Synopsis: Giles arrives with three potential Slayers to protect. He says there will be no written information about the First Evil as it pre-dates the written word. Buffy goes in search of Spike but runs into the Turok-Han who beats her up and only sunlight can save her. She won’t sleep despite a dream induced Joyce telling her to. Principal Wood is prowling around suspiciously. The Scoobies board up Buffy’s house but one of the potentials runs away. She is killed by the Turok-Han who then beats down Buffy.
The Good: The fights between Buffy and the Turok-Han were possibly the best action sequences the show has ever produced. Despite this being a Rewatch I became genuinely concerned for Buffy’s welfare. To see her so vulnerable, so tired and then so beaten was quite disheartening. The Turok-Han looked excellent and its movements had a touch of Slayer to them (in terms of flexibility and precision) which added to the sense that Buffy had met her match. The build-up of pressure on Buffy was pretty compelling. I really liked the Joyce dreams and hope they are followed up on.
I thought we were back on track with Willow here as she touched her own power once more only to collapse in fear of it. We know she could play a major role in fighting the First but we’ve established that it won’t be easy. The explanation of the potential Slayers (as the girls being murdered) was good and fits what we saw in the first two episodes.
The Bad: I don’t like the Turok-Han leaving Buffy for dead. You can theorise about why it might but I’m not satisfied with that. I would rather see him voluntarily walk away or be chased off. Either way that would tell us something about his intentions or instructions. As it was it just felt convenient that he didn’t kill her.
My complaints about the First standing around impersonating people came to a head with the Drusilla sequences. Seeing Spike repeatedly beaten established where he was but all of “Dru’s” ramblings did nothing for me. It was distracting watching Juliet Landau’s performance and told us nothing new about the First. As with Buffy being left alive, I didn’t see a convincing reason to allow Spike to survive. I also couldn’t quite work out why drowning Spike would be torture for him.
It’s getting crowded at the Summers house. It seems like Andrew will be sticking around given the bonding he did with Xander which I can’t say thrills me. The potential Slayers needed more introduction than they got and their English accents were dreadful. I don’t really buy that Giles would have stolen useful information from the Watcher’s Council. That seemed like a pathetic excuse to give the Scoobies a little info to draw from in future episodes.
The Unknown: Was that Joyce visiting Buffy in her dreams? Or even just a helpful Slayer dream? The suggestion that she sleep seems wise. The suggestion that evil is in all of us could go either way. The tone could be taken as one of defeat. As if this was the First trying to mess with Buffy’s mind and encourage her to give up. Or it could imply that evil is in all of us and therefore is nothing to fear. That the First is actually less powerful than it claims to be and that Buffy should rest and recover and fight again another day.
One of the things that bothered me about Buffy’s final speech is I’m not sure how it connects to “Joyce’s” comments. I’m not sure why Buffy sees her own mauling as a time to declare war and bring the fight to the First Evil. It’s not clear what she has concluded. It seemed an oddly timed rah-rah moment considering the beating she’d just been through. She also talked about building an army when the Scooby gang has never looked so impotent. One potential down, Willow unable to help and Spike missing. Would the potentials find this speech inspiring or assume that Buffy had lost her mind? It felt like this speech should come next episode after a good night’s sleep and some perspective.
Principal Wood needs to give us his back-story soon. The shovels passing in the night scene was weird. Surely the Principal would know that Buffy and Dawn were not down there burying a time capsule. He then almost pokes Buffy with the implication that he knows who she is. He’s becoming creepy.
I know why they don’t bring it up but wouldn’t this be the time to call Angel? Surely if you are facing the height of all evil you would want a super powered ally?
Kennedy’s apparent flirt with Willow was slightly awkwardly done. Is she gay?
Best Moment: The Turok-Han beating Buffy down. It’s repeated comebacks from stakes and pipes being dropped on it were very dramatic.
The Bottom Line: A strange episode. If it had concluded with a broken Buffy falling asleep to one more dream from Joyce I think I’d rate it very highly. Despite the niggles I thought the main story was very strong. But the conclusion was odd and the First continues to irritate with its chatter.