Buffy 1×03: Witch

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Dana Reston | Director: Stephen Cragg | Aired: 03/17/1997]

With the introduction of the show out of the way, “Witch” has the daunting task of showing us what Buffy should look like on an episode-to-episode basis. If I was watching this for the first time – let alone when it originally aired — I’d be left with a strong whiff of ‘not interested.’ While “Witch” is entertaining at times and has a pretty solid plot, it lacks character depth and has minimal relevance – both important qualities in shows I love. What we have here is an amiable yet mostly forgettable ‘monster of the week’ episode. On its own, it’s nothing much, but when looking through the retrospective eye, a few new shades of color begin to appear.

One of those colors is the first of many scenes to come where Buffy and Giles share an awkward or disapproving moment with each other (think Sombrero Giles in “Fear, Itself” [4×04] and Wizard Giles in “No Place Like Home” [5×05]). Here in “Witch,” the amusement takes shape with Giles berating Buffy for wanting to join the cheerleading squad. He even calls it a “cult!” Considering Buffy is generally known as a “cult hit,” I find this early-series line quite amusing. It also speaks to Giles’ desire for Buffy to be a more studious slayer. While Giles will come to respect Buffy for who she is in the future, there will always be a little disappointment that she just wasn’t as excited about this life as much as he was. It’s no coincidence that Giles is at his most cool and confident during Season 5, the season Buffy admits she needs him and actively wants to learn what it means to be the Slayer.

A nice little lesson I took from Buffy’s attempt to get back into cheerleading is that sometimes what’s considered normal isn’t necessarily smart or safe (as Buffy says of cheerleading) — a sentiment I heartily agree with — and that the Hellmouth will make sure Buffy’s life is always normal turned upside down.

Xander’s first (and failed) attempt to ask Buffy to go on a date with him yields an interesting response. It turns out that Buffy was so eager to hang around Xander from the start precisely because he wasn’t aggressively pursuing her romantically. Of course he wanted to pursue her that way, but ends up shying away from it until “Prophecy Girl” [1×12] — long after their basic friendship is established. It’s interesting to consider that if Xander had been more aggressive from the start, the two of them would have probably never become friends in the first place. If Xander were to ever think back on this, I am sure he’d be glad he has her as a friend over having no relationship at all.

Another welcome little character beat is how “Amy” – saying that she trains hours with her mother for cheerleading — indirectly helps Buffy try to wedge open a connection with Joyce. I thought Buffy’s attempt at connection was quite sweet and Joyce’s complete black-out of her daughter’s desire to spend more time with her a little sad. Once Buffy finds out what Amy’s mom did though, she’s not so quick to want Joyce all into her activities after all. I think, per usual, balance in these matters wins the day. It’s great for your parents to show support in the things you love (provided they’re not self-destructive), but not so much support that they stick the successes and failures of their past onto your shoulders. Most of the time children just aren’t into the same things as their parents, and that’s totally okay! To act like it’s not would not only be incredibly immature, but also very stressful and potentially damaging to the child. This is what makes Buffy telling Amy’s mom to “grow up” so rich.

Even better is how Buffy’s comment ties into the season thematically. Season 1’s primary purpose is to (perhaps forcefully) prepare Buffy for a transition into adolescence. “Witch” bounces off of this theme by asking an important question: why do we have to grow up, anyway? Why not just stay a child forever and demand life to appease and comfort us? Well, Amy’s mom is a living example of what that looks like. In her quest to forever remain a child, she is driven mad to recapture her youth, and goes as far as hijacking her own daughter’s body. Remaining a child forever trivializes the relationships around you, leads to overwhelming selfishness, and then, finally, self-destruction. This is why Joyce’s remarks about not wanting to recapture her youth are so comforting to Buffy – it lets her know that growing up isn’t all bad, and that the alternative is certainly a whole lot worse.

Amy’s mom manages to trap herself in her own cheerleading trophy by casting a spell at her reflection. Is this not a great example of being your own worst enemy? The final shot of the trophy also illustrates the point that we can be prisoners to our obsessions — a consequence that will be played out in long-form with the core characters down the road.

