I am also so excited to be doing this project. I have so many projects going on right now but I think this is going to be one of my favorites. 😀 In a lot of ways these first episodes are somewhat slight, so if there’s something I really want to mention I will but the rest of it may just be somewhat formed observations or responses to Joelle’s notes.
So! Welcome to the Hellmouth. Interestingly, I disagree with Joelle’s interpretation of the opening scene. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of indication that the guy is going to take advantage of Darla. I mean, she’s acting somewhat vulnerable but there’s not a lot of indication that she’s necessarily against making out with him or whatever, she’s just acting nervous about being in the building if someone else is there. Which I find weird from a character standpoint. Why should Darla care if anyone sees her? But as far as what I think Joss is trying to do, I find it really interesting. I mean, essentially this is a subversion of horror film tropes. The female is typically the frightened character who ends up running from the monster, who is nervous about the situation she is in. Not to mention the typical horror idea of any girl who has sex will eventually be killed, probably horribly. What we have here is a female playing victim and then ending up being the aggressor. Instead of becoming the murder victim, she is the one calling the shots. Our expectations are being subverted immediately. What we are taught to expect from females and males and sexuality in horror films is immediately set up to be something new. These are all things that I think will be explored in much more detail and more effectively as the show goes on but I think it’s a great beginning.
Also, sidenote, the vampire transformations were so bad for the first couple seasons. Yeesh.
I always wondered if Nicolas Brendan actually knew how to skateboard or if he learned for this particular character trait that ended up never coming up again (fortunately, I think). I’m sure that’s something I could find out but I’ve never bothered.
I agree that it makes me insane that Principal Flutie tapes the transcript together backwards. I mean, really. It’s basically a 4 piece puzzle here. Not exactly complicated.
Also, here’s where one of my blind spots come in. I should say that I was homeschooled all the way growing up (and I swear I’m not as weird as you think from reading that). But this means that there are things about the high school experience that I know primarily from television shows rather than experience. So sometimes I will ask dumb questions! My question is, when Willow says, “I heard someone was transferring” is that something you hear? Like do students know that someone is transferring in in advance? Just wondering.
I agree that how Buffy hits it off with Cordelia is interesting, although I hadn’t really thought about it before. As far as how much was Buffy and how much was becoming the Slayer, to be honest, I always saw it somewhat as that becoming the Slayer just forced her to grow up really fast? I mean, even Cordelia will eventually grow up and become a deeper, more compassionate person. Also, Buffy is an only child, raised by a family that would eventually fall apart. I think a lot of people are shallow in high school (I know I certainly was) and I suspect that if she had not become the Slayer, she probably would have eventually matured and become that more caring person. But because she was forced into that quickly, Cordelia was more like who she used to be. So I guess I think that it was something she naturally had but I think Cordelia has some of that too, we just won’t see it for a while.
I think the instance of meeting Giles is again one of those things, like the opening scene with Darla, where we put off characterization for the sake of exposition for those watching the show. I mean, it’s not totally about exposition because by saying he’s her new Watcher, he could still have explained it but it’s more dramatic to have him slam down the vampire book anyway. Or Vampyre book, I should say.
I actually think that it makes a lot of sense that Giles doesn’t necessarily understand her reluctance. Not just from the obvious things but because Giles, as he tells us later, was 8 years old when his father told him he was to become a Watcher. Like Kendra later, he has literally grown up knowing what his calling was and what he was set to do. That’s not how it was with Buffy. Although of course we know he went through his rebellious stage too so again, I guess it could just be for exposition’s sake.
Really fascinating what you say about her philosophy. I had never thought about it being something that went much beyond this episode but when you say it like that, I look forward to you bringing it up again because you are probably totally right and I’ve just never thought about it.
I think we have not talked enough about how incredibly terrible the introduction of Angel is. I mean, honestly. All of the actors are a little hit and miss as the show begins and that is common for pilots and for first seasons. But his delivery of “You’re pretty spry though” is literally one of the absolute worst line readings I have ever heard. I mean, the dialogue in this scene is absolutely not helping him but his performance is abysmal. It still boggles my mind that this is a guy Joss put so much faith in. Nathan Fillion tried out for the role of Angel. I’m just saying. I don’t know if it would have been better or not but I struggle to believe that it would have been worse.
One of the things that I’m curious about is what Giles says about how a Slayer should be able to just sense a vampire, without looking, just honing her abilities. I feel like that is really never expanded on and I’m curious how that works. Buffy always has sort-of her own way of doing things but clearly she has some powers that allow her to do that and I’m curious about what those are. I want to knoooooooow things.
I find the scene where Willow is taken into the crypt to be very interesting from a sexual politics standpoint. I mean, in any other show, I would assume that he was going to rape her? Vampires in general are a very sexual idea and I feel like that’s part of what’s going on. Willow and Jesse are both being victimized sexually in some ways and, instead of a man coming in to save the day, the man who comes in is Xander and he’s useless. Who saves the day but a little girl. In a way, Luke attacking her from behind just heightens that awareness. We see really just how TINY Buffy is and we see her really afraid, which is something that will happen much less as the show goes on. It shows some interesting power dynamics and sort-of cements where Buffy is emotionally starting out in this show. Yes, she’s aware of her powers and she’s full of quips and lines but she’s still just a kid in a lot of ways and she’s still afraid to die. Knowing where her character will ultimately go from that makes it more interesting to look back at where she started and just how unprepared she really was.
I agree that probably no matter where Buffy ended up, she wouldn’t have been able to just allow people to get hurt and such. She’s seen what’s out there and she knows she has what it takes to stop it and unfortunately a vampire free life is just never going to factor into that. Destiny can really suck.
COMING SOON: THE HARVEST! Woot!