Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 4, 2014

Robin’s Review – S7, E14 – First Date

Synopsis: Xander has a date with Lissa, a woman he just met while Principal Wood asks Buffy out. The latter goes well with Wood revealing he is the son of a Slayer. The former goes badly with Xander yet again attracting a demon. Back at the Summers home the First tries to convince Andrew to shoot the Potentials but he refuses.

The Good: I liked the top and tailing of the episode with comedy and Giles’ speech about getting serious. There were smiles to be had along the way including a lovely old school Scooby scene where Willow, Buffy and Xander bantered like it was season three (see Best Moment). But it was all a bit flippant given that a new Turok-Han was almost called. So Giles’ determination that everyone begin to focus on sterner business felt like an appropriate battle cry with only eight episodes to go.

The Bad: If Xander could send a text then why write in code? Why not just tell Willow what was happening?

The Unknown: Xander’s story felt very thin. I suppose it tells us where his relationship with Anya stands and shows us that demons are taking sides in the coming war. But it felt more like an excuse to give Ashanti (Lissa) a cameo and provide something for Buffy to kill. After all Xander came home cracking wise and not seeming remotely disturbed by his giant wound.

Andrew’s story was even weaker. The First shows up and tells him to shoot the girls but he won’t. That’s it. The First put no effort into his plan and showed a pretty weak understanding of Andrew’s nature. But again I struggle to call it bad because it demonstrated that Andrew has changed and reinforced the main plot of the First resuming its attacks and people choosing sides.

The Buffy story was the strongest but didn’t drive my emotions anywhere. The writers almost overdosed on misdirection when Robin opened his cupboard full of knives. I for one was utterly shocked when he turned out to be a good guy. His back-story as the son of a Slayer is interesting and of course tying in Spike’s back catalogue (507) has obvious intrigue. However I don’t think a love triangle is that appealing so late in the game. And Buffy seemed somewhat foolish and certainly selfish in telling Spike that she didn’t want him to leave town. She doesn’t seem to be offering him a relationship. So she’s endangering the human race and stringing him along for what? So she can be reminded that someone loves her on a daily basis?

That just leaves the cliff hanger with the potential for Robin to turn on Spike and seek revenge for his mother’s murder. If this weren’t the final season I would think that was a great story. But there’s something about it that feels off. Again I blame the First for being so obvious with its schemes. If it fooled Robin into attacking Spike then it might seem like a cunning plan. But as a tease it feels like either Robin will jeapordise the whole world for the sake of revenge or he will swallow his pride and fight for good. Neither seems that appealing initially but I admit I’m jumping the gun slightly.

Best Moment: A lot of things have been lost since Sunnydale was blown up. The convenience of the school setting and the rhythms of the monster-of-the-week format have been distubed by the transition to adulthood. But more than anything else the friendship between Willow, Xander and Buffy has been pushed aside. Of course they’ve stayed friends. But that rhythm departed. The rhythm of them walking into school every day and talking about their lives. That rhythm grounded the show and led to some of its best dialogue. Here we got a brief glimpse of what we’ve been missing. Buffy and Willow discuss her sort-of date with Principal Wood. It could be romantic, professional or possibly an evil setup. In classic old-school Willow understatement she advises Buffy to “dress for the ambiguity.” Xander then rushes in to more bantery chat including a gag about how Buffy only dates a hundred year old men. “Yay, someone who doesn’t remember the Industrial Revolution.” It was a sad moment when Giles walked in to interrupt. I’ve missed the old rhythms. I still think they could have been maintained without keeping the show in stasis but alas, they were not.

The Bottom Line: The plots felt quite weak here giving this the sense of setup episode. The Robin Wood story is established, Andrew has made his choice and it’s time to get serious. Bring on the end.

52/100

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