Buffy 7×03: Same Time, Same Place

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 10/08/2002]

“Same Time, Same Place” is a very nice Willow episode that, while not particularly amazing in any one way, is not particularly bad in any way, and has really grown on me every time I’ve seen it. When I first saw this episode, it confused me quite a bit. Now that I know what’s going on from the start, I like the concept of it a lot more and feel it’s a little underrated. The one place it does get bogged down a tad is in its slow pace. While I feel the slower pace does fit what the episode is trying to do, it just gets a bit too slow for its own good in places. Admittedly, this pace allows for a fairly different tone, which is set very nicely by the opening scene. Willow thinks no one’s waiting for her at the airport terminal, while Buffy, Xander, and Dawn think Willow ditched the flight and is running off somewhere else, possibly wrecking havok.

I think the episode, as a whole, works fairly well mostly due to its timely comedy and Alyson Hannigan’s amazing ability to make you feel so crushed when she’s sad or rejected. The very funny comedy is balanced by some surprisingly effective drama. I’d like to also just pause a moment here to point out how rare it is to find a demon in Buffy that is genuinely creepy, has great make-up, and has an actual personality. Kudos to the make-up team on this one! The demon really works great here as a red herring to the Scoobies, while also acting as a means of forcing Willow to confront what she did to Warren and herself last season — the skinning being the most obvious clue. This all really comes together in the cave sequence later in the episode, which I’ll get to in just a bit.

I’m really pleased with how they used Spike’s apparent insanity here. Willow talks to Spike, and he looks like he’s talking to the air. Later, we see Buffy and Xander talking to Spike and the opposite happening, although we know Willow’s actually there. This can’t help Spike’s sanity very much. I also enjoyed seeing a bit of William seeping out when he’s talking to Buffy: “Glowing. What’s a word means glowing. Got a rhyme.” This more theatrical version of Spike will continue to seep out more as the season goes along. This is a really fun, inventive scene.

I really love Anya’s interacton with Willow as well. It all amounts to some incredibly funny dialogue (“This isn’t going to get all sexy, is it?”) and some interesting new parallels between them. The scene with the both of them doing a spell together really flashed me back to “Doppelgangland” [3×16]. Wow, times have changed! I also really appreciate the little bit of insight from Anya about causing pain. She tells Willow, who can now really relate, “Well, causing pain sounds really cool, I know, but turns out it’s really upsetting. Didn’t use to be, but now it is.” It’s obvious her vengeance gig isn’t going to end well, much like how Willow’s vengeance on Warren didn’t end well for her. Anya’s not in a particularly happy place right now, which continues to play out as more setup for “Selfless” [7×05]. Very few shows bother taking the time to consistently set up the events of future episodes, so it’s important to take note of how well Buffy does this and how unique it is because of it. Even this late in the series — Season Seven — it’s still getting this right.

Everything about this demon is super creepy and icky. As I pointed out above, they really did a great job with this one. When the demon gets a hold of Willow and starts stripping off her skin, piece by piece, I can’t help but feel this is some sort of sick karmic justice at work, punishing Willow for what she did to Warren. I actually found myself very scared for Willow here, with her friends unknowingly locking her in the creature’s cave. Willow’s paralyzed joy when Anya tells her she’s not alone is simply heart-breaking. The spell that separated Willow from her friends dissipates when Willow admits her fear of not being wanted out loud. Even though she can’t see Buffy, she speaks to the air, believing that she is. Willow simply thinking her friends didn’t want to see her again actually made it happen. She is definitely right when admitting she’s got a ways to go before controlling her new uber powers — something she’ll struggle with all season.

Although it can’t compare to the end of “Beneath You” [7×02], I still have a tremendous appreciation for the final scene of “Same Time, Same Place.” Willow says, “It’s magic. I’m drawing power from the earth to heal myself.” Buffy admits to thinking the flayings were because of Willow and tells her that, “I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t think that. Xander never thought it.” Willow responds, “I’m sure he did a little. Heck, even I did a little. Xander has the luxury of not saying it. But you’re the Slayer. You have to say stuff like that.” Willow nails this truth about Buffy, which provides insight into how Buffy will react in a critical argument in “Selfless” [7×05], along with her approach to leadership throughout the season.

