This episode feels a bit out of place when sandwiched between the heady events of "The Body/Forever and "Tough Love/Spiral/The Weight of the World/The Gift" (all six of which are feature-worthy episodes)...now isn't the time for awkward humor or BuffyBots.
Three plots going on at once in this episode - the explanation can be found at BuffyGuide.com (here).
I have three main problems with this episode.
- The campfire confession storyline with the first slayer image was drawn out way too long. They did this to make a short plot point fit an entire episode's timeline, but the back and forth cutaways just detracted from that part of the story. "Death is your gift" should have been a much bigger shocker than it was.
- The humor...while real...feels out of place. There are funny moments in the highlights, but, to be honest, I would have been much happier with this side plot earlier in the season when humor would have fit the theme of the moment better. Right now, Glory is closing the noose around the Slayerettes...this should be all heart-pounding suspense and action...not goofy robot jokes.
- I fail to see how Buffy's friends couldn't tell the difference between Buffy and the bot...especially because Buffy was instantly able to recognize the similarities between the BuffyBot and Jonathan's fake girlfriend. Their angst just feels like filler to waste time until we get to the main events of the episode.
There are elements in this story that are done very well...and pieces that could have been left out or improved.
James Marsters was outstanding this week and SMG was above her usual par. There just wasn't a ton any of the performers could do to stand out that much.
If you're very sharp, you might understand what Buffy's guide means about death being the slayer's gift and about her only risk of losing her capacity to love being shying away from the sacrifices that love entails. For that..and for Spike's demonstration of real affections for Buffy, this episode gets a lot of credit. The season finale will drive home both messages much more clearly, but they're nice to see being built, all the same.
BUFFY: I was just thinking I could...ease off a bit...not get into full slay mode for a while. You know...until things blow over.
GILES: But you've come so far...mastered so much. Your strength and resiliency alone...
BUFFY: Yeah...strength...resiliency. Those are all words for hardness. I don't know, Giles...the slaying...I don't like what it's doing to me.
GILES: What is it doing to you?
BUFFY: Well look at everything that's happened. Riley left because I was shut down...I was terrible to Dawn. I'm starting to feel like slaying is...turning me into stone.
GILES: Turning you into stone? Buffy, at a time like this, you're bound to be a little numb.
BUFFY: Before...Riley's gone...my Mom's gone...and I loved her more than anything. And I'm just not sure she really knew.
GILES: Oh she knew, Buffy...always.
BUFFY: I don't know. Slaying demons...to kill...you have to be hard on the inside. I can feel it already. I have trouble even saying the words!
BUFFY: Supplies? I was wondering about that...food, water...maybe a compass?
GILES: Well no. A book, a gourd, and a bundle of sticks.
BUFFY: I don't think I'll be that hungry.
GILES: They're for me. You see...the sacred place is a guarded secret. I can't take you there myself. I ahve to perform a ritual to transfer my guardianship of you temporarily to a guide.
BUFFY: I guide...but no food or water. So, what...this guide leads me to the sacred place and then a week later he leads you to my bleached bones?
GILES: Buffy, please. It takes more than a week to bleach bones. (LOL!)
BUFFY: So how does the ritual start?
GILES: I have to jump out of the circle...then jump back in again...then...shake my gourd.
BUFFY: Oh, I know this one! Yes, the ancient shaman of the Navajo tribe used to do the Hokey Pokey and turn themselves around. (heh!)
XANDER: Where's Dawn?
WILLOW: She's in the bedroom...she fell asleep.
TARA: What's wrong, Xander?
XANDER: Buffy's gone insane!
WILLOW: Insane? What did she do?
XANDER: Brace yourselves...you're not gonna believe this.
TARA: Everyone...before we jump all over her, let's remember that people do strange things when someone they love dies. When my mother died, I did all kinds of things I'm not proud of.
ANYA: Buffy's boinking Spike.
WILLOW: O...oh. (LOL!) Grief can be powerful...she's obviously going through a tough time.
TARA: What are you kidding? She's nuts! (bhahahahahaaaa!!!)
BUFFY: I know you. You're the first slayer.
GUIDE: This is just a form. I'm the guide.
