Buffy the Vampire Slayer S05 E17 – Forever ever?

Previously: There were tears. Currently: Still crying.


Lorraine: Buffy appraises a bunch of coffins. Spooky music plays while she opens one up, but it’s all a bit of misdirection. There is nothing in the coffin. Buffy is here to pick one for Joyce.

Misdirection dictated that Buffy was doing all of this in the dark, in a room away from Giles, Dawn and the salesman. They enter the room now, and Buffy points out her selection. The salesman makes a skeevy comment about he can tell how much she care for the deceased based on her selection. It must be expensive. (S: Clearly. Such a skeevy and inappropriate comment and this guy needs a new line of work.) (K: Agreed. Creepy coffin salesman is creepy.) The group of them start to leave, but Dawn lingers. Buffy asks if she’s okay, and Dawn asks how they know that Joyce would like this coffin. What if she’d like another one better? She is the one that has to be in it forever.

Kirsti: Once again, this show is acting as a giant PSA for cremation.

Lor: Buffy wonders if it was smart bringing Dawn along. The salesman asks if they need more time, but Buffy decisively says that it’s fine. Her choice is made. Roll credits.

At the Summers’ home, Dawn, Buffy, Giles, Willow and Xander are gathered around the dinner table, discussing funeral details. Joyce didn’t want a wake, as she felt that potlucks are depressing enough as it is. Dawn gets bristly about when Joyce said such a thing, and why she would discuss such things with Buffy and not Dawn. The phone rings, and B asks Giles to handle it, unless it is her father. It isn’t. Giles leaves the room to finish up the call, while the group all exposits that Buffy hasn’t been unable to get in touch with Hank Summers.

Sweeney: Who is, if nothing else, a consistent contender in Traumaland’s race for Most Negligent Parent.

K: I still maintain that he wins, hands down.

Lor: Buffy is still trying to figure out how to put the line about not having a wake on the program, when Dawn quietly asks what they are going to do after the service. She doesn’t want to come back home, and asks Willow if she can go to her place instead. Buffy gives slightly confused consent.

Next we see Xander and Willow leaving. Willow is going to stop by her mom’s house, which she’s been doing often, though Xander emphatically says he will not be stopping by his parent’s house, as they are scary. That’s the set-up for Spike to walk up with a bunch of flowers.

Xander is immediately defensive. Spike says he wasn’t planning on going in, and that this has nothing to do with Buffy. The flowers are for Joyce, because she was a nice lady, who never treated him like a freak. Xander doesn’t buy it. Spike throws down the flowers and walks away. Xander says, “The guy thinks he can put on a big show and con Buffy into being his sex monkey,” while Willow picks up the flowers. She points out that he didn’t leave a card.

K: BRB, having Spike/Joyce friendship feels.

Lor: The camera pans across the Summer’s hall, and we pass Buffy’s room where she sits on the bed, staring at nothing. The camera keeps moving past Dawn’s room, where she sits in a similar state. We pan into the next scene, which is the funeral service. There is a series of quick fades on each of the Scooby members as we hear the voice of the minister. Dawn flinches when the first shovel full of dirt hits the coffin, and I flinch because I’ve stood there before. I stood there and thought about the body of my loved one, in the dirt.

Sweeney: I’m glad we’re spending all this time on Joyce’s passing. As was pointed out last time, death almost becomes a trivial thing on this show, because of how often the Scoobies deal with it. I think it makes it all the more poignant for us to show all of their grief when losing one of their own. We saw a bit of this with Ms. Calendar, but her position in the group was a bit more complicated than Joyce’s. Anyone who has ever had the horrible experience of burying a loved one, I think, I can connect with all of this.

K: I, meanwhile, stop to be enormously grateful that Australia doesn’t do graveside funerals. Because I lose my shit at funerals enough already. Having to do it in the cemetery? NOPE x INFINITY.

Lor: We fade to just Dawn and Buffy standing by the grave, with Willow and Tara behind them. Dawn turns away and says something to Tara and Willow. Tara approaches Buffy cautiously, and says that Dawn is ready to go. Buffy gives them permission to take her, but plans to stick around. They leave.

Buffy stares at the grave and we watch her as daylight turns to darkness behind her. We cut to a shot of her feet by the grave. Another person joins her.


Flail seems like the wrong word, considering what’s happening at this moment, but it’s Angel, and he came and it’s crossover magic, and Buffy grabs his hand and then I start thinking about everything that’s been happening to him on his show, and I can’t even take it.

Sweeney: Given that the Bangel party generally consists of only me and sometimes you, I don’t even fucking care that everyone will shit all over this. THE BANGEL MOMENTS IN THIS EPISODE GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS AND HATERS GONNA HATE AND WHAT THE FUCK EVER. #teamfeelsforever

K: This is the sole moment in the entire series that gives me Bangel feels. Especially when it’s put into the context of what’s been happening over in Los Angeles. I also love that they don’t show him finding out about Joyce. He just turns up.

Lor: I love that Sweeney gave a preemptive WHATEVERFUCKEVERYTHING, and Kirsti showed up to be all, “no, but I kind of agree.” We’re so fun.

Over at the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room, Tara and Willow are having a tough time comforting Dawn. Willow offers that things will get better, and Tara adds they know because they are witches and they know stuff. This sparks an idea in Dawn. She wants them to use their magic to bring back Joyce.

