Overall Rating: 6.8
The thing that lifts this episode behind straight ordinary is the acting of James Marsters. Beyond that, this episode doesn't accomplish a lot.
Wikipedia has the details - this episode is a set-up piece, so you may want to read up if you don't intend to watch it.
There is one bit of riveting TV in the entire hour. Spike's big church confession regarding his soul and how he came by it. And that moment only works because Marsters is a master of drama, because the writing is actually REALLY stilted and over the top, and the psychology that leads up to the final scene doesn't make a ton of sense to me. The First is screwing with his mind and making him see things that aren't there, but that's no excuse for not giving is some way of understanding the things he says and then acting like we should have. The stuff with Anya and her vengeance habit was actually pretty tame and I can't say that I found it all that well written.
The episode does everything it's trying to do, but not in a particularly gripping way...I feel like the script is the main problem...it failed to be terribly creative and the whole girl-hitting-on-Xander thing was out of place...meh. I just don't have much to say about this one. It was a jumble in search of a point.
As noted, I felt the script held back would could have been something much more dramatic and potent. Remember what they did when Angel came back from hell? This could have been even better. But it just sort of happened...
Marsters carries his big scenes and the rest do a fair job as usual.
They could have scored bigger points for doing the right thing even if it really hurts you in the short run...but Anya is never seriously confronted and Spike's scene is really more about Buffy handling the revelation than about Spike showing real penance.