6.1 & 6.2: Bargaining I & II
Well here we are again at the start of another Season of Buffy. This is the first time that the opener has been a 2 parter and though most seasons end on some sort of cliff-hanger or loose ends (apart from Season 3), this is really un-new viewer friendly as it is a continuation of numerous story strands from Season 5. Which I like, but it may be a put of for those coming in late. A couple of things surprised me with these 2 episodes. First of all, no Giles in the credits. That is just strange, but I understand ASH's reasons for coming back to blighty and you would have to question whether he would have had anything to do this year. But I hope Ripper (or Watcher or whatever the hell it's called this week) will follow up on the killing of Ben. Yes, he had to do it and we know he's got a dark side, but this is still a big thing and should be addressed. The other thing was the fact Joss never wrote these opening episodes. I know he would have been largely involved in them and no doubt the funny lines belong to him, but still, it is a fairly major storyline. Marti Noxon has also been bumped up to joint executive producer. I'm not sure how I feel about that. She has written some of my least favourite episodes. But she has also written some of the strongest as well. We'll need to see how it plays out, but I did like her Riley leaving episode (which was also her director debut) so I'm fairly confident it will work out. And no Tara in the credits? What the hell's up with that? Unless she is leaving/getting killed off/becoming a guest star. Still very odd.
6.3: Afterlife (or Bargaining Part III)
First of all, let me say what a scary episode this was. No, really, this was genuinely creepy. The scene where Buffy is standing at the bottom of the bed and shouting things at Willow, her face in shadow and voice distorted, was well spooky. Anya with her white eyes and knife in hand with a mad grin on her face was unsettling as well. Unfortunately when the demon is finally revealed it turns out to be a CGI monstrosity and is largely unimpressive.
The other main twist in this episode was Buffy confiding to Spike that she wasn't in fact in Hell, but was in Heaven. And she does not feel the least bit grateful to be torn away from her mother and the feeling of contentment, that she had fought her last battle. And it's eating away at her. This is a big enough shock in itself, but actually telling Spike and trusting was the other. Out of everybody, he seems to be the one that she seems most comfortable round.
Spike was also on the money when he told Xander that Willow might not have been entirely truthful with what the spell was and any possible side effects. It remains to be seen whether she will be the big bad. Not a bad wrap-up episode, but it was more "Bargaining part III" than an actually new story. - 3/5
The main story was the return of Giles, if only for a few episodes. His reaction to seeing Buffy and comforting her was very nicely played. More surprising was his confrontation with Willow. She actually threatened him, which was very odd to see. But I still fell she isn't going to be the main bad guy/girl. It could be I'm wrong, but it seems too early to establish her as the menace.
I don't usual comment on how hot the actresses look, but I've gotta say that SMG looked gorgeous is the bank. Yowza!, Hoo-hoo!, etc.
The trio of failed "villains" was very funny and I was genuinely surprised that they weren't caught. Surely they can't really be the big bad? But with this show you never know. More nice scenes with Spike and Buffy make me think that just maybe these 2 might hit it off. A couple of years ago I would have though it was a terrible storyline, but now I'm all for it. The cliffhanger was interesting in that we will never see what happens. Buffy goes to meet Angel, but since no crossovers between networks is allowed, we won't be able to watch the reunion. This is just plain stupid and though it's better than simply ignoring Angel, it's still very unsatisfactory. A good episode then, but not outstanding. - 3/5
6.5: Life Serial
Quite a funny episode, if a bit light. The hapless trio of wannabe villains are back and decide to test Buffy just as she is trying to find a career. The nerds conversations is always funny, especially the long conversation on Bond, but the Death Star scene is good as well. Very reminiscent of Kevin Smith.
As for Buffy, this was a bit like work experience, trying on her friend's lives and seeing how they fit. In order as they appeared then: Willow's life is still a student, something Buffy herself should be able to relate to. But she's overwhelmed by the questions and subject matter, simply because she hasn't been attending. It's like she's walked into a movie halfway through and is expected to answer a pop quiz on it. The test was funny (liked the "What the fu-" comment from the Buff) but the more you think about it the less sense it makes. Was she simply frozen in time, standing still and motionless? Did she disappear and only come into contact with others when they invaded her space? How the hell do you create a time freeze machine anyway? Funny stuff, but not good if you cross-examine it.
