Drinks Taken: 17
Vamps Dusted: 3
Follow the whole rewatch here!
We made it to the end of season one! It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs in terms of quality, but in these final two I think we start to see things settling into place. As I binged on the back half of season one, these episodes stood out to me because they introduced two major themes that echoed throughout the rest of the show:
Our penultimate episode and the finale are all about solidifying our group: Cordelia starts to realize Buffy is more than just a weirdo who plays with weapons; Giles looks to Angel for his breadth of historical knowledge and demon expertise; and Jenny Calendar officially insinuates herself as our (first) resident Wiccan Technopagan. As much as I love the core trio of Willow/Buffy/Xander, I think adding in new teammates brings some much needed fresh air to their dynamic. And we all know Cordelia’s colorful commentary about what comes out of the Hellmouth is pure gold. But more importantly, each person who knows the Slayer’s secrets has their part to play in the found-family dynamics that make the show shine. Some will come and go, but the banter and the heart will always remain.
The season finale stands out for the emotional scars it leaves on Buffy’s psyche for years to come. It may not be the first time that Buffy had to contemplate her almost-inevitably shortened lifespan, but knowing you’re prophesied to die within 24 hours? And then choosing to go to said doom to save your loved ones? And then actually dying? That’s gonna leave a mark. And we know it does. Season Six explores this more deeply, but it all starts in this episode.
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 pines for Xander
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There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference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
Make sure to read next week’s drinking rules closely, as we’ll be updating them season by season to keep up with the times. Now let’s delve into the end of The Master!
1.11 “Out of Mind…Out of Sight”
School’s almost out for summer! But before we can get there, Cordelia is determined to get herself crowned as May Queen, which sounds totally made up. Her campaign strategy includes handing out little gold-wrapped chocolates with the letter C engraved on it, which Harmony surmises must mean “C…For Cordelia?” Such a brain, that one. Willow and Xander make fun of Cordelia behind her back, but Buffy instantly makes them feel guilty when she reveals she was crowned May Queen at her old high school. Per the theme of the episode, she’s feeling a bit delicate as all these memories of her former in-crowd life crop up, especially as Cordy dismisses her as one of those “fringe freaks” of Sunnydale High.
Meanwhile, strange things are happening around Cordelia. Her date for the dance, a lunk named Mitch, gets beat up in the boy’s locker room by a baseball bat. Her friend, Harmony, falls down the stairs right next to her, seemingly pushed by invisible hands. At first Giles thinks it may be a poltergeist, but when Buffy bumps into an invisible-but-solid something hiding inside the band room, they start to hypothesize that a female student on campus has the ability to turn transparent. Buffy tasks Willow with compiling a list of students who went missing over the last year (what would she do without Willow?).
Oh, hey, Angel’s back! We haven’t seen him since he and Buffy shared a steamy goodbye kiss in Episode 7. He sneaks up on Giles accidentally as he doesn’t cast a reflection in the glass Giles is facing. They bond over their mutual worry about Buffy facing the Master and their love of old books. Giles laments the loss of a rare codex containing Slayer prophecy when Angel suggests it was hidden, not lost, and he is apparently excellent at hide and seek. Giles seems almost bashful for the rest of their conversation (I guess having an intellectual discussion with a vampire IS kind of a novelty for him) and tells him about the invisible girl they’re hunting, suggesting it’s kind of a neat power to have. Angel stares into the glass and again beats us over the head with the theme of this episode: “I don’t know…Looking in the mirror every day and seeing nothing there…It’s an overrated pleasure.”
My depiction of what Giles would see if Angel had a reflection.
Cue a flashback! Marci, a mousy looking high schooler, fluffs her hair in the bathroom when Cordelia and her cronies walk in. Marci tries to join in with some witty observations, but the girls completely ignore her in the most cringey way. Cordelia even repeats Marci’s line and acts like she just came up with it herself. They are so awful! Marci is crushed. I find myself feeling super sympathetic for Marci at that moment because as an introvert with some social anxiety, I have been there. Then I think back to her current revenge plot—beating someone up with a bat and pushing someone down the stairs—and…yeeeeah, maybe the punishments don’t fit the crime.
The next day, Willow brings her chronological list of missing students to Buffy and they zero in on Marci’s name: she disappeared six months ago and also plays the flute in band, so it tracks that she would’ve made the band room her hideout. Buffy does some reconnaissance and finds Marci’s makeshift bedroom in the ceiling above the band room.
Your mess isn’t invisible too, Darcy. Clean up.