This is also an important moment of self-realization when Willow recognizes that she’s not even sure recovery is possible for her, and won’t blame Buffy if she feels the same. Buffy, in response, visually admits that she has concerns, but then offers to give away some of her strength to help Willow heal — a touching moment, but one that is also very thematically relevant to the season. This moment of sharing and friendship, in all its simplicity, beautifully symbolizes the First’s ultimate downfall. This also foreshadows Buffy’s plan in “Chosen” [7×22] to share her strength with all the potentials, with Willow acting as the catalyst.

Some nice little touches that I appreciated, in regard to everyone’s feelings toward Willow, include Willow hearing Warren’s gun shot when she gets close to the window Tara was standing in front of when she died, Dawn pointing out that, at some point, the gang has to stop defending Willow, and Anya’s overall inital feelings about her. Dawn, with an excellent point, states, “So Giles is blaming Giles, and we’re blaming us. Is anyone gonna blame Willow? Oh, don’t give me shock face. I mean, will anyone around here ever start asking for help when they need it?”

When Willow expresses sorrow over what’s she done to Anya, we get Anya’s appropiately blunt response, “You feel really responsible? You are really responsible!” Willow is willing to take it though, without any defense: “Go on. Say whatever you want. Rib bones and so forth. I deserve it.” Anya, of course, straight-forward as always, accurately says, “You won’t mind? Then that’s no fun.”

So, all in all, “Same Time, Same Place” is a fairly modest character piece that doesn’t really try to draw attention to itself. Looking past its modesty, I found quite a bit to admire and enjoy out of it. Overall I feel it’s a slightly more solid episode than “Beneath You” [7×02], but it doesn’t have anything that can match the final scene of that episode. I can’t really give it an A-range grade because it just isn’t quite special or powerful enough to warrant it. I just don’t want that fact to diminish my appreciation for a really pleasant episode… besides, you know, all the skin eating. πŸ˜‰


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Love Xander’s sign with “Welcome back, Willow” written in yellow crayon.
+ Gnarl kind of reminds me of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. Only much creepier.
+ Really love the music in this episode. Go Robert Duncan!
+ Anya’s reaction to Willow walking up to her. It’s sad to see the Magic Box all boarded up.
+ Anya bringing up the gang’s little “mix-up” a few days ago (“Beneath You” [7×02] ). Honestly, episode-to-episode continuity like this just never gets old!
+ Posable Dawn: fun for the whole family!
+ Buffy’s fight with Gnarl: very cool; icky end.

–Β Although out of the picture for a very long time, where are Willow’s parents? Did she disown them when she went to college or something?


* Buffy sharing her strength with others, as she does with Willow here, is a big part of what, thematically, allows them to triumph over the First. You could even say that Willow pays Buffy back in “Chosen” [7×22].




57 thoughts on “Buffy 7×03: Same Time, Same Place”

  1. [Note: Steph posted this comment on March 1, 2009.]

    I love this episode for so many reasons. I’m glad you hit on all the great points going on.

    I would have probably given it a 90, but I have nothing to back that up with except I simply enjoy watching Willow connect back with the gang. I think this ep. was a smart way to reintegrate Willow back to Sunnydale as well.

    Xander’s sign was wonderful.


  2. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    Ha! Someone else besides me thinks Gnarl was reminiscent of Smeagol! And yes, I must agree with you on his creep factor. Most of the baddies are a bit lackluster on this show, but Gnarl, The First, Caleb, and The Gentlemen are all deliciously creepy.


  3. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    I love this episode also. The monster is super creepy, and Willow reconnecting with her friends is touching. The final scene just breaks my heart. Great episode, all around.
    mike, there’s another foreshadowing you forgot to mention. At least, I think it is. Buffy kills the Gnarl by poking out the eyes, in the same fashion Caleb does to Xander.


  4. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    I *Love* this episode. It’s classic Espenson–witty, insightful, strengthens character development, and filled with insanely quotable one-liners such as

    Xander: We should have put on a leash on him.
    Buffy: Yes, let’s tie ourselves to the crazy vampire.

    The only reason I think it’s an A- instead of a full-blown A is because the last scenes at the end with Gnarl peeling off Willow’s skin and eating it are so incredibly gruesome that I can’t actually watch them without getting a splitting headache. Other than that, I think it’s one of the best of the season, and it means that all the S7 regulars are finally back in Sunnydale.


