Written by David Fury
Directed by James A. Contner

Dianne's Synopsis | Perri's Review | Chris's Review | SunSpeak

Dianne's Synopsis

We open in the Mayor's office, where he is presenting a prettily-wrapped gift to Faith in return for her service. During his usual blithe conversational wanderings between subjects like Toll-House cookies &tm; and demonic massacres, he tells her that her next errand is to pick up a South American shipment for him at the airport-- a shipment that is "vital" to his upcoming Ascension. Faith casually agrees, and is delighted to find a wicked-looking six-inch dagger inside the wrapping paper.

Meanwhile, in one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries, Buff and Angel are double-teaming the bad guys. In a pause between dispatching the usual nightly run of bloodsuckers, Buff expresses concern that they are "in a rut"; she wonders if this is all their lives together will ever be.

[cue cool theme music, dance around and head-bang to the credits]

The next morning Joyce is understandably delighted and proud to discover that Buff has been accepted at Northwestern (among other colleges, apparently). She's clearly in denial about the limitations Buffy's destiny puts on her college choices, and although Buffy's obviously trying to deal with tha6t disappointing realization herself, she keeps from bringing it up with mom.

At school Snyder puts in a quick appearance as he tries desperately to catch two random students in possession of drugs... and finds out to his dismay that all they have on them is lunch. Buff sits outside talking her sitch over with Willow and Oz. She's pretty much resigned to attending UCSunnydale, although she's genuinely excited about Willow's acceptance to Oxford ("That's where they make Gileses!"). Xander chimes in from the base of the tree nearby where he's reading Kerouac and expounding on the bohemian lifestyle (while dressing as preppy as we've ever seen him, I might point out! ;-). His post-graduation plans apparently include backpacks, hitchhiking, and 'finding himself'. Cordelia shows up just in time to take advantage of that opening to neatly put down everyone there with a venomous precision that we really haven't seen from her in some time.

Buff doesn't have a comeback, but in the next scene she's in the library demanding Wesley for enough leeway in her duties to go away to college. While he reflexively lectures her on duty (and then outright forbids it with "the power vested in him by the Watcher Council" and a silly little ritual hand gesture), Giles-- genuinely proud of her accomplishments-- is also forced to point out that Faith's defection and the Mayor's Ascension make it unworkable. But Buff won't be brushed off; she tries striking a bargain-- if she can defeat the Mayor and recapture Faith, then they can "hold the run-of-the-mill unholy forces at bay through midterms" while she's away. In making her case she pushes for taking the fight to the Mayor, rather than waiting for Ascension Day to hit; Wesley disagrees, but Giles backs her up. Step one: "Find out what they're up to."

At the airport they're up to demonic UPS delivery-- a random probably-not-quite-human type shows up with the Mayor's box handcuffed to his wrist. The mayor's vampire thug and he start to disagree on the manner of payment when Faith startles them both by neatly shooting the messenger in the back with an arrow. Sadly, not being a vampire, he's dead, but still handcuffed to the box. When the thug can't find the keys, Faith simply shrugs and digs out her shiny new toy.

Buff is lurking in the bushes outside and sees Faith arrive to deliver the box to City Hall. Inside, the Mayor is bubbly and delighted both with the package's arrival and with Faith's 'five-finger-discount' on the courier service <duck!;-)>, but seems to really mean it when he warns her not to open the box. Outside, Buff catches and interrogates the fangy thug.

The "Box of Gavrok", we learn in a Slayerette strategy meeting contains some sort of demonic energy necessary for the Mayor's Ascension. Giles arrives with maps of City Hall and Willow, Xander, Buff, and Giles fall into a smooth, practiced pattern while determining their plan of attack. Wesley tries to contribute thoughts on the matter, but is automatically tuned out and pretty much ignored by the team. When he finally makes a pointy point-- bringing up the likelihood that the Mayor will have supernatural protections surrounding the box, something that hadn't been considered-- he still manages to do it in such a commandeering and self- centered manner that we can hardly blame the Slayerettes for taking his point, then leaving him behind in the dust.

