[Review by Mike Marinaro]
[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: Douglas Petrie | Aired: 02/18/2003]
“Get it Done,” an episode with a very relevant title, does a solid job at helping several key characters move beyond their fears and doubts so that they will be ready and able when the big fight is at hand. Buffy continues to take a very authoritative stance towards everyone, including her friends and even herself. If this group is to have any chance of winning their battle, though, they need to be confident in themselves and their abilities. “Get it Done” puts them through their paces and, thanks to Buffy, forces them to act now. I’m a real fan of this episode, although it’s not without its flaws.
First, let me get out of the way that I have mixed feelings over the effectiveness of Chloe hanging herself. I get the statement they’re trying to make, and it was certainly disturbing, but it just felt a little too extreme. What in the world could the First have possibly told her to get her to do that? It’s creepy, sure, but it still stretches my sense of believeability a bit. More effective is what comes out of it though. While everyone is moping inside, Buffy gets a bit miffed at their overall attempt to fight the First. In that burst of frustration, she targets both Willow and Spike for their lack of intensity.
I’m very sympathetic to both Willow and Spike’s plights, although I get why Buffy is side-lining her feelings for both of them. With that said, Willow does have to be careful with magic, and Spike has good cause to feel unenthused about violence. But, I must say, Buffy’s completely right to call them out. If they’re to win this fight, Buffy needs some of her biggest weapons fully active and willing to take risks. If anything, this speech by Buffy lays the building blocks for what happens towards the end of the season, and especially in “Chosen” [7×22]. Willow ends up performing a spell she in no way would have trusted herself to do if it wasn’t for this episode, and Spike is able to regain his sense of style and self worth and take his place in the final battle. Both of their roles in the finale were made possible by what was started here. This fact makes this episode not only incredibly relevant, but also in retrospect even more entertaining.
What didn’t work for me — and maybe this is because I’m watching this on DVD — is Buffy’s comment about carrying the Potentials for “too far, too long.” It hasn’t been that long Buffy, and you haven’t gotten them that far, at least with what I’ve seen. I liked seeing Kennedy step up and voice her opinion about Buffy’s harshness though. I agree Buffy’s approach leaves much to be desired, and was expressed out of frustration, but Buffy does have a point — a point that both Willow and Spike come to quickly understand. When Spike tries to sneak out in the middle of the argument, Buffy doesn’t let him off the hook either. She nails him for “holding back” and that she wants the Spike of old back as a fighter on her side.
Buffy’s biggest flaw here, and this is honestly attributed to sheer lack of experience, is that she really solidifies her dictatorship over everyone. Now, there’s something to be said for good structure in an army, but Buffy’s in a very unique situation here. Buffy has never been successful in the past by just ordering everyone around. Buffy is at her best when she’s working with her allies the best she can. Sure, Buffy should be the leader, but she isn’t at her best in the role of a bossy general. Just saying everyone should blindly follow her isn’t necessarily right or fair. Buffy’s earned devotion from her friends without needing to resort to such measures, but the Potentials don’t know her well enough to see the whole picture. This attitude is part of what leads up to her explusion from the group in “Empty Places” [7×19]. With all this said, I think that while Buffy’s approach is flawed given the situation, I can certainly understand the position she has found herself in. Buffy must lead without any substantive leadership skills or guide, and being everyone’s best friend isn’t necessarily going to help them win this fight either.
In a nutshell, I think Buffy’s approach is flawed, but I definitely understand where she’s coming from and agree with her criticism of Willow and Spike. Early in the episode we see Spike saving Anya from a demon. Instead of killing the demon, thereby ridding Anya of the bother, he just grabs her and runs. A Spike like this isn’t going to be terribly useful in the upcoming fight, and not just because of his lack of enthusiasm for fighting. He’s lost his moxie. I can’t blame him, considering what he’s gone through and how different of a being he is now. But that intensity and that knowledge of self is what’s truly going to be vital for him moving forward. That’s what will allow him to be able to help give Buffy the internal strength she’ll need when the end arrives. The moment when he finds his coat and throws it back on, I couldn’t help but cheer.
Willow must overcome her fear of doing intense magic. It’s interesting to see her suck the power from those strongest nearby to her to do her magic. This is really creepy and thrilling to watch, but feels totally right. This lines up with how she healed herself by leeching off some of Buffy’s strength in “Same Time, Same Place” [7×03]. I really love this episode for using the copious amounts of build-up we’ve seen this season to great use. This is a real breakthrough for Willow’s use of big magic and how to control it. I really like the after-effect is has on Kennedy too.
