Buffy the Vampire Slayer S04 E22 – Spoilers

Previously: Adam’s Demon Trojan Horse plan worked, but The Scoobies got their shit together and performed epic magics, ending with Adam death and The Initiative closing.


Sweeney: IT’S FINALE TIME! SEASON FOUR IS OVER VICTORY DANCE! (Almost. Full victory dance in the wrap-up post.)


Sweeney: This finale is a weird one because we had our showdown with the big bad in the last episode, and yet, here we are, with another episode to go. Whedon has a whole. freaking. lot. of megaweird crazypants foreshadowing to do, and that’s probably a big part of why opinions are split on this episode. I’m stoked to experience it with the gift of hindsight for the first time. Granted, it makes for a hard episode to recap because of all the epic DAFUQery. Let’s see how this works out for us.

Lorraine: As the resident know-nothing-er, this will be interesting for me as I know that it’s full of foreshadowing but I still have no foresight. I’ll be over here putting around the episode!

Sweeney: Credits roll immediately after the “Previously on…” and we start the episode at the Summers home. This makes my heart happy, because this season is probably the one where we spend the least amount of time here, so I feel like we’re going home to when the show was good and will be good again. DEEP, I KNOW.

K: Yup. Now if only the Summers home came with a side of permanently bringing back Oz… SIGH.

Sweeney: Buffy is anxiously saying goodbye to Riley, who has to go be debriefed and might even get an honorable discharge due to his helping save lives and also in exchange for his silence. “It’s like you’re blackmailing the government,” says Willow. Riley gives her a But-I’m-Soldier-Boy look and she awkwardly adds, “In a patriotic way!

K: He also makes a funny about the “Bay of Mutated Pigs.” As a history nerd, this made me smirk.

Sweeney: As Riley leaves, Joyce gives a pointed, “Finally” to meeting Riley and then I swear I had already typed that when she adds, to Buffy, “Did you notice how pointedly I said, ‘Finally?’” Yes, Joyce! I did! I totally did!

K: A+ for you, Sweeney.

Sweeney: The gang gathers around in the Summers living room for a celebratory, “Adam didn’t end the world!” movie night.

Lor: Adorable. Sure, this episode is about to head into crazytown, but it’s nice that they’ve gathered in friendship here for a moment. Sorry. My feels are showing.

Sweeney: This episode is a really great blend of layered stuff for obsessive fankids (and bloggers, huzzah!) to pick apart forever and ever and lolz for people who give no fucks about all of that, with these added dashes of feels for us. Everyone wins, in my opinion. Except for poor Kirsti who hates the crazy too much. Sorry, Kirsti.

Xander insists that they have movies to last them all night, since nobody can sleep after ALL THE ADRENALINE. Joyce smiles at this scene from seasons past (and future! Huzzah!) in her living room as she walks up the stairs. Naturally, they put a movie in and all fall instantly asleep, because conjuring ancient magics to rip out a cyborg demon’s uranium heart is exhausting.

We zoom in on Willow sleeping. She’s dreaming about a naked Tara who is concerned that Ms. Kitty hasn’t told them her name yet. Willow isn’t worried, though, because she always feels safe there. Tara warns that Willow doesn’t know everything about Tara (K: FORESHADOWING THE FIRST!), and that everyone is going to find out about Willow. We see Willow painting crazy symbols on Tara’s back. (L: Looks Greek-ish!) She doesn’t want to leave for drama class because it’s so bright and just outside the window it’s suddenly a desert and there is something super weird out there.

Willow is walking through school, and she passes Xander and Oz (!!) who talk to her awkwardly about drama class. Oz knows things because he has been here the whole time, calling back to Willow’s feelstastic line in his van about him always being with her. Xander talks about Willow doing spells with Tara and adds that sometimes he thinks about women doing spells together and then does a spell by himself. #awkwardxanderboner, but also LOL. Oz gives him the best, “Srsly?” face.


At drama class, they are about to do their first production and it’s a delightful callback to the episode where everyone lived their nightmares. In continued random character appearances, Harmony is there. Buffy, wearing a black wig and a flapper dress, tells Willow that she’ll be fine and nobody will find out about her. Riley keeps repeating how pleased he is that he showed up on time and got to be Cowboy Guy. I am amused by this caricature version of Riley. It’s only a slight exaggeration.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless”

Lor: I love it too. Soldiers and cowboys are in the same vein of all-American goodness that Riley represents. Riley was in the right place at the the right time for Buffy, and essentially got “cast” because of this combination of goodness and convenience. He isn’t a fit for her, though. It will be a nice role for him while it lasts.

K: Also, Willow makes another reference to season 1 by asking in a terrified way if they’re putting on a production of Madame Butterfly, because NOPE DON’T WANNA.

Sweeney: Even better? Giles is the director! Cutest.

K: Another season 1 reference?

Lor: Absolutely. But it also clearly speaks to Giles’s role in the series. Seriously adorable.

Sweeney: Agreed, says everyone except for Willow, who finds nothing adorable about what is happening. “Now, everyone that Willow has ever met is out in that audience, including all of us. That means we have to be perfect.” During all of this, Willow notices the thing she saw out in the imaginary desert skulking around backstage, but nobody else notices it.

Everyone else was too busy giggling at the absurd scene of director!Giles giving final notes as vampire!Harmony jumps around him like a dog, biting at him. It is ridiculous and illogical, and he adds that the production will be great if Willow will stop stepping on everyone’s cues. Poor dream!Willow.

Off to the side, a random dude with glasses whispers to Willow that he’s made a little room for the cheese slices.

Willow wanders through the curtains, which go on for a long time, and finds Tara, who says that things aren’t going very well. Willow keeps trying to make this class make sense, and Tara says she’s not getting it. Tara confirms that yes, something is following her.

Willow’s still worried about the play, which Tara says already started. We cut away to Buffy, Harmony, and Willow on stage. Back behind the curtains, Tara is telling Willow that when everyone finds out about the real her, they are going to attack and Tara won’t be able to help. Willow asks again about the thing that is after her, and we cut away to the play again. Back behind the curtains, Willow is still there, but Tara is gone.

Lor: I LOVE DREAMS so I can’t not comment on this stuff that’s happening on stage. When Riley comes out on stage, he offers to carry Harmony’s milk pails while Buffy lounges in the background.

The second time we cut to the stage, Buffy is giving an impassioned men-hating speech. This is still Willow’s dream, so it could very much be a reflection of her own thoughts, but how perfect that it is being delivered by Buffy, she of the worst luck with men?

Also, I think Harmony’s role here is to represent the light side of Buffy. I mean, she runs up to Willow and says, “I love you!” Then, on stage we see her responding to Riley in a very Buffy way. (I don’t need your help. It isn’t heavy. What are you doing in my town?) While Buffy is going off about men, Harmony is in the background crying. This theory is interesting when you consider the Giles directing scene. Giles loses a word and Harmony offers, “prop!” but he dismisses her. It isn’t until Xander offers the same word that he accepts it. Isn’t this what happens to Buffy all the time?

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless”</p><br /><br /><br /> <p>GILES: Acting is not about behaving, it’s about hiding. The audience wants to find you, (a vampface Harmony is behind him, trying to bite him) strip you naked, and eat you alive, so hide. (turns to Harmony) Stop that.<br /><br /><br /><br />


OR NOT. But maybe. Carry on. 

K: Thinking too much about things: Lor does it.

Sweeney: To be clear: I am a big fan/supporter of this thinking too much about things. Not describing the scene on stage was an editorial decision because I once had a fantastical daydream about this post remaining under 5,000 words, which is long even by our ridiculous standard. Alas, my dreams are not prophecies and my daydreams are like the anti-prophecy, so we’re totes going to blast way past 6,000. Cute, me from the past. Cute. (K: Like how when Lor and I first started doing this, we had plans to cover three episodes per post?) With that, I have nothing to add besides a general nod of agreement and, “Here, here!” to Lor’s bonus DREAM! commentary.

A knife cuts through the curtains and things are attacking Willow, until Buffy appears, no longer in the costume. They emerge from the curtains in a classroom at Sunnydale High School. Buffy asks what Willow did to get something to come after her and also wants to know why Willow is still in costume so long after the play ended. Then she rips at Willow’s clothes and sits down. The classroom is filled with familiar faces laughing at poor Willow who is wearing stuffy nerd clothes from high school. At least, that’s the idea. Honestly, this outfit is a lot more attractive than many of the fashion choices Willow made this year, but whatever. Oz leans over to Tara and says he tried to warn her. Willow starts to read her book report (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe!) (L: BEST.) (We prophesied the end of the season with our list of non-sucking kids books!) as everyone in the room either laughs or looks bored.

The skulking thing appears again, attacking Willow, but nobody does anything. We see Buffy slump down in her desk as Willow cries for help. Back in the not-dream-world of the Summers living room, Willow is choking in her sleep.

With that, we pan down to Xander waking up to find Buffy and Giles still awake and watching the movie. All he missed was a bunch of massacring, says Buffy.  Xander is insisting that Apocalypse Now gets better. He notices Willow sleep-choking and asks what’s wrong, but Buffy says Willow’s just a big faker. They eat popcorn and chat and Giles adds, “Oh, I’m beginning to understand this now. It’s all about the journey, isn’t it?” Xander heads upstairs to use the bathroom, aand this is about the time for me to pass the baton. Sorry, Kirsti.


Kirsti: Ugh, leave me with the Xander storyline why don’t you…

Xander heads upstairs and Joyce comes out of her bedroom wearing a slinky red nightie thing. Does it classify as a negligee? I’m unclear on the proper classification of such ridiculous garments. Xander says that he hopes they’re not making too much noise with the movie watching, and Joyce says that the others left a while ago. There’s some Mrs. Robinson seduction weirdness going on, and NOPE NOT OKAY MAKE IT STOP. Xander says that he needs to pee before any having of sex with his best friend’s mother, and heads into the bathroom. He lifts the lid on the toilet and then notices a bunch of Initiative style scientists and soldiers watching him.

