Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

A solid, fun episode to start off the season, with the Big Bad rearing its head early and impressively. Cool.

Last season, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Warren went (more) psycho, shot Buffy and killed Tara. (Everyone was bitter.) Buffy survived, Willow went really psycho and killed Warren. (No one was bitter and several people cheered.) Xander averted the ensuing apocalypse, and Buffy found a new lease on life which she shared with Dawn. (Most people yawned and hit mute.) Spike went through demon-type trials and got his soul back. (Reactions to the soul were mixed, but almost everyone female and straight agreed on the excellence of the half-naked part.)

Istanbul (not Constantinople): nightfall, and a youngish woman runs through the streets in terror, being chased by two guys in robes. She runs past a half-opened door; light gleams off of the resident's very light (silver or, possibly, platinum blond) hair before the door closes tightly. The girl climbs dexterously up to the roof of a building, only to run into another robe, who grabs her and shoves her back down to the ground. She struggles against the first two robes, then her eyes go wide with terror as one of them lifts a gleaming knife high in the air, and brings it down...

"It's about power." On the other side of the world, a vampire digs his way out of his grave to hear the Slayer continuing, "Who's got it. Who knows how to use it. So," she turns to her companion, clutching a stake, "who's got the power, Dawn." The vampire continues to struggle out of the dirt as Dawn theorizes that she who has the stake has the power. Buffy gives her a big 'wronggo!' Dawn protests, "But, he's new! He might not have the martial arts knowledge they all seem to pick up." Buffy glares until Dawn sighs and concedes the vampire has the power -- preternatural strengths and skills and all that. The vampire chooses that moment to beg for help getting out of the stupid grave, in which he's still trapped. "So," Dawn says innocently, "he's got the power." "Buffy tells her to "Zip it," and hauls him to his feet one-handed. He thanks her -- and starts to go for her throat. She gets him by his first and informs him, "I'm the Slayer. You don't want to get into it with me. You want blood, you can have hers." The vampire blinks, then goes after Dawn as indicated. She pulls a good move that tumbles them both to the ground, then bounces back to her feet then slams the stake home-- off target. He throws her across the grass, then gets his arms around her in a backwards bear hug, teeth heading for her throat. Training exercise over: Buffy pulls him off and dispatches him with only a quick exhibition of kicky-fighty stuff, and one quick sword stroke, before helping her sister to her feet. She's fine. still insisting she had a plan. "I planned to get killed, come back as a vampire, and bite you." Big Sis isn't impressed. "You wanted to be trained," she points out, before admitting that Dawn did okay. "My first time out, I missed the heart, too." She gathers their stuff and they start out. "I wish vampires were all we had to worry about. Vampires, demons... they're nothing compared to what's coming. " Dawn: "I know. I just can't believe it's back." Buffy: "Believe me, I thought I was long past it. I guess you never are. Just a few more days until it starts and... then we'll never know what's coming next."

Sunnydale, in sunlight, as a youngish, very cute black guy cuts a big red ribbon and announces the opening -- on the very ground where it had been destroyed -- of the brand new state-of-the-art Sunnydale High.

Spike is no longer flipping us the bird in the credits, there are many shots of evil Willow, and all of the gratuitous Tara clips are gone. Did I mention that I'm bitter?

The rolling countryside of Westbury, England, and Giles looks very English-lordly as he rides a horse across the grounds. He is later walking up a hill to where Willow is sitting, staring at an exotic flower blooming in fast-forward. "That doesn't belong there," he points out gently, then gives Latin name and origin. Willow smiles. "Is there anything you don't know everything about?" Giles responds promptly, "Synchronized swimming. Complete mystery to me." He settles by her side for a chat, and Willow talks about pulling the flower up through the Earth from Paraguay. She's been learning from the coven about how everything's connected, and it seems to be sinking in at last. She loves the coven, thinks they're amazing women -- and knows that they can't get past their fear of what Willow is, and what she can do. "There's this look they get, like I'm going to turn them all into bangers and mash. And I'm not even sure what that is." Giles points out: "You're connected to a great power, whether you feel it or not." Willow: "Well, you should just take it from me." The flower withers as she gets up and Giles goes after her. "You know we can't. It isn't a hobby or an addiction. It's inside you now. You're responsible for it." Willow: "will they always be afraid of me." Giles: "Maybe. Can you handle it." Willow: "I deserve a lot worse. " She thought Giles had brought her to England for punishment; instead, she was taught to use her power, and she can't quite get over that. "Do you want to be punished?" Giles asks. She looks at him, "I want to be Willow." Giles: "In the end, we all are who we are. No matter how much we may have appear to have changed."

