Drinks Taken: 25
Vamps Dusted: 2
Follow the whole rewatch here!
I realize this is a rewatch project and not an awards show, but I have to take a minute to thank my mom for reading about the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in TV Guide and telling me that it sounded right up our alley, thereby introducing me to one of my favorite series. At the time, I was a senior in high school, yet amidst prom and plays and college tours, that night we watched the pilot together stands out as one of my most cherished memories. Love you, Mom!
With that said, in hindsight it’s clear that Season One is a bit anemic in quality even as the episodes stand out as “classics.” I’ve never forgotten that image of Amy’s mom trapped in the trophy from last week’s “The Witch,” for example, and in today’s installment, we’ll be revisiting an episode that’s often referenced, perhaps now more than ever given its themes of toxic masculinity.
On that note, raise a glass to Buffy, the true alpha of the show.
The Buffy 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There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference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
Okay, let’s dive into yet another attempt by Buffy to have a normal life!
1.5 “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”
The episode opens with Buffy slaying, and Giles critiquing (“It should simply be plunge, and move on. Plunge, and move on”). In the cemetery (drink!), Giles finds a ring with a sun and three stars, which represents the Order of Orelius. That’s cool and all, but the more exciting discovery is that Buffy has a crush! His name is Owen, and he’s the literary MLD type. (“He can brood for 40 minutes straight. I clocked him,” says Willow.) Unfortunately, Cordelia is also into Owen, which doesn’t make sense to me but like, Buffy’s also into Angel so let’s just chalk this up to high school hormones and a lack of cute, decent guys.
Owen invites Buffy to the Bronze, but she ends up having to flake because of a cryptic prophecy regarding the Master–five will die, and from their ashes, the Annointed will rise. She and Giles hang at the cemetery (drink) but nothing happens, leaving Buffy to show up at the Bronze and discover Cordelia putting the moves on her would-be lit mag boyfriend.
Meanwhile, there’s a crazy white dude on a bus (in today’s culture, I would label him a terrorist threat TBH) telling everyone that they will be judged, and guess who gets bitten first after a vampire stops the bus (with his body, no big) and a whole mess of them climb aboard?
The next day, Owen seeks out Buffy and, clearly having no interest in Cordelia, sets another date by giving her his… pocket watch? Gah, that is such a thing my ’90s self would have found positively charming but is in fact full of cringe. Xander can’t compete with his Tweedy Bird watch and remains firmly in the friend zone by helping Buffy pick out an outfit for her date (Willow’s there too but her fashion sense is, well, you know) then telling her that, if she kisses Owen, he’ll just talk about how easy she is. YIKES. Are we sure he hasn’t been possessed by a hyena already? Giles shows up to inform everyone that the prophecy in fact did come true thanks to the bus massacre, and Buffy decides to multi-task: “This is the ’90s, the 1990s in fact, and I can do both. Clark Kent has a job, I just want to go on a date.” Good thing Owen isn’t turned off by Xander telling him that Buffy doesn’t like to be kissed or touched and WOW I think this rewatch might completely ruin Xander Harris for me.
Over at the Bronze, Owen and Buffy are enjoying their date when Cordelia shows up and tries to man-steal. Girl, your crimped hair is indeed glorious but don’t even! She’s no threat, but Angel, a.k.a. “Salty Goodness” (thank you for that, Cordelia) certainly is.
This lopsided love triangle is broken up when Buffy has to head to the Sunnydale Funeral Home, but not before kissing Owen good-bye! That does nothing but encourage him to follow her to the cemetery, where vampires have already shown up and forced Giles to escape into the mortuary. After he and Buffy have searched fruitlessly for the body of the MAGA nutjob dude from the bus, Owen finds him waking up on a table–Buffy and Angel make quick work of the vamp thanks to the nearby incinerator, thus ending a date one could generously refer to as “memorable.”
The following day, while Willow is busy drinking, no joke, a Kool-Aid Burst, Owen tells Buffy that he wants to hang out again, because almost getting killed made him feel alive. Buffy, with a bittersweet air, informs him that they should stick to being friends–“It’s not you, it’s me.” Then she draws a small comfort from Giles, who shares that he learned of his Watcher destiny when he was only ten years old. These two, they’re starting to get each other!
Oh yeah, and in a twist we all saw coming, it turns out that the Annointed isn’t the guy Buffy slayed–it’s Collin, a kid from the bus!
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Buffy’s Cher Horowitz Moment
Best Funeral Home Motto Ever
“We’ll take care of the rest.”
Most Y2K Moment
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
While I genuinely dug Buffy’s date outfit (pink coat over gold mini-dress), the rest of her wardrobe in this episode was A LOT.
Like, here’s her hoodie of choice for sulking in the cemetery over her canceled date:
And here’s a double whammy of two ’90s tops in all of their synthetic glory:
But Buffy’s piece-y, Rachel-from-Friends up-do? 10/10 would still go for today.
