Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Freshman

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The Freshman
The Freshman
Season 4, Episode 1
Airdate October 5, 1999
Production Number 4ABB01
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
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Living Conditions
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Four

The Freshman is the first episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the fifty-seventh episode overall.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Seth Green (Oz)

and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)

Guest Starring: Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Dagney Kerr (Kathy Newman), Pedro Balmaceda (Eddie)

with Katharine Towne (Sunday)

and Lindsay Crouse (Maggie Walsh)

Co-Starring: Mike Rad (Rookie), Shannon Hillary (Dav), Mace Lombard (Tom), Robert Catrini (Prof. Riegert), Scott Rinker (R.A.), Phina Oruche (Olivia), Denice J. Sealy (Student Volunteer), Evie Peck (Angry Girl), Anil Raman (Earnest Fellow), Jason Christopher (Nonserious Guy), Jane Silvia (Conservative Woman), Mark Silverberg (Passing Student), Walt Borchert (New Vampire)

Uncredited: David Boreanaz (Angel)


Plot Overview

Buffy begins her life as a college student, but soon finds herself overwhelmed by her new environment. Even her Slayer duties are too much when a group of vampires working the campus humiliate her into defeat.


Monster of the Week

Buffy runs fowl of Sunday and her gang of vampires. Since about 1982, they've targeted freshman college students at UC Sunnydale for attack. They move in, kill (or sometimes turn) the unsuspecting freshman and then proceed to loot their dorm rooms. When all is said and done, they forge a letter essentially saying that college life is too hard and they're leaving for good.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 Eddie Vampire Vamped UC Sunnydale
2 Eddie Buffy Staked UC Sunnydale
3 Vampire Willow Shot with Crossbow Frat House
4 Vampire Xander Staked Frat House
5 Sunday Buffy Staked Frat House


  • "Universe" by Stretch Princess: As Buffy wanders through UC Sunnydale, "Universe" by Stretch Princess plays in the background. The song appears on the British band's 1998 self-titled debut record.
  • "Memory of a Free Festival Part 1" by David Bowie: The song that is playing in Giles' home when Buffy comes by is "Memory of a Free Festival Part 1" by David Bowie, which was recorded for Bowie's second self-titled album (later reissued as Space Oddity). "Memory of a Free Festival" was meant to be a seven minute opus but, under pressure from the label, Bowie later cut the song in half and rerecorded it so that each half could stand on its own.
  • "You and Me" performed by Splendid: When Buffy is wandering aimlessly alone at the Bronze, Splendid is on stage performing "You and Me" off their 1999 album Have You Got A Name For It. The band previously appeared in "I Only Have Eyes for You" and is the first band to appear twice on the show as a performer.
  • The Muffs - "I Wish That I Could Be You"

Arc Advancement


  • The Initiative: At the end of the episode, the remaining vampire from Sunday's group is taken down with a taser and surrounded by men wearing fatigues. This is the first appearance of The Initiative, a group that is at the core of the season's main story arc.



  • 2x19 - Choices: After reading On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Xander decided that he wanted to take a road trip of his own and see the country for all its grandeur. It's revealed later on that he didn't make it further than Oxnard, only about 40 miles southeast of where Sunnydale is meant to be.
Willow: He's still on his cross-country, see America thing.
  • 2x20 - The Prom: Sunday breaks the "Class Protector" award which Buffy was given by her graduating class as recognition for her constant efforts to keep them all from getting killed. The award is a gold parasol with a plaque reading "Buffy Summers, Class Protector" on it.


The Show

  • Location: This is the first episode of the series to not have any scenes in Sunnydale High, due to the fact that it was completely destroyed in the third season finale.
  • First Appearance: Several characters make their first appearances, notably Riley Finn, Maggie Walsh and the quasi-military entity known as The Initiative. All three will have a major role in future episodes and Marc Blucas will be billed in the opening credits.
  • Crossover: At Buffy's house, the phone rings but no one says anything when Buffy answers. In the series premiere of Angel, which immediately followed this episode, it's shown that Angel was the one who called.
  • Cameo: The person who Buffy mistakenly thinks is Angel is actually played by David Boreanaz until Buffy takes a second look and realizes that it isn't him.