After a cut to black, we join Anya and Xander post-coital. Anya is on top. They make comments about how intense it was, but it’s sort of weird how unenthusiastic Xander sounds. I think it’s just a bad direction thing, but whatever. The point is that Joyce’s death got Anya thinking about life, and how they have the power to create it. She assures Xander that she doesn’t mean now, just that she feels more awake knowing that it’s possible. It’s a nice counterpoint to her freak-out about death last episode.

At Willow’s dorm, she’s doing a terrible job of explaining why they can’t resurrect Joyce. Tara is trying to go the, “it can’t be done,” route, and Willow keeps making comments about how it would be too difficult or that it would backfire.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 5x17 - “Forever"</p><br /><br /><br /> <p>TARA: We don’t mess with life and death. Dawn, I know how bad you hurt.DAWN: You don’t. They put her in the ground.TARA: They did, and it’s awful and unfair, but this isn’t the way.WILLOW: I’m not even sure it’s possible, Dawn. I mean, I’ve … seen things on resurrection, but … there’s books and stuff … but I guess … the spells … backfire?TARA: That’s not the point.<br /><br /><br /><br />

Tara says Wiccans took an oath long ago not alter the fabric of life for selfish reasons. Dawn throws a little fit.  Willow tries to comfort her, but she isn’t having it. Tara and Willow clearly aren’t seeing completely eye to eye and it’s a nice call back to way back when, when Tara fudged a spell so it wouldn’t work.

Back at the graveyard, Angel and Buffy are now sitting. Angel is leaning against a tree, and Buffy is sitting next to him, leaning against his shoulder. My heart squeezes a little and I try to remind myself about all the extra Cr he’s been adding to the Angel lately, but I can’t. Buffy says that the funeral was brutal, but she’s really more worried about the next day, and resuming normal life. Buffy doubts herself, her strength and her ability to be a grown-up. She recalls that she had to be told to give her CPR, and predictably can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if she had arrived home 10 minutes earlier. Angel does his best to give the called for, “give it time,” advice.

Buffy notes that it will be daylight soon. Angel offers to stay in town as long as she needs. Buffy replies, “How’s forever? Does forever work for you?” She sighs and faces him and acknowledges what a bad idea that is, mostly because she’s being very needy. Angel says he can handle it, and they kiss, softly at first, and then more passionately. They both pull away, and Angel apologizes. Buffy tells him not to. She’s happy he came, because she didn’t think she’d make it through the night. They lean against each other again, and sit for a while longer.

I just loved this and it’s okay if it’s just me and Sweeney here appreciating this. I don’t think that Angel and Buffy are perfect together. I don’t even necessarily think they should be together. But regardless of all that, I love the way these two embody first love. They see each other and feelings come back and they can sit together and pick up like nothing ever happened. But reality comes with daylight.

Sweeney: Yes to all of this. Their relationship ran its course and it’s fine that it ended, but I love all the feelsy first love stuff. None of this stuff was “They should get back together 4EVA,” so much as, “Yes, they were important to each other, so it made sense for him to come now.”

K: Team Heartless Cow loves that he came, but could have done without the face nomming. Especially when you take into account that the last time they face nommed, Angel was human and he’s the only one who remembers…

Lor: Ben leaves the hospital and one of Glory’s Flattery Demons is waiting for him. Flattery Demon has come to encourage Ben to cultivate his relationship with the Slayer, in hopes of finding the location of the key. Ben is having none of that, as the key is “innocent.” The Flattery Demon is all, “SKKKRT. SAY WUH,” and Ben doesn’t make it any better when he says, “the key isn’t human! SWEARSIES.” He almost says that. Anyways, in order to make sure Glory doesn’t figure out this secret, Ben stabs the Flattery Demon.

At the Bigger on the Inside Dorm, Tara and Willow are headed to breakfast and class. Dawn says she was planning on sleeping (in her clothes.) some more and Giles was going to pick her up later. She is very frosty with poor Willow, who really wants to help. As she leaves, Willow kind of half-accios a book; it slides forward on the shelf.

Dawn notes this and goes to pick up the book once the girls are gone. History of Witchcraft. She looks at the table of contents and quickly locates the section on resurrection. She reads through it for a second and it appears that Dawn has got another idea.

Later, at the Magic Box, Dawn is doing some distracted dusting and poking around some book. Giles and Anya insist that she doesn’t have to do that, but Dawn sads that being useful helps keep her mind off of things. Giles is okay with that, though Anya is twitchy for a second about someone doing her job. Dawn asks Giles if there is anything she should know, like for instance where all the dangerous books and potions are. Giles, bless his heart, actually points her in the right direction.

Sweeney: We know Giles was watching a bit of TV when he first became unemployed. DID YOU LEARN NOTHING, GILES? Amateur hour over here.

K: I, on the other hand, mostly had a little flail moment over the fact that Giles has a Restricted Section in the New New Wiggins Library.

Lor: Probably won’t cage any baddies or werewolves we miss so so so much, but it is a nice call back.

Of course, the second no one is looking at her, Dawn heads up to the restricted section and steals some things.

That night, Dawn is by Joyce’s grave. She’s got her magicks book out, when Spike finds her. He tells her that if the spell calls for anything more than dirt, she’s in zombie territory. Dawn stutters, but Spike knows what’s she’s doing; the book she has is infamous. Dawn begs Spike not to tell, because she has to get Joyce back. Spike: I’m not going to tell, little bit. I’m going to help. Preemptively score another for The Misguided Things Spike Does.

After the break, Giles is at home, in the mostly dark, playing a record and sipping on a drink. A quick look into what song is playing leads me to the discovery that it’s the same song Giles and Joyce listened to in Band Candy. Grief in all forms.


