No announcement yet.

Thoughts on Season 1

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Thoughts on Season 1

    Bit disjointed, but my thoughts on Season 1 after my re-watch.

    I love this show and I love Season 1. I only wish there were more episodes.

    There are three arcs/stories/sections in the season

    1. Slayer and the Scoobies. The show knocks this out of the park. By the end of the season we know these four main characters really well, we know their hopes and fears and their relationships with each other and with those just outside the group; Cordy, Jenny and Joyce. Better still, these characters are interesting and their wants and needs aren't simple.

    2. The love-story. Angel's eponymous episode is great, but I find the character a bit bland in this season. He doesn't appear in every episode, and mostly when he's not there, he's easily forgotten and not mentioned. When Angel does appear, he does have impact, but perhaps we needed more of him.

    3. The Master and other monsters. The Master suffers the same fate as Angel in a way, we don't see him enough and we don't find out enough about him. I do like Mark Metcalf's performance, so that helps. Colin is the obvious weak link and Darla was killed off too early. There are some great motw, such as Marcie Ross but some really poor ones like Natalie French.

    What are your thoughts on Season 1?

  • #2
    Yeah just finished season 1 again .

    My new thoughts ....Early Buffy makes more sense if you know about the Powers That Be and Champions etc . Buffys perky resurrection in Prophesy Girl seems more natural . Also those dreams of hers are wicked accurate , another gift from the Powers ? .

    A member on another forum (RomanticSoul I think ) pointed out that Buffyverse vamplore doesn't even make it through the first show before it contradicts itself . Now she's mentioned it , I can't unsee it . I tend not to pick at fantasy for internal consistency because ...well because it's fantasy and not true . However it occured to me this time , that if The Master knew all this prophecy stuff about his rising ...and the knowledge was knocking about for centuries ...why the hell did he go there to get trapped in the first place ? .

    Another thing I can't unsee is Giles . I love that character but it dawned on me a while back that the bloke was a goddamn incompetent ...caused as many apocalypses as he thwarted . Love him to death but it makes me cringe to see him packing a public space with magic books . He's gonna get ambushed there by vampires many times ...and even after he discovers it's a doorway to hell , he's still keen to use it . Moloch was the first of many Giles mishaps . Another was turning young Willow into a research machine. It sets her on the path to serious magic use and Giles never takes responsibility for her dangerous gift in later seasons .

    More later
    Last edited by Hunga Munga; 15-03-20, 09:23 AM.


    • #3
      My new thoughts ....Early Buffy makes more sense if you know about the Powers That Be and Champions etc . Buffys perky resurrection in Prophesy Girl seems more natural . Also those dreams of hers are wicked accurate , another gift from the Powers ? .
      I like how she feels stronger after death and resurrection, very much a contrast to season 6. It's never really explained why, but I put it down to the power you feel when you've overcome something huge in your life and she must have a sense of re-birth, of starting over.

      However it occured to me this time , that if The Master knew all this prophecy stuff about his rising ...and the knowledge was knocking about for centuries ...why the hell did he go there to get trapped in the first place ? .
      He obviously didn't know about the prophecy before going to Sunnydale, he learnt about it afterwards. He was doing research into getting out of there since being trapped and he learnt about it then. I wonder if The Mayor had much to do with either bringing The Master to Sunnydale or trapping him there, but not sure what either would achieve.

      Another thing I can't unsee is Giles . I love that character but it dawned on me a while back that the bloke was a goddamn incompetent ...caused as many apocalypses as he thwarted . Love him to death but it makes me cringe to see him packing a public space with magic books . He's gonna get ambushed there by vampires many times ...and even after he discovers it's a doorway to hell , he's still keen to use it . Moloch was the first of many Giles mishaps . Another was turning young Willow into a research machine. It sets her on the path to serious magic use and Giles never takes responsibility for her dangerous gift in later seasons .
      I'm actually fine with this. It doesn't matter where the watcher or slayer are in Sunnydale, bad things would happen to them and at least at the school they can watch over everyone. Plus Buffy has to go to school, there is no way for her to avoid it, and the school is on the hellmouth and Giles as the watcher has to be near his slayer without arising too much suspicion. I think it makes sense.


