Buffy is wandering through her house as night. She picks a Greek/English dictionary off the floor. She goes into bedrooms seeing slayerettes stacked up everywhere. She sees Chloe crying and goes to talk to her but is tackled and knocked downstairs by the first slayer who says it's not enough. She wakes and the scene isn't much different - slayerettes everywhere.
Spike and Anya are walking down the street. Anya is complaining about being human and being in a house full of humans. Spike suggests getting drunk. Anya starts flirting with him (referring to their tryst in Entropy). Spike is not interested and is annoyed at her sexual overtures. He's relieved when a demon attacks. It says D'Hoffryn wants Anya dead. Spike knocks out the demon and runs off with Anya.
Buffy is at school and she and Wood are talking to two students who were fighting. Wood lets them off. After they leave, he asks Buffy if it has started. Buffy says the hellmouth is on the go. Wood gives her a gift, a bag which belonged to his slayer mother. It has slayer keepsakes which he feels really belong to her. Wood says he wants to see where the slayer works. She takes him home and explains about the slayerettes. They meet Andrew who is upset because he's having trouble with his funnel cake. Buffy explains Andrew's situation. Andrew shows them the big board he's been working on. Buffy takes Wood out back where Kennedy is doing her drill sergeant routine with the slayerettes. She calls one of the girls maggot. Wood says it's impressive, but he's not sure physical force will work against FE. Buffy says he's right. She says some of the girls will die and there is nothing she can do to stop it. Willow comes out with some weapons. She tries to explain away the slayerettes, but Buffy tells her Wood knows. Willow goes back inside and Buffy explains that she is afraid to use her full magical powers. Wood says he wants to see Spike.
Spike and Anya are fighting. She's angry that he didn't kill the demon who attacked her. He says if the demon had knocked him out Anya would be dead. Running off was the best idea. Anya walks off. Buffy explains why Wood is there and Spike says he's happy to have assistance in the fight against FE. Wood questions him about his past and Spike says he's different now. Wood knows about the soul and Spike is a bit angry that Buffy is telling people. He says it's private. Wood asks how the soul is working out. Spike says it's in progress. He asks how long Spike has been in Sunnydale and where he was before. Spike is evasive. Buffy takes Wood away.
Later, Dawn is telling Buffy about the bag Wood brought. It has trinkets, a big Sumerian book, and a locked chest. Buffy asks if Dawn has real homework, Dawn says she's planning on flunking. She says she's kidding and she's paying someone to do it. She says she's kidding again. Buffy opens a door and finds Chloe dead - she hung herself. Kennedy and some of the other girls arrive. Buffy says to get a knife so she can cut her down. FE appears in the form of Chloe. She says she talked to Chloe, that she was a good listener. That she really heard it when Kennedy called her maggot. Buffy says not to listen. FE says Chloe killed herself because she got it. FE is coming and they are going. She changes into Buffy's voice and quotes her on how some of them will die and there is nothing she can do. She returns to Chloe's voice and says she'll be seeing them, one by one. She says TTFN and leaves. Buffy asks what TTFN is and the slayerettes say it's ta ta for now, from Winnie the Pooh. Chloe loved Winnie the Pooh. Buffy asks Dawn for the knife.
Buffy buries Chloe. She returns to a room full of crying slayerettes. She asks if anyone wants to say a few words about Chloe. Then says she will. She says Chloe was an idiot, stupid, and weak. She says she's tired of carrying them. Kennedy leaps up and says she's out of line. Willow says she's not. Kennedy says she's not even the most powerful one in the room, Willow is. Buffy says she's wrong, because Buffy isn't afraid to use her power. That all the others just wait for her. Xander says that's because she told them to. She is their leader, as in follow the. She says now she's their leader as in do as she says. Xander says not to forget they are also her friends. Anya says she's not. Buffy asks what she's doing there then, other than getting saved. Buffy says they are there because they are scared. She says they can be scared, but she wants them to be useful. Willow says everyone is trying. Buffy says FE is not impressed. They have to force themselves to do what cannot be done. Spike goes to leave and Buffy starts on him. She says he was a better fighter before he got his soul. He said he did it for her. She says she needs the Spike who was dangerous. He says she's close to bringing him out and she says she's nowhere near him. She tells Dawn to take the slayerettes upstairs and to break out the emergency kit Wood gave her. She's declaring an emergency.
