Buffy 1×05: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: David Semel | Aired: 03/31/1997]

“You remember when you said I was like two different people? Well, one of them has to go. But the other one is having a really, really good time, and will come back. I promise,” a regretful Buffy tells her date, Owen.

“Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” is the initial exploration of Buffy’s double life. It briefly touches on her wants and needs, and the burden of sacrificing said wants and needs to save other peoples’ lives. This makes the episode one of the few in Season 1 that has tangible lasting character relevance. Yet being a good outing for this season doesn’t mean it should be taken as a masterpiece either.

Giles points out that “maintaining a normal social life is problematic at best.” Just how problematic is what the episode then goes on to show us. One of the biggest things driving Buffy as a character in much of the high school years is her desire to have something resembling a ‘normal life.’ Buffy will later learn (e.g. “Earshot” [3×18]) that most people have that same desire – it’s not unique to her life, even if Buffy’s key struggles are larger than life. It’s not really until “Helpless” [3×12] (when she temporarily loses her powers) that Buffy comes to accept – even embrace — the reality of her life with a sense of finality, no longer treating it like a thorn or a job, and that she can make quite a difference in the world by having unique talents, a unique perspective, and a lot of heart. But having to let go of purely self-serving priorities isn’t easy to do, as Buffy finds out with Owen.

The Master says, “There will be a time of crisis, of worlds hanging in the balance. And in this time shall come the Anointed.” The Annoying One, as Spike will so eloquently call him in “School Hard” [2×03], in of himself, is a silly non-character. But he at least serves a thematic purpose: the temptation of eternal childhood in the face of impending adolescence. The Master calls him his greatest threat to the Slayer, and that he will lead her into Hell. This only really makes sense in subtext: if Buffy doesn’t defeat eternal childhood, the Master wins, as Buffy won’t be mature enough to make the sacrifices necessary to defeat him. Just look at Amy’s mom in “Witch” [1×03] – in trying to relive her youth, she ended up trapping herself in a kind of hell.

It’s quite deliberate that Owen pops into the episode right after the Master’s little speech about the Anointed One. Owen serves as a minor “time of crisis” – a preview of the challenging choices ahead — by providing a temptation for Buffy to put her own desires above her other, far less fun, mythic responsibilities. This highlights that Buffy has not accepted her role as the Slayer, thus setting up the larger crisis in “Prophecy Girl” [1×12]. Buffy’s frustration over all these ‘roles’ and ‘responsibilities’ is made quite palpable throughout “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” and is something I can really sympathize with. Being the Slayer can be seen as infringing on personal desires, which is expectedly quite frustrating to a teenager who can’t see the bigger picture – who is only living in the ‘now.’ This frustration is evident when Buffy goes on a stake-out with Giles to find the Anointed One, and nothing happens, bringing home just how boring and ordinary sacrifice can be sometimes. It’s not always about big, dramatic moments that save the day, but rather always being ready when the opportunity to help appears, day-in, day-out.

Owen tells Buffy that “there are a lot more important things in life than dating.” Buffy’s reaction to this — a pang of selfish hurt (Owen slighted her desires) with a twinge of guilt (she knows he’s right) — strikes a chord with me. Then Buffy immediately glances at her pager to see if Giles needs her. When Owen says that Buffy seems like two completely different people, he is seeing the two sides of Buffy – never more disparate than they are now: one that wants ‘fun and acceptance,’ and one that lives in ‘sacrifice and isolation,’ which is something he finds quite fascinating about her (as he should!), albeit for all the wrong reasons. It’s great that the episode draws attention to this duality, as it allows us insight into Buffy’s underlying psychology right as it’s beginning to evolve.

Towards the end of the episode, after the eventful evening at the funeral home, Owen still thinks Buffy is cool, but mostly because he’s attracted to the idea that she’s a danger queen. Not only does he want to be around her for the wrong reasons, but Buffy comes to realize that nurturing this interest of his would only lead to getting him killed; Buffy realizes that Owen simply doesn’t belong in her world, and that she can’t indulge her desire to be with him for what are ultimately superficial reasons. This is why the crazy vampire tells Buffy that Owen “was found wanting.” Owen also serves as a parallel to Angel, hinting to us that Angel – as he currently stands — is not good for Buffy romantically. Both Owen and Angel are ultimately distractions to the cause; dangerous distractions standing in the way of Buffy growing into a mature adult. Only as an adult can she make informed relationship decisions that aren’t clouded by a transient psychology and volatile emotions.

