Well, I liked it pretty much. Not in the same way I liked "I Only Have Eyes for You" (2-19), but far better than "Seeing Red" (6-19). I liked it in the way of liking most flawed S7 Buffy eps: I kinda have to watch it with one eye shut, while ignoring everything to the left. (Ouch.)
Incomprehensible teaser: why are people leaving the Hellmouth in droves of backed-up traffic? I am baffled. No set up for that. Gratuitous Clem. Goodbye to Clem. And then, suddenly...the credits.
Oz-like tone of voice: Huh.
Random observations, mostly in order.
Interpol. Heh. But Giles--pause for the hotness of Giles--letting Willow mess with people's minds? Okaaaaay. Moving on now.
Painful Buffy withdrawal from Xander. Xander greatness, but with bad hair. Willow: we're back to Classic Willow, who can make me cry on a dime. Big sniffles for the friendshipping of Willow and Xander, the hospital-roominess of them.
Buffy and Dawn, major tension. Hard to watch. Fascinating things going on in that dining room scene, with Dawn trying to get through to Buffy, who really needs to drag herself out of her navel, and Faith cutting her slack instead of pushing at her, which really is tough nails on Dawn, who deserves better, etc. I liked that a lot.
Caleb: damn cute, but another talking villain. On the other hand, I don't think he wants Buffy dead at all. This seems to be clarifying. What's she going to be, a breeder queen for demons? Creepy.
Faith's low-slung pants distract me.
And what, is Eliza Dushku smoking three packs a day and downing whiskey shots between takes? What the fuck is up with her voice? I don't remember her being quite that constantly hoarse a few years back. Also distracting.
Unsure about the Hot Pocket humor.
I could barely look at Spike/JM in the living room scene. I'm very upset by this. At times now he's starting to remind me of--whiting because you may find this painful to read, so you should think about skipping it: the Fonz. It's so bad and wrong. (As is Rubywisp's mocking icon in the comments below, so beware. Hmmph.) He needs different clothes and JM needs to stop aging: freeze him! This is part of why I would actually be fine if he didn't show up on Angel next year, much as I love him as a character, and would love to see him there for that reason. In theory.
Ah, fuck. I'm all messed up about this. I can't help it. I was traumatized by the gradual aging of Kirk and Spock via their respective actors, and it's just...trust me, people, these things never end well.
Moving on. The Bronze. Makes total sense that they'd finally all get to hang there. Mostly it just seemed to be filled with the girls, and that one bemusing band. Well, a handful of guys, most of whom were dancing with Faith. That felt a bit forced. Replay of the past.
And in fact, many of the old-seasonal references braided into this ep felt a bit forced--instead of beacons of continuity, we had glaring klieg lights. The onion. It bothered me, okay? In part because: wow, hello, blue screen of death. Again I cannot watch.
I am confused by the Bad Cops. Who were they and why were they out to kill Faith? And Buffy didn't really question Faith's statement about letting off steam, considering she'd just laid out a bunch of apparent law officers. Granted, she was pissed at Faith, and yet--let's totally ignore the bodies, huh?
And again, the convenience of slayer strength. It waxes, it wanes. You can take out four vamps one night, but four humans the next--you'll be on the ground if you don't watch it, see, sister?
Spike reads Greek. Very cool. I notice they lingered on that shot before cutting, though, to wedge the anvil in more firmly.
Xander's homecoming. Discomforting. And later when he finally chimes in against Buffy I could feel myself hunching up for some line about his eye, which was in fact delivered. Good line, but still.
I was going along pretty well with the big scene, Buffy against the world, replaying themes from "Once More With Feeling" and "Dead Man's Party." People's responses made emotional sense even if the showdown itself was--as someone pointed out in a review--contrived. But then when Dawn kicked Buffy out, I was like, excuse me? Uhhh, well, okaaaaay then. I guess we are in Bizarro world. We took that left somewhere and now we're somewhere else. Very else.
I am trying to figure out where the hell we're going next, given where things stand with three eps left. Am a bit unnerved.
Next week's promo promises some shippy insanity.
Huh. As I read back over my review, I'm suddenly wondering where my liking is. Heh.
Edited to add: Oh, and the scene at the beginning with poor, nervous Anya reading from prepared cards and Andrew writing inappropriate comments on the big board? Cracked my shit up. God, I felt so sorry for them, and for all those girls--especially the ones sitting on the cot. Snerk.