Season 4, Episode 1 - The Freshman
Original airdate: Oct. 5, 1999
Project 310 re-watch date: Feb. 15, 2009
Season 4 begins with an episode that’s all about possibilities and, unfortunately, not much delivery on that.
First off, the main story of the episode features Buffy struggling to adjust to college life, and encountering a vampire nest on campus that’s been picking off students for years.
I really don’t get why Buffy ends up so scared and confused by college life, to the point where Sunday, the main vamp of the group, ends up getting the drop on her. Sure, college life is new, but she shouldn’t turn into a puddle of a woman. It’s like “Helpless”, minus the anti-Slayer formula.
As for Sunday, she represents a lot of the unfulfilled potential of this episode. There are unconfirmed rumors floating around that she was supposed to be a slayer-turned-vampire, which would have been a much cooler story. There was a non-canon “Buffy” novel that explored this idea. I haven’t read it, but it’s on my Buffy to-do list. I’d imagine a girl with the strength and skills of the slayer, combined with the strength and skills of a vampire, would be nearly invincible -- which Sunday kind of was.
Also, Sunday would have made a great recurring villain, especially in a season where the Big Bad doesn’t show up until halfway through the season and doesn’t do much direct bad until the last few episodes. I guess the creators of the show didn’t want to deal with another super-powered vampire as a villain, especially after having gone that route in Season 1 (The Master) and season 2 (Angel and Drusilla), plus, they’d just done the bad slayer thing in Season 3.
Still, this episode could have been so much more than it was.
Xander: “'Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to anger.' No wait, hold on. 'Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side.' Hold on, no, umm, 'First you get the women, then you get the money, then you...' okay, can we forget that?”