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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 6 - All the Way

7 May 2013

Dawn and Justin

Synopsis: Its Halloween and after a profitable day at the Magic Box Xander announces his engagement to Anya. Everyone parties but there is tension between Tara and Willow over the latter's use of magic to decorate the party. Dawn lies to sneak out with her friend Janice and meet some boys. One of the boys, Justin, seems really into Dawn but it turns out that he is a vampire. Buffy goes out patrolling and Janice's mother calls which alerts Giles to the danger. Once the girls are found and saved Willow uses a spell to make Tara forget their row.

The Good: The escalation of Willow's dangerous attitude to magic has been pretty good. I liked the two scenarios they used here to demonstrate the problems that could come from abusing her power. To create decorations for the engagement party seems innocuous but Tara is uncomfortable with magic being used for something that is easily found naturally. Then on the hunt for Dawn, Willow suggests clearing out the Bronze temporarily to help find Dawn. Again it sounds sensible until you realise that she is planning to transport everyone she 'clears out' to another dimension, albeit momentarily. Given what other dimensions mean to us thanks to Angel, Anya, Glory and Buffy's experiences it was an effective moment. Willow has crossed a line where the power she wields has become more important to her than her morality. She ends up almost threatening Tara (as she did to Giles in 604) and then robbing her of her memory in order to settle their argument. That's a shocking act and it was nicely underplayed to end the episode.

Xander's abrupt decision to announce the engagement fitted into his general unpreparedness. Anya's natural desire to rush into "marital bliss" before her mortal life ends was a very understandable scary tone for him to process. Giles and others add to his sense of unease by pointing out all the extra decisions and responsibilities that come with the engagement.

The potential for romance between Spike and Buffy is finally laid bare when he uses the phrase "rough and tumble" to mean patrolling and she is caught not knowing how to respond (thinking it meant something else). After their battle is done she makes sure to tell him "good fight" in a tone of affectionate acknowledgment. She also continues to neglect her parental responsibility to Dawn handing over control of punishment to Giles. Considering her attitude to Dawn during Season Five this was a surprising abdication which puts us more in sympathy with Giles who last episode appeared a little unsupportive.

The Bad: As much as we all love Giles he shouldn't be taking on vampires with such self assurance. The threat of vampires needs to remain that they can overwhelm humans in physical confrontations. Giles took repeated beatings and yet had the strength to return fire.

Anya was aggressively selfish in this episode. She has no thanks for the gang after they apparently volunteer in the Magic Box during a hectic day. Then once the engagement party begins she is quick to point out all the future presents she expects in a way which makes it awkwardly apparent how little genuine friendship she has with anyone other than Xander. This is the core of why I don't think she has become a beloved Scooby. It's all very well to maintain her demon-integrity and use her for comic relief but at some point she has to show concern for others.

The Unknown: The Dawn story was interesting but I'm not sure what the point of it was. I liked the initial misdirection where Justin and his friend turned out to be vampires and old Mr Kaltenbach was just an old toy salesman. And then the added conceit of vampire bites as a metaphor for having sex. However it was then revealed that Dawn had never even kissed a boy which made her seem far more innocent than the metaphor she was working with. Justin seemed to genuinely think she was special and it wasn't clear quite what that meant to him. The way she wiped away a tear when she killed him underscored the lack of communication of what she was feeling. Was she traumatised by this near murder at the hands of a demon? Or was it more the metaphor of a boy wanting more than kissing when she wasn't ready? Neither really fitted the story and like Anya I go on waiting for a clearer definition of who Dawn is. Her continued kleptomania needs to be addressed. The story ended with an extended fight sequence which came across as if the writers didn't know how else to conclude things.

Best Moment: The final moments show us Willow abusing her power in a way which is pretty frightening. To mess with someone's memory is to tamper with their identity.

The Bottom Line: The continuing arc stories remain strong but the Dawn part was oddly unspecific.

 

Cordia's Second Look
All the Way
Season 6, Episode 6

Original airing: 10/30/2001

My Rating: 54

The Good: Generally, I think this episode failed. The Xander/Anya and Dawn storylines were severely lacking in emotion, depth, and rational. And Buffy barely even had a story in this episode. Luckily, Willow and Tara were there.

Tara has always shined when she’s at odds with Willow. When she stops being completely submissive and stands up for herself I can see the opinionated person underneath the person used to being shut down by her family and friends. At this point in the show, Willow isn’t treating her too differently than her family did in Season 5 (S5E6). But that doesn’t stop her for speaking up when she feels Willow is breaching her ethical boundaries as a witch.

But the real highlight is on Willow and how she handles opposition from her loved ones. In Flooded (S6E4), we saw her shut down and threaten Giles when he expressed disappointment and concern about her use of magic. I could forgive that as shock on her part from Giles not being impressed as she expected him to be about the resurrection spell. But now that Tara is voicing her concern, Willow is starting to operate on denial. Instead of dealing with the situation or taking a real look at her use of magic, she casts a spell on Tara to make her forget the whole thing.

The Bad: Unfortunately, the rest of the show was sub-par. While I have nothing against the moment of Xander’s choosing to announce the engagement, the group’s response was confused. I couldn’t tell if they were concerned, shocked, happy, or just lost. The worst offender was Buffy who turns to Giles and says “We have to do something about this.” Later in the episode, she’s talking Xander down from an emotional cliff and convincing him everything’s going to be ok! I couldn’t tell what anyone’s feelings on the engagement actually were and there was a lack of emotion because of that.

The worst part of the episode was the focus. Dawn’s rebellious Halloween night on the town just feels stale. And her interactions with Justin lack definition. First of all, it’s hard to imagine why she likes him, except that he’s cute. The behaviors they exhibit during the night are not all that exciting or worthy. And his friend, Zack, is a major jerk.

The kissing scene actually wasn’t too bad. Dawn’s reaction to her first kiss was fun and entertaining, but it got really bad from there. It makes absolutely no sense why she would stop running away from the car and allow Justin to go in for the bite. It seems like she would have let him turn her into a vampire if Giles had not conveniently arrived.

The next part of the scene was some of the worst timing contrivances I think the show has ever done. Giles arrives, suddenly he’s surrounded by a bunch of cars full of vampires, and then Buffy and Spike arrive. Ummm… what? How? Who put out the bulletin about the big fight going down at 7:34 in the middle of the woods? It was too silly.

The only part of Dawn’s story that held interest was seeing her stab Justin with tears in her eyes. Despite it all, she’s a fifteen year old girl with raging hormones and he WAS cute.

Favorite Moment: The spell Willow casts on Tara is the first truly deceptive, sinister thing I can remember Willow doing on the show. It feels like a distinctive mark in the development of her character and I loved how it was played rather casually at the end of the episode.

The Bottom Line: The majority of this episode suffered from a lack of direction. Luckily, it was saved by Willow and Tara’s story.

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