This is such a satisfying episode, not only because in my opinion it reinforces how important Spike is to the show, but coming back to it years after I finished the series it’s also nice to see how everyone has developed.
Since this is a lone episode lost amidst a sea of unrecapped seasons, I’d just like to share a few interesting character moments that happened to grab my attention. If the only characters mentioned are some of my favorites… Well. I never claimed I was impartial.
I’m not sure they were even aware they were doing it, but Willow resorting to magic when things get just a bit harder than she would have liked them, sets up her character development very impressively. The urge to fix things in the easiest possible way without much thought as to why things sometimes ought to be left alone is a relatable struggle. Though I don’t remember agreeing to the drugs/magic heavy-handed allegory it ended up becoming.
Speaking of things I don’t really agree with, the following relates to the awful, no good, terrible thing Spike does at the end of season 6. While I don’t like that sexual abuse was added to the narrative without ever really being addressed, I don’t think it came out of nowhere. Spike has little respect for boundaries and we can see how readily he chooses to make Drusilla his, through magical chains of lust and/or love. The only reason he reconsiders, is that after a few murders he’s ready to take matters into his own hands. Through torture. Which does not a healthy relationship make. (So just another day for Spike and Drusilla let’s be honest).
The opening scene where everyone is discussing their grades could have been a throwaway if not for two very important points.
The moment it becomes clear how well Buffy did in her exams, Cordelia tells her she can finally get out of Sunnydale. Though initially perceived as catty, Cordelia’s comment is a projection of her own hopes for the future. She wants to get out of Sunnydale and I don’t think anyone can blame her. And she manages to do that. Sure, it’s not on her own terms and it was difficult, but she found her place in the world and people to share it with. And then character development was flushed down the toilet because Joss Whedon can’t creatively write his way around a pregnancy. Not that I’m bitter.
I definitely am.
Meanwhile, Buffy doesn’t know what she’s going to do with her good marks because she didn’t think she would be alive long enough to make that decision. We’re talking about a young girl that carries the weight and responsibility of the world on her shoulders and knows that it will eventually kill her. Because that’s what happens to slayers. They struggle and bleed and end up dying alone. Except Buffy ended up changing all of that.
My brilliant hero.
And last, but not least: my image recap on imgur.
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