  5. [Note: Ursus posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    I generally agree with this review. The one place I don’t is that I thought the demon was stupid in concept and execution. I’m sorry, it didn’t work for me.


  6. [Note: Adam posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    I like this episode too but I don’t think it was amazing. They, definitely, could have made an overall better episode than what they provided here. It was not horrible in any means, however. I thought the demon was creepy and I loved it! The episode’s plot was kind of, um…lame, but it still was decent. By the way, great review like always!


  7. [Note: Zillex posted this comment on March 2, 2009.]

    Maybe its because I’m watching the whole series in just a few weeks…but I’m kind of tired of ‘invisible people’ storylines.


  8. [Note: AaronJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    “- Although out of the picture for a very long time, where are Willow’s parents? Did she disown them when she went to college or something?”

    Maybe she ate them when she was evil.


  9. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Ugh. You’re right: with the Gentlemen, this is the most creepy demon ever on Buffy (and I just cannot believe I hadn’t seen the connection with Willow’s skinning Warren alive). And even though I was very confused when I first viewed the scene in the basement, now I find it really fun and well-written. And how great that, even at his craziest, Spike still can see past magic and deceit, right to the heart of things and people.
    As for Willow’s parents, I think her father isn’t mentioned even once in the whole series, and the last we heard of her mother (three years ago in Pangs, I think?), she was having second thoughts about the whole Tara affair, so she probably severed her fragile ties with her daughter when they moved in together.


  10. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    HarFang, re: Willow’s parents (esp. mother), I don’t know what bit from S4 or so you’re thinking about because I can’t remember anything like that taking place or even mentioned in the show, but here’s what she tells Kennedy in “The Killer in Me”:

    “My mom was all proud like I was making some political statement. Then the statement mojo wore off and I was just gay. She hardly ever even met Tara.”

    So it doesn’t really sound like her mom, anyway, had big problems about her coming out. And before this episode, the last time I can recall Willow’s family mentioned is in “Forever”, when she tells Xander she’s going to go visit her mom.

    I guess Willow’s parents are some of those characters who are used pretty strictly as plot elements/aids, so when they aren’t needed for anything, which is at least 95% of the time, they’re ignored by the writers. If they hadn’t come across as such pretty detached parents from the start of the show, I might have more issues with Willow leading such an independent life once in college. I suppose they still finance her studies though.


  11. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    Paula: you’re right, I had the wrong scene in mind. Thank you!
    Still, I assumed from the scene you quoted that Mrs Rosenberg had initially misunderstood how serious Willow was about being gay –she thought that her daughter was just being fashionable (exactly what Tara and Willow had argued over once), so when she realised her mistake, she suddenly became much less supportive. Now, I may be reading too much in Willow’s brief explanation; this theory just seemed coherent with the woman we saw in Gingerbread.


  12. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    I must have had a perpetual brain fart for the past 7 years, because I hadn’t made the connection between Buffy’s power sharing in Same Time Same Place, and in Chosen. I’ve been a fan for a freaking decade and I still didn’t connect that! Joss really knew what he was doing…

    I love a lot of things about this episode, from the delicious irony of Willow’s skin being slowly taken off to the HILARIOUS interaction between Willow and Anya – those two are great together, they’re so different and yet so funny. The episode continues the trend of a breezy, old school feel, but doesn’t go overboard, which I appreciate.

    What I find interesting is that Buffy, at the end of the ep, tells Willow that “Xander never thought” that Willow was responsible for the flayed guy. Yes he did! He was first to say it! Why Buffy covered for him is anyone’s guess, but it’s almost like she WANTS to be the cold, ruthless one who makes the hard decisions. This factors in to a LOT that is said and done this season. Obviously this is followed through in the Selfless moral dilemma.


  13. [Note: Maddy posted this comment on March 14, 2009.]

    I really enjoyed this episdode, a lot better than the last one which I found rather unamusing.
    Having a job in fashion, I can’t help but watch the characters outfits and appearances and in this episode I think a lot of characters look there best… apart from Spike and his hideous shirt. Grr.
    I love the scene in the basement with Spike/Willow/Buffy/Xander I think Spike’s dialouge fits both conversations perfectly – very well done I say!
    I also love how Dawn has become more involved with the ‘scoobies’ she has took on Willow’s roll of computer researcher and I think fits it very well.
    Is it just me, but has anyone else noticed that Anya’s hair is pretty much a dark colour when she isn’t with Xander. I think dying her hair has showed that she over him just like when she went blonde it showed that she had strong feelings for him- anyone else think this? It could just be a coincedence.
    Overall very enjoyable episode with a brilliant plot.


