Previously: We learned that if enough people ignore you, you will disappear and go crazy and become a secret agent. Something like that. Also, Angel gave Giles a super prophecy book.
Kirsti: We open at the Bronze. Xander’s practicing his “Hey Buffy, we should date!” speech on Willow, and she’s getting drooly. Oh, honey. No.
Sweeney: Xander knows that Willow has a thing for him. Total dick move.
K: Cosign. That said, Xander’s speech is freaking terrible. He says that he wants to ask Buffy out before he loses his nerve, and wonders where she is. Willow says, “You know. The usual.” Cut to a parked car with fogged up windows. Buffy goes flying through the air in front of it, landing hard on her back. She gets her Slay on with a disappointing lack of punning.
In the Wiggins Library, Giles is translating the codex that Angel brought him in episode 11. He discovers a prophecy that reads “The Master will rise and the Slayer shall…” and conveniently trails off as an earthquake strikes.
Lorraine: I’m going to call up my legendary emo-poetry-writing-rhyming-skillz circa 1999 and guess it finishes “The Master will rise and the Slayer shall….dies.” She shall totally dies. Sad.
K: Those ye olde worlde prophecy writers are great, aren’t they?! Down in his lair, the Master squees like a Twihard who’s just seen RPatz walking down the street before saying “What do you think? 5.1?” to the Anointed Onesie.
Sweeney: Sans squeeing, this is the way Californians talk after earthquakes and aftershocks.
K: I kind of like the idea that a dude who’s been trapped underground for 60 years is still hip with the post-earthquake lingo! In the library the next day, Buffy notes the structural damage from the earthquake while Giles acts wiggy. They briefly discuss increasing vampire numbers before he tells Buffy that he has research to do, and she says that she should probably face her terrible fate. This is met with a “WHAT??” from Giles, to which Buffy replies “Biology…” After class, the intrepid trio discuss how boring class was. Willow says that even she, a science nerd, was bored. But that she’s not ashamed because it’s the computer age and “nerds are in.”
Xander says “Hey Willow, don’t you have a thing?” and gives her a pointed glance. She agrees awkwardly and leaves. Xander leads Buffy to a bench and starts word vomiting at her before coming straight out and asking her to the dance. She friend zones him, hard. He takes it badly, suggesting that a guy has to be undead for her to pay attention. She channels Cher Horowitz in the line “That was really harsh.” He leaves, and she’s left on her own once again.
Back in the library, Ms Calendar (remember her from the Worst Episode Yet?) stops by to see Giles. She says that she’s found a bunch of unexplained incidents and portents, and that the apocalypse is on the cards. Giles is vague until she mentions that a monk has been emailing her a prophecy about the Anointed One. Giles is shocked, as they’re still under the impression that the Anointed One was Escaped Felon McBible, who got killed back in episode 5. (*I’m* now under the impression that I need to come up with shorter nicknames for the monsters of the week.)
Sweeney: Nah, you just reduce them to an acronym once you’ve introduced them once, and hope everybody else keeps up. EFMB. Or EFMcB.
K: EXCELLENT point, Sweeney! Cordy and her latest boyfriend discuss setting up for the prom before Cordy grovels to Willow to arrive at school stupidly early to help hook up the sound system at the Bronze. Willow agrees, spotting Xander moping in an adjacent classroom. She asks him how it went, and he says “On a scale of one to ten, it SUCKED.” but that it could be worse because he could have gangrene on his face. Snaps for finding the upside? Xander comes to the sudden decision that he and Willow should go together. She rejects him, saying that she doesn’t want to go with him to watch him wish he was there with Buffy.
Sweeney: Again, what an ass.
Lor: A very pretty and understated scene, though. Here’s Xander wallowing in his heartache and we get to see Willow stand up for her heartache. “You think that’s my idea of hijinks?” Willow asks, because this show is a barrel of hijinks. “You should know better,” Willow says reminding us that there is enough heartache to go around.
K: Every time I see this scene, I have a moment of “YES!! Thank you for not being a doormat, Willow.” Because that is one HELL of a dick move. Willow leaves, and Xander monologues that he’ll go home and listen to country music – “the music of pain.”
