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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Potential

Anya: "Wow. It's like, one second you were this klutzy teenager with fake memories and a history of kleptomania, and then suddenly you're a hero with a much abbreviated life span."

The First is "in remission," and this episode was, like, intermission. *yawn*

Buffy starts a School for Slayers, which includes barhopping, breaking and entering crypts, and rolling around on the ground with Spike. Speaking of which, Buffy sure does like to straddle Spike, doesn't she? She likes to take his shirt off, too, don't give me that broken ribs excuse. And three times in this episode, Buffy was rattling on about her affair with Spike. Buffy is clearly succumbing to those killer cheekbones again; I sense returning smoochies, or at least potential returning smoochies.

Okay, potential, I know that's the title, and I'm glad that they finally dealt with the whole "Dawn was made from Buffy so why isn't Dawn a Slayer" issue. I was torn about this one. Dawn's chances of getting killed off at the end of this season might improve if she's a red shirt Slayer-in-Training, and I'm all for that... but being one of the potentials would also give her a bigger part in the approaching battle, and I'm not for that. Plus, it would upset everybody who is horrified about the possibility that Dawn might be a spinoff character. Which is also me.

Anyway, it was moot because it was transparently obvious right from the beginning that Amanda was the potential, not Dawn. I even remembered Amanda talking about her violent tendencies in the Cassie episode earlier this season. I do rather like Amanda. She has a little more personality than the other potentials. Unfortunately, that isn't saying a whole lot as yet.

One thing I particularly liked about this episode was Xander comforting Dawn at the end by telling her how he felt about being the regular guy who fixes windows while his friends all have superpowers. Except for his jealousy of Buffy's supernatural lovers, Xander has always dealt with his superpowerless situation pretty darned well.

Bits and pieces:

-- It was cute, seeing Clem doing the Michael Keaton face thing from Beetlejuice.

-- The school exit doors wouldn't open out. Isn't that against the law?

-- We get yet another big reminder about what Joyce told Dawn. Gee, must be important.

-- Where was Chloe?

-- Why is Andrew still around? What purpose does his character serve now, other than to deliver nerd jokes?


Buffy: "Best we can tell, he -- or, more precisely, it -- was putting a lot of stock in that ubervamp thing. The Chaka Khan."

Buffy: (on the phone) "Xander, I know... I'm sorry. If you're going to take a shower at my house, lock the door."

Dawn: "Okay, see, that's why we don't point the weapons in the kitchen."
Vi: "It's not loaded."
Dawn: "That's always the lead quote under the headline, 'Household crossbow accident claims teen'."

Andrew: "I'm not begging."
Buffy: "You're like a small dog dancing for Snausages."

Vi: "He doesn't seem evil exactly."
Buffy: "He's not evil. But when he gets close to it, he picks up its flavor. Like a mushroom or something."

Willow: "The smell will lead us to the potential."
Xander: "Or some poor soul who ate too many chimichangas."

Dawn: "What if they saw the spell?"
Xander: "Saw the spell? Dawn, they can't see flashcards. Big ones."

Anya: "Dawn's going to be a Slayer."
Andrew: "Holy crap. Excuse me. Plucked from an ordinary life, handed a destiny..."
Xander: "Say Skywalker and I smack you."

Andrew: "It's like... well, it's almost like this metaphor for womanhood, isn't it? The sort of flowering that happens when a girl realizes that she's part of a fertile heritage stretching back to Eve, and..."
Xander: "I'll pay you to talk about Star Wars again."

Vi: "It's a demon bar. It's like a gay bar, only with demons."

Spike: "Nice job of blending in, girls."
Rona: "We're a bunch of 15-year-olds in a demon bar. How much blending did you think we were gonna do?"

Dawn: "I think I strained something. Maybe something I'll need later in life."

Xander: "It's a harsh gig, being a potential. Just being picked out of a crowd. Danger, destiny... plus, if you act now, death."

Once again, there was too much Dawn, too much of the other teenagers, and not enough Spike. Two out of four stakes,

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


  1. Disclaimer: I don't dislike Dawn as much as you do. She's annoying, but I think any teenager with a superhero for an older sister would be have annoying attention issues.

    I think that's part of why I liked this episode. As much as being a potential scared Dawn, it was her chance to be important--a chance to maybe step out of Buffy's shadow a little bit. But to her credit, when that's all taken away she doesn't start whining (as she might have in the past). She is starting to grow up.

    That's why I LOVE Zander's speech to her at the end of the episode. He's been dealing with being on the edge of the spotlight for the past seven years, so he's the only one who can clearly see what being a potential might mean to Dawn (besides impending death). And Zander is the one who can see how Dawn has grown enough to gracefully step aside when she finds out it was all a mistake. I actually thought Michelle Trachtenberg played that moment beautifully. You could see how much Zander's acknowledgment of her pain meant to her, and how encouraging it was to be noticed in some small way.

