Once again, as a reminder, this post contains spoilers. Every. Single. One.
“The Harvest” picks up right where “Welcome to the Hellmouth” left off as Buffy is about to be chomped on by buzzkill vampire, Luke. Luckily, she’s wearing a cross (that Angel gave her, so I guess he’s done something right), and it burns Luke. This allows Buffy to turn the tables, and he flees.
Side note: something I would like to keep an eye on as the series progresses is the efficacy, or non-efficacy, of crosses. Luke’s reaction to Buffy’s cross here seems much more dramatic than anything we see in later seasons. So, let’s put a pin in this and get back to it later.
Next, Buffy saves Xander and Willow from a pair of vamps trying to drag back some nummy treats for the Master….but, alas, Jesse has already been taken.
Then, first official Scooby meeting in the library! We get some exposition about vampires, and how the earth used to be inhabited by the Old Ones, while Xander and Willow deal with the fact that shit just got real. Vampires are apparently waiting for humans to die out so that the Old Ones can return…although, that doesn’t seem like a great idea since humans are their food source of choice. But then, as we’ll see, vampires aren’t maybe the greatest at coming up with evil schemes that will actually benefit them. (*cough*Acathla*cough*)
Meanwhile, in the Master’s Underground Lair of Too Many Candles, his royal Nosferatu-ness is all bent out of shape because Darla took a bite out of Jesse, and now they want to give him the scraps. Rude.
Darla makes some excuses about a super-powered girl causing trouble, which causes the Master to hypothesize that there’s a Slayer in town.
Back in the library, Giles explains about Slayers:
“The Slayer hunts vampires. Buffy is a Slayer. Don’t tell anyone.”
Buffy goes back to the mausoleum where she fought Luke to try and find an entrance to the Master’s lair …leaving Xander to stew in his feelings of emasculation because a tiny little girl can do something better than him. Yes, he’s also wishing he could fight because he’s worried about both Buffy and Jesse, which is sweet, but, the hurt male ego thing is Xander’s least attractive quality. And I do like Xander a lot, so I want him to get over this so he can be a more happy, fulfilled person!
But back to Buffy poking around the mausoleum when along comes Angel. Returning to play more of the mysterious stranger bullshit, and to neg Buffy, apparently. This fuckin’ guy.
“I knew you’d figure out this entryway sooner or later. Actually, I thought it was gonna be a little sooner.” – fucking Angel
A) It hasn’t really been that long. And B) as if Buffy doesn’t have enough people assuming she’s just a blonde ditz, without this guy actively shitting on her self-esteem. Frankly, I think it’s pretty impressive that she figured out that the entrance to the Master’s underground lair is inside the mausoleum. If some vampire sneaked up behind you and you barely escaped his evil clutches, I think you’d be hard-pressed to pull some Sherlock Holmes mind palace shit, and figure out where he came from. So screw you, Angel!
That has been your Angel-bashing for this week. (Confession: I did feel a little sorry for him when Buffy asked if he’d ever had a friend and his expression said “no, definitely not, although I long for love with every fiber of my being.” Then he squanders my pity when he waits for Buffy to leave and then whispers “good luck” like a creepy weirdo.)
Buffy is joined by Xander as she heads down into the tunnels. She’s annoyed, but he really does just want to help his friend, and frankly she doesn’t have time to argue, so off they go! The mission is the opposite of a success. While they do find Jesse, he’s already been turned into a vampire. So that’s a significant bummer…which will not really be addressed much after this episode. Jesse? Jesse who?
Cross Watch: Jesse the vampire is slightly repelled by Xander’s cross.
Buffy and Xander manage to escape, and the Master is not pleased. He belittles his minions for their incompetence, and then gouges out the head minion’s eye. Poor Colin. Such are the perils of leadership!
Not to be deterred from his Evil Plan of Evilness, the Master completes the ritual to designate Luke as his Vessel. Whenever Luke drinks someone’s blood, that power will go to the Master. So Luke’s big task is to complete The Harvest, aka massacre a bunch of people to feed power to the Master. Then the Master will break free of his prison and…I dunno, institute a reign of terror or something. His claim that the stars will hide when he walks the earth is a little vague on what exactly it is that will be so terrifying. I’m assuming he’ll want to eat a bunch of people…take over Sunnydale…the usual. You know, whatever he does in season 3’s alternate universe in “The Wish.”
Back in the library, Giles and Willow are doing very well with the whole “hiding supernatural scary stuff from the common folk” by having a whiteboard standing out in the open with notes about the Hellmouth.
Buffy and Xander return with the news that Jesse has been turned into a vampire, which, frankly, Buffy seems pretty blase´about. I mean, she hardly knew him, but at least pretend to be a little sadder for the benefit of those who did. Although, since Jesse hardly gets mentioned ever again, maybe she is displaying the correct amount of sadness.
