Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by Douglas Petrie

Dawn's Review | SunSpeak

Dawn's Review

“Potential” had… potential. I’m not even going to try and get all the different pre-slayer names straight. Watch the ep if you’re confused with my review.

Starts off, of course with a review of the last few eps. Spike stuff, Buffy stuff, “Conversations with Dead People” stuff. “Eve” stuff. Uber vamp beheading stuff. “Hard, painful…” , etc.

Hey! We’re in a graveyard! What are the chances of that? Some of the potentials are walking through and Spike jumps them. They’re both toast. Spike’s all vamped out and appears ready to bite the redhead (sorry, I don’t have them all name-straight yet), when…

It’s review time. What did they do wrong? It wasn’t a fair fight. But vamps don’t fight fair. Buffy starts lecturing. They’ve all got potential. They don’t have the slayer strengths, but they have the instincts. The analysis goes on, with Buffy in full lecture mode. Of course, they’re instincts both tell them to run, but Buffy’s not against that.

Then Buffy tells Spike to attack her. She puts him down easily, which would be more impressive if she doesn’t go all concerned afterwards, leading the potentials to speculate that they’re supposed to make out with the vamps after getting them on the ground. It’s time for the next pair to go “vamp hunting”.

Back at the Buffy house, the potentials and Buffy are all in the basement. There’s lots of giggling, talk of different physical abilities (one-arm pullup, etc.), when Buffy starts to rain on their parade. They’re all going to die, etc. etc. “Death is what a Slayer breathes.”

Anya’s “resources” have told them that the First is in remission for a while, so they’ve got some breathing room. The potentials want to know just what the first it, and Buffy tries to explain. It’s going to regroup and come back stronger than ever. Some of them are going to die, and she tells them to personally decide that it’s not going to be them. They’ve got a mission. A reason for being. They’re there because they are the chosen ones.

Dawn’s been listening in the background. When Buffy sees her, she tells to get ready for school. No “reason for being” for Dawnie. She’s last season’s reason, I guess.

Buffy’s at work, taking a phone call complaint from Xander. One of the girls walked in on him while he was in the shower. A young girl walks in to talk with her… Amanda.

Amanda starts out the conversation by asking if people think Buffy’s weird. When Buffy finally admits to a yes on this one, Amanda starts explaining that people pick on her because they think she’s weird. She wants to know if it’s ok to be mean to someone she “likes” because she thinks that’s why he picks on her.

So - Buffy segues into thinking about her relationship with Spike and her “helpful” counseling tips get kinda confusing.

When Buffy gets home, there’s a shouting match going on. Buffy stops it, when Willow walks in. The “seer” has seen that’s there’s another potential slayer in town already. Buffy reconsiders taking the potentials out for a training session with all the Bringers in town. Andrew says that it would break “their little hearts”. So it’s training. Buffy has to tell Andrew that he can’t go.

In the kitchen, the potentials are all excitedly examining a bunch of weapons. Dawn wanders through and tries to dampen their excitement. No aiming crossbows in the kitchen. Andrew is still following Buffy around and trying to change her mind. Her arms are crossed. It’s not working. He even throws in the “Spike’s killed people and he gets to go” argument. Spike arrives. They all leave except for Dawn and Andrew.

Andrew, “Do you want to play Dragonball-Z?”

Later, they’re both in a room with Willow getting all sorts of magic stuff together. Andrew is talking about people being able to shed their skins, while Dawn wants to know if the potential Potential could go to Sunnydale (hammer over head, she WANTS to be a pre-slayer). Willow’s going to cast a spell, so that the potential Potential will light up and they’re be able to find her.

Xander and Anya join them in the living room while she casts the spell. With the final egg in the fire, the room fills with a rather shaky, hovering light and a noxious spell. Anya, of course, is the first to speculate that something has gone wrong with the spell. Willow’s all feeling sorry. Dawn goes to open the front door. The light heads for her, hits her, and seems to pass through both her and the door.

