6.12: Doublemeat Palace
[Admin Note 1: Yes, I have started to become a wordy bastard, hence the second page for the rest of the reviews for Season Six. The first page is already way too long, so it makes sense, though next season I'll probably stop being so lazy and put each review on a separate page.]
[Admin Note 2: Somebody e-mailed me and asked why I don't credit the Writer & Director of each episode. To be honest, I'd simply forgotten to do it and I feel a bit guilty about it. If you've ever tried to write anything longer than a couple of pages, you know the effort that goes into the creative process. So, from now on, every review will have the writer/director credits, if only so you know who to blame ;-)]
Not the greatest episode really. But it advances the plots along and raises a couple of questions at the same time.
First off all, Buffy is working in a fast food Burger restaurant to earn money. Now, I realise she has a house and a sibling to feed, but surely there's other 'better' dead end jobs she could have taken. I mean, making burgers and cleaning grills is probably down there with the worst jobs ever. What about clerical stuff? It's probably equally low paid, but at least it's more a 9 to 5 affair and she would be able to spend more time with Dawn, not to mention bad guys. To be honest, I'm surprised she didn't go to the Bronze for a bar job. She'd spent most of her life hanging out there and she probably knows the process just by osmosis. Mind you, when's the last time the gang actually hung out at The Bronze? It's always the Magic Shop or Buffys house. That seems a shame to me.
As Dawn also comments, if she spends all her time at the fast food place and Slaying, she's not going to get the chance to aquire the qualifications to have a 'good' job. I think the only real solution is for Buffy to sell the house, get a smaller one or move into the Magic Shop, then she could go to college without worrying about huge debts and manage to go Slaying at the same time. It's not perfect, but it's better than her current situation. What about the Council as well? Could she apply for a 'loan' from them if she agreed to go back under their supervision? Would she have to get a new watcher? Could be a new story there (ah, my creative juices are flowing ;-)).
Willow is still struggling with her abstinence from Magic, which is nice to see. It was very interesting when Amy gave her another 'shot' and Willow found herself tripping again. What is Amy up to exactly? Does she just want companionship or is their something more sinister at play here? I liked Willow trying to hide the fact she was 'overcharged' and was making pencils turn to rubber. It was essential she told Amy to get lost because as we all know, association with users who are still 'taking' magic will only make her task all that much harder, plus the fact that Amy essentially forced Willow to take the magic without her consent. I still don't really relate the old Amy to this one, but I'm not going to go on and on about it (well, actually, I still am as you can see, but that's the last of it. Honest.)
Spike was always on the periphery of the episode and got his weekly Shag With Buffy™. He did raise thoughts that Buffy and the viewer were thinking when he said that working in the Doublemeat Palace would kill her spirit. But his offers of giving her money weren't entirely made out of love. He wants her to be more dependent on him, another hook into her. He's already got her 'addicted' to the sheer animal lust part of him, but he knows that once that's cut, he's got nothing. Plus, did he really have to say it out loud? Buffy knows it's a shit job and it isn't stimulating, but the money Giles gave her has presumably ran out and she does need to earn cash. Heaven probably looks more appealing again with every burger flipped.
As for the rest, Xander and Anya are still carrying on with wedding preparations. It just seems such a lazy way to use these characters. Remember when Xander used to have solo adventures? He still can and be in love with Anya at the same time y'know! I mean, enough already. Please give them something else to do. Actually, in all fairness, the introduction of Halfrek is a welcome new element with Anya. She actually raises some good points regarding Anya's personality being watered down by Xander. I think it's for the best that Anya learns tact, but she is undeniably not the person she was and that can make you stop and think for a second. Xander isn't without his flaws either and she never comments on them. Whether Halfrek is simply trying to stir up trouble or maybe is genuinely worried about Anya will certainly be interesting. Sadly, Xander is still worried-about-wedding man and doesn't have a great deal to do.
You may (or may not) have noticed that I've barely (if at all) commented on the plot. That's because it wasn't that good and was the least interesting part of the episode. Buffy suspects the burgers are human. They're not, but a monster is eating folk. She kills it. Filler stuff at best, but the ongoing plot lines more than make up for it.
