Dearest reader, I'm prefacing this recap with a heartfelt apology. Over the course of writing about thirty-four recaps for this site, I have learned a hard, hard truth: sometimes my muse just deserts me. I'm never sure if it's because the episode was dull, or because of other stresses and distractions in my life, or because I was lax about burning those Amuse Your Muse candles I picked up at Illuminations, but the end result is the same. I sit in front of the television, my heart heavy in my chest and my fingers feeling like they're made out of lead. I type, delete everything I just typed, hit pause while I try to think up a joke, give up, sigh, type more, delete that, and so on. I hate to send out a recap as dull and wan as this, but "Older and Far Away" is obviously a description of my muse while I worked on this episode so please accept my apology and let's all hope for more amusing days to come.
Previously. Dawn had a problem with sticky fingers. Dawn had a problem with not being loved enough. Dawn had a problem with whining. Dawn had a problem with sniveling. Hey, that sounds like this entire upcoming episode. Spike played poker for portable protein units, er, "kittens," and Halfrek came to Sunnydale. Buffy confessed her affaire de Spike to Tara.
At the Summers house, Buffy busily packs a bunch of weapons into a bag whilst apologizing to Dawn for having to bail on their evening. Dawn suggests that when Buffy gets back, they can set up for her birthday party, but Buffy absentmindedly says that Willow is taking care of it, not seeming to realize that Dawn is hungry for a little attention.
Cemetery. Buffy is in a cute, kicky red bucket hat and red shearling coat, which seems a little dressy, but I guess when the demon you're slaying has his own fancy sword, you want to make a little more of an effort. Buffy struggles with aforementioned demon, but is suddenly grappling the thin air when the demon disappears. This demon's fancy headdress leads me to speculate that he's taking a little break from a fabulous revue in whatever the underworld equivalent of Las Vegas is. ["My guess is that would be Las Vegas, straight up." -- Sep] I think I'll call him High Kicker. He rematerializes and Buffy kicks him, knocking the sword out of his hands. She catches it and stabs him in the gut. Buffy is knocked to the ground by swirling blue energy and doesn't see the demon's spirit get sucked into the sword. She gets up, believing that he's run away. Buffy grabs the "shiny" sword, puts it in her magic bag of holding, and takes off.
Der Zauber Kasten. Anya, Xander, and Willow make some small talk about the plans for Buffy's party. Xander drops the "T" bomb -- Tara is coming to the party. Willow over-enthusiastically agrees, "Tara should totally be there. It'll be great. I'll wipe her mind and then she'll come back to me and never ever leave again!" Well, she doesn't really say that last sentence, but I bet she was thinking it. Enter Dawn. She's looking for a mall buddy. Willow says something about having to attend "Spellcasters Anonymous," which I will not even deign to comment upon, except to point out that the existence of such a group is exactly what we've suggested on the boards -- if only in the most cutting, sarcastic, "the writers would never stoop that low" way. Xander is also unable to frolic at the mall because he's working on scheduling his crew for next week; Anya bows out because she has to fondle the money. Dawn bites back her tears and turns to go to the mall all by herself. Geez. When I was a teenager, you couldn't have paid me enough to make me hang out with my hypothetical older sister and her hypothetical friends. Plus, I know Dawn isn't feeling very nurtured and all, but the Scoobies are busy people, and maybe she should have made plans in advance with them, instead of dropping by right before she had to head to the mall.