Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by Marti Noxon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Not as anguished a follow-up to Joyce's death, but then, what could be?

Buffy wanders through a dark room, filled with coffins. One in particular draws her eye, a shining wooden affair. She walks towards it carefully and lifts the lid to expose the satin interior -- as the lights come on suddenly. Giles and Dawn come into the room, followed by a smarmy funeral home director (or is that redundant?). Buffy shows him the coffin he's selected and he approves her choice (there was apparently a bit in the shooting script in which the director points out that the coffin is expensive, and Giles indicates that he'll make sure that money won't be a problem for the girls; damn, I wish that had made final cut). Everyone starts to leave, but Dawn hangs behind. "You don't like it?" Buffy asks. Dawn doesn't have a problem, but doesn't know if Joyce would like it. "She's the one who has to be in it forever." Buffy looks sympathetic and apologetic, and tries to steer her sister out of the room. "You shouldn't have to deal with this stuff." Dawn assures he that she's fine, and they wend their way out, leaving Dawn to stare down at her mother's coffin.

That night finds the old Scooby Gang -- Giles, Xander and Willow -- at the Summers house with Buffy and Dawn. There are a thousand details to be dealt with for the funeral (flowers, the program, the lack of a wake), and Buffy is plowing through them with determination, if not enthusiasm, and the air of someone trying to stay to busy to think. Giles helps with the details, while Willow and Xander are obviously there for moral support. Dawn ghosts around the edges, picking at her food and trying to contribute without anything actually to contribute, but unnerved by the whole thing. "You really should eat something," Buffy tells her. "Why should I?" Dawn answers, a little belligerently. "You're not." Before Buffy has a chance to respond, the phone rings. It's not their father, as Buffy was hoping. It seems they still haven't been able to track down old Hank; the phone number they had doesn't work. If there's no wake, Dawn wants to know what they'll do after the service; she asks to sleep over at Willow and Tara's that night. Buffy, distracted, agrees hesitantly.

Willow and Xander leave together, Willow on her way to see her mother. "I've been doing that a lot lately," she confesses. Xander nods. "Yeah. I thought maybe I'd stop by your mom's, too. Well, I'm not going to my house," he defends himself when Willow laughs. "Those people are scary. Speaking off--" he finishes, as Spike strides up the front walk, carrying a bouquet of (quite pretty) flowers. Xander immediately gets in his face about using Joyce's death to get to Buffy but, for once, Spike isn't spoiling for a fight. "This isn't about Buffy," he says levelly, biting back his temper. "Joyce was the only one of the lot of you that I could stand. I liked the lady. Understand, Monkey Boy? She was decent. She didn't put on airs. Always had a nice cuppa for me. And she never treated me like a freak." Xander won't back down and Spike finally throws down the flowers and strides away in disgust. Xander stares after him. "The guy thinks he ca put on a big show and con Buffy into being his sex monkey." Willow shakes her head, kneeling to look at the flowers. "Xander... he didn't leave a card." They both stare after Spike in silence, as a couple of assumptions get a little bit weaker.

Buffy and Dawn sit alone in their house as dawn breaks on Funeral Day. There's a respectable crowd at the burial -- the sisters, with the Scooby Gang close around them, and a large group of adults, presumably friends and business acquaintances. They watch and listen soberly as the service is read. Dawn breaks when the first dirt is thrown into the hole; Buffy holds her sister and stares, dry-eyed. The crowd breaks up and drifts away as the service ends, the Scoobies hugging the sisters, Giles embracing Buffy for a moment, Willow and Tara clinging to each other. Buffy seems quite content to stare at the grave all day; Willow and Tara finally leave with Dawn. "She should probably get out of here," Buffy agrees, but doesn't leave herself. Night falls around her as she stares into the grave, until someone comes up from behind her. "I'm sorry," Angel says quietly. "I couldn't come sooner." Buffy doesn't answer, but one hand reaches behind her to take his. They stand quietly together.

Back at Willow and Tara's dorm, they huddle around Dawn, who is huddled on her sleeping bag on the floor, a quiet, miserable child. "I wish we could help more to help, " Willow says. "It'll get better, I promise." Dawn looks up at her. "You don't know that," she accuses, and Tara jumps in. "Sure she does. We're witches. We know stuff." Dawn is not comforted. "What? Life goes on and I forget Mom? Is that what you're saying?" Both girls jump in to offer assurances, but Dawn's not listening. She stands up, wandering the room. "You guys are witches, and you do magic," she says slowly. "I want to do a spell. I want to bring Mom back."

