Buffy 6×06: All the Way

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Stephen DeKnight | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 10/30/2001]

Nothing great, but not as bad as many think. It’s pretty clear to me that the plot of “All the Way” isn’t that particularly entertaining or useful for character development, but when the episode does decide to focus on the non-Dawn characters it still provides some entertaining and useful bits and pieces. The plot so heavily leans on Dawn because the cast was too busy filming “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] . The problem isn’t that it features Dawn, but rather that it doesn’t do much of anything with Dawn in the process. Since a large chunk of the episode focuses on her, the end result isn’t all that great. I like Dawn, but it’s episodes like this that show me why I don’t ever love her as I do the other characters. The writers just rarely give her the attention she needs to fully flourish as a character of her own.

What we’ve got is separated into two sections. First being Xander and Anya’s on-the-spot engagement party which also emcompasses issues regarding Willow, Tara, Giles, and Buffy. The second being Dawn’s little definitely-not-“The Zeppo” [3×13] adventure. The former has some good stuff in it while the latter not so much. It all begins in the Magic Box during a Halloween day buying spree. I suppose I’ll start with Buffy. After being told to grab some supplies, Buffy heads down to the basement to find Spike stealing. This launches a conversation that leads to Spike asking Buffy for “a bit of the rough and tumble.” It’s quite clear he was genuinely asking her to go patrolling with him, but her response shows that Buffy has other things on her mind. This leads me to think that she’s been thinking about drowning her depression with something other than alcohol since “Life Serial” [6×05] , which is of course a subtle setup to their kiss in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] and all that follows.

Later on, at the party, Dawn fakes going to her friend Janice’s house to meet up with her and hook up with some guys. Before leaving she must get permission from Buffy to go, and Buffy’s immediately looks at Giles for an answer but doesn’t get one. He tells her “it’s really not up to me.” This continues the theme picked up on by Giles at the end of “Life Serial” [6×05] : Buffy needs to make her own decisions about her life and her family, and right now she’s completely avoiding them. So Buffy lets Dawn go and fails at keeping tabs on her whereabouts — an understandable mistake, but not one to avoid learning from and taking responsibility for by punishing Dawn in some form at the end of the episode, which poor Giles is left to do.

A small moment I appreciated was when Anya is making fun of the name ‘Rupert’ and it causes Buffy to crack a laugh. Laughs and smiles are a rarity this season for Buffy and are joyous to see whenever they subtly creep in — they continue to give us a small bit of hope for Buffy’s emotional re-strengthening. Anya ends up going on talking about how lucky she is to have found Xander. This causes an immediate saddened retrospective look on Buffy’s face, undoubtedly thinking about her failed relationships. There’s a brief scene that shows her walking outside alone, seeing happy couples walking by her, which goes to remind her how much she misses that warmth and companionship as she’s currently so, so far away from anything warm at all. As she sings in the next episode, “I touch the fire, and it freezes me.”

The revelation Buffy learned in “I Was Made to Love You” [5×15] about learning to be content with herself is probably the furthest from what she wants right now. This season she doesn’t want to face her enormous internal pain and find out who she is. Thinking she’s completely different and that she came back ‘wrong’ doesn’t help matters either. The important thing to realize is that even though Buffy doesn’t want to learn about herself (as a person), slowly dealing with her issues forces her to look largely inward, and she’s a much stronger person because of it. Even after all of this she comes to realize in “Chosen” [7×22] that she is still young and has much to learn about herself before settling down with someone. The start of this journey to find herself occurred in S2, but it’s not until this season that she’s forced to really fight with her inner demons — not as the Slayer, which she did in S5, but as a damaged human being.

While Willow may not be all to damaged yet, it won’t take long to get there at this rate. The build-up to something catastrophic resulting from Willow’s magic is building, with this episode playing an important role. At first she just does a decoration spell for Anya, but does it completely casually as if it was really cool. Everyone’s reaction is of great interest to me: Anya’s excited to get special attention, Dawn is clueless just thinking it’s ‘cool,’ Buffy is indifferent and wrapped up in her own thoughts (a neglect that’ll nearly cost Dawn her life in “Wrecked” [6×10] ), and Xander is caught up in the moment to notice anything wrong. But both Giles and Tara look extremely alarmed. These are the two characters that emerge as the most mature at this point of the series, which says a lot about how far Tara’s come from the submissive and stuttery ways of S4. This connects these two characters and is why they’ll sing together on similar topics in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] . I really appreciate this little scene.

Then, in private and proving her character’s growth, Tara stands up to Willow and is angry about her misuse of magic. When Willow coldly shuts Tara down, we see that Willow’s continuing to lose more of herself to black magic, which began burrowing itself a large whole in her personality after her spell to resurrect Buffy in “Bargaining Pt. 1” [6×01] . While searching for Dawn at the Bronze, we can see this part of Willow continue to seep out when she casually wants to shift everyone who is not a fifteen year old girl into an alternate dimension. Tara’s reaction to this is exactly what mine would be: “WHAT!?” This causes another argument in which Willow tells Tara keeping her mouth shut would “be a great start.” All of this leads to Willow erasing Tara’s mind of their arguments about magic use — a very disturbing extension, and confirmation of what Tara’s concerned about, of the casual excesses of black magic she’s been doing. You don’t escape clean when playing with dangerous forces in the Buffyverse.

Moving onto Xander and Anya now, I must say that there’s some immediate hints about the possible problem of a marriage between the two of them. With that said, the moment Xander uses Anya’s “dance of capitalist superiority” to inspire his engagement annoucement is a genuinely heartfelt move from him. Anya throwing her money at Dawn is an example of a sweet reciprocation of the moment. In the end, though, it turns out to have been a mistake for him to use his feelings (what he’s known for) to guide him rather than his intellect.

It’s unfortunate that ‘falling in love’ isn’t the most important ingredient in a successful relationship. Almost everyone falls in love, but how many of them end up having a sixty year wedding anniversery? I’ll obviously go more into this when “Hell’s Bells” [6×16] comes around. If only we could analyze our own lives from this retrospective vantage point — poor Xander could have used that ability before proposing to Anya in “The Gift” [5×22] . All of these hints and concerns are pulled out of him when talking with Giles about all this later. The fantasy of marriage is now over and reality sets in when Giles mentions saving up for a down payment on a house while Anya goes off about new cars and babies. Xander’s innocent smile very quickly deflates.

Well, I’ve put off talking about the plot enough. It begins decently enough with the creepy music during the creepy old guy’s introduction. The misleads on the show never get old. Endless shows before and after this one would have this man actually be something bad. It turns out he’s actually just a kooky, but harmless, older man. It’s unfortunate that this is where the positives end. Dawn hooks up with Janice and goes on a mischief spree with what turns out to be a couple vamps. Since so much of the episode focuses on this, the points kind of start falling off. It’s important, though, not to ignore all the solid character work I’ve disucssed just because the plot isn’t very good. This is something I unfortunately see a lot of Buffy fans do.

