Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy: Spike found out he could hit back; this somehow lead to hot monkey sex in a collapsing building. Tara broke up with Willow, Willow made Amy human again, and Willow and Amy got into a little magical fun in the Bronze. Oh, and the Legion of Dorkness stole a really honking big diamond. But, back to the hot monkey sex...

Cartoons are playing when Tara and Dawn wake up the next morning on the couch in the Summers living room, where they were waiting for Willow and Buffy to come home. The girls start worrying as they realize no one came home; Tara tries to reassure Dawn that everything's all right. But Buffy would beg to differ with that assessment, since on the other side of town she's waking up naked next to Spike. Who is also naked. [For some reason, she seems to have a problem with this. Personally, I'm enjoying the view...] The building is pretty much rubble around them; Spike wakes up as Buffy starts panicking and scrambling for her clothes, asking., "When did the building fall down?" Spike answers groggily, "I don't know. Must have been some time between the first time and the, uh..." He has to stop to count and finally settles for simply smiling like every other man in the history of the universe on the Morning After what was apparently mind-blowing sex. [I could have been a lot snarkier and much more ribald about that last comment; I'm restrained only by the knowledge that my father is going to be reading this, and he choked at my last mention of Red Shoe Diaries. So.... < g >] Buffy clutches Spike's coat closer around her and moans. The bad kind of moan, I mean. [I'm sorry, the jokes are just too easy. I refuse to synopsize these scenes -- or, in fact, any scenes that involve Spike naked -- without snerking.]

Buffy scurries around trying to locate her clothes and get dressed as Spike watches her, utterly unconcerned with the clothes thing. It's hard to tell whether she's freaking more about the 'sex with Spike' thing, or the 'left Dawn alone all night' thing. Spike just looks like he really wants a cigarette. Or two. Packs. He tries to treat this as your usual morning after; Buffy blows him off with "Last night was the end of this freak show." Spike grabs her, hauling her down to his lap. "Don't. Say. That." Buffy demands to know what he thought was going to happen. Spike proceeds to demonstrate what he thought was going to happen; Buffy fights him off for about three seconds before they're back with the snogging. Things are progressing predictably until Spike makes the mistake of opening his big mouth: "I knew it. I knew the only thing better than killing a Slayer would be--" Buffy shoves him away, scrambling to her feet. "Is that what this is about? Doing a Slayer?" He retaliates by throwing her track record with vampires in her face; she throws back, "A vampire got me hot. One. But he is gone. You're just... You're just convenient." Spike blinks in shock and hurt, but shakes it off, pulling on his clothes [off camera, damn that Standards and Practices thing ]. "So, what now? You go back to treating me like dirt until the next time you get an itch you can't scratch? Well, forget it. Last night changed things. I'm done being your whipping boy." Buffy: "It was a mistake" Spike: "Bollocks! It was a bloody revelation!" The conversation devolves to Spike telling her she'll come back for more, her deriding his belief that he's "God's gift." Buffy heads for the door again, but Spike stops her, locking his wrists behind her neck. "I may be dirt. But you're the one who likes to roll in it, Slayer." She threatens to kill him if he tells anyone; he looks back at her steadily, then hands her her panties. She punches him in the nose and flees.

Tara is busy making pancakes for Dawn, who is busy freaking. "What if they're all in a ditch somewhere? Ditches are bad. Mom always used to talk about the ditches." Tara assures her that nobody's in a ditch and they don't need to call the rest of the gang yet. Willow and Amy arrive through the back door, having apparently had a very good night, and Willow freezes when she sees Tara. After an awkward moment, Willow introduces Amy. "Everything's different now," Amy starts chattering. "The Bronze, for one," she says, with a very pointed look sideways at Willow. "And Willow! She's a freaking amazing witch! I could barely keep up with her last night." That goes over like the proverbial lead balloon; Amy finally realizes it and shuts up, but too late. Tara leaves suddenly as Buffy comes in the front door. Dawn greets her happily but notices, "You're all sore and limpy." Buffy denies any problems, but has problems sitting down. "I had a fight. An all-nighter." Asking about Tara leads to the answer that Willow was out all night; Buffy would be a lot angrier if she hadn't just done the same thing. And if Willow wasn't so visibly bummed after the encounter with Tara. They both excuse themselves to go get some badly needed sleep, and Amy goes home to face her father. "No problem," Dawn tries to smile, suddenly alone in the kitchen. "I just go... try to find some awake people." Upstairs, Willow wanders into her room and collapses on the bed; she gestures at the curtains with a magic gesture to get them to close. But nothing happens. After a second try, she has to get up to do it by hand before she falls asleep.

