Revisiting Buffy season 7 – episode 20

In Touched, everyone gets... well, er, touched. With varying degrees of sexiness. And then everything blows up. What else could you ask for?

Buffy Touched

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith was back, the Potentials were an army, Caleb showed up and gouged Xander’s eye out, the First kept manifesting as Buffy, and the real Buffy was thrown out of her own house because no-one wanted to go along with her crazy vineyard plan.

At Buffy’s house, the group seems to have disintegrated since they all banded together to chuck Buffy out; instead of all heading off to carry out an insane plan where they might all die, they’re all sitting around bickering and wasting what little time there is left until the end of the world arrives. (At which point they’ll all die anyway.) Faith eventually steps up, telling everyone that since they elected her leader, they’ll have to listen to her now, but there’s a power cut and everyone panics.

Meanwhile, Buffy breaks into the only house left in Sunnydale that still has a person inside, and tells him to leave. See, she’s really not very heroic anymore.

After the credits, Andrew is trying to play I Spy with Spike, not very successfully. He expositions that they’re sitting in the church waiting for the sun to go down so they can return to Sunnydale and tell everyone what they’ve found out.

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At Buffy’s house, things are still chaotic, and Faith is doing a very good Dictator Buffy impression.

And at the vineyard, Caleb and The First ramble on pointlessly. The first half of this episode is very talky, with nothing to really talk about, which is unfortunate. This must be how they all waste the entire day, because the next thing you know, it’s dark, and Kennedy is playing bait in a dark alley so that Faith and co can attempt to kidnap a Bringer, hoping that they know something about what The First is up to. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Bringers all have their tongues cut out – but, luckily, Dawn has been using her newfound role as Willow-lite to read up on magic spells and knows of one which allows the dumb to speak. Yay!

On the whole, I really liked this episode, but the first half is really, really dull to recap, so let’s do it fast: Andrew and Spike get back from their mission to find Buffy gone and Faith in charge. Faith and Spike fight, and then Spike sets off to find Buffy. Willow does a spell which allows the Bringer to speak through Andrew, but he doesn’t tell them anything important other than that he wants to kill them all – and that the Bringers are building an arsenal to that end. Spike finds Buffy, who’s lying in bed being morose, and Faith sets out a plan to find the arsenal and steal whatever it is the Bringers and Caleb are hiding, and then the emotional, character-driven stuff starts and everything gets much more powerful and interesting.

Buffy and Spike have a long heart-to-heart, during which she confesses how tired and weighed down by the burden of being the Slayer she is, and he tells her how wonderful she is and how much he loves her. It’s really, really lovely, this, especially when Spike turns to leave and Buffy asks him to just stay, and hold her. I’m not much of a Buffy/Spike shipper, to be honest, but I love this bit. Their whole relationship is a total mess, but like most of season 7, there are bits that really work if you can temporarily push the rest of it all out of your mind, and this is one of those bits.

(It also, usefully, really pushes the idea that Buffy would be much better off if she weren’t the one and only – except Faith – Slayer, because then there wouldn’t be so much pressure on her and she could relate to people more easily. Handy, that.)

The other Slayer isn’t having much fun, either, as The First manifests as the Mayor to Faith, in order to mess with her head. He tells her that Buffy is just looking for an excuse to kill her, and that no-one will ever love her except him so Faith should stop trying… but she resists, and The First leaves her alone. Robin Wood interrupts, and Faith is initially awkward and defensive until he shares his own experience of The First with her, at which point they bond. And then have sex. I’m not sure I’m a Faith/Robin shipper, either, but I really love how this episode brings everyone together – they’re staring death in the face, and reaching out desperately for reassurance and comfort and love from one another and it’s raw and brilliant and makes my heart hurt.

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In another bedroom, Willow and Kennedy are busy getting over their various relationship problems, too, and downstairs Xander and Anya share a tub of ice cream and a spoon… and then they, too, have sex, and there’re all these scenes of couples cuddling or having sex and, lots of these characters are going to die or get seriously injured very soon and it’s really rather upsetting.

The episode should really end at the scene where The First tells Caleb it wishes it could reach out and touch someone – to snap their necks – but it doesn’t. Instead, we get some morning-after stuff, where Faith gets everyone geared up to go and raid the baddies’ arsenal. Buffy, too, has been rejuvenated by her night with Spike – so much so that she leaves him holding just a note while she heads off to the vineyard. And because, after all, Buffy is the star of this show, she manages to fight Caleb – well, actually, she mostly runs around not letting him touch her – and retrieve the magic Slayer scythe, while Faith just runs smack into a trap: the episode ends as she finds a ticking bomb just waiting for them.

Dun dun dun!