Dirty Girls

Written by Drew Goddard
Directed by Michael Gershman

Bruce's Synopsis | Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Bruce's Synopsis

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith showed up and went out of control; the First Evil showed its ugly mug (after first showing Jennifer Calendar's elegant cheekbones); Buffy's house got invaded by potential Slayers; the First is taking out the Slayer line; Buffy and Giles argued about Spike; Willow got a call from somebody called Fred in L.A.; Giles set up Spike for Wood to kill; Buffy warned Wood not to pull that again and slammed the door in Giles' face.

And now:

A young woman is on the run from people that look an awful lot like Bringers; she pulls over a beat-up pickup truck driven by a preacher. Turns out the preacher, name of Caleb, is heading to the same place that the girl, Shannon, is going: Sunnydale. He starts to ask about how she ended up being chased by them, kindly at first, then getting uglier by the syllable. Shannon is understandably uncomfortable -- turns out she's locked in the cab of the truck with this guy ... and when he refers to the Bringers they left back in the woods as "my boys", the alarm bells start ringing in Shannon's head, but by this point, he's got the upper hand. He brands her with a ring he's wearing (heated by a cigar lighter), and asks her to deliver a message for him to the Slayer, said message involving a knife to her gut, a whisper in the ear, and a kick out the door to land on the pavement, right in front of the car behind them; in the only stroke of luck Shannon has all night, the car is driven by Willow, bringing Faith back from Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Xander is calming and comforting one of the Potentials, suffering from some very understandable fear and anxiety about the upcoming battle. Her talk turns from worries about not being ready for the battle, to her concerns about never having been with a man; she is quickly joined by another Potential, who also voices concern about never having been with a man, and despite Xander's feeble protests, talk turns to action, with a slow-motion Potential Slayer pillow fight in the other room making sure we understand that this is Hormonal Young Guy Dream Number 3, Revision 2B ... so of course, the rude awakening is nigh, forcing Xander to face the reality of overcrowding, stomach flu, and temperamental plumbing.

In the hospital, Willow and Faith watch over Shannon in surgery, and Faith gripes (understandably) about not being warned about the hunt for the Slayer line; for those who haven't watched Angel recently, someone in prison tried to skewer Faith with a Bringer knife in the exercise yard. Faith leaves Willow to keep an eye on Shannon, while she goes off to find Buffy and get caught up on everything.

This being a Tuesday night in Sunnydale, the cemeteries are hopping. Scared woman running, menacing man chasing, until he gets grabbed by a third party and thrown headlong into a headstone. Except -- whoops -- the guy's Spike and the thrower's Faith, and the breakdown of communication is inevitable. "I'm on your side!" Spike protests after catching Faith's boot in the hips, leading to an argument about who's reformed and who's not, punctuated by blows, until Buffy throws in her two cents -- or her right hook, anyway.

"You're protecting vamps? Are you the Bad Slayer now? Am I the Good Slayer now?" Faith asks, confused. Buffy explains about Spike's soul, Faith draws the inevitable comparison to Angel (to the expected spluttering protests from Spike) and challenges what he was doing chasing that poor defenseless ... er ... undead unholy bloodsucking creature of the night. As if proven when the "scared woman" attacks in full vamp face.

Once that bit of business is taken care of, Buffy brings Faith home to find space for her to bunk down. Dawn is none too happy at the thought ("there's some nice hotels that welcome tried-to-kill-your-sister types"), and Giles is rather chilly as well, though very polite about it. Spike explains matter-of-factly about the tension that was there even without Faith being in the mix, what with Giles trying to get Spike killed for Buffy's own good. (He actually seems pretty calm about it, taking it in stride.)

In a wine cellar, Caleb thinks deep thoughts about Communion and the Last Supper (what if they'd ordered the white?), talking out loud about his quest for answers -- to be answered by the First, wearing Buffy's face ... she pushes him to look hard at the form she wears, and to him, it's an epiphany. He treats the sight of the Slayer as a reward for his efforts in forming the Bringers, blowing up the Watchers' Council, and killing Potentials; he looks forward to meeting her in person...

Morning comes, and Andrew is briefing the Potentials on Faith's past -- and by "briefing", I mean telling the story in mediocre comic-book-hack style, though surprisingly accurate. At least, up to the point where he doesn't know whether a vulcanologist studies volcanoes or Star Trek aliens and decides to wing it rather than doing his research. He's pretty firm on the moral, though: the Potentials should be very, very careful around Faith.