Anya and Xander cuddle in each other's arms, basking in afterglow. Very good afterglow, apparently better than usual. "It's because of Joyce," Anya declares. Xander's response is an eloquent, "Huh?" Anya doesn't mind. "Well, she got me thinking... About how people die all the time... And how they get born too... And how you kind of need one so you can have the other. And when I think about it that way, it makes death a little less sad and sex a little more exciting." Again, Xander's with the "Huh?" Without moving her head from his chest, Anya explains, "Well, I just feel like I understand sex more. It isn't just about two bodies smooshing together. It's about life. It's about making life." Xander perks right up at that, alarmed. "Right. When two people are much older and way richer and far less stupid..." Anya levers up enough to grin at him. "Breathe. You're turning colors. I'm not ready to make life with you. But I could. We could. Life could come out of love and our smooshing and that's beautiful. It all makes me feel like we're part of something bigger. Like I'm more awake somehow. You know?" Xander understands that perfectly, and pulls her close for a kiss.

There's no peace across town; Willow and Tara's reaction to Dawn's demand is predictable -- shock and horror rule the day. Tara immediately vetoes the entire concept. "Magic can't be used to alter the natural order of things!" Dawn retaliates, "All you do is mess with the natural order of things! You make things float and disappear and, and--" Tara doesn't let her finish. "But we don't mess with life and death." Dawn doesn't care and Willow accidentally makes things worse by pointing out that there are resurrection spells, but Tara jumps back in firmly. "Witches can't be allowed to alter the fabric of life for selfish reasons. Wiccans took an oath, a long time ago, to honor that." But Dawn only hears the part she cares about. "They wouldn't have taken an oath if they didn't know how to do it." When the other two girls continue to refuse, she flops on her sleeping bag and ignores them.

Buffy snuggles against Angel a few feet from her mother's grave. "It's tomorrow that I'm worried about," she confides. Up until the funeral, she had things to do, lists to get through. Now, she has no idea what comes next. "Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better, what to say..." Angel is the only one she can confide her worst heartache to -- the fear that she could have done something to help her mother and didn't. That she can't be enough of a grown-up to take of herself, much less Dawn. "It's okay," Angel reassures her. "You don't feel like it now, but you are strong, Buffy. You're going to figure it out. And you have people to help you. You don't have to do it alone." He offers to stay in town as long as she needs, and she turns to look at him for the first time. ""How's forever? Does forever work for you?" Then she regains some of her control. moving away. "There's a bad idea. I'm seriously needy right now." Angel stares her down. "Let me worry about the neediness. I can handle it." They move closer and kiss, first sweetly, then with increasing intensity, until they both realize what they're doing. Painfully, they acknowledge that Angel can't stay forever. But it's a while yet until dawn....

Ben leaves the hospital and finds an unwelcome surprise -- Glory's minion Jinx is waiting for him. He bears a message from Glory -- she wants to encourage Ben's interest in the Slayer, to get information on the Key. Ben's not buying. "Time is running short, sir," Jinx points out. "Every moment you fight Glory, you're only fighting yourself, you see?" Ben nods, his jaw all cute and tight. "Fine. Let the best me win. And let Glory understand this -- I'm not helping her find the Key. I would never do that to an innocent--" He breaks off, but it's too late -- Jinx caught the slip and pounces on it. Ben tries to cover, but Jinx heads off to tell Glory -- until Ben grabs him, determined to hide the truth, he takes Jinx's knife, and shoves it through the minions guts. But he's not his sister's brother; he runs away without making sure he's dead.

Dawn is still not happy come morning; Willow reluctantly leaves her alone in the dorm room.... and makes a tiny gesture, out of Tara's sight as she leave. A book slides out on the bookshelf, and Dawn grabs it as soon as she notices. It's a history of witchcraft, including a section on resurrection. This, Dawn has no problems studying. She helps out at the magic shop later that day, Giles more than willing to let her do anything to take her mind off things. (Anya is less happy, since the shop is her territory, but makes a conscious, if less than successful, effort to Do the Right Thing.) Dawn's less interested in inventory and cash registers than where Giles keeps the dangerous stuff; the moment he and Anya are both distracted, Dawn raids the supplies. Her backpack is quite full by the time she rejoins the other two in the land of commerce. That night, she kneels by her mother's grave, steeling herself before she begins to dig into the fresh dirt. She's so intent on her task, she doesn't hear the footsteps behind her until Spike speaks. "I hope it's just dirt you're after. If the spell calls for anything more than that, you're into zombie territory, and that's bad news." Dawn tries to cover, but Spike knows exactly what she's up to. As he takes in her desperation and pain, he makes a decision. "I'm not going to tell, Little Bit. I'm going to help."