While it’s nice to see Dawn outside the house and on her own for once, these scenes comprise far too much of the episode, drag on, and aren’t terribly insightful or fascinating. All that’s really happening here is that Dawn’s acting out because she’s being neglected — that’s it. It does happen to be pretty fitting and amusing to see Dawn’s first kiss be with a vampire and then seeing Buffy get on her case because of it. I think Dawn has a point: it’s always different for Buffy. To Buffy’s credit, though, Angel did have a soul. But what about her upcoming relationship with Spike? That puts Dawn’s behavior in a bit more of a, however misguided, sympathetic light. Although at least Buffy took the time to learn to trust Angel a bit before kissing him (likewise with Spike).

Even though the plot drags on, I must admit the episode ends with an awesome quick succession of strong character scenes. Buffy tells Spike “good fight,” which shows how casual and friendly they’ve gotten with each other — an extension of their night out together in “Life Serial” [6×05] and her private confession to him in “After Life” [6×03] . This just goes to prove that where their relationship is heading has been very successfully and realistically built-up. After this scene, Buffy leaves the punishment of Dawn in Giles’ hands because she doesn’t want to deal with it. Giles does scold Dawn, but he’s clearly unhappy Buffy didn’t step-up and handle it herself. Giles convinced Buffy to do something similar in back in “Tough Love” [5×19] , but the major thing that’s different is Buffy — she’s different and is harboring something that explains her complete lack of interest in Dawn anymore. The episode then moves on to finish with Willow firmly stepping over the line by using a forgetting spell on Tara, which obviously has huge implications that are forced out into the open in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] .

In the end, “All the Way” proves to be very important in the background scenes but not-so-much in the main plot involving Dawn. The themes continuing to grow in the background are handled excellently but simply don’t have enough screen time to dominate the episode. It’s this quality, though, that keeps it afloat and that even tempted me in giving it a B-. When the plot so wholly misfires, though, the episode goes under the B-range, which is where this episode lands. So although the Dawn stuff dragged on, I still find it watchable and pretty important in its setup of future events.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Anya showing her love of superficial things by dressing up like Charlie’s Angels.
+ Buffy discovering why Giles is always cleaning his glasses.
+ Very cool ending fight and very fun to watch everyone be badass (go Giles!).
+ Xander’s attempt at being pirate-like. Mostly, he only succeeds at being annoying.


Foreshadowing

* Xander’s eyepatch. While not really directly foreshadowing, it is nonetheless interesting to notice in retrospect and cherish these happier moments.
* Willow suggests using a cleaning spell, like in . Giles immediately walks right by her and says, “We all know how splendidly that turned out for Mickey…” This is obviously referring to the segment “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in which Mickey’s magic goes wildly out of control. Lots to come from Willow in that department.
* When Giles gets the call from Janice’s mom he makes a comment about how he’s not in the loop about anything anymore and then takes complete charge of the situation. This action is what Giles brings to the table when there’s no giant evil, which has always given the Scoobies focus, around. Taking charge of personal problems is something new to everyone but Giles, which is why when he leaves in “Tabula Rasa” [6×08] everything in the Scoobies’ personal realm completely shatters.


[Score]

71/100

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62 thoughts on “Buffy 6×06: All the Way”

  1. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on March 14, 2007.]

    “The problem isn’t that it features Dawn, but rather that it doesn’t do much of anything with Dawn in the process. Since a large chunk of the episode focuses on her, the end result isn’t all that great. I like Dawn, but it’s episodes like this that show me what I don’t ever love her as I do the other characters. The writers just rarely give her the attention she needs to fully flourish as a character of her own.”

    I agree with your first bit, I think that’s the fundamental flaw with this episode. However, with your second part: I think the writers actually do give her the attention she needs as a character in season five, the main problem being in this season they evidently feel they’ve established her enough and stop worrying about her, which is a pity, because in both of Dawn’s character-centric episode’s she’s written in rather a mediocre way. She’s actually quite good elsewhere, but it’s hard to notice.

    “These are the two characters that emerge as the most mature at this point of the series, which says a lot about how far Tara’s come from the submissive and stuttery ways of S4.”

    Yeah, that’s one of my favourite things about this season, how well Tara is written. She’s the only character that’s better developed than in the previous season.

    “Moving onto Xander and Anya now, I must say that there’s some immediate hints about the possible problem of a marriage between the two of them. With that said, the moment Xander uses Anya’s “dance of capitalist superiority” to inspire his engagement annoucement is a genuinely heartfelt move from him. Anya throwing her money at Dawn is an example of a sweet reciprocation of the moment. In the end, though, it turns out to have been a mistake for him to use his feelings (what he’s known for) to guide him rather than his intellect.”

    I really disagree with this, which leads up to one of the big issues I have with “Hells Bells”. I’ll keep quiet for the most part till then, but I do think that although Xander has issues from the start with marriage, that in no way were those detrimental to the concept of it, and in fact that his overcoming them should have been a vital stage in his arc.

    “Even though the plot drags on, I must admit the episode ends with an awesome quick succession of strong character scenes. Buffy tells Spike “good fight,” which shows how casual and friendly they’ve gotten with each other — an extension of their night out together in Life Serial (6×05) and her private confession to him in After Life (6×03). This just goes to prove that where their relationship is heading has been very successfully and realistically built-up. After this scene, Buffy leaves the punishment of Dawn in Giles’ hands because she doesn’t want to deal with it. Giles does scold Dawn, but he’s clearly unhappy Buffy didn’t step-up and handle it herself. Giles convinced Buffy to do something similar in back in Tough Love (5×19), but the major thing that’s different is Buffy — she’s different and is harboring something that explains her complete lack of interest in Dawn anymore. The episode then moves on to finish with Willow firmly stepping over the line by using a forgetting spell on Tara, which obviously has huge implications that are forced out into the open in Once More, With Feeling (6×07).”

    All the way has some exceptional scenes in which it really shocks and challenges, unfortunately, they’re mostly concentrated into the last 5 minutes, leaving 40 minutes of filler. It’s very frustrating, especially considering that those last 5 minutes are just as strong as OMWF.

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  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 14, 2007.]

    In regard to my comment about the use of Dawn, I just wanted to say that I meant only this season onward, not S5. I’ll edit the review in a bit to reflect that.

    In regard to Xander, though, I must point out the fact that he never resolved his issues — he ran away from them. This is a better solution for him than “taking it,” but the shadow of his family still looms over him. If I have one regret about Xander’s development this season it’s that the writers didn’t show us more of this root problem but instead opted for continuiing to show us the result of that problem: insecurity with going through with the marriage.

    There’s a lot more going for this episode than the last five minutes but I agree with you that the plot, which takes up a good chunk of the episode, is filler.

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  3. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on March 14, 2007.]

    “”It does happen to be pretty fitting and amusing to see Dawn’s first kiss be with a vampire and then seeing Buffy get on her case because of it. I think Dawn has a point: it’s always different for Buffy. To Buffy’s credit, though, Angel did have a soul. But what about her upcoming relationship with Spike? That puts Dawn’s behavior in a bit more of a, however misguided, sympathetic light. Although at least Buffy took the time to learn to trust Angel a bit before kissing him (likewise with Spike).”

