Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 1 E 1 Welcome To The Hellmouth
Is this some kind of new feminine product I don't know about?
Nighttime. In a deserted high school, a randy young man invites his leery date, a Catholic schoolgirl, up to the gym roof for some boffo "stargazing". Just as they are about to kiss, she pulls away and claims she heard a noise. Coast is clear. Suddenly, her lovely face becomes bumpier and paler as if she was -gasp- dead! But more importantly she now has fangs! Before the poor sap knows it, she's already at his neck draining his blood. Bet you didn't expect that!Somewhere else, a teenage girl sleeps fitfully; visions of cemeteries, monsters, and rivers of blood interrupting her rest. She jerks awake just in time to hear her mother call her name. This is Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer. She's not like other teenagers. It's her first day at her new school.Pan up to Sunnydale High. Xander Harris menaces pedestrians with his out-of-control skateboarding. He looks over to see Buffy walk past, then smacks into a guardrail. Dazed, he looks up to see a redhead (Willow) stand smilingly over him. Willow pines for Xander, Xander obsesses over the new girl, Willow makes gentle jabs at his libido, End Scene. The dynamic of the next three Seasons is set. They run into a third member of their trifecta, Jesse, blissfully unaware that he's a tertiary character on a Joss Whedon show and thus not long for this world.Elsewhere, Buffy is in a meeting with her Principal to hash over her colorful dossier. Principal Flutie jovially rips up her school record, only to tape it back together when he reads that Buffy burned down a school gym. Things go all downhill from there. As Buffy exits his office, she rams into another student, spilling the contents of her bag. Xander sees this and seizes the opportunity to play Rico Suave. As they gather her things, Buffy thanks him and goes back to her business. Xander notices she left something behind ("Oh, hey! You forgot your... stake.").Buffy gets chummy with a popular girl, Cordelia, who takes Buffy under her wing. It's all syrup and honey until they run into Willow at the water fountain; Cordelia does a 180į as she barks at Willow to beat it. Buffy looks droopy, but says nothing.Buffy heads into the school's cavernous library to pick up some textbooks. There she meets Mr. Giles, the school librarian. Instantly, Giles makes her for The Slayer and whips out a giant tome marked Vampyr. Buffy, shaken, tells him he's mistaken and leaves.In the girls locker room, two students are gossiping about Buffy. Her reputation precedes her. As they continue to dish dirt, one of the girls opens her locker and a dead body falls out. It's our Romeo from earlier. Buffy, alarmed, wants to know how the guy died and if he had any marks on him. She breaks into the cordoned-off locker room and finds a bite mark on the deceased's neck.
Buffy returns to the library to confront Giles. She tells him that she's retired from slaying, but Giles reminds her who she is - the Slayer, the one girl in all the worldwith the strength to fight vampires, et cetera. He also tells her that Sunnydale is built on a convergence of mystical forces, making it a mecca of magical mischief. Buffy suggests that if he's so keen on slaying, then maybe he should do it. Befuddled, Giles asserts that he is a Watcher — he trains and mentors the Slayer. Buffy asks him to prepare her for getting kicked out of school and losing all her friends, then leaves in a huff. Behind them, Xander pops out of the stacks with a WTF look on his face.Buffy accepts Cordelia's invitation to go to the Bronze, a club on "the bad side of town" (which is block from the good side of town). Along the way, Buffy is shadowed by a sinister figure. He tails her into an alley, then glances about impotently. Above him, Buffy is doing a handstand on a bar spanning the alleyway. She swings down and bowls him over with a kick. The stranger (actually, Angel, but you're not supposed to know that), irritated, straightens his jacket and claims that they have a common goal—to kill all the vampires. He reaches into his coat and tosses Buffy a small box, telling her to be ready for "the Harvest." Buffy opens the box to reveal a silver crucifix.Underground, a grotesque figure rises from the pit of blood. It's a wizened vampire, but one who doesn't look remotely human. A kneeling vampire, Luke, addresses his "Master." They discuss how the Harvest will restore his power. Luke has sent his servants for food for the Master, who requests something "young."Buffy joins Willow at the bar, and the pair get acquainted. Willow explains that she's nervous around boys. Buffy tries to draw Willow out of her shell and says that her life philosophy is "seize the moment." She then spots Giles lurking about on the