Lor: Well, we all know that Xander has life-performance-anxiety issues and does often feel judged. Poor Xander.

K: True. He leaves the bathroom and heads across the hall to Buffy’s room. But it’s not Buffy’s room. It’s the Fruit Roll Up Basement. And something’s trying to get in the door from the main house. “That’s not the way out,” he says.We cut randomly outside to a playground in full sunlight. Giles and Spike – both in tweed suits – are on the swings, while Buffy’s in the sandpit. Spike says that Giles is going to teach him to be a Watcher, while Giles says that Spike’s like a son to him. Does this count as season 6 foreshadowing?

Sweeney: OH. I mulled this over for longer than I would like to admit before figuring out what you meant, because I feel like my future-memory has been getting progressively worse with each episode that we dissect. Anyway, this episode is fun because it leaves so much room for interpretation — whether things were planned up to a certain point or not. I’ve not heard any Joss commentary on this episode, so I’m sure everyone else will have their thoughts (ROT13 FOR SPOILERS, Y’ALL!) but I’m on the side of, “This one was retroactively granted foreshadowing points.”

K: Probably. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the future episode intentionally replicates parts of this one… (S: This is what I was suggesting, yes.)

Xander watches his ice cream truck driving self handing out ice creams to small children. Then he looks at Buffy with concern and asks if she wants to be playing in a sandpit that big. The camera pans out, and the playground sandpit has turned into a desert. “I’m okay. It’s not coming for me yet,” she replies. There’s some more conversation, including Giles telling Spike to “put your back into it! A Watcher scoffs at gravity!” (WTF?!), and then we cut across to Ice Cream Truck Xander. Because, sure. Why not.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless”</p><br /><br /><br /> <p>SPIKE: Giles here is gonna teach me to be a Watcher. Says I got the stuff.GILES: Spike’s like a son to me.<br /><br /><br /><br />

Lor: There is lots of family talk here. Someone in the comments recently said something about how, yes, the Scoobies did stray from their friendship but that a big family theme that will start to develop in the upcoming seasons: Family is who you choose it to be. Buffy looks up at Xander and calls him brother, and it takes him by surprise. Xander admits that he wanted that fatherly guidance from Giles for a bit, but that he has other things to worry about now.

Sweeney: It’s said with only partial conviction, though. That is, he does have other things to worry about, but their “chosen” family is real enough to them that it’s hard to believe that he’d ever be completely apathetic towards approval from Giles. I dearly loved the “brother” line both for it being written in the first place and also for its execution. Lots of feels. This whole segment of the episode is pretty golden, and I could watch that gif all day.

K: I’m guessing the “brother” thing also takes him by surprise because of all those times he wanted to get in her pants. Don’t mind me, I’ll be on my ottoman.

He walks from the sales window to the driver’s seat, and there’s some intentionally awful “no, really, this vehicle is moving” blue screening a la any Grace Kelly movie ever. Anya’s in the passenger seat, and the van is driving itself right up until Xander sits behind the wheel. Anya asks Xander if he knows where he’s going, then says that she’s thinking about getting back into vengeance, and Xander’s all “society says no.”

Lor: Um, if she turns back into a vengeance demon, I’m… not going to approve. I’m not going to approve VERY VIOLENTLY.

K: Then he hears noises, and looks into the back of the van to see Willow and Tara getting as making out-y as television would let them get in 2000. Which is to say, they almost kiss and the camera pans back to Xander as we hear face nomming sounds.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless”

Lor: Um, Tara looks gorgeous.

K: Willow and Tara invite Xander to join them. He looks at Anya, who encourages him to go, saying that she’ll be fine because “I’ve worked out how to steer by gesturing emphatically.” She proceeds to do so as Xander heads into the back.

But the truck requires him to clamber over stuff, and then he’s back in the Fruit Roll Up Basement again. Something’s still trying to get in. He turns around, and the Cheese Man is there. “These will not protect you,” he says, gesturing at the cheese. (L: I got nothing.) Then we’re suddenly at a very green and purple lit version of Sunnydale High. He finds Giles and asks what’s following him. “It’s because of what we did, I know that,” Giles replies. He then tells Xander to listen carefully because he’s about to tell him exactly what to do.

Giles keeps talking and gesturing, but all we hear is some random guy talking in French. Anya approaches, and also starts speaking-but-not-speaking French. Xander’s all “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SAYING” and they act like it’s a typical “Xander doesn’t understand” moment. They drag him off, and then all of a sudden he’s in camouflage gear with an Asian guy pointing a gun at him and marching him through a jungle. They head into a room where Xander’s forced to kneel on the ground. A voice in the shadows asks him about himself. I’m guessing it’s meant to be Apocalypse Now-y, but I’ve not seen it so I can’t be certain. The person in the shadows sits up, and it’s Snyder. “You know, I never got the chance to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake,” Xander says.

Sweeney: All of the random blast-from-the-past appearances are wonderful because they not only remind us of where we’ve been, but add to the layers of interpretation to this episode, either as misdirection or guiding interpretations of all the prophesying going on here. 

K: You say “wonderful”, I say “Ugh, get on with it, Whedon.” Potato, potahto.

Xander stands up, and is suddenly in the courtyard outside Giles’ apartment. The beastie thing is lurking behind a pot plant. He runs into Giles’ apartment and yells that it’s here. Giles, Buffy and Anya are standing around Willow, who’s still doing her choking routine. Anya suggests slapping her, while Buffy asks Giles if she can fight it.

Xander heads down the hall towards the bathroom and is suddenly in Buffy and Willow’s dorm. He hears growling sounds behind him and heads through Willow’s closet, and ends up back in the Fruit Roll Up Basement. The banging resumes. He heads up the stairs a little ways, and the door bursts open to reveal his father, who berates him for being ashamed of his family. Xander says that his father doesn’t understand, and his father stomps down the stairs. “The line ends here with us, and you’re not gonna change that. You haven’t got the heart,” his father says. Then he shoves his hand into Xander’s chest and rips his heart out. Xander looks up to see the beastie. Back in the living room, Xander gasps in his sleep. The camera pans in on Giles, and we fade to black.

Lor: AAAAHHHHH!!! Okay, so (1) – poor Xander keeps ending up in his basement no matter what. He’s certainly feeling trapped and after this reminder of just how sucky his home life has always been, I actually have Xander feels. YOU GUYS. XANDER FEELS. (2) – Giles says that whatever is after them is after them because of what they did and then beastie thing takes out Xander’s heart! IN THE SPELL LAST EPISODE, HE WAS THE HEART. And, back in Willow’s dream, beastie thing sort of drank up her life or… HER SPIRIT. Excellent.

K: And here I was, going for subtle implication… 😉 After the Not Commercial Break, an off-screen Giles is trying to hypnotise Buffy with a pocket watch.

Lor: This right away reminded me of Helpless. Also, Buffy starts giggling in this scene and SMG looks fantastically adorable.

K: I think it stands out because we so rarely see Buffy laugh. She smiles, she smirks, she puns like a champion. But laughing? Not so much.

Sweeney: This. But she’s precious when she does, though! It’s telling that this is happening in the Giles dream, though, and in keeping with the family theme at play. It’s the more idyllic phase at the beginning — which is how the other dreams began as well (worth noting that Xander’s happy place was reality, sitting on the couch with his friends) — and for Giles it’s a happy, laughing, child-like Buffy. Innocent and still able to be protected.

Lor: Excellent observation. Then, for Willow, her idyllic happy place was simply with a naked Tara. Legit.

K: Then we cut to the cemetery at night. Buffy’s in overalls and pigtails, dragging on Giles’ hand while his girlfriend, Olivia, pushes an empty stroller. They walk towards a carnival-style stall and Buffy yells that she wants to do it. It’s basically throwing balls at a fake vampire. She throws the first, and misses wildly. Giles gets exasperated and tells her off. She pouts, then tries again. This time, she hits the vampire and a man hands her a stick of fairy floss. “Oh, now you’re going to get that all over your face!” Giles crankies. She turns around and her face is covered in grey mud. The colours in the image invert quickly before we cut back to Giles. “I know you…” he says as his face blurs a little. “Hey!”

Lorraine: Spike appears and calls Giles over, and so we leave behind this look at what his family is. Giles walks into a TARDIS crypt and inside, Olivia is crying off to the side while Spike announces that he’s hired himself out as an attraction. Why yes, Spike. You are often reduced to the comedic relief, but you are so pretty.

K: I’m interested in whether or not there’s meaning behind Olivia’s crying. Because she was pregnant and pushing a stroller outside. And now she’s crying over the stroller, which is tipped over. Randomness? Miscarriage? Or Giles’ subconscious fears about never having a proper family? What say you, Traumateers?

Lor: Spike’s portion of this scene is shot in black and white. In between talking to Giles, he’s striking some very exaggerated poses while a gathered crowed oooh, aaaah, and take pictures. Giles looks at crying Olivia and wants to know what he’s supposed to do with this. Spike tells him he’s got to make up his mind, stop wasting time and figure it all out. “I still think Buffy should’ve killed you,” Giles says and it’s funny because (1) ANYONE could kill Spike at this point. He can’t stop them. and (2) – NOPE. Because he’s the attraction, guys.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless” SPIKE: I’ve hired myself out as an attraction. This is one of my favorite episodes… TONS of gifs coming.  :3

Sweeney: YES. It’s another ultra meta layer to this, because this bit was the show talking about itself.

Lor: Cheese Man shows up to be a man with cheese.

Giles walks from the crypt and into The Bronze where he is suddenly consulting a book and apologizing to Willow and Xander for being late. He says a lot is going on, and Willow is all, “UH, DUH.” She points to Xander’s chest wound as proof. Xander says he promised Anya he’d be there “for her big night,” but now he’ll probably be dead.

We see now that Anya is on stage trying to tell a joke, but she bumbles around the set-up. Why yes, Anya, your lack of social skills are also often amusing. I wonder if this whole ex-baddies as entertainment links Anya and Spike somehow. Don’t answer that.