    Poor dawn! she didn’t even know he was a vampire when she was kissing him! i think she tries to run when the truth is revealled (correct me if i’m wrong) and she eventually stakes him. the difference between parking boy and buffy’s upcoming thing with spike is that parking boy wanted to turn Dawn, Spike didn’t. not that i like dawn that much, but i do feel some sympathy for her in this episode – she’s a teenage girl whose ‘parent’ is a sister who is plainly not interested in (or at this point, i would argue, emotionally capable of) the responsability of raising a child.

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  4. [Note: Ari posted this comment on March 21, 2007.]

    “This leads me to think that she’s been thinking about drowning her depression with something other than alcohol since Life Serial.”

    You make her using of Spike sound premeditated, which it wasn’t. Buffy simply having unbidden sexual thoughts about him here.

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  5. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 31, 2007.]

    While I agree that the whole plot was lame, I think it aduquately conveys the idea the writers were trying to get across, that Dawn wants attention and like many teenagers, is acting out to get it. I think they are also commenting on the dangers of bad parenting too; if Buffy had taken the time to verify where Dawn was going, nothing would have happened. Since she doesn’t though, Dawn almost gets killed, which could very well happen in real life, though admitedly not from a vamp. I think they drive the point home even further when she doesn’t even take the time to punish Dawn right after she almost got killed Most parents would have woken up and smelled the coffee by this time, and I don’t think Buffy’s extenuating curcumstances are anywhere near a good excuse for not taking the time to punish Dawn.

    Did anybody notice the “keep off the grass” sign in front of the old guy’s house, I wonder if that was part of the set or if they forgot to remove it before filming. I’m guessing the latter.

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  6. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 31, 2007.]

    Oh yeah and DD you might consider putting your extensive quotes inside <blockquote> </blockquote> tags so it will be indented like this:

    “this is a quote, blah, blah, blah”

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  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on December 30, 2007.]

    I don´t know why some people give this episode a hard time. I´ll admit it´s lacking in some areas, but still it has a lot of value. It seems that the two episodes focusing a lot on Dawn (All the way and Him) are very criticized by the fans. But I don´t know why.
    But again, great review.

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  8. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    Favorite bits: When Giles goes “Ripper” during the fight. I also didn’t see the boys/vamps thing coming. I should know by now to expect ANYONE to be a vamp. Also, I liked that the old man was a MacGuffin. I knew he was a warlock or something like that.

    Love the “Great Pumpkin” ref. Also Giles seemed to like the idea of a fifty-foot Giles squishing an annoying Xander.

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  9. [Note: Sam posted this comment on December 6, 2008.]

    I’m fairly certain there’s a continuity error. When Justin asked Dawn if she was a sophomore, and she said she was a freshman, I could swear that she said she was in the ninth grade in S5. Am I wrong about this?

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  10. [Note: Richie posted this comment on January 15, 2009.]

    Nice review, totally agree on all the points in the main review, Dawn was great in season 5, but not so great from now on. I have to say that MT’s acting is pretty good in season 6, but I seem to remember it going way down hill in the final season, shame.

    Oh, in answer to Sam’s question above, I think it’s called ‘Lying to make a guy think you’re older than you are’!

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  11. [Note: edward posted this comment on July 26, 2009.]

    this is a pretty good episode. but not great, the problem with this episode is how they handled dawns character. I can soo tell that the writers of this episode focused more on the ‘scenario’ then the ‘character’ as the entire dawn plot is a so rip-off of 80s-90s teen films. the entire dating romance thing then they put the vampire spin on it. that their is where it fails because their is no originality and it feels like the writers are like ‘lets get this idea from this and that!’ instead they should have been like ‘how can we service this character in a way that opens up more layers’ this is a disapointing episode on a whole as it feels like a missed oportunity

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  12. [Note: Masbrillante posted this comment on November 17, 2009.]

    I’m fairly certain there’s a continuity error. When Justin asked Dawn if she was a sophomore, and she said she was a freshman, I could swear that she said she was in the ninth grade in S5. Am I wrong about this?

    It’s been a while since you posted this, but in case anyone else reads. My $.02 is that it’s unlikely she finished the year passing what with all the drama of Season 5. Besides the fact that her mom died, the whole gang went on the run for a bit which must have been traumatizing if not time consuming, and then Buffy died. Even if she attended the rest of the year (doubtful really) she probably didn’t do so well.

    Although that would present another continuity error with why everything is so honky-dory at Dawn’s school if she was found to be at-risk.

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  13. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on December 3, 2009.]

    Not that bad but far from good. The good parts were Anya and her ‘Charlie’s Angels’ getup with rollerblades and her counting the money dance. Giles cleaning his glasses and Buffy realising why he does it and seven vampires bite the dust.

    The bad: All the Dawn parts with the vampires. Notice the reflection of the vamp letting down the tyres. Dawn saying “Hello” when she hears a noise in the alley.

    I rate it about the same as Mike.

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  14. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 5, 2010.]

    This will date me, but I’m pretty sure there’s a Raiders of the Lost Ark reference in this episode. Standing in front of the creepy house, Zach says “pumpkins… very dangerous… you go first.” Which you know, if you saw Raiders 100 times when you were 10 years old, is right out of that movie (with “asps” instead of “pumpkins”).

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  15. [Note: John posted this comment on January 8, 2011.]

    I love the scene with Willow and Tara in the Bronze, when Willow comments on the Luke/Leia costumes; great stuff. Willow talking about what she used to be like was also interesting. Overall, I feel like Willow and Xander really made this episode; the whole Dawn plot was a little annoying but their development and character interaction redeemed it.

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  16. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 12, 2011.]

    Like others here, I have been having SUCH issues trying to give Dawn an academic timeline. S5 she says she is in 9th grade, start of S6 she says she is a freshman. Thus, start of S7 she would be a sophomore BUT S8 says that is in college when the comics take place only 1.5 years after chosen – IM SO CONFUSED.

    Secondly, and why does no one talk about this, you guys recall the moment before Xander makes the announcement where he and Buffy have the following lines,

    Xander: I’m gonna marry that girl.

    Buffy: What? She’s 15 and my sister, so don’t even– oh.

    At the risk of sounding dumb – I dont get this. Why would Buffy, even if she is so depressed, say/make the mistake of this? Funny enough we are slightly foreshadowing S8 here, but still, weird.

    Oh and I totally think Dawn should have died in S5 too. I say that even when just reflecting on the story/plot, not based on how much of a nuisance Dawn is. Why wouldnt she die/go away after her purpose as the key was over? And maybe I missed it, so tell me where to look, but did anyone even say that the Key’s purpose was that one event? I want to understand why Dawn is not the Key anymore – I mean this Key is so, so old – was it just waiting for Glory’s threat to end?

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  17. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 25, 2011.]

    I completely understand why Willow does what she does to Tara in this episode. It’s not just a desire to stop Tara being annoyed with her.

    Consider: the first and only time she ever argued with Tara before now, Tara left and immediately got brainsucked into insanity by Glory. Thus Willow feels that arguing with Tara is the worst thing that can possibly happen, that it will inevitably lead to horrible things happening, probably to Tara. I’m not surprised she considers a little memory redaction better than that: I’m only surprised she doesn’t redact herself as well (perhaps the spell won’t let you do that).

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  18. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 16, 2011.]

    This episode ranks highly in my not so favourite Buffy episode, the main reason is Dawn, her being the pivotal character in this episode but not really learning anything new about her or seeing any sought of growth.

