September 18, 2021

Buffy 1.5, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date: “If the Apocalypse Comes, Beep Me”

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Sorry, Owen. You’re not broody enough for Buffy

Summary: Buffy’s fighting some truly ugly vampire in a cemetery, and though she kills him, Giles has some notes about her performance. She’s spending too much time doing fancy moves. She needs to just stake vampires and move on. Giles notices a ring the vampire dropped and thinks it’s significant. He’ll have to consult his books.

Also consulting a book: the Master. There’s some kind of vampire scripture, I guess, that contains a prophecy about an Anointed One. He’ll have a ton of power and the Slayer won’t be able to defeat him. In fact, “he will lead her into Hell.” The Anointed One will rise from the ashes of five dead people, then be led to his “immortal destiny” by the Brotherhood of Aurelius. One of those brethren was the vampire Buffy just killed. The Master isn’t happy, and he wants to make it clear to the other members of the Brotherhood that there’s no room for any more mistakes.

Giles tries to look up the ring in the library the next day but doesn’t have much luck. Buffy notices a sun and three stars on the inside and easily connects them to the Order of Aurelius. A guy named Owen arrives and Giles asks what he wants. I don’t know, maybe a book? From the library? Where the books are kept? Owen lost the copy of Emily Dickinson poems he usually carries around, and he wants to check out another one. He likes to carry it around as a security blanket. Buffy babbles about her actual security blanket.

Owen notes that Buffy doesn’t seem like the type of hang out in the library. He worries that he’s offended her, but she’s just surprised that he’s given thought to what she might like. She promises she loves books. Buffy obviously has a crush on Owen, and it seems like he likes her, too. She decides to read some Emily Dickinson to have something to talk to Owen about. Giles would love to celebrate the fact that she wants to read, but vampires should take precedence. Giles, what kind of a librarian are you??

At lunch, Willow’s thrilled for Buffy that she got to talk to Owen. He’s usually silent and broody. Well, Buffy likes ’em that way. Xander loudly asks her how slaying went the night before. When she chastises him for saying it in a cafeteria full of people, he corrects himself: “How’d the laying go? No, I don’t mean that, either.” Buffy tells him and Willow that there’s a new vampire sect in town.

They notice that Owen’s sitting by himself, so Buffy goes over to eat with him. Xander’s confused. Cordelia gets to Owen first, bumping into Buffy and making her spill her tray. Buffy makes a fat joke, because ha ha, that’s always funny. Cordelia invites Owen to the Bronze that night, but he needs more incentive to go than just hanging out with her. He’d much rather hang out with Buffy. After lunch, she tells Willow that Owen asked her out, though she tries to downplay the evening as less of a date and more of a group hang-out.

Giles has other plans for Buffy, though: The Brotherhood of Aurelius is about to fulfill a prophecy. Buffy protests, thinking her date is more important than some ancient prophecy. Giles says he’ll just get in his time machine, go back to the 12th century, and ask the vampires to postpone things for a few days so Buffy can go out with Owen. “Okay, at this point you’re abusing sarcasm,” she admonishes. Giles warns that the Anointed One is no ordinary vampire, and she has to stop him before he reaches the Master. Yes, yes, her date with Owen is very important, but this is a chance to get ahead of the forces of darkness. Tonight, they go into battle.

Cut to: that night, when there’s definitely no battle. Giles admits that his supposedly precise calculations might not have been that precise after all. After hanging out in the cemetery for a while, he decides they can call it a night. Buffy points out that there are no fresh graves, so there are no dead bodies for the Anointed One to rise from. Giles gives her permission to go to the Bronze and find Owen. He reminds her to keep her secret identity hidden so no one is put in danger.

As Slayer and Watcher split up, a bus arrives in town. One of the passengers is mumbling about a pale horse being ridden by Death. A kid on the bus, Collin, is just excited because he got to fly on an airplane. At the Bronze, Buffy’s too late to spend time with Owen – he’s already dancing with Cordelia.

Back on the van, the mumbling guy starts prosthelytizing to the rest of the passengers. When the driver tells him to sit down, the guy asks if he’s ready to stand with the righteous. Before the driver can tell him to shut up, he has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a vampire standing in the road. The bus swerves and crashes, but no one seems injured. The driver goes to check on the vampire from the road, who kills him. More vampires board the bus and kill the other passengers.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Xander she went home without talking to Owen. She feels like a freak for not having a social life. Xander thinks she’s overreacting; she could get any guy in school. Owen approaches and Buffy lies that she missed their date because her watch broke and there are no clocks in the house. Owen brushes off this horrible excuse and asks her out again for that night. He even loans her his pocket watch. Xander is embarrassed that his own watch has Tweety Bird on it.

