The Real Me

Written by David Fury
Directed by David Grossman

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Whee! Now this is what Buffy is all about, and stopped being last year. But we're back in the saddle again! Yay!

It's a light, quiet room, made for meditation and study. Giles' voice intones hypnotically, coaching his Slayer as she focuses on the 2X4 standing on end in front of her. In one motion, she breathes, and performs a perfect handstand on the wood. Carefully, she lifts one hand, her balance perfect. And, across the room, a hand stacks crystals, which fall with a clatter. As does the Slayer, flat on her back on the floor. Jedi moment broken, Buffy stares up into the face of her... little sister. "Can we go now?" Dawn demands.

Dawn has a lot to say, as it turns out -- like any other 14-year-old, she likes to write in her diary. Nobody understands, nobody cares, nobody has any idea what it's like to be the younger sister of the Slayer. Who is, by the way, obnoxious, spoiled and useless, as far as Dawn is concerned. "I could so save the world if someone gave me superpowers!" she complains, as we see the smooth morning routine of the Summers woman -- Joyce making coffee, Buffy slicing a banana, Dawn stealing Buffy's cereal bowl and the last of the milk. Before the two girls can escape, Joyce gets the brilliant idea of sending Dawn off with Buffy and Giles; their shopping trip for supplies for Buffy's new Slayer training can, Joyce decides, easily be continued into shopping for school supplies for Dawn, while Joyce prepares for a gallery opening that night. Trapped, the girls glare at each other.

Buffy is cheered by Riley's arrival; Dawn is merely disgusted by things like making out and Riley calling her "kid." Buffy, having forgotten about making plans with Riley, has to blow him off for Giles and training; Riley, being the sensitive, easy-going guy that he is, accepts this cheerfully. Buffy pouts about it to Giles, who is more distracted by Dawn playing with the radio in his bright, new, shiny-red sports car. He's also not sure Buffy is ready for the commitment of her new training, which even he, as a Watcher, isn't sure of how to go about. And he's not quite sure why he bought the sports car.

But he stops to show it off to Willow and Tara regardless. Dawn likes Willow a lot ("She's the only one I know who likes school as much as me."), and approves of Tara. Dawn, it seems, is well aware of witchcraft -- but no one's telling her what else Will and Tara do together. The entire mob heads for The Magic Box (the magic store), as Buffy burbles to Willow about her new training plans -- of which Willow is entirely supportive -- and breaks the news that she has to drop the drama class she'd been planning to take with Willow. Willow's support suddenly drops as she pouts. Loudly. "What happened to people gotta respect a work ethic?" Buffy asks. "Other people, not me! There's a whole best-friend loophole!" Willow returns.

Tara, not distracted by the byplay, has discovered that the store is dark. The Scooby Gang heads inside, to find the place trashed. And Willow finds the owner dead. Dawn in summarily ejected from the store before she can see anything; annoyed and shaken, she prowls outside the shop, until she is accosted by a disheveled man in what remains of a suit. He rants at her for a minute, asking her to "Please make her stop!" Dawn tries to scream, but the lunatic suddenly sobers. "I know you," he tells her intently, as Dawn shrinks back, caught between crying and screaming. "Curds and whey. I know what you are. You don't belong here."

Tara leaves the store, looking for Dawn, and keeps the younger girl company with sympathy and thumb wrestling. Inside the store, the business of investigating a messy death-by-vampire continues. "Looks like someone's put together a new fang club," Buffy concludes. The inventory reveals that the intruders mostly took books relating to Slayer lore -- and a ceramic unicorn. Giles is distracted from his perusal of the shop's wonderful profit margin long enough to wonder, "What kind of unholy creature fancies cheap, tasteless statuary."

Well, the answer would be, of course, Harmony. The former Cordette, current vampire happily congratulates a group of male vampires with a round of applause for their work at the shop, and a special thank you to Brad for "the sweetest unicorn." She appears to be running a Tony Robbins club for vampires, leadership through perkiness. And she's got A Plan to kill the Slayer.

But Buffy has bigger problems, since Joyce is not happy about Dawn's presence at a murder scene. Buffy needs to ditch her sister so she and Riley can patrol, and Dawn is vehemently against being ditched, especially since both Mom and Big Sister are equally vehement about the presence of a babysitter. Strangely, Dawn's protests die immediately when Xander's name is mentioned. In fact, she changes clothes takes a second to preen before meeting him at the front door; hello major, giant-sized crush. After all, he's cool and deep and brave, "Just last week, he went undercover to stop that Dracula guy." She's less than thrilled, of course, with Anya, who is determined to get into this babysitting thing, and proceeding with her usual enthusiasm and utter lack of skill.