      • #4
        Don't think I'm a Negative Nelly though , because I genuinely love season 1 . I'm not looking to pull its legs off or anything . I have a soft spot for Joss Whedon's writing and season 1 is full of it .

        'I'm telling you , having a secret identity in this town is a job of work !' (WTTH) is one of my alltime favourite Buffy quotes . For most people a disposable line but one of my favourites .

        'Why couldn't Xander be possessed by a puppy ...or some ducks' Willow (The Pack)

        Just love it , could pick 50 more . A lot of the pop culture references just don't land anymore , which is a shame for the new younger viewers , because back in '97 it was pretty damn witty .
        Last edited by Hunga Munga; 15-03-20, 07:43 PM.


        • Priceless
          Priceless commented
          Editing a comment
          I'd never think you were a negative Nelly :-)  Season 1 is hit and miss but we love it because it's Buffy and we know where it's going.

      • #5
        I thought the MVP of the season was a close call between Buffy and Willow. I usually don't pay much attention to I Robot You Jane, but this time it really drew me in. Willow was so good all season, and really flipped the cliche of the mousy quite girl. Of course Buffy's whole point of being was to invert a cliche, so the two of them worked well together.


        • #6
          Willow is a bit of a slow burner for Munga . I loved Xander, Giles and Buffy from the off , even before I loved the show ,but it was only when I really got into Buffy that I saw the charms of Willow and Cordelia properly . Willow gets some really great lines in season 1 , just love her vibe and delivery .


          • #7
            My view of season 1 always starts with "ohmygawd, they are so young." There's a sadness there knowing how much of the resilience and naivete will be scraped away by the stresses of their lives. Impossible to rewatch with the fresh eyes I had the first time around. OTH, I can see in each of them the seeds of who they will become.

            The Pack is outstanding. NB knocks it out of the park. I really like Willow - maybe because I can really relate to her search for more knowledge. That's the path I would have walked given access to all the information Giles provided. Hell yes, I would have tried to learn magic, and probably overused it. Or maybe it's because I'm Jewish and there are almost no non stereotypical Jewish characters on tv.

            Giles is so fluttery - I would love to get the story of how the rebel who enjoyed calling demons for orgies turned into this easily baffled, insecure fuddy duddy. Anyone feel like writing it? Buffy annoys me a bit this season - she just seems so performative. Not to jump to early season to but When She Was Bad is a glimpse into who Buffy was before she became the slayer - how much she was like Cordelia before she came to Sunnydale so I suppose some preening is to be expected.

            And I love Prophecy Girl. Up until then being the slayer is not a role she embraced completely. She did make the choice to embrace being the slayer and to defeat the Master when she spoke to Willow, knowing she would die.. I wonder know if dying - and having another slayer called at that moment - changed her somehow. She was still a slayer, but not the only slayer. When the slayer line first split, did it split some sort of imperative? Did it somehow free Buffy to draw on the strength of the slayer line?

            Season one is full of cheese, but it's the birth place of the series. That makes me willing to forgive everything.
            Last edited by bespangeled; 16-03-20, 12:46 AM.
            Can we agree that the writers made everyone do and say everything with a thought to getting good ratings and being renewed. This includes everything we love as well as everything we hate.


            • #8
              who watches what during the coronavirus period, and we are Buffy!


              • #9
                A few belated thoughts:

                • I much agree with Priceless that the strongest aspect of the Season is the coming together of the Core Four: I love the way that Welcome to the Hellmouth draws their characters so perfectly: the shifting emotions on Buffy's face in her interview with Flutie and her encounter with Willow at the water fountain foreshadow so much, just as Willow's reactions (as Pricey has written in her Rewatch comments) intimate her complex depths—and Buffy's response to Willow's unspoken call sketches out the ethics of her particular practice as a Slayer as it will develop over the entire series.

                • As Hunga Munga notes, the writing: Buffyspeak is born in the first episode—for while much of the series does not gel until S2, the writing is there from the start... I, too, could go on forever citing iconic lines...

