No Place Like Home

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Perri's Review | Mary Beth's Comments | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Yay, all our questions about Dawn are finally answered! Unfortunately, that leaves lots of new questions....

Two months ago -- Two sandal- and robe-clad monks scurry down a corrider, carrying candles and breathing heavily. The race into a large room where a third monk waits, and immediately settle into position to beging chanting a ritual. Unfortuantely, it's hard to concentrate when someone is trying to beat in the door. "Our lives aren't important," one of them yells. "We have to protect the key!" The ritual continues and there is a bright flash of light just before the door explodes....

Now -- Buffy is outside an old warehouse, hard at work beating out some stress on a vampire twice her size. Her psychological problems outmatch his and he crumbles to dust, as a flashlight hits buffy's face. A security guard, assuming she's there to party, chases her off. As she goes, he holds out a softly glowing sphere. "What is that thing?" he asks, assuming she dropped it. "Let you know as soon as I find out," Buffy answers, walking off as she studies the mysterious globe.

The next morning finds something even more fearsome -- Buffy cooking breakfast. Bickering with Dawn is interspersed with cooking for her mom, who is still sick, having bad headaches although the doctors can't find anything wrong with her. Joyce tells Buffy not to worry, while cuddling Dawn, her little "punkin-belly." A little big sister envy hits, before it's shoved aside by the need to be there for Giles' grand opening. She drags Dawn with her to give Joyce some peace and quiet.

It's quiet at the store... too quiet. Even after opening (and after Buffy makes Giles take off the silly wizard hat and robes), the only sound is Dawn babbling and breaking things. Giles is distracted from his visions of bankruptcy by worry about Joyce, until Willow and Riley arrive, and Buffy seizes the moment to show off her new acquisition. Riley is all for jumping out on patrol immediately, but Dawn squashes that idea, innocently and cluelessly repeating to her sister, "Remember? You said it'd be easier if you didn't have to look out for anybody?" Buffy issues a hasty denial that she meant Riley and he tries to blow it off, until Dawn makes it even worse. "She just said you look even cuter when you're all weak and kitten-y, and she'd better go solo, or you'd get hurt." Imagine Riley's joy. He heads off to pound on something and Buffy heads off to pound on her sister. Willow ties to intercede, but Buffy is at the end of her rope, being the responsible one saddled with 'the baby'. "You have no idea how much I wish I were an only child these days."

The girls arrive home to find Joyce on the couch, pale and in obvious pain. A frantic Buffy heads out to pick up the prescription medication, and runs into Ben, the orderly they met on their last trip to Sunnydale General. As he attempts to pick her up, he's distracted by a patient trying to get off the gurney. Buffy helps, and recognizes the lunatic as the secuirty guard from the previous night. "They're coming at you," he raves. "Don't think you're above it, missy. They come through the family. They get to your family." A thoughtful -- and freaked -- Buffy heads for home. As, in the warehouse that held a ritual two months ago, a monk kneels as another door is battered in. It finally crumbles under the onslought of.... a blond in a slinky red dress and high heels, who informs the terrified monk, "I have been looking all over for you!"

Giles, meanwhile, is having a great day -- his first customers and his first sale have him positively giddy. Anya wanders in commenting on the price of the conjuring powder, offering to hook Giles up with a direct source, and bemoaning her lack of resources. But retail considerations are set aside as Buffy bursts in with the news that her mother is being attacked supernaturally, in an attempt to get to Buffy. As they begin to research, The Beast stalks the warehouse, bitching loudly and completely insanely at the monk, now tied to a chair. Bouncing between sounding like a self-help group, a New Age trendoid and a thundering loony, she demands over and over, "Tell me where the key is." "I will tell you nothing," the monk groans in painwracked defiance. The Beast goes even crazier, sniffling off in insanel yhurt feelings. "You like to torture me," she accuses the monk -- just before her brain apparently shortcircuits, until she grabs the head of another prisoner, she seems to draw energy from him. He collapses, drooling, and she stands up, sighing heavily. "That is so much better."

Xander wanders into the magic shop as Giles heads for is own nervous breakdown -- business at the shop is no longer a problem, unless you count too much of it. Willow and Anya are working the counter; what Anya lacks in courtesy social skills, she's making up for in efficiency and skill. As she wraps up a package, she thinks out loud to the still-researching Buffy about a cute little sorceror she used to know. "He had this one spells demons just hated called a tirer la couture," she says -- a trance to see spells. Maybe, as the Slayer, Buffy can pull off the same trick, Anya and Giles suggest, so she can see what's hurting her mom. Buffy jumps at the idea, and heads own to try it.