Unpacking in their dorm room across town, Willow and Tara discuss Dawn, and being an outsider from the Scooby Gang. Willow picks up on the subtext immediately, and tries to reassure Tara of her status with the Scoobies. "You all have this really tight bond," Tara tells her girlfriend, with no resentment, "and it's really hard to break into that. I'm not even sure I want to." Willow hugs her from behind. "I'm sure," she reassures her. "You're one of the good guys." Caught in the train of thought, she doesn't notice when Tara flinches and moves away.

Meanwhile, Dawn's big sister patrols with Riley -- patrol, in this case, being complaining about her sister as Riley nods more-or-less understandingly. "So then my mom goes off on me about how I'm supposed to watch out for Dawn, make sure she's shielded from things that might upset her!" Buffy rants. "Hello, I see this stuff all the time and you don't see Mom shielding me!" Riley's at a loss for why Buffy is getting so worked up over her sister all of a sudden; lately, Buffy tells him, having Dawn around is just driving her crazy. "She gets to be a kid, and she acts like it's the biggest burden in the world! Sometimes, I would like to just curl up in Mom's lap and not worry about the fate of the world. I'd like to be the one who's protected!"

Dawn is also feeling abused, but is soothed by Xander's presence, and Anya fails to understand the intricacies of the Game of Life. It's cut rudely short by a brick through the window, thrown by Harmony. She's calling the Slayer out, and is disappointed to get only Xander and company. "Afraid you and your buddies are just going to have to come back lately," Xander says cheerfully, from inside the protection of the house. "They're not my buddies," Harmony informs him icily. "They're my minions." This statement has the predictable effect on Xander; his giggles touch off the equally predictable insult match. Unfortunately, Dawn, hidden behind Anya, gets a little too involved, and finally dares Harmony to "Come inside and say that!" Harmony accepts the invitation.

She's gotten a lot better at fighting, unfortunately; in seconds, she has Xander on the ground and she's not pulling hair this time. Anya's attempt to intervene fails, but buys Xander enough time to literally kick Harmony out of the house. The door is slammed, and Xander gets to contemplate how not happy this is going to make Buffy. Although, actually, she has a hard time with the implications, since the concept of Harmony with minions is too hysterically funny to get past; even Riley is snickering and he's never met the ditz. But the whole 'invited her in' thing comes out, and sets off every single Slayer/big sister instinct Buffy owns. Obviously, Dawn must pay.

Harmony isn't happy either, stomping through town complaining about the failure of her Plan. The pout is interrupted by Spike, who's bored and looking for a fight. Harmony takes the opportunity to impress upon him that she is a New Woman, with her own gang and doing things her own way. Spike is somewhat less than impressed -- by Harmony, her gang, or her Plan for killing the Slayer. "Let me guess. Snatch one of her friends, use them as bait, lead her into a trap." Harmony likes the sound of that, and races off cheerfully.

But Buffy's still mad, ranting about dumb little sisters who can't deal with simple rules of Life with Vampires, and who is being coddled into "a little idiot who is going to get us all killed." Dawn, listening in the hall, turns away in tears, before hearing her sister settle down into real concern. "She just has to be more careful. I can't be there to protect her 24 hours a day. I just can't."

Anya spots Dawn racing out the back door and follows her, trying to drag her back inside. But she hasn't moved fast enough; one of Harmony's minions looms out of the darkness. With one punch, Anya is left sprawling on the kitchen floor, and Dawn is dragged away screaming. Drawn by the sounds of the fight, the other three race downstairs. Xander cradles his girlfriend as she manages to mutter out the essential information -- that Dawn was taken by vampires. Galvanized, Buffy races out the door after her sister. A quick visit to Spike and some gratuitous pummeling leads to the location of Harmony's hideout.

She'd better hurry; Harmony's Plan is being rapidly overruled by her gang, who want to eat and run, killing Dawn before they kill the Slayer. Harmony slaps them down ineffectively, and winds up pacing in front of Dawn, complaining about being unappreciated. "I'm the one who put this whole group together. Me! And they treat me like I don't even matter!" Dawn can get behind this sentiment; or could if she wasn't chained to the wall.

