Written by David Fury
Directed by David Fury
Buffy and Dawn are getting rid of everything magic related in the house to keep Willow safe from temptation, including candles and crystals. Dawn is being a whiny brat about it. Buffy reminds her that this is for Willow, and it’s important to remove any items that could tempt her into falling off the wagon. As she says this, she finds Spike’s lighter. She drops it in the box of magic stuff.
Warren puts the stolen diamond into some kind of lame comic book device. Jonathan and Andrew are underwhelmed, but he fires it at a chair, turning it invisible. An invisibility ray! Fun. If this were a DC comics show. Warren fires the thing at the chair again, making it visible.
The next morning, Willow is making an omelet and not feeling up to going to class. The omlete is for Dawn, who is still being a brat. She leaves huffily. Willow’s confused that Dawn’s mad at Buffy too. Buffy thinks it’s because she failed to do something to help Willow before she hit bottom. In comes Spike under a smoking blanket. He’s here for his lighter. Willow heads to her room, leaving Buffy alone with Spike, against her will. She thinks he’s coming up with excuses to see her. She doesn’t like him calling her “love,” so he proposes “Goldilocks” because he loves her long blonde hair.
Xander arrives right when Spike is seemingly doing something very inappropriate to Buffy with one hand. Xander mocks Spike for his sad hopeless Buffy obsession. He’s confident that only a moron like Harmony or a nutjob like Dru would go for Spike. Buffy takes slight offense and changes the subject to taking Dawn to school. Dawn is still being a brat, and now a social worker is here. Dawn storms out even though you’d think she’d try to at least feign happy functional family around someone with the power to put her in foster care.
Spike did not leave like Buffy told him to, and now he’s there to give the social worker a very bad impression. He also refuses to take Buffy’s hints to leave until she very pointedly explains that the lady is a social worker. Then he tries to stick up for Buffy, which is super counterproductive. He finally leaves, taking his sun protection blanket, which worsens the bad impression. Also, for some reason, Buffy doesn’t know how to explain Willow living there in a way that doesn’t sound bad. How about “I’m renting out the spare bedroom to a college student for extra income because I’m very resourceful”? Then the lady finds the box of magic stuff and is pretty convinced that Dawn is living in a home of drug addicted unemployed delinquents. She’s putting Buffy on probation.
Aaand Spike is back! Or never left. Buffy yells at him to get out, but instead he gets right in her face and then digs in her pocket for his lighter. So much for it being in the box of stuff to get rid of. She storms into her room, looks in the mirror, and starts hacking off her hair. Later, she goes to a hair salon to get a more professional new look.
The Trio are about to do shenanigans, and they happen to be doing them very near the salon from which Buffy is emerging with her very cute slightly-past-chin-length hair.
...Yeah, Jonathan and Andrew fight over the invisibility ray because they want to hide from Buffy, but it goes off right when she walks past, and now she, a tree, a dumpster, a fire hydrant, and some traffic cones are all invisible.
Xander and Anya are planning seating arrangements for their rehearsal dinner. Anya wants to invite D’Hoffryn. Buffy comments on the seating chart, and Xander and Anya spend a few lines of dialogue being confused before she explains that she’s invisible. Xander wonders if the same thing happened to Buffy that happened to Marcie Ross (nice continuity). Buffy seriously doubts it. Buffy picks up some bauble things and tosses them around while she talks about the disastrous social services appointment. Anya is a bit creeped out. Buffy’s kind of having fun. Xander volunteers to do recon, and Buffy leaves to clear her head. (Her head’s already very clear, though.) Anya thinks this might be a mistake, and that seems to give Xander an idea.
At home, Willow is doing research and consuming ridiculous amounts of Fiji water in an attempt to not think about doing magic. Xander shows up. She tells him about the stolen diamond, which has mystical properties. Oh, Xander’s theory is that Willow accidentally made Buffy invisible. Ouch. She storms out, hurt that he would jump to assuming she did this.
Warren is trying to repair the invisibility ray. Jonathan and Andrew are very worried about what an invisible Buffy might do to them.
