Buffy 7×07: Conversations with Dead People

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard | Director: Nick Marck | Aired: 11/12/2002]

When the writers want to pull out all the stops on Buffy, they almost always succeed. “Conversations with Dead People” is a quintessential example of an extremely tight episode of television — it’s got plenty of action, brilliant and penetrating dialogue, tons of creepiness, a unique structure, and serves up a thrilling setup to the season’s plot. The episode has me sold from the moment it begins, with the introduction sequence blowing me away. This is pulled off by a great mixture of music, tone, and cinematography. One thing that’s not really apparent until you think about it is that none of the main characters interact with each other at all in this entire episode. This fact doesn’t seem odd until you really think about it. How many shows have you seen that have done this before? I sure can’t think of any. It’s actually a fairly risky move, but one that really pays off due to the tone-setting nature of the episode.

I’ll begin with the opening song, which turns out to be incredibly insightful. For an organizational overview of the song, click here. The lyrics speak directly to the core of what Buffy’s life has been like, focusing specifically on all of her relationships to date. It’s so penetrating and mournful that I feel the need to talk about it. It begins with, “Night falls/I fall/And where were you?/And where were you?” I interpret this as speaking to how Buffy’s slayerhood has taken its toll on her. Speaking for Buffy in the first person, when the night falls, I am called to fight the fight and, in time, fall. Where is the person that can understand me? I’ve tried to connect (“warm skin”), even with the darkness (“wolf grin”), but I’ve always ended up alone (“And where were you?”). This section is likely recounting her experience with Angel.

I think the next section represents Buffy’s relationship with Riley. As in, she tried to have a relationship with the “normal” guy, but her relationship with the night (“I fell into the moon”) had an adverse effect on him (“And it covered you in blue”). So, “Can I make it right? Can I spend the night?” The next part dives into the sexual, therefore representing Buffy’s experience with Spike in Season 6. “High tide/Inside” means exactly what you think it means (and is a neat similarity in wording to Tara’s song to Willow in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] [6×07, “The moon to the tide/I can feel you inside”]). “The air is dew” I take as representing the sweat on Buffy’s skin while in passion. Even with all that lust, “where were you?” Once again Buffy asks, where is my companion; where is my lover; why can’t I truly connect?

The next section then moves into death and recalls “The Gift” [5×22]: “Wild eyed/I died/And where were you?” The song goes on, building, and penetrating deeper, “I crawled out of the world/When you said I shouldn’t stay.” This is clearly a comment on Willow’s resurrection spell and how it forced Buffy to come back from the grave, giving her no choice in the matter. “I crawed out of the world/Can I make it right?,” recounts “Grave” [6×22], getting us caught up to the time period of this episode. Now that Buffy’s recovered from her resurrection and is reflecting on her life and how to make it right, we hone in on the sad question and final statement on Buffy’s connections, which also happens to be the end of the episode: “I fell into the world/And it covered you in blue/I fell into the moon/Can I make it right?/Can I spent the night?/Alone.” I’m almost in tears just thinking about the meaning of this song, which is played over a montage of images of her allies being covered in blue because of their relationship with Buffy. The last image of the episode is Buffy, covered in blue… alone. Completely. Amazing.

Everything chronicled in that song, appropiately titled “Blue” (representing moonlight), co-written by Joss Whedon and performed by Angie Hart, is used as the backdrop for Buffy’s conversation with Holden. This starts to really get interesting the moment Buffy responds to Holden’s question about how she’s doing. Buffy says, “[I’m] not so much connected.” Holden then picks up on this, “Now, when you said you weren’t connected, that was a telling statement.” He goes on to say, “So you meet someone, form a bond,” and Buffy adds, “and it never lasts.” We now see that Buffy’s “fight” with Holden has really turned to the psychological, with Holden in the position of the psychiatrist and Buffy lying down on a concrete coffin like a patient — this is a truly humorous, but metaphorically powerful, image that very much speaks to the core of Buffy’s life and troubles with the living and the dead.

Holden suggests that maybe Buffy targets “the impossible ones” on purpose, as a means of protecting herself from commiting. Buffy reacts very defensively to the thought of this, which means there might be a nugget of truth to it. Then Holden flips it around, asking if she thinks it’s the guys’ faults for all leaving her. To her credit, Buffy doesn’t really accept that either. Holden then reaches an important point: “You should just ease up on yourself. It’s not like you hold the patent on bad relationships. … What, are you supposed to be settling down at 21?” This very insight will be reiterated to Angel during the famous (or infamous, depending on your take) cookie dough speech in “Chosen” [7×22].

The nutshell of this whole conversation boils down to Buffy’s relationship issues and how her slayerness has caused additional problems. Holden can tell that Buffy’s not as thrilled about talking to Holden as he is to her. He asks, “Is it because we’re gonna fight?” She smugly yet somberly replies, “‘S ’cause I’m gonna win.” Once again, someone tries to make a connection with her, but she knows she’ll end the night alone. But Holden doesn’t stop here, he keeps digging and brings up her parents’ divorce: a potential root source of many of these problems. Buffy thinks her parents split because her dad cheated on her mom. Holden uses this to make a very interesting point: “So, of all these relationships of yours, that you knew subconciously were totally doomed, whose fault is that? … was just wondering, is it possible, even a little bit, that the reason you have trouble connecting to guys is because you think maybe they’re not worth it? Maybe you think you’re better than them.” Wow, insightful.

Digging out Buffy’s superiority complex turns out to be the “gift” that keeps on giving. Holden gives Buffy a bone when he says, “All chosen. All destiny. Who could live with that for seven years and not feel superior?” Another good point. Buffy honestly exclaims that she doesn’t feel superior to anyone and has made a ton of mistakes. This sparks the discussion of her relationship with Spike in S6. Buffy says about him, “And the joke is… he loved me. I mean, in his own sick, soulless way, he really did care for me. But I didn’t want to be loved.” That very honest and important admission ends up pushing the rest of Buffy’s thoughts out: “I have all this power. I didn’t ask for it. I don’t deserve it. It’s like… I wanted to be punished. I wanted to hurt like I thought I deserved. … I feel like I’m worse than anyone. Honestly, I’m beneath them. My friends, my boyfriends. I feel like I’m not worthy of their love. ‘Cause even though they love me, it doesn’t mean anything ’cause their opinions don’t matter. They don’t know. They haven’t been through what I’ve been through. They’re not the Slayer. I am. Sometimes I feel… this is awful. I feel like I’m better than them. Superior.” Bingo. This is a self-realization worthy of six seasons of back-story! Wonderful!

Holden then sums it all up for us, “And I thought I was diabolical. Or, at least I plan to be. You do have a superiority complex. And you’ve got an inferiority complex about it. Kudos.” Buffy, confused, just says “It doesn’t make any sense.” Holden replies, “Oh, it makes every kind of sense. And it all adds up to you feeling alone. But, Buffy, everybody feels alone. Everybody is, until you die.” And there it is. There really is a certain truth to what came out of this conversation, isn’t there? I mean, no matter how many people you surround yourself with: lovers, family, friends… in the end no one will ever know what’s going on inside your head. No one will ever truly know you. I think that this just goes to show how important human connection really is, because even though you’ll always be alone in your own mind (at least until nano-technology connects our brains to each other — hey, they could make a cross-over cable for human brains! Har har… okay, I’m done geeking out), sharing your life with others is one of the only remedies for complete dispair — spirituality being another, for some. I don’t even want to think about what my life would be like if I had no friends and no family; I’d likely be a much more self-destructive individual.

So, with Buffy alone in the graveyard, once again, the song restates the lingering question, “Can I spend the night?/Alone.” Sad, yet extremely beautiful! I can’t help but feel a strong connection to what Spike told Buffy back in “Fool for Love” [5×07]: “The only reason you’ve lasted as long as you have is you’ve got ties to the world… your mum, your brat kid sister, the Scoobies.” Losing her mom in “The Body” [5×16], and Riley before that, are what made the stakes in “The Gift” [5×22] so high. She died to protect her family and friends, because without them she wouldn’t be able to survive at all in this world. To sum this up, I’ll just say that I’m quite impressed by how layered and continuity-laden this aspect of the episode is. This is character work at the highest level, and oh how rare it is to see.

Although a part of me wants to just keep thinking about Buffy’s troubles, Jonathan’s back in town and needs some attention of his own! He wanted to come back to Sunnydale “to make things right.” Apparently Andrew and him know something about “The Seal” and Jonathan aims to tell Buffy everything. Andrew, on the other hand, is being manipulated by what he thinks is Warren but, of course, is actually the First. We’ll find out later that Andrew, on some level, knows this isn’t really Warren, but denial has a hold of him. Jonathan, having finally learned from his failures, is genuinely wanting to do it right this time, and not take the easy way out. Clearly, Andrew hasn’t learned yet. The First’s use of Warren’s personality, though, is dead on, even playing on the Star Wars references.

Jonathan has never been a significant character in this series, but I felt the writers — probably Jane Espenson the most — did an excellent job of fleshing this little guy out and giving what was really just an extra a little arc of his own. This episode is the bittersweet end to that arc. When Andrew and him get to the Seal, he begins reminiscing about high school — something that Andrew could care less about, but Jonathan is looking back at with some more perspective.