But the whining session is abruptly ended, when Harmony's minions lead a coup d'etat, and Harmony finds herself on the wrong end of a lot of fangs. She cowers as one of the vamps advances on Dawn. "Touch me and my sister is gonna kill you," she warns; the vampire elaborately touches her shoulder. He laughs at the juvenile humor of it all, right until a stake comes through him from behind. "Can't say she didn't warn him," Buffy shrugs. Then, ordering Dawn to close her eyes, she commences the fight. In the brawl, Harmony escapes, the would-be gang leader is staked with a carousel unicorn, and Buffy advances on her sister with an ax. "You are going to be in so much trouble when we get home," she warns, beginning to cut her sister free. "Dawn sulks, then rallies. "Yeah, well, I'm gonna tell Mom you slayed in front of me!"

As it happens, no one tells anyone anything; Joyce remains in blissful ignorance of the night's events. Anya is apparently not seriously hurt, and Giles has found a new toy. He bought the magic shop, to Buffy's appalled amusement. "Most magic shop owners in Sunnydale have the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer," she informs him, but Giles is confident in his ability to run the shop -- and delighted to have someplace else for the Slayerettes to gather, as well as something to keep himself occupied. Dawn looks on with annoyance, and resignation, completing a journal entry about the Slayer. "She still thinks I'm little Miss Nobody -- just her dumb little sister," she writes. "Is she in for a surprise...."

Buffy suddenly has a little sister, 14 years old and acting like it. And she's been around all this time, according to everyone in the Scooby Gang, and her mother.

Tara seems to be feeling more than a little insecure about her place in Willow's life -- just feeling left out by the Scooby Gang, or something deeper?

Lately, I haven't had much patience for Buffy when she gets on one of her self-pitying kicks, but I was seeing where she was coming from this time around. How much does it suck to be the defender of the world, the one keeping everyone else safe, when no one seems to be all that concerned about keeping Buffy safe? Which they are, of course, but it's hard to see that when she sees Dawn being relentlessly cosseted and shielded. Buffy's childhood was taken away when she was 15, only a year older than Dawn is now, and the comparisons between their lives have to be harsh. Joyce isn't helping by saddling Buffy with responsibility for keeping Dawn safe from Sunnydale, but again, she's got to send one daughter out there to fight (and die; Joyce is not stupid, she knows about odds). It's understandable that she's hyper-protective of her other daughter. And Buffy herself is pretty damn protective; she loves her sister even when she wants to strangle her herself. < g > Siblings -- you can't live with them and you just can't stake them.

Dawn herself is, it would seem, a pretty typical 14-year-old, essentially certain that the world revolves around her -- and if it doesn't, it should! She's got a monster crush on cool, accessible, completely non-threatening older guy Xander, has the good taste to be appalled by Anya (I like Anya, but 14-year-old Dawn has vastly better social skills, when she chooses to use them), and is willing to fight to the death to keep from being overshadowed by her sister. I think Riley's wrong, Dawn doesn't worship Buffy -- she merely wants to be as important as Buffy, to see herself as strong and as necessary to the world as Buffy is. A Slayer is a pretty hard act to follow, particularly one as successful as Buffy; these two are going to give sibling rivalry a whole new lease on life, particularly if Dawn follows up on that interest in witchcraft.

And Giles is finally getting a life! He hit bottom this summer, almost ready to pack it up, but Buffy's request for him to be her Watcher again seems to have gotten him back in the game. I'm delighted by the sports car (and his desire to show it off), and more delighted with the purchase of the magic store. It's an obvious line of work, it's a good set-up for training and Scooby meetings (wow, I bet he was tired of having kids around All The Time), and it's a good place to keep track of who's doing what magically in town, according to who's buying what supplies. If Giles can manage to survive, it's a good gig.

Tara actually gets more of a chance to shine than any other Scooby member except Giles. Amber Benson is doing an awesome job developing Tara from the sweet-yet-boring girl we met last year, to one with unexpected depths. Her empathy with Dawn is lovely to watch, and hints at depths we hadn't expected (aside from the massive secret we know she's hiding). She and Willow are very cute together, and their physical interaction is dead on -- nothing the networks can get upset about, but sending off unmistakable vibes all over the place.