Dawn starts to glow around her midsection where the ball of light hit her.

A few minutes later, the glows faded, but everyone in the room is filled with speculation over Dawn being a potential slayer. Dawn is in shock. Willow speculates about the “shared blood” thing. Dawn muses that in order for her to be a slayer, Buffy would have to die. What’ll happen now? Dawn would train with the others, and they’d have to protect her from the Bringers.

Andrew wanders in wanting to know if they’re ever going to fix the microwave. Anya reveals the news. Dawn wants them to put off telling Buffy for a while, and runs off to her room. Anya sums it up. If she gets to be the slayer, her life will be short and brutal, and if not, her life will be just unfulfilled potential.

Talk, talk, talk… some good stuff. What do you think Buffy’s going to do with the information? Would Buffy want this for Dawn. Dawn’s listening to everything they say. Xander’s being supportive, and telling them to just give her time to think it through.

Buffy’s brought all the potentials to the local demon bar, where they’re not exactly blending in. They start to get excited over the thought of not being carded, but get turned off by the thought of Yak’s urine for a drink of choice. Buffy heads into lecture mode. The demons in the bar don’t like slayers, and when she goes there, it’s to wring information out of one of the demons. Demons who are nasty. There isn’t a being in there that wouldn’t gladly rip their throat out. Etc.

So who shows up? Clem (“You think she dated him too?”). Who’ve very happy to see Buffy. She pulls him aside, and when he goes back, the potentials lean in and he does something really funky with his face that we can’t see…. They’re very impressed.

Dawn’s snuck out of the house to go walking. To think. She meets up with Amanda. Amanda’s concerned, but Dawn shrugs her off… until she sees a cut on Amanda’s forehead. She wants to know if someone hurt her. Amanda… says it’s been a bizarre night. She was at school late, tore her sweater, went to sew it up, and was attacked by something with a messed up face. A vampire. Amanda managed to trap it and now isn’t sure what to do. Dawn assures her that they can do something, and Amanda suggests getting Buffy.

Apparently there are two rumors floating around about Buffy. Either she’s a high functioning schizophrenic, or… she knows how to deal with things that have messed up faces. Dawn gets, I don’t know, affronted. Dawn figures she can handle this one.

They arrive at the school. Amanda get reassured that she won’t turn into a vampire, and then wants to know if they could turn the vampire loose on the marching band… Dawn gets the arms crossed, Buffy look, and they head off to dust the vampire. (Of course, neither of them have a stake! Sigh.)

The doors turns easily, the camera pans up and we see a very on-the-loose vampire hanging on the ceiling just waiting to drop down on them.

Dawn’s very scared. They have to get out of there. The vampire drops down, and they star running. They get to a chained up door, and Dawn has the presence of mind to smash some safety glass and grab a fire extinguisher. She can’t figure out how to use it, but she does manage to whack the vampire on the head a few times so they can run off while he’s still dazed. (Remember that “no stake” thing I noted?)

Back to Buffy, Spike and crew. Blah, blah, blah. They’re in a rather bare crypt that’s home to a vampire. It’s a vampire lecture time. Run in packs, by themselves, etc. Vampires can live anywhere they want. In the dirt, or in high style. They ask where Spike lived, and he admits to a crypt. But one with more “posh”. When Buffy says “comfy”, the potentials are very amused.

Buffy wants them to go around and find evidence that a group of vampires had been there the night before. They find a body. Buffy goes over, and suddenly their “body” is a vampire. She goes into a very long lecture about acting instead of thinking, trusting their instincts, using whatever weapons are around, knowing their environment… and then she and Spike leave them in the crypt with the vampire. Buffy thoughtfully drops her stake for them to use as a weapon. It’s lesson time.

As Buffy lectured, we saw Dawn and Amanda confronting the vampire in the chemistry lab. Dawn does pretty good for a while, throwing glass flasks and then breaking the wooden pole of the flag to use as a weapon, but the vampire gets her down.