Willow says that this is Giles’s fault, but he says that he’s been busy with a gig of his own. Willow says something primal and animalistic is after them. Anya finishes her joke and the audience, Xander included, laugh appreciatively. Willow, calling Giles Rupert, calls his attention back and says they need to focus and figure out what they are fighting against.

AMAZINGLY, this sends Giles into a musical number, in which he figures out that the spell they cast with Buffy must’ve released some primal evil. Way ahead of you, Singing Giles. I figured that out during Xander’s dream. THIS WHOLE SONG IS THE ACTUAL BEST so I’m super sad when it suddenly cuts out.

K: My favourite line is “And Xander – help Willow. And try not to bleed on my couch, I just had it steamcleaned.” Because it’s totally something Giles would petulantly say in reality. But in a dream, he sings it. Awesome.

Lor: Giles follows his microphone cable backstage until it leads to a big cable pile. Underneath it there is a pocket watch. When he looks up, the Primal Beastie is above him and Giles repeats his line from when Buffy had gray goop all over her face, “I know who you are.” INTERESTING.

The Primal Beastie lowers itself onto Giles who says he can defeat PB with his thoughts and intellect. The PB slices Giles’s head open (the mind) as he says that it is underestimating him. “You couldn’t know. You never had a Watcher.”

So the Primal Beastie is some sort of Slayer! Probably. Giles convulses in his sleep and drops his glasses as we cut to black.

After the cut, it’s time for Buffy’s dream! She’s in the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room and we hear Anya begging her to wake up. “I’m not really in charge of these things,” she says sleepily. (S: This throws a wrench in my happy-beginnings theory. I’m standing by it anyway, because Buffy’s dream is a bit different in a number of ways.) Anya insists but Buffy wants to keep sleeping. She rolls onto her back and we see that hanging about her is the Primal Beastie (Probably Slayer). She startles “awake” to find herself in her bed at the Summer’s home.

We swtich POV’s and Buffy is standing and looking at the bed. She says she just made the bed with Faith. Tara asks for who they made it. I just looked at the beginning of that recap I linked, and while I can’t remember details of the Faith-bed-making-dream, apparently it insinuated that Buffy has a little sister. Kirsti non-confirmed confirmed that. I also know that Michelle Trachtenberg will eventually be on this show because pop culture told me so. I THINK I JUST SPOILED MYSELF.

K: Jeez, Lor. Did River Song teach you nothing??

Lor: She taught me find a Doctor and MARRY HIM.

Buffy says she thought Tara would tell her who the bed was for. Buffy asks where the rest of the Scoobies are and Tara says, “you lost them.” Buffy thinks they need to be found. She sees that the clock says 7:30 and comments on how late that is. Tara says the clock is completely wrong (K: FORESHADOWING THE MILLIONTIETH), and instead hands her the Tarot-y card depicting the hands that was used in the binding spell last episode. Buffy glances at it and says she’s never going to use it. Tara says that Buffy thinks she knows what’s to come and who she is, but things haven’t even begun.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x22 - “Restless”

We see that now the bed is made. Buffy insists that she needs to find her friends. Tara says, “be back before dawn.” BECAUSE OF MICHELLE TRACHTENBERG, YOU GUYS. Sorry. I’m just kind of excited that I know one thing.

Sweeney: LOL. When you first mentioned that you spoiled yourself, though, I just wanted to skip to that gif. Sorry, Lor. You think you know what’s to come…

K: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Lor: Buffy is walking through school, looking for her friends when she notices a hole in the wall. She peaks in and see Joyce. Buffy asks why she’s living in the walls, and Joyce insists she’s fine there. She’s made lemonade and is learning to play Mah Jong. No mention of how the whole gallery thing is going. Joyce sends Buffy off to go find her friends and then starts giggling when a mouse crawls over her. Buffy says she really shouldn’t be in there, but catches sight of Xander nearby. Joyce says Buffy could probably break through the wall, but Buffy is already walking away.

That was heartbreaking. Could they have depicted their crumbling relationship in a more creepy way? It reminded me a little of Dennis being paved into the wall by his mother in Angel. Also, I do not want to know what this means for Joyce and Buffy’s relationship in the upcoming season. NO. DON’T TELL ME. LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU.

K: Foreshadowing the millionty first??

Lor: Buffy has presumably followed Xander, but is now walking into a white room where Riley in a suit sits at a table with another man. Riley greets Buffy with a, “hey there killer,” and goes on on to tell B that they made him surgeon general. Seems he didn’t say anything sooner as he’s been busy drawing up a plan for world domination that involves coffeemakers that think. Buffy doesn’t think that sounds like a good idea. Riley spins around in his chair as the ominous music crescendos and the camera pans in a stylistic way that reveals a gun, on the table, pointed toward Buffy.

At this point we see that the other man at the table is Adam. It’s Adam all human with no demon parts. It’s so weird to see him this way.

K: Especially as he’s kind of attractive… Oh wait. I just looked him up on IMDB and not so much. 

Sweeney: I didn’t look him up on IMDB, but I will +1 that he was attractive for the hot second he was non-demonically on screen.

K: Thank you for confirming that it wasn’t just me.

Lor: Adam says that Buffy has a hard time with certain concepts and that aggression is a natural part of human nature, though they come by it a different way. The Primal Beastie (Probably Slayer) is now standing behind Buffy as she says that they aren’t demons. “Is that a fact?” Adam asks. This shit is cray.

Riley interrupts to say they’ve got a lot of work to do filing and naming things (more commentary on Whedon’s opinion of government, I’m sure) when Buffy asks Adam what his name was before Adam. He says no one can remember. (S: This is a thing that I liked. Names and origins and whatnot all being interesting foreshadowing fodder.) (K: Foreshadowing for Angel, too.) Suddenly the room is washed in blue light as a voice over a PA system announces that demons have escaped. Riley and Adam stand, recognizing that this could be trouble. Riley suggests making a fort, and Adam walks off to grab pillows.

Buffy sees that at her feet is her bag of weapons. She tries to call out and tell them as much, but she doesn’t get louder than a whisper. She opens her weapons bag and their is some gray Gak looking stuff in there which she decides to play with at a time like this. OH I SEE. Her hands are now covered in that gray stuff Giles saw all over face earlier. And just as I finish typing that, Buffy starts to cover her face in the Dark Side of the Slayer Gak. I’m just calling it that for clarification purposes.

Riley comes in and sees that she’s all covered in Dark Side of the Slayer. He says that if this is the way she wants it, he’s leaving. BYE RILEY. CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THIS HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE.

K: Foreshadowing the millionty second!

Lor: Buffy walks along and she’s soon back in the desert as the soundtrack changes to a woman wordlessly crooning along to mystical music. Buffy thinks she’s never going to find her friends in the desert. Tara appears and says of course she isn’t. That isn’t the reasons she came. She probably came to keep playing in that big, dangerous sandbox, yeah?

Tara explains that she was borrowed for Buffy’s dream because someone has to speak for “her.” As Buffy says “she” should speak for herself, we see the Primal Beastie (Probably Slayer?) walking just behind her.

K: Fun fact? The internet tells me that Angel was originally meant to be the spirit guide type, but Whedon drained the crossover magic fairy dry in the previous few episodes and they had to make do with Tara instead. Which I’m kind of grateful for, to be honest.

Sweeney: I dig all these random haven’t-seen-you-in-a-while appearances and he would have been another one for that. It’s also weird, though, that they intended to pick someone who Buffy is close with and swapped out for someone who is, at present, mostly on the periphery. Like, they couldn’t have Angel and then they couldn’t disproportionately bulk up one Scooby’s screen time, and Spike would be and even weirder choice, so all right then, Tara it is! Just seems odd.

Lor: In that regard, I think Tara makes more sense. If someone was going to appear in your dream as the voice of a primal, magical force, why not the girl you don’t know to well who is already shrouded in that mystery and mysticism?

Sweeney: A fair point. All right, show. You win.

Lor: Buffy asks the PB (PS?) why she follows her. Tara answers, “I don’t.” Buffy asks for her friends, but apparently that’s the wrong question. Buffy wants PB (PS?) to speak for herself but Tara answers that she has no speech or name, and that she merely lives in terrible stuff like death, blood cries,  penetrating wounds and destruction. It sounds pretty miserable. When Tara says, “I am destruction, absolute. Alone.” Buffy guesses, “the slayer?” She answers, “the first.

Knowing that the Primal Beastie  is speaking through Tara makes me realize that perhaps she’s been using other characters to speak all along. Most notably, Adam, as he told Buffy that their aggression comes from something other than human nature and that he has no name.

Sweeney: YES. In a sense, she was speaking through all the characters the whole time. But yeah, this suggests that any outskirts character was likely a First Slayer Microphone.

Lor: Buffy looks down in her hands and there is a Harry Potter-esque moving picture in which she sees her friends sitting around her living room. She says she’s not alone. The Primal Beast Now Definitely a Slay… OH FUCK IT. What do we call this thing? The First Slayer? Cool.

First Slayer says that slayers don’t walk in this world, but Buffy says she does. “I”m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out. And I don’t sleep on a bed of bones.”

K: Probably for the best. That sounds hella uncomfortable.

Lor: I’m adding this bit in right before post, just because I’ve seen the Angel finale now too, and it is also mentioned that he doesn’t really walk in the world either.

Buffy demands her friends and the First Slayer speaks and says that there are no friends, just the kill, so this bitch does speak. Rude to pull Tara all up in this dream. First Slayer says that they are alone and just then the Cheese Man pops in to make this a nightmare and wiggle around slices of American cheese. I HATE American cheese.

Buffy does too, apparently, because she decides that she’s waking up.

Sweeney: Good call, Buffy, because fuck that fake non-cheese ridiculousness. Let this be added to the list of pressing issues this blog takes a firm stance on, like the evilness of cats: American cheese = awful.

