Thursday, March 10, 2011

Buffy: The Harvest (1.2)

The weaker hour of the two-part pilot, The Harvest puts greater emphasis on action than its predecessor, and only really fails in that regard due to some pacing problems and the show being a little unsure about how to depict Buffy's vampire antagonists. What is most noticeable here is that immediately the Scooby Gang is formed and given their separate ranks. Xander is the everyman, tagging along in the hopes of helping Buffy in combat, while Willow is the internet hacker and bookworm (the hacking being a convenient deus ex machina that's used repeatedly through the early seasons). Giles, too, relaxes into his role as the stuffy 'dad' figure to all three of them, delivering exposition and chastising everybody for not taking things seriously enough. He's kind of a grouch, but he obviously gets better.

Buffy herself is a little annoying here. Maybe it was the over-abundance of quips throughout the script, or the over-protecting of Willow and Xander, but the script did her no favors. She's still ridiculously cool, though, hiding an arsenal of weapons beneath a fake bottom in the chest in her bedroom, as well as dispatching Luke and his minions in a variety of ingenious ways.

There's a lot more exposition this episode, with Giles explaining the history of Sunnydale and the Hellmouth, as well as the Master and his desperation to break out of his underground prison. It's a little heavy in such a short period of time, but it's also pretty eye-opening to see the show demonstrating such an extensive history in just the second episode. Clearly this show had ambition.

One of the strongest scenes in The Harvest is when Joyce yells at Buffy for once again showing signs of her 'old behavior', assuming that "if you don't go out, it'll be the end of the world". Just like Welcome to the Hellmouth, the same knowing dialogue litters the script, and the problems affecting each character are ever present. Regardless of the quality of this episode's story or some of the action sequences, the show's mission statement and its perceptive humor immediately capture your attention. It's pretty darn wonderful. B-

Guest stars Mark Metcalf (The Master); Brian Thompson (Luke); David Boreanaz (Angel); Ken Lerner (Principal Bob Flutie); Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers); Julie Benz (Darla); Eric Balfour (Jesse McNally)
Writer Joss Whedon Director John T. Kretchmer

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