6×14: Older and Far Away

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg | Director: Michael Gershman | Aired: 02/12/2002]

“Older and Far Away” represents an episode with good intentions that just aren’t realized very well. I’ve scored it the same as “All the Way” [6×06] because it shares many of that episode’s problems: A focus on Dawn that doesn’t really develop Dawn much, a plot that’s fairly inconsequential, and a large part of screen time that just doesn’t pay off in any kind of a meaningful way. Also like “All the Way” [6×06] , there’s bits and pieces here that I absolutely love. It’s rather unfortunate that the central focus isn’t nearly as enjoyable as the surrounding material.

Another sad fact is that anything following the scrumptious “Dead Things” [6×13] is going to suffer in comparison. I’m not going to let “Older and Far Away” off the hook because of it though. Since, in theory, its intent is to largely focus on Dawn’s issues, that’s where I’ll start my analysis. Although Buffy had a brief realization in “Dead Things” [6×13] about her disconnect with Dawn, it’s not until this episode where it takes center stage. I have to say that I like the idea of what’s presented here and I love the continued follow-up from previous episodes.

In an early scene, we catch Dawn asking the gang if anyone wants to go shopping with her for Buffy’s birthday. The problem is that everyone’s too busy to spend time with Dawn. I can’t help but sympathize with everyone in this scene. The “adults” are too busy with real life and obligations, which causes Dawn to feel a bit rejected over it. I mean, true, the adults definitely need to attend to their priorities, but someone really needs to go out of their way to give Dawn a little companionship every now and then.

With Tara never around anymore, Dawn’s got no one to give her that little special nugget of attention. I really feel bad for Dawn here, even despite her inability to completely grasp the severity of the situations around her. Dawn explains her feelings (err, wishing) out loud to Guidance Counselor Halfrek: “People keep… people have a tendency to go away… and, I miss them. And sometimes… I wish I could just make them stop.” Once again, I’m much with the sympathy. But still, that’s no excuse for resorting to theft and lying, although I do understand the why.

Further into the proceedings, Dawn postures that Buffy doesn’t understand what it’s like to be alone. Clearly she’s not thinking hard enough. Manufactured memories or not, “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] anyone? Dawn’s being overly selfish here, no doubt about it. The selfishness may be rooted in something genuine, but it’s still selfishness. This whole season is a time for her to really begin fully waking up to the adult world and its numerous complexities — she’s a part of it now simply by proxy of her relationship to Buffy and the situation around her.

As the situation with the plot gets intense (in theory, anyway), more and more signs point to the fact that their situation of being stuck inside Buffy’s house has something to do with Dawn. Eventually it reaches a boiling point when a desperate Anya starts digging through all of Dawn’s things. I’m very pleased that Anya discovers all the little trinkets Dawn has stolen from the Magic Box for nearly a year now. This, of all things, would hurt Anya badly. In fact, I’m a bit surprised that Anya’s not a lot more angry at her for the theft. When I think it about it some more, though, this is a testament to how much her relationship with Xander has affected her. Although Anya wants retribution, she’s certainly not vengeful about it, which actively shows us the growth of Anya as a character.

Although Halfrek’s speech towards the end is a bit overwraught, she’s not wrong. No one was noticing Dawn’s pain because they were too busy dealing with their own. The episode’s title fully manifests itself here: everyone’s gotten older (ergo adult responsibilities) and feel much further away both from Dawn and, in reality, each other. This is unfortunately one of the inevitabilities of growing up — old friends tend to get lives separate from their group, which ends up causing everyone to break apart. It’s just a crappy situation all around, although I think just about everyone is a bit sympathetic to Dawn’s pain. As Tara points out, “It happens. We all went through it.” The episode ends with Buffy glancing at Dawn, who then throws back a genuinely warm smile. I loved the subtlety of this little moment and how it hints that their relationship, and things in general for Dawn, are going to improve which, more or less, in time they do.

So, the primary focus of the episode definitely has its moments, but it’s all a bit underwhelming. Things get especially rocky when the actual plot kicks in gear. First off, there’s the overly hokey demon. Mr. Red Shirt (and hey, he’s actually wearing a red shirt!!) gets stabbed right as expected, which leaves everyone all occupied by a boring plot, with a demon that exists only to prolong the episode and create non-existent tension. The episode tries really hard to play up the fear and claustrophobia, but all it succeeds in doing is making me wonder when we’ll get another character moment. With a plot this uninspired, there’s got to be some character relevance to back it up. Unfortunately, the episode doesn’t have much.

Although I found several things they did with Dawn inspired, there simply wasn’t enough substantive material here to make an entire episode about. It’s particularly bad when they go overboard with Dawn’s angst. As expressed earlier, I have a lot of sympathy for Dawn’s situation, but the way the scene in her bedroom plays out is just awful (even if I were to graciously ignore the awful “GET OUT!” outburst, which I won’t — it’s awful). Dawn comes off as far too whiny, in an over-the-top kind of way. Dawn’s words and MT’s acting in the scene are just atrocious. I rarely say that about this show, which makes it particularly stick out when it happens. Even so, I’m not going to let once bad scene spoil an entire episode for me.

On a more positive note, there’s a whole bunch of smaller moments that ended up allowing me keep the ‘+’ on the ‘C’ that is this episode. I have to say, I just loved Tara in this episode. Everything she said and did made me smile, proud, and/or warm inside. It starts with some good continuity, with Buffy thrilled to see Tara showing up to her birthday. I love their new friendship, which is far stronger now than what they had before. Buffy tells Tara that she’s alright at the moment even though she’s still not at all better, let alone ready to openly admit her involvement with Spike.

Continuing the Tara love is when Dawn’s gift to Buffy, obviously a stolen one, is shrugged off by Buffy as seemingly nothing special the moment Xander rolls out his (completely awesome) gift. Dawn deserved at least a hug and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for the gift. When Dawn walks by Tara to shut the door, you can tell Tara can sense Dawn’s sadness and you can feel Tara’s sympathy for her.

I nearly fell on the floor in laughter with how Tara treated Spike’s delicious excuse for what he was trying to do with Buffy against the wall. “I had a, uh, muscle cramp. Buffy was helping.” Tara’s barely-restrained-grin reaction is priceless: “A muscle cramp, in your… pants?” Spike looks terrified of her and I’m loving Tara for every moment of it. Tara’s response to Spike out in the family room is also amazing, “How’s that cramp Spike? Still bothering you? … Maybe you, uh, wanna put some ice on it.” I’ll I can say is: grin.

