Bring On The Night
Season 7, Episode 10
Original airing: 12/17/2002
My Rating: 52
The Good: The star of this episode was the fight choreography and the progressively more exhausted Sarah Michelle Gellar. The first fight with the Turok-Han leaves her scared and baffled as she escapes only by the intervention of sunlight. She goes into the second fight after at least 48 hours of wakefulness and finds herself literally beaten down.
Both battles with the Turok-Han were tight and scary. It’s fast and strong in the same way Buffy is and it can even take a stake to the heart, no problem. I was happy when it suffered no ill effect from being crushed under a palette of heavy pipes. This is a really scary physical challenge for Buffy and it was displayed masterfully with her beaten face at the end of the episode. The final season needs to push Buffy to her limits and the Turok-Han certainly seems capable.
Willow’s story was brought back to light. Her magic use has been getting more commonplace and she’s been getting more comfortable recently. So seeing her struck down and scared by magic was a good reminder that she’s not the answer to The First Evil.
The Scooby women weren’t the only ones having nice character moments. Xander got to be extra faux-cheerful in this episode and I thought it worked wonderfully. The introduction of the three young women allowed the established dynamics of our main Scoobies to seem heightened. Xander’s comedic routine was routine for him, but seeing it in the eyes of strangers made it feel like he, Buffy, and Willow may be a little crazy at this point.
I also liked his small bonding with Andrew, which he attempted to balance with machismo.
Finally, while I was disappointed in the portrayal of Drusilla (see The Bad), I really liked Spike’s refusal to give in. Just last episode, Buffy told Spike to his face that she believed in him. That was all he needed to stand strong against evil itself.
The Bad: While I greatly enjoyed the fights between Buffy and the Turok-Han, I was incredibly disappointed by the end. Why in the world would the Turok-Han have left Buffy for dead under some rubble? I suspect he should have ripped her body into pieces. Not seeing what made him leave her there is very dissatisfying and feels very cheap. And adding to the problem was the Scoobies’ apparently easy discovery of Buffy. Has she been missing? Were they following her? Why are none of them concerned she’s dead when they find her? The cut from the Turok-Han throwing Buffy through a wall to the Scoobies finding her left me feeling like I had missed several minutes of the episode in between these two moments.
Robin Wood was another huge problem for me. His scene with Dawn and Buffy in the basement and all of them holding shovels was flat out absurd. Their apparent lack of suspicion about each other is completely unbelievable. Robin’s later speech to Buffy about evil should have had her warning signals flashing like crazy as well. But she doesn’t even seem all that interested. Ending with Robin’s secret smirk about mystery’s couldn’t have made him seem more evil if he’d been dressed all in black and tying Buffy to some railroad tracks.
Speaking of evil, The First just didn’t work for me in this episode. It wants to torture Spike? Fine. It chooses the form of Drusilla to do so? Makes sense, I guess. And yet, I was completely disengaged with these scenes. I don’t know what it was about the performance, but the actress playing Drusilla seemed to have forgotten quite how to make it all work. It felt fake whereas Drusilla in the past always truly felt like an insane woman. I found the whole thing very distracting.
The most egregious moment in the episode was definitely when Annabelle, one of the potentials, fled the house and immediately ran into the Turok-Han. First of all, wow, what an idiot. Secondly, does the Turok-Han have a potential tracking device? It was right there waiting for her.
Finally, I was disappointed in the return of our Watcher. Of course, it’s hard not to be excited about Anthony Stewart Head as Giles, but it felt flat. Where was my giant Buffy/Giles hug?! Where was my heart felt bonding moment?? I feel cheated. I also find it extremely hard to believe that Giles happened to sneak into the Watcher’s Council library and steal precisely what was needed just before the whole Council was wiped out. Lame writing. And his basic willingness to give up at the end was so out of character I wanted to slap him. Has time away from the Scoobies made him weak?
The Unknown: The one aspect of the episode I found truly intriguing were Buffy’s dreams of Joyce. Were they manifestations of The First? Is Joyce trying to tell Buffy that evil is natural and has always existed and will always exist? So perhaps she should just relax about the whole thing? Or is The First trying to get Buffy to give up? There are so many questions raised by Joyce’s appearance and conversations with Buffy.
In the end, I’m not sure what to make of Buffy’s sudden determination to take the fight to the First Evil. Her speech didn’t feel inspiring so much as desperate. It sounds a lot like she’s ready to go down fighting again as she did against Glory, and that this time she’s looking forward to it.
Favorite Moment: Seeing Willow momentarily possessed and her fear afterwards brought all of last season rushing back. She’s seemed quite composed lately, even threatening Andrew in a joking manner last episode. So her plea to Buffy not to let the First use her to hurt people felt honestly heart wrenching.
The Bottom Line: If this episode had ended more strongly with the reason the Turok-Han left Buffy behind and perhaps a clearer understanding of Buffy’s determination at the end, I would have been really happy with it. As is, I felt completely cheated by the climax of the fighting and Giles’ joyless return. The potentials didn’t add anything for me and neither did Principal Wood’s continued sneakiness. All in all, I was let down.