Xander and Anya continue to entertain, and Anya actually got to do something other than be attached to Xander's hip! Yay! First taking on Harmony, then trying to get Dawn back to safety -- not big things, but lots more than we've gotten to date. And Xander is also getting to do some real things of his own -- taking care of Dawn and sticking up for her with Buffy was very sweet and very cool.

Riley has younger sisters. Oh yeah. He's been there and seen this before, and the reflexes are still in place (hassle the kid to her face, defend her at any other time). It's cute. But if he doesn't start developing some flaws or a temper or something, I'm going to get really bored really soon. I love Riley, and The Perfect Guy is fine in real life; it's what we're all looking for, right? But on-screen, it's dull.

Spike gets little to do other than be a plot device, but his scene with Harmony was hysterical. The Slayerettes have got to stop casually beating up on him, though; he's getting more and more pissed. And Harmony... < snicker > Harmony has minions? < giggle > It's so pathetic that even as a vampire, she can't work herself up to the level of basic competence, no matter how hard she tries to remake herself. She needs to find another Spike and latch onto him; her weasel instincts are only going to protect her for so long. If she comes up against Cordelia, for example, she's toast in seconds.

Best Moments:
All of Dawn's diary entries were hysterical; someone either has a 14-year-old daughter, or remembers what it was like to be one.

The beautifully choreographed breakfast scene. Gorgeous physical comedy, relying entirely on the delivery of the actors and the timing. Very nice.

The entire dialogue with Buffy and Giles about the car was just hysterical, the kind of funny, quick, friends-and-equals interactions we used to get, and that have been so horribly absent. All of the character dynamics were right back on where they should be the entire episode, and it really showed here and in the last scene in the magic shop. Giles' extremely guy desire to show off his car was hysterical.

Willow's hysterical "best-friend loophole" rant. Again, character dynamics right back to where they should be.

Dawn's confrontation with insane guy. Michelle T's performance in gorgeous; you can read anything you want to into that face. Her ensuing scene with Tara was also beautifully done, subtle and sweet.

Any time Harmony is attempting to lead her minions. The girl is so clueless...

Anya playing the Game of Life. Easily the best dialogue she's had, and delivered hysterically. Trading in the kids for cash would go over really well some days...

Buffy's reaction to Harmony and the minions. I was doing some of that helpless laughter thing myself and Riley snickering was just priceless. He doesn't even know her!

The final fight scene. The new stunt team doesn't bother me at all; they're doing a nice job. And the segue from that into the sisterly bickering was classic!

Giles watching "Passions" with Spike. Oh, the image....

Questions and Comments:
Since when can only a resident invite someone in?

Okay, again, where the hell does Giles' money come from? New computer equipment, a shiny new sports car, and now he's buying a store. Considering he's been unemployed for over a year, who is gonna loan him the money for that kind of purchase? A petty detail, perhaps, but a niggling one...

Someone has apparently clued Joyce in on Willow and Tara since last week. < snerk >

And, of course, there's the whole question of where the hell Dawn comes from. (I could be cruel and sadistic like the folks in the Bronze, and start going on and on about Dawn's character development to date, and my favorite episodes with Dawn, but I have self-control. < snerk > I was tempted though, don't think I wasn't.) Crazy Guy told her she doesn't belong here which is, of course, absolutely true, as we the audience know. But that's just stating the obvious. So, do we have a Wish World here? A Superstar world a la Jonathan? Did Dawn herself make the changes or an outside force? There's a lot of good speculation in SunSpeak; go read it.

Speaking of which, Joss has obviously had this little plot twist in mind for quite some time. Entirely aside from the "Little Miss Muffet, counting down to 7-3-0" routine with Faith, he's been slowly prepping us ever since The Wish to deal with the concept of alternate universes and world changes. Really very cool.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5. I was tempted to give it higher, when I realized that, two years ago, this would have been considered an average episode. It's only compared to the last year or so that it stands out and shines. If the rest of this season is up to this standard of character interaction, dialogue and plot arc, we're set.