BUFFY: I have a few questions. About being a slayer. What about love? Not just boyfriend love...
GUIDE: You think you're losing your ability to love.
BUFFY: I-I didn't say that. Yes.
GUIDE: You fear that being the slayer means losing your ability to love.
BUFFY: Does it?
GUIDE: You are full of love. You love with all of your soul. It's brighter than the fire. That's why you pull away from it.
BUFFY: I'm full of love? I'm not losing it?
GUIDE: Only if you reject it. Love is pain. And the slayer forges strength from pain. Love...give...forgive. It is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift.
WILLOW: This thing with Spike...it isn't true is it? You didn't...sleep with Spike?
BUFFYBOT: No. I had sex with Spike. I'm sorry if that bothers you. You're my best friend.
WILLOW: I am your best friend...and I always will be. No matter what you do. I'm just trying to figure out why this happened. And I think that...with all that's happened...with your Mom...all of us have been acting kind of weak and nervous. And Spike was the only one not like that. So many...just this one time...
BUFFYBOT: It wasn't one time. It was lots of times. And lots of different ways. I can make sketches!
WILLOW: No! Buffy...there's something seriously wrong here! I mean...OK...you've been with a vampire before...but that was different. Angel had a soul.
BUFFYBOT: Angel's lame. His hair goes straight up and he's bloody stupid. (ROTFL!)
BUFFY: I'm sorry...I'm just...a little confused. I'm full of love...which is nice. And love will lead me to my gift?
BUFFY: I'm getting a gift? Or do you mean that I have a gift to someone else?
GUIDE: Death is your gift.
GUIDE: ...is your gift.
BUFFY: OK...no! Death is not a gift. My mother just died, OK. I know this. If I have to kill demons because it makes the world a better place...then I kill demons. But it is not a gift to anyone.
GUIDE: Your question has been answered.
GLORY: What the hell is that and why is its' hair that color?
JINX: Your magnificent one...we believe him to be...the key!
GLORY: Really! That's fantabulous! And impossible. Because you see...the key has to be pure. This...is a vampire. Lesson number one...vampires equal impure.
SPIKE: You're damned right I'm impure. I'm as impure as the driven yellow snow. (LOL!!)
SPIKE: OK...here's the thing. The key...he's that guy...the one on the TV?
GLORY: The key...on television?
SPIKE: He's that guy...you know...the one on that prize show...where people guess what stuff costs?
JINX: The Price is Right.
DEMON: Bob Barker!
JINX: We will bring you Bob Barker! We will bring you the limp, beaten body of Bob Barker!
GLORY: The key is NOT Bob Barker you scabby morons! The key...is new to this world. And Bob Barker is as old as grit. (LOL!) The vampire...is lying to me.
SPIKE: (chuckling) Yeah...but it was fun! And here's the thing, bitch; I'm not going to tell you anything. You're never gonna get your sodding key, and do you know why? You may be a God, but in our world, you're a tap-dancing idiot!
GLORY: I am a God.
SPIKE: The God of what? Poorly hung paintings?
GLORY: Shut up! I command you, shut up!
SPIKE: Yeah...sure thing, you're majesty. Mark my words - the Slayer is going to kick your sorry, overdressed lopsided ass (and Glory looks at her ass...LOL) back to whatever pathetic little dimension would take a cheap, whorish, empty-headed little bitch like you! (awesome!!)
BUFFY: Why did you let that Glory hurt you?
SPIKE: Because...she wanted to know who the key was.
BUFFY: Well, I can tell her, and then...
SPIKE: NO! You can't...ever!
SPIKE: Because...if Glory found out, she'd kill her. If that happened, Buffy...the other...not so pleasant one...it'd destroy her. I couldn't live if she was in that much pain. I'd let Glory kill me first...nearly bloody did. Glory never finds out...understood?
BUFFY: (kisses Spike gently on the lips...he realizes it's not his robot)
SPIKE: And my robot?
BUFFY: The robot is gone. The robot was gross and obscene.
SPIKE: It wasn't supposed to...
BUFFY: Don't! It wasn't even real! (she turns to leave, but pauses) What you did...for me and Dawn...that was real. I won't forget it.