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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Older and Far Away

Xander: "It's just, you know, you're upset because we all want to leave. And now we can't leave. The only thing missing is a cornfield. There isn't a cornfield, is there?"

This was a fairly typical and pedestrian Buffy vs. Monster episode, good with character interaction and perhaps more interesting for its parts than as a whole. And, of course, it kept well with the Buffy birthday tradition of gutwrenching misery and horror, as one might expect.

What with the death and the Spike and the Nerds, Buffy has been seriously neglecting Dawn, while Dawn was practically wearing a sign around her neck saying, "I'm acting out! I need attention!" That's the thing about parenting. Your life could be completely falling apart, but your kid's problems are always more important than your own, doubly so if you have a teenager. Dawn's pouting and pilfering, Halfrek's spell and Anya's attack of claustrophobia triggered some serious intra-Scooby conflict here, as Anya attacked first Dawn, and then Willow. (By the way, I loved Tara literally stepping in front of Willow to deflect Anya's attack. Go, Tara.)

Halfrek the vengeance demon ("Actually, we prefer 'justice demon.' Okay? FYI?") was probably too good to waste on just one episode, so she's back. She was played by the same actress who played Cecily in "Fool for Love," an episode I've probably watched about three hundred times, and hey, she recognized Spike and called him "William," so is Cecily now a vengeance demon? And how did that happen, if it did? I mean, Angel went back and ate his family, but I can't see Spike going back and doing something to Cecily. And why would she be a demon and not a vamp?

Never mind, moving right along... Buffy's blind date getting shish-kebabbed and Spike being the one to help her slay the sword demon should confirm that Spike actually sort of is her type, and dating a normal guy is not for her. The Buffy/Spike violent carrying on in the last episode seems to have left them with a relationship hangover, or at least in a somewhat subdued mood. I was hoping Buffy would apologize to Spike for beating the crap out of him or that he would apologize to her for what happened at the Bronze and that there would be a big apology-paloosa, but I can wait; that may be coming. Buffy was actually somewhat gentle with him, teasing him about his "new diet," and he was somewhat sweet with her, covering in front of Tara for touching Buffy in the hall, and that was good. Because things certainly can't continue the way they were between the two of them.

I think that if I were Buffy, Tara is the one I'd be confiding in, too. And how about Tara playing matchmaker and showing kindness toward Spike? Was that cute or what?

So what's with Anya? She's been cool for a long time, and suddenly we have all this angst. Could it be pre-wedding jitters? If so, Xander managed to stave off his own; he was so sweet with her, for the first time in a long time. I'm starting to wonder if Anya might be the big bad this year instead of Willow. Or perhaps it's time to consider that the big bad this year, other than the Nerds, of course, might be internal conflict among the Scoobies themselves, which is actually quite a cool idea.

Bits and pieces:

— This week's prizewinning double entendres were "I'll let you blow out my candles" and "instant gratification for all your little acheys." And only one of them was Spike's.

— Dawn yelling "Get out get out get out!" was straight out of another episode ("Blood Ties").

— I can see why The Buffy Powers That Be put Richard the blind date in there, but why have Clem the demon there at all? What purpose did his character serve, except to remind us that kitten poker must be abolished? Sophie from work was something of a pointless innocent bystander, too.

— That closed door at the end made it look like Buffy was finally ready to address Dawn's issues. About time.


Spike: "I had... a muscle cramp. Buffy was, uh, helping."
Tara: "A muscle cramp? In your pants?"
Spike: "What? It's a thing."

Buffy: "Dawnie, it's okay. You know, we're not gonna be mad."
Dawn: "Yeah, only I didn't do anything."
Willow: "You sure?"
Dawn: "You want me to ask my other self?"

Tara: "I thought vengeance demons only punished men who wronged women."
Halfrek: "Oh, that was Anya's little raison d'etre. Most of us try to be a little more well-rounded. And actually, we prefer 'justice demon.' Okay? FYI?"

Richard: "You have some weird friends."
Xander: "News from the file marked 'duh'."

Not bad. Not that good, either. Two out of four stakes,

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


  1. perhaps more interesting for its parts than as a whole

    Yes! This episode should've been much better. As someone who likes Dawn, I'm sad that the writers got it so wrong here. Dawn is extremely annoying in three episodes this season ("Dead Things", "Older and Far Away" and one that is yet to come), but it's enough for most of the fans to be mad at her, even though she is quite nice in nineteen other episodes.

    It is what is is, and when Dawn whines that people don't want to be around her it's SO ANNOYING. Why are we wasting time with such silly behavior?

    I enjoy some of the Scooby fun, Clem is awesome, Tara making fun of Spike is great, but the episode doesn't really deliver as a whole.

    I agree with the rating. It's a pretty okay-ish type of episode.

  2. Get out, get out, get OUUUUUUT! (Mk II)

    I hate Halfrek so much, lol. I'm just going to pretend she got killed when she got stabbed and if ever we see her again it's her sister like the deal we have going on with Andrew.

