\m/15-Minute Hellmouth\m/: Buffy the Vampire Slayer DeepWatch: Season 1, Episode 2: “The Harvest” (airdate: Monday, March 10, 1997): Part 3 of 3.

30:01 – The End

During our last conversation in the Sunnydale High School Library, we were rapidly approaching the end of Act III of the episode “The Harvest.” We knew we were heading back to the Bronze, where the Harvest was about to begin, with beefy vampire Luke serving as the Master’s proxy.

But, first, Buffy needs to stop at her house to pick up some supplies.

Joyce Summers enters her daughter Buffy’s bedroom as Buffy is removing a jacket from her closet to go out.

“You’re going out?” Joyce says.

“I have to,” Buffy responds. And, she really does. Tonight is the night of the Harvest, when the Master’s Vessel, Luke the Pumped, will allow the Master to feed upon his victims through their mystical bond, until the Master has the power to break himself free from his lair and to open the Hellmouth and end the world. The Slayer really needs to go out, Joyce.

Joyce is afraid “it’s happening again.” She says Buffy’s principal called and said Buffy missed some classes today. Also, Joyce doesn’t remember hearing Buffy come in last night.

Joyce decides that this is the best time for tough-love. She tells her daughter that she’s not going back out. She says she knows that everything seems like life-and-death when you’re a sixteen-year-old girl, but she’s staying home tonight.

After her mom leaves the room, Buffy pulls a chest from her closet. Beneath a false bottom, there are things like stakes, crucifixes, bottles of holy water, and garlic. Buffy gets the supplies she needs and leaves the house via that old teenager’s stand-by, the bedroom window.

We get another spectacular exterior shot of the sunset, as the sun sinks into the horizon.

We cut to the Bronze. A bouncer at the entrance is taking money and looking at identification.

Cordelia Chase is holding forth on the club’s precarious balcony. Cordy is Queen Bee in these parts, and she won’t let anyone forget it. She is extoling the virtues of senior boys, telling her friends to forget about dating boys in their grade. She comes across as snobby and bitchy, even to her friends.

As Cordelia and her friends go to dance, we see Jesse McNally watching her. Jesse is a new man, immune to Cordelia’s rudeness. Jesse leads her onto the dance floor, tells her to shut up, and then Cordelia meekly agrees to one dance. It appears that Miss Chase is a secret submissive.

Outside the club, a group of vampires led by Darla approach the door. Luke is in the middle of the group. It must be Harvest time. The vamps brush the bouncer aside as inconsequential. As they enter the club, we leave Act III behind.

Act IV begins inside the club.

Luke—the Vessel—cuts the club’s power and then addresses the assembled crowd. Luke tells everyone that this is a glorious night, but it is also the last one any of them will see.

On the dance floor, Jesse shows his vamp face to Cordelia.

The bouncer is the first victim of the night. Luke drains him on stage.

In his subterranean lair, the Master stands, power coursing through him as the Vessel feeds.

As he’s finished feeding, Luke drops the bouncer’s body on the stage, and says, “Next.”

Outside the Bronze, Giles, Xander, Willow and Buffy finally arrive. The doors are closed and locked. Buffy tells the others to try the back entrance while she finds her own way in. She gives them her bag of Slayer tools.

Giles, Willow and Xander find the back door locked as well. Xander says, “We’ve got to get in there before Jesse does something stupider than usual.”

“You listen to me,” Giles says to Xander. “Jesse is dead. You have to remember that when you see him. You’re not looking at your friend, you’re looking at the thing that killed him.”

I’m not sure if this theory holds up over all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel that follow. It seems to me that the personality of the person, or parts of it, tends to remain with the vampire after the human has been turned. Eh, we’ll see how this holds up.

Vampire Rule #5: According to Giles in “The Harvest,” when you see a vampire who you knew as a human, you’re looking at the monster who killed the human. The human being is dead, even though it retains vestiges of your friend’s personality and memories.

Inside his lair, the Master continues to grow in power as we get a montage of Luke feeding at the Bronze.

Back inside the Bronze, a showdown is imminent. Darla approaches Jesse, who is still holding Cordelia.

“This one’s mine,” he says.

“They’re all for the Master,” Darla says.

Which is Buffy’s cue to enter the club through an upstairs window. She sees Luke on the stage below. He’s still preaching to the congregation. He asks for a volunteer, and Darla brings Cordelia to him.

Buffy interrupts the moment by throwing a vampire from the balcony. She skewers a vamp off-screen with a pool cue, then faces off against Luke. Luke tosses Cordelia aside, because the Slayer’s blood is all that he needs to revive the Master.

This scene is a reminder of Vampire Rule #4, which says that all vampires are expert martial artists. This rule applies to the chosen Slayer as well.

The rest of the gang finally manages to break through the exit doors. Giles, Xander and Willow begin to evacuate the remaining living people out of the Bronze.

