Previously: Spike’s got the hots for Buffy and Riley got points for recognizing a doomed relationship when he was in one.
No Place Like Home
Lorraine: We start with a couple of monks running through darkened halls. One monk trips and falls and this is my stress dream. Not the monks or darkened hall part, but the part where I’m running away from something and keep tripping and falling. At least it isn’t teeth falling out.
K: Mostly, monks running through darkened halls made me assume that the TARDIS was going to be turning up shortly. I’m still disappointed that it didn’t.
A title card tells us that this is happening two months ago. The monks run into a room, bar the door and yell at each other in Czech to hurry up and perform the ritual. They start chanting and a bright flash of light appears between them just as the Unseen Evil Thing breaks the door down.
We flash to the present where Buffy is punching-and-punning her way through a fight with a large vampire who looks like he enjoys things like motorcycles, jean vests and leather boots. They appear to be in an empty parking lot in front of an abandoned building. Buffy stakes him and starts to go off on her way when she’s approached by a security guard. Night Cop says that he broke up a rave the night before, so Buffy, in her full length Jackson-Pollock-esque furry coat, is too late for the party. Buffy feigns disappointment, but before she heads off, Night Cop tells her not to forget her magical, glowy orb! Buffy examines said orb as Night Cop makes a “kids these days!” joke. Roll credits.
Sweeney: Thanks for holding onto the random magic object and handing it over to the slayer, random night cop!
Lor: Buffy is serving up breakfast and warns Dawn not to touch anything. Then Dawn knocks over a vase, and when Joyce walks in, takes credit for the breakfast. Kids these days.
K: My younger brother does much the same with Christmas presents – I come up with the ideas, buy them, wrap them and write the cards. He takes the credit. As an older sibling, Dawn taking credit made me super twitchy.
Sweeney: I just like that you keep saying, “Kids these days,” as it’s one of my little sister’s favorite phrases ever, so I’m reading it in her voice. It’s delightful.
Lor: Maybe mentioning her means we’ll be graced with a Lion comment! Lion always shows up when we talk about how awesome she is.
Anyways, Joyce wants to know what the occasion is, and Buffy says they knew she was feeling ill. Apparently, she’s still having those headaches. Buffy freaks out about wanting a second opinion on the diagnosis, but Joyce points out that that would mean waiting to hear the first opinion. She adds that she’ll do all the worrying since she’s the mom of the vampire slayer and a “little pumpkin belly.” Dawn groans at this display of affection but things get awkward when Buffy wonders if she ever had any pet names. Nope.
K: Womp womp. Although really, Buffy, you should be relieved. My pet names from my mum were “duds” and “Kaka”. Yeah. That happened.
Lor: HAHAHA. KAKA.
It’s Giles’s grand opening day, so Joyce sends Buffy and confirms plans for a book club with Dawn. Buffy questions this book club she didn’t know they had, but just sort of sadly changes the subject. Off she goes to the grand opening with Dawn in tow, so she won’t bother Joyce.
Sweeney: All this parental sharing problems gives me all the sibling feels. All the sibling feels! SHE WAS MY MOM FIRST, KID.
Lor: Buffy walks into The Magic Box to find Giles decked out in purple wizard-y robes and a pointy wizard-y hat. Buffy just stares at him silently until he cowers and walks off to take off the outfit.
Sweeney: I just know that I could watch this gifset for hours.
Lor: Giles’s little smile is just the best.
Dawn walks in and wonders when the place is open for customers and Giles says it has been since 9am. He’s sure that with all the monsters in Sunnydale, though, people will be lining up soon.
Giles notices that Buffy looks distracted and asks about it. Buffy recaps the whole “Joyce is sick and we don’t know with what” thing. Giles is mid-comforting her when Riley and Willow walk into the store. Willow excitedly asks where Giles’s hat and cloak are.
No time for that, however, it’s down to business: Buffy takes out her Glowy Orb and asks the Scoobies what it is. Giles guesses that it’s paranormal in origin because it’s so shiny. Riley says there might be more of them and that they should go back out on patrol that night to look. Buffy awkwardly agrees. Dawn pops in to perform some Drive-By-Dawn-Destruction: she tells Riley Buffy says he isn’t allowed to patrol. Buffy quickly says that she didn’t say that. Dawn keeps hammering, though, and says B said it would be easier if she didn’t have to look out for anyone. Behind Buffy, Giles is doing the most hilarious awkward shuffle.
