Welcome to the Hellmouth
I started to rewatch Buffy with a group of students in school. I figured the girls needed to see a role model who wasn’t from Love Island or battling against the ‘lets be PC’ method of making TV.
Every week we squeezed into one lunch and after school session. They were amazed that I know some of the lines pitch perfect, they were shocked at what passed for fashion in the 90s, but they love it and were always begging for ‘one more’.
Welcome to the Hellmouth
That opening scene. It will always be like a sucker punch to me. Tropes are so-called for a reason. Even with the current horror resurgence, conventions are set in celluloid. This first vampire attack bends all expectations and even 20 years on, it still feels refreshing.
Buffy is introduced with a parting nightmare directly after the guitar from the credits patters out. With the vibe of a popular kid who wasn’t looking to start again, its easy to see that she’s been through something that’s humbled her. Buffy”s passing initiation with Cordelia ends with her being so uncomfortable at Cordelia’s jibes directed at Willow. It’s a testament to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance. Not many actresses could pull off this conflicted nature with sincerity.
We hit the 25 minute mark and I’m very happy to see that, much like Harry Potter, she’s alright at deciding who her friends are, thank you very much. Of course, while Buffy didn’t want to leave her school life and popularity behind there is that pesky little problem she was hoping to avoid.
Buffy’s reminder of her duties as the slayer comes dressed in tweed. Anthony Stewart Head, the Gold Blend Ad man, was back on my TV. As much as I love Giles, I never quite understand how he got the top Watcher job. From all the contact we see him have with the Watcher’s Council, it’s made clear that they don’t think much of him. So why is he looking after the one and only Slayer and not behind a desk?!
Buffy and Giles’ relationship is one of my favourites on the show; it works well and on so many levels. Although, watching now there are some times when I wonder how this middle-aged man got away with spending so much time with the Scooby Gang.
Welcome to the Hellmouth sees Buffy admit there is no escaping her calling and the episode ends with Willow heading into certain danger after taking advice from Buffy. We’re reintroduced to Darla; the vamp from the opening who takes Jessie down into the sewers, while Willow is saved. It’s a perfect cliffhanger if you watch it as a standalone. However, it did air in the UK as a mini movie which works just as well.
Of course, we can’t talk about this first episode without mentioning the fan-favourite welcoming gift; Angel. Myserious, brooding and apparently the definition of beautiful. I’ve never seen it myself, but seeing my students swoon, I guess I can’t deny that he still has it.
This episode is such a well structured compliment to episode before. It hits the ground running and within the once scenes we get a demonstration of Willow’s technological skill set. It’s these early episodes and setting up strong character traits and relationship foundations that will allow for some epic story telling.
Not only do we see Willow being established, we are already seeing character development. Thanks to Buffy, Willow is already learning to stand up to Cordelia. It’s wonderful and perfectly Willow.
There are two flaws for me in this episode and they both revolve around the death of characters; Jessie and Luke.
For the show, it was a stroke of genius, but for me I really hate that we lose Jessie so early. It’s a massive blow to lose someone you think is going to be a main player. It’s actually a shame they didn’t have the forethought to have his name in the opening credits to reinforce this. It does demonstrate that no one is safe from death and sets a tone for the series.
Luke, on the other hand was perhaps a mistake along with how the whole of series one pans out. More on this when I get to the end of the series. Luke should have stuck around for the remaining 10 episodes thought; he was a good little bad, if not a little dumb when it came to sunrise. Although it must be said that he does give Buffy a well choreographed fight scene and some excellent quips that will become synonymous with the Vampire Slayer.
It ends with the status quo back in play; even those who were at the Bronze act as if nothing has happened. Something that will crop up time after time, along with the quad walk and talk.
And just like that, we’re all doomed…
Love Han x