And speaking of changes... Back in Sunnydale, Xander gets out of a shiny car, wearing a gorgeous suit and carrying rolled papers as he heads up the Summers front walk. Buffy is trying to get Dawn moving to get to school, when going to Sunnydale High is actually the last thing she wants Dawn to do. Buffy is feeling conflicted. But Xander brings help in the form of the blueprints to the new high school, which his construction crews are working on. No real surprises or creepiness except one -- where the library once was, directly over the Hellmouth... is the principal's office. Dawn: "So, the principal's evil?" Buffy: "Or in a boatload of danger." Xander: "The last two principals were eaten -- who'd even apply for that job?" Dawn is ready to go, but Buffy pulls out a prezzie just for her. Dawn: "It's a weapon, isn't it?" Buffy: "Yes. It is."

But we don't get to see, because suddenly we're pulling up in front of the school in Xander's car. He's working on site after his client meeting and will be around all day; he takes off as Buffy escorts Dawn inside, power-freaking all the way. "You know, you can always drop out. Only nerds finish high school." It's on the tail end of this conversation that the aforementioned youngish, cute black guy wanders up behind them. He and his earring introduce himself as Robin Wood, the new principal. (I protest -- my principals were never hotties like this one! I'm telling you right now, Joss, Marti -- he's too cute to get eaten!!!) Buffy stammers that she expected him to "Be a bit more... aged." Robin laughs and fishes, "You see a little young to have such a grown-up daughter." He's discreetly macking on Buffy, but all she can do is freak that she has mom hair or something. Robin tells her that he actually has heard of her from the old school records, then wanders off to "get started deadening young minds." The man really is hitting insanely high on all kinds of cuteness meters. Please don't let him be evil. Dawn takes her shot to escape as Buffy continues yelling advice. Dawn finally calls back, "I know! You never know what's coming, the stake is not the power, "To Serve Man" is a cookbook, I love you. Go away!" Buffy watches her go, then begins wandering the halls suspiciously.

The new decorations are an improvement -- green and tan and quite pretty in a soothing, institutional kind of way. Buffy gets startled by a basketball bouncing down the halls, but the kid who catches it disappears around a corner. Dawn settles all alone in class, until her teacher starts the semester or torture with the dreaded "stand up and introduce yourself." Buffy wanders into the girls' room on full alert -- for anything resembling mom hair. Reassured by the mirror, she picks up a weird tied stick thingie laying on the counter. As the camera pans back up, we see a girl zombie in the mirror behind her. "You can't protect her. You couldn't protect me." Buffy whips around, but there's no one there. Except for the zombie guy in the janitor uniform who suddenly lunges at her, screaming, "Get out, get out!", before he vanishes, leaving Buffy alone again in Sunnydale High.

Dawn is in the middle of acquitting herself well in the introduction when Buffy suddenly bursts into the room yelling for her. The ensuing scene assures Dawn's utter humiliation and the total destruction of her social life throughout high school before Buffy's ignominious retreat. In the Espresso Pump a little ways away, Anya sits sharing a cup of coffee with Halfrek, and listening to a couple sing very goobily about the joys of love. "God, they're depressing," Anya observes, trying desperately to believe her and Halfrek's ensuing riff on inevitable relationship destruction. Halfrek takes the opportunity to gently hint that all of the other demons think Anya's has totally gone off her game -- she's been talking women out of really good curses, and not inflicting any that lead to death or really good suffering. "D'Hoffryn? The lower beings? They're all feeling the heat. Something's rising, something older than the old ones, and everybody's tail is twitching. It's a bad time to be a good guy." Anya finally explodes, "So, what is this? An intervention? Shouldn't all of my demon friends be here?" Halfrek smiles with great pity, and looks away. "Sweetie... they are."

