Written by Drew Goddard
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy: Anya turned Olaf into a troll, who came looking for her; Buffy is working at the high school, Spike's insane in the basement, Willow's back, and Anya's doing the vengeance thing, but isn't really happy about it. And neither is her boss.

The night before Willow returns to school, Dawn offers her helpful advice that isn't, and does nothing to calm Willow's nerves. As they keep moving Willow's stuff into Buffy's old room, Xander expresses how happy he is being single, even as he discusses maybe calling Anya, who no one has really talked to lately. Xander is worried, because Anya seems sad; Buffy is only really worried about her return to the vengeance gig. Xander defends her: "She was hurt and she just turned back to what she knew when I.... You know. That's not her anymore." Buffy says she hopes he's right, but not like she actually thinks he is. Xander keeps the hope up: "It'll just take some time. I really think she's coming around." But somewhere else, male bodies are sprawled on the floor and furniture, lots of them; the room fairly swims in red. And Anya sits in a corner, face blank with shock, her dress covered with blood. "What have I done?" she asks faintly.

Sjornjost, 880: an Anya with long, dark, curly hair wanders around an old hut, happily cuddling a bunny. I know, it weirded me out, too. The film during the flashbacks is grainy and faded, and so reminiscent of a 50s monster movie that you automatically check for robots in the front row. A very big guy barely recognizable as Olaf (pre-troll) comes bursting through the door, home to his sweet, beautiful Aud. She's quite the little homemaker, going to meet her troll-fighting husband at the door and getting him settled ad comfortable. [There are subtitles since they're babbling away in fluent Swedish Chef, which makes typing and watching at the same time hard.] Aud tells Olaf she's thinking about going into the bunny business since they reproduce so fast -- "exchanging them not for goods or services, but for goodwill and the sense of accomplishment that stems from selflessly giving of yourself to others." Apparently she's not popular in town and feels the lack; Olaf tells her, "It is not my fault they don't take kindly to you. You speak your mind and are annoying. It's one of the things that I love about you." In a lightning change of mood, Aud accuses him of being at the bar making eyes at the wide-hipped barmaid; Olaf denies doing any such thing and, Aud reassured, they descend into lovey-doveyness. "I could not live without you," Aud tells him. Olaf hugs her. "Fear not, sweet Aud -- you will always be my beautiful girl."

Present day, and the water runs red as Anya tries to wash the blood off of her hands, but it's pretty much everywhere else, too. In the high school basement, Spike carries on a conversation about insanity with someone who looks like Buffy, and sounds like Buffy, but is being entirely too attentive and "You're different," and "We'll get through this," to actually be Buffy. Yup; the real one stalks through the door and orders Spike to find a new home. "This basement is killing you. This is the Hellmouth. There is something bad down here. Possibly everything bad." It almost sounds like concern, in a drill-sergeant kind of way. Spike just laughs helplessly, then says sadly. "I don't have anywhere else to go." And in the sunlight at Sunnydale U., Willow scurries along trying to impress an old professor who doesn't need impressing -- she likes Willow and is looking forward to having her best student back.

As the professor leaves, Willow spots Anya coming out of a frat house, wrapped in a trench coat. She's happy to see Anya and starts chattering, but Anya lies about having a boyfriend in the frat house and escapes -- but not before Willow spots the smear of blood on her cheek. Suspicions aroused, she checks out the frat house; bodies and blood everywhere and, in the closet, a girl huddled, rocking back and forth as she sobs, "I take it back. I take it back." Willow crouches in front of the girl, who tells her that the frat guys had invited her to a party that wasn't, just so her boyfriend could break up with her in front of his buddies. In her humiliation, she'd wished that "Just once... I wish you could all feel what it's like to have your hearts ripped out. Just once. I wish... And then it came." Willow, her suspicions becoming certainty, demands, "What came? What did this?" Girl: "A spider." Willow: "Where did it go?" Which is never a smart question on the Hellmouth, now is it? Cause a big mother of a spider-looking thing is currently crawling up the wall behind her.

The spider attacks, but Willow has a mystical shield up in seconds. Her eyes dark black, she snaps at the girl, "For god's sake, shut your whimpering mouth!" The spell throws the spider out a window, and Willow is suddenly Willow again, apologizing to the girl.

