Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Great Buffy Rewatch: The Harvest, S. 1, E. 2

This episode finishes what Welcome to the Hellmouth started. Which is good, because things weren't looking so good for our new heroes.

Where's Jesse?

Luke's on Buffy, but while attacking her he screams. The cross Angel had given her burns his hand. This gives her time to escape. She finds Willow and Xander, and rescues them from the vampires who were taking off with them. She manages to dust one, but the others escape. That's when they realize that Jesse is missing.

The next scene shows Xander and Willow with Giles and Buffy in the library. Giles explains about demons and how vampires were created. Xander and Willow are understandably disturbed.

Jesse looks more confused than scared.

We then go underground where Jesse is brought to the Master. The Master notes that someone has "tasted" Jesse. Darla begs forgiveness, bringing up that they had more "offerings", but "there was trouble. A girl." Luke and the Master supposed the girl was a Slayer.

Back in the library, Buffy reveals her plan to find Jesse, on the chance that he might be alive. They realize that the vampires might be nesting in the electric tunnels that run under the town, but they don't have time to find the diagnostics, until Willow interrupts...

Under the town, Luke and the Master decide to use Jesse as bait.

Back in the library, Willow demonstrates her hacking skills, bringing up the diagnostics to the electric tunnels. Buffy then realizes that there's access to the tunnels in the mausoleum. Xander volunteers to go with her, but she refuses, reminding him that she's the Slayer. Willow offers to help, and Giles asks for help in researching the Harvest.

Principal Flutie finds Buffy at the gate, trying to leave the school grounds. Although she protests that Giles was sending her for a book, he shuts and locks the gate. That doesn't stop a Slayer, however, as she jumps over the fence.

He's scared.

Buffy's in the mausoleum when she realizes Angel is behind her. He reveals that the Master's group doesn't like him, and finally shares with Buffy his name. He warns her to not go, as the Harvest is tonight and only Buffy can prevent it. He also acknowledges that he's afraid of the Harvest.

Buffy's in the tunnels when she's joined by Xander, who refuses to leave. Buffy accepts.

Giles figures out the Harvest and that it will be tonight.

Willow, Cordelia, and Harmony are in computer class, developing programs. Cordelia and Harmony are struggling through their work, while talking about their evening plans. They're going to the Bronze.

In the tunnels, Xander quizzes Buffy about how to slay vampires.

Back in the computer lab, Cordelia tells Harmony about Buffy's attempt to stake her. Willow interrupts, drawing Cordelia's ire. She suggests that Cordelia save her program by pressing "Deliver". You know, the key marked "DEL".

Too late! 

Back in the tunnels, Buffy and Xander find Jesse. Jesse leads them through the tunnels, finally leading them to a closed room. Jesse then reveals his vampire face. Xander is sad, but Jesse's not: "I feel good, Xander. I feel strong." Xander uses the cross to prevent Jesse from getting closer to him. More vampires are coming. Xander and Buffy somehow escape.

Willow joins Giles in the library. Willow tells Giles that in 1937 there were several months of murders that could have been perpetuated by vampires. This was stopped following an earthquake.

Luke and the Master are engaging in a vampiric rite. The Master announces that every soul Luke, now called the Vessel, takes will strengthen the Master.

Can you see what's on his forehead?

Buffy and Xander return to the library, sharing the news with Giles and Willow about Jesse. Giles reveals that the end of the world is upon them. In 1937, a very old and powerful vampire came to Sunnydale, called by the Spanish Boca del Infierno - roughly, the Hellmouth. It is a portal from this reality to the next, and the vampire hoped to open the door and bring the demons back. However, the earthquake buried half the town and the vampire, preventing him from following up on his plans. Giles then describes the Harvest, in which the Master draws power from one of his minions to break free and to open the portal. The Vessel, as the minion is called, will wear a specific symbol.  That vampire needs to be killed before the Master gathers enough power.

Joyce finally puts her foot down.

Buffy goes home to get supplies. While she's digging through her trunk, her mother comes in, concerned. Buffy' second day at school and she's already missing classes.  Buffy says she has to go, but Joyce says no, grounding Buffy. Buffy waits for her mom to leave, then leaves with her bag of tricks though the window.

Just this once.

Cordelia's at the Bronze with her friends, talking about the value in dating seniors (cars), when they decide to dance. Jesse watches her. Outside the Bronze, we see a number of vampires approaching, Darla skipping in front, Luke in the midst of them. Inside , Cordelia is heading to her seat when Jesse approaches her, and, despite her weak protestations, they dance. The vampires come in and block the exits. 

Darla turns out the lights, and Luke takes the stage. Cordelia sees that Jesse's face has changed. Luke tells the crowd that they will have a glorious death, then eats the bouncer. Meanwhile, we see that the Master is getting stronger, and the barrier that hems him in is weaker.

The Harvest is working.

Buffy and the gang find the doors locked. She sends the others to the back door with her bag of tricks while she gets in through an upstairs window. She notes the symbol on Luke's forehead. Luke has finished with his second victim when Darla brings him Cordelia. Buffy throws the vampire who is supposed to have guarded the window down to the first floor, interrupting the proceedings before Cordelia is bitten. 

Buffy dusts a vampire and she and Luke proceed to fight. Xander, Willow, and Giles make it inside, and start herding people out. Buffy sees a vampire going for Xander, so she throws a cymbal, decapitating the vampire. Jesse takes the opportunity to grab Cordelia. Xander, hearing her scream, confronts him. 