Buffy tracks Xander down at the job site to convey the latest news about zombie ghosts. Xander: "So, school's back in session." Buffy: "Seems like old times." She can't quite define what they are, since they disappeared, but could touch her -- "let's just settle for dead and pissed." She's convinced the school being rebuilt means something, and even the humiliated Dawn might agree with her, as a tall boy asks to borrow a pencil -- then turns into a zombie and shoves it into her eye. Dawn screams and falls out of her chair, to find the boy's chair empty and herself unhurt and once more the object of curious stares. She quickly excuses herself to the bathroom, leaving whispers and social ostracism behind her. She huddles in a stall until she hears the quiet sobbing from outside and investigates carefully. As Buffy stalks through the school, she bumps -- literally -- into Principal Robin, who is curious why someone who graduated is spending so much time around. And in the bathroom, Dawn finds a proto-Goth chick huddled miserably on top of a toilet. "There's someone in here," the girl (later named as Kit Holburn) says miserably. Principal Robin tells Buffy that he's read her records as Dawn tries to coax Kate out, telling her that she'll believe he -- which she proves when both of them see all three zombies -- man, boy and girl -- in the mirrors, and both start screaming as the lights start exploding around them. They run for the door, but the floor opens under their feet, hands reaching through to grab them until they both fall through.

Someone else is screaming an ocean away -- Giles supports Willow as she crouches wild-eyed on the ground. "I felt... I felt the earth," she pants. "It's all connected, it is, but it's not all good and pure and roots. There's deep, deep black... There's... I saw ... I saw the Earth, Giles. I saw its teeth." Giles: "The Hellmouth." Willow: "It's gonna open, Giles. It's gonna swallow us all."

Dawn and Kate picked themselves up off the floor, bruised and battered, and start looking for a way out, as Principal Robin keeps mildly discussing Buffy's old school record with her. She'd rather be anywhere than in this conversation, and Dawn and Kate would rather be anywhere than the basement. Kate says the zombie girl in the bathroom "said that she dies here, and that everyone dies here, and that we would, too." Dawn sighs grimly. "And he I was worried about not fitting in." The girls round a corner and scream, as they almost run over the kid with the basketball (later named as Carlos Trejo) from earlier. He's looking quite freaked himself after his own close encounter of the zombie kind. They all establish relative aliveness, and total lostness; just then, the Janitor Zombie appears in the corridor behind them. Kit chants, "It's not real," but Dawn shakes her head. "Lesson 1: It's always real." Pencil Boy shows up behind them, then Zombie Girl, all being dead and not loving it. Dawn panics, then remembers her back-to-school prezzie and whips it out -- dialing Buffy's number into her new cell phone. As Buffy tries to convince Principal Robin that expelling Dawn is an excellent idea, her cell phone rings with Dawn's SOS. She tries to cover in front of the principal, who winds up with a very confusing interpretation involving a dog walker and dead dogs before Buffy heads out. She bangs into the basement just as a zombie gets his hand around Dawn's throat.

Buffy stalks through the dim halls of the basement yelling for her sister, with no luck. She tries to the phone again -- no answer at first, then she hears a voice that is so not Dawn's. "Too late," Janitor Zombie says in her ear, and she rounds a corner and finds him standing in front of her, between her and a big steel door. "But then, you're always too late, aren't you? Sure as hell didn't save me." Buffy tries to reason with him, and the other two as they show up, pointing out that she's the one who 'let' them die, not Dawn. They seem unimpressed. "Were you busy making out with your dead boyfriend while I was being ripped apart by a werewolf?" Zombie Girl demands. "Is that why you let me die?" Buffy is also unimpressed. "I'm sorry for your loss, but I don't care how you died. Where is my sister?" All three are uninformative; Janitor tells her, "All we want is for you to leave, so we can rest again." Buffy looks at him. "Actually, I'm thinking all you want is to get between me and that door. Who's for finding out why?" A fight ensures -- with three-to-one odds, Buffy is initially overwhelmed, especially since her opponents keep resetting after she beats them to the floor. Buffy finally decides to go over instead of through. She somersaults over the trio, and makes to the door, which opens from the other side -- and Spike stares back at her.