  14. [Note: Christian posted this comment on April 9, 2009.]

    Hey all. I’m watching Buffy all over again and I usually come to this site to read the great reviews, but this is the first time I’m commenting.

    I’m a diehard Buffy fan and always loved the Buffy character. I first watched the whole series when it originally aired, and It ended when I was 17. I’m 22 now and I see the series in a more mature way. This time I’ve grown to love Willow a lot more than the first time, maybe even more than Buffy.

    This episode was really nice, not one of the best, but it had great moments. I especially enjoyed posable Dawn. I thought it was hilarious and broke the tension of the whole Willow being skinned moment. There were two things missing for me though the first time I saw this. First of all I needed to see a great big hug between Willow and the Scoobies, I kept on waiting for it to happen and it didn’t. And the other thing was that Buffy mentioned nothing about Spike having his soul back. After the ending of “beneath you� I would have though bombs would be dropped.

    All in all a nice Buffy episode, and yeah I agree with Maddy, great outfits! I loved Willows clothes… She’s really gotten more and more attractive with every season. Also, the Jr. Watcher thing with Dawn is great, now she has no reason to be annoying! Love that!!


  15. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 19, 2009.]

    A solid episode. While I’ve never been overly fond of Anya, I loved the interaction between her and Willow. I also like how they’re playing Willow’s guilt and redemption. While it’s obvious she does feel incredibly guilty, she’s not being a whiny “Oh, please forgive me!” nuisance.

    Gnarl was definitely creepy and the scenes of him skinning and eating Willow were extremely hard for me to watch. And when Buffy and Xander sealed Willow in the cave with him, my heart almost broke.

    I enjoyed seeing Dawn playing a larger role in the Scoobies.

    Loved the line out of Spike when Xander comments that it might be a flesh-eating rock cliff, “I’m crazy. What’s his excuse?”

    The ending with Buffy was very well done. Buffy wanted to reconnect with her friend, but was still a little nervous of Willow doing any magick. That was understandable. But then sharing her strength shows she’s willing to try to accept Willow as she is now.


  16. [Note: Blue Light J posted this comment on September 14, 2009.]

    Just for the record, regarding Willow’s father: he gets one mention, during “Passion” in season 2.

    “Ira Rosenberg’s only daughter nailing crucifixes to her bedroom wall? I have to go to Xander’s house just to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas every year.”


  17. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 1, 2010.]

    How creepy is Gnarl? With his rhyming speech and strange eating habits…..but, actually, who hasn’t tried tasty skin from time to time?

    Buffy poking the eyes in with her thumbs and then Xander’s response. Foreshadow-y anyone.

    Now Poseable Dawn was hilarious, especially once the paralysis wears off.

    Why didn’t the casting people find an actor who could more closely match the skinned body used for Warren that was used for the young boy at the construction site? The boy was too small…come to think of it even Warren may of been a little smaller.

    I’ll stop with the great Anya/Willow scene which was a nice throwback to season 3.


  18. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 31, 2010.]

    I loved this episode for the most part, but the Gnarl stuff dragged it down from a possible A to a mere B-plus for me. It was just unnecessary for him to be so disgusting. It seems to me like the writers were saying here, “hey, why don’t we see if we can make our audience gasp in horror and/or vomit?”

    Pity, since the rest of the episode was so amazing.


  19. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    The basement scene is very well done, and played beautifully, as always, by James Marsters. Once again, William’s looking for “effulgent,” and of course, Spike has previously described Buffy as “glowing.” All of him is still in there.

    However, using Spike as a bloodhound and making jokes at his expense is really ugly and felt unnatural to me. Bad enough that after his painful confession Buffy would leave him to fend for himself in the basement. Horrible behavior, but OK, maybe she hasn’t fully processed this situation and figured out what to do about it. But after being made aware during his speech how terribly she damaged him by using him, she’s going to use him again? And make fun of him to Xander, of all people? It seemed very artificial in light of her emotional response to his revelation to her. This kind of sapped a lot of enjoyment out of this episode for me.


