About:

Title: Buffy S4.E01 “The Freshman” + S4.E02 “Living Conditions”
Released: 1999

Drinks Taken: 21
Vamps Dusted: 2

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

 

Welcome back to the Buffy Rewatch Project – this time, in college! Yes, we’re heading to University of California, Sunnydale, and as an avowed defender of YATV college seasons, I, for one, am excited. (Minus Riley. And The Initiative.)

Last week, Kandis took us through the end of S3, and we said goodbye to lots of familiar faces: Angel, Cordy, Wes, Faith, The Mayor. Let’s drink farewell to those old buds with a brand new season’s drinking game!

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

The Buffy Season Four Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
You see the “University of California Sunnydale” entrance sign
You actually see a class in session
Oz is ridiculously low-key cool
Spike has mad swagger
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
The Initiative makes you go, “Bored now”
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander

Drink twice every time:

Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Harmony says something dumb
Someone uses a payphone

Onto S4! 

Buffy and Willow walk around UC Sunnydale campus

4.01 “The Freshman”

We open with Buffy and Willow going over UC Sunnydale’s course catalogue during a slayage sesh. Buffy has, unsurprisingly, been a little lax on her registration responsibilities, and Willows is, also unsurprisingly, so excited about continuing her education that her language gets a little porny about it (something about thrusting and spurting knowledge? Idk).

On Buffy’s first day at UCS, she’s super overwhelmed, and that isn’t helped by one college professor playing the cartoon villain and cruelly calling her out in the middle of class for politely whispering a question to one of her classmates. Everyone else around Buffy is totally jazzed about a psych class taught by Prof. Maggie Walsh, and if anyone who ever attended a large state university reads this and remembers there being ONE class taught by ONE professor that everyone on campus remarks upon, please let me know, because it seems highly unlikely to me.

Willow and Buffy are in the campus bookstore when they meet-cute Prof. Walsh’s TA, one Riley Finn. He’s v tall and sorta beige. I’m gonna lay it on you: I’m not a fan. I don’t dislike, but I don’t like. Sort of how I feel about the color beige!

Buffy accidentally drops textbooks on Riley's head in the bookstore

The next time Buffy sees Riley, in Psych class, he doesn’t remember her, which feels like negging because a) she’s memorably gorgeous and b) she memorably gave him a concussion. Riley and Willow hit it off like gangbusters, however, because they’re both nerds. Also Prof. Walsh seems scary as shit in Psych, but at least she doesn’t yell at Buffy in front of everyone, so she’s already the least terrifying professor on poor B’s schedule.

Oh and a quick meanwhile before we get into the monster of the week stuff: Buffy’s new roomie Kathy seems deeply norm-core, and she passionately loves both Celine and Cher. (Uhm, same.) Oz and Willow remain adorable. Xander is supposedly driving to all 50 states (Buffy: “Did you explain about Hawaii?” Willow: “Oh, he seemed so determined.”), but then Buffy runs into him at The Bronze, and it turns out his road trip adventure was stymied by engine trouble (as in: it fell out of his car). He’s now sleeping in his parents’ basement and paying rent, and aww, I wish Xander had gotten one nice adventure before his life continues to go downhill. I guess I’m going soft!

Okay, it’s mystery time. Buffy meets a very nice young man named Eddie, who seems just as lost and overwhelmed as she does, and they connect by talking about Prof. Walsh (everyone’s favorite subject!), security blankets (his is the Maugham novel Of Human Bondage; Buffy’s is, of course, Mr. Pointy) and getting lost on campus. Eddie really is nice, so it sucks that the moment he and Buffy go their separate ways, he’s jumped by a group of vamps.

So it turns out these are fat-shaming college bully vamps who eat or turn freshmen and steal all of their stuff. There’s a Mean Girl ringleader named Sunday who mocks Buffy’s cute outfit, and therefore I hate her. Well, that and the fat-shaming. And the people-killing. Buffy gets on their trail when she goes to visit Eddie and his roommate says he left a note giving up on college, but Buffy sees Of Human Bondage on his bedside table and knows he wouldn’t leave without it. So she goes to Giles for help, but it seems Giles is a little busy GETTING BUSY (more on that in a minute), and he wants Buffy to stand on her own two feet now that she’s in college, which is a running thread throughout the rest of the series. She confronts the vamps and gets her ass handed to her by Sunday, who then proceeds to steal all of Buffy’s stuff including her diary (no!), Mr. Gordo (noooo!) and her Class Protector umbrella (uhm, HELL NO). Oh and then Buffy sees that they turned Eddie, and she has to stake her new friend, which truly sucks.

And I get that all of this is intended to represent what happens to most of us at college – we were big fish in the little ponds of high school, but once we got to college we realized we weren’t such hot shit (much like what happens to Rory in the first few college eps of Gilmore Girls) – but Buffy isn’t like the rest of us. She’s the SLAYER. Just because these vampires go to college, I’m supposed to believe they can get the best of the g-d slayer?