Sjornjost, circa 880: back to monster-movie film, as people try frantically to escape from a troll ("Run! Hide your babies and your beadwork!"). It's Olaf, of course, but no one believes him ("Hit him with fruits and various meats!"); an angry mob chases him out of the village. The film slowly fades to clear, crisp colors, as Aud watches in sad, bitter resignation. D'Hoffryn stands next to her: "Impressive. What'd he do?" Aud: "Bar matron. A load-bearing bar matron." D'Hoffryn: "Is there any other kind?" He's there to offer a job, of course, as a vengeance demon. She's never heard of them, but "I don't talk to people much. I mean I talk to them, but they don't talk to me except to say that 'your questions are irksome' and 'perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river.'" D'Hoffryn calls her Anyanka, and explains about the job, serving out vengeance to those who deserves it. Aud: "They all deserve it." D'Hoffryn: "Well, that's where I was going with that, yeah."

Present day, and a bored Buffy sits at her desk balancing a pencil cup on her forehead. It falls as the phone rings; Willow has some spider-demon news to impart. As they talk, Halfrek congratulates Anya on her wonderful job of vengeance, which Halfrek seems to be a lot more enthusiastic about than Anya. "There was just so much screaming," she says quietly. "So much blood. I'd forgotten how much damage a grimslaw demon could do." Halfrek isn't concerned about any of that, only that Anya is almost back to her old self. As she reassures Anya that the reflex disgust will pass, Willow opens the door. "Get out," she orders Halfrek; after a nod from Anya, the other demon makes her usual dramatic exit. "You have to stop this," Willow tells Anya. "Do you know what they did to her?" Anya shoots back, even more coldly furiously as she gets defensive. Willow tells her she's there to help, and Anya laughs bitterly. "Well, that's great, Willow. Flayed anybody lately, have you? How quickly they forget." Willow says she hasn't forgotten anything, and reiterates that she wants to help. Anya can only repeat, almost in tears, that "They got what they deserved."

Meanwhile, Xander and Buffy trap through the woods woefully underarmed with a sword and a butterfly net. They're hunting spider demons, but Willow was distracted and in a hurry, and didn't give details. The first heartless body they stumble across fills in most of the blanks; the icky webbing on a tree does the rest. They hear something moving in the trees, and the spider suddenly drops, carrying Buffy to the ground. She fights it as it drools down her cleavage, then tosses it away. It scrambles back into the trees as Xander regains his footing. He starts making serious hunting plans, but Buffy simply heaves the sword up into the trees, pointy end first. Spider shish kebob falls to the ground, quite dead. Killing it was relatively easy -- Buffy wants to know where it came from. Fortunately for her curiosity, Willow is already at the house when they returns, and tells them everything she knows. Xander predictably wigs, demanding to know why she didn't them earlier. Buffy tells him, "She didn't tell us for a reason. She didn't tell us because she knows what I have to do. I have to kill Anya."

St Petersburg, 1905: A lovely royal banquet setting is slightly marred by the dead bodies sprawled all over the table. The elaborately coiffed vengeance demons sitting at the head of the table don't seem to notice the dead guys. They kind of notice the revolution going on outside, but only because Halfrek is telling Anyanka how impressed she is with Anyanka for starting it. Anyanka blows off the praise, and starts making plans for more work that night. Halfrek accuses her of not having any fun, but Anyanka has no interest in fun. "I don't need anything else. Vengeance is what I am."

Present day, and Buffy informs Xander that Anya is a demon, and this what she has to do. Xander isn't interested in hearing it. He tells Buffy there are other options, but she tells him she's been considering them for a long time, and this is the only one she can see. Xander appeals to Willow for help in fixing the deaths, since they were mystical; she sadly tells him she doesn't have that kind of power, "And I don't trust the power I do have." Buffy tells her it's okay; Xander begs to differ. "Buffy, you want to kill Anya!" Buffy: "I don't want to." Xander: "Then don't! This isn't new ground for us. When our friends go all crazy and start killing people, we help them.' Buffy tells him it's different, but he's not having any. Xander: "I still love her." Buffy: "I know. And that's why you can't see this for what it really is. Willow was different. She's a human. Anya's a demon." Xander: "And you're the Slayer. I see now how it's all very simple." Buffy: "It is never simple." Xander: "No. Of course not. You know, if there's a mass-murdering demon that you're oh, say, boning, then it's all gray areas." Buffy: "Spike was harmless! He was helping!" Xander: "He had no choice!" Buffy: "And Anya did! She chose to become a demon. Twice." Xander: "You have no idea what she's going through." Buffy: "I don't care what she's going through." Xander: "Oh, of course not. You think we haven't all seen this before? The part where you just cut us all out? Just step away from everything human and act like you're the law? If you knew what I felt--" Buffy: "I killed Angel."

