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Welcome to the Hellmouth

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 1
BookforBuffy
Air date February 7, 1997 (NZ)
March 10, 1997 (USA)
January 3, 1998 (UK)
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Production Code 4V01
Episode Guide
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"The Harvest"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Mark Metcalf The Master
Brian Thompson Luke
David Boreanaz Angel
Ken Lerner Principal Flutie
Kristine Sutherland Joyce
Julie Benz Darla
J Patrick Lawlor Thomas
Eric Balfour Jesse
Co Starring
Natalie Strauss Teacher
Carmine D Giovinazzo Boy
Amy Chance Girl #1
Tupelo Jereme Girl #2
Persia White Girl #3
Band (Sprung Monkey)
Tony Delocht Bass Player
Ernie Longoria Drummer
Chuck Riley Guitar Player
Mike Summers Guitar Player
Steve Summers Singer

"Welcome to the Hellmouth" is the season premiere of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the first episode overall. It was written by Joss Whedon and directed by Charles Martin Smith.

Synopsis

WttH

Darla, the first vampire seen on Buffy.

Giles: "The influx of the undead, the ... supernatural occurrences, it's been building for years. There's a reason why you're here and a reason why it's now!"
Buffy: "Because now is the time my mom moved here!"
— Giles and Buffy discuss timing

A boy breaks a window at Sunnydale High School at night and crawls in, followed by a seemingly reluctant girl. The girl hears an unidentified sound and fears something is there. The boy calls out but gets no response. When the girl is satisfied they are alone, her face morphs into that of a vampire, and she bites the boy. The girl, we will later find out, is Darla.

Buffy has a nightmare the morning of her first day of school. Her mother drives her to the school and encourages her to think positive. Inside the building, Principal Flutie tells her she will start with a clean slate. He reconsiders that after realizing that Buffy burned down her previous school's gym because "it was full of vampi—…asbestos."

Spike

Xander picks up Buffy's stake

WillowBuffy

Willow and Buffy formally introduce themselves

Willow1x1

Willow

Buffy exits the office and bumps into another student, spilling the contents of her handbag over the floor. Xander sees that and helps Buffy, introducing himself. She leaves without her stake, which Xander pockets because he called out to her, but she had already walked away. In history class, Buffy is helped by Cordelia, who afterward tests her "coolness factor," allowing Buffy skipping the written as Buffy had just moved to Sunnydale, California from Los Angeles. To Buffy's horror, Cordelia humiliates an awkward Willow at the water fountain. Inside the library, Mr. Giles places a book titled Vampyr in front of Buffy after realizing who she was. A stunned Buffy makes a hasty exit.

Buffy, Willow, Jesse McNally and Xander meet during a break, and Xander returns the stake. Buffy claims it's standard self-defense in Los Angeles. Cordelia appeared and told Buffy she won't get to meet Coach Foster because gym was canceled "due to the extreme dead guy" in Aura's locker. Buffy asks whether there were marks on the body, freaking out Cordelia. Buffy forces her way into the locker room, examines the body, and finds the characteristic puncture wounds of a vampire on the neck.


Buffy returns to the library and confronts Giles, who informs her that he is her Watcher. Buffy refuses to accept her calling as a Slayer, since it had gotten her expelled from previous school and cost her her social life. After they leave the library, Xander emerges from behind the shelves, having overheard the strange conversation.

Welcometothehellmouthangel

Angel gives Buffy a cross for protection

That night, en route to her first visit to the Bronze, the cool hangout in Sunnydale, Buffy meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, who warns her that she is living on a Hellmouth which is about to open, and that "the Harvest" is coming. He also gives her a large silver cross. It isn't revealed until the next episode that the stranger's name is Angel.

In the Bronze, Buffy meets Willow and encourages her to seize the moment because tomorrow she might be dead. She finds Giles and tells him about Angel. Giles tells her to learn to hone her skills to sense vampires anywhere. Buffy uses her fashion sense to pick out a vampire in the club and is alarmed to see Willow leaves with him. She loses them and is surprised by Cordelia, nearly staking her. Cordelia immediately calls her friends to tell them about it. While Buffy looks for Willow, Jesse chats up Darla at the Bronze. Buffy is stopped by Xander, whom she convinces to help search for Willow.

Meanwhile, under the streets of Sunnydale, The Master is woken by lesser vampires from a long sleep to prepare for the Harvest. He sends Luke to fetch young blood.

