Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 5

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

8
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Mar 31, 1997 on The WB
8.1
out of 10
User Rating
884 votes
45

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Yearning for a normal life, Buffy agrees to a date with the mysterious and brooding Owen. Giles discovers a prophecy of coming danger which would interfere with her plans, but she chooses Owen over battling the forces of darkness. When Giles goes out on his own and is trapped by a group of vampires, Buffy must figure out a way to balance dating and Slaying.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • she is the strangest girl!

    10
    I really like this episode. I guess, more than other four that came before this one. and I am kinda surprised that others find it not that good. it is full of fun as always. but another thing is that here we can see Buffy realizing her destiny and making the right choice, the difficult one... and the late one -- well, as it's said: "better late than never".



    plus, who could figure out before the very end that the Anointed One was that cute little kid??? I mean, well, now, re-watching "Buffy" like for the third or forth time I can see where it's coming from "And the Slayer will not know him, will not stop him", but back in 1998 I was shocked (I guess, it's the right word).



    so I think this episode is not pointless or smth like that. it shows Buffy's development and the Master's plan for the freedom.



    FAVE SCENE: Willow and Xander help Buffy to dress fot the date with Owen.



    FAVE QUOTE: Giles: Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn't mean at the same time.moreless
  • And now we take a break from psychoanalyzing Xander so we can get back to the star of our show.

    8.5
    In "Never Kill A Boy On The First Date," Buffy meets Owen, a hulking, sensitive lad who reads poetry and is impressed that Buffy spends so much time in the library. Giles, who's already down on Buffy for not taking her mission seriously enoughtoo much quippery for his tastewants Buffy to step up her night patrols until they can discern what the Master has in store for Sunnydale. But Buffy insists she deserves a night out. "Clark Kent has a job," she says. "I just want to go on a



    I like the writers exploring this side of Buffy, but my only real qualm about Episode Five is that the four episodes that preceded it didn't do enough to establish our heroine as person with normal teenage tastes and desires. We know from the two-part premiere that Buffy at least claims to crave stability, and we know she's got a store of pop culture references at the ready. We also know that Angel makes her weak at the knees. But I found her crushing on some random bookwormno matter how rugged-looking and sweet-naturedto be a little contrived. Why would she be into Owen and not, say, Xander, who has a lot of the same qualities and knows about her double life? Has Buffy even picked up the obvious cues that Xander likes her?



    That said, I enjoyed the plotting of this episode, which involved the classic superhero's dilemma: how to have an everyday life when the bad guys never seem to take a night off. While Buffy is canoodling with Owen at The Bronze, Giles stumbles into a nest of vampires, and is saved only because Xander and Willow are keeping tabs on him, and are able to drag Buffy and Owen away from making moony-eyes at each other so that she can do her job. And how does Owen react when he realizes what his prospective girlfriend can do? He's into it. Too into it. Turns out, the bookworm is addicted to danger. And perhaps because that hits too close to home for Buffy, she gives him the brush, for good.



    Forced premise aside, there was a lot to like in "Never Kill A Boy," including Angel chastising Buffy for doing something so mundane as dating, and evangelicizing serial-killer-turned-vampire Andrew Borba muttering "pork and beans" in the middle of one of his rambling sermons, and the final reveal that The Master's "Anointed One" is an innocent-looking little boy.



    But though he doesn't have much to do in the episode, Xander has some of the best moments, including critiquing the school lunch thusly: "I think it's kale. Or possibly string A minute later, in the same scene, he has the episode's one laugh-out-loud line, after Buffy fumes at him for asking, "How did the slaying go last night?" in the middle of the cafeteria. Stumbling to recover, Xander says, "Uh, I mean, how did the laying go?" No, I don't mean thatmoreless
  • Mortuary Date

    7.5
    Despite how unbelievable the circumstances were to Buffy getting her first date, it was even more so that the boy would think going to the mortuary for the date would be a good idea and then that he turned out to be an adrenaline junky. It was shaky at best, but it was great development on Buffy's end in knowing when to call it quits on a relationship that isn't going to work out. And points to Giles for not going the "I told you so" route.moreless
  • Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

    8.0
    "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is the initial exploration of Buffy's double life. It briefly touches upon her wants, needs, and the burden of sacrificing said wants and needs for others. This makes the episode one of the few in S1 that has notable lasting relevance to the series to come. While it's a decent outing for S1, it shouldn't be mistaken for a masterpiece. We get into all of that and more after the break.



