Friday, August 10, 2012

Classics: BtVS 7:12 - Potential

Overall Rating: 8.0

A solid, but not particularly remarkable episode with one of the greatest endings in Slayer history.

Plot Synopsis:

This episode is summarized here, thanks to Wikipedia.

The Skinny:

I don't have a ton to add in terms of brilliant insights here...this is a strong filler with a nice twist (it's not actually Dawn that's called), and there are a few cute moments in there with Klem freaking out the potentials, Buffy admitting that Spike's crypt was comfy, etc.  But this isn't one of those episodes that inspires a long-term memory in me, and wouldn't be getting the score it's getting, except that one awesomely brilliant moment at the end never fails to reduce me to tears and make me irrationally happy.  So I'll just quote it here and leave it at that.
DAWN: What's up?
XANDER: Oh, I was just thinking about the girls.  It's a tough deal they've been handed.  Being all chosen...plucked out of the crowd.
DAWN: They can handle it.
XANDER: I'm sure they can.  They're special.  They'll deal.  They'll never realize...
DAWN: What?
XANDER: How much harder it is for the rest of us.
DAWN: No, Xander, we don't have to...
XANDER: Seven years, Dawn.  Working with the Slayer, seeing the amazing things she can do, watching all my friends get more and more powerful.  The witch, the demon...hell, I can fit Ox into my lunch box, but come the full moon, he had a wolfy power you didn't mess with.  They're special.  I'm not.  I'm the guy who fixed the windows.
DAWN: Well, you had that sexy army training for a while...and...those windows really did need fixing.
XANDER: They sure did.  They'll never understand, though.  I've seen more than anyone realizes one's watching me.  I saw what you did last night.
DAWN: Yeah, I'm sorry...I guess I just freaked out for a second when I thought I was chosen.
XANDER: Who could blame you.  You thought you were picked for something more.  Ms. Sunnydale, 2003.  And the minute that you realized you weren't chosen, you handed your crown to someone else.  You gave her your power.
DAWN: It wasn't mine.
XANDER: I saw you last night...I see you working here today.  You're not special.  You're extraordinary.
DAWN: Maybe that's your power.  Seeing?  Knowing?
XANDER: Maybe.  Maybe I should get a cape.
DAWN: Capes are good.
I admit...I'm biased because I've always loved Xander and his gigantic heart, but this is remarkable even by his standards - and knowing what I do about the future of this plot, it seems eerily heavy on the foreshadowing.  His power is seeing, so this battle will cost him his sight.  But perhaps not his knowledge.  Remarkable all around.  Scenes like that are why I love this show.

Writing: 7.5

Full point bonus for just one of the greatest moments in franchise history.

Acting: 9.0

Actually, the entire guest cast is pretty darned convincing this week.  Sarah Hagan is probably my favorite of the potentials (the newest member here, Amanda).  She's quirky and a little odd, but I like that about her here.  The rest of the girls are giving their characters something unique and almost exclusively likable.  Michelle Trachtenberg more than carried the mail for her half of the episode and, of course, in the concluding scene, Nicky Brendan was phenomenal.

Message: 7.5

It's funny how, when you have power, it's a curse (the responsibility, the consequences, the pain, and the thanklessness of your peers), and when you don't, it's a miracle (because you have more control over your life, because you feel connected to something greater than yourself, because it gives you clear purpose).  This episode highlights that nicely.

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