Invisible Buffy, however, is primarily interested in mildly trolling people by doing things like stealing a super ugly hat and chiding the girl who was wearing it for her horrible taste. Then she joyrides a parking officer’s little cart thing to the social services office, where she messes with the lady who came to the house until she convinces her (and her coworkers) that she’s going insane. When she runs away in a panic, Buffy finds the file on her and Dawn and screws with it. When the lady tries to show her boss the file, it’s full of papers that say nothing but “All work and no play make Doris a dull girl.” The printer is still printing this stuff out. Doris tries to explain about the voice and the dancing coffee cup, but then she realizes she probably shouldn’t keep talking. Her boss gives her the day off and reassigns her cases.
Xander catches up with Willow at the spot where Buffy got turned invisible. She’s spray-painting the invisible dumpster, and she’s still a little upset. They apologize to each other. Willow also scraped paint off an invisible fire hydrant, which Xander promptly runs into. The paint is from the van, the one that used to have the Death Star on it until Warren decided that wasn’t a sneaky enough paint job. Willow will look for the van while Xander takes the invisible traffic cone to the Magic Box to help Anya with research.
Invisible Buffy’s next adventure involves Spike. Ewwww, no. Do not want. He goes to get a container of blood, and then his crypt door opens seemingly of its own accord. She turns off his TV. He thinks there’s a ghost. Then she throws him against the wall and rips his shirt open. And...does other stuff. He finally figures out it’s Buffy.
Anya is still focusing more on the seating chart than invisibility. She tries to grab the traffic cone, but it sort of crumbles into goo under her touch. Xander’s very worried about what might happen to Buffy if they don’t reverse the invisibility soon.
Warren knows Buffy will turn to invisible mush soon. He doesn’t consider that a problem. Jonathan isn’t okay with that. Warren wants them to embrace their identity as villains, but Jonathan and Andrew want to do that without killing anyone. They insist on making Buffy visible again before she dies.
Xander shows up at Spike’s crypt to recruit him to help find Buffy. Weeell, Spike and Buffy are having sex. It looks like Spike is doing naked pushups on his bed with excessive moaning. Xander is rather bemused, but gets to the point. Throughout the conversation, Buffy keeps doing stuff like messing with Spike’s ear, which makes it difficult for him to pretend everything’s normal. Unfortunately, Xander says nothing about how Buffy might die if she stays invisible, so neither she nor Spike feel too urgent about reversing it once he leaves. Spike’s not having as much fun with invisible Buffy as she would’ve expected. She likes it because she feels free of expectations and just life. Yeah that’s not good. Spike tries to kick her out, but she makes a very inappropriate counterpoint which he finds convincing.
Willow is at the Espresso Bean doing research on the mystery van, and their connection is so slow that she almost uses magic to expedite the process, but then the download completes on its own.
Buffy walks huffily down the street, unable to believe that Spike kicked her out. She kicks a soda can along the street while ranting about Spike. Then she goes home. Nobody’s there. Dawn arrives while she’s in the kitchen having a snack. Dawn thinks she’s being sneaky, but that’s because she doesn’t know about invisible Buffy. Dawn is very concerned, and she’s very upset that Buffy doesn’t seem very concerned. She gets really worked up and runs off to her room. Buffy listens to a message from Xander about her impending death by invisibility.
Willow has found the van! She pokes around the house next to it and finds the Trio’s basement lair. Where they have a schematic of the invisibility ray tacked up to a big work board. Unfortunately, the Trio is there, all invisible. They take Willow hostage.
Buffy is about to leave to find Xander, but then Jonathan calls. She almost recognizes his voice. He demands that she meet them alone at the mall arcade if she wants Willow back. At the arcade Willow is standing there stiffly, seemingly alone, but the Trio is there. She informs Buffy that there’s only three. Jonathan and Andrew are too distracted by the video games to be menacing. Jonathan explains that they’re going to save Buffy’s life. Warren aims the invisibility gun at her, but he’s set it to kill! He pistol-whips Willow with the gun, then Buffy throws an air hockey thing at him. They proceed to have invisible hand-to-hand combat, also with Jonathan and Andrew.
