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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Help

Xander: "Poems. Always a sign of pretentious inner turmoil."

I was seriously discouraged after last week's episode, but wow, what a comeback. The preview made me think Dawn-at-high-school-hijinks, but instead, we got a story about high school pain that took me back to season three, with a powerful reminder that Buffy simply can't save everyone, no matter how hard she tries.

I was moved to tears not once, but twice – by Willow at Tara's grave, and when Cassie finally died. It wasn't even that I was that attached to Cassie as a character after only one episode, although I certainly did like her; it was just the shock of losing her that way after thinking Buffy had twice managed to save her. There were also good red herrings throughout about possible threats to Cassie to keep us off-balance – Cassie's father, Mike the boyfriend, the suicidal poems on Cassie's web page, the mother we never saw.

Let's leave behind the fact that Buffy probably wouldn't do this well in real life since she doesn't have a degree in psychology... but I loved the guidance counselor scenes, which ranged from touching (the boy with the brother who just enlisted) to funny (I think I'm gay, will you go out with me to prove that I'm not?) I especially loved the short scene where Buffy counseled Dawn about Dawn's overpowering older sister.

Loved the Willow scenes, too. The simple scene at Tara's grave practically yanked the heartstrings out of my body. I also really enjoyed the banter (Xander, flattered: "Love poems?" Willow, wryly: "I'm over you now, sweetie") and the reference to how writing Dougie Houser fanfic and poetry about death is completely normal.

And oooh, the Spike scenes: too short, but full of content. "Yes, there's evil. Down here. Right here. I'm a bad man. William is a bad man. I hurt the girl." and "I hurt you, Buffy, and I will pay." (Interesting that Spike is constantly referring to himself as William these days.) Buffy may have walked away, but she did touch him; she stopped him from hurting himself again.

Buffy is keeping her distance from Spike, and I can't blame her for that, but I just can't believe that she's indifferent to what is happening to him. Yes, I wanted more, but they finally threw us Buffy/Spike relationshippers a bone when Cassie said to Spike: "She'll tell you. Someday, she'll tell you." I'm not even going to try guessing what that meant, but hey, it gives me hope.

The last scene in the library made me jones for the library of old. (*sigh*) I knew Peter was the bad guy as soon as he did that cruel pretending-to-ask-Dawn-to-the-formal thing. Let's not dwell on the fact that in that small a circle, someone would probably have noticed Buffy. For me, what made that scene work was Spike arriving to rescue Cassie, and the way he subdued Peter, even though hitting Peter caused Spike terrible pain.

Bits and pieces:

— Good teaser, with the Scoobs staking out coffins in a funeral home, pun intended. I especially liked Dawn squeezing into the kiddie coffin and complaining that it had a child-lock.

— Spike is back in black. The blue shirt of goodness must be at the cleaners. Was it me, or did he look particularly gorgeous in the library scene? Yes, I know I'm obsessed.

— Tara's headstone said, "Tara Maclay. October 16, 1980-May 7, 2002." Meaning that Willow chose to visit Tara's tomb on Tara's birthday, which is today.

Slaughterhouse Five, the book Cassie was reading, is one of my favorite novels.

— "Peter" was one of the kids from Home Improvement.

— I really, really, really like Principal Wood. Please don't let him be a bad guy.

— We finally had a "previously-on" that was flay-free. Hallelujah. Enough with the skin already.

— No Anya at all in this episode. Looks like she'll be getting major screen time next week, though.


Xander: "Maybe she cut herself shaving and then died naturally of embarrassment."

Xander: "From beneath you, it devours. It's not the friendliest jingle, is it? It's no 'I like Ike' or 'Milk, it does a body good'."

Buffy: "Okay, no Foreign Legion. I get that. I mean all the changing your name, and being indentured for all those years, and occupying Algeria..."

Principal Wood: "Talk like that is taken pretty seriously where I come from."
Buffy: "The hood?"
Principal Wood: "Beverly Hills. Which is a hood."

Willow: "Have you Googled her yet?"
Xander: "Willow, she's 17."

Dawn: "We all deal with death."
Xander: "This girl isn't just dealing, she's giving death a long, sloppy word-kiss. She has a yen for the big dirt-nap."

Willow: "I mean, a lot of teens post some pretty angsty poetry on the web. I mean, I even posted a melodramatic love poem or two back in the day."
Xander: "Love poems?"
Willow: "I'm over you now, sweetie."

Buffy: "Do you know why I came back to Sunnydale High?"
Boy: "To creep me out?"

I liked this one a lot, can you tell? Four out of four stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. I was really upset when Cassie died, I was hoping she would become more of a regular as Dawn's friend as I enjoyed her scenes.
    I honestly didnt really get the whole demon thing though. It seemed rather forced for the plot.
    But I didnt see the ending coming at all! I was convinced Buffy would save her but for some reason it hadnt occured to me that it could be a natural cause.

  2. I suspect Slaughterhouse Five was carefully selected since, like the novel's protagonist she knows the future but can't do anything to change it.

  3. Azure Skye is wonderfully unsettling but I found this episode somehow more emotionally overwrought than anything in season 6. I don't get what's supposed to be distinctive about this particular instance of "Buffy does her best but couldn't save someone from fate." I thought it was cool, but also kind of weird for Dawn to be the one to accept it more readily than Buffy. It's a great maturation moment for her and I love the episode's general feel of revisiting that kind of highschool mystery style of the golden age but it makes Buffy look way more innocent than we know her to be about saving people and the total lack of guarantees. I normally have a blindspot to these kinds of surprise endings but I felt no shock from it for some reason. It all felt oddly familiar... maybe I've seen the same kind of thing play out in another show or I'm having some sort of subconscious recall to my first viewing.

  4. Good episode. I have no memory of what Buffy eventually says to spike but I took Cassie’s prediction as Buffy will finally says he loves him one day, or at least says she has feelings for him since that’s what he’s always wanted for a long time. And Buffy will make a difference? I guess we can expect a happy ending to this whole it comes from beneath great evil (again theorizing bc I don’t remember this season or how it ends).


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