    This isn’t the first time Buffy-verse have spurted out stand alone episodes centring on one character, Mike as you mention this is far from the brilliance of The Zeppo. This is a two sided episode that sets up OMWF and the issues surrounding that episode and the other is Dawn. I do enjoy the introduction to Dawn’s life outside of the inner circle of the slayerettes. I think this is conducive to making palpable that Dawn is just a girl now, no longer The Key or anything supernatural. I consider that Buffy may be off with Dawn partly because Dawn has what Buffy wants, a normal life. Before Dawn was an intangible being made tangible made normal. This episode goes to length to explore this.

    It also adds some light hearted continuity scenes; Buffy’s mentioning the previous Halloween episode and Life serial. It also foreshadows Xander’s cold feet about his wedding to Anya. Giles becomes aware that Buffy isn’t standing on her two feet and is relying on him more and more as the parental figure for Dawn when ultimately it should be Buffy. She is clearly in a bad place, passing the responsibility to Giles escalates our understanding that she is still feeling dispatched from the rest of the world. This sets up the scene for Buffy’s secret to come out.

    I have a penchant for halloween episodes! This being a halloween episode allows for some stereo typical fun much like the other episodes on Halloween, this though is lacking in the genius that evoked the other two. Its good to see a vampire based Halloween episode, Its like mini-Buffy with Dawn parking with a Vamp! Its also Dawn’s first slay i think, little Dawnie is growing up.

    They’re some fun scenes which make me more amenable towards this episode; Giles in the cemetery, Spike’s dislike for Halloween and the final fight scene. Go Giles.

    Willow and Tara’s relationship gets some great insight this episode. Tara’s dislike for Willows obsessive use of magic causes an unprecedented fight between the two.

    Having watched this episode i now can’t wait for OMWF which serves as the after math for this not so extraordinary episode. I think its fair to speculate that this and the next act as a two parter.

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  19. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on December 16, 2011.]

    Vampires letting down tires. They are so evil they would even scare Angelus.

    I wish the episode was about the creepy old man being a killer. Young guy goes into the kitchen. Dawn realises the headless toy. Young guy gets killed and then some other stuff happens. Just another random vampire episode in what should have been about halloween. Creatures of the night are supposed to take the night off and the writers should have made sure it stayed that way.

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  20. [Note: Odon posted this comment on December 29, 2011.]

    Love that faint but definite (great facial acting from JM as always) “Ah-ha!” on Spike’s face when Buffy mistakes his “rough-and-tumble” comment for a sexual come-on. Watching the scene a second time, it looks a lot like Spike dropped that line deliberately to see how Buffy would react – he’s just a bit *too* casual (Oh, you don’t want to patrol? Doesn’t matter to me. I can watch TV instead). Spike has learned from Season 5 that if he makes any overt move on Buffy she’ll throw up the barriers, so he’s playing it cool and letting Buffy tempt herself. Of course, while he’s an expert manipulator this long game isn’t exactly Spike’s style. The part of him that couldn’t wait for the Night of Saint Vigeous is getting frustrated over why Buffy doesn’t just take what she obviously wants, and it’s this frustration that spills out in the next episode.

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  21. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 18, 2012.]

    Was I the only one who thought of THE STEPFORD WIVES in episodes 6-8, with Willow as one of the evil husbands trying to create the “perfect” (read: compliant) wives*? Or that Willow didn’t consider that Tara already had experience being brainwashed by her biological family?

    On a more positive note, someone on TV Tropes reminded me that Willow could reasonably have reminded Tara of the time she/Tara used magic to hide something (which turned out to be fake anyway, but that’s not the point) from the Scoobies, and they almost died because they couldn’t see the demons attacking them, but that either: that was the line Willow wasn’t willing to cross and risk hurting Tara that way, or Willow had so thoroughly forgiven Tara that she/Willow didn’t even remember it happening. Either way, Willow still loves Tara completely, even though she’s getting worse at showing it.

    *which I just realized, by typing this sentence, connects her with Warren!!!

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  22. [Note: Craig posted this comment on June 29, 2012.]

    SPIKE: What, I was gonna pay for it. I mean, no, I was gonna nick it. ‘Cause that’s what I do. I go where I please and take what I want and what’s your excuse anyway?

    Does this attitude, which is seductive to Buffy, remind anybody of the way Faith’s lifestyle attracted Buffy (briefly) in S3?

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  23. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on June 29, 2012.]

    It does, the similarities between Faith and Spike are subtle much like those shared between Angel and Faith. Remember the episode Consequences when Angel tells Faith the two are a lot like.

    Getting back to Spike and Faith though, both react and live by their own rules, not giving much consideration for the moral or ethical code. Following this the similarities deepen come season 7 when we see the two of them together, repenting for the past but keeping those killer who gives a damn attitudes!

    Buffy plays and flirts with the dark side through them, not truly submerging in it but dipping her toes in the shallow end. There are a few similarities that could have been shared with Giles/Ripper too but i’m not sure if Joss did that?

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  24. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    Agree with most comments re this episode except those about Dawn’s kiss. Was it just me who thought Michelle Trachtenberg’s lips looked weird and creepy? I felt sorry for the actor who had to kiss her – I don’t like the actress much so maybe I am overreacting but … yuck!

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  25. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 7, 2013.]

    I believe it was the missed opportunity for the writers to send Dawn to her father, not right away, but building it: Buffy frantically searching for her father to take responsibility at least for the youngest. This way, Dawn would have fullfilled her task in the series with a well earned arc in season 5. I say this knowing that the writers didn’t come close to explore her losses and abandonment problems, it’s a shame because she had the potential to become a very interesting character. Some guest apparitions would have been welcomed though.

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  26. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on March 7, 2013.]

    Well, to be fair to the writers, they’ve been really good about holding themselves to the massive changes they make to the characters’ worlds.

    If any other (lesser) supernatural show were to suddenly introduce a new character and have them turn out to be the McGuffin for the season arc, you would expect them to get rid of the character once the McGuffin was useless, “Status Quo Is God” and all of that. Mutant Enemy is so much better than that 🙂

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  27. [Note: Gon posted this comment on March 7, 2013.]

    I’m very glad you said that. I like S5 Dawn, even if the choice of the actress doesn’t work completely to me (as I’ve expressed in my comment to “The Gift”). But I always thougt it was a bad move to keep Dawn as a season 6 regular without a story AND without Buffy’s attention (I understand the factors, but it cheapens Buffy’s scrifice for Dawn – at least, it does for me).

    I thought of another possible and congruent way of making her leave: Dawn could be retraceable as a key, still having some mystical energy in her. Giles would have to take her to England (you know, that rehab campus we see in S7 “Lessons”) so that the monks, or whoever worked the magics there, would make her untraceable. This should be done in total secrecy to avoid evil forces to know where she was.

    I think this would be more realistic for Giles’s absence and lack of notices during S6. I never entirely buy his reasons to leave in Tabula Rasa (in the final scene I always think “oh, there goes ASHead back to England”) and I realy never understand how come he doesn’t call.

    It would also create expectations for the coming back of Dawn in S7. She leaves as a child, comes back as a woman. wow!

