The Killer in Me

Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The First is trying to kill all of the potential Slayers, Spike was brainwashed by the First, Willow kicked Amy out, Spike got the chip, Warren killed Tara, Willow killed Warren, Kennedy macked on Willow.

Giles is busy having a cow about leaving, even for only a few days. It's a potential Slayer retreat to the desert, a repeat of Buffy's long-ago vision quest that they think is important for the girls; it's also a tossup whether Giles is more worried about leaving Sunnydale or being trapped overnight with that many hyper teenaged girls. Buffy and Kennedy are both sitting it out with the flu, so Giles leaves alone, resigned to his fate. When he's gone, Buffy heads down to the basement to visit Spike, chained up down there by his own choice, and to exult over having the bathroom to herself for two days. Spike can but agree; he's been trying to stay out of everyone's way, for their own safety. "That's the way it's gonna be, until we're sure the First's done making me its bitch. Either we're together, or I'm on a leash." As they talk, Spike suddenly keels over in pain -- the chip is firing for no apparent reason, and it's not stopping.

Hours later, Buffy emerges from the basement, exhausted -- Spike's chip just isn't stopping. Willow is busy making tea for the other patient, flu-ridden Kennedy, and Buffy teases her as necessary, before asking Willow what she knows about Spike's chip. Not much, since the Initiative didn't exactly put up a website. They can only conclude that something's wrong with the chip -- what fun. "Remember when things used to be nice and boring?" Buffy asks wistfully. Willow thinks about it. "No." Willow heads up to Kennedy with tea, more Buffy teasing following in her wake. But she gets upstairs to find that Kennedy isn't as sick as she was pretending -- someone wanted to get out of the Slayer Field Trip and faked it. She has her own mission, and it involves dragging Willow to the Bronze for some music and some fun. Dating by Deceit, apparently; Willow starts to bail, but folds under Kennedy's wiles. Which are pretty damn wiley. Kennedy dives right into the small talk: "How long have you known you were gay?" Willow trips, to Kennedy's amusement, and gets a lesson in lesbian flirting from a master. Back at Casa Summers, Buffy tends to Spike, who's starting to get nosebleeds from the chip, and starting to get pretty fatalistic about the whole thing. "Maybe it wasn't meant to last this long. One more thing we have in common, eh, pet?" But Buffy has an idea for research that might actually work.

At the Bronze, Kennedy and Willow continue to exchange life histories -- Willow's mom reacted predictably to news of her lifestyle (happy with the statement, then ignoring it) -- and Willow manages to talk a little about Tara. Buffy paces back and forth in the living room on the phone, trying o talk to the only contact number she has for the Initiative, and for Riley Finn. It's either a deep-cover contact... or it really is a flower shop. Buffy gives it her best shot, either way. Spike watches from the stairs, then collapses again under the worst shot yet. Kennedy has apparently known she was gay since she was five, but the answer Willow really want is why Kennedy wants her. "I dig the way you turn off the Moulin Rouge DVD at chapter 32, so it has a happy ending. I like the way you speak, it's interesting. And your freckles.. lickable. I'm not so into the magic stuff -- seems like fairy tale crap to me -- but it matters to you. You care about it, so it's cool." Kennedy's got a good line, but as she and Willow return home, to their still-shared bedroom, she proves she's good at something else. As Willow stammers nervously, Kennedy leans in close and kisses her. It's evidently a nice kiss; eyes close and the camera spins around as the two women get closer and closer -- and suddenly, one of them is not a woman anymore. Kennedy jumps back with a scream, staring up at Warren's face.

