Episode Title: Forever
Original Air Date: April 17th 2001
“Hey, Ghora! Heads up! (the Ghora raises three heads) Oh, guess heads up it is.” – Spike
Having braced myself for the rough ride which is “the body” I’m somehow completely forgotten about this weeks episode which see’s Buffy and Dawn along with the other Scoobies still reeling from the death of Joyce as they now prepare for her funeral. At the same time Dawn is making her own plans to bring her mother back.
After leaving us all rather emotionally drained with the previous episode, here the writers really go back to the well with this episode as we essentially get more of what we had last week, only now with added resurrection making me wonder why the two episodes couldn’t have been combined in some way. More so when the scenes which were so emotionally driven last week now come off feeling like scenes from the cutting room floor. Prime example of this being the post-coitus philosophy session between Anya and Xander which throws around a lot of confused and half-baked ideas which ultimately amount to squat bar enforcing to the viewer the bound this couple share.
The real meat of the plot comes from Dawns own inability to deal with the death of her mother which leads her exploring necromancy to bring her mother back from the dead much to the horror of Tara and Willow who she’s staying with not wanting to stay in the family home, especially when she feels that Buffy is not showing enough emotion over their mothers death. These scenes were Dawn first gives the hints of what she is planning give us an insight into the world view of Tara and Willow especially in terms of how they use their powers and that they can’t meddle in matters of life and death, something that Willow seemingly had no qualms about later in the series when it suited her own means. It’s equally noteworthy just how weak she is in this episode and that the suprisingly strong presence comes from Tara who by now has been essentially reduced to being a background character as frustrating as that seems.
Tara outlining the rules of Magic and its uses to Dawn in an ideal world would have just been left as a scene between Tara and Dawn, as Willow provides little than distracting irritation during the scene. Equally with Tara also having lost her mother, she would make for the perfect voice of reason for Dawn. Its equally interesting that despite Tara being seen as the lower level witch than Willow she certainly seems a lot more knowledgable here in this episode and it serves to remind how underused she would often be thoughout the series and the mistep it was to push her into the background especially when episodes like this really hint at a lot of untapped potential for her character.
What the episode does give us I the developing relationship between Dawn and Spike who will become something of a guardian to Dawn over the remainder of the series, though the reason for this is unclear and perhaps something to do with Spike wanting to honor Joyce’s memory as he’s re-introduced her trying to drop off flowers only to be mistaken for trying to pick up Buffy again by Xander and Willow. Spike’s suprisingly close relationship to Joyce is touching to hear, especially as she was one of the few friends he really had, even though it was always subtly underplayed in the previous episodes.
This episode also sees the brief return of Angel, who its clear that the feeling are still strong between him and Buffy as he consoles her in the graveyard, before disappearing back to LA just as quick as he appeared. Still for those who still pine for the days when they were a hot couple its an enjoyable moment and one which doesn’t have the feeling of a forced cameo.
The aspect of the episode which is hardest to get around is the fact that Dawn is able to seemingly pull off a resurrection spell despite having no magical training or ability. If we were to start nitpicking the show it could be further questioned that a teleportation spell knocks Willow out for several episodes yet Dawn is unaffected by resurrecting the dead? It makes little sense though we do get the prospect of a zombie Joyce only for it to only be teased as a shadow outside the door (a nod to the classic horror short story “The Monkey’s Paw”) and it does ultimately serve to bring back together Dawn and Buffy which it can be assumed was the overall goal of the episode.
Next Episode: Intervention