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season seven  >   help


On this very special episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy and the gang learn that sometimes you just can’t help. Please ignore the fact that we already learned this lesson in The Body and, to a lesser extent, Lie To Me. Every other issue of the week was taken.

I am actually going to recap the teaser this time around, because it completely flummoxes me. Xander, Buffy and Dawn stake out a mortuary by hiding in coffins. Let’s ignore the question of how they got in there and how they were not found, but let’s just focus on Buffy’s depressing “Vampire by vampire. It’s the only way I know how.” Since when has Buffy been this gung ho over one vampire? Especially one new vampire? I mean, we’ve seen her let established vampires run away unharmed (Lyle Gorch, Angelus, Drusilla, Spike…) What, now, is different? And don’t tell me she’s learned from the error of her ways. Are we supposed to believe she’s doing this in a desperate attempt to reclaim what she was before she died? In some ways, she seems like she’s steering less towards returning to Slayerhood. Sure, she kills the odd demon, she looks out for the big bad, but she doesn’t stay out patrolling all night. I’m not saying a Slayer doesn’t deserve a good night’s sleep, I’m just saying that our slayer seems to be in bed an awful lot. You’d think a slayer would work the graveyard shift (oh, come on, you know you want to laugh.) and sleep during the day. Some of the rest of us did it, and went to school. Sure, we didn’t have ex-glowing balls of green energy and cranky demons to deal with, but we did have TAs with incomprehensible accents, so it works out to be about the same.


So Buffy says she should be in bed curled up with her insomnia worrying about her first day of counseling rather than hanging out waiting for one maybe vampire, but shouldn’t she really be out hunting the free-ranging vampires? Just a thought. Dawn makes some quip about the old lady, who I don’t really see being all that threatening as a vamp (and on a sidenote, aren’t vamps supposed to be picky about who they turn? Spike was. But he was special.), looking peaceful, which is the old lady’s turn to snark that she isn’t peaceful and then Buffy stakes her. So unless there are deeper things here that I missed, a complete waste of a teaser. Where are my running girls, huh? Bitches.











Buffy starts her first day talking to the kids. On a slight tangent, Buffy’s in an open cube. A teenager is never going to open up to her in that necklace, for one, but they’re seriously not going to talk to her where everyone in the office can hear. But I digress. She talks to them. They’ve got issues. Various ones. [A guy tells Buffy he might be gay, and would Buffy go out with him so he could find out for sure? Dawn is tired of her sister borrowing her clothes without asking! -SP] None we care about.


Oh, one we’re supposed to care about. Cassie Newton [aka Kate Hudson. No seriously. Dead ringer ]. She’s stopped doing her homework and stuff because she’s going to die next Friday. I would totally stop doing my homework too. Buffy marches into the probably evil Principal’s office and goes on and on and on and on and on about needing to do something and fix Cassie. She can’t though. She doesn’t know it yet, but she can’t. She just can’t. She spills coffee on herself, realizes Cassie predicted it even though I didn’t mention it because, well. I’m just assuming you watched it, okay?

Buffy realizes she may be psychic and sics Dawn on her. Dawn, by the way, is the worst reconnaissance spy on TV since Sydney Bristow. Not only is she not sneaky, she’s rude. She totally interrupted Cassie’s boy toy. He was desperately pleading for Cassie to go to some winter dance with him, and she kept turning him down cold. Something about being dead then. And Dawn rudely interrupts this moment by asking Cassie if she missed an assignment in pottery? I don’t know about ya’ll, but we never actually had an assignment we could do outside of class in Pottery. And for it to be on glazes? What, the history? Is their teacher on crack? Too much time sniffing the ole art supply closet? Dawn then segues into some really clever banter, revealing that Buffy’s her sister and basically writing “guilty” by asking “Oh really, what for?” in a voice that screams “I’m stalking you because my sister told me to” when Cassie mentions going to see Buffy. [Interesting that we don't see any scrappies this episode, despite the heavy high school focus. What, did they not want to overload us with too many Hispanic students this episode? Because two would be WAY more than we're accustomed to on this show, it's true and we did see one visit Buffy.]


