I'm snipping screenshots for each episode as I go along, just because it's What One Does when blogging a rewatch. If the first one looked haphazard, I had an explanation I meant to post: the scene had all three S1 Scoobies in it plus Jesse and Cordelia, and I really wanted a shot with all of them. Impossible, so I tried for four and settled for Jesse's arm.
Anyway, the one I found for this episode is giving me closure, because look! It's vamp!Jesse and Cordelia, plus bonus Darla! Okay, it's a bit of an awkward shot, again, but it's a moody one and I like it. If this were a painting you'd say it was haunting, I mean look at those faces in the background.
The second episode continues with series set-up, but this time it’s world-building rather than character paths. I'll be honest: the Christian in me still groans at the "popular mythology" line. It's the kind of Jossism that you just have to shrug off for love of the show. The bit about the Old Ones is intriguing, though. It's been confirmed that Illyria is of the selfsame race, nay? Do we have anything else on that?
There's also the comics to consider; specifically, the climax of Season 8 and its “cork in a bottle.” Does the exposition in this episode allow for the mythology of the Seed to fit in, or was that totally pulled from whole cloth? Does the Master seem like he's protecting anything?
Since the set-up of "Welcome to the Hellmouth" dealt with the formation of the Scoobies, here we get to see them as a team for the first time - and they’re pretty awesome. I know that their friendship basically had to be accelerated so that the cast could be established, but it was done very believably - they liked each other, they bonded through a crisis, and they all displayed their respective talents. (Mind, Heart, Spirit, Hand...or is it two Minds and no Spirit at this point?)
The Buffy and Angel Show: I think it was totally true that Angel didn’t accompany Buffy into the sewers because he was afraid. Absolute best case scenario would still mean his secret was revealed, and it was too soon - she could easily kill him offhand. Worst case scenario, he dies and gets her killed as well, as he's still very weak at the beginning of the series. (Somewhat of an assumption on my part, but I think it's a fair one, given his pre-series condition.) He knew she'd handle herself.
I love it that he was unwilling to wish her luck out loud, but felt like he had to say it anyway once she couldn't hear - it was like he couldn't resist using the words, just in case they actually made a difference to how much luck she was going to have. And it was clear that she took offense; all she wanted was a word of encouragement! If she'd gotten it, though...she'd start feeling differently about him, wouldn't she?
Because I'm afraid.
The unashamed openness of the statement catches her a bit off guard. She looks at him a moment.
I'm not sure DB played that quite right - I didn't see the unashamed openness, and I wanted to. Maybe that's just me though.
Willow and My Feelings: Willow’s creds as a world-class hacker make me smile. She’s so sweet and innocent, but has been quietly breaking the law just because she needs an outlet for her extreme intelligence. Also, "Deliver!" Hey, a computer reference that's not entirely dated yet.
Xander and Boyhood: Xander’s development, for once, is actually a highlight of this episode. Key quote: "I find it oddly comforting." He likes that Buffy is strong, and he knows he can count on her to protect him - even right after he found out what she is! Also, "It's cool! Buffy's a superhero!" Wonderful line.
Cordelia and Boyfriends: Charisma Carpenter’s acting really stands out at this point in the show: Cordy’s scenes are almost always funny, totally committed, and can even have some hidden depth. When she’s talking about "senior boys", we see an indication that she’s tired of everyone fawning over her, but can't yet admit it. The new rude assertive Jesse passes her secret test instantly by showing that he's not putting up with her BS. Of course, that’s not a healthy attraction and it doesn’t have a fortunate result, but it’s part of her journey.
Giles and Objects: Here's Giles with a whiteboard marker.
Isn't it weird how you can watch a scene like this and then six seasons later be surprised to find the character is left-handed?
Everyone Else: I'm impressed by the way Jesse was used here, making you look back at the preceding scene and realize that he was just faking his human self. It's surprisingly consistent with the mythology that becomes so integral for Angel and the other vamp characters. Plus, gut punch! You lose, your friend's a vamp!
Other than that, though, the vamp scenes are unfortunately yawnworthy. Nothing original about these villains yet: they live underground, make threatening noises, and eat people. The Master poking a minion's eye out is something I could have done without. Even though it was off-screen, I shuddered - can't stand retinal injuries, they freak me out hardcore.
Fortunately, there's also another villain introduced in this episode who isn't a vampire...
...Yet. But yeah, the entire reason I'm including this image is her shirt. This is the very first time we see Harmony, and she's already got a unicorn thing going on.
A couple tidbits from the shooting script, again:
Luke feeds for a few moments, then rears his head back with holy pain.
That just...struck me as funny. Holy pain.
ANGLE: IN THE TRUNK
Girl stuff, memorabilia, Teen Beat magazines.
Sometimes this show makes me realize how much ordinary teenager stuff I missed when I was a teenager.
I'm sick of you getting in the way, you know?
Cordelia, she's gonna live forever. You're not.
This line was cut out, wasn't it? Or did we know that Jesse wanted to sire Cordelia? 'Cuz I missed it.
•"Well, maybe that's how they do things in Britain, they've got that royal family and all kinds of
problems." Over the past couple years I’ve gained an interest in the way Americans view the British royal family. I had never really had an opinion on it, but there are, apparently, Fluties out there who take pride in being monarchy-free. Making an association with “all kinds of problems” is really just a way of pointing to all the symbolism inherent to the royal family, which is neat, because the line also symbolizes how American Flutie is - and Sunnydale - and to an extent, this whole show.
•The final shot of Angel has him standing by a sign that says "Watch Your Step". Lots of things that could apply to, huh?