    I didn't really mind Dawn, for some reason? There's something deeply sympathetic to me about a kleptomaniac being outed (n-no, I'm not relating). It's just too inherently sweet, her wish instead of violence upon people who're neglecting her is to... force them to stick around? I can't hate her for that. But, and I know I'm repeating myself, I really wish she was played by a 10ish year old. I still love the idea of Buffy as a big sister, but this still doesn't quite work for me. Well I liked the end of the episode, Dawn smiling as Buffy closes the door instead of tasting sweet freedom (and I blame only my mind but it was almost suggestive too >.>)

    I really liked the Anya stuff, it almost felt more like her episode than Dawn's. It's just a little weird to me when Dawn's lines feel almost 4th-wall break-y, like she's asking the writers directly what are they even doing with her. Buffy's serious ennui never came across like that, even though I still don't like how it feels like the writers are enjoying breaking Buffy down to her core too much. I do not trust them to build her back up or to resolve any of these frankly un-resolvable feelings she's been despairing under. But I guess reconnecting with her sister is a good first step.

    "I mean, Angel went back and ate his family, but I can't see Spike going back and doing something to Cecily."
    You can't?

    "I was hoping Buffy would apologize to Spike for beating the crap out of him or that he would apologize to her for what happened at the Bronze and that there would be a big apology-paloosa"
    Being soulm8s means never having to say you're sorry :^) Spike can apologize, but Buffy did nothing wrong. Physical violence will never compare to that absolutely messed-up kind of isolation mindgame Spike's been running on her, in my admittedly twisted opinion.

    "Or perhaps it's time to consider that the big bad this year, other than the Nerds, of course, might be internal conflict among the Scoobies themselves, which is actually quite a cool idea"
    Interesting theory. One might also consider the big bad this season is a wayward showrunner gallivanting around with new projects and only popping in to do experimental one-offs that drains a season of its funds that it still needs to operate outside of it (there's no way to convey volume in text but imagine my voice getting progressively louder with each word after 'showrunner')! Yes, I mad. You think you can tag in 'n' out like a little girl playing Chinese Jumprope? You in this show for life, mutha-canoodla. Ah well, at least Firefly got cancelled.

    There's a point where during the presents-opening scene Buffy comes to Xander's chest and since it's on the floor she looks up at him and just flashes such a lovely smile. I don't know why I'm mentioning it but I felt like I should lol. I had a flashback to her resting her head against Xander-in-protective-poofy-suit's chest in seasons past. Just unexpectedly sweet.

  3. Every time I rewatch this episode I’m surprised by how much I like it. It’s Buffy’s birthday, what could go wrong?

    I liked the additions of Clem, Richard and Sofie. It’s funny how Sofie fits right in and Clem has no problems interacting with all the humans. Richard has more of a problem, prompting Spike’s “Stupid git.” And Richard does provide some good opportunities for vampiric taunting and demon fodder. Tara vs Spike was laugh-out-loud hilarious, Buffy playing cards with Spike was sweet. And I wouldn’t want to play monopoly with Anya.

    But lest I have too much fun, there’s Spike’s bruised face and Dawn’s despair to remind me that this is Buffy, after all. Here, it’s not enough to be magically trapped in a house, but you have to be magically trapped in a house with a demon. Said demon was eventually dispatched by Buffy & Spike working together. Nice. (As was the demon throwing Buffy into Spikes arms as they landed on the floor.)

    Working together on the problems managed to reveal all sorts of troubles, especially Dawn’s. Hopefully good things will come of it.

    I can’t believe I just finally picked up on the whole Halfrek/Cecily/Spike thing! (After reading this review yet again.) How DOES she end up as a vengeance demon and why does she act all flustered and cute when she recognizes Spike? As a human she didn’t find William worth her attention. Aren’t humans given the choice to become vengeance demons? Like Anya? And Willow? If so, I wonder what happened in Cecily’s life to make her demon material, and if Spike (or Drusilla) had anything to do with it. Or maybe the “daddy issues” Anya mentioned?

    The episode title makes me think. “Older” is easy enough to understand, but “Far Away?” Buffy is far away from everyone else? From Dawn, for sure. From Willow & Tara because they’re busy with their own problems? From Anya, because it’s Anya? From Xander, because now there’s Anya? This makes that scene make sense where after Xander is cut by the demon, Buffy wants to help, but Anya steps in, leaving Buffy standing alone. And far away from Spike? This also makes the scene make sense where, when Halfrek removes the curse, Spike gives Buffy a genuine look of relief, but Buffy reacts with discomfort and won’t meet his eyes.

  4. I maintain a theory that Cecily was in fact already the vengance demon Halfrek when she spoke with William back in 1880's London. That's why she was so mean to him at the time, just mentally abusing him for her demon kicks.
    Also, love the Tara-Spike interactions in this episode. Sassy Tara is a moment.

    1. That would actually be true if Halfrek and Anya were indeed involved in the Crimean war. (As mentioned in “Lessons.”) The war was in the 1850’s and William was turned in 1880!

  5. Yawn. This espisode didn’t do it for me. Petty pedestrian for sure. And most of the time I don’t mind Dawn but this episode she was acting like a child. “Pay attention to me” “get out get out get out”. This middle part of the season is starting to drag for me a bit. I’m eager to get to the final batch of episodes which I know the plot picks up.


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