At Sunnydale High, Buffy and Robin Wood (still bearing bruises from his encounter with Spike) bury the hatchet, agreeing that the vendettas have to end, but that Wood is still welcome and needed in the coming fight. Wood thanks Buffy for her faith in him; 2.23 seconds later (I timed it), he fires her. Not because of her job performance, but as he points out, the counselor's job is going to turn into a distraction when she has to focus on the coming apocalypse. Oh, yeah, and half the students are already gone, getting away from the school, the Hellmouth, the town; seems like Sunnydale's collective sense of denial is starting to fade away. Buffy continues to fret about bringing the Potentials into a war that she's sure will kill them; Robin tries to be reassuring, and gives her a bit of advice he's heard from two Slayers in his day: the mission is what matters.

Back at Casa de Summers, Faith retreats to the basement for a cigarette and a moment of peace. She runs into Spike; one loaned smoke and the bonding begins, with analysis of what they have in common (both had stretches where they were dangerous, both are dealing with quelling the danger within themselves, that sort of thing). Talk turns quickly to the other thing Faith's been missing, having been in a women's prison for a couple of years; while I clean the fog off my screen, Faith brings up how they're meeting again for the first time, as it were: that one time in the Bronze, when Faith was wearing Buffy's body. Spike remembers all right, though he never connected it with Faith before. Just as the sparks between them get hot enough to power Cincinnati for an afternoon, Buffy comes down, not quite thrilled to see this bonding session. Then comes word from Dawn: the wounded Potential is awake at the hospital.

Shannon describes the attack to Buffy and Willow, showing them the burn mark and delivering Caleb's message: "I have something of yours." On this information, Buffy calls a council of war: she's through training and preparing. She's going to take back whatever it is Caleb has of hers, and the Potentials are coming along.

Caleb, meanwhile, is spending quality time in the wine cellar, re-enacting his exploits, with the First standing in for his past victims (just in case anybody doubted the guy has totally stripped his gears).

Buffy is quickly bringing the Scoobies to DefCon 2, planning to search out Caleb and strike as soon as they find him; Giles objects, worrying that Buffy's moving before she thinks, and he's not alone; Spike, Willow, and Xander are all warning her that she may be playing right into Caleb's hands. Buffy's response is defiant and caustic (even telling Giles to stay behind and "help the girls who still need a teacher").

With that, Buffy and Faith move out, tailing a Bringer that seems to be leading them someplace; Faith notes that it's looking more and more like a trap, quickly adding over Buffy's objection that she's fine with the plan. (Poorly thought out, impulsive, I-told-you-so's coming from three miles off? Sounds like a plan Faith might have put together once upon a time, all right.) As they go, Faith offers to work with the Potentials, seeing promise in them; Buffy confronts her on why she came back, but backs off when Faith asks if she'd rather not have her help. Faith starts explaining about her recent adventure with Angel, but at that point the two Slayers spot what appears to be the home office of the Bringers.

Xander is giving the Potentials some last-minute combat tips, how to handle various foes (Kennedy is ready to face Godzilla if need be; Andrew reassures the Potentials that Godzilla generally hangs out in Tokyo. A Potential scoffs that Matthew Broderick could handle Godzilla, forcing Xander to come to Andrew's rescue and explain that what Matthew Broderick killed was just a big lizard.) Another Potential (forgive me, I can't tell them without a scorecard at this point unless their names are mentioned) [Ed. I'm pretty sure it was Rona, but I'm not rewatching to double-check.] loses her cool at this point, snapping that Xander and Andrew are crazy, Buffy's just as crazy, and facing down the bad guy is just bonkers. She goes on to snap that Buffy doesn't care how many Potentials are endangered, to which Xander has to respond. I'm just going to transcribe his speech here:

"I've been through more battles with Buffy than you all can ever imagine. She's stopped everything that's ever come up against her. She's laid down her life -- literally -- to protect the people around her. This girl has died two times and she's still standing. You're scared; that's smart. You got questions; you should. But you doubt her motives? You think Buffy's all about the kill? Then you take the little bus to battle. I've seen her heart -- and this time not literally -- and I'm telling you right now she cares more about your lives than you will ever know. You gotta trust her. She's earned it."

Buffy and Faith, who walked in halfway through the speech, take it all in; Buffy and Dawn and several Potentials are moved to tears, while Faith is clearly impressed. Then comes Buffy's announcement: "Saddle up."

