This is what happened this year: Buffy died. Willow brought her back. Buffy was in Heaven. Giles left. The Legion of Dorkness was formed to be pains in Buffy's ass. Willow used too much magic, Tara left her, Willow went cold-turkey. Buffy shagged Spike, Buffy stopped shagging Spike. Xander and Anya got engaged, Xander and Anya got unengaged, Anya went back to professional vengeance. Anya shagged Spike, they got caught, Spike spilled the beans about Buffy. Dawn went klepto, Willow and Tara got back together. Spike tried to rape Buffy, Spike left to get rid of the chip. Buffy caught the LoD, Warren shot Buffy, Warren killed Tara. Willow went Dark Side, saved Buffy, and killed Warren.
Seconds after Willow pulls her post-murder disappearing act, Buffy, Xander and Anya race through the wood on an intercept course. But human Xander can't keep up the pace; he's apparently already thrown up once. Given her parting words, there's really no doubt where she's heading -- to kill Andrew and Jonathan. Since Willow has to fly instead to teleporting (flashier, but slower), they've got a little time -- as Anya demonstrates by teleporting to the jail herself. The other two resume moving, worried about Willow and freaked over Warren's death. "Willow just killed someone. It changes you -- believe me, I know." And Andrew and Jonathan don't have it coming, Buffy points out. "Whatever she's going through, we have to stop her." But, since Willow trashes Xander's car in passing, that's going to be harder. Buffy takes off at a Slyer-paced run, leaving Xander to shout helplessly after her, "Okay, then, I'll just catch up. She's only my best friend, you know. No big deal, just..." he slams his fist into the remains of his car. "Glad I can help."
Sunnydale Police Headquarters is fairly peaceful, considering they have two supervillains locked up and a homicidal witch on the way. Andrew is busily engaged in listening for radio signals from Warren to tell them how he's going to break them out, and Jonathan is losing all patience with Andrew's denial of reality. "Hey, Warren, do you read me? Your girlfriend's pathetic. Over." Andrew informs Jonathan he was out of Trio long ago, because he had no respect for the chain of the command. "See how far it's gotten you?" Jonathan shoots back, and a girly shove fight ensues. Until Anya appears inside the cell and they both stare in surprise. She informs they have to get out or die, and shouts for the guard. Jonathan hesitantly asks for details, which she provides concisely (and once again refers to Willow as a Wicca instead of a witch, which I'm going to rant about later, although I'm not sure why I even bother anymore) before shouting for the guard again. Andrews staggers under the news of Warren's death as the guard arrives, and blinks in shock at Anya. "something's coming. Something bad. You have to let these men out of here or I guarantee you, there will be hell to pay." Guard: "Okay... uh, what exactly's coming?" Anya: "One of the many things in this world you are not prepared to deal with.... And we're running out time." The guard, being a Sunnydale cop, goes into instant denial, even when Anya teleports to the other side of the bars.
It's too late anyway; Hurricane Willow blows into town in a whirlwind of black-clad lightning. She brushes a cop out of her way and starts pulling the bricks from the wall of Andrew and Jonathan's cell. "You three wait here," the guard orders in a fit of macho. Andrew snarks, "Oh, like we have a choice," as Anya yells after the guard, "Are you listening? This is the one place we won't be safe!" Chunks of falling masonry crush police cars as cops come boiling out of the building. Willow sends two of them flying and keeps up with the demolition, as Andrew cowers inside. "Tell her we didn't do anything!" Jonathan shoots back, "Yes, we did. We signed on. We teamed up. We wanted to see where our plans would take us. Well, take a look. This is it!" Buffy arrives as the cops recover their comrades and try to organize; while DarkWillow inadvertently keeps them distracted, she races inside and up towards detention. DarkWillow takes a more direct route and flies up from outside -- only to find the cell empty, the bars bent. "Buffy." Anya remained behind and tries to reason with her; Willow tosses her against the wall and screams a banshee wail of absolute fury.