    Giles points out that "maintaining a normal social life is problematic at best." This is what the episode then goes out to show us first hand and is the first lesson of many Buffy will learn surrounding the subject. One of the biggest things driving Buffy as a character in much of the high school years is her desire to have this "normal life." It's not really until "Helpless" (when she temporarily loses her powers) that she comes to accept even embrace -- the reality of her life with a sense of finality.



    The character of the week, Owen, plays into all of this about as well as he can (more on that later). Owen tells Buffy at the Bronze that "there are a lot more important things in life than dating." This initially causes Buffy a moment of sadness but is quickly followed by a glance at her pager to see if Giles needs her 'fun and acceptance' versus 'sacrifice and isolation,' a duality that Owen detects in Buffy and finds quite fascinating (as he should!), albeit for all the wrong reasons. It's fun that the episode draws attention to this duality and begins to better define it.



    Towards the end of the episode we see that Owen still thinks Buffy is cool, but mostly because he thinks she's a danger queen. Not only does he want to be around her for the wrong reasons, but Buffy comes to realize that nurturing this interest of his would only lead to getting him killed. Buffy realizes that Owen simply doesn't belong in her world and that she can't indulge her impulse to be with him. This is when Giles has a beautiful segue back to what the episode is really about: responsibility and sacrifice. Being chosen makes for a unique and difficult life, and this is one of the very first times Buffy comes to understand what that means for her, despite her many early-series attempts to fight it. This scene is a fabulous early bonding moment between the two of them, and I appreciate how it resonates particularly with the finale, "Prophecy Girl" [1x12]. Giles is just so understanding of Buffy, and it's wonderful to hear him share that with her.



    An interesting aside is that, in the opening of the episode, Giles chastises Buffy for being a bit too colorful in how she slays. Buffy protests with a sarcastic response that alludes to the fact that, while colorful, she's getting the job done. This 'technique versus emotion' exchange is particularly interesting in light of Kendra ("What's My Line? Pt. 2" [2x10]) and Faith ("Faith, Hope, and Trick" [3x03]). In the end, balance between the two styles is ideal, although here in S1 we can see that Buffy has a ways to go in achieving that.



    As much as I appreciated the little thematic touches, not all of "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is as introspective and relevant. There are some basic problems here that really dragged on the episode. For one, I just don't buy Buffy's sudden interest in Owen, who seems nave, quiet, and a bit book-wormy. There is the brooding factor and his looks, both of which he apparently shares with Angel, but I think it's more the sense of mystery that Buffy's attracted to rather than the raw brooding. It just doesn't strike me that Buffy would get all excited over him. Even worse, Cordelia suddenly also going after Owen right after Buffy's started talking to him was way, way too scripted and forced for me. Then, of course, in typical S1 fashion, there's the problem of the character that shows up just for one episode that is given way too much focus and drama considering you never see him again.



    To top off my complaints, the entire sequence at the funeral home really didn't do anything for me, the vampires are completely lame, the action isn't all that exciting, and the fake-out death of Owen was done pretty poorly. I can't say I was thrilled with the bus sequence either, which rubbed off as far more silly and boring than scary.



    While "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is certainly rough in spots, it has the right intentions and is certainly better than most of what you get out of the season. In of itself it's not all that exciting, but taken within the context of the entire series its core theme actually does have some modest relevance. All in all this is an overall enjoyable step in the right direction for the series in these very early, formative stages.moreless
  • An episode that has a point.