upper deck of the Bronze and jets off to chastise him for being grody. Giles grumbles that he's come to persuade Buffy to take her duties seriously. Downstairs, Jesse approaches Cordelia and asks her to dance. Cordy makes a blech face and gives him the brush-off. Burned again, Jesse glances around for fresh prospects.Back on the landing, Giles opines that the club is a perfect hunting ground for vamps. He encourages Buffy to try and sniff out a vampire in the room. "There's one," she points; the vintage eighties getup is the giveaway. Suddenly, the vampire moves and reveals his date: it's Willow, seizing the moment. Buffy draws her stake and chases them into a back alley, but finds only Cordelia in a snit. Cordelia immediately starts dialing everyone she knows to rescind Buffy's Libby membership card. Meanwhile, we see Jesse chatting up the vampire schoolgirl (Darla) from The Teaser, still on the prowl.Buffy runs into Xander outside the Bronze. He makes a pointed comment about slaying vampires. Buffy gruffly wonders if there was an announcement in the newspaper. Xander thinks Buffy is suffering from delusions of grandeur, but Buffy convinces him of their serious need to find Willow fast.The vampire stops outside a crypt and tries to entice Willow to go in. When she declines, he shoves her inside; this is not a democracy. They are soon joined by Darla and Jesse, whose throat is bleeding. Game faces on, the vamp are about to chow down when Buffy swoops in. The vampires circle her, unsure what to make of this. Topside, Willow, Xander, and Jesse are scrambling to safety. They come to a dead stop when several leering vampires surround them.Buffy cracks wise to Darla about how she just wanted a quiet life, but Luke comes from behind and grabs her by the neck. He throws Buffy across the crypt and then bitches Darla out for not bringing the Master his dinner. Luke tells Darla to leave and seems pretty assured that he can take care of the little girl himself. Buffy grabs a stake and is just about to drive it into Luke's heart, but he breaks it in half with his hand. He flings Buffy ass over teacup into a stone coffin, then vanishes. The room is silent. Just when Buffy has gotten up the courage to peek out, Luke leaps in with her. He grabs her and prepares to bite her neck. To be continued.
All of Them: Xander says hello and then tells her that he's having problems with his math homework. She wants to know which part and he replies, "The math."
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When news reaches him of vampires on campus, Giles emits little surprise; he was expecting this. Well, Buffy sure as hell wasn't. "It's my first day! I was afraid that I was gonna be behind in all my classes, that I wouldn't make any friends, that I would have last month's hair!"
Ask a Stupid Question...: Buffy tells her mother that she's going to the Bronze, and Joyce asks if there are going to be boys. Buffy quips, "No, mom, it's a nun club."
Being Watched: En route to the Bronze, Buffy senses herself being shadowed by a nosy man in black.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cordelia starts out being perfectly nice to Buffy, but it's revealed to only be because she thinks Buffy is another Alpha Bitch, and Buffy is quite turned off after seeing her behavior towards Willow.
Blatant Lies: Buffy's excuse for burning down the gym was that it was full of asbestos. Also, her stake is for self defense; all the rage in LA.
Xander: Well, uh, maybe I'll see you around. Maybe at school, since we both... go there. Buffy: Great! It was nice to meet you. (She starts down the hall) Xander: 'We both go to school.' Very suave. Very not pathetic.
Captain Obvious: Reliable old Jesse's got the goods on the new girl. "New girl!" Xander absorbs this breaking news with extreme unction.
Willow keeps yammering on as her date glares into the middle distance, obviously trying to tune her out. "Sure is dark!," she exclaims. The vampire deadpans that, yes, it's night.
Costume Test Montage: Buffy's considering what to wear to the Bronze. She holds a shiny black outfit up to the mirror.
Buffy: Hi! I'm an enormous slut! [holds up a blue floral dress] Hello! Would you like a copy of 'The Watchtower'? [lowers the dress] I used to be so good at this.
Crash into Hello: Slightly Inverted. Buffy walks out into the hall looking through her bag, and just then a girl runs into Buffy and knocks the contents of her bag onto the floor. This is Xander's cue to work his mojo, and he quickly starts gathering her things for her.
Buffy: Dead? Cordelia:Totally dead. Way dead. Xander: So not just a little dead, then.
Description Cut: In the first of many ironic segues, Buffy reassures Giles, "C'mon. This is Sunnydale. How bad an evil can there be?" Cut to The Master's crypt, where Luke chants about making the world bleed and whatnot.