K: I actually have Tales of Brave Ulysses on my iPod and I can’t listen to it in public because FEELS.

Lor: Spike and Dawn walk together to see a person who Spike says knows all about resurrection spells. Dawn looks troubled, but Spike tells her not to worry. She says he doesn’t have to be nice to her, as she knows that he’s only doing all of this to get in good with Buffy. He proves her wrong when he says that Buffy is not to hear a word about this. So, if he doesn’t want credit, why is Spike helping Dawn? “I just don’t like to see Summers women take it so hard on the chin, is all.”

Sweeney: This line was precious. We established earlier that this is partially about Joyce, but his motivations are also a bit about Dawn, too. I love that he is protective of her for her own sake, not just Buffy’s.

Lor: Agreed.

At Glory’s place, she’s anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jinx, the Flattery Demon who we saw get stabbed. One of her Flattery Demons calls her, “your new and improvedness.” Yes.

Anyways, Jinx is helped in just a second later because apparently when Ben was all, “NO ONE CAN KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW,” he stabbed him but didn’t actually wait around to make sure he actually died despite being a medical professional. RIGHT.

Sweeney: He only stabbed him once. Do it or don’t, Ben. You can’t halfass a demon murder. COMMIT.

K: Agreed. Way to fail, Ben. You’re a doctor. You should be good with a scalpel and knowing where to stab!

Lor: At first, Glory literally pulls out her hair in frustration, seeing that Ben stabbed Jinx, but then she’s back to being elated when she hears the key is a person.

Spike and Dawn arrive at the magic guy’s house. Dawn’s a little put off, because it smells like grandpa. Magic Guy comes creeping out from within his house, and it’s clear from the start that, to borrow a Kirsti thing, he’s got a few kangaroos loose, um, up in his head. I don’t think I got that completely right, but you know what I mean.

K: A few kangaroos loose in the top paddock, Lor. You were almost there!! Also, Magic Guy is JOEL GREY which causes me to fall somewhere in the middle of excited flailing and cowering in terror. Because he’s always awesome but SO CREEPY OMG.

Lor: Spike explains that Dawn’s mother died. Magic Guy says that they don’t want to mess with this stuff, though he does offer some tonics to help the grieving. Nope. Dawn wants to mess with the magicks. Magic Guy pulls a hair from Dawn’s head and presumably examines it, proclaiming Joyce’s DNA strong. It’s an interesting little bit, considering Dawn is only sort of a person. Dawn watches as Magic Guy pulls out a big book, and she also catches sight of a tail poking out from the bottom of his robe.

Magic Guy explains that the resurrection spell requires an egg of a Ghora demon. Dawn also needs a picture of her mother. It is to be placed in a sacred circle and a certain incantation must be said. The only way to reverse the spell is to destroy the image of her mother. Magic Guy warns that it’s a tricky spell, and can only offer that Joyce will still “more or less” be her mother. Dawn takes it. She thanks the Magic Guy, who refuses her money, and just asks that she keep in touch. As they shake hands, Magic Guy’s eyes go all black. Dawn pulls away and they leave. Magic Guy’s smile drops.

Spike and Dawn locate the Ghora demon. Spike wants to go in alone, but Dawn says she needs to grab the eggs while Spike distracts the demon. She heads off ahead of him, and he laments to himself, “Well, what do you know. Bitty Buffy.

Sweeney: CUTE.

K: I loved this moment of Dawn not being a total wet blanket and actually being a Summers.

Lor: In the cave-ish thing, the Ghora demon sleeps. Spike starts making a ruckus and the demon wakes, revealing that it has three heads and that our besties the Bad Special Effects Guys have come out to play. Spike is swinging an axe at the Ghora heads while Dawn sneaks behind them and grabs an egg. Spike buries the axe in a Ghora neck, and takes off running, behind Dawn. But Dawn drops the egg on the way out. Spike tries to get her to leave, because now he has no weapon. Dawn doesn’t listen and runs back down to grab another egg. Spike resorts to throwing stones, and the Ghora bites down on Spike. One can imagine it would be very tempting to nibble Spike torso. He manages to wiggle free, grab the axe again and strike. This time, Dawn and Spike make it out with egg intact.

We cut to the Summer’s house at night, and Dawn is building her sacred circle, picture of Joyce in the middle, and cracked egg off to the side. She chants, “I beg of you, return to me,” and we cut to black.

Tara and Willow banter in bed. Willow’s started a journal, as she realizes that time is passing her by and she wants to remember it. Tara notes, just then, that the History of Witchcraft book is missing. She figures right away that Dawn took it. Willow gets nervous and twitchy. She’s a terrible liar, but lucky for her, Tara doesn’t seem to notice. Willow thinks they should call Buffy right away.

Buffy arrives home and the phone is ringing.

Upstairs, Dawn is still magic-ing it up, when Buffy busts in on her. B demands to know what she’s done, but Dawn just runs out, saying that Joyce is coming. Buffy conveniently grabs the photo of Joyce and runs after Dawn. Back downstairs, Buffy tells Dawn she has no idea what she’s messing with and what could be coming back, but Dawn refuses to reverse the spell, and grabs the picture of Joyce out of Buffy’s hands. We cut to a shot of zombie!Joyce’s legs walking across the graveyard and Dawn’s voice continues, “I’m not like you, Buffy. I don’t have anybody.” She has Buffy, but she doesn’t feel that way. Ever since Joyce died, Dawn claims that Buffy hasn’t even looked at her. Buffy hasn’t even cried. All Dawn has seen is Buffy running around, handling things like a big chore.

