Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 6, 2010

Cordia’s Review: S1, E05 – Never Kill A Boy On The First Date

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
Season 1, Episode 5
Original airing: March 31, 1997

My Rating: 68

The Good: We are enough episodes in to the show, that consistency of character has become important. This episode showcases many feelings the characters have had before, but also moves them a little bit forward.

Buffy is still straining to have some measure of a normal life as well as being a Slayer. She has a crush in school and wants to date him. This includes picking out clothes with her best friends, slow dancing and kissing. But these are all things which interfere with Buffy’s serious job as a Slayer. An ancient prophecy is coming to fruition and Buffy follows her own agenda instead of fighting it. She’s uncomfortable about doing so, evidenced by glancing at her beeper and appearing distracted during her date with Owen, but she does it anyway.

Later in the episode, she insists to Giles that she screwed up by allowing him to go to the morgue alone, even when he is trying to let her off the hook for the poor decision. This strength of character has peeked out of Buffy before, but it’s put under a strong spotlight during her final scene with Giles.

The Buffy-Giles relationship is also solidified further because Giles shows that he does understand Buffy at this point. In earlier episodes, Giles became easily frustrated with Buffy’s willingness to blow off her Slayer duties to go out instead. Here, he tells her a story from his childhood where he chafed under expectations. Throughout the episode, he also lets her make her own decisions without being overbearing about his disapproval. He’s showing a bit more trust in Buffy’s choices, even though she made poor ones concerning The Anointed One.

Xander is also showing some initiative in this episode. He does several things to try and stifle Buffy’s chances with Owen including giving Owen bad advice, trying to dress Buffy in unattractive clothing, and even putting himself forward as a dating alternative. Even though Buffy doesn’t seem to notice many of his efforts, he’s being more aggressive about them.

We also have forward momentum in The Master’s plans. He has an unexpected ally in the shape of a young vampire boy. The idea that the Slayer will not be able to recognize The Anointed One is well founded with his guise as a young child. It’s easy to see how Buffy will feel more protective than murderous towards a child as opposed to an adult vampire. The bait and switch of the plot is well done too. With the creepy ex-con vampire dead, it’s easy for Buffy and Giles to believe they have defeated The Master’s greatest warrior and forestalled his rise again.

The Bad: Owen’s character is the least consistent. He’s supposed to be broody and withdrawn, but he’s certainly willing to go to a club multiple nights in a row during the school week. He talks about not liking most girls because all they are interested in is dating, but he allows himself to be roped in by Cordelia and takes Buffy to the one most popular place in town. He doesn’t know anything about Buffy and admits to her that he never thought he’d find her in a library. Since he seems very interested in literature, it’s confusing as to why he’s so interested in Buffy. Once he has his near-death experience, it makes more sense why he would want to hang around with a dangerous person. But he doesn’t know any of this till the end of the episode, yet he pursues Buffy relentlessly. It would be easy to excuse this inconsistency due to the fact that Owen is essentially a plot device, but that would be letting the writers off the hook. Just because a character is not one of the Slayerettes, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be well-developed. Especially when the motivations and characterizations of other minor characters have been so clear in the past; ie., Amy, Ms. French, and Luke.

The episode is also lacking from a shortage of Buffy’s mom, Joyce. This is the kind of situation that it would have been nice to see her weigh in on. I imagine she’d be absolutely thrilled that Buffy is dating. She would have been a nice counter to Giles with his complete focus on the prophecy.

Favorite Moment: Xander wins favorite moment again. All of his attempts to steer Buffy away from Owen are at least a little chuckle worthy, but the best in my opinion is when he wants to dress Buffy in a comfy overcoat and a ski cap since “the ear flaps will bring out [her] eyes.”

The Bottom Line: Overall, this was a pretty strong episode and definitely the best since the premiere, in my opinion. Buffy, Xander and Giles all grow a little bit and the overall plot of the Big Bad Villain is progressed as well. And it was all done consistently in character and world.


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