Another major aspect of the episode involves Buffy’s encounter with the Shadow Men. The concept of the First’s goals being tied directly to the root of the Slayer’s power, which goes back to the First Slayer, is pretty cool. I really like how all of this ties together. The Slayer origin myth is incredibly fascinating, and it’s fitting that we get to know the history behind it in the final season — a season about the slayer line itself.
When the Slayer Box opens that portal, everyone is justifiably concerned about Buffy’s idea to jump into it. But I can see right through Buffy’s facial expressions and know what she’s thinking. Buffy’s very nervous about it too, but jumping through that portal gives her several key things. First, she’s very curious to learn more about the source of her power. Second, jumping in that portal shows that she can overcome her fear of the unknown and just do it, hence why she says “I think that’s the point.” Third, by showing everyone else by example that she can do this, she inspires — yet forces — Willow and Spike to get over their hang-ups and stop holding back their power. They now have to use their power and work together to get Buffy back. This involves them finding faith in themselves again. As Willow says, “[magic] is the only way, and Buffy knew it.” This entire sequence was wonderfully written and shot. Count me in as a big fan!
All the Shadow Men are good for is power. They say, “We are at the beginning. The source of your strength. The well of the slayer’s power. This is why we have brought you here. … Herein lies your truest strength. The energy of the demon. Its spirit. Its heart.” They accurately tell Buffy that she is the Hellmouth’s last guardian. Like in the story, we see Buffy chained to the ground at the well of the Slayer’s power. What is the actual power? The essence of a demon. Wow does this make everything snap right into place about slayer mythology. I’d like to especially harken back to Season 5, a season that went to great lengths to explore the nature of the Slayer. Also think back to S4’s “Restless” [4×22], where in a brief moment we see the First Slayer chained to the ground. Buffy’s primordial instincts and urge to hunt and kill now make a lot more sense. And to think that this was at least somewhat intelligently thought up back in S4! This is just great coherent characterization and storytelling.
What the Shadow Men did to make the Slayer isn’t all that far off from how the First imbues Caleb — a very intended connection methinks. What the Shadow Men did was obviously very wrong. They essentially raped an innocent girl with the spirit of a demon and then used her as an instrument against their enemies. Against evil? Maybe, but as Buffy pointed out earlier in the season, “you don’t beat evil by doing evil.” In the spirit of her beliefs, she rejects the Shadow Men’s forceful offering of more power, correctly assuming that accepting this power would make her less human. It’s also true that more raw strength isn’t going to make all that much difference in the fight she is up against. This knowledge and faith in herself and her friends is what allows her to break free of the Shadow Men — very much a symbolic moment — and defeat them, thereby redefining her power. She tells them, “No, you don’t understand! You violated that girl, made her kill for you because you’re weak, you’re pathetic, and you obviously have nothing to show me!”
The final image of the episode, involving thousands of Ubervamps, is a very shocking sight that has Buffy doubting her decision. It’s just a bit of a shame that “Chosen” [7×22] takes away some of the scariness of these vampires, but I can’t hold that against this episode. “Get it Done” is an extremely solid endeavor that is both entertaining and probing. It does have a few missteps and doesn’t quite establish itself as a stand-out episode, but it’s one of those underrated necessary supporting players that makes the big moments resonate as much as they do.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+ The First Slayer warning Buffy in her dream.
+ Spike and Anya still enjoying conversation together, even though Spike has a soul now. I’ve always appreciated the writers’ consistency with their subtle development and connection through the series.
+ D’Hoffryn is apparently continuing to send the lamest demons imagineable after Anya. There’s just no way I believe D’Hoffryn seriously believes any of these demons could actually do anything to Anya, even if she wasn’t helped. They’re just so incredibly lame that I can’t see them as anything more than annoyances to Anya.
+ Buffy’s sarcasm in response to Wood wanting to know where she does her “work.”
+ Andrew’s Big Board!
+ Kennedy’s extreme exuberance over running drills for the Potentials.
+ Willow’s excuses to Wood about what all those Potentials are doing.
+ Willow’s awesome comment: “So much cooler than Synder.”
+ The wonderful tension between Wood and Spike.
+ Dawn’s playfulness in teasing Buffy.
+ The Slayer Box’s creepiness.
+ Nice to see some of the Potentials actually get into a real fight for a change.
+ The thematic and visual connection to “Restless” [4×22].
+ Spike lighting a cigarette on the demon’s horn.
– Cheap make-up on the First Slayer in Buffy’s dream.
– The totally-not SMG scream when Buffy expels the demon spirit.