In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will complain nonstop about the cramps she's having. Jesus, when will this whole reproductive thing end?! She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
- Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
- Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
- Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
- Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
- Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
- The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
- All the monsters look like wieners.
- If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
- Angel is a dick.
- Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
- Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
- Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.
Look, episode, right off the bat, I don't like you. You know why? Because you go, "Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and it's NOT GILES SAYING IT. If you're like me, dear reader, and you've watched the entirety of this show over and over again to the point that your family has considered staging an intervention, then you'll know that on most episodes, the voice over line, "Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer," is delivered by Anthony Head.
You know how I feel about Mr. Head.
So, obviously random voice over guy must go. PISTOLS AT DAWN, RANDOM VOICE OVER GUY!
So anyway, after the "she alone will stand against the vampires" part, we see the Anointed One throwing rocks into a sewer hole for fun. Like you do when you're a newly made vampire in the body of a child, forced to live in a subterranean, possibly Hellmouth prison with a creepy old vampire who's got a bad case of bat face. Darla enters, and The Master informs her of another vampire who's died at the hands of the Slayer, despite being strong and careful. He asks the Anointed One (whose name, we learn, is Colin) what he thinks they should do, and his answer is, "Annihilate her." Ah, the simple wisdom of a child.
After this, he and The Master go out to the quarry to poke a dead body with a stick.
Cut to the very, very naughty act of smoking a cigarette. Smoking cigarettes, by the by, will become shorthand for evil many times in this series. We see a mean-looking skull zippo, the end of a ciggie, and the camera pans out for a classic Buffy misdirect, in which three big, tough dudes, standing around and smoking (OMG THEY'RE THE THREE, RIGHT?) scatter at the sight of three bigger, tougher dudes with vamp faces and various pieces of armor on.
You thought it was these guys...
But it was really these guys! Gotcha!
At The Bronze, Cordelia is seen frantically stomping a cockroach, which she then cheerfully hands over to the bartender in payment for a drink. Then we see the sign over the bar, which declares it's a fumigation party, and anyone who finds a roach gets a free drink.
I have a few problems with this promotion. I'm pretty sure the health inspector would, as well.
More troubling, however, is that Cordelia is picking up a half-smashed, still somewhat wriggling, cockroach. And she's smiling about it. As the series go on, we learn that Cordelia is, if not the richest, at least one of the richest kids at Sunnydale. She can afford to buy a damn drink. We also learn that she's terrified of anything even marginally gross. So I just don't think it's an in-character move for her to handle a squished bug for a drink she could have easily paid for on her own.
Speaking of Xander, what's he up to? Dancing very badly up on a girl who is clearly not interested in him. Only her giant boyfriend can scare him off, and scare him he does. Xander tries to bad-dance casually away and ends up colliding with Cordelia. They have this exchange:
Cordelia: "Ouch! Please get your extreme oafishness off my two-hundred dollar shoes!"
Xander "I'm sorry, I was just -"
Cordelia: "Getting off the dance floor before Annie Vega's boyfriend squashes you like a bug?"
Xander: "Oh, so you noticed."
Xander: "Yeah, thanks for being so understanding."
Xander: "You know, hey, I don't know what everyone's talking about. That outfit doesn't make you look like a hooker."The two-hundred dollar shoes line backs up my earlier assertion that Cordelia wouldn't stomp a roach, but there's some more important to cover here. Throughout the first and for part of the second season, Xander treats Cordelia like total shit. The audience is supposed to believe that it's because Cordelia isn't nice, and she deserves this treatment because she's a bully. And yes, she does bully people. When we see Cordelia bully people, her insecurity is stemming from a need to establish herself as the economic better of her classmates (for example, when she belittles Willow about her clothes coming from Sears). That's not okay, it's still bullying, but something about the angle Xander is coming from seems squickier to me.
