffy in her room, preparing for a night out at The Bronze. As she tries out different outfits in front of the mirror, she provides commentary on the dismissed selections: “Hi, I’m an enormous slut. […] Hello, would you like a copy of The Watch Tower?” At this point it really hit me how different SMG looked back then. Ch-ch-ch-changes. Then her mom comes in and asks if she’s going out, and if boys will be there. OMG, Buffy is a baby! How cute. Buffy quips: “No, Mom. It’s a nun club.” Hee. Joyce: “Well, just be careful.” Joyce also fills her daughter in about the gallery space she found, so now we know what Mama Summers does for a living. The only thing about Joyce’s job that’s important in the future, however, is that it enables the existence of that possessed zombie mask in season 3. “Do you like my mask? Isn’t it pretty? It raises the dead.” I am obsessed with “Dead Man’s Party” for that Giles line alone. Anyway, in the present, Joyce assures her daughter that she’s going to make it work, and it may be important to note that clearly Buffy’s parents only recently split up, so this move, etc. is full of a lot of transitions. On a related note: Papa Summers is a deadbeat loser. I mean, do we see him like twice in the entire series? Joyce tells her daughter: “Oh, you’re a good girl, Buffy, [pats her on the head] you just fell in with the wrong crowd. But that is all behind us now.” Buffy assures her mom that it is, and promises, “From now on, I’m only going to hang out with the living … I mean, lively people.” Hee. Ah, pre-Angel and pre-Spike Buffy. Good luck with that resolution. Joyce tells her to have fun.
Cut to later that night, as Buffy walks down the sidewalk, presumably on her way to The Bronze. She has her hair up, and is wearing a blue button-up shirt with way-too-long sleeves. Sadly, the sleeve issue was a frequent occurrence in the early seasons of the show (did any of Buffy’s jackets fit her properly?), as were the equally regrettable too-short pants. Fashion aside, Buffy senses someone following her but keeps going. She then begins to run, and we cut to the guy following. He is walking slowly, and is wearing a white dress shirt with a black blazer. It’s Angel! As he continues to slowly walk forward, we see that Buffy is doing a hand stand on a pole above. She swings down and knocks him over. Nice. She pins him down and asks why he’s following her. Angel: “I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, I don’t bite.” She lets him go, but keeps her fighting stance. He continues: “Truth is, I thought you’d be taller, or bigger muscles and all that. You’re pretty spry though.” Buffy asks what he wants. Angel: “Same thing you do.” Buffy: “What do I want then?” Angel: “To kill them, kill them all.” She disagrees: “What I want is to be left alone.” Angel: “You really think that’s an option anymore? You’re standing at the mouth of hell. It’s about to open. Don’t turn your back on this. [He pulls out something from his pocket, and throws it to Buffy.] You’ve got to be ready.” Buffy: “What for?” Angel: “For the harvest.” Cryptic much? Buffy then asks who he is. Angel: “A friend.” Buffy: “Yeah, well maybe I don’t want a friend.” Angel: “I didn’t say I was yours.” With that cryptic remark, he walks away. And when Buffy open the box, it contains a silver cross necklace. Awww, the necklace!
A few thoughts here. First of all, David Boreanaz is soooo young and skinny! And such a bad actor. But so hot, that we will forgive him. And really, he does improve a lot acting-wise over the years. Also, OMG, I almost forgot the way that Angel used to dress. In this scene you can tell that his jacket is shiny, though given the lighting I wasn’t sure whether it was velvet or satin. Either way: HILARIOUS. Also, now that I’m rewatching it finally dawned on me that Buffy probably recognized the necklace from her dream. D’oh. And seeing that necklace is pretty nostalgic. I’m so excited to recap the episode that features that necklace’s most important moment in the series. Silently burning, anyone?
Buffy then walks up to The Bronze, where a live band is playing. She sees someone waving, and she dorkily waves back, but then awkwardly realizes that the guy that she doesn’t know wasn’t actually waving to her. Hee.
