Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.
Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes.
Season 5, Episode 7 “Fool For Love”
So this episode opens with a truly shocking plot twist: Riley saves Buffy. Basically, Buffy is fighting with a stinky demon (this is the only thing we really learn about it) when it manages to turn her stake and get her to stab herself in the gut. Ouch! She still manages to knock the demon out with a stake poking out of her abdomen, but she’s running a little slowly, and the demon catches up to her. She’s saved at the last minute by Riley. Worse, later when Riley’s dressing her wound, Buffy has to admit that it was just one regular vampire, who beat her. Riley at least has the grace to be surprised that a regular vampire could take her down. Buffy says she doesn’t know how it happened, because she’s in the best physical shape of her life. Dawn helpfully covers for her with Mrs. Buffy, and Riley helpfully takes over her patrols.
(What happens with Riley is SO not as interesting as the rest of the episode so let’s just get it out of the way: while on patrol, Riley sees the stinky vampire who almost killed Buffy and tells the Scoobs he can kill them in the morning. But instead, he goes back to get them later that night, all by himself. He just wanted to ditch the Scoobs! He kills the stinky vampire, drops a grenade, and runs, getting out before the thing explodes. Whatever.)
Unsettled by her near-death experience, Buffy resumes her research project on previous Slayers with Giles, but she can’t find out much. But Buffy realizes that there’s one person she knows who has witnessed the death of Slayers. Cut to her slamming Spike against the wall, because, well, any excuse to throw Spike up against a wall, right? Not that Buffy would admit it. Anyway, she brings Spike to the Bronze to discuss his victories.
Spike is bullied by a bunch of people in Victorian England for writing unsolicited love poem to a woman named Cecily who declares him to be beneath her. Later, while he’s moping on a haystack, Drusilla finds him. Oh, hey, Drusilla! She hits on him, and then goes all vampire and bites his neck. Spike forms a vampire gang with… OMG… Angel and Darla!
In the present day, we see that Spike and Buffy are playing pool at the Bronze! I’m so happy right now. Spike claims that unlike other vampires, he sought the Slayer out because he was young and in search of glory. Then he gives Buffy a little “lesson” in how he took the Slayer by surprise, by grabbing her and spinning her around so he can talk to her all close. Oh, Spike! You’re so transparent!
Flashback to Slayer death #1: It involves Spike fighting with a Slayer in China during the Boxer Rebellion (unclear why it had to be during the Boxer Rebellion since they’re just fighting in a room somewhere, but OK). He defeats her when she reaches for her weapon, and drinks her blood. Drusilla shows up to praise him: “Naughty, wicked Spike.” Oh, Dru. She’s absurd and I love it.
In the present, things get STEAMY. Spike tells Buffy that she can kill millions of vampires, and yet all they need to defeat her is for one of them to have “one good day.” He stands real close to murmur this to her (he’s such a creeper and yes, I love it) and she shoves him away, presumably so as to avoid thinking about how she’s hot for him right now. Then he demonstrates by punching her right in the stomach bandage. Which hurts her but–because of the chip in his brain–also hurts him. “The question isn’t how’d I win,” Spike pontificates. “The question is why’d they lose?”
Next up, the second Slayer death: Flashback to New York City, 1977. Spike is dressed as a punk and the Slayer he’s fighting is a young Black woman with an Afro. She’s pinned him when the train goes under a tunnel, but when the lights come back on, he’s pinned her.
Did I say things were steamy before? That was nothing compared to what happens next. “Every Slayer has a death wish,” Spike narrates to Buffy. “Even you.” Then he actually compares the Slayer to Buffy because she was cunning, resourceful, and hot. Somehow, Buffy still doesn’t get it. She says, “You think we’re dancing?” Spike says they are, and says that Buffy’s “a little bit in love” with the dance. Finally, after asserting that someday she’ll want “it” (aka death), he literally says when that happens, “I’ll slip in.” Um… dirty!
