Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Buffy Rewind Review - "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"

Review by Paul Steven Brown

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Season 1 - Episode 5
"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"

"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is more in keeping of what I expected from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Sure, there remains some poorly delivered, groan inducing one-liners (I don't mind bad one-liners, when they are actually competently handled. Giles, with his dry sarcasm, is the master so far on this program.), but this is a fairly solid mythology episode. Also, this is the best episode to date to fully portray Buffy as a tragic hero as well as the difficulty she faces balancing a normal teenage life with her responsibilities as a slayer.

As she points out to Giles in the epilogue, Xander and Willow know the level of risk involved with being her friend. If Owen was brought into the circle, his newly found thrill-seeking would undoubtedly get him killed. If Buffy is to have a romantic life of any serious worth, it will have to be with someone that can handle her double life and understand that the dangers could impact their own life.

Other than the "Captain Danger" personality change at the end of the episode, I liked the character of Owen; or at least the idea of him. He's good looking and smart without being a traditional member of the "in crowd". He's introspective and into poetry without being a "bad boy". Since Angel already fills that role to a degree, having another one would have redundant. He's not into Cordelia, but is nice enough to dance with her when Buffy is a no-show. He seems book smart, if not a little clueless. In other words, his atypical nature, at least for a teen comedy/drama, makes him more realistic.

I also appreciated that there was no macho posturing between Owen and Angel when the pair meet. They almost come across as down-right cordial to each other. Angel could have said something sly or sarcastic about how he knew Buffy, but instead he appears to respect her privacy enough to say that they "work together". It's non-alpha male Xander that seems to have the hardest time dealing with Buffy dating someone else.

This is also a good episode for Giles. Despite the importance of Buffy's role as a slayer, she is still a teenage girl, and he is starting to really see and respect this about her. Being a watcher is more than being some sort of supernatural police dispatcher or drill sergeant; Giles has to be her mentor and counsel. He has to be the parent to her in the world of darkness in a way that no one, even Buffy's mom, can.

The plot involving the Master and the Anointed keep the story wheels turning, but they mainly serve as the bones for more interesting interpersonal material to hang on. This is going to need a little more development if I'm going to feel invested in the show's underlying mythology. I'm only five episodes into 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', so I'm not overly concerned at this point. Still, a fairly decent episode and the best of the series so far.

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