    Ok, it’s just an alternative reality…

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  28. [Note: gene posted this comment on October 7, 2013.]

    When Zander announces his marriage plans Willow for a second looks distressed. Could there be a small flame still burning for him?

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  29. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 20, 2014.]

    It seems to me that when Buffy and Giles are standing together and Buffy says something like “Did you see this coming?” that they both realize that this marriage is a bad idea from the start.

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  30. [Note: Joy posted this comment on September 7, 2014.]

    A lot of teenage girls run away and attach themselves to bad boyfriends when they don’t have enough parental love and support at home. Dawn’s behavior with Justin looks like a metaphor for that. She first runs from Justin when she realizes he’s a vampire, but when he tells her he likes her and wants to spend time with her, she wants to believe him. When he leans in to bite her (to kill her!) she becomes passive and simply closes her eyes. She’s actually going to let herself be turned! This reminds me of when Drusilla turned William. She asked him if he “wanted it” and he said yes, but he didn’t understand what he was agreeing to. Dawn did.

    Is this a metaphor for hopelessness or suicide? As Dawn expressed to Spike in Tough Love, she already has concerns that she’s evil, or at least “not good.” I think that in this moment Dawn is giving up her struggle to be good. She has decided that she’ll take love whereever she can get it, even if it’s from a vampire. When Giles arrives she snaps out of it, but for a moment there…

    Regarding the issues with the scoobies in this ep:

    Xander’s fear of taking on adult responsibilities stems from having alcoholic parents who never modeled healthy, functional adult behavior to him. He’s a classic “Adult Child of Alcoholics”. I actually think Anya was a good match for Xander. With her steadfast love and loyalty, she would have given him the stability he needed. ACA’s often don’t know how to live with love and stability; they tend to sabotage it when it’s offered. When Xander envisions a home and married life, he can only see the hell he grew up in.

    Willow’s fear of abandonment, her dependency on Tara and the others for unquestioning approval stems from having had emotionally distant parents who didn’t give her the validation she needed as a child. This left Willow feeling that on a deep level she doesn’t deserve to be loved. Never having learned how to cope with the pain of disappointment and unpleasant emotions, she fears they will overwhelm and destroy her. This was evident back in Lover’s Walk if not before. Willow repeatedly tries to control Tara and the scoobies to avoid feeling her own fear, shame, grief and anger. The more she denies her feelings, the more overwhelming they are when when they inevitibly surface.

    Buffy’s struggles to take on adult responsibilities and be a functioning parent to Dawn is easier to understand: She comes from a broken home where her father abandoned her instead of preparing her for life. As a single parent, Joyce did her best to provide for Buffy but hadn’t had time to teach her adult life skills before she died. Buffy’s strengths are lopsided. As the Slayer she has demonstrated time and again that she can overcome monsters and apocalypse, but she can barely drive or even handle a ball point pen. It’s no wonder she feels overwhelmed.

    Giles is the missing parent that all the scoobies desperately need; that’s why they fall apart when he leaves. I always wished that he would have taken more time to mentor the scoobies. He could have taught Buffy how to parent Dawn, rather than simply telling her to do it, watching her fail and leaving her to figure it out on her own.

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  31. [Note: Joy posted this comment on September 7, 2014.]

    My post above comes across as pedantic; please accept my apologies. With Willow and Xander I was trying to make sense of their behavior using the co-depency model that has made the most sense to me. That model might not be everyone else’s cup of tea. Buffy’s behavior being “easier to understand” meant easier for me to understand, compared to Willow and Xander’s behavior.

    I really love this site because it makes me think about the deeper layers of the characters and appreciate them so much more than I used to.

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  32. [Note: QuarkisSnyder posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    I really don’t understand Giles. Why is he so reluctant to at least co-parent Dawn? He seems to think that only Buffy can parent her because she’s her sister, but that doesn’t mean that it would not be perfectly acceptable for him to help. Which he can’t do from England.

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  33. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    To be honest, I don’t think Giles eventual logic for leaving makes all that much sense. Buffy’s mom just died, she has to try to look after a sister on her own, pretty much, and she can barely afford to both pay her bills and continue to be a slayer. I understand the concept of “at some point I need to get out of the way and let Buffy grow on her own,” but this is not the time and the place for that.

    It seemed too obviously driven by the Anthony Stewart Head wanting to back off from the show a bit as well as the piling on of negativity that was happening at this point. It wasn’t organic. And a story proceeding organically is quite important to me.

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  34. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    I still disagree with this argument. Giles showed a consistently strong opinion on this subject well before Season 6. Here’s what I remember at the moment:

    – In “The Freshman” (Season 4), Giles’ instinct was not to run to Buffy’s aid when she was feeling down. Even back then he wanted her to figure it out herself and stand on her own. However, he realized he jumped the gun a bit (Buffy is still in adolescence here) and comes to her aid after it’s too late to help.

    – QUOTE –

    “I think it’s best if we let a young person find their own strengths. If you lead a child by the hand then they’ll never find their own footing.” -Giles, “A New Man” (Season 4)

    – Giles’ dream in “Restless” (Season 4) where he wrestles with his desire to have his own life and pursue interests outside of being Buffy’s Watcher.

    – Giles almost goes back to England in “Buffy vs. Dracula” (Season 5). Only Buffy’s re-commitment to exploring the Slayer’s heritage and history, thus honing her skill and strength, is what kept him there — that Buffy needed him as a Slayer, not just as a person.

    – Per his earlier thoughts and attempts, once Buffy’s died in “The Gift” we see him break ties with Sunnydale and start to rebuild his life in England again. Being a watcher is not supposed to be a lifelong gig — slayers don’t tend to live very long — so once Buffy made it to young adulthood, he felt it was time for her to stand on her own and refocus on building a life for himself.

    – The first third of Season 6 builds up to what happens in “Tabula Rasa” very seamlessly. It’s incredibly organic.

    In conclusion, it is entirely in character and organic for Giles to leave Buffy to stand on her own in Season 6. The evidence is all there dating back to at least Season 4. We can argue whether Giles’ opinion in the quote above is a healthy or proper one, but I don’t buy that it’s not consistent or organic within the confines of the story.

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  35. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    With all due respect, I think you’re missing the point of what Scott is trying to argue, which is not that Giles’ attitude in “Tabula Rasa” is not well built up to but that, given the very extreme circumstances of Buffy’s depression, it doesn’t make any sense. Yes, all the points you raise are valid and prove that Giles believes in stepping back to allow his ‘children’ to flourish, but I find it difficult to believe he would abandon the Scoobies at this point where they need him most. Buffy is severely depressed and in “Once More with Feeling” it was Spike, of all people, who kept her from committing suicide. Willow’s magic abuse is growing and Giles must know that the shenanigans that almost got them all killed in “Tabula Rasa” were due to her. These are things too vitally important and too dangerous for him to use the argument ‘there’ll always be an excuse to stay so I should leave now’. Retrospectively, we can guess that if Giles had not left season six would have been much less dark. Willow would not have progressed so far down the dark arts and would have had more help knowing how to properly stop. Buffy may not have fallen so deep into the affair with Spike. Of course, Giles doesn’t know this at the time, but surely he knows that his absence at this point cannot possible help.

