Written by Rebecca Kirshner
Directed by David Solomon
After Buffy’s departure, the group meeting still isn’t going very well. Too many people talking over each other, and everyone trying to come up with a system for making decisions. It’s a mess until Faith tells everyone to chill and maybe get some sleep before discussing this further. Just as they’re getting comfortable with that idea, the power goes out. It’s out all over town, because the power company is no longer running. (Which handily keeps them out of Jasmine’s reach.)
Buffy breaks into a random house, where she’s greeted by the gun-toting owner. She pretty much kicks him out, since he needs to leave town if he’s smart anyway. Then she goes to raid the fridge. Okay, can she stop being rude Buffy now? That would be nice.
Spike and Andrew are still at that church (because it’s daylight), where Andrew has decided to play I Spy to pass the time. Spike is about at the end of his patience with him.
At the house, possibly after sleeping or maybe just after they lit a bunch of candles, the group starts the discussion again. Kennedy keeps trying to interrupt Faith. They decide the Harbingers are the weakest of their enemies. Faith wants to capture one and interrogate him. Kennedy wants to do recon at the seal, but Faith puts her foot down (which makes Kennedy sulk as if they’re back under Buffy’s thumb).
Caleb and the First are overseeing some kind of excavation project. It seems Buffy was right about them guarding something that could be a major resource for the good guys. The First super doesn’t want it falling into Buffy’s hands.
Kennedy is strolling through alleys. Harbingers jump out at her before long, and then the rest of the team descends. They kill one and capture the other. Kennedy kind of enjoyed being bait (but also kind of hated it).
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get info out of the Harbinger, because he has no tongue. However, Dawn knows of a spell they can use to have someone else speak for the voiceless. She found it in a Turkish book, and she’s indignant when Willow reveals that there’s an English translation. Spike and Andrew return before Faith can lay out her plan for what they can do while Willow does that spell. Andrew reports on the mission, and Spike notices the absence of Buffy. Everyone else gets super awkward, and then Willow stammers through an explanation that makes it sound like it was Buffy’s idea to leave. He doesn’t buy it. He thinks they’re all ungrateful turncoats. Faith gets in his face, and he punches her. She fights back, taunting him for how whipped he is. He storms out and goes looking for Buffy, tracking her by scent.
Willow does the spell, and Andrew’s the one who ends up being the Harbinger’s voice. Kennedy threatens the Harbinger with his own dagger. He only speaks in the third person plural, about how all the Harbingers work for the First and are preparing for the coming battle. They have an arsenal underground somewhere. Giles slits the Harbinger’s throat, releasing a very shaken Andrew.
Spike knocks on the door of that random house Buffy took over and finds her curled up on a bed inside. He doesn’t need an invitation now that the owner has abandoned the place. He rants about Faith a bit, but she tells him it was a collective decision, and they were probably right. She wants him to leave. He tells her about the Greek thing he read at the monastery, which proves that she was right about Caleb protecting something at the vineyard! She’s too bummed about the mutiny to feel too excited about it.
Faith and Giles are planning when to attack and steal the First’s arsenal. Giles assures Faith that she’s doing a good job leading. When he heads to bed, the First appears to her as the Mayor. The First claims that it’s not as simple as that it has taken the Mayor’s appearance; the Mayor is part of it now. Creepy. It tries to prove it by telling her stuff only the Mayor knew. She’s still not interested. It tells her she’s doing a fine job leading and that it was good they kicked Buffy out. Faith still doesn’t feel great about that, and the First moves in on her insecurities about Buffy. It says Buffy will never see her as a good guy, and she’ll always be waiting for her to fail.