Willow picks up the invisibility ray and uses it on them. They all reappear, and now the identities of the ones pulling weird tricks on Buffy are revealed! Jonathan throws a smoke bomb down and they try to get away, but the door is locked. Then a guard comes to scold them, and the Trio succeeds in getting away. Willow likes Buffy’s haircut. Willow tells Buffy about finding the Trio’s van without magic. She made it all day without slipping up. Buffy’s going to have to do damage control with Dawn. The one good thing to come from this zany adventure is that Buffy realized she would rather be alive than dead, which is an improvement. They’ve made good first steps! Now if only they felt happier about it.
“Gone” is an irritating episode, and I think it’s primarily a matter of poor execution. At no point did it seem like there was actually an invisible person in any of those scenes. Buffy’s voice wasn’t integrated very effectively with the other sounds from each setting, and the objects she interacted with didn’t move like they would if a human was actually moving them around. But the most painful part of it was the way the other actors didn’t do a great job of interacting with invisible Buffy and/or the invisible Trio. The whole thing felt very slapdash and cheap. It might’ve helped if there had been better music to take the place of Buffy’s facial expressions and body language. The appointment with Doris the social worker wasn’t very convincing either. The specific ways in which it went wrong felt improbable easily avoidable. Dawn’s anger at Buffy didn’t make much sense. The Trio is still more annoying than anything else. The scenes with Spike were the least enjoyable of the whole episode. The humor fell completely flat for me.
The way Buffy was written, invisible or not, mostly felt...off, except for the part where she cut her hair because she didn’t want to be as attractive to Spike. That definitely resonated. But in the rest of it, it was like her reactions to thinks were more exaggerated when she was visible and understated when she was invisible. Her reaction when Spike grabbed his lighter out of her pants definitely did not reflect her struggles with wanting him out of her life—it just like she was going to stand there and let him ravish her. And Buffy has never seemed like the type of person who would use invisibility to go around trolling people or cheating the social services system. I would have thought she’d be more likely to try to find out if her friends still think there’s something wrong with her or if Dawn just hates her now. Miserable eavesdropping. That sort of thing.
Xander hasn’t been spending much time with Willow lately, and now the first time he has a one-on-one conversation with her, it’s to accuse her of turning Buffy invisible and then keeping it quiet? Ugh. He’s losing points again. Why hasn’t he been supportive of Willow? He’s had all this time to do pointless research on ice powers diamond thief demons, but he can’t give Willow a hug and tell her he believes in her or something? Also, it’s nice that he has so much faith in Buffy that he wouldn’t even consider that she might be sleeping with Spike even when he finds Spike doing naked pushups that involve suspiciously female-sounding moans, but really? That was incredibly unsneaky, and he doesn’t even have an inkling? Whatever.
Anya is incredibly wedding-obsessed. Xander is doing a good job of hiding how overwhelmed that makes him feel, but it might be nice if she’d take a break from planning the wedding every once in a while to talk about the less stressful things she’s looking forward to about being married to him.
Why’re you being such a brat to Buffy, Dawn? Willow was the one who got you into a car crash, not Buffy. Buffy’s the one who prevented that incident from being fatal. Lay off her a bit. And yet again, she fails to pick up on the possibility that her situation at home is not a stable one, and her ability to behave like a respectful and responsible 15-year-old could be pivotal to Buffy’s ability to continue acting as her guardian. Ugh.
There is no way Spike left his lighter at the Summers’ house by accident. He was angling to have an excuse to stop by. I’m guessing his goal was to catch Buffy when she was the only one home, since Tara has moved out and Dawn and Willow have school. He would’ve used the whole “you would send me back out into broad daylight to risk my unlife?” angle to avoid getting kicked out. There seems to be clear evidence hear that he’s much more conniving and manipulative than he appears to be, which is incredibly creepy.
Willow accomplished more than any other character in this episode, without magic. I don’t think she realized how significant that is. She effectively proved that magic isn’t what makes her awesome, which was Buffy’s whole point last time. But when she was all “well I might as well go off the rails if nobody will even give me benefit of the doubt” at Xander, that was ominous. You don’t stay in the wagon for the sake of other people’s approval, you do it because it’s important to be master of yourself.
“We need to talk.”
“We...are talking. Well, I’m talking and you’re looking at me funny.”
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.