But as much as Buffy is obviously attracted to all of this, when he leans in for a kiss she darts back and finally says that even if she did want to dance, “it would never be you, Spike… You’re beneath me.” Which is exactly what Cecily said to him, for those keeping score. She knocks him down, throws a handful of dollar bills at him, and leaves. Angry, he goes back to his lair and, as Harmony looks on, pulls out a rifle. Apparently it’ll only hurt him temporarily to shoot Buffy, and he claims he’s willing to risk it.
Buffy returns home and finds her mom, who you might remember has been sick lately, packing an overnight bag for observation at the hospital. Mrs. Buffy promises that even if they find something, she’ll be fine. Buffy acts like she believes her, but then goes out to the back porch to cry. Spike comes by, intent on shooting her. He sees her crying and puts away his rifle, instead sitting down next to her to comfort her and be there for her. My jaw literally dropped. This scene was so wonderful!
Notes from a New Fan:
- Buffy finds researching the other Slayers’ deaths boring. For one thing, they all die (true story); also, there aren’t that many details about their last battles, and she needs to know why she lost her most recent one. Giles says awkwardly that there aren’t many details on those last battles since afterwards, the Slayers tend to be dead. (And that the Watchers often find the subject too painful to write about. Aww!)
- Xander bemoans not being as cool as Riley with his silly military hand gestures. The girls pat him on the back and reassure him that he’s cool. Don’t encourage him, ladies.
- My real-time notes on Riley saving Buffy go like this: “Um… is this Riley’s wet dream about Buffy? I really hope so.” [30 seconds later:] “”Ugh, it’s not a dream! I’m so mad. Why would Buffy need Riley to save her? Gross.”
- I feel like I should be less mad about Riley saving Buffy because like, I guess we can give the guy one win. On the other hand, this makes it so much less likely that he will ever learn the lesson we’ve been hoping he’d learn, namely, that BUFFY IS THE SLAYER AND HE IS NOT. Nevertheless, since it’s already been brought up that it’s weird for Buffy to be defeated by one random regular vampire, I’m hoping that it turns out she’s under a spell or being slowly poisoned or something so we can go back to a world where Buffy always wins.
- Riley is all too happy to take over the patrol for Buffy. “By yourself?” Buffy says nervously. Hee! He promises to take the group along so Buffy won’t be worried. I’m surprised the suggestion doesn’t send him into an explosion of rage.
- Later we see him acting like he’s the lead soldier in a raid in a movie, giving hand signals as he creeps through the park, while the Scoobs follow with a crunchy bag of potato chips and wonder what he’s doing. Riley suggests they split up: he’ll take the cemeteries and the kids can take the Bronze. Xander, with a mouthful of chips, promises to be sneakier. I almost feel bad for Riley at this point. Almost.
- Buffy knows Slayers have expiration dates, but she wants to have a really far-off one, “like a Cheeto.” Hee!
- Buffy asks what moves Spike used to defeat the two Slayers he killed. “It’s not about the moves, love,” Spike says. Then he demands a plate of buffalo wings! Hee. He’s stealth-dating her and she doesn’t even know it. Despite the fact that their entire dialogue is just bantering back and forth.
- Spike’s story implies that just because one woman hated his bad poetry, he was “through living by society’s rules.” Cool story, dude. You’re basically just an incel (except the part where you don’t get laid, I guess).
- “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Spike complains when Dru sires him. Hee!
- ANGEL! This would be more of a surprise if Hulu hadn’t put his face in their thumbnail for this episode.
- Wow, they’re bringing back so many notables for this episode. Dru, Angel, Darla. Can I hope for an appearance by Cordelia?
- Spike has developed a middle-parted bang situation that makes him resemble Dawson Leery.
- After killing the first Slayer, Spike decides to get gross, pulling Drusilla close and saying that Slayer blood is a powerful aphrodisiac and then sticking his finger in her mouth. Yuck.