During a crucial moment, Anya is trying push Willow into using more powerful magic to get out of their current predicament. Xander, of course, backs Anya up, who does have a point: it is Willow’s fault that she has self-control issues and can’t use magic responsibly. Saying that now, though, doesn’t help the current situation at all and puts Willow in a really awful, unfair situation. What happens next? Well, of course, Tara comes to the rescue and stands up for Willow! I just love Tara altogether in this episode — she really steals the whole thing away from its intended focus on Dawn and ended up making the episode a frequent joy to watch. I’m very pleased to announce that Tara’s really come into her own, and I’ll always remember this episode fondly for it.

One last little bit I found amusing is Anya’s attitude towards Dawn. How very condescendingly funny she can be sometimes. This attitude has always remained the same in that she treats Dawn like a very small child. Although Dawn has every right to be completely frustrated at Anya because of this, I can’t help but laugh at the way Anya talks. I just love it.

So, the final verdict on this one is a mixed bag. There’s a lot of material I really appreciated and enjoyed, but the poor use of the demon, some plot contrivances, the minimal and somewhat haphazard development of Dawn, and the overall failed attempt at producing any kind of real drama out of the situation just bring it all down. My biggest beef with it is simply that what it focused on wasn’t nearly as good as it could’ve been. On the other hand, there’s so much ancillary joy that the episode isn’t a complete waste either. In a nutshell, it’s a moderately important episode that has its moments but is plagued by a few serious issues.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Despite the demon’s hokiness, I did get a chuckle at Buffy’s little spurt of giddiness over her new sword. “Ooo! Shiny!”
+ Xander politely asking Willow if she’d mind if Tara showed up at Buffy’s birthday party.
+ Buffy claims she’s not one of those people who can’t make friends out of her tight little circle. Turns out, she kinda is… kinda like me. 😉
+ Although I don’t like how what Buffy did to Spike wasn’t addressed at all (aside from a passing comment from Spike), I do find Spike’s capacity for not letting physical violence towards him change how he feels.
+ The instant tension in the room when Spike arrives (with Clem!) followed by the random “set up” guy that Xander and Anya brought for Buffy. Spike’s raised eyebrow is hilarious. Tara jumping in, calling him “cute” while getting Clem to agree was also very amusing.
+ We can tell Spike’s here not so much for the boring party celebration. He’s got other things in mind.
+ Willow’s present to Buffy is beyond funny: an electric back massager. “Instant gratification for all your little achies.” Spike raises another eyebrow hinting at some other uses of the device.
+ Willow upstairs, getting herself together, and trying to look her best for Tara, followed by their mutual nervousness at talking to each other again.
+ Buffy and Spike’s argument by the door is entertaining. “No, you were right. You’re insane.”
+ Clem, Xander, and Dawn watching cartoons together in the morning.
+ I like how when Xander sees how worried Anya is over his flesh wound, he immediately gets up and reassures her. Just a nice little touch there.
+ The little nod to Halfrek being Cecily, Spike’s pre-vamp love.

– Despite Buffy’s awareness of the situation, I still have a hard time believing she’d catch on to the wish angle from Dawn so quickly. It just didn’t feel realistic to me.


[Score]

71/100

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77 thoughts on “6×14: Older and Far Away”

  1. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 1, 2008.]

    Am I the only one who thought Tara came across as being kinda mean to Spike? After hearing about his relationship with Buffy in the previous episode, then she goes on to tease him about the fact that Buffy’s using him for sex? Eh, maybe it’s just my fangirlish Spike-sympathy kicking in.

    On the actual episode, I completely understand Dawn’s development and it makes perfect sense in portraying her as a normal teen with massive abandonment issues. Unfortunately, it just annoys me.

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  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    This episode has a lot going on, that sometimes people ignore. All that is going on with all the characters, mainly Willow and Buffy. Both of them are trying to fight the temptation. Willow is trying to avoid using magic and Buffy tries to avoid going to Spike for comfort and her own selfish desires.

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  3. [Note: AnonDK posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    To be honest, he did emotionally violate her, and all Tara knows about the situation is that it’s tearing Buffy up inside. With that insight, her comments made sense, considering he was trying to do Buffy right there and then with all her friends in the house, and kinda justify why she says it.

    Either that, or I’m a Tara fanboy and think she is just SO cool in this episode. Either one 😉

    As much as I agree that this episode doesn’t have much to it, Buffy closing the door with Dawn grinning at the end is one of my favourite moments in the show. It’s so well deserved and sweet!

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  4. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Tara rocked in this episode! Her taunting of Spike is my favourite part. I don’t think she was being mean at all – she knows Spike can take it. It’s not like Buffy using him for sex was a horrific experience for him. (Unless she’s bad in bed, but I can’t imagine why she would be with her peppiness and super strength and all.)

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  5. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    wilpy, I think Spike did mind being used at times (Gone and Dead Things spring to mind). Most of the time, though, he just didn’t realize that he was being used (Though does that make it okay to tease him about it?). It wasn’t until he got his soul that he was able to look back in retrospect and see things as they actually were.

    Anyway, considering Spike still had bruises from Buffy’s beating, I thought Tara’s teasing of him was a little insensitive (Especially given she had actually given him some kind words to Buffy at the end of Dead Things). But I guess Tara had no way of knowing how he’d gotten beat up and didn’t make the connection there. Still comes across as callous to me since she knew about the situation, though. And I’m generally a Tara-fangirl, too (Just more of a Spike-fangirl). But this is also probably a case of me being overall disappointed with the lack of follow-up to the wonderful Dead Things. Meh.

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  6. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    > “(Though does that make it okay to tease him about it?)”

    If Buffy had been the one to corner Spike in the Summers’ house and start getting sexy, it would’ve been quite insensitive for Tara to tease him about it. However, Spike was the instigator in that hallway, and he was enjoying it. If he really didn’t like being used, he would’ve called it off early on, but he didn’t. So why should Tara be ultra-sensitive and cautious about his feelings when he’s clearly enjoying the sex? I just don’t see it as not being good follow-through.

    I just have to say, how *blind* are Xander and Anya in this episode! Buffy’s clearly not in any fit state to be in a steady relationship again, and this just does not fit with Buffy telling Xander in ‘I Was Made…’ that she’s not ready for another relationship in the near future. I think this was just a cheap plot device to have a Red Shirt in the mix who’s left in peril.

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  7. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Oh! I just realised some funny continuity. Anya and Xander talk about slug-scented candles, and that was what Buffy was trying to not sell to a customer when she had her time-looping job at the Magic Box. Neat. 😀

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  8. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Or maybe I’m just being an obsessive Tara fanboy. Who knows! (Actually, I know, and I’ll admit it: I’m an obsessive Tara fanboy. And damn proud!)