Awake people are apparently Xander and Anya [sporting a truly frightening bleach job, I might add], hard at work doing research at the magic shop, with no results. "All these demons are starting to look alike," Xander says. "You got reptiles, reptiles with horns, reptiles with gills, and I'm still finding nothing of the "steal a diamond, kill a guy" variety. Anya seems to be too deep in her research to respond, until Xander checks and finds out she's reading bridal magazines behind the covers of the books. She points out the pointlessness of research when they're not finding anything, and she's not wrong. When Buffy arrives to ask for a status report the best they can gives her is that Anya thinks Martha Stewart is a witch. "Nobody could do that much decoupage without calling on the powers of darkness." Obviously she's still in WeddingLand: "I can't decide whether to put my bridesmaids in cocktail dresses or the traditional burlap with blood larvae." [Tina, thank you for not going with the blood larvae. In case I haven't said it before.] Buffy pulls the bride and groom out of the debate, but the research results are still a big fat zero. Xander suggests asking Spike, which Buffy ixnays with lots of enthusiasm. The next idea is getting help from Willow, but Buffy tells them about the witch's late night. She's worried about Willow, and she's not the only one. Xander comments that Willow's "making herself a playmate to do magic with. Someone who monitor her like Tara." Buffy counters that Willow is a grown-up and should be left alone to work out her own reasons for acting like she is. "So what if she crosses a line? We all do stuff. Stupid stuff, and... we learn. We learn and we don't do it again," she assures herself, Spike's peroxide image totally not running through her brain. Xander backs off, but retains the right to be worried.

That night, Amy and Willow wander through Sunnydale trying to find something to top the previous night's fun. Willow tells Amy that last night wiped her out; it took her all day to be able to do magic again. [insert eloquent roll of eyes here] Amy grabs Willow, telling her, "I know this guy. And he knows spells that last for days, and the burnout factor is.. nothing... I'm not kidding you. This guy will blow your mind." Willow looks dubious. "Is it dangerous?" Amy smiles. "Will that stop you?" A little later, Amy leads the way through an alley; she stops at thin air and announces, "This is it." There's a door there; Amy backs through and disappears. Willow follows and finds herself in a crack house waiting room [only possible description]. Amy tells Willow the place is cloaked and moves around, to keep "Rack" out of trouble. The door on the opposite wall opens and Jeff Kober walks out, with long hair and that John-the-Baptist-after-a-40-day-fast expression happening. One of the girls in the waiting room immediately starts begging Rack for her fix, but he walks straight to Amy and Willow. "I believe these two are next."

Rack shows the girls into a back room; Amy has obviously known the guy for a long time. She tries to blow off her time away and he says flatly. "You were a rat. I hope that taught you not to mess with spells you can't handle. You should leave that in the hands of a professional." He rubs his together and they start glowing a rather nasty red as he advances on Willow. "This one's giving off vibes." She tells him she's getting tapped out too fast, and she's used all of her spells; he demands, "What do you want me to do about that?" She stammers, and he finally brings up the question of price, advancing on her. "You gotta give a little to get a little," he says. Amy gives her an encouraging look, and he lays a hand on her chest. "I'm just gonna take a little tour. Willow's head goes back as red light flares around them; Rack has the look of a man smoking some really good drugs. The lights dies and he leans forward, whispering in Willow's ear, "You taste like strawberries." Her eyes are still closed, and she smiles, weaving slightly from side to side.