It's harder that it sounds, even for a Slayer (and even after the Slayer's boyfriend realized she doesn't actually need him there like she said, which he swears he can deal with, and after the Slayer's little sister is summarily ejected from the room). But Buffy settles into it with a will, and we eventually get a way-cool montage of Buffy, superimposed over the world she's trying to see. Slowly, carefully, getting used to her new eyes, Buffy stands up and walks through a house which flickers strangely in and out of light and dark. Her much-recovered mom is untouched by magic, she realizes quickly, but there's something else strange. A picture on the wall flickers, Dawn fading in and out; upstairs, Dawwn's room does the same. One moment, a teenage girls' room, the next... a storage area. And Dawn herself fades in and out of the Slayer's new vision of reality. "You're not my sister," Buffy whispers.

"What are you?" Buffy demands, grabbing Dawn and slamming her into a wall. Dawn stares back, confused, scared and just beginning to be angry. She is saved by a call from Giles; he's discovered that the glowing orb is called a Daigon Sphere, and it's a protective device aginast an ancient evil, That Which Cannot Be Named. Buffy curtly tells Dawn she's going out, for Slayer stuff. "Do you really think I care you're the Slayer?" Dawn demands coldly. They stare each other down for a long moment. "Mom's coming back," Dawn points out. "I'll be back first," Buffy assures her. A nice outlet for her temper presents itself in the form of Spike, lurking behind the tree Angel used to lurk behind and claiming he's just "Out for a walk. Bitch." Aftel the usual round of punches and insults, they have a non-enlightening and, from the love-struck Spike's side, more than slightly confusing conversation before Spike escapes, leaving Buffy to stare in bemusement at the many of cigarette butts he left behind. Like he'd been standing there staring at her house for a while....

Joyce, sick again, arrives home to find only Dawn waiting for her, with a smile and a homemade cup of tea. Back at the warehouse where she found the mysterious Daigon Sphere, Buffy's investigations lead her right to the tied up and tortured monk. His frantic gestures of warning are unnecessary; Buffy stands in time to block the Beasts's giggling attack from behind. And gets thrown across the room as Blondie turns out to be a lot more trouble than she looks.

Meanwhile, a wiped-out Scooby Gang celebrates closing time, too tired to do much more than complain about pain. "I think I liked it better when demons would just crash in here and tear the place apart," Giles moans. "It just seemed so much simpler." Things aren't helped by Anya, still full of pep, totalling receipts and offering sales advice to the vastly too-tired-to-care Giles. He finally gets her to shut up -- by offering her a job. She accepts with a happy smile. And Buffy gets thrown into another wall by the walking Severe Personality Disorder, who is unaffected by the best of Buffy's punches. Buffy decides to take retreat as the better part of valor, and grabs the monk before diving through a window. The Beast watches in fury, and throws a temper tantrum -- not the best move for someone that strong in a building that old. Which promptly crumbles around her ears. It's unlikely she's dead, but at least she's distracted for a while.

Buffy and the monk collapse by the fence, safe for the moment. But the monk is dying and he knows it; there's only time to tell the Slayer what she must know. "You must protect the key," he gasps. The key is energy, that opens a door. "For centuries, it had no form at all; my brethren, its only keepers. Then, the Abomination found us. We had to hide the key -- gave it form, molded flesh, made it human, and sent it to you."

Buffy's eyes grow very wide as the pieces fit together. "Dawn."

The monks sent the key to the Slayer as Dawn, rebuilding Buffy and Joyce's memories in the process. "What is she?" Buffy demands.

"Human. And helpless."

"She's not my sister."

"She doesn't know that." And with that bombshell, the monk dies in Buffy's arms.

She arrives home to a sick mother, and a sister who isn't what she seems -- and who leaves the room as soon as Buffy arrives. Buffy follows her to her room. "I'm sorry," she says quietly; Dawn, still deeply hurt, isn't ready to hear it. But worry over their mother overcomes their confrontation, and Buffy settles onto the bed next to her... sister. Stroking Dawn's hair gently, she wordlessly tries to convince them both that everything will be all right. Neither of them believes it.

Dawn is (big surprise) not Buffy's sister, but the physical embodiment of a massive mystical energy source called 'The Key'. She was sent to Buffy to be protected from 'The Abomination', and everyone's memories were rewritten to accept her.

Anya is working for Giles in the magic shop.

Joyce continues to be sick, her headaches getting worse and more constant. Buffy suspects a supernatural attack, but can find no evidence to prove it.

The Abomination/The Beast is in town, and has more psychological problems than a group therapy convention. She's also uber-powerful and her hobbies include sucking out people's minds and hunting for The Key -- aka, Dawn.

Nothing to speak up, except the one between the sisters.

