A great twist and a brilliant last five minutes help to save this episode from feeling all too familiar.
The major theme in this episode is how white lies can be used to help or hurt the mentality of others. This is evident from the start of the episode, when Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) catches her vampire boyfriend Angel (David Boreanaz) confronting the unstable, child-like Drusilla (Juliet Landau), only for him to lie to Buffy’s face when the subject comes up. This could have easily felt like another re-hash of previous episodes but it works here. Angel later goes behind Buffy’s back and asks Willow (Alyson Hannigan) to investigate a friend of Buffy’s from Los Angeles who knows she is the Slayer and has mysteriously transferred to the same school as hers. It later transpired that her old friend had also lied to her face about his true intentions in Sunnydale. There is no surprise that the episode ended with a touching but perfect scene between Buffy and Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) in which she asks him to lie about whether life gets easier the older you get.
The episode’s plot itself was in danger of becoming too formulaic and predictable. As has been the case several times this season, most notably in “Inca Mummy Girl“, the big mystery of the episode, in this case the real reason why Buffy’s friend Ford (Jason Behr) has arrived in Sunnydale, was revealed before it had even been investigated by the Scooby Gang. He was in fact part of an underground movement in the town looking to become vampires themselves, much to the hilarious scorn of Angel. Adding to this was the very public scene between Ford and season antagonist Spike (James Marsters) and the episode was in danger of falling apart with its predictability. The last fifteen minutes changed all of that. Rather than having a typical villain in the form of Ford, someone who was one dimensional in his desire to become a vampire no matter who died, the writers created a great twist. The reason that Ford wants to become a vampire is because he is only 18, yet his life is soon to be ended by brain tumours. Rather than become a bald and shrivelled body and have his life cut so short, he will do anything to live longer. This is a choice that, though many of us will paint him as a villain, will probably do in his position too.
The character of Willow has been a lot stronger in the past couple of episodes, and she steals all of the best lines here. Whether it is being a terrible liar in front of Buffy, telling Xander (Nicholas Brendon) that her and Angel’s relationship is “a complicated love story”, or wearing the most adorable chunky slippers when at home, Willow has warmed to me much more recently. In stark contrast, Xander has virtually nothing to do here apart from one dimensionally acting jealous after meeting yet another guy who Buffy has chemistry with, but does smugly rub Buffy’s new friendship in Angel’s face. Giles is another to have a low-key episode after his star turn last week; I wish that viewers could have witnessed the horrified look on his face after Miss Calendar (Robia LaMorte) took him to a monster truck rally, that sounds utterly hilarious. As for Spike, the antagonist of the season, he has lost some of his magic from his explosive turn at first after being defeated yet again. Maybe shedding more light on his and Drusilla’s past will help to progress the character.
After looking at risk of becoming a predictable and dull episode in spite of an interesting theme of the use of white lies, a brilliant twist with the antagonist and a touching conversation between Buffy and Giles helps to rescue this from the brink.
Star Rating: 7/10
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles’ past with Ethan Rayne comes back to haunt him when someone is murdered. If you enjoy reading my reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, don’t forget to like and subscribe to be notified when new posts are released. I’ll see you all soon for my review of Season 2, Episode 8 – “The Dark Age.”