Previously: Buffy and Riley broke up. BYE RILEY.
Lorraine: Last recap got fun, didn’t it? After all that, I just wanted to say that we love hearing all of your feedback. The 3,000 plus words we spend recapping an episode are nothing, if not for the comments section underneath. So, thank you for keeping it interesting. Thank you for being imaginative, insightful, but most, most of all, respectful. Thank you for understanding that you may not change my mind, and I might not change yours but that’s okay because there are no right answers.
Well, perhaps there is ONE right answer: potatoes > Riley Finn.
Sweeney: Truth. I never knew just how awesome potatoes really are. FANDOM FUN + EDUCATION = EVERYBODY WINS.
K: There are a lot of things that are better than Riley Finn, but I’m pretty sure potatoes would top the list every time.
Lor: Anya and Xander are in bed, and he’s talking about that feeling you sometimes get, like you’re forgetting to do something. “You,” in this context pretty much means, “everyone but Anya.” Xander doesn’t let Anya’s big, “NOPE. NEVER HAPPENS,” deter his story, as he’s figured out what’s been causing that feeling: Riley asked to borrow a crescent wrench a few weeks back. He keeps thinking he needs to bring it to him. Anya continues to miss the point, but Xander is more clear: sometimes he forgets that Riley is gone.
Anya takes this opportunity to tell Xander that if he ever chooses to leave, she wants a warning in the form of flashing red lights and a big bomb clock she can stop at the last minute. Xander hugs her. Anya wonders if maybe this ruined relationship with Riley means that something is wrong with Buffy– if Buffy is doing something wrong. Xander: I don’t think it’s a pattern with her. No, it’s just… you know, now that it happened again… man number two… I wonder how she’s dealing with it.
We cut to a convent and follow behind a nun with a stray lock of blonde hair peeking out from under her habit. Suddenly, a vampire barrels into the Misdirect-Nun and Buffy jumps into the picture and starts beating him up. After a few kicks and punches, Buffy stakes the vamp. She helps the Misdirect-Nun up from the floor, and then asks her a few questions about that whole no boys thing nuns have going on.
Sweeney: The best part is when she asks if being really religious is a requirement. Sorry, B.
K: The second best part is that she clearly didn’t think that through very well, because REMEMBER HOW MUCH ANGEL LIKES CONVENTS?
Lor: After the credits, Buffy is sparring with Giles. She throws punches and delivers convenient episode set-up dialogue. Giles is off to England to use some of the Watcher’s Council resources to find more information about Glory.
Lor: After Buffy accidentally punches Giles in the arm, he calls the sparring session over. She wants to know if Glory is the only thing he’s going to mention to the Council. He promises not to bring up Dawn’s name, but does say that they should know that Glory is looking for something called The Key. Buffy: I know. It’s just I trust these Watchers about as far as … you could throw them. #SlayerJokes
Sweeney: That could have been an epic hashtag. This show really missed out by predating Twitter by so many years.
K: I also feel like we’ve missed out by only coming up with that hashtag now, half way through season 5. There are eighty eight episodes in which we could have been using that hashtag. But no… #hindsightproblems
Lor: Buffy is worried that any information will lead them to Dawn. Giles brings up the Initiative and says that with them and Riley gone, they truly have no other options. Buffy’s face goes into insta-sad-panda at the mention of Riley, and Giles apologizes. She says she’s fine, and that she knows that after a break-up things feel end of the world-ish. Giles jumps in all, “ain’t so bad though!” Buffy snaps that she just said it felt like the end of the world, and he isn’t listening. She leans in a little, though and says she’s teasing. Kind of. Anyways, they settle on Giles going to get his research on.
Cut to the Magic Box, where Anya is almost doing an air punch when Giles announces he’ll be gone for a week. She wants to know if she gets to run the shop and Giles stammers over the answer, because that would mean talking to people. Tara makes a cute remark about a trip to England being exotic, before she realizes that wouldn’t quite be the case if you are from there. I love that she calls him “Mr. Giles.”