    8.5
    What I really like about this episode is that it has a point. It's not just a random monster-of-the-week filler episode like the previous one "Teacher's Pet". In this episode, we're introduced to the Anointed One, someone who will help the Master escape his confinement.



    As well as the story arc of this season's big bad, we are introduced to what dating is like to a teenaged vampire slayer, and it's not easy. Buffy has a crush on Owen, a cute, quiet, and sensitive boy at her school. He asks her on a date, twice actually, but every time she's interrupted with slayer duties (like trying to stop the Anointed One from coming) as well as trying to hide it all from Owen.



    I really love the twist that is shown in this episode. I'm sure everyone thought that the Anointed One would end up being that very beefy, intimidating man who was then vamped and attacked Owen and the gang at the funeral home. But it ended up being the little boy who was on the bus where the vampire massacre took place.



    Can I also mention the way Giles represents some sort of father figure in this episode and I love it? Giles does end up becoming this father figure for Buffy throughout the seasons, but I love his reactions towards her when he finds out she's dating. Especially since her mother Joyce doesn't seem to make an appearance.



    All in all, this is a great episode. Very high quality in terms of writing, although some of the lines were quite cheesy. I'm exciting to get to the later seasons where the cheesiness is less.moreless
Paul-Felix Montez

Paul-Felix Montez

Mysterious Guy

Guest Star

Robert Mont

Robert Mont

Van driver

Guest Star

Christopher Wiehl

Christopher Wiehl

Owen Thurman

Guest Star

Mark Metcalf

Mark Metcalf

The Master

Recurring Role

David Boreanaz

David Boreanaz

Angel

Recurring Role

Andrew J. Ferchland

Andrew J. Ferchland

The Anointed One

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Goof: In the article that Giles shows Buffy about the van accident, only a couple of sentences have anything to do with the headline. The rest of them are random lines about an ex-wife and some kind of compromise.

    • Christopher Wiehl, who plays Buffy's high school date, Owen Thurman, was actually 31 when this episode aired.

    • Goof: At the funeral home, when the new vampire awakens, his reflection can be seen in the glass cabinet doors behind him.

    • This is the first time we see a student in the library other than Buffy, Willow, Xander,and Cordelia when Owen comes in to check out an Emily Dickinson book. The lack of students in the library became something of a running joke on the show as they were rarely seen unless required for the story.

    • The license plate on Giles' car reads 2GPU947.

    • Goof: While it is subtle, when Buffy and Giles are opening the cold chamber drawers (where the bodies are kept) it is fairly obvious that they are opening the same drawer over and over. In the first shot they even go as far as to cover the vent that is seen in the later two shots. They also change the height of the drawer in relation to the actors.

    • Nitpick: Near the end of the episode, when Buffy breaks up with Owen, it is very apparent that the extras are reused. Watch and look for a blond with a red flannel coat. She's walking in the background, hanging in the hallway, walking up the stairs (three times, one time with a bag, the second without it, and the third time is a continuation of the first - this happens behind Owen). There is also a boy in bell-bottoms, a tight yellow shirt with a tight navy blue vest over that. He appears in several places (though his travel path is more realistic than the blond's).

    • This is the first and only episode we see Buffy with a pager.

    • Nitpick: At the beginning of this episode, when Buffy stakes the vampire, he leaves behind a ring. But in most other cases when a vamp is staked, everything turns to dust, including clothing and jewelry.

    • Goof: When Buffy says "If the apocalypse comes, beep me" she reaches forward to grab her pager and holds it up next to her head. In the next shot (from the side), there is no visible table or stand where that beeper could've been sitting. It couldn't have been on the stairway rail because we saw it earlier in the scene and there is no beeper on it.

    • Nitpick: The inside bus lights are turned on at the first shot of the airport shuttle bus. When the scene cuts to the inside of the bus, the lights are off.