""Curds and whey, I know what you are..." Does he now? And just where *did* that homeless guy disappear to so fast, anyway?"
"Hmmm.. I didn't really think of that angle. I was more caught up in the traditional "animals, small children, and the insane" as those who see truth when everyone else is take in by appearances." -- Val and Dianne

"Why DOES everyone think a 14-year-old needs a babysitter??? Buffy's absolutely right--she can't (and shouldn't have to) take care of Dawn 24/7. But apparently it seems to be necessary. The newest strategy from whatever force (the SlayerSource, obviously, being my leading theory) is throwing repeated monkey wrenches into Buffy's reality, mayhaps? Sending Primal Slayer to beat her up didn't work. Sending Dracula to seduce her didn't work. How about a constant hindrance forcing her to be better, smarter, and stronger just to keep up?" -- Val

"Tara knows what's going on. No real evidence, I just feel it in my bones. And she's as much not what she seems as Dawn is--hence the conversation with Willow about being an outsider. Still think she's the representative/manifestation/whatever of an equal/opposite/balancing force to the SlayerSource." -- Val

"Can't decide whether Dawn knows she isn't a natural kid who was born into and grew up in this family or not. Or that she's part of a reality in which that happened, but said reality shouldn't be. Or whatever. "
"I think she is, but it's really just a gut feeling. For instance, takes on her reaction to being confronted by curds-and-whey guy: Lizbet thought she was bewildered, I saw it as more frightened-of- exposure." -- Val and Dianne

"The "boy, is she in for a surprise" diary comment indicates that she knows there's *something* Buffy and the others don't know about her, but it isn't necessarily that. Could just be that she's discovered this ability to "channel demons" (whatever that means) that we keep hearing about in the press coverage. People have mentioned that maybe that's not such a good thing...which would certainly be useful if the purpose of putting her in this reality *is* for her to be a handicap. Or to drive Buffy closer to the darker reaches of her own power, for that matter. Hmmmm....what if this "channeling" thing is actually an ability of Buffy's, and Dawn was created to personify it because Buffy has repressed it?" -- Val

"And why/how did this happen? I wouldn't rule out the First Slayer or First Evil, but Dawn doesn't seem (to me) to be completely conscious of her own out-of-placeness in this world. I think it's more likely the Spider's fault (as in "...along came a spider, and sat down beside her, and frightened Miss Muffet away."). Somehow, some way, in some universe five doors over, something awful happened--- and Dawn got plonked into this Buffyverse in order to avoid it. At least that's my theory. Or she plonked herself here because she's trying to avoid Badness. On some subconscious level, she seems aware of her weirdness/destiny/displacement, but not on any other level. Plus, can you see someone who has an Evil Plan actually letting *Harmony* capture them?"
"*snerk* Definitely not. But someone who's a pawn on someone/thing else's Evil Plan (or Not-Necessarily-Evil-But-Definitely-Inconvenient-And-Disruptive Plan? That I can see. Especially if her purpose *is* to get in Buffy's way." -- Chris and Val

"That darn bed got made a *few* times. How long has the primal slayer been trying to get through? How long has "Dawn" been trying to get through? Or is that just the fallback prophecy schtick?"
"Oooo. Hmmm!! Darn good question! And how inevitable *was* this, anyway? What was Buffy supposed to have done to prevent this? *Could* she have prevented it? I really have to re-watch those dreams again--- Faith was having some of the same stuff in "This Year's Girl" in her dreams too." -- Dawn and Chris

"Y'know, I was all set for Giles to be cool, collected and rarin' to go on this whole retail thing. New chapter of life, all that. But if he thinks it's going to be *anything* like running a library...well, I'm so very very scared."
"Well, he always wanted to be a grocer, right?" -- Val and Dianne

"I loved that Giles treats Dawn the way he used to treat Xander, and occasionally Buffy, a few years ago, when they were younger and more annoying (to him). It's fun to see that particular dynamic again, now that the original Scooby Gang is older and less likely to get under his skin. Giles in irritated mode is intrinsically snarky and amusing, and I'm glad we might see more of it. That, plus the voice thing... plus the car seduction... plus the book-store glee... did I mention what I good ep this is for Giles?" -- Chris

"As they were driving along, Jack said "Whoa! Car! That's *not* a Giles car. That's a Cordelia car!" To which I replied, "That's a midlife crisis car." The frightening part is that, as such, it's actually fairly conservative..." -- Val

