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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.


Episode 7 - Conversations with Dead People

16 December 2013

Holden's therapy session

Synopsis: Buffy is about to slay a vampire when he recognises her. Holden Webstar was at Sunnydale High with her and does a little psychoanalysis while they fight. Dawn is at home alone when the house becomes haunted by a spirit who appears to be attacking Joyce. Willow is studying in the university library when Cassie appears. She claims to be speaking on behalf of Tara. Spike picks up a girl at the Bronze. Andrew and Jonathan return to Sunnydale High looking for a symbol with a connection to the "From Beneath You it Devours" evil.

The Good: The decision to begin the episode with its title prominently displayed and a time stamp sets out a stall that this will be a significant instalment. And it lives up to its own billing with a highly dense, intense hour of drama.

The dramatic highpoint came with the reveal that all these stories were connected. It's not entirely clear how many of them are specific deceptions from the being who is spreading the "From Beneath You it Devours" message. However Cassie's dark threats to Willow were the most goose-bumpy as the writers try to raise the stakes higher than ever. "Cassie" says that she's done with balancing the scales of good and evil which obviously implies the Hellmouth opening wide once more. But the fact that this being feels the need to strike at the heart of the Scoobies is what really feels different. So far most of the Big Bads have perceived Buffy as a threat but failed to realise that her support system keeps her on the winning side. To try and sow discord with Dawn (assuming that was the same being) and pushing Willow to kill herself suggests that the Scoobies will be under real assault this year.

I really like the focus on Willow as a powerful adversary. So far the writers have handled her return to the fold very nicely. She clearly could be a major force for good and if she were neutralised then the path to Buffy would be clear. The attempt to use Tara against her was suitably evil and to see Willow in tears was quite affecting. The suicide suggestion being what tipped Willow off is a nice simple idea. She knows Tara would never want that and suddenly this battle has become personal.

We don't know if Dawn went through a similar experience or if Joyce's warning about Buffy not choosing her will turn out to be true. It seems like quite an obvious attempt at deception when laid out next to the scenes with Cassie. By TV logic I'm therefore tempted to wonder if Joyce really might have found a way to warn her daughter to look out for herself. Dawn is already on her way to self reliance and showed bravery in the face of a very creepy haunted house.

The third (apparently) straight deception was Andrew killing poor Jonathan at the behest of "Warren." Again it seems like the same being or its allies fooled Andrew into a dark act that will aid their devouring from beneath. I liked the characterisation of all three and the comedy was better for its brevity.

The very brief shots of Spike picking up a woman at the Bronze were intriguingly put together. Again the lack of attention focussed on them made their inclusion seem more significant.

Finally we come to Buffy and her "session" with Holden. Once again the casting was impeccable with Holden pulling off the post-ironic vampire with plausible depth. I thought the sequence got a little too cute at times. I suppose Buffy is just so confident at this point that she doesn't fear chatting to a vampire who could at any moment turn on her. And I suppose he is so ignorant of her strength and his own new situation that he is willing to chit chat. But there were moments when my eyebrows rose. Mainly though it was a unique sequence which allowed Buffy to reveal the contradictory emotions and ideas she lives with in her post-resurrection and post-depression state. I'm not sure if any of these revelations will feel significant in forthcoming episodes or if this was a state of the union address before the plot kicks into high gear.

The Bad: Nothing specifically bad.

The Unknown: I think the Holden sequence was a little too manipulated to quite make the episode fit together perfectly. But it was certainly engaging and memorable. The Spike revelation was definitely interesting but I have no idea what it means. Is he too the victim of more manipulation (as he was in previous episodes) or is the return of his soul a more complicated situation then we realised?

What has Andrew done by killing Jonathan? What happens to him next? Is "Warren" the same being as "Cassie"? Was that really Joyce?

Best Moment: Once Willow stood up and realised that she was being lied things became extra intense. "Cassie's" response was gripping.

The Bottom Line: How do you top all the Big Bad's of previous seasons? Apparently you mess with everyone in a deeply personal way. So far it's worked really well and this was an intense and entertaining way to kick the main plot into a high gear.


Cordia's Second Look
Conversations with Dead People
Season 7, Episode 7
Original airing: 11/12/2002

My Rating: 72

The Good: This was a fun little set of vignettes which gave some nice peaks into a few of our main characters worlds. I found it quite enjoyable.