At the school that night, Buffy prepares for more Slayage, only to turn the sink on and have blood come out of the tap. EW. Obviously, she heads to the library to find Giles, only to see him in his office with Angel. She smiles at Angel’s presence before overhearing Giles say “Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master and she will die.” She stares in horror aaaaaaand I hand the reins over to Sweeney.
Sweeney: Naturally this causes Buffy to flip the fuck out. She gets supremely emotional, and if your heart doesn’t break a little for her, than you suck and the fault is on you and not this show.
Lor: Not only for her, but Giles too, with all his feeling useless and stuff. Totally sad.
Sweeney: Agreed. It’s all kinds of heartbreaking.
I quit! I don’t care. Giles, I’m 16 years old. I don’t want to die.
It’s a little like the speech she gave Giles in the pilot, though with a little more genuine fear and sadness than snark and sass.
K: In all honesty, I think this is some of the best and most convincing acting Sarah Michelle Gellar delivers in the whole series. It’s a totally brilliant (but heartbreaking) scene. Lor: +1.
Giles and Angel make half-assed attempts to console her, but there’s not much they can do, so she storms off. At home she has an adorable little heart to heart with her consistently negligent mother (that’s the only kind of parent we have around here). Her mom congratulates herself for being so knowledgeable about her daughter, because she noticed that something was up with her kid!
Really, you noticed that your daughter was a little depressed now that she’s heard a prophecy that she’ll die? You picked up on that?
No, just kidding — she thinks Buffy is all bummed about the upcoming dance and a boy. Obviously. Joyce bought Buffy this pretty white dress that she noticed her eyeing in the store. I don’t have much to say about the dress, except that one of the last lines of this episode is my absolute favorite and I know that Lor has loads of feelings, so I introduce you now the the Pretty White Virginal Dress, or PWVD. That’s a really gross-looking acronym.
Lor: Ah, the PWVD: the right choice for Slayers meeting their fate, telepaths heading to have sex with their vampire boyfriends and, um, prom.
K: My favourite part? Her PWVD has a mullet.
Sweeney: Not a fan of the mullet skirt, but this is hardly the look to begin with in critiquing Buffy’s fashion choices.
We cut back to the high school, where Willow and Cordelia are having a fully OOC buddy-buddy moment. Cordelia is grumbling about the boy-of-the-week, but only jokingly because she’s so in luuuurve that she even finds the annoying shit he does endearing. Poor Cordelia.
This is a short-lived precious little bonding/character development moment (you know, at the end of the season when Whedon decided that as fun as two-dimensional Cordelia is, she had to either progress or be written out). We interrupt this with the girls going into a room full of high school kids sitting on a couch in front of a TV — because this is apparently a thing that happens if your public high school is in Sunnydale — who all happen to be super bloodied-up and also super dead.
K: Things I have always been perplexed by: the fact that neither Willow or Cordy noticed the GIANT BLOODY HANDPRINT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TV.
Sweeney: I imagine that with the death rate in this town, bloody hand prints have to become somewhat commonplace after a while.
After her little heart-to-heart with Joyce, Buffy is trying on the dress when Joyce bursts in to say that she saw something on the news and Willow is all kinds of not all right.
Lor: I bet she was just finished zipping up her dress of purity and innocence when her mom walked in. I hate when that happens.
Sweeney: Buffy goes to comfort a nearly-catatonic Willow, curled up on her bed, freaking out about how that was the worst thing she’d seen in her eleven-and-a-half episodes of demony stuff. Part of the horror was the fact that she knew those kids, which made it all sorts of personal. Fair.
This whole thing has a serious impact on Buffy, who starts to feel this larger sense of responsibility. Willow unwittingly (!) sends Buffy over the I-have-a-duty-to-fulfill cliff with this line:
It wasn’t our world any more. They made it theirs, and they had fun.
Buffy leaves filled with purpose and determination, but before she does, Willow comes out of her PTSD stupor to say her last pre-death words to her bestie: “Buffy, I like your dress.”
You know, I’m just shallow enough that I think I’d like my friends’ parting words to me to be telling me I look good that day. Imminent demise? I mean, sure that sucks, but at least I’ll look good! Priorities. Take note, friends.
