beginning | blinding torment | boils | lies | making me bitter | evil compounds evil | blah blah bity blah







season seven  >  empty places


As this episode opens, everyone's getting the hell outa dodge, a la The Stand. No real explanation of what exactly is going on that's making the Sunnydale residents flee. All we've seen are the bringers attacking a few random girls at various locations around the world, and a big fight between the band and the chess club at the high school. Has the First been appearing to everyone in town as dead loved ones for fun? Have the bringers been killing the townspeople for practice? Is Caleb talking everyone to death? No one knows, because we haven't actually seen any of it. In any case, people are packing their chickens, hoping Moses comes around to part the Red Sea or something.


Buffy wanders in and out of the cars in a daze. Clem is part of the migration and yells one last hey to Buffy on his way out. Convenient that he was going by right then, yeah? He gives some lame explanation that the hellmouth is being all hellmouthy and making the demonic activity worse than normal, hence the mass migration. Would have been nice if we had seen some of what's gotten everyone in town so spooked, in place of oh, say, the 50th Buffy speech. Might have been cool and creepy to see what's finally been able to drive those hardy Sunnydale residents out of town. But no. We just get Exposition Clem. Not that I don't like Clem, because how can you not like a poker-playing, kitty-snacking, extra-skin totin' demon? But still.


And you can't swing a cat without hitting some kind of demonic activity. Not that I... swing cats. Or eat... Nope. Cutting way back. Cholesterol. Morals. I mean morals.


Anyway, Clem's leaving. He's not too confident Buffy can save the day. I think he's just bitter than she never invited him to join the rest of the free world in camping out at her house. He's been stuck in Spike's old crypt with a faulty Tivo.


Then we have a seriously dumb scene where Willow magically convinces a cop they're with Interpol so they can get some information about who knows what. Because hacking into computers was getting passé I guess. Or something. Willow asks all surprised that people are leaving and the cops are being extra violent, so we the curious viewing audience can be told that it's that damned Hellmouth! It's hellmouthy! More than ever before! It's crazy! Crazy!


The cops are all obsessed with justice, I guess to make up for all those years they blew off work and blamed everything on gangs on PCP.


And then it's off to the hospital for Xander's great new storyline. Really, Joss, when we said the show needed to feature Xander more, we thought it was implied that both of his eyes needed to be featured as well. Anyway, Buffy's all guilt-ridden, so she wants to babble about medical jargon and then take off to follow whatever hot lead Willow and Giles got from the justice-seeking cops. Willow wants to stay and play card games, because hey, someone with one eye is unlikely to see that Ace up your sleeve and Willow needs a new pair of shoes.


Anya and Andrew are back at Buffy central, explaining the situation to all the girls. You know, because they haven't had to sit through 300 speeches about it, or actually lived it themselves or anything. I mean, what, does ME seriously think that after seven years, with four episodes left, that new viewers are tuning in left and right that need to be brought up to speed? Or did Joss just want another chance to use flash cards? [No, actually it had more to do with their contractual obligation to put Emma Caulfield in the episode, and since they'd sort of forgotten about her since Selfless and weren't really sure how to write her character and putting in anything resembling development would be foolish at this moment (as it would distract from the speeches and all the Spike fun), they felt that another hilarious scene with Andrew and a large piece of paper, since it worked so well the first time, would be fun. And safe. And a perfect waster of time. Since this episode, like the last 10, is just filler. You think that's easy to do? Waste 10 episodes? Hell no, it takes time and effort to craft mindless pap like this. I really don't think we're giving ME the props they and their big pads of paper deserve. But back to the lesson. -ST]


Anya says that she found out that you can actually stake the ubervamps, even though Buffy, with all her spiffy strength wasn't able to the last time she tried. I am grateful that Kennedy acknowledges here that the potentials don't have any super-special strength, because all season they've been acting like potential slayer means all the strength of the slayer without all that pesky responsibility of giving crappy speeches and sleeping with vampires. [But even though they say it, I don't think ME believes it. Let's just take Kennedy's flipping of an ubervamp for an example-which we can't really do here, since it doesn't happen for 2 more episodes, but let's just use that anyway. That first Ubie beat the crap continuously out of the Slayer. I never once saw it open itself up to a shoulder roll. And yet, bam. Whatever. Where are we?]