Spike wants Buffy to go reclaim her position in the group, but she’s exhausted and miserable and doesn’t want to even try. He tells her it’s chaos in the group without her, but he’s not very convincing about it. He admits he bolted pretty quick after fighting Faith. Buffy appreciates that he fought Faith. She’s feeling particularly bad about the girls who died down in the vineyard. She feels like it’s her fault for keeping emotional distance from them in case they died. She’s always been cut off from people, and she thinks she didn’t need to be. She also doesn’t think she and Spike were ever actually close, which seriously offends him. He tells her about how he follows his instincts, and she’s the one thing he’s ever been sure about. He says he doesn’t expect anything from her, he just loves her for who she is. She can’t help be slightly heartened, but she’s still extremely tired of being the one all of this hangs on. She curls up on the bed and he goes to leave, but she asks him to stay and hold her.
The Mayor/the First is still talking to Faith. It tells her she’ll never find love from any of these people. The Mayor is the only one who ever loved her. It vanishes, and in comes Wood. Faith is extremely snappish with him because of how badly the First shook her up, but she calms down and apologizes. He goes to leave, but she admits the First was there. He closes the door (I think they’re in Buffy’s room). He tells her she’s clearly major leagues if the First would pay her a personal visit. He uses the phrase “Achilles’ heel,” which she doesn’t understand. She can’t believe how shaken she is by the First’s visit. She tells Wood about the Mayor being like a father to her. He tells her about the First visiting him as his mom. They discuss whether the First was telling the truth about Buffy being dangerous. They help each other get past their insecurities. She grabs his hand and puts it on her face. It only takes a couple seconds before he responds. They end up making out on the bed.
Willow walks into her room, which is empty except for Kennedy. Willow is very happy with this, and now it’s sexy time for them. Which possibly is a first? Okay, definitely a first. Willow’s worried that she might lose control of her magic if they go forward. Kennedy assures her that she’ll be safe. She’ll be her tether. They resume making out.
Down in the kitchen, Anya is annoyed at all the sex sounds from upstairs while she and Xander share an ice cream carton. She doesn’t think anyone else should have sex if they aren’t.
Sexy montage! (Ew.) Faith/Wood, Willow/Kennedy, Xander/Anya, and occasional shots of Spike and Buffy just staring at each other like Twilight characters, until she falls alseep. The First seems to be watching all of this. It envies their ability to touch. Caleb thinks the First is so far above all that. It’s in everyone and will cure the world of the weakness of goodness. For some reason, he’s the only one strong enough to be the First’s vessel.
Buffy wakes up before Spike. Back at the house, everyone is now discussing what Andrew and Spike found at that monastery. Faith is about to take an assault team to find this mystery weapon, which they think might be in the same place as the arsenal. Faith wants the Scoobies to go do recon on Buffy to make sure she’s okay. She’s slightly more curt with Wood than he seems to expect. They move out to deal with their assigned tasks.
Spike finds a note on the pillow where Buffy used to be. Cut to the vineyard, where the First and Caleb are still strolling around. In comes Buffy, alone, having killed the Harbinger guarding the door. Buffy won’t be fighting Caleb this time. She’ll be dodging him! She’s here to grab the mystery weapon without letting him get a hand on her. The First/Buffy vanishes at Caleb’s request (because he finds having it there, looking like Buffy, a tad confusing.)
Faith and her team of potentials find the arsenal, which is suspiciously underprotected. Some Harbingers show up and the girls start fighting. Buffy continues to evade Caleb, and it cuts back and forth between them and Faith’s team. The potentials do a very good job fighting the Harbingers, especially considering their only sources of light are wildly swinging flashlights. Caleb knocks the barrels hiding the trapdoor to the excavation project aside, and Buffy spots it and dives through it. More barrels fall on top, giving her more time.
Buffy finds a super gorgeous weapon buried in stone like Excalibur. At the arsenal, the girls have won, and one of them finds another passage. At the end of it is...a bomb.