Buffy is still fighting Luke when Giles is jumped by Darla. Willow douses Darla in the face with holy water. Darla runs out, screaming in agony. Jesse is belittling Xander when a woman knocks him onto Xander's stake. Stabbed in the heart, Jesse turns to dust. Xander is grabbed by two other vampires. 

It's too early for sunrise, you moron.

Buffy somehow tricks Luke into thinking that it's sunrise, bursting a window so that light streams on him. Luke is surprised when he isn't burned by the sun but it's too late. Buffy stakes Luke, and he's dusted. We see the Master, as he realizes his plan failed. 

Do you really want to mess with me?

Xander is struggling with the two vampires holding him. Buffy looks up at them, in one of the most iconic images of the show, and the vampires scamper away. The gang gathers, and Xander notes that nothing will be the same 

Nothing's changed.

And yet, the next day, everything is the same. Cordelia is overheard telling a friend that the incident involved a rival gang, a gang that Buffy knew. Xander is in disbelief, but Buffy says she's seen it before. Giles reminds the gang that this is just the beginning, and that they may face worse than vampires. 

About the Episode

My thoughts: High school is literally hell here in Sunnydale. For most people, getting out of high school with your psyche relatively intact is the goal. But for our heroes, getting out alive becomes the challenge. It's the first example we have where Buffy saves the world (or at least, Sunnydale) in front of vast numbers of witnesses, but no one seems to remember it. The show implies it is not a magical spell but our own human nature protecting us from the horrors of the supernatural.

Several themes that run through the show are introduced, including Joyce's uninformed perspective on Buffy's behavior. To her, Buffy is acting like a typical sixteen year old who believes the world will end if she doesn't go out. And of course grounding Buffy is the logical response to a daughter who skips class. Lying to your mom is just one of the things you have to do when you have a secret identity to protect. 

Jesse is the first of many reminders that no one is really safe. Joss Wedon had hoped to put Eric Balfour's name in the main credits, but didn't have the money for the ink. It certainly would have made his demise more heartbreaking. A it was, we barely knew him, and Xander's attachment to him was only slightly established. I feel sad he didn't make it, but I wasn't devastated. Other losses will affect me much more. Just wait. 

What we learn about vampires: The first vampire was created when the last Old One, or Demon, fed off a human and mixed their blood. What was left was a human who was possessed or infected by the Demon's soul. Many vampires are waiting for the Old Ones to return. They can be killed by a stake through the heart or beheading. They also don't like crosses, holy water or garlic. Crosses and holy water burn their skin. We also learn that it takes no time to turn a human into a vampire (that changes in Angel; some theorized the Master turned Jesse.). 

What we learned about Sunnydale: The Spanish learned of it's mystical convergence whatevers. The Master must have known of it too, as he came to the town in 1937. However, as he was trying to open the Hellmouth, there was an earthquake, that his actions may have caused. He has been crippled since.

Body Count: Humans - 3; Vampires - 5. Jesse is represented in both numbers. 

What we learned about our characters: We see the Scooby Team roles solidify. Giles and Willow research, Buffy slays, and Xander tags along. We also see Willow exact some revenge for the cruelty suffered at the hands of Cordelia. Go girl! We learn Angel's name and that he is acquainted with the Master. We first meet Harmony, too, as one of Cordelia's followers. 


Giles: This world is older than any of you know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons, Demons walked the earth; made it their home... their Hell.  In time they lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for the mortal animals. For Man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: Certain magicks, certain creatures... The books tell that the last Demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed -- infected -- by the Demon's soul. He bit another, and another... and so they walk the earth, feeding. Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the Old Ones to return.

Xander: Okay, this is where I have a problem, see, because we're now talking about vampires. We're having a talk with vampires in it.

Giles: All right: They hunt vampires, one Slayer dies, the next is called, Buffy is the Slayer, don't tell anyone. I think that's all the vampire information you need.

Giles: So all the city plans are just open to the public?
Willow: Uh, well, in a way. I sort of stumbled onto them when I accidentally... decrypted the city council's security system.
Xander: Someone's been naughty...

Xander (to Jesse): It's cool! Buffy's a superhero!

Xander: I don't like vampires. I'm gonna take a stand and say they're not good.

Joyce: I know. You have to go out or it'll be the end of the world. Everything is life or death when you're a sixteen year old girl. 

Luke: Ladies and gentlemen, there's no cause for alarm. Actually there is cause for alarm. It just won't do any good. 

Xander (as Buffy decapitates the vampire who was about to pounce): Heads up.

Buffy: Well, we averted the apocalypse. You gotta give us points for that. 

Buffy: Well, I gotta look on the bright side. Maybe I can still get kicked out of school. 
Xander: Hey, that's a plan. 'Cause a lot of schools aren't on the Hellmouth. 
Willow: Maybe you could blow something up. They're really strict about that. 
Buffy: I was aiming on a subtle approach.  Like excessive not studying. 
Giles (to himself):  The earth is doomed. 

Bones Fan Alert: There are no real guest stars different from Welcome to the Hellmouth, so I'll write about one who started as a guest star, became a full-fledged cast member, and then headline his own show. Prior to his role as Angel, David Boreanaz's biggest role was as Kelly's cheating boyfriend on Married With Children. Shortly after Angel ended, he took on the role of Seeley Booth, opposite Emily Deschanel's Temperance "Bones" Brennan. 

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