Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Showtime

Summary

Nighttime. A girl arrives in Sunnydale on the bus. She goes to the phone booth and looks up a number, only the page she needs is torn. She's surrounded by bringers. Buffy appears and defeats them. This is a new slayerette, Rona.

Kennedy is in Willow's bed and Willow is in a sleeping bag on the floor. We learn Kennedy comes from a wealthy family, that Giles has the coven searching for slayerettes, and the house is getting crowded. Kennedy wants to see Willow do some magic, but she doesn't. Downstairs, the girls are telling the story of Annabelle being killed and wondering why Buffy isn't back yet. Eve, who has a southern accent, seems really nervous. Xander asks them to keep it down, he needs to sleep. Andrew says the same and says he's bored. Buffy arrives with Rona and introduces her. Giles and Anya enter. Rona goes to get something to eat. Buffy says she needs to know how to hurt FE and asks Giles. He doesn't know. Anya has tried the demon community, but to no avail. Buffy asks about the Turok-han. Andrew asks how Buffy will get to Spike with the Turok-han guarding the entrance to the cave where he's kept. Buffy admits he's got a point. Eve doesn't understand why they want to help Spike. Buffy mistakenly calls her Chloe and says it's complicated. Eve asks if they have a plan. Giles says they haven't tried Beljoxa's Eye. Anya is not keen on this. Only demons can open a way into the vortex dimension where it exists. Anya is not eager to try to get a demon friend to do this. Buffy pleads with her, saying they are running out of time.

Spike is chained to a cave wall. A bringer approaches him. He grabs the bringer with his feet and breaks his neck. Another bringer runs at him and he breaks free of his chains and knocks him down. He runs away and finds Buffy waiting for him. Spike wakes, still chained to the wall, faux Buffy looking on. She talks as if she is Buffy saying she doesn't believe in him and won't come rescue him. Spike is muttering "she will come for me". Faux Buffy says "No, I won't".

Anya and Giles are trying to talk a demon into letting them into the Beljoxa's Eye dimension. He refuses, he's mad at Anya over some past romantic entanglement. She offers to have sex with him, but he says not the way she looks now. She upset. Giles makes the offer that the slayer won't kill all his clientele and burn his business to the ground. Torg accepts and opens the gateway. At the house. Willow gets a call from the coven. Xander unties Andrew and Buffy tells him she doesn't have time to babysit him. She reminds him of the movie Misery. He promises to be good. Willow comes in and says the coven have discovered another slayerette is in town at a motel and arrived a couple of days earlier but her watcher was killed before they could be notified. Buffy and Xander go to get her. Dawn tells Willow she's not sure more scared slayerettes are much of a help.

The slayerettes are training, but Eve doesn't understand why they bother. Kennedy tries to keep them training, but Eve and the others are scared. Eve says any of them might be called and that FE will just go through them one by one. Buffy and Xander break into the motel room where the slayerette is. They find her long dead. And she's Eve. The Eve at the house is FE. At the house, faux Eve is telling the slayerettes she doesn't think Buffy can protect them.

Andrew is annoying Dawn, telling her he thinks there should be a male slayer. He says he could help them. She tells him Buffy said if he got really annoying she could kill him. He gets off on license to kill and starts talking about Timothy Dalton. He says he's alone and Dawn says he shouldn't have killed his only friend. She leaves him and he lies down on the sofa. Buffy dashes in and Andrews hurriedly takes his shoes off the sofa. She finds faux Eve and confronts her. She says she'll be sending the Turok-han over that night to kill them and vanishes.

Beljoxa's Eye says FE cannot be killed. It says FE is acting now because recently the mystical forces around the slayer line have been altered and are vulnerable. It says the slayer is responsible for this. At the house, the slayerettes are really scared and talking about running. Xander says they need a plan for ubervamp and Buffy asks Willow for a magical barrier. The slayerettes are still scared. They don't see how they can fight it. Chloe suggests surrendering. Willow gets up and Xander and Buffy follow her out. They stand quietly in the other room. Faux Eve sends the Turok- han to kill them, except for Buffy. She morphs into faux Buffy and goes back to Spike.