Amy apparently gets her fix, too; Rack watches from the floor as she spins around the room wildly, so fast she's a blur. Willow lies back, enjoying her trip... from where her back is plastered against the ceiling. The rooms is swallowed in blackness; a voice chants in her head as she rolls around, looking down at a jungle, and a monster that suddenly comes through, snarling at her. She shrieks and falls from the ceiling to land hard against the floor. Then she's standing again, roaming from Rack's room to the magic box, her eyes black with magic. When she finally comes back to herself, she's on the floor of her bedroom, wit no idea how she got there. She makes it to the shower and stands under the water, crying. When she comes out, she sees Tara's box of stuff, left behind when she left, and pulls a shirt and skirt out of the box, taking it with her over to the bed. She gestures, and the clothes suddenly stand up as if there's a body in it; Willow leans into its ghostly embrace.

The next day, wakes up to find Dawn in the kitchen, flipping her new invention, peanut-butter-and-banana quesadillas, with her fingers. Willow's only up for water, her stomach upset. Buffy is already out for research and patrolling; Willow takes the chance to apologize for not coming home, which Dawn accepts cheerfully. Willow offers a meal out and a movie to make it up to her anyway; Dawn says she thought Willow was going out with Amy. Willow smiles and tells Dawn she'd rather be with her. Dawn smiles back and cheerfully ditches the quesadilla. "Remind me to never invent that again." They leave a message on the refrigerator and leave. Buffy comes home well after dark, and doesn't check the refrigerator; she heads straight upstairs, calling for her roommates. They're not in the house, but Willow's box of magic supplies is lying open, like someone's been rummaging through it. Buffy senses someone moving behind her and spins around -- to find Amy trying to sneak away. She pins the witch against a wall, relieving her of the plastic baggie she's holding. "It's not what you think it is - it's sage!" Buffy demands to know where Willow and Dawn are; Amy doesn't know ("They didn't let you in?" "Not that they know of..."), and Buffy shakes her down for whatever else she's taken, as Amy begs her to give it back, telling her that she needs it and Willow understands. "Understands what? Breaking into someone's house for kitchen spices? No, I don't think so!" Amy tells her, "She's as bad as I am. Worse. I bet she's at Rack's right now." Amy tells all about Rack, and says that Willow's probably there now. "With Dawn," Buffy realizes, and tries to make Amy tell her where Rack is. Amy throws up before she can be any help.

After dinner, Willow and Dawn head for the movie theater, but Willow, who didn't eat and is looking progressively worse. They talk for a second about Dawn's slumber party with Tara, and Dawn tells Willow that Tara misses her. She asks if Willow's okay, and realizes they aren't heading for the theater; Willow tells her they're making one quick stop. She and Dawn find Rack's without any trouble, and she takes Dawn in with her. Willow promises Dawn they'll still make the movie. "It doesn't matter if we miss the trailers," she says as she vanishes behind Rack's door. "I like the trailers," Dawn says quietly, all alone in the lobby.

A quick minute turns into long time, as Dawn sits on the couch in Rack's lobby hugging herself. Another junkie comes in and sits next to her and she moves away. Inside, Willow is suspended near the ceiling in a glowing orb of light, her face slack with pleasure. "What do you think, strawberry?" Rack asks from his slouch below her. "Can you handle some more?" He shoots another shot of energy up at her and Willow is flying through a starry universe, reaching out to try to touch the very 3D stars. Until a huge red hole opens in the sky, and something very scary begins to claw its way out. Rack laughs as Willow screams in terror.

Spike is asleep when a heavy candle suddenly bounces off his chest and he wakes up to find Buffy standing over him impatiently. He sits up [showing all of us that he's naked again and, again, none of us except Buffy mind in the slightest] and starts in on the sexual innuendo without missing a beat. "Get dressed. Dawn's missing," Buffy tells him, throwing his clothes at him. "Again?" Spike asks. "Ever think about a lo-jack for the girl?" Buffy tells him Dawn went out with Willow; he blows it off until she mentions Rack's name. "He deals in magic," Spike tells her. "Black stuff. Dangerous." He can find Rack's place because he's a vampire, and stands up to get moving. Buffy turns away [ see above re: naked] and he snarks, "Oh, that's right -- hide your blushing eyes," as he starts dressing. Dawn is still in Rack's lobby, waiting for Willow, when she finally loses her patience. But just as she's about to invade Rack's room, Willow comes out, her eyes black and every word of her body language screaming, "Stoned!" They leave, Dawn telling Willow she just wants to go home, but Willow wants some action. "Come on, Dawnie. It's grownup time. Do you want to play with the grownups or not?" Show her some and she might want to; right now, she wants to get the hell home and away from Willow. And the ugly thing that's stalking them down the alley, the same nasty thing that came out of Willow's hallucination rift.

