Lorraine: Buffy gets home with a bucket of fried chicken, only to find that Willow, Tara, Giles and Dawn are already having dinner. It’s says a lot about how not-okay things are that this makes everyone super uncomfortable. Giles even says they haven’t eaten, even though we can totally see the food. Buffy assures everyone that it’s okay, but they all make a big show of really wanting Buffy’s chicken.
Giles’s face is everything. DON’T LEAVE AGAIN GILES.
Kirsti: Oh, Giles. Don’t ever change. Also, this scene made me realise that we’re only just at the beginning of Buffy’s attempts at bringing things home for dinner, and now I has the sads.
Sweeney: THANKS, KIRSTI. NOW I DO TOO.
Lor: I DON’T. 1 point for team Snow.
Dawn asks Buffy how it went with Angel, and she vagues that it was “intense.” That’s all she’s willing to say about it.
Giles says that in her absence, they’d been discussing what Buffy should do now. Buffy thinks they mean about the money and bills issue, but they are talking in the larger life sense. She says that she always thought about going back to school, but she missed the registration deadline when she was being happy in heaven and shit. Willow suggests auditing classes. Pfft. I would probably stick to majoring in TV watching and minoring in pantslessness.
K: I would too, but mostly because auditing classes isn’t a thing in Australia.
Lor: Buffy asks Giles what he thinks about going back to school, and he fakes a smile.
We Segue Magic over to Jonathan complaining that the Slayer always knows what she’s doing. They will never take over Sunnydale while she’s around. We hear Warren say that’s why they are going to test her and see if they can find a weakness or two. He rolls into the shot from underneath a mini-van. Inside the van, there is a bunch of spy tech. Jonathan wants reassurance that Buffy won’t be able to tell they are spying. Warren is confident, though he does yell at Andrew for painting a Death Star on the side of the van. That might attract attention.
At UC Sunnydale, Buffy is following Willow into a class. The professor quickly starts asking questions and Buffy has a hard time following any of the answers. Willow can only offer to “go with the flow,” and I want to give Buffy a t-shirt that says, “I’d rather be in heaven.”
Lor: We cut to Willow assuring Buffy that she isn’t dumb, just rusty. Tara runs up to them in the hall and Buffy tells them both that she just needs more time to get re-acclimated. At that, a boy in a gray hoodie bumps into her, and the zoomy camera man shows us that he leaves a teeny tiny gadget attached to her clothes.
Sweeney: I always have a hard time keeping up with when we’re friends with the Zoomy Cameraman or not. I guess we are today. I don’t expect it to last.
Lor: The hoodie boy is of course Warren. He checks in with Andrew and Jonathan who are in the Nerdy-Van. He tells them the “inhibitor” is on and to initiate the omega pulse sequence. A small transmitter comes out of the top of the van and whirs around, which will probably attract more attention than a Death Star. Just saying.
Inside, Buffy is with Tara, killing time before art appreciation. Tara pulls out her art book and Buffy looks it over. We hear a strange, high pitched buzzing and when Buffy looks up, Tara is sitting on a bench, in the middle of a story about Willow’s cooking. Buffy is confused, but passes it off as being spaced out. She goes to take a drink from a nearby fountain (BUBBLER, RIGHT K?) (K: YES. #privatejokes) and hears the high-pitched buzz again. This time when she looks up, Tara is at the end of the halls asking if she’s coming. Buffy looks at her and gives a, “what the f-” before the scene cuts away. WELL, ALRIGHT, UPN.
In the Nerdy-Van, Andrew and Jonathan confirm to Warren that his teeny tiny gadget is working.
Back inside, Buffy rushes after Tara and some buzzing later, we’ve sped up to the end of art class. Tara asks where she was, and B tries to explain about the freaky time jumps, but it just happens again and Buffy is left alone. Buffy runs out of Contrivance U, yelling after Tara, when suddenly everyone around her gets stuck on fast forward. As the bodies rush by, Buffy gets knocked to the ground and then hit in the arm.