The sum of Jonathan’s journey is summed up perfectly when he tells Andrew, “No, I’m serious. I really miss it. Time goes by, and everything drops away. All the cruelty, all the pain, all that humiliation. It all washes away. I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to every day. I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss ’em all. I want to talk to them, you know. I want to find out how they’re doing. I want to know what’s going on in their lives.” Andrew snaps back with what is probably closer to reality: “You know what? They don’t wanna talk to you; all those people you just mentioned. Not one of them is sitting around going, ‘I wonder what Jonathan’s up to right now.’ Not one of them cares about you.” And then Jonathan, in his last act on this earth, redeems himself for his past mistakes by saying “Well, I still care about them. That’s why I’m here.” Then he gets stabbed to death, activating the Seal of Danzalthar. Damn you Andrew! Let this moment be a tribute to the funny and sympathetic Jonathan, played touchingly by Danny Strong. I’ll miss you, little guy!

Moving onto Dawn, the First puts an awful lot of effort into getting her to believe phantom Joyce’s warning about Buffy. This is wickedly intelligent psychological warfare here. The First makes Dawn earn getting to talk to her mother by defeating an evil presence that is simply vicious to her. In reality, that presence is just a clever ruse to make Dawn believe she’s really talking to her mom. Yikes! Michelle does an excellent job with these extremely creepy sequences with the “demon” — from the fright to the screaming to the courage to cast it out, bloody face and all. That’s what makes Joyce’s message all the more believeable. The First, as Joyce, tells her that “Things are coming, Dawn. Listen, things are on their way. I love you, and I love Buffy, but she won’t be there for you. … When it’s bad, Buffy won’t choose you. She’ll be against you.” How’s that for a message of doubt?

Although Dawn gets beat up physically, Willow goes through a major psychological shock, being lead to believe Tara is talking to her through a dead girl (Cassie from “Help” [7×04] ). The First’s manipulation of Willow in their conversation is, like with Dawn, incredibly believeable and cruel. In both of these situations, the First works by getting inside the characters’ heads. With Willow, it tries to get her to commit suicide — something it knows is a long-shot but is worth the attempt. With Dawn, it simply plants a seed of distrust in her about Buffy, which I think plays a role in what happens in “Empty Places” [7×19]. While it’s busy with those two, we see that it’s been using Spike for a while now. Quite the plan that’s been set into motion.

The First also hits Willow where it can get to her the best: Tara. By evoking the memory of Tara (and yes, this would have been truly disturbing had they actually gotten Amber Benson to do this), the First is able to tap directly into Willow’s emotional core. Once there, it hopes to have a smidgen of a shot of using what happened to Tara, and the subsequent loss of magical control, as evidence that Willow’s power is too dangerous and that she shouldn’t use it anymore.

This attacks the core of Willow’s internal doubt this season, telling her “The power is bigger than you are. … Things are more clear where Tara is, where we are. We can see your path, and you have to stop. You can’t use magic again, not ever. .. It’s too dangerous. You can’t take the chance that you’ll lose control.” When Willow courageously sticks to her teachings, the First ups the concern even further by telling her “You’re not gonna be okay. You’re gonna kill everybody.” It’s at this point when the First really should have disappeared, leaving Willow with that to mull over, but it gets greedy and tries to not simply stop Willow from using magic — obviously because it’s scared of what Willow is capable of — but tries to simply get rid of her right here. The problem is that it’s obvious Tara wouldn’t ever actually want Willow to kill herself.

The First’s exit speech and disappearing act left me with a very creeped-out feeling in my bones. I’m totally behind Willow in now being in all-out concerned mode. What an amazing setup for the rest of the season! If I have one complaint about this episode, it’s actually that the rest of the season did not even come close to living up to what was started here. Sadly, the First is rarely if ever this scary again, which is truly a shame. This episode opened up the kind of potential that, if it had been realized, could have made this the best Buffy season of them all. Instead we’re left with a flawed, unrealized season; a season that still has a lot of merit, but simply isn’t all it could be.

With that said, I can’t hold what comes next against “Conversations,” because this episode hits all the right chords and ends up being an incredibly unique and satisfying experience. Although not quite a Top 10 episode, it definitely comes close. Kudos to everyone involved. I’d also like to make special mention of guest star Jonathan Woodward, who plays Holden and does a phenomenal job with the role.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Dawn dropping pizza sauce on one of Buffy’s shirts. Dawn’s response? “She’ll think it’s blood.”
+ Dawn messing around with Buffy’s weapons, pretending she’s fighting evil monsters. I love how she hides the hole in the wall with the plant — good strategy!
+ The fun irony of Dawn watching an old-school horror movie where the dumb blond runs and screams in panic — exactly what Buffy subverts.
+ Dawn talking to Kit on the phone. Although we don’t get to see her again, at least we know that they kept in touch after what happened in “Lessons” [7×01].
+ Buffy’s fight with Holden abruptly changing from ‘I am going to kill you’ to ‘oh, hey, we went to high school together!’
+ Dead Joyce on the couch subtly appearing behind Dawn is creeeeepy.
+ Also very creepy is the lights going out, the chairs being all stacked up on top of each other, and then going back to normal. The blood on the wall saying “Mother’s milk is red today” isn’t exactly comforting either.
+ Jonathan and Andrew checking their communication devides. “Check, check, check, check….” Haha.
+ Phantom Warren creepily appearing next to the door where the Seal is.
+ Spike killing humans again is definitely quite the shock.


Foreshadowing

* Andrew suggests than him and Jonathan will eventually join Buffy’s gang and hang out at her house. Well, that definitely happens for him, only tied to a chair most of the time.


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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99 thoughts on “Buffy 7×07: Conversations with Dead People”

  1. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Aagh, I’ve never paid attention to that song. Now I’ve got to watch this episode again ASAP. Thanks a bunch. 🙂

    This is a seriously cool episode, although you’re quite right about the rest of the season just plain not managing to live up to the promise given here.

    One of the moments that will always stay with me is when Willow stands up and goes “Who are you?” I do so wish they had gotten Amber Benson for the Willow parts of this episode – Cassie works out quite well, but Tara herself would have been, as you say, disturbing. But in a good way, so to speak. (It’s a bit unclear to me whether Benson wouldn’t or for some reason couldn’t do the part, but I know she said somewhere that she thought they couldn’t do something like that to Tara fans. I say nonsense.)

    And the entire conversation Buffy has with Holden Webster is pure excellence.

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  2. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Woohoo! Another review. Thanks, Mike. Before I post my thoughts, I hope that whatever personal issues were distracting you this whole time have been cleared up. I hope you’re okay now. 🙂

    CWDP is a great episode, and a pivotal one for this season–and the rest of the series. It’s ominously creepy, it oozes with atmosphere, and it will never be worthy of a Perfect score because the two male members of the “Core Four”, Xander and Giles, are completely ignored. Considering how much this episode has an effect on everything else that happens, they should have been included in some capacity. All their exclusion points to is the increasing irrelevance of men on this show. Granted, the way this season shapes up, that may well all be by design–but it’s still Xander and Giles. The writers should have found something for them to do here.

    Nevertheless, it’s still a great episode. There are several stellar episodes still to come, and I can’t wait to see your thoughts on them. 🙂

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  3. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Oh, and another thing: Anya not being included? The First could easily have appeared to her as Halfrek!

    Yet another spit in the face to Drew Goddard’s heroic attempt to make us sympathize with her in “Selfless”. Despite being a regular, the writers always dismissed her, and ignored several HUGE chances to make her a character worth investing in.

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  4. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Wow, excellent review, mike! Your review is very insightful and also full of love. I also never noticed closely the song as you did, and that’s another thing I found out. Amazing. This episode is truly one of the best, since Buffy’s conversation with Holden (pure gold) to Jonathan’s speech. Awesome stuff.

    Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to your next one. Is it just me or are “Sleeper” and “Never Leave me” underrated episodes?

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  5. [Note: Darth Bunny posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    First of all, I love this episode to death, and I would consider putting it in my top ten. There is one thing however, that bothers me:

    The First is shown to be a nonphysical entity, one which can’t interact with the world. While I do believe the whole Joyce setup was the First in action, we have to admit it was inconsistent with the way the First operates earlier and later. The radio speaking? The chairs, the messages, etc? The only way this could be possible is if Dawn is seeing all this in her head, but I doubt the First has those kinds of psychic powers; why didn’t it use them later?

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  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Sam, normally I’d agree with you that Xander and Anya (but not Giles) being left out is problematic, but this is an episode with a very unique structure, and I honestly feel if they’d crammed anything more into it, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

    Also, let’s look at it a different way. Why would the First want to attack Xander and Anya? Xander’s the human with no powers and an outward appearance of uselessness (although we know different), and Anya’s been recently made powerless again and is being attacked by D’Hoffryn anyway. Both of them are simply not a threat to the First. It’s only later in the season that it sees Xander’s role more clearly, which is why Caleb does some serious damage to him.

    As for Giles, well, he’s not a main cast member anymore and is very much working on his own and in the background of all the events happening here. So, I don’t really have an issue with not seeing him here either.

    Now, don’t get wrong… if Xander and Anya had been omitted from more than one episode (especially if there was no logical reason for it), I’d definitely have a huge beef with it. But this is an anomaly that makes sense within the context of the show.

    At least that’s my take. 🙂

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  7. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Buffyholic, it’s not just you. 🙂

    Darth Bunny, I suppose it’s possible that the First had actually summoned a demon or force to wreck havoc on Dawn and the Summers’ home. But I agree it’s not ever explained what was going on. Since the First, in person-form, never actually does touch Dawn, I’m willing to accept the mystery because it’s just so damned creepy.