That stops everyone. Buffy continues, after a long, silent moment, "Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with him. I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life, and I put a sword through his heart because I had to. ...Do you remember cheering me on? Both of you. Do you remember giving me Willow's message? 'Kick his ass.'" Willow blinks, and informs them that she never said that. neither of them hears her. Xander: "This is different." Buffy: "It is always different! It's always complicated and at some point, someone has to draw the line, and that is always going to me! you get down on me for cutting myself off, but in the end, the Slayer is always cut off." Xander fumbles for a moment. "There has to be another way." Buffy: "then please find it." A long moment of silence, before Xander leaves; Buffy flinches as he slams the door behind himself. But she takes a sword out of the chest and strides towards the door herself. She pauses only to look at Willow, who says miserably, "I can't. I'm sorry." Buffy looks grim, and leaves.

Willow strides up to her room and starts hunting through her drawers, until she pulls out a long-forgotten amulet. With red powder, she casts a circle on the bathroom floor as she chants and, in a puff of smoke, D'Hoffryn appears. He cuts his Impressive Entrance Spiel (TM) short as he recognizes Willow, the recruit who refused him three years ago. He congratulates her on her assault on Warren, calling it textbook demon work; but Willow's not there to talk about her job, despite her slip into darkness earlier that day. She wants to talk about Anya's. D'Hoffryn sighs and listens. In the frat house, Anya is soberly tracing a bloodstain someone's hand left on the wall; "I thought I might find you here," Xander says from behind her. She asks what he wants, and he repeats the offer of help. Anya turns away in disgust. "Everyone is so considerate today. I should have slaughtered people weeks ago." Xander can only apologize again for everything he put her through; for Anya, it's far too little, too late. Way too late; Xander warns her Buffy is coming to kill her. Anya looks grim. "She's coming to try."

Xander tries to talk sanity into Anya, but she's sticking to the "I have a job to do" line. "Xander, you've always seen what you wanted to, but she knew sooner or later it would come to this." She says the last part over his shoulder, and Xander turns to see Buffy standing in the doorway, sword in hand. Xander refuses to get out of the way, until Anya backhands him across the room to safety. Slayer and veiny vengeance demon square off. "this is getting to be a pattern, Buffy," Anya says, backhanding her across the room too. "Are there any friends of yours you haven't tried to kill?" Buffy responds by leaping across the room at her, and the pair settle down to some serious furniture-destroying fighting. Anya is a match for the Slayer, and eventually disarms her, slamming her into a wall. But Anya doesn't do anything; she just stands there, waiting for Buffy to get back up. She does, and apologizes to Anya as she gets up. In another moment, she's got her sword back in her hand, and has pinned Anyanka to the wall with it driven through her stomach. Anya stares in shock.

Sunnydale, 2001: As Xander sleeps in an armchair, Anya comes out and looks at him fondly. From outside the window, we hear David Fury and Marti Noxon's voices raised in dismayed song, lamenting the mustard on his shirt. Yup, we're in Once More With Feeling again, as Anya begins singing in a very Donna Reed kind of mode. "I'm just lately Anya/Not very much to the world, I know/All these years with nothing to show./I've boned a troll,/I wreaked some wrath,/But on the whole I've had no path,/I like to bowl, I'm good with math,/But who am I?/Now I reply, that I'm the missis,/I will be his missis./Mrs. Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins Harris." It's a very cheerful, sweet song, dwelling quite depressingly on how much of her life and identity Anya has built around being Xander's girlfriend/wife. She whirls out onto the balcony in her mermaid dress, exulting in the fact that she'll soon be Mrs.-- --And Anyanka's head is slumped to the side, her body still pinned to the wall, her face back to normal. As Xander struggles back to consciousness, calling her name, her eyes open with a gasp. And with a scream, she pulls the sword back out of her body, smiling at Buffy. "You know better than that, Buffy. Takes a lot more to kill a vengeance demon." She holds the sword pointed at Buffy, who assures Anya she's just getting started. Anya attacks, but Buffy manages to trip her to the floor, knocking the sword loose; Buffy retrieves it, and raises it above Anya for a more decisive blow. But before it can fall, Xander tackles Buffy from the side, sending them both the floor. Anya bounces back to her feet. "Stop trying to save me, Xander!"