As Xander heads out for ritual supplies, he spots Cordelia checking out dresses in a boutique. Unable to resist, he steps in to cross verbal swords with her again. She, however, counters his suggestion that her earlier tirade was the result of sour grapes by presenting him with her own stack of admissions letters. He suggests her father's money made the difference and she tells him to leave. Smugly he heads off "to save some lives," leaving her there to do her "important accessorizing." Cordelia, however, is uncommonly subdued.

Willow, Buff, Angel, Giles, and Wesley arrive at City Hall as a commando team, the Watchers remaining behind in the requisite black van as back-up while the other three start climbing the fire escape. Oz and Xander are back in the library mixing up ritual ingredients (and sharing a sweet little exchange on how special Willow is).

The commando team is above the skylight over the Mayor's office in City Hall [yes, it's the same skylight we saw the Master crash through into the library in Prophecy Girl, but _shhhhh!_ don't tell anyone! ;-)]. Willow dispatches the supernatural protections, then Angel lowers Buff in a harness down low enough to grab the box. [*Someone's* seen the Mission: Impossible movie too many times. <g>] Unfortunately, just as she does so, an alarm goes off.

The pulley jams, so that Angel can't haul her up, leaving Buff to fight the two vamp thugs that show while still swinging from the harness. Angel jumps down and helps her out, just about the same time that Buff gets herself unstrapped. They fight the thugs, clobber them with vases and a table (but, bizarrely, not with any pointy pieces of wood-- doh!), grab the box, and run. Making it to the parking lot Buff and Angel jump for the bushes with the box and the WatcherVan peels off, distracting the thug vamps into chasing it instead. A nice clean getaway for the good guys. Except....

The Mayor is berating the thugs, when Faith arrives... holding Willow with the pretty, wicked knife to her throat.

Back at the library, the two teams have reunited... and realized one member got lost in the shuffle. Buffy's all for setting up a trade with the Mayor-- the box for Willow. Wesley is left making the wildly unpopular (but, unfortunately _pointy_) point that this is placing Willow's life above that of the thousands that will die if the Ascension goes through. The escalating argument stops when Oz suddenly smashes a vase across the room. Wesley is overruled.

Willow is locked in a storeroom in City Hall, desperately pawing through drawers when the noise she's making brings her vamp thug guard in to check on her. She backs up, goading him so that he follows... then dusts him from behind with a stray pencil she's managed to levitate. [Go, Willow! ;- )] She starts her escape, only to be distracted by the open door to the Mayor's office. She finds his Cabinet of Gross Stuff and pauses to check out the neatly-labeled Books of Ascension she finds on the bottom shelf.

Sure enough, Faith catches her. Willow takes the chance to tell Faith exactly what she thinks of Faith's choices; Faith responds by knocking Willow down, then drawing the ever- popular knife on her. (Damn, that's actually closer to an 8" blade methinks....) The Mayor conveniently interrupts with word of the proffered exchange.

The Slayerettes are waiting at the cafeteria when the lights fail and the Mayor and party arrive. The Mayor gleefully proceeds to start off by deconstructing all of the potential problems in the Buff/Angel relationship, scoring some painful points before the trade is made. But finally he's done, they trade...

And Snyder breaks in with the cops. The Mayor steps in and Snyder immediately backs off (with apologies)... but not before one of the cops opens the box. Immediately, he is attacked by a giant, screeching crab/spider/scorpion thing that pretty much covers his entire face as he goes down screaming and dies. The creature jumps off of his face and scuttles into the shadows... only to appear as it drops down onto the Mayor's upturned face. As Faith rescues him (throwing the demon spider across the room), another one crawls out of the dropped box. Now there are two scurrying about in the darkness.