  20. [Note: Merry posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    Gnarl scares the hell out of me. The Gentlemen provided probably the only two moments in the series when I actually jumped in fright (when the Gentleman passes right in front of Olivia at the window and when the straightjacketed lackey pops out at Buffy), but Gnarl creeps me WAY more.It’s probably just because I’m squeamish and get incredibly naseous when he’s peeling off Willow’s skin, but it’s still really, really, creepy.

    This is one of my favorite S7 episodes, mostly because of Alyson’s making me like Willow again. Not every character could flay someone alive and then become a favorite again! One of my favorite moments is when Anya says something about it getting a little sexy after they did the spell and then Willow raising an eyebrow with a “yeah it did!” expression and then abruptly saying she had to go. Hilarious!


  21. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 14, 2010.]

    Merry wrote: “This is one of my favorite S7 episodes, mostly because of Alyson’s making me like Willow again.”

    See, I never stopped liking Willow. The only time I really disliked her was when she and everyone else turned on Buffy in “Empty Places”.

    I did enjoy this episode, though.


  22. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 12, 2010.]

    I suppose I disagree with the S7 grades so far, because for me, after two spellbindingly amazing episodes filled with complexity and character development, here I was majorly disappointed. I was so looking forward to seeing Willow’s reunion with her friends, so looking forward to seeing the subtleties of their various reactions, and how guilt, fear, and forgiveness would play out. Instead, all of that is swept aside for this high-concept, kind of lame abstract idea of people not seeing each other. I know the show uses supernatural occurrences as metaphors and focusing devices for real-life conflicts; this one just didn’t work for me.

    I feel like seeing some real Buffy emotion… I think I’ll re-watch the confrontation between Xander and Dark Willow. πŸ™‚


  23. [Note: C posted this comment on September 12, 2010.]

    Great review, I loved the general idea of this episode, although I did feel it could have been fleshed out (God, after seeing this episode I kinda feel like rephrasing…) a little more. The “double” scenes, especially the one with Spike, are as inventive as Buffy ever is.

    I’m glad you commented on the music, I really think all the Buffy-composers have done a great work… but didn’t Douglas Romayne score this episode? Rob Duncan replaced him later on during S7 I think ^^


  24. [Note: Keaton posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    Didnt really like this episode, sorry.

    Gnarl was really scary and well designed, but seeing almighty Willow so helpless against that creep didnt work for me. I think that was a major break in continuity, sadly typical for many of Espensons episodes in different series.

    So I really really hope weak and mousy Willow doesnt show again in the rest of the season, i want back the powerful witch she was in S06… without the havoc and insanity issues of course. ^^

    I mean why did she stand there all frightened waiting for him to paralyze her?

    That was so weak and pathetic! Why didnt she start slinging spells? In S06 Giles said that nothing in the world could defeat her and if I remember correctly she still has all the power she had back then.

    The rest of the episode was okay, especially liked posable Dawn and how Spike talked to Willow and Buffy at the same time in the school basement.

    But that didnt save it for me. Mediocre episode at best.


  25. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]


    1. Gnarl says, while Willow is in its cave, that casting spells doesn’t work there. The creature seemed to have worked some kind of anti-magic spell. This is why she tries to do a spell there but it doesn’t work.

    2. Her hesitance to use magic isn’t something “weak” — Willow nearly killed all her friends not too long ago. It makes sense for her to be skittish about going to that place again. This re-building of confidence and understanding of her power is a big part of her character arc this season, and it also ties into what the season is doing thematically. It’s actually quite well done. Imo, naturally.


  26. [Note: Keaton posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    If spells dont work in its cave, why does that reality shifting spell still work?

    Does whatever anti magic trap that Gnarl demon set only prevent Willow from casting new spells? And again, why is a monster of the week more powerful than her?

    Btw, I didnt really want to claim that there was a logic error, I said break in continuity.

    She wiped away a binding spell prepared by an extremely powerful coven like it was nothing (Magic Shop, second try) and now they want to tell me that some ugly little critter living in a random cave is enough to stop her?

    Sorry, I still dont buy it.

    But maybe there will be an explanation for this later in the season. If that Gnarl is anyhow connected to “it that devours from beneath”, I would change my mind and rate this episode much higher.

    And sorry, but I also have to disagree on your second point, her hesitation in this particular moment is weak imo. It was a live or death situation so there was no room for any deep considerations about her losing control or hurting someone. I suppose Willow has a survival instinct like all of us so if she had the power to defend herself, why didnt she just do it?


