Touching an Old Scar

7.19. Empty Places, Airdate: 04/29/03 (UPN, 8 pm PT/ET).

The memories linger in the background,
like absent mindedly touching
an old scar,
and feeling the memory of pain,
of dark empty places,
starless and bible black,
cold as a January dawn,
with Spring not even a rumor.
The places where poetry hid.

Old Scars, Ken Lang

Can there be a review of tonight's "Empty Places"? It was a calm show, and after I've seen it, I wasn't in the mood to talk. It was like a walk down memory lane, seeing the Scoobies more focussed on, seeing what has become of them. I don't feel inclined to throw around with adjectives such as "gorgeous", "amazing" or "wowly" (it is a adjective, isn't it?) as I normally do. I can't. There aren't any words to describe a show like that. I wonder if viewers who didn't stay with the Scoobies from the beginning did grasp all the emotional impact this show had. And how daring it was.

Yes, the Scoobies split up before, but it never was like this. Buffy lost her command to Faith, and though Faith didn't want that, not only all of the SIT's, but Willow and Xander - and even Dawn agreed. Buffy got mixed up in all this violence talk, and it was the right decision to relieve her from command, otherwise more lives would have been wasted.

Like many fans, I am not ashamed to admit, that I feel towards the Scoobies as if they were friends, even if they don't exist in reality. I feel like this towards many readers who stayed with me for more than four years now, never tired of writing and sharing their views with me. When I first made contact with Buffy's online community, I felt lost, and like many teenagers of my generation, Buffy helped us grow up, helped us having a glimpse at the world from a different perspective - leaving easy answers and overused morality like in so many other serieses way behind me. Watching Buffy never was a simple matter of being entertained, it always has been (and I hope still is for three shows to go) a matter of how life is seen and how extraordinary characters cope with their difficulties - and about the many things we all had the chance to learn from it.

If this was the last show of Buffy, I wouldn't have regretted watching it for seven years. Really. Don't throw stones at me. I know, this show will occupy my mind for weeks, more than any special effect could.

We didn't see a big, loud fight, but a series of calm, little ones like we fight them every day, and this made "Empty Places" a special episode: Willow fighting her tears, when seeing Xander in hospital, Buffy fighting the feeling to be unable to lead, Faith, fighting the feeling to be "only" the second slayer, Giles undecidedly trying to balance his love for Buffy and his feeling about what should be done, Dawn fighting when she said what had to be said, while you could feel her deep love for her sister at the same time.

There was much talk going on about how the show is reflecting the real time war, the US government waged against Iraq. Though the staff didn't see that coming when planning the show, Joss Whedon said in an interview, though none of them actually did support the war, it wasn't meant as a statement. As we fans of Buffy know, the show is about portraying their characters realistically, not about religious or political statements, and I don't think, relieving Buffy from her command is a political statement - but considering the on-going discussion about Buffy's parallels with real life, it was daring to show how the rather weak and unexperienced mass of SIT's didn't go along with Buffy's notion how the war should be fought, and had the courage to stand up against her and to substitute her. And I admire those people at ME for what they've done. Though many people will see it as a political statement, they didn't avoid it. They did what they thought to be right in terms of plotting and character development, no matter what others might say about it. That's courageous, and it means, our trust in ME was justified. Again, they stayed true to their show.

Well, let's talk in short about the inscription Spike read. "It is not for thee, it is for her to wield". Did I get that correctly? If I did, what does it mean? Any theories? Does Caleb indeed have the powers of a slayer as a reader suggested last time? It could be, but what is it that can take away his power? Perhaps the same muscle relaxing liquid Giles injected into Buffy in season 3's "Helpless"? Or is it possible to exorcise the misty demon responsible for slayer strength? Or is it some sort of gift designed for the slayer, Caleb discovered and took for himself?

He said: "I have something from you" (the gift) and when Buffy came, he said "Well, I have now" - perhaps he needed to touch a slayer to activate the power? Was that the reason why he wasn't to happy to read that inscription, because it took him time to get to the slayer? Or does it mean, there is something coming up and Caleb can't bring it about, thus it's Buffy who has to do the dirty work?

Well, what do they have in stock for us next week? There's Xander, Willow, Giles and Dawn, all of which have to do their part of a Buffy reconciliation. But perhaps it will be too early for them to come together again next week, most probably it will take more time - what do you think? Will Buffy try to stand up against Caleb on her own? What will be on her agenda now? When will they drop any hint as to if and if yes how Jasmine is related to Caleb or the FE? (Yeah, they once fought the alliance together, I know.;-))

There were so many great scenes... I especially liked Spike and Andrew talking about cooking. What was your favorite scene or line? Write to me, I am always happy about feedback.

Shortcuts: BtVS 7.19. Empty Places

What happened?
Xander came home from hospital. He definitely has lost his eye. Giles and Willow got hold of a police file describing crimes Caleb may have committed. It led to some sort of monastery, and Spike and Andrew set out to follow up on the track. They discovered an inscription that may imply Caleb has slayer power - or perhaps a special gift designed for the slayer in a time of need. When Buffy suggested to go into the vineyard again, the SIT's wanted to vote for a new leader (who would be named Faith, since she's the actual slayer). Xander, Willow, Giles and even Dawn agreed, and Dawn added if Buffy isn't with them, she has to leave the house - which she did.

Topics addressed?
The Buffy/Giles relationship was developed further: now it's even worse, though we thought it can't get worse. Xander, Willow and Dawn aligned with the SIT's and Faith, Buffy's now on her own. Spike and Andrew discovered an inscription that may help to fight Caleb.

Any strange things?
Willow wasn't trying to help Xander in any magical possible way.

Was it good or not?
You dare to ask? Five stakes out of five.

What do you hope for?
Well, I really hope UPN doesn't suspend BtVS again.;-)

Feedback (updated frequently)

Splitting up: Carl writes, Dawn's leaving the house message sounded like "If you're not with us, you're against us", like a certain politician said to some hundred countries not supporting his foreign policy recently. Well, certainly it sounded this way, but as I said, I don't think it's a political statement meaning the staff supported or didn't supported the politician in question. In terms of plotting the impact was more powerful with Dawn taking sides against her sister. It wasn't a matter if Buffy is against them or not, or supports them or not, it was just about knowing if Buffy stayed, she wouldn't yet be able to follow other commands, and this could be deadly to all of them. The question here never was if Buffy supports war against the FE or not, but in politics the question was who gives money or troops for war and who doesn't, sometimes even if the enemy really is the FE or not.;-) That's completely different from what happened between Dawn and Buffy.

Tom Ahrendt


Thanks to: Brachnu for offering free web space, for listing my review.

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