15:01 – 30:00
In case you missed the part where I explained the premise of this \m/15-Minute Hellmouth\m/ project, I am writing an annotated synopsis/review of every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (commonly known in the fandom as BTVS) in fifteen-minute increments.
This was inspired, in part, by podcasts such as Star Wars Minute, which discusses each Star Wars movie, one minute at a time. There are other minute-by-minute podcasts out there, of course, but this is the one that initially captured my attention. It inspired me to do the same, in written form, but in fifteen-minute increments instead. I discovered that this was a perfect way to do a focused rewatch of favorite movies. Because I lack originality, I turned to the Star Wars franchise first, with my 15-Minute Force project.
By now, I’ve written about most of the movies in the franchise, using this format. Not Solo or The Rise of Skywalker yet. There’s no real hurry. The movies are still there, but I’m not ready to watch them again yet.
I used the same idea with my 15-Minute Federation project, where I’m just about to finish up Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Which means I still have a long way to go.
[author’s note — I feel I should add that anything I’ve written so far is true only up to the date that I’m actually typing this. As of today, I haven’t posted a single part of this project. I’m playing the long game here. By the time you’re reading this, I hope that Star Trek III—at the very least—-has been completed. Maybe Solo and The Rise of Skywalker are as well, but I doubt it. I’m letting those movies marinate a while longer.]
[editor’s note — Star Trek III has, in fact, been fully dissected, annotated, and mocked]
Since I have these and other grandiose projects that aren’t completed yet, it may seem foolish to begin another one. But, it turns out that the 15-Minute concept seems tailor-made for an hour-long scripted television program. Back in 1997, an hour-long episode of BTVS had an actual running time of around forty-five minutes, which makes it perfect to break into three distinct parts. Also, Buffy used the teaser/four acts/outro story structure that doesn’t exactly fit into three parts, but still makes sense. The first part usually encompasses the teaser and Act I, with Act II usually taking up most of Part 2, usually leaving a little room for a portion of Act III. Since the third and fourth acts are typically shorter, everything winds up neatly in Part 3.
I’m interested in the mechanics of storytelling, and this way of looking back at this series allows me to get more of a feel for the rhythm and structural “tricks” of crafting an episode. Plus, it gives me an excuse to watch the series again (as if I needed an excuse).
Okay, enough of that stuff. Let’s talk about this episode some more.
Previously on BTVS . . . Buffy likes a new character named Owen and would like to begin a normal relationship with him, but things such as the Master and whatever it is that the vampire sect known as the Order of Aurelius are up to get in the way. The course of true love—and the life of the Slayer—never runs smoothly.
As we ended Part 1, a bunch of vampires killed a busload of humans. More importantly, however, Buffy saw Owen dancing with Cordelia Chase at the Bronze, and she didn’t like that.
We rejoin Buffy during her walk-and-talk in the Sunnydale High School hallway (there seems to be only one this season) with Xander Harris. Do I need to remind you that Xander has a huge crush on Buffy at this point in the series? No? Okay, then.
On the surface of their conversation, Xander seems to be trying to console Buffy about seeing her current crush with Cordelia. But, he’s also trying to promote himself as a possible suitor. Hard to blame him.
As if it were scripted, Owen shows up in this day-after scene. Buffy makes some lame excuses for standing him up the night before. No clocks in the house. Broken watch. Owen says that he danced a couple of times with Cordelia, but she was kinda “grabby.”
After a few moments of precious banter—and the revelation that Xander wears a Tweety Bird watch—Buffy and Owen agree that he’ll pick her up at seven tonight. Owen even gives her his gold pocket watch to tell time with.
Buffy stops by Giles’s office in the library to make sure her plans for the evening don’t clash with any Anointed One goings-on.
Back in the Master’s lair, the old pale vampire delivers a soliloquy about the night’s work being done and gaining a mighty ally. He’ll be one step closer to freeing himself from his mystical prison.