Buffy invites Wood for the opening. The find a bunch of charms and stuff and the book and the box. Buffy breaks the box open. Inside are shadow casters. You put them in motion and they tell a story. Xander jokes about them being puppets and that FE hates puppets. Dawn reads from the book which says 'you can't just watch you have to see'. It's cryptic. Dawn thinks it is the origin myth of the first slayer. Buffy says she saw her in her dream and that must mean something. They turn out the lights, light a candle, and begin the shadow show. As they add the shadow casters, they get sounds. First there was the earth, then demons, then men. The men found a girl and took her to fight the demons. Then there is something about darkness and how you cannot see you have to be ready to make the exchange. Xander asks how Dawn got so good at Sumerian and she reveals the book has changed into English. A dimensional portal suddenly appears. Buffy says she has to go in. Wood says she doesn't know what she would be exchanging. Willow says she doesn't know what she would be getting in to nor how they would get her back. Buffy says they'll have to find a way. She leaps into the portal and she and it vanish. A moment later, a demon appears. It attacks Xander and knocks him down. Willow tries to use magic, but she's tentative and it knocks her down. Wood attacks but is knocked down. Kennedy and Dawn come at it with swords and are knocked aside. Spike leaps on it from behind yelling to the others to get away. The demon throws Spike through the ceiling, then leaps through the window and runs off. The gang get up and Wood says they need the slayer to defeat the demon. Xander says Willow will have to cast a spell. Anya says a spell like that will send Willow off the deep end. Willow says there is no other way and she has to get her back. That Buffy knew this.
Buffy is in the desert. The gang look at the book again and now the pages are blank. Kennedy says Willow should try everything, that the worst that happens is she goes brunette. She says that's not the worst. Anya says they could just leave Buffy to find her own way back. Wood objects and she says he missed her speech. She says if Buffy is so superior she can find her own way. Xander says FE will come for them if they don't have the slayer to protect them. Dawn asks Willow how a witch would proceed. She says conservation of energy. There has to be an exchange. Anya says there has to be a catalyst. They realize they need the demon as the exchange part. Spike shows up and says he'll get it. Kennedy doesn't think he can, saying it kicked his ass. He agrees. He leaves and when Wood asks where he is going he says there is something he needs.
Buffy comes across three men. They speak Swahili but she understands them. They say they know who she is and why she is there. They say they have been there since the beginning and now it is almost the end. She asks what they mean and they say she is the hellmouth's last guardian. She says she needs to know how to fight the first. They say they can't give her knowledge, only power. She says she doesn't think it's real, it's just some kind of hologram thing. They smash her in the head and knock her out.
Willow is making a magic circle. It will contain the portal. Xander wants to wait, but she says it could take days to open such a portal. She says she might pee her pants. Kennedy says she can do it, the magic not the peeing. Willow enters the circle. She starts chanting. Nothing happens. She tells Dawn to make coffee. Then suddenly there is a magical burst, the others are knocked back, Willow's eyes go dark and she screams. Cut to Buffy waking up. She's chained to the earth. The men tell her they have brought her to the source of the slayer's power. They start pounding the earth with their staffs. One of them brings forward a box. He opens it and they say it contains the essence of the demon. Buffy realizes this is how they made the slayer. They say this will give her the power. She says it will make her less human. They say it is the only thing. A darkness comes at Buffy. She fights against it and tells them to make it stop. They say it's what she came for. She says it's not the way.