Before hostilities can resume, lighting flashes, and D'Hoffryn suddenly appears in the middle of the room. "Please, don't mind me," he says cheerfully. "Continue with whatever you whatever you were doing." Buffy drags herself painfully back to her feet, and manages to regain her sword. D'Hoffryn reminds her that "I could be gone before you swing," as he helps Anya up. "Isn't that just like a Slyer? Solving all of her problems by sticking them with sharp objects?" He tells them he was talking to Willow; "Miss Rosenburg seems to think Anyanka would be better suited to life outside the vengeance fold. I think we already know what Lady Hacks-Alot wants. And the young man... well, he sees with the eyeballs of love. But I'm not sure anyone's bothered to find out what Anyanka herself really wants." Anya whispers, "I want to take it back." She repeats it when D'Hoffryn prompts her -- "I want to take it back. I want to undo what I did." That won't be easy, D'Hoffryn tells her, not with 12 bodies. "The proverbial scales must balance. In order to restore the lives of the victims, the Fates require a sacrifice -- the life and soul of a vengeance demon." Anya takes a shuddering breath. "Do it." Xander shouts, but Anya tells him to stay out of it; he, of course, ignores her, searching for an alternate price. Anya tells him, "You can't help me. I'm not even sure there's a me to help." Her voice is stronger when she turns back to D'Hoffryn. "I understand the price. Do it." He asks her if she's sure, if this is her wish; she says it is. "Very well," he says, and claps his hands.

Xander shouts again as a bright light flashes across the room -- Halfrek appears, and smiles at all of them in surprise. But only for a moment, before her body is consumed in flames as she screams. In a moment, she's gone. Anya's entire body screams grief and horror, as D'Hoffryn demands, "Who did you think you were dealing with? Did you think it would be that easy to get away?" Anya says, tearfully, "But she was yours." D'Hoffryn: "The way you were mine? Haven't I taught you anything, Anya? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain." Xander goes for his throat; Buffy catches him even as D'Hoffryn warns him off. He turns back to Anya. "I've got plenty of girls; there will always be vengeance demons. But now you, Anya -- you're out. Congratulations. Wish granted." Tears run down Anya's cheeks. "You should have killed me," she manages to whisper. D'Hoffryn laughs as he turns away. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. From beneath you, it devours." That hits home for Buffy and Xander as he continues, "Be patient. All good things in time." Then he disappears, leaving anguish in his wake.

Buffy can barely look up at Anya; Xander can't look away. Anya gazes at him for a long moment, then walks slowly out the front door. "Go," Buffy tells Xander quietly. "I'll check on the boys." He goes, catching up with Anya outside. She stops several feet away, not turning. "Xander, please, just go away." He won't. "Whatever's between us, it doesn't matter. You shouldn't be alone in this." She turns to face him. "Yes, I should. My whole life... I've just clung to whatever came along." Xander: "Well, speaking as a clingee, I kind of didn't mind." Anya is near tears again, but holding it together. "Thanks... for everything." Xander tries to speak, but can't; finally, he lowers his head and walks past her, but stops when she calls his name this time. "What if I'm really nobody?" she asks. Xander grins. "Don't be a dope." It's almost funny; Anya almost smiles. "I'm a dope." Xander shrugs. "Sometimes." She almost smiles again. "That's a start." Xander walks slowly backwards, then turns and walks away. He doesn't look back. Anya walks after him, but, after a long look at his back, she turns in the opposite direction. She walks away alone, still fighting back the tears that glisten on her cheeks.

Anya was born sometime around 860, probably in Sweden. She was recruited by D'Hoffryn after turning Olaf (boyfriend? Husband?) into a troll because he slept with a barmaid. She went on to wreak vengeance everywhere, including Russia during the 1905 Revolution, which she was instrumental in starting.