It's only Willow, smiling and very confused as she tries to figure out why her would-be girlfriend is freaking. She finally turns and runs for a mirror, and gasps in shock when Warren looks back at her. Willow races downstairs and runs into Xander and Anya, who freak at what they think is another appearance by The First. By not as much as Andrew freaks when he walks in to see his former crime boss standing in the living room. He loudly refuses to talk to the First ("You made me do things, things I can ever take back, ever."), and things continue to degenerate until Buffy strides into the room and, apparently on reflex, punches Willow. "You're not the First," everyone concludes, which is, of course, what Willow's been trying to tell them. Andrew loses it and runs forward to hug 'Warren'; his hands hit Willow in a Very Bad Place and she shoves him away. Everyone stares in shock, but she's got Kennedy to back her up, and some kindergarten stories involving Xander and Aquaman Underoos for further evidence. Evidence enough. Willow thinks she may have put some kind of glamour on herself (remembering the "don't see me" spell), but no one can figure out why her subconscious would have turned her into Warren. Willow takes off to get it fixed, and the others reluctantly let her go, seeing as how Spike is rolling on the floor in agony.

Willow strides down the street, but is suddenly accosted by Kennedy, who isn't about to let Willow wander around alone, spell or no spell. Willow hasn't been able to reverse it herself, so is looking for help from people who aren't potential Slayers; Kennedy acknowledges that Willow doesn't need her help, so claims to be just tagging along for the ride. Willow gives in grumpily and heads off in search of some old friends. Buffy and Spike are also having Old Home Week, trying to find the old tunnel entrance to the Initiative's underground labs. Which is basically the last place either of them ever wanted to go again, but its the only source of the drugs they used on Spike when he first got the chip, not to mention any old files on the chip itself. They locate the entrance and head down, to find things surprising intact. (So much for burn it to the ground and salt the earth; typical government operation.)

At Casa Summers, the Scoobies get a disturbing call from a Watcher named Robson who was attacked by Bringers; Giles came to his rescue, but the last thing he remembers is Giles about to be beheaded. When he came to, Giles was gone. Giles told them nothing about it, and everyone's brains start going to bad places involving the First. [And a significant portion of the SunS membership begins screaming at the screen in mingled triumph and terror, "I told you so!" mixing with threats of dismemberment and other bodily injury towards the writers if weeks-old suspicions turn out to be true.] Andrew points out that Giles wouldn't be able to touch anything if he's the First, but no one in the gang can conclusively remember Giles touching or holding anything since he got back -- no one got hugged. [Cue several cries of "Duh!" from the SunS.] As one, they leap to their feet and head for the door; even Andrew the Irritating gets to come after he protests lack of safety, and willingness to do Evil if left alone. They only have time to think about Giles out there, all alone, with the potential Slayers.

After a gratuitous shot of ASH staring into a fire, we find ourselves on the UC Sunnydale campus, in the middle of a Wiccan ritual involving real magic. It's Willow's old group of wanna blessed-bes, who have evidently caught a clue sometime in the last three years. [Bet the Gentlemen freaked them into something resembling reality.] They blink in mild shock at being invaded by a man who claims to be Willow. Fortunately, there's someone there who can tell she is who she says she is. Amy Madison stands up from the circle. Before Willow can react, Amy goes into a really fast Magic-Aholics Anonymous "rock-bottom, apologize to everyone" speech. She's in the Wicca group for magic rehab, and wants to help. It's not exactly the group's forte, but they're willing to give breaking the glamour a try. Amy and Willow settle down for some chanting, but before Amy can finish whatever she's doing, Willow gets a magical shock and jolts to her feet in pain. "It didn't work?" Amy asks in confusion. "No, it didn't, you dumb bitch," Willow yells back, and slaps the other witch hard. Amy stumbles, holding her face. "You slapped me," she says in disbelief. Willow is at least as stunned as Amy. "No. No, it wasn't me. I--it was Warren!"

Willow turns and bolts, Kennedy hot on her heels; Willow is freaking, certain that she's actually turning into Warren. "You understand nothing about magic and, in case you hadn't notices, our little date is over." Willow stomps out, throwing up a shield behind her to hold Kennedy off. Meanwhile, Spike and Buffy make their way through the long-abandoned corridors of the Initiative, working around demon bodies that are still rotting where they fell almost three years ago. Then they hear something move.... The rest of the Scoobies are in the car, focused intently on getting to Giles -- First or not -- and the potentials, Dawn and Anya are working themselves into a helpless panic.