The Mayor's face instantly heals itself-- to Snyder's serious surprise-- and he warns Buff about the open box just in time for her to slam it shut on the emerging legs of creepy #3. As she pauses for breath, #2 immediately falls on her back; Buff just as quickly flips over and crushes it. One left... but where is it? Wesley panics as he sees Faith take aim at his head from across the room with her knife and let fly-- only to realize that she's managed to pin the last creepy to the wall just behind him.

Snyder has one of the chairs up in front of him like a lion tamer, but the Mayor just grabs the box. He informs them that there's about "50... _billion_" more of the creepies inside, and threatens to open the box... using that to make good his team's escape. Faith looks back for a moment-- at her knife, at her Watcher, at the Slayerettes, then leaves them all behind.

Snyder's still holding the chair against his chest like a bizarre shield as he leaves.

Willow's back in the library, telling the story of her capture. Giles is trying very hard to be patient and talk her through any memory she might have of the contents of the Books of Ascension. She messes with his mind for a moment, then hands him a wad of torn-out pages to peruse. He departs with a grin of research geeker joy.

Wesley is left once again with the unenviable job of pointing out that the Mayor now has the box, the Ascension is all set to go, and they're right back where they started from.

The next day Buffy's sitting at school and trying to deal with the knowledge that she can't leave. Willow comes along and tells her that, of all the schools she's been accepted to, she's also going to UCSunnydale. After a delighted pounce-hug <g>, Buff objects, but Willow tells her that the decision has nothing to do with keeping Buff company-- Willow has decided that the fight against evil is truly what she wants to do with her life... and what better place to do it in? (Mocha time! ;-)

Cordelia's still admiring the dress at the boutique... when the owner comes by and berates her for mooning when her break is over and she should be at work.

Finally, Buffy and Angel are sitting in the cemetery talking over the Mayor's rant. They both agree "he's evil" and knows nothing about them. They assure each other that they'll be fine... and they obviously want very badly to believe it.

Perri's Review

A transitional, set-up kind of episode, but nearly everyone gets a chance to shine.

Dianne did it and we love her sooo much! (And are sucking up so she'll do part of 'Graduation', too.

The Mayor now has another ingrediant for his Ascension (a little box full of the Spiders of Hell). On the other hand, Willow recovered several crucial pages from the Books of Ascension, which may prove useful.

By walking into the middle of a fight, Principle Snyder found out who the good guys are and what exactly they're up again (besides vampires); he is wigged. Big time.

Wesley lost a few more points on the humanity scale, bringing him to an all-time low in the eyes of the Slayerettes.

Cordelia has been accepted to lots of colleges, but is working in a dress store, implying serious money problems. Buffy got accepted to Northwestern but can't leave Sunnydale. Willow got accepted everywhere, including Oxford, but is choosing to stay at UC Sunnydale with Buffy (and, presumably, Xander and Oz).

Cordelia seems to have other things on her mind besides sniping at Xander, which will make things alittle less brutal in that area.

It has been conclusively proven that Oz will wig out in the highest when Willow is threatened -- no relationship problems there.

Angel and Buffy are together, but facing the fact that they have no actual future -- well, Angel is facing it, Buffy is in serious denial.

Willow? Sweetie? Honey? when one has just managed to make most of the steps towards escaping from the Bad Guys, one does not decide to take a reading break! Yes, it worked out okay, yes, you got the crucial informatin -- but you almost got your idiot self killed! And if you'd gotten out, they would have lost the information, but been able to keep that damn box from the mayor!!! Bad rate of returns, dearie! But Willow, being Willow, gets distracted by the details and forgets to deal with the big picture -- i.e., escape. Still, compare the Willow of even this time last season with the Willow who relatively calmly uses magic to stake a vampire, very calmly rifles the Mayor's office, then very uncalmly gets in Faith's face and tells her off. She could have done it last season (except maybe the magic pat), but not with this much chutzpah -- or thismuchs tyle. Still, that same chutzpah is going to get her killed if she doesn't start applying a little of that common sense she used to have. I am happy with the fact that they made Willow staying in Sunnydale seem, if not logical, at least appropriate. She's right -- if fighting evil is what she wants to do with her life, there's no place better to do it than Sunnydale at the moment, and certainly no one better to teach her than Giles.