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  36. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    I don’t think I did miss his point. Giles believes it’s the perfect time to leave — he knows it will be rough on all of them, but he thinks it will forge them into stronger adults. I would agree that he likely underestimated the extent at which things were falling apart, and that he likely misread Buffy’s struggles as something other than clinical depression — I mean, he’s not perfect. Considering all the things I pointed out about his opinion on “parenting”, it does not seem like a stretch at all that he might not be seeing the whole picture.

    I’m not saying Giles is right to leave — in fact, in “Grave” he pretty much admits he probably made the wrong call — but I don’t see it as not making making sense, or not being an organic extension of the story or the character, both of which Scott clearly feels.

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  37. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    I just don’t see how Giles could have misread what was happening, particularly after the revelations at the end of “Once More with Feeling” (Buffy tried to kill herself – there can be no getting away from the severity of that) and “Tabula Rasa” (Willow attempted to mind-rape Tara).

    I love season six, but I never quite bought Giles’ departure as in-character. The situation was, in my view, simply too extreme for him to leave like that.

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  38. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    I agree with Mike. Giles truly believed it was the right time for him to leave. Now whether or not he was correct in that assumption is beside the point. I remember in “A New Man” Giles saying:

    GILES Well, well, I think it’s best to let a young person find their own strengths. If, if you lead a child by the hand, they never find their own footing.

    Professor Walsh later said that Buffy did not have a present male role model/father figure. She was partly correct. Like Mike said, Giles, originally, decided not to help Buffy in “The Freshman” because he believed that she needed to lead her own life, clearly forgetting that it wasn’t yet Buffy’s responsibility to do so all by herself. What Giles does in season 6 is similar, even if more extreme.

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  39. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    I get that. I remember the scene from “A New Man” well. What I do not believe is that Giles would take it to such an extreme that he would leave at the point where Buffy is genuinely wanting to kill herself, Willow has become addicted to magic and the Scooby Gang has fallen into complete disarray. That just seems totally out-of-character to me.

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  40. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    Buffy did not try to kill herself in OMWF. Sweet’s spell used her depressive state to provoke a suicidal “dance”. Although the emotions were coming from Buffy, the death dance was caused by Sweet’s influence. From Giles’ POV, it can be entirely explained by a mixture of Buffy’s hurt, anger, sadness, and the spell using those emotions as fuel on the flame. It was not a completely unambiguous and uninfluenced suicide attempt like you’re making it out to be.

    I just see too much evidence telling me that Giles leaving was in character. I haven’t found the arguments to the contrary convincing. We might just have to settle on disagreeing.

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  41. [Note: QuarkisSnyder posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    To me what doesn’t make sense is not that Giles leaves Buffy, which I think is a bad decision considering she was just raised from the dead, but, as MikeJer points out, in character for him. But it doesn’t make sense for him to leave Dawn in Buffy’s incompetent hands. He may have the attitude that young adults needs to learn to stand on their own. But a young adult who is suddenly a single mother? Dawn is the innocent victim of Buffy’s emotional issues. She needs Giles in her life, whether or not Buffy does. I don’t get Giles not caring about that.

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  42. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 13, 2014.]

    Giles sees his presence as a roadblock to Buffy growing up and beginning to parent Dawn. If Giles keeps taking that role, Buffy never will, or at least that’s how he sees it. He honestly feels that leaving will strengthen Buffy enough to help Dawn. So, again, not a characterization issue for me.

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  43. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 12, 2014.]

    I’m with Freudian Vampire, Other Scott, and QuarkisSnyder on this one. I agree that it’s in character, in general, for Giles to feel that leaving and thereby forcing Buffy to become more independent might be necessary/good. But that he felt that it was a good idea now, of all times, makes no sense. It couldn’t have been much clearer that not only Buffy, but Dawn and Willow as well, have never needed him more desperately in the past than they do right now. If Giles had left in season four, I would have bought it (albeit not happily, because then half the show would have been missing one of its best characters!). But now? You don’t leave in the hope of pushing someone to become more independent at a time when they’re struggling to even keep their head above water and showing signs they may not even want to be alive at all. You leave when someone is at a place where she is clearly capable of stepping up, but is holding back from doing so simply because nothing is really pushing her to do so. Buffy’s whole life has pushed her to step up and shoulder age-inappropriate levels of responsibility, and she’s done it time and again–both with and without significant amounts of help from others (see “Becomoing Part II,” for instance). Right now, though, she’s clearly not in a place to be able to do this; she’s barely functioning at all. And at several points in the series of episodes leading up to Giles’s departure, the show makes a point of showing us that Giles is noticing this. So no–I just don’t buy his departure.

    (To say nothing of his completely absent reaction to Willow’s behavior in Tabula Rasa, and the fact that after their talk about her Buffy-raising spell, for him to take off and leave her on her own doesn’t really make a lot of sense either…)

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  44. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 12, 2014.]

    Other thoughts:

    As I just said in a comment I posted under the “Life Serial” review, it’s at about this point that most of my major problems with season 6 really start emerging. This episode, in particular, is full of stuff that doesn’t work for me. Others have sufficiently covered the flaws of the Dawn plot–which, in any case, is at worst merely a not-very-good standalone story–so I’m going to focus on other stuff. And since I’ve probably got more than one post’s worth of things to say, this one’s going to focus on Willow.

    One of the biggest WTF aspects of this episode for me is the way that, for the sake of “building up” the idea of Willow’s “overuse of magic,” it seems to practically equate making some party decorations, on the one hand, with a) casually shifting a bunch of innocent bystanders out of phase with reality for an instant, and b) erasing your lover’s memory of a fight so she won’t be mad at you. As presented in this episode, it’s as though each of these things is bad for more or less the same reasons, and the fact that Willow does each one is somehow supposed be indicative of, and generate plausibility for, her possibly doing the next one (!?!?!).

    The problem here is really twofold. First, no convincing argument or reason is ever offered for why stuff like magically making party decorations is supposedly bad. There’s talk, here and elsewhere, about magic always having consequences, and about not using it for trivial or selfish reasons–but it’s so inconsistent that I just can’t buy it. In the past, Willow and Tara mucking around with spells in their dorm room as a getting-to-know-each-other activity was fine, and as far back as season 3, idly floating pencils was treated as harmless. Plus, where is the line between “selfish motives” and “non-selfish” ones? It’s blurry at best (I personally would argue that even our “noblest” acts are motivated by various kinds of self-interest). If even the most casual and harmless of magics (like making decorations) is potentially alarming and dangerous, than magic just isn’t very useful, and probably no one should be practicing it at all. Granted, the show has all along been suggesting that there are dangers involved in magic–but never before to anywhere near the extent suggested here.

    Second, absolutely nothing that Willow had ever done–either during this episode or previously–prepared me much at all to accept or believe that she would do either of the other two things (the shifting people into a different dimension or the memory-erasing). Yes, I remember the revenge spell that she almost did to Oz and whatshername back in season four–and yes, that was big (though itself something that I also didn’t entirely buy). But lashing out at someone in anger is vastly different from calculatingly manipulating your lover into forgetting that she’s mad at you (and almost doing something is different from actually doing something, too–especially if you don’t even gain any insight later, when called on it, about why what you did was even wrong!). And casually toying with the lives of a bunch of innocent strangers for a moment’s convenience? That’s yet another something-else-entirely!