Lor: Wear a PWVD then. Everyone likes the PWVD. 4/5 PTSD sufferers agree.
K: The fifth had a PWVD that looked like what Molly Ringwald wears to the prom in Pretty in Pink. Except white.
Sweeney: Back at the library, Giles is bringing Ms. Calendar up to speed on the current situation. She mentions some Bible verse, which Giles is able to quote without looking it up, because apparently that’s just part of the whole Watcher-gig? I don’t know. Anyway, they realize, from this quote, that the Anointed One(sie) is a kid (thus, not Escaped Felon McBible).
K: I really hope the memorising every bible verse thing is part of the Watcher-gig and not the Librarian-gig, because I don’t wannaaaaaaaaa…
Sweeney: Ooh, good point. He doesn’t appear to do a lot of work as part of his librarian job, so maybe there is a lot of off-screen memorizing of shit. You’d better look into that.
Buffy arrives at the library, ready to go accept her fate, just as Giles is all, “No, you were right, I’m going to stop watching and go save the day, even though I don’t have your super strength and will obviously die.” To which Buffy is all, “LOL CUTE.”
They argue about whether he’s going to let her go and Buffy ends the conversation by knocking him out, because it’s more dramatic. She tries to think of parting words, but can’t, so tells Ms. Calendar to, “Think of something cool and tell him I said it.” Buffy has obviously dedicated a lot of time to making sure that she has fun last words — I suspect that this is part of the logic behind the pre-dusting witty banter.
K: You guys, I feel like we should start a cumulative “times Giles got hit on the head” count and see how much of a human vegetable he would be in reality by the end of the show.
Sweeney: I support this plan.
We see Buffy meet Anointed Onesie, just as Xander and Willow show up at the library and Giles wakes up, and I hand it off to Lor.
Lorraine: Xander is flipping out about Buffy having gone to face the Master. It’s really great that he isn’t one of those, “you broke my heart so I don’t really care if a vampire kills you and the apocalypse comes” sort of guy. I hate those guys.
Ms. Calendar speaks up and Willow amazingly asks who let her in the club, and I’m saying. I’m sorry, but she’s attached to “I Robot…You Jane,” and no. NO. (S: +1. My section was thankfully low on Ms. Calendar so I didn’t get into it, but I can’t stand her.) Anyways, she’s not deterred and brings up the fact that the apocalypse draws nearer meaning that they will all die. Xander doesn’t care about humanity. He’s off to find Buffy. I’m not entirely sure why getting back into the Churchy Lair is such a BFD, because they entered in back in the second part of the pilot, am I right? Through the mausoleum? To the gate that was not at ALL suspiciously locked up? Fine, fine. Do it the hard way.
Sweeney: Right, but it’s a big fucking lair, and they never made it to the part where the Master actually was. Sorry, I’m interrupting snark with boring technicalities. Carry on.
K: Technicalities schmechnicalities. These do not apply in the Buffy-verse.
Lor: No, you know what. Fine. We’ll go with big lair, no map. Got it.
Cut to the Anointed Onesie leading Buffy through the sewers as the Tinkling Piano of Forthcoming Doom really takes off.
K: Okay, Tinkling Piano of Forthcoming Doom is my new favourite thing we’ve come up with so far.
Lor: That’s only the beginning of the prescient instrumentals we’ll get. Just you wait.
Xander, meanwhile, has looked Angel up in the White Pages and found his apartment. He tells Angel that Buffy’s gone to face the Master and he needs to know where to find them. He threatens Angel with a cross and says he doesn’t like him, but Buffy thinks he’s a “real person.” Angel catches on a little late that Xander is in lurve with Buffy (K: Spike would NEVER be this slow on the uptake). “Aren’t you?” Xander asks.
The Onesie has finally lead Buffy to her destination: an underground Yankee Candle store. Just kidding! It’s the Church-y Lair with a crapton of candles. The Onesie points Buffy in the right direction, turns and leaves and I hope he’s never heard or seen again…? Because seriously. BORING.
Sweeney: If only…
The Master welcomes Buffy to his dimly lit abode and Buffy quips about water damage. “Oh good, ” the Master says. “The feeble banter portion of the fight.” I think he reads these recaps.