Lor: The First Slayer attacks her and the sound cuts out for a second as they grapple in the sand. Buffy says it’s over and FS pushes her down a sand hill. In the middle of the roll, Buffy cries out, “enough!” and wakes up on her living room floor. The First Slayer is still there, though, and starts stabbing her with a knife. Buffy just looks at her all, “bored now.”

Buffy says she’s going to ignore her, as she isn’t the source of her. As she climbs back on the couch she starts being cheeky about hair care and in the middle of her speech wakes up. For real this time. As if the First was all, “OH FFS. HAIR CARE? OKAY. FINE. WAKE UP.”

A beat after Buffy, the Scoobies all stir and look at each other.

Gathered around the Summer’s kitchen table, the group rehashes: The First Slayer, who was not big on socialization or floss. Giles says that joining with Buffy and invoking the essence of the Slayer’s power was an affront to that source. Buffy says a little warning would’ve been nice and Giles says he did warn of dire consequences. “Yes, but you say that about chewing too fast.

Joyce comes down and guesses that she missed some fun. Willow explains that the spirit of the First Slayer tried to off them and Joyce is all, “needs more alcohol hot chocolate.” An acceptable substitute. Giles asks if B is okay and she assures him that she is, though the dream was intense. She heads off to take a shower as she says that at least the Cheese Man didn’t appear in their dreams. They look at each other all, “freakin’ cheese man.”

I guess I’ll say now that I loved this episode. I think that here, so close to the direct middle of the series, we get a look at the past, present and future of the Scoobies in an artistic way. Part of the reason that season 4 was awkward was that it was so transitional. It suffered in some of the same ways that middle chapters in a book, or the second book in a trilogy can.  This episode regrouped.

We saw Willow where she started as the nerdy, shy high school girl, where she is, discovering her relationship with Tara, and magic, and where she’s headed, toward this dangerous and murky future as she struggles with hiding her true self from herself and others, and playing with magical powers.

We saw Xander where he started in a household of abuse and neglect, where he is, feeling stuck, judged, unappreciated and neglected in a basement, and where he’s going as he struggles for control of his own life, finding a way out, and contending with his relationship with Anya.

We saw Giles where he started as a Watcher and father figure to all, where he is, juggling his desires to recover his close relationship with Buffy, to have a family, but to also have interests outside of Watcher duties, and hopefully where he’s headed to in balance between those things.

And finally Buffy. Her dream was much more self-aware from the beginning. Buffy is good at dreaming. She was mostly set up for what is to come: the end of her relationship with Riley, the arrival of Michelle Trachtenberg, and what I’m assuming will be her struggle with the First Slayer, and perhaps even the darker side of herself, or of slaying in general.

K: Mostly, I saw foreshadowing and too many metaphors and now my head hurts. But sure. What Lor said.

Sweeney: This post was impossible to write because of all the things we’re not supposed to discuss.

Lor: Upstairs, Buffy peers in her room at her bed all made, and we hear Tara’s voice again telling us that we have no idea what’s to come and that I probably shouldn’t have spent all that time trying to figure it out because we have no idea what we’re in for.

Or really, I have no idea.

Freakin’ spoilers.


Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: NOT SEASON FOUR. Does anything else really matter? Join us as we put The Initiative behind us in S05 E01 — Buffy vs Dracula.


Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I spend too much time on YouTube. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

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  • Laura

    I love this episode so much. One of my favorite parts is the cheese man. It is kind of weird, but I think he makes this episode way more realistic, because for as reflective and telling as dreams usually are, there is always at least one element that make no sense whatsoever. Also, yay season 5! It is my second favorite season after season 2. So much excellence. Side note: fairy floss is a Kirsti lives elsewhere thing, right? Doesn’t everyone from the US call it cotton candy?

    • I actually think you’re right about the cheese – because dreams do always have something that you just cannot figure out what the hell it was doing there. And yes, we call it cotton candy, but I’ve heard people outside the states call it fairy floss before. Which, in my opinion, is adorable and a way better term for it.

      • I disagree. I’m actually pretty sure that I wrote a line one time in our recaps about my objection to eating “fairy floss” which sounds like the used dental string of tiny flying creatures. NO THANKS.

    • stephynee

      I think Whedon himself has confirmed that the cheese man is basically the only thing in this episode that is completely nonsensical and doesn’t represent anything. Although I’ve read some really cool interpretations of what he could symbolize. I wish I could remember where!

      • I love the idea of these super elaborate interpretations of cheese and wearing the cheese and cheese safety and then Joss comes out all, “No. Guys. It doesn’t mean anything.”

        Oh. Okay.

        • Lolly

          People often say eating cheese before bed leads to weird dreams, so I just always thought it was a shout-out to that? Also randomness as well.

          In the UK we call it candyfloss, a nice marriage of the two!

          • I have never, ever heard that about cheese. I have heard going to bed too full will give you weird dreams, but never specifically cheese. HMMM.

          • Lolly

            I did wonder after I posted if it was a UK thing, but it is DEFINITELY an old wives tale over this side of the pond!

          • I guess… I guess… it’s a good thing I don’t eat cheese before bed? I got nothing.

          • Jojo

            This is from The Initiative when Riley asks Willow ab out Buffy!

            She likes cheese.


            I’m not saying
            it’s the key to her heart, but
            Buffy? She likes

            That’s a

          • Isa Menzies

            They are called ‘cheese dreams’, and they are most definitely a thing.

          • SnazzyO

            Ok. I just have to say, I thought candyfloss was a kind of undergarment that is scanty on the backside material.

          • Lolly
          • Cheese and thongs in today’s comment section of Buffy. Best.

          • Melbourne on my Mind

            Because I just woke up, I had to stare at the screen for a minute before realising that you didn’t mean thongs in the Australian sense of the word. Carry on.

          • Melbourne on my Mind

            DUDE. I have had so many insane dreams as a result of eating cheese close to bedtime. SO. MANY. DREAMS.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      In the UK, it’s candy floss, and down here it’s fairy floss. I like how the UK is bridging the gap between us, in more ways than one.

  • Everyone falling asleep as soon as the movie starts – that always felt so adorable to me. Even if it ushers in the rest of this crazy episode, which I think I love but honestly it’s so all over the place I’m not even sure. But the #awkwardxanderboner is made more awkward by the fact that it’s Willow dreaming about Xander fantasizing about her and Tara. But Riley as Cowboy Guy is just perfectly hilarious to me. I’m pretty sure that’s how Mark Blucas (is that his name? I’m too lazy to look it up) got this job in the first place.

    Joyce seducing Xander makes me physically ill. But thank you for the gif of Giles and SPike on the swings, because that brings me more joy than basically anything else on earth. Also, I find it hilarious the excessive amount of makeup Willow and Tara are wearing in Xander’s dream, as if to say, isn’t it cute how boys think all gay girls are lipstick lesbians?

    I think you guys made brilliant points about the tipped-over stroller, which I never noticed, and I do think has a lot of meaning as to Giles’s personal family issues. And Spike, unable to be killed because he’s the ham, the dancing monkey, the one everyone’s paying to see do something silly.

    EXCEPT ME BECAUSE I’M PAYING TO SEE GILES SINGING SONGS ABOUT NOT BLEEDING ALL OVER HIS COUCH. Also, sorry I abuse caps lock every time Giles sings (I’m going to be a veritable minefield of capslock after the Once More with Feeling recap). Or smokes cigarettes.

    “Be back before dawn.” BRILLIANT FORESHADOWY SPOILERS. Also, that Lady Mary gif is THE BEST.


    • I do love it Sam. I love it like you love a crazy ass dream in which you never go hungry because a man randomly appears to offer you cheese. But not American because that shit is the worst.

      Willow sure does know her Xander, though, because just a little later in his own dream, there is Xander fantasizing about her and Tara.

      I am waaaaay curious about Joyce and Xander. I obv don’t read any other recaps or whatever because of spoilers but also because I don’t want that to sort of rub off on whatever opinions I’m forming, etc. BUT. I just did some very cautious Internet searching and I saw someone mention that Joss explains this in his commentary as a typical, teenage boy dreaming about his best friend’s mom thing that apparently happens to teenage boys. IDK. Someone else can confirm or deny because I’m closing Google. Must not be spoiled.

      I can imagine that Giles wants a family, and it’s one of those things at odds with what he does. He dreamt about having it all: Buffy, Watcher duties, his pregnant girlfriend, a family. And then Spike is on hand to break him out of that. He goes into the crypt where Olivia is crying and Spike tells him he needs to make up his mind on what he wants.


      • SnazzyO

        Yes, Xander is again the Joss!avatar with the “doing spells himself” regarding lesbians and the Joyce hots. Another reason why Xander’s dream is so long is that they get to include all the shit that goes through teenage/young adult male minds and bring out their inner 12 year old.

        • Oh, Joss. Way to out that you used to have sexy dreams about your friends’ moms…

          And I pretty much giggled when in Willow and Tara showed up. He’s confessed that he can’t go too long without thinking about sex. True to character, really.

          • SnazzyO

            Exactly. And you know, I swear there are some Iron Man comments in the Avengers (shots!) that are Joss!avatar comments too. He really LIKES to have men be morons sometime. I think he feels it’s part of his birthright.

      • Jojo

        I totally hate to say it – or even know it – but the term (Xander and Joyce) now is MILF.

        • XXm0rt

          Cougar MILF if she’s the one starting things with Xander >.>

          • Jojo


    • SnazzyO

      The Cheese is pointless. There are entire ESSAYS about Cheese Man but Joss has confirmed he’s just random dream junk.

      • And that is when you quickly and shamefully retract your cheese essay.

  • lev36

    A+ for “I think I spoiled myself” – LOL!

    The Greek that Willow is writing on Tara’s back is actually one of Sappho’s poems, if I recall the dvd commentary correctly. And it’s a visually gorgeous scene.

    I get what Joss was trying to do with the Primal Mud Face, but it should have looked more like dirt, IMO, with some bits of twig and stuff. As it is, it just looks like she’s giving herself some kind of facial, and is about to put some cucumber over her eyes.

