Xander Is Less Awful: A BTVS Retrospective, Eps 11-12


We sees Cordelia and two of her friends walking through the halls of the school to open the penultimate episode of the first season. They quite literally bump into Buffy, causing the latter to spill her assortment of medieval weaponry to the floor. Buffy makes a lame excuse for why she has them, but Cordy just makes fun of her and walks off. Literally nothing bothers this chick, man.

In class, Cordelia just openly admits she ran over a girl once. She found it deeply traumatic, and was upset when the victim made it all about her and her broken leg. Wait, canonically, when did this happen? Because we know Cordelia was just learning to drive back in the witchcraft episode. So this was a very recent event, right? Is this an open case? Are the cops actively looking for Cordelia?

We discover Cordelia actually cares about her classes when she asks the teacher, Ms. Miller, for help focusing on the assignment. I’m sure this will be fine! Friendly and named teachers have such a good track record on this show.

Cordelia’s prom date makes an off-color remark about wanting to have sexual relations with her, and it’s good to know Joss Whedon definitely at least co-wrote this episode. You can tell he didn’t entirely write it because the follow up line of “As long as she doesn’t blow up like a fat pig” was cut.

Anyway, Whedon’s Avatar gets dropped by a floating baseball bat, and








At some point, the school district HAS to say “You know what? You all get all A’s. Please go home and hide under your beds for the rest of the year. We clearly can not guarantee your safety on campus.”

Buffy examines the crime scene and sees “LOOK” written across four of the lockers.

Later on, the gang is trying to reason out the attack. Xander says “Maybe it was a vampire bat”, and I know you are expecting me to lambaste him some more, but nope. Puns are the way to my heart. This is Xander’s best moment so far. Don’t keep it up; I already named the series after how crappy you are.

Shortly thereafter, Cordelia and her friend Harmony (whom my wife implies will be more relevant later) are walking along, and an invisible force pushes Harmony down some stairs! So it seems as though the unseen malevolence is targeting our dear Cordy and those near her!

Giles and Angel come together in the school, with mopey ass Angel being all “I can’t bear to be around Buffy wah wah” and my being all “I don’t care about this schmuck AT ALL unless he is fighting dual-wielding vamps”. Giles mentions needing some unobtainable Codex book, and Angel agrees to track it down for him. An adventure that I’m sure will be worthy of showing on screen!

There is a flashback to a girl in a bathroom named Marcie (played by one of those “OH, THAT PERSON” actresses, Clea DuVall). She tries to fit in with Cordelia and her friends, but they ignore her completely except to shut her down. Another flashback later on confirms Marcie is the menace; she keeps raising her hand in class, but Ms. Miller calls on other kids. To be fair, like, EVERYONE’S hand is up. What does Marcie want? She didn’t get to answer three questions in a class of, what, twenty kids? At that point, Marcie’s hand turns invisible.

And you know what? I love that this show thinks fuck-all about explaining anything. It’s all “THE HELLMOUTH DID IT”. Why did Billy from last episode pull kids into nightmares? Hellmouth. Why did Marcie turn invisible? Hellmouth. The show just gave itself an out to explain away anything it wants, and you know what? I respect that. It’s lazy writing, but at least it’s something.

Buffy goes skulking about and finds, like, a nest in the ceiling of the school. There’s a bed, a teddy bear, a flute. Apparently Marcie plays the flute. This will be important-ish later. Marcie sneaks up on Buffy with a knife, but elects not to kill her. Buffy takes a copy of her yearbook to the gang, and they see EVERYONE wrote “Have a nice summer” to Marcie, the social Kiss Of Death, I guess.

Marcie tries to murder Ms. Miller by suffocating her with a plastic bag, but CORDELIA of all people makes the save. Marcie writes “LISTEN” on the chalkboard. Cordelia runs off to our heroes for help because she just kind of knows they deal with weird shit. They straight up tell her there is an invisible girl going around attacking people, and Cordy just accepts this. Which, I mean, sure. She’ll rationalize it away by next episode, I’m sure.