He looks like hell, by the way -- serious case of bedhead, his roots are showing badly and, oh yeah -- there doesn't seem to be a Spike at home. Buffy blinks at him in astonishment, then asks, "Spike? Are you real?" He seems to find this incredibly funny, and giggles for a second before sobering, and reaching out to stroke her cheek. "Buffy. Duck." Buffy: "What? Duck? There's a duck?" And if she'd ducked instead of blinking, the Janitor wouldn't have gotten her from behind with something heavy and solid. Spike, instead of going to her rescue, retreats back through the door. "No visitors today. Terribly busy." Buffy fights her way in after him, and slams the doors closed and locked behind her, before turning to face her one-time enemy/lover. "Nobody comes in here," he tells her. "It's just the three of us." Buffy tries to get information about Dawn, but Spike start shouting, "Don't you think I'm trying? I'm not fast," he half-sobs, "not a quick study. I dropped my board in the water and the chalk all ran. Sure to be caned." He giggles. "Should have seen that coming." He sounds like some eerie cross between William and Dru, and it's wigging Buffy out -- almost as much as the bloody knife marks on his chest he tries to hide, and she touches. "What did you do?" Spike looks away. "I... I tried to cut it out." Her cell phone rings abruptly; Dawn is okay at the moment, but trapped in a small room and still waiting for that rescue. "What do they want?" Buffy answers, "So far, to piss me off." Dawn: "Please, tell me it's working." Buffy: "Oh, I'm damage-bound." But the Slayer still doesn't know what kind of ghosts they're dealing with. "Not ghosts," Spike tells her from the floor, where he's been sitting mumbling to himself. Buffy covers the phone as he continues, sounding suddenly sane and Spike-like, but like it comes with a cost. "Manifest spirits. Controlled by a talisman. Raised to seek vengeance. A four-year-old could figure it." Buffy quickly advises Dawn to find a weapon and hang on, then hangs up, and turns to ask Spike if he's going to help. Before she can finish, he's standing again declaring, "This is my home. I belong here. Always been here. Cheers for stopping by." He turns away and mumbles, "It's in the wall," as he leans against said wall. Buffy leaves with some reluctance and a lot of wiggedness, looking backwards at him as she goes.

There's no one waiting when she busts out, and it's way too quiet. She runs though what Spike told her and something finally clicks; the cell phone gets another workout as she calls Xander. Dawn leads the other two looking for weapons; Carlos produces two bricks, and Dawn loads them into Kit's bookbag to form a crude kind of mace. "Do you think they're going to come back?" Kit asks nervously, and the Girl Zombie mocks her from the door. "We never left. We'll always be here. Just like you." She advances on them. "Why do you think we picked you? The ones no one will miss. The ones who don't belong. Spend all your time trying to get out of school, and now you'll never, ever leave. " Dawn has had enough; swinging the weighted bookbag with all her might, she attacks at a run, and Zombie Girl goes down. Janitor retaliates instantly, knocking Dawn down with one hard punch. Kit screams -- and Buffy hears her, finally getting a location to aim for. One floor above, Xander races into the girls' bathroom and nearly falls through the hole in the floor. He has a moment of construction obsession as he sees the contracts coming his way, then shakes himself and gets down to the job at hand -- finding the talisman. The Janitor bends over Dawn, telling her, "You can thank your sister for this." -- just as said sister comes busting through the door and sends him flying. "Hey, sis," Dawn says weakly. "We just have to keep them at bay," Buffy tells her in return, and grabs the bookbag to start doing so. in Buffy's hands, it's a far more effective weapon, , letting her keep al three zombies busy and at a distance. Xander crawls around on the floor and finally locates the weird tied stick thingie Buffy picks up about and hour and three four scenes earlier -- the talisman, of course. As he stands with his prize, the Zombie Girl in the mirror attacks. Dawn tosses Buffy and iron bar as she stands over the janitor. "You really want to keep this up?" she asks. He looks up at her from the floor. "What are you going to do? Kill us?" Xander continues to fight off Zombie Girl, clinging to his back, and finally manages to break the talisman in half. There's a flash of gold light, then all three Zombies disappear. In the suddenly quiet basement, Carlos asks, "Are they gone?" Buffy explains that Xander broke the talisman, leading Dawn to ask how she knew. Buffy hesitates -- and lies. "There's always a talisman. The real question is, who put it there." The three teenagers and the Slayer start making their way out.