Okay, major sympathy going out for both of the Summers sisters in this ep. Buffy's life was turned upside down two monhs ago and she didn't even know it. At least part of her 'recent' frustration with DAwn, of course, is that Slayer part of he that knows something is wrong standing up and shouting to be heard. Her conscious knowledge now may make it easier for her to deal with DAwn... or harder, if she gives into the resentment for what was shoved into her life. And when she has to deal with protecting Dawn (and living with Dawn) on top of having to be the functioning adult for the house as her mom gets sicker, and if the Beast keeps wandering around making life even harder.... Wow, it's going to really suck being the Slayer for a while....

And poos Dawn. She doesn't know what she is; she just knows her mom's sick and her sister is having periodic psychotic breakdowns. < g > Yeah, I know, but she doesn't. Hopefully Buffy will grow some patience with the little idiot (who really should have some clue of when to keep her mouth shut at 14, but spazzness happens), but I'm owrried about what's going to happen when that "Key" has to be used...

Is Spike in Love the cutest thing ever or what? He sounded like a 13-year-old talking to his crush when Buffy pulled him from behind that tree. Oh, he's trying to do the Big Bad thing, but he's failing so miserably! The funny thing is that, as it's being written, this is not out of character behavior for Spike, except for the object of his affection. We know he has the capacity for love; the whole reason he came to the Hellmouth in the first place was not looking for power or glory. he just wanted to cure Drusilla. It makes you wonder what kind of a man William was before he became William the Bloody -- before he became Spike. And, by the way, was he "the Bloody" pre vamping, or post? Or was he just some innocent schmuck who fell for Drusilla and got brought across to give her a chew toy. What would he have been if his molding influnce after turning hadn't been Angelus? Still a killter, certainly, it's the nature of the beast. But as bloodya nd ruthless as his reputation says? Who knows? Which is not to say that I'm in favor of Spike suddenly getting all touchy feely, or turning into a "little fluffy puppy with bad teeth". Spike is fun because he's a walking attitude problem, because he says and does the most terrible things in such a horribly funny way. But given that a dechipped and evil Spike can't coexist in the same town with Buffy anymore, I am desperately looking forward to where they take this. Poo Spike.

Giles is so cute as a capitalist! He had no idea what running the store would actually involve of course; let's face it, the Sunnydale High School library wasn't exactly high traffic. But business should level off and he'll be able to deal. And it's good for him! He offically has a life! And no one wandering through a magic shop is even going to blink at any overheard Scooby Gang converations, which is a definite plus. His smartest move, though, was hiring Anya. And get the feeling that the Scooby Gangers are going to get pulled in regularly to play cashier and stock boy...?

And how perfect a job is that for Anya? Years of experience in the field, the somewhat ruthless level of practicality that will make up for the business expertise that Giles doesn't have.... Polish up those ol' customer service skills, and she'll be perfect! Best of all, it's a life outside of Xander, and visible means of support! It's < gasp > potential character development! We've actually gotten more development on Anya in the last few episodes than we'd gotten since she showed up to ask Xander to Prom, way back when, and I'm delighted! She's sucha fun character, and getting more so the less one note she becomes.

Poor Riley. It has to suck, turning from a sueprhero who can keep up with his equally heroic girlfirend, into a regular guy who, at this point, does need to be protected. I don't think it'll last too long; Xander has done a great job through the years without the kind of special training and fighting skills that Riley has; those should stick with him, even when his artificially-induced strength doesn't. And he's still pretty good at not letting his resentment/regret get the better of him, which is cool. He and Xander really need to have a few heart-to-hearts on the subject, though...

Gotta love the Dawn storyline, if for no other reason that it's giving us a chance to see Joyce again. She was virtually ignored last season, but Kristine Sutherland is doing an awesome job stepping back up to the plate, both as the mother of the bickering duo, and as the victim of whatever is wrong with her. Supernatural? Natural? Who knows. But whatever it is, it's giving her and Buffy a chance to grow closer together, as Buffy reverses their roles and takes care of her mom, and giving Kristine a lot of great material to work with.

Not much for Willow and XAnder this week around, except for the cute Xander scenes with Anya and Giles, and Willow back in Research Girl mode. I get the feeling Alyson has her work cut out for her in the next episode, so I'm not complaining.

Best Moments:
That priceless, utterly classic moment between Giles and Buffy in the shop. These guys have been watching Farscape; they've discovered the value of those long, wordless looks, and the volumes they can convey. You could hear Buffy's 'Giles, you look like a big dork' without her saying a word, and Tony's expressions were absolutely hysterical.

Willow sympathizing with Dawn. Considering Willow was almost that big of a spaz, just more terminally shy about it, way back when we met her, it makes sense. How far we've come...

I can't possible pick out any Beast moments -- the character is a great, wonderful villain who promises to be a lot of fun if they can keep both the lunacy level and the threat level up. Any time she was onscreen was both hilarious and seriously creepworthy.

Ditto with the scenes in the shop. Anya turning into Super Saleswoman was hilarious, as were Giles' periodic whimpers.