Buffy says that they will all pitch in at the shop, but Anya thinks she can do it alone. Giles tries to gently tell Anya she sucks with people, by saying that it requires a certain finesse to deal with them.
At least she didn’t say ass?
Willow again says that she’ll help out and make sure everything is okay. (S: While I get why Giles would be a little hesitant, Willow was pretty condescending when she made this comment.) Anya tells Xander that Willow is talking to Giles like she isn’t even there and asks him to make her stop. Willow says she’s just trying to help, and smacks Xander on the arm while demanding that she tell her that. Throughout all this, Giles is muttering about calling the airport and scheduling an earlier flight back. Really, it’s for the best, Giles.
At the Summers’ household, Buffy is shocked to see her mother dressed in actual clothes. She calls Dawn into the room and they lightly tease their mother about the bathrobe she’s been wearing non-stop. Buffy calls the teasing quits once her mother pulls the, “YEAH, BUT I HAVE A HOLE IN MY HEAD.” card. Legit. I’d wear a bathrobe forever.
Sweeney: Preach. I’d try to justify bathrobe forever for a lot less.
K: I pretty much only change out of my dressing gown when my parents start to glare at me.
Lor: Glaring is just rude.
Dawn follows Buffy into her room and watches as Buffy climbs on her bed and picks up a magazine. Dawn asks what Buffy’s doing and she replies, “playing soccer.” It’s such an older sister thing to say. Whenever my little sister texts me and asks me, “where are you,” I always respond, “at da club.” Sunday 2pm? At da club. Tuesday at 9am? At da club. It never fails to amuse me.
Dawn notices that Buffy’s taken the pictures of Riley down and muses that she would’ve done it sooner. Buffy tries to say she was never angry with Riley before realizing that’s a lie. Dawn was just starting to like Riley and then he was gone so fast. Buffy says that according to everyone that isn’t her, he left gradually. Dawn asks if that makes things easier. No.
Buffy: It hurts. In all kinds of horrible ways. In the way where I’m furious at him, in the way where I blame myself, and all the little ways I imagine how I could have fixed things.
She continues on about how it will get better, but then also reveals that she’s still holding onto some kind of hope that maybe he’ll come back and they’ll give it another go. “I could say all the things I didn’t get to say.”
I think there was no way that this thing could’ve ended where Buffy didn’t take on some of the blame. The problem with wanting to take the whole world on your shoulders is that when it comes crashing down, it feels like your fault. It’s hard not to find yourself at the end of a thing and not ask what you did wrong. I think Buffy had missteps and Riley made huge mistakes, but when you’re at the end of a thing, even those missteps count. Additionally, things left unsaid are truly the worst, and have a way of making a person feel powerless. Our girl hates feeling powerless.
Sweeney: It’s also very Buffy to feel that sense of responsibility. Having been the one thing to stop the apocalypse on two separate occasions, her default mode is to assume the responsibility of fixing everything. Between her mom and now Riley, she’s having to confront a lot of messy human things that aren’t entirely within her control.
Lor: Also, this was a great Dawn and Buffy scene.
Sweeney: YES. Love the good sister scenes.
Lor: Always marked by hair stroking.
Cut to Spike holding up a box of chocolates to his Buffy Mannequin, which should NOT be a thing, Spike. Hilariously, though, Buffy Mannequin needs a bra. (S: Accurate mannequin is accurate. Good job, Spike.) (K: A+ dumpster diving.) He’s practicing trying to apologize for hurting her in the process of outing Riley. He claims to have had the best of intentions, but this quickly dissolves into a break down. He smashes the chocolates over Buffy Mannequin’s head, but then picks up Buffy Mannequin, rearranges her wig, and starts the apology all over again.