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  8. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    I know the writers said that Joyce was the First in CWDP, I believe that was a retcon and that they actually had an end result in mind for that revelation, but never got the chance to incorporate it into the season. (This is the main problem of s7, I feel. The writers had big plans and set them up quite well, which is why the beginning of the season is so strong. But the followthrough is poor and unrealised.) I think a better explanation of the happenings in Dawn’s CWDP scenes would be that an agent of the First was sent to stop the real Joyce from contacting Dawn, and that the angel at the end was the real Joyce with a warning. To say “it was all the First” completely goes against continuity.

    As for missing players in the episode, I don’t think that should be held against it. A strictly stylistic episode shouldn’t be hindered by obligations and contracts, at least not in my ideal world. 😛 I would’ve loved to have seen Anya/Hallie interaction, but Giles and Xander were kind of redundant characters post-s6. The core four meant very little by that point.

    Love CWDP. I could watch it over and over. I’ve always likened this episode to the best present ever. The song is like a bow that neatly ties up the four sides. (Well, there are six sides on a box, but whatever.) It comes together so perfectly. I’d never analysed ‘Blue’ in such detail before. Good interpretation, Mike!

    My only complaint about the episode is that it seems a bit unlikely that A) Buffy would talk her heart out to a strange vampire, and B) a vampire would rather listen and psychoanalyse than, you know, suck her blood dry. But I’m willing to let that slide, because it allows for some explicit, long-deserved analysis of one of the most interesting characters.

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  9. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    One thing I’ve just noticed: in the last three seasons, the seventh episode always tends to be a ‘big one’. There was FFL, a fanboy’s dream, OMWF, which speaks for itself, and CWDP, stylistically very different from any other Buffy episode. Was the seventh episode a sweeps week for the show?

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  10. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Great review, Mike (as usual)! I really like your take on the song “Blue”. I always thought of it as just refering to Spike but it certainly does have more impact if its about all her relationships. I love this episode but there is one little thing that bothers me: Is it just me or does it seem very out of character for the First to slip up with Willow like that? Back in Season 3 and all through this season the First is very calculated -how could it give itself away like that because it ‘gave into the temptation’ of wanting to kill Willow?

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  11. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Okay, lengthy post with responses to numerous comments alert. 🙂

    @Sam: Regarding why Xander, Anya or Giles were not “visited”, Mike makes good points above. Actually it’s my understanding that originally Xander was meant to get a visit from Jesse (!) here, but this was dropped mainly because the writers decided that adding even one more “conversation” would have already made this episode rather crowded. Xander would certainly have been next on my personal priority list, but I can live with him not getting attention here.

    As for Giles, there’s also the point that the writers were entering a stage of this season when the first-time viewers are supposed to be seriously uncertain as to whether he’s the real Giles or the First. I have a hard time explaining exactly why, but I think his being included here would have worked against that. (I never watched S7 w/o knowing for certain that Giles was alive and well all the time, so personally I can’t really tell how well it worked as such.) Also, I have a hard time thinking who it could have been to visit Giles – except Jenny, maybe, but Robia LaMorte was already unhappy about having to appear in such a role back in “Amends” and would no doubt have refused to do it again.

    @Darth Bunny: Regarding all the weird physical stuff happening in the Summers house (considering that the house is just about wrecked at the start of “Sleeper”, I think the damage done was very real), I know the First Evil itself can’t do stuff like that, but it can certainly make others, particularly evil or demonic creatures, work for itself – look at the Harbingers, the Ãœbervamps, and hell, Spike. A poltergeist or some such thing was at work here, I think. Willow might well have been able to deal with it (even in her current state), but of course kind of the whole point was that Dawn was alone in the house and Willow occupied elsewhere.

    @Wilpy regarding the same issue: no way would I buy your explanation! I’m with Mike – the First was playing Dawn hard in order to start unraveling her confidence in her sister. Why would the real Joyce have been appearing and dealing out frankly quite cryptic warnings anyway? We don’t get anything like that in the rest of the show, nor does Buffy’s description of her time in Heaven lend support to the dead interfering with the lives of their loved ones on Earth like that or any other way.

    And continuing @Wilpy, regarding the likelihood of Buffy’s conversation with Holden Webster… I have no trouble buying her talking so openly to a stranger (well, someone she’d almost known a little when he was alive) because I have done such things myself. Maybe it’s a girl thing, but it really can be much, much easier to talk to a sympathetic and understanding stranger you somehow got talking to about the big issues of your life than to your friends. Nor do I have real trouble buying the vampire Webster’s behavior. It’s been shown on BtVS before this that vampires retain a lot of the character of the human they used to be, and can act fairly human particularly right after they have risen. We were never shown what Holden Webster was like when alive, of course, but a sociable, curious academic type seriously interested in psychology could IMO easily end up that kind of a vampire. If the romantic angle could override Spike’s bloodlust even back when he was soulless and seriously bad, why couldn’t another guy be at least temporarily distracted by psychoanalysing someone they’d always been curious about at school? It’s not like his evil and murderous tendencies are entirely suppressed by this, after all.

    …Right, enough for now. 🙂

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  12. [Note: Ursus posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    I would actually place this in my own top 10. The penetrating character insights, the brilliant and hilarious dialogue, the fine acting from everyone involved. Sheer brilliance. I absolutely agree if the rest of Season 7 kept this pace, it would have been the best Buffy season ever.

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  13. [Note: Rick posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Few comments:

    1. Great job on the review Mike. I especially appreciated your interpretation of the song. While I’m not sold on every element, I think you really got the gist of what it meant in a way I was unable to. I never connected the dots between the various verses and the various relationships in Buffy’s life. What wonderful setup indeed.

    2. Regarding Anya and Xander. I think some very interesting things could have been done with Xander here, but I’m inclined to say that it’s probably a good thing they did not. Every scene in this episode was necessary and dense, and to add any more “conversations” would simply have diluted the potency of the individual dialogues.

    3. I think the final conversation between Holden and Buffy is one of the highest points of the series. There’s not only a really nice commentary on Buffy’s psyche, but also an insightful account of the human condition: that we are fundamentally alone. While the rare individual has enduring relationships, most of us entertain a process of replacing ideas, values, jobs, and yes, even people. The only thing that is constant is our sense of self, and in that constancy we confront a loneliness inherent in our condition. Brilliant stuff, Joss.

    4. The actress who plays Cassy is quite talented and it is a shame we do not see more of her this season. Unfortunately, Amber Benson’s absence is a huge disadvantage for the episode not because of Cassy’s failure, but because of how easy it is for us to envision the potency of Amber Benson playing those lines. This is not something we can hold the writers accountable for, given that Benson refused to reprise the role, but it is nonetheless an unfortunate aspect of the episode. Indeed, if she had been in the episode, I could see easily ranking this as a top 5 episode.

    5. Props to all the actors in this episode.

    6. Like Mike said, it is a shame that the season did not live up to this episode. Plot wise, this was certainly the best setup of any Buffy or Angel season.

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  14. [Note: teresa posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Fantastic review, Mike! I always loved “Blue” just for the atmosphere it adds to the show. I never analyzed the lyrics like you did, though. CWDP is one of my top five episodes; the structure of the story, the HUGE creep factor, Spike’s silent scenes..it’s all creative genius!

    I think the appearance of Joyce was the First, not Joyce herself. One could argue that the way she appears is abnormal, but I think it’s more like how the First appeared to Willow: being tricky and clever in a unique way to get inside the girls’ heads. Mostly, I think this way because I can’t believe that Joyce would try to pit Dawn against Buffy. If she actually appeared to Dawn, I think she would have words of encouragement, to try to strengthen the bond between the sisters. (Oh, how I miss Joyce sometimes! 🙂

    @buffyholic: yes yes yes! I love “Sleeper” and “Never Leave Me”, and I especially love “Bring on the Night” and “Showtime”. Guess I’m just a sucker for grrl-power, ha ha 🙂

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  15. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Paula, you make a good case for the Buffy/Holden likelihood. It probably is a girl thing. I just think, for someone like Buffy who is so monumentally closed off, it’s quite surprising at first to see her lay it all out for this guy. But like I said, I don’t mind as it gives way to one of the most interesting conversations in the show.

    Regarding Joyce, why *wouldn’t* she be dealing out a forewarning to her own daughter? Why would the First go to so much effort just to place a tiny but of distrust in Dawn, who’s hardly a game player? How could the First have tangible effect when practically every other episode after episode 10 reinforced how it could NOT do that? How do we know that people from heaven in the Buffyverse can’t come back in an angelic form? I believe the very point of Dawn’s CWDP sequence was to get to that final revelation, which was supposed to be very significant, not just ‘planting seeds of distrust’. Sure, there was no followthrough to the revelation, but that’s not the episode’s fault.

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  16. [Note: Darth Bunny posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    @ wilpy: I think your in the minority when it comes to Joyce and the First. I think there was a follow through in ‘Empty Places’: Dawn kicks Buffy out of the house. Listen to ‘Joyce’ exact words: “When it’s bad, Buffy won’t choose you. She’ll be against you.”

    Why would a benevolent being(I’m assuming messages from heaven are sent from and for good intentions)tell Dawn not to trust her sister? Actually, why would Joyce tell Dawn not to trust her sister? As far as protective motherly advice is concerned, that’s got to be one of the worst ones out there.

    As to why people can’t come back as angels, I’m sure they could, but it’s never happened before. The First however, is walking around looking like dead people in this episode so it’s not that hard to believe it could be the First. It’s a smaller stretch to believe the Joyce in CWDP is the First than it is to believe that Joyce is an angel.

