This episode(!!!!). As far as the writing, the action, the heartache, and the wrapping-everything-up factors go, it’s definitely the best of the season. It fills me with love and happiness. When I introduce people to Buffy, I often say that it doesn’t get into its groove until S1’s finale, but that kind of puts people off, you know? The show definitely has a lot to offer before the finale, but this episode is where it truly shows what it’s capable of.
It opens with Xander and Willow in the Bronze, with Xander once again using my sweet precious Willow for his own benefit, by practicing his “ask Buffy out” speech on her. The blissful, naive, adorable look on Willow’s face kills me. KILLS ME.
And then it cuts to an awesome slow-motion fight where Buffy is kicking some vamp butt. (Cordelia is making out in a steamy car in the background. Random comment: I really do love how Cordy’s always in the driver’s seat during her makeout car scenes. Yay feminism!)
Giles, meanwhile, is reading the Codex that Angel mysteriously got for him, and he translates it to discover that Buffy is doomed. This is especially heartbreaking because we just found out a couple episodes ago that Buffy’s death is one of his worst nightmares.
THEN EARTHQUAKE. And the Master is super excited about it (near ejaculation, actually, I suspect) and yelling corny things like “GLORY! GLORRYYYY!” Aw, Master, we love you.
Buffy’s interaction with Giles in the library is adorable, because she’s complaining that he’s not being attentive enough, when really he’s freaking out because he knows her fate. Giles is a wreck right now and it makes me want to cry.
Xander asks Buffy to the dance. Eww. I do appreciate that they’re both direct here. Xander asks outright; Buffy replies honestly. She tells him she doesn’t want to spoil their friendship and that she doesn’t feel that way about him. Xander, of course, acts like a giant fucking baby about it, but whatever. I want to punch him when he talks to Willow about it later. “She’s still jonesing for Angel, could care less about me.” Well, Xander, no offense, but even if Angel wasn’t in the picture I’m not so sure Buffy is into five-year-olds. This scene is redeemed by Wonderful Willow, who shoots him down when he asks her to the dance. She handles it with grace and maturity and SEE, XANDER, TAKE A MEMO WILL YOU. Willow is basically the most mature person that has ever existed. She will coach Xander, the guy she’s had a crush on for forever, on how to ask out her best friend, she will step aside to let it happen, and then she will turn down Xander’s advances after the fact because she doesn’t want to be anybody’s second choice. LOVE.
And then everything is awful and everything hurts, because Buffy overhears Giles telling Angel that the Codex reads: “Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master and she will die.” (But you know, in fancier terms.) I can’t stress how HUGE this moment is, for Buffy as a character and for Buffy as a show. This scene gets me every time. What has always interested me about the language surrounding Slayers is that it’s largely impersonal (and this is directly because the language is controlled by the Watcher’s Council, of course). As we will learn more about in later seasons: the Slayer is the Council’s tool, an instrument to be disposed of and replaced eventually. Buffy is familiar with this language, and perhaps it is the impersonal nature of it that has never really allowed her to face what it means before now. One Slayer dies, another is called. She’s had her turn to be called, and now it’s someone else’s.
“Does it say how he’s gonna kill me? Do you think it’ll hurt?”
Ugh, that line destroys me. We’re reminded with those two questions that Buffy is still a sixteen-year-old girl, and she doesn’t want to die. She tells Giles and Angel that she quits. She doesn’t care, in this moment, about her duties or about stopping the Master. She wants to live. She’s throwing a tantrum in a lot of ways, but who can blame her? (SMG acts the hell out of this scene, by the way, and she gets all the props.)
Joyce’s misinterpretation of Buffy’s mood is adorable. I actually do like Joyce in this scene. She thinks Buffy is upset about not being asked to the dance, and she surprises her with a GORGEOUS new dress (which SMG will later look fantastic in).
AND THEN EVERYTHING HURTS AGAIN. Cordy and Willow discover a whole bunch of dead students in the…I guess it’s the school’s AV room? Buffy goes to Willow’s house as soon as she finds out, and Willow’s explanation of what the experience did to her also always gets me. “When I walked in there, it wasn’t our world anymore. They made it theirs.” In this moment, Buffy knows what she has to do. She can’t let the Master rise. She doesn’t confide in Willow, she doesn’t voice her decision at all, she just gets up, tells Willow to stay in tonight, and goes. She doesn’t expect to live; she’s just going to try and take the Master down with her. LOVE YOU BUFFY.
Back at camp, Giles is preparing to take on the Master by himself, which is equally stupid and heartwarming. LOVE YOU DADDY GILES. Buffy shows up, knocks him out so he can’t interfere, and heads off to find the Anointed One, after telling Jenny, “When he wakes up, tell him…I don’t know. Think of something cool, tell him I said it.” *love love love*
Xander and Willow find out what’s going on, and their concern for their friend supersedes everything else. LOVE YOU WILLOW and Xander you’re okay. They don’t know where Buffy has gone, so Xander goes to Angel’s house, makes a really stupid speech to Angel, blah blah blah, Xander’s boring. They team up.
If there could be a mascot for S1, it would be Buffy in her white dress and leather jacket, carrying a crossbow. I see what you’re doing here, Joss, I feel you.
Willow and Jenny start to go to the Bronze, assuming that’s where the Master will assemble his army, but instead get surrounded by vampires as soon as they leave the school. Meanwhile, the Master hypnotizes Buffy and lets her know that if she had never come to him, he wouldn’t have been able to get out in the first place, which is a bummer. Then he bites her and lets her fall face-first into a puddle, and leaves the…church? Wherever the hell he’s been this whole time.
Angel and Xander find Buffy’s body. Yup, she’s all dead and stuff. Angel’s like, “XANDER *HEAVY BREATHING* YOU HAVE TO GIVE HER CPR *HEAVY BREATHING* I HAVE NO BREATH.” Okay, dude, whatever you say. Xander gives her CPR and even though CPR only works, like, 4% of the time or something, of course it works on Buffy who springs to life like a cartoon character. And her dress isn’t dirty at all, and it bothers me. Her mascara isn’t even smeared.
Cordy drives by and picks up Willow and Jenny, and then they drive into the school and down the corridor to the library, because why not? Vampires begin trying to break into the library through every conceivable doorway, and LOL Jenny is still holding her purse for like 60% of the action.
Then there’s an awesome theme-song march with crappy camera work of Buffy, Xander and Angel heading toward the school.
A demon starts coming out of the Hellmouth just a little bit and starts fucking with people, because, SURPRISE, the Hellmouth is underneath the library. Yay for puppet demons!
Buffy confronts the Master on the roof (how did she know he was up there…?) and they fight. Buffy wins, obviously, and then the Hellmouth demon just gives up.
When Buffy’s looking at the Master’s bones all teary-eyed and Xander announces that she died and everything, and Giles says, “I should have known that wouldn’t stop you,” I WANT TO HUG THEM TO MY BOSOM FOREVER.
I am so excited to be moving on to Season 2, you guys! Season 2 is the one that I watched the most as a child and gives me lovely second-grade feelings again. I’ll post my overview of S1 after B’s Prophecy Girl post, and then we’ll be on our way!