Spike is in the school basement digging out his old coat. He puts it on and heads out. Wood is there and asks where he got the coat. Spike says New York. Willow gives up on chanting in Latin and switches to English. It's not working and she literally sucks power out of the others (especially Kennedy) and opens the portal. Xander pulls her out. Spike, with his demon face on, is battling the demon. He really gets into it. Buffy says she hasn't come all this way to get knocked up by demon dust. She says she can't fight the spirit of the demon. But they are just men and she can fight them. She breaks free of her chains and attacks them. She says they violated the first slayer to make her fight for them because they are weak and have nothing to show her. Cut to Spike killing the demon. He lights a cigarette, changing to his human face, and says a fight like that is good for the soul. Buffy approaches the remaining man and breaks his staff, destroying he magic spell which conjured up the demon essence. She says "tell me something I don't know" and he touches her head, giving her a vision. Cut to Spike bringing in the dead demon and tossing it into the portal. Buffy returns.
Later, Willow goes to Kennedy and tries to explain what happened, that she pulled power from her because she was the strongest and that's how Willow's magic works. Kennedy says she understands and she'll see Willow in the morning. Willow goes to see Buffy. Buffy thanks her for bringing her back, again. She says she knows she was hard on them. Willow said she had to be. Buffy says she thinks she made a mistake turning down the power she was offered. She says what they showed her makes her think the first slayer was right and it isn't enough. Willow asks what she saw. Cut to a vision of a huge army of ubervamps.
This was an episode dedicated to housekeeping and set up. On the housekeeping side, we found out a bit about the slayerette training program and what all those girls are actually doing in the house. We also got Wood up to speed, On the set up side we got Spike and Wood readying for a confrontation, Andrew getting ready to be good, and Buffy making what I think is a critical decision.
Buffy tells the gang that they have to exceed their abilities. She points out that Willow and Spike are both afraid to let go. But in the coming battles, they can't afford the luxury of that kind of fear. They have to face the darkness within themselves and deal with it. They are no use as allies if they refuse to use their powers. Willow doesn't quite get this, but when forced she uses her magic. She opens the portal and does so at the expense of harming and alienating her lover Kennedy. But she has to do it. She learns that she can use her powers at their highest level for good and not succumb to evil.
Spike understands Buffy's comments more clearly. He realizes he has to become a whole human being. That he has to combine the aspects of evil which the demon loosed and the good which his soul gives him. He gets his old coat back to symbolize the merger of good and evil into a whole man. The coat belonged to a slayer whom he killed. It is a symbol both of good and redemption (the slayer) and of evil (his violent past). He puts on his vampire face (evil) and fights the demon (good). When he triumphs, he calls the battle good for the soul. He also lights a cigarette which is a clear sexual reference. He's combining his sexuality (his sex with Buffy was always pretty violent), his physical prowess, and his spirituality. He's using his power (even though it has dark roots not unlike the dark roots Willow physically gets) for good.
Last week, Buffy said 'You can't beat evil by doing evil". When she refuses to let the demon power be forced upon her, she's making concrete that statement. Ultimately, the battle against FE won't be won by strength. She's intuited that and so she rejects the useless offer of strength which will merely taint her. Buffy has to become pure. She has to be as good as FE is evil in order to defeat it. The vision of the army of ubervamps is evidence that sheer strength won't prevail. She has to do more than that.
I've argued that in converting Andrew and Spike, Buffy has gained spiritual strength and weakened FE. FE fought back by corrupting Wood (although he may still resist its evil influence) and this week by attacking Chloe. Chloe suffered from despair - the unforgiveable sin. She was so certain there was no hope that she couldn't even ask for help. Had she gone to the others with her fears, they may have helped. But instead she turned inward, FE capitalized on this, and she ended up dead. I think with this victory, FE has regained the strength Buffy took from it.
It's interesting that Kennedy who is so tough on the training slayerettes (calling them maggots and saying she loves the job) and equally tough on Spike is so upset when Buffy takes a similar line. Kennedy seems obsessed with Willow's power and her position in the gang hierarchy. She keeps emphasizing that Willow is the most powerful one there and clearly feels she and not Buffy should be the leader. But when she realizes how dangerous, to her, Willow's power can be she retreats. While Kennedy appears strong, I think she's actually just opinionated. When her world view is challenged, she is easily shaken and doesn't know how to respond. I think of all the regulars, she's the one most likely to be vulnerable to FE. The death of Chloe seems to have upset her more than she lets on and she seems incapable of expressing her fear or seeking help from the others. Like Chloe, she's ready to give in to despair.