In the alley behind The Bronze, Buffy skulks around a corner, and, as a figure looms behind her, whirls and grabs that person by the neck, stake ready. Buffy has just made the worst move of her short social life at Sunnydale High, because she's applied her stranglehold to Cordelia Chase.
This episode is the only time we see Xander riding a skateboard, since the scene required lots of space and was a pain to shoot. We later see Xander holding a skateboard a couple of times, but never again does he ride one.
This isn't quite the only episode to feature a vampire dressing as was fashionable when he died. note For example, the 80s hair vampire in the leather jacket who almost gets Buffy in the fifth season. But they're rare. The show was still working on its mythology and style, and they were considering being able to date vampires that way. They realized quickly that it was stupid and didn't go with it.
Later episodes put Buffy in brighter, bubblegum colors (which ended up being part of the mythology; vampires are attracted to bright colors), but here she's in more muted colors. The change was partly character driven, partly to help differentiate her from Willow.
The Totally Radical slang only shows up here. They eliminated it in favor of Buffy Speak, which is how Joss and his writers talk in real life.
Eating Lunch Alone: Outside, Willow is sitting down to lunch. Buffy walks up to her and says hello. Willow wonders if she wants her to move.
Face-Revealing Turn: Subverted with Darla and her first victim, but played straight when she's in the Bronze.
Failed Attempt at Drama: Principal Flutie dramatically tears up Buffy's record to show she has a clean slate, then has second thoughts when he reads about Buffy committing arson and starts taping it together again.
Giles tries to appeal to Buffy's sense of duty, reminding her that she is the "Chosen One," the "one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires—" "To stop the spread of their evil blah blah," finishes Buffy flippantly.
Giles loads Buffy up with a bunch of books and opines that every myth she's ever heard is true. Buffy scoffs, "What, you sent away for the Time-Life series?" A chagrined Giles admits that he did and he got the free gift calendar, too.
Foreshadowing: Willow is very enthusiastic about helping Buffy study and suggests that they meet in the library. Buffy says that place gives her the "wiggins." Willow really likes it there because the "new librarian" brought all sorts of interesting books with him.
Willow: He was a curator of some British museum. Or The British Museum, Iím not sure.
Giles opines that a place like The Bronze is a veritable vampire buffet. He's not so wrong, as "The Harvest" shows.
Freudian Slip: Xander kneels down to help scoop up Buffy's books, saying, "Can I have you?" Off Buffy's look, he recovers with, "Uh, can I help you?"
Gibberish of Love: Xander later suggests "Maybe we could...hang out at school, since we both...go there." He lampshades the trope immediately afterwards: "'We both go to school.' Smooth."
Good Morning, Crono: The pilot starts with Buffy having a nightmare about the coming of the Master, and her mother calls her name to remind her not to be late for school.
Half Truth: Buffy sheepishly confesses that her transcripts are "a little colorful."
Principal Futie: Do you think, uh, 'colorful' is the word? Not 'dismal'?
Angel knows what Buffy's thinking, but not to worry: "I don't bite." Angel was supposed to be a one-time character until David Boreanaz was found; this is a bit of unintentional foreshadowing.
I Believe That You Believe It: "I only know that you think that you're the Slayer." Xander's excited to hear that Willow hooked up with somebody until Buffy expresses a desperate need to find her. He then sarcastically hopes Willow didn't leave with a vampire and that Buffy won't have to do any slaying. He doesn't really believe what he's heard about Buffy's supernatural calling, but he's willing to humor her if it means Willow's in trouble.
Implausible Deniability: Xander reaches into his backpack to get Buffy's stake and hands it to her; "The only thing I can think is that you're building a really little fence." Buffy stammers that it's for self-defense, and all the people in LA have them because pepper spray is passť.
Angel, after being clocked to the ground and pinned under Buffy's shoe. "Ahh, heh. Is there a problem, ma'am?"
Improvised Weapon: Buffy, tailing Willow and her date into a dark hallway, stops to break the leg off a chair to use as a stake.
Instructional Dialogue: Giles sidelines Buffy her by asking if the dead guy is going to rise again. Buffy, huffing, says no and takes a moment to explain some of the vampire mythology of the Buffyverse — Namely, that you have to suck vampire blood to change.
"To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly, they're just gonna kill you."
Buffy tells Giles that she's taken an early retirement, and suggests that if he's so keen on slaying, why doesn't he go slay vampires instead? Giles protests that he's a Watcher and his duty is to... "Watch?" Buffy pipes up. "No," says Giles exasperatedly, and goes on to explain what a Watcher does.