    Why would the First target Dawn? Because Dawn is Buffy’s sister. As Spike noted time again, Buffy’s greatest strength as a slayer is the fact she has ties to the world, family and friends. Clearly, one of the best tactics than, is to take those ties away. Or even better, turn those ties against her.

    One of the themes of this show, and of this episode in particular (can I spend the night alone?) is being alone. The First in this episode seeks to turn the scooby gang against itself (think Spike in Yoko Factor). It tries to turn Buffy against Spike. It tries to get Willow to stop using magic, if not outright killing herself.

    Remember in ‘Older and Farther Away’ that Anya, when faced with a crisis, pressures Willow to use magic. The only reason Anya backed off is because Tara faced her down. Tara is no longer around and the crisis they face will soon be much greater than being stuck in a house.

    Turning Dawn against Buffy is a smart move psychologically. Remember ‘the Gift’? Buffy died so Dawn wouldn’t have to. It would be a huge blow if Dawn, the one person Buffy seeks to protect, no longer even trusts her. I’d like to end this long argument by saying that it’s ironic that the First is trying to tear the scoobies apart when it was the scoobies friendship to Buffy that made it even possible for the First to even act as it does this season.

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  17. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Before I say anything else, Mike, I LOVE your take on the song “Blue”. That’s a beautiful analysis, and one that borders on an almost frightening level of obsession; but then, why else are we here? 🙂

    As far as the exclusion of Giles goes, yeah, he’s not a regular anymore, but he’s still a member of the Core 4 and I think he still should have been included.

    One other issue: If the First is supposed to be non-corporeal, how can the First/Cassie touch the table and Willow’s books???

    Again, aside from these quibbles, I still think CWDP is an amazing episode. I’m eagerly anticipating your reviews of “Sleeper”, “Never Leave Me”, and especially “Bring on the Night”.

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  18. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 23, 2009.]

    Okay, apparently, my last post wasn’t accepted because it was too long.

    Basically–IT’S XANDER. It amazes me that the writers thought that he was so unimportant to the series at this point that they could exclude him from the episode upon which the rest of the series hinges. There, the end.

    Now, back to the love for CWDP. 🙂

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  19. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    @Wilpy: I agree with Teresa and Darth Bunny about the Dawn thing. Trying to pit sister against sister is something I can’t see the real Joyce wanting to do or doing – whatever the reason, it would have made a highly unconstructive warning. It’s far more likely that it was given in order to promote mistrust in Dawn toward her sister, ultimately simply in order to diminish Buffy’s self-confidence and the support she gets from her family and friends, which are the greatest sources of her strength. This is what the First continues to do for much of the rest of the season, after all, and the warning Dawn gets here finally bears fruit in Empty Places, doesn’t it?

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  20. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    @llinnae:

    Is it just me or does it seem very out of character for the First to slip up with Willow like that? Back in Season 3 and all through this season the First is very calculated -how could it give itself away like that because it ‘gave into the temptation’ of wanting to kill Willow?

    I think that’s mainly because the stakes were quite high. Willow afraid to use magic is a good thing for the First Evil, but Willow dead and gone (in addition to the magical potential she would have taken with her, think of all the possibilities of using her form!) would have been a real accomplishment. So the FE kind of had to go for it, even at the risk of going too far.

    It failed at this, of course, but it did manage to undermine Willow’s magical self-confidence a little further and seriously freak her out, which probably counted as much better than nothing. (Ultimately in this season, of course, both Buffy and Willow prove themselves stronger than the FE could see.)

    Also, I don’t think the FE was all that fussed about revealing itself; if it couldn’t drive Willow to suicide, it didn’t much matter anymore. It was clear that the Scoobies would figure its identity out fairly soon anyway, and this would neither help them very significantly nor really diminish the dread factor, what with the FE being something that could easily spy on them and could not be killed or directly fought.

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  21. [Note: Robert posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    I would argue that this episode, while spectacular in its own right, actually makes the crucial errors which blow the rest of the season. The First’s chief power is its manipulation of emotion. In this episode, it fails to manipulate, and once it has revealed itself, it never has the opportunity to operate on the same scale again. Our villain bares its teeth in this episode, and by virtue of that, loses them.

    The First purportedly has eons of experience behind it, but it clumsily overreaches with its attempt to nudge Willow toward suicide in a single conversation. Imagine if the First had instead stuck with Tara begging Willow to quit magic cold-turkey. Just how far down might Willow sink if she kept clinging to this advice and to a false memory of Tara? A First that can neutralize one of its most powerful adversaries through words scares me much more than a First that slops the job and vanishes in a flash of teeth.

    Similarly, while the First works with wicked brilliance on Dawn’s ruse, it chooses a ham-fisted approach in its choice of words for Joyce. Buffy *died* for Dawn. Dawn knows this, and the First knows this. Particularly with the First revealing itself, the seeds of mistrust it is trying to plant here never really amount to much. Imagine if the First had instead told Dawn that Buffy would stand by her but would unwittingly lead everyone astray, and that Dawn could help Buffy most by standing against her when she does. Think how this would dovetail with her relationship with the Potentials later in the season.

    One way or the other, we wind up with a villain unable to use its only real power, such that the writers had to cook up a means for the First to inhabit a physical adversary toward the end of the season. By the time Buffy can mock that the First’s only real power is taunting, we’re left with a villain that lacks the deviousness and the insight into human frailties that should make it scary. Conversations with Dead People blows season seven in one shot. It’s a spectacular shot, with several of my favorite moments in the series, but nothing can follow.

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  22. [Note: Beppe posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    @Robert: what a great post. Hear, hear. Just imagine the delicious descent into despair that could have ensued if the First had just kept on slowly turning the screw.

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  23. [Note: Iguana posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    Good point, Robert. I had not considered that, but now that you mention it the First isn’t terribly scary anymore after this episode and relies on throwing the ugly vampire and Caleb at the gang. Season seven reverses the overall series’ trend of not doing much with a villain until the latter half of a season, even if he was revealed early on. Episode seven being the Big Bad’s big moment would indeed explain a lot of the half-formed issues I have with this season.

    As for Buffy opening up to Holden: another thing making this more believable is that she’s confident she is going to kill the guy in a moment. That makes him the ultimate safe person to talk to, the ultimate safely anonymous font of feedback. Spike claimed that his being dead and seperate from the rest of the crew was the reason Buffy opened up to him in season six. So there’s definitely precedent for this.

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  24. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    That’s an interesting point, Robert. My only real disagreement is that the there was no way to top this episode. Just because the writers couldn’t pull it off doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done. What was launched here could have very much been built upon. There are even moments later in the season that show the power the First can still have (e.g. the Mayor appearing to Faith and Wood’s mother appearing to him). It’s just a shame they didn’t get more creative with the concept after this episode.

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  25. [Note: MissKittyFantastico posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    Thanks for yet another great review, Mike!

    Robert, you really do make an excellent point (though I enjoy the rest of the seventh season). I’d thought about the issue you brought up very vaguely before now, but I couldn’t explain or pinpoint it properly.

    One other thing I think automatically undermines the First Evil’s presence a bit (but this doesn’t relate to CWDP) is the fact that it was a fairly lame adversary in a single season three episode. Honestly, the first time it was mentioned in season seven I didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that the First Evil was what had been messing with Angel in Amends, and I wondered why everyone else remembered it so clearly. I got the feeling the writers had run out of bad guys and pulled this one out because it had more potential than a random MOOW.

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  26. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    @Robert: While I certainly don’t think that S7 was perfectly written (in many ways, it is a mess – just not a particularly unenjoyable one, as far as I’m concerned), I’d argue that unless one drastically rewrote the rest of the season (which I can’t terribly blame anyone for wanting to do), there’re these points against the First Evil working with Willow over a longer period of time:

    #1 In many ways, what it does to Willow here can only really work as long as the FE has Willow alone tired and in a sad mood, without too much time or ability to think rationally or, above all, be in any contact with her friends. Particularly if said friends have also been getting strange and ominous visits from dead people and are likely to share this.

    #2 The FE is kind of in a hurry, the way it has things scheduled right at the moment (it doesn’t know Jonathan’s blood won’t open the seal). If Willow’s to be driven to suicide, now is the time – before the Scoobies become aware of what they’re dealing with, and before such events start (read: the Ãœbervamps starting to come out) where Willow’s magical abilities can be a hindrance to the FE.

    #3 Willow may not have been very easy to catch suitably alone lately, particularly if the FE needs Dawn to be alone at home at the same time in order to work on her too.

    So IMO, the FE only having this one night to work on Willow is not such a terribly long shot.

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  27. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    Of course, there’s also a probable technical reason for the First Evil’s working on Willow being restricted to just this one episode: availability of a suitable actress (and salary considerations, no doubt). Warren, of course, is used as the FE in a number of episodes in this season, but Adam Busch may well have been more available and cheaper than Amber Benson in particular would have been.

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  28. [Note: Peter posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    Wonderful episode!

    A couple of additional points

    I love that Buffy is bashed with a statue of the Virgin Mary when discussing her love life. So funny in so many ways.

    The DVD has one of the best commentary tracks ever that covers who wrote which part (Joss-Buffy, Marti-Willow, Jane-Dawn and Drew-Jonathan and Andrew) and that the Holden’s actor only watches his own scenes!

    Anyway despite some later let downs in the plot this episode is a beauty

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  29. [Note: Tom posted this comment on March 24, 2009.]

