This is all about the lovely, lovely parallels, without which BtVS would never be quite as effective. And while they’re a focal point of every episode (remember Joyce and Buffy’s relationship contrasted with Amy’s and her mother’s last episode?), this one is just so perfect and indicative of what’s to come…Anyway, we have Xander here, and it looks like we’re being set up for a romance that’s going to take its time to build and eventually go all Ross-and-Rachel with ups and downs and that final episode where it finally happens. And look- there’s already this convenient character, tall, dark, and handsome and ready to steal Buffy away if Xander isn’t ready for a fight.
But when you look beneath the surface, there’s so much more happening here than a simplistic high school love story. Because Xander’s daydream is all about Buffy-the-girl, this gorgeous new student who somehow ended up friends with a misfit like him. He seeks to be the one in control because that’s how it’s supposed to go, Buffy-in-seductive-red fawning all over him because he’s the male lead of the story. (Silly Xander, you really don’t get what this show’s about yet, do you?)
And then we have Angel, who sees Buffy as a warrior at this point, but those of us who’ve watched the rest of the show already know that he’s also seen her innocence. And it’s something as simple as her looking cold that can trigger his appreciation of Buffy-the-girl. At the same time, he’s also warning her about a threat- not offering to stop it for her or take the alpha male position, just giving her the information with the knowledge that she can take care of it. And that slow build of a relationship there, that recognition of both sides of Buffy, is what gives their budding romance its strength while Xander is doomed to friend-zone. Because Buffy’s more than just a typical high school crush or a warrior for good, and Angel’s the one who sees that immediately.