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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Recap - 1x01: "Welcome to the Hellmouth"

Buffy Summers arrives in Sunnydale, California hoping to be a normal kid at her new school. Of course, this would be easier if the town didn't happen rest on a Hellmouth and she wasn't a Vampire Slayer.

Wow, I forgot how dated this intro is. I won’t even dignify it with a response because, holy crap, it’s awful. But it sets up the tone of the show nicely, gothic mixed with cheesy, at least for the first couple seasons or so.

Sunnydale High School. It’s night. No one’s around. It’s appropriately spooky. Ominous music and darkness continues for an unnecessarily long time. Finally something happens. A boy and girl break into the school. The girl is not particularly excited to doing this but the boy doesn’t care. He wants macking, and he wants it now. The girl is still freaked out and wants to leave. The boy looks around and reassures her that there’s no one there. “Are you sure?” Positive. Good. The girl whips around and PLOT TWIST she’s the dangerous one! Vamp-faced, she plunges her fangs into the boys neck. Aw, poor boy. This can’t be good for his ego.

Credits.

Creepy images flash across the screen as our heroine sleeps restlesslessly. Boy these effects are bad. I have to consciously remind myself that it’s 1997 and it should be excused. BUT UUUUGGGGHHH. Anyway, our heroine who we hear her mother call Buffy gets up. It’s her first day at a new school. I’m sure she’s thrilled.

Sunnydale High. Chipper 90s rock music plays and Buffy is being dropped off and her mom gives her encouragement of the usual sort but then asks her to pretty please, try not to get expelled from this one? Buffy grins and says she’ll try

A boy on a skateboard weaves his way through the crowd. He’s doing relatively fine until his eyes catch the derrière of our newest student and he promptly crashes into a railing and fuck that looks like it hurt. He falls to the ground and looks up to see his friend Willow, smirking down at him. He tells her that he needs her help with math and she looks tickled that he’s asked. I can see where this is headed already and yes, I have watched this show all the way through already but it still doesn’t stop me from being hella annoyed that I’ll have to wade through this relationship once more. Tara is so many seasons away. Le sigh.

Boy on skateboard, okay fuck it, I’m just going to name everyone from now on, no matter if they’ve been named or not, this is getting ridiculous, the show has been over forever, everyone knows who these characters are. Anyway, Xander says hi to Eric Balfour and they chat about “the new girl” but Eric Balfour knows squat. This makes a Sad!Xander sad.

Principal’s office. Buffy sits across from the principal who tells her about her file then promptly rips it up in front of her. She’s getting a clean slate here at Sunnydale High, where everyone deserves a fresh start or some nonsense. Seriously, I think what he did may have been illegal but I’ll let it slide because I don’t care. He realizes he may have made a mistake too when he actually looks at her file and sees her “colourful” history. He hilariously starts taping the file back together and Buffy tries to explain that it really wasn’t all that bad. “You burned down the gym.” Ah, that would probably explain that expulsion comment from dear old mom. Buffy says it wasn’t what it looks like, that the gym was full of “vamp- asbestos.” I understand it’s the pilot and we need a little hint into who Buffy is here, but I can’t imagine she’d slip up like this. It’s such a rookie mistake. Anyway.

Buffy leaves the office looking appropriately dejected. Not the best way to start out at a new school. And of course, a girl immediately bashes into her sending her stuff sprawling just so we can set up our meet-cute for Xander. He bends down to help Buffy with her stuff and bumbles his way into introductions and yeah, yeah, unfortunately we have to go down this road to for awhile. Anyway, Buffy takes off leaving Xander to facepalm himself into eternity but then looks down and sees, “hey, you forgot your... stake?” Rookie mistake #2.

History class. Buffy doesn’t have a text book so luckily for her the oh-so helpful Cordelia who happens to be sitting next to her shares her book with her. This is very uncharacteristic, so we’ll see where this goes. Cordelia says that Buffy can get her own textbook at the library, and she offers to take her there. Cordelia asks if Buffy really is from LA, and she confirms that she is. Then Cordy says that she would kill to live there, can you imagine being that close to so many shoes, but it sounds like Jews, and I almost fall on the floor right then and there.