    So, am I the only one who thinks that being denied seeing Tara makes the Willow scenes more effective? I think that by denying Willow the chance to see Tara again was far more potent. If Willow had seen Tara, it would have been a gift, and Willow is still coming off from the point where she feels the need to be punished – from her perspective, does she actually DESERVE to see Tara?

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  30. [Note: LadyBethaliz posted this comment on March 25, 2009.]

    TOM – I completely agree with you! I feel strongly that though you learn in the end it is the First, is that really the last memory fans want of Tara? Her image being used by the First to try and get Willow to kill herself? I know I wouldn’t. I also remember an interview/commentary/something where Amber Benson said that a main reason why she didn’t reprise her role for CWDP. Plus, like Tom said, it plays right into Willow’s current psychological state of wanting on some level to be punished for what she did. By doing so and not allowing her to “see Tara” because of what she did (Cassie: “you killed people, you can’t see her”) makes it all the more heartbreaking when we as an audience realize Willow was being strung along this whole time.

    Although I must admit I am rather curious to see how that scene would have played out with Tara instead of Cassie…I don’t know if it would have worked better, but it certianly would have been interesting.

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  31. [Note: rick posted this comment on March 25, 2009.]

    Well, I think Amber Benson playing the role would have been so shocking, and thus more effective. That being said, the writers did the absolute best with what they had….and it still turned out wonderful. The “you can’t see her” was indeed potent.

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  32. [Note: Adam posted this comment on March 25, 2009.]

    Yes, I think also “Sleeper” and “Never Leave Me” are underated episodes. I think, along with CWDP, those three are the best of the season.

    I also am really dissapointed season 7 goes downhill mid way season 7. I think the first half is great but the second half I am barely able to watch. In fact, next time I watch a rewatch of Buffy I will skip them.

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  33. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 26, 2009.]

    Tom: I also think that not having Tara is more powerful and effective. And the explanation by Cassie is totally okay by me. It remind us that the writers are not letting Willow off the hook so easily. And of course, the whole scene breaks my heart due to the wonderful Alyson Hannigan.

    Adam, I can see why you feel that way about S7 mid way, because I feel it does lose its steam, mainly due to the Potentials but don’t give up on the episodes entirely because they still have merit.

    And I also add that S7 has a lot of underrated episodes, imo and I’m looking forward in reading Mike´s future reviews.

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  34. [Note: Sosa Lola posted this comment on March 31, 2009.]

    While a great episode, I feel so bad Xander wasn’t in it. How come the First thought Xander was useless and still appeared to Dawn????

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  35. [Note: Suzanne B posted this comment on March 31, 2009.]

    Sosa Lola,

    I always thought the doubt that the First places in Dawn about Buffy is what eventually drives her to jump on the band-waggon of everybody kicking Buffy out in Empty Places. That Dawn would tell Buffy to leave was the final nail in the coffin. You can see it on her face.

    But I don’t know why the First didn’t talk to Xander. I don’t think it does the entire season… Anybody know?

    Great review, Mike!

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  36. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on March 31, 2009.]

    On the whole Xander thing:

    Consider Xander from the First’s perspective. Xander has, on several occasions, doubted Buffy and sometimes even gone against her all on his own. Also, Buffy does allow Xander to fight with her, and it’s been proven many times that he easily gets hurt, which has forced Buffy to watch out for him in battle. Were I the First, I wouldn’t waste any effort on him, because Xander’s already distrustful enough that he didn’t need the extra push that Dawn did (particularly with Spike involved) and there’s a decent chance that at a crucial moment, Xander could be enough of a distraction that could get Buffy killed.

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  37. [Note: Teresa posted this comment on March 31, 2009.]

    @Sam: “One other issue: If the First is supposed to be non-corporeal, how can the First/Cassie touch the table and Willow’s books???”

    This always bothered me too. The writers made it such a point to tell the audience that The First couldn’t touch things (seeing everyone jump Giles during the spirit quest was pretty amusing). My fan-explanation was that it wasn’t actually touching the books- just skimming close enough to make it look like it was. *shrug* I’ll stick to that until someone can think of a better explanation! 🙂

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  38. [Note: Leonardo posted this comment on April 4, 2009.]

    Hey, loved this episode. In response to why Tara didn’t do it, she was at a convention that I went to today and that question came up. She said that she was also directing something somewhere else at the same time, but also that yeah, she didn’t want to do that to Tara. Shame, but I understand it.

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  39. [Note: kim posted this comment on May 17, 2009.]

    i liked cassie as the first and the reason was plausible, but it would have been SO much better to use AB as Tara to talk to Willow. I wouldn’t have been ‘offended’ by the use of Tara’s image in this way, because essentially it wouldnt have been ‘her’ hurting Willow, it would have been the First.

    I think that using Tara to get to Willow would have been more effective in making the FE a more cruel and dangerous Big Bad.

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  40. [Note: Steph posted this comment on May 29, 2009.]

    I haven’t seen this episode for a long while, but I’m going to pull this off of memory.

    I’m going to have to agree with those who believe that NOT showing Tara was for the better. Besides not wanting to see that last image of Tara (even if it is merely the First), the comments about Willow not feeling as though she deserves to see Tara’s image is very plausible to me and shows consistency; it brings my mind right back to “Same Time, Same Place”. Also, if the FE was REALLY gunning for Willow to commit suicide, using Cassie/Tara/FE to make false promises of actually getting to see Tara’s image again works. The FE is using some of Tara’s memories and responses “Strong like an amazon.”, the fact that Willow can’t even SEE Tara again, and all the while, creating insecurities about Willow’s magic. Brilliant! With all of these things added up, I can see why the FE would go for that extra nudge that might push Willow over the edge and actually make her commit suicide.

    If Amber Benson had played the role (Even though, I’m sure it would have been creepy in the best sense), I have a feeling it would have been obvious to Willow that it really WASN’T Tara talking to her even before the suicide mention, if her script was similar to that of Cassie’s. However, that’s just my opinion. It reminds me of a quote from “After Life”.

    Willow: “Think of it like, the world doesn’t like you getting something for free, and we asked for this huge gift, Buffy. And so the world said, ‘fine, but if you have that, you have to take this too.’…”

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  41. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 18, 2009.]

    Great review, Mike!! This was the first time I noticed the lyrics of the song when I was watching the episode, and I’m so happy you put an analysis of it- it’s great!

    I’m one of the people who think having Amber Benson as the first instead of Azura Skye would’ve been really bad. 1- I don’t want that memory of Tara. 2- It would’ve been so obvious that it wasn’t Tara. Willow knows her so well that she would’ve figured it out- especially if Tara had told her to stop using magic completely forever. Even in the beginning of “Tabula Rasa” Tara didn’t want Willow to stop using magic forever- she said “one week” to see if Willow could do everyday things without magic. Tara, like Giles, believed in using magic- good, natural magic- in a balanced way.

    In terms of why Dawn got a visit from the first and not Xander- well, as was said above by Kyorarin:

    “Xander has, on several occasions, doubted Buffy and sometimes even gone against her all on his own. Also, Buffy does allow Xander to fight with her, and it’s been proven many times that he easily gets hurt, which has forced Buffy to watch out for him in battle. Were I the First, I wouldn’t waste any effort on him, because Xander’s already distrustful enough….”

    The reason that Dawn got a visit was because she’s Buffy’s sister and has never doubted her- well, maybe she’s doubted her in the “mom” capacity, but not in the “Slayer” capacity.

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  42. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 18, 2009.]

    Btw, Mike, I wanted to point out a continuity thing (which I know you love) from S6- when Holden says “Nemeses”, and Buffy says, “Is that how you say it?” This refers back to when the Trio don’t know how to say the plural of “nemesis” in “Gone.”

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  43. [Note: Dave C posted this comment on June 28, 2009.]

    I really like this episode, but there are two things about it that bother me. Number one is the previously mentioned inexplicable physical results of The First’s visitation of Dawn. Even an off-handed comment like “Oh, The First must have used one of its demonic minions. . .” to let us know that the writers were aware of the apparent problem of The First acting physically would have satisfied me. But nothing like that was offered.

    Second, I really don’t like the fact that there is a scene cut between the moment that Johnathan offers his final, redemptive comments and the moment that he is killed. To me, the cut lessens the impact of his character’s redemption and subsequent death because the latter seems emotionally removed from the former. I think it was done this way so that his death could occur at the climax of the show, and that totally makes sense, but it still sort of bugs me. Anybody else have similar feelings about this?

    Anyway, the episode is still great, and I’m glad that they were still trying to be this ambitious during the final season of the show.

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  44. [Note: JammyJu posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    Hey there.
    Kinda a newcomer to the site, but I really like the reviews and the community built here.

    Also, would like to say thankyou for sticking up for Season 7. Kinda tired of people tagging it as the worst season, and what not. I frankly love it, and its gone to some really interesting directions – Spike being a particular highlight.

    I just hate seeing the more raw, and real seasons such as 6 and 7 getting slated because there are so many well written episodes, packed full of emotional punch..it just saddens me.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, and very much look forward to the season 7 conclusion!

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  45. [Note: Sam posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    I just watched this episode again and I was left wondering how Cassie was able to lean on the desk in the library?

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  46. [Note: Chanah posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    I think it was just a continuity error, Sam. Sort of like nobody hugged Giles, he never ate, or drank a cup of coffee, or took a shower the whole time? where was he sleeping? – or how else would they have come up with that lame ‘maybe Giles is the First’ sub-plot.

