LadyGhosts of TV Past

Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 1, Episode 5, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

“We haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Buffy and you’re “¦ history!”

Hey, everyone! The robotic voiceover is gone. It’s only episode 5 and I guess the execs realized that a show called “˜Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is pretty self explanatory. It’s not like she’s really a trash collector or an IRS agent. Her name is Buffy and she slays vampires. (And demons and witches and errant gods, but let’s not quibble here.)

We find her in her normal workaday life at the open of this week’s episode, “˜Never Kill a Boy on the First Date’. This is sage advice. Buffy hasn’t started dating vampires yet, so the one she’s tussling with gets dusted in short order. Giles chides her for taking too long to kill her opponents ““ “˜it should simply be “˜plunge’ and move on; “˜plunge’ and move on’ —  before finding a shiny bauble the ““re-deceased vampire had dropped. A clue!

Before we can find out the importance of the ring, we have to check in on The Master. You guys remember him, right? He’s our Big Bad this season. He’s still trapped underground since Buffy messed up his Harvest, but he won’t let that set him back. There’s always another prophecy in the Buffyverse, another apocalypse to set up, some order of bad guys who can be called in to do your dirty work. In this case, The Master is looking for “˜The Anointed One’, the one who will lead the Slayer to her death. So you can see why he’s jonesing to meet this guy. He’s tasked some of his vampires with finding The Anointed One but good help is hard to find, even in the underworld:

The Master: “And one of the brethren shall go out hunting the night before and get himself killed, because he couldn’t wait to finish his job before he ate. Oh, wait… that’s not written anywhere.”

“Never Kill”¦”, for my money, is the episode where the show really starts to gel. We’ve gotten over the initial awkwardness of introducing this new world and getting to know it’s players. We know that Buffy is quick thinking, irreverent, and longs to be a normal girl. Willow pines after Xander and is the nerdy computer hacker. Xander will say something inappropriate, feel threatened by both Buffy and anyone who competes for Buffy’s attention but isn’t that bad of a guy. Giles will try to shoehorn Buffy into a traditional Slayer role, find some obscure threat to the world order, and get knocked unconscious at some point in the episode. Cordelia will be hilariously self centered and oblivious. With all the characterization and a good deal of the set up out of the way, the show gets to play with its strong points  — in this case, the dialog. Some of my favorite quotes from the series comes out of this episode.

Buffy: If the apocalypse comes, beep me.

Xander: “So, Buffy, how’d the slaying go last night?”
Buffy: “Xander!”
Xander: “I mean, how’d the laying go last night. No, I don’t mean that either.”
Giles: Alright, I-I’ll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show.
Buffy: Okay, at this point you’re abusing sarcasm.

Buffy: Clark Kent has a job. I just want a date.

Let’s get on to enjoying them:

The morning after, Giles and Buffy are looking up the meaning of the ring ““ well, Buffy is discovering the meaning of the ring while Giles is long-windedly telling her there isn’t one. (“Oooh, two points for the Slayer, while the Watcher has yet to score!”) It bears the symbol of The Order of Aurelius, an ancient order of.. well, we’ll get to that in a minute, because Owen just walked in. Owen has lost his Emily. His Emily Dickinson, his security blanket, and he’d like to check the library’s copy out, if Giles will stop glowering at him.

Oh, Buffy. I’d have that same dreamy look on my face too. Owen is totally the kind of guy I’d go for in high school too. He’s tall. He’s good looking. He likes to read. He likes poetry. And that means he’s deep and not like the other boys, and if he likes me back, it means I’m special too, and not like the other girls, and I’m totally too young to realize guys like this are dicks in their own ways, and”¦ I’m sorry. Right. We were watching Buffy, yeah?

Buffy runs into Owen again in the cafeteria later. Technically, she runs into Cordelia, who has no real reason to go after Owen herself, except that it gives us a chance to have some Cordelia in this episode. I’m fairly sure it’s a truth universally acknowledged that girls like Cordelia Chase do not go after guys like Dreamy Owen. In fact, I find this harder to swallow than perception shifting giant preying mantis’s.

Still, Cordelia invites Owen to the Bronze:

Dreamy Owen: Who’s all going?

Cordelia: Well, um, I’m gonna be there.

Dreamy Owen: Who else?

Cordelia: You mean besides me?

The Bronze might give our Slayer some much desired Owen-time, but she has responsibilities, and some of those responsibilities require that she sit in a graveyard instead, clad in a truly hideous fake tiger velor track jacket. With hood. I blame Giles for this. So does Buffy.  After not a peep of vampire related activity, Giles is forced to acknowledge that he might have had his predictions mixed up and give Buffy the rest of the night off.

But by the time Buffy gets to the Bronze, Cordelia has already corralled Dreamy Owen on the dance floor. Even my 13 year old could tell that Dreamy Owen looks entirely uncomfortable as Cordelia snuggles up to him, but Buffy can’t and she slinks off dejectedly.

While Buffy is moping around, a bus is making its way through the dark streets of Sunnydale. One of the passengers is a regulation grade Bible-spewing nutter who is making vaguely veiled threats at the other riders. Right as the driver confronts him, a gang of vampires appear in the road. The bus runs into a tree and its eternal rest time for the riders as the vamps storm the vehicle.