Going to the site with Xander, Buffy actually finds something she's good at, with her super strength, though you think the workers would be amazed and shocked rather than simply grunting acceptance. The rubbery demons are lame and easily disposed, but result in her getting sacked. Still it could have worked out if they hadn't appeared.
The magic shop scene was the funniest of the tests, with the Groundhog Day loop (and the geeks referencing Startrek & X-files was great too) driving Buffy slowly insane. But she really wouldn't have been cut out for the job any more than she could have been a Librarians assistant.
And finally trying out Spikes life, drinking heavily (loved the 'blearghh!' everytime she took a gulp of whiskey, off camera as well) and hanging about seedy bars. Not as glamorous as it sounds and technically not even a paying gig.
In the end, she's back at square one, but Giles gives her money so she has a few more weeks to work stuff out. But the look on Giles face says he really doesn't want to live through another Season 4, where he did less than nothing, no matter how much he loves Buffy. It'll be interesting seeing how pans out. A funny episode and good to see that Buffy isn't simply fitting back into society after her death. - 4/5
6.6: All The Way
I always look forward to Halloween episodes on Buffy. They don't celebrate it every year (like The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror) but there's a nice feeling of continuity to them. Which is all the more surprising how disappointed I was with this episode.
Dawn sneaks out the house and goes to the park with her friend to meet boys. And that's pretty much it. The A plot, of Dawn having her first kiss and the possibility that she might go 'all the way' quite frankly bores me to tears. It's a good moral story, and kids watching it might feel that maybe they shouldn't have underage sex, but as far as entertainment goes, it fails.
Of much more interest is the subplot with Willow who is gradually using her magic for the most mundane activities. Instead of buying decorations, she magic's them up. This isn't that big a deal, but when she suggests that she remove everybody from the Bronze into a parallel universe the way you or I would turn on a light, then yeah, she's lost all respect for the magic arts.
She really crossed the line, if she didn't do it with the slaughter of the deer, when she wipes Tara's memory of the fight they had. That is the first time she has actually used her magic for her own selfish devices that can't in anyway be justified. It's mind rape, pure and simple. Affecting someone's memory is surely the biggest taboo. You're effectively rewriting that person's personality, the sum total of experiences, good and bad. Start messing around with that and you're on that rocky road. Maybe Willow will be the big bad this season after all, but I can't help feel that something else is yet to come.
Buffy was largely sidelined this episode, though she is still getting quite pally with Spike. Her innocent comment "Good Fight" spoke volumes for the simple fact that she would have never have said it before. Giles is also feeling that Buffy can't accept ownership of her problems if he sticks around, a case in point being dealing with Dawn. It's still a bit of a contrived way for him to leave, but after Season 4 I don't think anyone could blame Giles or ASH for wanting to leave before he becomes entirely superfluous.
So, the main plot, for me sort of sucks (though I liked the red herring of the spooky old toy maker being innocent and the 2 guys being Vamps). But the Willow out of control plot is starting to simmer nicely. Plus next week is the big Musical, so I'd like to just cut to next week please. - 3/5
6.7: Once More With Feeling (or Buffy - The Musical)
First off all, let me just say that I've solved the problem of watching the Buffy episodes without Cable or Satellite. My friend has kindly offered to tape them and loan the videos to me, so that's good news. Secondly, my website seems to have moved up the rankings at Google, so I'm now on page 4 of a "Buffy Reviews" search, so yay for me and whoever helped promote the site.
Onto the actually review and it's fair to say this was one of the most eagerly anticipated episodes of the Season. Rumours about the Musical episode had been swirling about on the 'net for months, with story's of actors not wanting to sing, of big musical numbers, even Joss singing a song himself! But it's finally arrived and we can judge it properly.
But first I want to leave the musical and the songs aside, to concentrate fully on the important plot points that happened here. This was no one off gimmick episode. Huge developments happened as regards the Season story arc. The main one was the Scooby's finding out that Buffy was not as previously thought in a Hell dimension. She was in fact in Heaven, or an equivalent of it. The looks of the gangs' faces as this bombshell sinks in is amazing, especially Willow who orchestrated the whole resurrection spell. Although Willow was blinded by the fact that she could bring Buffy back and didn't question whether she should, I feel her heart was in the right place. God knows Bambi the deers wasn't!