Other moments of note: Liked the reference to the Vulcan lady on Enterprise, another UPN show, though personally I prefer the linguist (whose name totally escapes me at the moment); No Tara?; The inroduction video was quite funny.
A bit of a duff episode, but it's saved by the other plotlines going on. - 3/5
6.13: Dead Things
This was a surprisingly dark episode and a welcome change after the fluff last week. Lot's of characters were advanced in various ways and realised that the choices they have been making are coming back to bite them on the ass.
Buffy finally confided in someone about her 'relationship' with Spike. And it wasn't Willow. Instead Tara, who has definitely taken on a motherly type role for the Summers girls, was the one Buffy confessed to. She couldn't really tell Willow, not because she would be judgmental, but simply because she is struggling to keep her own head above water. Xander would be judgmental and would (and when he finds out almost certainly will) freak out. Anya falls into the S'yeah, right category. And Dawns obviously to young. And that's it as far as her rather small circle of friends goes.
Tara is very caring and tells her there is nothing wrong with her affair with Spike. It makes her feel alive and happy (at the time anyway), Spikes happy, so she doesn't have to feel ashamed. But Buffy is clearly not happy with her desires and rather risqué new sex life she is experiencing and it has been eating away at her for weeks. Hence the outburst of grief and crying into Taras lap. That was really excellent performances from SMG & Amber. Tara has really been coming into her own character recently and the separation from Willow has really given her a chance to breathe. Something that Anya could do be doing with to be honest.
We also find out that Buffys cellular structure is slightly different and that is why Spikes chip isn't kicking in when he sees her. To be honest, I'm not really impressed with this reasoning. It seems there could be a great storyline in here and it's just being quickly brushed under the rug. And just what is the deal with this Chip? It seems to have it's own radar now that can scan people on a molecular level. How the hell does it work?
The Geek troika also took a step into the Big Bads shoes. They have killed now, albeit accidentally, but they have crossed the line. It's becoming clear that Warren really is a psychopath and he really doesn't seem like a funny nerd anymore. Andrew is becoming Apt Pupil boy and only Jonathon is still remembering his conscience. But that doesn't convince him to go to the police. And he's instrumental in tricking Buffy into thinking that she killed Katrina. Yeah, he's unhappy about it, but he still goes along with it.
Hearing Katrina talking about rape was very disturbing and really brought home to Jonathon & Andrew what they were doing. It's unusual to see BtVS talking about such a brutal real life subject head on, but that is why it stands out more and makes the scene so much darker.
Another dark scene was when Spike lets Buffy beat him up and he gets a real thrashing. He truly does love her and is willing to go to any lengths so she doesn't have to confess to the police. She feels total disgust at the way he coldly tried to dispose of Katrina's body and this fuels her emotions even more. It's incredibly intense.
Other moments of note: Dawn is still not a happy bunny and feels Buffy doesn't want her. It's consistent, but she really must be forgetting Buffy sacrificing herself to save her. Yeah, she's a teenager, so I'll cut her some slack, but it could get old real fast; Nice moment with Xander & Dawn dancing; the early scenes with the Troika are very funny.
Excellent episode that really sets the Season 6 ball rolling. - 5/5
6.14: Older and Far Away
This was great, a real back to basics approach. I'm always partial to the low budget episodes where the cast are stuck in a room (or a house in this case) and have to interact with each other. It's been too long since the entire cast simply sat down and talked and it proved very enjoyable.
Buffys birthday is one of the anniversaries that is pretty much always mentioned every Season, a bit like the Halloween episodes. I don't think Season 1 had one, but Season 2 had Surprise/Innocence (2.13 & 2.14) (where Angel turns evil), Season 3's Helpless (3.12) (where Giles betrayed her), Season 4 had A New Man (4.12) (where Giles becomes a demon) and Season 5 had Blood Ties (5.13) (where Dawn goes off her rocker). Which brings us to Season 6.