The next morning at school (which will now be known as TNMAS), Buffy is pouring her distressed heart out to Xander, while Xander does what 1st season Xander does best, try to use that as an opening to get Buffy to date him. (“Lots of guys can read. I read.”) Dreamy Owen tracks them down and arranges another date with Buffy, entrusting her with his fancy pocket watch so she doesn’t forget to show up on time. Which is fantastic! If she can convince Giles that she can have a night off, which she does, by speaking very quickly at him and running out of the room before he can process what she’s going on about. A tactic I think I used several times in high school as well.

Underneath Sunnydale, The Master is sending his minions out to pick up the Anointed One. Buffy is accessorized all wrong for that party, choosing some mod-60s sheath dress and knee high boots for her Dreamy Owen date, because her invitation to the Master’s party got lost in the mail. Willow and Xander are at her house to send her off on her date and then Giles shows up to spoil everything before the date can even get started.  Dreamy Owen is surprised to find the school librarian at Buffy’s house. He’s just really serious about his job, Dreamy Owen.

The Slayer and her boy sail off into the night (“˜If the apocalypse comes, beep me!’). Right into choppy waters ““ both Angel and Cordelia show up to harass them at the Bronze, and then so does Xander and Willow, out of breath and acting funny. Owen catches on that something is weird ““ why are all these people looking for Buffy? ““ which immediately catapults him to the top of the Most Intelligent Guys Buffy Dates list. I really like Dreamy Owen, and not just because he’s dreamy.

Xander and Willow need Buffy to make a side stop at the Sunnydale Funeral Home, where Giles has gotten himself trapped by a couple of the Order of Aurelius vamps. Owen surprises her by following them, convinced they’re doing a bit of teenage vandalism mischief. And he might get to see a dead body!

Buffy sticks the three of them in an apparently safe room in the funeral home while she tries to free Giles and find the Anointed One, who might be among the dead people from the bus. They’re having no luck in their search, but Owen is hitting the jackpot on his; not only does his “˜safe room’ look into the morgue, the body on the slab is getting up! It’s the religious guy from the bus, and maaaan, does he look like he’s enjoying his new un-life. (“He is risen in me! He fills my head with song! Pork and beans, pork and beans”¦”) Look, he smashes the window separating their rooms with his head and doesn’t even blink.

Owen, Xander and Willow take off, while Buffy hightails it on her end to find them. She runs into them in the hall and sends them off in a presumably safer direction, while she runs back to Giles for weapons. The fight comes to them ““ crazy vamp storms into the morgue, beats the bejeezus out of Buffy and knocks Giles unconscious. (See?!)  Dreamy Owen has come back to save Buffy and knocks the vamp a few good ones with an urn and an embalming tray before he’s overwhelmed as well.

Buffy comes to, thinks Owen has been killed, and unleashes her frustrated teenage anger all over the vamp before throwing him into an oven. Anointed One problem ““ handled?

Boy problem? Not handled. Owen is having a hard time processing what he’s seen and it’s not just because of the head trauma. He goes home ““ without Buffy.

TNMAS, Owen has had a change of heart. He loves this dangerous, exciting side of Buffy’s life, which is way better than hanging at home with Emily Dickinson. But the dangerous, exciting part of Buffy’s life will get him killed, so she has to tell Dreamy Owen that it won’t work between them.

Sacrifice. It’s the heart of the Slayer’s job.

Underground, the Master welcomes the Anointed One ““ a child who was among those killed in the bus accident”¦

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

2 replies on “Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 1, Episode 5, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”

I always read the end as more Buffy thinking Owen liked her because of the excitement surrounding her, not just because of her, because he had a bit of an obsession with death, like when he asks her out again at the end and says that they could go pick a fight in a bar. (sorry, I’m a total Buffy nerd)

I think that the episode establishes that Owen liked Buffy before he found out she was the Slayer. I don’t think that it was really an obsession with death as much as the excitement surrounding her on the date– he mentions over and over again that he stays in and reads, he lives a boring life, and when he describes Dickinson, he describes not in terms of ‘oh, and she loved death’ but that she was a quiet person who lived a sheltered life. ‘Like me’ is what he says.

But I read the breaking it off with Owen in the same vein as other choices Buffy makes through the series and in her appearances in Angel’s series. When Angel becomes mortal, she wants him to stay out of the demon fighting biz because he could get hurt. She wants Riley to stay out of fighting (post-Initiative) — cause he could get hurt. This is sort of the beginning of awareness that her life is dangerous for the people she loves.

Which sort of leads to interesting look at the Scoobies, because aside from Buffy’s protests in the first handful of episodes, she still lets Willow and Xander help out, way before they have any real ability to defend themselves.

That’s not to say there isn’t something dark about Buffy that people are attracted to — I mean, Spike comes right out and says as much. But I think Owen had a sort of simpler view of Buffy, because he didn’t really understand what she was or what she did, just that her life was exciting and mysterious.

But those are just my opinions.

Leave a Reply