August 21, 2021

Buffy 1.1, Welcome to the Hellmouth: The Chosen One

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 12:57 pm by Jenn

I would finish that book in a week

Summary: “In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.” Thanks, overly dramatic WB voiceover guy!

Sunnydale High School is dark and quiet when two people break in through a classroom window. The woman, Darla, is hesitant to go to the top of the gym with her male companion, who says the view from there is great. Darla’s worried about getting in trouble. They kiss, but she gets spooked when she thinks she hears something. The guy assures her that there’s no one there. Darla’s convinced…and then she shows him her vampire face and bites him.

Buffy Summers is in bed, trying to sleep, but her dreams are pretty creepy. They involve things like books (ooh, scary!), cemeteries, and various supernatural creatures. Her mother, Joyce, makes sure she gets up in time for her first day at her new school. When she drops Buffy off at Sunnydale High, she urges Buffy to think positive about making friends, and also try not to get in trouble.

Xander Harris skateboards through a crowd of students, gets distracted at the sight of his attractive new classmate, and falls. His friend Willow Rosenberg joins him and agrees to help him study for trigonometry. She suggests that he check a math book out of the library. Another of Xander’s friends, Jesse, tells them there’s a new girl at school, though he doesn’t know anything about her.

Buffy meets with the principal, Mr. Flutie, who tears up her record from her past high school and tells her she gets a clean slate here. He regrets that pretty quickly, since Buffy’s past is pretty “colorful,” as she admits. After all, she burned down her school’s gym. Buffy defends her action, since the gym was full of vamp– er, asbestos. Mr. Flutie tells her that the school is there to serve her needs, and vice versa. She’ll just need to make sure her needs mesh with the school’s.

Xander makes a fool of himself with Buffy as he helps her clean up her bag when the contents spill in the hallway. As she leaves, he realizes she left behind a wooden stake. You know, like every 16-year-old girl carries around in her school bag. In history class, Buffy shares a book with Cordelia Chase, who points her toward the library so she can get her own textbook. She invites Buffy to hang out with her and her friends, which is the fast track to popularity. Buffy already has points in Cordelia’s book, since she’s from L.A. But Cordelia loses points with Buffy when she makes fun of Willow for her outfit.

Cordelia tells Buffy that she should go to the Bronze that night; it’s the coolest place to hang out in Sunnydale. (The bar is low.) Buffy heads to the library, where she spots a newspaper at the front desk with an article circled about boys being missing. She meets the librarian, Rupert Giles, who already knows her name and has a book in mind for her. But it’s not for history – it’s a thick book with “VAMPYR” on the cover, which appeared in Buffy’s dream. Buffy says that’s not what she wants and runs off.

Rumors are spreading about Buffy and what brought her to L.A. One girl makes fun of her name, then gets IDed as being named Aphrodisia, so…let’s keep our stones inside our glass houses, okay, hon? Her friend Aura (no one in this town has a normal name, huh?) gets a huge scare when a dead body falls out of her gym locker.

Buffy introduces herself to Willow, who expects to be made fun of or bossed around. She’s surprised that Buffy wants to hang out with her. Buffy heard that Willow can help her with her classwork, and she’s more interested in improving her grades than in being popular or spending any more time with Cordelia. Willow’s happy to help and suggests that they get together in the library. Buffy asks to meet “someplace quieter…louder.” Willow gushes over the library’s collection, which Giles, who’s new, brought with him.

Xander and Jesse join the girls, and Xander tries (but mostly fails) to make up for his poor first impression with Buffy. He returns her stake, which she says she carries around for self-defense. It’s an L.A. thing. Cordelia offers to free Buffy from the burden of hanging out with losers, but Buffy’s fine. Cordelia tells her that gym class was canceled “due to the extreme dead guy in the locker.” Buffy asks questions about the guy’s body and cause of death, which is a totally normal thing that a normal 16-year-old would ask.

She heads to the gym, yanking open a locked door along the way, because she’s stronger than the average teen. After she gets a look at the body, she goes to the library and tells Giles that it looks like they’re dealing with a vampire. Buffy was hoping to get through her first day of school without something like this happening. Also, she doesn’t care. She’s just there to tell him that.

Giles asks if the dead boy will rise again. Buffy says no – becoming a vampire requires a vampire sucking a human’s blood and vice versa. Most of the time, the vampire just kills the human. Giles realizes that Buffy has no idea what’s going on here. Buffy’s arrival in town just before the discovery of this boy’s body isn’t a coincidence. And the boy is just the beginning.