Cut to Buffy finding Willow at the bar. Buffy asks whether she’s there with anyone, and Willow explains that she thought Xander would show up. Buffy: “Oh, are you guys going out?” Willow: “No, we’re just friends. We used to go out, but we broke up.” Buffy asks why. Willow: “He stole my Barbie. We were five.” Ha! Classic. Willow: “I don’t actually date a whole lot … lately.” Buffy: “Why?” Willow: “Well, when I’m with a boy I like, it’s hard for me to say anything cool, or witty, or … at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away.” Awww. Buffy: “It’s not that bad.” Willow: “Oh, it is. I think boys are more interested in a girl who can talk.” Buffy: “You really haven’t been dating lately.” Willow: “It’s probably easy for you.” Buffy says sarcastically, “Yeah, real easy.” Willow: “I mean you don’t seem too shy.” Buffy: “Well, my philosophy… do you want to hear my philosophy?” Willow eagerly acquiesces. Buffy: “Life is short. Not original, I’ll grant you, but it’s true. Why waste time being all shy and worrying about some guy and whether he’s gonna laugh at you. Seize the moment, ‘cause tomorrow you might be dead.” Love it. Buffy then spies Giles standing on the balcony above and excuses herself. She says that she’ll be back, but Willow tells her it’s okay, she doesn’t have to come back. Aw. Buffy assures her that she will be back, and leaves Willow muttering about seizing the moment. Uh oh.
Upstairs, Buffy finds Giles. She comments: “So, you like to party with the students. Isn’t that kind of skanky?” Ha! I’m glad that Giles didn’t spend a lot of time in The Bronze in later episodes. It just feels wrong. Giles replies: “Oh, right, this is me having fun. Watching… clown hair prance about is hardly my idea of a party. I’d rather be at home with a cup of Bovril and a good book.” Um, I had to look up Bovril, and ewww. Buffy: “You need a personality, stat!” Giles then looks out at the crowd below and says: “This is a perfect breeding ground for vampire activity. It’s dark, it’s crowded. Besides, I knew you were likely to show up, and I have to make you understand …” Buffy: “That the Harvest is coming. I know, your friend told me.” Giles, however doesn’t seem to know about Angel, nor about the Harvest specifically. He asks who told her. Buffy: “This… guy. Dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way. I figured you two were buds.” They are not, so Giles asks if the man said anything else. Buffy: “Something about the mouth of hell. I really didn’t like him.” Hee. Giles thinks and then moves closer to Buffy, telling her to look at the people. Giles: Look at them, throwing themselves about, completely unaware of the danger that surrounds them.” Buffy: “Lucky them.” Giles: “Or perhaps you’re right. Perhaps there is no trouble coming. The signs could be wrong. It’s not as though you’ve been having the nightmares.” Um, except that she is. Buffy is silent and looks scared.
Cut to below, where Cordelia is speechifying to her minions: “My mom doesn’t even get out of bed anymore. And the doctor says it’s Epstein-Barr. I’m like, pleeease! It’s chronic hepatitis, or at least chronic fatigue syndrome. I mean, nobody cool has Epstein-Barr anymore.” Oh, Cordy. Then Jesse approaches and tries to hit on her but he crashes and burns. Jesse: “Listen, uh, you know, you wanna dance, you know?” Cordelia: “With you?” Jesse: “Well, uh, yeah.” Cordelia: “Well, uh, no!” Way harsh. Cordy then tells her girlfriends to c’mon, and Jesse tries to play it off like there are plenty of other fish in the sea and he’s “on the prowl.” Um, yeah, this whole prowling thing could be part of the reason you don’t have dates, Jesse.
Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles are still discussing impending doom upstairs. Buffy: “I didn’t say I’d never slay another vampire. It’s not like I have all these fluffy bunny feelings for them. I’m just not gonna get way extracurricular with it. I mean, if I see one, sure I’ll…” Ha! Best show ever. Giles cuts off Buffy’s hilarity by asking if she’ll be ready. He exposits: “There’s so much you don’t know about them, about your own powers. A vampire appears to be completely normal until the feed is upon them. Only then do they reveal their true demonic visage.” Ah, mythology moment! Be careful who you date. Hint, hint. Buffy: “You’re like a textbook with arms. I know this.” Hee. Giles thinks that Buffy should be able to “sense” vampires, despite their ability to blend in. Is he talking about the vampire cramps? Ewww. Because how glad are you that the cramps didn’t make it from film to small screen? Soooo glad. She cuts off his explanation of honing senses, etc. by casually noting, “There’s one.” Giles: “Where?” Buffy indicates a guy talking to a girl below. Giles says that she doesn’t know, but Buffy quips, “Oh, please. Look at his jacket. He’s got the sleeves rolled up. And the shirt? Deal with that outfit for a moment.” Hee. Giles asks, “It’s dated?” I love that it was a question. Buffy: “It’s carbon dated. Trust me, only someone living underground for 10 years would think that was still a look.” Buffy: “But you didn’t … hone.” Ha! However, things are less funny when Buffy realizes that the girl talking to the vamp is Willow. Seems like Willow really took that “seize the moment” advice to heart. The two start to leave together, so Buffy runs after them.
Cut to Buffy entering a back room of some kind, and she wanders through the deserted are until she finally sees someone and pins the person to the wall. Uh oh. It’s Cordelia. She is not happy: “God! What is your childhood trauma?” Perfection. You know this episode really is absurdly quotable, despite it not necessarily being one of the best Buffy eps. Cordy’s friends soon come out of the bathroom behind her, and Buffy asks if they’ve seen Willow. Cordelia: “Why? Do you need to attack her with a stick?” Hee. Buffy turns and leaves. Cordy then tells her friends, “Excuse me, I have to call everyone I have ever met, right now!” Love love love. But poor Buffy. I guess that’s what she gets for failing to hone.
As Buffy enters the main room of the club, Giles congratulates her on her speed. She explains that she didn’t find them. Giles: “The vampire is not dead?” Buffy: “No, but my social life is on the critical list.” He asks what they do and if he should come with her. Buffy: “Don’t worry. One vampire, I can handle.” But that’s not all there is, as we shall soon learn …
Cut to Jesse asking a girl, “So, um what did you say your name was?” There is a slow reveal as the bird cage chair (I know!) turns around, and we see that it is Darla. Hi, Darla! We missed you. He asks if she’s from around there and she says no, but she has family there. Jesse: “Have I met them?” Darla: “You probably will.” Warning signs!
Cut to the Master rising from a red pool. Blood or lava? Probably blood, right? Or Kool-Aid. Luke, the ugliest vampire of them all, is there and he calls Fruit Punch Mouth “Master.” Vampires—not very evolved, you know. The Master says that he is weak, but Luke assures him that “Come the Harvest, you will be restored.” Luke continues, “We’re almost there. Soon you’ll be free.” The Master then reaches out to touch some type of field of energy that is keeping him in. IT’S A TRAP! (Sorry. Had to.) Luke tells the Master that he sent servants to find food (aka Jesse and Willow). Fruit Punch Mouth: “Luke, bring me something young.” Ewww.
Meanwhile, Willow is trying to make conversation with her vampire date, but he’s not talkative. As he starts to lead her in an odd direction, Willow gets nervous: “Uh, the ice cream bar’s this way. It’s past Hamilton street.” Vampire-with-Poor-Fashion-Sense: “I know a shortcut.” Um, through the cemetery. Uh oh.
Cut to Buffy outside The Bronze, where she runs into Xander. She asks if he’s seen Willow. He says not tonight. Buffy explains that she left with a guy. Xander: “We’re talking about Willow, right? Scorin’ at The Bronze! Work it girl …” Buffy interrupts, saying that she has to find her. Xander: “Oh, hey, I hope he’s not a vampire, cause then you might have to slay him.” Oh, Xander. Buffy: “Was there a school bulletin? Was it in the newspaper? Is there anyone in this town who doesn’t know I’m the slayer?” Xander: “I only know that you think that you’re the slayer, and the reason that I know that …” Buffy: “Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Just tell me, where would Willow go?” Xander realizes that she’s serious. Buffy: “We don’t find her, and there is going to be one more dead body in the morning.” Dun dun dun.