This realization allows Giles to beautifully segue into what this episode boils down to: responsibility and sacrifice. Being chosen makes for a unique and difficult life, and this is one of the very first times Buffy comes to understand what that means for her, despite many early attempts to fight it. This scene is a fabulous bonding moment between the two of them, and I appreciate how it resonates with the season finale, “Prophecy Girl” [1×12], in particular. Giles is just so kind and friendly to Buffy here, and it’s wonderful to hear him share a bit about his past to show that he can, at least sometimes, understand her.

An interesting aside is that, in the opening of the episode, Giles chastises Buffy for being a bit too colorful in how she slays. Buffy protests with a sarcastic response that alludes to the fact that, while colorful, she’s getting the job done. This ‘technique versus emotion’ exchange is particularly interesting in light of Kendra (“What’s My Line? Pt. 2” [2×10]) and Faith (“Faith, Hope, and Trick” [3×03]). In the end, balance between the two styles is ideal, although here in Season 1 we can see that Buffy has a ways to go in achieving balance in much of anything. I also like the continuation of the theme from “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] — where she spotted a vampire in a crowd purely from his clothing — that Buffy can also triumph using unconventional and non-traditional skills.

As much as I appreciated the character work for Buffy, and the wonderful thematic touches, not all of “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” is as introspective and relevant. There are some basic problems here that, sadly, really drag on the episode. For one, I have a hard time buying Buffy’s sudden interest in Owen, who seems too quiet and book-wormy for what appear to be her tastes. There is the mystery factor and his looks, both of which he apparently shares with Angel, but it just doesn’t strike me that Buffy would get all excited over him, purely on interest level. Then again, the episode does point out that Buffy’s not really thinking about maturity and non-physical compatibility at this point. So while this interest feels off, it might not be quite as bad as it seems.

Worse, though, is Cordelia suddenly going after Owen at the exact same time, which is way too scripted and forced. Cordelia is artificially inserted into this story to create competition for Buffy, and it doesn’t remotely work. In typical Season 1 fashion, there’s also the problem of characters that show up just for one episode who are given way too much focus and drama considering we never see them again.

The entire sequence at the funeral home fell flat: the vampires are spectacularly lame, the action isn’t remotely exciting, and the fake-out death of Owen is sloppy and unconvincing. I can’t say I was thrilled with the bus sequence either: silly and boring.

While “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” is certainly rough in parts, it has the right intentions. It is a coherently put together episode with a theme that resonates, and contains some solid early character work for Buffy. These points alone bring it above the average Season 1 episode. This is an overall enjoyable step in the right direction for the series in these very early, formative stages. Best of all, this is the very first episode after the premiere where the plot primarily services the characters.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The interplay between Buffy, Owen, and Giles, and how Emily Dickinson binds them together (i.e. death, loss, etc.).
+ Xander’s watch. Wow.
+ Xander getting a little too excited about being in Buffy’s room.
+ Buffy’s “I’ll come back” kiss to Owen, followed by both him and Angel taking solidarity in Buffy’s wondrous strangeness.

– Good soundtrack, but the score still sucks.
– Terrible vampire make-up, and music, in the opening fight. Oh my.
– A rare poorly delivered pun for Buffy in the opening scene.
– Too much heavy-handed exposition!
– Cordelia, quite obnoxiously, being shoe-horned into the episode in several places.
– The Master talks up the Anointed One a lot. It’s a shame that it’s only talk.


* Buffy saying “bite me” right before the camera cuts to “Angel” [1×07].




47 thoughts on “Buffy 1×05: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”

  1. [Note: Rick posted this comment on December 14, 2006.]

    By no means a great episode, but the dialogue is crisp, we get a little more character development with Buffy and Giles, and we get a good opening look at the soon to be constant battle Buffy must endure between keeping a social life and respecting her duty. In many ways, she’s quickly becoming that female, quirky anti-hero Joss intended her to be.


  2. [Note: ali posted this comment on February 18, 2007.]

    This is another ep that shows us that buffy is more then you’re usual teen show, in a usual show buffy probebly would have let Owen in and everything would work out, but here we got the sad end.
    I think its the first time we see that in buffy there’s not always a happy end, alot of time we’ll get the more “realstic” mature sad end, joss whedon is not tring to please us but rather to defy us. The last scene is so sad and touching it’s show’s us what the meaning of being a slayer is, and it’s also adds to buffy-giles relationship more depth.


