Episode Reviews (54)
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Buffy Defeats the Master
Prophecy Girl was amazing season finale. Buffy has been prophezied to fight the Master. But when she finds out about it, after over hearing it from both Angel and Giles. She quits but soon comes back after hearing something about willow. Xander ends up going to Angel to find the lair where Buffy was to go. Only to find her unconscious. CPR brings her back a minute later and She defeats the Master. Love effects and music were amazing. I especially liked theme song being used when Buffy, Xander and Angel were heading for the school. The Season was great. Thank you Joss Whedon for creating Buffy. This shows love, friendship and family. Family isn't just blood related but can be people who love you and want to help you. The Scooby gang does for you.moreless
Well, this season was great. Except two or three episodes that were too lame, this episode is just speechless. The confrontation between the Master and Buffy is epic. The screenplay and the direction were fabolous, thank you Joss Whedon for giving us twelve episodes full of action, fantasy, horror, and most of all, love, growing up and real friendship.
I probably wouldn't be as hard on the last two episodes if I hadn't also seen this episode on the same day. "Prophecy Girl" is a sterling example of how to write and direct this show. From the artful dissolves in the episode's opening and closing sequences to performances that feel more engaged, interactive and frequently heartrending, "Prophecy Girl" is an episode that knows exactly what it's doing and why. It looks right and feels right.
And no wonderit's the last episode of Season One, and it's written and directed by the boss of all bosses, Joss Whedon. Most of "Prophecy Girl" has to do with wrapping up the first season's meta-plot and dispatching The Master, while also bringing back all the major characters and reiterating their significance. Cordelia, presumably softened up to Buffy and her cronies by the way they helped her out in "Out Of Sight," becomes integral to the action in "Prophecy Girl," delivering necessary warnings about the increased vampire activity around Sunnydale High, and even saving Willow's life at one point. Miss Calendar returns, to serve as Giles' peer and able assistant. And of course Angel is back, following up on his conversation with Giles in "Out Of Sight," and learning that according to the ancient texts, Buffy is doomed to die if she fights The Master. But if she doesn't fight himwell, then the world will probably end.
It says something about the quality of this episode that its moments of highest drama have little to do with vampires. "Prophecy Girl" opens with Xander trying out his "go to the dance with me, Buffy" speech on Willow and completely muffing it, to her quiet delight. When he finally screws up the courage to ask Buffy out, her rejection of him is painful, especially after the heartfelt way he says, "I want to dance with But it's almost more painful when Xander asks Willow out as compensation, and she turns him down too, not wanting to be his second choice anymore.
It also says something about the quality of this episode that Whedon includes so many scenes of people talking quietly with each other, without sacrificing any tension. After Giles reads the prophecy, he's genuinely touched to see that Buffy's still alive the next morning, though when she finds out her fate, she's so freaked out that she insists that she's done with slaying for good. Later, she talks with her mother, who thinks Buffy is troubled by the upcoming Spring Fling dance, and tells a story about meeting Buffy's dad at a school dance that she went to by herself.
All of this chatter enriches the main action of "Prophecy Girl," in which Buffy does face off against The Master, and does diethough she's revived by Xander, who grabbed a cross and forced his romantic rival Angel to lead him to the Master's lair. A newly alive Buffy who feels "strong" and "different" struts back to Sunnydale High, where Willow, Cordelia, Giles and Miss Calendar have been holding off a horde of vampires, as well as a multi-tentacled creature that has emerged from a crack in the earth. Buffy arrives, stations Angel and Xander by the stairwell, and then heads up for a final confrontation with The Master that doesn't take very long to resolve.
As I said, my qualms about this episode are minor, and mainly have to do with the story feeling a little compressed. I'm also not wild about the moment when Willow recalls seeing the student lounge littered with corpses and laments that, "It wasn't our world Too much overkill there, especially since none of our heroes spends even a moment mourning their dead classmatesnot even Cordelia, whose boyfriend is among the victims. And anyway, Whedon makes the same point much better earlie in a single image: a TV in the lounge, playing Porky Pig cartoons, smeared with a single bloody handprint.
If you want one picture to sum up the mood and message of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's first season, that just may be it.moreless
"Prophecy Girl" is a flawed but decent wrap up in what amounts to a pretty uneven season. By focusing on the base elements of the series up to this point and amplifying the drama (until the end) we end up with a unique episode, at least by this season's standards. While several memorable scenes build to the episode's climax, it's the climax itself that can't keep up. I'm not sure what happened, but "Prophecy Girl" very noticeably weakens during its last act with a jarring shift towards the comical.