“Touched” is already somewhat handicapped by being the episode that has to continue the story after the extremely ill-conceived mutiny against Buffy, but it still doesn’t seem like a particularly strong episode in its own right. I do really like everything with Faith, as usual, and parts of Buffy’s reaction to the mutiny are interesting, and I freaking love the Slayer Scythe, so I love that we caught a glimpse of it here. The best part for me was definitely the First messing with Faith, and then her conversation with Wood afterward. It’s so impressive how this show can get these actors back for scenes like this, and Faith’s conversation with the First/the Mayor was fantastically well done. Eliza did a great job of portraying Faith there. Struggling to hide any signs of weakness, but then snapping at Wood. I’m not a huge fan of the sexy montage, though. Surely sex isn’t the only advantage to being physical beings with a sense of touch. It felt like the writers weren’t trying very hard to contrast the Scoobies with the First via sense of touch, if that was all they came up with. I mean, I ship Faith/Wood, so I’m not going to complain about that, and it’s nice that Xander and Anya aren’t as done as they thought, and that Willow is growing more and more confident in her control, but it still felt kind of tasteless. Also illogical, because where did the thirty or so potential Slayers go so that those three sex scenes could happen uninterrupted? Have they spread out into the other houses on the street because they’re all abandoned? What’s the deal?
Buffy’s self-esteem seems to rely almost entirely on external input from her friends. She’s been running herself ragged for the whole season trying to fight the First and trying to house all the Scoobies and potentials in her own home (for some reason), so if they could throw her out on her rear after everything she’s done for them, then maybe it’s because there’s something wrong with her. (Well, yeah, her leadership strategy for the last few episodes.) She takes it way more harshly than she needed to. It was like the final straw before she got crushed by her burden, and it makes sense, because what has always set Buffy apart from other Slayers and made her stronger than them is her support system. That was just ripped away from her, so she crumbles. It’s almost the opposite of what’s been happening to Angel. He believed only Connor of his entire team was still alive (and not comatose), and if anything, he fought harder than ever. Buffy feels too worthless to fight if she can’t keep the support of her friends, but Angel will keep fighting no matter what.
Xander and Anya don’t really do anything except sleep together in this one. I’m not sure if that confirms that they’re still in love with each other, or if they’re just going to be in this kind of uncontrollable on again/off again thing until another love interest comes along for one of them and forces them to make a choice (or until Anya gets bisected by a Harbinger’s dagger and the show ends before Xander can even process losing her).
I seriously love how much of a scholar Dawn has become, and it’s hilarious that she’ll do something the hard way (like reading a book in Turkish) instead of looking for shortcuts (like checking for English translations first). This is why Dawn is a Ravenclaw and Willow is a Slytherin.
Spike is on Buffy’s side and he does a pretty good job of making her less miserable, which kind of feels like redemption from some of the crap he pulled in S6, but would he have been this supportive if he’d been present for her falling out with everyone else? She was saying some pretty horrible stuff. Aside from the fact that she was absurdly outnumbered, she definitely didn’t look good during that confrontation. It’s interesting how strongly he reacts against Faith. I’m not sure she really gave him a reason to believe it was her idea to kick Buffy out, but he can easily apply his subjective reality and assume it was. His speech to Buffy seems like kind of a mixed bag to me. On one hand, it’s very promising that he seems to understand the concept of selfless love at last. On the other, was it necessary for him to couch his support of Buffy in terms of his own feelings? He didn’t need to mention how he felt in order to list all the things about her that inspire those feelings.
I still feel like Willow is much more shallowly invested in her relationship with Kennedy than Kennedy is. The biggest thing she’s getting out of it is validation and the gradual restoration of her confidence—at least to a healthy level, not the dangerous level of early S6. Things seem good now, but what will happen if Willow reaches a point where she’s comfortable in her own skin and can confidently use magic for the right reasons again? Will she have developed real feelings for Kennedy, or will it take the entire foundation away from their relationship?
Giles does a much better job of supporting Faith as leader than he has at supporting Buffy this entire season. For shame.
“We’re all on Death’s door, repeatedly ringing the doorbell like maniacal Girl Scouts trying to make quota.”
“He’s a breath of fresh air, isn’t he? Thank God I don’t breathe.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.