“She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it” — a chilling statement, no doubt, but it gets to the heart of what “Witch” has on its mind. When putting it all together we’re left with an episode that has a few nice – albeit minor and somewhat fleeting — character moments, a great plot, and some nice season-specific thematic relevance. Sadly, the lack of focus on the characters themselves, combined with the poor production values (although the mirror spell at the end wasn’t too bad), pull the episode down into mediocrity. “Witch” has some moments, and is a decent opening regular episode, but it is by no means a showcase of what Buffy is capable of.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Spontaneously combusting cheerleaders: always a good time.
+ Giles mentions that people with terrible rage can sometimes spontaneously combust. While not foreshadowing, I do enjoy the synergy this comment has with “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07]’s ‘dance until you die.’
+ Buffy’s cluelessness in all things supernatural not related to vampires. It’s kind of neat that she’s just as much a novice at dealing with a witch as Xander and Willow are.
+ The irony of “Amy” saying, in regard to the cheerleading trophy, “That’s my mom.” Since it is Amy’s mom saying this, it also ends up foreshadowing the end of the episode.
+ Xander trying to bail out of asking Buffy out and, for a moment, trying to get Willow to do it for him! Imagine that scene!
+ Willow chewing on the blue pen.
+ Buffy running around her house singing the “Macho Man” song – cute and fun.

– The witch’s cauldron: a bit over-the-top and unnecessary.
– Blind Cordelia lasted far too long. And why did the truck that almost hit her not even try to slow down?
– The cat jumping out of the chest at Giles. Cliché alert!
– Despite becoming a recurring character, we don’t really learn much about Amy here.


[Score]

73/100

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56 thoughts on “Buffy 1×03: Witch”

  1. [Note: tabath posted this comment on September 16, 2006.]

    Actually the name Spike was derived from on unfortunate victi, of his poetry(pre-vamping) declaring he would rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to anymore of it -or something along those lines.

    Nice site by the way

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  2. [Note: Tobias Drake posted this comment on January 9, 2007.]

    Actually, you’re both right. The victim in question was responsible for putting the idea in Spike’s head, but Spike did follow up and do it.

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  3. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 3, 2007.]

    This is one of my favorite in S1. I think the plot is really well done and I like Amy. Once again, the characters and their dialogue is what really amazes more. I just have to say how I love Willow. That scene where Buffy tells Xander he´s one of the girls is awesome just by looking at Willow´s face.

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  4. [Note: Austin posted this comment on October 4, 2007.]

    I was really surprised when Amy went back to magic in S2, you’d she would have been scared away. I kind of think it was the scoobies fault for not accepting her into their group after this ep

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  5. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on November 25, 2007.]

    Austin: I kind of think it was the scoobies fault for not accepting her into their group after this ep.

    Imagine how big the scooby gang would have gotten if they’d added every guest character who survived an episode and wasn’t evil. Anyway, Amy didn’t really turn evil until after she’d spent three of the best years of her life as a rat, which would piss off just about anybody. In Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, she is morally ambiguous, true, but remember that Power Corrupts is one of the constant themes of the show.

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  6. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 11, 2008.]

    Tobias, Spike *let it be known* that he’d tortured people with railroad spikes… but it really doesn’t sound very Spike to me. He was always a fisticuffs just-punch-them sort of guy: torture with railroad spikes is more Angel’s gig (as seen at the end of s2).

    I suspect that if he ever did this it was Angel’s suggestion.

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  7. [Note: Michael posted this comment on August 3, 2008.]

    I really like the metaphor used in this episode – parents pushing their kids too far, in terms of sport. It was relevant then and relevant now.

    I’d give this episode the same rating as you. It’s a lot better than most of S1 and holds up a decent, interesting storyline. I loved the twist-at-the-end as well.

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  8. [Note: jill posted this comment on September 3, 2008.]

    My guess is Spike probably did the railroad spike in the head thing just the once, as ‘poetic justice’ from his POV to the man who taunted his poetry. Kinda kicking-sand-in the-face-of-the-bully thing.

    That was probably enough to create the ‘legend’ that Spike did that a lot, even though as Nix said, it’s not his style.

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  9. [Note: Tara and Willow posted this comment on March 17, 2009.]

