Episode Reviews (59)
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The cliffhanger from the last episode resolves anti-climactically.
To be fair, "The Harvest" is part two of two, and as it originally aired, the closing moment from "Welcome To The Hellmouth"where Buffy is about to be bitten by The Master's main man Lukewas separated from the scene where she quickly escapes by about a five-minute commercial break. Still, if I have one major complaint about the more action-packed second Buffy episode, it's that too many of the fight scenes lapse into mano-a-mano action-horror clichs, even when there's a room full of vampires surrounding a single slayer. The best action beats in "The Harvest" are leavened with humor, like when Buffy jabs a pool cue into an off-screen vampire, or when she dupes Luke at The Bronze by breaking a window and snapping, "You forgot about sunrise," causing Luke to duck and her to say, "It's in about nine hours, moron," before finishing him off.
But all of that happens at the end. First we get a little more character development, as each player finds their appointed roles: Xander stupidly and bravely pledges to go wherever Buffy goes, Giles and Willow do research and worry, The Master belittles his underlings, Angel offers helpful info then broods off into the shadows, and Buffy tries to avoid authority figures while somewhat angrily saving the world.
For the most part, "The Harvest" just continues what "Welcome To The Hellmouth" succeeds at, as well as what it fails at. But Episode Two does bring Xander to the forefront a little more, making the most of incredulous lines like, "We're talking about vampireswe're having a conversation with vampires in it," and "The dead rosewe should've at least have had an It also plays up the risks of being Buffy's friend, which can lead to being used as bait by the armies of the night.
Mostly though, "The Harvest" confirms what Buffy is about in one tense scene between the heroine and her mother, who chastises her for staying out late and repeating the same patterns of behavior that got her chased out of their last town. For all the curses that plague Buffy, from the burden of being The Slayer to the demonic presences that are drawn to her, nothing seems to unnerve her more than the curse of expectation.moreless
It's always risky to introduce a character as part of the group only to kill them off, but this was done with the right amount of humor that it was okay. It's also a stretch to have a two-part opener for a new series, so to pull that off without alienating the audience is a real skill. The main cast is solidified and is becoming more comfortable with each other - it's always nice to see the surprises of emerging talents, too.moreless
"Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01] largely succeeded because of its overwhelming focus on establishing the characters and setting up some of the core themes that will fuel the series at large. "The Harvest," on the other hand, doesn't really do any of that. This is a very plot-heavy episode with a plot that isn't that good. This presents a problem, which translates to a troubled episode.
"The Harvest" is characterized by a lot of long poorly paced scenes that are trying to play off as suspenseful, but mostly come off as boring. I'm just simply not invested in the corny Luke helping the Master or whatever's going on with Jesse. Luke is talked up a bit as some kind of dangerous vampire, yet he's ultimately a pathetic fighter and more than a little dumb. On top of this, the action sequences can be generously characterized as mediocre, with the big ending action set piece being poorly directed and lifeless. Over in the library not much else of interest happens as we mostly just get a whole lot of dry exposition from Giles and Willow.
While I clearly have some serious issues with the episode, it's fortunately not a total loss. There are some decent character beats mixed in. I enjoyed the little bit where Buffy asks Angel if he knows what it's like having friends only to get a sad non-response. That beat nicely establishes Angel's role as an outsider and gets him a bit of sympathy from both Buffy and the viewer, which becomes important when Buffy begins feeling things for the guy.
Another bit of revealing characterization comes from Xander who, despite his better judgment (and Buffy's clear wishes), goes to help his friends out of a sense of loyalty. This loyalty will save Buffy's life in "Prophecy Girl" [1x12] and be useful many times in the future. This turns out to actually be one of Xander's best qualities.
In the latter part of the episode Joyce essentially grounds Buffy from going out again right at the time when she has to go to save the world. Joyce says "I know. If you don't go out it'll be the end of the world. Everything is life or death when you're a sixteen-year-old girl." Beyond having amusing irony, it's also revealing of how Buffy uses metaphor. S1 of Buffy, in particular, is a series of largely stand-alone stories that toy around with the theme of high school as hell and it uses metaphor as the vehicle in which to deliver this theme. As the series progresses we see this theme and the metaphors used to serve them used more directly to evolve the characters. So this nice scene with Joyce turns out to be a nice hint of the approach to come.