    Sorry about the essay length comment! :)


  2. Don't apologize, Mandy! We not only welcome essay-length comments, I think we specialize in them. :)

  3. Good to know. :)

    I've been reading billiedoux for a while and I finally couldn't keep my comments to myself anymore. I love the site--thanks for all the work you guys put in :)


  4. You're very welcome, Mandy. Your comment was terrific. Please don't hesitate to post more! Josie and I read all comments, and they do sometimes start conversations, even when the episode aired a long time ago.

  5. I'm doing a rewatch for something like the 4th time. I hardly remember this season. This episode kind of annoyed me (because Dawn...) but that part at the end with Xander and with Dawn hitting the books even though she wasn't "special"; that was some seriously good tv!

  6. I love Andrew's nerd jokes. It's a good nod to all of nerdy fans ( who make up a lot of the Buffy fans). And so many of them make me think of my son. He thought he was from another planet in a previous life. He never told me. I heard about it from his kindergarten teacher. I would have almost believed him if I hadn't discovered the planet was just like the one in Dragon Ball Z.

  7. I have to go with Mandy, except possibly A little more in the liking Dawn camp. Possibly its just because I am an older sibling but I actually really like Dawns character.
    Although I don't think she could carry a series I find that she is exactly what I would expect from a girl her age dealing with the issues she is.
    Even just her reactions to Willow and Tara last season have pretty much always felt authentic to me.
    My question, if you remember your feelings for this long ago is why you don't like dawn? Is it just because she takes time away from Spike or have I missed something along the way?

  8. Josh, I do remember. This is a show that started out featuring an entire cast of terrific teenage characters, and they could very well have made Dawn a great character, too. Instead, they made her a walking plot device, constant and unappealing motivation for Buffy. I felt bad for Michelle Tractenberg but honestly, her character should have been written out after season five.

  9. Thanks Billie. As I mentioned it could just be that I like younger sibling (especially sister) characters and relationships.
    Although it's only in season 7 that she is 16, the same age as Buffy, and I feel she's far more mature than Buffy was at that age.
    This could be reading too much into it but I also like that Dawn is a kind of metaphor for Buffy's responsibility to the world.

  10. I LOVED Xander's speech to Dawn about how she wasn't special, she was extraordinary. SO sweet! And I'm not really a big Xander fan. Or a Dawn fan.


    Although it's really too little, too late regarding Dawn's improvement I still like it well enough, and it moved me to see her dealing with thinking she was special and then finding out she's not. Since when did Xander become the one who sees, though? I thought he was the heart (which I also find kind of a meaningless statement).

    I loved the conversation that takes place right after Dawn "finds out" that she's a Potential. Just the flow of it and the dialogue was really nice and I was paying close attention.
    "You're a part of something larger, like being swallowed... by something larger."

    I was talking smack about Rona before but I liked her actress's delivery in v v v
    Spike: "Nice job of blending in, girls."
    Rona: "We're a bunch of 15-year-olds in a demon bar. How much blending did you think we were gonna do?"

    It was fun. I'd rate the episode a little higher than you.

  12. After reading through this review and comments, I’m going to say upfront that I love this episode. 4 out of 4 stakes for me. I’ve always liked Dawn. I like the bold way she was written into the series and I like her goofy and sincere personality. I also like Buffy’s slayer school for potentials. Which segues nicely into the next paragraph.

    I love the opening scene. I’ve watched it countless times and counting. Spike training the clueless potentials is great. I did wonder why his chip didn’t fire when he faked biting Vi, but I guess it was complicit with the fake-out.

    Buffy told Spike to come at her full speed, but she bested him way too quickly for that. Those ribs must be painful. Straddling him, she noticed the pain on his face and was immediately focused on Spike, not the watching students. He told her about the ribs and tried to get up, but she wasn’t having it. He takes her hand to stop her lifting his shirt, saying almost inaudibly, “Buffy, I’m ok.” (Thank you, CC.) Then, as she hesitates, he says a bit louder, “I’m gonna be OK.

    Rona speaks for me, too. “Now that’s hot .”

    Both Buffy and Spike are breathing a bit hard when they stand, and I just love Buffy’s sigh and stealthy glance at Spike as they move on. I think she’s trying these days to figure out what now, as she finds herself without the number one reason she felt she couldn’t have a real relationship with Spike - his lack of a soul. Probably doesn’t help when, soon after, she’s exchanging smirks with him in a demon bar, or remembering his crypt as comfy. Love the look on Spike’s face at that one.

    Buffy’s counsel to Amanda was pretty funny, especially from the mortal enemies part. That confusing relationship with the ___ is “Over, absolutely, seriously, definitely over.” “So, maybe.”

    I guess that was all the B plot, the A being finding the new potential. I like Amanda, but I thought Dawn was great, following Buffy’s voice-over instructions to the potentials to a tee as she fights off that vamp at the school. Impressive, but I’m glad the cavalry arrived. Xander’s encouragement at the end was one of the best things I’ve ever heard him say.


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