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  9. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on July 23, 2008.]

    @wilpy1: at least Xander was trying to pass the Red Shirt as just another guy, while Anya actively mentions his date qualities (see also quotes above). And Anya never was the most subtle of the gang.

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  10. [Note: Shular posted this comment on August 30, 2008.]

    I, too, thought Tara was great in this episode. As has been pointed out, her self-confidence grew leaps and bounds since her introduction. However, I think it was her breaking away from Willow when she had to that completed that growth arc. She proved something to herself, and became much stronger for it. Perhaps the fact that she completed this arc was a contributing facter to what would eventually happen to her.

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  11. [Note: faile posted this comment on November 13, 2008.]

    I love your reviews! I’m new to Buffy (I know!) and I just love Tara’s evolution; liked her from the get go, though. But I’m still pretty much torn up from the final parts of season 6 that I don’t think I’ll ever watch season 7.

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  12. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on November 13, 2008.]

    faile, why on earth would you not watch the rest of the show because a character died?! Killing off the whole cast wouldn’t have stopped me watching it. But then I am crazy.

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  13. [Note: faile posted this comment on November 13, 2008.]

    @ wilpy1:

    i might have overreacted a little, being new to comment here and all. Besides, I just finished watching Grave again and it just made me so emotionally drained – not just because of Tara but seeing the remaining Scoobies being destroyed by one of them. Tara is my favorite character and I do understand the significance of her death to move Willow’s story along. That the last 4 episodes of season 6 had that much effect on me,and I’m not one to be easily affected by TV or movies, speaks volumes about how effective the storytelling was in the show.
    I takeit back, I may watch season 7 eventually. I just need a long break, I guess.

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  14. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on November 13, 2008.]

    If you were affected by those episodes so much because they reminded you of something that happened in your own life, I could understand why you wouldn’t want to continue. But otherwise, it’d be silly not to continue as you’d be missing out on one of the better seasons of the show. S7 is a bit hard-going at times, but never to the extent of S6. The first half of it kind of returns to the roots of the show, so you don’t have to worry about being as emotionally drained.

    In any case, welcome to the site. I hope you haven’t spoiled yourself too much by reading these reviews!

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  15. [Note: Richie posted this comment on January 19, 2009.]

    Gotta say – I really enjoy this episode!

    All the nice character interaction (although I’ll admit Dawn is annoying ), the Buffy/Spike thing being kept under wraps, Tara’s superbness (hey look, a new word!), everyone being trapped in the house together.

    Maybe it just takes me back to season 5 when everyone was working together, but after this it all falls apart, so I rate this ep pretty highly.

    Give it a better score Mike!

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  16. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    There are some times- very rare times- when I watch the show and I wonder, “Why do I hate Dawn so much? She’s annoying and I generally dislike her, but she’s not *that* bad.” And then I get to episodes like this. (And like “Gone,” where, imo, she has no legitimate reason to freak out at Buffy over her invisibility or over the fact that she got hurt when she was with Willow and Buffy couldn’t stop it. Buffy can’t be everywhere at once.) And I say, “Oh. So *that’s* why I absolutely despise her.”

    MT’s acting is horrible. Horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE. And it’s not just here- it’s on Gossip Girl, too! (Yes, I watch GG. So sue me.) I don’t understand why people keep giving her acting jobs. And Dawn’s character- wow, she is beyond annoying. So annoying and selfish and egocentric and….just get a life! She has no friends whatsoever. Did anyone notice this? Go and make some friends!! I personally had a hard time with friends at her age. I skipped a grade- went from 3rd to 5th, and I had no good friends until I was in tenth grade. Took me a long time to overcome my social issues. But I didn’t steal stuff! Argghhh- she just gets on my nerves so much.

    Anyway, if it wasn’t for Dawn I would love this episode. (Buffy should’ve just let Doris take her away.)

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  17. [Note: Adam posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    Geez, Emily, I think you’re being way too harsh on Dawn. I’ve never had a problem with Michelle Tratchenberg/Dawn. For example, in Bargaining I think she did the tower scene great and with a lot of emotion. While she isn’t the best actress in the world and definitely not near the level of Sarah or Alyson, she did her job correctly. Remember when she did this role she was just doing what the writers and Joss told her to do when portraying Dawn. She had to act like a 14/15 year old or else it wouldn’t make sense.

    I would blame the writers more than the actress. Also, you’ve got to think, what you would do if you were in Dawn’s situation. She is wanted by a hell god and her life is always at risk. She has it very hard and she had to grow with her sister always getting the attention and praise.

    By the way, she does have friends, like in the episode All the Way. While the writers and Michelle may not have done the character perfectly, I don’t think it was done horribly.

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  18. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    I actually like Dawn. I think she’s spunky, though I agree that she does whine too much. But her over-reaction to some things is very understandable. She’s got some major abandonment fears, and she has a confused sense of self. It’s also quite realistic that she’d have few friends, considering all the crazy crap that happens in her life. Most kids would probably steer clear of her and her “insane” family. Really, Dawn’s turned out pretty damned normal considering how screwed up her life COULD have made her, especially the bit when she found out she wasn’t “real.”

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  19. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    @Adam: I do blame the writers more than I blame MT. In my comment, when I said “Dawn’s character”, I’m talking about the writers, not MT. I think that if they’d put more thought into her character, she would’ve been semi-bearable. It’s just that coupled with the character they wrote, *and* MT’s acting- dear God, help me. I always thought the tower scene in Bargaining was waaay over done, even before I started to hate Dawn. (I really began to dislike her character the third time around I watched Buffy, but I *always* thought MT was a bad actress.)

    @Leelu: The fact is that Buffy went through soooo much more than Dawn did, and how many times do you see her bitching and whining? (Well, I don’t know if that’s a fact, but it’s my honest opinion.) Maybe it’s not the greatest thing that she keeps stuff bottled up inside, but even when she doesn’t keep stuff bottled up, when she admits to her feelings of how horrible her life is (see: when she talks to Mr. Platt, the psychologist, in S3, and when she tells Giles and Willow that Angel got his soul before she killed him), I don’t want to smack her because of how selfish she’s being. My point is….well, that the writers didn’t know what the hell they were doing when they wrote Dawn’s character.

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  20. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 15, 2009.]