Buffy, Faith, Spike, Xander, and the ready-for-combat Potentials approach the Bringers' home base, apparently an old vineyard; right on cue, the Bringers attack. Buffy, Spike, and the first team of Potentials hold their own well, right up to the point where the Bringers retreat and Caleb makes his grand entrance. He indicates that what he has of Buffy's is her troops -- at least now; he marvels at the Slayer, defender of the curious concept of what is good -- he comments that she must be powerful, and then promptly punches her across the room as though she were a rag doll.

Spike goes game face and charges Caleb, but doesn't fare any better than a tomato can against Mike Tyson, getting thrown headlong into one of the large wine casks. The Potentials charge, but the Bringers jump back into the fight, and Caleb is knocking aside anyone who faces up to him like he was swatting at flies. Kennedy goes down like a ton of bricks, and Caleb breaks Rona's arm, almost cackling at how easy it is. The Bringers are about to start knife-work on the fallen Potentials when suddenly Xander, Faith, and the reinforcements show up. Faith goes after Caleb but doesn't fare any better than Spike did; in mid-gloat, Caleb snaps the neck of one Potential almost as an afterthought, then stabs Molly in the stomach, letting her drop. Struggling to regain her feet, Buffy realizes at this point that they're overmatched; she tells Xander to organize a retreat, and seeing Molly fall, she manages to drive Caleb back enough for Spike to grab her and try to get her clear. Xander gets the last of the surviving Potentials to her feet and is about to follow her out the door when Caleb catches him by the throat.

"You're the one who sees everything, aren't you?" Caleb drawls. "Well, let's see what we can't do about that." With that, he takes his thumb and viciously gouges Xander in the left eye; Spike drives Caleb back, and he and Buffy take Xander and beat their retreat.

As Caleb spins his version of the fall from Paradise of Eve, Buffy surveys the damage: in the hospital, the Potential with the broken arm, and Willow sitting vigil by Xander's side as he has done for her and Buffy so often in the past; at her house, the Potentials tending their wounds, bloody and utterly demoralized; as Dawn looks on helplessly, Buffy walks out into the street, absolutely devastated.

"All they have to do is take one more step, and I'll kill them all. See? Told you it had a happy ending."


Perri's Review

Bruce did it, and I cannot thank him enough (although Mel volunteered and also wins major brownie points). I'm having Issues.

Sunnydale High is becoming less and less populated; half the students aren't even going there anymore. Apparently the scales are falling from the town's eyes. [Bruce wrote this. I didn't. I wouldn't have made a reference to eyes in any context. Just so you know.]

Faith is back in town, and everyone seems to be dealing pretty well with that.

They're less happy about the other new guy in town, a psychotic murderer of a 'preacher' named Caleb, allied with The First, who has Issues with women and is stronger and faster than the Slayer. Either of them. And did we mention he's a real son of a bitch?

Molly was killed, along with another Potential, during the attack on Caleb. Xander is in the hospital minus an eye; Rona and Mandy were both hospitalized as well.

Buffy got fired.

Spike and Faith seem to have bonded. Good to know some people are getting along with each other.

Buffy and Giles are still in the middle of a cold war following his involvement in the attack on Spike, although Buffy and Robin seem to have reached detente on the issue. Although that didn't stop him from firing Buffy.

I am incapable of discussing Caleb for any length of time. He creeps me out on every possible level; I was reduced to muting him every time he was on-screen because there was no other way I could watch without running screaming from the room. Nathan Fillion is doing a wonderful job making Caleb as horrible as humanly possible -- too wonderful, in fact, for a loyal fan of Firefly who cannot stand hearing Caleb saw all those terrible things in a more heavily-accented version of our beloved Captain Tight Pants' voice. I. Cannot. Deal. Do I want to know what he is that he can take on a mob, including two slayers, and win? You betcha. But I'd settle for simply knowing how to kill him, no other backstory necessary. Way back when, Angelus used to disturb me almost this much; I'm older and more calloused, and Caleb still punches Every. Single. Button. Joss is an evil, sadistic bastard for this bit of casting, and I haven't decided yet if I mean that in a good way or not.

I was warned about Xander. And by warned, I mean Tina called me the second the episode ended to warn me not to watch my tape unless I was with someone who'd seen the episode already. No details, just "Don't watch alone." So I called Dianne and Lizbet and they told me when to close my eyes. I will be forever grateful to all three of them. < hard shudder > Of the things in my life I never need to see, someone poking one of Xander's eyes out is right up there on the list. And right after he gave the great inspirational speech about following Buffy, too.... Which should have been our first tip-off that following Buffy was going to turn out to be Horribly Wrong, of course, but what the hell. (and, much as I love Xander, long speeches from him? Not much more entertaining than long speeches from Buffy, once the originality value wears off.) I know he's going to get through this, he always has, but I'm furious at the price he had to pay. I know being a Scooby has it's risks, and I could have dealt if it was damage inflicted in a fight, if there was some value to it. But Caleb had already won, the Scoobies were in full retreat -- he maimed Xander for the fun of it. It was... pointless. Nothing gained from it. And that sucks.