The other big shocker was Buffy finally kissing Spike. Huge character development here. It's going to be interesting where they go from here (as the song goes), but I don't really see this being a happy ending. Spike is still a bad guy, who sometimes does good things in the heat of passion or love. He may still be redeemed, but I'm not sure.
Tara found out that Willow had wiped some of her memories and wasn't too pleased as you might imagine. I'm not sure how the spell worked, but it seemed quite careless for Willow to leave the flower under Tara's pillow. If it wasn't to complete the spell, it seems very cruel actually, almost teasing Tara with this seemingly nice gift that was part of a spell that led to the effective mind rape of Tara. But I'm glad she found out now and not five episodes down the line.
Xander & Anya (when was the last time these two weren't together in a plot?) reveal their fears over the wedding and marriage. They clearly love each other and want to be together forever, but actually making it official, concrete in legal terms, well it seems to be eating away at the pair of them.
Giles has also made up his mind that he's going to leave. It still doesn't quite ring true, but it's as good a reason as any for the character to leave. And he's meant to be coming back in future episodes and seasons, so that'll be good. Dawn didn't really have major story issues, but the stealing seems to be advancing onwards. I'm not convinced this is a great sub plot though, but we'll see how it pans out.
Onto the story then, which was suprisingly simple. Someone has summoned a musical/dancing (so Giles was half-right!) demon that causes people to sing and tell their darkest secrets. But if they run out of things to sing about, they self-combust (I think. This wasn't made exactly clear). The Demon was called Sweet and reminded me for all the world of an evil version of the Host from Angel. His whole attitude was fun and he didn't even fight anyone. His minions were suitably creepy though, like puppets come to life. It turns out that it wasn't Dawn who summoned him (although she was wearing the trinket that called him thanks to her kleptomania), but Xander, who wanted a happy ending. This baffles me to be honest. Where did he find out about this demon? How did he manage to cast the spell in fact and why would he, after his previous effort went so bad back in Season 3? I suppose he really is worried about the marriage, but still. Sweet decides not to take Xander as his queen (more worries about marriage!) and departs with a grin and song.
To be honest, I didn't even need a musical MacGuffin to explain why they were singing. I'd simply have accepted it. But he was a good villain and I enjoyed him for the episode.
Onto the songs, which frankly surprised me by how good they were. I thought it would be a case of grin and bear it or (God forbid) fast forwarding by them. But I shouldn't have worried. They were all good and some were even great. One oddity is the fact that Willow barely sings. I think she has two lines! I don't know if Aly had a cold or was simply bad, but she sounded good in the few lines she got. Very strange. Here then, is my Buffy Musical Top Ten! (In reverse order to generate some excitement (yeah, I know, I know)). (I'd also like to add that this list is entirely subjective and if your favourite song isn't on the list it doesn't mean it's bad, just that it's not my cup of tea):
In at no.10 it's Under Your Spell: This isn't a bad song. It just doesn't float my boat for whatever reasons. Tara has a great voice and really makes the most of this, but the song just doesn't totally catch my imagination, though it made my top ten, so it must have done something right. Perhaps if Willow had sung as well, it might have worked better for me. Great directing by the way, with some nice subtle special effects (I'm thinking of the twirl that ends up in the bedroom). Best lines: Tara - I break with every swell, Lost in ecstasy, Spread beneath my willow tree.
At no.9 it's Standing in the Way: The only solo song for Giles which is a shame since he has the best voice. Really nice directing here, with the slo-mo of Buffy training contrasting Giles walking round the room. I'm still not sure why she wasn't allowed to hear him (Sweet's doing?). Best lines: Giles - I wish I could say the right words to lead you through this land, Wish I could play the father to take you by the hand.
Straight in with a bullet at no.8 it's Where Do We Go From Here?: Effectively the 2nd last song of the episode, this is a slow song that is very enjoyable none the less, plus the lyrics are very good. Best lines: Giles (& co.) - The battle's done and we kind of won, So we sound our victory cheer, Where do we go from here?
In at no.7 it's If we're together: This is the second part of I've got a Theory, but it's such a different style of singing that it really is a brand new song. Nice slow number, that builds up and has great vocals from Giles, plus some of the lines are very funny. Best lines: Buffy (& co.) - We'll pay the price, It's do or die, Hey I've died twice.
