Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 7, Episode 10: Bring on the Night
Written by Marti Noxon and Douglas Petrie; Directed by David Grossman
Today, Giles shows up with a trio of girls in tow - Potentials, i.e. girls who could potentially be called as Slayers when the current one dies (and exactly who is the current Slayer is a matter that will be debated in a subsequent review). They’re incredibly annoying, and none more so than the pair with the most hideous Cockney accents known to mankind. I don’t get why, in what the writers must have, by this time, known was the final season, they decided to bring in a whole roster of new characters and give them more screen-time than the original characters.
One of these Potentials is a brash Hispanic lesbian called Kennedy. Her appearance signals that (a) the writers had abandoned any thought of trying to get Tara back, and (b) they’d decided that yes, Willow going to remain a lesbian. Back during the break between Seasons 6 and 7, Joss Whedon and Marti Noxon actually had meetings to discuss whether or not Willow would “stay gay”. (I’ve seen a made-for-TV documentary, seemingly recorded early during the production of Season 7, in which Noxon described Willow’s relationship with Tara as “college experimentation”!) Unfortunately, Kennedy is an absolutely awful addition to the cast, and it’s not even remotely plausible that Willow would be attracted to this type of person. The addition of this character was, clearly, an attempt by the writers to regain some of the “lesbo street cred” (to quote Tough Love) that they’d lost over the Tara debacle: “Oh, so you guys like lesbians, do you? Well, we’ll give you a new lesbian and Willow can have a steamy lesbian romance with her!” Way to miss the point, again. She’s there only so they can look a little better - a token gay relationship that isn’t going to end in death and destruction (although I’ve read some hilarious fanfics in which Kennedy is killed in a variety of gruesome ways). In all fairness, I feel sorry for the actress, Iyari Limon: she tries very hard, but this is not a gig I would have wished on anybody. But, ultimately, she and Alyson Hannigan have absolutely no chemistry together and their scenes together are uncomfortable in the extreme. The fan-written continuation of the series, The Chosen, actually performs the seemingly impossible task of making this character likeable, to the extent that, when she left at the end of the virtual Season 8, I was genuinely disappointed, but, ignoring fanfic and concentrating only on what exists on the screen, she’s a dead loss.
This episode also begins the “Is Giles the First?” subplot, a pointless little mislead that serves no actual purpose and is completely unbelievable. Basically, the idea is that Giles touches nothing and no-one touches him, which is intended to make the audience suspect that Giles is in fact dead and that the First has assumed his guise. The problem with this is that, like so much of Season 7, it makes no sense. Last time Giles showed up in Sunnydale, Buffy and Anya were all over him, which makes the extremely cold, non-touchy-feely manner in which everyone behaves when he appears at the door extremely strange. Ditto with the fact that, when Buffy falls into a hole, Giles doesn’t stop to help her out - he just kind of stands there. This is never explained and is a perfect example of the writers’ willingness to sacrifice character to service a pointless subplot.
Oh yeah, and why does the First have Spike tortured by holding his head underwater? Vampires don’t need to breathe, remember? Come to think of it, why is the First torturing Spike anyway? Because he didn’t do its bidding? I’d have thought it would have better things to do - like deal with all the Potentials showing up in Sunnydale.
Still, it’s not all hopeless. It’s good to see Drusilla again (the First assumes her form), and written considerably better than she was in Crush. Ditto with Joyce, who shows up in Buffy’s dreams.
Overall rating: 4/10.
Next time: Showtime.