  • QUOTES (29)

    • Buffy: Do I want to appear shy, coy, and naive, or unrestrained and insatiable and aggressive?
      Xander: You know, Owen is a little homespun, he probably doesn't like that overly assertive look. Oh hey, here's something: a nice comfy overcoat and a ski cap. The ear flaps will bring out your eyes.
      Buffy: Maybe I should mix and match... Okay, guy's opinion. Which one do you think Owen will like better: the red or the peach?
      Xander: Oh, you mean for kissing you and then telling all his friends how easy you are, so the whole school loses respect for you then talks behind your back?... The red's fine.

    • Master: And there will be a time of crisis, of worlds hanging in the balance. And in this time shall come the Anointed, the Master's great warrior. And the Slayer will not know him, will not stop him, and he will lead her into Hell. As it is written, so shall it be. Five will die, and from their ashes the Anointed shall rise. The Brethren of Aurelius shall greet him and usher him to his immortal destiny. As it is written, so shall it be.

    • Willow: (about Owen) He hardly talks to anyone. He's solitary, mysterious... He can brood for forty minutes straight, I've clocked him.

    • Xander: So, Buffy, how did the Slaying go last night?
      Buffy: Xander!
      Xander: I mean, how did the laying go? No, I don't mean that either.

    • Buffy: Where do you suppose young kids go on dates these days?
      Willow: Well, I read somewhere once that sometimes they go to movies.
      Buffy: Movies! Interesting!
      Willow: And I saw on TV once, a bunch of people our age went to a party.
      Buffy: Wow! I never knew being a teenager was so full of possibilities!

    • Giles: You have a date?
      Buffy: Yes, but I will return those overdue books by tomorrow.
      Giles: Wait, you're not getting off that easily.
      Owen: Man, you really care about your work!

    • Buffy: (to Giles) This is the 90's. The 1990's, in point of fact, and I can do both. Clark Kent has a job. I just wanna go on a date.

    • Xander: (about Giles) He's gonna be alright. He's like super librarian, y'know? Everyone forgets, Willow, that knowledge is the ultimate weapon.

    • Giles: Very well. Follow your hormones. But I needn't warn you about the hazards of becoming personally involved with someone who is unaware of your unique condition.
      Buffy: Yeah, yeah. I've read the back of the box.

    • Giles: Well, you know what they say. Ninety percent of the vampire slaying game is waiting.
      Buffy: You couldn't have told me that ninety percent ago?

    • (To Buffy, regarding the vampire)
      Owen: You see that? He tried to bite me! What a sissy!

    • Owen: What, she doesn't like to dance?
      Xander: Well, it's a little too late to do anything about that. Uh, you should probably know that Buffy doesn't like to be kissed. Actually she doesn't like to be touched.
      Willow: Xander!
      Xander: As a matter of fact, don't even look at her.

    • Buffy: You killed my date!

    • Buffy: Cordelia, Owen and I would like to be alone now (puts her arms around Owen and looks at Cordelia again) and for us to do that, you would have to go somewhere that's away.

    • Giles: Oh, Emily Dickinson.
      Buffy: We're both fans.
      Giles: Yes, she's quite a good poet. I mean for a...
      Buffy: A girl?
      Giles: For an American.

    • Cordelia: (upon first seeing Angel) Hello, salty goodness!

    • Giles: Uh, two more of the brethren came in here. They came after me. But I was more than a match for them.
      Buffy: Meaning?
      Giles: I hid.

    • Buffy: If the apocalypse comes, beep me.

    • Giles: If your identity as the Slayer is revealed, it could put you and all those around you in grave danger.
      Buffy: Well, in that case, I won't wear my button that says, "I'm the Slayer, ask me how!".

    • Giles: Alright, I'll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show.
      Buffy: Okay, at this point you're abusing sarcasm.

    • (After Buffy kills a vampire and Giles finds a ring in its dust)
      Buffy: Oh, that's great! I kill 'em, you fence their stuff.