While Buffy (the Christ figure) will triumph through becoming pure and purging herself of the demon heritage which is at the core of slayer power, the others (Willow and Spike most notably) will gain redemption by embracing their humanity, recognizing that it consists of a balance between good and evil, and actively choosing good while not denying or ignoring the evil within themselves. When Willow and Spike can let themselves act freely - trusting in their essential goodness - then they will have demonstrated that they have clearly chosen the side of good and redemption in the final conflict between good and evil.
Andrew is a step back from Willow and Spike. He is still intellectualizing his goodness and not feeling it. It is not a natural part of him and he has to struggle against the evil within. The evil which FE grabbed hold of and emphasized. When he defied FE in First Date, he spoke from the heart. He was at his strongest then and he has to find that feeling again and sustain it. He won't help Buffy by creating the big board. But he will by defying the evil within him and the evil in FE.
I'm glad to see that Wood is taking some pains to make sure Spike is his mother's killer. He must be sure by now and both Spike and Buffy must at least suspect what he is thinking and what is happening. He is the opposite of Spike and Willow. He's sure of his power and of his essential goodness and rightness. And that makes him just as easy a victim for FE as Chloe was. His certainty of his own purity and the virtue of his goal (the slaying of his mother's killer) makes it easy for him to act without thinking. But this is a confusing situation and one which requires thought. While Spike and Willow have to learn to trust in themselves, Wood has to learn to distrust himself and his first instincts.
It's interesting that Anya is the one most stung by Buffy's criticism. Is it because she genuinely feels worthless? She no longer has her demon powers and her knowledge is dwarfed by Willow's and even Dawn is proving to be her equal. Is it because she gave up a demonic immortality to be on the side of good and feels that sacrifice is ignored? Or is this merely misdirected anger? Is she really upset because having been rejected by Xander as a wife she is now being rejected by Spike as a lover and both of them remain devoted to Buffy. You have to wonder whether the increasingly angry and bitter Anya might not try to cut a deal with D'Hoffryn and FE and betray Buffy.
Some quick final thoughts. Wood was four when his mother died. So why didn't his mother's watcher give the bag - the slayer keepsake - to the next slayer. Why didn't the council take it. His story of hanging on to it doesn't make a sense. A four year old doesn't get to make those decisions. Buffy's dream seems prophetic - not only about the despairing and suicidal Chloe but about it not being enough. I think the first slayer is referring to the power Buffy is offered, not to the army she is assembling. Xander says cryptic means someone gets hurt, usually him. And, of course, when the demon appears it immediately attacks Xander. I liked the presence of the various different language dictionaries (I saw Greek and French and it looked like there were more). This makes lots of sense, given the world wide group of slayerettes. The last guardian of the hellmouth doesn't necessarily mean the triumph of evil. It can just as easily mean the permanent destruction of the hellmouth.
Lines of the week:
"It's not enough." - First slayer stating the obvious.
"Get up. Get out. Get drunk. Repeat as needed." - Spike's plan.
"I love this job." - Kennedy getting a little too in to it.
"Now I'm unique." - Spike trying to forget the competition.
"They're worse than the French." - Buffy on those evil ancient Sumerians.
"Chloe was an idiot. Chloe was stupid. She was weak." - Buffy making with the tough love.
"I'm declaring an emergency." - Buffy getting serious.
"You missed her everyone sucks but me speech." - Anya being bitter.
"It did at that." - Spike realizing what he has to do.
"You are the hellmouth's last guardian." - Magic guy being cryptic and scary.
"Latest, you mean latest." - Buffy hoping it's a translation problem.
"New York." - Spike giving it all to Wood.
"You think I came all this way to get knocked up by some demon dust." - Buffy asserting herself.
"A tussle like that is good for the soul." - Spike finding his purpose.
"Tell me something I don't know." - Buffy with a question she really didn't expect answered.
"I'll see you in the morning." - Kennedy letting down Willow.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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