Wow. We had a suspicion Oz would react incredibly badly to a serious threat to Willow, and we were right! He goes all Vulcan, as Lizbet puts it -- very withdrawn, almost visibly controlled -- then suddenly loses it in a completely constructive manner, making the whole argument with Wesley moot by destroying what they need to destroy the box. Gotta love the man. Definitely the first time we've seen Oz really lose it (although he was close in the Bronze during 'Dopplegangland') -- he's scary when he's actively pissed off.

Wesley was in a really bad situation, and I do actually have sympathy for the man -- because, intellectually, he was precisely correct. If that box could stop the Mayor's Ascension, one life for 4 billion is not a good trade. Unfortunately, when it comes down to one specific life, intellect has nothing to do with it. The Slayerettes could no more have sacrificed Willow than Xander and Angel could have allowed Buffy to die against the Master, or any of them could have decided to chuck it all and go for a vacation in the Bahamas until after graduation. Wesley, having no such incredible emotional attachment, gets to be the bad guy. He's not wrong -- but he's certainly not right either; it's one of those 'no right answer' scenarios. If he's going to work with the Slayerettes, he's going to have to accept that they work on emotion 99% of the time; but injecting a little actual logic into the process, if for no other reason than to make them stop and think for *five seconds* before they go haring off to do something stupid, isn't a bad thing. He just chose his time, his approach and his stand... poorly.

You've got to feel for Cordelia if we are correct and her money situation has gone south. The fact that she is rich, beautiful and socially accepted is what she has based her whole life on, except for those few months as a Slayerette. She's still beautiful, but her social situation is not the best, and she's no longer a Slayerette. Without the rich factor, she's going to have to do some serious dealing with who she really is. Looks like she's already started -- and isn't enjoying it.

That scene in the cafeteria changed several character dynamics in one fell swoop. Interesting that Faith saved Wesley's life from the creepy-crawly without even thinking about it, and seemed as wigged by the spiders as anyone -- there may still be something redeemable in her, not that I ever doubted that. Please god, don't let them be setting up the final lightsaber battle in 'Return of the Jedi', though (Faith: Help me take this stake out. Buffy: But you'll, like die. Faith: No, really, B?). And Snyder -- well, we've known he knows about the vampires, but this is evil and magic on a level it doesn't look like he had any idea existed. and the fact that the mayor is the ubervillain, and that buffy and company ar probably actually the good guys is something it's going to take him a while to deal with. But, as I've said for months, if Snyder does deal and come down on the correct side, he could be one hell of an ally. And DS9 is ending, so Armin will have lots more free time next season...

I really do feel for Buffy. Everything that would make her mother finally really happy with her was in her lap for a while -- not only a chance at college, but another Slayer to make it possible. The college came through in a big way (yes! Northwestern! Plesae move to Chicago!), but the Slayer fell through in an equally big way and, once again, Buffy's destiny wins out over her life. Thank god she gets to keep her buds, even if she is losing, oh, her future and her boyfriend. :P

< rolling eyes > Yes, yes, yes, Angel is getting ready to leave Sunnydale, been there, been traumatized by that, got the T-shirt, let's move on!!!! Really getting sick of that particular conversation and the angst level it inspires -- seems like everyone has had variations of it with Angel, Buffy or both. I love that the Mayor chooses his tactics so well -- nothing like knowing your enemy's weak spots -- but I'm tired of it being harped on. Angel, bon voyage, see ya in the fall, 'kay?

Best Moments:
The opening fight sequence. Buffy's 'Sorry, honey' is completely out of context and really funny, as is the ensuing conversation. And also a bit bittersweet, as they contemplate the fifty part.

"That's where they make Gileses!" ROTFL!

The 'Mission; Impossible' -like break-in of City Hall. Seeing a good caper go bad... and turn into a rocking fight scene!

