In her bedroom at home, Buffy dumps her ingredients in front of her and thanks Riley for coming over to help. Buffy desperately tries to find a task for Riley, which he sums up as, "So you want me to light incense and pour sand?" In an attempt at encouragement, Buffy replies that it's "magic incense and, uh, spooky sand." Riley thinks that Buffy invited him over just to make him feel less..."what are the words? Cute and weak and kittenish." Riley swears that he's fine with being Joe Normal now, and could I suggest that Riley try some lithium or something for his raging mood swings? It's bad enough that he can't decide how he feels from week to week, but this penduluming of feelings within the same episode is too much. Riley kisses Buffy good luck on her forehead before leaving, but Buffy pulls him closer to her with a "hey. A girl needs more luck than that." I'm having another one of those strange moments where the Buffy/Riley smoochies don't make me think of defenestration. Excuse me while I take the next few minutes to breathe slowly into a paper bag and mutter, "This too shall pass." Okay. I'm fine.
Buffy lights her incense and pours her spooky sand before sitting down in the middle of the circle and closing her eyes in concentration. The little sister's network calls Dawn and tells her that Buffy is trying to concentrate and is therefore a prime candidate for annoyance, so she knocks on Buffy's door and asks what she's doing. "My boyfriend. Go away," replies Buffy tersely. Heh. Dawn wants to know if Buffy is doing magic, and over Buffy's refusals, Dawn begs Buffy to let her watch. Buffy tells her to cram it and slams the door on her when Dawn tries to force her way in. Dawn says she's going to tattle on Buffy, and Buffy snits, "Fine, go. Go tell. Go do whatever you want, just GO." Chastened, Dawn stalks off to her room and slams the door. Buffy huffs in exasperation and then sits in her spooky sand circle, trying to center herself.
A shot of the sun setting over Sunnydale. Breathy, new age woodwind music starts as Buffy continues to mediate and the sun sets some more. The camera circles her, zooming in and out. Buffy meditates. Andean pan pipes and whooshy wind sounds. Geez, I know I complained about the stunts this season, but I'm not sure I meant that seeing two minutes of Buffy sitting perfectly still while the camera did queasy tricks would be any better. I get bored, so I notice that Buffy's giant and inexcusable gold hoop earrings are "complemented" by about four choker-length gold chains around her neck, each with a tiny pendant. Not loving this whole "bastard child of Studio 54 and Julie from Love Boat in her off hours at the ship's disco" look this season. Buffy's eyes pop open, and she opens the door to her bedroom. She walks down the hall, all slo-mo, to flutey and whooshy sounds. The film stock is very over-exposed and pastel, giving the whole scene that dreamy Just Cast A Spell To See A Demon Choking My Mother sense. As she continues through the house, the scene flashes in and out of solarization. Hey, that's original! Oh wait, it's not -- I was thinking of the first time I saw it done in the "Electric Avenue" video. What ever happened to Eddy Grant anyway? ["He's released a few greatest-hits compilations with his old band The Equals. More than you needed to know, probably." -- Sars] Buffy slo-mos down the stairs and surveys her house suspiciously. Continuing solarization, and then we hear Joyce call, "Buffy?" in a strange, slowed-down voice. Buffy stares her up and down as Joyce explains she feels better and is "going out for a couple hours." Buffy confuses her mom by muttering, "Nothing," as she realizes there's no trace of any spell around her. As Joyce asks if Buffy is okay, Buffy and the audience both notice that the image of Dawn is fading in and out of a picture hanging on the wall behind Joyce. Buffy tells her mom to go and have fun, and Joyce leaves, observing wistfully, "You're so grown up." Buffy is still in her faded, whooshy, solarized trance state as she crinkles her brow and finds another picture of the Summers women. Dawn fades in and out of this one too. Buffy heads upstairs and, in extra extra slo-mo, opens the door to Dawn's bedroom. Inside, she finds the brightly-lit, decorated teenager's room. As she walks further in, however, the room begin to change to a dark storage area, with framed pictures and other miscellany piled about. The room flickers back and forth, back and forth. From very, very far away, Dawn demands, "Who said you could come in my room?" Buffy turns to see Dawn standing, arms crossed. She too is fading in and out of existence. Buffy crinkles her brow real hard, as is her wont, and quietly declares, "You're not my sister."