Buffy and Spike are wandering the streets themselves, trying to get a fix on Rack's hideout. Buffy accuses Spike of dragging it out to get time with her; he tells her to get a grip. "things have changed," he reiterates. Buffy tells him to quit that. "The only thing that's different is that I'm disgusted with myself. That's the power of your charms. Last night... was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life." He smirks. "Yeah. Me, too." They start walking again as Buffy tells him, "That may be how you get off, but it's not my style." Spike: "No, it's your calling. Gave me a run for my money, Slayer." He continues, more seriously and with his usual appalling degree of honesty, "You've got me by the short hairs. I love you. You know it. But I got my rocks back. You felt something last night." Buffy: "Not love." Spike: "Not yet. But I'm in your system now. You're gonna crave me like I crave blood, and the next time you come calling, if you don't stop being such a bitch, maybe I will bite you." Buffy finally loses it and tells him she wants him out of her life, out of her home, out of her work. "Too late. You invited me in." He points out that she needs him, for things like finding Rack's place: "You really gonna put your little sis in danger just to spite me?"

Little sis is already in danger, since Willow is getting more and more irrational. Dawn hears a bad noise behind her and starts to run, but the Ugly Thing meets her at the front of the alley, and she pulls up short. "You summoned me, witch?" the Ugly Thing hisses at Willow, who desperately wants to believe it's not real. Which is pretty much disproved when it hits Dawn and she yelps in very real pain. Willow gets Dawn behind her, backing away, and magically knocks Mr. Ugly back. The two girls run, and Willow magically steals a car, steering by gesturing emphatically, and laughing as she careens recklessly down the street. She looks over her shoulder to throw a taunt at Mr. Ugly, so Dawn is the only one who sees the wall coming at them. Before Willow slams the car right into it.

The car is totaled, steam coming from under the crumbled hood, and Dawn and Willow aren't in much better shape. Dawn gets out of the car, holding her arm, and goes around to check on Willow. Before she can get there, Mr. Ugly jumps out at her and grabs her. She knocks him away and dives under the car, and he starts trying to drag her out. She screams; Buffy and Spike hear her a few streets away, and take off running. Mr. Ugly finally drags Dawn out, but she brings a handful of dirt with her, throwing it in the thing's eyes. It's not enough; it grabs her again and throws her down the alley, where she lands hard. It scuttles after the stunned girl, but Buffy tackles it from the side before it can touch her. Buffy begins fighting the thing as Spike goes directly to Dawn. The fight ranges up and down the alley, blow for blow, kick for kick, with Mr Ugly coming out on top. Until it starts trembling violently as it faces Buffy. "Now you're scared? Better late than never." But it's not the Slayer he's fighting now; he slowly vanishes into a cloud of fire and dust, revealing Willow standing behind him, power still arcing between her hands. She walks unsteadily forward, facing Buffy silently. Dawn's cries break the deadlock; Spike stands away as Buffy rushes to her sister. Dawn babbles an explanation through painful tears as Buffy starts trying to see how badly she's hurt. All three of them ignore a frantic Willow as she asks if Dawn's okay. "Stay away from her," Buffy says through her teeth, but Willow gets in front of them anyway, frantically apologizing to Dawn. The younger girl just stares at her with cold eyes and a face covered with sweat and blood, then slaps her. Spike supports her as she walks away, and Willow falls to the ground behind them, still crying and trying to apologize. Buffy finally stops; Spike goes ahead with Dawn as she turns back to her friend.

