Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 16, 2013

Robin’s Review S7, E07 – Conversations With Dead People

Synopsis: Buffy is about to slay a vampire when he recognises her. Holden Webstar was at Sunnydale High with her and does a little psychoanalysis while they fight. Dawn is at home alone when the house becomes haunted by a spirit who appears to be attacking Joyce. Willow is studying in the university library when Cassie appears. She claims to be speaking on behalf of Tara. Spike picks up a girl at the Bronze. Andrew and Jonathan return to Sunnydale High looking for a symbol with a connection to the “From Beneath You it Devours” evil.

The Good: The decision to begin the episode with its title prominently displayed and a time stamp sets out a stall that this will be a significant instalment. And it lives up to its own billing with a highly dense, intense hour of drama.

The dramatic highpoint came with the reveal that all these stories were connected. It’s not entirely clear how many of them are specific deceptions from the being who is spreading the “From Beneath You it Devours” message. However Cassie’s dark threats to Willow were the most goose-bumpy as the writers try to raise the stakes higher than ever. “Cassie” says that she’s done with balancing the scales of good and evil which obviously implies the Hellmouth opening wide once more. But the fact that this being feels the need to strike at the heart of the Scoobies is what really feels different. So far most of the Big Bads have perceived Buffy as a threat but failed to realise that her support system keeps her on the winning side. To try and sow discord with Dawn (assuming that was the same being) and pushing Willow to kill herself suggests that the Scoobies will be under real assault this year.

I really like the focus on Willow as a powerful adversary. So far the writers have handled her return to the fold very nicely. She clearly could be a major force for good and if she were neutralised then the path to Buffy would be clear. The attempt to use Tara against her was suitably evil and to see Willow in tears was quite affecting. The suicide suggestion being what tipped Willow off is a nice simple idea. She knows Tara would never want that and suddenly this battle has become personal.

We don’t know if Dawn went through a similar experience or if Joyce’s warning about Buffy not choosing her will turn out to be true. It seems like quite an obvious attempt at deception when laid out next to the scenes with Cassie. By TV logic I’m therefore tempted to wonder if Joyce really might have found a way to warn her daughter to look out for herself. Dawn is already on her way to self reliance and showed bravery in the face of a very creepy haunted house.

The third (apparently) straight deception was Andrew killing poor Jonathan at the behest of “Warren.” Again it seems like the same being or its allies fooled Andrew into a dark act that will aid their devouring from beneath. I liked the characterisation of all three and the comedy was better for its brevity.

The very brief shots of Spike picking up a woman at the Bronze were intriguingly put together. Again the lack of attention focussed on them made their inclusion seem more significant.

Finally we come to Buffy and her “session” with Holden. Once again the casting was impeccable with Holden pulling off the post-ironic vampire with plausible depth. I thought the sequence got a little too cute at times. I suppose Buffy is just so confident at this point that she doesn’t fear chatting to a vampire who could at any moment turn on her. And I suppose he is so ignorant of her strength and his own new situation that he is willing to chit chat. But there were moments when my eyebrows rose. Mainly though it was a unique sequence which allowed Buffy to reveal the contradictory emotions and ideas she lives with in her post-resurrection and post-depression state. I’m not sure if any of these revelations will feel significant in forthcoming episodes or if this was a state of the union address before the plot kicks into high gear.

The Bad: Nothing specifically bad.

The Unknown: I think the Holden sequence was a little too manipulated to quite make the episode fit together perfectly. But it was certainly engaging and memorable. The Spike revelation was definitely interesting but I have no idea what it means. Is he too the victim of more manipulation (as he was in previous episodes) or is the return of his soul a more complicated situation then we realised?

What has Andrew done by killing Jonathan? What happens to him next? Is “Warren” the same being as “Cassie”? Was that really Joyce?

Best Moment: Once Willow stood up and realised that she was being lied things became extra intense. “Cassie’s” response was gripping.

The Bottom Line: How do you top all the Big Bad’s of previous seasons? Apparently you mess with everyone in a deeply personal way. So far it’s worked really well and this was an intense and entertaining way to kick the main plot into a high gear.



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