Thankfully, the 'Dawn is stealing to be noticed' storyline has come to an end as Anya accidentally finds all the loot. Though it's clear Dawn left the tag on the jacket to be caught, I hardly think it would be construed as concrete proof that she's planning a career as the next pink panther. I'm getting the feeling that the writers aren't sure where to take Dawn exactly. She doesn't really seem to have a purpose beyond being Buffys little sister who moans a lot. Possibly an accurate representation of a teenage girl but not my cup of tea. Let's not forget she was The Key and didn't exist until a year ago. Surely there's got to be some follow up on that, including the fact that Buffy died for her and any lingering 'powers'. She does have otherworldly origins after all. What about the monks who created her, her 'fathers' if you will? Wouldn't any of them be interested in seeing how their creation, their 'daughter', was getting on?
The other character who has been pissing me of recently (not that I was intending on making a list here btw, but you go with the flow of your thoughts y'know?) is Anya. She is seriously in danger of becoming my least favourite character in the history of the series and I used to defend her as well! The problem I have with her is a couple of things. For one, she doesn't seem to have grown or matured since she really joined the Scoobies in Season 4. She's rude, always speaks her mind even if she should keep her thoughts private and is obsessed with money and sex. Basically, the same as Cordy (minus the sex part). But Cordy has grown as a person on Angel and is almost unrecognisable from her Season 1 persona. Which is all the more disappointing to realise that Anya has backtracked. At the start of this season, she was in control of the Magic box, getting married to Xander and with the thinning of the cast she was in a prime position to be more developed. But recently all she has done is be obsessed with the wedding and get more unpleasant. She was well out of order by practically forcing Willow to do magic and going absolutely crazy with Dawn's stealing. Now, both these points were valid claims she was making, but it's the way she made them. Having the loudest voice and brow beating doesn't mean you should always win the argument. Anya needs to get some sort of depth quickly and hopefully after the wedding she'll be more funnier and less grating.
Now, Tara on the other hand, is the exact opposite of Anya. She is really coming into her own and is becoming a real character. Buffy respects her enough to confide in her and Spike always seems slightly unsure of her, in a good way. She seems to be a wallflower, but her humorous jibes at Spike really throws him off balance, which was fun to see. And Tara was having fun! That's the great thing about her. And her relationship with Willow is still uncomfortable, but she rallies to her defence from Anya. Tara is a rounded person now with problems, happy moments and complicated relationships. She is my dark horse to watch this year and I really hope the writers don't feel the need to kill of any more characters, though I can appreciate how emotional it would be and that makes great entertainment.
Willow is still struggling and the fact that she had a 'stash' just in case was very believable. In fact, if she didn't have some sort of safety blanket she would indeed spend all her time thinking about it. It's an excellent point and makes perfect sense. Also of interest is the genuine curiosity that she is a powerful witch with access to magic but she's not using them. Does the magic weaken if you don't use it regular? That would be better because every dangerous situation Willow (or indeed the gang) finds themselves in will always be slightly strange now since she has the ability to pull their fat out the fire if they really need it and it might make big fights a bit flat. It's good to see her relationship with Tara is being well written as they carefully tip toe round each other, ever closer but not quite touching. Yet.
Xander had something else to do rather that telling Anya to be quiet and it made all the difference to me. In fact that's another negative quality that Anya's had (yes, I'm in a bad mood today ;-)). Xander/Anya are far too entwined. They need to get some separate stories and ironically, though they were trapped in the house together, I felt Xander had more time on screen solo than before (whether this was just an impression or genuine longer solo screen time I'm not sure).
And, of course, Buffy & Spike. Strangely, they had the least advancement of any characters, which is odd when you consider Buffy brought the demon in and it's her birthday, plus Spike was so crucial in events last week. But they are fun together on screen, though Tara slyly joking with Spike and his utter disconcertion is laugh out loud material.