The thing that strikes me as odd about the sloppy ending, which I'll get to a bit later, is that "Prophecy Girl" is so deliberate in its tone and filmmaking until then. Take the lovely opening scene, for example, where Buffy is fighting an ordinary vampire yet it is anything but ordinary in how it was shot. I can really tell that it's Whedon himself behind the camera in his Buffy directorial debut. All in slow-motion Buffy gets knocked on her back, gets back up, sees the "monster" grinning at her in anticipation, pulls out her hidden stake, sees the monster lose his smirk, and then gloriously grins herself. At this point the slow-motion fades away into real-time and Buffy dispatches the vampire with ease. This is all a very well-staged callback to the central idea behind the show about the girl victim not turning out to be as helpless as her attacker thought subversion is again the name of the day.
While the opening scene nicely calls back to the base concept of the show, what "Prophecy Girl" is really about is sacrifice. This has been a recurring theme throughout the season, with both "Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01] and "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" [1x05] touching on the issue more directly. After learning about some of the relatively smaller costs of sacrifice earlier, this is the first time Buffy's devotion is fiercely tested and it really puts her through her paces. There's this wonderfully subtle beat shortly before the emotional explosion in the library where we see Buffy grabbing a stake out of her locker as a bunch of happy students on their way to a sports practice walk by her. We just see Buffy take a moment to sigh and then walk the other way, towards the danger that awaits her all a nod to the sacrifices Buffy is making every day to save the unknowing people around her. This resonates so much precisely because of how it sets up her emotional reaction to the terrible news that follows.
Buffy overhears this terrible news from afar. It sure produces one hell of a beat as Giles says that Buffy is prophesized to imminently "face the Master. And she will die." The fact that we know she does die, albeit only briefly, makes this entire scene that much more potent in retrospect. Gellar plays Buffy's reaction to this news with a tremendous amount of realism that still touches me today. We see an initial burst of laughter followed by a pang of concern, a burst of anger, and then tears. It all makes for a very tender moment and the first major hard-hitting emotional beat of the series. This scene is a complete success.
Initially trying to evade the sacrifice fated of her, Buffy's just not ready or willing to accept death this easily. When she tears off the cross Angel gave to her in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01] and throws it on the ground we witness a clear symbolic moment. The cross, of course, is a symbol of sacrifice. This moment is her initial rejection of the sacrifice asked of her. The cross is also a symbol of salvation, though, which becomes relevant in the journey that awaits her.
Trying to not only avoid the situation but actively run away from it entirely, Buffy tells her mom to leave town for the weekend with her (side note: there are some interesting parallels to Buffy's reaction to impending death here and Anya's journey with the same throughout the series). This leads to a nice conversation with her mother (about a school dance) and an analogy about how facing a bad situation can lead to unexpected and rewarding outcomes. Buffy also gets a pretty white dress in the process!
After talking with her mom and learning about how vampires are encroaching further onto school grounds from a scared Willow, she accepts the purpose her role serves in this world, even if she doesn't like it. With only an adamant and noble Giles, who understands the stakes as well, in the way, Buffy punches him out and picks up her cross, thereby signifying her acceptance of what that symbol means. This is an important moment as she tells Giles "that's not how it goes. I'm the Slayer," which shows us that she's now beginning to take ownership of this incredible burden. My only quibble with this acceptance is the brevity in which it happens, but it's a defining moment nonetheless.
When Buffy enters the Master's lair, some relevant words are exchanged. The Master tells her that she isn't the "hunter" but rather the (sacrificial) "lamb." While this statement is partially true, particularly in this precise moment, what's so amazing about Buffy is that, in reality, she's both. Buffy will come to sacrifice a lot in the years to come, but she will also become a much stronger fighter as well. The connection between the two is particularly relevant when looking ahead to Season 5's exploration of the nature of the Slayer and what Buffy learns from it. I'm reminded of, in particular, the thrilling season opening 'hunt' in "Buffy vs. Dracula" [5x01].
The reality of the situation in the here and now, though, is a Buffy who has no control of herself due to the Master's paralyzing gaze. It's here where the Master breaks the bad news to her: it's her blood that allows him to go free! This is a brutal moment for Buffy in which we see a lone tear stream down her face right before she gets bitten. This moment is done in a way that has quite a sexual subtext a kind of violation of Buffy's innocence -- and plays as a nice and subtle setup for where the show's heading next season. All of this also goes to show how manipulative prophecies in the Buffyverse can be.
