Buffy: Never kill a boy on the first date

In Others
June 28, 2012

Oh dear. This episode makes even Teacher’s Pet look well put-together. 
In theory it ought to be fine. A nice bridging episode bringing together several different elements: the Master gets a new ally “the Annointed One”, which should make him more scary. Buffy tries to have a dating life with Emily Dickinson-fan Owen but it doesn’t work out, making her lonely predicament more obvious. Angel becomes more important to Buffy; Willow and Xander get to be mildly heroic, the plot generally thickens. 
Maybe in fact that’s the problem. Nothing changes in this episode. Everything just gets a little bit more so, in very unimportant-seeming ways.
It’s not important that the Master gets the Annointed One because we don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s not important that Buffy can’t have Owen because it’s only in this episode that she seemed to be interested in him, and even so she seems more into Angel. It’s a bit important that Xander and Willow and Giles are in danger, but they never seem significantly in danger (do not worry, in The Pack, we will see exactly how to make a character seem in signficant danger, and the various kinds of danger they can be in. A clue: the greatest danger to Xander in The Pack isn’t that he’ll get hurt, it’s that he’ll become a killer. An excellent kind of peril.).
This Annointed One – there’s a bit of business trying to misdirect us to think he’s the muscley dude, before we reveal at the end that in fact it’s the little boy. But… we never even knew we were supposed to be trying to work out which one he was. 
What this episode is missing, I think, is set-up. We needed to have some questions raised in our minds at the start that it would then solve. If Buffy had started the episode saying “maybe what I need is some guy who’s into… death, someone who might think all this vampire stuff is cool”, then Owen would have been an interesting potential answer to that question. If we’d started the episode with Giles at least saying *why* the Annointed One is so dangerous, or at least that he’d be hard to identify*, then we’d have that question in mind. Absent these questions, the episode doesn’t seem to have much of a point. 
But don’t worry. The next episode is The Pack. It is amazing. 
*Incidentally, how *does* that kid going ‘we went on an airplane!’ become The Annointed One? Is this ever resolved? Is he a demon in a child’s body? When did that happen? Why? Just like Roger Ebert told us, everything hangs on having a good villain and this is not a good villain, and certainly not one with much clarity.

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