I can't think of new ways to say it, so basically at no.6 it's I'll Never Tell: Probably the most choreographed number (after Lifes a show), this is a fun little song. It really kicks in when the trumpets start playing and Anya does her 'crazy dance'. Bit long though and the start is too slow. Best line: Xander - You're the cutest of the Scoobies, With your lips as red as rubies.
The Top 5 starts of course with no.5 and it's I've Got A Theory: The first song that all the Scoobies sing together. It's a good song, with lots of good lines and various musical styles. Anya's it could be Bunnies mini rock ballad could fill the Rose Bowl (as well as being very funny). We also find out that Giles has probably the best voice of them all (but why so few lines for Willow?). Best lines: Willow - I've got a theory, Some kid is dreaming, And we're all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare.
In at no.4 it's Walk Through The Fire: The only song (I think) that features the entire cast (except Dawn) and Sweet singing in the same song. Good ensemble number, with a good build up, but the ending kind of fizzles out for me. Liked the directing though, especially the fire engine in the background and the overlapping images. (Also got to mention Willow singing I think this line's mostly filler - Very funny!). Best lines: Buffy - So one by one, they turn from me, I guess my friends can't face the cold.
The Top 3 now and at no.3 it's… Rest in Peace: Great little rock number by Spike. The directing was very off kilter from the moment buffy walked through the door of his crypt. Strange angles made Spikes musical confession even more surreal than it already was. I really liked his face of disgust as he realised that he was going to sing regardless of whether he wanted to or not. Best lines: Spike - There's a traitor here beneath my breast, And it hurts me more than you've ever guessed, If my heart could beat, it would break my chest.
Nearly there, who's going to take the top spot? Well your peripheral vision has probably already told you, so with out further ado, at no.2 it's Going Through the Motions: Yes the very first song is almost the best. It was when I heard this and saw the way the episode was going to be directed I started to breathe again. Great little song, very funny and well sung. Best lines: Buffy - Will I stay this way forever?, Sleepwalk through my life's endeavour?
And at no.1 by a mile and still watched constantly it's…(drum roll)… Life's A Show: I love this song the most. It just has the catchiest chorus and I really like the dancing from Sarah. If I was to pick one song to release as a single, it would be this. You wouldn't even have to make a video, just use the footage from the episode, as the directing from Joss is excellent. Best lines: Buffy - That when you've bowed, You leave the crowd.
And that as they say is that. Hope you enjoyed that run down and if you haven't seen the episode, I urge you to try and find it. If you really want to hear the songs click here or here. Well worth a listen. It goes with out saying that Once More With Feeling gets 5/5. Fantastic.
6.8: Tabula Rasa
Well, that explains why Tara's not in the main credits then. 'Cause she's bloody leaving! Seriously, I hope this is a short term thing, but I wonder. After the Musical, I think Tara was finally getting the spotlight on her, becoming more than Willows lesbian sidekick. And now she's gone. But she may be back. We'll see. The other character packing their bags is Giles and if I thought his original leaving was low key and rushed, this is even worse! Sitting on a plane alone, knowing that Willow is hooked on magic (and he must suspect for Christ's sake - he's been there when he was young ("The Dark Age" in season 2) and the signs are building), Buffys traumatised from falling, nay, being dragged from Heaven and he thinks it's fine and dandy to leave. Buffy's plea to him to stay wasn't entirely unfounded. She could do with some moral support. All right, there will always be something, some crisis, but coming back from the dead is pretty big. Get this mess sorted out first Ruperto, then leave. But surely this qualifies for worst timing ever.
Anyway, the cast has been reduced, so hopefully we can spend more time on the satellite characters like Anya and surprisingly Dawn, who hasn't really had much too do really apart from the rather average Halloween episode.
This was a fun story, which looked like being a simple filler (quality filler mind you!) episode, but the ending changed all that. The premise is that Tara confronts Willow about her memory-altering spell and tells her they need a break. (I'm imagining Willow going out with another girl and getting caught by Tara and Willow shouting like Ross from Friends 'We were on a break!'). The gang also realises that Buffy is struggling to cope with life after Heaven and wonder what to do.