    **When I said “I don’t know if that’s a fact, but it’s my honest opinion”, I was referring to whether Buffy went through more than Dawn did. Some would maybe argue that finding out you’re not human outweighs everything that Buffy did. I don’t *know* anyone who says that, but it’s possible that there’s someone who does. Not me, though:)

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  21. [Note: wagdog posted this comment on June 23, 2009.]

    Tara rocks. Looooove that character. Enough said.

    Dawn is Dawn, she’s supposed to be whiny, annoying and selfish in a little sister way. That’s the way she’s written. And I’ve never thought MT’s acting was bad. Certainly not at the same gold standards as SMG or AH but decent enough. I wonder if people end up criticizing MT’s acting because they dislike the character so much?

    The red shirt was fun. As soon as he walked in you knew what was going to happen to him. Those little nods to cultural icons always bring a smile to my face. And Buffy’s new ‘friend’ was priceless AND forgettable.

    My favorite ‘non-Tara’ moments involved Anya when she stood up to Willow and then confronted Dawn. Here we see a new character: an assertive and confidant Anya. She clearly articulated what I was thinking and didn’t back down until her piece was said. Good on ya, Anya!

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  22. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on June 23, 2009.]

    @Emily: Buffy definitely acted out due to the all the crap she dealt with. The only difference is that she acted like a straight-up bitch, instead of just being whiney. They are different people with different personalities, and so they are going to react differently. That’s perfectly normal.

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  23. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 15, 2009.]

    Dawn annoys me to no end in this episode. When she whines about “How else can I get anyone to spend any time with me?” I want to say to her “You want people to spend time with you? Be someone worth spending time with, you whiny little twit”

    Xander also ticked me off. He wants Willow to ‘recover’ from her addiction, yet he’ll hop on the Anya bandwagon and tell his lifelong best friend to blow off that recovery to try to do something they don’t even know will help. (“Good for you on staying magick-free for so long, now let’s throw it all away for what might just be an exercise in futility!”)

    But Tara was TERRIFIC in this episode!!!!!

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  24. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on October 8, 2009.]

    I completely LOLed when Halfreck told them about how she could hear Dawn’s pain and suffering “screaming out to her” wherever she went in “this town” or whatever. This is SUNNYDALE. Remember “Earshot”? How many teens have fucked up problems and are really suffering because of them, especially in Sunnydale. In fact just remember the whole first season “high school is hell” moto. And here Dawn is, suffering more than all of them apparently because she isn’t getting much attention from her older sister’s best friends??? Hallie needs to get incinerated sooner…

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  25. [Note: Thrupcat posted this comment on October 19, 2009.]

    I love this episode for several reasons: Spike and Tara – need I say more? Tara was never funnier. And Halfrek – how much do love Halfrek?! I adore the scene when she pompously declares that she will leave the group in their misery and then realizes she herself is also caught in the spell. Terrific! It’s too bad Hallie had to die in Selfless, I would have loved to see her much more.

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  26. [Note: Kathy posted this comment on October 30, 2009.]

    Dawn was annoying and whiny and self centered because she was a hormone addled 14/15 year old. Teens at that age are usually like that and consequently hard to be around.

    does anyone else think that Spike seems somewhat proud of his bruises? I think on some level he enjoys that his lover beat him up. And that’s ok, Spike likes a strong woman, and they are both consenting adults.

    Am I wrong here in thinking that folks are put off by the rough sex? Emotionally Buffy doesn’t handle it well, in part because of her rightful fear of the judgment of her friends, but if you’re depressed (and I have been) and you find something that feels good and isn’t hurting anyone, then I say go for it.

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  27. [Note: LesKat posted this comment on January 18, 2010.]

    So, as a consensus, everyone seems to think that Dawn’s behavior should be expected/excused because she is a hormonal teenager and it is to be expected as age appropriate behavior. And I think that Dawn feels this as well and knows she can get away with it. I don’t completely disagree, although her character makes me want to throw something at my TV. If we keep this mindset, I feel that people are way too hard on Buffy for her actions of not being there all the time for Dawn. She is in her early 20’s on top of everything else going on in her life. And I think she is doing a damned good job at it. She’s working at freaking Doublemeat Palace, just to put food on the table for Dawn (and willow apparently), she’s slaying and doing her patrols and on top of that all kinds of responsibility. So, she’s a little slutty with Spike sometimes? Yeah, not good decisions, but just as teenagers are annoying and hormonal, those in their early 20’s are experimenting on who they are as an adult and sometimes(a lot of time) that includes bad sexual decisions.

    I’m having a hard time getting across my point here. Basically, I think people need to give buffy a break on her actions at times. She is the slayer, not perfect. Of course being a mother, back from the dead, the slayer and a fast food worker sucks. A whole lot.

    ps…this is not aimed at anyone in particular on this site. just some thoughts of mine from reading things on other places that think Buffy is horrrrrible because she isn’t there for dawn 24/7.

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  28. [Note: Echo posted this comment on January 20, 2010.]

    Just my take on some of the issues raised in this thread.

    Tara isn’t just teasing Spike. She’s keeping him off-balance to give Buffy some space. I think this is an important distinction from just teasing to have fun. Spike does have power over Buffy. She’s confused, hurting, and horrified at their relationship, and yet unable to stop it. Buffy had been counting on Spike NOT coming to this party. Tara is running interference to keep Spike from manipulating Buffy on her birthday.

    Spike, OTOH, isn’t OK with being used. He makes that clear several times. I disagree that he must be OK with the situation because he hasn’t cut off the relationship. He doesn’t want *less* of a relationship with Buffy. He wants *more*. He believes that if he’s persistent and doesn’t allow her to run away, she will come to accept her feelings for him. (The feelings he believes she has, not the feelings she actually has.) Therefore, he’s not at the party to get some tail. He’s here to push her toward acknowledging him publicly. Again, this is not an issue for Buffy to have to address on her birthday. She’s in bad enough shape. Thus Tara and the interference.

    I actually love Dawn, but I think she was terribly underwritten this season. So I can sort of see the Dawn hate from both sides for this season. She doesn’t really get a thread at all this arc. In fact, since we’ve established that she holds Spike on a pedestal in S5, why on earth doesn’t she even talk to him here? I think her writing was fine in S5 and a lot of S7. She’s supposed to be less mature than the Scoobies, and that is OK.

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  29. [Note: Zaphe posted this comment on January 26, 2010.]

    I, too, think Spike was not really OK to continue a relationship on Buffy’s term. Like other posters said, he was not able to understand the extent of how Buffy was using him. Since he is hopelessly in love with her, he will take whatever he can to be close to Buffy and hope that given time, her feeling for him will turn into love.

