Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by Rick Rosenthal

Dawn's Review | SunSpeak

Dawn's Review

“Help” was a bit slow, but solid. This episode continued on with elements shown in the first few of the season, with no real major happenings.

"Help" was a bit slow, but solid. This episode continued on with elements shown in the first few of the season, with no real major happenings.

A lady (quite dead) is resting in an open coffin. It's closing time at the local funeral home and the two workers chat, turn out the lights and leave. Of course… they didn't check the, supposedly, empty coffins in the same room. These same coffins are the ones that our smaller Scooby gang of Buffy, Xander and Dawn emerge from one by one (Dawn freaks a bit and wants to know why she has to be in the child sized coffin since she's not the shortest).

Xander wants to know why they're going to all this trouble for one potential vamp (and so do I), but Buffy just responds that that's how she goes about her work, vampire by vampire.

They commiserate about all being stressed out about different things. Buffy's worried about her counseling job that start's tomorrow. Dawn's worried about Willow being back, and potentially trying to kill her. They both try to reassure Buffy about her being a good match for her new job.

They turn to the open casket, still talking but now of the possibility of the woman being a vamp. Stitched up holes in the neck and all. The lady/vamp wakes up, Buffy stakes and closes the casket with a reference to closed caskets being more tasteful.

It's early morning on a new school day and Buffy is sharpening pencils one by one, until she's interrupted by a serious looking young woman - sent by a teacher because this guy was "picking on her".

We next see a series of mixed up montages of students that Buffy is talking/counseling throughout the day. There's the serious woman who seems like the perfect victim until, after Buffy urges her to stand up for herself, she reveals that she beat up one of her tormentors earlier. "Do you think I should pound on him some more?"

There's the "I don't want to talk" young man whose worried about his soldier brother not coming back from overseas (when he finally starts talking). He doesn't want to be alone, and he's brother would think he's stupid to be talking to somebody about how worried he is.

Then there's the "I'm worried that I'm guy" guy. He's pretty easy for Buffy to help… because what he wants is a date with her just to make sure.

Then? Well, Buffy's trying to commiserate with a young girl with an apparently overpowering older sister. A sister who's controlling, doesn't let her make her own decisions, and borrows her clothes. Buffy is unamused, but Dawn seems to be having fun.

Finally, we get to the main one, the one that will consume Buffy for the remainder of the episode. It's a young, blonde woman who's been sent to see Buffy because she's not doing her homework anymore. Buffy asks why and the girl tells her that she doesn't see the point. She's not graduating, and next Friday she's going to die. Cassie (as in Cassandra) is sorry she's let it slip.

Buffy's worried that Cassie is going to kill herself, but Cassie tries to reassure her. It turns out that she just "knows" things. Like that they'll be coins, and Buffy will try to help, and it'll be somewhere underground. She let's her know that she likes Buffy's shirt and warns her that she should change it before it gets stained.

The scene changes and Buffy's talking to the principal. She tries to tell him that she's really worried, but the principal thinks Cassie is just being a teenager. He gives an example of when he was a teenager and was suspended because he threatened a kid that was bothering him.

"Talk like that is taken pretty seriously where I come from."
"The hood?"
"Beverly Hills."

Buffy is all agitated. She really wants to fix it. Then… she spills her drink on her blouse.

Then, we're at Dawn's locker and she closes the door only to see Buffy staring at her. "I have a job for you." (I always figured it would be horrible to have another family member working where you went to school.)

In the library, Cass and a male friend are bantering. He wants to take her out, while she's trying to stay friendly but refusing. It's clear that he really likes her.

Dawn interrupts. She's in the same pottery class as Cassie and wants to know what the homework assignment it. Cassie can't tell her since she didn't write it down. Mike, the male friend, leaves to go study for a test. As he's walking away, Cassie tells him he's going to get a "B", but he doesn't believe her.

Dawn makes nice and tries to make conversation. Cassie, being bright, immediately connects her to Buffy but it doesn't shut the conversation down. Mike apparently has asked her to the Winter Formal about 105 times, but she's refused every time.