  27. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    Yes, I got the impression that Gnarl was simply able to prevent the casting of spells. The ‘invisibility’ spell Willow accidentally put on herself was done well before she got in the cave. Willow actually does try to cast a spell in the cave but it doesn’t do anything. I’m not sure why you have such a big problem with this.

    There’s also a difference between a Willow that’s embraced more and more black magic and a Willow who has tried to not get “dark roots” and stick with more natural/light magic. Although she has the potential to become all powerful again, she doesn’t want to be. She’s scared of turning dark again and killing all her friends (and possibly much more). That’s a very viable concern in any situation — one that’s not entirely self-centered. Yet, once again, she does try to cast a light-magic spell in the cave to no avail. I really don’t have any problems with the continuity or the logic here. Imo, as always.

    And putting all that aside for the moment, the episode really shines thematically more than anything else anyway. This is much more apparent once you’ve seen the entire season, which apparently you haven’t. My reviews are meant to be retrospective (hence the spoiler warning at the top) — you won’t get the most out of them unless you’ve seen the entire series.


  28. [Note: Keaton posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    Just finished season 6 and the memory of invincible Willow going postal is still fresh. So I indeed have a huge problem with her being nearly skinned by some ugly cave crawling Gollum-like demon. πŸ˜‰

    However, I have to admit she was kinda off-guard when Gnarl paralyzed her. Seems that he was invisible before so she couldnt know that there is imminent danger related to that voice. And she didnt know that he could paralyze her and render her immobile and unable to cast spells.

    I am very convinced that with dark magic she would have been able to overcome his magic trap very easily. But since she wasnt aware that she had to use it to survive on her own she hesitated.

    Okay, now I get it, ty. πŸ™‚

    Storywise your explanation starts to make sense to me. But there’s still the fact that this is just some demon living in a cave and it nearly flayed almighty Willow. Still dont like it, but overall i think you’re right.


  29. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on November 6, 2010.]

    it was funny hearing spike saying he had to make sure everyone belong or had jurisdiction there and so he gets angry with willow for being down there because he is so confused


  30. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 1, 2011.]

    This is one of my favorite S7 episodes. The monster is super CREEPY (creepiest since Hush IMO) and the episode is full of metaphors. I think MikeJer did a a great job reviewing so I won’t repeat everything.

    I love the scene where Spike is talking to both Willow and Xander/Buffy. I appreciate that they did it separately as it really adds to the effect. Much better than if they had everyone in the same room at the same time.

    Willow and Anya asking each other if they killed the guy and then saying no at the same time was hysterical. Anya is so great in that whole scene. I still love her, no matter what she does. I can’t help it.


  31. [Note: John posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    As a huge Willow fan, I really love this episode. Dawn was surprisingly insightful for once: “Will anyone around her start asking for help when they need it?”


  32. [Note: John posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    Xander’s terrified expression after Spike whispers “keep your ticket, you’ll need it” is also just too great. Comedy gold.


  33. [Note: Sasha posted this comment on February 1, 2011.]

    Thanks for the great reviews. I just stumbled upon your website a few days ago and I have been reading the reviews as I watch the episodes on Netflix Instant Watch. I am a new Buffy fan but I have already seen all seven seasons. I will preface this by saying that I am a huge Spike fan. I agree with your review but I also agree with another poster who wrote about not enough resolution between Spike and Buffy. I also loved the church scene and then felt like it wasn’t adequately addressed in this episode. Doesn’t Buffy have any feelings about Spike getting his soul back? I don’t like how she used him in this episode and then is making fun of him. He is obviously going through a lot. Otherwise I thought the episode was pretty good, nothing spectacular.


  34. [Note: Jessi posted this comment on June 25, 2011.]

    One more nice continuity to note: the website Dawn uses to look up the demons is the same one used by Cordelia in “Angel.” I thought that was a really nice touch.


  35. [Note: sacundim posted this comment on July 6, 2011.]

    There’s a piece of setup for “Selfless” that I think your review missed: Willow learns that Anya’s not actually happy with being a vengeance demon. This leads to her attempt at solving the Anya situation in “Selfless” by talking to D’Hoffryn.


  36. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on April 5, 2012.]

