Last time we left our heroine getting her ass kicked by a mini-boss. At the beginning of this episode she knocks him out in the first five seconds and rescues Willow and Xander--but no third 'long time' friend. Yeah, he totally gets vamped and then used as bait for Buffy. Clever tactic on the Vamp's part, and we get introduced to Buffy's 'good guy' syndrome--she can't let anyone die, get hurt, etc. She's like a frickin' Harry Potter in that regard, whiny emo-bitch included.
We get a better introduction to 'The Master'...our major antagonist for the first season. He looks like a Nosferatu from the Vampire table-top: the classic Vampire image of ugly as hell creature of horror. The rest of the Vamps suffer from Anne Rice syndrome...the 'sexy' vampire, though they turn ugly when feeding or in combat. Not as ugly as the Master though, he's just fugly.
Willow shows us that she's a great techie and hacks into the city council's mainframe, and Buffy goes on about how she's the chosen one and the only one who can face the vamps. She manages to leave the other two behind, sneaks out of school, and goes back to the Mausoleum--that is, the location of our mini-boss battle--to save the third long time friend vampbait. But oops! Xander tags along, as stupid newbies do, and they manage to get themselves cornered with the newly vamped third friend. They manage to escape through the ventilation shaft...which is in the sewers with them...right.
The Master performs a ritual so that while he cannot escape his underground lair he marks the mini-boss as his 'vessel' so that he can enjoy the benefits of the Harvest--feeding on a bunch of innocents to free the Master to walk the earth.
Now, I get that the Master is supposed to be an Elder...that is, one of the original Vampires who helped to establish the species. He's more powerful as his blood is more pure--this also applies in Vampire: the Masquerade, but is not really classic lore. I get that for this reason he is more of a pure demon than his progeny who are more human. Hence he looks all vampy all the time while they actually get human faces to blend in. However, the Master just never seems that evil to me--more of the stereotypical bad guy that has no real depth or interest. Destroy the earth to rule over it supreme, yadda yadda yadda. Boring.
Also, I understand that humans are quite stupid and willing to forget what doesn't work into their perfect little world, but this town is just ridiculous. High mortality rate, bizarre happenings, seeing vampires and demons face-to-face, and they block it all out. Really? That's it? So terribly convenient.
Anyways, Buffy stops the Harvest, the Master is terribly disappointed though not as much as he should be, and our heroes live to fight another day. Or rather, Heroine and sidekicks. I do like that Buffy tricks the mini-boss into thinking he's getting burned by sunlight and he actually goes with it for like five seconds, giving her the opportunity to stake him. Nice touch, that.
In any case we have our hook "The bad guys won't stop trying", and thus the series commences. Boy I can't wait to get to second season.