The others can hear from downstairs, and take off running in the police car Xander has managed to steal. They take off for nowhere in particular. "Run and hide, that's your brilliant plan?" Andrew demands. Xander snaps over his shoulder, "Boys, if you don't knock it off, I will pull this car over, and you can just walk to your painful deaths from here." Willow strides out of the police station and sets off like she's got a homing beacon attached to her prey. "I don't get it, Jonathan asks hesitantly. "Willow's a witch. Why doesn't she just wave her arms and make us dead?" Buffy answers, "Because she doesn't want you dead. She wants to kill you." A fine, yet crucial distinction, yes. "but we didn't do anything," Andrew asserts yet again. Buffy's only response is to turn and bitchslap him hard upside the head. He subsides in pain and Xander points out that he has a point; DarkWillow should have caught them by now. Buffy theorizes that Willow needs time to work up her mojo and find them. "I still can't believe that was Willow," Jonathan says. "I mean, I've known her almost as long as you guys. Willow was... you know... she packed her own lunches and wore floods and was always... just Willow." A loud bang suddenly shakes the car, as headlights flood the interior. "What was that?" Jonathan demands. "Just Willow," Xander answers. All attention his attention is on his driving, since there's a big ol' honkin' semi coming up behind them, DarkWillow standing on it's hood, obviously in full control as the driver struggles against her.
The semi rear-ends them again and again. "Drive faster," is Buffy's only suggestion. It's not enough, the semi slams into them and starts pushing. But, "She's draining," Jonathan the warlock realizes, as he sees DarkWillow stagger. Then she falls and the semi finally falls back, jackknifing to a halt in the middle of the highway.
Back in the land of the not-fighting, Dawn paces impatiently in Spike's crypt, now Clem's. The demonic babysitter is conducting a cheesy chip taste test, but failing to hold his charge's attention. Which he realizes and is apologetic for, but it's not his fault. He offers to take Dawn to a movie, but there's only one place Dawn wants to go -- wherever the action is. "Clem. Look at me. Do I look weak to you? Or incapable?" Clem assures her she doesn't. "Then why am I stuck here?" Clem answers honestly, "No good reason that I can see." Except, of course, the good reason that Dawn's sister is the Slayer and it behooves Clem to stay on her good side. But he's easily manipulated, and Dawn needs a demon to help her. "Spike would," she challenges. Clem points out: "Spike's gone."
And yet still finding trouble; that's our boy. In the Cave of Answered Wishes/Blinding Torment, Spike is preparing for his trial (and doing it with his shirt off, which is certainly making it less torturous for the female demographic. Female demographic thanks him!). "You understand, then?" the entity intones. "Yeah, yeah." Spike says impatiently. "It's not like you haven't been clear about it, oh great Mysterious One. This is a test. I don't get what I want unless I pass said test. That about the size and shape? ...And since your pad is decked out gladiator-style, and no #2 pencils have been provided, I guess we're not starting with the written." Ah, good guess. An equally shirtless and much more hugely built guy comes out of the shadows behind Spike, settling in for a 'to the death' match. "He we are now," Spike says smugly. "Entertain us." Which the big bruiser does by lifting his fists -- whereupon they promptly burst into flame. He doesn't appear to notice, but Spike certainly does, especially when the first one slams into him.
But, back at the ranch, Dawn and Clem are doing the 'search all of the alleyways in Sunnydale until we find Rack' routine that's become so popular this season. Clem is so not happy; Rack is a "bad element". But Dawn is determined, since she thinks Rack can help them find Willow, especially in her current state. Clem sticks, either to prove his macho or to keep Dawn from being alone, but warns her that Rack will want something in return. "I have money," Dawn shoots back, but that's not what Clem meant; Rack does nasty things with little girls. "Even if you find Willow," he adds, "you really think you can stop her?" Dawn just gives him her resolve face.
Buffy and Xander, the remainder of the LoD (henceforth refered to as the DoD, the Duo of Dorkness) in tow, follow Anya into the Magic Box as a temporary sanctuary. Anya can't sense Willow anymore, which means, "whatever she's feeling has gone way beyond simple vengeance." Andrew volunteers to summon a demon that cold kill Willow; Xander volunteers to do damage to Andrew. Buffy breaks it up, telling them to find something magic to defend against Willow. Anya pulls a book of 'anti-magic' spells from behind the counter -- it's intact, but in ancient text, which she can't read. Jonathan tries to take a look at it to help and is quashed in no uncertain terms by Buffy, who informs him he's only being protected so they can protect Willow from herself. "If you die, Willow crosses a line and I lose a friend. And I hate losing." Jonathan hesitantly tells her Willow is running out of power, and she's going to need a recharge. Buffy thanks him, tells him to shut up, and he retreats. Xander take a second to ask privately if they've got a plan for once they get Willow to stop for a second. "I talk to her," Buffy responds simply.
