“Yeah, but he’s new. He doesn’t know his strength. He might not know all the fancy martial arts they inevitably seem to pick up.” – Dawn
Here we are at the start of the final season and after the rocky road to hoe which was season 6 and with Joss Wheldon still absent as show runner the warning signs really kick in early for this season even though he does return to script this season opener which finds the group still largely scattered with Willow now in magical rehab with Giles back in England, Spike is still missing and Anya has returned to her vengeance demon fold.
On the positive side we open to Buffy training Dawn to slay vampires as the pair await a newly turned vampire as he rises from his grave, only to humorously get stuck halfway. Of course anytime we’ve had one of these moments, much like the vampire rising from a grave to attack Buffy only to see her bag of weapons and running off instead its a fun spin on the norm while its great that the show can still manage to surprise its audience. Watching this training sequence though I had to question what happened to the training for the other Scoobies? Sure the others all had supernatural or magical abilities but didn’t Xander deserve some kind of training? Its not exactly the kind of learn on the job role after all.
Dawn of course isn’t the only one learning something as in England which for some reason is shown like it exists in a Jane Austin novel which always seems to be the way if they can’t find a way to work in the cobbled streets of London town. I mean is it too much to ask for us to occasionally get a tacky seaside town than furthering the Brit stereotypes. Still its here that we are reunited with Giles and Willow. Willow now magically charged so that she can no longer give us magic which from what we are led to believe here was until this point more of a hobby for her. More grating is the fact that we are subjected to her moping about the people she killed while Giles works to make her “Willow again”. Still if you ever wondered what Anthony Stewart Head’s house was like this is actually were they shot this scene in Somerset, England including his horse “Otto” which we get to see here.
One of the big issues of the episode is that nothing really makes a huge amount of sense as Dawn starts at the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High were we not only get to meet Principal Wood who is already marked out as someone to watch, but its in the basement that we are re-introduced to Spike who clearly is not dealing well with having his soul returned, much less that he is being tormented by this season’s big evil “The First” who here appear as the various defeated big evils of the previous seasons. We also get to see the hooded members around the world hunting down and killing girls seemingly at random something which will also be explained later.
A weak season opener with the exception of the introduction of this seasons evil and Dawn starting her training but seeing how far we still have left to go it really doesn’t bode well for us the watcher as the show is now clearly moving further still from what it once was.
Next Episode: Beneath You.