Buffy, “Potential”

Annoying characters are suddenly less so! Plus: Millie from Freaks and Geeks!

By Sarah Kuhn
January 22, 2003

Yeah, so…what happened to Cute T-Shirt Slayerette? Not only is she MIA, but there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for her absence. Is she off with Giles? Did she get eaten by the Hellmouth? Did she turn diva because her T-shirt was way cuter than anything worn by any of the other Slayerettes and get her ass booted back to Lizzie McGuire? Answers, please! The Lalaine fans are in an uproar!

Despite this strange bit of botched continuity, this is a solid outing that somehow magically makes all of the recently annoying characters on the show…less annoying. So Buffy and Spike are training the Slayerettes in the fine art of being The Chosen One. It looks like Buffy has also been passing along some Slayerly fashion advice, as Molly has forsaken her gigantic fuzzy coat and actually looks somewhat normal. Rainbow Hat is still Rainbow Hat, though. These things take time. Anyway, the Slayerettes are a bit less bratty now that Buffy has schooled their collective ass, so Buff takes the opportunity to prattle on about being the Slayer and how special they all are. Meanwhile, Dawn is in the background, pouting. On the other end of Casa Summers, Willow has learned that there’s another Slayerette living in Sunnydale, and does a locater spell to find her. Naturally, the spell points to Dawn, who tries to play it tough, only to learn that she’s not the potential Slayerette — it’s actually Millie from Freaks and Geeks. Yay, Millie!

OK, so, yeah…the “twists” here are kinda obvious. But you’ve got to hand it to Joss and Co. — after heavily foreshadowing the Dawn-as-Slayer-Jr. thing, they up and hand the Slayerette title to a mere guest star. This ep does a nice job of actually reminding us why we liked Dawn in the first place, before she morphed into a sulky brat. When faced with the fact that she is not, in fact, a Slayerette, she doesn’t cry or whine or pitch a Dawn-esque hissyfit. She simply passes the baton to Millie, and slips into the role of quiet supporter back at Casa Summers. And when Xander delivers a thoughtful, moving speech to her on the power of being a regular ol’ person among heroes…well, that’s what really made the ep sing for me. It’s nice to be reminded that the Slayer isn’t the only one who saves the world, and that sometimes, it’s just as tough to be an ordinary pal of The Chosen One. And it must be especially tough for Dawn, given that she was once a big, special energy blob, and now she’s just A Girl.

I dug the other bits, too. Buffy and Spike working together for a common cause makes their dynamic slightly less annoying (though I do wish they’d stop with all the Meaningful Looks and such). Their little boot camp for Slayerettes is actually kind of fun, and makes for a nice parallel between these scenes and Giles training Buffy in earlier seasons. The demon bar scene is especially choice, and injects a much-needed scrap of comic relief whilst gifting us with a Clem cameo. I even found Andrew to be almost completely non-objectionable this week. Yeah, the Dragonball Z reference is pushing it, but I guess the guy’s got to move beyond the obvious Star Wars/Trek material at some point.

Overall, this is a nice outing that advances the central arc, but also gives us patented Buffy character moments whilst reinforcing a recurring theme of the series — the whole average guy/Zeppo/Xander dilemma. Maybe now Dawn will accept her fate with considerably less fit-pitching.

OK, Shameless Plug: I talked a tiny bit about Firefly and Angel in this week’s Hack Love. Check it.