Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Buffy Rewatch: Carry That Weight

Glory looks for, and finds, the Key as we set up season 5's endgame.

"You've carried the weight of the world on your shoulders since high school. I know you didn't ask for this. But you do it."

Let's just quickly recap the show putting the pieces in place before the fifth season finale.

In many ways, "Forever" is a more traditional episode dealing with the death of a character than "The Body" was. "The Body" was about shock, but "Forever" is about grief. It's not a great episode, but it has great moments. Angel appears, and has a couple of lovely scenes with Buffy. Xander and Anya have a very nice post-sex chat, where we see Anya really start to grow up. And, best of all, there's a brief moment of Giles listening to Cream and no doubt reliving his and Joyce's "Band Candy" shenanigans. (It's a great moment of private grief, and so very Giles.)

Also in "Forever", Ben lets slip to one of Glory's minions that the Key is "an innocent". Glory's discovery of this leads to the next two episodes, and they're both knockouts.

More than "Fool For Love", "Intervention" is probably the most important Spike episode of the season. Warren has delivered the Buffybot, which leads to all sorts of misunderstandings worthy of Three's Company - including the minions thinking that Spike is the Key. By the end of the episode, Spike tells Glory that she has a "skanky, lop-sided ass", and Buffy knows just how much she can trust him.

Another great aspect of "Intervention" is that the Buffybot lets Gellar play it A LOT lighter than she's been able to lately. It's such great comic relief, for her and for us. The real Buffy, meanwhile, is on a vision quest, and the First Slayer tells her that "Death is your gift." And Giles dances with a gourd.

In "Tough Love", Glory thinks that Tara (the newcomer to the group) is the Key. Glory tracks her down and, terrifyingly, does her brain-sucking thing. It's as effective a scene now as it was back in 2001. And the ending! Glory shows up at the university, and Tara spills the beans about Dawn being the Key. It's a really nasty cliffhanger, and this time I appreciated not having to wait a full week to see what happened next.

The Scoobies are on the run in "Spiral". The episode picks up right where "Tough Love" left off, and Buffy and Dawn manage to get away from Glory, thanks mainly to a well-timed truck. ("Hell-bitch in orbit!", to quote Dawn.) At one point during the escape, Buffy literally picks up Dawn and runs with her. The image itself is funny, since Trachtenberg is about clearly taller than Gellar, but I also found it incredibly moving: THIS is what a parent will do when a child is in danger.

There's a big action sequence on top of a moving Winnebago, in which Buffy fights a bunch of Knights of Byzantium. It's bigger in scale and complexity than just about every other fight on the show, and it's... ok. "Spiral", overall, is a bit of a letdown after the previous two episodes, though it does let us know that if the Scoobies kill Ben, then Glory dies.

"The Weight of the World" continues to put the pieces in place for the finale, and it accomplishes two key things. First, it shows Ben conflicted, but he ultimately decides to place Dawn in a position to be killed. Ben himself, like Dawn, had been an innocent; but he's now complicit in Glory's plans.

But most importantly, Willow enters catatonic Buffy's mind, and brings her back to reality. Willow's powers are incredibly impressive, as the show both shows and tells us. It's foreshadowing both season 6 and season 7, and Willow's emergence as someone whose powers might actually rival the Slayer's.

Up next: "The Gift"!

"Forever": B
"Intervention": A+
"Tough Love": A+
"Spiral": B-
"The Weight of the World": B

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