All is dark at the Doublemeat Palace. Buffy, followed by a wobbly hand-held camera, pokes around. She peeks into the freezer, but narrowly avoids the Cliché Demon, which usually locks girls in freezers in horror movies. Kneeling down, Buffy checks the meat grinder, which is empty, and then hears a clanking noise. She thinks it might be Manny and goes to check. However, she slips on something and falls down. She stands up holding the world's fakest prop since the severed finger -- Manny's severed foot, still in its saddle shoe. The stump end looks like it was smeared with strawberry jam. Buffy sadly stares at the bad prop. It makes us sad too, Buffy.
At Der Zauber Kasten, Willow has a little science lab set up and is telling herself, under her breath, that she doesn't need magic to work on the problem. Xander and Dawn are sitting over at the counter, and Dawn tells Xander, "My friend Janice, her sister's a lawyer." Xander thinks Dawn means he should sue the Doublemeat Palace, but Dawn has other things on her mind. She's thinking about the dearth of good career paths for Buffy to follow; she'll never "be a lawyer or a doctor. Anything big." Oh, man! Ouch. Xander seems to be thinking along the same lines as I am and protests, "She's the Slayer. She saves the whole world. That's way bigger." I didn't think much of this scene at all the first time through, most likely because I was in the bathroom looking for something to soothe my stomach, but on second viewing, it really has me thinking. The show and the audience used to view Buffy as the outsider hero, the misunderstood champion, the incredibly special girl who longed to be normal, the valiant one whose calling was so important. But the show has slowly moved away from that, especially this season, and we've mostly had Buffy as the sad woman who can't change or do much, who is stuck in a depressing, stressful life, sometimes making the best of a crappy deal, and sometimes making the worst of it. I think many fans miss Hero Buffy and aren't very interested in Ineffectual Buffy, and I'm probably one of them, but that's not where I'm going with this ramble. What I'm actually wondering about is the end destination of this plot. Buffy is now so stripped of her superhero status that her little sister, who worshipped her last year, now judges Buffy by the standards of normal society and laments that she will never be anything "big." I'm just starting to wonder if somehow we aren't heading for a season finale in which Buffy loses her Slayer powers and becomes the "just normal" person she's always wanted to be.