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6 reviews in total 
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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
"Let yourself live, already. Stop with the bloody hero trip for a second. We'd all be the better for it.", 25 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the past few episodes, my hatred for dawn has been developing nicely. Up until the middle of Season 6 I have a surprisingly high tolerance for her, but as soon as Buffy takes up that dead-end job and all her little sis can do is bitch and moan about how she's never there for her, I lost all patience for the little brat. And now in this episode poor Buffy is losing her mind, but dawn decides to make everything about her, AGAIN, by storming off when she realises she doesn't exist in Buffy's 'ideal' reality. Err, excuse me but how is institutionalisation Buffy's preferred reality? Yes, there is an amount of escapism in it because in that reality she'd have her parents to take care of her, dawn wouldn't exist and neither would the vampires, therefore all her responsibilities would be lifted. However she would also be a crazy person! The fact is that this isn't about dawn, but of course the little princess tries to make it seem that way. I swear, if she storms out of a room one more time I might lose it. She's fifteen years old! Buffy was fighting her first vampires at that age, but dawn can't even cope with getting herself to school on time! Then she decides she's going to run off to her friend's house because Buffy 'doesn't want her around anyway.' It's not like she's been really seriously ill or anything and could use your support right now, dawn. No, just be your usual selfish self, no big deal.

Phew, I feel a bit better now. As you can see, the less dawn in an episode, the better I feel these days.

As for the actual plot of the episode, it's an interesting, if albeit flawed one. I like being able to question a character's perception of their reality, but the holes in this story are just too much to ignore. For one thing, the premise that she has already been in an institution is far too contrived. How are we supposed to buy that when it hasn't been mentioned, by ANYONE, in six years? I know you could argue that the Trio, who are behind the attack in the Sunnydale reality, were created by Buffy to blame for her moments of lucidity in the asylum reality, but I'm just not buying it. The episode tries hard and is certainly unnerving: i.e Spike telling Buffy to stop with the 'bloody hero trip' can certainly be interpreted as her brain telling her to stop with the Slayer fantasy and return to the 'real' world, if Spike really is just a figment of her own mind. SMG's acting is also pretty good here. Convinced that she has to kill her friends to escape her fantasy, Buffy ties them up in the basement and leaves them to face the demon that attacked her and caused her hallucinations. Luckily Tara comes to the rescue and Buffy chooses Sunnydale over the institution.

I really can't decide where I stand on which reality is real, but then maybe that's the point - maybe it doesn't matter. Both are real for Buffy when she's in them, but the fact that she chooses her life in Sunnydale makes me think that she is ultimately choosing her Slayer lifestyle, despite its many draw-backs. However the last scene really sticks with you - Buffy's parents being told that she has returned to her catatonic state, and that they'd lost her again. I know it's thrown in there to keep us questioning, but that's exactly what it did to me. I'm not saying it all checks out, continuity wise, but the episode alone does a good job of making us question what is real and unreal, and how much it even matters.

Other stuff going on in the episode: Spike issues Buffy an ultimatum - either she tells her friends about them, or he will. Spike is also giving Xander a hard time for leaving Anya at the altar, and I'm completely in agreement! Xander's been such a coward lately, I'm having trouble sympathising with him at all. He hasn't even seen Anya yet since the day and already he's being defensive, refusing to own up to what he's done. Plus he's back to being vile to Spike for no reason at all, and that really grates on me. Spike might not be perfect, but he doesn't deserve the treatment he gets. Oh, and Willow sees Tara with another girl and fears she is moving on.

My favourite part of the episode? Probably Buffy hitting Xander in the face with a frying pan. I can't stand that guy at the moment! A close second would of course be Buffy putting tape over dawn's mouth. Thank the lord, sweet silence from her screechy little voice.

I'm sorry, this was more angry than I intended...but at least I feel better!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"It's not what you think it is! It's sage!" "That IS what I think it is.", 24 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As far as character development for Willow and Buffy goes, this is an episode you couldn't miss. Both women are struggling with deep, dark issues within themselves. Willow's addiction to magic is out of control, and Buffy's lust for Spike and the fiery violence that comes with him are filling her with self-loathing. We get to see some great exchanges between the two best friends here, which is something I've sorely missed in previous episodes. It seems pretty clear that Willow and Buffy's friendship still hasn't recovered since the resurrection, but at least it proves that they can and will still be there for each other regardless.

One of the things that really sticks out for me in this episode is dawn's comment right before she and Willow leave to go to see a movie. "I'll leave a note for Buffy on the fridge. It's always the first place she goes after patrolling. She's such a pig after she kills things."