- Buffy’s not pleased by the whole making-out-after-killing-a-Slayer story (and I suppose she’s probably not pleased to think about Angel with Darla, even if it was at at time before her great-grandmother was even born). “You got off on it,” she says. “I suppose you’re telling me you don’t?” says Spike. He has a point. Remember all those times Buffy and Riley got “hot” and heavy after a kill?
- When did the Scoobies start being called Scoobies? Spike does it in this episode, but I don’t remember when it became canon– I’ve used it all along because I knew it was fanon.
- Spike tells Buffy that dancing is “all we’ve ever done” and that she’s “a little bit in love” with him, uh I mean “the dance.” These are such cheesy lines, and yet it’s clearly working on both Buffy and, um, “the viewers,” by which I obviously mean me.
- I’m not sure I buy Spike actually sniffling/sobbing when Buffy rejects him. Is he really that in touch with his feelings?
- We find out that Spike and Dru fought in California because Spike was obsessing over the Slayer. Jeez! That seems like a retcon, but… I’ll allow it.
- OK I love this scene where Spike decides to be nice to Buffy instead of killing her, which he clearly was never going to do. It’s so beautiful and understated. Also, it’s wonderful to see all these scenes that I saw in fanvideos but never really knew what was going on, and now to have context for them. I always thought this was just a sweet scene where Spike comforted Buffy; I never even noticed the rifle when I saw it in fanvids. It’s got such a different meaning now!
Notes from a True Stan:
- This opening scene is such a well-done misdirect. Buffy’s doing her thing, kicking ass in adorable braids, getting ready to deliver a classic one-liner, and then she lets her guard down for a second and gets stabbed. It’s so in keeping with the whole season, where she’s more powerful than ever but also constantly reminded of the limits of her power.
- Wow, for once Riley was actually needed. How novel. [And annoying. –Nerdy Spice]
- Buffy’s version of beating up Spike always seems to involve pushing him up against a wall in a very sexual way. Hm.
- My favorite thing about William the Bloody’s poetry is that so many things rhyme with “gleaming. Certainly more than “effulgent.”
- I find Spike’s “ow” noises while he’s being sired so funny. Angel just stood there like a lump in “Becoming.”
- You never really think about the sexual dynamics of Darla/Angel/Drusilla/Spike, who was sleeping with whom, until this scene where Angel is referring to Darla and Drusilla as “my women.” There’s… a lot going on here.
- I like that one of the past Slayers seems to have a businesslike, Kendra-esque style, and the other is more improvisational like Buffy.
- This subway fight is so good. People say the fight choreography went downhill after Jeff Pruitt left in season four, but have they seen this episode?
- Buffy throwing the money on Spike is such a power move.
- There’s definitely no indication that Spike and Dru broke up over Buffy in “Lovers Walk” back in season three. (Or maybe technically there was? I remember Spike said Dru wasn’t happy about the alliance with Buffy–she said Spike had “gone soft.” Still, I didn’t see much indication in Spike’s interactions with Buffy that he had any conscious knowledge of his romantic feelings for her.)
- But I’m glad we finally got to see the Fyarl demon.
- The way Spike’s face visibly softens when he sees Buffy crying is just… too cute.
- And then he pats her back! I remember this is when I officially got on board with them as a ship.
Season 5, Episode 8 “Shadow”
Joyce is still suffering from a mysterious illness, so Buffy and Dawn take her to the hospital for a CAT scan. After the scan, Joyce gently breaks it to Buffy, in her best calm-mom voice, that they found “a shadow,” but it’s too early to be concerned. Buffy doesn’t believe her, and neither do we.
While Buffy is going through all of this, Riley looks for her at her house, where he finds Spike sniffing one of her sweaters. Gross. Spike tries to pass it off as a bloodhound thing, which is pretty funny. “Slayer musk!” he exclaims as he sniffs. “So bitter and aggravating!” Even Riley isn’t stupid enough to fall for that, and he throws Spike out of Buffy’s room, but not before Spike sneakily pockets a pair of Buffy’s panties. Gross!
