Prophecy Girl brings the first season to a very satisfying conclusion, even if many questions, in true cliff-hanger style, remain unanswered. There's a dark cloud hanging over proceedings which give it a different, quite sinister tone.
The episode showcases the acting abilities of its regular cast members, and puts the characters in unusual scenes. Buffy's tense "I quit!" moment revealing her at her most insecure ("Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die."), and Xander finally plucking up the courage to ask Buffy for a date.
Prophecy Girl is a very important episode, not least because it's the one where Cordelia is finally integrated into Buffy's circle of confidantes. ("How come she's in the club?", moans Willow).
Paradoxically, it now seems that the team is finally complete, even though the episode contains several scenes where their relationships seem to be crumbling away: Buffy rejecting Xander, Willow rejecting Xander, Buffy rejecting her father figure, Giles. As cosy preconceptions about the dynamics between the characters are shattered, the sense of disintegration is almost palpable.
Despite superficial appearances (those intentionally written into the script), there's no sign that the show itself is tiring. Indeed, the special effects in this episode are among the best the show has to offer and foreshadow even greater things to come in the second season.