I love this episode! To me, if I had to think about what a typical Buffy episode would be, it would be one like this one. It's horribly depressing in it's underlying message but Joss rewards that hideous look into the deep abyss with hilarious humour. This episode is funny - all our ensemble cast get great lines. We see the Scoobs do what they become depended on to do - back Buffy up. We see the developing of the great rapport between Buffy and Giles with Giles matching each of Buffy's quips, remark for remark. Two points for the Slayer while the Watcher is yet to score.
And really is there a better line in the whole series to sum up the character of Buffy herself than: If the Apocalypse comes ... beep me? So flippant, so desperate to do anything other than be the Slayer, but can be depended on to come through if you really need her.
I love also that this episode brings us back to the Master and why he is Buffy's biggest foe and what he is plotting and planning. I think this episode works to ground us back to what this series is really about.
The Owen plotline is mostly missable because Owen himself is so forgettable but really that's what appeals to me about this episode. Haven't we all had moments when we desperately want to be someone else, to not be bound or held back by our responsibilities and commitments? Haven't we all tried to live over in the house with the greener lawn? Haven't we all tried to fit in the round hole even whilst knowing we are actualy the square peg? I love the symmetry of Buffy fawning and stumbling over Owen in the same way that Xandr did over her in the first episode. I love the message that we all find ourselves out of our depth sometimes. And that even when we try so desperately hard to be what we are not or to have what we cannot, we must soon face the inevitable fact that this is not for us. No matter how hard we want it.
My heart breaks for Buffy in this episode. All she wants is just a little respite from her life which is full of being more grown up than her age and sacrificing life experiences for the greater Good. And yet, even when she gets her one date with Owen, pretty much every member of the Scoobs manages to show up at some point through the evening and she never gets a moment to be Not!Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I feel for her frustration and it all just being so unfair - that she doesn't get to do what every other teenager gets to do. Just because of some birthright thing she had no control over. I love her outburst in the corridor that so poignantly captures it (and my own experience at a similar age): Yeah that's right! I've got no life! Nothing to see here! Move it along!
And my heart totally shatters in that final scene where she finally gets what she wants - Owen - and realises that the reason he wants her is the one reason she doesn't want him to want her. Buffy just wants to be a normal teenager. She just wants to be wanted and seen as normal. She wants just one part of her life to not be about the Slayer. But she's not normal. And she has to make sacrifices.
Oh Buffy! If only you knew it was like that for all of us!
(Although less with the apocalypse and more with less life or death stuff)
And finally ... The Annointed One yadda yadda yadda. I love that stupid, precocious little kid!