The floor of Rack's room is littered with bodies, dead or otherwise; when the door opens, he looks up from the runestones he's laying out on the couch. "I've been waiting for you," he informs DarkWillow as she stands over him. He gets up, complimenting her on her new dark powers. "When you first came to me, you were just a little slip of a girl. Look at you now -- so growed up. So full of dark juice. And you still taste like strawberries. Only now... you're ripe." But his seductive routine takes him too close to Willow, and he realizes too late what kind of power he's flirting with. "Tell me, strawberry, what do you want?" he asks. DarkWillow smiles. "Just to take a little tour." Her hand slams into his chest and power flares, as she drains Rack into herself. Dawn and Clem pop from the street into Rack's waiting room; she lets Clem wait outside and blithely wanders into the lion's den. "Willow?" she calls, before turning to find Rack's drained body dangling from the ceiling. "Hey, cutie," DarkWillow greets her calmly from beside it.
"You look terrible," Dawn gasps. "Do I?" DarkWillow asks, faintly interested. And she really does; her face is starting to get all veiny. Dawn accuses, "You're back on the magicks." DarkWillow moves calmly forward. "No, honey, I am the magicks." She blows off her murder of Rack; Dawn tries to run and DarkWillow grabs her. "You don't have to talk," she advises. "Just think real loud. I can hear you." Dawn is thoroughly freaked by now. "I miss Tara, too. But this, what you're doing here? Is not the way to go! It'll just make things worse!" But Willow is still hung up on the mention of Tara's name. She asks Dawn if she misses Tara, if she cried. "Of course you did. You cry because you're human. But you weren't always.... You used to be some mystic ball of energy." She shoves Dawn backwards. "Wanna go back? End the pain? You'll be happier. I'll be happier. We'll all be a lot happier without listening to the constant whining," she mocks. "It's time you go back to being a little energy ball. No more tears, Dawnie." But as she advances to make good her threat, the door slams open; Rack's seeing a lot of business tonight. But it's the Slayer who stands in the open door, taking in the scene. "You need to get away from her."
Xander and Anya are trying to translate the protection text and play nice, and not being particularly successful at either. Jonathan again tries to offer help and is rebuffed; Andrew wants to know why he's helping them. Andrew's plan: use that stuff from the magic shop to break lose and run. Start over. "You can even be the leader -- I'll take orders, I swear. I like taking orders." And the saddest thing about Andrew is that he's completely sincere. "You want an order?" Jonathan asks -- right before he grabs Andrew's collar and backs him against a bookcase. "Grow up."
Xander shouts at them to break it up from across the room so the protection brigade can concentrate. "And then what?" Andrew demands. "You think your little witch bitch is going to stop with us? You saw her -- she's a truck-driving magic mama! And we've got maybe seconds before Darth Rosenberg grinds everybody into Jawa-burgers, and not one of you bunch has the midiclorians to stop her." Xander blinks. "You've never had any tiny bit of sex, have you?" he asks, but Anya says, "The annoying virgin has a point." Xander is still clinging to the belief that Willow won't hurt her friends. "She tries to use you as a hood ornament, Xander. She doesn't care if you live or die." Xander shrugs. "Guess you two finally have something in common." Anya looks away. "I care if you live or die, Xander. I'm just not sure which one I want." Xander sucks it up and demands to know Anya will turn on him if things get ugly. She tells him she can't officially do anything to him, "So smile, it's your lucky day. You got away with it; I can't hurt you." Xander: "Right, 'cause you varnishing the table with Spike -- how could that possibly have hurt?" Anya, very seriously: "That wasn't vengeance. It was solace. Look, I really can't hurt you, so I'm just going to have to settle for hating you." Xander: "If that's what you need to do." Anya whirls on him, informing his that he doesn't get to pay martyr. "None of this would be happening if it weren't for you!" He answers bleakly, "You think I don't know that? You think I think I'm the hero of this piece?" Turns out he's been blaming himself for not moving fast enough when Warren showed up with the gun, for not single-handedly being able to stop him, to save Buffy and Tara. For being only human. "You want me to know how useless I am? That it's my fault? Thanks. Already got the memo." Anya says softly, "I was talking about us."
Buffy is still confronting DarkWillow and trying to save Dawn. She manages to talk her way to her sister and get her running, but Willow locks the door. Buffy keeps talking, trying to reach her: "You have to remember -- you're still Willow." Dark Willow: "Let me tell you something -- Willow was a loser. From junior high to high school, all the way up until college. With her mousy ways... and now? Willow's a junkie! The only thing Willow was ever good for -- the only thing I had going for me -- was the moments, just moments, when Tara would look at me like I was wonderful. And now, it will never. Happen. Again." Buffy tries to talk hr out of her current suicidal route, reminding her what she has to live for, but DarkWillow calls her on the hypocrisy in seconds. The room seems to rotate around them as she reminds Buffy of the various crap of the last year. "The only time you were ever at peace in your whole life was when you were dead. Until Willow brought you back." They abruptly stop moving -- and stagger, since they're now in the Magic Box. "sorry, the tip can be kind of rough. If you're not me." Dawn collapses and Buffy falls next to her, as Willow turns and spots her prey. "Jonathan. Andrew. You boys like magic don't you? Abracadabra." Lightning shoots from her hands at the two boys.