Faith. Rocks. It took serious stones to go back to Sunnydale, but she did it, and in style. She's not crawling in an agony of guilt, but she's trying to make amends where necessary, and she's not about to cause any new trouble. Doesn't rise to Dawn's bait, plays nice with Buffy, treats the potentials pretty well (we didn't see any bloodshed, at least) -- she's definitely grown up a lot since her last visit. And that's all of the good, since she hasn't lost any of her "Faith-ness" in the process. She's still got the attitude, still got the confidence -- she's battered, but not broken. And watching her bond with Spike was extraordinarily priceless. I haven't seen that much chemistry on a screen since... well, okay, since Gunn and Gwen a few episodes of Angel ago. How much do I love Spike for filling Faith in on the other sources of tension in the house, and not being even a little upset about the attack in the graveyard? Much as it kills my inner Spuffy to admit it, those two would make a pretty pair, on any level you care to name. They understand each other on some basic level, without any of the attendant Scooby angst, and it's a lovely thing to see.

Mixed feelings about Buffy throughout the episode. On the one hand, she dealt with Faith with a kind of maturity that impresses the hell out of me. Very little fuss, almost no snarkage, and no bitchiness whatsoever, just "thanks for coming" and on with the show. she didn't even have a cow at seeing Spike and Faith obviously getting on like a house afire (what does that mean, anyway?), which is a nice change. But that maturity disappears the second she has to deal with Giles. I'm not saying she's wrong to be freezing him out on a personal level -- he screwed up big time, and trusting him again on that personal level is going to be a long, slow climb, one I'm not sure either of them can make. On a professional level, though, the man has been doing this for a very long time and knows his stuff. There is no way she should have blown his advice off because she's in a snit. Witness ensuing damage that could have been averted if research had turned up any clue of what Caleb was capable of. Which it might not have, but we'll never know, will we. And Molly and the other girl are still dead. I'd yell more at Buffy, except that I think she's doing more than enough of that for herself. Hopefully, she'll take the right lesson out of it ("Listen to my allies, make plans, do not race happily after enemies when they have been baiting me to do just that"), instead of the wrong one ("I am a total loss as a Slayer and a human being, and I should just give up now before I get anyone else killed"), as she has been known to do.

I'm going to miss Molly. She didn't get enough screen time, but she was a sweetheart. And deserved a better death. Not that Rona or Mandy deserved what happened to them, either -- I bet Rona heads for the hills after this, and damned if I blame her. she was against the plan, Buffy steamrolled over her, her friends died because of it, and other friends got badly hurt. Including her. No, if Rona wanted to pack it in here and now, I wouldn't blame her one little bit. I wouldn't blame any of them, not unless Buffy catches a major clue and issues massive apologies, followed by an immediate change in behavior.

Okay, so, Buffy needs to put her attention on averting the Apocalypse. I get that. But she also needs to be able to feed and house the 12 zillion baby slayers currently living under her roof, which is gonna be a little hard without a job. Have to wonder if Robin was really thinking that through, or if he's a little more bitter over the Spike thing than he's showing....

Best Moments:
Faith and Spike "meeting" in the graveyard. A wonderful way to return Faith to the scene, and another lovely Joss-twist on the "innocent blonde victim" motif.

Andrew's "backstory" on Faith. Particularly loved "vulcanologist" to "Vulcan". That boy just never stops being entertaining.

Robin firing Buffy. Nicely-done double-take, and ambiguous as all hell.

Faith and Spike bonding in the basement. Have I mentioned that these two are just wonderful together?

Xander's pro-Buffy speech. Wonderful both for the sincerity Xander puts in to it, and for everyone else's reactions. (Faith's "Damn, I never knew you were that cool." was particularly wonderful; lovely to see her and Buffy "bonding" as the "older" Slayers.)

The fight scene was well-done, I have to give them that. I just never, ever want to watch it again.