    I think this is such an underrated episode. everything was amazing. the acting,writing, how they emphasized sounds and moments so we know that the gang and willow were at the same place at the same time. and honesty i cried at the end when they could finaly see each other and then again when buffy offered her strength. there exactly what true friends should be. and i thought when buffy killed the demon in his eyes with her thumb, and xander being disgusted was foreshadowing to what happens to xander, but maybe im stretching it :))


  37. [Note: Xavier posted this comment on May 4, 2012.]

    Glad to know that I’m not alone when I say Gnarl was uber creepy! Only downfall is that the episode was slooow, but I don’t mind because of Anya’s hilarious theatrics. Oh Anya, how you make me laugh. :]


  38. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 20, 2012.]

    Sacindum: Dude, awesome, I completely missed that too!

    Also, a TV tropes quote that might interest some people: “since Willow accidentally set up the whole “she and the Scoobies can’t see each other” just by convincing herself that she couldn’t face them after what she did, did she accidentally create the whole Gnarl situation by convincing herself that she deserved to be punished for flaying Warren?”


  39. [Note: Craig posted this comment on July 6, 2012.]

    I love this episode, but there’s a big missed opportunity here: why oh why is there no confrontation between Willow and Dawn? Willow nearly killed Dawn on two occasions (one of which was intentional) very recently. Dawn is clearly still shaken up about it, as demonstrated by the airport scene and the one where she asks why no one will blame Willow. And yet the next time we see them interact together, in Selfless, they’re all buddy-buddy?


  40. [Note: Matt posted this comment on September 22, 2012.]

    Anyone notice Spike muttering something about Liam aka Angel and how he helps the helpless and it’s easy for him, or something of that matter when he was tracking in the woods?


  41. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on December 11, 2012.]

    I’m glad there are a few other squeamish ones on here that think the flesh eating part is just a bit too much. I skip past it now.Also I do feel some of the same frustration about Willow’s magic being so easily thwarted here. Magic as a plot device can so easily get away from you. You make up some fun trick that works for a particular situation, but then you wonder why the same trick couldn’t be used in numerous other situations, and so you have to contrive things like Gnarl’s resistance to it.It’s not surprising that things come to a point where you’ve got to eliminate all magic. Or, say, mutant powers.


  42. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 15, 2013.]

    A very good concept which is good and bad at the same time: it allows great scenes and insight into everyone’s head, but it’s also a glamour to make Willow’s return easier to accept: the viewers as well as the group will empathize with her a bit too rapidly.

    Dawn’s little speech that MikeJer quoted is a highlight for me, because it resumes perfectly one of the biggest issue amongst the scoobies.

    It’s “funny” to watch Anya blame Willow: she doesn’t really understand right and wrong, but she’s starting to feel that something’s wrong with killing/inflicting pain. It was also interesting to see her need for companionship when she asks Willow to do another spell: it reveals that the only link between her and the scoobies was Xander. Friendship was out of reach for Anya, but she came to appreciate their company without fully realizing it. It’s a bit too late for the writers to address issues about her character, but better late than never. However, Anya giving lessons of morality to Willow is comical, sad and… so not appropriate!

    Also, in reference to some comments, I don’t find it shocking to see Buffy make fun of Spike. She hasn’t fully processed the idea of Spike with a soul. It’s a lot to take because: 1. he did it for her, 2. don’t forget the rape attempt and 3. right now Spike is crazy, scary crazy !

    Again a strong ending to an above average episode with some good characterization.


  43. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 26, 2013.]

    To those who wondered about Mrs. Rosenberg – Willow mentions her after the death of Joyce, and how she’s stopping by more often.

    But it is true that many relatives are not mentioned when they should be. For example, do Willow’s and Xander’s families depart when Sunnydale empties?


  44. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on December 28, 2013.]

    Another odd bit – at the end of the scene in the cave, Anya volunteers to go get help. As she is the only one who can see and communicate with Willow, this makes no sense at all. She should not have left until after communication was restored.


  45. [Note: Rick posted this comment on April 12, 2014.]

    I just watched this ep on FX and feel compelled to state for the record how marvelous Emma Caulfield is as Anya. (Throughout the series, not just in this episode.)
    She is hilarious and absolutely nails every line she’s given with her off-kilter sincerity. And she also nails the pathos aspect of the character, as we’ll see in “Selfless”. And she can sing and dance, too! What can’t this actress do? And why didn’t she go on to stardom post-Buffy?

