“Bring on the Night”
Written by Marti Noxon and Douglas Petrie
Directed by David Grossman
Xander is cleaning up some of the debris from the Harbinger invasion. He’s very annoyed that he’s going to have to repair the house again when he had just barely finished the last repair job. Excellent reference to Buffy’s mummy hand time loop. Anya, who is wearing reading glasses, hasn’t found anything about the First Evil. Neither has Willow. Which is odd, because Giles definitely had at least one book that talked about the First and its eyeless Harbingers. Andrew is tied to a chair again, and seemingly unconscious. Dawn isn’t so sure about that. She punches him, and he stays unresponsive. She’s keen to keep hitting him, but Buffy doesn’t want her to.
Buffy is exhausted, but she wants to keep the research going. And then Joyce appears next to her and starts talking to her. Is this the First? She advises Buffy to get some rest. Turns out, this is a dream Buffy’s having because she nodded off. (Okay, insta-headcanon: that was really Joyce.) Xander wakes her up and checks on her. The threat of the First clearly has her very shaken.
Spike is getting dragged somewhere by that über-vamp. The First switches from Spike’s form to Drusilla’s, and eagerly encourages the über-vamp to torture him.
Anya throws water on Andrew in an effort to wake him up. It seemingly doesn’t work. Then Buffy comes in, and Anya and Dawn hastily pretend they weren’t about to try unethical revival methods. Before Buffy can get too suspicious, Andrew coughs and wakes up. He’s very grateful that Buffy saved him from Spike. The girls explain that it was the First that posed as Warren to get him to kill Jonathan. Wait, do they already know that? How do they already know that? Oh, wait, I guess that was as far as Andrew got before Spike grabbed him through the wall. Andrew is very unimpressed by the villainous name “the First Evil.”
Andrew leads Buffy, Xander, and Dawn to the seal in the school basement. Dawn finds the rack Spike was chained to. Buffy thinks the First might’ve used that on Spike. She votes they re-bury the seal. Xander and Andrew bond over Wonder Woman comics, to Xander’s immediate chagrin. On the way out, they run into Wood, who is also carrying a shovel. He claims he’s just returning it. Everyone is clearly suspicious of everyone, and knowing what I know about Wood, it’s hilarious. Wood wants Buffy to come back to work, because there are a lot of kids who want to see her.
At the house, Willow and Anya are setting up some spell to try locating the first while Dawn keeps doing research. Xander urges Buffy to get some sleep. The spell kind of explodes, and tons of red light rushes into Willow, making her eyes and hair go black and lightning shoot out of her mouth. The huge monstrous image of the First from “Amends” appears around her. Then she collapses, extremely traumatized. She doesn’t want to be evil ever again, and she’s terrified of trying to fight it again.
Buffy prepares to head out and fight the First, shrugging off Xander’s continued insistence that she get some rest. But Giles is at the door! Before Buffy can greet him with a hug, three girls stroll inside. Two English, one American. The American is already annoying. These girls are potential Slayers. Some of the few who have survived the First’s attacks. It seems a major part of the First’s plan is to entirely wipe out the Slayer line.
Giles claims that the First isn’t in any books because it predates written history. Yeah, except for the book you had in “Amends”! Good grief! He tells them about the Council getting blown up. Which means their extensive library of supernatural reference materials is gone with them. Giles managed to sneak a few things out. Andrew has been listening to all of this and finds it very emotionally compelling. Buffy has Xander duct tape his mouth. Bahaha. Giles explains that the First can take the form of anyone who’s died, but it’s incorporeal. This hasn’t stopped it from manipulating enormous resources. He believes Buffy is the only one with the strength to beat this thing. American potential Slayer thinks they have no chance, then. Her name is Kennedy. Buffy agrees that they need more muscle, so they should find Spike.
Spike is getting repeatedly drowned by the über-vamp. As torture methods go, this one strikes me as pretty stupid to use on a vampire. Also, the First’s Drusilla impression could use some work. It orders more drowning.
Buffy and Giles are walking down Main Street, which has Christmas decorations. They discuss the events of “Amends.” She hopes Giles will stick around longer this time.
