Dawn and Tara wake, having fallen asleep on the couch. Buffy, Willow, and Amy did not come home. A naked Buffy and Spike wake in the ruins of the building they trashed. A distraught Buffy gets dressed. Spike wants her to say, she says it will never happen again. He grabs her and they kiss, but she still wants to leave. She gets upset when she thinks he just wanted to do a slayer. He says she's a vampire groupie and she says she was attracted to one vampire, Angel, and he's just convenient. He says last night changed things and she can't treat him like dirt anymore. She says if he tells anyone about last night she'll kill him. He pulls her panties out of his pocket and asks if she wants them. She grabs them, hits him, and leaves.
Tara is making pancakes. Dawn wonders if they should call Xander, but Tara says they should wait. Willow and Amy come in. Willow introduces Amy. Amy reveals all the magic they did last night. Tara is upset and turns to leave. Willow says she left some stuff upstairs and Tara says she'll come for it later. As she leaves, Buffy enters. Buffy pretends she was involved in an all night fight. She learns Willow wasn't home either. Dawn says she's ok, although the pancakes are burning. Willow says she has to go to sleep. Buffy says she's tired, too. Amy says she's going to see her father. Buffy is worried about Dawn, but she says she's fine. Upstairs, Willow is so weak she doesn't have the power to close the drapes.
At the shop, Buffy, Xander, and Anya are still researching freezing demons with a yen for diamonds. Xander realizes Anya is only pretending to research and is reading bride magazines. She says Martha Stewart is a witch. Buffy tries to get them to focus on the demon, but Anya is trying to figure out whether to dress her bridesmaids in cocktail dresses or the demon traditional burlap with blood larva. Xander says they should call in Spike or hit the streets. Buffy says no to both. She wants to stay put. Anya suggests Willow and Buffy explains about her being out all night with Amy. Xander thinks she is doing magic and Buffy says maybe Willow crossed a line but we all make mistakes and she's learnt from it and they shouldn't judge her. She's clearing talking about herself. Xander says he's observing, not judging. Anya says Willow is just acting strangely.
That night, Willow and Amy are out and Amy suggests seeing someone she knows who can give them great spells. She takes Willow to an alley. The building they are looking for is cloaked, but Amy can sense it and the two of them enter. They are in a room with a man and a woman. Another man, Rack, enters and says Willow and Amy are next. Amy starts explaining to Rack why she hasn't been there in a while and he already knows she was a rat. He tells her it should teach her not to mess with spells she can't handle. He's interested in Willow. He does something weird to Willow (you get the sense it's sort of sexual) and tells her she tastes like strawberries. Next we see Amy twirling around madly and Willow on the ceiling. Willow has a vision of a park. She sees something moving amongst the trees. It's dragging a woman. It's a demon. She screams and falls down. We see her magically at different locations, like the shop, and then she's home. She takes a shower and cries. In her bedroom, she takes one of Tara's dresses and animates it, having it hold her.
Willow is in the kitchen with Dawn. Dawn is making a quesadilla - peanut butter and banana her own invention. She refuses to use a spatula. Willow is just drinking water, she's not feeling well. Dawn takes a bite of the quesadilla and says it's delicious. Dawn says Buffy called to say she was going patrolling. She has called in several times, feeling guilty over the previous night. Willow apologizes for that, too. Dawn says it's alright. Willow suggests they have dinner and a movie. Dawn is quick to throw out the quesadilla, which she says is awful. She leaves a note on the refrigerator for Buffy.
Buffy arrives home and hears some furtive rustling. She discovers a strung out looking Amy stealing spices. She tells Buffy about Rack and Willow and how she and Dawn have gone out. She can't explain much more, she has to throw up. Willow and Dawn have just had a burger and are on their way to the movie. Willow didn't eat anything. She asks about the time Dawn and Tara spent together and Dawn says Tara is sad, although she admits Tara didn't explicitly say so. Willow takes her to Rack's. She has her wait while she goes to see him.
It's now after 10 (the movie started at 9) and Dawn is still waiting for Willow. A guy comes in and sits next to her and she gets up and walks to the other end of the room. Meanwhile, Rack is giving Willow all the magic she wants. She's floating, imagining herself in the sky. Then she sees a demon carrying a woman and screams while Rack laughs. Buffy is at the crypt, waking Spike. She tells him about Willow and Rack and he knows what Rack is and that he's into black magic. Spike says you have to be a witch or a vampire to find his place. He agrees to help Buffy. When he gets up to get dressed, she turns away and he makes fun of her sudden modesty.