At the Magic Box, Tara and Willow are grabbing a bunch of supplies. There is a mention of de-ratting Rat Amy in here, which is fantastic. Anya huffs over to asks what they are doing and Willow explains that they are trying a spell to create a little bit of sunlight, so that Buffy can use it to dust vampires. Unless of course the vampire had a nifty blanket handy. Or if there was an intricate tunnel system near by. Or if he was an old vamp that would take solid minutes of sizzling before any actual death. Or maybe there’s some nice shade near-by. SUNLIGHT IS HARD.
Sweeney: Or if Whedon!sun was just feeling #meh that day and not really up to killing vampires.
K: I thought we filed sunlight under “Things we don’t want to talk about…”
Lor: We don’t want to, but sometimes he have to.
Anya thinks they shouldn’t be do magic-y things
EVER AGAIN JEEZ while Giles is away and Willow condescendingly compares her to the fish from The Cat in the Hat. Anya resents this reference she doesn’t understand, and accuses Willow of stealing. Tara softly suggests they just pay for what they took, but Willow is sure Giles wouldn’t mind, and tries to distract Anya by offering to teach her some magic. Willow starts floating things around the room as a demonstration when Xander arrives.
Anya tattle-tales on Willow right away and they put Xander in the middle of the argument. Tara suggests they leave him out of it, and he jumps behind her for protection. Willow insists that she’s doing a good thing Giles would totally approve of. Then she takes a pinch of her concoction and sprinkles it on the cash register because there is absolutely no because. She just does. The register disappears. Anya freaks out, but Willow manages to bring it back right away. Anya makes sure all the cash is still there (legit) but Willow makes fun of her for caring more about money than people. Xander is tired of being caught in their fighting, so he tells them to figure out their shit and leaves.
Willow tries to pull Tara in next, but she leaves too, because Tara is great and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Sweeney: This just sounds like a dangerous and unpleasant battle to be caught in the middle of.
K: True dat. No one wants to be caught in a battle between their best friend and their significant other at the best of times, let alone when one is a witch and the other is a thousand year old former demon.
Lor: Later, Willow is finishing her spell, naming all of the ingredients as she adds them. Anya is on hand taking an account of everything used. Willow asks Anya to STFU, because she’s about to start the ritual and it’s a super-sensitive one, meaning it will absolutely go wrong. I bet that’s how it appears in the spell book and everything: Simulated Sunlight: 100% Guaranteed to Fail. Let’s watch and see.
Willow starts invoking stuff, and a small ring of light appears from out of the cauldron. Anya interrupts her and Willow abandons her ritual to argue with her. Because this spell was 100% guaranteed to fail, we get a flash! bang! and suddenly we have a troll.
The troll spots the girls, roars at them, causes some major MAGIC BOX DESTUCTION and runs out of the store. Willow: He’s not a ball of sunshine.
At Contrivance University, Buffy is informing us that it’s the start of a new semester. She’s taking Greek Art with Tara, and they are chatting as they leave the class. Buffy complains about the professor spitting a lot, but she has to stay in the class because the only other one that would fit in her schedule is Central American Geopolitics, and she’s kind of got a thing against jungles at the moment.
Tara asks if it’s really that bad, and Buffy replies, “sort of.” Buffy says that, “maybe he needed to be where he was needed.” Maybe that’s the only wishy-washy confession we’ll ever get that Buffy didn’t need him at all.
Buffy suggests picking up Willow and grabbing a bite to eat, giving Tara a chance to relate the Willow vs. Anya drama, including the part where Xander left in a huff. Buffy starts freaking out because she’s afraid Xander left left Anya. Even if they are fighting over a little thing, little things become big things and relationships implode. Buffy breaks into tears, but it’s being played for laughs. She starts weeping about miraculous love. Ugh.
Sweeney: Yeah, this just made me uncomfortable. I don’t mind all the noncommittal answers, but the sobs for laughs bit was no good.
K: Agreed. I guess they felt like they couldn’t make it all Angel-levels-of-feels on account of Buffy literally just realised that she could maybe some day love Riley, and so tried to make it humorous instead. But this was fucking awful.