Last-Second Word Swap: Principal Flutie is going over Buffy's transcripts and when he notes that Buffy was responsible for burning down the gym of her old school. Buffy almost slips and tells him that the gym was full of vampires but quickly amends that to "asbestos."
"From now on I'm only going to hang out with the living...lively...people."
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Unless you've already seen the show, don't listen to the commentary. Whedon gleefully ruins everything. Okay, not gleefully. He's talking to longtime fans. Still.
Love Martyr: Jesse is a glutton for Cordelia's punishment.
Many Questions Fallacy: Buffy huffs into the library and demands that Giles tell her what's going on. "You heard about the dead guy in the locker? He's got two little little holes in his neck and all his blood's been drained. Isn't that bizarre? Aren't you just going 'ooh'?"
Mirror Monologue: Buffy in her room, trying to decide on an outfit for the evening. She seems torn between a skimpy black number ("Hi, I'm an enormous slut!)" and a floral dress ("Would you like a copy of The Watchtower?") She grouses about losing her sense of fashion.
Mundane Utility: (unaired pilot) Buffy uses her Slayer agility to do an impressive flippy-thing in order to descend a spiral staircase.
Mythology Gag: It's possible that Angel's catty remarks about Buffy's height was an in-joke at the movie. Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy in the movie, is 5′7″ and Sarah Michelle Gellar is 5′3″.
Real Life Writes the Plot: The scene where Jesse asks Cordelia to dance is taken from Joss Whedon's school experience. Though in answer to the girl's reaction "With you?," he said nothing and left (unlike Jesse).
Red Shirt: Darla's date. Poor boy just wanted to neck a little, and now his neck is ventilated.
Refusal of the Call: Buffy wants to know if a Watcher prepares her for "getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them?" Giles gives her a blank stare for an answer, and Buffy stomps out.
The black-clad man explains that what he wants, like Buffy, is to "kill 'em all." Buffy snipes that he's incorrect.
Subverted Trope: As mentioned in the commentary for the episode, Joss Whedon began the show with the intent to subvert horror tropes. The episode opens with a boy and girl breaking into the high school, presumably for sexy times; the girl's nervous and the boy predatory. Every horror buff knows what's going to happen. Then she turns into a monster and kills him, not quite what people were expecting (unless they're really into horror).
The alleyway example nearly happens, but he double subverts it in that the mysterious stalker she ambushes is an ambiguous ally.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: At lunch time, Cordelia barges up to talk to Buffy, causing Willow to immediately exclaim that Buffy is not actually hanging out with them.
Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Luke flings Buffy ass-over-teacup into the stone coffin, where she lies panting. She can't hear or see Luke. Just when Buffy has gotten up the courage to peek out, Luke leaps into the coffin with her.
There Are No Coincidences: Giles catches up to Buffy in the hall and steers her out of sight. He earnestly insists that the situation in town is getting worse; "There's a reason why you're here and a reason why it's now." Buffy snits that it's "Because now is when my mom moved here," and takes a hike.
Trouble Entendre: Jesse has trouble placing Darla, and she mentions she has "family" in the area. Jesse wonders if he's met them. Coyly, Darla says he probably will soon.
Unintentional Period Piece: Remember ska? It's blasting in the background as we pan on our first shot of Sunnydale High School. Also, James Spader?
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Buffy enters the locker room and sees the dead guy covered by a sheet. She peels back the sheet to reveal two very obvious fang holes on the guy's neck. "Oh great," she sighs in extreme irritation.
Welcome to Hell: The episode title, of course. In the alley, Buffy rejects Angel's help and stomps away, but he stops her by saying Buffy's in too deep now. "You're standing at the mouth of Hell. And it's about to open."
Who Are You?: Buffy's parting shot at Angel, who prefers to stay coy.
Buffy stakes the henchvamp without much effort, which seems to surprise Darla. "Who are you?"
Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The redshirt smashes a windowpane, and his blonde companion questions if breaking and entering is a good idea (the boy is taking Darla up to the top of the gym so they can see all of Sunnydale from that vantage point). Soon-To-Be-Dead Boy reassures Darla that it's a "great" idea and clambers over the windowsill.
Darla sneers at the henchvamp's catch, saying that Willow is "hardly a mouthful." She then calls in her own prey, Jesse, who holding his neck and wobbling. Unlike Willow, he apparently didn't need a lot of arm-twisting to follow a sexy blonde into a graveyard.