Buffy and Cordelia spend some time together, and Cordy opens up about constantly feeling alone, even surrounded by her popular friends. They don’t really know her; they just agree with her and act like they do. During bonding time, Cordelia gets pulled into the ceiling. Buffy follows, but is drugged by Marcie. She wakes up tied to a chair next to Cordelia. Marcie has surgical tools and wants to make Cordelia TRULY memorable. Oh yeah, Marcie writes “LEARN” somewhere to finish her alliterative lesson. I don’t… whatever.

Elsewhere, Willow, Giles, and Xander follow the sound of a flute to a recording device. They get locked in a room leaking natural gas! Before they can all succumb to the fumes, Angel breaks them free and gives Giles the Codex he was looking for. I swear to god, this show had no idea how to fill its run time. We can’t see Angel getting this big-ass deal Codex, but we get a few undramatic minutes of three supporting characters coughing and acting sleepy.

Buffy frees herself from the chair, then realizes she can’t fight what she can’t see. So we get this slow motion scene, with an indoor breeze lightly flitting her hair, where Buffy is listening, but it honest-to-god looks like a Dragon Ball ripoff of someone channeling their chi. LOOK OUT, MARCIE! She’s going Super Slayer! BAM! She punches Marcie!


I don’t… there’s no joke here. Just my throwing my face into my hands. On the one hand, this is greatest ending this episode could have had because fuck you, that’s why. On the other hand, doesn’t this negate everything else ever? The FBI has had SunnyDale under surveillance, so they HAVE to know about everything else weird going on! What, were hypnotic hyenas not worth their time?

Like, this show is just making fun of us now, right? It’s just seeing exactly what people will sit through at this point. And if I genuinely thought the entirety of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was just a huge subversive middle finger, I’d be HERE for it. But that’s not the case; it just has lackadaisical writing.

Cordy thanks the gang, then rejects them in front of her friend. Marcie is taken to a classroom full of invisible kids to learn about assassination. Who cares? Unless the FBI comes and arrests The Master in the season finale, I’m going to be SO MAD.

Episode 12

Our Season One finale starts off with Xander practicing asking Buffy out to the prom, here stupidly called The Spring Fling (and Mommy Summers even points out how lame that is later since it’s just a friggin’ prom, you know?). He’s running through all of his options for asking her on Willow, who is still ridiculously smitten with him even though she has presumably seen Season One Xander for the last eleven episodes just like I have.

An earthquake hits SunnyDale, causing mild panic throughout. We see The Master and The Anointed under ground, and we get more tremendously hammy acting from The Master. I forgot how goofy this guy could be. He asks “What do you think that was, a 5.1?”, and… that’s it. Scene end. Okay then?

Giles is extremely stressed out, distracted, and evasive when talking to Buffy, and honestly? Asking most of these other actors to stand next to Anthony Stewart Head is basically unfair. He really comes across as so genuine in his performance. You really believe the pressure he is under and putting on himself, while everyone else is pretty much reading lines.

Xander shoots his shot! He asks Buffy to the dance! He confesses he has feelings for her! SHE SHOOTS HIM DOWN! In a better world, this would set up a Xander heel turn where he could die soon, but I’m sure we will get… not that thing.

Oh hey, the Technopagan lady is back, and she reminds me that Giles’ name is RUPERT, and I love that. She reports apocalyptic events are occurring the world over. A cat gave birth to baby snakes. A child was born with his eyes facing inward. I mean, that latter one just sounds like a sad deformity, but whatever. Bad stuff is coming!

A despondent Xander is relaying his heartache to Willow, and then he off-handedly says they should go to the dance together and just have fun. But Willow shoots him down, too! She sees that he is just “settling” for her and will spend the whole night being pissy about Buffy. Xander decides to go be a mopey bitch at home.

Back in the library, Angel and Giles are arguing over the infallibility of the prophecy written in The Codex: it reports that The Master will fight The Slayer, and the latter will die. Angel thinks it’s as likely to fail as all the other prophecies, but Giles thinks this one is rock solid.


The Master knows about this prophecy, too.

So why did he waste so much time and effort on all the other prophecies this season?!

He had been trapped in the Hellmouth for centuries, and then there are conveniently, like, three once-in-a-lifetime prophecies over the course of one school year? And he couldn’t just wait a few months for the fool-proof one that would see him also kill The Slayer? Come on!