"I screwed it up. Everything. Tara..." Willow sobs, as Buffy pulls her to her feet. "Yeah, you did screw up!" Buffy says angrily. "You could have killed her. You almost did!" Willow's well aware of that. "I can't stop, Buffy. I tried and I can't! God, I need help! Help me, Please." She collapses forward onto Buffy, sobbing, and Buffy finally puts her arm around her.

At home, Willow sits on her bed wrapped in a blanket, staring sightlessly at the bedspread. Buffy comes in to tell her Dawn's asleep from the pain medicine. "But she's gonna be all right?" Buffy leans against the door frame, watching her. "It's a fracture. It's gonna take some time." She finally tells Willow she doesn't understand -- why Willow went to Rack, why she Dawn along. Willow can't give her a reason. "I thought I had it under control. But then, Tara... It started before she left. It's why she left." She can't really explain any of it, but asks Buffy, "If you could be plain old Willow or Super Willow, who would you be?" Buffy shakes her head, but her voice in gentle. "Will, there's nothing wrong with you. You don't need magic to be special." Willow: "Who was I? Just some girl. Tara didn't even know that girl." Reassurances that she is more than "just some girl" and that Tara loves her don't seem to help much; Buffy tries them anyway, and Willow tries to believe them. "It took me away from myself," Willow says quietly. "I was... free." That strikes a chord with Buffy, as more visions of Spike stride almost visibly through her head. "I get that. More than you... But it's wrong. People get hurt." Willow: "I was out of my mind. I did things, I can't even.... It won't happen again. I promise. No more spells. I'm finished." Buffy nods, identifying way too much. "Good. I think it's right. to give it up. No matter how good it feels." Willow says, "It's not worth it. Not if it messes with the people I love." And there are things about magic she won't miss, like the nosebleeds and the headaches and the "stinky yak cheese in my bra". The two sit quietly.

That night, Willow thrashes in withdrawal pains, as Buffy strings every window her bedroom with garlic and sits alone, playing with a wooden cross and staring uneasily and unhappily into the darkness.

Willow's fascination with magic has finally gotten her in way over her head; she's vowed to give it up after almost getting Dawn killed.

Buffy is back in the land of denial, trying to forget she ever slept with Spike, then making the decision to, apparently, try to cut him out of her life.

Well, Willow's finally gotten kicked in the ass about overuse of magic; I almost feel sorry for her, except she's been cruising towards this for over a year. It'd be nice to think this has finally brought her back to her senses, and I think it has -- the problem is, there's rarely any sense involved in addictions, and I don't think kicking this habit is going to be as easy as Willow hopes. It's too her credit that the thing that finally wakes her up is injury to someone she loves, but I honestly don't think she's hit rock bottom yet. It's one of those things I'd like to be wrong about, but I don't think I am.

And it's going to be a good long time before Dawn lets her forget about it; that girl can hold a grudge. That slap was totally justified, oh yes, and I firmly believe nothing short of a demon chasing them would have gotten Dawn in that car in the first place. And wow, was the Niblet impressive against that demon -- she did everything right, getting under the car, getting that dirt in its eyes, running the second she could... Very nice job by Dawn, and Michelle T's performance when she faces Willow was awesome.

I'm less impressed with Amy and Rack. Amy is more or less wasted, although Elizabeth Anne Allen does her best initially. But any fun we get from Amy readjusting to life as a non-rat is quickly canceled out by her immediate descent into desperate sage-stealing junkiedom. A jones that serious that fast suggests she was going to Rack long before she was turned into a rat -- she knew who he was and how to find him, when she'd barely been away from Willow -- but nothing in her character pre-rat suggests that kind of addiction. If anything, the girl was a control freak when we saw her in BBB and Gingerbread, after having had her body taken over like it was. It all plays into the metaphor, but it ain't subtle, and it is rather rampantly improbable character assassination for the sake of a metaphor.