K: That would be all kinds of awesome.
Lor: Buffy shoots her crossbow at him and he catches the arrow mid-flight.
Xander and Angel are making their way through the tunnel. Xander says he saw Angel checking out his neck. Angel denies and it’s pretty funny. Dude, Xander. No one wants your neck. (K: Except the bug lady.)
The Master is telling Buffy she’s going to lose because she’s not the hunter (black jacket, crossbow) she’s the lamb (white dress.) He disappears for a second, which is a totally unfair advantage, and when we reappears he has Buffy disarmed almost too easily.
Ms. Calendar and Willow are on their way to the Bronze. They figured that last time the Master tried to rise, that’s where he sent his minions for fresh blood. Except, whoops, the vampire party isn’t happening at the Bronze, it’s heading straight for them.
Sweeney: I hate when parties descend on me unexpectedly like that. No notice? Rude.
Lor: Buffy tries to run away, but the Master telekinesis-es her ass back. Again: NO FAIR. He removes Buffy’s jacket: no more hunter. Only little lamb. He pulls Buffy in close and talks to the back of her head, and you just know his breath is hot and stale. (K: Do you think his breath smells like blood, like President Snow’s?)(S: A+ times infinity for that.) Anyways, he’s all, “You did good Buffy, and I’mma let you finish, but I have the best escape plan this year.” See, the prophecy said B would die, but it left out the part where her blood is what sets the Master free.
“If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go. Think about that.”
Sweeney: Also, a general note, Slayer Blood is probably the actual worst part of the whole slayer gig. I mean, the general being chosen to not have a life thing is annoying enough, but throughout the series, she is frequently reminded that her blood is extra-special, making her extra-targety.
K: Seriously. Prophecies need to be less vague, and the Slayer needs…oh, I don’t know, an Iron Man suit so that people can’t GET at her blood?
Lor: Sure. I can support both those things.
The Master bites Buffy’s neck and takes a sip. Like seriously, one sip, and he’s all full of power and Buffy’s all full of fainting. “By the way, I like your dress,” the Master adds as Buffy falls into a nearby puddle of dripping water, evil and probably hepatitis A.
The Master proceeds to the exit and this time the invisible bubble barrier lets him through. Angel finds Buffy a second or two later, spread out like Jesus Christ, and pulls her out of the water. Xander sort of stands back, agog, as Angel pronounces that Buffy is dead. The Emotional Violins of Sadness and Commercial Breaks take us away.
When we come back, Xander moves, deciding that since she drowned, CPR might work. Xander has to do the CPR because Angel has no breath. Interesting considering he panted that line out. Xan starts the chest compressions on Buffy’s trachea, so here’s to hoping it actually works.
K: Well, come on. When you’ve been in love with a girl for a year, and she suddenly needs CPR, you don’t want yourself getting all distracted about the fact that you’re touching her boobs while trying to save her life.
Lor: Ms. Calendar wonders why the vamps are coming to school and Willow is all, “IDGAF.” Cordelia drives up in her car and yells at them to get in. I realize at this moment that I do like Cordelia after all. Not only because she has the get-away car.
Sweeney: See! She’s kind of awesome. A bitch, yes, but awesome. More Lila Fowler than Jessica Wakefield, if you will.
Lor: Ah, language I can understand.
A full second after Xander gives up on the trachea-compressions, Buffy wakes up! It works! She spits out water and she is alive!!! (K: Although she’ll probably want to get checked for typhoid and cholera and schistosomiasis after being in/inhaling that water…)
Willow tells Cordy, once they are all in the car, that they need to head back to the Library. She shows us more of those amazing driving skills from “Witch” as she drives into the school. Of course, now they have to deal with the fact that the school has giant holes and the vampires are running after them. With Giles’ help, the gang tries to barricade the doors and windows. At this moment, we see a giant, worm-y root growing out of the cracks in the floor caused by the earthquake.
Buffy asks about the Master and the boys inform her that he’s gone. She’s ready to go after him because being dead has made her feel different and strong.
Sweeney: I mean, dying and coming back to life is a pretty solidly badass move. Don’t worry, we’ll be reminded of what a badass this makes her for a long time. Which, is fair, yeah?