Buffy says she heard that Owen and Cordelia were together the night before. He makes it clear that he wasn’t completely comfortable with that. Buffy eagerly accepts his invitation, which makes Xander mope. She rushes to the library to confirm with Giles that without a sure date for the prophecy to be fulfilled, she has the night off.

Underground, the Master praises the Brotherhood for doing their job. He’s one step closer to being able to ascend. If Buffy comes after the brethren, they should be willing to die to stop her from interfering. Their only goal right now is bringing the Anointed One to him. The Master reaches out to one of the vampires, making him flinch, but the Master just wanted to pluck a bug off of the vampire’s shoulder.

Willow and Xander help Buffy get ready for her date. I don’t know why Xander agreed to this. He suggests that Buffy wear a parka to cover up. Also, if she wears lipstick, she’ll just kiss Owen, and then he’ll lose respect for her and then tell everyone at school how “easy” she is. Go home, Xander. Buffy doesn’t know where Owen’s taking her, and isn’t even sure what teenagers do on dates. Willow says she knows from movies and TV that some teens like things called movies and parties.

Giles arrives with a newspaper reporting that five people died on the bus. One of the dead people was a man named Andrew Borba who’s wanted for questioning about a murder. (It’s the mumbling guy.) Giles thinks he could be the Anointed One. He wants to go check out the bodies at the local funeral home. Just then, Owen shows up, and Buffy pretends Giles is there to collect some overdue books.

Xander and Willow take Owen into another room so Buffy can convince Giles that she’s going on this date no matter what. Xander tells Owen that Buffy doesn’t like to dance or kiss. He shouldn’t touch her or even look at her. XANDER, GO HOME. Buffy keeps working on Giles, arguing that she has room in her life for both her slaying responsibilities and fun. After all, Clark Kent has a job. This is just a date. Giles admits that he’s not even sure the bus deaths have anything to do with the prophecy, so Buffy might as well go. She promises to be on call: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”

As Buffy and Owen leave, Giles heads off for the funeral home. Willow suggests that she and Xander go, too. He thinks she means follow Buffy and Owen to make sure nothing happens there. Owen takes Buffy to the Bronze, where they talk about Emily Dickinson. He can relate to her, since he also has a sequestered, uneventful life. He finds most girls “frivolous.” There are more important things than dating. Buffy gets that.

She takes him to the dance floor, and he comments that it’s like she’s two people. She asks which he likes better. He says he’ll let her know. Cordelia arrives and makes a beeline for the couple. If Owen thinks most girls are frivolous, he can’t be into her at all. But Cordelia is either in denial or is completely clueless about the fact that Owen would rather be with Buffy.

Two vampires are waiting for Giles at the funeral home. He uses a cross to make them back off and tries to find an office to hide in. While Buffy enjoys her time as a normal girl, Giles barricades himself in the morgue, which is where Xander and Willow find him. They decide it’s time to contact Buffy.

Cordelia sneers at Buffy and Owen until a better prospect enters: Angel. “Hello, salty goodness,” Cordelia comments. No, I don’t know what that means. No one does. When Angel goes straight to Buffy, Cordelia wonders what she’s done to deserve all this. Angel tells Buffy that she needs to be out slaying, not here on a date. Owen joins them and asks Buffy and Angel how they know each other. Angel just says, “Work.”

Xander and Willow arrive next, pretending they wanted to join Buffy and Owen for a double date. Owen’s very confused. But when Xander and Willow suggest that they move the evening’s activities to the funeral home, Owen’s all for it. I guess a guy who broods and reads Emily Dickinson would be pretty interested in death. “Bite me,” Buffy says under her breath. Angel gives her a look that says, “I’d rather not.”

Buffy tells Owen she needs to leave for a while, but she’ll come back. She promises she doesn’t want to leave. This is just part of being two different people. One of them has to go, but the other is having a great time and will be back. She starts to leave, then comes back and kisses him. Owen comments to Angel that she’s a strange girl.