The only one who seems really upset is Xander, and I have to imagine that this (and the fact that he’s the one who kills Jesse by the end of the episode) has a significant effect on his outlook. So that’s another thing we’ll be keeping an eye on – for example, how much is Xander’s hatred of Angel and Spike influenced by Jesse’s death? And how much of it is motivated by the fact that Buffy has sex with them, but not Xander?
Anyway, Giles gives us all the low-down on the Master and his nefarious scheme to slaughter a bunch of people via the Vessel so that he can escape his Underground Lair of Too Many Candles, and open the Hellmouth to let the Old Ones back onto Earth. Your standard End of the World type scenario. So, not actually what he does in “The Wish.” Or maybe Giles’ book is wrong.
At this juncture in the mythology, it seems that the Hellmouth is some kind of portal to the demon dimension where the Old Ones are lurking. As opposed to season 7, where it’s a cavern filled with uber-vamps. This leads me to many questions…especially when combined with Angel the Series’ mythology where there’s something called the Deeper Well, where Old Ones are trapped in some kind of suspended animation slumber. Of course, perhaps the uber-vamps are from a hell dimension. Once you open up the Hellmouth seal, that takes you to a different dimension….that is a cavern full of uber-vamps? I may be thinking too hard about this.
Xander hypothesizes that the Bronze is the perfect place for the Vessel to carry out a mass slaughter, so off they go. But not before Buffy has to stop off at her house for weapons, and a confrontation with her mother.
Oh, Joyce Summers, you try hard to be a good mom, but sometimes you are the worst. Not this time, though. This time you seem to be calmly trying to establish boundaries for Buffy. If only someone would inform you that she has to go prevent a mass slaughter. I honestly don’t know why it has to be a secret. It’s really hard on Buffy, and Joyce is not able to make informed parenting choices. As with many things, I blame the Watcher’s Council.
So out the window Buffy goes – not particularly stealthily, I might add – and we hop over to the Bronze where Cordelia is basically demonstrating the Platonic ideal of horrible Cordelia-ness as she explains why senior boys are better (they have cars), and why she has to have the most expensive thing when she shops (not because it’s expensive, but because it costs more). Then she heads off to the dance floor and Jesse grabs her.
At first she’s like, get away loser, but then he tells her to shut up, and I guess because he has different hair, he’s hot now, and Cordelia’s into it. Meanwhile, I’m over here being grossed out on a very fundamental level. Because, sure, we’ve all wanted Cordelia to shut up – possibly never more than just now when she was going on and on about senior boys and expensive shit – but, I don’t like seeing her taken down by vampire Jesse’s pick-up artist dominant display bullshit.
Back in the main plot, Luke and Darla arrive at the Bronze with some minions and, as the Vessel, Luke starts eating people. The Scoobies arrive slightly too late, to find that they are locked out of the club. Once again, I am impressed at how in control of things Buffy is even so early on. She’s the one making the plans, and positioning the troops. Anyone who mistakes her for just another blonde ditz is clearly an idiot.
Buffy breaks in though the upper level, just in time to save Cordelia from being chowed down upon. She fights Luke, and tricks him into thinking that he’s getting a face full of sun (it’s just a stage light). This distracts him long enough that she’s able to stake him. The Master is left trapped, and everyone else walks away alive. Well, except Jesse. He tries to eat Xander, but the fleeing crowd jostles him right into Xander’s stake (not a euphemism). So, bye Jesse! We hardly knew ye, but you seemed like kind of a douche if I’m being completely honest.
The next day at school, the story is going around about a gang war at The Bronze, so the Sunnydale Effect is firmly in place, where everyone in town is in the deepest denial re: the supernatural. Giles, in one of his more tweedy, watcher-y moments, warns the our intrepid trio of Buffy, Willow, and Xander that there will be more adversaries to face and apocalypses to prevent. But Buffy doesn’t have time to worry about that. School’s tough enough. But hey, maybe she can get kicked out.
The Big Bad Report:
The Master’s scheme to free himself and open the Hellmouth: FOILED.
Darla: Face burned from holy water.
A good week for our heroes.
The Eric Balfour RIP Jesse In Memoriam Award…
…goes to Jesse, obviously.
My Favorite Kicky, Punchy Stuff:
It’s not really very kicky/punchy, but it’s the look that Buffy gives those vampires, who are about to snack on Xander, just after she dusts Luke. You want a piece of this Slayer? No. No, you do not.
PRACTICAL LESSONS FOR REAL LIFE:
Don’t go down into the sewers alone. Don’t go down into the sewers with a friend. Just don’t go down into the sewers. It’s not rocket science, people.
That’s it for “The Harvest.” All-in-all a pretty fun two-part intro, along with “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” to the Buffy world. Next up is “The Witch.”