    I do feel that in this case Tara was being a little mean to Spike. While Spike was souless and incapable of understanding the complexity of Buffy’s feelings and emotion, Tara is supposed to be a sensitive being with a soul and I cannot see why she, especially after the last conversation she had with Buffy, cannot be a bit more sympathic of Spike’s situation.

    Like

  30. [Note: Meredith posted this comment on May 27, 2010.]

    I always enjoy this episode immensely because of Spike and his eyebrows and Tara and her zingers. I just mute the TV whenever it’s time for Dawn to speak (I usually don’t mind her all that much, but she drives me crazy in this ep) and enjoy.

    I never thought Tara was being mean to Spike at all. I mean, her teases weren’t even that mean. It was all in good fun. Spike’s reactions didn’t give any sign that she was pissing him off at all, so I don’t think he took her teasing as intentionally hurtful, because it really wasn’t. For the record, I love Tara AND Spike and this was a pretty great episode for them, comedy wise.

    This episode always highlights how stupid they made Willow’s arc: they made her magic a drug addiction, so she had to give it up altogether and now can’t even use it in dangerous situations? Excellent laziness on the part of the writers and one of the many reasons the drug addiction parallel does not make any sense.

    Like

  31. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on May 28, 2010.]

    Anything Dawn-centric after season 5 doesn’t work so well for me. Her problems are just not that compelling and the acting is way below the standard set by other cast members.

    Despite that, there’s a lot to like in this episode. I think it’s interesting that after “Dead Things,” in which Buffy is losing the ability to compartmentalize Spike as wholly evil and a sexual object, Buffy does treat him here more as a friend who has a right to be at her party, acknowledges to him her total non-interest in her “date,” and chooses to be with him as the non-leaving stretches on. She’s not ready to come out, as she tells Tara, but she hasn’t discounted the possibility, and is testing what coming out would be like. However, I do think it’s…unsatisfying that we’ve never seen any reaction from Spike as to the brutal beating he had just received at Buffy’s hands, nor any interaction between the two in which that beating is addressed, even if wordlessly.

    I don’t think Tara is being mean. In fact, I think her teasing is a semi-acknowledgment to Spike that she knows what’s going on between him and Buffy — something Spike is longing for. Plus, the delivery of the “in your pants” line is wonderful.

    I’m also amused by Clem noting to Buffy “we’ve met before.”

    Like

  32. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 15, 2010.]

    What Buffy confided to Tara last episode was her weakness to resist Spike. Being alone in that battle made it easier for Buffy to fall into Spike’s traps. Now that Tara knows, she offers strength to Buffy. But Buffy needs to leave Spike on her own and not have Tara drag her away. All Tara does in this episode is give Buffy the opportunity to walk away all by herself.

    Like

  33. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 11, 2010.]

    First, there are serious problems with the text of this review: did you recently get halfway through reformatting it and get interrupted, since no one else seems to have commented?

    The text of every paragraph is duplicated and also has what looks like extraneous link code.

    Also many of the pro/cons and quotes.

    And a couple of spelling mistakes: “itentions” (intentions) and “curcial” (crucial).

    As for the episode: again we part ways; while not thinking it was a great one, I rate it higher than “Dead Things”. Main minus was the dumb sword demon.

    And an observation: When Buffy picks up the sword and says “Shiny!” — could this possibly be the origin of the “Firefly” usage?

    Like

  34. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    The duplicated text has been fixed, but still has spelling mistakes:

    “itentions” (intentions) and “curcial” (crucial).

    Like

  35. [Note: MissKittyFantastico posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    @ Alan:

    From this site’s “About” section:

    “I would also like to mention that I am not a professional writer nor an English Major, so there will undoubtedly be errors in my writing. I’d like to encourage you to let me know about these errors so I can correct them. E-mail or PM via the forums is preferred for this (see below for address).”

    The email is mikejer(at)gmail(dot)com.

    Like

  36. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    Alan, the original problem you saw was likely due to a code update I was publishing at the time that went kind of wonky. Usually when that happens I notice pretty quickly and get it corrected.

    Also, as MissKittyFantastico pointed out above, I welcome the heads up on typos, but e-mail is preferred. I should reiterate, since you seem to be pointing this out frequently, that I soon plan on going through all my reviews one last time to clean-up them up for things like typos, tighten up my points, and adjust the scores. I know you probably can’t help yourself, what with being an editor and all, but do know that most of these problems will be corrected in due time.

    Like

  37. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 7, 2010.]

    I guess we’ll “agree to disagree”, because I thought there was a night-and-day difference between this episode and the other Dawnesque “All the Way”. I thought that episode was boring, predictable and ill-executed. I thought this episode, by strong contrast, was quite wonderful.

    By the way, I have a theory about Dawn annoying people: Do you notice how much older the actress looks than at the start of S5? She grew up, a lot, and in a way it’s to her character’s disadvantage: Now it’s easier to think of her as one of the grown-ups, harder to remember she’s just a kid, and she can therefore seem a little more annoying than she deserves.

    Like

  38. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on December 18, 2010.]

    I’m glad to see others sticking up for this episode. I liked this episode a lot. Yes, Dawn was super annoying but that’s intentional, I think. Teenage girls are seriously annoying and self involved. I remember being one of them myself. I give Dawn a lot of credit in some ways. Can any of you imagine finding out they you aren’t a “real person” and your mother dying in the middle of your teenage years? I think I’d be pretty messed up, way more so than Dawn. That said, the whole “get out, Get Out, GET OUT!” scene is not well acted and is irritating, I agree.

    I agree with everyone that Tara was great in this episode. She was protecting Buffy, not just being mean to Spike. It was another example about how far Tara’s character has come in this series. Her friendship with Buffy has obviously gone beyond the association through being Willow’s girlfriend. And she is so assertive with Spike and with Anya. A far cry from the mousy girl from S4.

    I found it interesting that Buffy says to Spike “I don’t know why I ever thought you could hang out with my friends” or something to that effect. It was almost like Buffy was considering whether she could have a real relationship with Spike. Would he be able to be part of the gang? Of course, things didn’t quite work out the way she wanted as all Spike wanted to do was sneak off with her for a little boom boom.

    Not the best Buffy episode ever but I’d put it in the “B” category. I enjoyed it.

    Like

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

    Gotta say, Dawn saying “Do you care?” after Buffy DIED FOR HER is…not exactly endearing. I get that Buffy has been not exactly warm to her since she’s gotten back, but hearing Dawn say that after the sacrifices Buffy has made for her is really just absurd.

