Written by Doug Petrie & Jane Espenson
Directed by Doug Petrie

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow cast a totally dangerous spell that succeeded in bringing Buffy back from the very dead. The Slayerettes are happy, since they think they saved Buffy from some kind of hell. Buffy isn't so thrilled, since she was in something she calls heaven, and wanted to stay there, but only Spike knows that.

In the darkness of someone's basement, Buffy wanders, looking for her enemy. She spots it: Mr. Drippy, an overhead pipe. She faces it with wrench in hand begins to tighten the stubborn leak, as Dawn supervises and offers to call the plumber. Buffy steadfastly refuses, "I'm on it" and succeeds in tightening the pipe. To no one's surprise, every other pipe in the basement instantly bursts, flooding the basement and sending Dawn shrieking up the stairs, as Buffy stands in the deluge with her shoulders slumped. "There. All better."

The woman of the house hang around the kitchen, discussing the situation downstairs. "The plumber will make everything good," Buffy assures them absently, staring at the water coming from the kitchen faucet. In fact, she doesn't seem to be quite at home for most of the conversation. Willow finally comes over and turns off the water. Xander emerges from the basement with Tito the Amazing, Plumber Extraordinaire. The pipes are shot and the whole system needs to be replaced. Despite Xander's negotiations, the price tag is in the 'ouch' territory. And Willow has to break the news to Buffy that money is, ah, an issue. Buffy stare helplessly at the pile of bills in front of her, pointing out that she hasn't spent any money lately. Joyce prepared everything, with life insurance and all, but it was wiped out by hospital bills. Anya is doing the accountant thing, and points out that the house itself is costing money by existing. Buffy instantly presents the solution -- burn down the house for the insurance. The Slayerettes stare uneasily until she assures them it was a joke. "It's not like it's the end of the world. Which is too bad, because that, I'm really good at." She assures Dawn she'll take care of it, although she doesn't know how. Anya's got a solution of her own -- start charging for Slaying. "You're providing a valuable service for the entire community. I say, cash in!" The idea goes over predictably badly; Anya tries to defend herself with a specious argument ("Spiderman does!") and calls on Xander to referee. When he points out that she's wrong, she storms out, demanding to know why he never takes her side.

Xander runs after her and catches up outside. The argument about why don't you support me?" turns immediately into another round of "why won't you announce our engagement?" Xander once again justifies the delay as waiting for the right time. "The way I understand this marriage thing is, it's kind of a forever deal." Anya: "Not if it never gets started." That one's hard for Xander to deny, but he makes a valiant effort. "I'm still getting used to the miracle of a steady paycheck, and getting out of my parents' house and this... this husband thing, it's a big step. Or a lot of little ones. And I love you so much I just want every step to be just right." Anya melts into his arms, then suddenly shoves him away, declaring that she's not going to let him get away with it this time. "When are you going to grow up, Xander!" she yells as she marches away.

Buffy, well dressed and looking quite adult, sits nervously, practicing her grown-up, "asking for a loan" lines over and over. The practice -- and the heinous amounts of paperwork she brought with her (old report cards, etc.) -- turn out to be unnecessary; with only the house as collateral (financial gobbledy-gook basically translates to 'that ain't worth much, especially in Sunnydale') and no income, the loan is out f the question. This depressing conversation is suddenly interrupted by a demon in the lobby, howling and ready for mayhem. "No job?" Buffy mutters, staring at it. "I wish."

But a Slayer's work is never done, and Buffy heads out to confront demon guy. "Hey, are you in the wrong line? That one's for deposits, that one's for withdrawls and this one, is for getting kicked in the face." Unfortunately, ankle-length skirts do tend to put a damper on that particular move; Buffy gets thrown across the room instead, landing on the loan officer's desk. She grabs a letter opener and slits her skirt up the side, then dives back into the fight. Without noticing someone behind the counter, emptying drawers. A security guards ties to intervene, pointing a gun at the demon, and gets an armload of Buffy. She glares at him sternly and holds up the gun -- "These things? Never helpful." -- before tossing it aside and head back in. But the demon has headed for the hills; satisfied, Buffy heads back in to renegotiate her loan.

Which she still doesn't get, 'cause of the whole bank robbery and all, to the gathered disgust and amazement of the Slayerettes. Willow tries to be supportive as Buffy takes out her aggression on a punching bag. Then Willow notices that Buffy's mad. "It'll pass," Buffy assures her, but Willow is delighted at the first sign of real emotion Buffy's shown since she came back, and tries to continue the temper thing. ("I slept with Riley. No, I said that to cover up the sleazy affair I had with Angel.") Her attempts to explain why don't go over well and she retreats in a flood of babble. Out in the shop, Anya is continuing the announcement campaign; Xander almost manages to say it, but chickens out again. Meanwhile, Dawn is campaigning to help research; she tells the adamant Tara that "If you don't let me look at pictures, I'm going to learn everything I know about demons on the street." Tara finally gives in and hands over a book: "Knock yourself out." Dawn settles in and happily starts staring at pictures. "That's a weird place for a horn," she observes, then closes the book very carefully. "That's not a horn." Anya and Xander take a moment to debate the weirdness of a demon being involved in a bank robbery, as Dawn still manages to locate a demon that fits the description. "I think it's pronounced M'Fashnik. Like Mmm-cookie."

