Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 7, Episode 7

Conversations with Dead People (12 Nov. 2002)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Fantasy
8.9
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 1,065 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 2 critic

Buffy has a conversation with a vampire who once went to Sunnydale High, and learns something interesting about Spike. Joyce materialises to Dawn in the living room. The ghost of Cassie ... See full summary »

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Cast

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Xander Harris (credit only)
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Anya (credit only)
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Storyline

Buffy has a conversation with a vampire who once went to Sunnydale High, and learns something interesting about Spike. Joyce materialises to Dawn in the living room. The ghost of Cassie brings a message to Willow from beyond the grave. Meanwhile, Andrew and Jonathan have returned to Sunnydale on a mission to save the town Written by spyk_

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Action | Drama | Fantasy

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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12 November 2002 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the DVD commentary, a scene was intended for Kali Rocha to return as Halfrek to haunt Anya. This scene was never made as Kali Rocha was busy with her acting on stage in New York. See more »

Goofs

After Dawn pulls the plug on the television set she holds it up in front of her chest, but in the reverse angle she is holding the plug down by her hip. See more »

Quotes

Buffy: You son of a bitch.
Webs: What?
Buffy: I think I'm gonna kill you just a little bit more than usual.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For the second time in the series the episode title appears on screen at the opening. The date and time which follows corresponds with the date and time the episode originally aired. See more »

Connections

References Hellraiser (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
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User Reviews

 
The Last of the Greats
6 July 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

The notion of User Comments for individual episodes of television series' seems at the outset an elaborate and nerdily elitist exercise. Of all the T.V. shows that I love, I'm pretty convinced "Buffy" is the only one this function of IMDb is really useful for. Insofar as you have to already be an avid follower of the show to appreciate them, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did harbor some of the most amazing and unforgettable singular works of serial narrative ever put on the small screen. It had, in my opinion, more truly great episodes than any other television series of its time (with the possible exception of "The X Files"). "Conversations With Dead People" was the last of them.

The episode is perhaps the most strongly themed of the entire show - while the motifs of loneliness and disconnection had been prominent in the series since the beginning of its sixth season, "Conversations With Dead People" is the only single episode to really commit itself thoroughly to these ideas and their bearings on 'our beloved characters'. From structure and form (five separate stories involving five separate people who never intersect or move from their isolated settings) to the focus of the dialog and nature of the narrative events, the episode concerns itself *only* with the very secret, deep and personal feelings of each of the characters, and the varying degrees of lonely pain that they experience. It's quite a daring and firm shift from action to meditation, and although Dawn's story involving a poltergeist preventing her from communicating with her dead mother has multitudes of violence, loud noises and explosions, the emotional need driving her character through the mess speaks for itself.

These defining, formal peculiarities aside, "Conversations With Dead People" also makes my top ten on account of two quite astounding performances: Alyson Hannigan as series regular Willow turns out one of her most amazing crying sequences, as she mourns openly to a ghost medium about the sudden death of her lover from the previous season. Deemed by fellow Buffy actor Tom Lenk as "one of the best criers in the biz", Hannigan makes good on that quote in this episode, creating some of the most real and heart wrenching emotion seen on commercial T.V.

More surprising though, is the thoroughly compelling performance of one-time guest Johnathon Woodward, as Buffy's undead, Freudian confidante and old, unremembered high school companion. Woodward went on to have cameo spots in each of Joss Whedon's television ventures, but he works enough magic here for all three: his comic balancing act between deep, three-dimensional character and mere physical opponent for Buffy's obligatory fights works splendidly with its own good-humoured ridicule.

Moreover, his remarkable psychoanalytical insights into Buffy, while making no sense by the principles of Vampirism that have been established in the show (Woodward's vampire seems, like James Marsters' Spike, to be some kind of miraculous deviation from the Vampiric model that classically has no human emotion), are dead on and as poignant as any comments made by any character in the history of the series. His compassionate yet matter-of-fact summation of her problem stands as one of my favourite lines of the show: "It all comes down to you feeling alone. But Buffy, everybody feels alone... Everybody *is*. Until they die." His and Buffy's incredibly short-lived relationship establishes such a strong bond so succinctly that for the first time, there actually is pathos in a no-name vampire's death. It's an inarguably bizarre usage of the standard Buffy-kills-a-newborn-demon-in-a-graveyard shtick, but also an incredibly successful one.

Although very clearly *meant* to be a different and radical take on the "Buffy" episode formula, "Conversations With Dead People" benefits beautifully from its very late status in the series by existing against all the expectations built before it. While there had been episodes earlier on in the show that had stood as pretty universally innovative television (that is, unusual for TV) this final-season oddball was able, due to the strength of the series' innovation up until that point, to get by on simply being unusual *for a Buffy episode*. It is perhaps more thematically impenetrable than most, but for the fans in the know, it's a goldmine.


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