K: I don’t blame him. Having to stand there and watch Dawn say what everyone knows but is too polite to mention? Hella awkward.
Lor: Buffy tries to cover again and says she didn’t mean Riley. Dawn is all, “yeah. But I’m not done ruining lives yet,” and goes on that Buffy said Riley is cute when he’s all weak and kitten-y. Dawn finally finishes by welcoming Riley into the cute, useless and never allowed on patrol club.
Everyone glares at Dawn as she asks, “what?”
Riley excuses himself to the training room and Buffy tells Dawn they are leaving. Willow stops Buffy and tells her to go easy on Dawn. Will’s got a soft spot for the big spaz. I’m not sure if what Dawn is can be likened to a spaz. This little episode of word vomit was either painfully, stupidly unaware or evil. Buffy tells Willow she really wishes she were an only child as we hear something crash in the background and Dawn squeak out an, “oops.”
Sweeney: I like Willow’s line, before the “big spaz” comment. She says she just has all the involuntary empathy for her. I SEE YOU, SHOW. Clever.
Lor: The girls arrive back home and call out to their mother, who is on the couch suffering another bad headache. Buffy insists she go to the doctor, but Joyce says she just needs her prescription filled.
Buffy heads to do that at the hospital pharmacy. As she’s walking out, Ben, the intern we met last episode, calls out to her. Just then, the patient Ben stopped transporting in order to have this little chit chat starts freaking out about having specific instructions. Ben struggles with him, but Buffy easily pushes the patient back down on his gurney while he’s strapped down. Ben is all, “not to be sexist, but you are strong for a girl!” Which, you know, sexist.
K: Truth. Also, I’m pretty sure that the hospital would frown on him being all “Screw patient care, let’s chat up the cute girl and THEN do my job!”
Sweeney: We’ve talked about this many times before (or maybe it’s just Lor and I in our emails?) but beginning sentences with “Not to be _____” is one of my least favorite things ever. The best way to not be _____ is to just, you know, not be _____!
Lor: “Not to be” is basically a way of saying, “I’m going to be, but I feel justified in doing so.”
The freaking out patient that is still being ignored freaks out again and grabs Buffy’s arm. She recognizes him as Night Cop. He says that Buffy isn’t above it, that they are coming for her her, and that they will get to her family. He knocks the pills out of Buffy’s hand as Night Cop is finally wheeled away.
Ben picks up the pills and hands them to Buffy, asking if Joyce isn’t feeling better. Buffy says not yet, but that she’s starting to figure out what is wrong.
We cut back to the abandoned building from the beginning of the episode where a monk is still being fidgety and nervous. Something starts beating at an aluminum looking door and the monk just kind of watches with an, “oh shit” face, as he calls whatever is pounding on the door, “the beast.” This so called beast finally breaks through the door and we see it is a blonde girl in a red dress. I initially thought it was Buffy, to be honest. But the woman walks in and we see it’s a different pretty, incredibly strong blonde. “I have been looking all over for you,” she tells the monk.
K: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! I kinda sorta love her.
Sweeney: AGREED. She’s one of my favorites. Also, as I was watching, I was all, “Kirsti’s going to have an exclamation-point filled response to this.” I was going to try to play it cool because of spoilers and pretending she’s NBD. But she’s so much fun that you had to know they wouldn’t waste her on just one episode. So, we’ll flail away and let the commenters call you Lor Snow and stuff.
Lor: Gee. Thanks.
After a cut to black, we’re back at The Magic Box where Giles is giddy over some paying customers. A few more customers come in right behind Anya, who loudly says Giles’s conjuring powder is overpriced. But really, she’s just bitter because she suddenly has to afford things. I won’t make yet another “poor blogger” joke, but you know.
Sweeney: They just keep setting them up for us!