  3. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on April 24, 2007.]

    I think this is one of the better episodes of season 1. Some of the dialogue is pretty snappy and shows glimpses of what is to come in regard to quality writing. There are also a few interesting observations to be made – Owen is like a ‘normal boy’ version of Angel, they are about the same height and build and Willow even says that he can brood for 40 minutes straight and that he’s solitary and mysterious. Buffy is completely smitten with him and i’m not sure if this highlights continuity issue, as last episode she was wearing Angel’s Jacket continuously and saying “oh Boy” as she realises the depth of her attraction to Angel and this episode she dosen’t seem to give him a second thought untill he arrives at the Bronze with another of his cryptic warnings. More importantly in this episode we get the articulated message that a ‘normal’ social life and slayage are not mixy things, especially with someone who dosen’t understand her occupation. This, of course, is a continuous theme throughout the entire series.


  4. [Note: -x posted this comment on June 21, 2007.]

    Okayy. i love this episode! its just so great!

    I love when everyone stuffs up her date with owen. Poor Buffy! – love this episode cos it says “so what if im a slayerr.. im also in high school and i deserve sex.”


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

    I love this episode, seeing Buffy trying to have a normal life but that is always complicated. Once again, I love the dialogue and the character interaction. I don´t mind the plot and Owen, but the most important is seeing Buffy trying to combine a normal life with the slaying. The last scene with Giles is priceless. Isn´t it weird that Giles wanted to be a grocer?


  6. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on January 18, 2008.]

    The thing about this episode is, I just have to love it because of this quote:

    Xander: So Buffy, how’d the slaying go last night?
    Buffy: Xander!
    Xander: Oops, I mean uh, how’d the ‘laying’ go last night…no, wait, I don’t meant that either!


  7. [Note: Bill posted this comment on February 9, 2008.]

    This ep bugs me to know end. The main premise is a good one, slaying versus normal life, but Owen is really, really a drag. He’s such a bland guy, and he’s completely the opposite of the guy that Buffy would go out with. What bugs me even more is that Owen is basically an early version of Riley, and despite the fact that it is blatantly obvious how bad of love interest he was for Buffy, they still try the same routine with Riley a few seasons down the line, and it too fails miserably.


  8. [Note: Emily posted this comment on January 29, 2009.]

    I totally and one hundred percent agree with Bill- Owen really is basically just an early version of Riley.
    I just also wanted to point out that at the end of the episode, Giles says there’s no “instruction manual” for being a Slayer, but in S2, Kendra and Gils talk about the “Slayer Handbook.” Just thought it was worth mentioning.


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

    This is an AWFUL episode. I think it’s one of the worst episode of S1. Owen was pretty boring and I agree (again) with you Mikejer, Buffy and Cordelia hitting on Owen was completely out of character.


  10. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 17, 2009.]

    I agree this one is definitely a letdown, but it has that song “Strong” by Velvet Chain in it, which is possibly the sexiest song ever featured on this show. It’s incredibly hot, and it prevents the episode from being a total failure.


  11. [Note: Joe posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    I don’t know how unrealistic I think it is for Buffy to hit on Owen and be interested in a normal, typical high school male. She hasn’t been the Slayer that long, and hasn’t really had a strong “taste” of a dangerous/mysterious guy; she still somewhat wants to reject her calling (which she doesn’t come to terms with until S2, really) and wants everything as normal as she can have it still.

    Now, I’m not saying Owen is in any real way interesting (he’s not), but to say that Buffy would never hit on him seems to neglect that she changes/matures/realizes things about herself as the show goes on; she doesn’t really “get” that she digs the bad-boy thing yet because hasn’t really tried it out, has she?


  12. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    Buffy and her love of moody, sullen guys starts here. I love at first how she cannot stand Angel.

    The funniest thing I saw in this episode is when, at the Bronze, Owen and Buffy are facing each other and Angel is in the background between them, watch as David moves his head to his left and then slightly back to remain in camera focus and not be covered by Owen as he leans forward.

    I really liked the speech Giles gave to Buffy at the end and the way it was done with the music and I cannot imagine Giles as a fighter pilot…possibly a grocer, yes. I did feel for Buffy.