Willow and Buffy appear and Buffy confirms the ID. She's elaborating when she suddenly stops dead and looks towards the door, her eyes widening. The others' follow her gaze, and Giles looks back at them. In the silence, he carefully sets down his bags, then starts towards Buffy. She meets him halfway, and it's hard to tell who hugs who first. They stay locked together until air becomes an issue for Giles. "Willow told me, but I didn't really let myself believe it," he says happily. "You're..." Buffy, who's heard it before, fills in, "A miracle." Giles: "Yes. But then, I've always thought that."

The demon makes his way through the dark streets as Buffy and Giles continue their reunion in the workout room. Live in England is... life, Giles says. "I keep a flat in Bath, I met with a few old friends, I almost made a new one, which is statistically impossible for a man of my age." Buffy: "And now you're back. Are you miserable about is, or justreally British?" Giles sits down wearily. "I can't lie to you, Buffy. Leaving Sunnydale was... difficult, and coming back is--" Buffy: "I'm guessing the word is inconvenient?" "No!" Giles denies instantly and very seriously, finally offering, "Bewildering?" Buffy can relate to that. He asks her how she really is, since she looks tired. She admits that sleeping is hard, because of nightmares about being in the coffin, but tries to be perky about it all. Giles isn't buying, but says she's doing remarkably well under extreme circumstances. She tries to blow him off, then begins getting ready for patrol. Giles leaves the room reluctantly, reemerging into the shop. Anya greets him with a trademark lunge-hug. "Giles! We're so glad to see you! We missed you! You can't have the store back!" He reassures his little entrepreneur, then moves into research mode. He recognizes the demon as a mercenary breed, that "perform acts of slaughter and mayhem for the highest bidder." What he's worried about is who is powerful enough to control the nasty thing."

The demon seems about to answer that question, as he stomps down the steps into someone's basement. "We had a deal!" he yells, presumably to whoever is powerful enough to control him. "You got what you wanted, now give me what I want! The head of the Slayer." Three very familiar, and totally non-nasty faces blink back at him from a beat-up couch. "Okay. Sure. We can do that," Superstar Jonathan, RobotMan Warren, and some other kid assure him blankly.

[Can I just say that these little in-between teasers for the musical episode are making me anticipate this far too much? "I just come here to lip-synch"? < snerck >]

The adolescent trio (henceforth referred to by Kiki's far-too-apt name, the Legion of Dorkness, or LoD, 'cause that's too long to type out every time), listen silently as their, um -- henchman? henchdemon? -- rants. "You told me you were powerful men, commanding machine, magic, the demon realms below." And he believed them? Wow. Pretty damn dumb, even for a demon. But the LoD assures him, "Yeah, we're like supervillains," and attempt supervillain laughs. Oy. The whole thing conjures up unpleasant (but hilarious) flashbacks to Harmony as Buffy's nemesis. I may cry. "Which one of you is leader?" the demon demands. "I am," all of them answer. "I will kill the leader," the demon threatens. "He is," all of them answer, pointing to each other. I say again, oy. "It's not our fault the Slayer was there," Jonathan jumps to defend them, promptly getting nailed leader. Henchdemon gets him around the neck and lifts him off the ground until Warren intervenes. "If you kill us, everybody loses. If you let us live, we give you..." But he can't actually come up with much of anything, despite assuring him that, between the three of them, they can do anything. < snort > Yeah, right. Henchdemon is only marginally interested in any of the rather pathetic and high school offerings (Make you look super-cool to other demons? Please.), and even that's destroyed when the bickering over who can actually do what begins. (Third kid, by the way, is Andrew, younger brother of the loser who tried to set demon dogs on the Prom. His claim to evil fame is flying demon monkeys at the high school play, which is, of course, so much cooler.)

Henchdemon tolerates this much longer than I would have, before recommencing with the screaming and the threats. He advances on them, demanding the Slayer dead, and the dorks go into a huddle to, they tell the demon, find the optimum method. "Makes sure it involves a lot of pain," Henchdemon snarls.