Well, they do, but only for a day or two. Xander (who’s really cute and supportive in this episode, Team Xander) rounds up Oz and Willow, and they help Buffy kick butt and get her stuff AND her mojo back. And then Giles shows up at the last minute, all apologetic for not being more helpful earlier, so that’s nice. Then Buffy and Willow talk about how relieved they are that UCS is back to normal, and of course that means that we get an ironic transition right before the credits: some masked dudes in combat wear tase a vamp. WHAT COULD IT MEAN? (Bored now.)

How many times do I have to take a drink?

13

Vamps Dusted

2

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

In a time-honored tradition that was also observed by yours truly, Willow went and got herself an Edgy Haircut just in time for college.

Willow gets a shaggy new hairdo for college

The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week

This is Professor Walsh’s nickname, according to Professor Walsh:

Professor Walsh tells her new class her students' nickname for her
Professor Walsh: “The evil bitch monster of death.”

Best Episode Foreshadowing

Xander is a downer.
Xander: “Okay, once more with even less feeling.”

GILES HAS A LADYFRIEND

I approve, I approve, I approve! Meet Olivia, an old friend (with BENEFITS, considering she’s not wearing any pants under Giles’ shirt):

Giles' new girlfriend, Olivia, in his shirt

Cameo

Eddie is played by Pedro Pascal, of The MandalorianGame of ThronesThe Good Wife and more!

Pedro Pascal as a fresh faced baby man

Cameo x 2

Sunday is played by Katharine Towne, from Mulholland DriveBut I’m a Cheerleader and What Lies Beneath.

Katharine Towne cameo

New Credits

They rule! I love that Giles’ handsome prom tux beam makes the cut. Watch ’em here!

Buffy's annoying roommate

4.02 “Living Conditions”

Okay, remember B’s norm-core roommate Kathy? She’s driving our girl BANANAS. She’s all uptight and perky and sticks unnervingly close to Buffy, making the whole slayer secret identity thing difficult. She invites herself along to Scooby outings and borrows Buffy’s sweater without asking then spills ketchup on it, and soon the passive-aggression starts to escalate between the two roomies, up to Buffy guzzling all of Kathy’s milk right out of the carton while staring unblinkingly at Kathy’s aghast face. It’s gross!

Buffy’s getting CRAZY grumpy over this, even kicking a bench to death in Oz’s presence out of sheer frustration. Everyone starts to think she’s kinda losing it, but we know something supernatural is going on because Buffy and Kathy are sharing the same creepy dreams, and they’re being followed by glowing-eyed hooded weirdos, and also this show is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer so something supernatural is always going on. Soon, Buffy meets a cute boy named Parker in the cafeteria, and when she returns to her room to find Kathy flirting with him, the gloves come OFF. Buffy decides Kathy’s evil and she must kill her, in a delivery so bald-faced and shameless that, I’m sorry, I have to stan.

Buffy vows to kill her annoying roommate
Buffy: “Kathy’s evil. I’m an evil fighter. I’m going to have to kill her.”

The Scoobs team up to capture and imprison Buffy to keep her from doing something stupid, but obviously Oz and Xander, bless their slender hearts, are no match for the Buffinator, who quickly unties herself, knocks them both unconscious and goes after Kathy. She and Kathy start fighting to the death in their dorm room, and Buffy accidentally pulls off Kathy’s face to reveal that she’s one of the glowing-eyed hooded weirdos!

Turns out Kathy’s like an interdimensional demon thingy that was trying to go to college as a human, and also she’s been feeding on Buffy’s soul at night, making the slayer extra grumpy – but Kathy’s demon dad comes after her because she’s not behaving and they’re sucked down into a bye-bye portal for good. Buffy’s like “I KNEW IT!” Willow feels reeeeeally guilty for not believing her, but it’s all good because Willow also hated her roommate, and now she and Buffy can be roomies! Yay!

How many times do I have to take a drink?

8

Vamps Dusted

0

Cameo

Parker is played by Adam Kaufman, known from other Rewatch Projects Veronica Mars and Dawson’s Creek

Adam Kaufman as, ugh, Parker

Best Scooby Gang Feels

It’s pretty cute when all the Scoobs – including Oz and Xander – are reassuring Buffy that Parker was flirting with her in the cafeteria. 

Best Grrrl Power Moment

The origin of the “grrrl power” category!

Willow says she and Buffy put the
Willow: “I mean, did we not put the “grrr” in “grrrl”?”

That’s it for this week! QUESTION: how do you guys feel about the college season? Both this one in particular and the concept as a whole? And are there any Riley defenders in the mix? We wanna hear from you!

Meet Stephanie here next Wednesday morning as she covers “The Harsh Light of Day” (welcome back, Spike!) and “Fear Itself” (it’s Halloween!).

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.