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

    Buffy was attracted to Owen was because he was the stereotypical Sensitive Guy. He’s completely wrong for Buffy not because he’s sensitive, but because he’s effing BORING. Same problem with Riley, though the utter wrong-ness of that relationship was almost awe-inspiring in its complexity.


  14. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    Buffy also likes ’em tall and conventionally handsome, and Owen hit the mark there. This teen relationship was subverted — rather than the guy crashing the poetry class to scam on the girls, it was our horny Buff who was overwhelmed by the other’s phyiscal presence, and who feigned interest in the dead poets so as to secure a date.

    To me, it was a humanizing episode — Buffy is one tough Slayer hombre in the graveyard, OK mujer, but in the hallways she’s just another impressionable girl who’s likely to do something stupid when a hunky frat boy pays her attention. (Cough *Parker* cough.) Yeah OK Owen was a pure prop as a character, which is bad, but in this case I was sufficiently interested in Buffy’s reactions that I didn’t mind.


  15. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 17, 2010.]

    I’d say about a 62/100. I watched this ep last night and it’s better than I originally gave it credit for, too. It’s not great though. The worst thing about is Owen – the character is lame (with his Emily Dickinson poetry, cringe!) and the actor is just godawful. He seems like an amateur high school drama student to me. His delivery was just so off, especially in that final scene with Buffy. The premise itself had some credit as it looked at the many responsibilties Buffy would have to juggle, how she couldn’t have a normal love life because of her secret identity of the Slayer, etc.

    The dialogue in the episode was also really strong, for the most part. Loved the Xander/Willow/Angel/Buffy/Owen at the Bronze scene, and Buffy and Giles’ scene at the episode’s end was touching and nicely written. Giles and Buffy’s relationship starts to develop as do the relationship between the core four. Re good dialogue, the exceptions would be anything Owen or that faux-Anointed-One vamp says. The latter had some terrible lines both on the bus and at the funeral home. I also couldn’t stand Buffy’s “YOU KILLED MY DATE!” burst of rage. It was so silly. Why would Owen die from a knock on the head? Why would Buffy even think he was dead?

    Liked the red herring in the episode though, I thought it was a clever twist. Overall it was a better ep than I originally thought, but it’s still not all that great.


  16. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.


  17. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    Loved your rereview and I think you gave it more points this time.

    This episode is one of my favorites mainly because it shows how Buffy wants that normal life but sometimes is hard. That speech from Giles is beautiful!


  18. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    This was one of the few small gems of season 1. I think it’s in the B/B+ range: just a lot of fun.

    Now please tell me you’ve moved “The Pack” into the D range.


  19. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    Great review, and nice opening. I watched this episode with a friend (her first time) a few months ago and she said, “so is this how every episode is going to be? Buffy tries to date a guy but her slaying interferes?” Thank goodness the writers didn’t go that route. As a single episode, though, this is a pretty good intro to Buffy’s slayer/social life problems, as you said.


  20. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on November 14, 2010.]

    Hooray for another review! I’m so glad that you’re keeping these up. I’m surprised that you raised the grade on this one so high, since I’ve always agreed with your original assessment of it, but sometimes perspective can change things.

    Now, don’t listen to G1000 on “The Pack”. It’s one of the few S1 episodes I truly enjoy and don’t feel like I have to qualify it. Besides, he doesn’t like “Nightmares”, either, and that’s a top-notch episode any way you slice it.

    Note to G1000: Your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. I’m just teasing. 😛


  21. [Note: MrB posted this comment on November 14, 2010.]

    Much better review! This is a classic S1 problem where the premise was failed by the execution. In this case the premise and character development – which Mike nailed in the review – is much more important than the poor action scenes. It somewhat overcomes the bad stuff because the episode had something to say about Buffy.

    S1 was a mess of different writers and directors – almost as freelance work. They didn’t know or care enough about what was going on to be able to really understand that in BtVS character development is paramount.

    On to The Pack, which has some of the same strong points and failures.


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

    A little harsh again IMO. I really like this episode.

    Some great scenes:

    I loved the scene where Giles gives the whole speech to Buffy and then tells her they are going to battle–cut to the scene of them sitting bored in the cemetery. Very funny.

    I like when Owen gives Buffy his pocket watch and poor Xander looks down at his Tweety Bird watch — oh Xander. LOL

    The awkwardness of Owens happening upon Giles in Buffy’s home. I always like these scenes where Buffy has to try to explain to people why she hangs out so much with the school librarian.