Back at Buffy's house later that night, they (Buffy, Xander and Willow) are browsing through the school records - Willow at the helm of the little Mac laptop. Cassie was getting good grades until recently when she starting skipping and having comments like "apathy" and "depression" recorded by the teachers.

Dawn wonders if Cassie is a precog, but the others are hesistant. Buffy's got her medical records but there's nothing there.

"Did you ‘google' her yet?" - Willow
"Willow! She's seventeen!" - Xander

Fortunately Willow has not let her computer skills lapse. With nary an adventure to a non-relevant site, she immediately (and instantaneously) downloads Cassie's personal website of teenage angst poetry. Lots of death imagery.

While Willow reads out one of her poems, Dawn walks in.

Willow reveals that even she posted a long, melodramatic love poem on the web when she was a teenager, much to Xander's delight.

"I'm over you now, sweetie" - Willow

To Willow, this is all normal teenage angst. Dawn thinks that Mike is bad at handling rejection and is going to go after Cassie because she's refused him over a hundred times.

But the rest aren't listening. They've just found out that Cassie's father has a police record as a violent drunk. Buffy and Xander go over to the father's house. Buffy just blurts out that she's worried that he will drink too much and hurt Cassie. He's slurring his words but indignant. He sends his child support and bitter about his ex-wife trying to take away his one-weekend-a-month visitation right. Of course, since he just had her last weekend, he won't be seeing her this next Friday. Once Buffy confirms this (and feels bad), they're out of there.

When they go outside, they run into Cassie. She tells them that her father has nothing to do with her death. She's sorry about telling Buffy about next Friday and that they're overreacting. Buffy thinks she's protesting too much and really wants to live. Cassie responds that she wants to live, to graduate, to go to the Winter Formal with her friend. Etc. Etc.

Buffy wants her to tell her what she knows, but Cassie doesn't know the details - only that there's something out there that's going to kill her.

Flash to a bunch of robed figures buttering nonsense syllables and circling a small fiery circle with Cassie's picture in the center.

Time shift. It's Friday, and Buffy's reading one of Cassie's poems on her website at work with the computer that's on her desk (nice school if they can afford that).

Later, Buffy heads downstairs to talk with Spike. He's trying to not move, think, or listen to the voices because then he won't hurt… much. Buffy needs help. She tries to give details. Spike tries to not hear her. Buffy wants to know if there's something evil in the school. He tells her there is… he's evil. "I'm a bad man. William is a bad man." Spike starts to hit himself.

He's trying to hurt himself. He has to pay because he hurt the girl, aka Buffy. Buffy makes him stop hitting himself, and then wants to know if he knows anything specific about Cassie. He doesn't and she starts to leave. He calls after her. Tries to get her to stay with him. "Help me be quiet." Buffy doesn't, but she isn't angry. "I think it's worse when I'm here."

There's the teen who wanders in, missing Bio, and has "issues" of divorce and keeps stringing Buffy along until he lets slip that his parents are fine, he's bored and, on the receiving end of one of Buffy's "looks" decides to head back to Bio.

Xander and Willow are walking along in a park and talking about Buffy. They both agree that she's going to do a good job even if she is quite stressed about it. The matter of the Hellmouth comes up as a real source of worry. "From beneath you it devours" is agreed to be a pretty unfriendly little motto. Willow's worried about being able to help when the day comes (yet another apocalyse). Xander refers to a helpful carpentry analogy about nails.

Willow's still worried - but now about going all bad and killing her friends. They stop talking… they've arrived at the cemetery. Willow goes up to Tara's grave and leaves some stones on the top and traces the letters of the gravestone. "It's me."

The principal and a cohort are slowly going through lockers. Buffy is going through the halls and confronts Mike. She knows he's having problems getting a date for the formal. He lets her know that there's this girl he wanted to take that isn't going with him, but he's thinking of asking… Dawn Summers. Buffy, after a second, is just shocked that Dawn is his second choice.