ANYWAY, Buffy overhears Angel and Giles. At this point, Sarah Michelle Gellar predicted what I thought about ASH’s performance and decides to give us her “For Your Consideration” reel. She rages and cries and refuses to partake in the prophecy! She’ll just quit and run away rather than die! She throws down her cross necklace to the ground in frustration and storms out. Boy, everyone was really hoping the Emmy voters were watching this, huh?

The Buffster rushes home and tries to convince her mom to go away for the weekend, but mom won’t have it. She bought Buffy a prom dress and tells an inspirational (?) story about how she met Buffy’s dad at her prom. Somehow this convinces Buffy to stay. Does she think her future divorced spouse will be at her prom Spring Fling?

Cordelia and Willow arrive at school early to set up a sound system or something? I’m not really sure. Anyway, they find a whole ass room full of dead kids, all chowed down on by vampires. GOOD THING YOU DIDN’T CANCEL THE SCHOOL YEAR, HUH? Who could possibly have seen this coming after the 812 other attacks that happened? Anyway, after everything that she has seen, this is finally Willow’s breaking point, and she cries to Buffy about how this was “real” to her because she knew these kids.

Giles has decided HE will face The Master, but now Buffy is back on her game. She knocks him the fuck out to stop him from stopping her. She also discovers The Anointed is a kid from Giles and TechnoPagan Lady talking about a biblical passage a monk figured out. So… we aren’t even getting a scene of Buffy being surprised by A) The Anointed still being alive, and/or B) a child turning on her. Well, thank goodness for all of the build to those shocking twists then!

Buffy–WEARING HER PROM DRESS FOR HER BIG BATTLE because I’m sure some writer thought that was thematic–goes outside and sees The Anointed. He starts a clever ruse, and she just tells him to cut it out and take her to The Master. Sigh.

Okay, this is where lots of stuff starts happening at once. Bullet points!

-Xander finds his deeply buried inner non-douchebag and goes to Angel to demand help for Buffy. He threatens Angel with a cross to insist he actually quit brooding and help! Well shit. Character development. I’ll be damned.

-Vampires attack the school and surround Willow and TechnoLady. Cordy pulls up in her car and saves them, then drives them into the school and to the library. The Cordelia Learns To Drive background subplot has paid off!

-Buffy faces off with The Master. Turns out the prophecy was that she needed to do this to free him. He whips her ass, feeds off of her for, like, a second, throws her in a small puddle, and heads up to SunnyDale.

Things start coalescing here. Angel and Xander find Buffy, and she is “dead”, but revivable by CPR, which Xander performs because Angel doesn’t breathe. I feel like that is… inaccurate. Angel doesn’t NEED to breathe because he is dead, but I am pretty sure he COULD if he wanted to. He still has lungs, right? His insides aren’t just empty. Anyway, we get another heroic moment from Xander, and he doesn’t even make a comment about getting to put his mouth on Buffy’s. I’m going to have to rename season two of this article series, I guess.

Buffy wakes up and reports she feels more powerful than ever, so I guess she IS a Saiyan since a near-death experience just powered her up. I hope to god she has chi blasts now.

Everyone gets together at the school. The Hellmouth is apparently right under the library, and a multi-headed, tentacled, slimy monster has emerged to help the vamps try to kill Willow, Cordy, Giles, Xander, TechnoLady, and Angel. Buffy, meanwhile, finds The Master on the roof.

It’s time for the ultimate confrontation of season one! It’s the newly invigorated Buffy against The Master of prophecy! The two most powerful beings in all of SunnyDale, going head-to-head for the fate of oh it’s over. Buffy just chucks him through a skylight and onto a broken wooden plank. Well, that makes sense! She needs time to defeat the Hellmouth monster and the vampire minions… wait what? They all just vanish when The Master dies?



This show does anti-climaxes on Expert Mode, man.

So… that’s it. That’s Season One of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It’s… not great! I mean… you can see the promise it has, but it mostly felt wildly directionless and poorly written.

I’m told it gets better, but… we shall see.

Join me next time as I start in on Season Two, which I’m told is the strongest season.

Until then… Have A Nice Summer!

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