Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | August 27, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E22 – Restless

Restless
Season 4, Episode 22
Original airing: 5/23/2000

My Rating: 55

I’m doing things differently in this review. Let me start by saying I don’t even plan to attempt to discuss every detail of this episode. If you’re interested in all my random thoughts, please listen to the podcast: available at thebuffyrewatch.wordpress.com or at thetvcritic.org

Instead, I’m going to attempt to explain my score. I was all over the place here and was pondering numbers from the low 40’s to the high 80’s.

The Good: In many ways, I think this is an absolutely fascinating character study. It allowed some delving into issues we’re already familiar with as well as touching on some ideas that haven’t been remotely developed.

I liked that Willow’s dream was really focused on her fear that she’s still a nerd. Despite how she’s blossomed in college, most people don’t know about all the changes she’s undergone. I think it would be interesting to revisit her relationship with her mother at this point, since we haven’t seen her since Gingerbread (S3E11). I really believe Willow has had the biggest character arc in this season including everything that has happened with Buffy, Tara, and Oz. She’s also grown immensely in her general confidence and her magical abilities. To see her brought low in her dream was incredibly sad. Despite everything she’s achieved, she’s still worried it will be stripped away from her.

I also enjoyed Xander’s dream which focused on his continuing lack of direction. He sees that other people are moving forward and yet he keeps ending up in his parent’s basement. His father and Snyder basically telling Xander he’ll never be anything were two very powerful scenes.

I liked the first half of Giles’ dream which explored his Watcher/father relationship with Buffy as well as his doomed, and presumably over, relationship with Olivia.

And, finally, I greatly enjoyed the many foreshadowing aspects of Buffy’s dream, as well as her confrontation with the Primitive. Knowing what comes in season 5 makes a lot of aspects of this episode more powerful and interesting. Buffy standing up to the Primitive was very powerful as well. I really liked her line that the Primitive is not the source of her (Buffy’s) power. Buffy is an entirely new kind of Slayer, because she doesn’t work alone. It’s always been the crux of the show and it’s been danced around a few times in dialogue, but here it’s truly addressed and acknowledged. Buffy’s true power is from her friends and they are the main reason she’s still alive past 16.

The Bad: My biggest complaint about this episode is a lot of what makes it so strong. If you’re a fan and you know where the rest of the show goes, the episode is fabulous. If you’re not a fan, or this is your first viewing of the show, the episode is baffling and annoying. At least, that was my experience when I watched it for the first time. There is an awful lot of foreshadowing here. Plenty to make me feel frustrated and angry that this was a season finale.

I really believe the placement of the show in the episode order was a bad idea. I think this episode would be much more useful in the middle or beginning of a season, where the show could then explore the ideas immediately. I would have felt much more accepting of the confusion if I knew it would be going somewhere. As it is, if I’d viewed this when it was on, it might have been annoying enough to make me not come back to the show for season 5. Having this episode as my last impression for three months would have left me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

Favorite Moment: The emotional tension of the episode peaks when Xander’s father rips out his heart and then appears as the Primitive. It’s the first full face shot we’ve seen of the first Slayer and it’s very powerful. From here, the episode wraps up pretty quickly, but this moment is literally heart stopping (sorry for the pun).

The Bottom Line: The problem with scoring this episode is my first time viewing feelings versus my second time viewing feelings. But, since this is a Rewatch, I went with my first inclinations. I clearly remembered how I felt about this when I watched it for the first time in 2009. And even on rewatch, I was left feeling rather empty at the end. So I’m giving this a firm middle score. It’s innovative in a lot of ways and a real attempt to do something differently, but it left me lukewarm.

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