    • Owen: I lost my Emily. Dickinson. It's dumb, but I like her around. Kind of a security blanket.
      Buffy: I have something like that. Well, it's an actual blanket. Uh, and I don't really carry it around anym-more... So! Emily Dickens, huh? She's great!
      Owen: Dickinson.
      Buffy: She's good also.

    • Giles: That symbol on the ring... I believe it's the rune for fidelity, but it doesn't connect with any of the sects that I've studied.
      Buffy: What about this? On the inside. It's a sun and three stars. Haven't we seen that somewhere?
      Giles: Let me see. No, I don't think this represents any...
      Buffy: Wait, it's right here. Sun and three stars. Yuck, check these guys out. Told you it looked familiar.
      Giles: Oh, the Order of Aurelius. Yes, you're right.
      Buffy: Ooo, two points for the Slayer, while the Watcher has yet to score!

    • Buffy: We haven't been properly introduced. I'm Buffy, and you're history!

    • Giles: Buffy, this is no ordinary vampire. But we have to stop him before he reaches the Master.
      Buffy: But cute guy! Teenager! Post-pubescent fantasies!

    • Buffy: And a cranky Slayer is a careless Slayer!

    • Giles: What do you want?
      Owen: A book?
      Giles: Oh!
      Buffy: See, this is a school, and we have students, and they check out books, and then they learn things.
      Giles: I was beginning to suspect that was a myth.

    • Giles: Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn't mean at the same time.

    • Buffy: You see that guy over there at the bar? He came here to be with me.
      Angel: You're here on a date?
      Buffy: Yes! Why is it such a shock to everyone?

  • NOTES (3)

  • ALLUSIONS (9)

    • Owen's Name:

      Given his love of poetry, Buffy's date's name might be an allusion to Wilfred Owen, the famed British poet of the First World War, who died a week before the Armistice.

    • Giles: That symbol on the ring... I believe it's the rune for fidelity, but, it doesn't connect with any of the sects that I've studied.

      A Rune is one of the ancient forms of alphabet that was devised in Northern Europe, particularly Germany & Sweden. They would be inscribed on many things, especially jewelry, to give a message across. They are also used in prophecy.

    • Master: Here endeth the lesson.
      This phrase is used in several Christian denominations to denote the end of a reading from the Bible. Originally any Bible passage would be chanted and/or read in Latin, but once the Bible was translated into the modern languages this phrase was used to make it clear to the congregation when the quotation was over. The phrase may also be a reference to the movie The Untouchables (1987) in which the same line is spoken by both Sean Connery and Kevin Costner. Later, Spike uses the same line in the episode "Fool for Love" (5x07) and Buffy says it in "Showtime" (7x11).

    • Owen: I was hoping we'd end up at Ben and Jerry's.

      Ben and Jerry make some of the most popular ice-cream around.

    • Cordelia: Pick up the phone, call 911, that boy is going to need some serious oxygen when I ...

      911 is the (mostly) nationwide phone number for emergencies in the United States.

    • Buffy: Clark Kent has a job; I just want to go on a date.

      The alter-identity of the comic book hero Superman, Clark Kent was able to hold down a job and lead some semblance of a normal life.

    • Owen: At least you don't have to eat your Soylent Green.
      Owen compares the cafeteria lunch to Soylent Green, the 1973 movie starring Charlton Heston (based on the book of the same name). In New York City of 2022 people depend on artificial food substances for their survival.

    • Owen: I lost my Emily... Dickinson.
      Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is considered to be one of the greatest American poets of the 19th century. As Owen says, her poetry is often quite morbid, with many references to death and darkness.
      Scholars of Dickinson's life have found no evidence that she ever had a lover, but several letters have been found which seem to disprove this. They are written as if to a male lover, but no name is given. It may be a coincidence or part of a deliberate reference by the Buffy writers, but all these letters are addressed, simply, "Master."

    • Title: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date.

      A play on the old adage that a girl should never kiss a boy on the first date.

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