                • The relationship between Buffy and Joyce: Joyce is often utterly clueless, bound to her books and tapes, falling into exactly the wrong line, as she will be throughout much of S2 as well, leading up to the explosion of Becoming 2... However, there are moments that presage what will become between them, particularly the scene in Prophecy Girl: the gift of the dress, the "See, sometimes I do know what you're thinking" (even though she both does and utterly does not, cannot), her story of how she met Hank, her telling Buffy to go to the dance—"I think you should do what you want to," which, although she cannot know it, helps move Buffy to take up her calling once more, even though she knows it means walking to her death....

                • I actually like the way the romance plays out: perhaps a little more Angel would have been nice, but not that much more—as you note, Pricey, when he is there, he makes an impact, and, for me, that impact lingers, makes him felt when not there, present in his absence, in Buffy's longing for him, despite her renouncement. He keeps surfacing: he's there in The Pack—Xander: "You like your men dangerous. Well, guess who just got dangerous"—and in Prophecy Girl—Xander: "I'm not him... I guess a guy has to be undead to make time with you"... Buffy, quietly, with surprise and desire: "Angel—?" At the same time, his absence gives more space for Xander's fantasy to build up—had Angel been more present, this would not have been possible—only to be finally dashed.

                • I am also fine with Giles' flutteriness, bespangled: it suits this season, where we only begin to see him allow his stronger self emerge in Prophecy Girl—first in his decision to fight The Master himself, then in his taking up arms against fearsome creature who emerges from the Hellmouth, etc. There was no time in S1 to reveal his history, for it required the entire episode we get in S2, where Ripper emerges. That leaves, as well, time between the two episodes for us to wonder about the difference between these two sides of Giles....

                • I do agree, however, Pricey, that we could have done with more of The Master—or, at least, with some better Monsters of the Week... Although I am fine with Darla going so quickly—had she not, we might have gotten caught up in a love triangle or something equally distracting... And, yes, I do adore The Pack...

                • I also very much like your thought, bespangled, about how being cut off from the Slayer Line might have freed Buffy, given her greater access to the power of the Slayer. I have always thought this came through her gradual disengagement from the biopolitical strictures imposed upon her by the Council, but your suggestion adds another layer to this line of thinking, complicates it in a quite compelling way: dying and the split you see it as creating, the access that split gave Buffy to the power of the Slayer Line may have been part of what enabled her to free herself from the Council—that, and her work with her friends, her maintaining of affective relations, of love, something the Council sought to deny all Slayers.

                • All of which is to say that despite its flaws, I still love S1, find in it the seeds, the structure of what made the series so brilliant—and that I still enjoy rewatching it for its own sake, still gain new insights, surprizes from doing so.....

                • Thanks, Priceless, for inspiring this retrospection....


                • Priceless
                  Priceless commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Great thoughts. Agree Darla in a love triangle would have been too cliche, glad that was avoided. I love Joyce and think she does the best she can without knowing anything (damn you Giles)

              • #10

                I think that BTVS is as close to religion as I’m gonna get. I was Buffy’s age with Buffy and on a chance I just turned it on. Who knew how important this guide would be to me to begin really looking and trying to “know what to see”==without becoming cynical or bitter—as, to me, a balanced wisdom in fighting WHY so many girls know too much of depression in their whole lives. I am grateful that Joss chose myths, metaphors that have centuries of depth and power, religious mysteries, and even music, and made everything so “shiny” for us and for all who follow, finding the daring to ‘know what to see’ and ‘become.’

                I am surprised, actually, how many ‘buffyisms,’ old surfing vernacular, are understood so widely—even in Nebraska—because so much is actually replayed “just everywhere” and I truly feel that the proof and strength of the BTVS show is in how much this show affected “just everything” being made. Not that BTVS was perfect nor is even feminism in the DC/Marvel worlds anything like the vulnerability Joss also showed of the female hero, for example. Yet, he also showed how she could “keep faith” because she learned she also didn’t do everything so perfectly and forgiveness (for the self and for others) was the “growth” that she never could quite hide: she also chose compassion pointedly, when SHE could have been so marred and marked.