Before Riley throws him out completely, Spike needles him about drinking with Buffy the night before. Which is a dick move, but to be fair, Riley is such an easy mark. He actually gets rankled when Spike points out that Buffy has never done a spell to keep him out of the house, and especially when Spike challenges his precious masculinity: “At least I’ve still got an attitude. What do you have, a piercing glance?” (Um, not even.) He also calls Riley “white bread,” which is wonderful. Amazing that Spike is stealing Buffy’s panties without her permission, and I’m still kind of on his side? The power of charisma and cheekbones.
Anyway, he tells Riley that he’s not Buffy’s type because she digs bad boys and the undead, that old yarn, and then twists the knife by dropping the detail about Buffy’s mom. This time I actually feel for Riley–it’s gotta hurt to hear that from Spike of all people. And to his credit, he does what a good boyfriend does: he goes to the hospital to be there for Buffy, and doesn’t make a big deal out of the fact that she didn’t tell him. It’s pretty obvious that he’s seething a little inside, and that this is all building up in ways that are both fair and unfair, but his actions are all correct here.
It turns out Buffy’s mom has a brain tumor (nooo Joyce!). Buffy is a fantasy show, but this subplot is dealt with in a super grounded and realistic way–there’s a lot of waiting and boredom, then a doctor with a terrible bedside manner tells Buffy all the technical terms and unhelpfully peppers her with questions that she couldn’t possibly know the answers to, like whether her house is near any electrical lines. He says Joyce has a “real chance,” and when Buffy asks what that means, he says, “nearly one out of three patients with this condition does just fine.” Yikes. Needless to say, she doesn’t find that as comforting as he meant it.
The cute doctor, Ben, tells Buffy there’s nothing she can do, but Buffy can’t accept feeling helpless, so she tells Riley she wants to try a healing spell. Riley gently tries to warn her away from this idea, but she says, “I have to do something.”
Meanwhile, the Scoobies are researching the mysterious woman who attacked Buffy, which is pretty fruitless, since they haven’t seen her and don’t know her name. They finally hypothesize that she’s not in the books because she’s something they’ve never encountered before: something so ancient she predates the written word. “She could be anywhere,” Giles says, just as Glory comes into the Magic Shop to buy ingredients! Giles blithely sells her those ingredients, and it’s not until later that Anya sees the receipts and points out that those ingredients are for a particularly dangerous spell that can conjure a reptile demon. Giles says the spell has been lost for thousands of years, and the young woman he sold them to would have to be super powerful to cast it. “Young woman?” Willow asks, significantly. Whoops.
Buffy comes back to the Magic Box and insists they try a healing spell, but Tara warns that medicine and magic don’t really mix. Anya lets it slip that Glory got away with those scary spell ingredients. “Giles sold it to her,” she tattles. Giles protests that he didn’t know it was her, and that “if it’s any consolation, I may have overcharged her.” Ha! Buffy marches out to stop Glory from doing the spell, even when her friends point out that it’s reckless, since Glory kicked her ass last time. “I have to do something,” Buffy repeats.
She finds Glory at the Sunnydale Zoo, chanting an incantation over a cobra. Buffy sneak-attacks her, and at first it seems like she’s getting the upper hand, but once Glory gets her bearings, she swats Buffy away like a fly. Buffy is knocked out and helpless to stop Glory as she finishes the spell, and the snake turns into a much bigger snake. Not “Mayor big,” as Buffy tells Giles later, but big enough to require some truly terrible CGI. Glory sends it off to find the key, and there’s a very anticlimactic scene where it bursts into the Magic Box, stares at Dawn while she screams bloody murder, and then turns around and leaves. Buffy figures that it’s going to tell Glory where the key is, so she chases after it, garrottes it, then punches it to death.