This is when Willow decides to kill two birds (better than deer's I guess) with one magical stone and wipe Tara's and Buffys memory's of all the bad things that have happened. But, hey presto, it all goes wrong and all the scoobies memory's are wiped. This includes Spike who has came into the Magic Shop dressed like an old Victorian Librarian. It's also the same outfit he wore in Restless (4.22), when he and Giles were swinging in Xanders dream. Dunno if it means anything, but it's cool anyway.
The reason Spike is incognito is because earlier he encountered a badguy called Teeth (I think) who looks like a shark and wants the Kittens that Spike owes him. This was too much for me actually and it crossed the line of being funny to being stupid. A monster who looks like a shark whose job is a loanshark…nah, it's over the top. This whole kitten thing isn't very funny either. It just brings you out of the nice suspension of disbelief that Buffy the Vampire Slayer weaves effortlessly.
Spike is saved when Buffy interjects and Spike scarpers. Ah, Buffy & Spike. What is the follow-up on that kiss? Not a lot actually, because Buffy goes into denial mode and wants nothing to do with Spike. This is a fair enough route to take, but it's not very exciting. What happened after they stopped kissing? Did she run away? Did no one see her and Spike? All a bit vague really.
Flash forward and we find that the gang has lost their collective memory. This reminds me of an old ST:TNG episode where the crew lost their short memory but could still function and operate the ship. This is probably some of the funniest moments I've seen on Buffy in a while. Willow & Xander think they're going out, Giles & Anya think they own the shop and Spike thinks he's Giles son and is called Randy! (More referring back to Restless)
Buffy feels instinctively that Dawn is her sister, but then goes on to call herself Joan, indicating that subconsciously she never liked the name Buffy, or maybe she wanted to be someone normal and staid. Only Tara is left out slightly, reverting back to a Season 4 persona.
This is when Teeth attacks looking for Spike and his kittens (sweet mother of God…) and the gang split up. Joan finds out she has superpowers and feels that they're pretty cool. The reaction to her 'first' vamp dusting is actually very quaint. It reminds you of Season 1, when Vamps were a genuine menace. Her and Randy run off to lead the Vamps away (finding out that Randy is a Vampire as well. A good vampire though. His whole riff on a noble vamp with a soul and Joans reaction was very well played and a nice dig at Angel. Hey if Wes & Cordy can do it about Buffy & Angel, then he's fair game.) and fight them to the finish. Joans getting into it as is Spike.
Unfortunately, this is when the spell wears off after the crystal gets accidentally broken. Willow, Tara, Xander & Dawn have gone into the sewers to hide. All the memory's come back and Buffy kind of shuts down. Spike finishes of the bad guys and offers his hand to Buffy, but she refuses and walks away. Just before the crystal broke though and in the sewers, Willow is starting to get feelings and realises she's gay and is very attracted to Tara. Just as they are possibly about to kiss, memories come flooding back and every thing is back to square 1 again. Except it's not. It's much worse and everyone knows that they've been tampered with. It's more like minus square 20.
Giles and Anya are still in the shop and after Anyas disastrous attempts to cure every one with more magic (very funny as the spells just get worse and worse: Bunnies, then more Bunnies, then even more Bunnies and a strange green cloud and skeletons and monsters!), Giles finally gets rid of everything Anya's conjured up. They go for a make up kiss, when halfway through everything comes flooding back. Cue embarrassed scenes of tidying up and never talking of it again.
And so, Tara leaves and a distraught Willow can only watch and cry. Her friends are not happy with her and who can blame them. Giles is on the plane, not looking content at all (and nor should he). And Spike trys to make Buffy feel better and is blown off. Except at the end he is on the dance floor, kissing her with the same passion shown in the Musical.
Major story developments and 2 characters leaving, with a funny plot make for a very satisfying episode. But please, no more Teeth/shark guy please? - 4/5
Buffy and Spike finally get it on! They were the centrepiece of the whole episode, though there was other couples who played a vital part in the role. But more on that later.
When Spike finds he can punch Buffy and feel no pain he naturally thinks his chip is bust. In fact, I thought at first that this (that can't be good grammar!) was what the title referred to. His Chip being broken or run out of batteries. But it's what he did next that I wonder about. Going after a victim straight away once he though the leash was off. Would he have killed the girl (who looked a lot like the younger of the Summer sisters)? I'm not sure. He talked a lot and wanted more to see a reaction to him in his vamp face. I think he would have maybe been content with the knowledge he could. Of course, take Buffy out of the equation and you have a merciless killer with no reason to change. But he still can't attack humans. So he goes to see Warren.