    Cordelia’s “Hello salty goodness” line is fantastic (and repeated in AtS!).

    They did a very good job of throwing suspicion on the crazy guy on the bus as the anointed one. The first time I watched it, I never thought it would be the boy. It was nice deflection.

    Buffy shows a lot of maturity in this episode. The sacrifices are becoming apparent. She chooses her duty over her crush which is a big step forward for her. I think I would have jumped Owen’s bones before I dumped him. 😛

    On a side note: I love Buffy’s little tiger hoody. Also, I can see why Buffy would be attracted to Owen. He’s adorable here.

    One other note: I don’t think that it makes Buffy sad when Owen says that there are more important things in life than dating. I think she feels guilty (as she expresses at the end of the episode to Giles). Buffy realizes in that moment that she is putting dating above her duty and for a second it seems like she was kind of wishing that. Then she goes back to trying to live her normal life and enjoy her date.


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

    I realize that i didn’t finish the second to last sentence in my last paragraph. It should read “She was kind of wishing that there was a page from Giles so she could assuage her guilt”


  24. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on September 16, 2011.]

    Another + I liked to mension was the better fight scene in the morgue with the crazy vamp Korba.

    Buffy doin a flip-jump on the corpse drawer.

    One of the better S1 fights imo.


  25. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 8, 2011.]

    looking retrospectively at this episode solidified how i felt when i first encountered it. This is certainly one of the move poignant episodes of the season. What is most prominent aspect of this episode is the sneak peak we get into the duality of Buffy’s life. Fist seen in The Harvest with the trunk and its hidden compartment, holding the secrets of her superhero life, this episode serves as a nice follow up.

    Giles discusses that having a personal life, a life separate from that of the slayer is problematic at best. This is obviously something Buffy finds difficult and in fact subverts his wishes and goes on her date with the not so deep Owen. Signifying the theme not only of this episode but of the seasons to come. Buffy’s constant struggle to balance her slayer life with her normal life. Something which comes to a head at the end of season two with the episode Becoming pt 1 and 2. We do see aspects of on encroaching on the other throughout many of the episodes.

    This episode creates a lot of sympathy for Buffy, her constant endeavour to have it all making her a great heroine to watch. Especially her speech to Giles about it being the 90’s and that Clark Kent has a job i just want to date.


  26. [Note: Rob posted this comment on January 25, 2012.]

    Speaking of Buffy and Giles, this reminded me of the knowledge we later get that Giles draws a salary. Why would they pay the Watcher and not the Slayer? Is this ever addressed? It sure would save Buffy a lot of trouble in S6.


  27. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 26, 2012.]

    Maybe its a means tested sitch? LIke with Faith, she must have been getting something….how else was she living in that motel?

    Although i guess when that vamp killed the tenant….she didn’t need to worry about paying ha!


  28. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on February 5, 2012.]

    Mike, I’m in the hospital with a flayed chest and the doctor has just asked me what happened and I’m to embarrassed to tell him the truth. it’s the scene at the Bronze where Buffy says “bite me” and it cuts immediately to Angele’s reaction. If that isn’t a classic, I don’t know what is. So, do I tell the doctor the truth or do I tell him a lie? Do I try to explain to him that the good guys are always stalwart and true,and the bad guys always ware black hats and have horns…well, on second thought, maybe the truth would be a little better. what makes that scene resonate with me is the fact that Buffy doesn’t know that Angel is a vampire yet and what happens in Beginnings pt. 2. I’m really surprised you haven’t mentioned this in your review, pros/cons or quotes sections. Well Mike, living a good life, a great career, and running the best Buffy/Angel review fansite on the net, your hands do get a little full, don’t they? So I do understand why this one might have slipped past you, otherwise keep up the good work as always.


  29. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on August 16, 2012.]

    “Then, of course, in typical S1 fashion, there’s the problem of the character that shows up just for one episode that is given way too much focus and drama considering you never see him again.”

    My first thought was that this is just how it has to be with a TV series, that having a lot of minor characters popping up across episodes would be difficult to manage and perhaps too expensive. It would have been nice to get a first glimpse of Owen in an earlier episode. Then after this one we’d see him at some later point where an awkward encounter would distract Buffy from some important event. Or he could be the first guy with a gun in I Only Have Eyes…, with his darkness fascination serving as a red herring.

