Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Harvest

Last episode left off with Luke lunging in for Buffy’s neck as she’s lying helpless in a coffin:

The second episode picks up as it was just a commercial break. (Maybe it was? I dunno, I was like 9 when this aired.) Luke goes in for the kill, but is repulsed at the last second by…

Angel’s cross!

Buffy makes her escape and runs out to rescue Willow, Xander, and Jesse. She dusts the vampires after a brief fight, but it seems that Darla has escaped with Jesse once again.

I had to include this cap because it is so so pretty. I was always a little skeptical of SMG before Buffy, but I’m pretty sure from this moment I was hooked. So pretty.

Anyway, Buffy takes them all back to the library and Giles explains the real history of the world. It’s really old, and it used to be inhabited by demons and all manner of hellish beings. Eventually, the demons died or were driven off and were replaced by men, but the last demon to leave infected a man and mixed their blood, creating the first vampire. Vampires roam the world feeding on others, waiting for the old ones to return. After watching Buffy for a while, it’s hard to remember why exactly everyone wants to end the world. This cleared things up for me quite a bit.

The Slayer was created in tandem with vampires as the protector of man. Just last episode, Buffy was practically begging Giles to leave her out of this part of the world. She was retired, she wasn’t going to be too involved. Now, with Jesse in the grips of the vampires, she insists that its her responsibility to rescue him. Since the vampires were talking about a sacrifice, she figures he might still be alive.

And he is still alive! Once the vampires have figured out there’s a slayer in town, they decide to hold Jesse as bait, instead of eating him right off.

Darla assures the Master that Jesse’s blood is pure. The Master rages that Darla doesn’t respect him, that they just bring him scraps and don’t have the proper fear of his awesomeness.

There’s something just inherently sexy about vampires, and I’m pretty sure it’s the neck biting thing. Killing looks the same as loving, which is both cheesy and true. But seriously, in this cap, there’s some mad sexual tension what with the death grip, heavy breathing, and leather.

Willow is repping way more than just the softer side of Sears – the girl just hacked into the City Council’s security system and has brought up the Sunnydale city plans.  Buffy, Willow, and Xander are all somehow adept at reading said plans, and also apparently know their town quite well. They determine at a glance that sewer runs directly beneath the cemetery and there are no access points.

Buffy, in a flash of clarity, remembers that Luke snuck up from behind her, and didn’t follow her outside, ergo the access to the sewer must be in the mausoleum. As Buffy prepares to leave, Xander starts to whine about how emasculated he is.

Xander: So what’s the plan? We saddle up, right?

Buffy: There’s no “we,” ok? I’m the Slayer, and you’re not.

Xander: I knew you were gonna throw that back in my face.

Buffy: Xander, this is deeply dangerous!

Xander: I’m inadequate. That’s fine. I’m less than a man.

Yes, Xander, you are less than a man. You’re a sophomore virgin doof who can’t even drive, and you have no idea what you’re trying to volunteer for. Willow pipes up that she wants to help as well, but at least she is sensible enough to listen to Giles when he suggests she help him with research, not slayage. Besides, have we forgotten this cap already?

Anyone who holds a stake like that is not prepared to assist the Buffster.

This is the first time we’ve seen Buffy break down that gender barrier, but it won’t be the last. The powerful, strong, woman in charge character is central to the show. This scene peels away some gender stereotypes in a couple different ways. We’ve already seen that Willow’s got the brains of the operation, but I think it’s pretty rare to have female hackers. (Actually, there are a bunch of instances I can think of with lesbian hackers, but they’re usually very butch and gay and it’s like, duh, of course she’s a hacker, the big gaymo. But Willow is not at all portrayed as a lesbian yet, in any stereotypical way, so I’m going to ignore them.) Giles, the male, is contributing with research, not muscle. Buffy is the one taking on the physical part. Everyone seems perfectly comfortable playing to their own individual strengths, except Xander, who doesn’t quite get that he’s in Joss Whedon’s world now, and that world does not subscribe to traditional gender norms. (Or maybe Xander just doesn’t have any strengths…)

Buffy is stopped from saving the day by a very well meaning and enthusiastic Principal Flutie. Buffy has straightened out her priorities since yesterday, however, and hops the fence.

Xander and Willow briefly ponder their new purpose in life as Scoobies and what it would be like to live through a rain of toads. Willow tries to send Xander off to class, telling him that Buffy will be fine. Xander agrees, but he’s totally full of shit. He’s still smarting from Buffy’s rebuke, and how could such a pretty little thing possibly succeed without his super-testosteroney testosterone?

Buffy finds the entrance in the mausoleum, which actually appears to be quite obvious in the light of day. Angel apparates into the tomb to tell Buffy not to go down into the sewers, that she shouldn’t be putting herself at risk – the Harvest is tonight.

