Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 13, 2011

Robin’s Review: S1, E12 – Prophecy Girl

Synopsis: Xander asks Buffy out and she rejects him. Giles reads the prophecy that as the Master rises, the Slayer will die. Buffy overhears him discussing this with Angel and says she quits being a Slayer. However other vampires are gathering around the hellmouth in anticipation of the coming apocalypse and kill a bunch of students. Buffy realises that she must face the Master and follows the Anointed One down into the church to meet her fate. Xander and Angel follow after her.

The Good: This was a strong end to the season on an emotional level.

Xander finally admits his feelings to her in a scene entirely absent of the gang’s usual banter. He finds the courage he needs to lay it all on the line and won’t be fobbed off until she admits that she isn’t interested. He reveals an interesting darker side through this interaction. Instead of just laughing it off he bitterly comments on Angel’s undead status, revealing the jealousy he has been carrying for some time. He then ignorantly asks Willow to go with him to the dance instead and she thankfully turns him down. That whole aspect of the story was refreshingly serious and showed off a very authentic feeling maleness to Xander’s usually chirpy character.

Then we have Giles who was superb throughout the episode. His affection for Buffy is overruling any training he was given by now as he frantically tries to find a way for the prophecy not to be true. When Buffy discovers the truth she flips out and heartbreakingly tells him “I’m sixteen years old…I don’t want to die.” So he duly plans to spare her that fate and fight the Master himself.

Buffy is excellent too. Buffy’s emotional outburst in the library was really good too. She manages to mix genuine tragedy with a childlike tantrum with real skill. The plot moves at a very rapid pace, meaning Buffy only has one scene with her mum before she has to face up to her calling. It’s Willow who helps snap her out of her funk when a group of students are killed by vampires. Willow is extremely shaken by this and Buffy remembers that she was chosen for a reason and only she has the resources to stop the world from turning to terror permanently. She plays hero just fine in confronting and defeating the Master.

His Dracula-like hold over her is interesting and his corpse disintegrates far more slowly than any vampire we have seen before, actually leaving behind a skeleton which are interesting additions to the mythology.

The Bad: If ever an episode cried out to be a two-parter this was it. So much of the story, as good as it was, felt rushed. When Buffy hears Angel and Giles discussing her prophesised death she goes hysterical almost instantly. She had no time to ask questions and find how reliable these so-called codex were. Similarly she had just the one scene with Joyce to allow the news to sink in and one scene with Willow to decide to come back and fight.

It’s not clear what point the Anointed One played in the story at all. Buffy knows what he will look like and where he is taking her which seems to defeat the purpose of him being cunningly made to look like an innocent boy. The big irony apparently is that if Buffy hadn’t gone down into the church then the Master would never have risen. That play on the prophecy never had time to sink in, so that moment too lacked the impact it might have had if we had a whole episode of Buffy questioning whether to go and fight him.

Their actual fights and her “death” follow this pattern too. The Master takes barely a sip from her before tossing her into the water and ascending which seemed odd. She then apparently drowned and was given CPR by Xander, again a conceit which would have been more interesting if we had had longer to get to know the prophecy.

The Unknown: Buffy returns from “death” by claiming to be stronger and feeling “different.” What does that mean? Do Slayers get stronger after near death experiences or is something more supernatural going on here?

Best Moment: The emotional confrontation between Giles, Angel and Buffy.

The Bottom Line: This was a terrific story crammed and squeezed into one episode when it really should have been two like “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” To spend a whole season learning about the Master only to have him die in five minutes is a letdown. What we did get was emotionally satisfying though. Buffy rejects Xander, survives death and saves the world. Bring on Season Two.

64/100

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