***I am so sorry, somehow a VERY rough draft version of this post got published instead of my final draft! I have no idea what happened. I’ve got it fixed now, though!
So, we meet again, and finally see what the Master’s been doing all this time. Which appears to be . . . sitting in his magic prison, waiting. For tonight. Like J-Lo. Okay, not like J-Lo, but he seems to have been hanging out for two weeks waiting for the night of the prophecy before doing anything else. What’s a few more weeks when you’ve been stuck underground for a century, amirite?
In my original post (which apparently got eaten by the internet) I talked a lot about how two-dimensional and wooden Owen is. The main point I wanted to make here was that Owen is a stereotype of the Hot Nerd Hipster. He reads Emily Dickinson for her morbidity and critiques people based on how smart he thinks they are. He claims to dislike shallow girls, yet makes the same sort of shallow judgements he condemns. His biggest flaw is that he openly admits that he’s not attracted to Buffy, he’s attracted to the dangerous way she lives. He asks her to go to a bar and pick a fight for their second date, for heaven’s sake.
Owen is at his most colorful and interesting when he’s being contrasted with Angel. I know David Boreanaz’s acting was not stellar in this first season, but his wooden awkwardness works for his character. He’s a vampire trying to hide that he’s a vampire from the vampire slayer. He’s also been given a soul and (as we find out later) has until very recently been living homeless on the streets of LA. And on top of all that, he’s also trying to hide his connection to the Master and Darla. Owen, on the other hand, has no excuses. He’s wooden because he’s a trope wrapped in a stereotype. With the two of them on screen, though, Angel comes alive for the first time. He’s got feelings! Jealous ones! And it’s the same for Owen’s actor (I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name). This is a scene where Owen has to have real reactions–jealousy, confusion, and a sense of pride that Buffy is choosing him. (And can we just take a second to squee about the adorableness that is Angel pouting in the background while Buffy gives Owen a kiss? Because for real, guys, I can’t even with him.)
This is, though, the first time we see Buffy’s slaying actually drive a wedge between her and normal life. Up until now, everyone she’s interacted with has reacted in a healthy and/or positive way to the reveal that she’s the Slayer. Owen reacts first with fear, and then with unhealthy excitement. Granted, he doesn’t get the whole story, but he gets enough of it. He knows Buffy puts herself in danger, and he reacts to it in an entirely too positive way. Interestingly, it isn’t Owen rejecting Buffy, the way one might expect, but Buffy rejecting Owen, because she understands (in a moment of uncommon clarity for a high schooler) that he isn’t a good person to add to the team, and it wouldn’t be mentally and emotionally healthy for either of them if they pursued a relationship.
While I’m pretty sure we all knew this was coming, I like the way Buffy handles the breakup. She’s mature about it, explains where she stands, and doesn’t take offense or get upset when Owen tries to bait her. It was a really good piece of writing in an otherwise pretty flat episode for me.
And, okay, but is the Sunnydale Cemetary slogan legit “We’ll take care of the rest!”? Because that is hilarious and kudos to whoever came up with that.