K: I have serious issues with this, because surely she’s still there but just standing still? It’s not like she disappears or anything. Also, HOW ARE THE TRIO NOT IMPACTED BY THE TIME JUMPS?!?!?! #somanyquestions
Sweeney: The trio’s fine, but I have a serious issue with the fact that everyone’s just trampling the impossibly slow moving girl on the lawn. Nobody’s walking around her or trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with her? None of this makes sense.
Lor: I was mostly disturbed by Tara leaving her. Why would she just leave if Buffy is either moving in slow motion or spacing out or non-responsive? NO SENSE AT ALL.
Anyway, Buffy manages to crawl over to a nearby table and uses an incredible logic jump to determine that there is something on her. She takes off her sweater and spots the teeny tiny device. The Trio starts freaking out as they watch Buffy examine their device and Warren hits a self destruct button. The tiny device goes poof and everyone returns to normal speed.
Buffy crawls out from under the table and sue me, I like her top. She looks around, clearly a little disturbed. In the Nerdy-Van, Warren asks for his score. Andrew and Jonathan give him 50 points for ingenuity, 30 points since he touched the Slayer and settle on another 140 points for total freak out, leaving him with 220. If you multiply that by a millionty, that’s about how much I hate them.
After a cut, Buffy is wearing a hard hat with pigtails and she’s walking with Xander, who called in some favors to get her on a crew lifting things. Wrap it up, everyone else. Slayer’s here to do the heavy lifting.
Buffy appreciates Xander’s help because her other offer was to work at The Magic Box. She does a little “yech” at the thought of retail, and amen. I do not like people nearly enough. (Funny story: I work in HR…)
K: I discovered about half way through my Masters that being a librarian is a lot like working in retail, just with exchanges of information instead of money. Oh joy.
Lor: GOOD LUCK.
Xander asks what Giles had to say about her fast forward freak-out and he basically suggested it was stress related. Buffy says maybe it was, but she also found that teeny tiny device on her sweater. She wonders if maybe it could’ve been lint. Evil lint. Xander suggests she not mention anything about blacking out or evil lint to the foreman.
Tony is said foreman and he’s about as dismissive of Buffy as you’d expect him to be, and even calls her Gidget. Xander is all, “GOOD LUCK.” and takes off. Tony Foreman assigns jobs to a couple of guys, and one of them suggests letting Buffy haul some steel. They laugh at her. One nice guy follows Buffy and says that she shouldn’t let them heckle her into hurting herself as the beams weigh several hundred pounds. Buffy picks one up easily and asks where to take it. The guys look on in shock. ‘Member when Buffy was trying to be discreet about being the Slayer? So long ago.
K: LOLOLOLOLOL. Just like when Giles was all “DUDE, STOP MAKING FRIENDS AND TELLING THEM YOUR BIG SECRET.”
Sweeney: This section is actually remarkably similar to the time Buffy tried out for cheerleading, except I enjoy this episode less.
Lor: Later, Buffy is chatting with a bro on her crew, saying she wants a career, and though she never considered going into construction it makes sense. As she talks, she helps him lift up a beam. Construction Bro tells her they get paid by the hour and that if she doesn’t want to mess it up for everyone, she should slow down. He walks off and we see that Tony Foreman is watching Buffy.
The Trio is also watching Buffy with the biggest binoculars ever. Jonathan tells Andrew he’s up, and he picks up a pair of wooden pipes and starts playing some spooky woods type tune. Buffy is grabbing some water from a cooler when Tony Foreman comes over, picking up a large wrench on his way, only because it will be good to mislead us with. Buffy jumps when she sees him. He asks if he scared her and she pushes him out of the way to reveal a green demon behind him. It’s got two tentacle pigtail things. Buffy fights the demon and a couple more arrive. She’s causing some damage as she goes. She kills one with a shovel and it turns to Alex Mack goo. (I’m pretty proud that this isn’t the first time we’ve managed to reference Alex Mack around here.)
A couple of men from the crew are crying and cowering, and Buffy quickly kills the demons that were after them.
The Trio are still being the worst spies ever and Andrew even accidentally hits the car horn, which is the Star Wars theme. Buffy looks out and sees the Nerdy-Van.