And does no damage. DarkWillow blinks, then adjusts and tries it again. She's so intent, she doesn't see Anya hiding over near the door, reciting from book held tightly to her chest. The DoD makes a break for it, but the door's locked; the both grab swords and turn as DarkWillow attacks again. And an ocean away, Spike slams into a stone wall, battered and bloody as Firehands advances on him. He's in full-on mad, and takes whatever hits he needs to get through. Finally, he simply grabs one of the flaming hands and holds on long enough to slam a punch home. And comes up nearly whimpering, "Bad move! Bad move!" as he looks at his singed hand. But it doesn't stop him from finally judo-throwing Firehands to the ground, and leaning over to break his neck. He stands up, triumphant, and faces the entity. He's passed... the first stage. "Bugger," he says tightly, and gets ready.
Willow keeps doing her Emperor imitation at the boys, and nothing keeps happening. She congratulates the boys on a great counterspell, as Buffy keeps trying to talk, DarkWillow keeps ignoring her, and Anya keeps chanting. DarkWillow casts another spell: "Now I'm pretty sure I'm strong enough to beat you to death." She topples over a table to prove it, and Buffy steps into her path. "I don't want to hurt you," the Slayer announces. DarkWillow tosses her across the room with one motion. "Not a problem." Buffy gets back up as Xander moves in front of Dawn. "I said I didn't want to," Buffy announces, and sends DarkWillow flying with one punch. "Didn't say I wouldn't." Xander, Dawn and the boys start for the door, in case Buffy loses; Xander tries to pick up Anya on the way. But she won't go; without her, there's no one to do the counterspell to stop Willow. "Go!" she orders. "Do something right!" They bail, and Buffy grabs DarkWillow to keep her from following. DarkWillow faces her. "This is a huge deal for me. Six years as a sideman. Now I get to be the Slayer." Buffy: "A killer isn't a Slayer. Being a Slayer means something you can't conceive of." DarkWillow: "Oh, Buffy. You really need to have every square inch of your ass kicked." Buffy: "Then show me what you've got. And I'll show you what a Slayer really is." And the fight is on. As when she fought Warren, they're matched strength for strength, but DarkWillow's spell gave her moves Warren never dreamed of. As the other four march down the street looking desperately for someplace safe, DarkWillow takes the upper hand in the fight, But Buffy tackles her from behind, staying in it. But she takes a second to try to reach Willow, and Willow isn't home; DarkWillow pounds Buffy into the ground.
Still armed with swords, Andrew tries to stage a coup, holding the blade to Xander's throat. Buffy throws DarkWillow across the room -- which gives her the perfect view of the still-chanting Anya. She keeps chanting even as DarkWillow advances. Andrew savors power and panic in one -- and Jonathan's sword comes up to rest under his ear. "Let him go." Andrew folds. "Xander's right," Jonathan declares, very seriously. "We're not leaving Sunnydale. When this is over, you and I are going back to jail to do our time."
If they live that long. Which Anya might not; Willow gets her by the throat to stop the chanting. She throws Anya into the shelves and the demon slumps to the floor, unconscious. DarkWillow advances on Buffy. "I get it now. The Slayer thing really isn't about the violence. It's about the power." She sends a bolt of lightning shooting into the Slayer, and she goes down for the last time. "And there's no one in the world with the power to stop me now," she declares confidently -- before a huge ball of light and magic tears across the room and sends her flying to the floor. Literally. She struggles upwards, her nose bleeding, to look for the source of the attack.
"I'd like to test that theory," Rupert Giles says from the front door of the Magic Box.
Willow's death count is up to two, Warren and Rack, but the gang is still trying to stop her before she kills someone anyone cares about.
Oh, and Giles is home. < eg >
Who has time? Anya and Xander's detante seems like it will last past the current crisis; Anya's run out of energy to care at this point.
Giles!!!! Wheeee! I can't imagine the thrill if I hadn't been spoiled that ASH would be back; as it was, I'd forgotten by the end of the ep, so there was a lot of shrieking, squealing and rewinding involved. Wow, that man know how to make an entrance, and big with the mojo, too. Outstanding.