Then there's the sound of coins dropping. It's dropped out of a kid's locker. Buffy tracks him down and confronts him about what the coins have to do with Cassie Newton. He tries to deny that he has anything to do with her, but Buffy lays down the guilt trip. It's not a game. It's life and death. "A girl could die." He crumbles.

Dawn's with Cassie and sticking close. Cassie figures Dawn was told to be her friend. Dawn admits that Buffy asked her to talk with Cassie, but that she wasn't pretending about being Cassie's friend. Cassie laughs. "You are my friend." "I am?"

They're interrupted by the same kid who was bothering Buffy and faking it about his parents. Cassie tells Dawn not to worry and that whatever happens isn't Dawn's fault. The boy, Peter, walks up and Dawn's distracted. He asks if anyone's asked her, Dawn, to the winter formal. She smiles, and admits to "not exactly", but then he laughs and tells her he was just doing a poll.

Disgusted, she turns away, but now Cassie is nowhere to be found.

We see the robed figures again. It's the school and now the circle contains a butcher's knife. The leader is Peter. There are booby traps to prevent people from coming in. Then he drags Cassie in. She's got duct tape across her mouth and her hands are tied behind her back. He tells her that it's nothing personal. He figures since she's got a "death kick", no one will be surprised if she disappears. They're going to sacrifice her to a demon to become rich.

They start the ceremony. Buffy throws back her robe. She's not impressed. Peter calls her a name. Swing, punch, kick. She thinks they're all very lame and that's why the demon didn't show up… except it did.

So there's a fight, and Buffy wins against the demon (of course). Peter tries to kill Cassie, but she's struggling as best she can.

It's going bad, but then… Spike is there to save the day with a nice big flaming torch!!! Buffy grabs it to fight the demon with while Spike goes after Peter. Hit, ow, grab head, hit, ow, grab head. The other demon raisers skedaddle and Spike frees Cassie.

She looks at Spike and prophesizes, "she'll tell you. Someday she'll tell you."

The demon is flambé. Buffy heads over to Cassie and Spike leaves. Peter crawls over to the demon. He wants to know where his infinite riches are - and the almost dead demon lurches up just long enough to bite him before exploding into ash.

Buffy and Cassie leaves. Buffy's trying to reassure Cassie that it's all over. They get to the door and open it - setting off the arrow booby trap which Buffy catches in midair before it can skewer Cassie.

"See? You can make a difference." - Buffy.

And then Cassie collapses to the ground, staring lifelessly at the ceiling.

At the summers place, they're talking it over. Cassie's family has a history of heart irregularities, but Cassie didn't know. Buffy feels like she failed Cassie. Dawn tries to reassure her that she didn't fail Cassie because she actually tried to help.

Buffy wants to know what to do when you know that you might not be able to help… and then it's Monday and we see Buffy sitting down at her counseling desk waiting for the next student.

In the opening conversations there are lots of references to Willow coming back and the events of the previous episode (Which I thought should've been titled either "Eat Me" or "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman").

Tons of continuity. Spike's still in the school basement and seeing things that others can't. Buffy's starting work at the school. Willow refers to Buffy dropping out of college, etc.

Buffy no longer seems continually angry at Spike. She hasn't forgiven him, and she isn't trying to actively help him, but she's no longer verbally attacking him any chance she can get.

Willow's back, and starting to be integrated back into the Scooby gang in a way we haven't seen in a long time. It still isn't a comfortable fit though, and I don't think she and Dawn are talking to each other much.

Best Moments:
Willow at the cemetery.

The scene between Buffy and Spike in the school basement. That's about it actually. Nothing else really stood out.

Questions and Comments:
Um. It's Friday afternoon. Buffy's at the school. It's night. Research scene with others. She's back at the school. It's day and school's just getting out. Did they mix up some footage?

I want to know if Willow is going back to college. Well? Hmm? She mentioned Buffy as having dropped out but didn't mention anything about herself. I know she's worried about killing everyone, but I'd like to know.