Let’s pause here to re-energize our suspension of disbelief, because this show expects me to go along with the notion this high school has enough attic space above the drop ceiling tiles for a human person to walk normally, upright and totally supported by a solid floor, and has a giant skylight. Anyway, Buffy has no idea Marci is watching her snoop around, even when Marci holds a knife to her back! But I guess Marci didn’t want to get her sheets all bloody, because she lets Buffy steal her yearbook.
Buffy brings it back to the library, where the gang opens it up and sees the worst thing: pages full of “Have a nice summer!”s. Giles is clueless, so Buffy helpfully informs him this means that Marci had zero friends who actually wanted her to have a nice summer. Then we learn exactly why Marci became invisible:
Buffy: “You guys didn’t know Marci Ross?”
Xander: “Never met her. Why?”
Buffy: “Because you both wrote it too.”
Xander, reading: “‘Have a nice…’ Yeesh…”
Willow: “Where am I? Oh. ‘Have a GREAT summer! See, I cared!”
Buffy: “You guys don’t remember her?”
Xander: “No, we probably didn’t see her except to sign the book. This is a big school.”
Willow, reading: “Xander, we each had FOUR classes with her last year.”
Am I starting to feel a little bad for Marci again? Man, that was rough. This kicks off another flashback in English class, where the teacher who’s been helping Cordelia with her homework asks a question and picks EVERY student but Marci. This is when she watches her hand start to disappear before her eyes, just like Marty McFly. Back in the present, Cordelia shows up to her English teacher’s room just in time to save her from suffocating by way of a bag over her head. Marci strikes again! Okay, my sympathy is officially gone. WHAT A LOON.
Cordelia shows up and has a, shall we say, interesting way of asking for help:
Cordelia: “Buffy, I know we’ve had our differences, with you being so weird and all, and hanging out with these total losers. Uh, well, anyway, despite all of that, I know that you share this feeling that we have for each other, deep down.”
Cordelia: “Somebody is AFTER me. They just tried to kill Mrs. Miller. She was helping me with my homework. And Mitch! And Harmony! This all about me. Me, me, me!”
Xander: “Wow, for once she’s right.”
Buffy: “So you’ve come to ME for help?”
Cordelia: “Because…you’re always around when all this weird stuff is happening. And I know you’re very strong, and you’ve got all those weapons. I was kind of hoping you were in a gang.”
She is, Cordy. Just not the kind you’re thinking of. Giles invites her to sit and they explain what Marci wants. This is my favorite scene in this entire episode. Cordelia is being as nice as she can be, which for Cordy still means a casual insult and a clueless, self-involved comment every few seconds, but it feels so right for them to all be brainstorming together. Buffy finds herself shocked as she agrees with Cordelia that the May Queen coronation must go on, mainly so she can use Cordy as bait to draw Marci out.
As they find a place for Cordelia to change into her dress, Cordy actually feels a little bad for Marci: “It’s awful to feel that lonely.” When Buffy scoffs at this display of empathy, Sunnydale’s Ice Queen snaps back with some uncharacteristic vulnerability: “Hey, you think I’m never lonely because I’m so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It’s not like any of them really know me. I don’t even know if they like me half the time.” But she figures it beats being alone by yourself, and now Buffy finds herself in the uncomfortable position of feeling bad for the enemy.
Buffy’s probably thinking, “When did Cordelia become self-actualized?”
Marci breaks up all this new-found self-awareness when she pulls a Phantom of the Opera, AKA abducting and bringing Cordy to her attic lair. Buffy gives chase, but before she can wake Cordelia up, Marci kicks her (I assume; she IS invisible) through the ceiling tiles and injects her with a knock-out drug. (Oh sure, NOW the ceiling can’t support the weight of a person. Convenient plot device is convenient.)
Buffy and Cordelia wake up, bound to thrones in the Bronze, on the very stage where Cordelia would have been crowned. (Side note: did becoming invisible make Marci super strong? How is she carting around all these passed-out people?) Marci villain-monologues about how evil Cordelia is and taunts her with disfigurement, but Buffy escapes her bonds and uses the Force listens really hard so she can detect where Marci is moving about in order to kick the crap out of her. After she’s been subdued, the FBI shows up to take her away for “rehabilitation” in order to be a more “useful” member of society, which we all know means government assassin.
At school, Cordelia stops the Scooby Gang to sincerely, earnestly thank them for saving her life. It’s such a sweet moment, and you can see the longing on her face to join them, but dumb Mitch walks by and reminds her of her place.
