Written by David Fury
Directed by Michael Grossman
We open on a black girl with sweet dreads and less sweet overalls getting off a buss in Sunnydale. Next Potential Slayer! When she pauses to look up Buffy’s phone number, she gets attacked by Harbingers, but Buffy is there to save the day! This girl is Rona, who is a mite anxious considering her very violent welcoming committee.
Willow is sleeping very uncomfortably in a sleeping bag on the floor of her room. Kennedy tries to convince her to get up and share the bed with her. Apparently Giles is having that elite coven in England track down more potential Slayers to send to Sunnydale. Kennedy reveals her backstory as a stupidly rich girl who went to boarding schools. She wants to hear Willow’s story. She wants to see a magic trick!
Downstairs, Molly and HELLO FELICIA DAY and two other girls (an annoying blonde Texan—giving the rest of us a bad name—and Miranda from Lizzie McGuire) are discussing their situation. Molly in particular is still rattled by Annabelle’s death, Vi (Felicia Day) can’t believe Buffy was still all bruised a whole day after fighting the Turok-Han. Xander interrupts because he can’t sleep with their yapping. Andrew either wants them to shut up or be loud enough for him to eavesdrop. Buffy gets home with Rona in tow.
Giles assigns Molly to show Rona to the kitchen, and he and Buffy discuss the First in front of the other potentials. Andrew would like to know how Buffy plans on getting to Spike. The Texan potential is particularly confused that Buffy wants to help Spike. Buffy’s argument is somewhat weakened by the fact that she still doesn’t have the potentials’ names straight. They want their survival to be the priority.
Giles suggests trying Beljoxa’s Eye, an oracle that might be able to give them information, except that it’s super dangerous. Buffy wants to do it.
Spike is up for another round of torture, and he still has freaky symbols carved into his torso. A Harbinger comes over to slice him open, but he attacks him with his legs and breaks free. He tries to run out, but in walks Buffy. Only this is the First. Obviously. Spike doesn’t realize that, but he does snap back to where he was chained up. That was a dream sequence. The First/Buffy taunts him about how Buffy doesn’t care enough about him to risk saving him. He’s muttering to himself to block out the First’s words. He’s sure Buffy’s going to rescue him.
Anya is trying to get help from a demon chef who’s apparently a one-night stand from a century or so ago. She and Giles need a demon to open the gate to the Beljoxa’s eye. She awkwardly offers to sleep with him again if he’ll do it. He scoffs. She’s human! So gross. Giles makes a counter-offer. If he helps them, Buffy won’t kill his clients or threaten his establishment. He promptly opens the doorway for them, but he’s not happy about it.
Anya and Giles go through, to an entirely black realm that contains a large icky eyeball in some kind of metal cage. It starts talking to them. Back at the house, Willow gets a phone call from Althenea of the Coven. She has some kind of serious news, and no time to catch up. Buffy and Xander untie Andrew but threaten to go all Misery on him if he tries to run away. Willow shares Althenea’s news. There was another potential who came to town two days earlier. Her Watcher is already dead. Buffy heads out to go get her, with Xander. Andrew wants to come but is not invited. Dawn joins Willow in the living room. She’s not sure having all these scared girls around is very useful when they’re trying to stop an apocalypse.
Said girls are down in the basement, training with weapons and a punching bag. The annoying Texan is the most pessimistic of the bunch, and she gets the others feeling even more scared. They wonder which of them might be the next Slayer. Texan girl points out it’s creepy how they essentially wait for each other to die.
Buffy and Xander arrive at the potential’s hotel room. Xander can see badness through the blinds, so Buffy kicks the door down. They find the potential dead on the floor inside. It’s the Texan girl. Who might actually not have been so annoying in reality, because the only version of her we’ve ever met is the First’s impersonation.
Which is still sowing seeds of fear and misery amongst the other potentials. Upstairs, Andrew wonders why Slayers are only ever girls. Dawn finds him annoying, especially when he talks about Buffy’s failure to kill the übervamp. He’s frustrated that the Scoobies aren’t making use of him, because he has mad skillz, yo! Dawn whips out the same terrifying attitude she used on Spike in “Beneath You.” Which worked much better on Spike. Dawn walks away from him because he’s super annoying.
Buffy comes home and heads straight for the basement, most of the Scoobies in pursuit. She demands that the First get away from the other girls. It drops the act and makes with the taunts. It’s going to be siccing the übervamp on them as soon as the sun goes down.
The Beljoxa’s Eye (which is much sassier than expected), is basically a giant ball of eyes. It’s really unnerving. It also doesn’t have very helpful things to say, but it can explain why the First is only just attacking the Slayer line now. The method by which Willow resurrected Buffy is what created its opening.