This little line, inconsequential as it may seem, always makes me smile because it reminds me of Faith - the slayer who was always "hungry and horny" after a good slaying. When Faith first told Buffy this, Buffy acted disgusted at the idea, claiming she sometimes craves a low fat yoghurt, but now in Season 6 we see how much she now has in common with her former ally-then-enemy. Not only does she apparently 'pig' out after slaying, but she is now craving other things too as this episode so wonderfully demonstrates, and I just like the parallel it makes. Faith, the dark, troubled slayer was notorious in her using of men, and Buffy seems to be going the same way with Spike.

After all, you certainly feel for Spike in this episode. The poor vampire's devotion to Buffy is pretty damn clear by now, and yet she continues to treat him like crap! Picking him up and then putting him down when it suits her, to make herself feel better. I mean, we know Buffy's going through some stuff these days, but her behaviour towards Spike is pretty inexcusable. In fact, the morning after their night of passion is kind of hard to watch. I do really love Spike and Buffy together though, whether they're enemies, lovers or in that wonderful state of ambiguity, so I have to remind myself that Buffy's bitchiness towards Spike won't last forever...she's definitely a difficult character to empathise with at the moment, though, and ultimately it's Spike who we feel sorry for.

Meanwhile, as Buffy and Spike's relationship spirals out of control, so does Willow's life. After returning Amy to her human form, the witchy pair are soon out of their magical depth, and Will's addiction to sorcery takes a dangerous turn when dawn is put at risk. It's so hard to watch Willow's fall from grace here, but it's been set up so well as we've watched episode after episode of Willow growing more and more dependant on magic for everyday things, this was really inevitable. Tara leaving finally pushes Will over the edge, with a little help from creepy-as-hell Rack and irresponsible Amy (although I guess if I'd been a rat for two/three years I'd probably want to see some of the world too.)

The final scenes are particularly harrowing, with Willow writhing in bed, already suffering terrible withdrawal symptoms, and then Buffy sat on her bed, surrounded by strings of garlic and clutching a cross to her chest. Both characters are clearly terrified of what they are becoming, and so are desperately attempting to regain control of the situation. But it also seems clear that going cold turkey is not going to end well for Buffy or Willow...

Oh yeah, and the evil trio are doing something in a museum and there's a demon and Anya and Xander are clashing over wedding stuff again yaddah yaddah yaddah.

So overall, a thought-provoking episode about the dangers of addiction and indulgence. It's also interesting to consider the disastrous turns Willow and Buffy have taken since Giles and Tara's departures from their lives. Both characters felt they were acting on behalf of their loved ones' best interests, but it seems that without their guidance and support Buffy and Willow really are falling apart. However, it's true what they say - once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up...right?

Well you know what they say; you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family..., 21 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So we're 6 episodes in and already I'm reminded why I love Season 5 so much after the disappointment that was Season 4 for me. 'Family' is admittedly a little bit shmaltzy at times, but that's because it acts as a reaffirmation of the close bonds the Scoobies were missing throughout Season 4. They're back to being a family again, and I couldn't be happier! With Giles' new shop as the clubhouse, the Scoobies are closer than ever, and even dawn's presence in the scene towards the end felt right. To see her standing side by side with Buffy, both sisters strong and was a pretty moving moment! Xander and Anya are absolutely adorable, and Anya working for Giles is a lovely addition to her storyline, giving her character a little more grounding whilst also allowing for some great comedic moments as she learns how to interact with customers, without scaring them away.

The main story of this episode revolves around Tara, though, and the arrival of her slightly unnerving family just in time for her 20th birthday. They intend to whisk her away before she turns 20 because she will allegedly turn into a demon. This of course turns out to be completely bogus, and at the end of the episode Spike helpfully reveals Tara for the misogynist he really is by hitting Tara, then leaping back in pain and proving that Tara is, in fact, demon-free.

The episode definitely develops Tara's character, and I personally find her much more likable thanks to this episode. Before we're inclined to distance ourselves from her because she hasn't been accepted into the Scoobie fold entirely - although at the beginning there's a scene where Tara makes a joke to the group and it's far from well-received, and, let's face it, we've all been that person before so it's not hard to empathise! - but by the end she is well and truly initiated into the group. Plus Tara and Willow's relationship is definitely moving beyond the 'aww, they're cute' to 'wow, they're really good for each other' stage. 'Family' also helps to explain Tara's confidence issues - with a family like that who could blame the poor girl! But she finally stands up to them, and shows just how much she's grown as a character over the previous Season. So overall, there might not be too much action in this episode but there's certainly a hell of an emotional punch!