Lor: Anya and Willow are in hot pursuit of the troll, who is leaving a trail of property destruction. Anya is cartoonishly driving Giles’s car, because apparently she’s just figuring out she can drive! Anya and Willow bicker some more.
At The Bronze, Xander contrivantly bumps right into Spike. Xander tells Spike to go away, which only makes Spike want to follow him all the more. Spike starts babbling about chicken wings and brilliant onion blossoms.
K: MY BTVS OTP IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spike/onion blossoms 5eva.
Lor: This is a ship I can get behind.
He asks if Xander’s pissy mood has anything to do with Buffy and Xander’s all, “WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” and Spike has to be all, “HA HA HA. NOTHING, BUT ESPECIALLY NOT THE FACT THAT I LOVE BUFFY SO MUCH IT IS PHYSICALLY PAINFUL.”
Buffy and Tara are running through the Magic Box and discovering that Willow and Anya are missing. Tara runs up to Buffy and says, “Buffy, something’s been here and Willow’s gone.” Every episode she grows on me a little more. Maybe some of you are looking at that line and wondering why it caused an outburst of Tara love, BUT IT’S ALL IN THE DELIVERY, OKAY?
Sweeney: SHE’S PRECIOUS.
K: SO MUCH.
Lor: Cut to Troll Gone Wild. He hits a dumpster and calls it puny, like if the dumpster’s Loki and he’s The Hulk.
There is also a Thor reference here, because of the hammer and all, but Thor is magically delicious and this troll is not, so that’s the last time I’ll mention that.
K: I will never not love that scene from The Avengers and if my comments suddenly disappear from hereon, it’s because I’m watching it over and over again, giggling to myself.
Lor: Troll Gone Wild continues with the threats to destroy things and rape virgins, until he smells ale and heads in that direction.
Back at The Bronze, Xander and Spike are playing pool together. Xander is explaining being caught between Anya and Willow.
Aside: This is a really weird place for Spike as a character right now, because he’s in the middle of his arc. So, while Spike is always funny and JM has a presence that is hard to describe, Spike does things that are just not okay with me. The conflict is fitting, though, because the character is in conflict: the William piece of him holding a box of chocolates and the Spike piece of him bashing it over the Slayer’s head. Anyhow, all that to say that I love how consistently Spike is observant. He really is a good person to talk things out with.
Xander: And they get in these fights, and they’re both looking at me like I’m the referee. Also, sometimes I’ll say something about Anya, and Willow’ll get this look, this, um, “what the hell do you see in her” look.
Spike: I know that look. Lot of people never really got Dru, you know.
Xander: Well, she was insane.
And he doesn’t even know what’s going on in LA!
Sweeney: I appreciate your hypothetical invocation of #crossovermagic.
K: Truth. A+, Lor.
Lor: Thank you.
Spike wants to know what Buffy thinks of the discord amongst the Scoobies, but then starts babbling about holding grudges and making it better. Troll Gone Wild bumps into Spike en route to some nearby kegs. I love that people kind of stare but, really, it’s just another night at The Bronze.
Anya and Willow arrive. Willow wishes Buffy were there and Buffy is there one second later. Willow wishes for a million dollars, just in case. Buffy tries to figure out what’s going on and Spike steps up to her and awkwardly delivers a rehearsed sounding, “hello Buffy.”
Anya rats out Willow’s Not a Ball of Sunshine spell, but does add that she has the spell to turn the troll back. Willow starts the spell but Troll Gone Wild yells at them to stop, so they’re all, “okay! Sure!” TGW yells at Anyanka because she seems, “determined to put an end to all my fun. Just like you always did when we were dating.” Everyone is all, SKKKKRTTT. You dated a troll?! Anya explains that she dated him before he was a troll, and then made him a troll when she found out he cheated on her. That’s how she got the gig as a vengeance demon.
