Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: there were guys in robes, Giles nearly got his head chopped off, Dawn saw Joyce, Andrew killed Jonathan, Wood buried his corpse, Spike was insane in the basement, the robed guys stole Spike from under Buffy’s nose, and The First raised an über-vampire by opening the Seal of Danzalthar. Phew.
Poor Xander. That’s mostly what this season is making me think: poor, poor Xander. At the beginning of Bring on the Night, he’s complaining about having to fix Buffy’s windows all over again. And I bet she’ll never say thank you. Rubbish. The only time Xander gets anything like a break is when Andrew’s around, because that means everyone moves onto tormenting him, instead: Andrew’s unconscious at the beginning of this episode, and Dawn slaps him around, trying to get him to wake up. He doesn’t. Probably because he’s brain-damaged from all the slapping.
Buffy has a vision of her mother, but then “wakes up” afterwards – so it was either a dream, or a visit from The First. The piling fake-out on top of fake-out is starting to get tiring, but happily we cut to Spike before the point is laboured too much. The First is currently masquerading as Drusilla, taunting Spike while her new pet über-vamp drags him around and generally knocks him about a bit. Oh dear.
The credit sequence still makes me sad. The music feels more and more inappropriate each time I hear it, and all the clips from previous seasons make me feel nostalgic for happier times. Sigh.
Post-credits, Anya and Dawn are trying to make Andrew wake up by throwing water of various temperatures on him, and though Buffy stops them he wakes up anyway. The extra post-credits-credits reveal, as if the previously-on hadn’t already given it away, than Anthony Stewart Head is going to be in this episode. This season has all come flooding back to me now; I thought I’d forgotten it all, and mostly, I have, but some things are coming back. Slowly. Anyway, the newly awakened Andrew guides Buffy to the Seal of Danzalthar, and there’s a bit of banter between him and Xander about Andrew’s murder of Jonathan, though Buffy tells them to can it. All the irritation I’ve been doing my best to suppress flares back into life at this point — I thought we didn’t tolerate people who kill people? That’s why Buffy had to go and try to kill Anya in Beneath You, and that’s why everyone thinks she should kill Spike, and that’s why they ostracised Faith back in the day. But as far as Andrew’s concerned, they don’t seem to care. So actually it seems like the Scoobies’ moral problems with killing humans just come down to cowardice: if the killer in question could feasibly kill them, then they get on their high horses and lecture Buffy about how killing people is wrong and she should do something about it, but if the killer in question has just offed a minor character whom everyone considered to be weak and inconsequential then they’re not so bothered, as long as he’s not really a threat to them. That… really doesn’t cast the Scoobies in a particularly flattering light, does it?
Urgh. Anyway, having learned precisely fuck all about the Seal, Buffy and co turn to leave and promptly run into Principal Wood, who’s holding a shovel. There’s some awkward conversation between Buffy and Wood, since technically neither of them should be loitering in the high school’s basement holding shovels, but there’s something off-kilter about this, too. Does Buffy suspect that Wood was tampering with the Seal? She doesn’t say so. So she just thinks he was wandering around with a shovel for no reason? We, the privileged viewers, know he’s up to something because he buried Jonathan, but we don’t know whether he’s a baddie or not yet, and it would be nice if Buffy maybe acknowledged the fact that he’s acting strangely. Then again, maybe she’s too busy trying to cover up her own weird behaviour, particularly the fact that she’s been skiving off work. Bah.
Back home, everyone goes into research mode, including Willow, who tries a locator spell. All of a sudden, though, everything goes all swirly and CGI and a big goat-monster thing comes out of Willow and it… would all be very scary, except there have been so many dreams and visions in the last couple of episodes that my first assumption, whenever anything happens, is that it’s not real. Instead of being unsettled and surprised every time something turns out to be a trick, I feel disappointed, and sort of blasé about every big revelation, constantly waiting for it to be undone. Is that just me?
Anyway, the CGI magic monster thing did happen, apparently, but there isn’t time to worry about Willow turning to the dark side all over again because someone’s at the door – it’s Giles! Woo! And he’s brought loads of really annoying British girls with him!