The Scoobies go to the funeral home…followed by Owen. He’s very excited to see a dead body. Buffy goes off alone to make sure it’s safe; Willow tells Owen she’s on the lookout for security guards. Buffy finds the morgue, where Giles has hidden in one of the drawers (and not one of the empty ones). Buffy says she’ll have to get rid of Owen before they continue trying to figure out what the Brotherhood is up to. “Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn’t mean at the same time,” Giles says.

Since they don’t know where the brethren are, Giles is worried about Owen leaving alone. Buffy doesn’t want Owen to know that Giles is there, since that’ll just lead to more questions. She returns to Owen, Willow, and Xander, and they find a safe office to hang out in so Buffy can go do her job. She goes back to the morgue and searches the drawers with Giles, hoping to find the Anointed One before the brethren do.

Xander and Willow barricade the office while Owen snoops around. He finds something disturbing. The morgue drawers are mostly empty, so Giles and Buffy guess they’re too late to get to the Anointed. Meanwhile, Owen has found a window looking into a prep room, which holds Borba’s body. Only he’s not dead, since he’s a vampire. “I have been judged,” Borba says, pleased.

He breaks the window with his head, and down the hall, Buffy hears the glass break. Willow, Xander, and Owen undo their barricade while Borba babbles about stuff, happy to have a meal right nearby. The Scoobies meet up, and Buffy sends her friends away while she handles Borba. Owen’s starting to regret this field trip.

Buffy goes back to Giles, who gives her a stake. Borba finds them and starts fighting Buffy. Xander, Willow, and Owen haven’t been able to find an exit, and Owen decides to go make sure Buffy’s okay. Giles holds Borba off with his cross as Borba says “they” told him about Buffy while he was asleep. He knocks the cross away and throws Giles across the room. Giles slams into a button that turns on the cremation furnace.

A Borba goes after Buffy again, Owen arrives and tries to fight him. Despite Borba being a muscular vampire, Owen does pretty well taking care of himself. Borba eventually knocks him out, but Buffy gets back to the fight. She uses his treatment of Owen as motivation, thinking Borba killed him. Xander and Willow arrive as Owen regains consciousness, but Willow decides they shouldn’t tell Buffy that Owen’s okay, since her anger is making her fight better. She’s able to slide Borba across an exam table and into the furnace.

Owen was unconscious for most of the fight, so Buffy easily convinces him that they just scared Borba away. Understandably, Owen’s not really up to continue their date. Xander and Willow take him home as Giles tries to offer Buffy some words of comfort. She doesn’t want to hear them. She gets now that slaying and socializing don’t mix.

At school the next day, Buffy asks Xander and Willow if Owen said anything about her on the way home. Sadly, no. Xander thinks Buffy should date someone who already knows her secrets and likes her anyway. Oh, Xander. Buffy tries to start a conversation with Owen, guessing he’s too freaked out about the night before to want to spend time with her again. Amazingly, she’s wrong. He thinks she’s cool, and he enjoyed the rush of his near-death experience. He wants to do something else dangerous. Buffy realizes she can’t date a danger junkie who might wind up in too much danger.

Resigned to just be friends, Owen leaves, and we never see him again. Oh, well. This time, when Giles offers Buffy some words of comfort, she listens. When he was a kid, he wanted to be either a fighter pilot or a grocer. His father gave him a lecture about sacrifice, knowing Giles was going to grow up to be a Watcher. Buffy doesn’t want to put Owen in danger, so she knows she has to let him go.

She also feels bad that she wasn’t there to help Giles when he went to the funeral home. He takes full responsibility for going there on his own and letting her have the night off. Slayers don’t really come with an instruction manual, so they have to feel their way through this on their own. (We find out later that there is a kind of instruction manual, but considering how different Buffy is from other Slayers, my guess is Giles knows it won’t help.) He thinks she’s doing pretty well. Plus, they stopped the prophecy and got rid of the Anointed One, so it’s all good.

…Except it’s not. The prophecy is still in play because Borba wasn’t the Anointed One. It’s Collin, and he’s already with the Master.

Thoughts: Who cast the guy playing Owen? He looks 30. (The actor was 27 at the time, so I’m not exaggerating that much.)

I don’t get why Cordelia would be into Owen. He’s not the type of guy she would even want to be seen with in public.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve watched this season (it’s not one of my favorites), and I’d forgotten how good Mark Metcalf is as the Master. He brings a great balance of menacing and entertaining.

I kind of want a Tweety Bird watch now.

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