We also get to see more of poor Spike nurturing his oh-so-painful love for Buffy, culminating in him coming to her rescue after intending to go and watch her get killed! Poor guy. He's also imagining Buffy whilst sleeping with Harmony, which I don't think Harm would be too thrilled about, being Buffy's "arch-nemesis" and all...

Speaking of arch-nemeses, we get a brief interaction with Glory again in this episode, sending some ugly demons Buffy's way, but really it's just setting us up for future episodes and said demons are fairly easily defeated once they're visible again, so there's not much to talk about there. She's definitely the perfect Big Bad though that the series needed, after the anti-climax of Adam.

The only other thing of note from this episode is obviously Riley. He isn't in this one much, aside from a brief scene in a demon-crowded bar, and a rather unflinching conversation with a female vampire that really puts the audience on edge, and makes the poor guy's impending descent pretty damn clear.

I have to admit, through Season 4 I could not stand Riley. He was so painfully perfect and yet so sinfully dull that I couldn't invest in his relationship with Buffy at all, let alone buy that he was some super government weapon. But in Season 5 I think the writers finally start giving Riley some thought. He gets funny lines, he interacts with the other characters and, most importantly, we are actually able to empathise with him. As he loses his strength he feels he is also losing Buffy, and with her pushing him further and further out of the picture (note his conspicuous absence in the last 'family' scene) it's not hard to understand why he feels this way. Through the beginning of Season 5 I've actually been able to feel bad for the guy - hell, when he nearly died in the previous episode I was actually mildly concerned! A part of me, however, thinks that I only like Season 5 Riley because I'm finally ready to accept that Buffy's moved on from Angel. (Yes, Bangel forever and all that) Unfortunately Captain Cardboard is very much the transitional man, and it seems even Buffy feels he's outstayed his welcome on some level.

Overall, a pretty heartwarming episode, (I won't lie, I'm a sucker for any moment of Scoobie family bonding) and it nicely sets up the bigger issues to come.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
If your friend develops the ability to read minds, just remember your times tables..., 17 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although 'Earshot' doesn't advance any of the wider arcs of the Season, it's still a very entertaining and thought-provoking episode.

The crux of the matter is that, after getting infected by a demon she slayed, Buffy can now read minds. At first this is really cool to Buffy, as you can imagine, and she certainly makes the most out of being able to hear her teachers' and friends' thoughts...the scene in the library is particularly hilarious, with Xander trying desperately not to think about sex, Wesley trying desperately not to think about how good Cordelia's looking, and Cordelia...well, Cordelia thinking exactly what she says. Shocking! The power also reveals an awkward secret or two later in the episode, with Buffy discovering that her mum had sex with Giles...TWICE! Cringe.

However the power comes with some pretty serious consequences too. Buffy hears someone thinking about killing the students whilst in the cafeteria, and eventually her poor mind begins to unravel as she is bombarded with the thoughts of all of Sunnydale! As Giles, Angel and Wes search for a cure for Buffy, the rest of the Scoobies hunt down the would-be killer, with limited success.

Considering this episode is effectively a stand-alone, with little to no reference to the bigger picture besides the odd mention of Faith, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. The interactions between Buffy and her friends and family are hilarious as they all try to evade her ability, whilst Angel saving the day and winning back Buffy's trust was a nice element too. 'Earshot' has an effective balance between humour and drama , and I think that is what makes it a success. Buffy's new power is a heavy burden to bear, but it does give her an insight into the minds of those around her, and helps her to understand that these people are all carrying burdens too.

Thankfully Buffy is cured in time to save the day, and the student with the gun turns out to be a red herring - the real would-be killer is in fact the lunch lady with the rat poison in the cafeteria kitchen! (It's not quite Clue, but it'll do)

So all-in-all, not much progresses in 'Earshot' but with the themes it addresses that's perfectly acceptable.

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
'Love isn't brains, children. It's blood.' Spike's back, kids!, 16 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favourite episodes of Buffy, and there are so many reasons why:

First and foremost, of course, is the fact that Spike is BACK! And he's...well, he's drunk, lonely and adorable as ever. He's returned to Sunnydale because Drusilla has left him, and he seeks Willow's less- than-voluntary help in winning her back, via a love spell. After kidnapping Willow and Xander, Spike pops over to the Summers' household to cry on Joyce's shoulder, with hilarious consequences. Eventually Spike forces Angel and Buffy to team up with him in order to get the things he needs for his spell, and in doing so get their friends back, but after fighting other vampires Spike realises that he doesn't need the spell at all: he'll instead win Dru back with sheer violence, force and determination.

