Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s debut on UPN (8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. Check local listings for station) is everything fans might expect – exciting and touching as it bends expectations and tosses in dashes of wry humor. That’s not really surprising since the behind-the-scenes staff stays virtually the same, but it’s still a bit of a relief in this chaotic time.
The two-hour debut starts three months after Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) sacrifices herself to save her mystically created sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) and the world. Life has moved on and the Scooby gang (Willow, Tara, Xander, Anya and Giles) are doing what they can to continue Buffy’s work and maintain as normal a home life for Dawn as possible. Spike (James Marsters) is even chipping to help by staying with Dawn at night when the others are occupied.
But while life has continued, no one has forgotten Buffy and each grieves in their own way. Spike obsessively needs to keep the vow he made to Buffy, especially since he failed to protect Dawn once before. Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is pondering his usefulness as a watcher without a slayer, thereby setting up Head’s return to Britain and possible BBC series The Watcher. Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya, meanwhile, are secretly plotting to find Buffy’s soul and bring her back. Needless to say, it eventually works, but the cost and consequences are likely to be far reaching.
Giving away more would be terribly unfair, but I can say what isn’t addressed in the premiere:
1. Where and who is the new third slayer? After all, when Kendra died, Faith became a slayer even though Buffy was alive, so Faith being in jail doesn’t affect the transfer of power. Presumably the new slayer will be one cultivated by the Watchers Council, so that organization now has its own champion again.
2. Where was Buffy? Part of Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) obsession with restoring Buffy is because Buffy died a mystical, not natural, death so her soul could have been trapped in pocket of hell.
3. What did Buffy’s spirit guide mean last season when she said that "death is your [Buffy’s] gift"? Buffy seemed to gain some insight before sacrificing herself last season, but she didn’t exactly have time to explain it.
4. What will Giles reaction be when he finds out that Buffy is back? Head isn’t out of the show completely, but his role will be greatly reduced so he can be home with his family in England.
5. Will the topic of notifying Angel (David Boreanaz) and company be addressed at all? The split with The WB was acrimonious so creator Joss Whedon admits that crossovers won’t happen for a long time, if ever again, but the season debut of Angel on The WB mentioned Buffy’s death several times. It’s hard to believe that Angel wouldn’t show up to see his only love even briefly, so the writers will have to tread carefully to explain why that doesn't happen.
6. Will Xander (Nicholas Brendan) and Anya (Emma Caulfield) actually get married? Whedon is mum on the topic, only hinting that the road to the altar will be rather circuitous.
7. Tara (Amber Benson) had some questions last season about the longevity of her relationship with Willow. In the season premiere, everything between them seems just peachy, but Whedon has hinted that the course of love won’t run smooth.
Buffy hits the ground running on its new network without a glitch and more than living up to expectations. If the writing remains this sharp, Buffy seems sure to survive anything hell throws at her.
Review © 2001 Beth Hannan Rimmels. Accompanying photographs © UPN. All rights reserved. Photo credit: .