1.6 “The Pack”
So, in a town where there’s nothing to do except go to the Bronze (and eventually go to college), they still have the budget and demand for a zoo, which is where Buffy and the gang find themselves on a field trip. A bunch of assholes lead by King Asshole Kyle accost Buffy then prey on a wimpy kid named Lance, who is temporarily saved by Principal Flutie (#gonetoosoon). After Kyle and his crew decide to check out the closed Hyena House, Xander follows to handle the situation while Buffy and Willow are kept out by a zoo staff member because the hyenas, fresh from Africa, are under quarantine. Making like Chris Farley in Wayne’s World, the zoo guy gives us way too much information, like the fact that these hyenas can understand human speech and even call out to a person… mmkay?! Inside the House, Kyle’s posse is threatening to throw Lance over the gate and into the den when Xander shows up, and all of a sudden, their eyes take on a green glow. Not exactly the ideal field trip takeaway!
That night at the Bronze, Buffy gently calls Willow out on being into Xander, and Willow then brings up Buffy’s crush on Angel. It’s super cute girl talk until Hyena Xander arrives and starts being gross and possessive like he just got out of a class with Mystery.
The next day at school, Xander dickishly rejects Willow’s tutoring, and Buffy meets Herbert, the school’s mascot pig–the poor thing freaks out when Xander walks by, i.e. RED FLAG. It’s raining, so that means dodgeball for P.E., because nightmare. (“God, this game is brutal. I love it,” utters the coach. I bet he teaches health class on the side.) Of course, the game dwindles down to Buffy versus the hyena pack, but they end up going after Lance… and later, poor Herbert!
After discovering the remains of Herbert, Buffy and Willow turn to Giles. “What are you gonna do?” Willow asks. “Get my books,” replies Giles. “Look stuff up.” And what he finds is the scoop on Primals, a sect of animal worshippers who believe that the animal state is holy–they attempt to draw the spirits of certain animals into themselves. I want to be clear, there were no vegetarian jokes made at this point but seems like a missed opportunity for a late ’90s show.
Buffy manages to take down Xander (after he tries to put the moves on her in a way I can’t believe she can get over, even knowing he’s possessed but whatever) and lock him in a library cage, which is a small mercy for him considering that the rest of his pack straight up murders and devours Principal Flutie in his office. While Buffy and Giles head out to pay a visit to the zookeeper, Willow keeps watch, giving us our first glimpse beyond the self-conscious curtain as Xander tries to trick her with mindgames in order to escape. Just when you think Willow’s falling for it and handing over the keys, this happens:
THAT’S RIGHT, XANDER! WILLOW’S GOT YOUR NUMBER!
The zookeeper dude throws Giles and Buffy off the scent (hey-o) by telling them that the hyenas were worshipped by some “creepy guys,” while the pack manages to free Xander from the library cage–until Buffy shows up and saves the day, again. Although I think we could’ve all done without her line, “Didn’t your mom teach you? Don’t play with your food.”
Back at the Sunnydale Zoo (would love to read those TripAdvisor reviews), Mr. Hyena Expert shows up wearing football fan facepaint, and Giles realizes that he’s the “creepy guy,” a.k.a. Primal who wanted to capture the spirit of the hyenas–but Kyle and his crew accidentally walked into his ceremonial circle or whatever. After briefly holding Willow at knifepoint, zoo guy is faced with Buffy and the hyena pack, and our Slayer throws him to the wolves hyenas.
That means that, thankfully, Xander reverts from being a complete piece of vile garbage back to his normal, yet still kinda terrible M’Lady teen self. (Even him hugging Willow and saying, “Nobody messes with my Willow,” doesn’t quite feel right.) He claims total memory loss, but Giles knows better. And now, for the rest of this rewatch, I’ll be monitoring any signs that Xander has an aversion to bacon.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
0. Y’all, it’s not always about that.
Most ’90s Pop Culture Adjacent Moment
Bloody Good Snark(y Foreshadowing)
When Kyle and Co. walk into the Bronze, Buffy mutters, “Oh great, it’s the winged monkeys.” Was Andrew like eavesdropping or something?
Herbert Needs An Instagram
Official mascot for the Sunnydale High Razorbacks, we hardly knew ye.
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
I feel like Buffy has two main lewks in this episode, the first being “street Delia’s”:
And the second being, prep work for a role in the Scooby Doo movie (so, yeah, well played SMG):
And that brings us to the end of this rewatch installment!
In revisiting “The Pack,” do you think there was an intent by the writers to explore male aggression? Or was it simply about the pack mentality of high school popularity? Also, anyone else feel that Principal Flutie was killed off way too soon?
Join me for a convo in the comments, then tune in text week for Kandis’ recap of “Angel” (hello!) and “I, Robot… You, Jane.”