Questions and Comments:
Why didn't someone grab Molly on the way out? Shannon got knifed in the gut and pushed out of a moving car, and she survived -- who's to say Molly couldn't have? (And don't tell me she was already dead when she hit the floor -- no one dies that fast from a stabbing, particularly not in the stomach. I don't care what Hollywood says.) Yes, it was a forced retreat, and I had no problem with them leaving the Potential with the broken neck. But I don't like Scoobies leaving behind anyone who could possibly have survived, at least not without a damn good on-screen explanation, which was not forthcoming.

I informed the SunS that someone else had to do the episode synopsis, or it would never be done -- I flatly will not watch this episode ever again. Maybe a few bits in the first two acts, for Faith, but that's pretty much it. I feel like I'm back at the end of sixth season, looking at Joss & Co. and saying, "Okay. Sure. We're all impressed that you could do this. But why did you want to?" This wasn't fun, it was just traumatic and horrible. I couldn't sleep the night after I watched until way late, because every time I tried to drift off, there Caleb was in my head, freaking me out all over again. This isn't necessary. It's intense, it's push-the-envelope writing, but it isn't necessary. And it's sure as hell not entertainment, because I'm not having any fun.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5. There's no denying that it's a tautly written, strongly directed, well-characterized episode, featuring stand-out performances from Eliza Dushku and Nathan Fillion, and generating a lot of talk. But given the sheer number of talking people who are refusing to watch it again, I'm grading them down for going too damn far.


"Damnit, damnit, damnit, but I am far more freaked about Xander than anything. (Okay, for the record: Caleb. Must. Die. NOW. And that was before he hurt Xander.) I saw this yesterday... still whimpering."
"Right there with you. *So* right there with you. Fucking *hell*. And here Xander gets hurt this bad after all his "have faith in Buffy" stuff. That's sad. Trauma. Trauma. Massive trauma. Also, with the antifeminist redneck demon preacher schtick? Hate that in a seriously squicked way. Which was probably the point." -- Lizbet and Tina

"What the FRELL was that girl smoking when she said "The First won't expect us to" walk right into the trap half-cocked. Of COURSE the First expected it. The First COUNTED on it. I think I know what Caleb has of hers: Her BRAIN. Ggggnnnnnngggghhhhh!!!!!!" -- Valerie

"And oh my *God* there were serious Spike/Faith vibes going on. That's a 'ship I could never have actually gotten into before now. But I could maybe see it. Still anti-Spuffy." -- Tina

"OK, one, I've got a thing about eyes. And even if Xander can find a way to rebound from this (which I can see), it's gonna be devastating to everyone else. Which, I suspect, is probably the point. Two, yeah, even if he's not the actual First made flesh, Caleb needs to be eliminated. It's gotta be foolproof, it's gotta be permanent, it's gotta be excruciating. I'm talking dip him in boiling battery acid up to the hips, bring him out, and ... from there ... brr. Don't even know what's horrible enough. And to be on the safe side, burn whatever's left of him to ashes, mix the ashes into a block of cement, and strap that block of cement to a nuclear test weapon or something."
"::snerk:: Okay, maybe it says somethin' about my particular evilness where justice and vengeance are concerned, but I think first punishment should be to either somehow make him fall in love and then have the love-object be the one to hurt him, or else just tie him up and get him laid repeatedly, seeing as he seems to hate the idea so much. Or else make him watch childbirth videos, which would be punishment enough for any man .... "
"Or, in a similar theme, lock him up in a room with Glory for all of eternity. Punishment enough for anyone, but a particular hell for Evil Captain Tightpants."
"Reckon that Joss cast Nathan based on his Firefly persona, figuring fans might be bringing some baggage when they see that face ... which makes the emotional whiplash all the worse. Damn. Anyone wants to reach me, I'll be under the bed." -- Bruce, Grace, Tina, Bruce

"I cannot *believe* that Captain Tightpants can be so terrifying. That's just... wrong. Way wrong. Not just a little wrong. Even at his angriest on Firefly, he didn't begin to touch this level of fear. My hat's off to ya, Nathan. But Caleb has to die, and die horribly. There isn't any torture that's bad enough for the man who HURT MY XANDER! Grrr. Seriously conflicted emotions here, which is just what Joss wanted, damn him. Love Nathan, hate Caleb, love Nathan, HATE Caleb. I'm feeling a definite need to brillo my brain..." -- Maureen

"What really gets me is the absolute, calculated sadism involved in making Nathan Fillion -- our Captain Tight Pants, protector of Kaylee, Inara and River ('cause Zoe doesn't need protecting) -- into this awful, cold-blooded, psychotic woman-hating murderer. < hard shudder > They even twisted the accent...."
"::weakly:: He's got range..." -- Perri and Grace

