In the fourteenth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawn lashes out after being ignored by her friends and family. AWKWARDNESS ENSUES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
I don’t necessarily think the execution of this idea is flawless, but this is a great episode that not only deals with Dawn’s isolation (FUCKING FINALLY), but touches on a lot of rad character moments I appreciated. This is a VERY DETAILED EPISODE and I would like to comment on AS MANY DETAILS AS I CAN.
- Buffy, your new jacket is amazing.
- Buffy, your new hat is not.
- Buffy, why are you wearing a non-aerodynamic hat for patrol? If Giles were here, he’d tell you not to wear it.
- Giles isn’t here, though. 🙁
- Michelle Trachtenberg is really good at the whole “I’m a smarmy fifteen-year-old” face. Like, really good.
- Again, the theme of emotional isolation pops up. This time, the story deals with Dawn. (FINALLY. Sorry, I had to.) This isn’t so much about Dawn isolating herself, though, but being isolated from the rest of the Scoobies. She’s ignored and neglected, even if sometimes it is unintentional, and it’s been building since the start of season six.
- You know, I thought Dawn stole the jacket for herself. It fits her perfectly! She looks great in it! So later in the episode, when she gifts it to Buffy, it genuinely surprised me. Girl, you shoulda kept that shit!
- HOW DID I NOT NOTICE THAT THE COUNSELOR WAS HALFREK.
- Okay, vengeance demon identity aside, the counselor’s conversation with Dawn was the first time any character since Tara had asked Dawn how she was doing in any significant way. So I don’t blame Dawn one bit for opening up to that counselor. Thankfully, it seems Buffy understands this, too, as she doesn’t appear very mad at Dawn by the end of “Older and Far Away.”
- Oh gosh, why are you inviting a guy friend for Buffy? There’s a 0% chance that will pan out.
- TARA!!! I’m so glad that the writers have found a way to keep her around despite that she split with Willow. AND SHE IS THE BEST PART OF THIS ENTIRE EPISODE.
- I still think Buffy has a whole lot to work on regarding her relationship with Spike, but the fact that one of the concerns she expresses to Tara isn’t her hatred of him is a step towards something healthier. She says she is worried about how he’ll behave around her friends. Does that mean she does want to start bringing him around more? Or is she just making excuses?
- CLEM!!!! Oh my god, YES.
- Okay, yes, Tara is the best part of this episode, but then Richard, the most beautiful redshirt in the history of redshirts, might be the next best part. AS SOON AS HE SHOWED UP, I KNEW HE’D GET HURT. Bless.
- Anya, Dawn isn’t eight. Gosh, these characters aren’t even being subtle anymore. I don’t think this justifies everything Dawn does (especially the kleptomania), but my god, she really is ignored and dismissed all the time.
- THAT BACK MASSAGER ISN’T PORTABLE! Holy shit, that thing was like a VACUUM. Sorry, I know that dates the show, but I couldn’t help it. I laughed! Also, Willow, for real, where was Buffy supposed to put that thing?
- Yeah, so I was genuinely shocked when Dawn gave Buffy the stolen jacket, as I explained earlier. It was such a hard scene to watch because despite that Dawn did something terrible, I was still touched by her attempt to reach out to her sister. I’ll come back to it later, but it really speaks to Halfrek’s line about Dawn screaming louder than anyone in town. Of course, then everything becomes super awkward once we see that the security tag is still on Buffy’s new jacket. Yikes.
- AND THEN XANDER AND ANYA TOTALLY UPSTAGE DAWN. My god, their gift was AMAZING!!!
- Wow, Sophie is awkward. I kind of love her.
- The fact that Tara could have been written off this show after dumping Willow, but instead is given this gradual character growth is FUCKING AMAZING. Tara’s usually reluctant and shy, but multiple times in this episode, we see her assert herself, either through sarcasm or fierce determination. Her interruption of Spike’s physical advances on Buffy is dripping with condescension, and I love it. What’s so great about it is that she recognizes Buffy is having a hard time dealing with Spike, so she does what she can to stop Spike from making it worse.
- Okay, I know it’s super fucked up that Halfrek curses the group to never leave the house, but ISN’T IT REALLY AWESOME WHEN EVERYONE IS GETTING ALONG AND HAVING FUN? Oh god, why can’t we just have an episode where Anya destroys everyone at Monopoly?
- When Dawn freaks out on everyone after they all figure out they can’t leave and complain about this fact, I kind of felt super mad at her. The moment didn’t last long, but like… Dawn, why can’t Richard leave? He’s going to be late. That’s not fair! Also, you don’t even know Sophie or Clem. Granted, she didn’t know that she’d inadvertently cursed them all, so it’s not like she’s knowingly doing this to them. It’s why she’s so upset when they all confront her about what’s going on in the house. (She was being rather obvious about it, though.)