My favorite scene of the episode occurs right after the conversation between Buffy and Joyce. Buffy reaches into her closet and pulls out a big chest. After opening it we can see that the top layer is filled with all kinds of usual girlie items. After a brief pause, Buffy pulls off the top layer to reveal a secret area filled with usual slayer items. This is a wonderful moment with neat symbolic relevance. Think about how this parallels the shot, in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" [1x01], where the camera goes from the sunny surface of the high school, moves downward, goes through the dirt in the ground, and then arrives underground to reveal the danger than lurks below the sunny surface. Just like Sunnydale has two sides to it, Buffy has a complex duality in her personality an internal war between, as termed in "The Replacement" [5x03], Buffy-Buffy and Slayer-Buffy -- that will take seven years for her to fully come to understand and come to terms with. This symbolic moment here in "The Harvest" speaks to a central character dilemma.
"The Harvest" has a few memorable character beats and a few nice moments, but in the end it's a really troubled episode that struggles to keep afloat. If the episode actually had some depth to it or had at least a little substantial character growth or had a notably stronger plot, I could see myself liking this one a notch more, but as it stands it just can't climb completely out of its own grave despite a few attempts to. It's a shame that the pilot episode couldn't finish out strong.
Part 2 of the series' premiere packs a better punch
First of all, I'll just say that I enjoy this episode much more than the pilot, and I think it was a fine choice for them to play it afterwards on premiere night. Although the pilot is great, this episode really fills out what to expect in the series.
"The Harvest" features its first run-in on public displays of vampires. The Bronze ends up being infested with them, and many Sunnydale teens are bit and killed in the process. Now this is some pretty exciting stuff for only being the second episode. However, everything is "back to normal" in the end because we come to find out that the residents of Sunnydale seem to have this weird selective memory disorder... It's not really mentioned, but it's there. Sometimes this bothers me, especially at the beginning, but as the series progresses, the writers find more better ways in hiding the fact that demons exist, and you tend to get used to everyone's selective memory. The only ones who seem to remember are the Scoobies (the name of the core group).
I also have to say that this episode shows more of Xander and Willow, and it made me realize how much those two really hold the show together. Buffy is great, and so is her uptight Watcher Giles, but seeing Xander and Willow interact with one another is something to enjoy watching. Even just the conversation they had in the hallway about how Buffy will be fine going after Jesse alone, they create this comforting atmosphere that you can somehow relate to them. They are the outsiders looking in on Buffy's exciting and adventurous life, just like us. (Although Willow mostly gets more into it later on.)
It was also very clever of the creator Joss Whedon to have this character Jesse, who people would assume to be a recurring character, end up becoming a dusted vamp by the end of its second episode. It's just another one of those twists that people won't expect, such as the opening of the pilot. It also introduces Xander's hate for all vampires, which becomes a major aspect of his character throughout the series as well.
I do really like this episode, even more than the pilot. I especially love the ending because, although its corny, Giles lets the Scoobies (as well as the audience) know that it won't just be vampires Buffy and the gang will be fighting. Which we soon learn in the next episode.
"The earth is doomed." - Rupert Gilesmoreless
Never suspected they'd turn Jesse and was shocked when they killed him (Xander bags his first vamp, it'll take Willow and Cordelia 2 whole seasons to kill their first). The fight at the end is terrific especially Buffy's trick and 'give me the Speilberg (such a shame that there are no more commentaries on season 1, roll on Buffy Special Edition DVDs). Love Willow's trick on Cordy and we have Harmony for the first time (here unnamed). Willow hacks for the first time.
Great scenes with the hand trying to pull Buffy back into tunnels (Xander saves her for the first time?) whilst the sun going down has never seemed quite so menacing not to mention Darla skipping along to the Bronze.