Buffy slaps Dawn across the face, and is immediately horrified that she did. Dawn and Buffy are both tearful as Buffy tries to explain that she’s been working because once she stops, it’ll be real, and Joyce will be gone.

Buffy: And I’m trying. Dawn, I am, I am really trying to take care of things, but I don’t even know what I’m doing. Mom always knew.
Dawn: Nobody’s asking you to be Mom.
Buffy: Well, who’s gonna be if I’m not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who’s gonna make things better? Who’s gonna take care of us?
Dawn: Buffy…
Buffy: I didn’t mean to push you away, I didn’t. I just, I couldn’t let you see me.

As they keep talking, crying, we see a shadow move past the curtains in the background.

Sweeney: This episode and the zombie stuff gives me the genuine, “I’m scared now,” creeps. It’s all very well paced, IMO.

Lor: Agreed. I was both terrified of seeing Joyce, and hopeful that I’d see Joyce.

Someone knocks on the front door. Buffy turns toward the noise and asks, “Mommy?” She moves toward the door, but Dawn quickly picks up the picture of Joyce and tears it in half, before the door is opened and we see what’s on the other side. There is nothing there. Joyce is dead. Forever.

Sweeney: I love. love. loved this. All the feels for Dawny this episode. You guys keep telling us that elsewhere in the fandom people rag on her and fuck all that noise. While I do understand where Buffy was coming from this episode, this episode was a perfect demonstration of how much Buffy tends to shut her out. Dawn’s feels were every bit as legit as hers. What’s more, I also adore the fact that Dawn ultimately tears the photo because it’s proof of my new pro-Dawn mantra against these haters I have never actually engaged with, BUT: she can and will step up when Buffy actually opens up to her. Dawn acts out because she is shut out. For all of Buffy’s, “What do I do?” in the end, Buffy was ready to accept that zombie as mom when she knocked on the door and Dawn was the one to recognize that this was a foolish thing that she did because she was grieving. LOVE.

K: A+, Sweeney. The Buffy shutting everyone out thing was shown brilliantly in the Space Cockroach episode – she does all her crying while doing the dishes and blasting music in the middle of the night. She knows it’s her job to be the strong one, to fight the things that others can’t. Having Dawn be the strong one, even for a little while, is perfect.

Lor: And on that note, Buffy turns toward her little sister, she says her name, and breaks down in tears. Dawn rushes forward and hugs her, offering a small, “it’s okay.” They sink to the floor, holding each other, and sobbing.

Most of the sobbing is theirs. Only a little of it belongs to me.


Lots to say about this episode. First, reader Jojo unwittingly pointed out in the comments a little early about the little scene with Giles mourning being a brilliant addition. I’d only add that over the last two episodes, we’ve been shown glimpses of how much this death has affected everyone, and how they are dealing with it. Anya, thinking about life. Willow visiting her mom and starting a journal. Spike, bringing flowers. Giles, listening to a song that reminds him of Joyce. Dawn, looking to take matters into her own hands. And Buffy, never stopping, until there was nothing left to do.

Sweeney: Somebody mentioned wanting more scenes from other characters and I disagree. I loved everything we got from the grief of people who aren’t Buffy and Dawn, but I also think it was right and fitting that Buffy/Dawn were the focus. I once read an article about “the ring theory” and circles of grief when someone has a terminal illness, where proximity to the person who is ill constitutes how far in/out your circle is. The logic is that you pour love IN to the center and dump feels OUT to the outer circles. (Which is to say that you can’t say something like, “I couldn’t stand to see her like that,” to someone in a more inward circle than you — you “dump” feelings out.) I love that we observed everyone sticking to that philosophy across these two episodes. The quiet moment with Giles is especially potent because we see him being so strong and supportive the rest of the time.

Lor: I mentioned it already, but I loved that Angel showed up. I love him, the character for doing it, and I loved that he was the one that talked Buffy through a sort of transition point. We saw the sky darken behind her, and she said that this is it– there is no longer a road map. She’s been thrown into adulthood all at once and in a way she probably never expected. Angel felt like a good person to hand hold her through that. And in the end, he left, because he’s one other thing left in her past.

A very good follow-up to an extremely good episode.

K: Meanwhile, I’ll be over here burning effigies of Hank Summers.


Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: So, the Buffybot is a thing in S05 E18 – Intervention.


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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  • Jojo

    I love the Bangel scene – it’s a nice step for them, moving past the teen romance into mature sharing of pain and comfort. I am am major Spike fan, but I really don’t care if someone floats a different ship. And I see Angel and Spike as filling different needs at different times (in different seasons) Angel is very grounded. Buffy must feel like she is flying apart and Angel is the one who can help her most.

    You know, the Buffy vs Spike debate really hurt fandom, and I really don’t want to go there. But I don’t think we here will burst into flame wars – this seems a pretty mature groups all around. You need not live in fear.

    • I foresee myself feeling a lot like this, all said and done, about Spike and Angel fulfilling different needs and being “right” for different times in her life. I don’t think either Sweeney or I were worried about flame wars at all. We joke about being the only supporters of Bangel, though we know most of our viewers have lovely, complicated and intelligent opinions on the matter.

      We joke, is what I’m trying to say, though I was pleasantly surprised to find that so many of you also liked the Angel scene. I did expect to encounter more groans. 🙂

      That’s a good point about Spike knowing Dawn will try anyways. It’s great in understanding that Spike sees her more of an equal than anyone else. My immediate thought was, “tell her no! Tell her she can’t!” But Spike lets her make her decision and helps her/guards her. Like an equal, even though she is a kid.