Jeff Kober does his usual laid-back-yet-utterly-creepy job of being the bad guy; the scenes where's he's stretched out watching the girls are downright spinecrawling. I would have loved to have seen what he'd do with more time to play; but I do doubt we've seen the last of him. Let's see if he can beat Brian Thompson for most episodes before death. (Brian is at 4, between the Vessel and the Judge; Jeff's got 2 now, with Kralik and Rack.)

Gah. How much do I not want to deal with Buffy and Spike? < sigh > I can see where Buffy was pulling her identification with Willow from -- Spike is something of an addiction for her, something she's been using that she knows is bad for her, but that makes her feel alive. But I also think she's way over-identifying. Willow's magic problem is one thing; she's been paying a price all along for using magic (see above re nosebleeds, headaches, etc.), and it's started to cost her more than she can pay. Buffy's Spike problem, on the other hand... Spike hasn't taken much of anything from Buffy (I'm counting from when he got chipped; but even before then, the worst he did was hurt Angel, which wasn't about Buffy, and throw down with Buffy more than a few times), and he's spent the last year giving her as much as he's capable of. Which has saved her life at least once, and saved Dawn's at least once. As for hurting other people... the only person immediately in danger of getting hurt by Buffy's involvement with Spike is Spike, when she breaks it off. Xander would be pissed, yeah, but honestly, he's engaged to an ex-vengeance demon; Willow would be worried and upset, but has so no high ground. Dawn loves Spike. So, no, I'm not getting behind the over-identification.

The problem is that Buffy is resolutely refusing to think of Spike as a person, and that's what's going to make this end ugly. She's not 'treating [him] like a man' anymore, and it's gonna get ugly.

Not that Spike is helping his cause any by shooting off his mouth. I will note that he didn't turn into a bastard until Buffy started it (and not until well after, actually), but wow, he didn't waste any time catching up. That's right, Spike, fall back on loud-mouthed pride, that'll win a girl's heart. < rolling eyes > But he reverted to typical Spikeness with that devastating honesty he uses whenever he thinks it'll do him more good than lying. < g > He's patient as hell, and he'll wear her down yet... if she doesn't make him homicidally crazed first with this we-are-we-aren't crap. (Which, come to think of it, is pretty much exactly what Parker pulled on Buffy that we all wanted him dead for, only he did it without the insults and with more deliberate head games.)

I remain unabashedly on Spike's side in this. The entire relationship is still a Bad Idea in the most massive train-wreck sense of the words, but I'm on Spike's side all the way, however irrationally. So there.

Best Moments:
Tara and Dawn were just too cute waking up; I'm so glad Amber in hanging around. Bad enough to be missing Giles this badly; I wouldn't know what to do without Tara. And did I just jinx us or what?

The entire Spike/Buffy morning after scene was perfect -- in character, hurtful, sexy, awful in the best possible way. Great performances from both actors.

Anya hiding the bridal magazine with giggle-worthy. Having just survived participation in a major wedding, I'm relating way too well to this. The whole bridesmaid dress discussion was a scream.

Any time Rack was onscreen was cool; I love Jeff Kober as a bad guy. Did anyone else love him as Dodger on China Beach too, though, even though he was a known head case? Has he played a good guy since?

Dawn and the quesadilla was so teenager. Way too much fun.

Buffy waking Spike up. Entirely aside from the whole 'James naked' thing again (Wardrobe certainly had an easy week where he was concerned), the lo-jack crack was classic and the interaction between Spike and Buffy was perfect.

And the ensuring conversation down the street rocked as well, Spike bouncing from pervert to total heart-wide-open romantic to telling Buffy where to get off in his own inimitable way. Wow, I love James Marsters almost as much as I love Spike.

Willow after her fix. She was good when she was jonesing, and is far too convincing high.

Dawn fighting the monster -- you go, girl!!! And facing Willow after was, like I said, wonderfully done.

Allison got two great scenes and did her best with them in the end, crashing from the high, and coming the rest of the way down in the bedroom. The last dialogue between her and Buffy was a very nice treatment of love and addiction, and almost makes up for the heavy-handedness of the rest of the episode.

Questions and Comments:
Bless them for not running credits over the opening Buffy/Spike scene. < g >

Rack is uber-powerful, but Amy has to steal sage to give to him? He doesn't have a grocery store of his very own? Huh?