Anya no longer works for D'Hoffryn; he killed Halfrek to undo Anya's wish, and kicked her out. Whether she still has any of her powers is up in the air.

Willow is back in college.

Xander admitted he still loves Anya, to no one's surprise.

So. Anya's always been like this? Literal interpretations and lack of tact and irritation and all? Well, that's just... incredibly cool and funny. < snicker > All of the things we've been attributing to post-demon stress syndrome is just Anya being herself -- whomever that may be. I really, really love that, it's a gorgeous twist and a great joke on us. the good news is that Anya has finally gotten at a gut-level what we've been saying for years -- she spends too much defining herself by the people around her, instead of trying to be herself. She was trying after she got re-demoned, but with Halfrek nattering at her about what "real" demons do, and no other voices from the Scoobie side, she got sucked back into other people's expectations again. Now she sees that, so now, she can start doing something about it. Go Anya. I respect the hell out of her for managing to fight her own inclinations as well as she did -- she did the vengeance thing, but she felt remorse, even when Halfrek told her not to. She was unhappy about it, even as she defended it to Willow. She was willing to sacrifice herself to fix it, even after Buffy tried to kill her. And she will grieve for Halfrek for a long, long time. Once she figures out who she is, Anya's going to be one to the strongest Scoobies, I think -- she's already well on her way.

It's hard to figure out where, exactly, Anya's lack of self-image came from. It doesn't seem to have been anything Olaf did -- okay, he cheated at least once, but he accepted Anya for what she was. "You are annoying and literal and that's one of the reasons I love you." Childhood conditioning? Dark Ages brainwashing of females? Desperate attempts to make people like her? I'd love to see more of Anya's past explored, so we can figure more of this out. And find out about the bunny-phobia....

D'Hoffryn is scary and nasty and EvilBad. Yeah. We never saw him in full master mode before -- he was that kind of funny, used-car-salesman type who did his business and treated his demons like daughters and brought wedding presents. He did a really good job of keeping us all off-guard, so that Halfrek's death is a brutal shock to the system. This is the guy who's been recruiting and training vengeance demons for eons, killing people by proxy for as long as he's existed. Oh yes. But I'll tell you, the only thing I regret about Halfrek's death is how much it upset Anya -- this prevents me from cheering, shouting and singing "Ding, dong the bitch is dead!" Really hated her. And I still want to know about the whole Cecily/William connection!

Willow rocked. She's seriously back to the Willow we used to love, all happy and defending her friends and trying to help wherever she can, and being amped about school. I was really happy to see that glimpse of EvilWillow, though; making the badness just go away-- poof! -- would be too easy and not at all Joss-like. But both Dawn and Spike just got 'the actors must get paid this week' bits, which isn't any fun. :(

I love Xander. It's such a relief to be able to say that, since I've been quite unhappy with him for most of a year now. The combination of his treatment of Spike and his treatment of Anya were just too much for me to deal with; all that anti-demon prejudice coming out, not just against his old enemy, but against someone he purported to love, made me really, really upset with him, because that's not the Xander we love. And, of course, does love, which he proved tonight, bless him. I'm never more impressed with Xander than when he goes against Buffy; when he actually gets in the middle of a fight to stop her, in order to defend his ex, then I'm fantastically impressed. He's a good guy, Xander is, when he's not letting his emotional devils shout down his emotional angels. I'm not expecting a turn-around in his attitude towards Spike any time soon -- I'd like a touch of sympathy or pity, but I'm not expecting it. He has real, actual issues with Spike that go above and beyond Spike merely being a vampire and by-definition-evil; he hates him for hurting his friends and that is never going to change. I don't like it, but I can accept it because, by defending Anya, he's proven that he is capable of dealing with gray areas, not just defaulting to "demon bad" and throwing everything out. Well, he does default, but he can get past it. So I'm back to loving him, albeit with the occasional deep desire to dope smack him. But he wouldn't be Xander if I didn't want to dope smack him, now would he?