It's about 11 and Dawn is still waiting for Willow. She decides to go into the other room and the other guy waiting tells her to wait her turn. But before she can enter, Willow comes out. Dawn is angry, the movie is over, but notices Willow seems weird (her eyes are all black). Willow says she's fine. They leave and Dawn wants to go home, but a still stoned Willow wants to have fun. Something is following them. Spike is trying to find the cloaked building, but hasn't picked up on it yet. Buffy suspects he's delaying so he can spend more time with her. She says she's disgusted with herself and the previous night was perverse. Spike agrees. She says maybe he likes that, but she doesn't. He disagrees. He admits he loves her and that gives her an advantage over him. She says she doesn't love him and he says not yet, but she has the craving. That she'll want him the way he wants blood. She says she wants him out of her life, her home, and her work. He says it's too late, she already invited him in. And she needs him for her work, like tonight. She says she'll find Dawn herself. He doubts she will endanger her sister just to spite him.
Dawn tells Willow she wants to go home. Willow tells her to go. Dawn is upset that Willow won't go with her. Willow suggests sending her back magically. Dawn realizes something is following them. A demon appears, the one from Willow's hallucination. He says Willow summoned him with her black magic. He hits Dawn, cutting her face. They run and Willow opens a car magically. They get in and she magically drives it. Only she's still stoned and weaving around the road. Dawn is scared. The car crashes.
A hurt Dawn stumbles out of the wreckage clutching her left arm. Her head is bleeding. The demon leaps out and hits her. She crawls under the car to hide and it grabs her leg to drag her out. She screams. Buffy and Spike hear the screams and go toward them. The demon drags out Dawn and they fight, but she is clearly over matched. He throws her around. Buffy arrives and fights the demon while Spike goes to see to Dawn. The demon seems a match for Buffy. Then he starts acting strangely. Buffy thinks he is scared, but he disintegrates and behind him we see Willow having destroyed him with magic. Her eyes are all black again. Dawn is crying and Buffy rushes to her. Her arm is clearly damaged. Buffy tells Spike they have to get her to a doctor. Willow comes over, horrified at what has happened. Buffy tells her to back off, but she keeps trying to apologize to Dawn. Dawn slaps her. Willow cries and falls to the ground. Spike looks back at her, looks at Buffy, then leads Dawn away as Buffy goes back to Willow. Buffy speaks angrily to Willow. Willow says she can't stop, that she needs help, that she screwed everything up. She falls into Buffy's arms, crying.
Buffy has taken Willow home and she's sitting on her bed. Buffy comes in to tell her that Dawn is sleeping, the ER doctor gave her something for the pain. She has a fracture. Buffy doesn't understand why she would go to Rack and why she would take Dawn. Willow says she thought she had the magic under control, but didn't. Buffy asks if it is because of Tara leaving, but Willow admits the problem started before. She says that's why Tara left. She says magic made her special, that without it she is just some girl. Buffy says she's not just some girl and Tara loves her. Willow isn't so sure. She says the magic made her free. Buffy says she gets that, but it's wrong. Willow says she's stopping, no more spells. Buffy says it is right to give it up, no matter how good it feels. Buffy says it's over. That night, we see Willow tossing and turning in bed, going through withdrawal. In her room, Buffy sits holding a cross with garlic strung across the windows and over the bed.
You have to wonder whether those garlic cloves and the cross will help. Buffy's problem isn't keeping Spike out. It's keeping herself in. Willow has finally realized that her addiction is her problem. Buffy hasn't yet figured out what's going on.
Let's start with Willow. I guess a drug addiction story line is long overdue for what is a teen oriented show. I think I might have liked it better had the magic=drugs equation been a little less obvious. Rack looks way too much like every dealer on tv and Amy and his other customers look too much like conventional strung out junkies. And the scene in Rack's place, with Amy twirling and Willow on the ceiling, was something Roger Corman might have done years ago when he was producing teen oriented films. But despite all that, it still works pretty well. Mostly because what we've seen happen here isn't an isolated event - it's a natural evolution of Willow.
Willow has always been quiet and well behaved and insecure. She has always had a tendency to go over the top in response to problems in her life. And she has real difficulty in talking to people about her problems. We know, from references in episodes like Gingerbread, that Willow didn't confide in her mother. We know that she kept things, like her feelings for Xander, secret. By keeping silent about her feelings, she let that relationship move into the friend zone. But she didn't keep it there when she should have and tried to turn it romantic, with disastrous complications in Lover's Walk (which also led to The Wish which in turn led to Dopplegangland). While Buffy saved the world from destruction, nothing could save the Xander/Cordelia relationship and Willow must take partial responsibility for that and for the damage she did to her own relationship with Oz.
When Oz left her, she was devastated and the others suffered because of it in Something Blue (an early example of Willow using magic to artificially cheer herself up with devastating consequences). What could have been a downward spiral is halted, delayed may be a better word, by her burgeoning relationship with Tara. Now, with Tara gone, she returns to magic and is spiraling downward again.
Of course, this doesn't excuse the lack of foreshadowing in Amy's addiction or the presence of Rack, who must have been at work in Sunnydale for years yet has never been noticed nor mentioned. We know he dates back to at least season 3, because that is when Amy became a rat and the dialogue in this episode indicates he knew her before. However, the Rack demon (and is that Rack in his true form or a separate entity) says Willow created him through her magics. Which may mean that Willow altered reality when she brought Buffy back from the dead. Maybe Buffy is other than human because some her life essence was siphoned off to create other beings. And maybe back memories were also created - much in the way Dawn was created by the monks or what Jonathan did in Superstar. Or I may be stretching a point to explain some unusually bad writing.