Willow wanders through Sunnydale alone, sobbing in fear. "Look at me, crying like a little girl," she realizes, sounding much more like Warren than Willow, and jumps to her feet with new purpose. Buffy and Spike know there's something in the tunnels with them, but can't see anything in the darkness. They track the noise deeper in -- and something lunges out of the darkness and attacks. Kennedy goes back to the Wicca meeting room, but only finds Amy, packing up; things got a little too creepy for the others. "You're really worried about her," Amy realizes. "Look, she's gonna be fine. She's good at this. She's strong and she's dealt with a lot worse than this, long before she went out and found herself a big old potential Slayer bodyguard." Kennedy stares at her. "I never said I was a potential Slayer." Amy tries to cover for a moment, then stops bothering. "Oops," she shrugs, all pretense of concern gone.

Below Sunnydale, Spike is coming off badly in the fight, the chip making him almost helpless and he gets knocked out. Across town, Warren's face stares into a glass case. "So, same model as last time?" the gun store owner asks. "How'd that work out for you?" Willow smiles, but it's Warren's gloating expression, and Warren's words. "You'd be amazed."

Giles paces around the campfire, arms wrapped around himself in the desert air. He never sees the attack coming; suddenly, he's on the ground under a pile of Scoobies (and Andrew), touching him as much as possible. And yes, he's perfectly corporeal. [The SunS membership gives a long sigh of relief and, as one, assures everyone in range that, "I knew he wasn't really dead." Your Faithful Synopsizer begins snickering.] The pile gradually straightens out, and Giles stares up at them. "I assume there's a perfectly reasonable and not at all insane reason for this, yes?" The gang explains quickly, and Giles tries to get it straight. "You think I'm evil if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and don't touch them?" Well, when you put it that way....

In the Initiative tunnels, Buffy searches for the demon and for Spike. She finds the demon and takes him down after a brief battle, then runs to Spike. As she checks him over, floodlights suddenly flash on overhead. Seems that call to the florist shop got through Riley -- he sent the Initiative back to their old stomping grounds. An obviously In Charge soldier tells Buffy, "We're to provide you with anything you need to help Ass Face here. Those were [Riley's] exact words, ma'am." As Willow strides around with her new gun, the soldier tells Buffy that the chip is degraded, and Spike wouldn't have lasted much longer. He gives Buffy a choice -- he choice only, on Riley's orders. Repair the chip... or remove it.

Kennedy is up in Amy's face, demanding to know why she did this to Willow. Amy swats her away with one blast of magic. "Just your standard penance malediction, that's all. I put a hex on her." She's amused that it kicked in after Kennedy and Willow kissed -- seems the spell lets the victim's subconscious pick the punishment. "You really hate her that much?" Kennedy demands. Amy sighs. "This is not about hate. It's about power. Willow always had all the power, long before she even knew what to do with it. It just came so easy for her. The rest of us? We had to work twice as hard to be half as good. But no one cares about how hard you work. All they care about is cute, sweet Willow. They don't know how weak she is. She gave in to evil, the stuff worse than I can imagine. She almost destroyed the world, and yet everyone keeps on loving her? So what's wrong with having a little fun, huh? Taking her down a peg or two?"

Kennedy stares at her in growing anger. "Fun? She's disappearing, fading away in that creep, and you think it's fun?" Amy: "It's just a game. It's not my fault that she's losing herself." Kennedy: "I'm going to stop you now, you know?" Amy: "Hey. I'm not the bad guy here. But I wonder where he'd be right about now..." She snaps her fingers, and in a flash of light, Kennedy is in the Summers yard, in front of a very familiar bench. A little less than a year ago, Xander and Buffy were sitting there before all hell broke loose....

On cue, Willow strides around the fence. "Did you think you could just do that to me," she demands in echo of that morning. "That I'd let you get away with it?" But Kennedy wasn't there, and doesn't understand anything except the gun Willow suddenly aims at her. [I can't do justice to the directing or the performance here; just go with it, and trade Adam and Alyson's faces out as you feel they would be most effective.] "Okay, let's not get excited--" Kennedy tries to sooth her, but Willow cuts her off. "It's too late for that. This is what I am. I made it happen, and I'll make it stop!" Kennedy: "What did you make happen?" Willow/Warren: "You were there, bitch! You saw it. I killed her!"