Xander knows Cordelia is out of his league, in terms of dating and sex. He's never going to "get" her. Willow and Buffy, however, he feels he might have a shot with them. So, he's nice to them. Immediately after insulting Cordelia, he joins Buffy and Willow and makes another crack about Cordelia. This is after being brutally rebuffed by two other girls on the dance floor. He can't have those girls, he'll settle for the company of these girls. Then, he makes another crack about Cordelia. He seems to view women only in terms of what they can do for him. "Will this girl have sex with me? If yes, be nice to her. If not, call her a hooker." Classic. Nice. Guy. (5)
Buffy decides her bad mood is catching, and rather than ruin her friends' evening, she's going to go home. Xander practically begs her not to go, and he's clearly not happy to be left with Willow, the one girl who actually is interest in him. But Willow isn't good enough, because she's Willow. Ever notice how, instead of sitting her down and saying, "Hey, Willow, it's obvious you've got this crush on me, but we're never going to happen," Xander lets it go on and on, giving her false hope and such? (5)
As Buffy leaves, we see Angel just lurking behind the stairs at The Bronze. So... has he been listening to their conversation this whole time?
Pictured: Lurky McLurkerson
Buffy senses someone is watching her, but when she turns around, Angel is gone. She starts walking home, and realizes that a vampire is nearby. Exasperated, she tells the unseen vamp that it's late and she wants to go home, and the vampire drops to the pavement behind her. She's about to quickly dispatch him when two others grab her, and she's trapped by The Three right as the opening credits roll.
Back from the opening, Buffy is about to be killed The Three, when Angel shows up and starts fighting them. Keeping in mind that the Slayer, the chosen one who is a walking weapon, couldn't fight these guys off, but Angel can, how did she not get that he was a vampire? Like, right off the bat? Angel beats up two of the vamps while Buffy struggles futilely in the grasp of the third, shouting helpful things like, "look out!" and basically becoming the spiritual embodiment of Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. That is to say, totally worthless. Once a man shows up to fight for her, Buffy becomes set dressing so we can watch that man whomp on some vampires. Say, who wrote this episode, anyway?
David Greenwalt. A dude wrote this episode. I am sure surprised. (I'm not, and #6).
Buffy breaks free of the vamp holding her, and they manage to subdue - but not kill - all three before Buffy shouts that they should run. With The Three in hot pursuit, Buffy and Angel run to her house, where she screams at him to get inside before once again struggling to close a door on a vampire trying to get in.
Why is this always so hard for her? Are doors like Slayer kryptonite or something?
Once the door is shut, Angel tells Buffy they're safe; a vampire can't come into a house unless he's invited. Okay... so why was that one trying to get through the door? And why was it so important to have the door closed? Buffy says she's heard that before, but she's never tested the theory, and I get where she's coming from, but she knows how strong vampires are. Did she really think her front door was going to keep them out if they could come in?
Angel got injured in the fight, so of course he has to take his shirt off. Because Buffy is more or less the foundation for every single YA novel in the recent YA boom:
Exhibit A: Tattooed bad boy.
Exhibit B: Longing look.
Buffy tends to his sexy, shirtless wounds- because as I said before, this is a YA- and Angel confesses to "maybe" liking her. As they flirt, Buffy hears the front door. Her mom is home, and Buffy cuts her off at the pass, suggesting that since Joyce looks so tired she should go straight to bed and Buffy will bring her some tea. Joyce isn't falling for it, and then she sees Angel. Buffy tries to pass him off as a college student tutoring her in history, but Joyce shuts it D-O-W-N, saying it's too late at night for tutoring. Good job, Joyce. Credit where it's due. She tells Buffy she's going to go to bed, and the implication is pretty clear that Buffy is expected to get this guy out of the house. Joyce goes upstairs and we see Buffy loudly saying good night to Angel and shutting the door... but of course he's still there.
Angel can't go outside because The Three could be waiting for him, so Buffy's plan is to hide him in her bedroom. He protests, because he doesn't want to get her into trouble, but when she points out that he could be murdered by vampires, it's not like he can be all, "No, it's cool, I'm a vampire, too."
Wait a minute. While Buffy was tending his wound, didn't she notice that he was like, kind of room temperature?