      I loved, all said and done, that we didn’t see Joyce. Honestly, loved. It worked with the Dawn/Buffy stuff, but also, this was such a crushing blow, that I think bringing Joyce back in any way, shape or form, would’ve cheapened that. Let’s save the resurrecting for Buffy!

      I like Dawn too. I think she’s annoying as hell sometimes, but she’s supposed to be.

      Music is key in my process. All my feels to Giles.

      • Jojo

        I know you guys are snarking because it be excellent snark. But Buffy fen have been seriously burned by the ship wars….and I panicked. Even if I came along too late to get burned I have seen scars and silvadene. This place is such a perfect sanctuary – you don’t know how totally wonderful that is. So 1430 for all of the Snark Ladies.

        I think to Spike the scoobs are all kids, even Giles. I mean he is 140+ if you count his human years. Not that much difference between 21 and 14 when you’re that old. Dawn is the same age as Buffy was when she started slaying in LA. She’s in more danger if she wanders around downtown trying to get help. or even worse tries to do the spell by herself. Everyone else sees her as a child. Spike sees her as a person who happens to be young. I love that a lot.

        Joel Grey was uber-creepy, and so was the shuffling figure in the window – and I am so glad that Dawn tore up the picture before Buffy saw Joyce like that.

        • Thank you for this bright and shiny 1430! We will wear it proudly.

          Spike is such a n00b when it comes to dealing with Buffy, it’s hard to remember he’s old and has seen things and, yes, everyone is young to him.

          Do we see Joel Grey again? I wondered if he was someone that was resurrected and that’s how come he knew so much about it, but was also less than human.

          • Jojo

            Spoilers, my dear. However, he did have a large tail. Definite demon trait there – and I love the movie Cabaret which has nothing to do with Buffy but I am throwing that in anyway.

  • Clément Polge

    Completely agree with Kirsti on the Bangel front – I really don’t care about it, and am usually all “UGH MAKE IT STOP, HE’S ONLY GOOD ON HIS OWN SHOW”, but here it was wonderfully done, his presence was as short as it was unexpected, and really sweet. I also could have done without all the face noms, but whatever.

    And Dawn reallys irks me out during the first half of this episode, acting out at everyone, stealing stuff, just being a brat. I know I *should* understand her, but I’m really just annoyed… The second part where she’s with Spike, and the grand finale with Buffy are A+ though, and give me some Dawn feels&love.

    But most of all, this episode give me Tara feels, because we know that she went through loosing her mother as well, and her discussion with Dawn feels really like a mature adult talking… And Willow completely missing the point is just sad.

    • Jojo

      Funny – I was appalled that Buffy would chose a coffin without her sister there to talk to – sorry -Team Dawn here. She is damn near the age when Buffy started down the slayer path. She needs to be listened to. And she is the only family Buffy has left – I would have done exactly what Dawn did.

      • Clément Polge

        I mostly meant her attitude towards Willow and Tara (basically trying to guild-trip them), actually 🙂

        And I’m not sure of my feelings for this scene, it seems to me that loosing your mother as 14 is traumatic enough to not have to wonder about choosing a coffin, it seems to me that during this scene Dawn is really overwhelmed and unable to process, and Buffy had to make a call.

        • Eeeehhhhh, IDK about that. Buffy was super overwhelmed too. Which is why I *get* her feels…but… like, much of that stems from her not actually talking to Dawn.

          • Clément Polge

            I mean overwhelmed by the whole “coffin choosing” thing, it seems sort of… Administrative, almost. And Buffy was throwing herself into the whole administrative things to forget her feels for a second, and taking Dawn along for the ride seems sort of weird.

            Because Dawn seems really lost as to what she should base her opinion on for the coffin (and Buffy shutting her out clearly doesn’t help)

          • A fair point. I’m not sure I have strong thoughts/opinions either way on the question of coffin selection because just thinking about it makes me want to curl into a ball and cry so I’m just gonna not.

        • Jojo

          I don’t think she was guilt tripping – I think she really couldn’t face being home alone, and with the degree Buffy is taking over Dawn is not feeling really welcome. I mean, I can understand that she would see Buffy doesn’t need her around, and since it’s also Dawn’s mother who died – she just needs to get some distance. As for the spell – I see a grief stricken teen – yeah it was an argument but the kid just lost her mother. They live on a hell-mouth – magic and the supernatural are part of daily life. It would be odd if she didn’t want to resurrect her mother.

          It might be more convenient to do it without Dawn, and she may not have anything to add, but this is not about a coffin. This is about family sticking together and making decisions together and grieving together. Buffy has Giles, Xander, Anya, Willow, and Tara. Dawn really doesn’t have anyone but her sister. And her sister is off picking a coffin with her friends, and not even caring if Dawn comes in the room. That just seems hard to deal with. I mean Buffy is a mess and I understand but it still sucks.

          • Clément Polge

            Agreed with all that, but I didn’t mean that Dawn was guilt-tripping Buffy, I mean the scene where she’s with Willow and Tara, she’s really throwing stuff in their faces, for instance:
            Tara: Dawn, I know how much you hurt
            Dawn: You don’t.

            But I totally agree about everything you said, my comment was mostly aimed at Dawn’s interactions with the scoobies, not with Buffy herself, because there she’s completely justified.