    I love Buffy’s man-hate monologue in not-really-Death-of-a-Salesman! “Men… and their sales…” And the flapper look is good on her.

    Be prepared for a much better season, with a Big Bad that may be the most quotable ever, a little less squeamishness around displays-of-lesbian-affection, and magic shop that breaks the tradition of short-lived proprietors! Also, Team Feels better stock up on extra tissues, because everyone will be joining them in the Corner of Endless Tears for what I think is the most heartbreaking (and one of the most brilliantly done) episodes of the show.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      A love poem by Sappho, how fitting for Tara and Willow!

      Lor, I laughed for way too long about you spoiling yourself and then the River Song gif – perfection!

      • I felt my thought process running away from me and then BAM! By the end of it: spoilered.

    • “OH NO! BUFFY IS EXFOLIATING AT A BAD TIME!” <– Probably not what eve was going for. Thought the thought of twigs coming out of the mud made me giggle.

      This is an amazing sell of season five and I am excited! I mean, not about being crowded in the Corner of Endless Tears, but about all the other stuff! I'm crying in anticipation.

  • stephynee

    This episode is probably in my top 10 favorites of the series. When I was a kid I mostly loved it because of how crazy it is. I was not smart enough to grasp things like symbolism and foreshadowing. I loved reading this recap because even though I’ve watched this episode about 20 times, I always learn new things from other people’s perspective. I never even noticed that their dream deaths parallel the mind, spirit, heart, hand thing from Primeval, and that’s probably the most obvious thing that happens. Apparently I am not good at things that mean other things.

    • It really, really was a fun episode. I’m thinking that a big part of why I enjoyed it so much is because of the set up of the recaps. More than anything this is an episode that begs to be dissected and discussed, and we have that built in here with the SS. This is another case of when watching for the purpose of this site has actually skewed my experience.

      I loved that bit with the mind, spirit, hear and hand SO MUCH in the last episode. It was fresh in my mind. 🙂

  • SnazzyO

    I love this episode. And Lorraine you are NOT overthinking it…the commentary says ignoring Harmony and listening to Riley about “props” WAS a dig on sexism.

    Other commentary tidbits:
    – the poem on Tara’s back is a love poem (Greek?)
    – Joss, of course, wrote this episode, and had a lot to say about Xander’s journey — thus Xander’s is actually the longest dream. And yes, keep winding up in the basement is the big theme.
    – The cheese man means NOTHING – just weird dream shit.
    – Yes, the Olivia’s hand stuck in the stroller and in pain shows a choice Giles is making
    – The single tracking shot of Xander walking through various rooms allows you to see how the sets are laid out and connected. He literally walked around the sets.

    I love all the themes in the episode. And I’m a HUGE HUGE fan of Tara being the spiritual voice. I think it suits her character well. Is my Tara crush showing? I have a Tara crush.

    THANKYOU FOR THE XANDER FEELS! Your a whipping boy. Raised by mongrels and set on a sacrificial stone. And then his DAD rips his heart out??!?!?? **Blows raspberries to Team Heartless Cow and rushes to pet Xander**

    Favorite bits not mentioned in your most excellent review:
    – Willow and Xander with raised lighters as Giles sings
    – Willow in her Softer Side of Sears OUTFIT! See… it wasn’t the lesbianism that was her secret — it’s her inner geek is still who she is afraid she is.

    So to spell it out (as I understand it)

    – Willow is afraid she’s a sham and still a nerd (Thankyou Spike for reinforcing that during the last Apocalypse NOT)
    – Xander is afraid he’s a directionless loser with no future (okay, that may be true).
    – Giles is afraid he’s given up himself to save Buffy but his intellect is not enough
    – Buffy is afraid of bad hair … no seriously, Buffy wants her friends but she’s so NOT afraid of the First Slayer that she just blows her off

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Nothing wrong with a Tara crush says one girl with a Tara crush to another one.

      Oh thank god the cheese man didn’t mean anything. I though I forgot some real weird and fun shit but apparently I haven’t.

      • wlreed

        I join you in your Tara crush. Maybe we should have a special place in the Snark HQ? Lor mentioned she thinks Tara looks gorgeous in Xander’s dream where she’s wearing more make-up than usual. I disagree. I don’t think she looks bad, but I love Tara’s understated kind of earth mother look. But I’m not a big fan of heavy make-up on anyone. Definitely a personal preference.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      Team Heartless Cow is a little confused as to why you’re blowing raspberries…….

      • SnazzyO

        Because I figured you had no sympathy for Xander and I feel like he deserves woobie love for his emotional abuse and want to wrap him in a comfy blanket and give him hot cocoa. That doesn’t see like THC style for Xan-man.

        • Melbourne on my Mind

          Nope. Team Heartless Cow’s heartlessness extends almost exclusively to Bangel. I may have had serious issues with Xander in earlier seasons, but he’s vastly improved in season 4. I may not go as far as woobie love, but it doesn’t automatically follow that I have no sympathy for his Actual Worst homelife!

          • Polge Clément

            Team Heartless Bull agrees that Bangel is the sole object of our loathing as well. Too teenage-y. I even like Biley better.

          • SnazzyO

            Then I retract my raspberry! And yes, I think he wins Actual Worst homelife of all the Scoobies and frankly all the characters (including the Fanged Four in days of yore).

          • Jojo

            I would like to see a video of someone retracting a raspberry…just a thought..

          • SnazzyO

            Google would not comply, believe me, I searched.

        • geff

          Xander deserves love for his emotional abuse but the problem is that the show NEVER properly addresses this. It’s in the background, it’s joked about, it’s touched on lightly. Very true to Xander’s character and obviously they can’t focus too much on his home life, but it’s hard to feel a ton of sympathy for something you don’t get to see. Instead we see the result of that which is him masking everything with sarcasm and humor and him often acting like a jerk. I have sympathy for Xander, I think he’s been through a lot and I think he’s very loyal, funny, and brave, but it’s hard to have a lot of Xander feels when he’s relegated to comic relief so often or when he’s being so rude and intrusive about his friends’ personal lives.

          That all said I’m glad you’re Xander-defender/Xander-Feels ambassador for the Snark Squad. 🙂

          • Jojo

            I kinda tend to think that all 3 of the scoobs have bad home lives. Buffy had a mother who was so judgmental that she couldn’t tell her she was the slayer. Willow has parents who seem to regard her as a mix between a show-pony and a science experiment if they see her at all. And Xander has parents who fight a lot, embarrass him, and are mean to him in a very 50’s way. Unpleasant – yes. Abuse – no.

            In fact, you can really see how the insecurities of the three characters come from their parental interaction.

          • JEL

            I agree about Willow & Xander’s home lives but disagree about Buffy & Joyce. Even when Joyce doesn’t know she is the slayer and therefore does bunches of inappropriate things, I believe the show makes it clear they care about each other. And once Joyce is in the know and past the initial stage of finding out (end of season 2, beginning of season 3) the relationship between them seems to be a pretty good.

            However Buffy has been hurt by her father’s abandonment of her. If Buffy has an insecurity arising out of her relations with her parents, I would argue it comes from that.

          • Jojo

            I think Joyce has been a caring mother – but there is no way she had any real knowledge of who her daughter is for most of her life. And a single parent who can repeatedly wash blood out of her daughter’s clothes without even questioning how it gets there, , who either doesn’t know or doesn’t mind that her child disappears regularly at night… who kicks her daughter out…

            I actually love Joyce – and there are seem spoilers still out there about Buffy’s past – but… while I agree that Dad leaving and basically completely dropping out of Buffy’s life starts a pattern that keeps grinding her down…her mother starts another pattern. The -if I tell you what is real you will leave me or will not be able to handle it so I must keep my mouth shut – pattern.

          • Disa Marnesdottr

            I’m with Jojo on this one. Joyce is a kind, well-meaning person who is an awful parent. She has no clue who her daughter is, and she isn’t interested in finding out. The only time she makes any kind of effort to see what Buffy’s life is actually like, she winds up trying to burn her at the stake.

            If I’d washed blood out of my kids’ clothes, I would definitely have noticed. There would have been a confrontation and an explanation, and then we would have mail-ordered Kevlar. I certainly would not have kicked my daughter out of the house.

            Boivbhfyl, V pna’g qebc gur frnfba fvk zragny vafgvghgvba obzofuryy, urer, ohg vg znxrf gur jubyr guvat n gubhfnaq gvzrf jbefr.

          • “If I’d washed blood out of my kids’ clothes, I would definitely have
            noticed. There would have been a confrontation and an explanation, and
            then we would have mail-ordered Kevlar.”
            A+ That is Sandy Cohen Eyebrow worthy parenting, right there.

          • JEL

            Even good parents sometimes lose it and do something they regret. (And Joyce definitely wasn’t handling things well before Season 3.)

            I’m a firm believer in “nobody knows how they will react to a situation until it happens to them.” So I guess I’m willing to cut Joyce more slack for her failures in Seasons 1 & 2 than some. Being a parent is hard.

          • Jojo

            +1 Being a parent is very hard!

          • JEL

            “The only time she makes any kind of effort to see what Buffy’s life is
            actually like, she winds up trying to burn her at the stake.” She was under a spell at the time and not in her right mind. I don’t think that can be used as evidence of her normal behavior.

            My main point was that after the start of season 3, Joyce & Buffy get along and have a good relationship. At least it seems that way to me. And it seems to me that Buffy doesn’t seem to have a bad home life. I believe the evidence within the show, based on what the characters say & do, is that Buffy & all the rest of the characters also don’t think she has a bad home life (except for the issues with her Dad). Unlike Willow & Xander, where we the viewers and the characters themselves all agree that they pretty much did.

            V arire sryg gung gung dhvgr svg jvgu jung gur fubj unq fubja va frnfbaf 1 & 2. Ohg gurer vg vf naq unf gb or npprcgrq rira vs vg qbrfa’g dhvgr svg.