In Something Blue, Willow realized she had gone too far when she saw how she had endangered her friends. In that episode, she ended the spell in time to avoid them being hurt. In this episode, she also realizes she has gone too far when she sees how she has endangered her friends. Only Dawn is hurt. And this is more serious because while Buffy and the others are adults who can look after themselves, Dawn is still a child and Willow was functioning as a parental substitute. It was a serious failure on her part.I've argued before than Dawn is the moderating influence this season, attempting to bring people together. She helps Buffy cope with her return from the dead in Bargaining and in the last couple of episodes she has tried to reunite Willow and Tara. By betraying Dawn, essentially abandoning her and then leading her into danger, Willow has undermined the one constructive source left to her.
It's also interesting that Willow's first stumble in Something Blue led to a romance between Buffy and Spike (not to mention the first transmogrification of Amy back to human). Now that she has fallen further (and Amy is really back), that romance has been consummated. Clearly the Spike/Buffy arc is connected to Willow dramatically. While Willow falls because of a failed relationship, Buffy falls because of a new relationship. But is it also connected magically. Is one a consequence of the other? Frankly, I hope not. I'd hate to see the Buffy/Spike story be explained away like this.
Years ago, when Buffy had sex with Angel, he turned into a monster who spurned and attacked her. This week, when Buffy has sex with Spike, she turns into a monster who spurns and attacks. Okay, maybe not a literal monster - but she sure isn't very nice. Maybe Spike isn't human, but he does have feelings. Continually putting him down isn't a nice thing to do. I'm not sure if Buffy is masochistic or sadistic here. Obviously, she's hurting Spike by degrading him. But by arguing he isn't human, that he's merely a convenient device, she degrades herself. She doesn't like it when Spike suggests she is simply using him to satisfy her baser instincts and then trying to pretend to purity afterwards. But her comments about Spike actually give credence to his point of view.
I think the key conversation occurs while the two are looking for Willow and Dawn. In their other two encounters, they verbally and physically spar. But here they actually talk quietly for a moment. Spike is the surprising voice of reason. He says he loves Buffy and he knows that gives her an advantage. But he believes she can grow to love him. That they have an immediate physical attraction which can grow into something deeper. And that, after all, is how most relationships work. Spike isn't saying anything bizarre here. Buffy responds to this with verbal violence, saying she wants Spike gone. He reasonably points out she needs him. If not for herself, then for her work.
It's interesting that when they find Dawn, Buffy goes to fight and leaves her sister to Spike. Despite everything she knows she can trust him with her sister. Something she can no longer say about Willow. She has known this for a long time and explicitly stated this in The Gift. While Spike will often claim he doesn't care about Buffy and Dawn, his actions always prove he does. He repeatedly has risked his life for them and especially Dawn, starting in Forever and continuing through Intervention, The Gift, and Bargaining. He is the sensitive one who can be trusted.
His sensitivity is revealed when it is his heart which is first touched by Willow's tears. He stops and looks at Buffy, silently encouraging her to go to her friend. Again, she trusts him to look after Dawn. Later, when encouraging Willow to stop using magic, she is clearly thinking about her relationship with Spike. She intends to stop, as Willow says, despite how good it feels. Willow says it hurts those she loves. That is certainly true for her magic, she's hurt Buffy, Tara, and Dawn now. But is it true for Buffy? Would a relationship with Spike hurt her friends and family? Or is she simply reluctant to take another chance at love? Especially a chance with the odds so heavily stacked against it.
Some quick final thoughts. I liked the continuity of Tara making pancakes and asking what shapes Dawn wanted. She did the same thing in Bargaining. Has anyone kept track of how many hair colours and styles Anya has gone through. It's key that Willow cannot sense the cloaked space herself at first. Spike says only those drawn to blackness can sense it. At first, at least, she's still pure. Why does Rack have such a nice waiting room and why does it have a clock? Note that the guy who sits next to Dawn while she's waiting for Willow smokes. That's one of the key signs in tv that a character is evil. Interesting that there was a lot more naked Spike than naked Buffy in this episode. I loved Dawn crawling under the car - it's exactly the kind of thing a kid does.
Lines of the week:
"When did the building fall down?" - Buffy with a very good question.
"You're just convenient." - Buffy being cruel again.
"You're beat from monster wrestling all night." - Dawn being more truthful than she realizes.
"Assume makes U an ASS out of ME." - Dawn not quite getting it right.
"I like the trailers." - Dawn feeling abandoned.
"It's gonna take some time." - Buffy talking about a lot more than Dawn's bones healing.
"I think it's right to give it up. No matter how good it feels." - Buffy talking about more than Willow's magic.
"Or keeping stinky yak cheese in my bra. Don't ask." - Willow on some of the lesser known negatives to being a witch.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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