By the way, I’m totally claiming the use of Slaughterhouse Five as a shout out. I’m sure, deep, deep down, someone in ME knew it’s one of my favorite books [Uh huh. Suuuure.] and felt the need to make up for Dawn’s coat to me. Thanks. It’s a really hideous coat, but that really helped soften the blow.


[Intercut with all of the Buffy the Guidance Counselor stuff is Willow and Xander walking in a field. Willow is worried about being able to to control her magic when whatever beneath them starts all that devouring and Xander starts rambling on about power and control and hammers and nails and crao. In case we forgot about all that "a carpenter saved the world" stuff in the finale of last season. I am glad that ME didn't do their customary Big Huge Problem One Episode Totally Glossed Over Ever After Until the End of Time thing with Willow. They actually remembered she had issues from last week.


We see that Xander is bringing her to Tara's grave. I'd be snarky but it's all sad and stuff and I miss Tara too, so *sniffsniff*. Waaaaaaah. Turn evil again Willow and kill some more people who were responsible for making Tara die! They deserve it! Oh sorry. Got caught up in the moment there for a minute. I'm fine now.


Willow puts some stones on Tara's headstone, which according to posters at our message board, is because Jewish people leave rocks, rather than flowers, as a memorial and sign of respect. And can I just say yay to ME for not hitting us over the head for once. It was a touching gesture by Willow, and I think it would have been marred by some big exposition from her about "hello, Jewish! Remember how I'm not allowed to do the Snoopy dance at home?!" I'm glad both that they showed some continuity, in performing a Jewish custom, but were subtle about it. I haven't seen subtle in a while. I missed subtle. Don't leave us again!]


Now, bear with me because I’m doing this episode by memory and maybe SP can fill in tons of blanks, but basically Buffy keeps running into dead ends. They go through Cassie’s online records, thankfully the school medical professionals still believe in keeping them all in a place where Willow can find them quickly. They find her website and read her poetry [And so can you at! Send her an e-mail to beyond the grave!]. [I do think it's worth noting here that Willow mentions posting Doogie Howser fic online while in high school. Where's the web site for that, huh? I'm totally thinking it was all slash fic with Doogie and that friend of his, whatshisname. Or maybe this is it. ]



Poems. Always a sign of pretentious inner turmoil.


Buffy gracefully goes to Cassie’s Dad’s house and accuses him of being a drunk that hurts his daughter. [Yeah, what was up with that? It was this whole weird scene with the father and Cassie coming over out of the blue, and Buffy and Xander. And it had all this build up, what with the divorce, and the dad drinking, his arrests, and he couldn't see his daughter when he wanted, and it just went... nowhere.] Cassie greets Buffy and Xander outside, after Buffy embarrasses and upsets her father, to tell her that he’s not the one that does it. Um, little miss helpful, couldn’t your psychic ass have told Buffy that before? Too busy composing that list of things you’ll never do, set to violin music, in your head? And how does Cassie’s father not hear them all outside? Too drunk? Shouldn’t he really go all belligerently drunk and bust out with a shotgun, telling them to get off his durn property? And shouldn’t he have been shirtless, and in a trailer? You know, to really perfect the white trash vibe?


Eh. So Cassie does a fairly good, heart wrenching monologue. Buffy tells her that she doesn’t sound like someone who wants to live. And Buffy knows, cuz it takes one to know one.


And I really want to see who my cousins grow up to be. Because they're really mean, and I'm pretty sure they're going to be fat.


Somewhere in all of this, Buffy goes down to the basement because James Marsters needs a paycheck, and therefore Spike must be in the episode. So Spike sits in the dark, being all quiet and not moving. Buffy gets him all worked up asking him if there’s something evil in the basement and then he’s off and running! He’s a bad man, he hurt the girl, yes there’s evil in the basement and it’s him because he’s a bad man. Why Buffy assumes Cassie will die in the school and Spike will know about it is beyond me, it’s not like people don’t die all over the place in Sunnydale.


You're asking my sister to Winter Formal and she's your second choice?