          • Bridget Craig

            I think it’s funny that you all are assuming that Joyce washes Buffy’s bloody clothes. Long before I was Buffy’s age when she first became a slayer I was washing my own clothes. And my mom wasn’t a single parent like Joyce. But both daddy and she worked long hours, so as soon as she could she taught all three of us life skills, like laundry, ironing and cleaning. That included my brother. BTW, this isn’t a new thing, I’m 56. I was a teen in the 1970s.

          • Disa

            The quote is “Open your eyes, Mom. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights? The weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing and you still haven’t figured it out?” Nobody is making the laundry assumption out of the blue. They’re taking it directly from dialogue.

          • Bridget Craig

            Argh!! I did not remember that. Sorry. I guess I get sensitive to the fact that nowadays women are supposed to do it all (work full time but be the perfect Earth mother cooking and cleaning up a storm) whilst the kids lay about. Back in the day it was clear that if Mom had to work outside the home everyone needed to do their part. Sorry.

          • Disa

            Actually, I’m usually with you on that, and it would have been my argument if that conversation hadn’t taken place. Big kids can do their own laundry.

          • JEL

            “but there is no way she had any real knowledge of who her daughter is for most of her life” I don’t think we have any evidence of what their relationship was like before Buffy became the Slayer when she was 15. (Not in the show at least.) Joyce might have had a good understanding of Buffy before that changed everything. Or not. I don’t think we can know.

            “The -if I tell you what is real you will leave me or will not be able to handle it so I must keep my mouth shut – pattern.” I agree that Buffy has a tendency to keep things to herself. I’m not so sure that this pattern has as its direct or only cause the interactions with her mother prior to Season 3.

          • Jojo

            At this time all we know is that Joyce blamed Buffy for having to leave town and start a new life in Sunnydale. There are some things in later episodes that also add support to the idea that Joyce and Buffy had other incidents in the past. But you’re right – most of that has to do with after she became the slayer. We only know about a rather ugly divorce which could also make it hard for Buffy to open up.

            Either way my point was that Xander wasn’t the only one with a less than perfect home life. And there are no signs that he (or any of the others) were physically hurt by their parents. I know that Xander’s life with his parents is shown more, but all three could be shown. In fact, in the early seasons what we see of Buffy’s home life seems rife with tension.

          • JEL

            Oh I agree that nobody here had a perfect home life. And that there was tension in Buffy’s home life in season 1 & 2. I just think Buffy’s home life was in one very significant way less not perfect than Willow or Xander. I think it is clearly shown that Buffy has a parent that loves her (and whom she loves back) even when Joyce is screwing up. Whereas it is shown/said that Xander can’t stand his parents and Willow’s mom is pretty cold. Very little love in either case. So for me Buffy’s home life is in a different category (not perfect, but not completely “bad” & better after season 2) from Willow & Xander’s which I agree could both be called “bad”. (In slightly different ways.)

            So perhaps we mostly agree.

            ETA: And maybe if you had said “not perfect” instead of “bad” none of this discussion would have happened. It was the “bad” label that I was reacting to. “not perfect” is true for all.

          • Disa Marnesdottr

            That spell seems to have only affected the people who were in denial about the whole Sunnydale Hellmouth thing. At first it seems like it might be all the adults, but Giles was unaffected. I think it’s deliberately saying something about Joyce’s relationship with Buffy.

            It couldn’t have been solid, even if it was better than the relationships Xander and Willow had with their parents, or Joyce would have noticed bloodstained clothing. As the mother of a teenage girl, you NEVER overlook bloodstains or bruises or any other sign that you daughter is covering injuries–not unless you don’t want to know.

            When the police came to talk to her about Kendra, Joyce assumed Buffy was guilty. Without talking to her daughter at all, she assumed she was at fault. Buffy dusted a vampire in front of her, and she still didn’t get it. The relationship broke completely when she kicked Buffy out of the house and Buffy ran away to LA. When Buffy finally came back to Sunnydale, Buffy was the one who apologized.

            Let’s say that again.

            Joyce kicked her daughter out of the house for going to deal with an honest-to-goodness apocalypse, and then Buffy was the one who had to apologize for it. Joyce never apologized. She never admitted she was wrong. Buffy just swallowed it, took all the blame, in order to keep that “good” relationship with her mother.

            Gingerbread happened after all that. Joyce should have been one of the people unaffected by the demon’s spell. She’d seen vampires and demons; she’d met Ethan Rayne. She’d fed Spike hot chocolate with marshmallows. She should have been in the Sunnydale know. She wasn’t, and that says something.

          • Polge Clément

            Joyce and Giles are on completely different level though, one had the truth bombed on her a few months before, the other had a life of training and playing with the occult. Comparing their acceptance to the supernatural isn’t really fair.

            Also, as I pointed out, vampires do not bleed, and we’ve almost never seen Buffy bleed either. Nor did she ever had any bruise, due to Slayer super-healing, so odds are there wouldn’t have been any violence red flag to pick up on.

            And it does make sense for Buffy to apologize when coming back… It seems to me she used Joyce’s freak-out as an excuse to her running away, while the real reason was killing Angel. Valid reason for running away ? Yes. Valid enough to let everyone she knows thinks she’s dead ? Not so much. And even so, Joyce explained her reaction, which seems to me to be a step up from apologizing. I think it’s really hard to put ourselves in the place of someone discovering that demons exist and that our daughter is going to risk her life fighting them…

            We don’t see much of Joyce and Buffy’s relationship, so I think we tend to extrapolate a LOT from the few bad things we see. But for all we know, for each bad thing seen, there are a hundred good things going on off screen. And the fact that they do seem to get along and care for each other (as we can see in the body switch episode, most recently) does tend to prove that, in my opinion.

          • Disa Marnesdottr

            That scene where buffy tells Joyce she’s the Slayer plays exactly like a coming out scene. I’ve done that one, and I didn’t say anything like “Have you tried not being a vampire slayer?” or “It’s ’cause you didn’t have a strong father figure, isn’t it? Isn’t it?”

            I think there were probably a whole fricken bunch of violence red flags. Buffy says, “Open your eyes, Mom! What do you think has been going on for the last two years? The fights, the weird occurrences – how many times have you washed blood out of my clothes, you still haven’t figured it out?”

            Naq V pna’g qb vg, naljnl. V qba’g pner gung jr qba’g xabj vg lrg. Vg punatrf gur gbar bs nofbyhgryl rirelguvat gung unccraf urer. Ohssl gbyq ure cneragf jung jnf tbvat ba. Gurl ybpxrq ure va n zragny vafgvghgvba hagvy fur gbbx vg nyy onpx. Wblpr qvqa’g svaq bhg nobhg guvf n srj zbaguf ntb. Fur sbhaq bhg jura ure qnhtugre jnf svsgrra. Fur jvyyshyyl vtaberq vg hagvy vg pbhyqa’g or vtaberq nalzber naq gura fur xvpxrq Ohssl bhg.

          • JEL

            I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Gingerbread. I think the demon / children deliberately targeted Joyce (we see them speaking to her) and the other parents (and a large number of other adults) and for whatever reason didn’t target Giles and the fact that Joyce succumbed to the spell doesn’t say anything about Joyce & Buffy’s relationship at that time. You think it does. I can see that is a possible interpretation, but it is not the one I find most convincing.

            As to the rest of what happened at the end of Season 2 & the beginning of 3, I know all of that of course. And you probably know all the things that show presents that I could argue make this a little less pure black (the idea that the Hellmouth makes it harder for people to see the truth; that Buffy has been encouraged to not tell her mother anything – even when she suggests it) and my Dolyian view that the writers committed character assassination on Joyce in order to service a couple plot points – the coming out analogy (which not all parents handled as well as you; enough did not for it to become a stereotype that they wanted to play on) and Buffy needed to be lose everything for the end of Season 2 to end up as they wanted. We all have the same facts. Sometimes someone comes up with a new interpretation of them that adds new insight. I’m not sure that is possible here. I can see how what happens in 1 & 2 and especially the end of 2 & beginning of 3 (and the bit in rot13) can cause people to decide that Joyce is the worst ever and nothing ever can make up for it. I think what happens after this point shows the relationship heals (but I don’t view Gingerbread as you do) and for me that is sufficient to offset the other. But that is me.

          • Disa Marnesdottr

            Oh, I don’t think Joyce is the worst ever. I just don’t think she should get Good Parent Brownie Points for being marginally better than the Harrises or the Rosenbergs. I do think she loves Buffy and I do think Buffy loves her, although the rot13 indicates that it might not be especially healthy. Buffy spends a lot of time protecting her mother from emotional blows instead of the other way around. In the real world, you see that dynamic a lot in families when a very dominant father is suddenly absent. Mom is fragile. Kid steps up to do the parenting.

            I agree that the writers committed character assassination–they’ve done that repeatedly. No character is immune. From a Doylian perspective, we can say they needed to do it for Reasons and let it go. From a Watsonian perspective, we have to believe it. In the Buffyverse, it happened.

  • Wilhelmina Upton

    I hardly had any memories of this episode. I still don’t know if I liked it or not. However I liked how Tara was the voiceover for Buffy’s dream. And I’m not sure I know what all the foreshadowing is foreshadowing. I know some but not all. Does the cheese man serve a real purpose because I can’t remember.

    That freaking radioclock on Buffy’s bedside is the same my Mom had. It’s the only radioclock my Mom has ever had in as long as I can remember which means this thing is now over 20 years old. And it still works! Idk this is freaking me out a little right now.

  • Brenna Murphy

    I absolutely adored this episode. I thought it was the perfect mix of funny, dangerous, heartfelt and weird that Buffy is all about. The thing that stood out the most for me is Giles’ very simple line of “Spike is like a son to me”. All throughout the show we talk about how Giles is Buffy’s father and how special their relationship is. We also talk about how he’s Willow’s father and how special their relationship is. We never discuss how Xander may think of Giles as a father, because his home life is just as crap as the girls’. It breaks my heart that its an insecurity of his, he worries that Giles may not think of him as a son, he may not love him that way. But goddamit Xander IS Giles’ son and he IS Willow and Buffy’s big brother. There, I’ve been waiting weeks to say that.