    I liked where the show was going at the start of the season, with Willow willing to go to dark places and channel immensely powerful magics for the sake of something as important as bringing Buffy back, heedless of the potential consequences. That was meaty and believable stuff. Around this point, though, when the focus shifts to “Willow just uses magic too much, period–and, incidentally, suddenly lacks any moral compass whatsoever”–well, that just has never worked at all for me.

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  45. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 12, 2014.]

    With apologies for the unrelenting negativity here…I also have issues with the Xander stuff in this episode.

    I certainly acknowledge that the show has established a plausible basis for the idea that Xander is going to have issues when it comes to marriage. His family life–though rarely focused on very much–clearly provides ample basis for going that route with the character. However, this doesn’t mean that the writers didn’t nevertheless have other viable choices for how to deal with the Xander/Anya relationship–and the way that they did go has just always struck me as very disappointing. Also, there’s a difference between establishing a basis in a character’s back story for why he might behave a certain way (which the show did with Xander), and consistently portraying that character in such a way as to make that behavior really ring true (which it didn’t).

    Some of this is really more about developments down the road than about what happens specifically in this episode, but to bring things back to what actually happens here: Basically, the show just falls back on the tired and irritatingly gendered cliche that men are afraid of commmitment. Xander’s sudden fears here are utterly generic and devoid of any plausible or relatable content: Anya’s and Giles’s talk of babies and buying houses and whatnot gets him suddenly feeling “trapped” somehow in a “suffocating” commitment that was his idea in the first place. Because, like, he’s a man (or a boy?), or something. The episode makes no references to his family life, says nothing specific or with any substance about what he really fears and why–it just plays his stereotypically male, commitment-phobic cold feet for mild laughs (with a dark twinge of foreboding). And I want none of it!

    I mean, when has Xander ever seemed to have problems with commitment, or fears of intimacy, before? He’s had typical young-person struggles with how to achieve intimacy, sure. He’s made the kind of self-sabotaging blunders (with Cordelia, for instance) that inexperienced and immature people make when first foraying out into the realm of serious-ish relationships, of course. But he pretty much committed to a probably-lifelong supporting role in Buffy’s constantly life-endangering slayer mission from day one, and he’s consistently sought deep and lasting connections with others (however ineptly at times). He was the one who pushed his tryst with Cordelia to the “next level” in the first place; he was the one who wanted his sexual encounter with Faith to mean something more; he’s supposedly “the heart” of the Scoobies; and he was the one who proposed to Anya!

    Yes, he had a troubled family background–and yes, that’s not something that you just shrug off. But as far in the background as it’s mostly been on the show, the writers could have chosen not to suddenly now make it the defining thing about Xander and relationships. Or if they did want to do something with it, they could have done so in an actually substantive and meaningful way, instead of using to justify cliched and sexist characterization. They didn’t make those choices, though, and I’ve always felt that what they did do was a major mistake.

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  46. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    Hey guys, Giles thinks Buffy is in the same funk she got in after Joyce’s death. He doesn’t know that she was dragged from heaven because she doesn’t tell him. Hellooo, lack of communication big theme of the show.

    Dawn’s continuity is just fine. She is in eighth grade in season 5. Goodness this show can string continuity across seasons like no other.

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  47. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    Ever notice how Tara looks so much prettier this season until the breakup? Then she reverts back to her old look. Willow’s unwholesome influence perhaps. And the love song in OMWF is shockingly and bitterly ironic. Note that Tara even dances like a music box dancer. She is living only for Willow. And that’s what Willow wants. A loving, worshipful audience, not a partner. The original dynamic of their relationship is totally different from the prior season – at least until Tough Love.

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  48. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    I don’t see it that way at all!!!!!

    Zander sabotages his first love (and most certainly the one who got away). He has terrible commitment and intimacy issues. He shies away from Willow until she is unattainable. He chooses demon women for a reason. He doesn’t want it to work and runs screaming in the other direction when it does.

    I mean, come on he cheated on Cordelia. Cordelia….

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  49. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    I see your point, and I suppose that’s a valid alternate interpretation. It’s not how I tend to see it, though. To me, there’s a difference between being young and impulsive and not knowing what you want, and having serious intimacy/commitment issues. He seemed genuinely not to feel toward Willow what she felt toward him in the early years; if he had, then surely he would have been at least as receptive to her interest as he was toward Cordelia’s or that of various others…right? It’s true that he showed something of a pattern of most wanting whoever was unattainable or otherwise “off-limits” at any given time–but I don’t think that kind of pattern is necessarily unique to (and thus a sign of) people with intimacy issues. A person can be comfortable with intimacy and commitment and still find himself (or herself) strongly attracted to “forbidden fruit”–especially when young and inexperienced. It seems to me that if the underlying reason for Xander’s tendency to want the unattainable were to avoid real intimacy, it would tend to manifest sooner during the course of any given relationship than what we actually see happening.

    I mean, look at his relationship with Anya. They’ve been a couple for at least two years by this point. They’re living together. He proposed to her. Through all of that, he never showed signs of wanting to run from the relationship. Even during the episodes preceding this one, when he and Anya were disagreeing over whether to announce their engagement to the rest of the group, it was a little while before it became at all clear that Xander’s position was about anything more than an awkward sense of inappropriateness in the face of other stuff that was going on. And while I can buy into the idea that he has some fears about marriage, and that these might lead him to delay taking the non-retractable step of making the plans public, the idea that these fears are crippling enough to ultimately make him back down–and the out-of-nowhere-ness of his suddenly feeling all suffocated in this episode–just don’t work for me.

    Like I said, though, I can see how others would have a different view on this. Partly, too, my position comes from simply finding the way it was handled rather disappointingly cliched. Really, we can’t have even one romantic couple that manages to keep it together and make their relationship work? It would have been so much more interesting to see Xander actually overcome whatever fears, insecurities, or other issues his background had saddled him with…

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  50. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    Zander’s parents were the cause of his intimacy issues. It’s virtually textbook. His father and mother have an abusive relationship. Of course he would fear intimacy…

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  51. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    Sadly, the vast majority of romantic relationships among teens and Tweens fail. Hopefully, we learn from those early failures. Buffy is all of 22 when the show ends….

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  52. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    And Zander talks about his awful home life as early as season 1. It’s a running gag until we realize that it was never funny. Just one of those sad cases that scar everyone involved.

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  53. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    I do get all of that, Luvtennis. Like I said in my initial post on the subject, I find the idea of Xander having these problems perfectly plausible, given his family background. I just also find it rather disappointing, dramatically–as well as kind of out of step with the main thrust of how Xander had usually been portrayed (family background notwithstanding).

    And you know…not every romantic relationship between youngish people falls apart in real life. I, for example, got married at the age of 21. Almost 20 years later…still married. Romantic relationships ending disastrously because of one partner or the other being insecure, unfaithful, or unstable is not inevitable…except, all too often, on TV.

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  54. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on October 18, 2014.]