The sacrificial theme of "Prophecy Girl" and how it relates to Buffy's growth is the very best of what the episode has to offer, but there are also a few other positives that warrant discussion. Xander asking Buffy out has been a long time coming for the season and the entire scene is written and performed just marvelously, making it all so achingly real. I can understand Xander's nervousness as it's really tough for some people to put themselves out there like that. As a detached viewer I have to admit that Xander's complete obliviousness to Buffy's disinterest in him is a little aggravating, but things look mighty different when I put myself in his shoes. Despite all the clues and hints from Buffy, Xander was crushing hard and needed the finality that Buffy gives him here. Rejection is never easy though, and I even feel bad for Buffy having to be the agent of rejection in this instance. At least she was as gentle and honest about it as she probably could have been.
Another scene I appreciated was Willow's consolation of Xander, which ends up as yet another rejection for him. I found it fantastic that Willow stood up for herself and didn't just settle for being Xander's castoff date despite being absolutely wild over him. She tells him, "you think that's my idea of hijinks?" It's a great moment for Willow, and a not-so great one for Xander. The one thing in the world that's always there for Xander, though, is country music: "the music of pain."
For all the positives that "Prophecy Girl" possesses, it's got some pretty notable flaws as well. For starters, there's the scene where Willow and Cordelia find some boys they know at school dead. While the scene itself is actually pretty creepy and does a good job at relaying the feeling that the demons are invading the safe places in the characters' world, I would have liked a lot more build-up to this moment in previous episodes. A moment like this could have resonated a lot more strongly if this feeling had felt like a slow burn.
"Prophecy Girl" aims high and almost gets there, but it's missing the necessary buildings blocks to completely resonate. The complete collapse of the episode's measured tone in its final act also did a disservice to what was shaping up to be an excellent finale in a mediocre season. In the end I still feel we got a worthwhile and entertaining finale, but it's definitely not all it could have been. Even with all its mistakes, though, it ends up turning out to be one of the season's bests.moreless
If it had ended here it would still have been great!
Buffy's unjustified (but very human) rant at Giles, the wonderful slow motion fight with the vamp whilst Cordy is parking with a guy. Buffy accepting her fate for the sake of her friends and family.The Buffy/Master confrontation and her final battle with him. Xander listening to country music, the white man's blues. Xander practicing on Willow and Willow consequently turning him down. Cordy and Will finding the bodies. Cordy's car trick and the girls fleeing in terror. The Buffy/Joyce scene. Love Buffy's dress.
The tentacles from the Hellmouth look pretty weak. Also I thought the boy who get's killed is the same one as in the last ep but it's not, Cordy seems to have a new guy every week. I always think that's lame on TV, characters get boyfriends/girlfriends one week who mean the world to them then they're forgotten about the next ep.
Angel; I like your dress
Buffy; Big hit with everyone
Questions and observations;
Buffy dies for the first time and is bitten by a vampire for the first but by no means the last time. Giles get's knocked out for the first time (by Buffy!). Jenny's back, yay! Presumably the reason Cordy is being so nice to Will and isn't mad at her boyfriend du jour is that it's one of the signs of the apocalypse?
So if Buffy had died for real what would have happened? Presumably Angel would have defeated the Master? Or the Initiative? No offence to Kendra but I figure this would have meant that Faith would be the Slayer and consequently Dawn would be HER sister. Faith would never have gone bad and Joyce would get over her grief by adopting Faith and Dawn as her foster children. Even so, in the Buffyverse death isn't necessarily for ever...?
Note that when Buffy comes back from the dead they play the show's theme full blast. According to Joss the theme starts off like a conventional horror theme but then kicks into rock and roll thrash because it signifies that Buffy and co won't conform to the horror stereotype, they won't take it any more. So we have Buffy dying just as the prophecy says, like all the Slayers before her but she rebels and comes back. If you wanted to see a feminist subtext, she refuses to be the victim, to accept the gender role assigned to her. I don't know if Joss intended it but someone at The Bronze once pointed out that the Scoobies are actually the cliched victims you'd find in any horror film, the sexy blonde, the athletic hunk, the bitchy cheerleader, the hapless nerd, the wiseass jerk and the stuffy authority figure. But in Joss' show the victim's fight back and win.
Angel has a phone and Giles' know's his number.