The return of Jonathon and Andrew felt like a nice boost to the story. Andrew’s obsession with Warren has allowed the Big Bad to manipulate him into most likely helping it enter the world or something of that like. It certainly seems like Jonathon’s blood gets all over something very ritualistic and opening-like. The show did a good job of making me feel bad for Jonathon’s death, as well. His moment of reflection about looking at the past with rose colored glasses was sweet and it felt like he really was just lost and needed someone to guide him. The idea of him joining the Scoobies felt true and realistic as he’s been hovering on the outside since Season Two.

Willow’s interactions with Cassie were particularly heartrending. It was difficult to watch Willow believe she was talking to Tara and then learn Cassie was playing her. I also feel like this may have played the Big Bad’s hand a bit. It must be scared of Willow’s magic to try and trick her into committing suicide. It’s nice to know the Scoobies could be a match for something that can fold its body inside out (ewwww….).

Dawn’s vignette felt the most awkward. Her willingness to believe her mom is trying to contact her felt wrong. It seems like she should have suspected this was all a trap. But it was nice to see her determination. I was actually grimacing with her at the end of the spell when her face was all cut up and her mouth was full of blood. And it was heartbreaking to have Joyce appear and tell Dawn Buffy wouldn’t protect her.

Spike’s five short scenes were actually very interesting. Completely without dialogue, he conveys his own going depression, a sense of bashfulness with this new woman, and finally strikes a dagger into the heart of the viewers when he mercilessly kills her. I see a stark contrast between this attack and his incredible self-doubt when Drusilla tried to get him to kill a girl in the Bronze (S5E14). He strikes quickly and surely here. It’s been so long since we’ve seen him be truly violent and attack a human with abandon. I was quite shocked. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Finally, I thought the humor balance in the scenes with Buffy and Holden were excellent. Despite this being his first appearance, Holden is one of those characters who enters the show fully formed. I believe he went to high school with Buffy and seemed in awe of her. I believe from his interest in psychiatry that he would bounce back and forth from conversation to battle. It all worked really well. And using him to reveal Spike’s feeding before we actually saw it made the act even more powerful. My first reaction to Holden’s statement is that it must be a lie. But then the show gives it to us on a silver platter. Well edited.

The Bad: I don’t have any particular complaints. I thought this was a very interesting, well done episode.

Favorite Moment: I have two favorite moments and at this point I refuse to choose between them.

Willow’s tearful calls to the air assuming she’s talking to Tara was heartbreaking and portrayed very well. It was capped off by Cassie’s comment that “[Tara] is crying.”

Secondly, I really liked Jonathon’s moment of acceptance. His comments about missing high school were nicely nostalgic and I loved his belief that no matter what, he needed to protect the people of Sunnydale.

The Bottom Line: I really enjoyed this episode. Each story kept me wrapped up and interested and the implication of the Big Bad’s ability to be multiple people in multiple places ups the ante for its power. All of this felt like one huge tease and I can’t wait to see some of it play out.



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  • Try this site

    Posted by The TV Critic, 20/12/2013 6:02pm (4 years ago)

  • In the beginning of the episode, we see SMG starting to walk in the cemetary with great music in the background. The clock looks like one of those cheap bedside alarm clocks. Does anyone know who wrote the music?

    Posted by diana , 20/12/2013 2:29pm (4 years ago)

  • After listening to various comments about Dawn's dual nature in "Conversations With Dead People", I felt compelled to share a revelation I had regarding the character. I have never liked Dawn, and I thought at first that it was mostly the writers' use of her as an in-the-way teenager, full of hormones. I also am not a fan of Michelle Trachtenberg's voice; it just irritates me, in a similar way to how Cordia just plain was bothered by Tara's droopy eyes. As I continued through the show, however, I noticed a strange familiarity to my dislike of Dawn; I had disliked another TV character in almost exactly the same way. What other character had I seen that was annoyingly rambunctious, never afraid when all common sense said they should be, has a strange and irritating voice, and joined the Scooby gang several years after their show began? Dawn is Scrappy Doo. I don't know if this was the intention of the writers, but it just makes so much sense :-D

    Posted by Matt E., 17/12/2013 2:57pm (4 years ago)

  • I think this is one of the best, if not the best, episodes in season 7. The music, the time on the clock, the different stories happening at the same time, all amazing. I did not particularly like Dawn's part -- seemed very disjointed. I loved that Spike was silent until the very end when he bared his teeth. LOVED Buffy's conversation with the vampire. The look on her face when he told her the name of his sire said it all.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by diana, 09/12/2013 6:14pm (4 years ago)

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