Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
Directed by: David Semel
Written by:
Rob des Hotel/Dean Batali
Air Date: March 31, 1997

Now we’re getting to the good stuff, a bit. As far as Season 1 episodes go, this is a winner. Or, at the very least, as much of a winner as you get from the season. “Never Kill a Boy” is neither filler nor “monster of the week” stuff, but more developmental of Buffy as a character, as well as Giles and their roles as “Slayer” and “Watcher” respectively. The episode also pushes the season-long narrative about The Master forward a bit by dealing with a prophecy foretelling of an “anointed one” that will help him become free. Overall, as far as moving the season forward in the right direction, this episode is doing all the right things. Giles spends most of the episode struggling with how best to keep Buffy in line with her Slayer duties, often times over stating things and generally being a worry-wart. Buffy spends most of the episode lamenting her lot in life and trying her best to accommodate both her Watcher and her libido. Both come to terms nicely at the end of the episode, and its very nice.

A pinch of other stuff is better than the first four episodes, too. For starters, the classic Whedon sarcasm/charm is really starting to push through in the writing. The episodes central theme, about Buffy trying to have two lives simultaneously running perfectly (her personal life – dating never-heard-from-again Owen – and her slayer life) brings about high levels of quick witted commentary from everyone, including Giles and Owen himself, both whom utter “she’s just the strangest girl”, a trick used to great effect. Xander’s deadpan, jealousy-induced lines and even Cordelia’s, well, also jealousy-induced lines are welcome, as well (though Cordelia feels tacked on and she doesn’t have a lot to do other than look hot and be a huge bitch). Otherwise, some other things that work better would include the band in The Bronze, The Velvet Chain, which is the first band playing in that club that didn’t make me want to punch every member. Which is saying a lot.

Other strong points; Willow being all cute, The Master being back on screen – even if Metcalf  does ham it up substantially, like always, and the inclusion of other characters aside from Angel for Buffy to have an invested and romantic interest in. Now, granted, its the fifth episode and she hasn’t had any invested or romantic interest in anyone at all, yet, but the fact remains that I never really got behind the Buffy+Angel thing. Whoops. Spoiler alert. There. I said it. Not a huge fan of that relationship. Having said that, however, the way Angel reacts to Buffy being on a date during the second Bronze scene is staggeringly awesome and Boreanaz again plays silent very, very well.

Negatives? Well, aside from the Bronze band, the sound track still sucks balls. Guess I shouldn’t have to comment on that anymore, since its all the same until the season is over. Also? Once again, the scenes at night are too damn dark and the action is lame. That fight she has with the first vampire, pre-credits? Terrible. And while the fight with the fake-anointed one is better – and uses the environment well – it leaves a lot to be desired, especially with how easily Giles and Owen (who was lame. Did I mention that? He’s lame) are tossed around. And what’s with Giles being thrown right into the button that starts the cremation fire? Jesus. The makeup and special effects here are pretty lame, too, with all the vampires in the episode (aside from The Master and the fake-anointed) being really goofy looking and in no way threatening. They looked pretty stupid.

Overall, the episode is a far stronger outing for the show and the best the season has has to offer, yet. With a good narrative, solid character development, and an excellent twist at the end, the show is coming together nicely. Of course, the next episode is the atrocious “The Pack” and, well… we’ll just have to wait to get there, tomorrow. But, yeah, the episode is good. Even if it does end with the Master being happy to see a little boy. In a… dark… church…

Episode Rating :88

Death Count: 17 (high body count this time because of the van crash)
Annoying Scream Count: 7

Additional Notes:
-Owen is a really lame character
-Giles wanting to be a fighter pilot… or a grocer! Hilarious!
The fake-anointed one breaking that glass with a headbutt? BAMF.
-Angel is starting to be less creepy, which is nice. But his hair really was that poofy to begin with, huh? Guess I never remembered that.
-Best line of the episode – Giles, being stared down by two vampires that jump him outside the funeral home: “Damn.”
-Owen has an expensive looking, gold pocket watch. Xander?