Anyway, Buffy tells Angel to take the bed because he's wounded, but he's gallant and says he'll take the floor. Then he looks out the window while Buffy changes for bed. He does not look into a mirror like Xander did, because he's not a jerk. While Buffy gets into her pjs, they have this little convo:
Buffy: "You know, I'm the chosen one. It's my job to fight guys like that. What's your excuse?"
Angel: "Somebody has to."
Buffy: "What does your family think of your career choice?"
Angel: "They're dead."
Buffy: "Was it vampires?"
Angel: "It was."
So Buffy gets it into her head that Angel fights vampires to avenge his family. Angel tells Buffy she's pretty even when she's going to sleep, and they settle in for what is probably a long, sexually frustrating night. And let me tell you something... when I was a teenager, this scene would have been all bells and whistles for me. It would have been emotional porn.
The next day, Buffy, Willow, and Xander are in the library, and Xander is freaking out about Angel spending the night in Buffy's room. Willow wants to know if Angel tried anything, and then both girls get all swoony over the fact that Angel didn't try anything. He didn't try to rape you in the night? Ah, romance. Xander sees nothing but nefarious intent in Angel's actions, presumably because if it had been him sleeping on Buffy's floor, he would have totally tried something. But there's no time to talk about that, because Giles is here, he has a book, and he's super grumpy about Angel spending the night with Buffy, as well (2). He wants to focus on the vamps who tried to kill her. He tells the kids about The Three, and suggests that The Master is stepping up his game, so they all should, as well. Xander says Buffy can stay at his house for safety reasons (5) and Giles immediately goes Team Angel.
Let's not be too hasty, only competition for Buffy that I have according to the parameters I created for Slayer dating.
Take note, everybody, because it's the last time Giles will be Team Angel ever again.
Giles tells them that now that The Three have failed, they will "offer up their lives" to make things right with The Master. So... why does Buffy need to step up training again (other than as an excuse to spend more time with Giles and not Angel or Xander)? If this is the worst The Master can throw at her, and they're all going to die... that's a good thing, right?
We cut to The Master's den of gloom and doom, where The Three are doing exactly as Giles predicted. They offer up their lives, and The Master tells the Anointed One to pay attention, because "with power comes responsibility." Which isn't from Spiderman, by the way, it's from the fucking Gospel of Luke: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." So, people need to stop attributing that quote to Stan Lee and Uncle Ben. Anyway, The Master tells the Anointed One that taking a vampire life is a serious thing, and killing them will bring him little joy. Then he walks away, and Darla takes great joy in killing them.
So, here's the thing. You have an elite, ancient killing force so feared that people have written about them in musty old books. They offer their lives if they've fucked up, and they're still alive, so they must be pretty good. WHY KILL THEM? Over one mistake? If they had the best chance of killing Buffy, why not let them have another crack? Because once they're gone, you're down to your second string, and they haven't been doing that great, either. This show doesn't always make sense.
Meanwhile, back at Sunnydale:
Because "Closed for kickboxing" raised too many questions.
And we finally get to see what Giles has locked up in that cage:
You would not believe the fines if you don't return this shit on time.
Buffy is all about the crossbow. Like, all about it. She asks Giles what she can shoot with it, and he takes it away, because apparently some people get all nervous around a teenage girl with a crossbow and an itchy trigger finger:
Giles: "You must first become proficient with the basic tools of combat. Let's begin with the quarterstaff. Which will, incidentally, require countless hours of vigorous training. I speak from experience."We've talked in the past about how Giles will sometimes say or do things that hint that he's somehow secretly badass, but none of the other characters pick up on all these weird skills. This is a prime example. He just told Buffy he's had countless hours of vigorous training with a quarterstaff. This is not the experience of most people.
Buffy makes fun of Giles for suggesting such an archaic weapon, while Giles puts on a ton of safety gear but doesn't take off his glasses. Do we ever see him actually break his glasses during the run of the show? It seems like that should be happening once a week, minimum. He tells Buffy to put on protective pads, and she laughs it off and says she won't need them to fight him. Giles is pretty confident that he's going to kick her ass, but things don't go as planned. She straight up brutalizes him, and he winds up on the floor.