Buffy, Willow and Xander are in Buffy’s bedroom. Buffy is wearing a robe. They are trying to pick out her wardrobe for her Owen date. Predictably, Xander suggests that Buffy shouldn’t dress too provocatively. Xander also reveals himself to be a bit of a creep as he watches Buffy dress in the mirror of her jewelry box. Seems more than a little skeevy to me, but I don’t imagine that was the intent.
You’ll have to remember that some things were a little more acceptable a couple of decades ago. We had movies such as Porky’s and Soul Man, and no one was cancelled.
Giles arrives at the Summers residence, newspaper in hand.
Newpapers. Ahh. A teacher once told my granddaughter that newspapers were how people used to get the news in the “olden days.” (Sigh.)
Giles shares the story about five people dying in that airport shuttle bus accident. He reminds Buffy of the prophecy. One of the accident victims—the militia guy Andrew Borba—was wanted for a double murder, it seems. Giles believes that he may have been the Anointed One.
Owen arrives for the date. Xander and Willow take him aside while Giles and Buffy continue to talk. Xander tells Owen that Buffy doesn’t like to dance, kiss or be touched. This just serves to remind me that I liked the show even more after Xander stopped mooning over Buffy all the time.
Buffy talks Giles into “allowing” her to go on a date. She tells Giles to “beep me” if the Apocalypse comes. Remember beepers? If you really want your work to seem dated, always include whatever the latest technology fad may be. Someday, even iPhones will be passé.
Giles tells Xander and Willow that he’s going to the funeral home. Just in case. Willow says that they should go with Giles. But, Xander is still fixated on Owen and Buffy.
Speaking of those two crazy kids, Owen and Buffy are sitting at a table in the Bronze, talking about Emily Dickinson. Owen likes that the poet was morbid. Dickinson wrote a lot about loss and death. What I remember about Dickinson, from high school, is that her poems can all be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Owen says he feels like Buffy is two different girls.
Buffy takes Owen to the dancefloor. Cordelia arrives and tries to cut in, but neither Owen nor Buffy allows it.
Giles arrives at the funeral home. Before he can go inside, a brother of the Order of Aurelius is standing in front of him. When he begins to back away, another member of the order is behind him. Giles ends Act II by saying, “Damn.” We are at around the 25-minute mark.
Act III begins where we left off. Giles produces a gold crucifix and rushes inside the funeral home. The brethren follow him inside.
We cut back to the Bronze to check in on Buffy and Owen’s date. They seem to be doing okay.
Inside the funeral home, Giles finds a door unlocked and enters the room, blocking the door with a file cabinet. He looks for another way out. There are bars on the windows. Xander and Willow appear at one of the windows. Giles says there’s no phone for him to beep Buffy, so Xander and Willow say they’ll get her.
You see, kids, this was in the days before cell phones. At least, before cell phones such as those everyone has these days. A few years before Buffy started on television, I was selling cell phones at Radio Shack. They were about the size of a four-slice toaster back then.
As Xander and Willow are leaving to get the cavalry, Giles says, “Do hurry.”
Back at the Bronze, Buffy and Owen talk about getting something to eat. Cordelia is watching from across the room. Seething. She says she’s never seen a girl throw herself at a guy the way Buffy is doing.
Suddenly, Angel walks in. Cordelia says, “Hello, salty goodness.”
Cordelia goes into attack-mode as she moves towards Angel. Of course, he’s there to see Buffy, and he ignores her. Angel tells Buffy that she’s needed “out there.” I guess Owen left to get the two of them food.
Buffy tells Angel that she’s there on a date. Owen returns. Buffy introduces Owen and Angel. Angel says that he knows Buffy from “work.” Then, Xander and Willow arrive.
Owen says, “You show up everywhere. Interesting.”
Xander and Willow say there are there to double-date. They suggest going to the funeral home. Owen seems weirdly into it, and Buffy tells him that she has to go, but will be back. She kisses Owen and leaves with Willow and Xander.
Here, we arrive at the 30-minute mark and the conclusion of Part 2. Join me next time for more discussion about the fifth episode of Buffy, “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” where we’ll finish up Act III and talk about the final act of this story.