Willow's new acquaintance takes her to a crypt in a cemetery, where they are joined by Darla and Jesse, whom she has bitten. Buffy and Xander arrive. Buffy kills Willow's vampire. Xander and Willow help Jesse, who has been weakened, flee. Luke takes Darla's place in the fight so she can help catch the kids. Luke throws Buffy in a stone coffin and is about to move in for the kill.

Continuity

  • Buffy begins to have prophetic dreams.
  • Cordelia says "I'd kill to live in L.A.!" After graduation, she did move to Los Angeles.
  • Joyce drops Buffy off at school and tells her "Try not to get kicked out". Buffy promises, but eventually does get expelled.[1]
  • Buffy expressed that she "really didn't like" Angel, though she later ended up falling in love with him and they started an on and off relationship.
  • The girl who finds the dead boy in her locker is Cordelia's friend, Aura. She recurs (offscreen) in the Angel season 1 episode 'Rm w/a Vu', talking to Cordelia on the phone in the final scene.
  • We see Cordelia use a mobile phone after her confrontation with Buffy at the Bronze. We won't see her use one again until season 1 of Angel and the Sunnydale Scoobies will not employ them until season 7 of Buffy.  

Appearances

Individuals

Organizations and Titles

Species

Events

Locations

Weapons and Objects

Body Count

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • The script for the episode was written on August 26, 1996. Six revisions were made following this, with the last being January 17, 1997.
  • The high school used for external and some internal scenes in the series is Torrance High, the same school used for the acclaimed series Beverly Hills 90210.[2]
  • The Master's real name was never mentioned on screen but in the shooting script for the episode he was named Heinrich Joseph Nest and was also said to have been six hundred years old. [3]
  • When Buffy is in her room deciding what to wear to the Bronze, the Sprung Monkey’s “Saturated” is played in the background. Incidentally, Sprung Monkey appear on stage at the Bronze. They first perform “Believe,” followed by “Swirl” and “Things Are Changing.” The original score is written by Walter Murphy.
  • The Master was originally supposed to rise from a pool of blood and be covered with the blood for the entire episode; this was abandoned after being discovered to be too difficult to create.
  • Certain scenes, such as the argument between Giles and Buffy in the library, and Buffy's first meeting with Angel, were re-shot eight months after the first episode was recorded. Joss Whedon decided to make Buffy less angry and more vulnerable, much to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s dismay. Whedon jokingly teased her they were going to re-shoot the scenes a third time.[4]

Broadcast

  • Creator Joss Whedon hoped to include actor Eric Balfour in the title credits to shock viewers when his character dies. Unfortunately, the show could not afford the extra set of title credits at the time. However, Whedon’s wish was granted in season six (“Seeing Red”) with Amber Benson’s character, Tara Maclay.[4]
  • On the original airing of this episode, The WB provided a teaser briefing the history of past Slayers. It revealed horrific events in towns that were halted when a particular woman arrived. This teaser, however, does not appear in syndication or on DVD.[6]
  • "Welcome to the Hellmouth" received a Nielsen rating of 3.4 upon its original airing. [7]

Deleted Scenes

  • This exchange was cut because of length:[8]
Mr. Flutie: - "Oh! Buffy! Uh, what do you want?"
Buffy: - "Um, is there a guy in there that's dead?"
Mr. Flutie: - "Where did you hear that? Okay. Yes. But he's not a student! Not currently."
Buffy: - "Do you know how he died?"
Mr. Flutie: - "What?"
Buffy: - "I mean - how could this have happened?"
Mr. Flutie: - "Well, that's for the police to determine when they get here. But this structure is safe, we have inspectors, and I think there's no grounds for a lawsuit."
Buffy: - "Was there a lot of blood? Was there any blood?"
Mr. Flutie: - "I would think you wouldn't want to involve yourself in this kind of thing."
Buffy: - "I don't. Could I just take a peek?"
Mr. Flutie: - "Unless you already are involved..."
Buffy: - "Never mind."
Mr. Flutie: - "Buffy, I understand this is confusing. You're probably feeling a lot right now. You should share those feelings. With someone else."

Pop Culture References

  • John Tesh, an American television and radio presenter, and now a lifestyle guru, is also mentioned.
  • Buffy speaks of DeBarge, a 1980s pop group.
  • When storming the Bronze, Buffy references The Wild Bunch, a 1969 Western where all the remaining characters are killed in the final shootout.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • When Angel meets Buffy, he says that he thought she'd be taller, implying that he'd never seen her before. Later, in "Becoming, Part One," we see a flashback of Angel watching Buffy from afar, proving this wrong (or a deceitful statement for no good reason). Angel also mentions the sighting to Buffy in "Helpless."
  • In the first classroom scene where Buffy shares Cordelia's textbook. The teacher asks them to turn to page 63, but Cordelia turns to somewhere near the beginning of the book.
  • In the scene where Buffy and Willow first talk, Buffy's hair moves back and forth behind and in front of her ear.
  • The spines on the stack of books change from showing to not showing as Buffy and Giles hand them to each other in the library.

