Man, it's almost Christmas ["it really was when Ace turned it in…sorry for the delay" -- Sars] and I've been fighting a nasty sinus infection for weeks. I have three-hour fanboy movies to see and family fights to weather and presents to buy and presents to wrap and people I haven't seen in ages coming into town and a living room to paint and miles to go before I sleep. And I think I wrapped my funny in Santa paper and gave it to my cousin by mistake. Apologies in advance.
There comes a time in every season when Ace and Sep weary of recapping the previouslys. Two reasons for the weariness. Reason the first: Each of these scenes has already been recapped by one of us at least once, if not over and over as part of previous previouslys. Reason the second: This show is repetitive enough already. Reason the third that just came to me: Sometimes this group of previously recapped previouslys can be almost two minutes long. And that's about ten minutes of real time in which I could be doing worthwhile things that I actually enjoy. In fact, while I've been busy typing this, the previouslys have just now come to a close. Buffy told Spike that she believes in him, but then some guys in black robes helpfully broke in and abducted him so that we wouldn't have to listen to that kind of silly crap anymore.
The episode opens at Casa Summers with Xander sweeping up glass. He complains that he's stuck in a mummy hand loop, having to replace the living room windows for all eternity. Xander's solution is to board up all the windows until things calm down. I'm sure the insurance company would appreciate that. Dawn and Anya sit on the couch researching (now with actual books!) while Willow and Buffy sit at the table near the computer. Anya, looking very cute in a pair of glasses, grouses, "Nothing!" Willow's research isn't bearing fruit either. She questions whether Buffy has her facts straight, and Buffy helpfully expositions a bit about The First Evil for the new viewers who haven't seen Season Three (all five of them). Viewers who have seen Season Three curse themselves for not having been able to drop this show like the ugly habit it's become. Anya makes fun of The First's claim to be the source of unadulterated evil. Buffy is apparently acting as the First's PR mouthpiece, as she talks about how "enormous" and "ancient" it felt when she last met it. The awe in her voice is a tad incongruent with the girl who sassed The First until it went away. Can someone please ask the writers to at least SKIM the old scripts if they're going to be lifting the villains from them? Or maybe employ someone from fandom to be a continuity person? Put all that obsessively gleaned knowledge to some practical use. Xander mentions that he wishes Andrew, tied to a chair, would wake up from his little nap, because he was just about to say something helpful about The First's location. Dawn, eyeing Andrew with quiet menace, gets off the couch and crosses the room. She thinks he's playing possum to get out of being interrogated, so she hauls off and slaps him across the face. Andrew doesn't react. "Or maybe he's in a fugue state," she begins as she winds up again. However, before she can hit him again she's ordered back to research by Buffy. Dawn kind of gives me the creeps this season. She seems to have no real sense of right or wrong and gets way too much delight from exercising whatever little bit of power she can scrape together. The thing is -- I like thinking she's creepy. It's fun, it makes sense to me that she could be that twisted, and it seems like it might lead somewhere interesting. But I'm just not sure if she's intentionally creepy, or if it's just poor writing and weak characterization . I used to trust that what I saw on the screen was intentional. These days I can't ever be sure, and I miss that.
Buffy says something about rescuing Spike, but I'm going to ignore that for now. "Hey! Here! The First!" breaks in Willow excitedly. "Bank of Delaware, sorry," she finishes lamely. Heh. Now why am I not surprised that a web search for "First" and "Evil" turned up a bank? Buffy sighs and asks someone to hand her the Watcher's Codex. Buffy takes the proffered book, and from off-screen we hear Joyce ask, "Can I get you anything else, baby? How about some tea?" Buffy looks hopeful, but then says, "You're not real. You're The First." Joyce suggests that Buffy is just tired, and that she should get some rest since she can't win the fight anyway. Well, isn't that a comforting motherly thing to say? But it turns out that Buffy is just dreaming anyway. Xander wakes her up and asks what she dreamed about, but Buffy (being Buffy) doesn't let on. I used to watch soap operas. You know why I stopped? Because out of all the silly aspects of soaps, I simply couldn't take all the contrived and melodramatic situations where people withheld important information from each other, thus leading to even more contrived and melodramatic situations. Children aging five years in a week, people being buried alive, villains coming back over and over from the dead, couples breaking up and marrying again and again over a decade -- no problem. But have a character neglect to tell her new husband about her fatal brain tumor, and I'd find myself screaming at the TV with my blood pressure dangerously high. I'm starting to have a similar reaction to this show.