Bringers surround the house. Buffy says they are there to make sure none of them leave. Buffy hands out weapons. Rona gets a sword, Kennedy a crossbow. Andrew asks for a weapon and she gives him a bottle of holy water. Willow is trying out a little levitation to see if she can safely do magic. Kennedy enters and is impressed. Willow says she was testing because when she used magic before FE turned it against her and entered her. She says she could taste it. Kennedy asks how evil tastes and she says chalky. Dawn says something is happening. The Turok-han arrives and starts smashing in the door. It breaks in and Willow puts up her barrier. But it's breaking through and they run out the back. They encounter bringers but fight their way through. Giles and Anya return from the Beljoxa's Eye dimension. Giles explains that the weakness in the slayer magic isn't because Buffy died, but because she returned from the dead. Anya realizes that when she and the others brought Buffy back, they started this. That the world would have been better off with Buffy dead.

Buffy says they have to split up. She tells Willow to take the others somewhere safe and she'll lead the Turok-han off. She takes Andrew's holy water. Kennedy tries to stay, but she makes them all go. The Turok-han arrives and Buffy attacks. She smashes the bottle in its face, it's burned but keeps on coming. They fight. She runs off and it follows, then stops, realizing what is happening. She turns to see it is gone.

The others are at a construction site which will be the new public library. Willow tells them to spread out. The ubervamp arrives. Suddenly lights come on, Buffy is there. Kennedy goes to shoot ubervamp with her crossbow, but Willow tells her to just watch. It's showtime. The slayerettes and the others climb on to the scaffolding as Buffy confronts ubervamp. Dawn realizes Buffy, Willow, and Xander planned this. Flashback to the scene where the slayerettes are scared and talking about surrendering and Buffy, Willow, and Xander leave the room. We realize they were communicating telepathically and planning this. The fight is incredibly brutal. Buffy is doing badly, but manages to put out one of ubervamp's eyes. She starts getting the better of him. She cuts off his head and he turns to dust. Buffy says she doesn't know what will come next, but if they all do their parts they'll be the ones left standing. An angry faux Eve watches them leave.

Buffy comes to chained Spike. He thinks it's faux Buffy. She releases him and he realizes it's the real Buffy. She leads him out.

Analysis

Bring on the Night ended with Buffy announcing they were going to war. This episode was about building an army. Buffy has taken the first offensive. She has shown her troops that they can be victorious against seemingly overwhelming odds. She has built morale. And she has secured reinforcements. But while she wins this battle in the war against FE, we learn that her very existence is the problem. That her being alive and the act of black magic performed by Willow, Tara, Xander, and Anya is responsible for what is happening. The world is topsy-turvy because they brought her back from the dead. And there's no happy way to resolve that.

When I first watched this episode I was really upset at the telepathy scene because that struck me as a cheat. But since then I've read the comments of Buffy fans far more informed than I who point out that there have been a lot of telepathic moments in Buffy including Willow talking to Spike in The Gift and later guiding the whole gang in a vampire hunt in Bargaining. So telepathic communications are well established as a part of Willow's repertoire and something she has done with the gang before. It wasn't well established in this episode and still comes across as a deus ex machina, but at least it wasn't something completely out of the blue just invented for this episode. Still, it's probably the worst writing I've ever seen in a Buffy episode.

The fact that FE was in the house for days, spying on them and demotivating them, has got to be shaking. And it's clearly a precursor to whatever Giles revelation awaits us. FE's attack style seems to be to undermine the self confidence of its enemies and to depress them, making them feel defeat is a certainty. Faux Eve's comments - focusing on the inevitability of death and the unpreparedness of the slayerettes - were having this effect on the group. Faux Buffy was attempting the same thing with Spike. She constantly strove to break his spirit, claiming Buffy would not come for him, that he had no hope, no chance of salvation. While Buffy's defeat of the ubervamp is a major defeat for FE, the real victory was Spike maintaining his mantra that "She will come for me". After days of torture without a sign of the slayer, he doesn't give up hope. This faith without cause is far more important than Buffy actually freeing him at the end of the episode. Faith, of course, is when you believe in something without any evidence or proof. Spike has that faith and that's the power of a soul. Even though the facts are against him, he can hold on to that and it can keep him alive and sane. Buffy represents this power of salvation for him and, I believe, for all demonkind.