In more peaceful (and intelligent) surroundings, Buffy is getting Giles set up for bed on the couch. She doesn't know where the guest sheets are, but she's making due. "We need the pull-out kind [of sofa]. The kind with no payments until 200-infinity." That catches Giles' attention, and Buffy fesses up to the financial problem. "Anya says it's pretty bad, and I'm taking her word for it. Actually, I'm kind of trying not to think about it." Giles: "Sound policy, at least for tonight." If terribly ineffective, since Buffy will wake up at 4 a.m. terrified. She flops onto the couch next to him, and he resumes the 'you just came back from hell, you need time to adjust' pep talk that all of the Slayerettes seem to have memorized. "If it's any consolation, life can be pretty overwhelming for people who haven't been... where you have." He promises to sit down with her the next morning to figure out the bills. "I'm glad you're back," Buffy tells him. "well, I'm glad you are too," he returns, and reaches for her hand. He misses; Buffy stands and walks away, maybe without noticing.

Back with the Legion of Dorkness, Jonathan, to his credit, is not happy about killing Buffy ("She saved my life a bunch of times. Plus, she's hot.") Warren is in favor of anything that keeps him alive, and "since this is my mom's basement, what I say goes." Andrew is the swing vote, and swings against murder because of the whole "getting into trouble aspect." "We teamed up with one clear, super-cool mission statement." **flashback** As the LoD sits around playing D&D and perpetuating various gamer stereotypes, Warren asks diffidently, "So... You guys want to team up and take over Sunnydale?" Andrew and Jonathan look at each other and shrug. "Okay." **present** They have a mission, Jonathan insists, and even a cool whiteboard To Do list (control the weather, miniaturize Fort Knox, conjure fake IDs, shrink ray, girls, girls, the gorilla thing.... These guys need to be cut off from all James Bond movies. I mean, seriously). "Chicks, chicks, chicks," Jonathan says. "I know that's the action I signed on for." Warren loses the ensuing vote, and heads off to take care of the demon. Which he does by slipping him Buffy's name and address, then lying to the other two. Let's hear it for democracy among supervillains.

Giles heads into the kitchen as Willow arrives home; for some reason neither of the turn on the lights. When Giles asks, Willow goes into details about the spell, doing the happy bouncy, "we cast this spell, it was so cool and dangerous, aren't you proud of me!" thing, obviously expecting some congratulations for her Great Deed. Instead she gets Giles' low-voiced, "You're a very stupid girl." This actually makes her blink, her face falling in a way that would be pathetic if she hadn't so righteously deserved that. "Do you have any idea what you've done?" Giles demands, turning to face her. "The forces you've harnessed, the lines you've crossed." Willow: "I.. thought you'd be impressed or something." Not even. "Don't worry, you've made a very deep impression," Giles assures her. "Of everyone here, you were the one I trusted most to respect the forces of nature. Think what you've done to Buffy." Willow protests, "I brought her back!" Giles: "At incredible risk!" Willow is steadfastly not getting it. "Risk? Of what? Making her deader?" [insert eye roll from reviewer] "Of killing us all, of unleashing hell on Earth." Giles is a walking catalog of Bad Consequences, and if anyone knows about those, it's him. "Giles, I did what I had to do," Willow tells him. "I did what no one else could do." Giles is still looking very grim. "Oh, there are others in this world who can do what you did. You just don't want to meet them." Willow concedes that point, but pushes on: "They're the bad guys. I'm not a bad guy. I brought Buffy back into this world, and maybe the word you need to be looking for is congratulations!" Giles hunts for other words. "Having Buffy back in this world makes me feel... indescribably wonderful, but I wouldn't congratulate you if you'd jumped off a cliff and happened to survive." Ouch. Willow's getting pissed now. "That's not what I did, Giles." Giles: "You were lucky." Willow: "I wasn't lucky. I was amazing. And how would you know, you weren't even there." Giles is working on being pretty pissed himself, finally starting to lose control of his tone. "If I had been, I'd have bloody well stopped you. The magics you've channeled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, and you are lucky to be alive, you rank, arrogant amateur!" He starts to stride out, but Willow's voice stops him. She's suddenly very cold, distant and composed. "You're right. The magics I used are very powerful. I'm very powerful. And maybe it's not such a good idea for you to piss me off." Giles stops cold at the threat behind his surrogate daughter's voice; then, as if a flip has been switched, Willow suddenly tuns back into, well, Willow again. "Come on, Giles; I don't want to fight. Let's not, okay?" But the damage has been done; Giles' answer is quite level and reasonable, but his body language is pure Ripper, and can give Willow lessons in real menace. "We still don't know where she was, or what happened to her there. And I'm far from convinced she's come out of all this undamaged."