Meanwhile, the vamp takes Willow to a crypt, but she doesn’t want to go in. He pushes her in, and she starts to get mad and even more scared. But before she can try to leave, Darla appears at the door. She asks, “Is this the best you could do?” Guy Vamp: “She’s fresh.” Darla: “Hardly enough to share.” Guy Vamp: “Why didn’t you bring your own?” Darla: “I did.” At that, Jesse stumbles in: “Wait up.” His neck is bleeding, and he cluelessly comments, “I think you gave me a hickey.” Darla: “I got hungry on the way here.” Oh, Darla. Love her. Willow tries to get Jesse to leave with her, but Darla melodramatically announces: “You’re not going anywhere, until we’ve fed.” At that she vamps out. Hello, bumpy forehead and bad makeup! (Bonus: lisps are soon to come.)
Luckily, Buffy arrives just in time. How convenient. Buffy delivers her usual slayer bon mots: “Well, this is nice. It’s a little bare, but a dash of paint, a few throw pillows … call it home.” Darla: “Who the hell are you?” Buffy: “You mean there’s actually someone in this town who doesn’t know already? Phew. That’s a relief. I’m telling you, having a secret identity in this town is a job of work.” Hee. Xander is behind her, and tries to get her to leave, but Guy Vamp protests. Buffy addresses him: “Ok, first of all, what’s with the outfit? Live in the now. You look like DeBarge. Now, we can do this the hard way, or … well, actually there’s just the hard way.” Darla: “That’s fine with me.” Buffy: “Are you sure? Now this is not going to be pretty. We’re talking violence, strong language, adult content.” And with that she dusts the ensembly-challenged vampire. Buh-bye. Buffy quips, “See what happens when you roughhouse?” Darla scoffs, “He was young and stupid.” But I have to admit that she does look a little scared. Buffy then tells Xander to go, and she and Darla fight.
At first, Buffy gets the best of Darla, as she continues to provide commentary: “You know, I just wanted to start over. Be like everyone else. Have some friends, maybe a dog. But no, you had to come here. You couldn’t suck on some other town.” However, her breezy attitude soon changes. Luke enters and asks who she is. Buffy: “Don’t you know?” But she’s cut off by Luke’s hand choking her. Luke: “I don’t care.” He throws her across the room, and rebukes Darla for failing at her mission. Darla: “We had someone, but then she came. She killed Thomas. Luke, she’s strong.” Luke: “You go. I’ll see if I can handle the little girl.” He approaches Buffy, but she fights back. Luke: “You’re strong. [Knocks her across the room again.] I’m stronger.” Hmph. I’d like to test that theory.
Meanwhile, Xander, Willow, and Jesse are trying to escape, but as they cross the cemetery they see a whole hoard of vamps. Uh oh.
Cut back to Luke, who tells Buffy that she’s wasting his time. Buffy: “Hey, I had other plans too, okay.” More fighting. Luke: “You think you can stop me? Stop us? You have no idea what you’re dealing with.” Famous last words of a villain. He then starts to quote vampire scripture or whatever: “And like a plague of boils, the race of man covered the earth. But on the third day of the newest light will come the harvest, and the blood of men will flow as wine. And the Master will walk among them once more. The earth will belong to the old ones, and hell itself will come to town.” He throws Buffy in a stone tomb thingy. Just as she starts to get up, he jumps on top of the coffin and says, “Amen,” closing in. To be continued. OMG, will Buffy live or die? What happens next? Agh!
Thought, reactions, memories? Comment below. Also, the next retro recap on my list will most likely be for Gilmore Girls. Yay, hiatus!