The potentials are freaking out about the First infiltrating them without their knowledge. They don’t find it especially reassuring that it can only impersonate dead people. Buffy trusts the info Giles and Anya will bring them. Anya provides unsuspecting but excessively nerdy support, which she doesn’t appreciate. Buffy wants Willow to do some magic for them. A barrier spell to keep the übervamp out. Kennedy seems to be the one most on Buffy’s side. Buffy walks out of the room when they won’t stop with the negativity. Willow and Xander join her, silently.
The First, still disguised as the Texan, sends out the übervamp to kill everyone but Buffy. Then it turns back into Buffy and focuses on Spike.
A bunch of Harbingers are standing ominously outside the house. They’re standing guard so no one can escape from the übervamp. Kennedy gets Rona to shut up about weapons being pointless, and then she demonstrates her own skill with a crossbow. Nice. Andrew wants a weapon, so Buffy gives him a vial of holy water.
Willow is trying a spell, which Kennedy interrupts by walking into the room. She’s flippant about Dark Willow, which Willow doesn’t appreciate. She’s really worried the First will be able to twist her magic again. It got into every part of her, to the point where she could taste evil (which is chalky).
Outside, the übervamp has arrived. Everyone stands in the living room, waiting in fear. Willow works on that shield. It works, except her eyes are black. The übervamp is too strong for her to hold it. Buffy tells everyone to run. They go out the back, Xander in the lead. They’re set upon by Harbingers. Kennedy kills one with her crossbow, and Buffy gets another with a stake before it can kill Xander.
Anya and Giles come back from the Beljoxa’s Eye realm, their hair hilariously floofed. They’re still discussing what happened to the Slayer line. Anya feels like it’s her, Willow, Xander, and Tara’s fault all this is happening. Maybe Buffy should’ve just stayed dead.
The Scoobies and potentials are on the run. Buffy votes to split up while she distracts it. Yeah, but its orders are to only not kill Buffy, so how’s this supposed to work? IT comes up the street, and Buffy attacks it. It isn’t very effective. She smashes the holy water on it, and it burns its face but doesn’t slow it down. She tries to lead it away, but it does not follow her.
Xander and Willow take everyone to the construction site of the future public library. Andrew and the potentials are not fans of this plan. Willow has them all spread up and take battle stances, except that Rona starts complaining again. And Kennedy spots the übervamp barely thirty feet away from them. Uh oh.
It closes in. Kennedy shows impressive courage by loading her crossbow and shooting it, not backing up. Floodlights go on and Bufy appears on a ledge up at ground level. She faces off with the übervamp, then does a cool flip down into the basement where everyone is. She gives a brief, confident speech about how she’s what monsters fear. The fight begins. It’s a hard one. The potentials watch, riveted and scared. Dawn realizes that this whole thing was a plan so that Buffy could kill the übervamp with all of them as an audience, as a morale-boosting exercise.
Flashback to that silent moment at the house earlier. Buffy and Xander communicate telepathically with Willow, since that’s a power she still has. They planned everything, including Willow acting like her force field wasn’t strong enough to keep the übervamp out.
Back to the fight. Buffy’s getting kicked and tossed around a lot. It eventually gets her by the throat. The potentials are getting really scared, but Buffy breaks off the crossbow bolt in its chest and stabs one of its eyes with it. She has the upper hand now. After some more fighting, she uses some wire to garrote it. The epic music starts up again as she gives her victory/call to arms speech. I love that this music is a theme for the season. The girls are sufficiently heartened for now. Excellent work.
The First watches everyone leave the construction site. It’s not happy about this. Down in the cave, Spike is still chained up and beaten up. Buffy’s there, holding a knife. It’s the real Buffy this time, but Spike doesn’t realize it at first. She cuts him free. He’s so relieved and happy that he was right about her that he starts crying, and she helps him out of there.
