Willow finally comes rushing in, apologizing for being so late. I notice that Dawn is wearing an astoundingly ugly shirt, with brown jersey-style sleeves that are shirred where they meet the chest and featuring a random pattern of brown and tan kitten heads. Dawn makes a cranky face at Willow. I make a cranky face at Dawn's Wet Seal top. Xander does a burp-talk thing that further queases me out and then Willow, trying to act normal, picks up a pencil off the table, which immediately goes flaccid in her hand. I'm not going to make any lesbian jokes there. No sir, I'm not. Willow guiltily stuffs the limp pencil in her purse (again, not making any jokes) and flutters about for an update. Dawn explains that the "Doublemeat Medley is people." Xander burps again. My delicate stomach can't take this kind of hard-core entertainment. Buffy speculates that Doublemeat Palaces all over California are probably serving people parts, and says the gang needs to "bring down the whole corporation." Willow offers to start analyzing what's left of the burger, making very sure to point out that she will do so "with science." Buffy approves, and since it's after closing time at the restaurant, she heads out to see if she can find any information there. Willow still seems rather frazzled, so Dawn asks if she feels okay. Willow dissembles that she's merely worried about Buffy.
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.
But enough about my head. Dawn responds to Xander by saying that she feels she herself has a world of possibility ahead of her, whereas Buffy has only "minimum wage" stuff to look forward. "For her, this is it." I really don't know why Dawn, Buffy, and possibly the creators of this show have come to the conclusion that Buffy can only work crap jobs. On the boards, we've thought of plenty of jobs for Buffy that would enable her to make money, be active and help people, and still patrol at night, and none of them were "fast food counter help." Xander, who is either an incredibly insensitive boor or made very uncomfortable by this conversation, replies, "Okay, but maybe you'll be a lawyer or a doctor and you can use all your money to support your deadbeat sister." Dawn will never be a lawyer or a doctor if she continues to blow off school the way she has been this season. Dawn snarks that Xander hasn't helped much, and I'm appalled that he would call his friend, who has saved his and the world's ass more times than we can mention, a "deadbeat." Which is why I hope he was just uncomfortable and making a dumb joke, because otherwise I'd have to call for a truck to hit him immediately. I mean, Dawn helping Buffy a little financially wouldn't really even put a dent in the fact that Buffy killed herself so Dawn could live, right?