Anya realizes that she, Xander, Willow, and Tara are responsible for the evil the world faces. It will be interesting to see how she feels they need to make up for that evil. With the exception of Tara, the only one who has been ultimately punished, they have all been guilty of evil acts. Anya returned to her demon ways and hurt several people and eventually caused the death of her friend Halfrek. Willow turned completely dark and practically destroyed the world and hurt all her friends. Xander left Anya at the altar, leading to her descent into demonness, and hurting her terribly. While they all suffer from an uneasy conscience, none of them have been punished in the classic sense. Now they are about to discover that the one really good thing they felt they did (which they already know has caused Buffy pain by removing her from heaven revealed to them in Once More, With Feeling) is even more evil and horrible a thing than they imagined. We've been told, many times in the series, that actions have consequences - especially mystical actions. The consequences of the actions way back in Bargaining are still revealing themselves. My guess is that the guilt the gang will feel and the additional guilt heaped on Buffy will make matters much worse.

I find the Kennedy character really interesting. Is her family background of wealth real or a story she makes up? Of all the slayerettes, she seems the most directed and the most confident. She tries to take charge and she attempts to help Buffy. It's not clear to me whether there is more to her than meets the eye (how did Giles find her and bring her to Sunnydale and what about Giles' own strangeness and is she related to that) or whether she is one of the characters being considered for a possible spinoff series and that's why so much attention is paid to her.

I find it really hard to believe that Eve was there for a day or two and nobody noticed she was noncorporeal. This means in that time she never ate or drank and she never handed anybody anything or moved anything. Not a blanket or a pillow or the tv remote. Nobody ever asked her to pass the salt or answer the phone. It just seems impossible to be around someone for such a long time and not notice they are acting weirdly. Of course, the same can be said of Giles - but he's somewhat more distant and isn't (apparently) sharing sleeping space with the slayerettes.

If I'm going to slam the writing in this episode, I ought to praise it when appropriate as well. And in terms of continuity there was a nice moment here. It happened when Andrew started talking about Dalton as the best Bond. In Life Serial, he said the same thing in an argument with Warren and Jonathan. Not only was this a nice reference to that earlier episode, but it highlighted Andrew's loneliness. It's at this moment, as Andrew is trying to recreate the kind of camaraderie he had in the past with his only friends, that Dawn says she can't even understand what he's saying and he blurts out that he's all alone. To which Dawn points out he killed his last friend. Andrew often seems to be conscienceless, but he implies he regrets the murder of Jonathan and that he misses him. It's interesting to parallel Andrew and Spike and to see how Andrew has nothing to cling to, no hope of salvation, while Spike survives emotionally and spiritually because he has Buffy. Also interesting that Andrew keeps referring to Buffy as a good leader and wants to join the gang. He's trying to follow Spike's path to salvation, albeit unconsciously.

Some quick final thoughts. Andrew is growing on me. What is it with demons and kittens? Wouldn't it be funny if the slayer line really got messed up and suddenly we got male slayers and Andrew was the first?

Lines of the week:

"Welcome to the hellmouth." - Buffy taking us back to the beginning.

"I'm bored. Episode one bored." - Andrew really bored.

"The question you'll soon be asking is why isn't he gagged." - Xander on why Andrew is tied to the chair.

"She will come for me." - Spike's profession of faith.

"Wouldn't touch you for all the kittens in Korea." - Torg rejecting Anya.

"All we do is wait around for each other to die." - Eve on the work of slayers.

"I'm facing my fear." - Willow facing her fear.

"A little chalky." - Willow on the taste of evil.

"I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about." - Buffy building team morale.

"Here endeth the lesson." - Buffy gets ministerial.

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