                No, I don’t believe in all this ‘mind-wipe’ stuff as a technique, but it had its uses in how we might shift how we perceive “what matters” or what we perceive as the “totality of reality”—when it isn’t or can’t be. (And how do see, other than by “reflection,” and how do we even know all that” zenness” and still ‘live in the world’ marked by eternal change?)

                I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved the opulent feast of just that opening sequence. I can’t ‘summarize’ the whole of the season, briefly, as well as any of you, but the fact “change or die” is but one theme, I love, love so much each of these people—including the girl I loved to hate, Cordelia Chase, even though I adored to bitsies the actress who can be so comedic and whose smile turned on the sun.

                The first scene of Xander turning an optimistic face, almost saying “hello” to people who don’t even see him at all, just for the appearance of popularity, on what felt emotionally like hope that the new year would actually change “the usual; ” and the hope he wouldn’t fall prey to the usual disappointments—even as he searches for the comfort in Willow, as he is “sailing/surfing” over the earth, on a near toy, as his “back-up guarantee” he wasn’t all alone—just as Willow wears clothes that are “new” in pressed perfect appearance (control: covering, plaid not flowers, lowish-middle income, chosen by another), the “almost but, “not really cool” new school clothes; and yet, was later, even made to feel ashamed for all the things she had no control over—which is why a little more than “justice in vengeance” for rational and emotional recompense is so much a part of Willow. ‘Unfair’ is something one tends to say for the self, but can justify a lot of “awful’ when claimed to be “chosen for another’s harm/justice.”

                And I honestly feel that Willow, as his stalwart friend, was like an armor of dependability and defense—we learn later that he just didn’t see her seriously crushing on him—because that was new and she was “half the team” of his own support and not in that very private world of all the ‘crazy’ his own body was demanding he explore “out in the world” with breasts and legs that reach all the way up there.”

                This also put him on the risky path of “just maybe” possible acceptance in a new group, having greater power, and provided the danger of serious emotional rejection. And that is why the “Pack” rings so true—and again, in “consuming” both Xander and the people who would be consumed by the * uncaring* power of “pack”—both in attractiveness for place and power, and yet reprehensible as bullying murderers.

                I adore so much that Xander was the one to first pick up the literal stake and “stakes” with Buffy. It just goes to show you how a single choice would change absolutely everything. I think that the change from dependence on Jesse to find that he really did depend on a girl was important—Joss said his own sense of avatar is female. Yeah, and how he also can show how wrong he is about that, too, in the “reach for the pain” as necessary dramatic “show” of all life and truth: “Life is pain.’ No, not really—or you are doing it wrong. Maybe, he believes in being marked and “moving on” as his power struggle, I guess.

                The scene of the arriving yellow school bus shows us a journey unseen, yet mostly that the bus arrives at the place “to learn lessons,” both on the road made for the purpose and those unseen journeys of “beginnings.” Yellow features so much as a color with ‘the yellow broken crayon” for Xander withWillow, and the yellow, standard pencil for Willow’s imaginative, effective and powerful use of this object, in practicing magic ‘by the rules’ and using magic in a whole new way—her way—as a literal weapon to destroy demons! (And writers everywhere cheered!). Yes, yellow, the blonde versus the dark, the sunny versus the shadowy, the actual sun king—who must renew each day in his journey is cast as eternal; and the eternal moon goddess is cast as mortal, threatened with death in every moment of her life, who are paired to live in opposition to their very opposite appearances, in a mortal, day living slayer of vampires, with the eternal vampire of night meant to “consume” mortality.

                I love, love the portrayal of the school, as a living entity itself, with the “windows of the soul” so obscure and the great door looking like a maw that consumes all going inside to never emerge or do so at being changed (“forever,” like Jesse), and greatly in other choices that may or may not “ cost their lives”—if such “chains on choice or growing” are not re-examined—and isn’t that what exactly we saw was “going on” inside==being sucked dry—youth actually killed—or turned into something more akin to “mindless” monsters?

