This is yet another above average establishment piece...that then turns AWESOME due to an unexpected (and brutal) twist and one of the greatest Buffy battle sequences ever filmed.
A summary can be found at the Wikipedia: here.
We just got word: there's another potential slayer in Sunnydale. She's been here for days and is holed up at the cross-town motel.And that is when an astute fan would have said ,"Oh sh*t...one of these girls isn't real." Given Kennedy's attempts to get Willow to do magic, for a split second when I saw this episode the first time, I thought it might be her. As we'll find out, though, she's a big player in this story and entirely human. However...our southern bell, with all of her cleverly inserted self-doubt and fear-mongering, is not. And that...is awesome. The first isn't a real threat unless it continually attacks the slayer and her band of not-so-merry ladies with everything it has - emotional, psychological, demonic, everything. The Slayer can handle the things she can hit, but it's hard to punch back when the attacker is merely being brutally persuasive.
Of course, Buffy manages to kill two birds with one stone (three actually, since it frees her up to rescue Spike) by luring the Turok-han into an ambush and battling it until she can find the right implement to dust the ugly bastard in front of the Slayerettes in an effort to restore team morale. Her words before the fight are confident and stirring...and her words after the final garroting is complete are breathtaking.
See...dust. Just like the rest of them. I don't know what's coming next, but I can promise you it'll be just like this. Hard, an brutal. And whatever it is, we'll do what we do...we'll fight and they'll die. Thus endeth the lesson.
THAT is the Buffy we knew back in 3rd season. The Buffy that knew who she was (as we all do when we're in high school - how silly of us, right?), the Buffy that disappeared in the fourth season and never really returned...until now. If you have enjoyed the show all of these years and you stuck it out through the hell that was sixth season (it was a well-written hell, but it was painful, and that's no joke), and you have just seen this epic mano-a-mano battle between the Slayer and the ultimate vampire, then you probably did what I did the first time I saw it. You probably leaped to your feet and roar, "F*** YEAH!!! AWESOME!!!" Granted, I was watching it for the third time this week before making my review, so my reaction was a tad more muted (merely saying "Still awesome!" while remaining seated...LOL), but that's what heroes are for. They call out our greatest desire to do good. You can't put a price on that.
The final payoff - the rescue of Spike - was touching as well, given all he went through without breaking and given his quite-moving insistence that Buffy would come for him. I don't want to undersell that. But to me, this was always Buffy's show and Buffy was at her very best this week. And will be for most of the rest of the season. Which is fine by me. :)
Great use of Buffy's slayer mandate, great choreography on the fight, great dialogue, and GREAT plot twist regarding the potential slayer booby-trap. All-around, this was a nice, strong script.
SMG NAILED this one, as did James Marsters. I really enjoyed SMG's work as EVIL!Buffy too...don't want to forget to mention that. Oh...and Lalaine (wow...no first name...just...Lalaine?...she played the imposter Chloe) did a fabulous job going from sweet and southern to evil and freaky without changing too much and making it look cheesy.
Major bonus for just being kick-ass and presenting us with our iconic hero before the end.