Would we could say the same for Buffy. Relax, I'm not starting Yet Another Rant about Buffy -- I was actually happy that, for the first time, she showed some signs of caring what's happening to Spike, showing some responsibility towards him. Go, Buffy! I've just concluded the woman needs therapy. (Wooo, big shock.) Was I heinously disappointed in her decision that Anya must die? Yes, I was. I'll comment on the poor writing that engendered that decision and made it hugely irritating below. Here, I'll just shake my head at Buffy, who proves once again how desperately she is in love with the Hard Choices. She even told us why during her little rant about "I killed Angel!" (with which she is going to be winning every argument from now until the end of time, since that was, obviously, the ultimate sacrifice, so everyone else has to be just like her, or at least give in. Never mind the ongoing debate about whether Angel actually had to die, or whether his blood would have sealed it back up without the associated trauma; it's irrelevant. Mostly, I just wanted to slap her so hard for getting self-righteous at Xander -- "I killed my love, so it's okay to kill yours, and make you suffer like I did." Oh, dear, that turned into a rant, didn't it? Ahem. Moving on.)

[Warning: In-depth psychoanalysis of fictional character follows.] It really does all come back to Angel. After he became Angelus (again, see below for rant re: black/white), Buffy did not immediately kill him. She spent something like four months fighting to find an alternative -- any alternative -- to doing so, in fact. And because she did spend all of that time looking for an alternative, because she couldn't kill him in the mall when she had the chance, Jenny Calendar died, Willow and Xander were injured, Kendra died, Giles was tortured, and the world almost ended. To Buffy, Guilt Queen of the Universe, her indecisions, her attempt to find an answer other than killing Angelus, caused all of this. Did it? Didn't it? Irrelevant -- Buffy knows it was All Her Fault for trying to find an easier way. In the end, the hardest thing, the thing she fought most terribly again, was the only thing she could do. She had to kill Angelus -- and because she'd taken so long about it, it was Angel that got sent to hell. (again, this is her POV; I disagree.) So, the connection in Buffy's brain gets made, and hard-wired with trauma -- in any given situation, the hardest thing to do must be the right one. The more I fight against it, the more I don't want to do it, the more right it becomes. It's about sacrifice and duty, and trying to do things an easier way is Just Wrong and people die. Look how insane Buffy made herself for wishing, just for a second, that Dawn was dead and she didn't have to protect her. Yeesh. Mind you, she can overcome this -- she managed it for Willow, and god knows she fought to keep Dawn alive. But it takes serious, serious love to do it.

Now, into this complex, we're going to add a pernicious influence called Bad Writing. Inconsistent Writing. Lazy Writing. Writing that starts out, seven years ago, with the premise that All Vampires Are Evil and Bad. Period. Except, you know, if they have a soul. The premise is extended as demons begin to show up -- All Demons Are Evil. Period. Go kill them, it's okay, that's what they're there for. No humans, because humans have souls so that's Bad, but kill all the demons you like. Except then there's Doyle. And suddenly, all demons aren't Evil, just some of them. So it becomes necessary to distinguish between good demons and bad demons, and demons who used to be bad, but got turned into humans, so it's really not fair to hold the things they did as a demon and are still unrepentant about against them, right? (I love Anya, but this has always made me crazed -- when she becomes human, even before she starts helping, and all sins are forgiven. Spike remains a vampire, helping, and all sins are held against him world without end.) The point is, that the writers have spent seven years and two series blurring the lines between the clear-cut black/white we started with. Everything is shades of gray now -- unless, for dramatic purposes, they don't want it to be. Unless it's not a human who suddenly starts killing people -- that human, our friend, we will chase after and try to help and do everything possible not to kill her even if it costs us our own lives and ends the universe. No, it's not a human, it's a demon -- she was a our friend, but now she's a demon, and she killed people, so we must kill her. No discussion, no attempts to help the demon, to make her see she's wrong and bring her back to the light side, because she's just a demon. Time to kill her. No more grayscale, black and white only.

Buffy is the character most vilified by this horrific writing glitch. She's not bad, she's just being written that way, and I can accept that, but it doesn't change what we see on-screen. We see Willow being happy to see her friend, demon or not, trying to help her before telling Buffy, and refusing to help Buffy kill her. We see Xander defending the woman he loves against all comers, including his best friend/hero, demon or not. What do we see of Buffy? We see a woman who was maid of honor in Anya's wedding, who fought by Anya's side and went to her for help and generally accepted her as a friend -- who abandoned that woman after she, hurting and alone, chose to become a demon again. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the Scoobies reached out to Anya during that summer, or any time after the wedding, actually. She was still fighting beside them, even saving them, but she was a demon (who slept with Spike, eww!), so they left her. Even one scene of Buffy reaching out, one line of throw-away dialogue ("I tried to talk to her a few times, but she blew me off."), could have made it obvious that Anya's isolation was of her own doing. We didn't get that. We got Buffy deciding to kill her friend because she became a demon again. Not going to her friend after she became a demon and trying to keep her on the good side. Not talking to her friend about why vengeance is wrong, and reminding her of the stuff she learned as a human. Not trying to keep her friend from crossing the line from Good Demon back to Evil Demon. None of that. None of the things she did to try to save Willow.