I'm not complaining about any episode that makes addiction look so damn unpleasant, but I can't help wishing it had been handled more deftly. Willow goes from flirting with the dark side to wallowing in it to coming out the bottom end far too quickly for it to have serious impact -- for it to feel real. The pacing is just too fast; right now, it feels like it should have been spread over at least two episodes, preferably three or four. I'll have to judge that when the episode set within the entire season but right now, the pacing costs it badly. (It also suffers in comparison to The West Wing's amazing treatment of alcoholism a few weeks ago.)

Rating: 3.5 out of five, provisionally. A semi-solid episode, with the drug metaphor being wielded like a steel baseball bat, and about as clumsily sometimes; the only thing that saves it are solid main characterization and stand-out performances from Allison Hannigan, Michelle T. and James Marsters. The rating may change after I get the chance to judge the pacing as part of the entire season, though.


"Well, that was anticlimactic. To coin a phrase. Or maybe it's just me? I dunno, I liked it, but it definitely wasn't as dramatic as the last three weeks. Loved how they handled Willow's growing addiction, even if parts may have been cheesy. It was all pretty, as well as pretty scary. The magic 'trips' were relaxing and dreamy and then the edge would creep in. Yeee.I kept thinking, "Willow, you're going to lose custody of Dawn if you take her on your little 'buys', babe." It was just all so movie-of-the-week, bad drug Mom with more mature kid, women-in-jeopardy. Maybe that's why I wasnt' more worried. Appalled, yes, and absolutely ready to shake sense in to Willow, but worried, no."
"Which still left plenty of room for trauma and badness. No, it's not just you, but I think it was about what it needed to be. Jack said something about being surprised it was so "pat", but it's not like it's actually "solved". It's a very very VERY rare addict who only hits bottom once in the recovery process. There'll be lots of backsliding and sneakiness and angst ahead." -- Chris

"I have only just now regained consciousness after last night's round of the Anvil Chorus. *sigh* I didn't *hate* it or anything, but I'm pretty disappointed in how un-subtle they were. I expect better." -- Mary Beth

"On the plus side, they showed Dawn doing every single smart thing that you're supposed to do if attacked --- trying to get under the car, throwing stuff in the demon's eyes, yelling instead of screaming. Go, girl!"
"And don't forget *nailing* the demon with that first kick! Big sis is definitely rubbing off on her." -- Chris and Val

"And Willow *so* had that slap coming.Which doesn't mean I'm not glad Buffy picked her up when she absolutely collapsed. No matter how mad she was, leaving Will there was not an option. And Willow is one of her best friends. This was a gigantic screw-up on a cosmic level, but she's finally *got* it, that she's out of hand with the magic. The only problem ahead that I can see is that it's going to be a lot harder to quit than she thinks it will be."
"I don't think Willow's really hit bottom yet. Oh, she's close but she still hasn't landed in the gutter. Really don't think we've seen the end of this." -- Chris and Maddog

"Buffy drawing the parallel between her behavior and Willow's... arggghhhh. *sigh* Inevitable. Not completely off-base. But still, I'm sorry, wrong. Spike is not an addiction. Maybe she realized she's with him for reasons that aren't the smartest or healthiest, but he's nowhere near as harmful as Willow's magic addiction. He would never hurt Dawn, or cause Buffy to hurt her. Or any of her other friends. He loves her. He wants her to be happy. He's got a weird idea of what that is in some ways, but... But I don't see a destructive pattern. Or am I in denial of my Spike addiction?"
"Yes and no. She's not where Willow is. But the possibility exists that she could get there. Don't forget that it's already caused her to lose track of her responsibilities once, and how close she came to staying in that collapsed house even after she realized it was morning. She clearly feels the potential to get that out of control. And I *would* already class it as an addiction, just not as far gone as Willow's. She's just incredibly lucky that her addiction happens to be a sentient being with his own concern for Dawn." -- Chris and Val