    Also the Cheese Man is freakin brilliant.

    • SnazzyO

      I think Giles feels protective of Xander but he demonstrate less affection than he does with the girls. I imagine it’s due to his own relationship with his father and male-whateverthefuckness that keeps them from demonstrating warmth. But Giles also chides Xander like a father does (a good father). He was harsh with him on the love spell because it was bad, but things like “don’t speak Latin in front of the books” is familial. Also he gave him money to sort his personal library. Clearly THAT is a dad-like thing.

      • Disa Marnesdottr

        I had a different head canon, but I think I like this one better. It’s nice. Giles is one of my favorite characters even though he does a number of really wrong-headed things throughout the series. Thanks for pointing out some things he does right.

  • SnazzyO

    For those looking to NOT do work today and waste time on the internet:


    Meeting Kurtz scene from Apocalypse Now replicated by Armin Shimmerman (Snyder) as Marlon Brando’s Kurtz. It’s a pretty good homage IMO.

  • behind blueiz

    I love this episode. I honestly think Whedon knew Season 4’s baddie/plot was super-sucky and didn’t want to leave fans hanging until Fall with the sour-taste of the Initiative in our mouths.

    I liked how Giles, Willow, and Xander’s dreams highlighted their fears, yet Buffy’s seemed to show her growing, becoming who she is going to be, and showcasing the inner-strength she has, in spite of how much she doubts herself.

    As for the Cheese man. He’s awesome. Enough said.

    So looking forward to Season 5! Can’t wait!!!

  • JEL

    Re Buffy hardly ever laughing. The commentary to a future episode claims that SMG hated trying to laugh on camera. So maybe that is part of it. (This was said by the writer of the episode who kept putting in scenes where Buffy had to laugh.) And, if I remember correctly, in the commentary on this episode, Joss says he got SMG to laugh for this take by making faces at her from behind the camera. Which is probably why it turned out so adorable.

    • geff

      I was going to say the same thing. Joss did make faces behind the camera for that moment. xD

      • Lolly

        Just seeing it as a gif OOC it looks a bit like an outtake from her corpsing, which is explained by the above, which is even cuter, and I just love <3

  • Polge Clément

    I really love this episode, as I said, it’s one of my favourites from the whole show.

    For once though, I’m not that much into thinking it out, it’s more than it’s about the only time I’ve seen a dream sequence look so dreamy in both the writing and the direction. Like Xander going through several rooms connected completely randomly, or Giles suddenly speaking French, and everything seems normal to everyone.

    And the direction is wonderful too, with weird shots, some almost random black and white, the transition from sandbox to desert…

    Honestly, even without all the metaphors and subtext and foreshadowing and everything, I would still love this episode, because it’s so wonderfully done.

  • Anagnorisis

    Well… I don’t love this episode. I like it, it’s one of the better episodes from the season, but until now it wasn’t even in my top 15 best Buffy epis.
    Maybe with a little more deep analysis it could go into the 15 spot, but I need to find the analysis somewhere, it’s not like I’m going to do it XD
    I don’t know, I think some of the things being foreshadowed (?) are not really that important or relevant to the show while some other things that could have been foreshadowed are not. Aggghh, I don’t know, maybe I’m asking too much.

    I do like, mostly, how the dreams were written, it’s hard to understand the subconscious and it’s laws, and how they are different to our laws IRL, like the subconscious (or ‘inconsciente’ in Spanish, I like it better like that because it’s not actually ‘under’ anything, it does have a place) doesn’t understand contradiction, in a dream something can be two opposite things and generate no conflict (‘Now, everyone that Willow has ever met is out in that audience, including all of us’ they can be in the audience and in the play at the same time). And I liked the weird jumps in logic, I don’t know why I never put this between my favorite episodes.
    Maybe I should rewatch.

    Also, the song Giles sings it’s called The Exposition Song. No, really.

    And yay! No more season 4!! Victory dance forever 🙂

  • darkalter2000

    Ah a dream sequence that actually manages to feel like a dream. Nice. I love your interpritations Lor, I actually was gonna put my own down here but your’s are so similar there is little point.

    The thing about these dreams is, they basically weren’t supposed to happen. From an in-universe standpoint. The First Slayer decided to use the power of the connection they made to push The Slayer Nightmares into there heads. So she could attack their strengths. Soul, Mind, Heart, Hand. But the consequences are more interesting than the punishment. Instead of getting a warning about the next big thing, as The Slayer Nightmares are for, they get warnings about tons of random things. And regular dream stuff is mixed into all the dreams of the nonslayers of the group. I love that prophetic nightmares are so utterly useless for petty stuff. Of course not all of Buffy’s nightmare stuff was petty, but she is The Slayer. What else should we expect.

    Buffy meets a Slayer. Buffy fight a slayer. Buffy meets Kendra, Buffy fights Kendra about Angel. Buffy meets Faith. Buffy puts Faith in a coma. Buffy meets The First Slayer. Buffy fights The First Slayer to get out of her dreams. Three is a pattern.


    New car smell, The Flavor. Lmao.
    Spikes has Gnomes. Garden Gnomes for his crypt. LMAO!
    I used to have ‘Can’t yell!’ moments in all my childhood nightmares. Chilling moment for me.

    • Izzygirl

      I just noticed those gnomes on my last rewatch! There’s gotta be a reason for them being there…

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I just noticed the gnomes on this rewatch too. Awesomeness.

      • Jojo

        I don’t like garden gnomes – they always seem like they are spying on whoever walks by. Of course, this may be from visiting my parent’s no-one-under-55-allowed place which is where plaster figures go to die by exposure to the elements.

        • Disa Marnesdottr

          The little buggers freak me out. Have you seen the zombie gnomes, though? Fabulous!

          • Jojo

            Zombie gnomes – a mix made in hell! Uhm – I think I missed that episode of Walking Dead, though I have to say now that I think of it, that would be a great show to snark!

          • Disa Marnesdottr
          • Jojo

            Now that comes from an evil and twisted mind. I love it! Your site?

          • Disa Marnesdottr

            Nah, I wish–they took off like gangbusters and became a geek fad for a while. I just happen to love them. Funny that I’m creeped out by garden gnomes but that the zombie variety make me squee.

    • darkalter2000

      Why do people only respond to my offhand comments? The gnomes this time for crying out loud! The internet has the strangest people. 🙂

  • Danna

    Woohoo! Season four is over, and season five is about to begin. Season five could be the best. But season six is great too… But with a much harder edge. Joss’s commentary about this episode on the DVD set is very interesting. But it contains many spoilers. Thank you, ladies, for the excellent review!

    • Polge Clément

      I’ve never listened to the dvd commentary for Buffy, but it’s funny that there would be spoilers, because the DVDs were probably released between the end of season 4 and the beginning of season 5 🙂

      Well, except if the commentaries were made for some big set with the whole show or something.

      • Danna

        It’s been a long time, but I think there were spoilers because I remember thinking about that at the time. Maybe this DVD set came out later. Or maybe I’m wrong altogether. One interesting thing he said was that all those red curtains that Willow was tangled up in… They represent a vagina. Yes he did! 🙂

      • JEL

        I think it took a bit longer than that – if I remember the commentaries correctly, in the later seasons there are remarks that imply they were actually already into the next season when they did the commentaries. So they weren’t done during the break.

        (The earliest season commentaries seem to have been done quite a bit later than when first aired. I think it took them a while to get the first DVD sets out.)

        Plus for Season 5, Joss had some of what happened there in mind at the end of season 3 so it would certainly have been possible to spoil those plot points.

        I don’t actually remember much in the way of spoilers though in the Restless commentary. But I might just not have noticed.

  • Melodie Hatley

    God, I’m alone in my season 5 hate, aren’t I? For me, it started off on the wrong foot and never got its footing back. There are some excellent episodes, but I loathe the season.

    Anyway! This episode is quite likely my favorite episode of Buffy of all time. However, I can’t believe you missed quoting my favorite line from it. “We’re making plans for world domination. Key element: coffee makers that think.” That and “We need to make a fort!” “I’ll get the pillows!”

    Deep, deep episode that was amusing and fun to watch. Every time I watch it, I get something different out of it.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I’m not a huge fan of season 5, so you’re not entirely alone!

    • Polge Clément

      I’m conflicted about season 5…

      V srry gur znva nep jnf qenttrq ba sbe jnlll gbb ybat, Tybel vf fhccbfrq gb or fb vzzrafryl cbjreshy, vg whfg frrzf jrveq ubj fur whfg tbrf ba uhssvat naq chssvat… Vs V jnf ure V jbhyq unir whfg pncgherq, yvxr, Tvyrf be Knaqre, naq frag gurvef yvzof bar ng n gvzr be fbzrguvat. Znlor fur fubhyq unir neevirq yngre, be unir zber bs n ernfba sbe abg whfg shpxvat rirelbar hc (V xabj gurer’f gur guvat jurer fur arrq gb fhpx zvaqf, ohg fgvyy).Ohg vg’f fgvyy n avpr fgbelyvar jvgu avpr zbzragf va vg, naq gur svavfu vf terng.

      Jul qba’g lbh yvxr vg ?

      • JEL

        V guvax gurl gel gb rkcynva vg ol pynvzvat fur fcrag n ybg bs gvzr nf Ora sbe n juvyr naq gung fybjrq ure qbja (bire & nobir gur arrq gb fhpx zvaqf). Ohg V pna’g erzrzore ubj zhpu bs gung vf va gur fubj naq ubj zhpu bs gung vf n sna rkcynangvba.

        Ohsslirefr cybgf uneqyl rire fgnaq hc gb zhpu fpehgval. Va frnfba 5 jul qbrfa’g Ohssl whfg gnxr Qnja naq syrr gb Rhebcr orsber Tybel svaqf bhg? Va trareny, jul qba’g inzcverf/Znlbef/Oevatref whfg trg fbzr ECTf naq ybo gurz guebhtu Ohssl’f jvaqbj? Crbcyr frrz gb inel n ybg ba juvpu cybg ubyrf obgure gurz naq juvpu qba’g. V trarenyyl whfg yrg nyy gur cybg ubyrf tb naq rawbl rirelguvat ryfr.