Anya rambles on about other ways they can and can't be killed, and obviously this is just laying the groundwork for the big battle at the end, so we aren't all, hey why aren't they filling up supersoaker's with holy water and spraying them from safely-distanced helicopters, but again, it would be nice if in a TV show that features moving pictures, as well as words, we were able to be shown something rather than told it. [Sorry guys, you're going to have forgive SP, she's being silly again.]


Rona points out that she's read the scripts, and Caleb is now the big bad, since Joss needed a character for Nathan Fillion to play, so she's really no longer scared of the ubervamps who were the big build up to evil most of the season. Caleb's the new black, yo.


Kennedy sneaks off to hit on Faith, because she's realized she has as much chemistry with Willow as with a bag of ice, and well, it would be seriously difficult for anyone not to have chemistry with Faith so she figures what the hell. [Amanda then joins the fun, because hey-threesome with Faith versus listening to Anya ramble on about her and Xander and sex? Threesome's going to win every time. Sadly, since we have a 19 year old lesbian, a 16 year old doof and an ex-con who's had enough of chicks for the rest of her lifetime, all we get is some blathering and some "clever" Hogwarts jokes. Oh, and Kennedy? Die.]


Yeah, whenever she starts talkin' 'bout gettin' all sweaty with Xander like that, I just remind her I had him first. Shuts her right the hell up. Might work less well for you guys.


Buffy comes home with stuff Willow and Giles got from "the police database". Again, all that magic for stuff out of a database? Willow could hack that in her sleep. Sigh.


Everyone's all despondent and distraught and Buffy's being all perky cheerleader. Too bad Dawn shredded her outfit. She figures they can search the database for possible past Caleb incidents, because surely Caleb didn't just now "get into the game". It's not like Joss had a mushroom-induced hallucination or anything and made him up at the very last minute. And again, and I realize I'm obsessing here, but wouldn't an online database that Willow plugged in to with her handy laptop be easier to search than lots and lots of paper? Moving on…


Buffy feels all guilty hanging out with the potentials too, so she wanders off to her old office at the school. Although she got fired last episode, so you wouldn't think she'd still have stuff laying around. And amazing how we went from last week, school full of activity, to this week, school closed. There is just not even an attempt to make things seem logical anymore. [But life isn't logical, SP! It's noooooooooot! I so see where ME's been going all year! Life isn't logical and it's fully of tacky clothes and crazy southern preachers whose mothers were whores and/or didn't love them and it doesn't have continuity and there are annoying spoiled rich brats out there who will try to seduce your friends by pretending they're interesting and sometimes entire towns just leave. They just do.]


Of course, Caleb shows up to taunt her. Not kill her or anything, because that would be too easy. He's just going to mock her for a while. What.ever.


[But no! It's okay! He's supposed to just toy with her! Because, you know, it's not time yet. It's just not. See, it just wasn't ti-fuck it. How many fucking times have we heard this excuse? And I'm not just blaming ME, because this hackneyed plot device has been used on many, many shows, but if you can't come up with one convincing reason why your villain cannot kill your hero (and for the record, "it's not time" does not. Fucking. Count. Neither does "It's not part of the plan.") then don't have the villain cross the heroes path. It's that fucking simple. If you must have them cross paths, have your hero find their own way out. See previous note about it being that fucking simple. Batting someone around the room and babbling about how it's not time is poor storytelling, and you all should be very, very ashamed.


Sorry. I'm bitter.]


While Andrew gives a commercial for hot pockets [hey, props to ME for working that product placement in much more subtly than Alias. Of course, now that I've said that, let's just watch Buffy beat the first evil by running him down in her Ford Focus.], Dawn gets all researchy and decides that she knows where they can find more information on Caleb. Giles sends Spike and Andrew off to investigate. Possibly it's a ploy so the rest of them can eat any other frozen packaged food product he's written his name on.


See, it's not the Hot Pocket itself that matters, even though it had the new-and-improved thicker tomato sauce, it's just the fundamental lack of respect.


