Same Time, Same Place
Season 7, Episode 3
Original airing: 10/8/2002
My Rating: 72
The Good: This was a nice way to reintroduce Willow to Sunnydale and show how suspicions will arise. I think it was quite the logical jump from skinned victim to missing Willow. Seeing Buffy and Xander struggle with the suspicion and overcome it made Willow’s reentry to the group very believable.
I thought this episode did a nice job of using Anya as a mirror to Willow. They’re similarities in magic use really did help nicely explain a few details of Willow’s experience with the dark magics. Her explanation about how it was hard to stop using it until it began using you dovetailed nicely with the addiction metaphor in a way that nothing else did last season. I think it worked because of Anya’s vengeance demon story line and the struggles she’s been voicing in the last two episodes. The magic is just not the same any more. And how she uses it has been altered forever by her experiences as a human.
The scene with Spike, Willow, Buffy, and Xander was fantastic. It was really well played out by all the characters and the dialogue was perfect for leading each person to their own conclusions.
Gnarl was a beyond disgusting and creepy villain which made a perfect metaphor for Willow’s isolation. The special effects for his eating and drinking were excellent and perfectly shocking. And his gleeful joy in mocking his victims really increased the disturbing nature of his scenes with Willow.
Finally, I am still enjoying Dawn’s integration into the Scoobies. She really is quite the natural and perhaps a bit too excited. But it’s nice to see her receiving consistent characterization.
The Bad: Spike’s insanity is getting more and more touch and go. Having him state he’s insane after leading everyone to the cave was just too much for me. If every scene could be played as well as his first in this episode, I think it would work much better. But his obvious spots of sanity make it all seem more contrived as each episode passes.
Favorite Moment: I was impressed despite myself by Gnarl’s skin eating and blood drinking. This actor stole the show for me in this episode.
The Bottom Line: I think this was a very clever way to bring Willow back into the fold while avoiding dialogue heavy, clunky scenes where everyone is awkward and stammer-y. The situation needed something to distract at least a little bit from Willow’s arrival in Sunnydale and this worked perfectly to do that and allow time for introspection and a real touching reunion at the end.