Revisiting Buffy season 7 – episode 11

It's Showtime! Yeah! Woo! Er, except this episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is virtually identical to the last one...

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike was insane in the basement (and out of it), some robed guys chased down some girls, The First raised an über-vamp, Giles turned up in Sunnydale with a truck-load of potential Slayers, and Buffy declared herself the leader of an army…

A bus draws into Sunnydale bus station, and a nervous-looking girl gets off, finding herself quickly alone in a dark, deserted, grotty-looking part of town. But she’s not alone for long, because soon the eyeless-wonders in the black robes have surrounded her, brandishing their knives in a way that would seem more menacing if they could see what they were doing with them. Happily for the girl, not so happily for the Bringers, Buffy shows up and kills ’em all. The girl – Rona – doesn’t seem particularly reassured by Buffy’s rescue, and asks whether she’ll be attacked again. Buffy admits it’s likely, and says “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Heh. Because, like, that was the title of the first ever episode of Buffy, y’see. It’s being all self-referential.

A bigger cynic than me might ask whether there weren’t any buses from wherever Rona was coming from that arrived in daylight, and whether she mightn’t have been wiser to take one of those instead, knowing that she was going to a vampire town, but I’m not that picky. Nooooo.

After the credits, Willow’s struggling to get to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor, while one of the potential Slayers, Kennedy, lounges in the bed. She’s wide-awake, chatty, and decidedly flirty, yammering away about her big house and rich parents back home. Willow tells her she needs to sleep, and we go downstairs, where the rest of the Potentials are wide-awake and chatty in the living room. A blonde girl with a Southern accent demonstrates a complete lack of faith in Buffy, and Xander tells them all to shut up and go to sleep… but just as they do, Buffy and Rona turn up and keep him awake anyway. Poor, poor Xander.

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Annoyingly, I can remember all sorts of things about this episode, too. I wish I couldn’t. I’d totally forgotten about the Eve subplot until I saw the actress’s face, and now I can’t forget it successfully enough to enjoy the episode. Wah!

Giles and Anya bicker about whether there are any new leads on The First, and Giles wants to consult something known as Beljoxa’s Eye. Apparently it’s some kind of oracle which resides in a dimension only accessible by demons – and Giles wants Anya to call in a favour from a demon friend, though she argues that she doesn’t have any, and after her betrayal of Halfrek, that any demons she tries to talk to will just try to kill her. Which seems like a pretty fair point, plus you’d think they’d have realised by now that oracles are always irritatingly vague and mostly useless, but I guess they’re running out of options.

In The First’s lair, Spike is tied to a wall and still being tortured. Then he springs into action, fights off several Bringers and sees Buffy coming to rescue him… and then he wakes up. Enough with the dream sequences already! The First taunts Spike about believing Buffy will come to rescue him, but he still has faith in her.

Streetside, Anya is trying to persuade a mostly-humanoid demon guy to open a portal to Beljoxa’s Eye for her while he… empties some bins. Um, okay. Anyway, turns out they had sex once, and Anya says she’ll sleep with him again if only he’ll do this favour for her – again with the painfully awkward, because why is it okay for Anya to whore herself out like this? No other Buffy character would have to put up with it – but he rejects her, saying she’s repulsive now because she’s human. Giles threatens the guy with the Slayer if he doesn’t help them, so he eventually caves and opens the portal, though not before Anya asks whether it’s her hair that makes her so unattractive. Urghhhh!

At Buffy’s house, Xander unties Andrew, since the Scoobies have apparently decided they have more important things to do than babysit a guy tied to a chair. Willow gets a call from the coven in England saying another Potential has arrived in Sunnydale, so Buffy and Xander set off to get her while Dawn and Willow chat about how the Potentials aren’t really all that good. Well, no, they’re not, but what do you expect – they’re a bunch of scared teenagers. Even Buffy herself was no great shakes before she actually got her Slayer powers. Meanwhile, the Potentials are talking about how Buffy’s rubbish, encouraged by Eve, the Southern girl who’s been complaining ever since she arrived. Dum dum dum…

The revelation I wish I’d forgotten occurs – Buffy and Xander find Eve, dead, in a motel room, and hurry back to the house to confront The First, which had been masquerading as Eve for days. Slack, guys, really slack. They really should make it standard practice to check everyone coming in through the front door is actually corporeal from now on.

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Meanwhile, Giles and Anya have been chatting to Beljoxa’s Eye, which is just a big ball of eyeballs floating in space. It tells them that the First is unstoppable, ever-present, etc, etc, but that the reason it’s trying to take over now is because an instability in the Slayer line has allowed it to. Giles and Anya figure out that it’s because Buffy’s alive, and she shouldn’t be – she died, and a new Slayer should have been called, but instead she came back to life and carried on fighting evil, causing an imbalance in the good-evil stakes. This is annoying, because they’re right, but they’re only talking about half the story here. Buffy “died” at the end of season 1, which is why Kendra turned up at in season 2. One Slayer dies, the next is called. When Kendra died, Faith was activated. When Buffy died again, either another Slayer should have been activated, or it shouldn’t have made any difference at all because her death should already have been registered in the celestial stakes. There’s been an imbalance since Kendra was called, not since Willow and Anya and co brought Buffy back to life in season 6. This is all nonsense, and it’s annoying, because someone should have realised it was nonsense and made up another explanation.

Anyway. It’s getting dark, so The First sends the über-vamp/Orc to kill the Potentials, giving it instructions to leave Buffy alone. The Bringers surround Buffy’s house, and it’s all very tense; the Potentials don’t have any faith in Buffy to protect them and Willow’s about to try a spell that might end up in her becoming evil. Uh oh. Anyway, the spell fails, the Potentials run away, Xander brings them to a building site, and the über-vamp, instead of being lured away by Buffy, follows the Potentials, and … ha, tricked you, turns out this was all Buffy’s plan. A flashback to an earlier part of the episode reveals that, er, Buffy, Willow and Xander talked telepathically about how to restore the Potentials’ faith in Buffy, and hatched this plan to kill the über-vamp in an arena fashioned out of a building site. Which is nonsense, there’s no way they could have predicted exactly how things would turn out, but, um, it all ends up okay, and after a prolonged fight scene, Buffy beheads the über-vamp and then gives a rousing speech which is at least more convincing than the one she gave at the end of Bring on the Night. Not that that’s hard, given how bloody rubbish that speech was.

At the very end of the episode, Buffy approaches Spike in The First’s lair. He initially thinks it’s The First, again, but no — this time, it’s actually Buffy, come to rescue him. Awwwww.

Okay, now I believe Buffy might actually take the fight to the enemy, which I didn’t believe before. The twist with Eve was quite good; the nonsense with Beljoxa’s Eye wasn’t, and, er… well, at least there won’t need to be any more pointless scenes of Spike being tortured just to remind us he still exists. That’s a positive result, anyhow.