Buffy herself stands on the back porch, just outside the kitchen, alone and fighting for composure. A cigarette butt arcs out of the darkness to the floor, and she grinds it under one shoe without missing a beat. "Hello, Spike." He's standing at the foot of the steps, his face sympathetic. "You hear all that noise?" he asks, indicating the kitchen. She nods, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. "Just enough to make me feel crappy." Spike defends Giles mildly: "You know the Watcher didn't mean anything by it." Buffy knows that, mostly. "They all care so much, it makes it all harder." Spike's listening, but tells her, "I'm not sure I followed you 'round that bend, luv." He comes closer as she tries to explain. "I feel like I'm spending all of my time trying to be okay so they don't worry. It's exhausting. And then I--" She breaks off and Spike fills in, "and that makes them worry even more." He's right, but Buffy can't really say anything. He thinks for a second, moving to stand next to her, then offers, "You want me to take them all out? Give me a hell of a headache, but I could probably thin the herd a little." The suggestion wins a tiny smile, from Buffy, quickly gone, but he's satisfied. She sits down and he settles next to her silently. "Why are you always around when I'm miserable?" she asks, but Spike doesn't take it personally. "That's when you're alone, I reckon. I'm not one for crowds myself these days." Buffy looks at him sadly. "Me neither." "That works out nicely, then," Spike smiles, and they sit in silence (as the camera switches to a long shot in what has to be a deliberate echo of the end of Fool for Love). "So what do you know about finances?" Buffy suddenly asks. Spike blinks, then slowly turns to look down at her in the funniest reaction shot of the ep.

Inside the house, Dawn makes her way quietly down the stairs, only to find Giles still awake -- neither one could sleep. "You ever try mixing parts of every cereal you've got in one bowl?" she asks Giles. He hasn't, and declines to participate in the attempt. But before the experiment can begin, Giles hears something -- the doorknob is jiggling. The door is locked, but suddenly bursts open. Dawn is blown across the room, and Giles follows as the Henchdemon pays a late-night visit. "You're not the Slayer," he growls, advancing on Dawn. "But you'll do for a start."

Dawn's response is entirely reasonable -- she screams like an air raid siren -- and has the desired effect, as Buffy comes racing in from the back yard. She grabs the demon and informs him, "You're paying for that door, buddy," before throwing him across the room, wincing as he destroys the coffee table, the takes down a lamp getting up. "You have cost me, Slayer!" he announces. Buffy shoots back, "I cost you? That was a designer lamp, you mook!" The fight commences, with Buffy desperately trying to avoid as much destruction as possible, and largely failing. Spike intervenes after entirely too long, and Buffy yells at him to stop -- she's trying to get Henchdemon into the basement, which is already a loss. She succeeds by the simple method of sending both herself and Henchdemon tumbling down the stairs and into the three feet of standing water. The fight continues, with the two opponents pretty much deadlocked, until Henchdemon rips apart the pipe that Buffy was working on right before the flood. That gets her mad, and she gets him down, bludgeoning him to death with the pipe that the plumber is going to charge her a fortune to replace. As she stares up at the remains of the piping, panting, Spike asks from the top of the stairs, "Whoa. Did you know this place is flooded?" Showing great self-control, she refrains from killing him, too.

The LoD congratulates themselves on a good beginning -- they have money, a lair, and their one loose end has been taken care off by the Slayer. Plus, there's the cool toys -- the periscope, the flamethrower, the action figures... "We can do anything," Andrew says gleefully. "We can stay up all night if we want to." Jonathan points out that they still have to deal with Buffy, but the other two aren't worried. "We could hypnotize her," Warren suggests. "Make her our willing sex slave," Andrew adds. That sounds good to everyone; Jonathan adds it to the list. "This is the life," Andrew muses. "Here we've got all the stuff we ever wanted, and we didn't even have to--" Warren: "Earn it?" Andrew: "Exactamundo." Okay, these guys are disqualified from suppervillaindom just for the heinously outdated slang. Oy squared. "It's true, my friends," Jonathan says pompously. "The way I see it, life is like an interstellar journey. Some people go into hypersleep and travel at sublight speed. Oh, they get where they're going after years of struggle and toil and lots of hard, hard work. But we, on the other hand--" Andrew: "Blast through the space-time continuum in a wormhole?" Jonathan: "Crime is our wormhole." He lights a cigar with a burning hundred-dollar bill, then has trouble putting it out, Andrew starts to debate wormhole physics and Warren, wearing VR goggles, tells him not to be a geek. Yeah. Let the world beware.

Back at the Summers house, repair work is underway on the furniture destroyed the previous night, with a severe lack of success. Anya is doing the accountant thing again, and her resulting calculations of Buffy's debt are sobering. Buffy can't figure out how her mother did it. Giles comes in, announcing, "Well, I know I'm back in America now that I've been knocked unconscious." Tara wonders what the demon wanted, but no one has any answers, especially as to who hired him. Willow happily offers to do a locator spell, but subsides at a very pointed look from Giles. Xander finally has to concede defeat in reconstructing the coffee table, and is really mad about it; Dawn and Willow more quietly give up on the lamp. The Scooby Gang heads for the trash as Giles settles next to Buffy. "I don't think I can do this," she says quietly. Giles disagrees, pointing out that her mother did it all the time. "She took one crisis at a time and, without the aid of any superpowers, she got through it all. So can you." The phone rings and Buffy heads off to answer it. Dawn says, "I bet it's creditors. The hounding has begun. I read about it. So, you think we'll starve?" Giles: "I very much doubt it." Dawn, sounding entirely too cheerful: "No chance I'd have to quit school and work assembling cheap toys in a poorly ventilated sweatshop?" Giles: "What have you been reading?" Buffy comes back in, looking strangely focused on something that doesn't involve anyone in the room. "Angel," she responds to Giles. He knows she's alive, and she has to see him. Now. She stops only long enough to toss a "Thanks for taking care of this for me," at Giles, before heading out to some unspecified in-between meeting point. Giles and Dawn stare wordlessly after her.