It’s taking all the strength I have not to give up on season 7 now. The Potential Slayers were a big problem for me, and on my second watch through, I’ve found so many other things I don’t like that it’s all starting to feel a bit much. But I’ve committed to this, so I’ll keep going…
Molly’s accent is unbearable, seriously. She seems to have learned her English accent from Dick Van Dyke; how did Anthony Stewart Head listen to that and not speak up? Ughhhhhhhh. Giles and the Potentials explain that they’re here because the big evil has destroyed the Watchers’ Council and has been picking off the line of potential Slayers all around the world. All those who are left are coming to Sunnydale, where the final showdown will take place. It’s good that Giles is back, though, because Buffy and co were having trouble figuring anything out for themselves – he just turns up and acts like a walking encyclopaedia. The First has to stick to a couple of rules: it can’t take corporeal form, meaning it can’t touch anything, and it can only manifest itself as a dead person. (Or at least a person who has died at some point, which is why it can appear as Buffy herself.) That’s why, y’see, the last time we saw Giles hasn’t been explained: the show is trying to make us worry that Giles might actually not be Giles, but a manifestation of The First. It’s almost, sort of, cool.
It would be a shame if it were true, though, because watching Giles and Buffy go on patrol is lovely. There’s a great dynamic between the two of them that the show had really been lacking, and it’s brilliant to see it again. Buffy takes Giles to where she last found The First, under what used to be a Christmas tree store, and manages to fall through the floor and straight into the path of the über-vamp. I wish the first fight between Buffy and the über-vamp had been impressive, but actually the choreography looks a bit slack, and the set design is abysmal; the rocks look like papier-mache. Disappointing.
When Buffy manages to escape the über-vamp, she and Giles get home to find the Potentials eating everything in sight. Giles gets his explainy groove on again, explaining that the monster Buffy was just fighting is actually a primordial kind of vampire known as a “Turok-Han”. Which has always sounded a little too similar to Uruk-Hai for me, especially since, y’know, it looks like an Orc. I might just refer to it as an Orc from here on in – it’s easier to type, anyway.
Since sunset is hours away yet, Buffy decides she’d better make at least a cursory appearance at work, where she uses a generic search engine (decidedly not Google) to look up “evil”. Smart. She has no luck finding anything out, though, and is caught by Principal Wood, to whom she pretends that she was looking up horror movies. He gets all serious and tells her that he doesn’t like horror movies, and that “once you see true evil, it can have some serious afterburn. You can’t unsee what you saw.” Wow, it’s like there’s a flashing red neon sign over this guy’s head saying “Creepy! Creepy! Creepy!” but Buffy’s just not taking the bait. That must be frustrating for him. He’s giving her so many clues, and she just carries on, completely oblivious. That, or it’s seriously clumsy dialogue designed to convey the fact that he’s not entirely normal to the viewer in a way that doesn’t tip Buffy off, but she really just seems stupid here.
We cut away to Spike, still being tormented by The First, manifesting as Drusilla. Sigh.
Buffy is visited by Joyce again, which is again possibly a dream or possibly The First, but either way she fell asleep in the middle of counselling a kid, and so she should probably be sacked. There’s another red flag when we’re shown Wood glaring at her through some blinds, but in this case? SHE FELL ASLEEP AT WORK. He should glare at her. She’s rubbish.
When Buffy gets home, everyone is visibly tense about the approaching sunset and the approaching Orc. The Potentials ask to be given weapons while Xander and Andrew make with the geekiness, and Giles gives Buffy a worry-making speech about how everyone’s depending on her. Cheers for that. Just to drive the point home, one of the Potentials decides, for no apparent reason, to run out of the house and into the street, where she’s quickly killed by the Orc. Duh. Buffy follows her and gets into another fight with it in which it utterly kicks her ass – there’s a shot where it actually looks, for a moment, like she’s dead. Except we know she isn’t, because otherwise the show would be over. Argh! I want to feel something, I want to be surprised, but then I’ve seen it all before, so it’s not going to happen. Even so, that was a really lame fake-out that I didn’t fall for the first time, either.
Cut to Spike, quickly, telling The First that he believes in himself because Buffy believes in him. Yawn.
To wrap up, Giles flounders and tells the Potentials he doesn’t know what to do now that Buffy’s all bruised and broken and there’s no back-up plan, but she interrupts him and gives a really terrible speech that starts off with admitting that The First is the biggest evil she’s ever faced and she has no idea how to beat it, but then gets turned around into a rousing call to action: “there’s only one thing on Earth more powerful than evil, and that’s us.” Right. Yeah! Let’s get them! Woooo!
… Or not. Ick. This episode just felt like a way of getting from A to B, and while B is ultimately a good place to be, those 40 minutes just felt like time spent in transit. Like when you’re on a plane, and you can’t work, and you’re disconnected from everything, and all there is to do is watch a random crappy movie and eat the airline food, and it’s great, because you don’t have to do anything, but at the same time, it’s sort of wasted time. It’s like that.