Willow has thrown herself into this whole darkside with great enthusiasm, and i can't say her dark side isn't a particularly nasty one. Fixating on Jonathan and Andrew I can almost understand, killing Rack I can totally understand (and Jeff Kober and Brian Thompson are now tied for most episodes as Bad Guys), but threatning Dawn -- particularly with that particular threat -- was way outside the forgiveable. God knows the girl can whine, but she's 15, it's her job. And while I occasionally have desperately wanted the kicking of Buffy's ass, seeing Willow do it lacked a certain satisfaction. So how much of that is Willow and how much is the magic? She was doing a nice job of disassociating herself for a while, but seemed to come back to the first-person -- her riff about never getting any more moments with Tara was heartbreaking. It's going to be interesting to see how the guilt shakes out.
Did anyone else want Buffy to just Stop Talking at any point? She was getting repetitive by the second confrontation; by the third, I was ready to knock her across the room myself. < rolling eyes > It was way fun to hear Willow slap her down for being a howling hypocrite, though. Buffy is forced to deliver a lot of lines that are hugely boring, but unfortunately necessary for The Hero, and SMG took the brunt of it. I have sympathy, but I'm going to snark at her a lot.
Watching Xander the second time around is much more bearable, knowing what the set-up is for him suddenly harping on being 'useless' and all. I can see where it's coming from -- being right there and unable to stop either Warren or Willow -- but we went through this two or three years ago in The Zeppo, and the redux was only marginally tolerable. I love Xander, seriously, and I can't always say that, but after the first hour, I did seriously want him to get over it already.
Anya comes through in the clutch in a way I never would have suspected her capable of. She was right in the middle of the action trying to save the Duo of Dorkness, she stuck it out to keep reciting the spell, and she dealt with Xander with grace and composure and honesty. As a demon, Anya makes a pretty damned impressive human.
Dawn is continuing to grow up well; going off to hunt down Rack shows good instincts and a total lack of self-preservation, but she held it together when confrontd with DarkWillow and did her level best to help Willow. Can't fault the girl for loyalty, no matter how much you questions her survival instincts. And how sweet was Clem trying to take care of her and talk to her? He's just a wonderful character!
As far as the DoD goes, I find it faintly pathetic and extremely apropos that half the Scoobies still can't remember Andrew's name. He's so ineffectual whenever he tries to act on his own, too full of fear and bitterness to think of anything other than sving his own skin. By contrast, jonathan looks almost heroic -- trying to help the Scoobies research, offering whatever knowledge he has and, in the end, throwing down against Andrew to help Xander. I understand why the Scoobies refused his help, but they were dumb to do so; in crisis situations, when there's a warlock around sincerely offering aid, you take it!
Anya appearing in the jail cell. Emma Caulfield started out doing a fabulous job and just kept delivering. And the entire pathetic display from the DoD leading up to it was hilarious.
Willow's assault on the police station was very nicely done, the directing and FX very impressive.
Clem's taste tast and the ensuing discussion. He is way adorable with Dawn -- I paricularly loved the "No reason that I can see" honesty of his interactions with her. Love Clem.
Spike settling in for his "trial" -- shirtless thing aside, you gotta love the attitude.
Willow killing Rack. I'm sorry, he's an ick, and seeing him go down rocked.
Anya and Xander's conversation at the Magic Box. That's the closest thing to a mature dialogue the two of them have ever had.
Anytime Alyson Hannigan got to chew the scenery in the Magic Box. Fabulous performance.
Anya choosing to stay behind to chant. See above re: Emma Caulfield rocking the house down.
Jonathan facing down Andrew. Gotta love him.
Giles' entrance. 'Nuff said.
Questions and Comments:
Love the previously on, especially Xander's intro. < g > I'm entertained.
Magicks. Grr. I can practically hear that pretentious k they're tossing in there. And can I bitch one more time about using Wicca as a synoym for witch, rather than a practitioner of a specific groups of pagan traditions? Heard it before? Okay. Just wish someone had actually listened. Very, very irritating.
Rating: 5 out of 5. A solid first half for the finale, and ramps up nicely at the end. Dude.
SunSpeak for this episode will be posted with the review for Grave, since everyone talked about both of them at the same time, and I don't have the kind of time it would take to sort it out.
Back to Episodes.
SunSpeak for this episode will be posted with the review for Grave, since everyone talked about both of them at the same time, and I don't have the kind of time it would take to sort it out.
Back to Episodes.