Synopsis: Faith takes charge and orders the Potentials to kidnap a Bringer. Buffy breaks into a man’s house to take a knap. Spike finds her and assures her that she is amazing. The Bringer reveals that he has been helping to build an arsenal. Faith leads some Potentials there only to find a bomb. Meanwhile Buffy dodges Caleb and discovers an axe under the vineyard.
The Good: I found myself thoroughly in Spike’s corner when he yelled at the Scoobies for abandoning Buffy. And then I found myself viewing Spike as a surrogate for the writers and to a lesser extent the audience as he told Buffy how wonderful she was. As I’ve said many times on first watch I was more skeptical of the Buffy character. I rolled my eyes at the obvious cheese this scene was. But on Rewatch the true hero in Buffy has won me over. So although Spike’s speech still felt gooey, it now felt like what should be said. We all know that Buffy is “The One.” Time and again through selfless heroism she has saved the world and made herself miserable. Tired and abandoned by her friends she needed someone to comfort her and remind her of her worth. Who better than the bitter foe who she converted into her champion?
In terms of the plot it also confirmed that her instinct about the vineyard was correct. I was pleased that this time (as opposed to her rematch with the Turok Han, (611) she returned there with a plan even if it was to just keep running away.
The Bad: It kind of amused me that Faith ended up telling everyone that she was in charge and they needed to shut up. I bet they were thrilled that they kicked out Buffy in that moment. As noted last week it seems bizarre that the Scoobies would allow Faith sole command given their past experience and greater knowledge of apocalypses.
I did not laugh at Dawn being annoyed at hearing there was a translation of a Turkish text. There’s just no way she should have been able to read a word of it in the first place.
The Unknown: The final night of intimacy was ok. I still feel like these characters have been hanging around the house too much for those moments to have much impact. But I did like Willow’s concerns about losing control of her magic. I hope that is building up to something in the final battle. Thank goodness cocksure Kennedy is around to ground her. Her confidence is in no way arrogant or annoying.
Faith being rattled by the Mayor was of a piece with the other interventions by the First. It was briefly entertaining but then overwhelmed by the fact that the absence of any consequence to the conversation. Does the First really think that pushing Faith to doubt her self worth or her leadership skills will tip the balance of the apocalypse? It didn’t seem like it would have affected her decision to lead the Potentials to the arsenal. Speaking of which I don’t know what to make of that cliff hanger. If Faith and the girls are dead then it’s a huge moment. It would massively weaken the side of good and raise the stakes significantly. But TV bombs rarely blow people into pieces. It’s difficult to judge the episode given that uncertainty.
Part of the problem with that story was my reaction to the Bringer talking about the arsenal. As soon as he revealed that I thought “why would he reveal that information?” I put it down to lazy writing but clearly it was a plot by the First. But if I thought that was obvious then surely Giles or Willow or someone should have questioned it.
The axe needs a fantastic backstory to not feel like a giant deus ex machina. Can Spike really smell Buffy out like that? Shouldn’t he have been more helpful in tracking people down over the years?
Best Moment: Spike’s speech unless Faith is dead and the First just did something really clever.
The Bottom Line: As expected last episode was essentially Buffy’s Garden of Gethsemene. It was her final reflection on her own worth before the final showdown. The question is now how many will be standing by her when the time comes.