The fact that I haven't mentioned the plot shouldn't be taken as a bad sign. This was an excellent story idea (apparently there are a couple of references to earlier stories that came up with this first but I must confess to never having heard of them). The battle with the demon was tense because they couldn't get out of the house. In fact, Buffy disposed of it relatively easily first time around in a fair fight, which makes it so more exciting to watch the Scoobies battle as the rules have changed.
Right, I've rambled on way too long. Other moments of note: The reappearance of Hallie was nice as it really does give the impression that the writers have pre planned events in the Season; Nice scenes with Sophie and Rich; Clem was good stuff as well; really nice finish with Buffy closing the door and Dawns happy face; the demon was cool with his disappearing into the wall trick and the way he was defeated for a 2nd time.
Good stuff all round then - 4/5
6.15: As You Were
Quite an unpopular episode judging by a lot of peoples comments on newsgroups. To be honest, I'm a bit surprised, as I quite liked it. Three important things were done in this episode: 1 - Buffy (and us) finally got closure on Riley; 2 - Buffy finally ended her relationship with Spike by using one word that let everybody know that it was over and 3 - Xander & Anya have finally realised that the wedding lasts for a day, but the marriage will last a lifetime.
So, to elaborate slightly (but you knew that was coming anyway ;-)):
Riley is happily married to Sam, an attractive young woman who also serves the Government. He seems to be having a great life, the exact opposite of Buffys year of hell. But he's happy to see her and work with her fighting the beastie. The real question posed here isn't whether Buffy & Riley still like each other, but whether Buffy will like her replacement, Sam. The writers have come up with a very likeable character, not a crawler, but equally not an abrasive 'Sir, yes sir!!' army fanatic either. Buffy and Willow don't want to like her, but they do and so do we. Personally, while I think Buffy should have dated Forrest (who was capable of having flaws and not being Captain America), I didn't mind Riley. But I wasn't that sad to see him leave either. It was the way he left that was abrupt and unsatisfactory. So I'm glad he's back for one episode to wrap up his storyline.
Buffy ending her 'ship with Spike was the right move I think. At first, I didn't think it was a good idea given the fact that they work so well together (not quite the chemistry with Angel mind you, but close or so different that you can't compare them). But the fact is that Spike is a demon, a Vampire who as we all know are inherently evil because they don't have a Soul. He's held in check by the chip (aka the radar, molecular scanner, x-ray machine, moral guidance, etc.), which combined with the fact that he loves Buffy and was a passionate person when he was alive means that he is doing good. But if Buffy was to suddenly become evil he would probably be as equally likely to commit horrendous acts, simply because he loves Buffy. Now even if his chip does get removed and he is a bonafide Vamp again, I don't think he would attack the Scoobys or anyone close to them, because a) It would hurt Buffy and b) He genuinely likes these people and has no reason to harm them. Angel was clearly evil on a huge scale and didn't care. Spike does and that's why he can save Dawn, but discard the corpse of a young girl with nary a thought. And he does love Buffy, which is why she ends it with him. It's not satisfactory for either of them in the long term, but probably far more damaging for Buffy who needs to fully return to life. Which is why when she says 'William' she is finally respecting him, treating him as more than a sex toy (much as he did with the Buffybot (RIP)) and ending the relationship for both of their sakes.
Buffy realised that Spike was still without real morals by hoarding the eggs. I still feel there was some other story behind that, maybe even something to help Buffy out? But what the hell was 'The Doctor' thing about? Can I get a 'hunh'? Will Buffy ever truly love Spike? Without his Soul I can't see how and even if his chip is removed and he shows he is a 'good doggie' that isn't, can't be enough. Until he sees that killing, that the death of humans is wrong, he can only be an ally, maybe a friend but not a lover.
And Xander & Anya finally realise (thanks to Sam - whatagal!) that the wedding probably will be a disaster. But that doesn't matter. They will be together forever and in love. Nuff said.