The vamps seem affected by the all too common slow moving monster syndrome. Also all the bodies disappear from the Bronze at the end whilst considering they're supposed to be lifelong friends Willow and Xander seem to forget about Jesse awfully quickly. Also considering we later establish what a formidable vamp Darla is Willow seems to overcome her awfully easily with just a jar of holy water
Willow; I need to sit down
Buffy; You are sitting down
Willow; Oh, good
Questions and observations; the vamps look slightly different to what we later see, their skin more mottled and talons more pronounced. We later see in The Wish that whilst the Harvest would have been bad it wouldn't have been the end of the world. Is it Cordy who bumps into Jesse and forces him onto Xander's stake? I must say I'd never seen the supposed gay subtext between the Master and Luke until it was pointed out by Joss but now it seems impossible to miss
8/10 solid Buffy
Buffy manages to rescue Willow and Xander, but it's sadly too late for Jesse. Slowly, a plot emerges about a ritual that will release an ancient being from his limbo prison. A little less gripping than the first half, but still a very good episode...
(...Review continued from Part 1, 'Welcome to the Hellmouth').
Not much more to say on this one that I didn't cover in WTTH really.
The story continues onwards keeping up the interest, though I did feel that in this second half things weren't quite as pacey. Don't get me wrong, things are still pretty great, but the first half is better.
As others have commented, Xander and Willow don't seem all that sad about their friend Jesse being turned into a vampire and later dusted, but I like how Joss Whedon's intention was to trick viewers into thinking Jesse was to be a regular, only to have him killed off. (In fact, Whedon wanted opening credits containing Jesse, to build on this more, but there wasn't enough time or the budget at this early stage).
It's also how fun how the fate of Sunnydale lays in Buffy's hands, yet she has to sneak out and not tell her mother, Joyce. This was great in the first season or so, though later, when it verged on getting a bit samey and limiting plots, they had Joyce find out.
All-in-all, 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' and 'The Harvest' set up the seven season run perfectly. No, it might not meet the giddy heights of some future plots, but even with this first tale, I feel the bar is significantly raised above most other shows around at the time.
Maybe I enjoyed 'The Harvest' slightly less than the first part, but I still like it enough to give it a very reasonable 9 / 10.moreless
2 part series opener
Another day at Sunnydale school and another evil plot to kill people. Some harvest to bring the master to the surface.
And his followers turn Xanders friend in to bait. and chain him to the wall only to find he has turned into a vampire as well. great rescue attempt. I think the vampires put on a pretty poor show to get them. they just sort of hang in the back ground with funny glowing eyes. Buffy finally got to kill Luke another soldier on the vampire team but she let lots of them live. Always why she doesn't just kill them while she has the chance. you know they will just come back again. And the Julie Benz vampire could have been killed off as well but was allowed to hang around for a few more episodes.moreless
The second part of the series premier.
The continuation of the first ever episode of the best show in the world... Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It continues where the last episode left off, with Luke about to kill Buffy, where Angel, saves Buffy, for the first time out of millions. This episode also shows Buffy's resourcefulness when she tricks Luke into thinking that it was sunrise and distracting him so that she could stake him. The only thing I didn't like about the episode is that they killed off someone who could have been a good member in The Scooby Gang, Jesse, Xander and Willow are good for the Scooby Gang, but it would have been nice to have Jesse in the Gang.moreless
The Harvest was the second episode of the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The story picks up where it left off in the first episode. Buffy eventually over comes the vampires, only to find new friend Jesse is missing. All of the main and future regulars have been pretty much introduced by now, and we are starting to really get to know the characters. They sort of fall into their roles, Buffy the Slayer, Giles the Watcher, Willow learning from Giles but being a Computer Savvy Whiz Kid too, and Zander the Gentle Heart and Helping Hand. We are also seeing Buffy and Angel developing a relationship. The enemies are evil, and fun to watch in action. This episode is a classic.moreless
Season 1, Episode 2.
This was definitely a good episode. Not perfect, but good. Sarah Michelle Gellar is awesome and an amazing actress. However, within the first 8 minutes of this episode, I noticed that I enjoyed the Pilot more. This episode just seemed so different since we already met Buffy and her friends and there's a bunch of vampire stuff going on. I thought it was extremely weird when Buffy jumped over the fence, but I liked it, I guess. The library is a little boring, just like in real life, and I don't think the first 10 minutes had to be set in the Master's lair and the library. But cool episode, otherwise.moreless