Buffy is mentally continuing to adjust to being back, but she's got more problems -- money is becoming a serious issue, and she got new, ah, enemies in the form of The Trio (aka, the Legion of Dorkness), consisting of three hopeless losers who have joined together in an attmpt to be slightly less hopeless.

Anya is about ready to drop-kick Xander's butt through the pavement for not giving on the engagement, and I don't blame her.

It just seriously sucks to be Buffy right now. It's hard to blame her for zoning out over running water -- not only does she get pulled back from Heaven but they bring her back to a falling-apart house and an empty bank account (which again brings up the question of Willow at that iBook, but since I know Joss & CO. probably got it for free, I'll shut up). I'd be looking for every possible escape route, too. Still, se's coping more or less, and she's got Giles there now, which should be a huge help -- although it would be a bigger help if she'd TELL HIM the TRUTH.

Although I kind of understand why she's not telling Giles, on a couple of levels. First off, it would upset him, and the man does not look in any condition to be upset. Second, given that he's already massively displeased with Willow [< snort > He can join the club], for him to know the truth about where that spell pulled Buffy from could further screw up that relationship. Still, I think she's wrong -- I'm fairly certain he could deal, and help her deal. He's Giles, after all. And it's so desperately cool to have him for however long we get him. He is so her father, right down to setting down with her to figure out the bills, and it's so wonderful. Plus watching that spill over to Dawn and the Great Cereal Experiment was another hugely sweet relationship display. Yay, Giles!!!

Willow's butt, on the other hand, I'm gonna kick. Giles showed some serious self-control in not giving her the smacking she desperately deserved and, judging from the Ripper-like body language -- he desperately wanted to give her. Threatening Giles? Her surrogate father, he who has given up his life to take care of her and the others for five years, he who has risked his life for them over and over, and she comes over threatening?!? I had to stop the tape to call Kiki and scream for a few minutes before I could finish watching. Although I'm not certain what I find more disturbing -- the way she went witch-bitch, or how suddenly she flipped back into being Willow again, without even feeling guilty about delivering that threat. But, of course, what I find most disturbing is her complete inability to accept even a hint that the bring-Buffy-back sell could have been a bad idea, could have been too dangerous Especially after what happened last week! Giles was absolutely right to tell her off, and I was cheering, but I think we've passed the point where it's going to do any good. As well as he knows where she's going -- having been there himself -- even Giles isn't going to be able to convince her. only experience -- of the bad variety -- will do that. And maybe then I'll muster up the ability to feel sorry for her... but I doubt it.

Speaking of someone else who needs a good swift kick.. < sigh > I'm going to say that I feel sorry for Xander, since I have some idea of his issues, but I'm also right there with Anya losing patience with him, which she has every right to do. The rest of the SunS did a much better analysis of Xander then I could, so head down to SunSpeak and read what they have to say.

Spike and Dawn continue to be the sanest of the lot, although Giles is giving them both a serious run for their money. Spike is still being very careful to keep his distance, physically and emotionally. He cares about her, and it's obvious, but he's not projecting all over the place, and he's still not demanding anything from her other than the occasional grin. Mind you, I'm not at all sure how long he'll be able to keep this up, but I'm sure as hell enjoying it. And Dawn is just there, doing the little sister stuff and trying to have faith in her big sister to fix it all. And she's massively cute wanting to research (which it's silly if they don't let her, because she's about the same age the rest of the Slayerettes were when they got involved in this. Which would actually explain the hesitation, actually -- I mean, look how much trouble they managed to dig up!].

The Legion of Dorkness.... What's to say, really? Three dorks who have watched way too many movies and have apparently decided they're living in the middle of the world's greatest video game. At least Jonathan's got some clue deep down that he shouldn't hurt Buffy, but Warren, man, has some serious emotional development issues. Between building himself a girlfriend, then being willing to sacrifice another girl to save his own skin and not even blinking at the prospect, we're talking some serious inability to deal with anyone's needs but his own. Andrew so young it's hardly worth mentioning -- he's pretty much just and adolescent male with too much time on his hands and not enough adult supervision. I shudder to think how these three hooked up, and I really shudder to think of the trouble they can cause -- incompetence is invariably messier than competence; look at the havoc Jonathan wreaked alone with that SuperStar spell!? Look out Sunnydale -- this could get ugly. Funny, but ugly.