Buffy would really like to end the conversation, but Giles needs her to know what’s happening here: She’s the Slayer. “To each generation, a Slayer is born – one girl in all the world, a chosen one, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires…” Buffy’s heard this before and can recite it by heart, but she doesn’t want to deal with it.

Giles tells Buffy that Sunnydale is a “center of mystical energy.” Things gravitate there that aren’t found in other parts of the country or world. Vampires, zombies, demons, every monster you can think of – they’re all real. Buffy asks if he sent away for the Time-Life series about the town. (Kids, ask your parents.) Giles did, and he got a free calendar!

Buffy announces that she’s retired from being the Slayer, so Giles will have to kill vampires by himself. He tells her he’s a Watcher, not a Slayer. His job is training and preparing Buffy. She doesn’t want to be prepared for this kind of life, though; being the Slayer cost her all her friends and a normal life in L.A. She can’t tell anyone that she kills vampires because she might put them in danger. So what does Giles want to prepare her for? She storms out and Giles follows her…as Xander emerges from the stacks, having heard the whole conversation.

Giles tells Buffy that over the years, supernatural occurrences have been building in Sunnydale, and now things are getting worse. There’s a reason Buffy’s here now, and it’s not just because Joyce decided to move there. Giles insists that something is going to happen soon. Buffy doubts that there’s a big, bad evil in a boring, sleepy little town like Sunnydale. She’s wrong. On the surface, Sunnydale might look like any other normal suburb, but underground, something definitely abnormal is happening. A vampire named Luke is waiting for a sleeper to awake so the world will bleed.

That night, Buffy gets ready to go to the Bronze while chatting with Joyce. Joyce thinks they’ll do really well in Sunnydale. She knows it’s hard for Buffy to build a life in a new town, but she’s sure Buffy can turn things around and stay out of the trouble she got into in L.A. Buffy promises that she’ll only hang out with the living from now on.

A guy follows Buffy as she heads out to the Bronze, and she goes into an alley to try to lose him. She hides by doing a handstand on top of a pipe a few feet in the air. Then she swings around to kick him to the ground and confront him. The guy (y’all know I don’t do the nameless thing; this is Angel) promises that he doesn’t bite and comments that he thought she would be taller. He tells her he wants the same thing she does: “To kill ’em. To kill ’em all.”

Buffy says she just wants to be left alone. Angel tells her that’s not possible anymore. She’s “standing at the mouth of Hell,” and it’s about to open. He gives her a box and tells her to be ready for the harvest. Buffy asks who he is, but Angel just says he’s a friend. Buffy tells him she doesn’t want a friend. He replies that he didn’t say he was her friend. After he leaves, Buffy opens the box, which contains a silver cross necklace.

At the Bronze, which is kind of a combination bar/coffeehouse with live music, Buffy meets up with Willow. Willow was hoping Xander would show up, too. They’re just friends, though they used to go out (when they were five). Willow doesn’t date much, since she finds it hard to talk when she’s around a guy she likes. She figures Buffy has a lot more luck; she’s much more outgoing. Buffy shares her philosophy: “Life is short.” Don’t worry about what other people think of you. After all, you could be dead tomorrow.

Buffy spots Giles up in a balcony and tells Willow she’ll be back in a minute. Willow says she doesn’t have to come back, but Buffy makes it clear that she’s not chatting with Willow just to be polite; she really wants to hang out with her. She joins Giles on the balcony, where he tells her this is the perfect place for a vampire to make an appearance.

Buffy says his friend told her about the harvest, but Giles doesn’t know who she’s talking about. He comments that the teens there are partying without any idea that there’s something dangerous lurking around. Buffy doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about. Giles concedes that she might be right. After all, she’s not having nightmares.

Downstairs, Jesse hits on Cordelia and asks her to dance. That’s a big no. He decides to go on the prowl for another prospect. Back up on the balcony, Buffy tells Giles that, okay, maybe she’s not completely retired from slaying. If she happens to run into a vampire, she’ll kill it. Giles tells her there’s a lot she doesn’t know about vampires and her own powers. Vampires look like everyone else until they transform and start feeding. Buffy says he’s “like a textbook with arms” – she knows this.