In Giles' dimly-lit apartment with a drink, he carefully starts a record -- the record he was listening to with Joyce the night of the Band Candy. He settles back carefully in his chair with a drink, as Spike and Dawn make their way through the dark streets. It seems Spike knows of a guy who knows about resurrection. He tries to soothe the nervous Dawn, but she's having none of it; she assures him of only being nice to her to get in good wit her sister. Spike immediately informs her that if Buffy ever hear about this, he's dead. "Don't like to see Summers women take it so hard on the chin, is all," he admit uncomfortably, and threatens the youngest Summers women with a grave of her own if she tells Buffy anything. Dawn accepts this as we cut to Glory's apartment, where she's striding around yelling about Jinx being late. As she emotes, said flunky staggers in the door; to her credit, Glory is at his side instantly (but worried about blood on the carpet). She pulls back when he tells her who his attacker was, and screams her hatred for her brother, pulling her hair out (literally). His words broken through the pain (and his brown-nosing far below his usual standards), Jinx manages to tell her about Ben's slip -- that the Key is a person. Glory celebrates her new-found Clue as minions tend to Jinx.

The Magic Guy's place is less than impressive; after Spike calls out, a very old, withered man comes shuffling out in a bathrobe and trousers. Doc isn't tracking real well, but as soon as Spike tells him why they're there, he focuses. "You don't want to mess with that," he tells Dawn, but she's firm. He grabs a strand of hair from her head and studies it under the light. "Your mother's a good candidate, at least. Strong DNA." As he wanders, humming, over to his books, Dawn catches a glimpse of something poking out from his bathrobe -- a tail. Spike, lighting a cigarette, misses it. Dawn shows the Doc her spell, and the Doc tells her what she's missing -- "The egg of a Ghora gives life." You have to steal it, he tells them, but they hang out on the Hellmouth. "You'll need an image of your mother. A photo, paintingŠ Once you get all your ingredients together, including the egg, mix them up, put them in the center of a sacred circle with the photo of your mother and say this incantation three times. She won't appear, "poof!" It takes a while. But she will come to you. If anything goes wrong, the only way to reverse the spell is to destroy the image of your mother." Dawn accept the instructions, but pays less attention to the caveat: "I can't say for sure that your mother will come back exactly like she was. Sometimes things get a littleŠ off." Dawn is only interested in one thing: "But she'll still be my mother, won't she?" Doc looks at her. "More or less." The dreadful duo heads out after Doc gives them directions to find a Ghora demon; Dawn tries to pay Doc, but he turns her down. "You just keep in touch now," he says with a grandfatherly smile -- and, for a moment, his eyes turn deep, dark black, with no white or pupil. Dawn yanks her hand back, and leaves fast.

They head straight out to find their demon; Spike tries to keep Dawn out of it, but she insists on helping, much to her accomplice's disgust. "Bitty Buffy," he complains under his breath as they head into the sewer. Predictably, the egg-retrieval operation isn't as easy as it looks; turns out Ghora demons are three times as big as Spike, and with three times as many heads. Spike wades in with an ax, as Dawn ducks behind the creature to the eggs. She manages to retrieve one, but trips on the way out, and smashes the egg. Spike tries to make her leave, but she ducks past him and back into the fray. Swearing mentally, Spike plunges back in to save her, taking on the Ghora with rocks and determination and not much else to keep it off of Dawn. He takes a bad bite, but Dawn is successful, and they both manage to escape from the den. "I'm sorry," Dawn sobs. "Did you get it?" Spike asks. When she nods, he says, "Don't be sorry then." He leaves Dawn at her house, and she sets the spell up in her bedroom. A photo of her mother smiles at her as she draws a circle of blood, and begins the incantation. "I beg of you, return to me."

Willow and Tara sit in near-silence in their room; Willow has started a journal. "Life goes by fast. If you don't write it down, a lot of it just getsŠ lost. And I want to remember." Tara looks across the room, and realizes that the book Dawn was reading is gone. She realizes quickly who must have taken it, and gets worried. Willow tries to cover her own actions, but Tara is too focused to see through Willow's abysmally bad lies. They call Buffy, getting her just as she arrives home. Dawn continues to the ritual: "Bone, flesh, breath, yours, eternally. Bone, flesh, breath, I beg of you -- return to me." Buffy races upstairs just as Dawn finishes. "What have you done?" she demands, and Dawn looks up at her, exhausted, thrilled and almost drunk with delight. "She's coming. She's coming home." Dawn races for the front door, but Buffy catches her before she can make it. She tries to explain that the spells can go wrong, about all the dangers Tara warned her about, about people coming back wrong. "You know this is wrong, you know you can't let this happen!" Dawn fights her off, as a pair of bare feet, below a long dress, make their way across a grassy lawn outside. "But I need her. I don't care if she'sŠ I'm not like you, Buffy. I don't have anybody!" Buffy blinks, rocked. "Of course you do. You have me!" Dawn shakes her head, finally saying everything she's been holding back. "I don't! You won't even look at me! It's so obvious you don't want me around! Mom died and it's like you don't even care!" Buffy's voice is low and deadly. "Of course. I. Care. How can you even think that?"