Cordy and Buffy walk down the hallway and Cordy says that if she sticks with her, kid, you’ll go places. She puts Buffy through a “coolness” test, and Cordy, sweetie, I can’t take you seriously in green velvet pants, I mean you’re gorgeous, but let’s be real, this whole outfit is a total hot mess. Buffy, of course, passes the test with flying colours but Cordy’s about to show her true colours by making fun of a poor, befuddled Willow. Buffy’s not so happy about this, as she is a woman of the people and all that, but says nothing.

Cordy keeps talking and says Buffy should hit up The Bronze later, the only club worth mentioning in their little town. Anyway, Buffy’s finally at the library where she will be spending the next three years of her life. The story is about to begin.

Library. It’s nice and quiet, and we get more ominous music again. Lovely. Buffy sees a newspaper article with a story of a missing boy circled in red. Before she can delve deeper someone taps her on the shoulder and it’s GILES! Buffy, meet your surrogate father-figure. He will be guiding you for the next seven years. Don’t abuse him.

Anyway Giles knows exactly who Buffy is and says he’s been expecting her, which is a little bit creepy, but it’s Giles so I’ll let it slide. He says he knows what she’s looking for and brings out a massive tome with the word “VAMPYR” on the cover. Buffy steps back, freaked. That is soooo not what she’s looking for. Giles puts the book away and Buffy runs off.

Girls’ Locker Room. Two girls with horrible Californian accents talk about Buffy and the scuttlebutt surrounding her expulsion from her last school. Thankfully, the boy from the first scene falls out of one of the girl’s lockers dead and this shuts them up.

Quad. Willow takes out a pathetic bagged lunch and sits by herself outside. Buffy approaches her and asks if she wants to hang out. Willow is confused since in this school, you can’t hang out with the likes of Cordy and then slum it with the likes of Willow all in the span of a single hour. Anyway, Buffy says that she heard Willow was the one to talk to about getting caught up with class work. Willow is thrilled and says they can meet in the library. Buffy shoots this idea down immediately, having no desire to go back to the creepy gentlemen with the VAMPYR book.

Xander and Eric Balfour show up and Xander banters hilariously for a bit, and Buffy is just like... mmmkay. Xander hands Buffy’s stake back which he says must be for a teensy tiny fence. Hee. Buffy covers by saying it’s for self-defense. It is simply the latest craze in LA, haven’t you heard, dahlinks? Xander and Eric Balfour ask Buffy about herself but Buffy is eager to get the focus off of her.

Luckily, Cordy pops up, wrinkles her nose at Buffy’s new company and tells everyone that gym has been canceled since there was a dead guy in someone’s locker. This perks Buffy’s ears up and she asks Cordy how the guy died. This isn’t really that suspicious a question when you think about it but Cordy’s all wtf? Then again Buffy doesn’t really help her case by asking if the body had marks. Yeah, that one flies under the radar less. Buffy takes off.

She runs to the gym doors which are locked. No problem. She super-strength opens them. This is a new development. She finds the body WHICH HAS BEEN LEFT IN THE LOCKER ROOM, like why wouldn’t it have been taken away yet, and determines that yes, the body does have marks. Two of them in fact, in the shape of two pointy fangs. Buffy is not pleased.

Chez Giles. Buffy bursts into the library and tells Giles about her findings and goes on and on for a bit, then she exposits about how vamps are made when Giles asks if the boy will “rise again,” because we as the audience are in need of this information, but it comes off as so clunky, it’s embarrassing. Giles makes an equally heavy-handed explanation about Buffy’s slayerdom and “to each generation a slayer is born,” and holy hell, can we get to the ass kicking please? Basic notes in case you’ve lived under a rock for the past million years: Buffy is a vampire slayer (unless you couldn’t figure that out from the title of the goddamn show), she is the only one who can take out evil and she happens to have found herself on top of what is called the Hellmouth, which is essentially a gateway to Hell. How lovely. Everything really is coming up Milhouse, I mean, Buffy.

Anyway, Buffy is just as fed up with this as I am and tells Giles outright that she’s retired. No more slaying for her, no siree. As the great Kevin Smith would say, “Credits.”