        • Polge Clément

          V ernyyl nterr jvgu jung lbh fnl, gur nofrapr bs thaf va gur Ohsslirefr vf abgr-jbegul gbb (rkprcg sbe GUNG GVZR JR QB ABG GNYX NOBHG), ohg va guvf pnfr vg ernyyl frrzf gb zr gung Tybel vf n ohg gbb zhpu pbagevinapr-l… Gurer’f nyfb gur snpg gung fur guvaxf vg “orarngu ure” gb tb ybbx sbe gur xrl urefrys, ohg fgvyy.

          Ohg lrnu, Nqnz jnf fbeg bs gur fnzr guvat: vaihyarenoyr naq n shpxvat tngyvat nez naq ur yrg Ohssl nyy gur gvzr va gur jbeyq gb cercner. Sbe fbzr ernfba, V qba’g zvaq nf zhpu, znlor orpnhfr vg qbrfa’g ynfg nf ybat ? VQX.

          • Jojo

            V whfg ungr Tybel! Gur svefg gvzr V fnj gur frnfba V nz gbyq V yvxrq ure, ohg rirel gvzr fvapr ure zl ybnguvat unf tebja. V nyfb ungr ure zva vbaf jvgu nyy gurve ernyyl fghcvq birejevggra qvnybthr. Bgure guna gung, V npghnyyl yvxr gur frnfba. Avpr gb xabj fbzrbar ryfr fnvq “Trg n sernxvat cynar gvpxrg!”

          • JEL

            Lrf, Tybel frrzf gb vafcver engure fgebat bcvavbaf. Fbzr ybir ure, fbzr ungr ure. Crefbanyyl V engure rawbl ure.

            (Gurer vf bayl bar punenpgre va gur Ohsslirefr gung V unir n uneq gvzr gbyrengvat ohg ur vf bire va Natry naq gurfr qnlf gur bayl rcvfbqrf bs Natry gung V jngpu ner gur pebffbire rcvfbqrf va frnfbaf 4 & 7 bs Ohssl naq bppnfvbanyyl Natry frnfba 5 fb V bayl unir gb raqher n yvggyr ovg bs gung punenpgre. Lbh pna cebonoyl thrff jub V’z zrna… anzr ortvaf jvgu n P.)

          • Polge Clément

            I see which Angel character you hate, and it’s hard to defend him, he’s pretty hate-worthy… He falls in the same category than Kate as the “huh, get over it already”, but he has SO. MUCH. SCREEN TIME.

            His character in the comic book is great though. Don’t know if you read Angel & Faith, but he had an apparition in the last TPB, and he was awesome. It also explained a lot why he was this way.

            Non-spoilery vague comment is non-spoilery and vague. I hope.

          • JEL

            Yes, I’ve been reading the comics and I agree he is better there. He was even better in the last season of Angel.

            Hate though is a strong word and not one I would use. “Hard to tolerate” is as far as I go. 🙂

            The Angel & Faith comics have been really good except for the characterization of one character recently. I have liked the Buffy Season 9 comics as well, though that series hasn’t been as strong and some people haven’t liked them at all.

            But comics just can’t be as good as the show. Just not possible.

    • JEL

      I have certainly read other people saying they don’t like season 5. You aren’t alone. (There are enough people with opinions out there that it is hard to be the only one with a particular opinion.)

      I do think it is probably a minority opinion. I would guess 2, 3 & 5 are the seasons that most commonly top people’s season rankings. And that 5 follows 2 & 3 as being least likely to be toward the bottom. But there is a lot of variation.

      ETA: There are a set of people who think every season after high school was horrible.

      • Jojo

        Well, I happen to like 5, 6, & 7. Yeah, you can all throw stones at me if you want. I don’t mind. It does take some time but I think 5 is better than 4 – and eventually 5 is really damn good!

        • JEL

          Stone throwing over a TV show is not appropriate! In any case I think the majority opinion is that 5 is better than 4 so you probably aren’t in any danger there. Opinions about 6 & 7 are probably more divided.

          Personally I like all the Buffy seasons and, except for season 1 (which for me is definitely the weakest), have a hard time ranking them. If forced I’d put 4 last of the rest, but only by a little bit.

    • geff

      re: S5, I definitely don’t hate it, but it’s not my favorite. I’m just not as emotionally connected to the main storyline even though I think the season finale is one of the best. I find it really difficult to rank the seasons, because I love certain parts for different reasons. As a whole S3 is my favorite because the quality is so consistent. I think it was easier for the writers to create good arcs for the ensemble when they were in high school because they were much more close-knit. Afterwards it does drift a bit but Buffy’s arc is SO strong these next two seasons that I still really enjoy them. Plus S5 turns Spike into a really compelling character in my opinion.

      • Jojo

        +1 on Spike

  • geff

    Excellent recap! Congrats on finishing S4, can’t wait to read the wrap-up.

    I adore this episode. The imagery, the music, the foreshadowing, the humor, the atmosphere. It has such a dreamlike feel and all flows extremely well. There are so many little touches in the dialogue and in the directing to show that everything is off-kilter (the popcorn flavor is “new car smell,” for example) yet the characters react normally most of the time. I think that’s what makes it like a dream – weird stuff is happening but you still FEEL like it’s real life. I wish I had written down my reaction when I first watched this episode because it’s all colored by Joss’ commentary, the reviews I’ve read, and of course seeing the rest of the show.

    I love all of it but I think my favorite moments are backstage for the play (Buff, Giles, Harmony, and Riley are all adorable and hilarious, and poor Will just wants things to be done the proper way. “I’m very seldom naughty” is humorous given SPOILERS), the entire Xander sequence in the park (A watcher scoffs at gravity! I definitely agree that the whole brother comment is about family but also about how Xander is still in the process of accepting that he’ll never be Buffy’s boyfriend. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion but I think that even now if Buffy ever showed romantic interest in him he’d be with her), Giles’ exposition song (did anyone comment on the audience holding up lighters? because I love that), and the scene between Buffy, Riley, and Adam (the tone, the humor, the foreshadowing).

    Other random comments: Joss said that having the bathroom scene with Xander was the best use of the Initiative all season. Lol, so sad, but so true. You know, it’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that mentioned how Spike being hired out as an attraction is a meta-commentary on his current role in the show. I always thought that was absolutely hilarious.

    • Disa Marnesdottr

      “Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion but I think that even now if Buffy ever showed romantic interest in him he’d be with her”

      That. So much that. He hasn’t clued consciously, yet, but he knows it’s not going to be him.

  • Sweeney, your last comment made me think you guys should do a retrospective recap on this episode once all of the seasons are finished. That way you all could say everything you wanted without spoilering Lor (more than she already did herself), and Lor could see what else she might pick up on and over-think once she knew how the foreshadowing parts play out.
    I think it’d be really fun. But then, I tend to love reading about all the different interpretations and layers people come up with anyway, so I may be a little bias… *sheepish grin*

    • XXm0rt

      Ooh Ooh! I second this! That would be a fantastic wrap up post o_o

      • Jojo


  • Jojo

    I love Spike on the cross in this one – in fact I almost posted a link to a really terrific Spike/Giles music video but toward the end there were a few spoilery images so I will have to wait.

  • Angi Black

    Whedon is famous for saying something along the lines of “bring all the feels, kill a character, but then for God’s sake, tell a joke.” This series was getting a lot of flak for the cheese factor of the show. I can’t help but think with as brilliant as this episode is, that was there intentionally to say, “See? the cheese does work.” in the most literal sense.

    As for everything else, I notice something new and foreshadowy every time I watch, which further confirms it’s brilliance. Also, i couldn’t help but notice that when Xander finds Willow and Tara in his ice cream truck, Willow looks much more Vamp!Willow in make-up and clothing. I think that’s an interesting choice and also foreshadowing in a subtle but accurate way. Especially since it’s Xan’s dream and can’t say more because – spoilers!

    Lastly, I think you’re dead-on with the happy beginnings of the dreams. You doubted it when you got to Buffy, but really what she would like is to stay in her bed all night and be normal. Her first words I’m not in control of this, or not my problem. Often when we watch these shows we think Buffy is being selfish or childish, but she is a child and really all she wants is for someone else to deal with it. So I think that is her happy place. And when she does wake and deal, the first thing she wants and needs are her friends, again her happy place.

    Okay – one more thing. 🙂 I think it’s interesting that this past, present and future has no APARF in it except for the one scene with Riley and Adam and what Buffy sees in her dream is their ridiculous plans and solutions and to make a pillow fort instead of be useful. It’s very telling in that the relationship won’t last and also that Buffy was using Riley as a bandage to get over Angel. he uses pillows can be taken as he’s soft, or a soft place to fall and then get up and move on. It’s very different to the NEXT BIG SPOILERY THING for Buffy.

    • Polge Clément

      I don’t remember the movie Serenity having too many jokes though. Motherfucking Whedon, playing with all my feels.

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  • Trying not to be spoilery, but I’d read that Joss Whedon added this episode not just because of the foreshadowing but also because in this season, where he took a lot of risks, he decided to have a very calm (?) finale. In the scene where Giles ignored Harmony, that was Riley, not Xander. Also, again with the trying not to be spoilery, but I always thought that Buffy calling Xander big brother meant two things: 1 being that he was like a brother to her and 2 being what he is later known for. The cheese guy was just added because that guy just didn’t make sense.

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  • SonicRulez

    I likee this episode and all of its metaphors and foreshadowing. You guys hit all of the points, but one thing I wanted to add is that I think it’s interesting that Giles’ ideal family features Olivia and not Jenny Calendar. They were reaching in the well, I would’ve grabbed her. I also would trade Pangs for Angel’s appearance here, it would’ve meant more.