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  47. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    @Sam: That’s just something you’ve got to take in stride. ALL stuff that has incorporeal characters contradicts itself to a degree…if ghosts can’t touch anything, then why are they always able to sit down at tables, or walk on the ground, etc.? There’s just only so much the crew and writers can do. If you’ve ever noticed, you can occasionally find reflections of the vampire characters in the show, too. It’s just something that we’ve got to ignore.

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  48. [Note: Chanah posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    And I’ve always wondered how the lady vamps do their makeup so well – especially those goth-sixteen-shades-of-eyeshadow-used looks – without reflections 😀

    Or Angel’s hair gel. There’s a certain amount of fantasy in there.

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

    I am among those who thought Xander deserved a visit, too, and I was led to believe that they were indeed going to have him visited by Jesse, but the actor who played Jesse wasn’t free at the relevant time, so the idea was dropped from the script.

    As for Giles not being visited, how do we know? He was in England. Who’s to say he didn’t get a visit and simply doesn’t talk about it?

    I also understand that Amber Benson didn’t want to further upset the many already upset Tara fans (upset over Tara’s death) by having Tara appear and be evil and try to convince Willow to kill herself.

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

    Oh, I forgot to say that I think the First’s attempt to get Willow to commit suicide are because somehow it knows that Willow is the biggest threat to it. Buffy and the rest can fight it up to a point, but Willow is necessary to its’ eventual defeat.

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  51. [Note: Gurdev posted this comment on August 30, 2009.]

    Thanks for a wonderful, insightful review here. CWDP was certainly one of the most exciting and also *creepy* episodes.

    I understand why Amber Benson wouldn’t have wanted her character to be seen in such a perverse kind of role, but perhaps she underestimated the fans by fearing they might not see enough of a separation between the real Tara and the First’s assumption of Tara. In any case, if she really had done the episode it would have been incredibly scary and sick (in a good way). Maybe if she had started off all cute and adorable to convince Willow and the audience that it was her, and then contrasted it later on with the cruel, hurtful characteristics of the First once Willow had realised.

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  52. [Note: Guido posted this comment on August 30, 2009.]

    I would like to see how the writers would have dealt with the Willow scene if Amber Benson had agreed to do the episode. Willow would have wanted to jump up and hug her right away, but of course would have found Tara’s form to be incorporeal. This would not necessarily lead to game over, as it would be easy for “Tara” to convince Willow that she, being dead, could not be touched.

    I agree with Mike that the give-away moment would have been creepy coming from Tara, but I think it worked very well with Cassie. We’ve seen plenty of ghostly impostors in the series, so having Cassie be a kind of intermediary (rather than the literal image of Tara) made for a good eerie departure. It’s sad enough that Willow thinks she is connecting with Tara, but doubly cruel that she can’t see her. I think this increases Willow’s longing for her lost companion, and therefore amplifies her anger at the betrayal. It’s hard for me to imagine how Willow’s emotions would spin as rapidly if it was Tara sitting there (as the First). Look how hard it was for Dawn (or any of us for that matter) to believe that Joyce’s ghost was not Joyce. Willow’s reaction to the suicide nudge would have had to be written and played with a some sadness mixed in with her suspicions. Disbelieving what you see doesn’t come easily for anyone.

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  53. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 2, 2010.]

    First off there was no Xander for the first time ever, but thankfully Buffy rested on a tombstone with ALEXANDER engraved on it, so he was in the episode sort of.

    My favourite scenes were those with Buffy and Holden in the graveyard getting a lot of information about how Buffy really feels. Willow’s scenes were good, although Cassie touching everything and leaning on the desk was a bit much, but her disappearance was creepy.

    Damn it Andrew, you may be funnier but Jonathan was always a better person and he was my favourite background filler. Nice death though, with creepy Warren and strange coloured blood pouring from the small wound.

    Dawn again allowed to show more range. Joyce on the couch. “Mother’s milk is red today”. ‘Die Hard’ reference with the feet and glass.

    And of course defying God and the football kick to Holden’s chin.

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  54. [Note: AttackedWithHummus posted this comment on February 14, 2010.]

    If my memory serves me, I do believe there was a great bit of continuity a few episodes later in which Buffy idly comments on the blood on that very same shirt.

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  55. [Note: Trayce posted this comment on March 9, 2010.]

    I completely agree that the first stopped being scary after Azure Skyes portrayal! She was terrifying as the first, but all those following(with the exceptance of Harry Groener [The Mayor])paled in comparison. I don’t know if they just had trouble finding actors and simply chose ones good enough due to time…but it would have been incredible if they had found talents like Azure Skye! And would anyone else have found it interesting if Mark Metcalf had come back again as The Master and appeared to Buffy as the first?! Or if the first haunted Giles as Jenny Calendar! There were so many great things they could have done with the first! One of the things they did though that I loved was the conversation between Faith and The First as The Mayor.

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  56. [Note: Aisha posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    1) Holden is Knox! From Angel Season 5.

    2) I think Mikejer is completely right about the First not instilling as much fear is in this episode. Caleb was the terrifying one.

    3) It’s interesting that the statement of Buffy’s superiority complex has taken six years. In my opinion, that’s a little late. That’s something that other characters have been trying to call to her attention for years. It’s not always a good thing. While she is the Slayer and has innate powers, she does not always know what’s best.

    4) Azura Skye was fantastic.

    5) Again, I say, poor Jonathan. Do you think Andrew’s horrific deeds are just ways to please Warren? Andrew was kind of in love with him and I felt that Warren was the motivation behind many of Andrew’s actions when the three comprised The Trio.

    6) I’m not sure how effective the First’s mind games with Dawn even were. Sure, it freaked her out A LOT, but in the long run? Also, “Joyce’s” warning was vague and kind of useless.

    Like

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

    There is a theory going around that Amber chose not to do this episode because she didn’t want to portray Tara as something bad. But I have the feeling that she was talking about doing season seven in *general*. That Joss wanted her character to turn bad in S7, she didn’t want that, and so they mutually decided to have her written off the show in S6.

    This BBC interview with Amber Benson (http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/buffy/interviews/benson2003/page4.shtml) is probably a good source; decide for yourself:

    Q: Can you tell us why you chose not to return for season seven?

    A: …I would love to have come back but sometimes there are things in your life that you have to stand up for and to tell you the God’s honest truth, I really didn’t want Tara to be bad, and that would have been a component of me coming back.

    As much as I wanted to come back – and I almost did – that was something that was dogging my not wanting to come back. I just felt like people really loved that character and for her to be bad would just destroy people. So that was one of the reasons I didn’t go back.

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  58. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on November 27, 2010.]

    I’d just like to weigh in on this whole “is Tara not being there better or worse?” controversy. I personally think it would have been amazing if Amber Benson had returned. To those who say it would have been too upsetting: go and watch “Passion”, “Villains”, or “The Body” again. This show was never afraid to do things like that.

    That being said, the way the writers handled it was still really good.

    Like

  59. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 11, 2011.]

    I agree with your score MikeJer. This was a great episode. Just from opening montage with the song, that is hauntingly beautiful, I knew it would be a good one. Thanks for your interpretation of the song. Very insightful and nothing I ever thought about before. I always just assumed that the song was about the face that, in the end, Buffy is always alone.

    I have to give Dawn a lot of credit here. The First puts her through hell but she holds her ground and fights. I would have been out that door in a heartbeat! This episode actually gave me respect for Dawn.

    I am with the crowd who would have loved to have had Tara in the scene with Willow. I think that would have been one kick ass powerful scene. However, since Amber Benson wouldn’t do it, I think the writers did a hell of a job with the reasoning of Willow being punished for her bad deeds. The parts with Willow were heartbreaking but I love that Willow realizes immediately that Tara would never ask her to kill herself, no matter what.

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  60. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on June 26, 2011.]

    It’s odd to have such an important episode without Xander, or any episode without Xander, but who would the First use to haunt him? Buffy has a causalty list a mile wide, Dawn has her mother, Willow has Tara, Spike has certainly lost people, but Xander hasn’t had anyone die on him like that. Until Anya.

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  61. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on September 13, 2011.]

    @Louisa

    How about Jesse? I think I heard that they considered bringing him back for a while, but I might have just made that up because I want it to be true! That would have been kinda awesome I think!

    Like

  62. [Note: Gon posted this comment on November 17, 2011.]

    I understand why Xander wouldn’t be visited by the First but I would have prefered to have him on screen even for a second (he could have been seen in the library with Willow and then go away – Spike also was just seen). I hate the fact this is the only episode where Xander doesn’t appear.

    Like

  63. [Note: keekey posted this comment on November 25, 2011.]

    Your analysis of the opening and closing song is really interesting and insightful. I hadn’t considered how it could apply to Buffy’s past relationships. Watching the episode, I saw the song as applying to each of the characters shown, though. Holden tells Buffy everyone feels alone and the song and the opening montage (and the whole structure of the ep really) reinforce that. When we first see the characters in the opening sequence, each is alone in a situation where we’re used to seeing her/him in the company of others. Willow is back at college but she’s studying alone–everyone she was close to during college is gone from the school now (Tara, Oz, Riley, Buffy); Spike is drinking alone–no “gang” (Darla, Angel, Drusilla), no Scoobies to annoy, no Clem and company, no Buffy; Dawn is home alone (no Mom, no Dad, no Willow & Tara as housemates, no baby-sitter Spike, and Buffy out patrolling again), and Buffy is patrolling alone (Angel is in LA; Giles is in England, Riley is somewhere else). Xander, who is usually a comforting sort of presence, isn’t around. The plaintive “Where were you?” line made me think about how isolated each of these characters must feel in their current circumstances. During the episode they each get temporary (and pretty much illusory) respite from their loneliness by interacting with another person (Buffy/Holden; Willow/fake Cassie; Dawn/fake Joyce; and Spike/blonde girl) only to find themselves even more alone at the end (both Dawn and Willow having had terrible encounters with the First and both Spike and Buffy having killed their companions). Jonathan and Andrew enter together but also turn out to be “alone,” with Andrew killing Jonathan. This was a really great episode but very sad! And, yeah, I didn’t think I would ever miss Jonathan but his death and the scene leading up to it were so poignant that I think maybe I will a little bit.