                I adore the arrival of Cordelia, who shows the loveliness of “security,” in place, position, power, and pretty. (And how much of that could be lost in order to gain all those qualities truly for the self—as she ever tried to gain internally, as self, and as a new measure of ‘equilibrium.’ )

                I enjoyed how much she exemplifies Buffy’s very chastened past, (from the movie, even) and how much Buffy herself, slides into that role, like putting on a coat, more than revealing her deepest sense of her self. She even tries to slide on her ‘roles’ as daughter, as student, as girl in the know, as slayer, when she says that killing vampires is like falling off a log. The way to protect her feelings that these are people she really didn’t know how to save. And along comes Angel.

                I also got the great sense for all this chatter, everyone is playing up for appearances, but the introverted self’s sense of self is so very different in how the actual individual can’t hide certain qualities that have ‘marked’ them in the past, and yet can hide everything that “surprises.” and those characteristics are clear on people who are indeed not “babies” but are still “ever at the beginnings” of “becoming.”

                Giles, has been handled in the most shifting way of all the “core fout” I think, because he seems to be cast out to the “fringes” of all measure of “good—land, society, and the “power” those bring to anyone, let alone the Council—try being a non-citizen of no land and see what happens. Giles has knowledge, by the buckets, and has reason to fear using it and ‘losing position’ and yet, facing reality, the cost can be his life. Giles, as the adult, is the most complex and Joyce, dampens and tries to drown, her own hurts, desires, in the face of realities an adult must face both internally and externally in the wider world—all characters are ‘in school’ to learn lessons and keep on facing that lesson until learned.


                • #11
                  I’ve been rewatching Season 1 and it made me realize how long it’s been since I watched these episodes. Aside from the odd ep here and there, most of S1-S3 I haven’t seen in two or three years. I’ve discussed the seasons a lot within that time, but discussing the series is completely different from the visceral experience of watching and reliving the emotions that come with doing so.

                  In regards to the first two episodes, they only really excel at introducing the characters. There’s a strong theme of isolation present from the beginning that goes along in setting up everyone’s dynamics with one another. Buffy and Willow; Buffy and Angel; Xander and Willow - all bonds based on mutual loneliness. Alyson Hannigan and Tony Head are amazing from the start, never making a move that feels out of step with their assigned characterizations. SMG and Nick Brendon needed a little more time to warm up in their roles, but they both embody Buffy and Xander well from the beginning.

                  The main problem with the openers (and S1 as a whole really) is that while the show was compelling from the jump, it lacked the production values to pull off a lot of what it was trying to accomplish. The grainy, shadowy look of the show is great but the direction is uninspired, the action sequences suck, and the vampires are dull. The latter issue is the most grating considering the vampires take up such large parts of these episodes.

                  I forget how fresh-faced SMG looked in the early episodes. Over the years, I’ve seen some rather incessant body-shaming from fans in regards to her weight in later seasons and it always annoys me to no end, but there’s no denying how healthy she looks in these early episodes in comparison to later on down the line. Her face is fuller and so is her body. On the other hand, I’m not too fond of her fringe and, while I love me some cleavage, the push-up bra in the first ep is unnecessary.

                  While Jesse is ultimately forgettable, the show would have benefited from addressing his death later on and factoring it into Xander’s hatred of vampires. And I don’t care what anyone says, the ‘Deliver’ trick is still one of the most savage things in the entire series. Cordelia needed to learn how to treat people.

                  I don’t have much to say about episodes 1.3 and 1.4. “Witch” is still a solid episode, better than the first two, and the premise is creepier than people give it credit for. I love how the first shot of “Teacher’s Pet” is from inside the screaming girl’s mouth in Xander’s dream, which is appropriate considering the plot is about his lust literally almost getting him devoured.

                  “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” is when the chemistry between the leads and the quality of the dialogue really starts to take the forefront. Buffy and Giles’ relationship is developed a little more but the writers still hadn’t nailed everything quite yet. Xander and Willow don’t have much to do but obsess over Buffy’s love life, Cordelia feels shoehorned into the story, and the whole premise of the episode (balancing dating with responsibility) is something the show would explore much better throughout the next season.