K: I’m honestly surprised she didn’t see their binoculars, because they were so fucking enormous that the ends of them were probably like ten centimetres from the end of her nose.
Lor: Back inside Xander arrives and freaks out about the damage the fight caused. She tries to explain but Tony Foreman comes over to say Buffy went berserk and attacked him. Buffy tells Xander about the big demons, but he tells her that’s her job and isn’t allowed at his job. Buffy says she can’t help being attacked, but Xander is more concerned about the damage and what he should tell the clients. He can’t even show them the demon bodies, on account of them going goo. Buffy tries to get a Construction Bro to be her witness and he says she went crazy and that it must be that time of the month.
KICK HIM BUFFY. HURT HIM GOOD.
Sorry. Feminist rage can’t always be controlled.
K: True dat. *fist bump of solidarity*
Sweeney: “Yeah, sure, I woke up in a pool of my own blood. Keeping fucking with me if you’d like me to end your day in the same fashion in which mine started.”
Buffy storms out and Xander follows. He tells her that something is clearly going on and she should go research it. Away from him. Far away. Buffy knows she’s being fired. She hands him her hard hat and we cut to black.
After the Not Break, Buffy is at The Magic Box, telling Anya that she’s always been interested in retail. Giles is bringing out books for research while Anya goes through recording returns and other retail-y things we’re not really supposed to be listening to, as the Zoomy Camera Man is cluing us in to a camera planted in the eye socket of a skeleton on a shelf.
The Trio is watching the video feed, and Warren complains about it being boring. Andrew and Warren joke e about the Slayer being without focus, in case we didn’t already get there in the episode by ourselves. Jonathan announces he’s ready. He’s doing some sort of magic with a magic bone and some fire which turns out to not a great idea when you are in a van.
K: Also, never use the phrase “Don’t touch my magic bone” around douchenozzle nerds who are trying to be evil, because they will giggle.
Lor: I have only to be ashamed about what happens later in this recap.
Inside the store, a woman walks in and give some expert shifty eyes. Giles tells Buffy to focus on service instead of a sale to have a satisfied customer. Anya encourages Buffy to go sell her something. On the way, Buffy helps another customer looking for a candle for a romantic atmosphere. Buffy hands him a lemon seduction candle (instead of the nearby slug candle) and and heads over to Shifty Patron. She’s looking for a mummy hand. Buffy gives her a bad pun for free, but then heads downstairs to find one.
She finds the mummy hand but it jumps up and starts choking her. Buffy grabs a nearby knife and jabs it. We cut to Buffy showing the Shifty Patron the hand with the dagger running through it. She tries to say it’s a buy-one-get-one sort of thing, but Shifty Patron isn’t buying it, because the hand is dead and useless now.
We cut to the door opening again, bell chimes and all. Buffy turns around and we see Shifty Patron walking once more. Giles repeats his line about service over sales while Buffy gives a, “Huh? What? Huh?” Buffy tries to tell him that something is happening but he isn’t paying attention. In the Nerdy-Van, Jonathan explains that he made it so that she has to satisfy a customer with a task that resists solving.
Sweeney: I love the ways in which this episode carries out the idea that each member of the trio brings a specific skill set to the table. I appreciate it most right now because Jonathan’s wheelhouse is the most interesting to me.
Inside, Anya sends Buffy to the Shifty Patron again. Buffy, without a word, hands the Lemon Seduction candle to Sexy Candle Patron. She then guesses that Shifty Patron needs a mummy hand before she actually requests it. Buffy tries to say she can’t have it, but Shifty Patron called ahead and knows they have one in stock. She insists. Buffy says she’ll go get it.
Nerdy-Van. Warren thinks Buffy’s picking up on the game, and Andrew says he hopes she solves it faster than some episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Knowing that that’s what TNG stands for is about as far as my Star Trek knowledge goes. That’s only a slight exaggeration. Warren compares it to an episode of the X-Files, which always just reminds me of Kirsti.
K: I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing… (I seem to recall it was a good episode though!) Meanwhile, my own comparison for the whole time loop thing is the Supernatural episode, Mystery Spot.