Buffy actually says she feels stronger after Xander brings her back. She shouldn't of course, she should be weak as a kitten so maybe this is God's/the PTB's doing?
Now of course, at the end of this we see the characters walk off into the sunset and we have no idea if there will ever be a second season? If the series had stopped there it would have been a good ending and fondly remembered, we'd assume the Hellmouth was closed and that our characters would go on to lead fairly ordinary lives. Except for Angel, of course?
Couple of interesting lines. Xander says that if Willow is interested in Buffy she's playing it close to her chest. Cordy remarks that she doesn't know why she and Willow bother with boys and Willow agrees 'I hear you'
5/5 even with the stupid tentacles
"What Can I Say? I Flunked The Written"
Watching the first season of the terrific 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', I´ve found the show progressing in my point of view. When I first started this show i was mainly focused on the title "Vampire Slayer", and I had a great feeling of disbelief that a show with "VAMPIRE SLAYER" in it´s title could have this excellent character devolupment a genious story and I surely never thought it would be THIS good. Reaching the episode "Angel" , I had no doubts that I would be with this show till the end. I cannot mention enough that Buffy is a show where the vampires play a secondary part on the story. This is a genious teen show that is only second in my favourite teen shows to the Amazingly brilliant Freaks and Geeks.
While I had severe problems with "The Pack";"Teacher´s Pet" and "I Robot... You Jane", "Angel;"Out of Sight,Out of Mind";"Nightmares" and "Profecy Girl" we´re more than enough to make me want (compulsively) continue.
This episode is the best out of season 1(which for me sufered for some of the actors;mainly Cordelia and Angel,and the very weak episodes I mentioned early) and for me, it gave a very strong "90´s" feeling that made me wish I had surrendered to this show sooner.moreless
Giles learns from an ancient prophecy that Buffy will die when she faces The Master, who is finally about to rise. I don't consider it to be the series classic that some do, but a reasonable finale to the (highly underrated) first season...
This review contains spoilers.
Watching and reviewing the first season of the terrific 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', I've had a number of surprises when reading other people's reviews. Mainly because so many rank this season as if it's terrible – whereas just about any BtVS is good BtVS (especially considering this was done on a much smaller budget, and surely isn't worse than the weak sixth season?!). Secondly because so many strong episodes people seem to dislike (and in a couple of cases, I dislike the few that people rate highly). And that trend kinda continues with this season finale – sure, it's okay, it gets the job done, but I wouldn't necessarily rank it as the all-time classic that some reviewers do. There are far cleverer episodes in the first season, whereas this one for much of the time just kinda consisted of lots of running around and screaming.
(Oh, and please note, I'm not for a second knocking anyone else's point of view, just putting my own thoughts forward) =)
I do love the first season, for its perfect blend of comedy, drama and mild horror, and champion it against those who bash it. But I'll be the first to admit that one of the weaker points was the shakily-handled season arc regarding the whole Master thing. It never seemed to be developed all that clearly (he would often disappear without mention for a number of episodes), and the whole thing with the Rising was never that clear either; what, is it just that enough people have to be killed and turned into vampires to give him "the power" to rise again? Who knows. And that kinda reflects in this season finale. Yes, it's the much awaited showdown between the Master and Buffy, and don't get me wrong, it's very good, but there just feels to be so much regarding the whole Master plot that was never really filled in, making it maybe a little difficult to fully get behind the events seen here.
(As some have commented, this was only a 12-episode "half season"; if it was the more typical 22-episode season pattern that would have followed, no doubt the whole Master arc would have been much more developed and fleshed out.)
Anyway, to back up slightly, the episode starts off with Xander trying to be brave enough to ask Buffy to the upcoming prom. This kinda sowed the seeds for many of the more character-driven "emotional" stories that would follow in subsequent seasons. Likewise, when Buffy overhears the prophecy that she will die, we get a very "dramatic" Buffy scene. I know some love this scene; I'm not knocking Sarah Michelle Gellar's acting abilities for a moment, but to be honest, this kinda thing isn't really my cup of tea (how British of me!).
The scene where Willow and Cordelia find the room full of murdered (by vampires) students is very strong and quite unexpected, and is one of the most notable points of the episode.
The second half of the episode covers the final showdown between Buffy and the Master. As commented above, it's all done ably enough, but just didn't seem to me to be as sharp as some of the first season's clever offerings. That said, it's a reasonable enough season finale – I love the shots of the vampires lumbering towards the school (even if it did kinda blur the line between vampire and zombie properties, as the show sometimes did) – and leads to an exciting climax.
