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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 4, Episodes 1 – 2

December 15, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 4-01 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

The Last Of Buff: A BTVS Retrospective, S4 E1-2


Episode 1

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

I can’t believe I’ve done three whole seasons of this show so far. Let’s see where season four takes us…

We start the season off with Buffy and Willow sitting in a graveyard and selecting classes for their first semester at UC SunnyDale (wait, they are attending the University of California? And it has a SunnyDale campus? Okay). Behind them, a new vampire hatches from his grave and sneaks up on them. He eventually gets a bored look and ambles away, though, at which point Buffy looks back and wonders what is taking him so long to emerge.

Oh, what a laugh riot to start us off with! This is… not promising.

After Nerf Herder’s leads us in, we see Buffy on campus, confused and surrounded by other students and folks handing out fliers. She can’t find the hall she needs, but she does eventually run into Willow. Willow is super positive and excited for day one; Buffy is clearly overwhelmed.

Oz approaches, and he, too, is in his element. His band has played this campus before, so he knows folks. They note that Xander is traveling across the country and Giles is unemployed…

Why–aside from the fact that the school exploded–is Giles unemployed? Remember, he wasn’t just a librarian; he was a teacher, too. Wherever SunnyDale High is having classes, he should still be needed, right? The show isn’t implying he left just because Buffy graduated, are they? Because that fills me with confusion. Giles worked at SunnyDale whether Buffy was there or not. The Anya-created alternate reality verified that!


Buffy and Willow go bookshopping for classes, and Buffy drops a massive psychology book on a dude’s head, who takes it much better than I would have! Imagine if the corner of that book caught you! I don’t care if the culprits look like 1999 Sarah Michell Gellar and Allyson Hannigan or not, I’d be cursing a whirlwind. Willow and this dude, Riley, get on really well. Buffy is awkward around him.

Buffy then goes to her dorm–THE LARGEST FRESHMAN DORMROOM IN HISTORY, even for a TV show–and meets her overly-bubbly roommate, Cathy. This will be more important in one episode’s time. But for now, she’s just very cheery. And she snores.

In one of those tropes that entertainment media loves to use, Buffy goes to her first college class and is immediately shouted at and belittled by her professor for the innocuous offense of whispering a question to her neighbor. SEE?! IT’S A CULTURE SHOCK, the show is screaming at us.

She gets kicked out of the class and bumps into Riley, who offers to take her to Psych class. The professor there is Prof Walsh. She is also abrasive (CULTURE SHOCK), but at least not to Buffy personally.

The vast majority of my college professors were super chill. So while I know WHY major network TV writers (who all attended colleges, damn it!) like this trope, it never rings true.

BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE NEXT UP BUFFY MEETS PEDRO PASCAL. It’s one of those moments that barely meant anything if you watched Buffy from 1999 to 2020, but with 2021 onward, it’s PEDRO PASCAL, and he’s blown up in the last few years! Seeing him in a thankless early role as “Eddie” is hilarious. But don’t worry, Pedro. Your career is good… but it CAN be better!

(That’s right, I went with a Wonder Woman 1984 reference instead of The Last Of Us)

Anyway, Eddie is also having a foreign experience on campus, so he and Buffy bond a bit. And as soon as she leaves for her dorm, vampires eat him. D’oh!

The vampires then toss Eddie’s room and leave a note to make it look like he ran away. One of the vampires is a “stoner guy” archetype, and… can vampires even get high? Remember: Angel said vampires don’t breathe.

(Don’t remember that I pointed out how stupid that notion is, however)

It was the 1990’s, though, so the vampire could always say he didn’t inhale! Hahaha oh man, Bill Clinton jokes are timeless. Remember when the worst thing our President did was get some oral sex? What a bygone era.

In addition to stoner vampire, we have “slightly overweight” vampire, and she is constantly picked on for her size by her cohorts. You know what, girl? If they talk to you like that, they are not your friends.

Also, this girl is TV Fat, which means she was, like, 165 lbs, but everyone acts like they’ve never seen such girth. Being an actress is ROUGH, man.

Buffy, who doesn’t buy that Eddie would bail on school after their talk, rushes off to see Giles, whereupon we meet a new black character! So she’ll be dead inside of five episodes. Giles and this character, Olivia, just had a roll in the hay. Buffy scolds him for this, but he politely laughs her off. She explains her problems, and Giles gives her the “you’re old enough to figure this out on your own” talk and sends her on her way.

Buffy sees Eddie on campus and approaches him, but he’s a vampire now! She stakes him. Pedro Pascal does not even make it to the last act of the episode! I had so many Vampdalorian jokes!