Leave Cordy ALONE, Mitch. Leave her ALONE.
As they stroll away, her parting shot, “You think I really felt like joining that social leper colony?” feels completely half-hearted. You know you’ll be back, Cordy. You’ll be back.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Clea Duvall as the unpopular (and psychotic) Marcie Ross
She’s the rare teen-movie-everywoman who made the transition to adult actress with relative ease. This episode is one of her first credits, though she unfortunately spends most of it, ah, being “invisible”. Hope she still got the same guest star rate as everyone else.
The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week
Principal Snyder, discussing Mitch’s beating with curious students: “Dead? Of course not. Dead. What are you, ghouls? There are no dead students here…this week.”
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
I think this hairstyle looks really cute on SMG. It totally inspired so many of my own haircuts as a teen. I am a person who needs bangs, and it was tough to find bang role models where the look would work with my finicky hair. Actually, I think…I think I still kind of wear my hair like this? Huh…
The Award For Fakest Laugh Goes To…
Willow, laughing with Xander: “Be my deputy!”
Buffy: *is unamused*
Willow, for her cringey recounting of Cordelia’s sixth grade faux pas. Something about a deputy and antlers, but all I can focus on is her over-acting to sell this as the funniest inside joke ever told.
And The Award For Being A Gross Teenager Goes To…
Xander: “I would give anything to be able to turn invisible. Well, I wouldn’t use my powers to beat people up, but I would use my powers to…protect the girls’ locker room.”
We all know what you’d actually be doing, Xander. FOR SHAME.
Giles For Life
Giles: “Is that why you’re here? To see her? A vampire in love with a slayer. It’s rather poetic. In a maudlin sort of way.”
Touched By An Angel
Xander: “Hi. What do you want?”
The Invisible Psycho lured Xander, Willow, and Giles into the school basement and tried to kill them with a gas leak, but Angel happened to be strolling by with the recovered codex and rescues them (knew that earlier male bonding would be important!). Xander responds in typical Xander fashion. Instead of thanking Angel for, you know, SAVING HIS LIFE, he looks at him and rudely says, “Hi. What do you want?” UGH, XANDER.
1.12 “Prophecy Girl”
Xander is declaring his love to Willow?! Nah, he’s just torturing her by using her for practice for his future ambush on Buffy. And where is Buffy? Practicing her slow-mo fighting moves with a vamp without a chance. An earthquake starts doing the shimmy in Sunnydale and knocks over Giles’ tea; that’s how we know it means business. The Master is certain his time is nigh, and it’s clear he’s taken up as an amateur seismologist during his captivity. “What do you think?” he asks the Annoying Anointed One. “5.1?”
Buffy meets Giles in the library the next morning (which, by the way, was completely damaged! With giant cracks in the floor and walls, how is anyone still allowed in there?) and shares her concerns about how bold the vampires around town are getting. Giles is completely distracted and dismissive, upsetting Buffy, but we know he’s secretly distraught about something he read the night before in the codex.
Buffy: “I broke a nail, okay? I’m wearing a press-on!”
Giles isn’t sufficiently upset enough over this. Men.
After class, Xander finally has his moment with Buffy. Look, I’ll give him some credit for being honest about his feelings. You never know until you ask, right? But, y’all, this scene is just full of second hand embarrassment! It’s torture to watch. I wish Willow had given Xander some tough love the night before and prepared him for a no, because she has to know Buffy isn’t harboring feelings for him, right? At the same time, I know that isn’t her job. Xander needs to hear it from Buffy in order to let go. So unfortunately we have to live through this with them both, all of us dying inside.
If Xander had really been paying attention to Buffy, the look on her face after he asks her to the dance should have warned him: this isn’t going to go his way. But he’s not, so he keeps pushing and pushing past every gentle letdown Buffy offers (“I don’t know what to say”; “You’re one of my best friends, you and Willow”; “I don’t want to spoil the friendship that we have.”) until she must tell him, in no uncertain terms, that she “[doesn’t] think of him that way.” He literally begs, “Well, try. I’ll wait,” and I also beg for this conversation to be over.
Buffy: “I just don’t think of you that way.”
Xander: “Forget it. I’m not him. I guess a guy’s gotta be undead to make time with you.”
Buffy: “That’s really harsh.”
Way to go full douchecanoe, Xander.
I want to feel a little bad for him, though he’s making it a challenge. But Xander’s not completely reprehensible, so he does immediately apologize after Buffy calls him out, recognizing that he isn’t one to handle rejection well. Ugh, I legitimately forget about this excruciating scene every single time I rewatch Buffy. For the love of Harmony, let’s move on.