While I kinda try to review episodes for the "here and now", and not continually look further on into the series, later "apocalyptic season finales" would be done on a much grander scale. To remember is, that this was just the first season (heck, this episode was filmed before the first ep even aired, so they didn't know if it would catch on), so things were done on a much smaller budget. And with that in mind, the climax of this episode could have come off far worse.
The end of the episode wraps things up nicely – with the Master defeated (and the library a wreck), all of the characters head off to the Bronze. As mentioned above, due to the first ep not even having aired when this was filmed, it was unknown if the series would be renewed, so this ending served to "tie everything up" in case it was the end. Thankfully, we were treated to six further seasons.
All-in-all, a fair season finale, it gets the job done (and heck, it's the only episode where the main theme plays during the course of the actual episode!), but it just didn't seem as sharp as many episodes of the era for me, and I don't rank it the series classic that some do. That said, it has its moments, and for that I still give it a fair 8.5.
---First season review---
Well, what can be said that hasn't already been said? 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' in many ways changed the face of US TV in the late 1990s, bringing in sharp dialogue, and emotional storylines mixed in with mild horror themes. Was it a comedy? Was it a drama? In truth, it was a bit of both. Soon, there were many imitators and wannabes, but for many of us, BtVS will always be the original and the best.
As mentioned in my review above, some people seem to knock the first season an awful lot. And I personally think it is unjust. Yes the whole Master story arc is handled rather sloppily (and both he and Angel are absent for a number of episodes), but that is made up for by some of the extremely creative storylines, and brought to life by a very able cast. (By the way, do I have a favourite cast member? Back when the series burst onto BBC Two in the U.K. in late 1998, I kinda fancied Willow, kinda wanted to be Xander, but in a way, was mostly drawn to Giles in terms of character – and not just for the whole Brit connection thing).
…But anyway, to return to my original point, sure this season doesn't have the wider-spanning storylines that later seasons would see, but it still has some terrific "stand alone" episodes. In fact – while I know many will disagree with me – in a way I did miss not getting so many of these stand alone tales in later seasons, in favour of the many more "advance the main season plot" instalments.
"Welcome to the Hellmouth" gets the series off to a flying start (broken up into two-parts, with the second titled "The Harvest" for repeat runs), after which comes one of my favourite episodes, the great (and underrated) "Witch". Other personal favourites include "Puppet Show", and in my opinion the best episode of the season is "Out of Sight, Out of Mind". Heck, I even liked "I Robot, You Jane" (which is infamously unpopular in the fan community), though it was let down by an embarrassingly bad final act.
Only "Nightmares" do I consider to be a dud episode from the season (ironically, some *love* this episode), as it feels to me to be a cheap, last-minute filler. A couple of other episodes (maybe "The Pack", for example) have signs that the series isn't on full form yet, but on the whole, just about every single episode has something to offer; If nothing else, some hilarious lines.
Whether you're a fan of the first season or not, I think it's hard to deny the creativity (especially considering the budget, much smaller than later seasons), the introduction to some great characters, and the often super-sharp scripts. Personally, I love the season... and can't wait to re-live the second season, which sees the show get even better.moreless
Season 1, Episode 12.
Giles discovers a prophecy which states that Buffy will face the Master and she will die. OMG, this was a dramatic episode and an amazing season finale. I liked all the drama when Xander asked Buffy to Spring Fling. Then he asked Willow. Aw I felt bad for all of them. Cordelia's boyfriend was smokin' hot though! Rawr! Wow! Buffy set the Master free by going down and facing the Master. She set him free by dying! I loved when Cordelia drove the car through the school. And YAY, Buffy died but she's back! I liked when Giles said, "What's going on?!" and Jenny yelled, "Guess!" Buffy finally defeated the Master! Awesome episode! Great season finale!moreless
The climactice season finale!
This is what could convert any person into a buffy fan in my opinion. the episode concludes the first season excelenting and provided suspense, drama humour and all the other elements needed to make a great show. If i were to choose an episode of buffy that was my favourite this would by mine the dynamics are brillaint the thrill of the hellmouths beat in the libary the shock at buffy's temporary death all make it brillaint to watch. apart from buffy (sarah michelle geller) looking very hot and buetifulin this episode the story sums up everything the show is about and gives all the characters a moment in this episode if i were to have done an ending for the show it wouldnt have stemmed much further from this plotline!moreless