Rating: Hmmm…. It's got some good points, but it's also slow and felt like a filler. Maybe 3 out of 5?


"Stray thought #1: How do you stake a vampire through the heart after it's been embalmed?"
"After it's been "embalmed" by the American funeral industry, no prob. They don't do much other than drain the blood, replace it with a chemical, and do a pretty hair and makeup job. It's intended purely to make the body look good for the three or four days before the funeral, and in some cases (I can't remember the particulars) can actually *accelerate* the decomposition process after that. Despite the astronomical cost of the service, the process bears little or no resemblance to the traditional definition of embalming.... OTOH, I'm still trying to figure out how a post-autopsy vamp with a nice fresh Y-incision was around to go after Dawn in "The Body". Or, I guess I was until James went after Angel with his heart removed. I guess it was just coincidence that Buffy "killed" the one in the morgue just as his six hours were up, right? ;-) "
"Stray thought 1235.2: Did this mean that the ancient Egyptians had few cases of vampires as the removed the hearts & stuck then in jars? Egypt, home of the six hour vampires. Geeze, that just makes it sound like a food dish ala a 2 minute egg." "And thus many of the legends about sorcerors whose hearts werent' in their bodies are explained... cool." -- Julie, Valerie, ??? and Chris

"James continues to steal the entire show. The whole 'I'm a bad man' bit with the self-abuse was just...eeep. Buffy feels sorry for him...but not enough to forgive. Which is understandable and very Buffy. "The quality of mercy is not Buffy." (I Only Have Eyes For You) She still doesn't get the whole, "forgivness is given because it"s needed, not because it's earned." (ibid) I was happy with the little ray of hope Cassie gave him thought. "She'll tell you. Someday she'll tell you." The question she was answering, well, was it that she forgives him or that she loves him? Hmmmm. Sounds like the season/series ender, dunnit? He's also still taking after daddy by showing up just in the nick of time to help with the baddies. And I think he really still is chipped after tonight. I just think that maybe either it doesn't hurt as much as the mental/spiritual pain he's been in all summer or he's mostly ignoring it for her, to be able to help her. "
"I'd bet on a combination fo both. Is that his hair shirt now? To suffer the chip-zaps as his just punishment, while working for the side of good?" -- Julie and Dianne

"Stray thought #2: 2nd week without showing possible pre-slayer > slaughter. Has it stopped, or have they just stopped hitting us on the head with it?"
"Well, for a good while I figured Cassie was a proto-slayer (prophetic dreams much) with an intimation of doom _a la_ Prophecy Girl... and whoever's hunting them down was going to try to nail one under the current Slayer's nose... but now, < shrug >, I dunno..." -- Jule and Dianne

"Retread idea of the week #1: High school sophmore fated to die. Hmmm, where have we seen that before? Unfortunately, Buffy, unlike Xander, never learned CPR. Might have made the difference."
"depending on the attack and the actual defect she had, CPR might not have done a lick of good. If there was a large enough hole in the heart, for instance, pushing on the heart might only push more blood into the chest cavity, not through the veins to the rest of the body. I think in younger folks a heart attack is often related to holes where they don't belong, rather than the clogs often found in older folk." -- Julie and Jennie

"With someone of Cassie's age, it is most likely a congenital heart abnormality (cardiomyopathy). A hole in the heart would've been fixed as a neonate-- it would really have to have been. She could've had a type of heart failure where there was an enlargement and/or weakening of the muscle tissue of the heart. If it was a weak spot in the heart, usually the ventricle, or in the aorta, then that could've blown and she'd have been dead in minutes. Or, more common, would've been a rhythm abnormality like for example Wolff-Parkinson White (WPW) syndrome, or another re-entry mechanism, where the heart would tend to, when under stress, go into what's called an SVT, or a very fast heart rate that, if untreated overstresses the heart, causing a heart attack. I suppose she could've also had a Stokes-Adams kinda thing, where she'd have transient heart blocks, or a lengthened QT or something, but the WPW or similar is more likely. It is also possible that Cassie would've been on digoxin for whatever her heart problem was, and, between stress and being captive and missing her dose-- or being apathetic and missing doses regularly-- she'd be much more likely to go into an SVT or worse, ventricular tachycardia, which would make her drop in such a way. She also could've been B-12 deficient or have a condition where her blood clots too easily, and she actually did throw a clot and have a traditional heart attack. I think that's prolly a LOT more than anyone wanted to know, so I'll relurk now." -- Mel (paramedic in training)

