Synopsis: Willow heals Buffy and demands that she and Xander help her track Warren. Warren goes to Rack for assistance but nothing he gains is enough to fight off Willow. Buffy leaves Dawn with Clem and Anya reveals that she is a vengeance demon again.
The Unknown: This was an unusual episode of Buffy. We are not used to seeing one of the Scoobies become the major threat within the narrative. Of course there was Angelus but it was clear that he was evil. Willow seems to have re-accessed the part of her that believes she can manipulate the world with magic. The part of her that thinks the rules are subordinate to her will. It was definitely an interesting story but it’s not clear yet what the emotional takeaway is.
The practical result of seeing all-powerful Willow stalk Warren was to thoroughly confuse my sympathies. Buffy’s moral code: that humans, no matter how heinous, should be dealt with by human society was the clear through line. On that logic I ended up feeling slightly sorry for Warren. I didn’t want him to get away but the prospect of him being tortured to death was distinctly unappealing. It was clear that he needed incarceration and rehabilitation. To watch him be flayed alive didn’t feel like justice and I guess that was the point. Willow’s final words were “One down” which means she is going after Jonathan and Andrew. Their pathetic position in jail adds to the sense that they don’t deserve to be butchered and so I assume the story next week is Buffy trying to stop Willow from becoming a monster.
I don’t know what this tells me about Willow. What is the metaphor for her seizure of immense power? Does this say that she has a permanent character flaw? Or is it just that access to magical power has a corrupting effect on her normal moral code? Is that drugs in our world? Or power? Or an analogy for a mighty military? I’m reaching. Hopefully the next episode finds the emotional core to pull this together.
The special effects were very strong throughout with the floating books and words coursing across skin particular highlights. However having “Osiris” speak directly to Willow about Tara’s death couldn’t help but trample on the real emotions of her death.
If Willow was tracking Warren’s essence it’s hard to understand how she mistook a robot for him. Anya’s revelation that she is a Vengeance demon should surely cause Buffy some problems? I assume she will use the same principal she applied to Spike. As in if I don’t see your evil I won’t do anything about it. It’s lame but there has been a precedent set. How far has Spike travelled?
Best Moment: Warren’s torture and brisk flaying, complete with “Bored now” was compelling if confusing.
The Bottom Line: An episode that requires the next two to flesh out the context of its meanings.