Buffy wields a stake with a hand on her hip in

About:

Title: Buffy S1.E01 “Welcome to the Hellmouth” + S1.E02 “The Harvest”
Released: 1997

Drinks Taken: 40
Vamps Dusted: 6

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week we announced our Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch, and we have to say that we are SO excited to dive into the Hellmouth with you Scoobs every single Wednesday morning until (and after) the slayer sings. This show has meant the world to so many of us, and I guess it’s worth saying that while its creator didn’t end up being worthy of his own heroine, that can’t take away from how empowered Buffy made us all feel. So! Let’s get started with a little drinking game, shall we?

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season One Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
Giles cleans his glasses
Cordelia says something cutting but true
Xander pines for Buffy
Willow’s brains save the day
Sparks fly between Buffy and Angel

Drink twice every time:

We see the entrance to Sunnydale High
We see a scene from the credits
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A scene takes place in a cemetery
A vampire is invited into a house

And nowwwww, onto the rewatch!

Buffy stands in a dark hallway with her fists up in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

1.1 “Welcome to the Hellmouth”

We open with the prophecy, via voiceover:

“In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer.”

Now we’re at night outside Sunnydale High (drink!). Okay, sorry, I wrote about this first scene at length in this post that dissects the pilot, and I don’t think I can do it better here, so I’ma go ahead and quote myself:

There’s a nuanced thesis at work under the poppy high school horror, one that’s introduced to us in the very first minutes of the pilot. We open with a pretty blonde (soon revealed to be Julie Benz’s Darla) and a sketchy-looking fella sneaking into Sunnydale High for some romantic hijinks. She’s scared; he’s delighted. We’ve seen this before. If we’re watching a show with the word “Vampire” in the title, we’re probably well-versed in horror tropes, and we know how this ends. The girl’s dead or hurt, right?

But here, it’s the fella who should be scared. Darla’s using her girlish voice and wide eyes to lure him into a dark, secluded space so she can feed on him. He convinces her that it’s safe, that there’s nobody nearby, and Darla allows herself to be comforted. “Okay,” she tells him, as her face transforms from the picture of innocence to that of a monster.

She bares HORRIBLE FANGS and BURIES them in his neck.

BLACKOUT.

END OF TEASER

CREDITS

There’s your thesis, right there. Whedon has said many times that when he first conceived of Buffy Summers, his intent was to subvert the image of “the little girl, the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie.” The cold open of “Welcome to the Hellmouth” works as a quick education into this subversion, teaching us in the opening seconds to expect the unexpected before we’ve even met our main character – while doing double duty and neatly informing us of Sunnydale’s most unassailable truth: here, there be vampires.

All right, I’m done plagiarizing myself! After the credits, we’re in the middle of Buffy Summers’ nightmare, which portends a lot of the events of the first episode and season, and gives us several scenes from the credits (drink!).

And who’s Buffy Summers, you ask? Why, she’s a beautiful, perky Valley girl who also happens to be the Slayer of the prophecy. She and her single mom Joyce have recently moved to Sunnydale after she sorta-kinda burned down her previous school’s gym and got expelled, but that was totally because she was fighting vampires, not because she’s a delinquent like her mom thinks. Now they’re after a fresh start in Sunnydale, which just so happens to be – whoopsie! Also spoiler alert – a hellmouth.

After Joyce drops Buffy at Sunnydale High (with a well-meaning but judgment-filled reminder to “try not to get kicked out”), we meet Xander and Willow, the A-team of the Scooby Gang. They’re both nerds, but adorably so – Willow more adorably than Xander. Xander’s obsessed with Buffy, Willow’s obsessed with Xander, it’s a whole thing. We learn that Willow’s a genius and Xander’s a jester. There’s also a guy named Jesse, who won’t matter soon, so don’t waste a lot of time on him. He’s friends with Xander. (Psst! He dies soon.)

We also meet Principal Flutie, who is actually very generously forgiving of Buffy’s past mistakes. It’s nice! (Psst! He also dies soon.)

Buffy then meets Cordelia who, by the way, RULES. Okay, she’s a bit of a monster, by which I mean Mean Girl, not actually a vampire, but she’s hilarious and very tall and I love her. Cordy gives Buffy a Cool Test, including such vital qualifications as James Spader (hot or not?) and frappuccinos (trendy but tasty), and Buffy passes with flying colors. But later, Cordy’s mean to Willow in front of Buffy, and Buffy decides to befriend the sweet little nerd in the jumper instead of the Hottie McBody with attitude problems. I respect Buffy’s choice, and it’s a major sign that she’s a good person, but I’m still obsessed with Cordelia.