We flash to Willow, Anya, and Xander standing outside her room door. Apparently, they figured they’ve given Dawn enough time to think things over. Anya offers to kick down the door. The door’s open, so they wander in to discover that she’s gone.

Back to the struggling Dawn. Bodies crash through the windows, dislodging the vampire. The Bringers… head straight for Amanda. They have a very big knife.

Dawn turns on the gas line and sets a jet stream of fire towards the Bringers. She and Amanda run off. Dawn confronts her, tells her she’s special. That it’s her battle. It’s something she was born to do.

Buffy, Xander and the rest arrive, there’s a fight and Amanda handles herself very well, dusting the vampire that had been hassling them.

Amanda starts to rant. Buffy said to see her if she had any problems. A vampire qualified, so she’d gone to Buffy’s house. When she got there, a big orange light hit her. Willow’s spell. Amanda’s the new potential.

Later, Amanda’s in the group of potentials as they talk about bringing down their vampire. They all suddenly knew what to do. They’re impressed that Amanda brought one down solo. The rush. Confronting the vampire gave them a rush.

Dawn offers to do more research on the First, Buffy agrees that that’s a good idea, and she takes the rest of the potentials to the basement for more training and to get Amanda up to speed. Xander stays behind to talk to Dawn. They have a very nice talk. Buffy, the rest of them, will never know just how tough it is for them. Xander’s watched all his friends get more powerful over the years while he’s been the one to fix the windows.

He saw Dawn, when she realized she wasn’t the potential, turn it over to Amanda without hesitation. He knows they have it tough. To be the ones who aren’t chosen. To live near the spotlight, but never to be in it. No one’s ever watching him. Xander doesn’t think Dawn’s special, he thinks she’s extraordinary. He kisses her on the forehead, and starts to leave.

Dawn says that maybe his power is to “see”. Xander asks if he should get a cape. It’s a nice scene.

Amanda’s back. Ok, so we only saw her for a bit when Buffy first started working at the school, but it was a nice bit of continuity.

Refs to the broken microwave, to Andrew flipping sides, to fixing of windows, etc. Lots of it. Oz is even mentioned.

The relationship between Dawn and Buffy is reinforced, but not changed. Buffy’s still overprotective, but just a little bit unknowing about what Dawn really wants and feels. Dawn’s still jealous over Buffy’s “special” status, but she’s seen what being the slayer means and knows far more about it than the other potentials.

Buffy and Spike’s relationship is in status quo. He’s helping her train, and she’s in denial. Nothing knew.

The nicest part of the episode was the last scene between Xander and Dawn. He showed an adult maturity and insight that we often don’t get to see because he’s too busy trying to lighten the mood by cracking jokes and acting the clown. It showed that he cared about Dawn as a person unto herself, not just as Buffy’s sister, and not just as an annoying teenager that used to have a crush on him. Xander likes and admires Dawn, and he let her know it. It’s just the kind of positive reinforcement that she doesn’t often get.

Best Moments:
Buffy being all concerned about Spike being hurt at the beginning, and him enjoying it.

Buffy and Spike closing the crypt doors and trapping the potentials inside with the vampire.

Clem giving Buffy a hug and then freaking out the potentials in the demon bar.

And of course… the scene between Xander and Dawn at the end of the episode.

Questions and Comments:
So just why did Dawn glow? Is it her relationship to Buffy? A little spell-ionic backlash? [ED: Pretty sure it was residual glow from Amanda on the other side of the door -- Dawn got caught in the glow-zone, as it were.]

What can Clem do to his face anyway?

Amanda’s an interesting addition to the potentials. A bit of both freak and geek to add more than a dash of personality. As more and more potentials get added, I’m having trouble telling them apart.