"How can I not?" Dawn shoots back, just as deadly. "You haven't even cried! You've just been running around like it's all been some big chore, cleaning up after mom's mess!" It's hard to tell which of the two of them is more surprised when Buffy slaps her. They both start crying. "I've been working... I've been busy, because I have to be," Buffy tries to explain. "I have to do these things, 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone. And I am trying, Dawn, I am really trying to take care of things. But I don't even know what I'm doing. Mom, always knew..."

"Nobody's asking you to be Mom."

"Well, who's going to be if I'm not?" Buffy half-screams. "Huh, Dawn? Have you thought about that? Who's going to make things better? Who's going to take care of us? I didn't mean to push you away. I couldn't let you see me... Oh, God, Dawnie, what are we going to do? I'm so scared--" Dawn takes a step towards her sister, finally getting it. But before she can say anything, a silhouette -- a familiar silhouette -- shuffles past the front window, and there's a knock on the door. Buffy blinks in shock, and her little-girl voice asks, "Mommy?"

This time, it's Dawn yelling after Buffy to stop. Buffy ignores her, racing for the door and her mother, as Dawn retrieves the picture of Joyce from the table and, almost in a daze, rips it in half, as Buffy flings open the front door to--


Buffy stands in the open door for a long moment. Finally, the last hope dies from her face, and she turns away to see Dawn hovering behind her. Dawn falls into her arms and the two girls collapse to the floor, sobbing brokenhearted in the empty hall of their empty house....

Glory knows now that the Key is hiding in human form.

At some point in the past, Wiccans took an oath never to perform resurrections.

Buffy and Angel can officially co-exist and be there for each other without implosion. < g > Yay.

Buffy's reaction to Joyce's death isn't a surprise to anyone who's been watching for the last season. Control Freaks R Us, and fortunately, there were a lot of things she had to control -- was able to control. But Dawn is 14 and she doesn't see someone clinging to the mundane details to avoid dealing with the Big Issue. She's in pain and she wants everyone else to be in pain, and she wants to see it so she knows she's not alone. And she's got more than a little of Buffy's control freak tendencies herself -- she also needs to do something. It's unfortunate that, given where she lives and what she is, that magic is such a temptation.

Which is where Willow and Tara come in -- living examples of the difference between being a witch and being Wiccan. Tara believes down to her bones that even thinking about resurrection is a bad thing; she understands her relationship to the universe and she's got no intention of messing with it. She took oaths and she abides by them, and that's all there is to it. For Willow, magic is still something of a game -- her old conviction that knowledge is always a good thing comes to the front. She can see, intellectually, why some things are a Bad Idea, but it's warring with her grief for Joyce and her desire to fix things, and it leads her to do a Bad Thing for reasons that are almost good. Because she doesn't get the concept of Wicca, of that relationship with the universe, on the same gut level that Tara does.

So, Dawn's got her information, and Giles is, like Willow, too hyped on doing whatever he can to help the girls that he's just not paying the attention he should be. He's wonderful throughout, an absolute rock for both of them -- certainly he's more their father than their father is at this point. But that's a rant for next week, I believe. Anyway, he's too busy taking care of Dawn to actually be worrying about what she's up to.

Which brings us to the person who did know what she was up to. And, unlike Willow, I just can't bring myself to get pissed off at Spike. You can't even really say he should have known better because, let's face it -- he doesn't. Spike died. He came back. Some say that he is evil because of it, but that's not how he sees himself. He's the same guy he was when he was alive -- heck, he's improved, by his standards -- and it gives him an entirely different take on the whole life/death thing that we mortals have. He wants Joyce back -- for Buffy's sake, for Dawn's sake, and not a little for his own sake -- and this seems, to him, to be a logical way to go about it. And, let's face it, he's adorable as hell when he's defending Dawn against the Ghora demon.

It's to her credit that Dawn figures out for herself by the end that this is Wrong and Bad. Most of it, of course, is seeing Buffy collapse and getting that assurance that no, she's not alone in this. With, perhaps, a little bit of it being the realization that she's not helpless, there are things she can do -- like supporting her sister, instead of bringing her mother back from the dead.

