Buffy, S1, Ep. 05 “Never Kill A Boy On the First Date” of my Summer (Season of for my Southern Hemisphere readers!) of Buffy blog-a-thon.
I am not going to blog every episode that I watch, and I hope that is OK with all of you, because I think that many of you would get very bored. I know I would.
In Season one I really like some of the episodes that seem to try to focus on Buffy in her early attempts to grasp onto what she has laid out in her mind as a “normal” high school life. Buffy really wants to be a regular teenager, and the way that her mind swings like a pendulum from Very Serious Shop Talk to what many would consider frivolous teen girl concerns really brings home sharp reminder that we have a non-traditional superhero in a young girl who is still coming to terms with what is being asked of her cosmically, supernaturally (in terms of remembering not to throw students around all willy-nilly all of the time), and yes, socially when she can’t just drop everything and indulge in the everyday teenage after-school antics of what many consider the stereotypical U.S. teen girl. Sure, maybe Buffy has realized through the spectacular guilt trips that have been laid at her feet that she must accept her duties as The Slayer, but she hasn’t quite fully accepted that she must give up most of her “normal” (can we just pretend that when I say “her teenage life” or “her high school life” or something related that this is what I mean so I don’t have to keep using the quotes, KTHX?) teenage life as well or risk more lives in the process.
To say that dating is going to be a huge issue for Buffy in the years to come would be wildly understating the obvious themes that arise, and this is that first introduction of the complications that arise. We meet sweet Owen, the really nice, cute boy from her Math class that loves Emily Dickinson and Buffy is just twitterpated to the point of laughing at his clever Soylent Green jokes about cafeteria food. And make no mistake that it is a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on classic girl on girl competition over the (oh of course) oblivious boy as Buffy and Cordelia have a nice insult fest including everything from slamming each other on weight and ableism. Oh, yes, Joss was way ahead of his time all the time, or maybe he was just accurate in the way we expect some high school kids to treat each other when adults aren’t paying attention…except that I know that they can be better than that from personal experience…
Insert lots of extreme sarcasm and patronizing from Giles about how Buffy just shouldn’t go flitting about recklessly dating boys due to her “unique condition”, glanced by Buffy’s “then I won’t wear my button that says ‘I’m the Slayer, Ask me how!'”, which always makes me laugh. On one hand I loathe the meme about men controlling or attempting to control the lives of women, especially in presumed powerful positions, and on the other, I love that Buffy has been written to not tolerate that bullshit, nope, not having it, no how.
Even when Angel (in all of his cute, younger David Boreanaz awkwardness days — but vampires don’t age!) shows up to make Buffy blush a little (I SAW THAT) and put another layer of twisty guilt and shame on Buffy’s date night, Buffy gets good and indignant, and even hauls off w/ a “Bite me!” ( then *shoots accidental knowing look*). (Can we get these two a crypt already?)
Buffy is just trying to balance a job and a social life here, or work/home if you need to relate it to the personal/political — but I hate doing that because I never get it right — the way that it just Never Works Out (hope I didn’t spoil that for you) just doesn’t show anything in the neighborhood about anything similar to that balance being positive for women who want to achieve that balance. Not even if you boyfriend is equally as supernaturally awesome as you are. What we do wind up with is Buffy kicking it into action when she think her date dies, and a boy who becomes a thrill chaser because he thinks his life is pretty dull…
And we know where this goes. With the kind of music that I used to listen to bring on the kind of cry that cleanses, and with Giles giving the grand speech about sacrifices to try to share experiences (as if giving up a future as a fighter pilot is somehow equivalent to giving up every experience up to and possibly including your life). At least it is better than a helicopter flying away…but I am getting ahead of myself…
Stepping away from Teh Serious for a now (mild spoiler ahead), into what I can only comment on having watched all of Buffy and Angel go down, the ritual that goes down during this episode is pretty much the same that is used to bring Darla back in a box in Angel S1, and I believe it shows up a couple of times elsewhere as well. It seems to be your standard Vampy Resurrection ritural. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it was certainly notable and amusing to me.
Anyhow, some things to think about.