Yes, the geek squad are back and funny as ever. The Mission Impossible scene was great and the freeze ray (reminds me of something from the Adam West Batman days) was very camp indeed. But all the dialogue was as good as we expect, but I wonder where the hell we're going with these guys. Are they really the Big Bad?
I loved the whole geek exchange with Spike, from the hostage scenario with the Boba Fett figure (which actually did look kind of cool) to the conversation when he waits for the results. Reminded me of Season 2 when he meets Joyce (RIP) in Buffys house. And what we find is that the chip is fine, but something's wrong with Buffy.
This is a fascinating idea, that the demonic powers that a Slayer has have somehow become more powerful. Maybe. Or it could be something else entirely, perhaps to do with the way he or the chip perceives Buffy. Perhaps by default anything that comes back from the dead is fair game? Whatever, he meets up with her later to shock her by punching her.
What follows is one of the longest fight scenes I've seen in ages, set in an abandoned building. This is more interesting than in the past because of the raw emotion that's flying back and forth. Buffy being accused of coming back 'wrong' is not a nice thing to say and she let's loose. And shockingly, this leads to the two of them getting jiggy with it as the whole building falls apart around them (smashed you might say). I suspected it might lead to this, but not in this fashion. Very saucy the scenes were too, quite surprising for a show on this early, but good stuff all the same. I don't know where this will go, but tears before bedtime is my prediction
The other couple is Willow & Amy, who I can't believe is back in the show after all these years. I liked the exchange when she was de-ratted, especially about Larry, but I never thought she was so dark. Their antics in the Bronze were wild, totally out of control stuff. You have to say that Amy has never showed power like this is the past (hell, she couldn't turn herself back into a human again) and It seems more like a new personality is being shoehorned into Amy for the purposes of Plot. Still, it's good to see an old character back and continuity being served.
Tara and Dawn are still in contact and it was nice, if surprising to see Tara back in the show. Looks like my earlier worries were groundless of her disappearing. Dawn still wants Willow & Tara back together and it's interesting how much of a mother figure Tara has become to Dawn. I've got a bad feeling that she might still be on the way out but we'll have to see.
And finally, Xander & Anya are still fretting over the wedding. But more importantly, they raise the issue of Willow and the magic. Anya's comments about Willow using magic to surf the 'net (mind you, I'd take the risk if it sped up my connection - mines is slower than a tortoise walking round the world. Backwards.) were spot on, and it was creepy the way she was doing it. And Xander raises the point that Willow has been using way too much magic. But these two really need to get more plots going on.
So, a good episode, with the second part next week hopefully answering a few questions. What is Buffy? What will Willow do next? And will Amy bring Larry back from the dead (nah, just kidding). - 4/5
In a nutshell, the episode we've all been waiting for since she threatened Giles (for me, the real moment she started to turn 'dark'); Willow crashes and burns, almost literally.
I must confess to being surprised that the 'Willow as drug addict' metaphor story arc had been wrapped up surprisingly quickly. Now, this could be some sleight of hand stuff that the Buffy writers are so adept at. If she was still going further and further into darkness, then yeah, she would be front runner to be big bad. But she's stopped and is going cold turkey. Yet it is still very early in the season. I've had a bit of a rethink re: Willows potential as end of Season baddie. I still don't think she'll kill Tara, but I suspect Amy might. Then Willow will be forced to use magic to kill her or maybe try to respect Tara's wishes and never use magic even if it means her own death. I don't know obviously, but it's a possibility and my guess for the end of Willows Season 6 arc.
The way the habit was dealt with was rather disappointing. Willow seemed to become an addict incredibly quickly and have bad consequences faster still. Obviously it's a good thing to show class A drugs that are addictive in a bad light, but not overnight surely. Of course it's 'magic' so it may be on a different addictiveness curve and she may well have ended selling her laptop and Playstation to fund more of Racks magic, but after such a slow build up, it just seems rushed.