Lor: Buffy goes for the mummy hand with tongs and a knife. It appears to be taunting her. We cut to Buffy giving Shifty Patron a red bag which she looks at in disgust. “Fingers sold separately,” Buffy says and the chime of the door bell tells us Shifty Patron was NOT satisfied.
I realize now that Shifty Patron wasn’t really shifty, but whatever.
Sweeney: Eh. I’m still not convinced that her mummy-hand-requiring spell wasn’t Bad News Bears and she was basically placed there by magic. The nickname stands.
Lor: Thank you. Onward:
We go through the sequence again, this time with Buffy telling Giles that she’s going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam. Giles cleans his glasses and doesn’t hear a thing. Buffy hands Sexy Candle Patron his sexy candle and heads straight down for the mummy hand. We cut to Buffy trying to wrestle the hand from Shifty Patron’s neck.
Ringing bell. This time Buffy just walks straight out the front door, but magic makes her walk right back into the store, where Giles, Anya, Sexy Candle Patron and Shifty Patron all stare at her.
Buffy watches the mummy hand that snaps a pair of tongs at her. (K: I must admit, I laughed at that.) She hears the bell ring again and heads up stairs to pull it off the wall. This only resets the loop. This time, Buffy gives Sexy Candle Patron the slug candle, as he isn’t going to get laid anyway. We don’t hear what happens between Buffy and Shifty Patron, but the Trio mock Buffy in their Nerdy-Van.
The loop resets. Giles starts his spiel about service, and this time Buffy takes his glasses, throws them down and stomps all over them. I laugh forever, because she must’ve wanted to do that at least once a week since she was 16. Giles gives her this look like, “GOOD GOD, GIRL.”
Bell rings, loop resets. Buffy grabs Shifty Patron by the collar.
Bell rings, loop resets, Buffy throws a sexy candle and knocks the breath out of Sexy Candle Patron.
Bell rings, loop resets, Buffy cries.
K: I don’t blame her…
Lor: Bell rings, loop resets, and this time we see Buffy telling Shifty Patron that their mummy hand is defective. Finally, giving it more than one second of thought, Buffy comes up with a solution: offer to order the lady a new mummy hand, delivered to her door. This satisfies Shifty Patron and the next ring we hear belongs to the cash register.
Inside the Nerdy-Van, the Trio is celebrating this development. IDK if they are supposed to cheer on the success of the Slayer, but OKAY. (S: Probably they were getting real fucking bored. Also, as makers of the game they have to appreciate the ingenuity of it eventually being solved.) Andrew starts tabulating points. Warren says that it isn’t over, however.
Giles congratulates Buffy for her first sale, but Anya notes that she didn’t charge for delivery, and says they will take it out of her wages. Buffy takes off her name tag and walks out. The bell rings one last time.
After a Not Break, we see Spike and hear Buffy’s voice say, “this is gonna be great.” We cut to her and I immediately go, “THIS! THIS SCENE! IT IS HERE!” Sure enough, Buffy takes a shot and this time I can hear her go, “bleaggh!”
Sweeney: I like to think of the seen-the-gif-forever scenes as “Brought to you by Tumblr!” moments, because somehow the gif(s) will always trump the actual television moment once you’ve seen it that way a certain number of times.
K: NGL, I cheered. And then sympathised because I would make the exact same noise drinking pretty much anything other than cider. And even then, it’s sometimes a little hit and miss.
Lor: Buffy tells Spike that life is stupid and he both vaguely remembers that and figured that’s why she’s drinking. You know, going back to putting this scene in context, I like that we find Buffy drinking because of life, and schools and bills, and maybe only the supernatural to a lesser extent. I think I’m projecting (life and school and bills makes me want to drink), which is fitting because everyone has been projecting onto Buffy this episode. Spike is no exception, and he says that instead of waiting for Giles and his research they could have some fun shaking up the demon world. B says that isn’t her kind of fun, but Spike insists that it is, and that her life would be less complicated if she accepted that. Buffy answers with another shot and bleaaahg.