At the Summers’ house, the broken windows of which are now boarded up, Xander is irritably fielding Andrew’s questions about what it’s like to be a Scooby, while Willow tries to sort out sleeping arrangements for the three girls and Giles. Kennedy is very sassy and bossy and...flirty with Willow. Willow is a bit baffled. Dawn is trying and failing to make dinner for everyone. Molly and Annabelle (the Brits) are making themselves at home. This is clearly going to be a very hectic arrangement.
Buffy literally stumbles into the cavern where she encountered the First and the Harbingers in “Amends.” She finds the über-vamp down there. Uh oh. It punches her into the wall. They fight, and it is clearly much stronger. It’s not quite as bad as fighting Glory, but it’s still nigh impossible to fight. Especially because a stake to the heart does nothing. Buffy barely manages to avoid getting killed by smacking it on the head with a stalactite, and then she tries to scramble back out of the cavern. It grabs her ankle, but she kicks it off. Just as she makes it out, the sun comes up. It does, at least, appear to be vulnerable to sunlight, so it can’t follow her.
Buffy and Giles get back to the house, where the potentials are all eating. Giles exposits on the Turok-Han breed of vampire, which he hoped were a myth. He thinks it’s working for the First. The potentials are scared. Giles encourages Buffy to get some sleep, but she doesn’t think she can take time for that right now.
Partly because she has to go to work! Where she tries to google “evil.” Yeah, that’s not how search engines work. Also, Wood catches her, and she hastily tries to cover by adding “in the movies” to her search. *facepalm* Oh, unsubtle Buffy. Wood isn’t a fan of horror movies. They discuss the effects of evil. Wood thinks exposure to it isn’t something you can shake off. His favorite movies are mysteries. Cool.
The First/Drusilla is still talking to Spike. About choosing sides. Spike comments on the crappy Drusilla impression. It doesn’t stop. And the über-vamp keeps beating him up. As recruitment techniques go, I’m not sure this is an effective one. Certainly not an effective one for Spike. Why not just work on the brainwashing stuff more?
Buffy goes to the bathroom to nurse some of her wounds. She has quite a few scrapes and bruises. Then she nods off and Joyce talks to her again. She needs sleep. Buffy feels the weight of all her responsibilities. She has no time for sleep! Turns out Buffy fell asleep in the middle of a meeting with a student. He is not happy about it, and he leaves, feeling perhaps more justifiably misunderstood than usual.
Xander gives a very counterproductive pep-talk to the potentials. They are super scared now. Willow apologizes to Buffy for not being able to use magic to help. Buffy isn’t mad at her. Willow still wishes she could help, because Buffy could really use help. Kennedy wants weapons. Annabelle is annoying and uptight. She thinks they don’t need weapons until Buffy says so. Andrew is sure something super bad is about to happen, so can he be untied now? He claims to be good again, like Darth Vader at the end of the trilogy. Also, the ropes are itchy.
Sunset approaches. Giles reassures Buffy that everyone’s on board with her as the leader. He’s kind of not helping with the additional responsibility pressure. Molly comes to tell them Annabelle ran away.
Cut to Annabelle running away. She runs right into the über-vamp. Which possibly beheads her with its bare hand; all we see is her cross falling to the ground, covered in blood. Buffy finds her body. Okay, head still attached. But here’s the über-vamp for round two. Buffy is less ready for round two, but she spits blood in its face, distracting it long enough to flee. She’s at the construction site. The music is very intense. Buffy hits the über-vamp with a metal pole, but it still whales on her. She drops a huge pallet of metal bars on its head. And it gets up, accompanied by a violin squeal. Holy crap. It throws Buffy through a cement and corrugated metal wall.
Xander, Willow, and Giles find Buffy unconscious and broken there. The First is still messing with Spike. Apparently the only reason Spike’s still alive because the First isn’t done with him yet. But he’s not going to give up as long as Buffy believes in him.
Buffy is sitting, semi-catatonic on a chair in her room. She is more beat up than we’ve ever seen him. She’s listening to the Scoobies discussing her failure to kill the über-vamp. The general tone is one of pessimism. If Buffy can’t defeat it, then what hope is there? Willow is more worried about Buffy, because of her injuries. What will they do if Buffy can’t fight? Giles has no ideas. Buffy comes downstairs to join this conversation. She gives a speech. It starts out sounding like she’s given in to despair, but then it turns around and becomes awesome. I’m actually tearing up watching Buffy be so dauntless in the face of such a huge threat. And it’s accompanied by the final fight song from “Chosen”! Aaaaagh this is an amazing moment.
