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On TV Today's Date:

original air-date: 10-22-03

One can easily assume the writers are spending so much time on Spike in order to attract and retain those Buffy viewers who did not also watch Angel. But why are they spending so much time on Fred?

Perhaps with Cordy down for the count, they think they need another strong female character lest the show suffer attacks from a snarling pack of demographics demons. But unfortunately the time the writers are devoting to Fred is an exercise in poor character development.

Unlike last week, the exchanges between Fred and Spike now fall flat. And the loyal fan must continue to overlook plot and character inconsistencies. As seen in previous seasons, Wes is far more an expert in magic, etc. Yet the writers try to establish Fred's credentials with her statement, "I've never seen anything like you."

Just what has Fred seen? And even if the audience accepts her expertise --- there are certainly enough jokes about her use of "technomagy" jargon crowbarred into the script (no to mention the weekly re-cap line "When we took over the most evil law firm...") --- can they then accept that she doesn't even know the term "shanshu?"

Fred lets Spike in on that particularly little prophesy during her attempts to make him corporeal before he slides into Hell. The audience learns that someone is actually giving Spike a push. Unfortunately, the baddie in question is about as exciting as a saltine cracker with an bad Alice Cooperesque makeover.

As we saw recently with the necromancer (who has power over the dead!), villains work best when they have personality. Even the SoCal mystic brought into consult was more interesting. Or going back to the early days there was Phantom Dennis' mom. The single "Cask of Amontillado" scene of her laying bricks was more creepy than Spike's journey in this episode. The failure to create a creepy setting ended up wasting James Marsters' talent to convey Spike's actual fear.

Perhaps in an attempt to set the mood and blur reality, the director uses a very choppy editing style. But the scenes jump too much in several places. The cumulative effect feels disjointed.

Overall, this episode is a waste of the audience's time. Really, does it matter what happens to Spike? Just give him a body and move on. What are the Senior Partners really after? Surely they didn't just send Eve to flag cost overruns. What's going on with Gunn's connection to the White Room? (And why doesn't Angel question it more?) How can Wes possibly be content just being a librarian?

At least the darkness of this week's excellent ending almost made up for last week's saccharine suckiness. Hopefully most viewers caught the disturbing parallel between W&H's storage solution and that memorable Angel - Connor fishing expedition gone awry.

The writers will do well to remember that like Angel's soul, long term viewers and not just Buffy transfers are also up for grabs.

Chris Crotty


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