    I don’t know if I’d call the single episode appearance a problem exactly, but it does give more of a MotW feel instead of the development and continuity we’d like to have ideally.

    Of course one of the great things about BtVS is that there are a number of characters that do weave in and out this way, Jonathan being an especially important example.


  30. [Note: Alex posted this comment on August 17, 2012.]

    I get the feeling that if Owen had proved to be a particularly interesting and/or popular character then he would have ended up coming back again. But he wasn’t, so he didn’t. There are several important characters who start off as small one-episode roles, and don’t seem to have originally been intended for anything bigger. Anya is probably the biggest example of that, but I think it also applies to Warren, and Harmony’s gradual rise to series regular in AtS season 5 won’t even have been a twinkle in Joss’s eye back when she was a minor character in BtVS season one.

    But because I love all the little continuity touches throughout the Buffyverse, I agree that it would have been really cool to see Owen again. I love the idea of him being the first guy with a gun in I Only… But in the end I’m guessing the character had just served his purpose and hadn’t turned out to be anything particularly special, so no one felt the need to bring him back again.


  31. [Note: wayne posted this comment on March 6, 2013.]

    I can’t think of another episode that better explores the dicotemy of Buffy’s character (Buffy the Slayer vs. Buffy the 16 yr old girl / Doing the right thing for humanity vs. doing the right thing for oneself). That being one of the central themes, if not the central theme, of Season One.
    Sure, It’s not flashy.
    Sure, The Annoying One, not the best character ever introduced.
    Sure, There are some cringe worthy moments. (When the vampire says, “Pork and beans!”.)
    Sure, it’s campy, wait, that’s not a bad thing at all.
    In short, I love it and it continues to be one of my favorite 10 episodes. It just feels like BtVS to me. It resonates.


  32. [Note: Gon posted this comment on March 8, 2013.]

    I had not seen this episode in a long time. In my head, S1 = episodes 1, 7, 12. The others episodes I normally skip. I’ve been thinking about that since I read something MikeJer wrote, about most viewers giving S1 a free pass or something like that, without analyzing it. I must say this is one of the reviews I liked the most, I found it realy insightful and it changed my way of looking at the episode. I just re-watched it and, all in all, I found it pretty decent and I agree with #36 wayne, it “feels like BtVS”.

    MikeJer says that The Anointed One represents “the temptation of eternal childhood”, that Buffy must defeat in this season. I had never thought of him like that, but it makes a lot of sense to me (I also love how he’s just turned to ashes in “School Hard”, he’s clearly out of the picture by then and we don’t even see his death – although I guess this is because it’s played by a child). Still, I don’t have a problem with the Anointed One in this episode. I think the surprise at the end is effective. It’s just a pity that he won’t do anything relevant AFTER this episode.

    Oh, and a guilty confession: I like Owen. I think he’s cute and sweet. Even I would like to go on a date with him!

    Just one more detail. #18 John Roberts writes: “Buffy also likes ’em tall and conventionally handsome”. That’s true. And that’s one of the reasons why I’ll never understand Scott Hope. 🙂


  33. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on August 22, 2013.]

    I love this episode. While the comedy isn’t quite up to the brilliant Espenson episode standard, it’s still incredibly witty, very droll, and extremely clever. I also love the title.

    I always figured Buffy’s attraction to Owen was simply her displaced feeling for Angel. Like somebody said, she just recently realized her feelings for Angel, which she’ll spend the rest of the season and part of the next trying to deny. I think Owen is just part of that process. As (I think the same person) said, Owen is a lot like Angel: tall, handsome, brooding, mysterious, and morbid (though not quite dead). Thinking of Owen as an Angel substitute only adds to the hilarity of the episode.

    While I love this episode just because I irrationally do, I think your objective score is right on. It’s campy, but here I find that adorable rather than annoying, like I Robot, You Jane and The Harvest.


  34. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 27, 2013.]

    This is another season one episode I see as stronger than most. It enhances the plot while being fun and campy like the other eleven episodes.

    I like the aspect of how Buffy can’t do normal teenage things (also explored in Witch), as well as how it develops her at the same time.

    I agree and disagree about your issue with Cordelia’s presence in this episode. While I do agree that it was forced for it to be Cordelia who crushes on him at the same time, which is suppose is just to utilize the main cast, I like the contrast it shows between Buffy and Cordy. Cordelia is able to live a life where she could have a normal social life which Buffy can’t.


