Good things: Emma Caulfield is excellent here. Oh, poor identity-crisis Anya breaks my heart! The Olaf/Aud flashbacks crack me up - apparently everyone
in that time period was strangely literal. And again, I'm really liking the Anya/Willow friendship developing here - I'd totally forgotten it from the first watch. And the Spike-in-the-basement scene is a heart-wringer.
Bad things: Some of the writing is pretty lame, particularly everything Buffy appears in. Anya as a vengeance demon again represents a huge dilemma to our valiant Scoobies, and the episode acknowledges that, but it does so with a flat, obvious argument scene between Buffy and Xander with no nuance at all. And all Buffy's "I am the law" stuff felt like it needed a whole lot of build-up, rather than this sudden foregone conclusion. In fact, pretty much all the Buffy character 'development' in this ep felt as though it was assuming a bunch of previous development we've never seen.
(However, I like how the fact that Xander lied to Buffy in "Becoming" finally came to light, sort of.)
Housemate's opinion: "Pain done right." It hit all the right places, dramatically speaking. She found the cut from "I'll Be His Misses" to Anya with a sword through extremely effective.
Question: is it ever stated in canon that vengeance demons have to be beheaded to be killed? Or is that fanon?Him
Good: Okay, you guys, fine. You win. I enjoyed this episode much more the second time. Those last few minutes are great. I think my favorite bit was the shot of Wood in his office while we see Buffy and Spike tussling in the background.
Also, yay for Spike being Not in the Basement. Yay for whole minutes together of lucidity!
I love that Michelle Trachtenberg was actually Dawn's age while playing Dawn. It makes a huge difference in the authenticity of the character. I also really liked the Buffy/Dawn sisterly love there at the end.
Bad: The Buffy/RJ stuff still squicks me like an extremely squicky thing. The Dawn/RJ stuff, meanwhile, hits my humiliation squick like whoa - Housemate can attest I had my eyes closed a good part of the time. And yeah, just the general fawning girls thing was still pretty hard to take.
Plus, more lameness in the writing department: Dawn raises all those questions about souled!Spike and Buffy's feelings for same, which are great questions inelegantly phrased, made much more frustrating for that fact that, on the former topic, at least, we never get any proper exploration. Argh!
Housemate: Enjoyed seeing Buffy a little manic. Was creeped out by how readily RJ followed Buffy's lead.
Also, it turns out this is an ep that makes me think of fic, which meant first Housemate absolutely had
to read Perfect for Home or Office
, by deird1
, which cracked her up. This led to Towels
, also by deird1
, which we ended up reading out loud to Housemate's husband - I took the Xander parts and she took the Spike parts (having spent time in England and therefore being more qualified than I.) Hilarity was had by all.
And, speaking of the housemate: see Wizard!Giles there? That is the dedicated Housemate Icon, selected by the housemate herself from my ample stash.