K: HIS FACE IN THAT LAST GIF OMG I CAN’T EVEN. Anyway, what I was ACTUALLY going to say is that this scene kind of shows how much Buffy’s changed as a result of the whole dying thing. Because there’s no way in hell that season 5 Buffy would EVER have sat on top of a coffin in the TARDIS crypt doing shots with Spike. And now? She doesn’t even give it a second thought.
Lor: Buffy probably never thought she’d try construction or retail either. It’s like a fucked up career day for her.
Spike says that Buffy isn’t a schoolgirl or shop girl– she’s a creature of the darkness. Buffy’s all, “kay. Drinks?”
We cut to them arriving at a bar. The snake-tongued bartender starts to pour a drink and Buffy grabs the whole bottle. Spike walks toward the back room and Buffy takes a swig and “bleaaghs” again.
The back room turns out to be a bunch of demons around a poker table. Spike grabs some thing with three eyes and horns, pushes him away from the table and takes his spot. Buffy is upset he’s going to play cards when they came here for information about who is testing her. Spike pulls her aside and tells her the demons get loose lipped while they play, which is a lot more helpful than dead demons. Buffy settles in a chair with her bottle.
Spike sits down again and the demons all start pulling out kittens.
K: Oh, Tipsy Buffy. You’ve come so far since That Episode Where You Got Turned Into a Cavegirl That We Shall Never Speak Of Again. There’s that Slayer punning we’ve missed so much.
Lor: Warren is driving the Nerdy-Van, saying they are heading to final Jeopardy. Andrew likens them to real super-villains like Dr. No and this sets them off on a tangent about who was the best Bond. Andrews earns a slap upside the head for liking Timothy Dalton.
Cut back to the Kitten Poker and Spike’s just won. The demons complain about Spike cheating, but they are demons so like, all of them were cheating. (K: Including CLEM!!!!!!! Sorry. I just think Clem’s great.) Kitten mews are heard throughout this scene. Things seem to be escalating into a fight, which Spike doesn’t seem to mind, especially since he has the Slayer with him. Buffy objects. She was all for beating them for information, but she doesn’t want to get in a fight over kittens, which she calls stupid currency. One demon says they are delicious but we’re moving along and not paying attention to that.
Buffy opens up the kitten basket and tells them to scamper and be free before she leaves.
Back out in the bar, Spike asks Buffy what’s wrong, and she whines that he was supposed to fix her life, but he’s lame, and she’s still just Buffy who didn’t do a great job trying on everyone’s life today. She storms out on Spike.
In the Nerdy-Van, the Trio is still arguing about Bond movies. Warren calls the discussion stupid and over. One second later, though, he explodes about pigeons doing double takes in Moonraker. Jonathan just glares at him.
Spike leaves the bar and runs right into Buffy staring at the Nerdy-Van. She recognizes it from the construction site. Inside, more arguing about Timothy Dalton and Sean Connery, which results in some tussling.
Jonathan is the one who notices Buffy and Spike walking over at the speed of slugs, giving the Trio plenty of contrivance time. Warren tells Jonathan to grab his magic bone but starts cracking up immediately. It’s such a natural chortle, I wonder if it was ad-libbed. I laughed too. I laughed at magic bone.
K: Oh, Lor…
Lor: SORRY. I laughed more at his genuine sounding short laugh. IT HAPPENS.
Buffy is STILL walking towards the van when a red, fly-winged demon shuffles out from behind it, proclaiming that he’s been testing Buffy and knows her weaknesses. The van starts up and drives away. Buffy takes a swing at the red demon and misses his face. She kicks him square in the chest, but it also sends her back onto her ass. The demon struggles to stand as Spike helps Buffy up. The demon says he’s well struck and that he’ll be going now. He uses a little Are You Afraid of the Dark potassium MAGIC, and behind the smoke, we see he’s running away.
Buffy and Spike don’t seem to notice. Buffy says she’s going to be sick.