The rest of the gang surround her, including the leader, Sunday. Sunday whoops Buffy’s damn ass and sends her scurrying away to safety. She takes us into the commercial break by disdainfully saying “Freshmen”.

Buffy, defeated, heads back home, only to find mom has filled her bedroom full of LARGE WOODEN CRATES. OH MAN, Mama Summers is going to crowbar open some more crates, and I’d say I’d forgotten that moment from the beginning of season one, but I one-million-percent did NOT.

The phone rings, and Buffy answers it, but there is no one on the other end, and you know what? I don’t think that moment pays off here. Is this foreshadowing, BTVS? Somebody remind me to be on the lookout for this subplot.

Buffy goes back to school, but now all of her stuff is missing and there is a note on her bed, too!

From there, it’s the Crappy Indie Band Segment that this show does too often to NOT be a thing, but also not often enough to be A THING, you know? Sad Buffy finds Xander in The Bronze, and they catch up. Xander never made it out of California on his road trip; he spent the summer working off car repairs in a male strip club.

Xander talks the sense back into our slayer, and the two go off to scout Sunday’s lair.

After Effortlessly (TM) deducing that Sunday’s rogues are holed up in an abandoned frat house (which the show actually bothers to explain is condemned but can’t be knocked down due to “zoning issues” and you know what? I like rationale, so I’ll allow it!), they go check it out. Buffy is STANDING ON A SKYLIGHT, so the whole scene leaves you waiting for the inevitability of…

Buffy falls through the skylight and lands at her enemies’ feet! Xander goes off to find the rest of the gang.

Sunday mockingly breaks Buffy’s parasol she was awarded last year, so our hero starts fighting better. The team shows up right on time, and they slay all of the vamps but one, who slinks away in the confusion.

Giles shows up during the team’s triumphant walk away from the frathouse, and he feels bad for not offering to be more help. Olivia is nowhere in sight. Maybe she already died!

And then we end up with the last of Sunday’s group being tased by… the army? What the actual hell?

Episode 2

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Buffy and Cathy are in the dorm together, with the latter rocking out to Cher’s “Believe”, which is a fucking BOP, so Buffy’s disgust at it wins her no points here. We see Cathy getting on Buffy’s nerves a lot: tracking phone calls to split the bill by who uses the phone more, complaining about missing milk. She seems friendly, but obnoxious. As the scene ends, she repeats “Believe” because you always should.

Buffy can’t even get away to hunt, as Cathy rushes up on her to join her “to get coffee”. A blue-eyed monster with melty skin strikes, and Buffy pushes Cathy to safety. After he runs away, Cathy is upset her sweater got ruined. We see there are two demons who say “She may be the one”, and they are obviously talking about Cathy, not The Slayer, right?

We see Buffy and Giles, with Buffy mentioning the demon, but moreso complaining about Cathy. The scene is shot outside, and it’s got wicked bad audio. It’s season four, BTVS! Learn how to shoot your television program already!

Buffy is in the lunch line where she spies Cathy, so she ducks in front of a dude to hide from her. They introduce each other; his name is Parker. He covers for her and doesn’t mind that she cut. As they chat, he teaches her how to scam the food card system.

When Buffy separates from him to sit with Willow and Oz (and Xander, who is just hanging out on campus now), Cathy interjects another chair into their table. She is wearing Buffy’s sweater and gets ketchup on it! Oh, cattiness.

That night, Buffy is on the phone with Willow, and Willow’s roommate is having a loud party right in their room… but Buffy only wants to kvetch about Cathy. Speak of the roommate, she comes in and starts flossing, which is, apparently, also egregious to Buffy? Buffy goes to the fridge and finds everything inside labeled “Kathy”, which is SO WEIRD that Cathy would misspell her own name like that.

Buffy ends up asleep and dreams of the Blue-Eyes White Demon performing a ritual on her. When she is shocked awake, Cathy complains about the noises Buffy made in her sleep.

Buffy explains the dream to Giles, Willow, and Oz. Cathy approaches and hears they are talking about dreams, so she shares hers: she had the same dream as Buffy!

Seto Kaiba’s favorite antagonists are talking around a fire. It’s apparently time to summon TAPARRICH! And hopefully in Attack Mode.

Oh my god, this episode is so drama-y, as we NEXT see Buffy enter her dorm, and Cathy is entertaining Parker and flirting with him. Buffy is incensed! Parker leaves, and Buffy and Cathy get right back into bickering.

Did the early 2000’s WWE team write this episode? This whole plot is Bitches Be Crazy.

