This episode picks up directly from the end of Welcome to the Hellmouth (honestly, they should be watched back to back). Buffy and Giles introduce Xander and Willow to the world of vampires with a lengthy infodump session, before Buffy leaves to try and rescue Jesse who has been taken by the vamps. While she is away Giles and Willow try to discover more about the Harvest - mentioned by the mysterious stranger that keeps popping up when Buffy is alone. The end denouement sees the vampires take over the Bronze, while Luke (hench-vamp to the Master) becomes the Vessel in order to try and release the Master from his mystical imprisonment. Again, I would rate this as a solid entry in much the same vein as Welcome to the Hellmouth.
A few thoughts:
- nice little use of the cross that Angel gives Buffy when it saves her from Luke at the start of the episode. Intriguing that despite being frustrated by him and protesting that he is 'good-looking in an annoying sort of way' Buffy wears the cross he gives her immediately.
- I had some amusement at the fact you need to seriously suspend disbelief and ignore plot-holes to truly enjoy this series - the idea of one girl being created to handle *all* the vamps in the world is vaguely ridiculous. Will Europe be over-run by vampires while Buffy is the Slayer and stays mainly in America?
- that computer looks so dated! And Giles' self-conscious reference to the Net is slightly cringe-making - although it does fit his character of being a complete technophobe.
- once again Whedon throws in off-handedly a theme that will reoccur many times - in this case it is the way Xander doesn't really have a role to fill. Giles is the monster expert; obviously Buffy is the Slayer; and Willow slots right in with her computer knowledge - but Xander immediately feels like a spare part.
- I was oddly amused to see a vampire called Collin.
- when Joyce says: "if you don't go out, it'll be the end of the world" it is a lovely irony that it actually would be the end of the world if Buffy doesn't get out of the house.
- just a comment: never thought that Cordy would be the type to go in for rock music. Always saw her as preferring manufactured plastic pop. Just goes to show.
Most frustrating? A few candidates in this episode. The first is the Master - considering he is this evil ancient bad guy who holds Luke and Darla in thrall, he seems a little... whiny. I never really got in these first episodes why he was considered *so* bad. Xander is an annoyance in this episode as far as I'm concerned - first he takes on board all the vampire stuff a little too quickly and goes all gung ho, then he shows the ultimate stupidity by following Buffy when she explicitly tells him not to. Lastly, I have no idea why Angel tells Buffy she really shouldn't go into the lair of the vampires when he well knows that she is the best equipped to deal with them.
Quote of the episode:
- Giles: For as long as there have been vampires, there has been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One...
- Buffy: He loves doing this part.
- Giles: This world is older than any of you know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons, demons walked the Earth, made it their home, their Hell. In time, they lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for mortal animals. For Man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: certain magics, certain creatures.