K: Did we put backstory shots on the drinking game board? Because I feel like we should have.
Troll Gone Wild flips out because he says he never cheated… in his heart. He was drunk and there was a wench, excuses, excuses. TGW threatens to kill Anya and also all witches, because witches trapped him in a crystal ball. Willow tries the spell once again, but it doesn’t do anything, so Buffy gets to the fighting. Spike tries to join in, but gets pushed down immediately. Just as soon as he’s up again, TGW throws Buffy into him and they both go down. Spike pretends to be helping her up, but he’s actually grabbing her by the waist and pulling her into him. Once she’s finally up, he smirks as she walks away. I laugh in spite of myself.
Sweeney: Sorry not sorry: unwanted groping still falls under the, “Ew,” heading for me.
K: Agreed. Also, doing that to the Slayer when she’s in the middle of a fight seems like a prime method of getting yourself punched in the face when it’s all over.
Lor: He’d probably enjoy it.
Meanwhile, Troll Gone Wild has been smashing support beams inside of The Bronze, and the second floor comes crashing down. After a Not Commercial Break, we see Buffy pinned under some debris. Tara and Spike both help her out. Buffy tells Xander to follow the troll and Anya and Willow to go back to the Magic Box and search for a spell that will actually work.
Buffy sees Spike kneeling next to an injured woman. He says he’s making her more comfortable and clarifies that he isn’t tasting any of the blood of the victims, because he knows she wouldn’t like it.
Buffy: You want credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims?
Spike: Well, yeah.
Buffy: You’re disgusting.
Aw, I don’t know. I’d give him a little credit. Sweeney? Kirsti?
Sweeney: Yeah, actually, I would. I’m with Buffy on it being disgusting, but also…vampire, so. Snark Lady credit given. Unfortunately, nobody cares about our credit. Sorry, Spike.
K: I’m gonna go ahead and give him credit for it, but take a couple of points off for basically asking for credit. If he’d left it at “Making her more comfortable,” Buffy might have been all “Oh. How thoughtful of you.” But because he’s all “LOOK AT ME NOT DOING THE THING!!!!” he loses points. So half credit?
Lor: 2.5 Snark Lady credits, Spike, redeemable nowhere and good for nothing. ENJOY.
Magic Box. Willow is grabbing all sorts of spells and Anya is collecting more of the ingredients Willow “stole” earlier. And THEN:
Willow: I didn’t – why do you do that?
Willow: You’re so rude! I mean, sure, at first, ex-demon, doesn’t know the rules. Well, you been here forever. Learn the rules.
Anya: Rules are stupid.
See, it’s totally Cordy Syndrome.
Anya insists that there are humans weirder than she is and Willow counters that none of those people will turn Xander into a troll. It takes Anya a second before she realizes that Willow is scared she will hurt Xander. She insists she never would, but Willow’s all, “HELLO? 1000 years as a vengeance demon…” Anya points out that she doesn’t have powers anymore, and she doesn’t do any magic. Besides, she knows that it was Willow’s lips that caused the Xander/Cordy break-up. Willow’s all, “HELLO? Gay now.” They both insist that they won’t steal away or hurt Xander.
K: *cough* Foreshadowing??? *cough*
Lor: Troll Gone Wild comes barreling in for a bonus round of MAGIC BOX DESTRUCTION. Poor Giles.
TGW throws both girls into some shelves. Xander runs in and valiantly tries to fight the troll. I’m not entirely sure how he lasts as long as he does, but good on him for getting up and trying even though he’s got a bloody mouth and everything. TGW is impressed too, and says that he will reward him but only killing one of his girls, and Xander gets to choose which one.