Giles continues that a Slayer should be able to sense a vampire without even looking or thinking. Can Buffy tell him if there’s a vampire in the club? Even in the crowd, she should be able to sense one. Buffy picks one out easily – the guy is wearing outdated clothes that only someone who’d been underground for ten years would think are in style. Giles complains that she didn’t hone her senses. Buffy has no time for honing, as she’s realized the girl that vampire is talking to is Willow. She seized the moment, but it was the wrong moment.

Buffy follows Willow and breaks a chair leg to make a stake as the vampire leads Willow into a quiet part of the building. Unfortunately, Cordelia and some of her friends show up, and Buffy almost stakes her. Suddenly Buffy is no longer on the possible-future-popular-girl list. Cordelia pulls out a very ’90s cell phone to call everyone she’s ever met and tell them about the new girl’s freaky after-hours activities.

Buffy returns to Giles, worried because she couldn’t find Willow and the vampire. He thinks he should come with her, but she insists that she can handle one vampire. Except that guy is no longer the only vampire in the club: Darla’s there, and she’s flirting with Jesse. Meanwhile, underground, someone rises out of a pit of blood. This is the Master, and he’s going to make things very difficult for Buffy. Luke tells him the harvest is approaching, and then the Master will be free. Also, it’s almost dinnertime. The Master wants something young.

Looks like that’ll be Willow, who’s walking through town with the vampire, supposedly on the way to get ice cream. Instead, he takes her to a cemetery. Buffy is still looking for Willow around the Bronze when Xander arrives. He remarks that he hopes the guy Willow left with isn’t a vampire Buffy will have to slay. Buffy asks if there was an announcement in the school paper letting everyone know that she’s the Slayer. Really, she doesn’t have time to deal with that – she needs to save Willow. Xander realizes this is a serious situation.

The vampire tries to talk Willow into going into a crypt with him, but she’s a very smart girl and her instincts are telling her that she’s in a bad situation. He shoves her in the crypt, and when she tries to leave, Darla blocks the exit. She’s brought Jesse with her and has snuck a little before-dinner snack from his neck. She puts on her vamp face and tells Willow that no one’s leaving until the vampires have fed.

Just then, Buffy and Xander arrive, and despite the fact that she’s now facing double the vampires she expected, Buffy shows no fear. Darla has no idea who she is. Buffy ignores her and criticizes the other vampire’s outfit; he looks like DeBarge. She faces Darla for a fight, warning that there will be “violence, strong language, adult content…” But it’s over pretty quickly, because it just takes a stake to the chest to get rid of the male vampire.

Xander gets Willow and Jesse out of the crypt while Buffy battles Darla. Buffy really wishes she could have gotten a fresh start in her life instead of killing vampires again. Darla asks who she is. Before she can answer, Luke grabs Buffy and throws her across the crypt. Darla warns Luke that Buffy is strong and has already killed a vampire. He sends Darla away so he can take care of the “little girl” on his own. She may be strong, but Luke is stronger.

Xander, Willow, and Jesse don’t get far before they’re cornered by more vampires. Buffy’s still fighting Luke, so she can’t help them. Luke tells her that she can’t stop all of them. She has no idea what she’s dealing with. As he talks about the harvest, “when the blood of men will flow as wine,” Giles reads up on it in the library. Basically, the vampires will kill a bunch of people, the Master will be able to walk in the world again, and humans will face Hell on Earth. Getting rid of the Slayer would be a good start, so Luke corners Buffy and prepares to finish her off. To be continued…

Thoughts: I’ve watched this show countless times and didn’t expect to ever recap it here. But I recently decided to revisit it (for the first time in over a decade) and see how my memory holds up. I want to see if I have different opinions now that I’m older and more removed from the days when I was so into it.

As much as I can possibly avoid it, I will not be discussing Joss Whedon. That man can choke.

Brian Thompson, who plays Luke (and later plays the Judge), also played the Bounty Hunter on The X-Files.

Apparently Katie Homes auditioned to be Buffy, which I really can’t see. And in the original, unaired pilot, Mr. Flutie was played by Stephen Tobolowsky, which I really can.

Way to leave a dead body alone in a locker room without any crime-scene tape or anything, police. (To quote a future character, the Sunnydale police are “deeply stupid.”)

2 Comments »

  1. Kaylen said,

    Buffyyy!!! Yessss!!!!

  2. Deja said,

    Gotta catch up on the Felicity recaps!

    Can’t wait for all the commentary on Buffy’s hair!

    This blog is one of the few torches in my pop culture heart, thanks for keeping it burning ❤


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