Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 23, 2013

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

Synopsis: Dawn wishes that no one would leave anymore in conversation with Halfrek who she thinks is a guidance counsellor. Buffy fights a demon who disappears into his sword when she stabs him with it. At Buffy’s birthday Dawn’s wish takes effect and the whole gang plus guests are trapped and can’t leave. Anya becomes particularly stressed and suggests that Willow use her power to get them out. Rebuffed by Tara, Anya searches Dawn’s room and finds all the shoplifted items.

The Good: Nothing.

The Bad: This was the worst episode of Buffy I’ve reviewed so far. You get the sense that the writers committed to the idea of everyone being trapped at Buffy’s birthday without thinking through how any of the plot dynamics would work. On every level this failed:

– The curse was clumsily enacted, only taking effect scenes after Dawn made the wish. I can see why they chose to do it that way but it was far less effective than in “The Wish.” It didn’t help that Dawn was in the dark about what was going on. She should have been surprised that everyone was staying the night.

– It wasn’t clear how the curse actually operated. Initially the party guests genuinely didn’t want to leave. Then that switched and they all really wanted to leave but physically couldn’t. Halfrek condemns them to live together forever. Were they trapped in stasis or were they going to keep getting food delivered to stay alive?

– The episode was dull. Characters hanging around someone’s living room was never going to feel life threatening and the way the Sword demon jumped in and out of the plot and the walls was a lazy attempt to add tension.

– The focus of the episode was not clear. Although it appeared to be about Dawn she was forgotten once the party began. It would have made sense to show her having a great time at the party and clearly giddy that everyone was paying her so much attention. Instead the episode became more about Buffy for a while. Then Anya took centre stage to bitch about Willow not using magic to help them. Again the addiction analogy made its unhelpful presence felt. There are no drugs an addict can take which might help save the world. Yet Anya has a point when she says that Willow could probably save them from this unpleasant scenario.

– What we did get of Dawn made her even less sympathetic than she had been. Again she stormed out of a room. Again she yelled “Get out!” in high pitched tantrum mode. Again she made everything about her and how no one wants to spend time with her. Does she not have friends at school? As we never get to see any Dawn-centric stories she remains a paper character. Her whining about loneliness make me resent the writers for making her this way rather than relate to her situation.

– The end of the episode was completely flat. Dawn’s shoplifting is exposed but we get no time to deal with it. The moral focus is more on Willow needing to get rid of the last of her magic supplies but again the analogy irritates me.

– The choice of party guests was awkward and counterproductive. Richard was simply a prop to make Spike jealous and expressed interest in Buffy in an embarrassingly blatant way. Sophie was meant to provide comic relief but was a one note character. Clem received no real introduction despite the fact that we’ve met him before. Are he and Spike friends? If he is a demon shouldn’t Buffy slay him? To have him introduced to non-Scoobies was an abrogation of the sense that regular people should be protected from darkness. Poor Richard looked even thinner when he failed to be freaked out by the sword wound he suffered from the creature leaping at will through the walls. More than their individual issues the inclusion of these three characters simply made it harder for the Scoobies to have significant, open interactions.

The Unknown: Halfrek is played by the same actress who played Spike’s “efulgent” love Cecily in “Fool For Love” (507). Their recognition of one another would imply that she is the same person. Although the moment wasn’t played in a dramatic or significant way.

Best Moment: Spike teasing Buffy about Richard’s interest in her was fine.

The Bottom Line: I don’t remember a Buffy episode failing at every single thing it attempted. Now I do.

35/100

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