                  The Anointed One also feels like a missed opportunity. While I’m beyond glad ME scrapped the original plan of making him a Big Bad, I do think it would have been interesting for the series to have explored the subject of what it’s like for a child to be a vampire and to give Buffy the uncomfortable task of having to stake him.

                  “The Pack” is still “The Pack”, the first legitimately great episode hampered by terrible actors playing the hyena kids.


                  • Andrew S.
                    Andrew S. commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Stoney Okay, I think I got it.

                  • Andrew S.
                    Andrew S. commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Indeed, it worked. Thanks!

                  • Stoney
                    Stoney commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Always happy to help.

                • #12
                  Unpopular opinion, but...

                  “I, Robot...You, Jane” is at least as good as “Angel”. It is the only episode of the season that really focuses on Willow. I forgot how shortchanged her character was for most of S1. Alyson's endless charm and expressive facial reactions aside, she hasn’t had much to do up until this point. Buffy has been the one with the main storyline; Xander got a couple episodes centered on himself and a recurring sideplot throughout S1 has been his attempts to be the kind of guy that he thinks Buffy wants; Giles has mostly been exposition guy but NKBOTFD gave us more information about him and deepened his relationship with Buffy. But poor Willow has just been the shy sidekick who hacks into computers and reacts to the other characters. The best example of this is the “Witch” episode, an important one for the Buffyverse overall but strangely unimportant for Willow’s character.

                  “Witch” introduced the concept of witches and Willow’s whole storyline would be all about her becoming a witch, yet she had nothing to do in that ep. Buffy put her previous love for cheerleading aside, Xander was forced to contend with the fact that he’s ‘totally and completely one of the girls’, and Giles cast the spell and saved the day. Willow didn’t really do anything other than react to Xander and give some exposition about Amy. Why? The writers weren’t sure what to do with her or what her storyline was going to be yet. And while we got some great moments with Willow in “The Pack”, even then, she was still just reacting to Hyena!Xander’s actions.

                  IRYJ, however, is the first episode that really puts her into the spotlight. It's not a great Willow-centric episode, but it's a Willow-centric episode nonetheless. It explores her insecurities, using her bad dating experience here as a counterpoint to Buffy’s and Xander’s, and her love for technology is drives the plot. The climax also gives her a chance to show what a badass she is (the scene of her beating Moloch with the fire extinguisher always makes me smile) in a season that is really low on badass!Willow moments.

                  The episode also introduces Jenny Calendar, the catalyst for Willow’s future storyline of becoming a witch, and I’m sure Whedon penned large portions of this script. The banter, particularly between Buffy-Xander and Giles-Jenny, is really strong and the ending scene is a huge favorite of mine. The episode's main flaw, besides being extremely dated (but most of S1 is dated, so...) is the character of Fritz, who is poorly-acted and has some terrible dialogue.

                  While “Angel” is important for expanding the character and mythology a little more, David Boreanaz couldn’t carry his own episode yet. And while his romantic chemistry with SMG is terrific, her back is sore from how much she carries their scenes together and the souled vampire romance concept is something that gets hokier and hokier for me as time goes on. Angel’s curse and souled nature is much more interesting to me when they use it as a metaphor for larger things (like emotional distance, see “Eternity”) rather than just as an excuse for Buffy to overlook all his shady aspects and engage in romance with him. Plus, there’s this line:

                  “I haven’t fed on a living human being since that day..”

                  You liar!! Now obviously, the writers hadn’t figured out all of Angel’s backstory yet so they probably intended for him to be telling the truth with this line at the time the episode was written. But of course, given his own show and episodes like “Orpheus” and “Why We Fight”, we know this isn’t true and it makes him look like a manipulator. He’s very selective with the information he gives to Buffy regarding his past and it is another reason why I can't get on the Bangel train. I often wonder if Buffy still would have wanted to be with Angel if she knew about the shady things that he is capable of even while ensouled.

                  With all that being said, their goodbye scene and the cross burn at the end still makes me smile.

                  I’m still ‘meh’ on “The Puppet Show” but Snyder is cool and Sid’s sacrifice is neat foreshadowing to the one that Buffy is forced to make in the finale. Plus, the ending scene.