    YOU ARE THE BEST! I love your site and your thoughts although many times I disagree with you. This episode is great and I think it gives the show a scary quality. It was really funny too. Now about the Spike foreshadowing I read somewhere that Joss was preparing S2 during this episode so it might be a foreshadowing. Plus in one of Juliet Landau interviews she mentioned that Joss had the charachter Spike in his mind more than 10 years before the show began! By the way I agree with your score, although I think I would give it an A-. Great Job! Keep working!

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  10. [Note: Emily posted this comment on September 1, 2009.]

    Cordelia was blind and that’s why she drove into the fence- yet she could see the truck that was barreling down the street towards her?

    This is the only episode that doesn’t fit in with “Normal Again.” Buffy straight out tells her mother that she’s the vampire slayer- Joyce asks if Buffy is feeling well, but she doesn’t freak out or even mention anything related to the experience Buffy had in a mental institution. I’m still able to accept it as canon, but I feel like Joss should’ve thought that one through a little more.

    And *why* was there a big mirror in the science lab?

    S1 can be so corny sometimes…….

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  11. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on September 1, 2009.]

    @Emily: It’s possible that Buffy going into an asylum is only part of the Post-Dawn past. She was apparently sent there after Dawn read her diary, saw all the vampire stuff in it, and showed it to their mother.

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  12. [Note: Dave C posted this comment on September 1, 2009.]

    Leelu, I’ve heard that before, and it sort of makes sense (or close enough to satisfy me), but I wonder if it’s “canon.” did Joss or one of the other writers actually propose that as the official scenario about what happened or is the “Dawn Did It” theory simply (no offense) fanwanking?

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  13. [Note: Emily posted this comment on September 2, 2009.]

    Leelu, I never heard that before- was that mentioned in “Normal Again”? (You’d think I would know after seeing the series five times, but I’m totally blanking lol.)

    Besides, even if it is mentioned, I don’t think that would really work for me as an explanation, considering that Dawn was worked into everyone’s memories. Before Dawn, it could’ve easily been Joyce or Hank who read the diary….

    Like I said, I accept the mental asylum situation as canon- but it just doesn’t work in a couple of scenes in the early seasons. It doesn’t bother me that much….just thought it was worth mentioning.

    -Carpe noctem

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  14. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on September 2, 2009.]

    @Dave C. & Emily: It was mentioned in one of the comics in a Buffy Omnibus. Honestly can’t remember which one, though, and I’m too lazy to look it up. haha

    And yes, Dawn was worked into their memories, meaning that all their existing memories were tweaked to include her. But that also means that there had to be completely new memories fabricated. There’s memories Dawn has of stuff she’s done without the others; as babied and spoiled as Dawn was there also must be plenty of memories that are Dawn-centric for Joyce, Hank, and Buffy, as well.

    All of this also happens with Connor later on in Angel.

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  15. [Note: Nix posted this comment on September 8, 2009.]

    Hah. I just noticed: Giles tries ‘as the Watcher I forbid it’ here. It works about as well as it works when Wesley tries to do the same thing using exactly the same line more than three seasons later.

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  16. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on September 8, 2009.]

    @Emily: I am not really certain whether the comics (other than Season Eight, which really shouldn’t be XS ) are considered canon or not, honestly. heh But regardless, I think it works well to explain away some of the problems you were having with the episode. 8P

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  17. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on July 23, 2010.]

    @Emily, I think you forgot Buffy was under a spell when the said she was the Slayer. And I’m not being a fanwanker. She didn’t have any control over the things she was saying. I admit that Buffy’s revelation in Normal Again were a little far fetched, but what she said in this episodes doesn’t hit me as a mistake.

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  18. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on September 13, 2010.]

    This ep. I really enjoyed and is one of the stronger ep’s of S1.

    There are also 3 Argento-movies references/remindings I noticed:

    1. Suspiria (Witchcraft and dancing). in Suspiria it’s ballet (covering for an evil witches coven) and in Buffy it’s cheerleading.

    2. Deep Red (the hanging ropes on little dolls)

    3. Tenebre (Giles says “Tenebrae” in the spell to reverse Amy’s mothers tricks in the science lab).

    BTW I should recommend all 3 movies to watch. They are great (and very scary/bloody)

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  19. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    I adore the introduction of Amy and the history she has with Willow. I too wish they could have kept her around, but I think it makes sense both that she didn’t join the Scoobies and that she began dabbling in magic. For one thing, sure the Scoobies saved her, but it was a really traumatizing experience for her and I don’t think I’d want to hang around with reminders of that much, though she does stay in contact with them as shown in Gingerbread. Secondly, if I had first hand knowledge that magic exists and there’s all its paraphernalia in my attic, well, curiosity and the draw of power would overcome my fears.