- “I’m glad you’re trapped. How else can I get anybody to spend any time with me?” Good lord, that’s brutal.
- Oh, holy awkward, when Willow reveals that she has “emergency” magic supplies, you could feel Tara’s glare sawing her ex-girlfriend in half. Ugh, THIS IS SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
- Exactly zero people were surprised that Richard got cut. He’s wearing a red shirt! Come on!
- Okay, the growling the house makes is legitimately creepy. Well done! Though I do wish the house had turned into an evil entity that could eat people. Wait… we’ve already had a creepy, possessed house on this show before. Nevermind.
- I think it was an interesting choice to make Anya the main impetus for some of the uncomfortable drama in the house. I’ve noticed that her character has become more and more terrified by the prospect of her own mortality, so it explains why she feels so claustrophobic. But for the last third of the episode, she’s the one character who vocalizes her frustration for the complication of the situation. Why can’t Willow use magic if it’ll save them all? Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Plus, the end of the story works better if it is Anya confronting Halfrek.
- Xander was way more concerned about Anya’s safety than the cut on his arm. That is some beautiful character growth on his part, not just reflecting on how much he loves Anya, but on how much he’s changed since the start of the show. Wow, I just stopped to think what Xander was like in seasons one and two. I couldn’t really stand him back then, and now he’s often the moral center of the Scoobies. Huh.
- I am so into the theme of isolation in season six, and that’s why it’s so huge that Buffy and Dawn finally open up to one another in “Older and Far Away.” So much of what we’ve seen in this season concerns the hidden and the deceitful. There’s a lot of lying, a lot of hiding, and a lot of loneliness. We’re shown how this can be a destructive, terrible thing. So the counter to this is that every time one of these characters finally reaches out in a constructive way, it helps. That doesn’t mean Buffy and Dawn’s conversation is a perfect pile of rainbow puppies and chocolate unicorns. It’s difficult and awkward, but it’s necessary. More on this conversation and why it’s important in an upcoming bullet point.
- Tara. TARA!!! When she stood up for Willow, I just wanted to weep. Look at you, Tara, getting all confident!
- A perfect “Bury My Face In My Hands” moment: when Anya dumps out the stash of stolen objects in from the Magic Box. HAHAHAHA I AM LAUGHING TO HIDE MY PAIN. Oh god, they’ve been hinting at this storyline FOR SO LONG.
- Two very important things about the confrontation of Dawn that we must discuss! First, I’m glad the episode doesn’t try to excuse or condone what Dawn did. That’s why it’s significant that Anya is the one who confronts her. She points out how fucked up it is that she helped Dawn out, and Dawn stole from her. Even by the end of the episode, Anya talks of “punitive damages,” so Dawn isn’t off the hook.
- Second important thing! Buffy’s reaction to all this unfolding is totally influenced by the fact that she just had a very intimate and honest conversation with Dawn. She’s eager to defend her sister here, but if this story had taken place before this episode, I doubt Buffy would have done anything aside from get extremely mad and insulting. IT IS A VERY FASCINATING DYNAMIC.
- You just had to stab Halfrek as soon as she showed up, right? EVIL. YOU ARE EVIL.
- HOW THE FUCK DOES HALFREK KNOW SPIKE??? And she knows him as William???? Did William the Bloody utilize Halfrek at one point? BACKSTORY NOW.
- Like I said in the very beginning of this review, the execution of this story isn’t perfect, but it’s worth it just for Halfrek’s condemnation of the Scoobies. It’s actually something I picked up over the course of this season (SOMEONE GIVE ME A MEDAL FOR ACTUALLY NOTICING FORESHADOWING OH MY GOD), and it’s finally addressed in a brutally honest way. Does that excuse Dawn’s thievery? No, of course not, but Dawn has felt increasingly more invisible since Buffy came back to life. Without her, Tara, or Giles in her life, she’s felt lost and ignored. So does that mean the writers will now utilize her??? I CAN ONLY HOPE.
- I do adore the fact that the resolution to the curse was as simple as Anya tricking Halfrek into the house so that she’d have to lift the curse in order to get out. It’s so brilliant!
- Ugh, I had so many feelings during Tara and Willow’s last conversation. My heart! Tara has sort of turned into the one person giving the best advice to all the Scoobies. She’s helped Buffy and Willow now. WHO IS NEXT?
- OMG. Dawn’s smile when Buffy stays behind? Yeah, I loved it. Perhaps these two sisters can finally become close once again.
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