  35. [Note: Sarah M posted this comment on August 30, 2013.]

    I’m doing a Buffy rewatch, since I just got the full DVD set, and am presently engaged in the slog through Season 1.

    I’d put this on the level of “Witch” in terms of encouraging early showings of competence, even if it doesn’t have much to recommend beyond that, and it’s definitely one of the better outings in S1. Owen is definitely a proto-Angel. Buffy had a fairly consistent “type” throughout the series, and he fits right in with that.


  36. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 1, 2013.]

    This episode has a love-hate for me, I love buffy and I love her even more for turning down Owen! she got over her superficial interest for this guy to actually care enough about his life, But I really hate the speechy vampire that buffy fights! plus ive always been really confused as to why the vampires changed him. not that it matters but weren’t they just there to change the anointed one?


  37. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on July 4, 2014.]

    Maybe the most boring episode of the entire show. Most of this comes from the fact that Owen is just so unbelievable as a possible romantic partner. People complained about Riley being boring whitebread guy? I don’t even remember what this Owen guy looks like, and I remember what the douches from “I Robot” look like. This isn’t even mentioning the episode’s stupid, practically nonexistent plot and the introduction of THE ANNOYING ONE.

    This is the first episode that explores the divide between Buffy Buffy and Slayer Buffy, sure. But it does so in the most forgettable way possible that I can’t possibly imagine you rating this episode anything higher than a 60. Sorry :0(


  38. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on July 5, 2014.]

    You know, I’m surprised by how many people seem to not particularly like this episode. I’ve always considered it to be one of the best of the first season–along with Welcome to the Hellmouth, Angel, and Prophecy Girl. Sure, it’s not perfect; it remains a first-season episode, and has first-season weaknesses. But it tackled several important themes, deepened two of the central characters (Buffy and Giles), cohered pretty nicely, was appealingly atmospheric, and made me feel something. And while it’s true that the whole Anointed One plot never ultimately goes anywhere, I really don’t see that as a strike against this episode in particular. There was nothing wrong with how it was handled here!

    (And “If the apocalypse comes, beep me!” is just a classic line.)


  39. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on August 25, 2015.]

    The best episode since WttH, and not just because of its relevance to the series as a whole. It consistently amuses, despite its flaws. Most of the dialogue is sharp (so many classic lines here), exchanges between characters span from hilarious to genuinely poignant, the action sequences are… improved. I actually really enjoy the scene at the morgue and while the FakeAnnointedOne may be hokey, I kind of get a kick out of his babbling. (Yes, my sense of humor is slightly odd.) And you definitely can’t fault this episode for what was, or was not, done with the Annointed One in the follow-ups. The reveal at the end was very well-handled and I still get a bit of a chill every time I see it, even knowing what happens next.

    Owen is a lame character, it’s true, but the overall archetype of him works well enough. He is sort of, simultaneously, a parallel and the antithesis of Angel, and I love watching Angel squirm when Buffy is with Owen.


  40. [Note: Melody303 posted this comment on October 7, 2015.]

    I just wanted to note a little annoyance that wasn’t touched on in the review or the comments: I didn’t buy Buffy’s stated reason for dumping Owen – the danger she’d be putting him in. There’s no reason to believe he’d handle it any worse than Xander or Willow, for instance, and they’ve been a great help to Buffy throughout the series. Owen could easily have been, too.
    Not that I’m saying he was a particularly interesting character or anything, just that the way he was dispatched from the series, the reasoning for it… wasn’t all that convincing.


  41. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 25, 2016.]

    It should probably be noted that the Master uses “here endeth the lesson” here which Spike will use in Fool for Love and Buffy in Showtime.


  42. [Note: Jen posted this comment on February 6, 2017.]

    Yeah, Buffy’s reasoning for dumping Owen was a little lame, but I think it was understandable. Maybe she just didn’t feel it after their date. She’s not really interested in hearing about Emily Dickinson. And when Owen explained that he wanted to hang out with her so they could go on lots of dangerous adventures together, well, I guess that’s not really what Buffy had in mind.

    I actually liked Owen. I like nice guys in general, though. I thought his innocent dismissal of Cordelia once Buffy had joined him at the Bronze was swoon worthy. “Cordelia, I’m still here with Buffy.” Most high school guys would be excited by the attention and would awkwardly try to chat with both girls at the same time.


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