It's like he missed the day of Watcher training where they said, "Hey, these chicks are going to be really strong."
Buffy gets home and Angel is still in her room, lurking in the shadows. She gives him some dinner she brought in a ziplock bag (why didn't she just bring a plate? Do they not have those downstairs in the kitchen?), and asks him what he did all day. When he says he did some reading, Buffy freaks out and assumes he's read her diary. She immediately begins to spill all her darkest secrets in an attempt to deny them. Angel interrupts her and tells her that her mother moved her diary when she came in to straighten up (he was hiding in the closet) and he never read it. He tells her that he can't be around her, because all he's thinking about when he's with her is how much he wants to kiss her. You know what, let's put that in quotes. He wants to "kiss" her. I firmly believe that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is responsible for current YA tropes, and everyone knows that in a YA, a kiss is the stand-in for sex. Kissing in YAs is a big, big deal.
Angel tells Buffy that he's older than her, so they can't be a thing, and Buffy asks him how much older he is. And then they kiss.
They kiss a lot.
Things are getting heavy when Angel suddenly turns away from her. Buffy asks him what's wrong, and...
This is what's wrong.
And Buffy takes it...
Not well. Not well at all.
While Buffy screams her head off, Angel dives out the window. Joyce comes running to ask Buffy what happened, and Buffy says she was scared by a shadow.
After the commercial break, Buffy fills Willow, Xander, and Giles in on Angel's vampireness, and laments the fact that the guy she liked is really a vampire:
Buffy: "Can a vampire ever be a good person? Couldn't it happen?"
Giles: "A vampire isn't a person at all. It may have the movements, the memories, even the personality of the person that it took over, but it's still a demon at the core. There's no halfway."
Willow: "So, that'd be a 'no,' huh?"While his friend is in her time of need, Xander is of course, super supportive.
Just kidding, he tells Buffy she should kill Angel, and he does so almost gleefully. Buffy's broken heart isn't a big deal to him, just the promise of competition removal. (5)
Giles somewhat reluctantly backs Xander up on this. Xander says that since Buffy obviously doesn't love the guy, it's no big deal, and when Buffy doesn't have an answer, Xander shouts, "You're in love with a vampire?!" super loud. Behind them, Cordelia exclaims "What?" in total disgust, but she's not reacting to their conversation. She's reacting to the fact that another girl is wearing the same dress she is, and hers is supposed to be one-of-a-kind. She chases the other girl down, shrieking about knock offs and free trade agreements. At least Buffy can laugh about it.
Angel heads home to his apartment, which is surprisingly nice compared to the shitty hallway he enters from, He finds Darla waiting for him. He asks her what's up with the school girl outfit, she asks him what's up with the school girls.
It's clear from the conversation that Angel and Darla know each other. They apparently got down in Budapest during an earthquake, killing people and having a good time. Darla isn't into his nice guy act, and tries to remind him, using every vampire cliche in the book, that he really wants to eat people and be evil. Darla suggests he should tell Buffy about "the curse," but that if Buffy still doesn't dig him after finding out he's cursed (I know that's what I look for in a dude, amiright, ladies?) that she'll be waiting for him.
Back at the library, everyone is silently researching until Giles finds something of note and startles them all. He's reading old Watcher diaries- which leads Willow to talk about how romantic it was that Angel didn't read Buffy's diary- and he found mention of Angelus. He asks Buffy if Angel has a tattoo on his back, and Xander freaks out that Buffy has seen him "naked." Giles tells them that Angel is two-hundred and forty years old, which is not that old for a vampire. He also says that about eighty years ago, Angel left Europe for America, and there's no record of him hunting humans since. Willow cites this as evidence of Angel being a good vampire, but Giles says that just because there isn't a record, doesn't mean Angel isn't killing. He tells Buffy that before coming to America, Angel was like every other vampire, "a vicious, violent animal." And Buffy makes a really sad face:
She is so pretty I could die.