This whole episode really highlights how different Spike is from all the other vampires - he's a lover and a fighter, but he'll happily switch teams when it suits him as evidenced by the epic fight scene with Buffy and Angel! This scene is definitely my favourite in the episode because it's just such a momentous thing - sure, Spike's sort of blackmailing them but you can tell, deep down, that both Angel and Buffy don't hate the guy as much as they claim. Hell, they all seem to have had fun fighting alongside each other, rather than amongst themselves for once.

Whilst that scene alone puts this episode up there as one of the best, the rest of the episode doesn't disappoint either. Giles is sadly absent for most of it, and Faith doesn't make an appearance once, but I think this is partly because Spike is such a larger-than-life character that he overshadows everyone else, and filling the screen with all the cast would only detract from him. So their absences aren't really felt at all! There are also lots of fun little interactions we don't see much of in other episodes - for example Spike and Joyce's conversation is absolute gold, whilst Cordelia and Oz also share a line or two for once.

The subplot - though calling it that may belittle the importance of it all - of the episode is however unfortunately the reveal of Willow and Xander's affair, as Cordi and Oz catch them making out in Spike's basement. Cordi then gets rather seriously injured, but is thankfully okay - however she wants Xander as far away from her as possible. Buffy and Angel then meet, and Buffy tells him that they can no longer be friends, because they never were friends. It seems that Spike's comments about their relationship really hit home, and Angel is left a broken man.

So as you can see, there's A LOT going on in this episode. Spike is pure brilliance, as always, dropping little pearls of wisdom about love whilst simultaneously bashing in the heads of any vampire who challenges him. But while Spike leaves the episode determined to win Dru back, all the other relationships of Sunnydale have taken serious blows. So if you're a fan of Angel/Buffy, Xander/Cordelia and Willow/Oz, this episode packs a punch alright! But beyond that it's impressive to see how well all their stories tie together, with Spike neatly summing up that 'love isn't brains' children. It's blood.'

I can't even think of anything to criticise about this episode...I suppose the only issue I do have with it is that Buffy and Angel didn't really need to work with Spike. They could quite easily have blown him off and found Willow and Xander themselves. They even knew where they were! It's not like there was any threat to them, Spike wasn't having them guarded and he was outnumbered by Buffy and Angel. We know they could have easily overpowered him. BUT I'm going to chalk all that up to them both having a soft spot for him somewhere. Why else would Buffy let him walk free?

Or the tl;dr version: 'Lover's Walk' is one of my favourite episodes of Buffy. Lots of wonderful Spike, and developments in relationships that aren't to be missed. Watch it already!

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Where 'Band Candy' suffers from predictability, it more than recovers with humour., 16 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sunnydale is in chaos thanks to cursed chocolate that makes the adults behave like reckless, irresponsible 16 year olds. This is a very funny episode of Buffy, and that's largely thanks to Giles and Joyce! Honestly, they should act like sixteen year olds more often...from running around town causing havoc to lying around smoking, listening to records, the pair hit it off like crazy and are really the driving force of the episode. Of course, the implication that they slept together is as cringey for the audience as it is for Buffy, but that just makes it even funnier! It's nice that Joyce gets a piece of the action again, too (in more ways than one ;) )

Principal Snyder is also very funny, tagging along with the Scoobies in an effort to feel included - it's great to see a side of him that doesn't make me want to punch him in the face, even if he is a little on the annoying side.

Giles' old "pal" Ethan returns, which is always a good thing in my book, and my favourite part of the episode is probably when Giles is telling Buffy to punch his former friend, and then jumping up shouting "yes!" when Buffy socks Ethan in the jaw. Mr Trick is also blossoming into a fantastic villain, with the Mayor proving to be a totally different but equally exciting power at work.

Angel's appearance is brief (too brief for my liking ) but what he does say sure packs an emotional impact for poor Buffy...but is he just trying to keep her at a safe distance?

Meanwhile the Oz-Willow-Xander-Cordelia problem is developing slowly but surely, with some wonderfully timed awkwardness...what ARE we going to do with them?!

My only criticism of the episode would be the reveal of the big villainous creature...without giving too much away about it all, let's just say that the CGI isn't up to scratch at all, even in comparison to previous episodes. It could be that it's not aged very well, but regardless the creature feels a bit tacked-on, and not like much of a real threat. The episode also suffers a little because Faith isn't in it, but then I suppose there's only so much they can fit into forty minutes!

Over all this is a good episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - not a colossal game-changer but it certainly does well to set up exactly what Mr Trick and the Mayor may have planned for Buffy and Sunnydale in the not-too-distant-future...