    Just another example of how “Buffy” had one of the very best casts on television.


  46. [Note: SnoopyWoodstock posted this comment on June 17, 2014.]

    I know it’s not really funny, but I couldn’t help laughing when Willow asked Spike “Do you know what could have done this?” and Spike replies “You did it once.”


  47. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on August 24, 2014.]

    Great Willow and Anya moment in this episode:

    Anya: “We had this little mix up a few days ago, and”

    Willow: “That sounds great, so um, where do you think they’d be?”


  48. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on November 2, 2014.]

    One of the last line of Buffy when she says, ‘ I have so much strenght , I am giving it away. It is a foreshadow of the series finale. By rewatching the whole season, I can feel really the series wrapping up and coming to a great conclusion.


  49. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 18, 2015.]

    I… really don’t like this episode. I find it boring and sad. The concept is interesting, but that’s pretty much all. Sadly, I have the feeling that I will be one of season’s 7 haters. But let’s not be presomptuous.


  50. [Note: Arya Stark posted this comment on August 12, 2015.]

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this yet, but Buffy gouges out Gnarl’s eyes with her thumbs and Xander says, “Ewww. THUMBS? I can’t believe you did that.” It’s a nice little foreshadow to what happens to Xander later on πŸ˜‰


  51. [Note: Mycroft posted this comment on March 12, 2017.]

    So I’m not sure if anyone still checks these comments because I’m coming to this so late. I’ve been doing a Buffy rewatch and stumbled across these reviews and think they’re amazing! Mikejer thank you so much for these insightful takes on the show. I’ve actually taken to reading your reviews BEFORE rewatching an episode because they make me get so much more out of them. And the comments from others are also so thoughtful and interesting.

    One thing which I noticed in this episode, which I don’t think was mentioned above, was the parallel between Willow torturing Warren by making him feel what it was like to be shot incredibly slowly (magically driving the bullet through his skin while recounting the damage it was doing) and Willow now being forced to slowly experience HER crime in slow motion – being flayed piece by piece while a creepy demon narrates the process. And, just like Willow ties up Warren and sews up his mouth so he can’t scream out, she now is paralysed and unable to scream.

    If this was intentional, I think the writers were super clever. And I like that the crucial difference is that while Warren to the end did not take responsibility for his crime, Willow ends by accepting what she had done and the consequences of that (she understands that Buffy and Xander see her differently now and doesn’t blame them for it.) The end scene was so powerful because I see Willow regrowing her skin as symbolically healing from the crime that it represented and that she was ‘punished’ for.

    I also love how that final scene looked almost like it was going to play out in typical ‘repressed’ Scooby fashion – with Buffy clearly uncomfortable and offering just to leave Willow to herself. But importantly, this time around Willow reaches out and asks for Buffy to stay and help, and Buffy FINALLY talks about the uncomfortable things she was thinking/feeling about her friend. Neither charachter could have done this in S6, or possibly at any time in the last few seasons. And this makes the touching moment, and the end shot when they really connect to heal together feel both very powerful, and very earned.

    Ok super long post that I’m not sure anyone will read. But I really wanted to share after reading everyone else’s amazing contributions!!


  52. [Note: Sirena posted this comment on March 13, 2017.]

    Hi Mycroft,

    “One thing which I noticed in this episode, which I don’t think was mentioned above, was the parallel between Willow torturing Warren by making him feel what it was like to be shot incredibly slowly (magically driving the bullet through his skin while recounting the damage it was doing) and Willow now being forced to slowly experience HER crime in slow motion – being flayed piece by piece while a creepy demon narrates the process. And, just like Willow ties up Warren and sews up his mouth so he can’t scream out, she now is paralysed and unable to scream.”

    I’ve never made that connection before and I’ve watched that episode a few times. Excellent observation πŸ™‚ I also agree that the moment between Buffy and Willow is very touching.


  53. If anyone appreciated guttersnipe’s takedown of the episode here’s Billie Doux’s negative view (though more focused on the gross-out factor.

    As for myself I’d say it less than stellar if not exactly terrible. That heal thematic link is cool. Though yeah the consequences for Willow did kind of get swept under the rug. Might have been nice to have to deal with things long term, but I guess that would require more seasons than just this one to handle properly.


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