As the fourth season opens, the camera pans up on an angel statue presumably in one of Sunnydale's cemeteries (and that's a statue of an angel, not of Angel. Sorry. I didn't mean to scare anyone). Buffy walks into the frame sporting a frighteningly terrible French braid. Willow has spread a blanket on the cemetery lawn and is suggesting possible courses for Buffy, like to the Modern Novel. Let me get this out of the way right now -- I like Willow's new hair. Buffy is worried that she might have to actually read the modern novel and I won't even mention how much that type of attitude ticks me off. If you don't want to be in college, DON'T GO. Buffy wonders if they have "Introduction to the Modern Blurb," and Willow notices a short-story class. Buffy seems interested, but Willow says it conflicts with Psychology and she has to take Psych because she can use it for her science requirement. No! Buffy, stand up for yourself and sign up for another class. Whatever it takes to circumvent Riley before he happens. Also, what kind of school lets you use a social science to satisfy a science requirement? ["Heh. I wondered that myself, Sep." -- Ace] ["And the answer is: 'Princeton.' Sad, eh?" -- Sars] Willow drops Professor Walsh's name and lets us know that she's "world renowned." Buffy wonders if one has to be "nowned" first as Willow absentmindedly states, "Yes, first there's the painful nowning process." Willow finds an Images of Pop Culture course that seems to be more to Buffy's liking, as it consists of watching movies, television shows, and commercials. Willow chides Buffy for waiting so long to sign up for courses, and Buffy defends herself by saying she's had a very "Slay-heavy" summer. As they discuss how college is going to be a large adjustment, the vampire they are waiting for rises out of his grave behind them. He approaches what he thinks will be some tender vittles, but catches sight of the multitude of stabby things near them and decides his meal isn't worth it, creeping away. Just as he leaving, Buffy is saying that she can't let college "take the edge off [her] slaying," and that she has "to stay sharp." I'm glad to see that Buffy's usual subtlety is at play here. And I'm so very glad they didn't have to resort to obvious anvil-heaving tactics to let us know that this episode is going to be all about Buffy losing her edge when it comes to slaying.
Credits. The first time I saw them, I thought they did a good job of blending old and new scenes. Now they just make me miss Oz more.
Establishing shots of UC Sunnydale. The camera pans down on a crowded quad to rest on Buffy, who is holding onto her folder for dear life. Buffy realizes that she's in the wrong group because she doesn't have a yellow folder, and since when do Universities use the folder system instead of the name system? Buffy makes her way through the quad up towards Weisman Hall as she is accosted by various people handing out flyers. That's certainly realistic. Buffy seems very disoriented but can't seem to actually stop and ask anyone for directions in a voice more audible than a whisper. Willow runs up to meet Buffy and blathers on excitedly about getting all her classes and the campus atmosphere. The girls compare flyers and Willow is upset that she didn't get one for Jell-O shots; Buffy hands her hers. Buffy asks Willow if she knows where Weisman Hall is because she needs to get her ID card. Willow comments that the lines are probably really long now and that she should have gone earlier. Then Willow realizes that she's being annoying and tries to explain it's because, in high school, "You really had to work to learn anything but here the energy, the collective intelligence it's like this force, this penetrating force and I can just feel my mind opening up and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge . . ." She trails off when she sees Buffy's quizzical look and says, "That sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in." Buffy says that she's all about "spurty knowledge," but that it's overwhelming, and I have to restrain myself from making a comment. Willow looks to the left, points, and shrieks, "Ooh! Boyfriend," as Oz approaches. As they exchange a kiss, Buffy makes a joke about having forgotten to pick up a boyfriend and now there's probably a long line. Oz mentions that it's "a madhouse," and this springboards Buffy into her "I'm so overwhelmed" speech. At that moment, a former classmate of Oz's shows up, and after establishing the date for the next Dingoes show, Oz directs his friend to Richmond Hall. Oz, because he is a cool guy, notices Buffy's distress and tries to reassure her that he doesn't know what's going on either, but in the same breath he calls out, "Hey Doug!" to a passing friend.