Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | October 21, 2012

Robin’s Review: S5, E05 – No Place Like Home

Synopsis: While out slaying Buffy finds a Dagosphere, though she doesn’t know what it is. She takes it to Giles who is struggling to cope with the demand on the Magic Shop’s opening day. Joyce is still ill and so Buffy performs a spell to help her see other spells. There is nothing around Joyce but Dawn is flashing in and out of existence. Buffy heads back to the warehouse where she found the sphere and encounters a blonde woman with incredible strength.

The Good: The revelation of what Dawn is plays right into the show’s strengths. As I’ve said many times before, Buffy works as a show because Buffy is so selfless and moral. It’s impossible to feel anything but admiration for someone who doesn’t complain about being assigned a life of perpetual danger and horror. Now it seems that even more supernatural burdens are being placed on her. Dawn is energy made flesh, the key to some kind of portal that needs protecting. It was very sweet to see Buffy reconcile herself to living a lie to protect the annoying sister that has been forced upon her. It’s a story that is so bizarre and full of possibilities that I don’t know where it goes from here.

Obviously the unspeakable creature in heels will have something to do with it. It’s fitting that the form taken by this powerful being is of an attractive young woman. It provides Buffy with an enemy she can understand and one that parallels her in various ways. The sheer power she possesses made their fight more dramatic and intense than we normally get to see.

It’s also been a while since I’ve laughed hard at a Buffy gag but the sight of Giles in his wizard outfit smiling hopefully at Buffy had me bent double. Even better was her utter silence until finally he took the costume off. Anya’s ruthless attitude to capitalism fits her character neatly and working with Giles should help integrate her more fully into the Scoobies.

The Bad: Spike also had a classic joke with his five words or less response of “Out…for…a…walk……bitch!” But I wasn’t happy with that scene. It was written only to communicate his infatuation with her and ignored her response to him. Last episode he very nearly killed her and Riley and yet here she treats him like the minor nuisance he used to be and doesn’t seem disturbed by him loitering around her home.

I also didn’t buy Buffy heading out to the warehouse after her violent confrontation with Dawn. From her perspective Dawn is some kind of evil spell that might very well be affecting Joyce. Yet she leaves to continue searching for the source of the spell and leaves Dawn where she is. It made no sense and the producers then tried to get us to think Dawn was evil by having her creepily offer Joyce a cup of tea. Joyce then adds to the mess by not being mad that Dawn was left in the house alone even though a babysitter was required only three episodes ago. And Dawn should have been far more freaked out and upset by what Buffy said to her (“you stay away from my mother”).

Ben (the cute intern) really picked an inappropriate time to start chit chatting didn’t he? If I were holding down a psychotic patient, I might wait for another occasion to hit on a girl.

The Unknown: Obviously we need to know more about Dawn, the Beast in heels and Joyce’s illness. The Beast in particular was an interesting choice. Her character had a touch of the Mayor about it as she talked about having hurt feelings and then ranted at Buffy for hitting her (even though she was throwing her around). I had no idea what to make of her here and we definitely need more context. What did she do to that guy’s head?

The number of customers in the Magic Box reached silly proportions. I did smile at Xander’s description of the saying “Have a nice day” being an example of “raging insincerity.” He did seem particularly relaxed for once which may be evidence of growth.

Best Moment: It’s hard not to choose Giles in the wizard outfit but Buffy smiling at the thought of more responsibility was almost moving.

The Bottom Line: This was messily written. If plotted better I think it could have been genuinely moving when Buffy realised what Dawn was and accepted it. Instead we really stumbled to get to that point and the introduction of the Beast didn’t elicit any emotion in me at all. A being from another dimension might sound scary but in reality it’s a tough sell to take seriously.

55/100

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