The red demon runs all the way to where the Nerdy-Van is parked. We soon find that it’s just Jonathan wearing a spell. He ends the spell and climbs in the back of the van hurting all over. Andrew is amazed that the Slayer touched him, but Jonathan just deadpans, “Yeah, it was sexy the way she touched me real hard with her fists.”
Sweeney: I still hate everything about the trio, but fine, all right, this was cute.
Lor: Warren has a more positive outlook: they took on Buffy and they collected a ton of data. To him, this proves that they could really pose a threat to Buffy. I laugh because she was drunk. Even better for them, though? They’ve discovered free cable porn. The thought of those three watching porn together in a van makes me want to wash my brain.
K: Forget the washing, this requires large quantities of bleach.
Sweeney: AAAAND IT TOOK THEM 2 SECONDS TO RUIN IT. Nice work.
Lor: Buffy exits the bathroom at home where Giles is waiting for her with a glass of water and the question of whether she’s feeling better. “I think at one point, I actually turned completely inside out. But yeah, better.” Oof. Been there.
Giles apologizes for not finding the demon with his research as Buffy sits on the floor and grabs a blanket. She holds her head in her hand and takes a deep breath before saying, “I’m really screwing up, Giles.” Giles takes a seat on her bed and says he doesn’t called being tested screwing up. She doesn’t have to figure out everything at once. She doesn’t have to push herself so hard. Buffy says that the phone company thinks she isn’t pushing herself hard enough.
At that, Giles takes out a check from his pocket and hands it to Buffy. She opens it and is stunned by the amount. She says it’s too much, and Giles suggests ripping it up, but LOL. JAYKAY. That’s just the thing you’re supposed to say to make it seem like you don’t really, really want the free money. I don’t know why Giles didn’t just do this right away, but it’s a nice gesture. Also, the Council should work out some way to pay their Slayers. That shit should be paid for life, like Presidents. I mean, the life expectancy is in their favor.
K: SERIOUSLY. I mean, most of them probably spend a good chunk of their lives on junior wages anyway, given the life expectancy thing, so it’s not even like it would cost them that much! And you could give them bonuses for averting an apocalypse.
Lor: Buffy would be rolling in it.
ANYWAY. Buffy tells Giles that it makes her feel a little like having her mom back. Giles jokes about having to the be the mother and asks if they can go with, “rakish uncle.” Buffy is just saying thank you. She stands to go show Dawn their new, free money, but before she fully leaves the room she turns back.
“I just want to tell you that um, this… it makes me feel safe. Knowing you’re always going to be here.”
Giles smiles at her, but when she leaves the room, he drops it and furrows his brow.
Sweeney: My Giles feels make me want to hug him, but my Buffy feels, as usual, trump all other feels and so I say: “YES, FURROW THAT BROW AND FEEL GUILTY FOR THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TOTALLY THINKING, ‘HOW QUICK CAN I GET OUT OF HERE?'”
Lor: Absolutely. And, I mean, I see what they are setting up here. From the start of the episode, Buffy asked Giles what his opinion on her going back to school was. We are painted this picture of Giles as a security blanket. She says as much, and yet, I can’t seem to fault her for thinking this way. If he’s thinking it’s time to push her out of the nest, I’d only say that last time she jumped anywhere, she died.
The episode overall is good, though it has its share of contrivance-y moments. The time loop in the Magic Box was fantastic, even if I was disappointed by how long it took Buffy to find a solution. Maybe that was the point, though. Buffy’s focus is gone, as Warren pointed out in so many words, and she’s giving up even before she even really starts a thing. What’s the point? What’s her point? She doesn’t even have a (known) Big Bad to fight.
K: Which is something that I love about season 6.
Lor: The different things Buffy tries in this episode really do highlight some of the real issues Buffy is facing. Lack of focus at UC Sunnydale, and the way everyone around her seemed to rushing by and knocking her down. Evil that finds her at the construction job, and how she never has a say over when and where she’ll have to fight. Stuck in a loop over at The Magic Box, because isn’t that just the way depression feels? And finally, with Spike. While she may indeed have very dark aspects to her personality, she’s still the Slayer. At the end of the day, though, she still feels most okay when she’s with Spike.