Best Moments:
Explaining the finances to Buffy -- the burning down the house joke his worth a serious giggle, particularly the thrown in "Fire pretty." Buffy always has had pyro tendencies; it's not surprising she gets, um, eyed askance by the others.

Anya telling Xander to grow up. You go, girl!

Buffy 'renegotiating' the loan. Not a great fight sequence (although it's fun to see her finally have trouble fighting in something totally unsuitable), but who hasn't wanted to save the life of someone you're about to ask major help from?

Dawn and the research. Tara handles her perfectly, and her expression as she sees the, ah, not-horn is priceless.

Giles. There was nothing not good about Giles, from his first hug with Buffy and that indescribably sweet "I always thought that", to the pounce hug from Anya, and all the ensuing sweetness. < sniffle > Take him away, bring him back, give up time to get used to him, then take him away again. S'okay, torture us. We like it.

Giles' flinch when Buffy leaves the couch without noticing him reaching for her. A painful, subtle bit of business; I think kudos go to Doug Petrie.

Giles giving Willow hell. Fabulous scene, creating an entirely different interaction for these two sweet characters who have never raised their voices at each other before. A quiet, brutal, scary, awful fight that we knew was coming, but it doesn't make it any easier to see the foundations of that relationship shattered in seconds.

The back porch scene. Spike, of course, and offering to thin the herd, but also the incredibly subtle performance SMG continues to deliver, conveying a hell of a lot about Buffy's emotional state by... showing no emotions. Now that can't be easy.

Giles and Dawn and the Great Cereal Experiment. 'Nuff said.

Buffy trying to fight the demon without breaking anything. < snerk > Far too much fun.

Pretty much any time the LoD is on screen -- they're just such the epitome of the stereotypical fanboy, that those of us who are fanboys/girls are on the floor laughing (oh, tell me you've never been forced to chat with one of them at a con! I won't believe you, but go ahead and tell me). The evil laughs were particularly awesome, and the degeneration of the sublight metaphor into theoretical pseudo physics was too funny. It's great to see Danny Strong cut loose and given something wonderful to do again.

Questions and Comments:
So, are Willow and Tara contributing to the Summers kitty at all? Considering they're living there, eating there, using the water and the electricity there? Which, since none of them work, begs the question of how, and why it seems to be entirely Buffy's problem to come up with the money for the house all of them are living in.

Which reminds me, if Hank isn't even sending his daughters money, he suck beyond belief. He should at least be paying child support for Dawn... Actually, he should at least be supporting Dawn entirely, and helping Buffy out. The entire father issue has got to be dealt with at some point, since he just keeps becoming more and more of a waste of oxygen, and he wasn't that guy when we first met him.

Okay, yeah, I understand why they had to have the Buffy/Angel reunion off-screen, and yeah, I'm glad they at least found a way to address it instead of just ignoring. Does not make me feel any less cheated, I'm afraid. < pout > Rating: 3.5 stars out of four. Notable mostly for a few great scenes and the introduction of the LoD, this was otherwise popcorn. Occasionally pointing and screamworthy popcorn, but popcon nonetheless.


"Oh dear lord. The three biggest nerds of creation are trying to be evil? Excuse me, I have to die laughing now." -- Chris

"The new Big Bads? Thanks a lot TV Guide for spoiling that for me. But still. . . too funny. And I think I'm gonna love this. I think it's an excellent idea to go in a light and fun direction with this. . . .while the gang and are heroine are in turmoil. It's not Some Big Hell Demon trying to destroy the world. . . .again. It's. . . . Jonathan!! Hee!!"
"The Legion of Dorkness is about as fluffy as it gets. They're the Eggo waffles of the villain community."
"Leggo my dork???" -- Mary Beth, Chris and Dianne

"I also loved that little psychotic break-practicing-event that Buffy had before the loan officer came in. "Let's crunch those numbers!" Perky!Buffy, trying to imitate the 'Bot and not quite convincing her audience." -- Chris

"it's interesting to me that Dawn *didn't* point out that she's exactly the age Buffy was when she was called as the Slayer. It's not a parallel she wants to be drawing, or living. Before everything she went through as a result of being the Key, that might not have been the case; but she's a lot wiser about not wanting to do too much too quickly now." -- Valerie

"But Giles. . . .oh Giles. So very happy to see Giles and see Giles hug Buffy and reassure Buffy and give her confidence and to see Giles rip Willow up one side and down the other."
"To put it the way we did in my household. 'Giles, you da man, you give that bambi killer what for!'"
"But whoa! That look she gave him? And then how she was back to insecure, stammering Willow in an instant, as if she didn't even realize what she'd said? That gives me the wig." -- Mary Beth and Maddog