    Despite this, The Witch is far from my favorite episode. I think it was because they were still figuring out how far they could go, so some of the spells were just disturbing to me.

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  20. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    I loved the metaphor of the episode, how much parents push their kids to succeed at what they were good at back in their prime. It really resonated. The supernatural elements of the episode also worked nicely, for the most part. I felt we could’ve done without all the scenes with a witch boiling stuff in her cauldron and hanging out with her freaky voodoo dolls though 😉 The episode would’ve carried more mystery without these scenes. They were plain unnecessary. We know there’s witchcraft going on – don’t need to make it even more screamingly obvious with these cliches.

    Overall though, the tight plotting of this episode was impressive. You don’t see the end twist coming. And I loved the whole statue thing at the end, very clever.

    I’d give it an 80/100. First time I’ve rated an episode higher than yourself 🙂

    Also I look forward to your re-review of the ep.

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  21. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. All comments beyond this point are in reference to the new review.

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  22. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on September 26, 2010.]

    I actually like the jumping cat. I think it’s the only jump scare on Buffy that made me actually jump 🙂

    Though maybe a snarky comment afterwards might have been the way to go.

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  23. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on September 26, 2010.]

    Really good rereview. This is actually one of my favorites in S1 and I just find it adorable that all the characters here are all so innocent. Also, Willow is the cutest!

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  24. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on September 26, 2010.]

    Great re-review! I like the insight about how S1 differs from remaining seasons in that the latter explore themes through the characters rather than through an episode-of-the-week plot.

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  25. [Note: DarthMarion posted this comment on September 30, 2010.]

    Good review! I think I’m really gonna enjoy your insights into S1’s role in the overall show!

    We’ll have to disagree on Amy though. I think her characterisation was shaky from time to time in the last seasons, but The Witch is a good set up for her which the writers started to use (and are using again apparently). Her relationship to her mother really is the one interesting thing about her, how it made her start magic, and how ironically she ended up living in her mother’s skin: the bitterness, jealousy which were Catherine defining traits combined with the abuse of magic…

    Yay for “Macho Man” Buffy, Sarah is just so adorable in this ep.

    And what really make it one of my faves in S1 are the interactions between Buffy and Giles. Great start for their committment to each other!

    However, I was kinda startled that the writers made the move of an extremly weakened Buffy for the third episode…

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  26. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on November 8, 2010.]

    own quote: “3. Tenebre (Giles says “Tenebrae” in the spell to reverse Amy’s mothers tricks in the science lab).”

    Tenebre is the Latin/Italian word for shadow or darkness.

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  27. [Note: mordcordy posted this comment on November 15, 2010.]

    Nice review mike.

    but how could you miss out the Giles/Buffy exchange over the whole cheerleading outfit!! thats one of my fave teasers of all times! that should be a minor pro 😀

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  28. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 4, 2011.]

    I can’t believe how down everyone is on these S1 episodes (not really this episode since most people seem to like it, but in general) . I still love them! Even on my 7th play through the series. I love this one in particular too. I feel like these episodes set up the rest of the series quite well. They establish the characters and show the progression of them all working together as a team, all through fun, quirky plots. I mean the whole beginning of a show can’t be all about character development. First you have to really cement who the characters are. We can’t see the growth until we really know the characters. I think this first season does a great job of doing this despite all the detractors.

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  29. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on March 15, 2011.]

    Buffy asking Joyce if she ever wishes that she could be sixteen again – wouldn’t that count as foreshadowing to Band Candy?

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  30. [Note: Nicole posted this comment on August 9, 2011.]

    I remember at one point Xander mentioned railroad spikes (I can’t remember the exact dialogue). I just thought that was an interesting example of foreshadowing 🙂

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  31. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on September 19, 2011.]

    And for my fellow Dutch BVS-fans, today on the radio was 2Unlimited with the track played from this ep.

    Woohoo!!