Other moments of note: I liked Willow pretending to hate Sam so Buffy would feel better; Also a nice moment when Sam tells Willow the story about the 2 witches to make her realise that she wasn't weak for being seduced by the black magic; Xander and Anya in the traffic were quite funny, but I can't say how happy that finally the Wedding is the next episode; Dawns reaction to Riley was nicely done; the whole opening 'bad day' sequence for Buffy was good; Riley and Spike exchanging barbs was nostalgic fun; good action scenes with Riley Bond, eh, Finn; Hurrah for the Bronze! Let's see the gang there more often (and more indie bands).
If you're a Riley fan, knock it up to a 4, if you're a Riley hater knock it down to a 2 and if you're just a BtVS fan stick with my final score - 3/5
6.16: Hell's Bells
Well, I never saw that one coming. I genuinely thought that Xander & Anya would get married and live happily ever after. Which is not to say it's not going to happen. But after this episode you'd maybe think twice before betting on it.
So, first of all, the biggest event in the episode. Clem's from out of town (nah, just joshing). Xander admits to Anya he doesn't want to get married and they effectively break up. Now, forget the why's and reasons for the mo'. Was this a good decision for the writers to take? Will this lead to betters story's for the characters and does it make sense? At first glance, it seems a bad move. Xander & Anya have been talking about the wedding forever and I was simply glad it was finally getting done. That seems to make all those convo's between Xander & Anya pointless as nothing will come of it. But on the other hand, Xander has been reluctant to wed from day one, postponing the announcement at the start of the season for no apparent reasons beyond irrational fear. It now seems quite likely that he did think that they were going to die in The Gift (5.22) and had no real intention of following through on it. Anya even pulls him up on it in that episode and he refutes it, maybe even believes it at the time. But that's the beauty of going into certain death battles (if one can find a silver lining in such an event): you can say anything you like and not worry about the consequences (actually, Buffy coming back from the grace contradicts that statement, but you know what I mean). And that seems to be the case here. Xander obviously loves Anya, but is petrified of the wedding. It seems kind of odd just after the penny seemed to have dropped in the previous episode when he realised that the wedding didn't really matter, it was the marriage that counted, but his fear was deeply ingrained and it wasn't hard to see why.
The Harris clan are surely every brides parents worse nightmare, a drunken abusive rude bunch that seem to be continuously unhappy. And that is the template that Xander is meant to base his life on? Yeesh, I'd have second thoughts as well. This being Buffy of course, the Demon clan seems incredibly civil and come across as genuinely good mannered people, albeit they're demons and are prone to having tentacles. Anya can be relatively safe in assuming her family aren't the nightmares here.
What about Anya though? Is she entirely blameless in all this? Ultimately, you could say her past literally came back to haunt her, because if she wasn't a vengeance demon then the guy would never have came to ruin her life. Her vengeance demon past is something that's very much brushed over in BtVS. She's easily maimed, mutilated and killed more people than Spike & Angel put together yet shows no remorse what so ever. And she has a soul. You didn't see her walking the streets of Sunnydale Homeless and tortured, did you? In fact, if ever there was an argument that Spike could really be redeemed without a Soul, it's Anya as she simply doesn't care about her past and she has a Soul. If Spike could be made to care about his victims, to feel sorrow, then he would be redeemed. But I don't see that happening and I'm getting sidetracked here. All season she has obsessed over the wedding and has generally fuelled Xanders worries. Yet, it's only in the past few episodes that her personality has really started to grate against me. I think it's crediting the writers too much, as I don't think it was intentional. But never the less, I found myself wondering if Xander really was making a mistake marrying her and here we are, marriage abandoned. Strangely enough, in this episode I felt Anya really matured as her wedding vows got more and more close to what she really felt. I found myself liking her again and felt good about the wedding. Then it got blown apart.
The 'future Xander' was an effective way of seeding serious doubt in young Xander. The possible future did look unbelievably grim, yet very possible, maybe even probable? Were Xanders parents in love when they first met? There must have been something, some sort of spark when they first met. Yet they ended up as the couple from Hell. The only thing that didn't ring true for me was Buffys death. After she's just been resurrected and it didn't really hold any weight with me, but actually killing Anya was just too far. Even a bitter depressed Xander would know that he couldn't go that far. But that wasn't really the point for Xander. It simply confirmed his worst nightmares and even though he knew in his heart of hearts it wouldn't come to that, there was enough reality in the vision to make his doubts flourish.