Back in the light, Buffy gives her sister and the two new Scoobies a few words of advice involving sticking together. Kit thanks her, and hugs her; Carlos echoes the thanks, telling Buffy, "You are the coolest mom ever." Dawn's eyes get very big as Buffy's hands go to her hair again; Dawn tries to send a reassuring look as she drags her friends away. "Come on, we still have a few more classes to live through." Still upset, Buffy turns away, to run into Principal Robin yet again. He's very curious -- it seems Carlos and Kit are the only two students in school with files as thick as Buffy's was. "I was looking for one or both of them to actually implode in a fearsome way right before midterms, but here I see that you've got them socializing, hugging you, and, if I'm not mistaken, actually heading to class." Buffy tries to come up with an explanation, but he runs over her -- to ask her to come back She blinks again and he keeps going, "Look, I know this school's reputation. What, you think I got this job based on seniority? We got a lot of troubled students here, and just enough money to keep this place from caving in." Buffy tells him he may need a little more, thinking of that bathroom floor, He doesn't really listen, intent on saying his piece. "We do have a community outreach program, and the money we could pay you... wouldn't fold, but it would just be a couple of days a week...." Buffy finally catches up. "Are you asking me... to be a counselor?" No, they've got guidance counselors, Principal Robin wants someone closer to the kids' ages around. "I'm in," Buffy says instantly, and it's Principal's Robin's turn to be surprised. "You did hear the part about the money, right?" Buffy heard, and she's still in; she'd like to keep an eye on the place. Principal Robin looks jazzed as he walks off. "Look at that -- it's not even noon, and I've already bullied my first family member into helping out. I'm going to be the greatest principal ever!"

Under the principal and his new counselor, Spike crouches in the middle of his room, his arms wrapped around himself, talking to someone we can't see. "The thing is, I had a speech. I learned it all. Oh, god. She won't understand, she won't understand...."

"Of course she won't understand, Sparky," Warren says as he walks into frame, stalking around the still-huddled Spike. Yes. That Warren. All whole and reskinned. "I'm beyond her understanding. She's a girl, sugar and spice and everything...useless unless you're baking. I'm more than that. More than flesh..." His face melts and morphs and suddenly it's Glory standing before him," ...more than blood. I'm -- you know, I honestly don't think there's a human word fabulous enough for me. Oh, my name will be on everyone's lips... assuming their lips haven't been torn off. But not just yet...that's all right, though..." And it's suddenly Adam the Frankenstein monster speaking, "I can be patient. Everything is well within parameters. She's exactly where I want her to be. And so are you, number 17. You're right where you belong." The Mayor crouches next to Spike, smiling. "So what'd you think? You get your soul back and everything'd be jim dandy? A soul's slipperier than a greased weasel, why do you think I sold mine?" He laughs. "Well, you probably thought that you'd be your own man....and I respect that. But you..." His morphs again, and Drusilla's hands caresses Spike's cheek, as his caressed Buffy's earlier. He shrinks back, refusing to look at 'her'. "You never will. You'll always be mine. You'll always be in the dark with me, singing our little songs. You like our little songs don't you? You've always liked them... right from the beginning... And that's where we're going...." As she rises, she changes again, and the Master stands over his great-great-grandchilde. "Right back to the beginning. Not the bang. Not the Word. The true beginning. The next few months are going to be quite a ride." Spike rocks back and forth as the Master paces." And I think we're all going to learn something about ourselves in the process. You'll learn you're a pathetic schmuck, if it hasn't sunk in already. Look at you -- trying to do what's right. Just like her. You still don't get it. It's not about right. Not about wrong."

Whatever it is changes one last time -- and Buffy stands next to Spike, dressed in black, her arms crossed. "It's about power."

Thanks to Jennie Hayes for the transcript of both of Spike's scenes.

Spike is back, soul and all, but seems to have brought a very unpleasant traveling companion.

Willow is recovering, but is still big with the magic.

Sunnydale High has been reopened, with the principal's office over the Hellmouth. Dawn is attending and school is... pretty much the same. Oh, yeah, and Buffy's training her to slay.

None to speak of, except that Buffy didn't stake Spike on sight, which is a good sign. Sort of.

Well, it's the season premiere, so most of the character development we get has to do with hair. As usual.

Willow's hair is slightly longer and the brightest red we've ever seen it, maybe a reaction to the jet black thing. She seems to be recovering well; she's very subdued, but dealing, and her magic is a strong as ever. She seems to be finally listening to the stuff about how magic is connected to everything else, and therefore needs to be treated with respect... all of the stuff Giles should have taught her and Tara tried to teach her. That connection also seems to have given her a healthy dose of clairvoyance/precognition -- she's pretty "connected" to the Hellmouth.

Dawn's hair is also shorter and lighter, with streaky blonde highlights that make her look older and quite pretty. The only mark surviving another apocalypse seems to have left on her is a little more self-confidence, and a lot less whining. Her relationship with Buffy is easier and more fun than we've ever seen it, and I can but approve. She handles herself very well against the zombies, assuming leadership of her little gang and fighting back nicely. Kit and Carlos seem... like the Scoobies reborn, and I hope for a lot of screen time for both of them. Dawn has been in desperate need of (non-annoying) friends her own age, and these two seem to be likely candidates. Obviously, neither of them bothers with denial, and they're both up for a fight -- the best possible first signs of a Scoobie. Very cool.