"Mighty impressed with Nathan Fillion (well, even more impressed), but not at all happy with Caleb. I'm also just not sure what to think about this whole mysoginistic storyline. It's just too sick and dark and I'm tired of it. I'm sure it's no coincidence that most of the First Evil's manipulatees are men (it tried on Willow but didn't get very far, and the jury's still out on just what talked to Dawn). Angel, Spike, Wood, Caleb. . . . and then there's the men who created the Slayer line. I'm sure it's all connected somehow. And goodie for them. I just don't understand, again, *why* they're doing this. I got the arc with the Dweebs (not everyone wants to grow up and be accountable); I don't get the *why* of this arc." -- Mary Beth

"Bad Caleb, hurt Xander, no cookie. Nice pants, tho, Caleb" -- Maddog

"On top of that, anyone who's seen Dracula 2000? Remember Mary's old school friend? The priest? You guessed it: first place I saw Nathan. The evility that is Joss knows no bounds."
"I have to admit, I kinda kept giggling at Caleb because I kept flashing back on River meeting Capt. Tightpants for the first time, and her saying how "Mal" was Latin for "bad". So I was watching BtVS and going, "Aha! Yup, that explains it!" LOL." -- Valerie and Tina

"...What truly sucks is that TVGuide spoiled his evilness for me in their online synopsis! ARGH!! But I have to admit to kind of snickering a bit when I realized Nathan was gonna be a baddie too -- I just have this image of Caleb and Jasmine meeting (hey! and that would fit in with my idea of punishment, too!), and Caleb's message really being "My evil's badder than your evil!" For non-Firefly audience it works fine, but for those who followed the show, I don't know ... casting two leads as Big Bads in 'competing' episodes/shows seems a bit much, somehow. Love Nathan and love Gina, and individually with either show I would have been thrilled, but ... ::shrug and iffy look:: Again, it's straining my limits right now. Anyone else know what I mean?" -- Grace

"The Xander eye squish was horrible and Caleb was just wonderfully icky. But most of all the entire episode made me shout: Are you all frellin' idiots! Buffy, what were you thinking! Oh, gee, we've followed the big bad back to its lair. Instead of having some really great way to destroy said lair, like say a rocket launcher, molotov cocktails, flaming arrows, lets have a bunch of girls with weapons that force them into hand to hand combat. Oh, wait, they don't have slayer strength, surely the best way to have them fight is in close quarters. D'oh! Yeah, Buffy had to confront Caleb to try to find out what he had of hers and yes she needed to bring in other fighters with her. But I think the writing was just off. I don't think Buffy and company would have been this unprepared to mount an attack after all that has been going on. This wasn't well thought out at all and I must have missed how Faith got out of Caleb's lair. Am I supposed to start doubting Buffy's tactical abilities or doubting Buffy herself? It just didn't seem to ring true for me."
"Well, to be fair, they thought they were up against a regular priest guy and a bunch of lame-ass Bringers. Instead, they got the Holy Terminator. While there's no question that they should have been smarter than to fall into the trap, I can forgive Buffy for thinking that Caleb couldn't be too much of a threat to any party that would include two Slayers and a vampire."
"A very good point. When Caleb kicked... whoever he kicked first into the oh-so-symbolic red wine barrels, my jaw dropped and I went "Uh=oh."
"Which I had really overlooked myself. But they're used to knowing pretty much what they're up against... *because* there's been the research beforehand that Buffy wouldn't wait for Giles to do. *sigh*" -- Maddog, Mike, Lizbet, Dianne

"See, that's where I disagree -- and agree with the "What a DUMB idea!!!" crowd. It's kind of like the "Evil Overlords in Sunnydale" thing someone posted: the scenario of vamps/demons thinking that a lone girl in an alley, who is looking at them with no sign of fear, can't be a problem. Anytime someone who looks weaker than you is SMILING as you approach with 'superior' strength and/or numbers, it's time to re-think the situation ... preferrably from very far away and with a number of walls/wards around you. In this case: Why would an "insignificant" player who suddenly comes onto the scene obviously try to lure you into a confrontation UNLESS he damned well knows something you don't? I mean, you'd think Buffy et al would have learned this lesson with Glory! ::aggravated sigh::"
"On the one hand, very true. Buffy substituted action for thought while ignoring her 'thought'-ful advisor because she's pissed with him on another front. On the other, remember that probably 75% of her kills (mostly off- screen, night after night) are mostly-newbie vamps -- who consistently seem to spring up with a bunch of KungFu moves and *no* brianpower to speak of. She's used to bad guys regularly underestimating her because they don't know who she is. In fact, she's started using that suprise factor as a handy additional weapon in case after case. She was wrong to leap without listening to Giles and finding out more first, but I don't think it was irredeemably _stupid_ of her. I mean _we_ know Caleb's part of the First's plan and should be treated with uber-caution, but she didn't. For all she knew he was just the new stupid, overconfident wannabe vampire master in town. O.K., the Bringer connection should have tipped her to worry, but her best record with BigBads has been the brute force beat-em-up approach, not the careful battle strategy approach. And since when has she learned to lead an army anyway? She wasn't even _supposed_ to lead the Scoobies. But I'm not arguing she was right, just understandable in her screw-up. She should have listened to someone with more group-strategical experience/knowledge -- i.e. Giles. And she didn't. And bad things happened." -- Grace and Dianne