    Like

  40. [Note: A posted this comment on May 3, 2011.]

    Buffy hasn’t hardly spoken to Dawn at /all/ since she came back, though. She’s had her own shit to deal with, but from Dawn’s perspective… I mean, her dad left, her mom died, Buffy died, Willow got her into a car accident, Giles left and now Buffy has come back and is pretty much ignoring her.

    Speaking as a sixteen year old girl, I think Dawn acts pretty realistic. Because the thing is, she’s /not/ Buffy. Sure, Buffy could handle it, but Buffy is the slayer. Dawn’s not. Dawn’s a normal kid in pretty miserable circumstances. If she had /no/ issues at all, I’d find that harder to believe.

    That being said she can be a little annoying. But she grows on me. And I like her a lot by the end of season seven.

    Like

  41. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 24, 2011.]

    Has anyone else realized that this episode is Buffy’s 21st birthday thus proving that previous scenes of drinking [S4 especially] have been completely underage? Not so moral Buffy…not so moral….[just poking fun at Buffy’s moral fiber]

    My feelings on Dawn are much like many people here – the girl is selfish, foolish, annoying, whining, etc. And NO I do not think we should excuse it cause shes a teenager – its all overdone, these are just plain terrible qualities in a person and she needs to grow the f***up [so gad she goes by S7].

    Like

  42. [Note: ShowMeMagic posted this comment on September 7, 2011.]

    I don’t love love Dawn, I know she can be annoying. But, I think this quote I found puts things in perspective. She may be overly-angsty, immature, whiny, etc. But, with this in mind, I’d probably be acting overly dramatic as well.

    “…look at Dawn last season. She was several meters beyond the forefront of attention. EVERYONE’s attention. Gods, demons – mortals, immortals, all in a desperate race to get to her first. What happened to her was going to affect the entire universe. All the Scoobies were looking out for her all the time. People were killing and being killed for her. Her sister died saving her. She was quite literally the center of attention.

    And then – WHAM. All that – over. Gone. Done with. Just a regular teenage girl. Only she’s not. And she knows that. That would be enough to shake anyone up. Not to mention, dealing with her mother’s death, of course that would give anyone abandonment issues. And then dealing with her sister’s death and rebirth. I would be thinking Dawn would be feeling very insecure right about now. …she may be wrapped up in a young teenage skin, but in her incarnation as Dawn, she’s not even two years old yet. I seriously think the [Mutant Enemy writing] team might be trying to remind us of that (Dedalus, 2/15/02 14:05).”

    Like

  43. [Note: meh posted this comment on October 14, 2011.]

    I find Dawn incredibly annoying in most episodes, but never more than this one. I mean, I get she’s been through a lot, and a group dedicated to fighting evil would be closer knit than most, but for crying out loud, get a life. We never see her with her own friends, apart from one scene, and it’s really strange that she would come to the store to find people to go to the mall with her.

    Like

  44. [Note: Gon posted this comment on November 8, 2011.]

    Actually, I disagree with the score; I think this is one of the best espisodes of season 6.

    The plot is an homage to Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece film “The Exterminating Angel”: people can’t leave a house without a reason and they start to reveal their phobias out and to turn against each other. I thought Anya was at her best in this episode (I love it when she’s mean, as in S3 and S4, and not just dumb). She was a victim of the kind of evil she used to perform and freaking out as a human would do.

    It was nice to see the Scoobies interact and work together. I think the wish Dawn expressed was somehow the viewer’s: these characters needed to spend time together. There were some nice interactions: Buffy-Dawn, Willow-Tara, Xander-Anya, Anya-Willow, Tara-Spike. The fight scene was great.

    It was also very funny with the guests (Sophie and Clem are so great), the monster appearing and disappearing, the twists (when Halfrek is apparently killed), Halfrek’s exit, etc.

    Like

  45. [Note: Brian posted this comment on November 27, 2011.]

    On my first whirl through the Buffyverse and just watched this ep for the first time. Can I add one more “Con”? The shot of Spike living Buffy’s house with his back turned is BAD. As in, the stand-in for James Marsters in that shot is WAY too big and it just jumped out at me how it clearly is not the same person. One of the rare blunders on the continuity front, especially as Sarah’s fight double and all of the editing is SO well done. Oh well, can’t be perfect.

    Like

  46. [Note: Erin posted this comment on December 11, 2011.]

    Dawn really irritates me in this season. I didn’t mind her as much in S5 – the had a purpose, something central to the plot and is interesting. And now there’s nothing to be said about her but ‘Dawn’s in pain’ and ‘Dawn feels ignored and alone.’ What I don’t understand is why she feels so ignored and alone when BUFFY’s friends don’t want to hang out with her. I mean, where are HER friends? Shouldn’t she want to hang with people her own age? I’d personally rather be with my own friends than my sister’s. I’m happy that in S7 we see some growth of her as a character, and she has some great moments there. But here in S6, she’s just annoying.

    Like

  47. [Note: Peter posted this comment on January 1, 2013.]

    “The little nod to Halfrek being Cecily, Spike’s pre-vamp love”How do you know Halfrek is Celcily ??thanks

    Like

  48. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 1, 2013.]

    Well, first off they’re played by the same actress. So either they’re identical twins born a century apart, or something funny is going on. Now Whedon does like to recycle actors and sometimes we’re meant to pretend they’re different people despite having seen them in another role earlier. (Knox and Holden come to mind)In this episode though we see her meet Spike. She stops in the middle of her vehement explanation, does a double take and says “William?” in an incredulous tone. Spike then frowns, takes a closer look at her (she’s in demon-face at this point) and says “Hey, wait a minute?” Then Buffy asks whether they know eachother and they unconvincingly deny it.Put two and two together it seems very likely that she was Cecily back in the 19th century. It would be a bit of a stretch that there is any other way someone looking exactly like Cecily would know Spike as “William.”

    Like

  49. [Note: Joe posted this comment on January 7, 2013.]

    In regards to..**Willow’s present to Buffy is beyond funny: an electric back massager. “Instant gratification for all your little achies.” Spike raises another eyebrow hinting at some other uses of the device.**I’m pretty sure Spike raised his eyebrow as a nod to Buffy that the comment could be applied to him. As if to indicate she already has something that serves that purpose, him.

    Like

  50. [Note: JEL posted this comment on February 9, 2013.]

    In minor defense of MT in the “Get out, Get Out, GET OUT” scene, over at http://www.buffyworld.com the “shooting script” has:

    DAWN
    (practically
    screeching)
    Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!

    So MT was just doing what the script said for her to do.

