Buffy: Clark Kent had a job. I just wanna go on a date.
The first of many episodes recounting Buffy’s disastrous love life. It’s also the first episode truly centred around Buffy since the first double-episode, and the first since then to continue the season arc.
Never Kill a Boy on the First Date was an episode I’d largely forgotten and overlooked, but I must admit I found it one of the most enjoyable so far. Buffy is probably the most likeable she’s been in the series so far, in her awkward struggles to deal with Owen as well as her attempts to juggle her love life and slaying. There are lots of great comic moments, both from Buffy (I love it when she thanks him for saying she can read) and also from Xander in his inevitable jealousy (my favourite moment is probably when he compares his and Owen’s watches).
Owen’s character is pretty nicely done; initially intriguing and intelligent, later revealed as shallow and pretentious… he’s a totally believable type without being clichéd. There’s also a nice side-story developing with the arrival of the anointed one. This was another nice twist that caught me off-guard when I first saw it. But mostly the vampire stuff is peripheral to the relationship drama.
Anyway, it’s a nicely handled episode all round. Shout-outs also go to some lovely Giles moments; the use of Owen to remind us that Giles is, in fact, a librarian (the scene at Buffy’s house is priceless!), and the first of many nicely written and acted quiet chat scenes between Buffy and Giles at the end.
I give it four Emily Dickinsons.