Willow saving herself with the pencil. Really great continuity from her playing with the floating pencil in earlier episodes. Not sure it would have worked (was it long enough to get the heart?), but way cool nonetheless.

Oz making the argument with Wesley moot. You forget that Oz can move fast, or that he can blow up -- which makes it all the more effective when he does. Major kudos to Seth for a really brilliantly executed scene.

Willow telling Faith off. It may not do any good, but too many people have been 'understanding' of Faith and 'making allowances'. She needed someone to call her an amoral brat to her face, and Willow did the job with flair and panache.

Oz and Xander playing witch. "Toad me"? Geez, we need more scenes with these two! Snyder retreating from the cafeteria, security chair in hand. Once again, Armin takes a few short lines and really delivers the goods. "Why couldn't you be dealing drugs?" < snerk >

Willow handing the pages over to Giles. She draaaws it out until he's going crazy, then smirks and delivers. Lovely routine.

Cordelia in the dress shop. Very nice subtle performance from Charisma throughout the ep.

Buffy gleefully tackling Willow. Every once in a while, it is deeply, deeply cool to see these two acting like kids instead of miniadults.

Questions and Comments:
The spiders things were certainly icky, but the FX were just a tad cheesy -- I expect better. When on enemy ground, we at least watch to make sure relatively-helpless allies make it back to places of safety before we continue breaking and entering!

This episode does remind me of one of the reasons I adore Buffy. You can ae any two actors in this ensemble, throw them into a room together, and they will produce an outstading scene. Aly and Eliza, and Seth and Nick, prove that all over again.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of five. Very much a transition episode, setting up the finale. Some very nice bits, great Willow stuff, cool Snyder moments, but nothing truly spectacular. I'm sure Joss is saving that to better leave us writhing on the floor in agony. Sad when an episode isn't really great without massive emotional trauma anymore, isn't it?

Chris's Review

Let me just say that this episode was a relief. I was half-expecting something terribly wrenching again, and I'm glad we got to hold off on that for another week. Prom and Graduation will be bad enough without going into them wound up.

Meanwhile --- in relatively chronological order of what I thought of, not as it appeared in the ep--- my favorite bits were:

Snyder's reaction to finding out about the Mayor, Buffy and icky spiders. Oh, I've been waiting two *years* for this, and it was worth it! And from the look on Xander's face, this just made his year too. Having dissected this with Dee and others, we were thinking that he must have known about vampires, but had no idea about the Mayor. What he's going to do about it... could be interesting. Although, I don't think they're going to kill him, because this ep would have been the *perfect* opportunity to do so, and they passed on it. Another possibility is for him to become a Slayerette --- but how? He's still principal, and none of them will be in high school next year. How would they pull that off? Arghhh! Stuff they probably won't even answer until next year! Darn Joss, anyway. Snyder could go on to just torment the Class of 2000 without a break, but it lacks closure. And Joss is good at closure. I expect exciting developments over the next three weeks in this arena.

Faith saved Wesley. Wheee! Her instincts for being a Slayer and a good guy are still active, if only when she's not paying attention. Of course, this was 45 screen minutes after she killed the guy with the box and cut off his hand or fingers or something. No matter how evil he may have been, that was going over the line into Bad Guy Actions. So I'm torn again: are they going to be able to redeem Faith, somehow? Or are they going to have her sacrifice herself? Or is she going to stay evil? I still like the idea someone had of having Spike bring her across. *There's* scary for you. And if she was brought across, would that count as dying, and would we get a new Slayer? Probably. And if she wasn't, and she didn't die --- how could they deal with that? I'd like a new Slayer, actually, but a couple other people have said they're sick of that thread. I still like the Domino Slayer Theory.... But beyond all this, I want Faith's toys. That was a cool knife, and a *very* cool bow. Someone really _is_ getting spoiled rotten.