Lor: Buffy runs into the store and shares her theory that what’s hurting her mom is supernatural. When she says the Night Cop who found the Glowy Orb went crazy, the Scoobies all take a cautious step back. Buffy assures them that the Glowy Orb won’t hurt them. See, Night Cop said something was trying to get to her through her family. They need to find this something so she can get on with the hunting and killing.
Sweeney: I loved this because it’s another one of the things that are delightful about this show, because it makes you go all, “I WANT TO BE LIKE THAT. I WANT TO KNOW I COULD HUNT/KILL ANYTHING THAT HURTS MY FAMILY.” Real stuff/magic stuff. Show brilliance. Etc.
Lor: Monk Building. The fidgety monk from before is bound and gagged while the Blonde Beast is rambling about not wanting to be here– “here” being the”whole mortal coil.” There is randomly some guy in the background of this scene who looks like he’s tied to some plumbing. It’s weird.
Blonde Beast is bad-guy-speeching about how selfish Fidgety Monk is, because all she wants is to know where the key is. She even gets down on her knees and begs. Then she crazies as she climbs into the Monk’s lap that she forgot his mouth was duct taped, and painful relieves him of said tape. BB asks again where the key is and Monk responds in Czech that she should kill him. She freaks out and tells him to “speak American.” In English, Fidgety Monk says he will tell her nothing.
Blonde Beast really starts to legit lose her shit. She cries that the monk must love torturing her because all she wants is the key and he’s keeping it from her. The random security guy in the background starts to plead, saying stuff about his wife and children which FYI, never works on television. Most killers aren’t gonna be all, “oh shit! You have two daughters? No, yeah. Just go. It’s fine.”
The next bit is a few quick cuts of Blonde Beast sort of talking to herself, and there is even a piece where we see her smiling creepily as her voice keeps talking. Most of what she says sounds nonsensical, but she gets in a Little Miss Muffet reference: doing it over and over and over until someone’s gonna sit down on their tuffet and make this birthing stop!” With that exclamation, Blond Beast inserts her hands into the random security guy and there is cheap-effects-white-light that surrounds them both. They both collapse after a bit– security guy in a “dead” kind of way and Blonde Beast in a “that feels better” kind of way.
K: The return of the Worst Special Effects Eva!!
Lor: After five seasons, it’s like welcoming back an old friend.
Business is booming at The Magic Box and all the people are making Giles nervous. Anya hands someone their merchandise and says, “please go.” Xander fills her in on the long tradition of insincerity behind, “have a nice day.” I have a bad habit of replying to these insincere wishes in the worst possible ways. I can’t tell you how many times a waiter has said, “enjoy your meal,” and I’ve replied, “you too!” only to later spend my meal in shame.
Sweeney: ALL. THE. TIME.
Lor: Xander sits by Buffy and wonders if she ever thought she’d miss the school library. WE MISS YOU WIGGINS LIBRARY.
K: SO MUCH. Like, OMG.
Lor: Buffy fills him in on her mom is supernaturally sick thing and he, to his credit, seriouses right up. Buffy isn’t any closer to determining what’s doing this to her mother.
Willow, meanwhile, has been struggling with gift wrap. She asks Anya if her mess of tissue paper and tape looks right and Anya says, “if you wrapped it with your feet.” Anya grabs the wrapping material and as she gives it a go, starts talking about a 16th century sorcerer who used to have a spell to see spells. All spells leave traces that can’t be see by the human eye. Buffy wants to get trance-y, but Giles warns her that she may not be ready for this. Since this is her mother they are talking about, she says she’ll get ready.
Cut to Buffy’s room where she’s invited Riley over to help her, and she very unsubtly points out how helpful he’ll be, and how he’ll have a job to do. Mostly, though, he’s there to light incense and pour sand. Riley sees right through it and assures Buffy he’s fine with not being super dude, and doesn’t need her pity sand pouring. He says that they just need to agree to take care of each other. She mildly agrees to that, they kiss and Riley leaves Buffy to do the trance thing on her own.
Buffy is about two seconds into attempting to trance it up when Dawn knocks on her door to ask what she’s doing and if she can watch. Buffy yells at her to go away before settling back down and doing the trance thing. It includes a mini-montage of Buffy and some buildings and a camera doing circles around Buffy a few times until a deep breath over the mystical music soundtrack alerts us to the trance success!