          • Jojo

            If there is one person in the universe who has the right to say ‘you don’t understand’ it’s the ancient ball of green energy now in a body that makes her a hormone bomb, with family she knows she doesn’t really belong to, grieving alone because she isn’t give a way to vent.

            Sorry – I know this may come across as argumentative but there is nothing I hate worse than being told “I know how you feel.” Because no one really does. Tara says it well when she and Buffy talk.

          • Clément Polge

            I kind of agree, but her attitude towards Tara and Willow is still pretty unfair… Kind of like ending it with “you said you wanted to help me”, a scoff, and straight to bed shutting them out.

            I understand her, and why she acts this way, but it doesn’t make it not annoying to see her treat people this way.

          • Jojo

            I don’t think she’s meant to be all that rational when she asks the witches to resurrect her mother who died a few days ago. I know you find it annoying, and a lot of other people agree with you. I just see it differently. Not that Dawn doesn’t annoy me in some episodes – just that I really feel for her and understand her in these episodes.

          • Clément Polge

            They’re not mutually exclusive though, I’m annoyed but at the same time I feel for her and I understand her 🙂

          • Jojo

            I can understand – she can really get that conflict of emotions a lot!

      • YES. EXACTLY. Buffy was shutting Dawn out for the entire episode until that little showdown, so much of Dawn acting out is because the one person she needs most is refusing to comfort her in anyway.

        As for Willow/Tara…Willow was completely missing the point — as Clement said. I’m not sure the scene would have played out differently if Willow’s head had been where Tara’s was. The fact that Willow was so focused on the, “Not sure if it can work…maybe…” gave Dawn hope. She went for the guilt-trip in part because they weren’t presenting a united front on that issue.

        • “She went for the guilt-trip in part because they weren’t presenting a united front on that issue.”

          It’s such a teenaged girl thing to do, too. I’m sure I’ve played a similar card a time or two. It sucks all the more because we know Tara and Willow and we care for their hurt feelings.

  • Wilhelmina Upton

    I really loved the end between Dawn and Buffy because it is giving me all the feels. Also, as I am not usually on Team Bangel, I loved that Angel just showed up out of the blue and he was there for Buffy. I thought I was done after last weeks episode but I’m still sitting here piecing together my heart after it shatter again with today’s episode. *SOB*

    • I’M SO HAPPY PEOPLE APPRECIATED THAT SCENE. I didn’t even *think* of Angel showing up, but he did, and it felt so right because he was so big a part of her life. Le sigh.

      I was crying by the end. I should’ve known better than to think the feels ended with last episode.

  • Idriss Boukhanef

    I think this is this episode (along with The Body) – which completely sold me on Anya. I was always pleased to see her on my screen, because she’s a comedy machine and she’s very likeable, but these two episodes, in very little time, really fleshed her out to me. I started to care about her in a way I couldn’t do before, and now she’s one of my favourite characters in the Buffyverse.
    I know this is a minor part of the episode but I really wanted to say it. :p

    • I love points like these! We tend to focus on all of the big stuff, but the fun part is hearing from all the different things other viewers pick up. I loved Anya’s part in last episode. Sometimes her whole schtick gets old, but having her be “new” to all of this really gave Whedon the opportunity to say some great things about life and death. Yay, Anya. 🙂

  • darkalter2000

    I love this episode because Dawn protects Buffy and it seems believable. The episode was good all around but when Dawn tears up the photo to end the spell it pushed it up to great. She realized that seeing Joyce as some half-resurrected abomination would destroy Buffy and turned back before irreparable harm was done. Dawn goes up a level and gains +1 to compassion.

    • “I love this episode because Dawn protects Buffy and it seems believable.”

      Lovely way to put it. She did protect her, didn’t she? And she was there for her and it was perfect. I’ll be sure to remember this Dawn moment when she makes some inevitable bad choices in the future.

  • Anagnorisis

    I loved Spike scene with the flowers, he is not expecting anything in return, he just wants to show respect. And then he helps Dawn, because he knows she will do it anyway and at least she is with him and safe.
    (Which reminds me of the next episode, and I love it).
    Also, it’s very realistic to see all this characters grieving in different ways.
    The ending scene is amazing, the timing is perfect.

    • I’m in the middle of watching the next episode. I just pressed pause to come catch up on some commenting things. 🙂

      Anyways, for all of Spike’s issues, they are do a great job of slowing showing his special brand of compassion and ability to love.

  • SnazzyO

    All the Dawn feels. See, this is another episode that hurts Buffy’s character a bit. I still love Buffy and understand her grieving all the grieving but she should have NEVER let Dawn go out of the house the first night. Both girls should have been together with perhaps Willow and Tara staying over for a few days.

    • Aw, I didn’t think it hurt Buffy’s character. I mean, yes, I agree that the right thing would’ve been for them to stay together, but we know what Buffy is going through. She lost her mother, and this is just another way we see that she isn’t really ready for the role that’s been thrust upon her. In the middle of own grief, and dealing with all of the funeral things, she let Dawn go. But I understand that, I think it’s believable and I don’t look down at her at all for it.

