Thursday, 11 July 2013

FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Never Kill A Boy On A First Date

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy has largely been getting the life-slayage ratio right recently, Xander's crush on Buffy continues whilst Angel has been lurking in the shadows.

Never Kill A Boy On A First Date not only has one of the best episode titles of the entire series, it also happens to be one of my favourite episodes for Season One; it's an episode in which the humour hits some really great highs, it captures the awkwardness of teen dating whilst also dealing with a prophecy.  The episode opens with one of Buffy's prophetic dreams which turns out to herald the arrival of the Anointed One, a key figure for the rest of the season. However, Buffy sets her sights on local heartthrob Owen and decides that dating him is much more important than a prophecy which may or may not come true. Alas, come true it does and Buffy finds herself at the Sunnydale funeral home with Owen, Xander, Willow and Giles in tow and a monologuing vampire to stop.

It's not the strongest episode in terms of the overarching plot despite its links to the Master narrative. We've not yet learnt the importance of the Anointed One (in fact, I don't think we do until the season finale) so there's no real reason to become invested in whether Buffy kills him or not. However, I'd argue it's a very important episode for the development of Buffy herself and particularly her relationship with Giles. Before this, Giles functions as exposition, giving us the lowdown on the feature creature, but here he starts to move into his role as Buffy's father figure. His pep talk at the end is the first of many and also one of the sweetest as he doesn't so much lecture Buffy on duty and sacrifice, but merely hints at it and lets her do the rest.

This is also a very funny episode on a lot of levels; Cordelia and Buffy verbally sparring never gets old, but here there is the added tension of both Own and Angel in the mix. Charisma Carpenter's face when she sees Angel for the first time and then her reaction upon his walking over to Buffy are both priceless. The standout is guest star Christopher Wiehl as the object of Buffy's affections, Owen, a tall sensitive type with a penchant for Emily Dickinson and living a staid life. He is gifted some cracking lines throughout the episode and delivers them with the right timing and sense of bewilderment. We also get the sight of Angel's jealousy for the first time when he discovers Buffy's dating; Boreanaz is still finding his feet with the character but Angel's envy is always the stuff of laughter.

Sadly, the villain isn't wholly memorable and the trope of the religious-text spouting vampire was already worn out with the Master in the first episode. Still, I enjoy the fight sequence in the morgue at the and the build-up to it is suitably atmospheric. The episode also manages a decent twist which took me completely by surprise the first time I saw it; the Anointed One is the creepy child we saw on the bus at the beginning of the episode. Whilst he is yet to go all Omen on us, the Anointed One still glowers with a believable horror and moves us ever closer to the season's big finale.

No it may not be of the highest quality, but I do really love this episode. It's the first episode that starts to hint at the jump in quality we'll see when we get to the second season, particularly when it comes to the developing relationships of the Scooby Gang.

Next Time: The Pack

Quote of the Day: Buffy - "If the apocalypse comes, beep me." (Well, it had to be didn't it?)

- Becky

You can read Becky's look at Teacher's Pet here.

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