Kennedy corrects her gently -- "You mean him." Willow/Warren is momentarily confused. "Her, him -- you know what I mean!" Kennedy: "But you said her." Willow/Warren: "No, that was Warren." Kennedy: "No, it wasn't. You said I was there." Willow/Warren waves the gun, increasingly frantic. "It was your fault, slut! You tricked me! Got me to forget." Kennedy realizes: "Tara." Willow/Warren: "Shut up! You do not get to say her name! Offering it out to whoever's there. tricking me into kissing you! I didn't..." It's Willow's face, crumpled into tears, trying to fight between rage and grief. "I didn't mean what I'm saying, I can't make... Kennedy! I can't hold on. He's winning." Kennedy whispers, "No," as she forward, her face soft with compassion. Willow sobs, "I'm being punished. I kissed you just for a second, but it was enough. I let her go. I didn't mean to." Kennedy, softly: "Kissing me didn't mean--" Willow, screaming: "No! She was never gone. She was with me! And I... I let her be dead. She's really dead. And I killed her."

She falls to her knees, staring up at the sky, pleading. "Please, baby! I'm so sorry, come back, I'm sorry, come back!" Kennedy hesitates, then kneels at Willow's side, taking Warren's hand. "Willow. I don't think you did anything wrong. It's just magic. and I think I'm figuring the whole magic thing out. It's just like a fairy tale." She leans in close, and Willow/Warren flinches. "What are you doing?" Kennedy answers, "Bringing you back to life," right before she kisses Warren's lips, Willow's lips. Willow kisses her back through her tears, and when they open their eyes this time, it's finally Willow's face again.

Kennedy takes in the change, and smiles as she sits back. "Wow. I am good. Are you all right?" Willow shakes her head, feeling her face -- her face. "I have no idea." They stand, Kennedy holding Willow up, and start towards the house. "I'm so tired," Willow sighs. "Yeah," Kennedy agrees. "I'll make you some tea."

Spike's chip has gone into fatal meltdown, and the Initiative has given Buffy the choice of repairing it, or taking it out. The rat bastard writers didn't tell us what she chose.

Amy is still wandering around raising hell, apparently out of misplaced resentment of Willow. Whatever.

Kennedy and Willow are making with the kissage. Yay.

It was really interesting early on to see Adam Busch playing a good guy; obviously, he's displaying Willow's ticks, but when he's being sweet and stubborn and concerned, he's quite cute; all my hormones were doing a most unexpected happy dance during the first scene with 'Willow' trying to send Kennedy home. (Which is more information than my dad wanted; sorry, Dad!) But the fact remains that Adam needs to work more. The flips between Willow and Warren progressed from cool, to sad, to creepy, to downright disturbing, to absolutely heartbreaking. When the hell did Adam and Alyson spend enough time together to channel each other like this? Really excellent performances from both; we have two more contenders for the Michael Shanks "I Play My Castmates as Well as I Play Myself" Award, previous held only by cast members of Farscape.

Regardless of who was actually onscreen at any given moment, Willow's emotional progression through the episode was just wrenching. The tentative steps back into the dating pool (okay, flailing wildly after Kennedy shoved her in the water), the growing comfort with facing a new relationship, the First Kiss... and then the utter hell of being trapped in the body she most associates with pain and grief and guilt. It's unclear how much the spell is actually responsible for her growing personality changes towards Warren, and how much is just her subconscious having a field day. Whichever, her final breakdown in the yard -- the entirely consistent grief and guilt over "letting Tara go" by being happy, by moving forward, by "replacing" her -- almost had me in tears, and I've been coping with Tara's death through heavy denial. Willow would probably have had a similar reaction regardless -- it's one of those stages of grief you just can't avoid -- but Amy's little hex sure made it a lot more painful than it needed to be. Instead of tears, ice cream and heart-to-hearts with Buffy and/or Xander, we got suicidal/homicidal guilt-induced fury. Yay. We must do something really nasty to Amy, really soon. Thank god Kennedy was up to the challenge.