I am so sick of Buffy and Angel and their inevitably sad romance at this point, that it is going to be a relief when he goes. I still like *them*, but I'm really tired of the situation. So until he goes, I'm going to be rolling my eyes at the screen every time someone brings up the down side to their relationship. I know, I know, I know. I've watched HIGHLANDER. I know how this is gonna end. She dies. He doesn't. Sad. But I'm at the point of not being able to care. It happens to everyone, to some degree---it's just that in other people's lives, the guy would die within a year because he couldn't cope with missing her. Also, they would both be 80. (Okay, not the point. But do we have to hear about it *again*? I know, I know, they'll resolve it soon....) Having the Mayor take a major digression into ObviousLand was pretty much the capper on this. If they're not going to cure him, let him go!

I was grinning throughout the entire confrontation between Willow and Faith; Will was basically saying everything we've been saying for the last month and a half. I'm glad she spelled it out for our least favorite Slayer. Faith's been getting some gleeful sense of self-justification out of turning down their overtures to "come back", telling herself they only want her so she won't be a danger or an enemy. As well as enjoying the knowledge that they're paying a lot of attention to her _now_. But I think in her head, going back has always still been an option, even if she despises them. She's been blaming the Slayerettes and avoiding facing that any of it was her choice.

Having Willow rub her face in the fact that it was her choice, and that she lost out by choosing evil, *did* hurt her, like she said. The Mayor's having fun playing on her Buffy-hate, and she's pretty blind to it, but I think after the chat with Willow and the confrontation in the cafeteria, she's having some second thoughts. Maybe some of this will help her straighten out before the very, very end (when I suspect she will be very, very dead).

I could've *thwipped* Willow for stopping to read in the middle of her escape. I was screaming "NatPack!" (aka, "Reckless Danger Addict" to those of you not in FK fandom) at the screen. That was just --- I don't know. I know why they did it, so I don't really take it as pure stupidity on the character's part, but... I know that she didn't know exactly what they were going to trade her for, yet. Still. It was annoying. Redeemed by her ripping out those pages and giving them to Giles. And tormenting him about it when he asked.

It sounded to me as if the Mayor could have the Ascension without the box, but it wouldn't be as easy or cool or something. Anyone else get that impression? Well, whatever the spiders are supposed to do, the very fact that there might be 500 billion of them is enough to give me the wig. Eeeuw. Watching the Mayor flip, on the other hand, had me backing up. He had never, ever, lost it before, and the fact that he actually *can* lose it is not a Good Thing. It bodes ill for the future, all jokes about mini-golf courses and really clean towns aside.

The diving-hug that Buffy gave Willow was extremely cool, as are Willow's reasons for staying on the Hellmouth. Staying for Buffy would have been a nice reason (especially given Buffy's short life expectancy), but staying for the magic and to help fight evil is a _good_ one. Besides, she *could* design her own curriculum at University of Sunnydale --- there's nothing the admitting committee won't give her for choosing them over Harvard and Oxford. She'll be able to do anything she wants and still have time to fight evil. While dealing with dorms and things. You know, I'm *really* looking forward to that part of growing up and college being shown next year; I'll bet Joss does a better job of it than FELICITY.

I also liked both that Xander is thinking of hitting the road--- he really needs to get out of Sunnydale for a while, get his head together --- and Cordelia's obvious unforeseen problems in going to college. I'd heard that her dad was going to lose his money, but somehow it was still a surprise. Cordelia without money is going to be *very* interesting to watch. And talk about mixed feelings; it was cool to see Xander get the better of her in the snarkfest, but to know _why_... well, that was sad. Not that she doesn't deserve some hard luck for her attitude lately, but this year has already been beyond awful. Plus, she's obviously been thinking about the fighting-evil thing too, and what she's going to do with her life -- and this explains why she hangs out near the Slayerettes, and it's more than just to snark at them. She misses the sense of purpose.