Xander refuses to choose between his best friend and girl friend, so Troll Gone Wild breaks his hand. Xander still refuses, so TGW says that Xander will die instead. Anya runs forward all, “take me instead!” and it reminds me of a Bible story. For real! This one is a little more widely known than the Youth Mauling Bear, but see, one time there were these two women fighting over a baby. They both claimed it was theirs. They came before King Solomon for a ruling and he was all, “sharesies! Cut the baby in half!” The first woman was all, “OKAY! Neither of us get a baby.” The second woman was all, “NO! STOP IT. Just give the baby to the lying bitch.” And that was how King Solomon know who the true mother was.
So, like, Anya ran forward to risk herself for Xander, and Willow was just back there looking at something really interesting on the ceiling. Okay, not really. Willow was preparing to do another spell, but I’m pretty sure I still get Jesus points for telling the story.
Sweeney: Back when you first told the Youth Mauling Bear story, this blog was a more innocent place. I was all, “Yeah, Lor! Look at you! Showing us the light and stuff.” Now, however,this blog has gotten so corrupted that I don’t know if you’ve got enough stories. But maybe you get Jesus points for trying? Jesus Participation Points? I don’t know how this works.
K: Me neither. Perhaps I should start watching the TV adaptation of The Bible, which starts on TV here tonight. LOL, who am I kidding? NOPE. (Also, who the fuck decided that making The Bible into a TV show was a good idea?! The Brick Testament, on the other hand, is a work of genius)
Lor: I’m not really sure how it works either. I just like when things remind me of Bible stories.
Tara and Buffy arrive, and Anya tells B that the hammer has the strength. Buffy starts fighting and Anya wonders how she can help. Willow tells her to distract the troll with her champion annoying-the-piss-out-of-people skills. Buffy fights, Anya insults, and Willow chants. Soon, Willow’s spell gets the hammer out of the troll’s hands, but he’s still got some wicked troll strength.
Buffy’s not looking great in this fight until Troll Gone Wild starts picking on Anya and Xander’s love. Buffy gets amped up on feels and start fighting the troll offscreen. Xander is still surprised that Anya dated TGW, but Anya assures Xander that she likes him much better. She adds that Willow likes him too, but in a non-sexy way. We hear Buffy say that Xander and Anya’s love will last forever and we cut to the troll unconscious on the ground.
Willow magically sends Troll Gone Wild off somewhere. She tried to send him to Troll Land, but there’s a long explanation about how alternate universes are always moving. Anya says he could’ve ended up in the world with no shrimp. Buffy doesn’t care where he ended up, she’s just happy he’s gone and she got to keep the hammer. She puts it on a glass display case, and shatters it. Poor, poor Giles.
Then, seeing Anya and Xander, Buffy breaks down in more comical tears.
K: Part of me thinks that’s just SMG crying at the terrible things they made her do/say in this episode.
Lor: Could be.
Later, at the Summers’ residence, Giles is lamenting all the damage to his store. Joyce comes in with some tea and almost wonders why Giles couldn’t just have called the Watchers’ Council and been all, “know anything about Glory? No? Holler if you do! Bye!” They talk in vague-ish terms about Dawn’s special circumstances, but of course, Dawn overhears because they are talking openly in the house where Dawn lives. They have no one to blame but themselves.
Sweeney: Just stupid. So much stupid.
Lor: I guess I understand wanting a lighter, fluffier episode to follow the last one, but I don’t like the way they’ve shown Buffy dealing with the break-up.
I did like the tension between Anya and Willow finally came to a head. I liked that they showed us a little bit about how the break-up affected the others. Riley was a Scooby for a while and in a close knit group of friends that way, it’s bound to be felt all over. Giles mentions not having Riley to go to for back-up. Xander mentions not believing he (the only other young male in the group) is gone and even Dawn says it was a sudden loss.
K: Out of all the Scoobies, I think I feel the worst for Xander about Riley leaving. Because they had quite the little bromance going on there for a while. And then, just like Oz, Riley up and left in the middle of the night and Xander’s back to having no guys his own age to play with.
Lor: So, all in all, it was an average episode for me.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I thought we got rid of the Watcher’s Council? I guess not in S05 E12 – Checkpoint.