The monster-of-the-week is more than a little silly, but the real villain of the episode is disease–and uncertainty. At the end, Buffy comforts her mom as she wakes up from surgery, gets her diagnosis, and gets ready to tell Dawn. Buffy’s acting more adult than we’ve ever seen her, but this is still a villain she literally can’t defeat, and we’ve never seen her deal with that before. Xander even tells Riley at one point, “Buffy needs something she can fight, something she can solve.”
Speaking of which, let’s check in on Riley, if we must. Buffy’s family is falling apart, and Riley is being very supportive on the outside while, on the inside, seething and making everything about himself. For example, he takes care of Dawn while Buffy is dealing with her mom, and at first it’s very sweet, until Dawn tells him he’s good for Buffy because she “cries a lot less with [him] than with Angel.” Riley gets all insecure about this (because more crying equals a better relationship? Is this a Shonda Rhimes show?), and then Dawn makes it worse by saying, “Every day was like the end of the world, but she doesn’t get all worked up like that over you.” Um, it literally was the end of the world with Angel sometimes, everyone can calm down.
Sidebar: Why is Riley even listening to Dawn, a literal child, about his relationship? And why is everyone suddenly pushing the narrative that Buffy doesn’t like Riley because he’s not a vampire? Maybe she doesn’t like him because he’s boring.
In the end, Riley goes back to Willy’s bar and this time, when the vampire Sandy hits on him, he goes outside with her. You think they’re going to have sex in the alley, but instead, he lets her bite him for a few seconds (although with an uncomfortably amorous look on his face), then stakes her. Rude!
He visits Buffy in the hospital (wearing a turtleneck, straight out of the cheater’s handbook), right as Joyce is telling Dawn about the diagnosis. He tries to be there for Buffy by hugging her and telling her to “let it out,” but she says she needs to be strong for her mom and sister. Which is fine! If Riley really wanted to support her, then he would accept that letting someone deal with their emotions alone is a form of emotional support. And fine, if I’m being generous to Riley, maybe their love languages are different, etc, etc, but that’s still not Buffy’s fault! And it certainly doesn’t warrant the dramatic final shot, where Riley *reaches out* for Buffy’s face, but then Joyce calls her over and she’s *just out of his reach.* Her mom has cancer! Stop making it about you and your man problems!
Notes from a New Fan:
- The previouslies show Riley mentioning that Buffy doesn’t love him. It did briefly occur to me that it was weird Buffy wasn’t seeking him out when she was sad about her mom–but then I was like, well, Riley is basically a piece of cardboard, so actually not that weird.
- Giles to Xander’s “Am I right?”: “I’m almost certain you’re not, but to be fair, I wasn’t listening.” Seems fair to me!
- I immediately recognized Kevin Weisman (or, in my world, “Marshall from Alias”) even with all his monster makeup! He has a very distinctive forehead shape, I must say.
- “Glory” is the name of Buffy’s demon. Finally! It’s so annoying to be a recapper when shows withhold the characters’ names.
- Riley asks Spike if he was just smelling Buffy’s sweater, and Spike claims it’s a “predator thing.” Riley is just dumb enough to possibly believe that.
- Ew, then he grabs Buffy’s underwear? Gross! I’m just going to pretend that never happened.
- Spike: “Buffy’s got a type, and you’re not it.” Poor Riley! Also, yeah.
- Riley wins my affection back just slightly by not making a fuss over Buffy not calling him.
- Glory shows up at the Magic Box and no one notices anything weird, even Tara. Doesn’t Tara usually notice these things?
- Why is the doctor asking Buffy about Mrs. Buffy’s home environment? And if her house is near any power lines? He should ask if she’s near any 5G cell towers. (Too soon?) (Anyway I guess back then it was probably like 2G.)
- Ew, that creepy guy Ben who was flirting with Willow before, pretends the surgeon is needed in ICU to “rescue” Buffy from the intense conversation. That’s so weird and intrusive. Then he tells her to take a breakand leave the hospital. BUFFY NO! HE’S CLEARLY A DEMON!