"*snerk* < sympathy > If Giles finds out exactly what Willow did, I can't see it getting any prettier. What kinda surprised me was hearing him say that he'd trusted her the most, had confidence that she was in tune with the natural forces, and wouldn't do anything like this. The only reason I can see this being true is that her association with Tara had increased both her powers and how responsibly she was using them. In which case, his reaction makes more sense, because it's *not* the first time she's done something this scary." -- Chris

"I am so happy that Mutant Enemy is dealing with Willow's use and misuse of magic; It's long over due in a show which has consistently shown actions have consequences that may not be good." -- Karen

"I still think that Tara is somewhat of an unknown quantity - Willow is certainly looking way more powerful at the moment but I wonder if there's still some surprises left with Tara."
"Yeah, now that she's developing a spine... much thanks to hanging around Willow, methinks... and she's likely to need to use that spine to stop/control Willow before it's all over." -- Rastro and Dianne


"Okay, hands up, all of you who wanted to smack Xander around for delaying the engagement announcement again, though. I mean, I know Anya said stuff in "Bargaining 2", but it sounds like they didn't make it an official announcement, and it's really *way* past time for them to do that.I was sitting there wanting to shake Xander *so* hard. I was wondering if he was just using her, wondering if he thought he was hung up on one of the others, and then they had that sweet, sweet kiss... so yeah, I believe he loves her. Dee has a good theory on why he was being this weird." -- Chris

"Oh, I figure it's a Harris Family issue -- he knows he _doesn't_ want to be his parents, particularly his father... but he doesn't know how to not-be them. He's not scared about marrying Anya, he's terrified of hurting her -- he's scared that being married will turn him into his dad. :-/ Everything he's said is true... just not complete. He knows he loves Anya... and I suspect he's seriously Not-Dealing with the reasons that the thought of making the marriage plans public (and therefore official) gives him a sick, scared feeling in his gut. :-( It makes you want to dope-smack him _hard_... in the sweetest posible way... :)" -- Dianne

"That makes perfect sense. Not only does he not have good parental role models for a stable, loving adult relationship he doesn't have any other role models. Buffy's Mom was divorced, Giles hasn't had a long term relationship, Willow's parents - well we don't know but they ignore her bet they ignore each other. Poor Xander." -- Maddog

"I'm immensely glad he admitted to her (or at least came very close) that the excuses he's been making are just that, and that the issue here is really that, even though he really does want to do it, making it that real scares him silly. No wonder Anya melted -- he really did mean everything he said. And yet she was absolutely right to go "Hey! You're doing it again!" because even though I don't think it was deliberate, he *was*. And the look on his face when she told him to grow up...wow. When the still-largely-childish ex-demon says that, wake-up call! I think what I loved most about the way his speech was phrased is that it made it clear -- to us, if not necessarily yet to him -- that what scares him so much is that his life is going *right*. He has a good job, a great apartment, respect, a woman he loves who loves him...and he never expected any of it. It's great, and he loves it, but it's *not what he knows*, and that can't help but scare him. It's not just that he's afraid of screwing it up, like he told Anya; he's afraid of the happiness and success *itself*, because it's such unfamiliar territory. And part of him has *got* to be whispering "'This isn't really yours, you know. You're going to have to give it back. You're supposed to end up just like your parents.'" -- Valerie

"And there are so many subtle levels of what's going on there that Anya isn't very well equipped to figure out and know what kind of support to give him. She's doing an *incredible* job so far, but it's going to take quite a bit of thinking for her to work out that a big chunk of his brain is expecting everything he has to be taken away any minute now (by something completely not-concrete), and not wanting her to be dragged down with him. Anya's strength is that she's almost always aware of why she does and says things, but it leaves her handicapped in understanding people who do the denial thing." -- Valerie


"Speaking of Willow I've been catching some of the early episodes on FX (why is it that although I have all the episodes on tape the only time I watch them is when they're actually repeating them on TV??) and I actually liked Willow then. Haven't liked her for at least a season now. If that was Joss's intent all along then he is an evil man. Evil. " -- Rastro

"I doubt it, but this brings up an interesting point for me. You're not the first person I've heard say that they don't like Willow any more; and while I still like her, I don't love her as much as I did first season. Although I'm not sure I can tell you why. Without wanting to start any controversy or character- bashing :>, can anyone give me an idea why I find Willow less interesting than I did in the beginning? It's not just that she's gained confidence, I don't think... she's gotten almost, well, dull. Until now. Although I can't tell you why I feel that way." -- Chris

