Synopsis: Buffy ties Spike up and tries to jog his memory. Willow runs into Andrew at the butchers where he is buying blood. She drags him home and Xander and Anya interrogate him. Suddenly Spike turns and tries to kill Andrew. Then some Bringers attack and abduct Spike. Buffy realises that she is fighting the First evil. Principal Wood buries Jonathan’s body. The First drains Spike and opens the portal which allows a powerful looking vampire to emerge.
The Good: This was solid but something appears to be missing.
The debate between Spike and Buffy on why she’s keeping him alive was probably the best scene. Season Six was so dark that it almost feels cheesy to ignore Buffy’s daddy issues and conclude that she is right and that Spike is a man fighting for redemption. But that is the story being told and Spike’s suggestion that she kill him fits in with the story of him trying to do right.
The two fight sequences were good too. Spike smashing through the wall to get to Andrew made it clear that he was about to reveal vital information. The Bringer attack was dramatic and exciting even if like every minion on Buffy they couldn’t kill any of the Scoobies.
Xander and Anya playing good cop and bad cop was cute if obvious. I do like Xander solemnly measuring broken windows in preparation for repairs. He really chose the right career to make himself useful.
The Bad: Nothing as such.
The Unknown: The revelation of the identity of the Big Bad was a meh moment. I’m not sure it was meant to be a big deal. It is nice to look back on “Amends” (310) and link the return of Angel to Earth with Buffy, Spike and the coming apocalypse. But it doesn’t do a lot more beyond that.
In a way the choice of the First Evil has been a little problematic so far. On paper the idea of a force that can impersonate anyone, dead or alive, sounds like a great idea. But in practice it can become a little repetitive or ineffective or just convenient. Let me just list a few issues I had here. First we had Andrew being spoken to by Warren again. That was fine, but then Warren morphs into Jonathan who is telling him everything he wants to hear. Would Andrew not, at that point, question whether he was being played? His faith in Warren was one thing but for Jonathan to appear too felt like overkill. Similarly why can Spike not remember seeing himself or Buffy talking to him. The evidence of our eyes is that he is conscious during those moments before they start singing to him. And when they reappear he doesn’t seem surprised by their presence. And yet he tells Buffy that he remembers nothing. It’s very convenient. Then you have Principal Wood burying Jonathan. Was that because he is an agent of evil or was he temporarily possessed? I mean if the First can possess anyone then why not possess Buffy and have her stab herself?
Finally there’s something about a ghost walking around taunting people that is dramatically unsatisfying. I’m too aware of SMG or James Marsters “playing” the role of the First rather than getting sucked into what the First is doing. I suppose that is the purpose of the Master-esque vampire that has risen up. Suddenly the Scoobies will have a physical foe to do battle with.
The apparent explosion at the Watcher’s Council was filmed in a slightly awkward way. The cut to the outside wasn’t as smooth as it needed to be to convey the destruction of Buffy’s only potential allies. Given their bizarre attitude to Buffy in the last few years it didn’t seem like such a big deal. Especially after the poor Giles cliffhanger which wasn’t followed up on, all but confirming that he will be fine. Quentin also dismisses Giles as an employee despite the fact that he was supposedly in a meeting with them a little while ago (703).
Best Moment: Buffy and Spike debate his survival. I liked his attempts to disgust her and get her to stab him. It worked to underline her point rather than his.
The Bottom Line: This was an ok episode but the story surrounding it has a few problems.