Rating: I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. If we took out the Buffy lecture bits… I don’t know, and I hate doing this bit of the review. This episode had a lot of good bits to it. Some nice continuity, and funny moments. But it dragged. And when Buffy went into lecture mode, it really dragged. I don’t think I’d rewatch it anytime soon, but it’s not an episode that’s on my “I’m never, ever going to watch again” list.


"50 minutes of boring, repetitive, arrogant, lecture-y crap to get to one simple, beautiful, touching scene. And it was worth it!" -- Mary Beth

Xander is my hero. And he made me cry. And I'm so so so so happy Dawn isn't a potential. But would it kill them to actually write an interesting story that *also* advances the main arc? Rather than just an hour of filler the point of which is just to advance the main arc. . . . and only a teeny tiny bit at that? There were some amusing bits -- is it wrong that Andrew amuses me so? And Kennedy's little quip when the potentials were discussing weapons and how Rona said it was "all about stick" and Kennedy said "you had me 'til then"? that was cute. and Clem was cute. But Buffy seriously needs to put some fun into this training process. Does the girl not remember how she jazzed up her own training with quips and such? I know this is serious, but holy-cow, her lectures are snooze inducing and bordering on arrogant. I miss the Buffy who understood the need to add a little levity to a dire situation! And the Buffy/Spike innuendo is just getting old. And I don't know if I can take Freaks and Geeks girl seriously as a potential Slayer!" -- Mary Beth

"But that last scene? That was a simply gorgeous culmination of 6 years of watching Xander grow up. Damn. *He* is the one who is extraordinary."
"I have to say I fell for Xander all over again in that scene; for all his faults, after all the times I've yelled at him and called him all manner of names...I wouldn't have him any other way."
"I thought it was a little long, but - I still loved it. Know they were playing me, like at the end of "Grave" - don't care. Wish Buffy would wake up and realize Dawn's hurting - but having Xander talk to her almost made it worth it." "And all the mentions in that scene about seeing, noticing...all phrases to do with eyes and vision and how that may be his power...and methinks that the Watchers need a whole host of new people, now that most of them are...well, dead. He'd need training, but the potential is there for Xander to be a Watcher."
"Well, yeah. What've I been saying since "Restless"? Big brother is watching you. Who else are they going to recruit? Dawn herself would make an excellent Watcher too, with the research skills, quick thinking, and attitude to survive this horrible job. Anya and Willow would too, but those two have the fortitude to be *really* good at it, for all the reasons Xander said."
"Well, hey. The training he'd get would be from Giles and maybe Wesley -- who neither have been Watcher Council Poster Children for a good long time -- and from his hands-on with Buffy & the Scoobies. Methinks the Watchers will never be quite the same -- and thank heaven! :)" -- Mary Beth, Mel and Chris, Dianne

"Xander is extraordinary. I'm glad Dawn isn't a potential because Dawn the Vampire Slayer would just annoy the crap out of me. I'm glad Xander is there for Dawn because Buffy isn't. I understand "big bad time" and she's got a bunch on her mind but she never really does seem to consistently pay attention to the kid." -- Maddog

"Xander, Giles and Dawn should go off to England to set up a new watcher's council. They could make up all kinds of fun, new by-laws like "If your Slayer starts shagging a vampire, stake her before it gets out of hand" or "If there's a dire prophecy tell the ENTIRE prophecy to the people involved" or "If your Slayer insists on slaying in high heels and a short skirt, reduce her clothing allowance until she agrees to wear something more appropriate for the task"." -- Maddog

"Rest of the ep... mneh. Not bad. Not great. Middlish. Loved the smart-ass remarks the mini-Slayers sometimes popped off with ("Why are you dead?" "Because the black chick always gets it first?") and watching them try to figure out what they're doing. Hated most of Buffy's speeches. I may be forced to channel Merrick in Limbo, watching and critiquing her teaching skills while eating popcorn and complaining that none of them are giving her as much grief as she gave him. "
"Ah, but see, in the TV-verse, Merrick is that stuffy old Wilford Brimley-wannabe who found her in Becoming. So it makes sense in a sad, pathetic way that she may be emulating him. :-) Although, I prefer to think that guy was just doing the real Merrick & the Watchers a favor while Merrick sobered up before taking on Buffy's training. ;-)" -- Chris and Mary Beth

