Friday, 8 January 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 1, Episode 3

The Witch

In this episode Buffy is trying out for the cheerleading squad and making new friends with one of the other girls also trying out, called Amy. It's gradually realised by Buffy and her 'team' (the Slayerettes, term first coined in this episode by Willow) that the cheerleaders are being taken out by someone using witchcraft. They check it out and Buffy is almost taken down by a powerful witch.

My thoughts:

- Although one of the 'Monster of the Week' shows that the bulk of Season 1 is made up of, this one is superior to a large number of the others. The main reason for this is the absolute sparkling and comedy dialogue. There are some wonderful exchanges between characters, mostly involving Xander, that are biting and very funny.

- Wow, the sign at try-outs says 1996: can't believe Buffy is that old now! Still seems so fresh!

- There are a few very American-centric things in this episode that the English viewer might find incomprehensible or unfamiliar. This includes just why cheerleading is so obsessed about by young American girls; and the fact that Driver's Ed is offered as a class at many high schools.

- Joss Whedon is showing his comic book credentials in this episode, with mention made of both the Human Torch and the Invisible Man.

- It has to be said that there are a couple of genuinely creepy moments in this episode, such as when Lishanne's mouth is closed over by a spell and when Amy's 'mum' delivers the line: "She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it." This was beautifully done.

- Poor Sarah Michelle Gellar is really not the singer....

- A couple of themes re-occur in The Witch: one concerns an ongoing debate between Buffy and Giles about her responsibilities, and her constant striving to be a normal girl; the other concerns Buffy's mum Joyce simply having no idea of what her daughter is actually involved in.

- Speaking of Joyce, I felt that the scenes between her and Buffy reflected completely the type of relationship a 16 year old might have with her mum. They are the warm heart of this episode. I also appreciated the parallel that can be drawn with the scenes involving Buffy and Giles. The tenderness and protectiveness he is already feeling for Buffy puts him very much into a fatherly role, that will continue to develop across the seven seasons.

- Xander was absolutely brilliant in this episode! From the snarky one-liners to the look on his face when Buffy - all unaware - breaks his heart by saying he's just one of the girls to her.

Any frustrations? Well, just a couple of internal inconsistency or plot holes that need to be shrugged aside, such as the fact that Cordelia is totally disoriented all day, even before she is blinded. Also, when driving the car and going blind, surely it's an easy thing to hit the brakes rather than speed up and swerve all over the place? I'm also left wondering how Amy managed to get hold of Buffy's bracelet, short of tearing it off her wrist. Minor points really, and didn't detract from the episode at all.

Best dialogue? A few candidates this time!

Xander: I laugh in the face of danger! Then I... hide until it goes away.

Xander: For I am Xander, King of Cretins. May all lesser cretins bow before me!"

Willow: That girl's on fire!
Cordelia: Enough of the hyperbole!"


  1. I've only ever seen one episode of this series - the musical one.

  2. Oh, I would definitely recommend trying more than that! Go right back to the beginning and try Buffy from the start - it's great fun. Season 1 is a little rocky, but Season 2 really ups the ante. I was hooked from that Season. Now that you can pick them up so cheap from ebay, splash out on a DVD boxset :-)

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