Buffy grew out the short cut from last year, and it's more golden than the ash blonde -- I like it better than the short do, it's definitely not Mom hair. I find her utter obliviousness to Principal Robin's mackage quite entertaining -- she just can't see a principal as anything other than an authority figure to be avoided as necessary -- and the way she jumped on the counselor job quite cool. It probably won't pay her enough to get her out of the DMP, but god knows it's an improvement. Cheerful Buffy, paranoid Buffy, fun Buffy. Happy viewers.

Everyone else seems to have reached hair equilibrium -- Xander's is a little shorter and more kempt, and wow, the man looks good in a suit. He seems to have a pretty good grip on life, and I join the crowd hoping he keeps it. Giles is Giles -- caring and compassionate and damned sexy on that horse. And he finally gave Willow the "Not Addiction" speech the rest of us have been yelling for sixth months, which is of the good. And gotta slap Halfrek. Gotta do it. Mega-bitch, determined to make Anya back into what she thinks is proper, but totally destroy her self-esteem in the process so she remains a not-threat. Bitch. But I'm happy that Anya seems to be staying on the side of the angels, even if her wardrobe needs serious work -- good hair, but that blouse? What are going for, fifties secretary? I don't think so.

And you may have gathered that I adore Principal Robin. Way fun, way cool, in mild denial about the causes of trouble at Sunnydale High, but aware of their existence, and has the sense to hire Buffy to start dealing with it. Sweet, compassionate, smart, gorgeous to a ridiculous degree (Kiki saw it first and mocked me excessively about what my reaction to the new principal was going to be; I'm disgusted to report she was dead-on). Yeah. We need to keep this one.

Best Moments:
The entire Istanbul sequence was very cool, if excessively mysterious; I want to know if that was Spike, or if our heads were being messed with.

The vampire getting stuck in the grave. I'm amused.

The entire Giles/Willow scene -- I liked Willow better than I have in almost two years.

Meeting Principal Robin. Way to make a first impression, Cuteness!

Both of the initial Zombie encounters. The bathroom scene was nicely creepy, and the pencil scene a real freak-out.

Anytime Spike was on-screen. I know, I know, but the was really awesome!

And that last scene, with the First (if Kiki et al are right) doing its shifty/morphing thing, and all of the past bad guys? Too. Cool. For. Words.

Questions and Comments:
So, why isn't the infamous Janice going to Sunnydale High. She seems to live fairly close to Dawn, judging by how often they met up on foot. I'm not complaining, mind you -- just asking.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5. The most solid season premiere since When She Was Bad, way back in second season, and a welcome change from such offerings as Buffy vs. Dracula. :p Solid, entertaining, and getting right into the season's arc -- gotta love it.


"So first list prediction on the Big Baddish thing that did the reverse order of Big Bads from previous seasons: The First Evil. I remain fully content to be proved wrong, however."
"Oh, there's no way you're wrong. I got that when Glory became Adam; although, to be fair? Its first line from Warren was a direct quote from "Amends" (I am beyond what you can conceive of) or some really close paraphrase. See, I don't think you get your soul back for free... or if you do, then the First Evil would be all too aware that you might be the Souled Vamp of prophecy. And would therefore feel obligated to drive you crazy --- and kill either the Slayer or yourself. Spike *SO* should've read the fine print on that deal. "
"I don't think killing the Slayer matters. I think it's more that a souled vamp turning evil of his own free will, with a soul, would give a serious advantage to the End of Days. That's why the focus on Angel. Still think Wolfram and Hard should just leave him alone, or make sure he achieves perfect happiness. I mean, duh. Best way to get him eeeevil. Except that I'm fairly sure that they want evil-with-soul, not evil-without-soul. So if there's a souled vamp on each side at the EoD, do they cancel each other out, kind of like Thor and the Midgard Serpent during Ragnarok (Thor & the Midgard Serpent get what is essentially a mutual kill)?" -- Tina and Kiki (with Tina being over-educated again)