But of course, this little bit of reluctance won’t last as there’s 7 years and a comic book series that needs our heroine. Buffy tells Giles that if he’s so keen, he should go out slaying but he says that’s not possible, as he is a Watcher. His job is to prepare Buffy. “Prepare me for what? For getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them? Go ahead. Prepare me.” Damn, girl.

Giles is appropriately gobsmacked and speechless which gives Buffy time to take off, with Giles quick on her heels. Of course, someone has overheard this little back and forth: Xander (though, seriously, Giles must have known he was in the library, no one ever goes there so he must keep a very close watch on who does. This seems sloppy to me).

Giles catches up to Buffy in the hallway and tells her that everything is getting worse. The undead keep rising and it’s all coming to a head. To paraphrase West Side Story, something’s coming, something not good. Buffy scoffs. How evil could a place called Sunnydale actually be?

We pan down underneath a bush until we’re underground in a place that looks like it was designed by the Addams Family’s interior decorator. People holding torches pace the place and we hear a man saying “the Sleeper will wake, and the world will bleed.” Okey dokey.

Chez Summers. Buffy looks through her wardrobe, trying to find an outfit for her night out. Her mom, Joyce, comes in and babbles about whatever, and it’s honestly not important, so I’m gonna skip it. Actually this whole scene wasn’t even worth writing about and now I’ve wasted four lines on it. Le sigh.

Buffy walks out alone to the club but is followed by mysterious legs, which I assume are connected to a body. This goes on for a bit until Buffy realizes she’s being followed by... YOUNG AND THIN DAVID BOREANAZ!!!! Damn, he was so fine in 1997. What happened Booth? Anyway, Buffy promptly drop-kicks him and asks why he’s following her. He tells her he doesn’t bite.

Buffy lets him up and he tells her he thought she’d be bigger. Alright, Angel, spit it out, what do you want? He says he wants what Buffy wants: “to kill em all.” Buffy’s all, nope, I just want a normal life, laterz, but Angel shuts her down. She needs to get ready... for the Harvest. He tosses her a box and leaves in all his mysterious glory. Buffy opens the box to find a MASSIVE silver cross. This should be interesting.

Buffy finally makes her way to The Bronze, which really is in a shitty neighbourhood and we get a way too long bit of the band on stage. Buffy is kinda awkwardly dancing around and I have to give her props for going out by herself, I would not have the balls to, even if I was the slayer, I have social anxiety issues that just would not fly in this scenario.

Anyway, Willow’s also at The Bronze, and luckily Buffy finds her. She determines that Willow and Xander aren’t together and poor Willow has just as hard a time as I do being coherent around sexy men. Well, it’s a good thing she finds Tara eventually. Buffy says that Willow should carpe diem, “tomorrow you might be dead.” In Sunnydale, truer words, honey, truer words. Anyway, Buffy looks up in the rafters and sees Giles milling about, chilling like a villain. She takes off to go speak to him.

Buffy chides Giles for being a pedobear but Giles brushes her off saying he’d much rather be drinking tea or something. He impresses upon her again that she needs to be on the lookout for the neighbourhood blood-suckers and she says yeah, yeah, your friend already told me about “The Harvest.” Giles stops her. What did you say? Buffy says she doesn’t know what it is and neither does Giles. She also tells him that Angel said that they were on “the Mouth of Hell” and this gives Giles pause. Giles then reverse-psychologies’ Buffy’s ass and says, yeah maybe you’re right, maybe nothing’s up, “it’s not likeyou’ve been having the nightmares.” Buffy’s all ‘oh shit.’

Cordelia is downstairs at The Bronze and Eric Balfour approaches her and asks her to dance. She’s not having any of his loserdom near her and brushes him off.

Back upstairs, Buffy claims that she won’t ever NOT slay again, but Giles continues to try to impress upon her the fact that she may not be ready for the incoming storm. Giles says Buffy should be able to pinpoint a vamp, no matter where or when, even if their vamp face is down. Buffy quickly points one out to him, citing the vamp is a serious fashion victim and no one who had been aboveground for 10 years would dare set foot outside looking like that. Giles isn’t happy that this is how she’s determined her prey, but before he can get too upset, it turns out our new vamp friend is talking to our Willow, who has taken Buffy’s wisdom to heart.

