Saturday, 23 February 2013

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Place Like Home

"She's not my sister!"

"She doesn't know that."

Whoa. Never before has a season arc kicked into life so soon and so thoroughly. Now we know: Dawn is "the key" in human form and Glory, the best and most fun big bad since the Mayor, is looking for her. It's going to be good, I know. A super-powerful, spoiled valley girl is an excitingly fun basis for a villain. I love her entrance, too: proper special effects, not CGI.

I get the impression that, this season, the writers' plans worked out much more smoothly, with no changes forced upon them. The big reveal about Dawn comes at the perfect position in the season, after just enough time has elapsed for us, the viewers, to accept and like her as a permanent part of the show. She isn't just there for plot reasons, though: especially with Joyce being suddenly and mysteriously ill she's yet another source of responsibility for Buffy, who already has both her slaying and her studies to worry about.

So momentous are the events of this episode that, for once, the rest of the ensemble gets relatively little to do. Yes, we get the grand opening of the Magic Box under its new owner, Giles, and more scenes of Spike stalking Buffy and trying to make sense of these confusing new feelings. It's a particular delight, of course, to see Anya in her new job.

Yes, this is an "event" episode and, as such, full of exposition rather than the character stuff that I usually like to talk about. But I'm excited about what's coming next. So many threads are bubbling away, arc-wise, if you'll forgive the horribly mixed metaphor. Willow's over-dependence on magic, Buffy and Riley growing slowly apart, Joyce's worrying illness, Spike's infatuation with Buffy, and now this. It's a heady mix, and I'm excited about what's to come.

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