Faith decides to get everyone's mind off the coming big time deaths and takes them all to party at the Bronze. Which unlike the school, all the businesses in town, and all the neighborhoods, is not only open, but doing hopping business. I guess everyone who didn't flee town decided what the hell. May as well party.


The cops decide to show up too, since they're looking for justice and all. And so now we get the big payoff for why we had that long and boring scene about Willow convincing the police she was British. To tell us how vengeance-y the cops are. To explain why they'd be all hot to beat up Faith.




And somehow they manage to beat her up. You know, Faith. The vampire slayer. The don't-have-any-extra strenth potentials show up and kick some ass. As in, they hold their own against the cops as well as, and perhaps better than, Faith. So much for continuity even in a single episode.


Buffy limps back from being knocked unconscious by Caleb and finds Giles in the house alone. She finds that he sent Spike and Andrew off hopefully to their deaths on a mission and that everyone else is out partying. Because what else are you going to do when you've lost all hope and are about to die.


Buffy shows up just as the "beat the hell out of the cops" party wraps up. She notes that there was drinking. (And strong language, adult content…) And these are mere children! Children! So much younger than she was when she started fighting vamp-Oh wait. [But she had super strength! And a destiny! And a chip on her shoulder! The chips on these childrens' shoulders aren't near big enough for this kind of wreckless behavior!]


Anyway, Faith responds to Buffy's bitching about Faith being the bad seed and corrupting young girls that are about to die anyway by asking Buffy what she was thinking bringing children to get all killed and their eyes poked out by Caleb, and Buffy, having no answer for that, decides to go for the punching response.


Meanwhile, Spike and Andrew ride off into the sunset, discussing onion blossom recipes. Back at the ranch, Faith and Wood meet up for the first time, and think of this as foreplay, because you're not going to get much more before the actual event in the next episode. [But it's kind of sweet foreplay. Wood thinks Faith's worried about Buffy, Faith thinks Wood has a suicide wish and this is all very necessary because it tells us, the audience, that Faith is worried about Buffy-something us non-casual viewers of the show would have never guessed. Rather than forcing us to riddle it out when Faith didn't attack Buffy and leave her bleeding in a ditch after Buffy punched her ME went for the subtle, spelling it out approach. Very nice.]


Spike and Andrew get to the mission (after bonding on Spike's bike over blooming onions! Don't forget the blooming onions!) and get all attacked by a monk. A monk with a Caleb tattoo on his neck. [A monk with a Caleb tattoo on his neck and no good reason for existing. Except to annoy us. And point out some stupid stones that have "it is for her" or something like that carved on them to Spike and Andrew. And to say that it made Caleb really, really mad.]


It's an onion, yet it's a flower. I don't understand how such a thing is possible.


Xander comes home from the hospital to a big welcome home party, which of course, Buffy promptly ends with more news from the war front. Remember how at the end of season five, she told Giles about how being the slayer made her hard and unable to love and all and he told her no way? Well, looks like she was right. She figures by not caring about anyone, she won't feel so guilty about getting their eyes poked out.


So anyway, her big plan is to bring everyone back to the vineyard. The exact same plan that got them killed and eyeless last week. No modifications or upgrades to said plan. Just the same one exactly, other than the girls who got killed last time won't be there. And Xander will be there with one fewer eye.


Everybody basically tells her to fuck off and she tells them that it's not a democracy. It's her way or the highway. They tell her to hit the highway. Anya mentions that Buffy thinks she's better than everyone else (which is exactly what she told Holden! Oh Holden. How we miss you so), but really, she's just luckier than everyone. Sacred birthright, superhero strength and all. [Which doesn't necessarily = lucky in my book, unless I'm in the midst of an apocolypse. So, sure, I guess she's lucky. In a very odd, extremely dysfunctional way.] Everyone nominates Faith as leader, because she lets them drink beer and beat up cops. Dawn kisses Buffy and tells her to get the hell out of the house. It's all very touching.


Buffy staggers out into the street, so the episode ends kind of like it began only now the streets are empty and litter-filled. Sort of like the day after the Thanksgiving parade only without the parade part. Or the gravy and stuffing. [Or us caring.] Hmmm... now I'm hungry.




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