"Not to mention Buffy was snarky to Giles and that always irritates me :)"
"....The stapler crack was funny. And I'm still thinking there's something else up with Giles...some added stressor. Though finding out that Caleb is the one who killed the Council makes me want Giles to get a few shots in. And the Spike-Faith bonding was very nice." -- Maddog and Mel

"When Xander made the "In Buffy We Trust" speech, I cried. Then the eye incident...as most of you know, I'm a paramedic, which means my stomach's pretty strong, but...I started screaming and feeling violently nauseated. I then began worrying about possible clinical aspects of the injury-- I'll spare you, if you're curious e-me privately-- then took refuge in the symbolism of blind seers in Greek literature. There's other symbolism attached to blindness as well, but...trust me, you just don't want to know. ::shudders::"
"Oh, yes I do. (So far our apartment's contribution has been Odin, the Norse head-god who willingly traded one eye [left as well, I believe] for ultimate knowledge.)"
"Yes. But the Greeks used blindness as a metaphor for castration and/or emasculation, usually as a result of an inappropriate sexual relationship (i.e., incest like Oedipus, or someone accusing the person of rape, like Hippolytus and I believe Phoenix. Tiresias was blinded under more unusual circumstances...reports conflict, but it had something to do with Zeus and Hera trying to figure out if it was better to be male or female, to the best of my recollection.) At any rate, given that this happened in the same episode that Faith returned, given her history with Xander...I just find this symbolism kind of disturbing. Blind seers or wise men are fairly common, of course...*sigh* I'm hoping that's all it is." - Mel and Dianne

"As to not seeing physical consequences of the blinding....I think it's all but impossible that we won't. Not necessarily any sort of brain injury being represented (if they opt not to go that way) but he'll also have depth perception changes, pain, scarring, potentially the equivalent of phantom limb syndrome (random firings on what's left of the left optic nerve which could be represented as light, pain, or, if Joss got cute, flashes of future events ;) plus psychological impact. At the very least, we're seeing the pain and difficulty moving about, plus his range of sight is limited now so we'll be seeing his head moving a lot to compensate. (try walking around with one eye closed for a bit and you'll get the idea.)" -- Mel

"I have absolute faith in Xander that he will deal with this. I mean, he's dealt with everything else that has happened to him.. He'll survive.. I can just hear him now "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye..." It's what Buffy does in the interim that I worry about... before Xander recovers.. she may go all crazy ala Giles after Jenny's death.. not good for group cohesion.." -- Tom

"Was spoiled on the eye thing. Was never so glad in my life. I was prepared. I was ready. I still screamed and cringed and was sickened. Poor, poor, Xander." -- Mary Beth

"Stipulating the meeping re: Xander, the ill will re: Caleb, and the grim assessment of strategic skill re: Buffy, there were a lot of good things about this episode. Good that Robin seems to have let his grudge with Spike go - and that he still has the cool level head. Plus, he can still teach a few lessons when they're needed. Although it sure seems like there's a wedge in the Army of Light ... seeing as how it was the First that sicced Wood on Spike in the first place, can't help but think that this was part of the plan, or at least one of the contingencies. Engineer a situation where the Slayer is no longer taking advice from the Watcher, goad the Slayer into a bone-stupid tactical move that the Watcher could have guarded against if she were even *listening* to him..."
"I don't know about Wood having the level head on his shoulders. He still seemed awfully reserved and almost menacing to me. And it *was* his suggestion that Buffy take the potentials out in the field. I'm not so sure the First isn't still influencing him. The last we saw, he was grudgingly grateful to it for pointing him to Spike. We haven't seen that it's *not* visiting him anymore. And frankly, I find it hard to believe that he's just going to get over getting his ass handed to him by the vamp that killed his mom, just because he's told to." -- Bruce and Mary Beth

