Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 25, 2013

Robin’s Review: S5, E21 – The Weight of the World

Synopsis: Willow takes charge of the group, giving them orders while she heads into Buffy’s mind. Inside she finds the same thoughts repeating and tries to convince Buffy that she hasn’t killed Dawn yet. Glory prepares Dawn for her sacrifice but Ben’s personality begins to bleed over into hers and she struggles with guilt. Spike and Xander go to ask Doc for information on Glory and find more than they thought they would.

The Good: I liked seeing Willow take charge. Buffy has been absent before but she’s never been incapacitated (with Giles injured too) in a way which demanded that someone else become the leader. Willow has power and had been through the apocalypse before and it seemed right to see her command the Scoobies.

Buffy being catatonic is a hard sell. But dream sequences and vision quests are not alien to the show and as this season essentially began with “Restless” (422) it feels appropriate to see her once more trapped somewhere trying to decipher hidden meanings. After all the stresses of this season and an emphasis on how much Buffy loves with all her heart (518) it made sense that she would be ripped apart by the guilt over imaging relief at Dawn’s death. I can’t say the exertions of the last few episodes really connected me with that story. Nor does the solution of killing Dawn seem very likely. However this was a concerted effort to connect the season long arc of self discovery with Glory as the Big Bad and to see Willow pull Buffy out of it had some resonance.

The Bad: Otherwise this episode was tedious. We have no reason to care about Glory or Ben and yet spent the majority of the episode watching them whine and bitch about each other. The scene where they swapped back and forth was irritating as a result. Ben seemed to make really foolish decisions once again. If every dimension is about to merge what life does he think Glory can offer him? And why would he trust her? He rants about how selfish she is at one point (um, duh) and then runs away with Dawn, threatens to kill her and then hands her over. By episodes end it felt like this was all a stalling tactic to get us to the finale with everyone still alive.

Speaking of which, Spike and Xander go to see Doc again and kill off the intrigue of his character (if not Doc himself seemingly). Spike just guesses that he might have information and not only does he, but apparently he holds some key piece of Glory’s plan. What an amazing coincidence! More annoying than that though, Doc was transformed from a creepy, mysterious figure into a generic villain who clumsily gives away that he has the information. He then shows off his super strength before inexplicably becoming so weak that Xander can stick a sword in him. There is a chance that he misled them in some way and that really would be the only good explanation for what seemed like an utterly contrived plot device.

The more Glory or her minions talk up the destruction of the whole universe the less threatening it seems. The stakes have been raised to such heights that it’s impossible for us to take them seriously. A situation which wasn’t helped by the entire Scooby gang being unable to remember that Ben is Glory and Glory is Ben. If the whole universe is at stake then we don’t have time for silly comedy.

The Unknown: The attempt to draw a parallel between Glory and Buffy’s reaction to guilt was interesting but not entirely convincing. Glory is angry about Ben’s conscience seeping into her being and is totally dismissive of human emotions and lives. Buffy is so guilty over not trying her utmost to save Dawn that she temporarily shuts down. I hope next episode that link can be tied up in a satisfying way. As I said before we have no reason to care about Glory because she is a hell God with a motivation beyond our empathy while Buffy is told to snap out of it by Willow which didn’t seem to add depth to her shellshock.

Best Moment: Willow taking charge.

The Bottom Line: Last episode felt like a 40-minute diversion to delay Glory reaching Dawn. This sort of acted as a 40-minute delay to get Buffy out of her coma. Now we are left with the only solution being to kill Dawn in order to save the universe. It’s really hard to believe that will happen and for so many reasons I don’t feel excited or interested in the finale. The only thing which could save it is the story arc which has been building all year surrounding Buffy’s character. I don’t know what to expect and my hopes are not high.

45/100

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