  • geff

    I dunno what you ladies are talking about – that Buffy/Angel scene is one of my favorites in the entire series. I love the shot of them holding hands after the sun goes down and I love their conversation. My heart aches for Buffy as she looks so sad and lost and I love that Angel is there for her. I’m not a shipper and to be honest I don’t even love Angel the character but I adore that scene and the whole atmosphere of it. And I really like this episode, mostly for the little moments and the emotional beats, since even though I feel for Dawn I’m not a big fan of the zombie plot. (I know this is stupid to wonder, but I can’t help it, if they kept Zombie!Joyce, would they have to keep that picture all locked up so no one tore or did anything to it? That’s not the reason I don’t like the zombie plot, but the mechanics of the spell are just weird. Then again, BtVS has never been good at those details haha)

    Great recap as usual! Also, 1430 to Kristi for ending an emotional episode/recap with a funny (and accurate) comment xD

    • I REALLY DID NOT EXPECT THIS REACTION. I tried to explain to Jojo that it wasn’t that we thought you guys would be aggressively against our opinion, but rather that we (or I. I should speak for myself) really did not expect people to see it the same way! AND IT WAS SUCH A GREAT SCENE WE GOT (jokingly) PRICKLY ABOUT IT.

      Sorrysorrysorry, I should know this, but are you an Angel the series watcher?

      I loved the scene so much for what it represented about Buffy past and uncertain future.

      I liked the Zombie Plot! But yes, I didn’t think too deeply about the mechanic, mostly because I always expected the spell to fail.

      That Kristi sure is a keeper.

      • geff

        Lol, don’t apologize! You’re not responsible for knowing whether I watch the show or not 😛 Plus I don’t really comment on your Angel recaps so there’s no way you could know. I’ve seen most of the first season as well as scattered episodes from other seasons. I actually started trying to watch the second season to follow along with your recaps (I think I got up to Dead End – coincidentally the next episode you’re recapping – a little while ago and haven’t continued yet, though I guess I should if I want to keep up with you guys). I just… don’t really connect to the show at all, but it took me a REALLY long time to connect with BtVS so I dunno if something will click eventually or if I just don’t like the series. Did you ask because I said I don’t love Angel the character? haha.

        • Yes, I asked because of the Angel character. I have no insight on not connecting with him, or his show, I was mostly curious to see what your take on AtS was. 🙂

  • Alex

    Wonderful review of a wonderful episode! Well done, ladies!

    I actually think I cry more during this episode than during The Body. I watched Buffy off and on as a kid/teenager when it first aired in the UK, and I think I missed The Body but saw this one the following week. Of all the episodes I watched back then, this is the one that stuck out most vividly in my memory. Maybe because I watched it with my mum and younger sister and we all ended up crying buckets at the end.

    Although some of the plot details are a bit iffy, I think this episode does such a wonderful job of showing how grief doesn’t just end after a convenient, episode-length amount of time. In so many shows, a character will die right at the end of an episode, and then in the next episode we’ll see a few shots of the funeral, and then the plot just moves on with people mentioning the deceased character now and again. I can’t even think of another show that devotes a whole episode to a character’s death and its immediate aftermath, as in the Body, let alone a show which devotes another whole episode to the funeral and the aftermath of that. The fact that the characters actually discuss the boring details like the funeral announcement, the plans for wake, and what they’re going to do afterwards… it just makes it feel so real, in a show that’s supposedly all about the supernatural. It’s just… wow.

    When I first saw the episode I remember having so many conflicting feelings about the ending. What if it really was just regular, human, mummy Joyce coming to the door, and now she’s gone again, forever? But then what if it wasn’t? Did I want Buffy and Dawn to see Joyce as a zombie, or whatever it might have been? And that’s just perfect, because even though it’s a supernatural setting it so cleverly reflects all the ‘what if…’ feelings that we all have after someone dies, and all the questions that go unanswered. I seriously can’t praise this episode enough.

    As for Hank, if truth be told, I think his bad parenting is a bit too contrived in the later seasons, sort of like the way that Joyce had to be conveniently absent for a lot of the earlier seasons for plot reasons, but much much worse. In order to make Joyce’s death have the intended impact on Buffy and Dawn, I think they basically had to write Hank out of the story, which is why he goes from slightly crappy dad to the completely uninterested, uncontactable father who ran away with his secretary. Though as that happens in Season Five, I suppose one could fanwank that the monk’s spell somehow made Hank an even worse father…

    • geff

      Hank’s bad parenting is definitely contrived and hard to believe. I like your idea about the monks indirectly making Hank a worse father, but your comment got me thinking that it would’ve been really interesting if they somehow hinted or suggested that Hank suspected something was supernaturally weird about Buffy and Dawn, and he just wanted to stay away from that entirely. ETA: A scene addressing that would’ve been a nice contrast to that lovely scene between Joyce and Buffy where Joyce realizes that Dawn isn’t theirs but she belongs to them and is precious to them anyway.

      • I love this comment. You’re absolutely right in that Hank’s shit parent status has been mostly due to contrivance and it sucks because there are absolutely ways (like the one you proposed) that they could have handled it a little bit cleaner.

    • Thank you! 🙂

      I think I cried harder during that ending scene. My tears during The Body were like a constant flow, but by the end of this episode there was full on boo-hooing. The breakdown got me. It got me good.

      Agreed! They have truly dealt with Joyce’s death in such a relatable and real way, which speaks TONS about the quality of this show because, as you mentioned, there are all of these (sometimes sketchy) supernatural elements, and yet…

      Agreed! I made a similar point above, but I like that it’s left uncertain and final, because that’s what death is. And bringing Joyce back would take some of that away and undermine some of the realness we’ve seen so far.

      Headcanon accepted.

  • Jojo

    Just curious – are the Snark ladies no longer joining the Buffy conversation? Cuz it’s been 3 episodes now. Is this a new policy? It felt weird the first time but I really miss them and now it’s the 3rd time.

