Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 5, Episode 4: Out of My MindWritten by Rebecca Rand Kirshner; Directed by David Grossman
Of the various "junior" writers that joined Buffy in the second half of its run, I think Rebecca Rand Kirshner was the best. To clarify, the distinction I'm making separates the "senior" writers - Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt (for Seasons 1-3), Marti Noxon, David Fury, Jane Espenson, Douglas Petrie - from the often weaker writers that began working on the show from Season 5 onwards - Kirshner, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Z. Greenberg, Drew Goddard. Kirshner wrote Tabula Rasa, one of the strongest episodes of Season 6, and Help, one of the few redeeming aspects of Season 7. The most notable aspect of this episode is how strong her dialogue is - when Buffy talks Riley into submitting to being treated by the Initiative for his heart condition, her argument actually makes sense.
Elsewhere, the treatment of Dawn is still making me cringe. Sorry, but watching a 15-year-old gleefully emptying a cereal box to get the free toy inside and playing with a stethoscope like a pre-schooler is just painful to watch... although at least the latter serves as a means to an end, since it's used to reveal Riley's heart problem. Oh, and James Marsters seems to have been working on his accent during the break between seasons. A lot of people have criticised his English accent, but I'm personally willing to be a little more forgiving given that, in the context of the show, it's fake (Spike's natural accent, as revealed in Fool for Love, is more of the upper-class variety).
Overall rating: 8/10.
Next time: No Place Like Home.