Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 13, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E11 – Showtime

Synopsis: Buffy gathers more Potential Slayers in her home. One of them, Eve, talks about the pointlessness of this endeavour. When Buffy finds Eve’s dead body at a motel she realises the First has been in her home. The expanded Scooby gang grab their weapons and Willow casts a protection spell. The Turok-Han breaks through and they all flee to one of Xander’s building sites.

The Good: The last scene was fantastic. Once again James Marsters was supreme. His facial expressions actually moved me they were so convincing. He clung to his faith in Buffy to see him through his torment. And as he realises that this really is her his face turns from surprise to happiness then briefly to adoration. You can almost see his desperation to call out in love and thanks but he quickly restrains himself and finally he’s just relieved. A lovely end to his mini-arc.

The Bad: It was nice to finish on a positive note because I was largely dissatisfied with the episode.

Understandably, introducing a raft of new characters all at once was going to be problematic. The producers did not help themselves though. Eve looked fine as an actress but her accent was poor which makes three Potentials in a row who sound utterly unconvincing. Similarly I’m sure these girls would be scared but the constant drone of their doubts became tiresome. The dialogue could have been far better. New arrival Rona in particular was stuck with lines that didn’t seem to suit her including the irritating “What are we doing here!?” after Xander had announced loudly that he was taking them to a safe place.

The Turok-Han story concluded very poorly. It is fairly traditional for Buffy to encounter a little problem slaying a demon before overcoming it but surely on this occasion we needed something more. The fight moved from the drama, emotion and slickness of last week to a more basic scene of bludgeoning. Then once Buffy stabbed the Turok in the eye he suddenly became vulnerable to her attacks and she beheaded him.

That was barely adequate as a conclusion. Much more could have been made of the eye stabbing. Once the Turok was half-blind Buffy could have slowly regained the advantage in a way that could have been very entertaining. More irritating than the choreography though was the way Buffy’s plan came together. First off she contacts Willow by telepathy. How does that work? If someone just “decides” to communicate with Willow that way, she will hear them? And she just maintains that power in perpetuity? It’s particularly irritating as the writers clearly thought it would be cool misdirection to have the senior Scoobies silently leave the room and so they reached for this rather than earning it.

But then Buffy’s plan is simply to kill the Turok in front of the Potentials. Umm, what if you can’t kill it? The thought doesn’t seem to cross her mind. Nor is it part of the story. Surely the whole point of any comeback story is to see the training and planning that goes into the eventual victory? But no, Buffy just turns up and is confident she will find a way to kill it. In the end she needed the crossbow to do it. So why not leave weapons at the building site? Or indeed ask the Potentials to rain down missiles on the Turok or help in some other way? Surely then the point would have been clearer that together we can defeat anything?

The First also instructed the Turok not to kill Buffy. Presumably it has some taunting to do. But the fact that it wanted to keep Spike and Buffy alive only deepens the sense that the First has no solid plan and is just dallying around until the end of the season. It’s all deeply disappointing.

I’m also not happy with Andrew being accepted into the fold. He brags to Dawn about his exploits as an evil genius and no one has held him to account for murdering Jonathan. Has no one considered whether someone who would stab their best friend to become a God is a bit dangerous? It feels like he’s being kept around to make pop culture references when surely one of the Potentials could have done that?

The Unknown: The First can seemingly touch your face as it seemed to do with Spike but is not omnipresent. Eve claims she’s learnt a lot from her time in the Summers house so presumably the First only knows what “it’s” seen directly.

The only Potential to be given real definition was Kennedy. Initially this was not promising as she’s apparently a spoilt rich girl but I’m not sure she plays that particularly convincingly. Nor is it clear why she’s so interested in Willow in particular. But she got better as the episode went on largely by being the only Potential to vote for fighting rather than whining and giving up. Don’t these people want to go on living?

Something is off with these “Here endeth the lesson” closing speeches Buffy’s giving. They just don’t sound like the Buffy we know. The whole tone of the show is to undercut and make fun of macho clichés and so to have Buffy deliver them is awkward. I didn’t like her conclusion that all vampires were dust as if it were some meaningful truth all the girls would grasp. Earlier in the episode they admitted that none of them had even seen a vampire before. Surely they would have all been in shock and amazement rather than ready to take on board a deep lesson?

Giles and Anya visiting an eye who can tell them answers was on the nose (come on!) but I suppose it’s no different than them discovering something in a book. The conclusion that Buffy coming back from the grave was somehow the catalyst for the First evil making its play sounds like a solid idea. If season five was planned out to end the show then I like the idea that season 6 began with a story designed to take us through to the show’s conclusion.

Best Moment: James Marsters’ face. Not for the first time.

The Bottom Line: Since The First revealed itself in “Conversations with Dead People” the season has nosedived. It’s the familiar old problem that plagued Adam and Glory. The First isn’t really doing anything or at least it isn’t obvious to us what it’s up to. The trick of walking around as Spike or Buffy or Drusilla is annoying rather than entertaining. Another seasons 4 and 5 problem has returned as well – the ensemble is growing but with characters we don’t care about. Someone like Andrew badly needs his own episode if he’s going to become part of the gang and Dawn is getting lost in the mix. I hope the writers have concrete ideas of how to fix this.



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