But oh, great, here we are with Xander again, licking his wounds, while Willow checks in on how The Big Confession went. (Wait, actually, can we go back? This doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any better…) Xander is being a complete Bitter Betty and makes Willow feel about two inches tall as he “settles” on her as his date for the dance instead. But, oh, snap! Willow drums up her self respect and tells him hell NO she won’t go. Like she wants to sit there and watch him mope about Buffy’s rejection? She will see. Him. On. Monday.
Jenny Calendar and Giles swap “the apocalypse is nigh” gossip (Jenny’s is from the internet, natch), and we overhear Giles on the phone, asking someone to come over after sundown. That someone turns out to be Angel, because Giles needs his expertise and devotion to Buffy to help him find a solution to his impossible problem: it seems the codex’s prophecies always come to pass (unlike other so-called prophecies), and this one states that Buffy and the Master will face off tomorrow night, and when they do…Buffy will die.
So this is what Giles has been keeping from his Slayer. But, uh oh, not anymore, because Buffy was stopping in to report another sign of the apocalypse, and she overheard him! Angel and Giles scramble out of Giles’ office to face her, but what can they say to this terrified teenager? Sarah Michelle Gellar breaks my heart here. She conveys so much of Buffy’s fear and heartbreak with just a few looks and some well-placed tears. She ponders how the Master will kill her, and, voice breaking, plaintively asks Giles, “Do you think it will hurt?” I cry with her right here, every damn time.
Buffy goes through the stages of grief in rapid-fire succession. She lashes out at Giles, standing there amid his books, useless, and he is crushed because he does feel useless. Angel tries to reason with her too, suggesting they’ll find a way; but what does he, an immortal being, know about dying? She boldly proclaims she quits being the Slayer, that someone else can do the job, but we all know that’s not how this works. Giles gently tries to remind her what would happen if the Master rises, to appeal to that savior side of her, but, right now, she’s simply a girl facing a death sentence:
Does anyone have a tissue?
Joyce notices after dinner that Buffy is completely preoccupied and tries to cheer her up. Buffy frantically suggests a girls’ weekend away until Joyce reminds her that she has to work, and isn’t the dance tomorrow, anyway? She incorrectly assumes Buffy is distraught that no one asked her (or rather, not the right someone) and is feeling like she’s got this mom thing on lock. Since Buffy can’t tell her the truth that she’s actually worried she’s about to die, she lets her mom have this one. Joyce surprises Buffy with a fancy white dress (I am positive there’s some virginal/sacrifical-lamb-to-the-slaughter symbolism happening here that Joss is trying to beat us over the head with) and encourages her to go to the dance alone, like she once did. Buffy turns maudlin again, because her mother had her whole life ahead of her that night. Must be nice.
The day of the dance, Cordelia’s latest flame, Kevin, (knew you were a goner, Mitch!) was supposed to have hauled all the sound equipment over to the Bronze, but he and his friends never showed. Cordelia would normally be furious, but she is shockingly besotted with this one, so she finds it kind of cute. She and Willow (a random pairing, but Cordy asked for her A/V expertise) spot the boys lounging on a couch (in a classroom?) watching cartoons. Cordelia opens the door to go inside and unleash the “power of her icy stare”, but stops as Kevin’s lifeless body tumbles out in front of her. Willow steps into a complete vampire-feeding-frenzy massacre, bodies strewn all over the room.
She is horrified by the juxtaposition of death and Porky Pig.
This bloodbath has shooketh Willow more than anything she’s seen thus far: “I’m not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there…it wasn’t our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun. What are we going to do?” She tearfully asks this of Buffy, who came to her house to check on her. And as soon as she does, you can just tell from the look on Buffy’s face that she’s made her decision. What is she going to do? What she has to. She’s going to face the Master, because she is a Slayer, she is a Protector; and only she has the power to stop him, even if it means sacrificing herself in the process. I love this girl.
Jenny: “So this Master tried to open the Hellmouth, but he got stuck in it. Now all the signs are reading he’s gonna get out, which opens the Hellmouth, which brings the demons, which ends the world.”
Giles: “That about sums it up, yes.”
Thanks for the depressing recap, Cal-pal.