"Buffy the Lecturey Vampire Slayer is annoying the crap out of me. Even with Spike hanging around looking cute with those cheekbones does not make up for "blah, blah, death, death, hardship, blah, blah, destiny". I just want to yell, "Buffy, somebody is trying to kill these girls, they know it's not a game, shut up already". Not to mention, "Hey Buffy, when the Watcher Council blew up did the stick in their butt end up in your's?" -- Maddog [ED: eerily echoing me]

"On the "preachy Buffy" thing...on one hand, yeah, she was annoying the crap out of me--especially with the first few scenes, which seemed to be nothing but Buffy lecture-o-rama. OTOH; she's not just the Slayer now. She is, in some ways, also a Watcher. As far as we know, she's the first Slayer to be actively involved in training even one other Slayer, much less several of them who are all under apocalypsey attack at once. So in some ways she's got some of the same responsibilities of first-season Giles: getting these flighty kids to take who and what they are seriously. And we all remember the festival of pomposity that was first-season Giles. While I do wish she'd lighten up a bit, she's not the taught anymore...she's the teacher."
"Doh! I just got it -- she's basing her teaching style on Giles. And, yes, early Giles, with the seriousness and pomposity, because she imprinted on that as "Watcher" -- Wesley was too much of a twit (as a Watcher, anyway - he's improved muchly since then), the lady Watcher whose name I'm spacing on was, well, evil, and Quentin and that lot just weren't of any use to her. So naturally it's the Giles style that she would return to when she's suddenly faced with the responsibility of keeping the proto-Slayers alive -- she thinks that's the way you have to do it. And, well, let's face it -- Buffy's been losing her sense of humor steadily over the last seven seasons. Maybe that's the real reason why Slayers get called so young. You catch 'em young enough, they still have a sense of the ridiculous, which _has_ to be a survival trait. (It certainly seems to have been one for Buffy!) You lose that and your sense of humor, you wind up too fatalistic, and then you wind up real dead. And a younger, looser Slayer is called. It's a hell of a system -- too bad the Council never twigged to it. :-)" -- Gina and Maureen

"[A]lso, these girls aren't Buffy. Buffy at 16 already had the basics down and wasn't facing quite the level of evil they are. They need to learn the rules now, and they need to feel like somebody's in charge. The lesson of last week's episode--if she loses face with them, she loses her army--was far from lost on her, and she may be overcompensating a tad because of it." -- Mike

"Willow was way too eager for Dawn to be a Slayer."
"Her insecurities projected onto Dawn - who has a much more realistic view of power, and its downside, it seems to me. She'd like to be special and Chosen, but she knows that there's always a price. Getting nearly sacrificed as the Key probably made that pretty clear to her. Willow has a better grip on power and its control now, but I think she'd still never go back to being NormalWillow if it meant feeling helpless and unable to help her friends. I think she'd adjust if she *had* to - but it's not a choice she'd ever make, if she had one." -- Mike and Chris

"The Buffy-Spike "tension" was... okay, I guess. Definitely funnier with the mini-Slayers commenting on stuff in the background. Amanda doesn't get on my nerves too bad, Rona is starting to grow on me, Vi finally has a personality, and Kennedy is still fun. Hate Vi's hat. And where did Chloe disappear to? Or is she off researching with Giles, and they just didn't feel like mentioning it? Or can't the writers keep track of how many potential Slayers are in the house any more either? And won't Amanda's parents wonder where the heck she go to? La la la. Never mind. Logic doesn't live on the Hellmouth. Unless it's Insane Troll Logic. (Thank you, Xander.)" -- Chris

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