- It’s a cheap joke, but I love when everyone realizes that Giles sold a powerful combination of items to the demon they’ve been hunting and Xander is like, “What?”
- Dawn tells Riley that Buffy doesn’t get all worked up over him and intends it as a compliment. Heh!
- I was just thinking that Buffy should really invest in some performance fabrics instead of that confining leather jacket, but when Glory threw her through the window I realized that leather is probably better for blocking vampire bites and shards of glass.
- When he learns Buffy’s gone after Glory, he says to Xander and Giles, the two most useless human beings in a fight, “You let Buffy go after her? Alone?” SHUT UP RILEY! SHE IS THE SLAYER AND XANDER IS A HORNY TEENAGER WHO LIVES IN A BASEMENT AND GILES IS AN EFFING LIBRARIAN! Omg there’s not enough caps lock in the world for this.
- But I don’t mean to be hard on Xander. At least Xander points out that Riley’s looking for something he’s never gonna get. And he understands that Buffy can go fight demons on her own and that he would just hold her back. (At least, in this season he does.)
- Montage time! It’s a sad one though, with Mrs. Buffy in the hospital, learning she has a brain tumor.
- Me: Riley is going home with Emma from Dawson’s, though I can’t say I care much about that.
Me, one minute later: WAIT JK they’re not having sex, he’s letting her BITE HIM so Buffy will LIKE HIM?! I literally said to Janes, “How stupid IS this guy?” Her response: “Read our recaps.” Touche, but seriously, HOW STUPID IS THIS GUY. Does he think being a vampire is going to give him a personality? (ETA: apparently he isn’t actually turned into a vampire by this bite, but having a kink for being barrenly bitten by vampires is ALSO not enough to give him a personality.)
- Oh, this baseball tee + cargo pants + cardigan-tied-around-the-waist situation Dawn has going on is SUCH a nineties mood.
- Also, Michelle Trachtenberg is really leaning into her scream when the snake monster attacks her. I have to give her props, she committed.
- Glory is such a Valley girl that it’s almost grating: “Tick frickin’ tock.” But then again, I feel like the show is making a very deliberate point: Even though they talk like stereotypical teen girls, Glory and Buffy are both forces to be reckoned with (and the men who underestimate them, like Riley and Spike, always end up being laughably irrelevant). [Yes, Glory is totally the mirror image of Buffy! Her little quip, “Dark incantations, so overwritten!” reminds me so much of “What can I say? I flunk the written.” –Janes]
- Buffy’s aggressively ruched purple boat neck top is also such a nineties mood. (I would totally wear it though.)
- You know, I feel like I knew so much about Buffy, Angel, Spike, Willow, and Tara–and even Xander–just from general osmosis of being a Fan in Fandom. I had never seen an episode, yet I knew that “I have a sooooul now!” was a catchphrase. And yet I had absolutely no idea that Riley turns into a vampire. It’s hilarious how little anyone ever cared about this. (Edited to add: OK, Janes explained to me that that’s not even how it works and he’s not necessarily a vampire at all. Apparently he’d have to drink the vampire blood too, to become a vampire. Who knew?! I totally thought that the vampires just had multiple different “bite modes” that determined whether their victim died or became a vampire. Good thing I’ve got Janes the True Stan to explain all of this to me!)
- I would never have realized that I could be so attached to Michelle Trachtenberg in a TV show. But I feel so protective towards her! Learning that she was the Key made me enjoy her storyline a lot more.
Notes from a True Stan:
- Xander complains about Riley and calls him “Captain America” which is… a super accurate burn.
- On the flip side, the minions’ compliments for Glory are so random and colorful. “Most tingly and wonderful Glorificus” and “your terrifically smooth one” are Leslie Knope-worthy.
- Also Dreg thanks her for hitting him in the head with a shoe, which gives big Regina George vibes.
