There is kind of a feeling of Deja Vu here as Dawn and soon Buffy, Anya and even Willow find themselves falling for a handsome quarterback R.J. at Sunnydale High which might have a lot more to do with his personality. So yes here we basically get a rehash of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” were Xander’s attempts to use a love spell caused him to suddenly become irresistible to every woman (bar Cordelia) in Sunnydale.
So it would seem that either the writing pool was getting a little dry at this point or perhaps there was just the belief that no one would remember the original episode. Still to cover for things it is hidden initially under the geise of a growing pains episode for Dawn, whose clumsy attempts to attract his attention inevitable go wrong most memorably as she ties out for the cheer squad which means we got to see the Buffy Cheer outfit again.
As the episode goes on the ladies of the scooby gang loose all control and launch into their own plans to impress R.J. with Buffy attempting to kill Principle Wood with a rocket launcher who is completely oblivious of what’s happening behind him as we get to see Spike comedic-ally wrestling the launcher from her. Willow meanwhile has plans to turn him into a girl and Anya more randomly still decides the best way to get his attention is to rob a bank!
Outside of the main plot there is the fun comedic pairing of Xander and Spike who Buffy moves into his apartment, knowing that the school basement is only driving him more insane since he got his soul back. While its great to not have to deal with the insane ramblings of Spike the issues with his character his previous actions still hang over him, but atleast this is a move to try and improve the character from were he’s been the last few episodes. The highlight for this pair coming when they discover that the source of A.J’s allure is in his Letterman jacket which has been passed down his family which we discover when we are introduced to his older brother and former jacket owner who without the jacket has turned into a slovenly layabout. Certainly it’s really saying something when even Xander considers you a loser.
A largely fun episode even though it does hit a dark climax with a rejected Dawn attempting to kill herself on the railway tracks, the plots of Buffy, Willow and Anya help carry it through, especially the slapstick battle for control of the rocket launcher between Buffy and Spike.
“Oh, breathtaking! It’s like somebody slaughtered an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.” – D’Hoffryn
It’s always kind of a concerning when your suddenly presented with the backstory of character more so if their death is seemingly forthcoming as is the case in this episode with Buffy feeling that Anya’s vengeance duties are getting out of hand, sets out to slay her.
For all the destain the memory of season 7 brings to mind it seems somewhere in blocking most of it out I forgot about this little run of pretty great episodes that we had with the previous episode “Same Time Same Place” and which here continues with “Help” as Buffy attempts to settle into her new role of the school councillor at Sunnydale High a role that seemingly doesn’t need any qualifications to do seeing how she’s pretty much walked into the role. Through her first batch of students Buffy comes into contact with a young girl called Cassie who predicts that she is to die on friday causing Buffy and the Scoobies to leap into action to prevent this.
“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.
So finally we reached the end of the wretched mess of a season which was Buffy Season 6 and it really makes you wonder if the series should have just ended with what would have been a fitting ending of season 5? Of course back in the day none of us were ready to say goodbye to Buffy and of course the idea of her being resurrected for season 6 was unquestionably a welcome one. Sadly it seems this was as far as the showrunners got with their planning for what we end up with was a largely forgettable season bar a handful of episodes such as Xander and Anya’s wedding and the much beloved “Once More With Feeling”
One of the big mistakes of the season is the lack of any real big evil, as here we get “The Trio” who outside of Warren’s slow corruption in his quest for power are never really a threat though they do provide many of the season’s high points with their bumbling attempts to take out Buffy largely thanks to the inclusion of Andrew and Jonathan. Perhaps their combination of techology and magical abilities could have made them more of a threat but sadly it was not to be as they main purpose is to pave the way for Dark Willow.
Here lies one of the major downfalls of the season, for not only has Willow continually been an irritating presence since season 4 but here this season it was really cranked up several notches as drunk on her own success at bringing Buffy back from the dead, the egotistical Willow is much like having to deal with a drunk when everyone else is sober. Sure they might be having a good time as we got to watch her and Amy go off on magical benders but no one else really was and the attempts to add emotional weight by having Tara leave her only felt cheap. Now by the time we reach the end game and Dark Willow is triggered by Tara accidental being shot by Warren the chances are you were more upset at the loss of Tara than what it meant for their relationship.
Dark Willow just doesn’t work as a big evil outside of the draw of having Willow and Buffy fight things out which considering the two have been on the same power level for a while on paper just have some minor appeal. However by the time the pair face off its against an overpowered Willow in what is essentially a massively unbalanced fight that Buffy has no real way to win as proven by Giles return in what easily was one of the best moments of the entire season unlike say how she ultimately beaten by Xander of all people which was great in that it gave him a purpose outside of comic relief but an achievement drenched in overworked smaltz.
The misguided attempts to tap into the emotional side of the characters frequently proves to be the downfall of the season be it Dawn’s Kleptomania or the Buffy and Spike getting together a direction for the show which still makes zero sense even now, while his attempted rape of Buffy after their relationship disolves only served to break the character in a way which its hard to redeem him from even though the series ends with his quest to regain his soul.
So were do the issues come from? Well one of the main reasons can be placed with Joss Wheldon stepping down as the show runner to work on “Firefly” leaving Marti Noxon to take over as Show runner and in many ways left the show drifting away from its routes and generally pushing characters in directions which we didn’t want to see. Marti Noxon would continue as the showrunner as we move into the final season which is often viewed as the worst….or is it?
Join me next time we start our look back at Season 7 in which Buffy faces off against The First Evil who are now targeting potential slayers around the world, forcing Buffy to ally with some familiar faces as she battles to save the Slayer bloodline.
“Thanks a lot for coming. It was good of you to teleport all this way. Though, in retrospect, it probably would have been better if you hadn’t come and given Willow all that magic that made her, like, ten times more powerful. That would have been a plus.” – Anya
So here we are finally at the end of season 6 which has been a problematic trudge to say the least from the notable lack of big evil and one off gimmick episodes like Xander and Anya’s wedding and the much beloved “Once More With Feeling” its really been the beginning of the end for the show even as Buffy prepares for one final showdown with Dark Willow.
So having claimed the title of the series big evil at the end of the previous episode when she skinned alive Warren, the Buffy-verse is now faced with Buffy battling Dark Willow as she hunts down the two remaining members of “The Trio” with the final two episodes which originally were shown together before being split up for the boxset release.
“You’ve got to stop doing this. This dying thing is funny once, maybe twice.”- Xander
After what has been a severely hit and miss season for the show Season 6 finally enters into its endgame for the season as we ended the previous episode on the dramatic note of both Buffy and Tara being shot by Warren. Now while Tara’s death might have been more accidental it was of course all that was needed for Willow to fall of the magic recovery wagon which is were this episode chooses to focus as she now sets out to take out her revenge on “The Trio”.
“I can’t wait to get my hands on his orbs.” – Andrew
So here we are almost at the end of the season six and finally we get something resembling a real threat as the Trio steal the “Orbs of Nezzla’Khan” which grant the powers of strength and invulnerability to their owner.
Does anyone else remember when Buffy was a show about monsters and mythology…. The only reason I ask of course is because here we get yet another episode more focused on the problematic relationships of Buffy and the Scoobies in particular Xander and Anya with the fallout from him leaving her at the alter still fresh in her mind. Not the best thing of course when she has returned to her Vengeance demon duties something she is now wanting to use on him.