Amy being an addict as well is a bit unbelievable really. She knows Rack from her pre-rat days so that means in school she must have been doing the magical equivalent of heroin! Hardly seems to fit in with what we knew previously. The 'trip' Willow took was well done in the special effects part. You could tell she was enjoying it even if black eyeballs are a rather suspicious side effect.
And of course, the monster created from her dealings with Rack that almost killed Dawn and her. That was when she crashes the car and finally uses an almighty spell to destroy the monster. But even after all this carnage, I think the thing that really woke her up was Dawn slapping her and the shock from that simple gesture. And her friends walking away when she's so weak and debilitated. I thought for one second that Buffy would leave her lying on the road, which would be incredibly cold and lead to some interesting consequences. But she did go back and on reflection I'm glad. That would be too brutal and I'm not sure their friendship would recover from that.
In the other main storyline, Buffy wakes up from her night of love…well maybe not love; let's just call it what it is - sheer lust for sex with Spike. She's not really thrilled about it, but her body is wanting more. The way I see this situation, which is supposed to parallel Willows addiction to magic, is that it's not a fair comparison. Willows addiction to 'magic' is clearly destructive and dangerous. Buffy wanting sex with Spike is not. She might be repelled by the idea when her mind is in control. But her body finds the sensations very appealing and apparently the sex was so good they were at it all night. She's enjoying herself and so is Spike. I don't see a problem with it.
That's why the ending doesn't really work for me. Willow having withdrawal symptoms is fair enough; Buffy clutching a variety of Vampire repellents doesn't make sense.
Other moments of note: Good to see Tara still appearing and looking after Dawn. While Buffy & Willow go of the rails slightly, Tara seems to be there picking up the pieces, which can only be good for developing her character. Once again she is playing the mother figure to Dawn and I really hope she isn't killed off; Spike was very funny in the morning with his less than tactful comments. From a personal point of view though, I could live with out seeing Spike being naked on screen for so long. Or if the writers are going to continue with this, let's see a bit of equality eh? We see spikes ass, it's only fair we see Buffys ;-); I can't help but feel that Xander & Anya are getting rather sidelined. It seems that every time they're onscreen all they talk about is the wedding. Let's get a bit of variety.
Bit disappointing seeing willow go from magic junkie to cold turkey night sweats in the space of an episode. Far too rushed, but maybe the writers are going somewhere with this. Good special effects though and the Buffy/Spike relationship makes for a good episode. - 3/5
This isn't the first episode to deal with the subject of being invisible. Long time viewers will remember Invisible Girl aka Out of sight, Out of mind (1.11) from Season 1. That story dealt with the topic in a very different way, focusing on the mental issues that would occur if you did become see through (a bit like the film Hollow Man). It was a lot darker as well, with teachers being killed and Cordy being threatened with facial mutilation. It was cool that it got a name check in this episode though, when Buffy & Xander talk about Marcie and refer back to the story.
So Buffy is accidentaly turned invisible by the Geek Trio's Invisibility Ray. And she's delighted. Her problems with her life evaporate and she goes out to enjoy herself. At first it's just daft tricks with balls pretending to be eyeballs and floating skulls. She does put it to a more practical use when she manages to ruin the Social Workers comments about Dawn and her suitability as a guardian. It was quite funny, but Doris wasn't actually 'evil' as such. Perhaps a little head strong, a bit too quick to judge, but not bad. Certainly, anyone walking in off the street would be suspicious with Dawn in a sling, layabouts in the house and drugs sitting in boxes. Driving Doris mad wasn't actually a nice thing to do when you think about it. But hell, it was good fun anyway, so lets just gloss over that.
She also feels much more comfortable being with Spike, primarily because no one can see her or is aware she's there, including herself to a certain degree. The scene where Xander comes round and finds Spike acting very strangely was embarrassing and funny at the same time. Doesn't anyone ever check first before walking into bedrooms in Sunnydale? Xanders discomfort becomes funnier the more I think about it and if you imagine Spike was actually alone, what the hell was he doing? Some bizarre form of masturbation? I'm cringing as I type this and wondering what Xander thought ;-). Of course (thankfully), Buffy was there and she starts teasing Spike with ear biting, but also Xander at the same time. She is really loving being non-existent.
