Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 23, 2013

Cordia’s Review: S6, E14 – Older and Far Away

Older and Far Away
Season 6, Episode 14
Original airing: 2/12/2002

My Rating: 63

The Good: Buffy’s birthday always goes poorly and this year is no exception. This time around Dawn unwittingly trapped the Scoobies and a few extras in the house along with a sword wielding demon. This worked well for creating tension and drama in the episode. It also led to my favorite moment.

Overall, I liked how this episode built up some Scooby drama. Having everyone trapped together for 48 hours forced some interesting confrontations. I think the demon was underused, but the sounds he made in the wall and his occasional attacks did keep everyone on edge.

Spike was fun to watch while he stalked Buffy around the house. It’s interesting to see him acting so jealous over the boy toy Richard. He seems to have been completely understanding of Buffy mangling his face as he doesn’t even mention it, despite the continuing blemishes he’s sporting. What doesn’t make as much sense is his complete non-reaction to Tara revealing she knows about his relationship with Buffy. It wasn’t particularly bad, but it was curious.

I enjoyed Halfrek’s involvement in this episode. Her attention to Dawn worked, and was called out well by Anya, as an over involvement in cases concerning ignored children. What didn’t make sense in her case was everyone’s suspicion over her being a guidance counselor, which is really a pretty normal thing in a high school.

One thing I really appreciated was the moment with Dawn in her room. We don’t get to see much of Dawn that isn’t yelling and running away, so her vulnerability in this scene was great. As she pulls the stolen items out of her pockets, I get the impression that even she doesn’t know why she’s stealing. More moments like this would make Dawn a much more relatable and sympathetic character.

I also really enjoyed Anya in this episode. Her delight at setting up Buffy was wonderful as was her enjoyment in presenting a gift she didn’t work on. But her shining moments come when the stress is on. Her scene with Xander where she is overheating is a wonderful moment for them as a couple. Xander really works to help her calm down. Her absolute best stuff is when she finally speaks up about Willow (see the Best Moment).

Finally, I really liked Tara in this episode. She’s become even more confident since her break up with Willow, except when they are face to face. Then it’s easy to see they have no idea how to talk to each other or how to handle the situation. Despite all that, she comes to Buffy’s birthday party because Buffy wants her there. She cuts Spike down a bit and even stands up to Anya after being disappointed by Willow hoarding magic supplies. She’s really showcasing her ability to be the defender when people need her.

The Bad: Unfortunately, there’s a lot going on in this episode that didn’t work.

While the demon in the walls was interesting, his lack of motivation was a problem. Why wasn’t he just attacking all the time? Why would he ever go into hiding? Why could he take his sword through a wall with him, but not through a floor? There was a lot of potential that went to waste here.

Other useless characters were Clem, Richard, and Sophie. Clem’s appearance was completely random and didn’t make any sense when the Scoobies knew there would be humans at the party. Buffy should have chased him and Spike out the door immediately upon their arrival.

Richard was good for giving Spike a focal point, but his characterization was lacking. Buffy didn’t seem at all interested in him and he still pursued her. It made him seem even more one dimensional. On top of that, he was a complete idiot and didn’t figure out something was wrong until well into the curse. Would anyone really buy that Clem’s look is from a skin condition??

Sophie was also quite pointless. Her utter awkwardness did not work and it even disappeared later. A lack of characterization doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The worst offender in this episode is the continuing drug analogy for Willow’s magic use. I was particularly put off by the mention of Willow’s support group – Spell Casters Anonymous. It implies that lots of other people are going through the same problems Willow is experiencing and also potentially implies this is a large problem. If it’s based on things such as Alcoholics Anonymous, it could be worldwide. But before all this happened for Willow, there was never any hint of witches becoming addicted to magic. I’m sure this was meant to only be a small joke, but it really blew the whole thing to a new level in my mind.

Finally, it didn’t make sense for Willow to continue to deny her abilities when it was the only option left for attempting to escape the house. There is no indication that something truly bad could happen to her. Xander’s argument that she’s surrounded by people who will support her is completely valid and the show makes no argument against it aside from Willow’s fear.

Favorite Moment: The best moment was when Anya spoke up about Willow and Tara defended her. Anya has often been used to say the things other people are socially afraid to say. And here it made complete sense because everyone turning a blind eye to Willow was actively hurting them all and putting them in harm’s way. I thought she came across as completely reasonable, although stressed out. But I also really liked when Tara stepped in. I might not agree with Willow concerning her use of magic, but Tara is definitely the character to defend the fact that Willow made a decision, no matter what it is.

The Bottom Line: Overall, I was disappointed in this episode, but not terribly. It certainly had it’s moments for Tara and Anya, but the crux of it all fell quite flat with Dawn being particularly hard to connect to and the obnoxious extra characters.

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