Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 2, 2013

Robin’s Review S7, E06 – Him

Synopsis: Spike moves in with Xander again. Dawn falls in love with the Highschool quarterback. Buffy becomes concerned with the intensity of her feelings but then falls for RJ herself. Xander, Willow and Anya scramble to find out what love spell is causing this.

The Good: I’m glad Buffy told everyone about Spike getting his soul back and it’s nice of Xander to take him in. I think they should be even more curious about his transformation than they are but I guess that will come later on.

Some of the comedy worked out ok. Your mileage will vary. Personally I liked Xander and Willow freaking out about finding Dawn attractive. Xander’s recollection of the events of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (216) was probably the highlight of the episode. Those events were pretty terrifying but thanks to the passage of time all he recalls is every woman wanting him and concludes simply “Good times.”

The Bad: Unfortunately that wasn’t the only callback to the events of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” The story was essentially the same but instead of the focus being on the boy, we watched Dawn, Buffy and then Anya and Willow get swallowed up by their undying love for RJ. Numerous problems followed.

The first half hour of the episode was basically just a straight teen drama with a sci-fi twist. Even though it was fairly clear that Dawn was somehow supernaturally influenced the writers played it seriously. So her emotional desperation for RJ was oddly sincere. It led me to believe that the purpose of the episode was to show Dawn experiencing love for the first time. I became convinced that in the end she would still be sad while the others brushed it off but that didn’t seem to happen.

Once Buffy fell for RJ too the episode went for broad comedy like a heat seeking missile. Although Dawn was still heartbroken Buffy began hamming up her lust for RJ. Once Anya and Willow got involved it was pure slapstick including gender switching, bank robberies and bazookas. It was an abrupt tonal shift and as is often the case by chasing the laughs things became less funny.

Logic went out of the window too. For the jacket to have attracted women over the decades but caused no “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” style fallout implies that its power was less intense and would only suck women in who spent time with RJ. Dawn’s love for him had a real air of plausibility too given her age and social situation. But once Buffy fell for him it was simply “B, B and B” time with the jacket rendering any woman into a deranged obsession. Then once he briefly had a word with Anya and Willow the plot lost all cohesion. Suddenly they were willing to cause harm to others to be with him even without knowing him. If the jacket were that powerful why hadn’t this happened before?

We then got an entirely unnecessary train stunt as Buffy saves Dawn from killing herself, again at tonal odds with the broad comedy. And suddenly Buffy can snap slightly out of the spell and perceive her love for RJ as irrational in the face of losing her sister. She shouldn’t be capable of that kind of reason if the spell is strong enough to deceive Willow in ten seconds. We end the episode in silliness with no wrap up about how this incident affected Dawn.

Through all this the writers dragged Anya back to being, well Anya. It was nice of Buffy to try and extend an olive branch but Anya’s new quest for identity was tossed out instantly in favour of jokes implying she had no moral compass. She offered to kill for RJ with no remorse and then robbed banks for him and grinningly covered it up. Is this the same woman who just offered her own life and soul to D’Hoffryn to take back killing some people? What were the writers thinking?

The Unknown: I wasn’t a big fan of the scene with RJ’s brother Lance either. I didn’t feel like they cast him as enough of a loser. And then they had a picture of him on the mantelpiece in exactly the same pose as RJ. Maybe that was a gag but it felt a little like the prop department thought viewers weren’t smart enough to make the jacket realisation without a mirror image.

Best Moment: Xander’s flashback.

The Bottom Line: Interestingly the first attempt at this plot also suffered from tonal issues. But the serious moments were nailed with precision. This was a mess which got worse as it went on and did a disservice to Dawn and Anya.

43/100

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