"I'm definitely suspicious that the First has been doing more damage than we know. I'd rather like to find out that Jenny's been visiting Giles behind our backs and that's why *he* has been acting like such an ass (not that I haven't agreed with some what he's said, but he's definitely not acting Giles-like any more than Buffy's been acting Buffy-like since *she* died and came back. . . See? Even as I'm feeling unsure about this show, it still keeps me thinking! Damn them."
"See, and I wondered if there was anything significant in the fact that, in the Previously On, we saw Jenny as the First from Amends for the first time I can remember in this stretch. (Meaning, we saw her in relation to the First, rather than in relation to Angel). Does this mean we're supposed to remember that we have seen Jenny as the First? (Or, as my disappointingly-practical roomie pointed out to me, that it was just a really good line). I know it's highly unlikely that Robia would come back. But... but.... but...." -- Mary Beth and Lizbet

"Should be interesting to see where this is headed, and how they plan to end the series, but ... I don't know, I think I'm getting tired of the extreme fatalism, gory-ness, and general darkness Joss et al have been putting in both BtVS and Angel of late. I used to watch for a bit of escapism, and now after an ep I feel like I need an escape from my escape, you know? Interesting, and great storytelling, and yes sometimes it's better to not be light and fluffy all the time, but ... there's a limit. I'm getting to this point of emotional over-saturation, so to speak, where I'm almost going to be relieved when it's over ...." -- Grace

"And Perri? What you said. About the darkness and the "why do they *want* to do this?" Even at its darkest times, Farscape (*sniff*sob*) made sure there was something positive to ground the characters or us. Even if it was just a glimmer. If John was going through hell, at least D'Argo and Chiana were gettin' it on. I feel like they've taken that away on Buffy. So I watch, and I'm often (but less and less so) transfixed, and the overall story arc still intrigues me, and I stay out of loyalty, but I don't really *enjoy* anymore. It's just. too. much." -- Mary Beth

"I'm coming to this from a slightly different angle. I don't have a problem with dark, or non-escapist, or even people getting their eyes gouged out. What I do have a problem with is repetition. We've seen this storyline before; it's a lesson that Buffy's learned over and over again, from When She Was Bad (which at least had the saving grace of her buddies having big enough pairs to tell her off) to coming back from LA in Dead Man's Party (ditto) to the Yoko Factor (cute reconcilatory scene in the elevator shaft) to Into the Woods (some people might count ditching Riley as a grace factor) and pretty much all of Season Six (which at least had the excuse that she was depressed and fucked up). We've seen Buffy be all self-reliant and control-freaky before. It's old. And yes, it's endemic to her personality, and people do fall into patterns and make the same mistakes over and over again, but that doesn't make it any more interesting to watch. Combine that with the excruciating slowness of this year's story, and the mushrooming cast, which leads to lack of material for lots of people (and _where_ the hell was Anya last night? Very annoyed) and it leads up to tedium. Which is the one thing I will not forgive in storytelling. It's not all bad; the Xanderspeech was great, and Andrew's still fun. And Caleb is definitely interesting. But I really wish they'd just let Buffy grow up already." -- Mike

"(Oh, and did anyone else get UPN promos passing off a repeat as a brand new ep?)"
"Very irritating. And running the "finale in five weeks" over the beginning of every single act is the best way I know to piss off vidders, particularly since they ran it over the Faith montage. Of course, nothing makes me quite as crazed as realizing that, after 7 years of faithful fannishness, I will be out of the country when the series finale airs. Although, at this point... maybe not so much of the bad." -- Bruce and Perri

"I'm getting pretty damned bored with this whole beat them up, let them regroup thing. Enough with the repeats! Bring on the end of the world! Um. Please." -- Deb

"Well, the series/season finales should be interesting, that's for sure. Tho I still say ultimate justice for Caleb might well be to have him meet and be spellbound by Jasmine, then have her kill him. Slowly. (Btw, anyone else think it's interesting how despite Caleb's misogynist views, the First only shows itself to him in female form? Actually, with the exception of Warren and Jonathan, which were geared towards manipulating Andrew, the First seems to *prefer* female form.) Of course, I'd also like to see a meeting between Jasmine and The First, if only to see how the writers explain the apparent coincidence of two major Powers vying for Armageddon at the same time .... ::giggle:: Put those two together in a lady's room somewhere and watch them duke it out. Cat fight, anyone?" -- Grace

Back to Episodes.