I can’t quite grasp what exactly David Boreanaz is trying to convey during this scene. I don’t get the jokey almost sarcastic tone his voice gets.  Maybe that’s the point – Angel’s a bad actor, trying to pretend like he doesn’t really care about Buffy, or the fate of the world, but in that one moment, we see that there’s something in the depth of his soul that haunts him. That he isn’t just some random Angel showing up out of nowhere to distribute crucifixes and warnings like a well-dressed Jehovah’s witness. There’s something he needs out of this too. As Buffy heads down the passage, he whispers “Good luck.”

I’m pretty much as gay as a window, but I have to say, Angel looks mighty sharp in these early episodes. Guess I’m just a sucker for an unbuttoned crisp collar. Plus those eyes do have that sweet puppy quality.

Xander drops in, and convinces Buffy to let him stay because Jesse’s his bud. That’s sweet.

Cordelia and Harmony are in computer class with Willow, apparently doing some kind of programming. Cordelia tells Harmony about her run-in with Buffy and how she almost dies by staking. Either that, or she gave a really enthusiastic handjob.

Willow jumps in to defend Buffy – probably the first time she’s ever stood up to Cordelia in her life – and Cordelia cuts her off with “Excuse me? Who gave you permission to exist?” Harmony smirks and announces that the project is done. Cordelia is relieved to be finished with geek work, and ponders how to save it. Willow doesn’t miss a beat and simply says “Deliver.” Oh this revenge is perfect. The geek strikes back. Cordelia hits del, loses the project, and gives my favorite facial expression of the episode.

Jesse’s shackled up in the sewers when Buffy and Xander find him, but Buffy breaks the shackle off with her superhuman strength and they try to find their way out. Unfortunately, Jesse has become a vampire, and Xander is just crushed. They were buds, man. Buffy pries a grate loose in the ceiling (she has more strength in her fingertips than ten mortal men) and the daylight saves the day, sizzling the vampire’s hand as Xander pulls her through.

This is also the closes Xander has ever come to touching a girl’s breast.

The Master is NOT pleased that Buffy has escaped, since he should drinking her heart’s blood right now. Nevertheless, the Harvest is still coming and he must prepare. But not before he pokes the eye out of one of his minions. He is not, it would seem, a benevolent or forgiving ruler.

Luke and the Master perform a ritual that takes its cues from both Christian mythology and Harry Potter. Luke drinks the Master’s blood, binding them together, and the Master anoints his forehead. Ok, it’s not so much Harry Potter, except I’m still convinced that the Master and Voldemort are the same. After Voldemort’s spell backfired in Godric’s Hollow, his soul must’ve gone to hell and he became a vampire. After Buffy destroys him, he has to live in Quirrell’s turban until he does that trick with the unicorn hair and gets a body, except this time he lost his nose. You can only re-insert a soul into a body so many times before things start to fall off.

Buffy and Xander return to the Library, and give Willow the news that Jesse has met a fate worse than death. Buffy asks if Giles has any news that could possibly make the day any worse, to which he responds, “How about the end of the world?” It’s the first time Buffy gets to save the world! By season 6, this’ll be nothing to sing about, but right now it has the desired devastating effect.

Turns out, the Master traveled to Sunnydale to open the Hellmouth long ago, but was stopped by Spanish priests, who trapped him within the portal. At present, he is too weak to escape, but with Luke’s strength from the Harvest, he can finally break free. Xander shows a rare display of logic, and declares the vampires are going to the Bronze, because it’ll have lots of dumb dancing teens and that’s where Jesse likes to go best.

Buffy stops home to get supplies, but Joyce intercepts her before she can save the world. Joyce is so corny and well meaning, it’s tough to be mad at her for the potential downfall of mankind. She adorably says “No” just like the books told her to, and you know Buffy wants to be a good kid, wants to make life a little easier for her mom, but with a sigh, she puts her wants aside for the good of the world. Such is the life of a slayer.

I’m loving Buffy’s leather jacket, btdubs. Something about Joyce’s hair and smock/tunic garment reminds me a lot of Princess Leia.

Even though she slips out the window, Buffy and the gang don’t get to the Bronze until after the vampires have taken over. Jesse’s got his eye on Cordelia.

All the humans are for the Master, however. Luke’s on stage, putting on a show. The Master almost has enough power to bust open the Hellmouth and destroy the world.

Buffy tosses a vampire from the catwalk to interrupt the party. The first of many epic fights ensues. Luke and Buffy go at it while chaos rages throughout the Bronze. Jesse’s still intent on Cordelia, but Xander tries to intervene. He still hasn’t gotten it that Jesse is dead, and thinks he can still be reasoned with. Luckily, Jesse gets pushed into Xander’s stake in the crowd and gets dusted before Xander can do something stupid.

It looks like Buffy’s about to lose the physical fight, but she dazzles him with her wits.

Fake sunrise trick works every time. The rest of the vampires flee, and everyone can now go about their normal lives. Except they can’t because nothing will ever be the same. Giles warns them that the Master will not stop trying to break free of the Hellmouth, and they face threats from all manner of creatures. Buffy, Willow, and Xander wander off to class, acting their age for a change. Giles, looking slightly pleased with himself, mumbles that the world is doomed. Never! Not with this girl on the job:


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