[exhales a satisfied sigh]
Ah, another strong episode of good ol’ Buffy. Maybe it’s been the time I’ve taken off from the show (I finished season 6 back in March of last year) but this season has been really rich thematically. I’ve kinda warmed up to the idea of Buffy the Responsible Adult and the sadness of realization that there might not be happy ending for any of the characters on the show. However, the difference between last season and this one is that instead of feeling emo and dour, this season seems to really strike a resonant chord with me. I have a slight inkling that perhaps a big push for my fondness so far is that the show hasn’t focused on the big bad yet or settled into a true monster of the week schtick. Instead, it keeps exploring the aftermath of Season 5’s major plot point (the death of Buffy’s mom) and Buffy accepting adulthood.
The episode starts with a nice opener of Buffy settling into her new gig as guidance counselor for the rebuilt Sunnydale High (amazing how easy it is to get job that normally requires a Master’s Degree when your life doesn’t involve reality) which really sets up a nice cyclical narrative structure. Where Buffy once was the fledgling outsider coping with great responsibility, she now sits on the other side of the fence as role model and guide to those students she once was.
In an amusing montage, Buffy interacts with a few students — one the older sibling from Home Improvement! — and now faces the struggle of trying to break through to the students’ sense of isolation. As a former teacher, the struggle felt all too real. One student in particular catches Buffy’s attention, a seemingly suicidal girl who states matter of factly that she is going to die next week. Bells go off in Buffy’s mind, and the quest to find out who is going to murder her is set in motion.
I won’t reveal any more to the none of you who haven’t seen the show already but the final twist was a brutal display of honesty and hopelessness that life all too often delivers. Viewers of the show have grown to accept the desolation of life but this one really stung.
Also noticeable was the Scooby Gang’s refusal to acknowledge Dawn’s information that she might know what the deal is with the girl. Perhaps a foreshadowing for this season’s arc for her character? As you can tell, this is my first time through the show, and as you can tell, I have no clue what’s to come.
All I can say for now is that I’m starting to wonder how bad this season can get if I am to go by the popular consensus that is the comment sections on The AV Club. Of course, I’m always hopeful that my belief that critical consensus is a crock of shit comes to fruition. A man can dream.