The Xander-Oz scene in the library was perfect. Although they couldn't get a little more obvious with that "can't tell us apart on paper" reference, could they? They're such *guys*. I wish they had more scenes together. Seeing where they could go with this friendship next year is still more unexplored territory that we have to look forward to. I also loved how Oz handled the confrontation with Wesley, who was just massively missing the point: until it's actually the end of the world, you don't sacrifice _anyone_ unless you absolutely have to. And not even then, if you can cheat. I can't decide if he just wants a concrete victory, or if he's afraid of getting blamed if the end of the world comes and they didn't stop it sooner. < snort > Anyway, Oz making the whole thing moot with that one very out-of-character outburst was perfect.

Giles didn't get to do as much this week, but I loved how proud he was of Buffy for getting into Northwestern, and how he stood up for her to Wesley. Just being generally cool, and well-dressed. Always a plus.

I recommend checking out the Miskatonic University satellite campus at Sunnydale U if you're in the mood to think about college courses and the future. Even if we do have to get past the Ascension first, it's good to have something to look forward to.


"Becoming really annoyed by the use of "Wicca", (a) 'cause they're continually using it as a noun for a person, and (b) because it calls up religious questions that they haven't dealt with (and probably should--if you asked Willow right now if she's still Jewish, what would she say?). I'm guessing it's a misguided attempt at political correctness, especially since Joss has said something about getting flak after "The Witch", but darnit, "witch" is the right word! And it's the one Willow started with, so I don't get why they didn't stick with it. It's bugging me.... Even I--who am relatively laid-back about the whole thing--consider "Wiccan", "witch" and "pagan" to overlap, but not to be interchangeable. Willow's a witch (I think she's past the phase of saying that she was learning to be one, even if she does still have more to learn to be a better one), but there's been no evidence of her being either Wiccan nor pagan (since both refer to religious beliefs). Except for what she said once about "doing a few pagan blessings", but I'm trying to ignore that. Amy seems to be a pagan by faith as well as a witch, but she's Dianic and not Wiccan. Michael is too much of an unknown quantity to define (but, as I someone recently pointed out, NOT a "warlock", i.e. oathbreaker.)" -- Valerie

"Wimpy Spice must have found a good tailor in town--he's left the realm of Tweedy Watcher and crossed over into Ersatz Wall Street Tyrant. With the 'tude to match. *sigh* And to some extent he was right, but mostly not...even about being essentially back where they started. Um, Wes, even if Will's pilfered Books of Ascension pages *aren't* useful (yeah, right), knowing what's in the box and how it works *is*. Not as much as destroying it, maybe, but still not Square One." -- Valerie

"And btw, was anyone else thinking that destroying the box without knowing its nature was a BAD idea? How does he know it isn't a *trap* for the icky-creepy-crawlies, and that destroying it wouldn't just free them? Yes, I'm showing a strong anti-Wesley bias this week. And just when I was starting to tolerate him, too."
"Sure, Wes is a wimp. But knowing that behind the glasses and the suit stands (a naked guy) a rather cute Ham from Noah's Ark makes his wussiness worth it." -- Valerie and Abby

"That's where they make Gileses." ROTFL at the delivery! There were a couple points in this one where Buffy approached or even surpassed first-season perkiness, and it was a joy but rather frightening to behold." -- Valerie

"Cordelia as working girl: another Ouch. 'Cause whatever that's about, it isn't happy. With the possible exception of it being a voluntary attempt to prove herself capable of independence...not sure whether I can see her doing that at this point or not. The strongest mental image right now has her kicked out and living on her I've instructed the brain to ignore the entire concept."
"Or, knowing the stability of corporations in California right now, her father was probably reorganized right out of a job or lost everything in the stock markets... which would mean no money for school. If Cordy wanted to hide the fact that she's no longer of the elite rich group, a part time job and selling her car would give her just enough to hide the fact from the school that they're broke. It's scary to see how many people up here will take a mediocre paying job because they get great stock options. And they live the lifestyle of someone whose stocks are worth something. Only to end up living in a two bedroom five person apartment selling Starbucks when the company folds." -- Valerie and Abby

"Ok -- so what's with everyone choosing Sunnydale U? Just how big *is* this town? < g > And what about the rumour that Sunnydale is going to be toast after graduation? Stepping away from that possibility are we?" -- Dawn