    One of our successfull export products.

    In Holland they were also successfull btw.

    Play more Buffy Mucic!!!!!!

    Like

  32. [Note: Rob posted this comment on January 15, 2012.]

    This is one of the better S1 episodes. I agree with MikeJer that Amy’s “so she took it” line is particularly chilling. That’s some serious evil at work. I could do without the no-mouth girl, though, that’s one I’ve seen a time too many. I love that Oz notices the statue’s eyes in a later episode.

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  33. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 28, 2012.]

    I adore The Witch, it being the first episode of season one after the two part opener.

    Its, in my opinion, a well written episode, one full of emotions, from Buffy’s peppy chat with Giles about trying out for the cheerleading squad to her heart to heart with her mom at the end. The chilling lines delivered by Amy and her mother were great too.

    I think in a small way Mike that you’re somewhat mistaken about this seasons episodes being ones that allow for no continuity in the characters emotions and fluency. For instance the principle that parents trying to live through their children, trying to make them a carbon copy as Buffy put it is present in later seasons and episodes, Season three springs to mind, Buffy’s speech to her mom about her not being what Joyce wanted or pictured in Graduation day pt I. Also Joyce, it is clear from this ep is constantly endeavouring to reach out and understand Buffy’s world, knowing there is a distance between them what with Buffy being the Slayer.

    It isn’t as cohesive and stand out-ish as other messages in latter seasons, but i think its present.

    What i enjoy about this episode aside from the plot is the interactivity between Buffy, Willow and Xander. They are already tightly glued together, shown by Xander and WIllow’s willingness to help out Buffy without being asked. There friendship was formed and the unbreakable foundations laid from Welcome to the Hellmouth, looking retrospectively, having watched all the seasons, its a friendship that is tested but never broken.

    Season one, to me anyway, is not a season that can be forgotten, yes its content can be questionable but think about what it gives us, the foundations! I never forget this seasons episodes, i constantly revert back to them when i need a Buffy fix, i like the characters and their carefree nature, their penchant to find the fun in a dark situation is started here, it forms the characters we grow to love.

    The magic and whimsical nature of season one is what makes it special.

    I love this season, as i have said time and again. Its subtle and gives a basis for the characters. I agree with CoyoteBuffyFan completely.

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  34. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on May 7, 2012.]

    @Leelu: Yes, it’s the first Buffy Omnibus collection, in the comic story “Slayer, Interrupted”. Very recommended, also included is “The Origin” what tells the original script from the Buffy-movie.

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  35. [Note: pcordes posted this comment on July 20, 2012.]

    It’s really easy for us as viewers to see that Willow is totally hot and Xander should just ask her out. As MikeJer says, it’s hard to believe that Xander could not “notice” Willow and ask her out. I can’t say from personal experience, but probably growing up with someone as a friend makes it a lot harder to notice her as a girl. “Oh that’s just Willow”.

    Also, when you’re specifically interested in someone, you ignore signs from other people. Remember that Xander wants Buffy. Infatuation / a crush isn’t about evaluating your dating options.

    So even though it’s obvious to us that Willow is really hot, there are a few solid reasons for Xander not seeing it. Also, characters on TV generally look hotter than people we see in real life, so by normal-person standards, yeah, anyone with eyes and a sense of humour will have the hots for Alyson Hannigan, but maybe Willow isn’t meant to stand out as a beauty. We as viewers have seen Alyson in other roles, and in later seasons dressed differently, too, so even in mousy season-1-Willow clothes, it’s easy to think of her as sexy.

    Did I mention that I’m kind of into Alyson? I was pleasantly surprised to see in cast interviews and stuff that her natural speaking voice and sense of humour are pretty similar to Willow’s, which I find really attractive.

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  36. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on September 17, 2012.]

    If Xander were to ever think back on this, I believe he’d be glad he has her as a friend over having no relationship with her at all.In season seven, he does say that. I don´t remember if it´s in “Beneath you” or “Help” but he says that he´s grateful he´s had Buffy as a friend. Oh, how much they grow! It´s amazing!

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  37. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on December 29, 2012.]