A vampire attacks Xander from behind. Buffy removes a large cymbal from the drum kit on the stage, frisbees it from some distance away, and beheads the vampire who is attacking Xander.

Xander says, “Heads up.”

A little cheesy, maybe. But, fun.

Meanwhile, Jesse has decided to live out a decidedly rape-y fantasy with Cordelia. He throws her to the floor and moves in for the kill. Xander comes up from behind, a wooden stake in his hand. “Jesse, man,” Xander says. “Don’t make me do it.”

At the same time, Luke and Buffy are sparring on stage, and Giles and Willow continue to evacate the potential Master happy meals.

Xander still thinks—as I do—that some of his friend Jesse still exists under all that vampire makeup. Jesse says the old Jesse was a loser who couldn’t get a date with the sighted community. Now, he’s a new man. He taunts Xander as his old friend holds the point of the stake against his chest. He’s in the process of telling Xander that he doesn’t have the guts to do it when, suddenly, a fleeing woman crashes into them, forcing Jesse onto the stake. He is dusted.

Darla has attacked Giles, pinning him to the ground. Willow hurls holy water into the vampire’s face. Darla runs off, screaming and sizzling.

Luke has grabbed Buffy from behind, and she appears limp in his grasp. Luke prepares to feed the Master the main course. Buffy gives him a reverse head butt, breaking his hold on her. Buffy grabs a cymbal stand to use as a weapon, and faces Luke.

“You forget,” Luke says, “Metal can’t hurt me.”

“There’s something you forgot about, too,” Buffy says. “Sunrise.”

She arcs the cymbal stand through the blacked-out window behind Luke. The stand crashes through the glass and light pours down upon the Vessel. Luke covers his face, screaming in anticipated pain, then stops. Buffy comes up from behind and stakes the beefy vampire. He’s dusted.

“It’s in about nine hours, moron,” Buffy says. You see, that was a streetlight or the moon shining through the broken window because it’s not dawn yet. Buffy bluffed the buff one. Expectations subverted. This show is great for that.

In his lair, the Master reacts to Luke’s demise with a pre-Revenge of the Sith “Noooooooo!”

The remaining vampires get the killer vibe from Buffy, turn tail and run away.

The ever-lurking Angel, outside The Bronze, watches the vampires fleeing past him. “She did it,” he says. “I’ll be damned.” The teenage Slayer has impressed this old vampire. And, he did very little to assist her other than giving cryptic advice. He is like Uatu the Watcher. As opposed to Giles the Watcher.

Our nascent Scooby Gang has averted their first apocalypse together. They stand together, inside the Bronze, in front of the stage.

Xander says, “Nothing’s ever going to be the same.”

The next morning, things are pretty much the same at Sunnydale High School. There seems to be some sort of collective amnesia about the previous night’s events. Cordelia is telling her friends that she heard it was a fight between rival gangs.

Giles tells the Scoobies that people tend to rationalize what they can, and to forget the rest. I’m thinking it could be a byproduct of living on a mystical convergence called a Hellmouth as well. But, I’m no librarian.

Giles preaches to his students for a minute. You understand, they were successful at stopping the Master from opening the Hellmouth this time, but he could try again. Their little club is all that stands between the Earth and total destruction. Giles warns of future episodes that will be about things other than vampires. They live on a mystical convergence, after all.

Meanwhile, Buffy, Willow and Xander begin to act like normal teenagers who didn’t just save the world, joking around about getting kicked out of school and hilarious things like that.

Giles says, “The Earth is doomed.”

Which is a good—if slightly campy—closing line for the second part of the series premiere. It was, overall, a good story to kick off this series with. It was both exciting and entertaining, but it also deftly set up rudimentary rules for this fictional universe and gave the viewer an idea of what to expect in the future. The main characters were all sketched out a bit, in at least two dimensions. We’ll get more depth as we go on. For the moment, they are mostly stereotypes. The Slayer. Her two sidekicks, Computer Girl and Brave-but-Stupid Boy. Her mentor/father figure The Librarian (although I thought Professor X-position was an inspired superhero name for Giles). Throw in a Worried Mother, Romantic Stalker, Mean Girl and Nosferatu Wannabe and you pretty much have a main cast reduced to basic archetypes.

This reads a little like a criticism when it wasn’t intended as one. A television series is a marathon, not a sprint. The best way to introduce your characters is with broad strokes. It gives the viewer a basic understanding of the character types, and we’ll get to know them better with time. I’ve found that real life is a lot like that as well. I’ll admit that I generally assign someone I’ve met for the first time to a certain “type.” Sometimes I’m wrong, of course, but finding that out is part of the process of getting to know someone better. And people are seldom always one thing.

Season 1, Episode 2, “The Harvest” earns a 15-Minute Hellmouth rating of 3-and-a-half Stars.

Join me next time, when we’ll begin taking a deep-dive into the third episode of Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—-”Witch”

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