Episode Title: Gone
Original Air Date: January 8th 2002
“Can we get back to freaking out about no-show Buffy? This is serious.” – Xander
Tone wise its something of an odd episode this week as we open to Buffy cleansing the house of anything Magic releated as Willow undergoes her magic detox following her hitting rock bottom in the previous episode. At the same time Buffy seems keen to clense the house of anything link to Spike as she finds his ligher in the couch and adds it to the same box as Willows magical items. To make matters worse its also at this moment that Buffy is visited by the social services who, due to Dawn’s school attendance and grades have now landed Buffy under probabation. All these events creating something of a rock bottom effect for Buffy who is next seen cutting her hair with a zoned out expression.
It’s a grim setup for the episode and one which the writers suddenly get cold feet over and instead give us an invisible Buffy storyline when its revealed that the diamond we saw “The Trio” stealing a few episodes back was part of their invisibility ray gun which they accidentally use on Buffy.
So now heading off in a much more comedic direction Buffy takes advantage of her invisibility powers to engage mainly in prop comedy, playing pranks and shack up with Spike without anyone getting to see what she is doing, which does have the downside of creating an akward situation for Spike when Xander walks on him and Buffy in an awkward position not that he can see her of course.
These comedic beats of this episode really come as a refreshing break from the focus being so strongly on the problematic relationships of the group. True perhaps not all of them work such as Buffy flirting with Spike while he’s talking to Xander just come off as akward as their relationship still feels, though even as I write that I know there’s a whole other section of the Buffy fan-verse who love this plotline.
It’s great to see “The Trio” back in this episode especially having been absent for the last few and its interesting to see the cracks form in their group already with Warren already showing hints of a darker side when he attempts to vaporise Buffy instead of making her visible again much to the horror of Andrew and Jonathan who its clear from this episode had a very different idea of what it means to be a super villain with the idea of killing people not seemingly being one they wanted to follow through on.
Yes “The Trio” might be far from the biggest threat that Buffy has faced, but seeing the group slowly coming apart now and their high success rate of nailing the comedic moments make them still a great addition to the series. More so when their guide to villainy is largely based around fictional villains such as Lex Luthor.
A fun little episode and one the show really needed after the last few problematic ones and while tone wise it might be all over the place it still manages to be the fun episode we needed from the show, while providing some much needed evolution for “The Trio”
Next Episode: Doublemeat Palace