Was it a good move then? I actually think it was. I've been saying (moaning) about how Xander never gets any story's now. He's reduced to always being with Anya and always reacting and commenting on events, never starting them. Just as with Tara breaking up with Willow showed how a character can really come good with some time alone on screen, so Xander needs to get back to basics as well. Personally, I'd be happy for Anya to have her own life as well, as I think the character is redeemable, but if all she's going to do is stand next to Xander and take his best lines, then she's best to leave. Which she may well do judging by the ending as she is offered her the old Vengeance gig again. (Hey, possibly foreshadowed in Restless (4.22) - that episode never ceases to amaze me!). But with Tara still looking the favourite to leave, it seems unlikely that Anya will go as well. Whatever happens, it can only be beneficial to both of these characters to have time apart from each other.
Other moments of note: I've concentrated solely on Xander & Anya, but there was a lot of other stuff going on. Spike showed up with a less than reputable looking girl (not a vamp I presume?), but he and Buffy seem to have an understanding and he genuinely didn't want to cause her grief. The fact he left halfway through spoke volumes; Arghhh!! How did Anya find out about Xander running away? By overhearing Dawn talking about it! Cut it out! No more! This plot device must! Be! Slayed! ; The whole build up to the wedding was good fun and very enjoyable, especially the 'core scoobies' of Xander, Willow & Buffy; Willow & Tara had a lot of nice scenes together; Dawn seems to be a bit more likeable this episode, which combined with my hopes for Anya mean all the satellite characters are starting to come good. Yay!; The two families were incredibly funny and the excuse for Anyas family being from the circus was so crazy as to actually be believable (though a tad insulting if you actually come from circus breeding I presume); Buffy trying to delay proceedings was hilarious; You know, the guy with the grudge against Anya really didn't need to end in a demon fight - I think enough was going on as it was; Hey, anyone else think Buffy & Xander made a cute couple? And there isn't anyone else for Buffy to go out with apart from Spike...cue the onslaught of B/X shippers!; What an incredibly depressing ending - truly BtVS is the show of angst.
This was a total curveball for me, but I'm glad it happened. If only because it means they won't be talking about the wedding anymore, but mainly because it can only be good for Xander and Anya. Let us hope they warrant a paragraph review each in the future like this ep and are not continually shoved together. - 4/5
TARA: Uh, I'm not sure you should say 'sex poodle' in your vows.
6.17: Normal Again
Wow, great little episode that that has lots of small things to move the plot forward and a fascinating premise. Namely, that Buffy is in a mental institution and has imagined the entire BtVS mythology.
I've seen this used before in a comic called Legends of the Dark Knight that had a similar idea. Bruce Wayne was an alcoholic in a detox centre and his millionaire playboy status and Batman were all a fantasy (the story was entitled Masks I think). It was an intriguing idea because not only does it involve the main character, but also the fan.
It would be a creative and financial disaster for Mutant Enemy to write off 6 years worth of story's as being the ravings of a delusional patient and the idea that it could be true devalues the story's that preceded it. If it is true, then the time that the fan has invested emotionally and intellectually into the Buffyverse has all been wasted. I saw it happen in Marvel comics (sorry to keep going of on tangents here) with Spiderman comics. They wanted to say that the past 15 years of Spiderman history was actually a clone and the real Spiderman had actually been elsewhere. The fans were understandably not happy, as they had spent 30 years with one character only to be told that no, the past 15 years were bunkum and would never be referred to again (check out the Grayhaven link on the links page for more info on the infamous clone saga).
Now imagine that Buffy really was in an institution and all the other characters were written off. No Angel, no scoobies or Giles. Just Buffy as a normal teenage girl. It would be incredibly disrespectful to long term fans and would piss on all the great story's of the past. Which is of course why Joss & co. would never do such a thing. But they are devious enough to plant the suggestion. What if..? And that's why it's such a good episode. It's ballsy and a risk taker, especially the end.