Darla begs The Master to let her kill Buffy. She wants to get Angel to kill Buffy and join their little gang again. The Master says he misses Angel, because he was the most evil vampire out of all of them, and he approves of Darla's plan to bring him back into the "family."
I don't want to get a Christmas card from that family. I bet the picture would be disturbing.
In the library, Willow is trying to get Buffy to study history, but all Buffy can think about is how Angel would have already been over a hundred years old during the Civil War. Willow asks if they're going to study history or talk about boys. You can guess which one they pick. Willow tells Buffy she has this fantasy of Xander grabbing her and kissing her ("kissing") and Buffy tells her that she has to speak up about her feelings. Then they start talking about Angel again, and we see Darla listening to the conversation as Buffy wrestles with the decision to kill Angel. When Buffy says she'll try to work on history for another half-hour, Darla vanishes.
At home, Joyce is enjoying a cup of tea in her dark and silent house when she hears a noise.
When Darla explains that she's a friend of Buffy's, Joyce invites her right in. I'm a little confused as to how Joyce doesn't remember that her daughter doesn't go to Catholic school, but whatever. She lets Darla in, school uniform and all. Angel is outside the house, debating whether or not to knock, when he hears Joyce scream. He bursts into the house to find Darla mid-snack, and she pushes the now unconscious Joyce at him. He catches her, wrestling with the temptation of human blood, when Buffy comes home.
This is what she sees:
It's not what it looks like, I swear.
And after the break, this is what we see:
The first of many times that window needs to be replaced.
Buffy warns Angel that if he comes near them again, she'll kill him. But she clearly can't do it right then.
Buffy calls for an ambulance to 1630 Ravello drive, so now we know her address. I love knowing fictional characters' addresses, so this is really a treat for me. If you haven't seen the entire series, I won't spoiler anything, but those of you who have watched the entire series, check out this pose:
Just leaving this here a minute...
Xander and Willow enter through the kitchen door, and Buffy tells them that Angel did this to her mother. Cut to the hospital, where Giles is rushing to Joyce's bedside, despite never having met her before. Joyce is in the middle of telling Buffy the last thing she remembers- that Buffy's "friend" came over- and that the doctors told her she slipped and fell on a barbecue fork. Which Joyce finds odd, because they don't have a barbecue fork. Giles comes in with absolutely no cover story for being there at all. He just explains that he came to wish her a speedy recovery, and Joyce, rather than being like, "Buffy, why is your librarian here?" decides this is proof that Sunnydale is a good school full of caring teachers. Either #8 is catching, or Joyce is absolutely stuffed to the gills with pain meds.
In the hallway, Buffy blames herself for inviting Angel into her house. Though Giles, Willow, and Xander all try to argue that she can't change her feelings for Angel by killing him, Buffy crossbows up to take him on. At Angel's place, Darla is taunting him, telling him that the Slayer is out hunting him and he's super stupid for thinking she could ever love him. She tries to convince him to go out and kill the Slayer, and it looks like it's working.
Buffy is outside The Bronze when she hears a noise and starts climbing up to the roof. Back at the hospital, Giles is sitting with Joyce, who tells him that Buffy talks about him all the time. Giles tells Joyce that Buffy has made "quite an impression" on him, as well, and Joyce MUST be drugged, because hello, your daughter is so close to this random adult male you've never met that he feels comfortable just showing up at the hospital to offer support. Joyce asks him about Buffy's bad track record with studying history, and then she mentions Darla, the friend who came over before the Great BBQ Fork Massacre of '96. Giles realizes that Angel wasn't the one who attacked Joyce... and Buffy is out there trying to kill him right now. He rounds up the gang and they head off to try and stop her.
Now, people who have seen the series before... how does this contrast to what Xander does at the end of season two? Yeah, unfavorably, is my thought. Giles wants to prevent Buffy from killing Angel because he knows it's going to hurt her, emotionally. End of season two Xander? Yeah. Fuck that guy.