What we got was Buffy finding out that Anya is a demon, and sitting back and waiting for Anya to cross the line, after which, she will kill her. Very simple. Black and white. Hardest Choice, so it must be the right one. Did she want to kill Anya? No, or she would have remembered that the sword thing doesn't work. Her own subconscious was fighting her decision as hard as possible. But Buffy made the choice anyway, and that last sword stroke, before Xander took her down, would, in all likelihood, have been the one that did the job. That's not admirable. that's not duty. That's not sacrifice. That's throwing away the life of a friend because of Buffy's own Issues. And it's just damn wrong. I don't blame Buffy, although it's hard; I love Buffy. Or, I used to. I blame writers who can't stick to their own rules, who fall back on black and white when it's easier and use impassioned speeches to justify it, after painting their world in endless shades of gray. They win back some points for having Xander react as he did, for having him make many of these same points, but then ignore him so they can have the Big Dramatic Fight Scene. Were they not listening to themselves? Is their opinion of Buffy that low? Or do they just not care that they keep turning their characters into howling hypocrites?

Isn't it wrong that I should feel the need to spend five long paragraphs on Buffy after an episode that was finally all about Anya? Sheesh. Guess it really is all about Buffy.

Best Moments:
All of the 880 flashbacks. The use of the film grain was really neat, the language was hysterical, Olaf was amusing, and the whole thing was just very well done.

And made the cut to her trying to wash the blood off that much more chilling. < shudder > Gorgeous directing and segues throughout.

Willow finding the girl in the closet. Really, really effective directing, and the spider attack was totally wigsome.

Post-Troll Olaf stuff. Just way too hysterically funny.

Buffy balancing the pencil cup on her forehead. A quick, fun little throwaway bit that was so very Buffy.

Willow's confrontation with Anya. No punches pulled, just one friend trying to get through to another. This is what it's all about.

Xander's confrontation with Buffy. He was making all of the right points, and she was just refusing to hear him. Willow's miserable expression as she listened just made it rougher.

Anya's song in the OMWF flashback. The song itself is fluff and silly and worth muting, but the sheer jolt of delight as we realized we were back in that wonderful, awesome episode was the best! And the mustard singing in the background was hilarious.

Which, of course, made the segue to Anya impaled that much more brutal. Again, awesome transitions.

Xander tackling Buffy. Cheers all around.

Anya's confrontation with D'Hoffryn. Give it up for Emma Caulfield, who was just amazing throughout the entire scene. Halfrek's death was particularly well-done -- unexpected and horrifying even if you hated her.

Anya walking away from Xander. Totally heart-breaking.

Questions and Comments:
This episode was just rife with continuity -- not only the factual stuff, like Anya's past, but scenes that were reminiscent of things we saw a long time ago, and brought back all those old echoes. Willow finding the bodies in the frat house took us back to first season, and her friends' bodies sprawled throughout the AV room. Buffy's sword through Anya's chest was an unavoidable echo of when she sent Angel to hell. Anya walking across the UC Sunnydale campus at night, crying, brought but memories of the end of Harsh Light of Day, after her one-night stand with Xander. Truly gorgeous work throughout.

And one more touch of continuity -- almost five years later, Xander's lie to Buffy as she headed off to fight Angelus is finally revealed. Just when you think you'd forgotten....

Wow, that was a bad wig on Anya in the OMWF flashback.

Question: D'Hoffryn told Anya the price for unmaking the wish, was a vengeance demon's "life and soul." Vengeance demons have souls? So, where does that put them in the "kill/don't kill" rules? is it still okay to fight them? Another shade of gray for everyone to deal with.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of five. A really brilliantly done episode, all characterization issues on Buffy aside. Emma Caulfield was amazing, Nick Brendon turned in a great performance, the directing was first rate, and most of the writing was at the top of the charts.