    I think the writers are therefore more to blame for that than MT.

    Like

  51. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on February 9, 2013.]

    If this also helps, somebody else pointed out that the original audience was intended to grow with the characters, so even though Xander’s teenage immaturity was tolerated, understood, and/or accepted when the original audience were teenagers, Dawn’s exact same teenage (im)maturity seems worse in comparison after the audience has grown more.

    Also, she was originally written for a 12-year-old, not a 15-year-old, and when a teenager was cast instead of a pre-teen, the writers didn’t adjust as much as they probably thought they did.

    Also Also, she was sent to Buffy to BE protected, so the monks didn’t want to risk giving her a personality that would encourage people to trust her on her own, rather they thought that making her super-dependant was safer for making sure the Slayer didn’t go very far away for very long.

    Like

  52. [Note: JEL posted this comment on February 16, 2013.]

    I was defending MT the actor not the character. Many people seem to blame MT for the “Get out!”s rather than the character in that scene, and I thought this might mean that blame is misdirected. Some of your points are defending the Dawn the character, which is a different issue.

    Actually I have no problem with either. So you don’t have to defend either MT or Dawn to me!

    Though I will add that at this point (season 6) I think the writers should have adapted to the age change. That might have been a valid reason in “The Real Me” for her to be written younger than she should have been, but not by now. There is a mention in one of the commentaries (Becoming?) that none of the writers had teenagers themselves which was offered as a partial excuse.

    But I’ve read a number of people who say they were just like this at that age, and she is not that inconsistent with teenagers I’ve known, so I’m not so sure there really is any problem with the portrayal agewise at this point anyway.

    Appreciate the response.

    Like

  53. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on December 17, 2013.]

    Having grown up with two sisters, the “Get out, get out, GET OUT!” line was delivered perfectly. I have heard it exactly that way in real life many times. I think MT is a fantastic actress and really don’t understand the hate.

    Like

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

    Wow, I do not get the Dawn hate. She is actually a wonderful young girl. Funny. Kind. Brave. Does she whine? Yes. So does Willow for most of season 4 and Buffy for most of this season. But here’s the kick, she is a kid. They aren’t. Please a little sympathy.

    Like

  55. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on October 19, 2014.]

    Yes, Dawn seems needy and desesperate in this episode. But the scoobies should realize that they should have stayed a bit more with her. Especially after getting all the attention in season 5. I understand why she feels like that. Dawn is not my favorite character but she has her place in the show. I don’t get the hate also.

    Like

  56. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 11, 2015.]

    There are some funny moments in this episode, thanks to the minor roles (the dog-looking-like demon, Richard, Sophie, Halfrek). But the rest – all the dramatic part – is really, really boring. I realize, with this episod, that I don’t really give a f*** about Dawn. She’s just “in the way” all the time, her character is kind of useless. Moreover, a lot of little details bugged me :
    1) Why does Anya have THIS kind of reaction when they’re locked ? I don’t recognize her.
    2) Willow being ready to abandon her friends just because of her rehab thingy ? Come on, you’d rather die, miss ?
    3) How can Anya and Xander be serious about trying to set up something between that blondie gulible Richard … Buffy ?
    4) According to Halfrek, Anyanka sticked to revenge during her career. Revenge asked by women to punish a man. So WHY the heck did she helped CORDELIA by the time ? I mean, it wasn’t about a man, she just wished Buffy had never existed.

    I would give this episode a really bad grade. It was fun sometimes, but it was mostly boring, repetitive, static and a little unlogical.

    Like

  57. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 11, 2015.]

    I think I liked this episode more then you and Mike. It’s nothing outstanding, but it does give us a lot to chew on with how Willow is holding her ground and how Anya reacts to the situation. I agree, it is a bit jarring and out of character, but I think it can be chalked up to nerves before the wedding. Also, being trapped inside like that could parallel her insecurity with being trapped in marriage soon. I’m grasping at straws here… and yet I can wholly believe her reaction somehow. It seems fitting in the “I can’t believe we haven’t seen her act this way before considering her character” type way.

    I don’t remember exactly what Alfrek said, but this is an example of just poorly worded dialog if that’s the case. She means targeting women who have been “scorned” and it doesn’t necessarily have to be targeted towards the man, although it usually is. Cordelia fit that criteria for her and got her wish, what happens after that isn’t Anya’s concern.

    Like

  58. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    Corrections :
    *that blondie gulible Richard … AND Buffy ?
    * why did she HELP (and not “helped”). Sorry.

    Pathybeyondthedark : Well, yes, maybe it’s all about interpretation. But still, the whole episode, as meaningful as it may be, remains too slow and not very interesting.

    Like

  59. [Note: Courtney posted this comment on May 10, 2015.]

    Did anyone else notice the person moving in the window behind Buffy when she was talking to Mr. Red Shirt guy in the main foyer?

    Like

  60. [Note: huggybear1 posted this comment on September 25, 2015.]

    Gosh, most of all I have realized that Dawn is sooooo annoying. She feels everything is about her. I understand why her being so immature would make her feel that she is being unrightfully ignored and such, but surely she must understand what Buffy and others are going through is important. I really cant stand her

    Like

  61. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 28, 2015.]

    Agree here. The character is quite unbearably annoying at times. Having been an older sibling and the age gap being roughly the same, I think they got the ‘annoying sibling’ part spot on.

    The problem is, they do nothing with the character once her reason for being put on the show is done (post-Season 5). In S5 at least she was part of the plot and needed to be protected, but in S6-7 she becomes just another background character that annoys everyone. It didn’t help that the best they could come up with was a klepto plot, plus lots of whining about how unfair everything is. I laughed when Willow suggested she could turn her back into energy, if only to stop the incessant whining.

    From a different perspective, Dawn’s inclusion and subsequent pushing aside by the writers reinforces my personal belief that S5 was designed as a ‘soft’ final season in case the worst happened and the show didn’t return. The whole arc works better as a finale season, rather than the show at the end of its ‘midpoint’ and going into its final seasons. Dawn’s character works as a retconned-in plot point in a final season, but not as a permanent character for three whole seasons.

    Like

  62. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 28, 2015.]

    To be fair she was at least a lot more tolerable in Season 7 but by then the damage was pretty extensive and she soon lost focus to the Potentials anyway. They definitely could have treated the character a lot better after Season 5 (and even then she wasn’t handled the best there either) or have her have less screen time so that we needn’t be come to loathe her presence. It’s not like she needed to be in every episode which is something that other shows seemed to realize when it came to teen characters. Plus in shows like Supernatural not having your supporting starring players in every episode is good since it ensures that there presence doesn’t run out of steam and you can force yourself to come up with other interesting people and things for your leads to interact with. You could tell that this could be a problem at times in this show which might explain the hate that some of the supporting players get (even Spike who while cool probably didn’t need to be in as many episodes as he was).

