Tonight, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer… Buffy and Angel’s simmering romance heats up when Angel is forced to stay at the Slayer’s house overnight. Unfortunately for Buffy, he turns out to be a vampire, albiet one with a soul. Meanwhile, Angel’s old sire and lover, Darla, tries to lure him back to the dark side. She’s got a cunning plan, but things don’t go so well when Buffy turns out to be cleverer than your average slayer…

The Good

Angel and Darla. Ah, the darker mythology of Buffy begins to develop — though later it’ll get stolen by Angel, that’s not important right now. “You’re not one of them,” Darla reminds him. This is one of the many things here that ties in nicely with everything that comes later. Likewise, Angel’s reluctance to explain that it wasn’t his fault and wallow in self-pity instead is a character trait that will stick with him throughout the years. Having watched the entirety of Angel, I can say with reasonable confidence that the only major inconsistency here is how damned young and thin David Boreanaz looks. And that Angel is later shown to be lying about not feeding off people since regaining his soul, which is unfortunate. Darla has been substantially upgraded from the flighty psycho of the first two episodes, and is shown to be a brilliant manipulator, putting the Master’s pathetic behaviour to shame.

The smaller parts are having fun this week too. Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers displays some brilliant comic timing, which I don’t remember even noticing when I first watched these. Meanwhile, Xander’s crazy dancing at the beginning of the episode is pretty impressive, and a nice contrast to the inevitable bitterness that develops once he realises that Buffy and Angel got a thang goin’ on.

The Bad

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In later seasons, Giles will say this in a comforting, authoritative manner. In season one, some guy with a thin, raspy, try-hard movie trailer voice says it, and then follows up by explaining what a slayer is in about five seconds. I seriously doubt that those imbeciles that couldn’t have worked it out from the story will develop any sort of understanding from this blipvert for destiny.

The Three. Was anyone scared of these guys for a moment? With every other vampire around using normal clothes, wearing chain mail just makes them look like pussies (though, when you think about it, it’s really sensible). Giles looks them up in a book and checks with Buffy, but the picture musn’t have been very good this week as we don’t get to see them in close-up.

The Master. This week, we’re served the old cliche that for some reason bad guys don’t send their best troops after “just anyone”. Why the hell not? If I’m an evil villain, I’ll be sending my very best out whenever possible — because they’re the best, and they can handle it, for heaven’s sake. Why didn’t he send the three to the Harvest? Pah! This is followed by the even worse cliche where the evil villain kills his best troops because they failed to kill the hero. Oh, good work. So will we be moving on to your second-best troops now? Are they likely to do a better job? The Master is clearly lacking some kind of Human Resources department.

The Nonsense

At the climax of the story, Giles turns on the strobe lights when Darla is looking for Buffy in the dark with armed revolvers. This makes the last few seconds of the scene look really cool, but it doesn’t really help Buffy as far as I can see. Alright, they’re a little disconcerting, but they do, you know, illuminate things. Perhaps he’s trained Buffy to fight under strobe lighting.

The Interesting

Hints that Angel is a vampire, in increasing order of usefulness: He’s older than her. He turns out to be half-decent at violence. His family was killed by vampires. Buffy can sense him, and we know she’s (supposed to be) able to sense vampires. He’s not been seen yet in the daylight. He’s got a bumpy face. But in his favour, unlike Xander, he manages not to spy on Buffy changing.

Vampires, it turns out, can’t come in unless they’re invited. Angel gets invited a split-second before he runs in with Buffy, which is kind of lucky. Darla gets invited in by Joyce, and then says “It’s so good of you to invite me into your home”, just in case we’re all stupid. If she had a moustache, she’d be twirling it at this point. And on the subject of keeping people away, sort of — Giles has invested in a “Closed for Filing” sign to put outside the library while occupied with Slayerish things, to ward off the one or two students who might enter.

And I should mention the star-crossed romance between Buffy and Angel. Their first kiss is unceremoniously followed by a huge scream and an ungraceful exit via window. How romantic. But the whole idea of a romance between a vampire slayer and a vampire is of course, perfect. When it’s not Spike, that is. Ahem, excuse me, we don’t know who that is yet. Willow meanwhile refuses to take any action about her less-tragic crush on Xander, which is possibly for the best as he’s still clearly obsessed with Buffy.

The Tally

As mentioned above, the Three go to the dust, as well as Darla. All killed by vampires, which can’t be good for morale. Joyce survives with only a barbecue fork wound. A good week for the good guys.


I listed a lot of bad things about this episode, but it’s probably my favourite so far — it introduces so many of my favourite things about the series, and all the regulars are in fine form. From this point on, Buffy has a tragic, epic feel that raises it from being just some teen show about vampires.

Hunk can mean a lot of things. And when I said your eyes were penetrating, I meant to write bulging. — Buffy

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