My Kennedy adoration continues to grow -- I really like this woman. Straightforward, knows what she wants and goes after it (occasionally quite recklessly), but has the courage and compassion to stick by her relatively new crush when things go to hell in ways she can barely understand, much less figure out how to fight. And at the end, she did figure out how to fight it, just by understanding what was in Willow's head, and caring enough to help her deal with it. Empathy isn't in your stereotypical Slayer ability bag, as we've seen demonstrated, so she's impressive. I've gotten at least one email demanding to know how I can possibly like Kennedy as a substitute for Tara; the answer is that I love her because she's not a substitute for Tara. She is entirely her own person, who just happens to share Tara's attraction to Willow, and is willing to act on it. Is this going to be a long-term relationship? No idea, but whatever it is, I'm betting it will leave Willow in a better place than she was before Kennedy came.

Amy's still a bitch, but the wardrobe has certainly improved. Very nice. But the wigging about Willow having more power leave me staring at her going, "whatever." Since she was freed from her mother's influence, Amy has never been less than powerful. Illusions, transfigurations, town-wide love spells, all basically with the flick of a wrist... This is not someone who should have inferiority issues. But she does -- what, without her mother to resent, she has to find someone else to blame because she's not all-powerful? Or someone else to blame because she's alone? Got news for you, babe -- Willow is still loved because she's sorry for what she did when she was evil. As long as you blame everyone else, and never take any responsibility for your own actions, you're still going to be alone.

Buffy and Spike are just making me happy, which is such a huge change that I'm having to pinch myself. Spike is managing to be guilty and self-sacrificing without making (too much) with the brooding, and Buffy's quiet concern is just... neat. And in the Initiative, they work as a team, which also gives me quite the happy. This means, of course, that something is about to go Horribly Wrong, but I'm trying not to think about that. Or about what choice Buffy made.... But points to Buffy's ex -- Riley is showing massive signs of maturity by leaving the choice in Buffy's hands. (Of course, the Ass Face thing was less with the maturity, but we'll forgive him because it was damn funny.)

Best Moments:
Giles fussing about leaving and all the entailed byplay. A very nice way to work all of the mini-Slayers into the episode without having to pay them. (and the bickering off-screen was just too funny for words; this is what happens when that many teenage girls are forced into each others' company.)

Buffy teasing Willow about the tea for Kennedy. So nice to see Buffy rediscovering her sense of humor.

Kennedy teasing Willow into talking. Very nice, low-key chemistry there, and Kennedy is quite the experienced flirt.

"Who're you gonna call?" and the following moment of silence. No, that phrase will never be useable again, but it's really funny.

Everyone's reaction on "Warren"'s appearance. Right on the money, but thankfully, no one descended into stupidity. Andrew was particularly perfect (as was the threat of the Aquaman Underoos.)

The Scoobies and Andrew working themselves into an increasing state of panic, this time over Giles. That just never gets old.

Willow buying the gun -- Alyson just nails Warren, while still taking it over the top into Insane!Warren.

The gang-tackle of Giles, and his reaction. I miss having Giles around all the time.

The soldier's verbatim recitation of Riley's orders. < snerk >

"That was a hell of a thing."? Someone's seen Galaxy Quest. < g >

Willow's final meltdown. Just excellent, and the kiss was a sweet way to resolution.

Questions and Comments:
This is the third time Willow has been magically attacked this season -- by 'herself' (and I still suspect the First of augmenting the hell out of the subconscious desire), by the First directly when she tried the locator spell, and now by Amy, who is in possession of information regarding potential Slayers that suggests she's an agent of the First. Three times leads me to really believe this is enemy action -- obviously, the First knows where the power is. Just how important is Willow going to be when it comes to fighting this thing?

A really nice use of the details of the morning of Tara's death, down to the (stupid) sideways grip Warren has on the gun. (Looks cool, excellent way to break your wrist and/or fingers while not hitting a damn thing.) Everything flows seamlessly.