Cordy also gives Buffy (and us) the rundown on The Bronze, which will become a significant location throughout the series. “It’s the only club worth going to around here. They let anybody in, but it’s still the scene. It’s in the bad part of town… about a half a block from the good part of town. We don’t have a lot of town around here.”

Okay, time to get serious! Buffy heads to the library to pick up her schoolbooks from class, and she meets… the love of my life! AKA Rupert Giles, librarian and, it turns out, secret Slayer Watcher. He’s here to guide Buffy’s destiny, but she is SERIOUSLY not feeling it.

Giles offers Buffy a heavy book titled VAMPYRS, and Buffy says "That's not what I'm looking for" in "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Buffy: “That’s not what I’m looking for.”

Giles repeats the prophecy, but man, Buffy’s heard it. She’s determined to enjoy her first day as a normal high school girl – until a student shows up dead in gym class, with vamp marks in his neck. Just when she thinks she’s out, they pull her back in! Giles explains the whole Hellmouth thing: Sunnydale is basically a dimensional magnet for all sorts of baddies and boogies. Giles tells her he’s here to prepare her, and Buffy’s got one hell of an answer for that:

Prepare me for what? For getting kicked out of school? Losing all my friends? Having to spend all my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because it might ‘endanger’ them? Go ahead. Prepare me.

Giles keeps trying to convince Buffy that it’s fate that she’s here, because “something’s coming” – and then we cut to the sleeping Master in the bowels of Sunnydale cemetery, where a very forehead-heavy vampire we’ll later learn is named Luke intones: “The sleeper will wake, and the world will bleed.” Okay, then!

Buffy heads to The Bronze after school, and also after another well-meaning guilt trip from Joyce. She’s being followed by a dark and shadowy figure, and she quickly gets the jump on him, because she’s the g-d Slayer. Meet Angel, who’s all broody and mysterious and handsome and gives Buffy a crucifix necklace and tries to warn her about the same vague something that Giles already warned her about. She’s annoyed with the vagueness, but that doesn’t keep some sparks from flying (drink!). She has some fun friendly times with Willow at The Bronze, and then more unwanted Watcher-lessons from Giles, and she still seems determined to ignore her destiny as the Slayer – until she sees Willow go off with a vampire. Oh no, Willow!

Buffy chases after them into the cemetery (drink!) closely followed by Xander, and along the way she accidentally brandishes her stake at Cordelia and immediately destroys her chance of a social life at Sunnydale High. At the same time, Jesse gets recruited by Darla, and let’s all acknowledge that we’re WAY less concerned about his well-being than Willow’s.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of Sunnydale, The Master wakes, and he needs to eat a whole bunch of teens to get his strength back after his long sleep, which is not great news for Willow and Jesse. Those two are being menaced by Darla and Rando Vamp when Buffy arrives (with Xander in tow) and starts doing what she does best: cracking wise and kicking ass.

Buffy jokes about "strong language and adult content" before staking a vamp in "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Buffy: “Are you sure? Now this is not gonna be pretty. We’re talking violence, strong language, adult content…”

She dusts one of the vamps (drink!) and Willow, Xander and Jesse realize that a) vampires are real and b) their new friend is very good at killing them.

But Luke’s a little bit of a different story, because he’s frickin’ HUGE, and he gets the upper hand. He looms over Buffy as Willow, Xander and Jesse run through the cemetery, and we end on a cliffhanger!

How many times do I have to take a drink?

22

Vamps Dusted

Just 1! That’ll change soon enough.

Xander’s Skateboard

Xander skateboards past Buffy, staring at her, and falls off in "Welcome to the Hellmouth"

It still makes me laugh that they tried to give Xander a skateboard in the pilot. It doesn’t last.

Cameo

Jesse wears an orange shirt in "Welcome to the Hellmouth"

Eric Balfour (Jesse) had this weird run of being in basically every show in the early 2000s: The O.C.Six Feet Under24, etc etc.

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

Cordelia wears lime green velvet pants and a sheer black shirt. Buffy wears a maroon mini-skirt and baby blue crop-top in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

Please feast your eyes on this ultimate fashion buffet from 1997.