"Now the speculation comes down to is Spike or Angel the one? Obviously according to your recaps The First thought Angel was it, what with the tormenting and gnashing of teeth and all. . . But if that was him or her, or it last night then maybe it seems to have changed its mind (Bill Murray saying "Oh Johnny did you back the wrong horse" from GBII comes to mind) My bet on the chip would be he still has it. Just cause he got a soul doesn't mean Mortal Kombat guy did anything about the chip. . . Which would mean Spike falls on the side of angels.. (hehehe pun intended there.. see? even us rookies can get into it)"
"< snerk > Yup, I see no reason for the chip to have been spontaneously de- commissioned, but that doesn't guarentee he's on the side of the angels . After all, the Master (1st season baddie, the one with the nasty bat-face) did plenty of damage while confined to his cave. All Spike would have to do is get a nice nasty gang together to do the actual punchy-fighty-munchy parts. Then again, this would require Spike to have both strategy and patience... and whuile he is quite capable of the first, the latter seems always to escape him. :)" -- Tom and Dianne

"OR... and here's my second theory.... That chick? The one being chased through the streets? Saw someone - and I'm pretty sure it *was* Spike - in a doorway as she was running away. If he interfered with the Robed Guys, and they were Harbringers of the First, then I'd think they'd retaliate for his interference by haunting him. Plus, there's no way they'd be able to pass up the opportunity to cause him pain: he's against everything they stand for (freedom of choice, hope, fighting for the right even if you're bad). So either that was a set-up, or a good opportunity for them to grab him."
"...and now I have to go back and check, though, because it would really make sense, especially given BigEvil's comment about him being all "do-good-y" or whatever. He hasn't exactly been souled long enough to have recouped, gotten a rep as a goody-two-shoes, *and* become a tormented hermit. There's only so much *any* vamp can manage in three months! " -- Kiki and Dianne

"I don't think [the Big Bad] can be anything else (although I still argue that it needs to be called simply "The First", as Giles' book referred to it -- "First what?" -- "Evil." was interpretation on his part). And it's mighty interesting that it seemed to be sort of feeding on Angel's unique resouled misery/conflict in "Amends", and now seems to be be doing the same to Spike. No coincidence there, methinks. Jack came up with an interesting twist on that old theory of mine about the First and the SlayerSource being one and the same: what if they're splinters of something that was *once* one and the same? What if it needs to do away with the Slayers to get back that part of its power and become whole again? It seems likely that the girl Turkey was a proto-Slayer, a successor of Faith's; if the First can kill 'em faster than the universe can call 'em... Well, among other things, we get the setup for Fray, but that's a slightly different topic." -- Valerie

"Loved seeing this new tortured Spike. He's so much more fun when he's not the "I'm so evil" vampire."
"I liked Spike evil. I remain firmly in the camp of those fond of evil Spike. Not to say that what they're doing to him isn't interesting, though, because it is." -- Judy and Tina

"Someone really needs to get Spike out of the basement. I get the feeling he's practically been built over when they rehabbed the school. And what do you want to bet he's *under* the principle's office (or damned close to)? Poor guy's camped out in BigEvil's living room, for crying out loud. " -- Dianne

"[L]ike Kate, the GothGirl Junior Slayerette. Wanna see more of her. " -- Tina

"OK, I really took to the principal. This, of course, means he's GOT to be dead soon, or evil. Not that I'd argue if he wasn't. " -- Jennie

"First off, I'd like to see if this principal can break the bad streak of Sunnydale HS principals being eaten alive."
"Hehehehe indeed. . . although you never know.. with his office directly over the hell-mouth, he could be the one doing the eating...."
"< pondering > Possibly. But I like him, which probably means he's very doomed. "What, did you think I got this job because I had seniority?" < snerk > Plus, he's giving Buffy the benefit of the doubt. That means one of two things: Either he has evil ulterior motives, or he's going to be eaten alive." -- Tina and Tom

"I think he might [survive] because: (a) he's taller than the other two, (b) he wears earrings, and we know that a good fashion sense can save your life, and (c) he was macking on Buffy. Since we know he probably doesn't have a chance, he is thus likely to survive the year. Keep thinkin' positive, Robin. If you're the best principal they've ever had, it'll be because you had no idea what you were getting into."
"< giggle > < snicker > < snerk > So the taller means longer lets that might let him run faster, right? I didn't really notice the mackage of Buffy, but now that you point that out, yeah. Imagine Dawn. "Buffy! You're dating my *principal*? Okay, that's worse than Angelus and Spike combined. Do you know how much you're *embarrassing* me? God! Mom would *never* do something like that!" -- Tina and Kiki