One of the things I really like about S7 is how much it focuses on Slayer lore. It and S1 kind of bookend the series in that way, which is cool. “Bring on the Night” succeeds in maintaining the same level of tension that’s been building up for the last few episodes. Throughout the episode, you can feel Buffy’s growing exhaustion and her fear of what failure will cost. Even death wouldn’t be an escape, because there might not be another Slayer to take her place. If she doesn’t win, it’s all over. Somehow, it feels much more real than the threat of Glory in S5. Possibly because Glory’s motivations were really dumb, and they probably could have just helped her open a portal back to her home dimension and avoided the whole situation with Dawn. The First is a more chilling villain than we’ve had since probably Angelus, and its reach extends across the whole world. If Buffy’s final speech is any indication, we’re about to see a major shift. The Scoobies aren’t scrambling for information anymore; they’re about to start fighting back. Andrew continues to be a pretty funny addition to the group. Dangit, I really don’t want to end up liking him. TEAM JONATHAN FOREVER.
After seeming increasingly like she’s about to crumble under all the responsibility and exhaustion heaped on her, Buffy pulls off an incredible Crowning Moment of Awesome with that speech. So far, S7 Buffy is just amazing. I’m rooting for her so hard. But she really needs to get some sleep. The scenes where she sees Joyce in her sleep are so heartwrenching, and everyone kind of just casually adds to her pile of responsibilities. Willow and Xander have both clearly noticed how much she’s struggling, but I wish they’d say something like “go sleep; we’ll wake you the second we find anything about this thing.”
Xander’s unwilling nerd bonding with Andrew is pretty hilarious. He’s gone so long without a male and/or nerdy friend that he can’t help riffing off toady little nuisances like Andrew. Yeah, I’m still bitter about Xander’s lack of male friends. What? I really like bromances, okay?
I was surprised to see Anya sort of conspiring with Dawn in their mutual dislike of Andrew. I didn’t remember it at all, but it was really funny. Post-vengeance Anya seems to not only be a better match for Xander, but a much more natural part of the group than she ever was before.
Dawn is clearly still afraid that “Joyce” was right about Buffy not choosing her. It’s really sad to watch her expression at the beginning of Buffy’s speech. She’s actually shaking with fear to see her superhero big sister sounding so terrified and vulnerable. I think she was wondering “is this going to be when it happens?” Thankfully, Buffy turned it around and it proved to be a super inspiring speech, but I’m interested to see how this worry continues to affect Dawn. I’m just glad that so far it hasn’t made her relapse into her extremely irritating teen habits of S6.
I’m actually really fascinated by this part of soulful Spike’s journey. I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if Angel had had someone who believed in his ability to be a good man in the months immediately following being cursed with his soul. It clearly makes an enormous difference. Spike has been brainwashed and driven (intermittently) insane all summer and fall, but with one person—the most unlikely person—believing in him, he now has the strength to resist the First’s influence. (I think the First was pretty stupid to stop appearing to him as Buffy, though.)
Willow continues to be an excellent friend and very self-aware, and it’s clear that her arc this season is about how she’s afraid of herself and needs to get back to a place where she has a healthy level of confidence.
“Buffy! I thought you were, uh—”
“Sick? She was! Vomiting and oozing from various places, and—”
“Yes, I remember, so please, don’t go on.”
“I’m beyond tired. I’m beyond scared. I’m standing on the mouth of hell and it is going to swallow me whole. And it’ll choke on me. We’re not ready? They’re not ready. They think we’re gonna wait for the end to come, like we always do. I’m done waiting. They want an apocalypse? We’ll give ‘em one. Anyone else who wants to run, do it now. 'Cause we just became an army. We just declared war. From now on, we won't just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them, and cut out their hearts one by one, until The First shows itself for what it really is. And I'll kill it myself. There is only one thing on this earth more powerful than evil, and that's us. Any questions?”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.