- Kristine Sutherland’s acting is really underrated, imo. When she gently breaks the news to Buffy that they “found a shadow,” she does such a perfect mom voice, such a perfect imitation of our own mom’s voice, actually, that it makes me want to cry.
- When Riley threatens to throw Spike into the sunlight, he clearly does expose Spike to sunlight? That definitely would have been a fatal amount of sunlight in season one.
- First Tara is the one to guess that Glory predates the written word, and then Anya/Willow are the ones who know about the ancient snake cult? Giles is really losing his touch.
- OMG the wide shots of Buffy garroting the snake are hilarious. It looks like a 90s computer game.
- Why didn’t the big snake just take Dawn to Glory? She was right there, and it had arms!
Season 5 Episode 9 “Listening To Fear”
The monster of the week is totally horrifying. It’s basically a giant alien shaped like a perky cockroach that escapes from a meteor that crashed to earth. Its first victim is the security guard (the one who Buffy met when she learned that Dawn was the Key). Next thing you know, it’s inside the hospital where Mrs. Buffy is staying and waiting for her brain surgery, but no one notices! Luckily, Buffy convinces the doctors to let her check her mom out for the night before her surgery, as long as Buffy follows a lengthy medication regimen. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Mrs. Buffy is safe. The space bug kills a bunch of psychiatric patients who are being ignored by their nurse. Then it hitches a ride right over to Buffy’s house, and hangs out on the ceiling of Mrs. Buffy’s room while Buffy sobs over the dishes and Dawn tries to ignore Mrs. Buffy’s call for help because she thinks it’s the brain tumor talking. It’s HARROWING, yall.
Meanwhile, the Scoobs–who have been nearly flattened by run-of-the-mill demons while Riley, who Buffy left in charge, is off getting his blood sucked by sexy lady vamps–have figured out that something bad came out of the meteorite that kills people by suffocating them with black goop. They do research in the library while Riley calls in reinforcements from the Army. Willow finds out that the last “meteoric anomaly” was connected with a wave of madness that spread through society right after each meteor hit. They think it must be connected to Glory, since she’s a “beastie summoner.” As for Riley, he takes the black-berets to the hospital, where they realize that the space bug hitched a ride out of the hospital already. Riley immediately knows he’s got to head for Buffy’s house.
Of course, by the time he gets there, everything is fine. Dawn finds Joyce under attack by the space bug and jabs at it with a coat rack, then makes a ridiculously loud teenage-girl scream that finally alerts Buffy. Buffy hunts for the space bug but at first only finds Spike, who was apparently in her basement rummaging for pictures of her. Then the space bug attacks Spike and finally Buffy, who stabs it with the help of Spike throwing a knife to her. Riley arrives just as they’re brushing themselves off. Spike tells Riley, “You just missed a real nice time.” Hee!
Dawn is starting to wonder what’s wrong with her. The mental patients at the hospital–and even Mrs. Buffy–have been saying odd things to her, like that she has “no data.” Buffy plays dumb and convinces Dawn she’s imagining it, but by the end of the episode, Mrs. Buffy realizes that she wasn’t just having a brain spasm, and that Dawn isn’t really hers. Mrs. Buffy looks so sad when Buffy confirms this. “She does belong to us though,” she says. “And she’s important to the world. Precious. As precious as you are to me.” Awww. I feel like I connect with this line way more than I would’ve before, now that I have a kid. Finally, Mrs. Buffy says, “No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you’ll keep her safe. That you’ll love her like I love you.” She even calls her “My sweet, brave Buffy.” Tears!
Finally, it’s revealed to us–but not to Buffy, Mrs. Buffy or Dawn–that the young doctor, Ben, is in cahoots with Dreg and Glory. Uh-oh!
Notes from a New Fan:
- Xander says, “I think I should get points just for showing up.” Could he be any more of a poster child for male entitlement?