"Didn't like the comparison Buffy was drawing between Willow giving up magic and her giving up Spike. There's nothing inherently wrong with shagging your brains out with a vampire. Not if that vampire has proven his loyalty to you, your friends and your family time and again. (and looks really good and can apparently go at it like an undead rabbit) There is something inherently wrong with abusing magic and taking a 15 year old to the equivalent of a magical opium den. Willow had lost all persepctive. Yes, Buffy shouldn't have knocked the house down with Spike and not checked up on her sister. But she's been dead for a while and probably needed a bit of a release and she did think Willow would be home. So Buffy was irresponsible, Willow was reprehensible." -- Maddog

"Hmmm, salty Spike goodness. But I repeat myself. I *still* don't get why Buffy is sooo convinced that Spike is still soooo bad. I mean, the guy stuck around helping Dawn and the others for months after Buffy died. If that's all he was really after then why was he still helping them? He could've done nothing at all and been better off. The chip is obviously still the thing that's keeping him from munching people, but it isn't changing his motivations. And he helped them out long before he got the chip. And hey, maybe if he gets rid of the chip he could be selective about his dinner. To paraphrase Arnold in True Lies - Buffy: "Spike, you're eating people again!" Spike: "Yes, but they're all bad!" (Hey, I don't have a problem with him munching on muggers!)" -- Rastro

"The thing is, Buffy has to tell someone that is not Spike that (a) she thinks she has a problem, and (b) he told her she wasn't human any more. This isn't gonna work. I love the girl. I know she's trying to be responsible. I know she doesn't feel she can put this on Willow, and maybe she's too embarassed to tell Xander, and well, let's face it, telling Dawn would be bad. But *someone*, damnit. She can't handle this on her own, because Spike is right, and he does make her feel free, and safe, and that may not be love, but it's the beginning of it, and if this keeps up, she's just going to keep beating herself up for something that she can either accept or face up to, but not reject."
"Oh, God/dess, yes. And here we are, once AGAIN, at the "Buffy is having massively scary and disturbing issues and doesn't feel like she can tell anyone" place. I understand why, realistically, she would keep doing it and keep doing it, but it's still incredibly frustrating to watch her do it to herself. One of these days she has *got* to start believing that her friends will support her through anything, and let them do it. How to get her from here to there...well, apparently Joss hasn't figured it out yet, or she wouldn't still be doing it. *sigh* {{{hugs for mental-looping Slayer}}}" -- Chris and Val

"And Amy... jeeeez. Hard-core addict. Stealing other people's sage! That's like stealing their coke spoons! Bad, bad Amy. (I should be more sympathetic here, but I'm too amused at the metaphors and parallels to concentrate. Sorry.)" -- Chris

"I've been wondering for a while, but last night is when I really started suspecting that we'll see Amy come to a bad end this season. :-( This mess nearly killed Willow already. And Amy doesn't have the same support structure -- she's always made Willow and even Buffy look like rank amateurs in the pretending-everything's-fine category. When Catherine was around, it was a very literal survival mechanism; and once she was back with her dad, it has to have been all about making sure everything was perfect because otherwise he might leave her again. I'm betting it started with cheating in school, as we saw in BBB; she had missed an awful lot, even with Catherine making her do the homework, and after what she'd been through I can't imagine that her schoolwork *didn't* start to slip, thus ending the honeymoon period of staying home and making brownies with Dad. Which Amy, I'm sure, didn't want to end. Dad's probably completely oblivious (with magical assistance) to what was going on with her shortly pre-rat, and to what's going on with her now. It's a sure bet that she'll do *something* to him if he clues in and tries to intervene. I just have this bad feeling that one of Willow's shake-up calls is going to be seeing Amy go very messily *splat*." -- Val

"Oh, yeah, here's a question. What's up with Anya's hair? Has the girl had two hairstyles in a row this year? Does the hair department just love her, or what? Is Emma special? Does she get milkshakes while she lets them have whims with her mane? It's beginning to amaze me."
"I finally figured it out: pre-wedding jitters. She's experimenting with it constantly to find The Perfect Hair. And at the rate she's been messing with the color, she's going to have to find it in a wig shop..." -- Chris and Val

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