Sweeney: The more TV we watch, the more upset I get about the lack of a helpful, informative soundtrack in my own daily life.
Lor: B gets up and she walks around her house and it’s a bit slowed and in a grainy wash. Joyce calls out and Buffy looks at her mom in Trance-o-Vision but there isn’t any sign of spell traces. Just behind Joyce’s head, though, is a picture of the three Summers ladies. Dawn is flickering in and out of the picture. INTERESTING.
Joyce heads out and Buffy goes up to Dawn’s bedroom. In her Trance-0-Vision, it also flickers back and forth between the bedroom and a dark, storage room. Dawn storms into the room and asks who gave Buffy permission to be there. Dawn appears and disappears. Buffy tells her, “you’re not my sister.” and it snaps her out of the trance.
Dawn starts to brat-back an answer but Buffy grabs her roughly and asks who she is and what she’s doing. Dawn starts to say she’ll tattle to mom, but Buffy warns her to stay away from Joyce and throws her back against a wardrobe. They have a bit of a stare down that is interrupted by a phone call.
B heads downstairs to answer. It’s Giles. He says that they may have underestimated what they are dealing with, and it’s funny because he’s saying this in his shop full of people. But he’s talking about the Glowy Orb, which is actually called the Dagon Sphere, used to ward off evil. Buffy wants to know if maybe that evil kind of looks like Harriet the Spy. She doesn’t actually say that, but almost. Giles says that the Sphere is meant to protect against that which cannot be named.
K: Man, Voldemort gets around… (I swear to God, I wrote this comment and then scrolled down to see that gif. And I would remove the comment on account of Lor already covered it with some A+ gif work, but SNARK SQUAD MINDMELD, YO)
Probably not him, but I would’ve lost my Internet cred if I didn’t make that reference.
Sweeney: TRUTH. Our Internet cred is very dear to us.
Lor: Buffy says she’s off to the old abandon buildings where she found the Sphere. Giles tells her to be careful and asks how the Trance-o-Vision went. She starts to tell him but senses that Dawn has entered the room. B lies that it didn’t work and hangs up the phone without saying goodbye, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. WHY DO PEOPLE ON TV DO THIS?
K: Because they’re asshats with no manners?
Dawn asks what’s going on and Buffy answers that it’s slayer stuff and she’s going out. Dawn: Do you really think I care you’re the Slayer? Buffy wants to know what that means and Dawn gives a little smug shrug. Buffy says she’ll be home in an hour and Dawn says mom will be back too. Buffy will be back first.
Just outside of her house, Buffy hears rustling. She grabs behind a tree and pulls out Spike who has apparently taken a page out of Angel’s Book of Seduction and will now resort to shadow lurking. It worked for Angel, my friend.
Buffy greats him with a punch to the face and asks what he’s doing there, in five words or less. I’ll admit that this is one of the gifs I’ve seen before, out of context, and it made me LOL then. Spike counts on his fingers as he says, “out…for…a…walk.” With his remaining word and finger he adds, “bitch.”
Lor: I love it dearly.
Spike then babbles about passing through the neighborhood and tries to involve B in some banter. She’s distracted, though, and he’s doing a terrible job. I mean, he calls her hair “stupid.” He walks off and Buffy notes that there are ton of cigarette butts by the tree meaning he was standing there a little longer than “just passing by.” Buffy walks off and we see Dawn watching all of this by the window.
Later, Joyce returns home to find Dawn home alone. She acts a little weird as she offers Joyce tea but in kind of a murder-y way. Not as murder-y as say, Toby, or King Murderer, Christian Grey, they are really trying to sell the strange vibes here.
At the abandoned buildings, Buffy finds the worse for the wear Fidgety Monk and unties him. She assures him that she’s strong and has had experience with this kind of stuff. We see Blonde Beast sneaking up behind her, but Buffy stand, turns and spins as she says, “best of all, I’m not stupid.” Blonde Beast back hands her so hard, Buffy flies through the air and hits the opposite wall. Buffy stands, shocked and Blonde Beast asks, “you sure about that last part?”