    • It’s like you sensed me about lingering in the comments.

      • Jojo

        I missed you so much!! I send you bijillions of cyber hugs and do my snoopy dance!

    • Clément Polge

      I don’t want to speak in their place, but all 3 of them are doing VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April/August, if you didn’t know what it means, like me a week ago), so as far as I know they spend about a few minutes making their vlog, and then all of the time of all the ever to watch all the other people’s vlog. So I guess they don’t really have time to join in.

      Or maybe we’re just all totally uninteresting and they’re over us. PLASE COME BACK TO THE COMMENT SECTION. WE’RE LOST WITHOUT YOU.

      If you’d like to see their vlog though, here are their youtube channel:

      Lorraine: http://www.youtube.com/user/roxanneandlorraine
      Sweeney: http://www.youtube.com/user/SweeneySays
      Kirsti: http://www.youtube.com/user/melbourneonmymind


        So, yes, we are doing VEDA, which is taking up some of our time, but also, Sweeney and I have real life stuff going on as well that’s been time consuming. It’s totes not abandonment, though, we swear. Snark Squad still takes up the most hours of our day, because we love you.

      • Melbourne on my Mind


      • Jojo

        You are epic Polge!

      • If any of our Buffyverse friends are going to follow us on our ridiculous VEDA journey, I’d also add that Wilhemena Upton is also participating:

    • Also, it’s not a policy JOJO. CRAZY SCHEDULES AND WE JOINED VEDA AND IT WAS THE WORST DECISION EVER. We’re trying to settle back down into our routine.

      • Jojo

        Is good – if only reality didn’t butt into our lives!

    • Adding a +1 to what has already been said. It’s not just VEDA but all-around life stuff that makes it so that I barely have time to keep up with the posts themselves. (Lor is also super busy, I know, but basically all of the posting struggles in the last couple weeks have been my fault, because life is hard sometimes.) We honest and truly do love the community that we have here and it’s the best part of doing this, but sometimes life tries to make us do other stuff instead. Trust me when I say that I’d much rather be here talking about Buffy than doing many of the things I’m doing instead.

  • Brandi1leigh

    Ok slightly sad comment here, but I just have to say something about Sweeney’s “ring theory of grief.” I WISH it worked like that, but my experience says NOPE. I have chronic kidney disease and am considered terminal; however, with dialysis I can sustain my life indefinitely. And, I always believed when someone was sick that you behaved basically how the ring theory states you should. Don’t dump feels on the center of the ring. Having lived as the bullseye for 5 years, I can tell you everyone from acquaintances to best friends often say pretty insensitive things.. .A few examples I’ve heard, “oh my, you look terrible!”, when I had to give up my teaching job, “well sometimes I wish my kidneys would fail so I could skip work. Must be nice to not have anything to do…”,”aren’t you in the transplant list, so it can’t be that bad.”
    I could go on an on. Not to mention all the insensitive things said to my mom , who would be in the ring closest to me. She once got, “well if you’d just had more children, Brandi would have someone to get a kidney from.”
    Anyway, I love how the show handled this and I’m not saying I think the show should have altered anything they did. All the Scoobies seemed to follow “ring theory” and for a TV show that was perfect and the right way. Unfortunately, real life has taught me that it’s usually more complicated. Or maybe I just hang out with too many Anyas and not enough Willows. Hmmmmm…


      So, yeah, the ring theory thing is totally a, “this is how it SHOULD be,” deal, rather than life-as-it-always-is. In fact, the article I acquired the theory from was one where the author was writing about an experience wherein someone failed to adhere to that and she was trying to explain WHY this was so egregious.

      All of that is to say that I am sorry people are so awful and shitty. That’s got to be endlessly frustrating. My mind is fucking blown that people would equate a chronic, debilitating illness with playing hooky. WHAT THE FUCK. I think sometimes people just don’t know what to say and I get that, but also, like, that’s not your problem. You have enough problems to also then be asked to take on the weight of other people’s overwhelm or whatever.

      Anyway, fuck those people. That’s horrifying. 🙁

      On the plus side, yes, snaps for the Scoobies.

      • Brandi1leigh

        I should also be fair and say that I’ve also had people be completely wonderful and helpful and awesome. It makes me feel better that the original article was about how most people don’t follow what you should do. I was suddenly thinking maybe I’ve just made some really terrible choices about who’s in my life. Lol. Honestly though, after I got sick, how people treated me and what they said made it pretty clear pretty quickly who needed to be cut out and who was a legit friend. Some of the cuts were brutal and not who I would’ve expected to be completely clueless. Of course, now that I’ve read the 50 shades recaps, I might have to kick some more people off the island, because anyone who is “in love” with Christian Grey and “can’t wait to see the movie on Valentine’s Day” probably has more mental problems than I’m equipped to deal with!
        Sorry for such a bummer topic! This blog has been so awesome and continuously makes me laugh! I’m flying through the recaps (on account of all the free time I have now that I play hooky from having a career).

  • SonicRulez

    On Angel, he just learned that there is beauty in humanity and we are all still worth fighting for. Then he is immediately notified that Buffy’s mother has died. Gut punch. I think it’s really sweet that Season 5’s big crossover magic is just him coming by to make sure she’s ok. It’s sad knowing he won’t be showing up in Sunnydale again until the end.

    SMG knocks that “Who’s gonna take care of us” speech out of the park. It makes me cry all over again.

    I feel like I don’t remember Willow getting any sort of flak for the shit she pulls in this episode. It’s so wrong.