    My original comment about this episode was going to be if I were the director of this episode, my direction to Amber would be, “OK honey, once more with feeling” but apparently you already have that covered in your “pros” section above, oh well! I do love the connection between these two episodes, good eye Mike, well done! Apparently being The Slayer and having an extracurricular sports activity (cheer-leading, self defense class, dodge ball, hell even driving!) are unmixy things! I do love the closing shot of Amy’ mother trapped in the cheerleading trophy, it has that “Friday the 13th, the Series” bouquet.

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  38. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on April 6, 2014.]

    Does this maybe show a need for Buffy to follow the crowd and do activities with her mother like Amy did, and then when she realises that was a lie to then go off the idea a little? No, but it does maybe show how Buffy wishes she was still in the normal world, doing fun things with her mum, and regretting the loss of her L.A. life.

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  39. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on April 28, 2014.]

    Although I usually agree to almost everything that you say in your reviews, Mike. I must say that I really feel as though you are being a little too harsh on season 1 of Buffy, particularly by comparing it to later seasons. Season 7 was surely the worst Buffy season, but on my rewatch I just love it because of the nostalgia and the fetus Scooby gang! I can’t help but go AWWWWWW everytime I see them in Season 1 and be all OMG LOOK AT THEM THEYRE JUST BABIESSSS! Also, it’s chilling when you notice all the foreshadowing especially when you know the fates of these characters and what’s to come for them. I think, for a show that was so unique and trying to stand on it’s own feet, trying to get rid of certain classic horror cliches and with a temporarily low production value–Buffy Season 1 succeeds. I really wouldn’t compare it to the later phenominal seasons simply because I take Season 1 as a stand alone season where the show was trying to prove itself.
    Was it corny? Yes. Did it have flaws? Many. Could it have been better? Undoubtedly. But was it as bad as people make it out to be? I honestly don’t think so.

    Then again, that’s just my take on the whole thing. Anyway, I’m currently rewatching BTVS for the second time and will be coming here to read your reviews after every episode. So yay! And I’ve read plenty of your Season 6 and 7 reviews, Mike and I gotta say…Spot on! I’m so glad that I have this site, I wish I had a Critically Touched review for every TV show I watch! Haha! 🙂

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  40. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on April 28, 2014.]

    I think as a critic, you have to be harsh on a season you know is flawed no matter how much it hurts you. Season 1 is the only season of buffy of which I consistently don’t like. Although I must admit that I think it is neat watching the Scooby gang as kids 🙂

    To me season 1 is so cheesy that it really makes you lose respect for what is happening. Im not scared of the master at all, and while I buy that buffy might be mildly scared of him, im still a bit annoyed about how unthreatened I am as a viewer by him. The music is the biggest issue to me 😦 just too cheesy.

    I don’t think people hate season 1, in fact season 7 gets a lot more hate than season 1 😦 I think people compare it too future seasons and it falls short so they are disappointed. I agree that season 1 isn’t bad, but I certainly am not a fan of it.

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  41. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on April 29, 2014.]

    I’m not a fan of Season 1, either. It is by far the worst season imo, I actually happen to like Season 7 (except for the annoying Potentials and the rushed ending that was less-than satisfying). While I COULDN’T AGREE MORE that Season 1 can be extremely corny, that the background music was horrid, and that the Master is not scary at all, I still think that I would’ve rated some of these episodes a little higher. I am not saying they aren’t flawed, (Episodes like The Puppet Show and I Robot, You Jane are just HORRID) but I would probably be slightly gentler with it. I tend to consider their low budget, the actors trying to get comfortable in the shoes of their characters and the show striving to stand on it’s own feet as to why I’d be less harsh with it myself. I also kind of have that love-hate relationship with season 1, the only reason it works for me is that we get to see how these characters were and how much they grow. I love that fresh feeling I get when I rewatch an old BTVS episode and see how naive and adorable they were and the relationships, and how all of this changes so much over time. That is, however, my opinion and I don’t blame anyone else with a different one.

    The Master is by far the Worst Big Bad (with Adam probably coming to a close second), but he is kind of funny at times. And as I said earlier, I consider Season 1 as a stand alone season, something in on it’s own. Which is the mere reason why I don’t compare it to the other seasons.

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  42. [Note: Nick posted this comment on September 6, 2014.]