Willow and Oz are discussing how unlike herself Buffy is acting. Willow is too busy with classes to keep an eye on her, though, so Oz volunteers. Willow’s roommate is having a party AGAIN. Too bad Stoner Vamp died already.

On his way to hang with Buffy, Oz passes another girl, and they eye each other in an unusual way, so I GUESS she is a werewolf, too. Oh, and the Episode 1 army guys are in the background.

Buffy and Oz have a rare scene with just the two of them, with Oz trying to chill Buffy out with his inherent mellow. She does NOT stop going on about Cathy, though, and breaks a park bench in anger.

OH MY GOD, more dorm antics are to follow, and this episode is going nowhere AND doing it very slowly. Cathy is clipping her toenails onto the floor (and Buffy’s problem is the noise, not the, you know, CLIPPING HER TOENAILS ONTO THE FLOOR). Buffy taps her pencil on her book, equally annoying Cathy. She turns Cher back on! Hurray! Then she cracks open a hard-boiled egg, and everything is shot so dramatically. This is some real Zack Snyder Filming A Dorm Scene stuff.

Buffy wakes up from another ritual dream, and Cathy wakes up at the same time from an apparently similar one.

Buffy BRINGS CATHY’S TOENAILS to Willow the next days and says they are still growing; she measured them! Buffy is insistent that Cathy is an evil monster and wants to kill her now. Willow calls Giles when she gets away from her wild-eyed best friend.

They get Buffy to go to Giles’ house, where the team DROPS A NET ON HER, and I seriously can’t stress enough how much I love when this show pulls out nets. This is what? The third or fourth time? I LOVE IT. More nets, please!

Xander and Oz tie Buffy up while Giles heads to the magic shop for supplies.

Willow goes to check on Cathy, and Cathy is ALSO bizarrely aggressive about Buffy. Willow convinces her to stay in the dorm room so the former and her friends can deal with Buffy.

Buffy frees herself from her restraints and head-bonks Xander and Oz together because, seriously, god bless this show sometimes. In two episodes, we have had: Mom’s giant wooden crates, a net, slow-mo toenail clipping, and now a head-bonk. All I need now is for someone to start running by jumping into the air and spinning their legs into a blur of action as they hang in place for a moment. I’ll be set. Best season ever.

And OH HEY, it turns out the toenail thing is REAL. They really are regenerating, and Cathy IS a demon. She has been performing a ritual on a sleeping Buffy to steal her soul.

Buffy and Cathy start brawling in the dorm room, and Buffy peels off Cathy’s skin! Underneath, she is the Blue-Eyes demon, too. You know what that means?

There are three of them.

They can form Blue-Eyes ULTIMATE Demon now! That thing has 4500 Attack strength; Buffy can’t handle that.

(I am doing the kindergarten level references here, but I used to play a LOT of Yu-Gi-Oh, and I could do this all day)

Cathy spills her plan: the others want her to return to their realm, but she didn’t want to. So she was stealing Buffy’s soul, so they would think Buffy was their lost kin.

Giles and Willow do a spell in his home to give Buffy her soul back. Taparrich then appears in the dorm room and sends Cathy back to their dimension.

That’s it! That’s all he wanted. No subsequent fight.

Our epilogue sees Willow helping Buffy redecorate the dorm now that Cathy is gone, and this raises all kinds of questions that I suppose episode 4.1 actually answers: this campus is used to students just bailing without warning. Fair play! As the girls work, Willow bites into Buffy’s sandwich. Buffy’s perturbed look shows she has not learned the power of sharing.


You know what? Rumors about season four be damned, I REALLY liked both of these episodes.

I feel like the first three seasons of Buffy tried to capture a snapshot of the high school experience in a fantastical way, but they failed. The slayer stuff was great! But the “This Is All Correlative To High School” angles fell flat for me. Remember the overuse of jungle drums in season one? Whoof.

Compare that to episode one here which really showed the feelings of an unprepared college freshman suddenly being in way over her head. Buffy’s isolation and fear really shone through. It just felt so genuine. Even as silly as it was that Sunday whipped her ass in round one is all a part of the experience. She was no longer the big fish in the small pond. This was the college analogy!

And then in episode two? So many folks have had that roommate experience of “this person has to be a DEMON. They have to be. No one lives like this”. Again, the show took that premise, made it a supernatural monster story, and it was GREAT. I ragged on the constant dorm room drama scenes, but they added to the theme. And I like the non-fight that it ended on, too, with Taparrich just being like “We gotta go”.

So am I going to end up loving the purportedly worst season? I dunno. Looks good to me so far.