As Anya -- congratulations, you just figured out the meaning of being mortal. Welcome to humanity. < g > I mean that in all seriousness; she's been playing a part ever since she became mortal, trying to figure out the rules -- the "what's" and the "hows" -- of this weird living thing, without doing much more than scratching the surface of the "why's". For whatever reason, Joyce's death brought those "why's" home to her in a way all the etiquette books in the world couldn't. What effect that will have on her outside of her relationship with Xander, who knows. < shrug> But, as hard as it was for her to have Dawn invading her territory at the shop, she understood why she had to allow it, and did her best to go along with it. That's progress.

The villains are less interesting, except that Ben is a little dumber than I was giving him credit for, and not as ruthless. He should have made sure Jinx was dead, he really should have. But this is a guy who is a doctor, who distances himself from the "necessary evils" of his life by doing things like calling down Queller Demons to kill people so he doesn't have to. < sigh > He's not a saint, and he's not all that bright, but he is trying. He wins points. As for Glory, she's nuts, we're in a lot of trouble, and she hires surprisingly good help. < g >

Best Moments:
Angel coming to Buffy at the graveyard. < sigh > I'm pretty much over the desperate 'shipper phase, but this made me so happy; I don't think they should be together, but it's really nice to see that they can have some kind of relationship/support system functioning. And he was really good taking care of her. < sigh >

Xander and Anya basking. < g > Beautiful delivery from Emma Caulfield, and Xander's panicked reaction to making life was just priceless!

Tara laying down the law about why resurrection is a Bad Thing. It's so great that she can stand up for herself these days when she knows she's right.

Spike finding Dawn at the grave. < sigh > How sick is it to love him for helping her resurrect her dead mother?

Giles sitting back and listening to the Cream album. A simple, subtle, masterful way of showing his very personal grief.

The entire scene with Doc. Easily the most effective scene of the show -- the contrast of the meandering old man and deep, intense creep vibes from the subtle signs of evil was just incredible eerie. Very well done; awesome performance by Joel Grey.

Actually, if Spike and Dawn were on-screen together, I was pretty much a happy camper. These two have some very nice buddy chemistry happening.

The final scene. It could have been more effective, I think, but it was damned eerie and gut-wrenching as it was, so I'm not complaining much.

Questions and Comments:
Perhaps this episode just suffers in comparison to The Body, but the pacing felt very off to me throughout the hour. Angel's approach was very awkward, the entire fight scene against the demon, while great fun, felt shoehorned in, and the build-up of suspense in the final scene was a little flat. Great performances from the cast all around; I think we're going to have to lay this one on an inexperienced director. But she's a kick-ass writer. < g >

Rating: 3.5 stars out of five. Some wonderful scenes and character moments, but it's not everything that Buffy can be.


"Damn them. I'm like a freakin' addict. Can't trust me with even a minute of sappy, 'shippy stuff and I'm begging for more. It's just plain sad! More Buffy & Angel. More! Not because of the smooching or the swelling B/A theme (which, okay, *not* very subtle) or the gushy dialogue and heart-rending looks of pain as they tore themselves away from each other. Cuz, well, again with the not-quite-subtle.But because they just still have that inate understanding of each other, even with time and distance. Damnit. I hate Marti Noxon."
"I loved what they did with Angel, but I was glad he was going away again at the end. Small doses of that are just about right for me. Besides, in the end, it should ALL be about SPIKE. *ahem* OK, maybe not. But I love what they've done with Spike, and I'm *way* looking forward to next week. Which is really really sick of me." -- Mary Beth and Jennie

"The ep seemed unsteady at first. But I loved Spike being all protective and determined for all the Summers women -- in his own way."
"Yah, I like that they showed how much he *misses* Joyce. She gave him the kind of basic person-to-person respect he was never able to get out of his social circle when he was human, and that he only could get out of vampires when he killed a Slayer. She just *gave* it to him, really, and he really seemed fond of her for that. He may have some really harebrained ideas, but in the end he's really got a fair amount of class." -- Mary Beth and Jennie

"And Buffy and Dawn broke my heart at the end. Completely and totally. *sob* And I'm kinda glad they did the "bring her back or not" thing. . . especially the way they did it. It's horror convention (which they're always messing with -- cuz of the fun!) and it shuts up all the people who are just sure they'll do it. So there."
"That was a very *nice* continuation of the last episode, I thought. And rather taunting/frustrating/spooky, that they didn't *show* us what she looked like/what was actually coming. I like that only one of them has any sense at any given time...< g > Wish we'd seen more of Ben than Glory. Glory makes my teeth itch." -- Mary Beth and Jennie

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