    Like

  63. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    Agreed – while I don’t ‘hate’ the character, she doesn’t do a whole lot for being in ~66 episodes. I didn’t have a problem with the cast in S5, and as a true supporting character (and being linked to the plot) Dawn isn’t too bad in that season. As the cast is steadily cut away in S6, the main and supporting characters blur until the likes of Anya and Dawn are part of the main cast. As parts of an ensemble, they’re fine, but as soon as they are given too much screen time they become far too annoying.

    Also agree that they just needed more diversity in a true supporting cast that didn’t pop up every episode. In S6 most of the interesting characters are written out of large chunks of the plot (Giles, Tara), Spike is too defined by his pursuit of Buffy, Buffy is generally irritating and the rest just muddle through without an overarching plot tying it into a coherent story. In S5, all of the characters balanced one another out.

    Like

  64. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 2, 2015.]

    Since some talk of bottle episodes has been brought up recently I thought I’d say I actually think that the conceit for this episode is kind of neat having them not being able to leave the house. Plus having them fight a demon that emerges from inside of the house isn’t a bad idea. It’s just a shame that it didn’t all come together (and the Dawn material isn’t that great) cause this could have been a real high point if they really put their A-game in. It’s probably the most squandered potential of a good idea in this infamous stretch of Season 6 episodes (and this is even coming from someone who doesn’t like Dead Things that much).

    Like

  65. [Note: Samm posted this comment on December 2, 2015.]

    Pretty much agree with what you said. This episode had a great idea but it didn’t live up to the potential. But this episode was enjoyable even though it had problems. It probably would have been better if this was episode made the demon scary and had it seriously terrifying everyone.

    You can’t leave, its dark because this demon can turn off the light, is quick and gone in a flash. It would have added so much to this episode if they utilized the demon properly.

    Like

  66. [Note: Joy posted this comment on December 3, 2015.]

    Agreed. Very few of the BtVS episodes are genuinely scary, like scary movie scary. Helpless, Hush and CWDP come to mind. Usually I’m grateful for that but in this case everything just feels too safe, as if boredom is the worst part of being trapped in a house together. This is one episode I usually skip.

    Like

  67. [Note: Joy posted this comment on December 3, 2015.]

    I think its the one thing the show and Angel didn’t utilize enough of, and that was scary episodes. There was a small handful of horror based episodes and all of them like Hush, Helpless, CWDP were all brilliant episodes. It is clear they knew how to write them well, i am surprised they never did anymore of them.

    Like

  68. [Note: Nathan posted this comment on January 1, 2016.]

    Such a great premise ruined. Trapped in the house with no escape and a demon that can appear out of nowhere. What could go wrong? Let’s have Dawn act like an eight year old about not being paid attention to. Most teenagers go through it and don’t whine about it. Take out Dawn from the episode and it would be watchable.

    This was Buffy turning 21. It really should have been about her.

    Although, loved the reaction of Anya when she tells Hallie the curse is the reason she cannot leave.

    Like

  69. [Note: Pandorita posted this comment on March 30, 2016.]

    Enjoyed this episode, but there’s one thing that’s really bugging me, and it’s that the brutal beating Spike took from Buffy in the previous episode is never properly adressed or discussed at all. Spike just shows up at her house with a black, still-swollen eye, makes a joking comment about it, and that’s it? I mean, I can understand it from Spike on the account that he’s a vampire and as such supposed to relish in the darkness and all; but Buffy, who seemed horrified of herself after she was done with him, and cried plenty on Tara’s lap about all that she feels it’s “wrong” with her, now seems to not care at all, and both behave with each other just like before the incident, as it didn’t happen or didn’t mean anything… just seems wrong to me. And sloppy writing.

    It’s pretty obvious that this fight wasn’t like the many others they had before, the ones Spike referred to as their “dance”, some of which even ended in heated sex, like it happened in “Smashed”.

    This was different, starting with it not being much of a fight at all: Spike only fought her for a moment, not to hurt her but to stop her from turning herself into the police; and he stopped fighting altogether when he realized she needed an outlet for her emotions, and just let himself be beaten by her. He even encouraged her to do so, to unleash her rage on him, and as she did he just took the beating, until he was left almost as unrecognizable as he was after Glory tortured him. Even if Buffy was more angry at herself than at him, and was mostly projecting on him her own self-hatred, there was a clear difference between them: he wasn’t fighting back nor trying to hurt her, just to protect her, and yet she *still* beat him to a pulp, hurting him terribly and not just physically but also emotionally, saying horrible things to him. Just a few moments after he said to her, once more, that he loves her.

    It felt truly brutal, undeserved, and something that should have been a turning point for both characters, as Buffy herself seemed pretty disgusted and horrified by her own actions afterwards. Yet in this episode it seems to be taken lightly, as if it the whole ordeal wasn’t a big deal for either of them.

    It’s disturbing, and it keeps me thinking about the Evelyn’s comment in the Dead Things’s review, where she mentions Buffy and Spike’s relationship has many elements of domestic abuse.

    Like

  70. [Note: Kit posted this comment on October 29, 2016.]

    I think it’s more that she realises that Buffy herself is disgusted and guilty over her relationship with Spike (I forget if she’s already tried to break it off with him at this point), and while Buffy is using Spike, Spike is pressuring her to give in to her impulses. I think Tara just wants to be in Buffy’s corner to try and help her break the cycle she’s in, especially since no-one else knows.

    Like

  71. [Note: Kit posted this comment on October 29, 2016.]

    Agree! This season is supposed to be about the difficulties of facing up to adult responsibility, but if you take out the metaphor and just look at Buffy herself she’s going through a heck of a lot. Not only does she have to work a day job to support a household and some freeloading friends, but she has to go out at night to patrol. That must be exhausting enough without being depressed on top of it, and having none of your friends except Tara and Spike be willing to listen to your feelings in case it makes them feel bad. Sure, Dawn has abandonment issues, on top of the ‘do I even exist?’ narrative all tweens feel at some point or other, but she is being pretty selfish in this episode, and Buffy isn’t the only one in this season who needs to become more mature in her decisions and attitudes. I don’t think being a teen gives you a free pass to selfishness all the time, after all, not everyone just ‘grows out’ of bad childhood habits.

    Like

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