The goofy Giles subplot was a bit blown-off, after they spent weeks carefully not letting ASH touch anything or anyone, but it was fun, which was badly needed, so I'll let it slide in light of how much everything else rocked.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5. An utterly solid episode, carried by Adam Busch and Alyson Hannigan in bravura/o performances. Iyari Limon also does a creditable job with her first major plotline, and the directing and editing were just outstanding. But while the angst was touching and absorbing, there was just enough action and silliness in the subplots to keep it from being overwhelming -- a touchy balancing act that has fallen down more often than not lately. Excellent job.


"First, last, and always, Alyson Hannigan is of divine origin. That scene in the pawnbroker's shop? She _was_ Warren." -- Mike

"Liking Kennedy more. Very headstrong, but also very devoted, and a planeload of confidence. So much so that she's willing to jump into situations that she doesn't understand for the sake of other people. Good qualities, if a mite foolhardy. And she likes Willow for all the right reasons." -- Mike

"Liked that Dawn came along on the dangerous stop-the-First mission without a second thought from the "adults." Dumb not to bring weapons, though. Yay, Giles isn't dead!...So what was the point?" -- Mike

"Ok. First, YAY! Giles isn't evil.. or at least not deadů Or, at least not non-coporeal. Which is good. But then one has to wonder how Mr. I-get-knocked-unconscious-at-the-drop-of-a-hat survived. I mean I know the guy got skills, but what did he do? Pull the James Bond move where he saw the ax in the reflection of the guys cornea? Ah well. . .I'm just glad he's not dead." -- Tom

" it just me, or does the whole thing with Giles just seem too...easy? Setting up so carefully the whole lack of interacting with matter for these weeks, then suddenly doing a "hey, he's solid!" bit where everyone not dealing with a chip or with being Warren gets to tackle him? I'm just thinking there's something more. (though, possibly I've just been watching the Jossverse for too long.) What I'm thinking is kind of like how Willow appeared as Warren this week. Yes, it was a "hex", but it shows that it's possible for someone corporeal to masquerade as someone else, possibly with an eventual melding of personae (though that could certainly have been part of this particular hex alone.) I'm just speculating, obviously, but if someone who's working with/for the First was given Giles' appearance, they'd be both a spy for the First, and corporeal. It'd explain the "offness" we all noticed initially..."
"I had a similar thought, about the same time I was starting to wonder about Amy...who was quite conspicuously picking up and handling things. And while I think she could very easily be just that screwed up at this point (there is no hell sufficient for Catherine Madison to answer for what she did to that kid), I'm not completely discounting the possibility that the First has stepped up the stakes. Even without Amy in the equation, there might just be a reason why it's apparently been lying low--to pour all its energies into one vessel, and make it at least temporarily solid, f'rinstance? Personally, I'm staying on my toes at LEAST until he takes off the damn jacket." -- Mel and Valerie

"Andrew has definitely become my favorite addition this year. More so than soulful Spike. I mean I know he was evil and all but you just got to love him. Plus I loved the way Xander is trying his hardest not to bond with him but ends up sharing all the same interests." -- Tom

"Kennedy and Willow.. is it just me or does this relationship seem a bit forced.. Not Anakin-Padme forced but in the same ballpark. I should note that if you remember I came in to the Buffy-verse when Willow and Tara were a couple.. so I'm not real familiar with single Willow. I have the same reaction to Kennedy as I had to Luka (greaseball) replacing Dr Ross on ER.. But that's just me. Anyway, I liked the whole-turning into warren thing. Plus the scene in the living room was classic. I especially like how he/she convinced Xander she/he was Willow." -- Tom

"Spike and the chip. "Ow".."Ow?" "OWWW" his various forms of being in pain were great. And if they do remove the darn thing can I just say " It's about bloody time?" I mean it obviously wasn't working earlier when he was walking around using people for pin cushions for the first.. So I say yank it out! Plus then you can have all the angst it will cause Spike "I'm not worthy blah blah blah", " I may kill again blah blah blah" definitely worth a good 20 minute scene between Buffy and spike staring at each other and talking in hush tones.. like that hasn't been done yet.." -- Tom

"Over all I was glad to see Drill sergeant Buffy to be absent this episode. I was getting pretty bored with her getting her ass kicked, giving a speech, then kicking ass.. Plus the "government conspiracy" line was classic." -- Tom

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