Scooby Gang Feels

Buffy tells Willow
Buffy: “I’ll be back in a minute.” Willow: “Oh that’s okay, you don’t have to comeback.” Buffy, “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Buffy’s eagerness to befriend the preciously reluctant Willow (who thinks she’s too nerdy to hang with the cool new girl) KILLS ME. I love their friendship more than anything in this whole show, or any show, really.

Bloody Good Snark

Cordy to Buffy as she sits with the nerdy crowd: “I don’t mean to interrupt your downward mobility.”

Buffy stares intensely off-camera in "The Harvest"

1.2 “The Harvest”

We open right where we left off, but eventually Buffy gets the best of Luke, because she’s Buffy. He disappears before she can dust him, but she’s now free to run after Willow and Xander and save them from their vamps. Jesse, however, is gone. (That’s fine, right?)

The Scoobs reconvene in the library where Giles gives a lot of context and backstory about vampires and the Slayer, none of which is terribly unorthodox, except for the news that tonight is The Harvest of the title, which basically means a vamp feast in order to raise The Master. Xander and Willow are wigging, but basically handling the news that monsters are real better than I would.

Willow, sitting, anxiously says that she needs to sit down, and Buffy tells her she already is in "The Harvest"
Willow: “I think I need to sit down.” Buffy: “You are are sitting down.” Willow: “Oh. Good for me.”

Giles and Buffy explain that vampires navigate towns through the sewer systems to avoid sunlight, and we learn that Willow’s a brilliant hacker who can bring up the city’s sewer blueprints so they can locate the most likely spot to rescue Jesse. Buffy hauls ass off to save Jesse by herself, thereby bruising Xander’s extremely fragile ego because she didn’t need his big, strong man-ness to help her. Unfortunately, she gets waylaid by both Principal Flutie and Angel (sparks!), which slows her down just enough so that Xander, like a big ol’ dummy, can sneak off to try and help her save Jesse.

Speaking of! Darla and Luke have brought Jesse to The Master’s underground lair. The Master does a lot of marble-mouthed villain-ranting, and let’s go ahead and acknowledge that The Master is a lame AF big bad. Xander and Buffy find Jesse all tied up as bait, and SURPRISE! He’s a vampire now. He’s even more annoying as a vampire! Xander’s devastated that his friend is all toothy – the rest of us largely do not care. Buffy fights them out of the sewers like the badass she is, leaving Jesse to his new family.

Meanwhile, Giles and Willow are back at the school, doing research on The Harvest, as we find Cordelia and her sweet dummy friend Harmony (I love Harmony!) telling us that *everyone* will be at The Bronze tonight, because it’s Friday night, no cover. I thiiiiink we know where this suck fest is gonna go down!

The Master does some gross ritual to make his hench-vamps his proxy bloodsucker vessels or some such nonsense, and a big gang of vampires marches to The Bronze to feast on Sunnydale’s finest. But not if Buffy Summers has anything to do with it! She packs up her artillery and sneaks out – after more mom-concern from Joyce – to save the day.

And in just the nick of time! Just as Vamp-Jesse is about to kill Cordy, and the rest of the vamps are about to kill everyone else, Buffy sneaks in and starts dustin’ left and right, while the rest of the Scoobs usher innocents to safety – and even get the upper hand with a couple of vampires, themselves! (Poor Xander had to kill Jesse, sorta accidentally.) Buffy slays Luke, and it’s awesome! Darla, however, gets away. And The Master is PISSED his dumb little plan didn’t come to fruition, so now he’s still gonna be all weak and useless in his lair.

The next day at school, Xander and Willow are surprised no one’s talking about the whole vampire thing, but the word on the street is that it was just ugly criminals. Giles and Buffy remind the two newb Scoobs that “people have a tendency to rationalize what they can, and forget what they can’t.” They all hop off cheerfully into the Sunnydale High sunset, and those are our first two episodes!

How many times did I have to drink?

18

Vamps Dusted

5

Xander’s Worst Shirt

Xander wears a lime-green, button-down shirt printed with mushrooms in "The Harvest"

Dude, mushrooms? Really?

Apocalypse Of The Week

Buffy asks Giles if he's got anything to make the day any worse, and he replies,
Buffy: “So, Giles – got anything that can make this day any worse?” Giles: “How about the end of the world?”

That’s it for our very first installment of the Buffy Rewatch Project! QUESTIONS: what are you looking forward to most out of this rewatch? Favorite character, favorite arc, favorite ‘ship, favorite slay? We want to hear from you!

Meet Stephanie here next Wednesday morning as she covers “Witch” and “Teacher’s Pet”!

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.