- This scene where Xander and Giles are beaten up by two incredibly muscular female vampires is either Xander’s worst nightmare or his kinky fantasy (or both).
- I can’t believe Nicholas Brendan gets credited ahead of Alyson Hannigan (and James Marsters!)
- This Ben guy seems like bad news. He always shows up at key moments and is a little too friendly. Don’t tell him anything, Buffy! (ETA: I was right! He’s bad news!)
- Willow and Tara’s nonsensical conversation about constellations is a very popular way for movie characters to flirt: see also Serendipity.
- [SPOILERS] However, I have a bad feeling that Tara is going to die. (I mean, I know she’s going to die but I’m getting a bad feeling that it’s soon.) This sweet scene where she and Willow are on the roof looking at stars is the kind of scene that you put when the character’s about to die.
- Anya is worried about Riley going sterile if he touched the meteor. Heh.
- Riley digs some gross black slime out of the mental patient. “That might be toxic, don’t touch it,” he says condescendingly to Xander. Although, I guess with Xander, it probably is best not to assume that he knows better than to touch black slime that you recently dug out of a dead body.
- Riley makes a call and says he needs to speak to “the man at the desk” on an “emergency frequency.” LOL.
- One of the patients in the hospital is cold. A nurse covers him and then leaves silently while he sobs. Then she eats Mallomars while the little demon eats all the patients. Jesus, that’s dark!
- It’s nice to see Buffy being the caretaker, since she usually has a kind of teenagery rebel vibe around her mom.
- Riley says the black stuff is “some kind of protein alkaloid,” which I highly doubt is a thing. Google results are mostly for “protein-alkaloid” interactions, which means the protein and alkaloid are different. But then again, I last took chemistry when I was fifteen, so approximately when this episode actually aired, so who am I to talk?
- Mrs. Buffy becomes convinced Dawn is just a “thing” during one of her brain farts. I guess brain tumors make people psychic about Keys?
- Buffy’s explanation to Dawn, that people whose brains short-circuit think “there’s nothing real except for them,” is so sweet and convincing. But I think it’s wrong for her not to tell Dawn what she knows at this point. It’s one thing if Dawn doesn’t notice anything. But once Dawn is wondering what’s wrong with her, I think Buffy owes it to her to tell her the truth. [I agree! I was thinking that it’s kind of like adoption–people mostly agree now that best practice is to tell kids when they’re really young, so it never becomes a big secret. But I guess Joyce and Buffy didn’t have that option. –Janes] [Yeah, I don’t know if modern parenting is equipped to handle the situation where your child is actually a combination of a supernatural key and a bunch of implanted memories… —Nerdy Spice]
- I love how Tara refers to Xander’s research as “Xander’s little book.”
- Great acting from SMG during the scene where she cries over the dishes. Janes and I were just talking about how she carried this show.
- When Buffy’s attacked by the space bug, Spike throws her a knife instead of making his escape. After the fight, these are my word-for-word notes: SPIKE PULLS HER UP BY THE HAND OMG I LOVE IT.
- Ben the Intern gets into his car… and the Marshall demon pops up in the back seat like Harrison Ford, reprimanding him for drawing attention where it ought not to be. Turns out Intern Ben summoned the Queller, which he says is to “clean up Glory’s mess.”
- OK, I have no reason to think Mrs. Buffy dies in the show, but after this episode I really think she’s a goner. This last scene where she begs Buffy to take care of Dawn is too affecting… it has to be the foreshadowing of death!
Notes from a True Stan:
- I’ve probably said this before and will say it again, but the treatment of mentally ill people has aged so poorly.
- Wait… but are the push buttons at the crosswalk hooked up to anything? I still don’t know.
- Why is Riley calling in the government for this crisis, of all things? Is it just because the creature is from space, which makes this vaguely sci-fi?
- This cockroach demon is so gross. When it’s hanging from the ceiling, and then throws up on Joyce? *shudder*