The Harvest


Tonight, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer… Buffy averts her first apocalypse! Xander kills his best friend! And the vamps take over the Bronze — after all, it is the coolest place in town.

The Good

Giles refers to the Bible as “popular mythology” which is particularly nice. The Buffy mythology, on the other hand, is pretty cool. Demons used to walk the earth, left behind vampires, want to return. It makes the vampires cooler, and gives quite a sense of menace — which will be paid off at the end of season three. Crucially, it’s simple and elegant.

It’s nice to see Buffy’s sense of responsibility and deductive reasoning. She’s not as useless as she appeared to be at first. Xander also displays dedication and heroism. I’m sure he’ll get super-powers very soon. Other high points include Joyce Summers trying to be firm with her daughter, the slow motion vampire charge on the bronze, and the awesome off-camera pool-cue through the heart. The show ends with Giles’ daggy “The Earth is doomed,” which probably seemed witty at the time, but has now progressed to quaint and charming. Which is still good.

Oh, and the title music is the same this week, but it doesn’t sound too bad now. I was just too used to the newer, better mix they used in later seasons.

The Bad

Our cheesy sound effects are still with us. The Master flicks his hand around darla’s head, and VWOOOOMP! Later, I’ll swear that the sound of a door from Doom closing is playing when the Master collapses. The vampire sound-effects are a bit irritating too. Every time you get more than two vampires in a shot it’s all GRRRRR-ARRRR-ORRRRR-URRRRRR.

As Buffy leaves to save Jesse, Giles asks “Do I have to tell you to be careful?” Alright, so he added a few words to the start, but it’s still the oldest cliche in the book, complete with Buffy looking back to receive the advice.

A special mention to Cordy’s long-haired over-acting friend in computer class. Such enthusiasm.

The Nonsense

The tremendously strong and imposing Luke, when stung by Buffy’s crucifix, acts like he had no idea they did that, staring from his hand to the cross in bewilderment. But even he’s doing better than the insanely slow moving vampires that come to catch Buffy and Xander. Too long since they faced a slayer, says the Master? Forget slayers, they’d have trouble catching babies. To make the scene even more awkward, the door that Buffy must strain to close is about half an inch thick and looks in no way a challenge for a girl who broke in the gym door last episode. It must be really badly hinged or something.

“My soul is your soul,” says the Master. Psssst! You don’t have one! Sorry. In other curious aspects of vampire lore, it appears that Buffy has consecrated wafers in her anti-vampire arsenal. Is the plan to surreptitiously give a vampire communion when he’s not concentrating? Also, Xander proves you can stake a vampire through the shoulder and it works just as well.

The Interesting

There’s a Hellmouth in Sunnydale! Ah! The Master arrived to open it around 1937, but caused an earthquake that swallowed half the town. Sound familiar?

Looking at things with 20/20 hindsight, Darla acts very un-Darla-ish. Angel’s still super cocky, for someone later revealed to not so long ago have been living in back-alleys and eating rats. But I can’t really complain. That’s why this stuff is next to the star and not the not-equal-to sign. Besides, Angel’s reaction to “Do you know what it’s like to have a friend?” is perfect.

Turns out, vampires like sewers! Because they’re cheap to make and no one can tell them apart from each other. You don’t find people in episode guides saying “That’s clearly the same sewer they used in episode 219.” But how will our heroes find a map to the sewer system? They’ll use… The INTERNET. Woah. With goofy sound effects and unprompted full screen goodness. In fairness, the computer class later is much more convincing.

The Tally

The first thing Jackson asked me when he saw this tally business was: if a vampire is turned and staked, where does his death fall in the grand scheme of things? Well, he didn’t ask like that. Anyhow, the answer is, it’s a tie, 1 in both columns. So, this week, it’s 5 vampires and 3 humans — a win for the good guys! Embarassingly, with the Bronze at his disposal, Luke only feeds off two humans that we see. Most irritatingly for me, when vampires die off camera, they don’t make a ‘poof’ sound.

This episode marks the first time Buffy tells someone “I’m the slayer, you’re not, I’m doing it, stay home.” Will we hear that again? Why yes, yes we will. It’s also the first time she’s told by the villain that he (say it with me) “always wanted to kill a slayer”. Luke dies unfulfilled.

The Conclusion

Quite a satisfying conclusion. The whole gang do a good job, with Willow sending Darla off screaming and Xander killing Jesse. Buffy steps up to the plate and takes some responsibility, and Giles loosens up a bit. And I wonder where this Angel bloke fits in? Hmmm. This could be the start of something good.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no cause for alarm. Actually, there is cause for alarm -- it just won't do any good. — Luke

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