"They've been leading up to this for a while and I *really* liked the confrontation between Xander and Buffy." -- Dawn

"[T]hat face-off between Buffy and Xander was *long* overdue. Hell of it was, neither of them was completely wrong. They were both mostly right, with allowances for their own biases (Xander re: Spike, Buffy re: ultimate solutions). Awesome stuff." -- Chris

"We haven't had an Anya centered plot in... have we ever? At all?"
"No. I think not. Can't count Triangle, Where the Wild Things Are, or even Hell's Bells; she shared the stage with Xander, Willow, or whoever else was in those. Cooool. " -- Dawn and Chris

"I adored this ep. Lots of reasons. But I think the cheesy foreign-movie 50's film-stock backstory is one of the big reasons. I don't know if Emma and Benrubi are graduates of the Latka Gravas School of Foreign Languages, or if that was meant to be a real language (I seriously doubt it) but their conversations were a trip. They did a wonderful job of conveying the meaning through the nonsense syllables. I do wonder about those bunnies, though. Yeee. But the conversation about 'load-bearing hips' and then his conversion to a Troll - and the reactions ("He's doing his Olaf impression!) could not be improved on." -- Chris

"Particular kudos for *finally* letting Willow know about Xander's supremely selfish lie to Buffy: "Kick his ass!" way back in season 2. Though I love Xander, I've always been mad at him for that one."
"I was *stunned* by that. I'm always impressed by continuity and picking up lost threads and all, but *damn*! I honestly thought they'd long forgotten about that one!"
"I can't help but remark that if it were Spike or Angel who'd pulled a stunt like that, Xander would be the one howling for head on pike. The boy's so completely immersed in his emotions that he can't even recognize irony, let alone hypocrisy." -- Gina, Dianne and Mike

"And can I just say, our Slayer looks remarkably stupid >for forgetting you can't kill a vengeance demon that >way? Maybe she meant to cut off her head, but I'm not sure even that would've worked on Anya. Invulnerable is invulnerable. Silly, silly Buffy."
"I'm not sure I believe she *forgot*. I think that as determined as she was and as much as she knew it was her *job* to kill Anya, it was devastating Buffy--both the killing a friend part and the what it would do to other friends part. I think doing it "wrong" the first time (even if she ultimately would have done it *right*) was part of that conflictedness. Not to mention the echo of her stabbing Angel the same way and sending him to Hell."
"I got the impression that Buffy impaled her knowing it wouldn't kill her (and apologized for hurting her so much), hoping that showing how entirely serious she was might click Anya into being willing to change or into being willing to admit she was willing to change; I saw it as Buffy essentially giving her one last chance." -- Chris, Gina and Amy

"Speaking of echoes, was anyone reminded of Willow finding the carnage in the A/V room in "Prophecy Girl" during the carnage-in-the-frat-house scene?"
"It was the first thing I thought of when I she walked through the door and saw the handprints on the wall. Perhaps we'll see references to the invisible girl during Buffy's mentoring sessions, or Dawn will go out for cheerleading and Buffy will give a variation on Giles' speech on cults. Or maybe not." -- Gina and Karen

"Actually, I'm pretty sure [Buffy]'s never tried to kill Giles. At least, not seriously... wait. I'm wrong. Except she didn't know he was Giles at the time, she just thought he was a Fyarl demon. Does that count? And she stopped as soon as she knew it was him. : > Homicide as a part of friendship: Welcome to Sunnydale." -- Chris

"And wow. What backstory; *finally* an often one-note or three-joke character has a center, a reason for being so intense and over-focused and simplistic. She was always tactless and awkward and sometimes unlikable; and that made her lonely and and needy. She's been grabbing onto things outside herself to define her identity for the last 1200 years. Her entire basis for glomming onto Xander so hard and so fast is understandable now. Not that he's not a sweetie, but their relationship developed awful damn quick; and now it's not just an ex-demon trying to be normal that was driving that. To have it all make *sense* at last is just a joy. Yayyy!" -- Chris

"I enjoyed this ep tremendously--as I have enjoyed this entire season thus far. It's so nice to unreservedly *enjoy* the show again; for me it's been a very long time." -- Amy

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