"Spike/Harmony interaction was priceless. Harmony's attempt to remake herself after the standard model of the Big Bad Master Vampire, while also priceless, is actually pretty admirable. I'm frankly impressed that she got any minions at all, even really really dumb ones. Even temporarily. And *zoom*, the better part of valor once again. This could be fun...Harm turns up every once in a while, having reinvented herself, and gets trounced. As long as it doesn't happen too too often, it'll be entertaining. There's only so far one can repeatedly humiliate *any* character before we say "enough already". At least she got to nail Xander this time...guess she was serious about that working out and learning to fight stuff. God/dess help us all, she has actually achieved a modicum of Dangerous. That could well be where the fun begins." -- Val

"And it was clear why it didn't work-- she's always been a minion herself. Cordelia in the same sitch (even pre-"Angel") would have kept those guys in line with a well-placed glare. Harmony was obviously trying to duplicate the approach -- with no experience, no natural gift for it... and therefore very little success. I just wanted to stop and give her basic Poohbah lessons when she manages to talk about "*her* minions" and "some of us are thinking about voting him out" in the same sentence. " -- Dianne, re: the minions

"Reminds me: *bhwhwhahwhaahahaa!* Minions! *snort* Harmony has minions! *much giggling* Had them, anyway. Oh, dear, dear, dear... and she still has it so bad for Spike. Not that I blame her. But it was just so very "I am Woman, hear me roar, respect me, and then beg me to come back to you because you realize how *wrong* you were to treat me bad" that I kept giggling even when she wasn't saying anything funny." -- Chris

"Anya's idea of what babysitting is supposed to entail, and how she's supposed to behave. In this case they're saved from that repeated humiliation rule-of-thumb I mentioned above because (a) she does get to be effective once in a while, (b) the gang has accepted her as someone to have around and include and genuinely worry about when she gets hurt, and (c) she's trying SO damn hard to learn this stuff and get it right, and while the return on her investment has been pretty negligible in proportion to the energy she's put it, there *is* a return. She's learning. It's just a really, really, really oblique sort of a learning curve." -- Val

"I love that they've set this AU up so well, from "The Wish", "Doppelgangland" and "Superstar", that we can all happily go along and know that the universe is skewed, and acknowledge that no one on the show knows this (except crazy people, and possibly Dawn), and not let it slow down our appreciation of everything else."
"Yup. Jack likes to say "I'm a Dr. Who fan. I eat temporal paradoxes for breakfast." We've quite passed the point where we can say "We're Buffyfen. We eat unannounced alternate realities for breakfast."" -- Chris and Val

"last week I was part of a discussion about Faith's relation to the true nature of the Slayer that Buffy touched on in Restless. We talked about whether Faith may have been exposed to the primal power of the First Slayer all along, but with her psychological background and emotional problems, she was less in control of it. While Buffy had her family, her friends, her fight to be "normal" and her Watcher to keep her in check and secure. Is it coincidence that Buffy's exposure to Faith preceded this exploration? Is it coincidence that her fighting style was quite Faith-like in nature this summer? Is it coincidence that all the dreams that hinted at Dawn's arrival and something larger feature only the Slayers?" -- Mary Beth

"I was also wondering about the Watchers Council's role in all this. Faith basically was Watcher free. And is it coincidence that Buffy went into primal mode this summer after her exposure to the First Slayer . . . and after a year that was basically Watcher and Council free? I wonder if, originally, the Council stumbled across these girls with enormous power and strength, that they helped to train and focus toward slaying vampires and demons. What if the Council's involvement helped to shape what the Slayer has become? Buffy's friends and relatively stable family life kept her strong, even though the Council didn't find her until late. But Faith didn't have those things and it didn't turn out well for her. I wonder if in their exploration of the nature of the Slayer, they might not find out more about the Council's origins, too. They may have had good intentions in the beginning. They may have been necessary, even, for keeping the Slayer under control. But what if the Slayer wasn't meant to be controlled? " --- Mary Beth

"There is significance to the Cheese Man in Restless: Obviously, he brings the curds and whey to little Miss Muffet (Dawn). He's the catalyst, the lynch pin of her entire existence.

"Or not." -- Karen T.

"So we already know Little Miss Muffet . . . And didn't Val speculate that the spider is somehow responsible for this? But what about what the mysterious man said about cats hiding in the cupboard."
"X, Y, and tumbledown Z,
The cat's in the cupboard
And can't see me.

And that's the *entire* rhyme.
"I have no idea what that means. I'm getting a headache."
"Getting? Only getting? Mine hurts every time I try to sort it all out. I finally stopped trying. That's what the roomie is for!" -- Mary Beth and Beth

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