    Another way of conveying some of my thoughts about Xander & Anya (and Buffy season 6 in general):

    Some people dislike season 6 of Buffy because of all the depressing angst and darkness; they feel like it’s just a great big downer. Others really like the season because of all the juicy darkness and the way it does justice to the characters’ failings and depressions. Personally, I’m not squarely in either camp. I would never cast my lot with those who just flat out don’t like any story, song, or other work of art because it’s “too depressing.” I love tons of allegedly “depressing” or otherwise “dark” fiction, music, etc. But the darkness and the “depressingness” have to be purposeful; they have to be used to good effect. Stories are not simply better the more depressing they are. In Buffy season 6, I’m on board with pretty much all of what Buffy goes through, and with parts of what Willow goes through (though I also feel that many parts of the latter were badly mishandled). But Xander & Anya’s end just feels superfluous to me–like the show didn’t need to do that for any better reason than just to add yet more unhappy into the mix. And after a certain point, piling more and more misery onto the characters just reaches a point of diminishing returns. I think it would have been vastly more affecting if Xander and Anya had kept it together and gotten married in the midst of all the depression and angst raging among the rest of the characters–and I think it would have been more meaningful and dramatically interesting to show them struggling with and overcoming their insecurities than boringly succumbing to them–especially in the annoyingly gender-stereotypical way that they do.

    My two cents, anyway.

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  55. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 8, 2015.]

    I would never have given this episode a… C+
    To me, it’s worth something like a A-.
    I have to say I missed vampires, we had almost forgotten them if you except Spike.
    In fact, this episode reminded me of the early seasons, with all the biting/seduction thematic. Plus, we FINALLY get to know more about Dawn, and not just “The Key” or “The little sister”. Of course, it’s a bit sudden, but it’s quite interesting. Overall, this is really a good episode.

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  56. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 11, 2015.]

    What’s kind of sad is the closest thing I have to prove that magic is bad outside of Willow’s own issues is from the The Care Bears’ Big Wish Movie that says if you only wish or magic something for people it shows you don’t care. As some have pointed out if not on this site but elsewhere it’s kind of weird how all of the sudden using magic for anything trivial seems kind of bad, I mean outside of Willow using it for ethically questionable purposes.

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  57. [Note: Sirena posted this comment on June 30, 2016.]

    [One of the biggest WTF aspects of this episode for me is the way that, for the sake of “building up” the idea of Willow’s “overuse of magic,” it seems to practically equate making some party decorations, on the one hand, with a) casually shifting a bunch of innocent bystanders out of phase with reality for an instant, and b) erasing your lover’s memory of a fight so she won’t be mad at you. As presented in this episode, it’s as though each of these things is bad for more or less the same reasons, and the fact that Willow does each one is somehow supposed be indicative of, and generate plausibility for, her possibly doing the next one (!?!?!)]

    You’ve raised an interesting point. Using magic to create festive party decorations is in no way equivalent to using magic to shift people into another dimension. One merely causes the room to look pretty the other can potentially harm the people affected by the spell. I believe that the writers were trying to illustrate that Willow is no longer willing to consider alternative options/methods for any given situation (As Tara will say in another episode, “You just do a spell.”). That’s just my take on theses situations 🙂

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  58. [Note: Sun posted this comment on February 14, 2017.]

    I have to disagree with the majority of opinions here and say what a great episode I thought this was, one of my favourites so far in season 6 (I’m new to Buffy and this is where I’ve gotten so far).

    The episode was entertaining, had some great comedic lines and scenes, as well as touching meaningfully on all of the characters in some way or another.

    The focus was of course on Dawn, but unlike what was stated in the review, I did not feel that nothing was done with her. On the other hand, I enjoyed seeing Dawn’s personal life, that her streak of mischief and tendency for trouble-making is still present, and now we get to see her around boys, something which we have not seen as far as I know (apart from her little crush on Xander). It was interesting to see her with Justin after she found out he was a vampire; she still seemed willing to accept him, pausing when he made an attempt to kiss her and in the scene in the forest when she willingly exposes her neck for him to bite her before eventually staking him. Why was she so willing to be bitten by a vampire? Is it because of Buffy’s history with Angel and Dawn wanting to be more like her? Or as someone mentioned above, that she still believes that she is not entirely ‘good’ and is thus willing to be tempted by the dark side? I thought her reactions were very interesting in this aspect.

    The scenes with Willow and Tara were also intriguing, especially seeing how confident Willow has become with herself and her magic, with detrimental consequences. I believe that the success of her resurrection spell in Bargaining has truly given her an inflated sense of ego which is reflected in the magic she is performing. Bringing someone from the dead must seem like the ultimate show of power and she now feels fearless and confident like never before. It was Willow who brought Buffy back to life, Willow saved Buffy – she’s not the sweet, defenseless sidekick anymore. Perhaps in Willow’s eyes, she is even now more powerful than the Slayer. As she explains to Tara at the Bronze in this episode, she is no longer the timid Willow she once was and it seems that she has no desire to go back to that. Tara is worried that Willow’s magic is getting out of control, and calls her out on it, something that Willow does not like, so much so that she does a spell to make Tara forget about their argument. I disagree with some commenters above that there is no logical transition to Willow’s increased use of magic; magic is what gives her confidence and the resurrection spell was the catalyst for the door to open to Willow’s complete embrace of magic as part of her everyday life. This is not to say that Willow’s actions did not shock me, such as suggesting to transport people to a different dimension and erasing Tara’s memory. They are both serious pieces of magic which should make us very worried about where Willow is going, but they are not without precedent.

    Xander and Anya also had some special moments in this episode. The scene in the Magic Box when Xander is looking at Anya as she danced in front of the cash register was truly sweet, and the fact that he decided to announce their engagement after spending a long day working with her shows me that he truly enjoys her company and who she is as a person. My only problem is with the cliched fear of marriage, as other commenters have mentioned. Perhaps it is because of Xander’s home life and his realisation that marriage may not only be a bed of roses, but one would assume he would have thought about this before proposing.

    Buffy and Spike, who only had a few short scenes together, still managed to be completely entertaining as usual, and the scene in the Magic Box basement was funny and revealing. I do believe that Spike was playing it innocent here, knowing the intent of his words, which Buffy totally fell into. The chemistry between them is palpable and I can’t wait to see how their relationship plays out.

    The plot itself was interesting enough. Sure, there is no major story arc but it is an entertaining episode which gives us time with each major character. The twist with the old man was genuinely surprising and I enjoyed Dawn’s teenage drama. As I mentioned, the episode had great comedy at times, such as the opening scene at the Magic Box with the whole gang working together and Giles’ comments about Xander, Spike and Buffy in the basement, Buffy and Dawn in the forest quibbling while the vampires are waiting for a fight, the couple that runs away, and the fight itself was cool to watch, and not to mention, was that Dawn’s first dusting?

    All in all, I loved this episode, for its entertainment, character development, and funny dialogue.

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  59. I caught myself really enjoying this episode, even the Dawn storyline. I think it’s because it reminded me of an early Buffy episode, maybe S1 or early S2 back when things weren’t so heavy. After all of the difficult events of S5 and thus far in S6, it was nice to have a light episode to just enjoy and reminisce about the old days where all you had to worry about were some vampires.

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