Things have slowed down at The Magic Box. Giles, Willow and Xander look kind of how I look on a Friday at 6pm. They complain about numb feet and sore backs. Anya is still at the cash register chatting about what they need to restock and what they can mark up. Giles yells her name until she stops talking and then quietly offers her a job. She accepts and this is the best thing that has happened at The Magic Box since the acquisition of The Magic Box. (K: YUP) (S: +1. Major best.) They wonder how Buffy’s doing and that Segue Magics us back to her.
She’s being thrown around by Blonde Beast who still hasn’t gotten a name, so I’m going to cheat. The Internet says she’s Glory. KAY.
Glory is making pretty easy work of Buffy and is even punning while she does it. Buffy manages to get in a few defensive hits in, but finally decides to grab the Fidgety Monk and jump out of a window. Glory breaks a heel trying to chase after them and throws such a violent tantrum that she causes the building to collapse. I’m not joking; that is an actual thing that happened.
K: I’ll take “Things that would happen if Cher Horowitz had superpowers” for $2000, Alex.
Lor: Outside, Buffy tries to help the Monk along with her, but he collapses and says he’s pretty done with life. He says that Buffy must protect the key or else many more will die. Buffy asks what the key is and he explains that it is a portal. “For centuries, it had no form at all,” he explains, but when the abomination found them, they had to hide it. They gave the key a human form and sent it to Buffy.
Realization (no pun intended) dawns on Buffy as she figures out Dawn is the key. The Monks built all those fake memories because they knew Buffy would protect Dawn. Buffy demands he take it all back, but Dying Fidgety Monk says that Dawn is now human, helpless and innocent in the whole transaction. Buffy: She’s not my sister? Monk: She doesn’t know that. And with that he dies
Buffy returns home to find Dawn snuggled up with Joyce. Dawn runs upstairs immediately and Joyce asks what that was about. Buffy says, “sister stuff.” Upstairs, Buffy goes to Dawn’s room and apologizes. Dawn calls her a butthole for hurting her arm, and B apologizes again. After Dawn prattles about Buffy being an adopted howler monkey, Buffy says she’s never been able to accept an apology, ever since… but she cuts off, realizing the end of that sentence would be, “ever since Whedon wrote you into the script.” Something like that.
Buffy sits on the bed next to Dawn and says she just had a bad day. Buffy lovingly strokes her hair and Dawn asks what’s wrong with Joyce. “I don’t know,” Buffy offers, as she continues to stroke Dawn’s hair. We switch POV’s out into the hallway and the episodes ends after a few seconds of uneasy silence.
After five episodes of pretending Dawn has always been around, we get the beginning of this explanation and I have to say that no matter how I’ll feel about Dawn later in the series, I want to capture this moment of thinking Whedon is a genius. Dropping Dawn in on us that way was excellent in retrospect and every ragey moment I felt in the pilot was worth every second from the Trance-o-Vision on.
Sweeney: IT’S JUST. SO. BRILLIANT. I can’t get over how awesomely done the Dawn introduction was. I get that people hated feeling punked by the show, but it was clever as hell and so worth it as build up to this reveal. I’m also really glad the random number assignment gave you this episode. That’s great too.
Lor: Agreed! It’s cool that I got to rage about the Dawn episode and then also cover this reveal. Well played to both Whedon and the random episode assigning luck.
A few more random things about this episode: The actress who plays Glory does some excellent, subtle physical work. Go stare at the gif where she’s sneaking up on Buffy and be entertained by her little “shhh!” hand movements. She seems like she will be fun. Or fun to hate. This is the second time we’ve come across a crazy person (Night Cop) who is on hand to babble things and then disappears. JOYCE IS FREAKING ME OUT. MAKE IT STOP. I love how handy Anya was at the shop today, from the business savvy to the gift wrap. I don’t know where she would’ve picked up gift wrapping skills, but I like that she’s being useful for something other than Xander’s socially awkward girlfriend.
Overall, a good episode for me.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara’s got a secret and Buffy is attacked by a hoard of demons in S05 E06 – Family.