"Spike seems to be matching Drusilla in the crazy department."
"With cause, though, let's face it. Damn, James broke my heart. I was ready for every variation of crazy you could come up with, but this wasn't the one I foresaw--- because I didn't realize something else was going to be tormenting him too.... " -- Tina and Kiki

"Willow seemed more Willowy than I've seen her over the last two years--- sick, and older, and recovering and sad... and Willow. It was *great*. I like her again, and I can't even tell you why. Everything in England made me happy. "
"A "me too" on this, with the addition of being really, really pleased with "It's not a hobby, and it's not an addiction. It's inside you now." After the dissatisfaction with the "reduction" of the Willow-and-magic storyline last season to a simplistic addiction allegory, that was an *exceedingly* welcome line to hear. And I adored Giles' manner in dealing with her. "
"What you guys said. < g > It looks like they may have listened to us and have started to make sure magic isn't completely simplified into a drug. Before last season, it's always been treated as something incredibly and amazingly complex." -- Kiki, Valerie and Tina

"Plus Xander seems to be Grown Up Dude again, which is where he should be and where he should actually remain. Could we please not have any more Xander-reverts-to-thirteen plotlines? Please?"
"Your keyboard to Joss' ears. *sigh*" -- Tina and Valerie

"Oh, and can I just say that after several previous lackluster season premieres, I'm glad to see one that I enjoy? That I really, really liked? Happiness!"
"Ditto! Love the baby Scoobs (Kit and Carlos are types we haven't seen before, and they both seem potentially quite cool), love the training session with Buffy Chang Caine and Grasshopper Dawn (and the guy who got stuck on his way out), and Buffy as a counselor of some type is an idea whose time has come. Plus, Giles in a duster. No bad there." -- Tina and Kiki

"I just wanted to know if anybody else got a rather nasty smirk on their face when Giles asked Willow if she wanted to be punished."
"I do have to say that, yes, there was not only a smirk, there were Comments. "Oh, yes, Giles, please punish me. I've been a baaaad girl. I need a spanking.""
"*blink* In which, she can get together with Wesley "I'm a bad, bad man (I should be punished)" Wyndham-Pryce, and they'll both be happy. Or at least entertained. All that aside, I liked the next line; I liked what it said about Willow, that she wants to be Willow again, but hasn't quite internalized that killing someone is included in that."
"On the other hand, the image was not helped by juxtaposing it with Willow's reference to Dumbledore. That just went in all kinds of bad fanfic directions I didn't need to think about."
"Could not quite wrap my brain about that line either. It just made me blink too hard. Too many references compete for brainspace, and then the server to the reality goes down." -- Maddog, Amparo, Kiki, Amparo

"Someone on one of the newsgroups pointed out that Hallie mentioned knowing Anya during the Crimean War. Something about this bugged me at the time, but I couldn't pin it down... until it was pointed out that the Crimean War was over in the 1860's, and Hallie, if she was Cecily, didn't become a vengeance demon until 1888 after William's death. On the other hand, she could have been a vengeance demon at the time (which explains a lot) or possibly she was spending some time as a mortal, like Anya did for the last three years. On the other *other* hand, you can go with meerkat's explanation: "Joss. Math. 'Nuff said." " -- Chris

"...I really, really liked "Lessons." Better than any season opener since WSWB. I don't know what it was (aside from the last scene, which was *wow*!) but it clicked with me."
"I don't know what can be said about that scene the hasn't already been said. James was fantastic, and it's the first time since Harsh Light of Day that I haven't really minded Spike's non-Evilness. I've discovered Spike torture is fun, too." -- Lizbet and Julie

"And while I'm on it, elsewhere there been all the speculations about that Spike & not Angel would be the one to Shanshu, but I have a question. Why can't the prophecy be about them *both*? One lives and one dies. The live/die part may not be the only thing Wesley got wrong. He may have missed a plural or two. Then it becomes who does what? And is dead, dead or does it mean going back to evil badness with no further chance of redemption? " -- Julie

"So I'm very excited about Buffy this year. I want to know what's going on with Spike, and the Parade Of Baddies. (If it is the First, trying to freak Spike out, why put an image of the Mayor in front of him, the one baddie he wouldn't have known?) I have to say, the Mayor still counts as the freakiest baddie; I attempted to retreat into the stuffing of the couch when he showed up. Yeeeeeee. And what does it mean, in that lineup of baddies, that Buffy was there? " -- Lizbet

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