Admin note: as we are now in the final ten episodes of this canon, I am going to concentrate the blog on BtVS until we finish the job!
Overall Rating: 4.5
I'm sorry...but Willow/Kennedy doesn't work for me...and the plot is cobbled together very haphazardly.
Wikipedia has an article up for your convenience.
OK...I get that we only have ten episodes left and there isn't much time to accomplish some of Whedon and company's goals for Willow's character arc. If there is to be a proper, fulfilling end by the finale, she needs to have really faced Tara's death and she needs help to do it. But this episode feels deeply out of character for Willow. Remember back in second season when Willow first realized she might think Oz was cute? Remember how it took her months just to go on a date with him, and then only after they'd hung out as friends for a long time? Remember how HUGE a deal it was when she let herself kiss him? Or better yet...remember how much time Willow spent with Tara just learning magic and becoming close before she let herself try to be in a relationship? Now...how long has she known Kennedy? And how much time have they had to really hang out and talk? And what's more...what was so special about their one-drink date that it could get Willow to go from queen of the iron wall to Smoochy McGee inside two hours? This is WILLOW we're talking about. And...as the episode points out, this is the Willow that is still grieving over Tara's death and feeling somehow responsible for keeping her memory alive, so I don't want to hear the fan excuses (they defend this by claiming that in all of her former relationships, she had a reason to be cautious) - this still makes no sense to me after several viewings.
I also *really* dislike the way this one ends. Willow is in the painful final stage of the grieving process - she must come to accept what has happened and finally allow herself to grieve properly. Tara is dead...finally, and at last, Tara is dead to Willow because she might possibly have some latent attraction for another woman. No psychologist worth his salt would dare suggest that a relationship should ever...EVER...be born on the basis of one person providing emotional support for another who is still grieving. We call those things REBOUNDS - and we all know how most of them end. Willow needs to accept her loss and be OK with herself as a person before she can have3 any sort of healthy relationship. I like even less that Kennedy invokes the whole fairy-tale mythos and that this actually breaks Amy's penance spell. What are they suggesting here? Can we all just solve all of our problems with the right kissing partner? Is lust really so powerful a thing that it can conquer grief and land us in a place where we can escape our own psychological prisons (the spell is a representation of our natural impulse toward survivor's guilt - how could I be fine, even for a second when this person I cared about is dead and gone?)? Or are we suggesting that Kennedy is just that good a kisser? And...um...doesn't this cheapen the Wiccan spiritual elements of the series by suggesting that magic is a fairy-tale thing and any spell can be broken by true love's kiss? I'm sorry...but blech!
The rest of the episode is a mish-mosh of plot conveniences and sudden changes of fortune that don't seem to make much sense. Robson appeared to be dead in the scene they're recalling in Giles' plot. And if he wasn't, why would the bringers leave him alive? They're usually pretty efficient at stabbing the hell out of people to make sure they got the job done. And...um...Giles definitely touched stuff throughout the previous two episodes, though one could forgive the characters for having trouble recalling such mundane things as holding a coffee mug or setting his glasses down on a table or patting Buffy on the shoulder. This time, their fake-out mojo doesn't work that well - Eve fooled us, but we know Giles to well and nothing about this little adventure really ever had me going. The whole Spike's-chip-goes-bad plot is fine as far as it goes but the Slayer was able to get into the base by simply opening a wooden door - so why where the hostiles still trapped down there? I just don't feel like they put a ton of thought into this one? They seemed to be trying to keep suspense going in all of the individual plots without having any real reason for having that suspense. In short...we needed more Willow/Kennedy/Amy and less of the other plots - they didn't seem to add anything, and they certainly took away from any chance the writers had of convincing me that Kennedy and Willow make sense as an item. If you needed Spike's chip to be removed (and it's an interesting idea)...save it and do that story NEXT week or just set it up this week with Buffy calling Riley.
Sloppy plot construction + character assassination = unhappy me.
On the other hand, Iyari Limon, Alyson Hannigan and Adam Busch did the best they could with this script in the time they had. They just didn't have the kind of material that would lead to transcendent performances.
Joss and co. - you're better than this tripe. Love is not some fairy-tale game and real love takes more than a couple of drinks and a few hours talking to forge. You know better.