Buffy's spell just rocked. Outstanding work fromt eh editors and the FX crew.

Buffy and Dawn's 'fight'. Gripping at the time, and actually painful when you watch it the second time around knowing how scared and confused Dawn is.

Spike. there was nothing about that scene that wasn't hysterical, although the "Out. For. A. Walk... Bitch" moment is up there with funniest moments ever. James' delivery is dead perfect and the expression on Buffy's face as he leaves is wonderful!

The post-fight discussion. Michelle T. gives a gorgeous multi-level performace; you can read anything you want into her lines the first time around. Very creepy.

Giles hiring Anya. Just when you were sure he was going to start screaming, he does the only sensible thing left to him. And her little happy almost-bounce is adorable.

The awesome fight scene between the Beast and Buffy. Have I mentioned how much the Beast amuses/creeps me?

The monk's death scene. SMG delivers the goods right down the line, from anger to horror to fear and loss and everything inbetween.

As both she and Michelle do in that last scene together. Beautiful directing and again, they say more with silence than they could with words. Awesome scene.

Questions and Comments:
What's up with Ben the Intern? He's too cute to be a random recurring character; there must be something up with that.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5. I'm keeping some in reserve since they keep getting better this season, but it rocked alot.

Mary Beth's Comments

Okay . . . ow. Buffy knows Dawn's not her sister; she has to be tormented by that as it is. But she's got a sudden and weighty responsibility. And who can she tell? Not her mom. Who will she confide in? Giles? Willow? Anyone? If anyone else finds out, that's got to weaken the spell and make Dawn more vulnerable.


The moment between her and Dawn at the end was so sad -- for Dawn, for Buffy. Just like that Buffy has to swallow any of the jealousy or pettiness . . .or her desires to have her real life back.


I'm really really really worried about Joyce. I'm worried that whatever's wrong with her *isn't* supernatural but is some kind of bizarre coincidence brain tumor that let her see through Dawn for a moment and that will cause serious pain and heartache. Even if that's not the case, I worry that her illness is brought on by whatever's going on with Dawn, which puts Buffy in such a tough place.

I also worry because I don't trust Intern Ben at all. He's there for Joyce. He's there with the crazy guy. The crazy guy was going on about how the medicine doesn't work. Just a feeling. . . I don't trust him. Plus, the actor is way to good and cute for a small recurring role. :-)

The Evil that Can't be Named - a.k.a. the Blonde Bitch from Hell? Hmmm. . . is this in any way related to the First Evil? Which, incidentally, looked suspiciously like a *spider* in its final incarnation before it disappeared in Amends. Is she the actual evil? Or just an emissary? And what's the deal with her sucking something out of people's heads to keep herself sane? Is this how the guard and that other guy went crazy? Was that guy dead or will he show up insance later? Hmmm. . . Which again makes me wonder just what's affecting Joyce. . . .

Spike. . . Spike. . . Spike. . . Poor Spike. He's got it so bad, he's taken up Angel's old brooding spot. This is not good. And with Riley feeling inferior, I fear where this is going.

You know for an episode that revealed quite a bit. . . I sure as hell have a lot of questions.

I hate Joss.

But I love this show. I do. I'm confused and curious and the writing and this story are intricate and amazing and the characters are familiar and great and questions are being answered and I'm a happy fan! You know what that means, right?? Pain! Heartache!! Just around the corner!!

Moments I loved:

Giles and the hat and cloak -- the shared look between him and Buffy. The silence. Me saying "Take off the hat, Giles." And he does.

Anya and her business sense. Whee! Something for her to do. Xander -- well-dressed and acting all confident and suave -- teaching her the finer points of customer service. *g*

Willow failing present wrappage.

Buffy trying to figure out "hand over fist." :-)

Xander missing the library.

Giles having an old-fashioned cash register.

The wicked cool photographic effects while Buffy looked around the house under the trance -- especially the room fading in and out. Freaky.


"I kind of was hoping for something...I don't know... more original to explain where Dawn came from. Instead I (and everyone watching with me) agreed the plot was a bit of a rip-off of a movie that wasn't all too good to begin with. Anyone remember Luc Besson's The Fifth Element? I think some Buffy writers did.

Buffy Fifth Element
Unnamed Evil Unnamed Evil
Formless Power Formless Power
Power gets turned into a girl (Dawn) Power gets turned into a girl (Leeloo)
Girl(Dawn)is both powerful and vulnerable Girl (Leeloo) is both powerful and vulnerable
Only monks know the truth Only monks know the truth
Monks enlist unwilling person (Buffy) to protect girl/power. Monks enlist unwilling person to protect girl/power.
Only girl/power can stop the evil. Only girl/power can stop the evil.

I was really hoping for something different." -- Gina.

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