    Like

  64. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on December 18, 2011.]

    Fun Fact: Even though it seems the episode takes place over a few hours, it actually takes place over eight hours. The start is 8:01 pm and ‘Sleeper’ begins at 4:30 am. Buffy came over right after staking Holden so this episodes time frame is very surprising given what we see.

    Again, poor Jonathon. He really had strange coloured blood.

    Like

  65. [Note: Nobody posted this comment on December 22, 2011.]

    I absolutely love this episode. It’s scary, funny, sad, and just all-around awesome. I also believe that while Season 7 never completely lived up to this episode, it came pretty darn close. There was a tight sense of continuity, which is something that I really appreciate, and I genuinely felt that the First Evil was an amazing Big Bad–possibly the best. He (it) was just so creepy and devious, and I love his encounters with Buffy, however slight they were. I also thought Caleb was a great villain. I mean, seriously, a misogynistic serial killer/preacher who worships the First? Count me in!

    On the whole Tara vs. Cassie thing: I can see both sides to it. Azura Skye was simply amazing as the First, and completely sold it. It makes sense that the First wouldn’t show her Tara. It’s his own way of making Willow feel even more guilty and inadequate, and therefore more likely give up magic due to guilt (though I really doubt she would ever commit suicide). However, Tara telling Willow to kill herself? Sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. It would be interesting to see two versions of the scene, one with Cassie, one with Tara, just to see which one truly would be more disturbing and effective. Anyway, love this episode, along with Season 7 (my favorite season, in fact) and I enjoyed reading all these illuminating discussion points!

    Like

  66. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 25, 2011.]

    A P grade? Nah. Very mixed bag episode. B- for me.

    The Andrew/Jon storyline was utterly forgettable. I guess I just dont care enough about them to have them take up a quarter of the storyline.

    Dawn’s journey was definitely creepy. Kudos to the writers.

    And I got sucked in by Cassie. The two actors did a very convincing job.

    The Buffy storyline was horrific. If the writers had made this about her still harboring resentment toward her friends for ripping her out of heaven, it would have been much more realistic. Simultaneous superiority and inferiority complexes? WTF does that even mean? lol. And all that stuff about her relationships is hogwash. She gave everything she had for Angel – did she ever give any indication that Angel didnt “deserve” her? That he was beneath her? lol. It’s like the season 7 UPN hack squad never even bothered to watch early Buffy and created this pod Buffy. (same could be said for season 6).

    So 2 good storylines and 2 failures. B- sounds about right.

    Like

  67. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on April 10, 2012.]

    am i the only one that didnt like the part when buffy and holden were talking and he asked if God existed? i thought it was pretty unnecessary and not funny. i love how scott ended up being gay haha totally called it!!! I love your reviews Mikejer :)))

    Like

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

    x-factor: it means that Buffy feels that she is superficially superior to everybody else, but that she doesn’t fundamentally deserve to be.

    If I may settle the “Where’s Xander?” once and for all: Whedon WANTED Xander to be haunted by what he thought was Jessie from Welcome to the Hellmouth, but he realized that that would’ve made the episode run too long, and he didn’t think he could get away with that a second time (OMWF’s success aside).

    Like

  69. [Note: Suzy posted this comment on February 5, 2013.]

    Wait a minute, what’s going on with Spike here?! I thought having a soul would stop him from killing humans again… How does that work? And how does the chip let him? Is his insanity causing him to act out in familiar patterns, or is it part of a larger scheme?

    Like

  70. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on February 5, 2013.]

    I take it you’re watching the show for the first time. I think it’d actually be better if you finished the series before reading any more reviews, as they contain numerous spoilers. Rest assured, though, Spike’s actions will soon be explained.

    Like

  71. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 6, 2013.]

    Of course this episode was very effective, but I agree with Robert #23 (“Our villain bares its teeth in this episode, and by virtue of that, loses them” and “CWDP blows season 7 in one shot”) and I was thinking about Beppe #24 idea (“Just imagine the delicious descent into despair that could have ensued if the First had just kept on slowly turning the screw”).

    So I thought of some ways of turning this episode on season 7’s favor, minimizing its flaws (absence of historical characters, absence of big bad, lack of continuity, out-of-character behavior).

    1) The First appearing regularly to Willow as Cassie/Tara, trying to undermine her confidence and balance, eventually trying to lead her to commit suicide (that would work far better for me than the kissing-Kennedy-turning-Warren plot).

    2) The First appearing regularly to Dawn as Joyce inducing her to suspect Buffy and eventually betraying her.

    3) I always thought Anya’s character should have died in “Selfless” (she’s not really necessary in the rest of the season). In that scenario, The First could have used her to haunt Xander trough this episode and the rest of the season, playing with his confidence problem.

    This could have had benefits for the rest of season, I think. It would have turned The First a notable and dangerous presence, it would have made an interesting arc about self-confidence for Willow/Dawn/Xander (allowing them more scenes), it would have given Anya a more decent death and valuable contribution for the season. Finally it would have made much more plausible the scene where they expel Buffy from home in “Empty Places”.

    Like

  72. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 2, 2013.]

    Note that the name Holden Webster, the vamp who went to Dartmouth, is a nod to Daniel Webster, another Dartmouth alumnus.

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  73. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on April 20, 2014.]

    Okay. So, um… how was the First appearing as Warren, Tara, and Joyce all at the same time? I was under the impression it couldn’t be two places at once. But then again, they were super vague on that.

    Also, Espenson’s name is misspelled in the writer’s section.

    Like

  74. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on April 23, 2014.]

    I don’t think it was ever addressed one way or another, but I suppose I just always tacitly assumed that the First had no such limitations.

    It’d be a sorry personification of all the evil in existence if it could only do evil in Sunnydale, CA. and only to one person at a time.

    (Okay, yeah, after this episodes it IS a sorry personification of all the evil in existence, but that’s besides the point.)

    Like

  75. [Note: Belated posted this comment on July 20, 2014.]

    This is kinda 5 years late but i Just want to offer up my thoughts on the Dawn scenes. Entertain the idea that the demon fighting Dawn was trying to HELP Dawn by not letting the first contact her. It’s how i like to think about her scenes in CWDP as it adds a whole new depth to an already great episode. Just something to think about.

    Why it would be helping i don’t know, maybe it was meant to be; explained at some point/left up to interpretation or maybe the writers didn’t realise they had set up a great concept for themselves. Being a Demon and everything i’m not gonna use it’s treatment of Dawn as a negative for the theory.

    Like

  76. [Note: Erin posted this comment on August 6, 2014.]

    Though this episode was wonderfully done and thoroughly deserves a perfect score, there were a couple of things that would have made it just that much more spectacular…the inclusion of Anya, direct continuity from Selfless, would have been amazing. Her talking to Halfrek, as a few people mentioned above, would have been perfect. And as many others said, the inclusion of Tara instead of Cassie would have made the scene that much more wonderfully disturbing. I didn’t mind the non-inclusion of Xander and Giles as in Xanders case I don’t think there were that many possibilities of things to explore in relation to his character, and with Giles it would have just felt fragmented and separated from what was going on in Sunnydale. I personally love The First as a villain, I love the fact that it attacks on a psychological rather than physical level, which makes itself that much more creepy. But as many have said, the greatness of The First as the primary villain fizzled out after this episode, as did so many aspects of the season.

    Like

  77. [Note: Marco posted this comment on September 10, 2014.]

    This episode is a little bittersweet to me. On one side, it’s one of the best episodes of the whole series, certainly at my top 5. There’s much good stuff on it. Buffy’s and Willow’s dialogues and acting are amazing. Joyce reappearing for a last time. The 5 seemingly unrelated stories all joining gracefully on the end. But on the bitter side, it’s the last great BTVS episode too – and boy, this is bitter. I fully agree that, sadly, the remaining of season 7 don’t live up to it.

    Like

  78. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 21, 2014.]

    The thing causing the disturbances is a poltergeist. The chairs stacked the table is a direct homage to a scene in Poltergeist. There is a lot of that in the show.

    Like

  79. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 21, 2014.]

    Also, the whole point of the first is that it is nothing unless you allow it to be. If the first had operated the way it does in this episode throughout the entire season then the underlying message of the season would have been lost, namely that while death is unavoidable, evil withers in the face of true community where power is shared not hoarded. That’s why the first works best when it can get the weak alone and isolated or alienated from others. Zander and Giles would not have been good targets for the First.

    And note, Willow’s love for Tata and the knowledge it gives her, allow to see thru the First’s disguise.

    And there is no way that the real Joyce would have read those lines in such a condescending manner.

    Like

  80. [Note: Kel posted this comment on January 6, 2015.]

    I can’t actually see if anyone else has commented on this or not, so apologies if I’ve missed it.