"Retread idea of the week #2: Sometimes bad things just happen to good people that you have no control over. Seems we didn't get hit hard enough with that when Joyce or Tara went. Stray thought #4: Dawn's been watching too much CSI. Which is fair. Apparently CSI writers watch Buffy. [If you didn't see CSI last week, just check this out: victim is a high school girl who was attacked and partially eaten--by two of her classmates. Why? PCP. Yep, Principal Snyder's all purpose excuse ("Gangs. PCP. The usual.") And one of the perps was a girl who came off sounding kinda Faith-like. "I remember wanting to be like her...wanting to BE her."]" -- Julie

"Tonight made it clear: yes, [Spike]'s still chipped. BUT IT DOESN'T STOP HIM. And thank goodness. I mean, when you're talking about conditioning in the most classical of senses (which you are with Spike's chip), either you have to work through the pain, or you turn into a cringing ball of ick at the mere thought of hurting someone. He pounded jerk-ritual-robe-guy, got slammed with migraine, pounded him again, kept pounding. This is a change. This is significant. This WILL have future ramifications. " -- Alix

"I thought the episode was kinda hitting us over the head with the whole "when it's your time..." thingy. But I liked it, overall. And the Spike stuff was wonderful. I think that was possibly the nicest thing Buffy's *ever* said to him, when she said she thought her presence was only more painful."
"Yup. I know it might have come across that she was making excuses, but I genuinely think that she believes that all she does is bring him pain, and thus it would be better if she weren't around him. Plus that it's just painful to watch him suffer, and she has no idea how to help. Ideally she'd ask Willow or someone to look out for him, but I don't think the idea's even occurred to her that he *can* be helped, so... *sniffle* " -- Jennie and Chris

"I'm still not a Spike/Buffy fan. I still feel like this is being imposed on us by the same people who imposed a Willow/Tara relationship (and then took almost two years to make Tara remotely interesting). But I am powerfully looking forward to seeing where William-Spike's character development takes him."
"I agree with you on the Spike/Buffy imposition (though not the Willow/Tara imposition). I feel like it's getting forced on us, because when you get down to it, these are two fairly sensible people, and they're doing really not sensible things about each other. Love may make you do the wacky, but we're talking a whole lot of painful wacky here. It's just not good. "
"I still kind of like Spike/Buffy together - grand train wreck that it is - but I'll like it better if they both recover their sense of humor, their sanity, and their strengths. And not just be seeking each other out of weakness and loneliness. " -- Alix, Tina and Chris

"Anyway, I don't think [the principal is] Evil. After all, Joss & Co are pretty good about avoiding retreads on characters, which means he won't be: a> clueless and destined for an early demise (Flutie); clued in, but weasling with the bad guys to save his own hide (Skinner), pure evil demon on a rampage (The Mayor), or someone clued in and fighting for the good, only in an inherently flawed way (Professor Walsh). (O.k., the last two aren't exactly principals, but they figure in in much the same way. And between the Mayor and Glory, I'm thinking we've had it up to here with big bad evil personified demons, and that The First will stay more amorphous, doing possessions, or convincing cult dudes to attack or something... just a thought. The Principal's just to obvious for the job. :) " -- Dianne

"Did anyone else have a teary-eyed moment when Willow visited Tara's grave and put the rocks on it? Because I *so* did. Maybe it's that I'm really tired, but I *still* have teary-eyed moments thinking about it. " -- Tina

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