Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 13, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S1, E12 – Prophecy Girl

Prophecy Girl
Season 1, Episode 12
Original airing: June 2, 1997

My Rating: 78

The Good: This is a really strong ending to the first season. Buffy defeats the Master, Buffy dies, the rest of the crew fights the Hellmouth. But this basis is built upon with several strong character moments and stellar acting.

Xander finally works up the courage to ask Buffy out. This tension has been building the entire season and was usually played for laughs. But it was real and serious in this episode with Buffy apparently completely unaware of how Xander feels about her. There was palpable discomfort from both characters as they dealt with the confrontation. Xander’s attempt to bounce back by asking Willow to the dance was also a nice crash and burn. She thankfully turned him down and was honest about her own feelings at the same time. This of course opens up the coming season by allowing Xander to deal and move on with someone else.

Giles and Buffy have wonderful chemistry in the episode as well. As soon as he realizes Buffy will die from her battle with the Master, he decides he’s going to somehow change fate. Eventually, he decides to do so by fighting the Master himself, an obviously suicidal proposition. Buffy’s response is to knock him flat on his butt. This back and forth of caring for each other is intense and very within the realm of the show.

Finally, Willow and Cordelia have a real bonding moment in this episode. They mock boys together and fight vampires together. But the highlight is when they find the dead boys in the AV room. They are both affected strongly and Willow’s excellent performance is the catalyst for Buffy deciding to fight the Master.

The Bad: As Robin mentions in his review, this screamed to be a two-parter. There are a few things we have to miss seeing as an audience due to time-constraints; mainly Angel’s neutral reaction and pacifism is unexplained and Buffy’s decision to fight the Master is a quick, although understandable, turnaround. There’s a lot more that could have been explored in this episode if there’d been another 40 minutes of running time.

In terms of what did make it into the show, my complaint is centered on the ending. The last two minutes after the Master is killed feel like a different show. Everyone is completely calm and ready to go party. Willow comments that she’s starving. These seem like strange reactions after having come face to face with literal death and a tentacle monster. Personally, I would have preferred a poignant ending moment in the library ala the final moments of I, Robot…. You, Jane (Episode 108) as opposed to the flippancy.

Favorite Moment: Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a stellar performance across from Anthony Stewart Head and David Boreanaz in the library scene. She overhears the two most trusted men in her life discussing that her prophesied death and she has a very teenage, human response to the situation. Buffy’s fervent demands, questions, and pleas are heartbreaking and intense, culminated with her tearful statement to Giles: “I’m only sixteen…. I don’t want to die.”

The Bottom Line: The ending to this episode was a bit rushed and off-kilter compared to the rest of it. But overall, it’s solid storytelling in a limited amount of time and it still includes high amounts of drama and a satisfying conclusion to the episode-long arc of the Master.


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