“Showtime” feels like the unofficial second half of a two-parter with “Bring on the Night,” and it’s yet another strong episode in a growing string of them. S7 is the season I haven’t watched in much longer than any of the other seasons, because I only made it to S6 with my friend (who was a first-time watcher). I definitely didn’t remember what a solid core of episodes S7 has. Hopefully that streak won’t get broken. There’s a lot of intensity and momentum built up with the First’s attacks on the Slayer line. Now that Buffy has defeated the Turok-Han and rescued Spike, Team Slayer might get to have a little breather without it ruining the season’s flow. Buffy’s fight against the Turok-Han was very well done. It did not feel like just a monster-of-the-week caliber fight at all; this thing was a mini-boss, and a powerful one. The Summers’ house is already feeling pretty cramped with the new girls, which I think is the feel they were going for. The new girls themselves, though, are pretty annoying so far. Every time I watched Buffy and Angel before, Kennedy was always the only character I actually loathed. I dislike Andrew, Spike, freaking Harmony, and various minor characters like the Gorch brothers, but it’s rare for me to actually loathe a character. Kennedy is that character. And yet, in this episode, she managed to be the only potential Slayer who wasn’t incredibly irritating. I really hope that’s not going to be a thing that continues, because, like with Andrew, I don’t want to let go of my anti-Kennedy sentiment. I’m very comfortable with it, thank you. What makes her not annoying so far is that unlike her whiny sisters-in-arms, she tries (and often succeeds) at keeping up a brave face, and she actually seems to have paid attention in her weapons training sessions with her Watcher. As for the rest of them, I get that being in constant mortal peril is terrifying, but whining and bickering all the time will not help the Scoobies protect them better.
As awesome as Buffy’s big speech was last time, she seems to inherently understand the “show, don’t tell” rule. She’ll never be able to inspire as much confidence with words as she will with action, and she gave them one hell of an inspiring demonstration. A Slayer can take a serious beating, but she gets back up, she’s resourceful, and she gets the job done. They can learn to do that too (minus the superpowers, though). Excellent leadership so far, particularly considering how they were just dumped in her lap by Giles.
Why is Xander staying at Buffy’s house? I mean, he’s even describing it as “our house.” So has he completely ditched his own apartment, or is he just on call in case she needs more emergency repairs? Since they’ve got so many guests there already, the Summers’ house seems very inadequate (not to mention breakable) as headquarters. Why can’t everyone relocate to the mansion on Crawford Street? The one Angel lived in during S3? Thing looks like a fortress, and it probably has enough room for all of them. Not sure about the plumbing situation, but they could probably figure out how to get that going. This kind of got away from Xander characterization. Back on topic now! Xander really has Buffy’s back in this one, which is great. The three main Scoobies seem to be back to the level of closeness and trust they had in high school, which is excellent.
Anya got the best line in the episode, and it’s always fun to see her working with Giles. It’s a lot like seeing Giles working with Cordelia, actually, except that Anya is even more shameless. I can’t believe that hasn’t already occurred to me. I don’t really like that she tried to trade sex for that demon dude’s help, but it didn’t seem like she was excited at the prospect, she just didn’t have any other ideas since they were already one-night-stand type acquaintances.
Dawn looks like a very level-headed, mature young woman in comparison with the potential Slayers. Go Dawn. And I love how, even though she may still be harboring serious insecurities about Buffy thanks to the Joyce apparition, it hasn’t affected her own loyalty at all. She gets angry with Andrew for insinuating Buffy isn’t strong enough to win this fight. Supportive little sister for the win!
Spike is possibly the most sympathetic he’s ever been, at least for me. I’m a major sucker for a character torn between faith and fear over whether or not they’ll get rescued, and the look on that character’s face when they do get rescued pretty much always gets me all wibbly. It usually happens just when the doubt gets stronger than the hope, so they get super emotional because the person they trusted didn’t let them down after all. This is good; so can Spike be more respectful of Buffy’s boundaries now that she’s proven he can trust her with his life (even if he didn’t do a ton to earn it)?
I think it’s really cool that Buffy was able to use Willow’s latent telepathy to form a good plan. I hate it when TV writers forget they gave a character a potentially super useful power, but I love it when they use that super useful power at a moment when the audience has largely forgotten about it. That was this time. Go Willow. I guess she can sort of project a telepathic field, though, because she didn’t seem to have to translate between Buffy’s and Xander’s thoughts. On a more characterization-specific note, I like how Willow is trying to be brave with her magic. She’s really scared of what the First might turn her into, but she won’t sit this fight out if there’s a chance.
There’s really not much about Giles to analyze in this one, but I skipped doing a section for him last time because I was super tired, so I’ll do that here. What the crap, Giles? If S6 periodically convinced me that it was fine that Giles survived S5 (aside from the one super glaring bit where he left the US out of some insane notion that the only way for Buffy to become an effective adult was to knock her best support system right out from under her when she’s battling severe depression), then so far S7 is doing the opposite. He’s returned, but seemingly only to add considerably to Buffy’s burden, without really being encouraging or supportive about it. He just expects her to do the thing because she’s the Chosen One. It’s like the emotional connection they built over five years is just gone all of a sudden. What gives, dude? He...he does look rather good in that brown corduroy jacket, though. Heh.
“The Eye sees not the future, only the truth of the now and before.”
“Yes, we’ve all got that! It’s called memory!”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.