"For those who care: There are two public university systems in California. The Cal State system is generally regarded as being one step up from community colleges. The University of California system is much more highly regarded (Berkley and UCLA being the top two, UC San Diego running a really close third, and UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz and the other four being really, really, *really* nothing to sneeze at). If (as the map of Santa Barbara would indicate) we're supposed to read UCSB for UC Sunnydale, then they are all going to a very good public university that won't accept anyone below a B average and who doesn't have... oh, I'll stab a guess and say 1100-1200 on their SATs. Maybe down to 1000, but if they have a good application and extra curricular activities, (and no, Slaying doesn't count) then they'll get in." -- the Plaguelet, being randomly informative

"I loved the low-grade pain of yesterday's episode. Rubber spiders to scream at, Willow kicking emotional butt and taking names (and reading the &^$%^& book when she should have been running, damnit!). The scene in the cafe before the bugs came out to play got a *little* long (yes, we know all this, let's move on), although I thought it was interesting (and continuitous) that the Mayor addressed most of his comments to Angel. Buffy and Willow being sweet, Cordelia dealing with poverty (one assumes), and Oz going Vulcan-boy when Willow was taken. Wow." -- Lizbet

"Vampire death by floating pencil--whoo-hoooo! :-) I was half-jokingly telling her to float a pencil through the window when she was trying to get out, and when the vamp came in I said "No! Float the pencil through him!" And she did. I was mightily pleased."
"Okay, am I the only one who doesn't think a pencil is enough to kill a vampire? The driving force needed to stab a pencil clean through from the back of a body to a heart would need to be tremendous. Plus it doesn't seem big enough to go clean through the heart to kill. Yes, it was neat for Willow to do it that way. I just couldn't believe it was enough to do the job." -- Valerie and Debra Ann

"Wesley had some points, but he's still green. He has yet to really understand what makes Buffy so special. Buffy said it herself, "Is there any part of you that's human?" Buffy needs her friends and loved ones because they connect her to the world.... they remind her of what she's fighting for. Take them away, you get the machine we saw in "The Wish".... or you get Kendra, who didn't last long, or you get Faith, who's dark to the core. None of them useful in the fight against evil. The second that Buffy lets her head rule her heart, lets business take over, the second she breaks contact with what connects her to humanity, then she becomes a monster just like what she's fighting." -- Mary Beth

"I loved it! We know Joss and co. had to find a way to keep her nearby. And I think they handled it so well. They sent a positive message about being true to yourself, to your beliefs and making decisions that make you happy. It tells me Willow *did* learn her lessons in Dopplegangland. I *love* how much she's changed just from that episode. Heck from Becoming, when she said "Big no to danger!" When now she says she eats danger for breakfast. No more Wallflower Willow! But she's still loveable, funny, kindhearted Willow. Unless you're Faith. (Ouch!)" -- Mary Beth

"Back to the school thing: She could so easily do what *everyone* expects of her (I loved Buffy's surprise at her decision) and mire herself in academia. But she's seen what that does to her parents. They barely remember she's there! Like Buffy, she's seen what goes bump in the night. She can't ignore that. And she validated Buffy's fight and her entire existance in that one moment when she talked of the worthiness of their battle. I teared up!! Willow made this decision all by herself. She didn't "settle"... she's making her own future... she's doing things her way. And Joss love her for it! " -- Mary Beth

Okay, when the Mayor gets mad, it's scary. But when *Oz* get mad... get me to another continent!! " -- Mary Beth

"Cordelia: I knew it was coming (and I know rumored reason why, but I'll avoid the spoilers)... and I still felt more for her in that moment than I ever have. It's no wonder her words have been just a little bit sharper, digging just a little bit deeper. There's some serious tumult going on and she's got to direct it somewhere. But it's interesting because I've felt like her insults were just a little "off" somehow... like there was a lot of pain behind them that I didn't understand. Now I do." -- Mary Beth

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