Behind the Scenes

  • International: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been dubbed into many different languages and the title translated for each different international version. Some international translations of this episode's title are:
    • French: "Disparitions sur le campus" ("Disappearances On Campus")
    • Italian: "La matricola" ("The Freshman")
    • German: "Frischlinge" ("Freshmen"; Lit. "Piglets")
    • Spanish: "Los alumnos de nuevo ingreso" ("The Freshmen")

Allusions and References

  • Nuremberg Rallies: Buffy is referring to the German city Nuremberg, which was the center for the National Socialism party's annual rallies. Between 1933 and 1938, the Nazis used an area south of Nuremberg to construct the "Party Rally Grounds" where they memorialized the party's ideology and constructed the anti-Semitic laws which led to the holocaust.
Buffy: Yeah, this is great, you know, if we ever need a place for the Nuremberg rallies.
  • Celine Dion: Buffy's roommate, Kathy, puts up a Celine Dion poster on her side of the room, tipping Buffy off that she's not exactly the ideal roommate. Dion is a French-Canadian singer whose career mainly focuses on sappy adult contemporary songs. She achieved international notoriety in 1997 when she performed "My Heart Will Go On" for Titanic.
  • Of Human Bondage: Eddie's "security blanket" is Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, a novel published in 1915 about a man's obsession with sexuality and the hunger for freedom. The book is considered a classic and has been referenced in other works like The Catcher in the Rye.
Eddie: Of Human Bondage, have you ever read it?
  • Gustav Klimt: The vampires have a running tally of which artists' posters they steal most often from Freshmen they kill. In Eddie's case, they find The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Klimt was a symbolist painter who primarily painted the female body. The Kiss is his most well known painting, which is why nearly all of the prints tacked to the wall are of that particular work.
Sunday: Do we have a Klimt?
  • Claude Monet: The other half of the tally is Claude Monet, a founder of the impressionist painting movement. Monet was a prolific painter and may of his works are held in high regard, including "Water Lilies" and "Impression, Sunrise". Monet's works most frequently involve flowers or bodies of water.
Vampire: Monet still well in the lead, but look out for team Klimt coming from behind.
  • Grand Canyon: Xander confesses that he never made it out of the state when he tells Buffy that he only saw the movie Grand Canyon and not the actual gorge in northern Arizona. The movie stars Steve Martin, Kevin Kline and Danny Glover, among others, and is about several strangers whose lives are suddenly changed entirely by various disruptions.
Xander: I saw the movie Grand Canyon, on cable.

Memorable Moments


  • Buffy: How do you get to be renowned? I mean, like, do you have to be nowned first?
Willow: Yes. First there's the painful nowning process.
  • Conservative Woman: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour?
Buffy: Uh, you know, I meant to and then I just got really busy.
  • Buffy: Speaking of slack, have you heard anything from Xander?
Willow: Not for awhile. He's still on his cross-country-see-America thing. He said he wasn't coming back until he had driven to all fifty states.
Buffy: Did you explain about Hawaii?
Willow: Oh, he seemed so determined.
  • Kathy: I am really glad they put me with somebody cool. I can tell that you're cool. I just know that this whole year is going to be super fun! (hangs up her Celine Dion poster)
  • Dav: Does this sweater make me look fat?
Sunday: No, the fact that you're fat makes you look fat. That sweater just makes you look purple.
  • Willow: Xander!
Xander: How are my guys? (hugs Willow, then hugs Kathy) I don't know you, do I?
Kathy: No.
Xander: This is very intrusive, isn't it?
Kathy: Little bit.