Buffy, Dawn and Xander are waiting at the airport for
Willow to get off her plane from England. Buffy isn't sure how to act around Willow
and she freaks out Dawn by telling them that Willow hasn't exactly
finished her recovery period. Unfortunately Willow never shows up.
Meanwhile, the exact same situation occurs as Willow gets off the plane,
only she doesn't see her friends waiting there for her. Discouraged, she
joylessly welcomes herself home.
At night in some back alley, a boy is spray painting a
concrete wall when someone begins to whisper to him spookily. He's suddenly
attacked by a violent demon with extremely long claws as he screams for
help. Meanwhile, Willow
goes to the Summers' home and finds it completely empty. She heads
upstairs to her old room, where she suddenly remembers Tara's death and
can hear the gun shots in her mind. She hears the door bang downstairs
and runs down, expecting to see her friends, but finding absolutely no
from her long trip, Willow lies down on the sofa and falls asleep quietly.
But at the exact same time, Buffy, Dawn and Xander return home. Buffy
suspects that Willow doubled back to England and Dawn thinks she's gone
evil again. They suddenly hear a noise upstairs but find nobody. They
all sit down on the couch, where the unseen Willow lies.
Willow wakes up the next morning and still finds the
house to be empty. She attempts to contact Giles but the Watchers'
Council relays that he's in a Council meeting all day. Bored, Willow
goes to the Magic Box where she runs in to Anya, who's less than pleased
to see her. Willow offers her apologies and is even willing to let Anya
take out her pain on her, but Anya doesn't want to when she realizes
it's a little too easy. Willow asks about the rest of the gang and Anya
thinks they'd all be at the high school, where both Xander and Buffy are
working and where Spike's hiding in the basement. Willow heads there and
finds no one in the under construction area of the school. She walks
around until she finds a dead body, where the flesh of the victim has
been entirely ripped from the body. At the same time, Xander and Buffy
are staring at the body, and suspect that maybe this was Willow's work.
Willow walks around the high school and into the basement where Spike
startles her with his insane rantings. She asks him about the body and
he only knows about her having done skinnings on humans before. Buffy
and Xander locate Buffy in the basement and he talks to both Willow as
well as Xander and Buffy intermittently, with neither groups knowing the
other is there. Spike realizes that neither of them are talking to each
other. But he mentions Willow and Buffy wonders if Spike has actually
seen Willow do something.
Seeking help, Willow goes to Anya's apartment where she
tells Anya about the body. Anya agrees to help her out a little, so they
set up a map with a spell and sprinkle dust all over the map, tiny
lights begin to flicker where the demons are located. Willow locates a point
on the map that's close to the body and isolated from the other places
and tries to get Anya to check by teleporting over there. But Anya
informs her that her teleportation rights have been revoked since she
withdrew a wish recently. Anya then tells her that she's not liking the vengeance
as much as she used to. Anya then recommends trying a spell to find her friends, but
Willow already did, and it told her that her friends don't exist.
Buffy, Xander and Dawn are busy researching but Buffy
thinks that maybe it's just Willow all along and they're wasting
their time doing research. Dawn pulls up a demon on the internet called
Gnarl that fillets his victims, eats their skin and laps up their blood.
But Buffy's not so convinced that this is their demon. She's convinced
that Spike can just trace the blood trail, so they get him and have him
lead them into their woods while he babbles on about his soul. He leads
them right to a rock cliff with a cave in it. Willow locates the cave at
the same time and crawls in to find it barely lit by a few torches
hanging from the sides. A demon begins to whisper to her as the other
trio climbs their way into the cave and they also hear the voice
whispering to them. The demon suddenly jumps out and slashes his claws
across Dawn's stomach. There's poison in his claws and it paralyzes her.
Xander and Buffy drag Dawn out to save her and barricade the entrance
emprisoning Willow inside. Willow pleads to the goddesses to protect her
while Buffy and Xander drag Dawn home.
Meanwhile the demon jumps out at Willow and claws her
across the chest, paralyzing her as she drops to the ground. The bony
demon lays Willow across the ground and leans down to chew on her skin. At
home, Buffy finds on the net that the paralysis will only last until the
demon has been killed. In the cave, the demon tears a strip of skin off
of Willow's stomach and chews it down, lapping up the blood as Willow
watches him horror. At the Summers' home, they discover that Dawn's
paralysis is poseable as Anya demonstrates on Dawn after having been
called to watch over Dawn. Anya mentions that she saw Willow and
that she heading back to the cave, and she knows about the demon.
Deciding she'd be handy, Buffy takes her along as they rush back to the
cave. They race in to the cave and Buffy chases the demon away. Anya
points out where Willow is laying on the floor though Buffy and Xander
can't see her. Buffy fights the demom with her sword while Anya tells
her to get Gnarl between the eyes. Buffy ends up squishing its eyeballs
with her thumbs and the paralysis is released from Dawn and Willow. Anya
goes off to get help while Buffy tells the invisible Willow that they're
so glad she's back. Suddenly Willow reappears before them and she's ever
so happy to see them again.
The next day, Willow is meditating on Buffy's bed,
trying to grow back her skin. Buffy steps in on her and Willow explains
that the reason they didn't see each other is because Willow
accidentally did a spell. She was so worried that her friends wouldn't
accept her that she accidentally cast a spell so that she wouldn't have
to actually see them. Buffy then admits that she thought that Willow
might have been the one to kill the guy, but Willow says that it's okay.
Buffy's the Slayer and she has to think those things. Willow then starts
up her meditation again but this time Buffy offers Willow her strength by linking
their hands together and passing on her energy.
A much better watch the second time through. While I
did like the Gnarl demon the first time I watched it, I just found the
entire pace of the episode somewhat lacking. I had originally planned to
give the episode a 3 or a 3.5, but while rewatching it I had to give it
something higher. There were just far too many good points in this
episode to warrant a lower mark. One of those points being that the cast
is starting to feel a lot less heavy hearted. Despite Willow's somewhat
dismal arrival (in a sense, I felt she kind of dragged the episode down.
Well, until the end that is), the entire cast was full of punning
goodness that had me smiling almost the entire way throughout and had me
reminiscing about the good old times when BtVS was actually
funny. Xander was back to his usual hysterical comments and I loved how
they kept pointing out that he was being dumb, but he never quite got
it. That was hysterical! But the absolute joy in this episode was Anya.
She just can't get any funnier. Her odd sayings have finally toned down
enough that makes her less a total whacko and moreso incredibly funny.
Her little interlude with Willow was beautifully heartwarming. I loved
seeing those two connecting. Hearing Anya say "I wish it was
better for you" to Willow was just beautiful. I'd love to see more
interaction between the two of them.
One thing that really stuck out in this episode was
the reference to Halfrek/Cecily. Since the same actress is playing the
two characters, I'm going to ASSUME that it's the same character but
she's just become a vengeance demon along the way. I could be wrong, but
if I was, I think they'd try harder to disguise her face or something.
In the basement, Spike said to buffy "You're all glowing. What's
another words of glowing? It's gotta rhyme." He said the EXACT same
thing to Cecily way back when he was human. Connection much? I think
yes! I'm wondering how this storyline is going to blossom. Now that he's
part demon, and so is she, and he has his soul back, maybe the two of
THEM will get together.
I like how they're incorporating Willow with magick.
When they first took it all way from her I thought it was so stupid, and
a lot less fun. At least now they can find a happy medium between the
two. I felt Willow, magickless, was just a waste of about 3 years of
storylines. So I'm REALLY happy to see her back casting spells like she
So all in all, I'm much more pleased with this episode
as opposed to the first two of the season. May the following ones be
even better than this one!