Season 7, Episode 1
Original airing: 9/24/2002
My Rating: 68
The Good: This is a pretty fun season opener!
It was really cool to start the episode with the premise originally given to Buffy the show being flipped on its head. A young girl is running down an alley and she almost escapes, but then she’s murdered, just as she would be in any other scary story. Then we see Buffy and remember, this isn’t any other scary story. And to prove that point, Buffy basically unleashes a vampire on her non-Slayer kid sister.
It’s nice to see the show catching up with the times a bit. And the introduction of cell phones was handled well. It didn’t solve all of the problems, but it helped Buffy stay in touch with Dawn. Last season ended with Buffy basically saying Dawn is her reason for living, so I think it makes sense that she would find any way possible to help protect her.
Dawn’s first day experiences are pretty well done. She gets repeatedly embarrassed in class, makes some new friends, shows some ingenuity, and knows when to call for help. Dare I say she actually acted like a reasonable person in this episode?
Having Xander around as foreman at the school is a good way to pull the character into the locale. And Principal Wood’s offer to Buffy works in some ways. It seems a bit random, but it’s nice that he points out it’s really a part time position and the school does have a licensed councilor around. I’m curious how they’re going to fold Willow into all of this.
Principal Wood is an interesting guy. As Buffy points out, he’s quite young and fit and appears to be pretty much the opposite of first season’s Principal Flutie and his mean successor, Principal Snyder. He obviously knows at least a bit about Buffy and her predilection for violence and property damage. Perhaps he knows more?
I think the choice to have Spike in hiding and in obvious mental/emotional pain is a nice way to go with his re-ensouling. He can’t suddenly be a good guy and it matches well with Angel’s experience. I also really like his ability to focus in and recognize Buffy. She’s still the most important thing.
Anya and Halfrek’s scene was quite interesting as well. Halfrek hints that Anya needs to step up her game to be on the side of evil, because apparently something quite evil is coming soon.
Finally, I like the conversation between Giles and Willow. She’s finally learning to control and respect her power. But she also mentions a rising evil.
The Bad: Insanity is a difficult factor on TV shows. Spike’s madness comes and goes in Buffy’s presence and who’s to say it wouldn’t be like that? But it does seem to provide some convenient answers for Buffy’s current problem.
Favorite Moment: This episode is a nice way to reintroduce the school, but I really like the introduction of the shapeshifting creature at the end. He/She seems quite knowledgeable and spooky and it’s a good set up for the evil of the season. Whoever this is has the power to change their appearance, even to look like Buffy! I really like how he/she shifts through almost all the old major villains to set the stage for turning into Buffy. Will this season’s Big Bad be Buffy herself? It raises a lot of very interesting questions.
The Bottom Line: Great pains are taken to make sure the audience knows Evil Is Coming. This overriding factor helps bond all the stories together and gives a bit of credence to the monsters of the week who were apparently summoned by someone. I’m quite taken with this episode and look forward to seeing how it begins to play out.