The scenes in the institution are very dark, not at all what we associate with our Sunnydale heroine. She looks wasted, truly delirious and not at all thinking straight. But what makes the scenes really work is the doctor and her parents. The doctor methodically and sensibly goes through all the points that certain fans have been unhappy about all season. The lame villains, working in the dead end job, shagging people she dislikes. She used to fight Gods, but now her world is little more than a nine to five. His arguments are extremely persuasive and there doesn't seem to be any real response to them. But it's her parents that really clinch the deal. Nice job getting KS back as Joyce though I can't remember if the dad is played by the same actor. They both come across as distraught parents and there's no hint that they're 'evil' or 'in' on something. They simply want their daughter back. That's what tilts the episode from the norm. Their conviction to help their daughter comes through, but if Buffy beats the monster, they lose her to a coma. But if they win, then all of the Buffyverse has been fake for the past 6 years. Great stuff.
The clincher though is the finale. As Joyce tells her daughter to be strong and remind herself that she is surrounded by people who love her, Buffy realises what she has to do. And she's completely lucid when she says goodbye to her mother, who has a face that is almost unreadable. She has reached Buffy and given her the best advice she can think off, but it's backfired. Buffy retreats further into the coma and becomes more aware of her surroundings in the 'Buffyverse'. Yet the final shot is of her lying in bed, catatonic and the doctor saying they've lost her. It just gives that certain element of doubt, that feeling that maybe all this is in the mind of a delusional Buffy Summers (as apposed to the delusional mind of Joss ;-)). There's no doubt that the rest of the series will be in the Buffyverse and not a blockbusting hour of Buffy lying in bed for the next 2 years. But is it all a hallucination? We'll never truly know and that's what's upsetting some of the die hard fans. Personally, I couldn't care if it turned out a dog was dreaming these adventures as long as the internal logic is sound and the tales are good. But it still gives you a slight shiver when you think, what if...?
In other news, there was actually other things going on in the Buffyverse. The Tara seeing another girl and Willow misreading it plot is a bit bizarre. We all know that it's not really a girlfriend, and Buffy tells her as such, so why this plotline is even here is a mystery. Unless she really is Tara's girlfriend, which would be a twist. The Geek Troika continue to hover on the edges of truly evil, but Jonathon will surely come good. Xander returning a broken man and no sign of Anya was very enjoyable (in a sadistic way). More solo Xander please as he had more to do and say in this ep. than if Anya was around. It makes sense Anya went awol though and I really do think she will become a VD (terrible abbreviation that) again. Spike and Buffy seem to still be a bit thorny and he's not letting her go quite as easy as I though he would. Threatening to tell her friends of their flings was probably a bad move, not to mention that he let it slip to Xander. By mistake? Nah, I'm not buying it. Spikes a genius at these mind games and if he wants someone to know something then he will let them figure it out with his seemingly throwaway statements. Buffy also told Dawn (albeit she might not have heard since she was being chased by her mad sis). I've gotta say that Dawn has slid backwards into ungrateful teenager again for me. Seriously, what was her beef with her sick sister who was delusional? Xander & Willow weren't in the 'real' world either. And if the 'Buffyverse' was the fantasy, why would she expect to be in the 'real' world if she didn't really exist? Actually, Dawns reaction is probably the biggest proof you can get that Sunnydale does indeed exist and these are real people. No one would create a fantasy with an annoying teenage sister is they could help it. That combined with her mothers death means that her fantasy wasn't a very nice place to live in. Rest easy fans, the Buffyverse is real (but what if…?) (nah, just foolin' ;-)). And let us not forget that Tara saves the day with her cool magic. The girls crucial to the group and it's going to be a Doyle sized shame if she leaves.
Scores please maestro. The writer, Diego, is new to me but if it’s his first script it's a cracker that makes the final score - 5/5
Joyce: We'll always be with you. There's a world of strength in your heart, honey. I know there is. You just have to find it again.
Believe in yourself.
Buffy: You're right... Thank you.