    In the first scene with Jonathan & Andrew, they say:

    JONATHAN:Me neither. ‘Desde abajo te debora.’
    ANDREW:”It eats you starting with your bottom.”

    I felt this was a clear and clever reference to “from beneath you it devours”

    What does everyone else think?

    Like

  81. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 21, 2015.]

    Here’s my summary of the episode :
    Blah, blah, blah, blah.
    I’m Buffy, I’m sad, blah blah blah.
    I’m Willow, I’m sad, blah blah blah blah.
    I’m Dawn, I miss my mum, blah blah blah and an other blah.
    Seriously, maybe it was well-written, but HELL I got BORED. We arleady had season 6 for the introspection thingy, did we really need a second round ?

    Like

  82. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 21, 2015.]

    There’s a lot of new material here not addressed before, or at least not in a while and not extensively.

    Buffy’s loneliness is only sparingly alluded to throughout the series (yet enough to make this believable). Her calling comes across more as a burden to her adolescent self, yet here we find out that a lot of it when pertaining to transitioning towards adulthood has to do with her feeling isolated, even in some awkward way feeling superior to those around her.

    Willow had to deal with the Terra’s death. Had they whisked it away without exploration it’d be jarring and unbelievable. It’s already under done in this season imo, with only really one more episode addressing it.

    They always mess up with Dawn. Even though she’s seemingly changed in this season, her transition isn’t really explored and her less “annoying” nature is more shoehorned in for the sake of the fans. The writers just didn’t care about her after season 5. She was an assist to Buffy in that season, and once her usefulness ended, they kept her around for no other reason then for consistency.

    I know this probably won’t change your view of the episode, but it’s food for thought. I think you enjoy the lighter aspects of their growth (which is still deep in its own right) more then the darker. It’s just that the transition to adulthood (a major theme of this series) has both, and I personally commend them for not sugar coating the latter even if a bit exaggerated.

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  83. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 21, 2015.]

    You know, I’m aware of this show’s cleverness. In terms of character development, “Buffy” goes very far. The story is very well constructed, most of the decisions made by the writers have an actual meaning and there is an undeniable work behind all this. I have no problem with the idea of Buffy feeling lonely, I’m aware of Willow’s mourning, and so on. It’s just that in my opinion, there is a lack of ENTERTAINEMENT in most of those episodes coming from season 6 and 7. There is, I mean, a rythm issue : some episodes are really slow ; they’re too talkative.
    Don’t insult me haha, but I sometimes wish the show was less intelligent, less introspective. I have the feeling writers took their work too seriously at the end, even if we have still some episodes like “Him” (7×06) to balance all that.
    As a result, I tend to find the show a little boring.

    Oh, and before I forget : this episode isn’t that bad now that I give it more thoughts because IT’S THE ONLY EPISODE WITHOUT XANDER. And gosh I hate the guy. It’s in my opinion THE useless character of the show, and the fact that he saved the world at the end of season 6 doesn’t change anything. I despise him.

    Like

  84. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on July 15, 2015.]

    Wow, you summed up everything that was wrong with S6/7 in such a succinct manner!

    The Buffy writers/Whedon I feel got a bit too clever in the last two seasons. There is a marked downturn in quality after S5. Surely a coincidence that the show moved networks at the exact same time? Buffy became a plotless fanservice-fest in S6 and recovered to a decent (if flawed) finish in S7. Angel suffered something similar in S3 but recovered strongly in seasons 4-5.

    This episode I feel is severely overrated – it just doesn’t do it for me. Certainly isn’t top 10 or anywhere near. Your analysis of the episode is great, but as a product I think it’s a little knowing and self-referential which are both common S6/7 problems. I certainly can’t see Buffy letting a vampire be Freud to her in season 2-5 – those seasons were too tight and well-written for that. Wordy, character-heavy plot-almost-absent episodes are right at home in this season, however. We get it, the First is messing with their heads, and it’s a bit creepy. That’s it. The First’s superpower is ‘I can appear as people what are dead, you know!’ Such an ability shouldn’t really be creeping out anyone but Dawn after all these characters have said and done. I do admire the guts of keeping those like Xander away from such a plot, because his character would most likely see through all the dead-people shenanigans immediately. Willow and Buffy though are angsty and vulnerable types, so the First goes after them. Xander would just tell something like that to go fish, or tell jokes at it – even after Anya (who is most likely another character who would’ve been out of place in this episode).

    The writers should’ve moved heaven and earth to get Amber Benson. It not being Tara that appears to Willow is too much of a gaping hole in the plot and it being Cassie instead doesn’t really cover that hole, even though in the context of the episode, it works. It’s a great performance too. Contrast this with how well the scene in Becoming works where Drusilla conjures the image of Jenny to deceive Giles. There isn’t another character it could be, except someone from Giles’ past that we as viewers aren’t familiar with.

    My main problem was that they wrote the scenes with Joyce very ambiguously. I think from certain perspectives, it can only be Joyce. From others, it appears to be the First. On another review site at the time of broadcast, most people came to the conclusion that everyone else saw the First, but Dawn really saw Joyce. The ‘presence’ was the ‘poltergeist’ entity and was stopping Joyce from getting through to Dawn to talk to her. What Joyce says turns out to be true, whereas the First’s MO is to use lies to get people to doubt themselves. Dawn is warned that Buffy will do something at a later point that she ultimately does indeed do. The claim that ‘oh, the First would’ve been able to get a…ghost…to go and scare Dawn…’ is an extremely lame explanation. Joyce came over and the entity was most likely something that came through with her…as it’s actually alluded to in the dialogue.

    I know the writers did a heel-face turn and retconned that it was ‘always’ supposed to be the First (it wasn’t), but viewers are (mostly) intelligent people. For me and many others, it’s obvious and they tried to wriggle out of it at a later point.

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  85. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 14, 2016.]

    I hate to bring this up again (not really but screw it) but man does the whole First/Spike thing make less sense the more you think about it (it turns out that the guy Critical Viewing was onto the same idea and I didn’t think about it the first time).

    So apparently the First had Spike in play for some unknown reason (which we are never told by the way) and apparently needed him alive for whatever reason. This apparently involved a trigger to kill people or something (though this seems to vary between going apeshit or just wanting to bite people) a trigger which apparently somehow managed to screw with the chip or something.

    Now if the First needed Spike alive why in the hell would it make be killing people left right and centre. Granted I doubt it would have expected Buffy to find out about the killings as soon as she did but did it really need Spike to kill as many people as it did. Presumably this was done in order to test the trigger but wouldn’t killing a crap tonne of people cause some suspicion. If anything this seemed to only make Spike want to kill himself which would kind of be not beneficial to the plan.

    And then of course there’s the whole kidnapping and torture of Spike. First of all if Spike apparently needed to be amongst the Scoobies in order for the plan to work why in gods name would it take him away from them. Secondly, why would you need to toture Spike into coercion if you already have a trigger that makes him do what you want. Presumably you could maybe alter the programming if you need to ge thin to do more than go crazy.

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  86. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 16, 2016.]

    Oop got more crap to add. Yah if Spike was needed alive why waste time Hamleting it up with Wood.

    I don’t know if we can assume that the First plans for Spike included messing with Wood since it seems like a lot of resources would have been wasted in an attempt to mess with this one guy. Unless we then assume that this was part of a plan to mess with Giles too and start the Buffy betrayal thing but I doubt the First is that smart or could plan that far ahead.

    Like

  87. [Note: benny posted this comment on January 16, 2016.]

    my guess…
    1. sanshu prophecy. so I guess making these forces of good killing each other kinda amusing for The First? (like in the amends? ).

    2. The mind controlling thing came after spike get his soul… so the trigger has something to do with guilt, conscience. the first push this by “early one morning” (reminds him of his mother, his first killing, and the big first steps that change him from William to “Spike”) making the guilt so strong, that he lost his consciousness, leaving only the vampire side that somehow easier to control by the first…

    3. althought questionable and seemhave many purpose, the pattern of the act of the first, IMO is usually similar.. either making things (or people) it considered useful to turn against its opponents or destroying them (like what he did with some potentials). oh and I guess negative feelings and thoughts counts too, the first often looked very confident and happy to turn people’s minds and thoughts against themselves…. so if in the fight in Wood’s sanctuary Wood is about to win and It feels Spike is going to Its side, I guess It’s going to pop up as his mother, buying some time, but if Wood was going to be killed by Spike, It will let him… Killing Wood will breaks the acceptance of Buffy’s circle, making it easier for the first to persuade him.

    Sorry for bad english …. :p

    Like

  88. [Note: cinf posted this comment on May 26, 2016.]

    Great review, really good to read after watching the episode. Buffy’s therapy was well done, and funny (“I commit! I’m a committee!”). She’s growing, but still with the avoidy: her view of her and spike’s relationship in season 6 (“I let him completely take me over. Do things to me that..she cries.”) could do with some helpful therapeutic questioning. Something like: “Interesting. But you’re the slayer: how could he completely take you over?”. To me, that relationship read as as supressed desires in Buffy taking her over: she isn’t ready to face them and projects them onto spike.

    Like

  89. What a horrible episode. Not horrible in the sense of it being bad. It was very well done. Horrible in what it put the characters through. This was a hard episode to watch at times.

    I liked and was amused by the Buffy/Holden conversation.

    Poor Jonathan. He was a good guy in the end.

    Krssven, watching the show in real time, I definitely felt that seasons 6 and 7 weren’t as good as 2-5, and at the time I blamed the switch to UPN.

    Like

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