30:01 – The End
Previously on 15-Minute Hellmouth . . . Buffy meets and likes the sensitive Owen Thurman, who likes Emily Dickinson poetry because of her fascination with the morbid. Buffy attempts to go on a date with Owen, but issues concerning the Master, a vampire club known as the Order of Aurelius, and a prophecy about someone or something known enigmatically as the Anointed One all interfere with Buffy having a “normal” social life. Buffy has to leave her date at the Bronze early with Willow and Xander to rescue Giles, who is trapped in the morgue at a funeral home.
The Scoobies arrive at the funeral home. Of course, Owen follows them. He asks if they are going to see a dead body. Owen is coming across as a bit creepy himself.
The bars on the windows in the morgue are broken, but Giles is hiding in one of the metal drawers. Buffy tells Giles that she needs to get Owen and the others out of harm’s way.
“Owen?” Giles says. “You brought a date?”
“I didn’t bring him,” Buffy says. “He came.”
“Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn’t mean at the same time.”
Buffy gathers up Xander, Willow and Owen. They approach the door to the observation room, which Owen says was locked. Buffy forces the door open and says it wasn’t locked after all. Buffy says she has to go to the bathroom, and tells Xander and Willow to barricade the door behind her.
Back in the morgue, Buffy and Giles open drawers, looking for Andrew Borba, the militia guy and probable Anointed One. They don’t find him.
Owen does, however. While he is confused by Xander and Willow barricading the door, Owen opens the drapes covering the viewing window. The body on the other side of the window begins to move. It’s Andrew Borba, fully vamped out. As he rises, Borba says, “I have been judged!”
Here is where we reach an act break. What were commercials like in 1997? Whether they were selling Extra-strength Doan’s back pain medicine, Hyundai Elantras, or Charmin Triple Roll bathroom tissue, they were pretty much the same as what you see today, only with lower prices.
As Act IV begins, Borba smashes the observation room window with his rumpled forehead. Buffy and Giles hear the noise in the morgue and head towards the sound.
Borba says, “He is risen in me! He fills my head with song!”
He also begins to talk about pork-and-beans for some reason, as Owen, Xander and Willow begin unbarricading the door they recently barricaded. As they leave the observation room, Borba follows close behind. He’s still talking. I’m not sure what he’s on about now.
Buffy meets the rest of the gang in the hallway. Xander tells her where Borba is. Buffy tells them all to get out. We can hear Borba in the distance, singing “Shall We Gather at the River?”
Owen, Xander and Willow come to an exit that is blocked by members of the Order of Aurelius. Willow screams. Xander pulls his friend behind him, to protect her. The brethren close the gate instead of attacking. Our young heroes hear Borba singing as he approaches their location.
In the morgue, all Giles has is his crucifix. Buffy tells him to go outside and make sure the others are okay. Andrew Borba comes up behind Buffy, uncharacteristically quiet, and hurls her into a cabinet.
I guess I misread that scene where I thought Borba was getting closer to the other members of the Scooby Gang. Once again, this show has subverted our expectations by having Buffy attacked instead of Xander, Willow and Owen.
Giles rushes to aid Buffy, who’s lying—apparently unconscious—on the floor. Out in the hallway, Owen bravely says, “Someone’s gotta help Buffy!” and heads for the morgue. Xander and Willow follow.
Back in the morgue, Buffy is still lying on the floor. Giles attempts to keep Borba away with his crucifix. Borba slaps it away and throws Giles into the crematory controls. Fires in the chamber ignite. Giles is now also unconscious. There are a lot of traumatic head injuries in this series.
As Borba picks up Buffy, Owen rushes into the room, striking the vampire across the back with a stainless steel tray. Borba drops Buffy, but then picks up Owen by the throat. Owen smashes the vampire over the head with an urn, which apparently already has someone’s ashes in it.
Owen goes over to help Buffy, who is waking up.
“Did you see that?” Owen says. “He tried to bite me. What a sissy!”
You’ve already guessed that Borba wasn’t down for the count. He rises again, grabs Owen and smashes a heavy morgue drawer into the back of his head. The vampire pronounces Owen dead.
This causes Buffy to go into full-on beast mode. “You killed my date!” she says.
Only, Owen isn’t really dead. Willow and Xander finally appear at the door. Owen must have Barry Allen level speed to get into the scene so far ahead of the others. Owen is regaining consciousness (another head injury) as Buffy and Borba go through the steps of a complicated, violent dance that ends only as Andrew Borba goes into the cremation oven that Giles had conveniently and accidentally switched on.
Buffy tells Owen that they scared the big bad guy away. Xander and Willow escort him home.
In our brief outro at Sunnydale High School, we find out that Owen wants to see Buffy again. He says last night was incredible. Nearly getting killed made him feel so alive.
Buffy realizes that this isn’t her idea of a healthy relationship, and gives him her “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. Maybe you’re familiar with it.
Giles comes up behind Buffy after the breakup. He decides to give Buffy, and the viewer, a little more of his personal backstory.
Giles says his father and grandmother were both Watchers. He was only ten years old when he found out he was to be next. At the time, he wanted to be a fighter pilot, or possibly a grocer. His father gave him a tiresome speech about responsibility and sacrifice.
Buffy says that she knows that Owen would get killed with her. She also blames herself for not being with Giles at the funeral home. Giles tells her that what they do doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but he compliments her on doing pretty well so far.
Buffy says, “At least I did stop that prophecy thing from coming true.”
Which is our cue to cut back to the Master’s lair.
Quoting scripture, the Master says, “’And in this time will come the Anointed. And the Slayer will not know him. She will not stop him, and he will lead her into Hell.’”
The Master kneels down to welcome the Anointed One, Collin, the child who was on the bus. Subverted expectations again! Andrew Borba wasn’t the Anointed One. It was this kid! What does it all mean? What’s going to happen next? And, didn’t the Master already have a minion named Collin? He poked his eye out, as I recall. Maybe it was Colin, with one L.
Well . . . we’ll see, won’t we?
This was a 3-and-a-half star performance for me this episode. I liked how it all tied into the season one story arc about the Master, while still remaining quite episodic in nature. Owen was ultimately a throwaway guest character who highlighted the recurring theme of Buffy not being able to lead a “normal” life. Andrew Borba was more of a misdirection than a monster-of-the-week, but I was entertained. I don’t ask for much more than that.
Little things I liked about the episode? Xander’s Tweety Bird wristwatch. The way Xander reflexively used his own body to shield Willow from danger. The ridiculously telegraphed demise of Andrew Borba. The final acts were set in a funeral home, reminding me of Phantasm, which was a bonus.
That Andrew Borba the vampire seemed as crazy as Andrew Borba the living, breathing militia guy makes me wonder about the nature of vampires. And, not for the first time.
Seems like I remember Giles saying that nothing remains of the human victim after they are turned by a vampire. But, that already doesn’t seem quite true, does it?
There’s already the special case of Angel (even though we don’t find out that he’s a benevolent vampire until another episode or two). Borba the vampire seems to retain pieces of the personality of Borba the crazy human. If a demon vampire retains all of the memories, along with some of the habits and traits of the human host, along with their body, doesn’t the original human still exist in there somewhere?
I’m sure that there are already fan forums discussing this. I don’t plan to read them. Instead, I’ll keep examining the evidence as we go forward and form my own hypothesis.
Until next time, keep your stakes sharp and your head on a swivel.