"I liked her a lot at the beginning - being a bit of a nerd myself - but in recent seasons I've come to border on dislike. I think for me it really came to a head last season when she and Anya were arguing in the Magic Box. Willow was helping herself to stuff for the latest crisis and Anya was telling Willow that she was stealing. Now, it was a crisis and Willow was correct in taking what she needed to solve it but Anya was also correct that Willow was stealing from the Magic Box. Instead of Willow saying something like "I know it's stealing but we'll sort it out later" which is what I believe the Willow of the earlier years would have said, Willow just blew Anya's point off. I think I dislike Willow because she comes off as believing that she knows what's best and nobody else's opinions are worth much. Yes, she's very smart and a powerful witch but as raising Buffy from the dead shows, she'll play with fire and not think of all the consequences." -- Maddog

"This is interesting, and I've seen many people saying similar things. What I find weird is that -- while I liked YoungWillow and identified with her and such... I really _like_ GrownUpWillow better. (Note, of course that my choice of nomenclature doesn't show *any* bias whatsoever... that's all in your head. :) Well, maybe not _better_... but I would have been really put off if Willow had done and seen all she's done and seen and not changed... and, for the most part, I actually _like_ the way she's changed. She's certainly not perfect (Thank Joss!) but I really like where she is and (mostly) where she seems to be going." -- Dianne

"[Her] attitude, being of course, the exception and the definite needs- to-get-a-reality-check-and-her-shit-in-order issue for Willow. I agree, it's been showing in little hints for a while (which, for whatever reason, hasn't put me off her like it has so many others < shrug >) in her tendency to be high-handed about things. It makes sense to me -- she started out scared and shy and insecure. Then Scoobiness gave her self esteem... and by following Jenny and working on her witchcraft and spells and power, she really came into her own. Having come from insecurity, then found building and building confidence through her control of her own powers, she's not inclined to back off... she keeps pushing and it keeps working. She's essentially overcompensating for being the shy little pushed- around girl as a kid. Frankly, she needs a slap-in-the-face failure/reality-check to make her realize it can't just keep building indefinitely... that the self-confidence has built into arrogance... and that she's endangering everyone. She needs something to dope- smack her a bit more back towards center.Sadly, when you're playing with this much power, there isn't room for mistakes or hangups. When she gets smacked with this it's gonna be *hard*... and painful... and likely never-completely-fixable." -- Dianne

"Character dissonance. See, YoungWillow was shy and insecure while at the same time being incredibly capable when it came to certain things like computers and research, and people tend to *like* other people who are humble about their abilities. Especially when they have so much reason to be otherwise. That dissonace between the inner capable-person and the outer geek made Willow more interesting because you were never quite sure what her reactions to any particular situation was likely to be. MatureWillow is less interesting because there's less of a discrepancy between her inner self and outer self -- she's incredibly good at magic, and she *knows* it. And has allowed that knowledge to make her more than assertive, it's made her downright arrogant. Personally, I like shy, humble people better than arrogant, pushy people - they're much easier to get along with! The remnants of the softer side of Willow (her occasional bouts of insecurity, her tenderness toward Tara) are the only things that give me hope that the essence of Willow hasn't changed, that eventually she'll grow up some _more_, and get past this arrogant phase. *If* she doesn't get herself killed first, playing with powers she doesn't understand as well as she thinks she does. See, that's the problem with arrogant people - inevitably, they're responsible for their own downfall, because they blow past their limits without noticing them, and then they get stomped by someone who's better/stronger than they are." -- Maureen

"I guess it comes down to loving the old Willow, but never really wishing her back there."
"I don't want her to go back to being the old Willow, I just wish she could be a less arrogant MatureWillow." -- Dianne and Maureen


"Hey, maybe *Willow* is this season's bad guy! I was hoping Ethan would be back. Now that would be an interesting combination. "
"Lizbet and Kiki were suggesting this last night... I'm *seriously* suspecting they're developing new pleas in The Suit Against Joss For Control Of The Collective Brain here.... After all, Ethan's a great character that hasn't been used much. (It would play better with Giles still around, which he's not going to be as much... but it could still work.) And who better to approach and overly-arrogant and pissed-off Willow and offer to show her more power... the kinds of things Giles "wants to keep from you for fear of your power"... and such dren? Hmmm?" -- Rastro and Dianne

"Yeah, I think the story line is heading for Willow to succumb to the dark side of the force and have to get redeemed - after something truly horrible happens of course. Yeah, it's a great story and I don't want to miss a bit of it. But sometimes I really miss the old Willow." -- Maddog

"And I'm wondering if, maybe, the reason Amber Benson is still always listed as guest starring rather than being added full-fledged to the cast is that she will be the "blessed one" sacrificed to Willow's ego... What an awakening that would be! And what a wrenching lesson about bringing back the dead. I don't think she'd try it again, even for her beloved... especially if Tara's death prompted Buffy to finally speak the truth and gently tell Willow to leave Tara where she is." -- Victoria

"If Willow is going to be the real Evil, instead of the Legion of Dorkness, this ought to be a *damn* interesting season." -- Chris

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