Vamp leads Willow out and Buffy tries to track them down. She breaks off a piece of a chair and turns it into a stake, easy peasy. She looks around the club’s dark corners and is approached from behind. She rounds on the person and lifts them by their neck, stake pointed. Thing is? It’s Cordelia. Whoops? There goes your popularity, Buff.

Buffy makes her way back to the main club area and finds Giles. She tells him, no dice, she still hasn’t found her vamp. Meanwhile, Eric Balfour has found another girl to hit on. The girl from that turned the boy from the first scene into her own private buffet, Darla. Looks like those honing skils aren’t too sharp, Buffy.

Hellmouth. A bubbling pit of blood... bubbles as the vamp from before gazes on. A pale-orc like creature rises from the depths and looks around. He is hella ugly. Vamp is all, “master,” and this is all very reminiscent of Peter Pettigrew and Voldemort and I have to forcefully remind myself that this is 7 years before that movie will even be out. Turns out, this Master is weak but Hellmouth!Vamp says when the Harvest comes he’ll be restored.

Willow’s Vamp leads her outside. Willow babbles a bit and then the Vamp leads Willow through the cemetery. Willow, honey, I know you’re new at this, but let’s make something absolutely clear. Cutting through a cemetery is never a shortcut. Time to run.

Outside The Bronze, Buffy runs into Xander and asks him if he’s seen Willow. She tells him that she went off with a guy and Xander is all “atta girl,” which is hilarious and awesome, but Buffy says that she needs to find them. Xander, sarcastically, asks is it because she’s with a vampire and she needs to slay him? Buffy uuuugggghhhhsssss at him and side-steps this for now. Where could Willow go? Xander’s face drops. You serious, girl? Uh-oh.

Willow is now passed the point of freaking out. Her Vamp asks her to go into a mausoleum and poor Willow really picked the wrong boy to carpe diem with. He pushes her in and Willow tries to back away and leave. Unfortunately, Darla is blocking her way. I have to say, I’m really thrilled that Darla is in the pilot considering how big her role gets as the seasons progress. It totally gives me a continuity boner. Anyway, Darla’s leading a bleeding Eric Balfour who has been recently bitten. Looks like our two losers are about to be Master chow.

Luckily, our resident Vampire Slayer is back in business. Buffy does her usual casual banter and Darla, fully vamped, asks who the hell she is? Buffy, hilariously, is relieved that at least one person in this town doesn’t seem to know who she is. Anyway, she stakes our poorly dressed Vamp, leaving just Darla to spar off against. It’s a seriously funny fight, thankfully these got better produced as the years went on, cuz this is just pathetic. Xander, Willow and Eric Balfour take off, leaving our young ladies to duke it out.

Darla asks again, who Buffy is. Buffy rolls her eyes? Hasn’t she figured it out yet? Before she can say, a hand comes from behind and lifts Buffy up. It’s our friend Hellmouth!Vamp, and he tosses Buffy like a sack of potatoes across the mausoleum. Now this is where things get a little less continuity-friendly for me, because Darla acts like a whimpering idiot which is sooooo not the Darla we will come to know and love-hate. Hellmouth!Vamp sends her off and she runs out. Buffy and Hellmouth!Vamp fight for a bit with some pretty bad play-acting.

In the cemetery, Willow and friends run into their own set of vamps. Uh-oh.

Buffy gets close to staking Hellmouth!Vamp but he snaps her stake in half and then tosses Buffy against the open tomb, and the way she hits her back, there is no way she wouldn’t be paralyzed if this wasn’t a fantasy show.

Hellmouth!Vamp babbles on about the Harvest and ugh, I don’t care, basically the Master is coming, and how have Willow and everyone not been killed yet? Hellmouth!Vamp tosses Buffy into the tomb, and yes, there has been a lot of tossing of Buffy in the last two minutes, and then tosses himself in with her. He opens his mouth, fangs bared and... TO BE CONTINUED!!!!

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