Music

  • Dave Aragon - "No Heroes" (Plays when Joyce drives Buffy to school.)
  • Sprung Monkey - "Saturated" (Plays as Buffy tries to decide what to wear to the Bronze.)
  • Sprung Monkey - "Believe" (Plays as Buffy arrives at the Bronze.)
  • Sprung Monkey - "Swirl" (Plays while Jesse talks to Cordelia and then Darla at the Bronze.)
  • Sprung Monkey - "Things Are Changing" (Plays while Buffy talks to Xander outside the Bronze while looking for Willow.)
  • Mindtribe - "Losing Ground"
  • Walter Murphy - original score

International Titles

  • French: Bienvenue à Sunnydale, partie 1 (Welcome to Sunnydale, part 1)
  • Portuguese: Bem Vinda à Boca do Inferno (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Finnish: Ystäviä ja paholaisia osa 1 (Friends and demons part 1)
  • Spanish (Spain and Latin America): La Cosecha, Parte 1 (The Harvest, Part 1)
  • Italian: Benvenuti al college (Welcome to college)
  • Icelandic: Velkomin til Vítismunnsins (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • German: Das Zentrum des Bösen (The Center of Evil)

Other

  • Brian Thompson, who plays the vampire Luke, returns to the series in season two as a different character, the Judge, in "Surprise" and "Innocence". 
  • Each regular character is introduced in the order that they appear in the opening titles.
  • The region 4 DVD case incorrectly titles this episode as "Welcome to Hellmouth".

Quotes

Cordelia - "It's in the bad side of town."
Buffy - "Where's that?"
Cordelia - "It's about half a block from the good side of town. We don't have a whole lot of town here."
Xander - "Well, uh, maybe I'll see you around. Maybe at school... since we... both... go there."
Buffy - "Great! It was nice to meet you."
Xander - "We both go to school. Very suave. Very not pathetic."
Buffy - "Uh, Hi! Willow, right?"
Willow - "Why? I-I mean, hi! Uh, did you want me to move?"
Buffy - "Why don't we start with, 'Hi, I'm Buffy,' and, uh, then let's segue directly into me asking you for a favor. It doesn't involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while."
Willow - "But aren't you hanging out with Cordelia?"
Buffy - "I can't do both?"
Willow - "Not legally."
Giles - "Dig a bit in the history of this place and you'll find a-a-a steady stream of fairly odd occurrences. I believe this whole area is the center of mystical energy, that things gravitate towards it that-that you might not find elsewhere."
Buffy - "Like vampires."
Giles - "Like zombies. Werewolves. Incubi, succubi... everything you've ever dreaded was under your bed but told yourself couldn't be by the light of day. They're all real."
Buffy - "What? You, like, sent away for the Time Life series?"
Giles - "Uh, w-well, yes."
Buffy - "D'ya get the free phone?"
Giles - "Um, the calendar."
Buffy - "To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood, and then you have to suck their blood. Its like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they're just gonna kill you.
Buffy - "Now we can do this the hard way or...well, actually, there's just the hard way."
Darla - "That's fine with me."
Buffy - "Are you sure? Now this is not gonna be pretty. We're talking violence, strong language, adult content."
Xander - (To Buffy) "Can I have you? Duh... Can I help you?"
Cordelia - "Well, you'll be okay here. If you hang with me and mine, you'll be accepted in no time. Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You're from L.A., so you can skip the written, but let's see. Vamp nail polish?"
Buffy - "Um, over?"
Cordelia - "So over. James Spader?"
Buffy - "He needs to call me."
Cordelia - "Frappaccinos?"
Buffy - "Trendy, but tasty."
Cordelia - "John Tesh?"
Buffy - "The Devil."
Cordelia - "That was pretty much a gimme, but...you passed."

References

  1. Becoming, Part Two
  2. Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.
  3. Buffy and Angel: The Ultimate DVD Collection Magazine, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Joss Whedon's audio commentary for the episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth", The Complete First Season Region 1 DVD.
  5. The Complete Slayer by Keith Topping, 2004
  6. Strafford, Nikki. Bite Me! Toronto: ECW P, 2002.
  7. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season." <http://home.insightbb.com/~wahoskem/buffy1.html>
  8. Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

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