After Buffy goes with the Anointed One to meet the Master (that part is cheesy and has an obnoxiously slow funeral dirge soundtrack, so let’s just blow past it), Giles calls in the A Team to inform them of the prophecy hanging over Buffy’s head. Jenny tries reminding everyone there’s ALSO an apocalypse on the table if Buffy fails, but, like, no one cares about the rest of Sunnydale, Jenny, okay? We care about Buffy. Xander is angry at Giles for “letting” Buffy go, and decides to visit his immortal enemy, Angel, to persuade him to take Xander to the Master’s lair: “I don’t like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you’re a vampire. But Buffy has this big ole yen for you. She thinks you’re a real person. And right now, I need you to prove her right.”
Jenny, ever the voice of reason, ponders where the Hellmouth will open when the Apocalypse starts. They make a logical leap that it must be at the Bronze where the prom is currently going on, because, that tracks, right? Jenny and Willow run to go warn everyone, but as they’re leaving, they realize it’s like the Night of the Living Dead outside because, surprise, the school itself is actually ground zero. Finding themselves quickly surrounded, they are saved when Cordelia zooms up in her car (“I was sitting where Kevin and I used to park, and all of a sudden these things were coming at me!”). Willow yells they must get to the library, and Cordy will never settle for anything less than Princess Parking:
Jenny: “We’ve got to get to the library!”
Cordelia: “Library! Great!”
See, Cordelia being in the know is already tons of fun!
Honestly, the scenes between Buffy and the Master are the weakest parts of the entire episode. They play a little cat-and-mouse in a cave that must smell like death and candlewax, and he taunts her for a few minutes before using his power of compulsion to freeze her in place, whispering creepily into her ear: “You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything. You’re the one who sets me free. If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go. Think about that.” He bites her once and lets her fall into a shallow pool as he walks free.
The giant light show of his release helpfully leads Angel and Xander down the right tunnels to find Buffy’s lifeless body. Aside from being completely shocking television for ten-year-old me (OMG, they killed the main character?!), this moment has always bugged me a bit, because…she drowns. So are we saying that if the Master had been standing ten feet to the right and hadn’t dropped Buffy face-down into the water, she would have lived? Because Xander giving her CPR wouldn’t have worked if she had died from blood loss.
Buffy after her brush with death is different. She’s wobbly for a second, but it’s like all her fear is now gone. I guess the Master already killed her; what else can he do? What follows are some truly cringey transitions, music cues, and try-hard zingers as Buffy somehow knows that the Master has gone to the high school roof to witness the opening of the Hellmouth happening inside the library (where Giles, Willow, Cordy, and Jenny are fighting for their lives). His compulsion isn’t working on Buffy anymore, because reasons, and so they fight before Buffy spies a convenient pointy thing in the fray below and throws him through the skylight to his death.
This effectively calls off the rest of the vampire horde and closes the Hellmouth, so the gang, together for the first time ever, all gather in the library to survey the Master’s bones, which defied in-world logic for dramatic effect and didn’t go poof. There’s sad, tinkly piano music and an overall vibe way more subdued than we’d expect for the winning team. Buffy stares down the skeleton and lets loose a few tears.
Look at that perfect tear track down her face. *Patrick Stewart voice* Acting.
It’s such a weird and yet perfect way to end the episode. It respects how emotionally exhausting the last twenty-four hours must have been for Buffy. We watch the shock and trauma play out across her face before she tries to bury it down for the benefit of everyone else as they try to salvage some semblance of normalcy. They want Buffy to go dancing, for vamp’s sake. That girl does NOT look like she’s ready to go dancing, people! She needs a damn hug! But Buffy has trained in the “fake it till you make it” school of thought, so she puts on a brave face and heads to the dance, because, after all, she got all pretty.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Best Grrrl Power Moment
The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
There’s a running gag about everyone commenting on how they like Buffy’s prom dress, from Willow to Giles to, ugh, the Master. Please burn that thing when you get home, Buff.
Bloody Good Snark
Buffy: “You have fruit punch mouth.”
The Master: “What?”
There are arguably better lines than this throughout seven seasons, but if you ask me for a random Buffy quote I guarantee this is will be the first one that pops into my head.
Giles For Life
These two. ♥
Scooby Gang Feels
And these two. ♥
Most “Cordelia” Cordelia Moment
Cordelia: “See how you like it!”
Apocalypse of the Week
So what were your favorite parts of these last two episodes? Anyone else a big ole sap like me who teared up during the season finale? What episode are you looking forward to most from next season?
We’ll meet you back here next Wednesday as Sarah parses through the season two premiere “When She Was Bad” and Weird Science gone terribly wrong in “Some Assembly Required”.