Buffy enters The Bronze, even though it's closed for fumigation. OMG, Buffy, do you even know what poison is? You don't want to be in there! Once, when I was little, I was at a neighbor's house and they bug bombed their house while everyone was still inside it. Seriously, I was coughing and dying and they were all like, "What? It's not that bad." Probably because they'd done it a billion times before and they were all immune to poisonous gas. But whatever. That place is full of bug poison, don't go in it.
Angel confronts Buffy and tells her to "get it done," long before "Git 'er done!" was a thing, but now all I can think of is Larry the Cable Guy. They fight, and Buffy pulls the crossbow on him as we fade to commercial. Luckily, we're in the same place after the fade out, with Angel snarling at Buffy while she debates whether or not to shoot him. His face morphs back to looking human, and Buffy shoots the wall instead. She asks Angel if he didn't attack her when he had the chance because he was playing some sick kind of game. Angel tells Buffy that he killed his own family and all of his friends, that he enjoyed killing until he fed on a gypsy girl whose clan restored his soul as punishment. He's trying hard to convince Buffy that he's an evil guy who deserves to be killed, go so far as to tell her that he wanted to kill her. She offers him her neck, and when he can't take the initiative and bite her, she knows he's full of hot air. He can't kill her, because he really is a "good" vampire.
It's cool that they come to this realization and all, but then Darla comes in and ruins the moment, talking about how the saddest thing in the world is to love someone who used to love you. It's pretty obvious that she's talking about Angel. Faced with competition for Angel's affection, Buffy attacks Darla's looks, fashion sense, and age, because as a female character, these are the biggest problems with Darla. Not, you know, that she's an evil vampire who kills people (6).
Darla gives a great breakup speech to totally demoralize Angel (and revealing that they were not only lovers for generations, but she was the one who made him a vampire) before telling him that he's going to watch Buffy die. And then Darla whips out the one thing none of the other Slayer-hunting vampires have tried so far:
Angel gets shot and Buffy dodges bullets, while outside Xander, Willow and Giles hear the shots and head inside to help. Buffy gets a bolt off the crossbow, but she hits Darla in the stomach and not the heart. Also, Darla apparently has a limitless supply of bullets in her guns because she shoots everything like a thousand times and never reloads. Willow yells to Buffy that Angel didn't attack her mom, and Giles makes noise to try and distract Darla, but ultimately it's Angel who steps in and stakes Darla to save them all.
Buffy realizes what a huge sacrifice it is that Angel just killed the vampire who made him, but he leaves without a word.
In his hidey hole, The Master is freaking the fuck out over losing Darla. The Anointed One tells him that Darla was weak, and he should forget about her. For a kid, the Anointed One gives a pretty good pep talk.
Walk it off, buddy!
The Bronze is open for its post-fumigation party, and Buffy tells Xander and Willow that she hasn't heard from Angel yet. Good news, Buffy! He's right over there. Willow and Xander have a seat while Buffy goes over to Angel. They talk about how there's no way they can be together, because Angel is 224 years older than her. But they end up sucking face anyway, while Xander ignores them and Willow watches them with the enthusiasm of a soccer fan at the World Cup.
I'm not sure how they divide up the points here, but I think they're both winning.
Buffy tells him she'll see him around, and she leaves. The camera pans down to reveal that her necklace has burned him:
And that's the end of the episode. I wasn't kidding when I said I think that this show, this episode in particular, set the genre rules for the YA boom in the 00's. While the big vampire reveal in this ep has a lot in common with L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries (another trend setter for modern YA), it takes it once step further in that the heroine not only rejects the idea of dating a vampire, but decides to kill the fuck out of him to solve her dating problem. This is a much better reaction, IMO, than when Bella realizes Edward is a vampire in Twilight. Anyway, if you're currently writing a paranormal YA, you should definitely watch this episode as research.
Also, as much as I will harp on Angel being a total dick (because I believe with all my heart that he really is super dickish), this episode does give me the warm fuzzies. Angel loves Buffy enough that he was willing to kill the vampire who made him just to protect her... even though he knows they can never be together, anyway.