Lor: Uh, fair. If I died and came back to life, I’d publicize it. I’d change my name to DiedAndCameBack, middle name ToLife. Just saying.
The gang is really struggling back at the library. A vampire busts through a window and grabs Cordelia’s arm and she screams, “somebody help!” In a very cool sideways pan, we are taken out to Buffy power walking the hell out of her PWVD. Cue the theme music, you know, the Electric Guitar of Ass Kickery. Xander and Angel flank her and I kind of want to laugh at her walking to the Master, but mostly I want to give her a huge high five. GO AHEAD SLAYER WITH YOUR BAD SELF.
They reach the roof of Sunnydale High, where the Master is chilling, admiring the view. Buffy asks Angel to put on his “game face” as he and Xander are going to keep away the other vamps. “One way or another,” Buffy says, “this won’t take long.” Only five minutes left in the episode to be exact!
Sweeney: I’m glad she shows so much attention/deference to the pacing of her story.
Lor: Back in the Library, Cordy is smacking the vampire hand that’s grabbed her and AWESOMELY bites it. “See how you like it.” A+
The worm-y root grabs Willow and it becomes clear that it is an entire, three headed creature. “Hellmouth,” Giles clarifies for us. The Master is watching all of this through the skylight. “Come forth my child” he says with a few other bad guy things. The music in this episode has been pretty fantastic. At this moment, the Swelling Score of Villainy and Triumph is, uh, swelling. It cuts out completely as Buffy says, “I don’t think it’s yours just yet.”
“You’re dead,” the Master deadpans.
Sweeney: There’s the line! In gif form and everything! Thank you, Lor.
K: LOVE IT FOREVER.
Lor: We should all thank Tumblr… and maybe a little bit of thanks for my unyielding commitment to questionable Google searches.
The Master telekinesis-es her ass again, drawing her near and then asking if she really thought she could win. “You have fruit punch mouth,” Buffy replies and I laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. She punches him for good measure, even though I’m pretty sure that last line was BURN enough.
They fight. The Master like scratches her boob and it’s a little distracting.
Sweeney: Just, you know, a little pre-death groping.
Lor: Inside the library, Giles is trying to hack the creature to death but he gets thrown around, landing on a wooden table that conveniently shatters under his weight into a perfectly fashioned, up-facing stake.
Buffy spots it from up on the roof. She grabs the Master by the throat and give him one last pun: “You’re so amped about hell? Go there.” She flips him through the skylight and he falls and lands on the Stake o’ Convenience.
And it’s disgusting. Blood and like… locust… and dust? Well, whatever. He disintegrates. The Hellmouth Creature retreats.
K: Compared to some of the vamp dustings from elsewhere in season 1, I think they really amped up the special effects for the Master’s death scene. We should just be grateful that he didn’t die like a True Blood vamp. Because BLURGH.
Lor: We cut to the gang all convening in the library. It’s some mix between a funeral procession and a wedding march, I swear, as they walk in to library and consider the bones of the Master. The Buffy Theme is now playing as a Tinkly Remix and the music alone makes me want to cry. The vampires are all gone, the Master is dead and the Hellmouth is closed. Buffy cries as she pronounces this a “weird day.” Xander tells everyone that Buffy died and Giles comes in with a, “I should’ve known that wouldn’t stop you,” because seriously, this episode wants me to cry.
Sweeney: This is also the finale of your development into a person who actually enjoys this show, instead of adding it to the list of shit you subject yourself to for the internet. It’s a big moment for everyone.
K: Welcome to the club, Lor.
Lor: Enjoy something I cover? I liked Cordelia? I felt bad for Xander? The apocalypse came and went? It really is the end of the world as we know it. First of many times, something tells me.
Xander suggests heading over to the Bronze for the party. “Sure,” Buffy half nods. “We saved the world. I say we party.” Buffy proclaims the Master a loser, the crowd heads out and Angel says to Buffy, “by the way. I really like your dress.” “Yeah, yeah. It’s a big hit with everybody.”
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dying has some lasting consequences for our girl, which, I mean, legit. Find out how Buffy’s doing in S02 E01 – When She Was Bad.