It takes three things really to make her see that this isn't a good situation she's in. Spike confronting her and basically nailing down exactly what she was feeling with him. That as long as no one would know about them, she was happy. But he wasn't and the fact he actually kicked her out and her confusion of his feelings shows that she was unique in feeling happy this way. Secondly, when Dawn starts freaking out as Buffy plays with food it really hits home just how little she's bothered by this. Dawn isn't impressed that Buffys having a gay old time and thinking of no one but her self and reacts angrily (plus the fact she's not been impressed with Buffys home attendance means she's even angrier.) And finally, when Buffy finds out she's dying. It really kicks in how much she wants to live and be seen. She might not be 100% happy with her life, but it is her life and she wants it back.
This is where Willows story merges with Buffys. At the start of the episode Willow was making sure that every temptation was removed, so she could go truly cold turkey. And she seems to be managing fine. I liked the fact that Dawn still hasn't forgiven her and it's probably a good thing that Willow feels hurt, because she will need to remember that pain when she feels inevitably drawn back to the magic's. Her momentarily slip was nice to see when she reached for the book. Even something as mundane an activity as that could lead her back on the path to ruin. Another crucial scene (two in fact, now that I think about it) was when Xander accuses her of using magic and accidentally turning Buffy invisible. It's a natural assumption to make on his part and he rightly comments on when they lost their memory a few weeks back. He also shows a bit of tact I think by offering support and saying his suspicions in a humorous jokey way, but with a hard center of doubt. Willow feels let down by him and I think she realises just how long it will take for her friends to really trust her fully again. She storms out before she says anything she regrets, though talking about coming of the wagon is bad enough. The other 'snake in the Garden of Eden' moment is when she's doing research on the 'net and she desperately wants to use magic to speed it up. In this case, though her resolve was good, she was weakening and only dumb luck managed to save her as the computer finished it search in the literal nick of time. Willow would have truly hated herself if she had caved in and used her magic so early on the road to recovery. (On a personal note, and I've said this before, but I would be totally willing to take the risk and use dark magic to speed up my connection. Anyone who's played Quake 3 with a huge 'ping' will know what I'm talking about. Being continually fragged by some cheeky wee bastard with a better computer & connection than you, when you know you could beat him/her fairly is brutal. And that is why I don't play Quake 3 anymore. End of sad-but-true real life story.)
It was good to see Willow using her detective skills and brains much like old Willow used to do circa Season 1. Spray painting the invisible objects was a sensible move and deducing the whereabouts of the Geek Trio was actually very clever, though she could have almost certainly avoided capture & kidnapping if she wasn't abstaining from using magic.
The Geeks were funny as always, and it's good to see Jonathon behaving more appreciative of what Buffy has done for him in the past. Out of the three, only Warren is a classified fruitcake. Andrew is really just comic relief, which is fine, but I don't see him having a huge part to play in upcoming episodes.
The final scene involved the Geeks (now invisible) trying to cure Buffy, but Willow figures out that Warren is in fact planning on killing the Buf'. To be honest, this is a bit of a stretch. That Willow could deduce the controls and workings of the raygun so quickly is a bit dubious, but she's always been a bit of a techhead (see numerous occasions of hacking into secure Government databases) so I'll let it pass. This all leads up to a very humorous finale as an invisible battle takes place with only sound effects to indicate what is happening. It's good fun, but it reads better in the script and maybe could have been executed differently. How, I don't know. Maybe more visual gags?
Everybody is turned visible by Willow and Buffy finally meets her nemesises'es (!) and it will be interesting where they go from here (cue the music) as she now knows them and that Jonathon is involved. We'll see.
Xander & Anya are still in wedding mode. Well, Anya is anyway. Xander looked glad of the distraction. It is funny to watch them plan the reception, but this is clearly the arc for these characters. It reminds me of Friends when they spanned out Chandler & Monicas wedding for a whole season. Lets give them something else as well to do eh? Or at least an individual episode for each character.
Other moments of note: Xander & Willow making up after their argument was nicely played; Xander feeling Buffy when she's invisible and sharply drawing back his hands when he realises exactly where his hands are; J & A of the Geek Trio playing the video game; Good special effects regarding the whole invisible sequences; Purely personal, but I prefer SMG with long hair. Get extensions put in and we'll pretend the haircut never happened ;-)
A fluff episode really, but at least Buffy knows who the Troika are now and it was good fun. - 3/5