Buffy, getting desperate and taking the word of Dawn, goes after the guy that wanted Cassie to go to the dance. He’s not mad, though, and seems remarkably adjusted for a teenage male [In fact, he seems pretty quick to forget all about Cassie and decide Dawn was the girl for him! ], but it’s okay. Because what really matters in this scene is that strange coins fall out of a locker, just like Cassie sort of predicted! Buffy takes down the locker number, calls in the student and threaten to kick his ass. In an open cubicle. During school hours. And does not get arrested. But it’s good that she threatens him, because he takes her to Cassie, who Dawn lost. Well, technically she didn’t lose her, more like misplaced her. One minute she’s talking to Cassie, the next Cassie tells her to remember that what happens next isn’t her fault, the next Dawn falls for the ole “distract her and grab her friend” ploy and the next Cassie’s nowhere to be found. I guess they didn’t think to look in the evil library.


A bunch of guys in red robes, red so we don’t get them confused with the guys in the green robes from Reptile Boy [and plus, the girl's name is Cassie not Callie, and the guys are trying to get riches, not keep them, so obviously, this is all very different, intone things and wave candles about and then drag Cassie over for their sacrifice. It seems, and I’m not sure, that the guy from Home Improvement may be the only person there that actually realized they would be killing Cassie with a meat cleaver. Niiiice. Luckily, Buffy had the other nerd take her and give her a robe and no one noticed that there was an extra body in their midst. And since Buffy’s so tall and built, I’m sure she just blended in with all the Neanderthal boys present. Yep.


Home Improvement boy chants about riches and blah blah blah, goes to kill Cassie and then Buffy, just in the nick of time, kicks his ass after quipping that this event is going down on his permanent record. Oh, my non-existent left nut to hear HI guy burst out in I take one, one, one cuz you left me… [two, two, two for my family and...] But no, we don’t get this. [We did in my head.] We don’t even come close. Instead what we get is Buffy mocking their raising of a demon without heavy metal [only she couldn't even get the name of the actual band right. Is ME that worried about lawsuits from linking bands to violence or is Buffy really supposed to be that out of touch with pop culture?] , and then the “surprise” arrival of the demon. Come on Buffy, everyone in Sunnydale can raise a demon. It’s as easy as breathing, they do it without thinking about it.


Buffy fights the demon, HI guy tries to kill Cassie, Spike comes along with a torch to prevent the demon of the week from killing Buffy, Buffy sends him over to save Cassie and then she sort of pokes unconvincingly at the demon with the fire while Spike goes and beats the HI guy bloody. Cassie, damn her, cryptically tells a very confused Spike that one day “she” will tell him, opening up speculation as to who will tell him what. The favored theory being, of course, that Buffy loves Spike. I, personally, feel this is too easy and that people should, perhaps, be looking more toward the mundane. Maybe Buffy will tell Spike his hair is horrible. Maybe Willow will tell him that she’s not really gay, but if she can’t have him she doesn’t want any man. Maybe by “she” Cassie was being snarky and actually meant Xander. We all know Xander loves Spike. It couldn’t be anymore obvious. [Maybe one day Buffy will tell Spike that Xander loves him!]


Um, so HI guy drags himself to the still smoking carcass of the demon and demands his money and is rewarded with a love bite to the shoulder [Do you think he died or did he turn into a demon too? Like maybe he took over where the crispy demon left off when he got all explodey or something]. Buffy leads Cassie out and keeps a crossbow bolt from piercing Cassie’s skull, and in thanks Cassie tells Buffy that she will make a difference and then promptly dies.


That’s right, folks, all of Buffy’s work was for naught. Wouldn’t have done a lick of good anyway. Turns out Cassie had a bad heart. The Scoobs all take this rather poorly, which is sort of odd since they’ve seen quite a few more gnarly deaths, and also rather nice. Except for the overemoting of Dawn. And Buffy’s “tragic” expression as she plays with her necklace and ponders what you do when you know you can’t help, but, other than that… [For some reason, I find Xander's sock very sexy in that scene...]



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