    In regards to the comment about how this episode does not fit with what may or may not have been established in “Normal Again”. I actually had the opposite reaction to Joyce’s reaction. Buffy is under the spell and something about slaying vampires slips out and Joyce actually seems a bit concerned for her daughter. It’s a quiet concern but it’s there. It’s quite possible that Joyce’s first instinct when hearing mention of slaying vampires isn’t to immediately freak out and send her daughter to an institution but rather to wait and see what happens, which is actually a smart approach when dealing with someone who has a mental disorder. So, to me, that scene actually serves as further evidence that the “Buffy in a mental institution” reality is the real one, though I prefer not to think it is.

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  43. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on August 20, 2015.]

    I’ve always been fond of this one, not only for the smart plot but for the character interactions as well. It really gives the viewer a feel for where all the other core characters stand in relation to Buffy, most of which are very pleasant to experience any number of times, me being a sucker for comradery and all.

    Xander wants to date Buffy, but he’s too backward about the whole thing to pursue too aggressively. Willow, feeling the same way about Xander and knowing how he feels for Buffy, shows admirable maturity and loyalty by not being jealous or holding it against her new friend in the slightest. We find Giles, despite his inclination to play by the rules, growing to care for his slayer more all the time. And here we see Joyce continuing to struggle to even know how to begin to relate to her daughter, although she clearly loves her very much and desires a more stable connection.

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  44. [Note: Big Time James posted this comment on December 10, 2015.]

    I’d give this episode an A, B at the very worst. This was the first “metaphor” episode, something that was a theme of the show (at least s1-4) and that was a big draw to the series for me.It is the show’s metaphors and allegories that are the depth that matters, to me anyway. But I don’t see a lack of character depth/development here either.

    Here we see Buffy’s desire NOT to be the slayer (or her desire to be a normal kid), something that was a theme for the entire series. It wasn’t something she chose, it was forced on her.

    Anyway, I love this episode. Very nice twist, good story.

    From the review at the top: “If I was watching this for the first time – let alone when it originally aired — I’d be left with a strong whiff of ‘not interested.'”

    What the heck could you possibly have been watching in 1997 that would have left you uninterested in this show? Nothing was close to this level of writing at the time. And as far as genre TV goes, there was X Files and Xena, and that was about it. This episode alone evidenced a show that left both of those well in the dust.

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  45. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 10, 2015.]

    “Witch” is a solid episode of television, but when holding it up retrospectively, particularly in light of what Buffy accomplished later in its run, it’s simply not of the same caliber.

    The central theme you point was already solidly introduced in “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and more deeply explored in “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”. In fact, it’s pretty solidly woven throughout Season 1 as a whole, which is one of the season’s best qualities.

    As for TV around 1997, I’ll take the best of the likes of The X-Files, Xena, Star Trek: The Next Generation (which had ended a few years prior), and especially Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which was in its prime at that point, over “Witch” any day, even though I am fond of the episode.

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  46. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on December 10, 2015.]

    It seems to me based on his comments that he generally favors seasons 1-4 and that seasons 5-7 are mostly lacking. So I’m not sure he’d agree with you when you say “in light of what Buffy accomplished later in its run.”

    I’d be interested in hearing his reasoning behind his lack of enthusiasm for seasons 5 and 6 especially. Most of us agree season 7 is problematic at best, but the former two are generally considered to be of high quality despite season 6 and its issues, with season 5 garnering the highest praise of all seasons from most.

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  47. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on December 11, 2015.]

    Good examples. In addition to those shows, I’d also name Homicide, ER, NYPD Blue, Party of Five, Seinfeld, Frasier, NewsRadio, and still-Golden Age Simpsons.

    Basically, TV in 1997 didn’t suck.

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  48. [Note: Big Time James posted this comment on December 14, 2015.]

    Samm: “It seems to me he only likes more fun, light hearted episodes than actual deep meaningful ones.”

    Incorrect. I do like fun episodes, of course, but few Buffy episodes were what I would call “light-hearted,” as someone was usually getting murdered and awful things happened to people in general, like their mothers stealing their bodies.

    Still, as I recall, Amy’s mom is the only one killed in this episode. Or trapped in a trophy? But while portions of the episode were “light-hearted,” I would deem it a horror story, which is the opposite of “light-hearted.”

    I like deep meaningful stories.

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