                  • Stoney
                    Stoney commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The cross burn always irritates me as it doesn't line up with where she would have been, where the cross would have been, so it's hammy and inaccurate.

                  • Priceless
                    Priceless commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I was so impressed by I Robot ... on this rewatch. It's a great episode and so underrated.

                • #13
                  My final batch of disjointed thoughts on season one;

                  “Nightmares” is exactly as I remember it. An uneven MoTW with some compelling character moments that will be expanded on in later seasons. Willow’s nightmare is hilarious and a neat prelude to her “Restless” dream. Giles’ nightmare and fear of Buffy’s death is foreshadowing to not only the S1 finale, but to his S6 departure. Likewise with the Buffy-Hank scene. Unfortunately, Vampire-Buffy will forever remain a missed opportunity.

                  I’d consider “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” to be the most important episode of S1 other than the openers, “Angel”, and the finale. It’s up there with “The Pack” in how it embodies the season’s mission statement and the show FINALLY addresses the enmity between Buffy and Cordelia, another running S1 subplot.

                  The scene at the beginning where Buffy bumps into Cordy and her friends is a good one. When Buffy tries to come up with an excuse for why she has so many weapons, there’s a nice little nuance in CC’s facial expression. Cordy looks a bit skeptical, like she clearly doubts Buffy’s story but doesn’t quite care enough to call her out on it so she just redirects the conversation to how much of a freak Buffy is. One of those clues that she’s much smarter than she lets on, which we find out throughout this ep.

                  It’s funny because later on, the Buffy-Cordy rivalry would become fairly one-sided, with Cordelia always being in competition with Buffy while the latter would, at worst, just regard Cordelia as a nuisance. But here in these early eps, Cordelia actually gets under Buffy’s skin and manages to intimidate her (in a social sense, at least). Buffy looks genuinely hurt by Cordelia’s insults and there are many early plots about the two of them being in competition with one another (over cheerleading, over Owen, over Angel).

                  The hallway scene between them where they talk about loneliness will always be a favorite of mine. It’s a great character moment for not only Cordelia, but also for Buffy in regards to her S1 arc. All throughout this season, Buffy has had an obsession with having a normal life to escape her destiny and that is what her rivalry with Cordy is about. Buffy is jealous of Cordelia for having the life that Buffy used to have and still wants. But that pivotal scene reminds Buffy that life isn’t exactly a cakewalk for ‘normal’ girls like Cordelia either, which Buffy even admits to in the next scene. Even before she became the Slayer, there was still a lot of angst and emptiness in her life.

                  Despite being a MoTW, the events of the episode are crucial to Buffy’s arc this season and the placement is perfect. It makes sense that the last thing for Buffy to do before she faces The Master and fully commits herself to her destiny is make peace with Cordelia, the embodiment of the person Buffy once was but is now unable to be. I do think that once S2 starts, there is a slight regression to Buffy’s character in regards to some of the lessons she learns here but I’ll probably talk about that in the “Thoughts on Season 2” thread.

                  The finale -- still amazing as ever. It’s the first episode where the whole ensemble -- everyone from Willow, Xander, and Giles to Cordy, Jenny, and Angel -- gets a great deal to do and it’s magnificent setup to the next season. Every character’s motivations are completely laid bare and I love the expansion of the group here, setting up next season. The Scooby Gang goes from a foursome to a six/seven-member (depending on whether you think Ms. Calendar is a Scooby or not) group.

                  This was the first ep that Whedon directed, which definitely shows particularly in the teaser scene where Buffy stakes the vampire. I love how she and the vamp stare each other down in slow-motion, only for it to end with the abrupt staking. It’s probably the quirkiest vampire staking scene we get in all of S1, which signifies the show starting to come into its own and experimenting with the visual style a little more.

                  In regards to the CPR scene and Angel’s infamous “I have no breath” comment... Clearly, that’s not true considering the abundance of times we see vampires breathing later on in the series. But I’d like to think Angel meant that he has no *human* breath. He’s a vampire so his breath isn’t restorative. It’s dead breath, which would be pretty useless in performing CPR. I’m not sure if this is a common fanwank or not, but it works for me.