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2003-01-23 14:02:04-08:00 - Potential (for a Spin-Off) - (wallyrosenberg@hotmail.com)


I think the aim of this episode was to transform the way we look at Dawn, and it succeeded brilliantly. The title referred to her, though not in the obvious way. In the space of this one episode, Dawn went from being a kind of whiney (but occasionally funny) non-essential character to being suddenly *the* main character, and in a way that blew the preconceptions of most fans out of the water. Buffy became a distant figure here, a part of the mythological background. She just paced backward and forward, as reliable and solid as a block of concrete (but very funny rambling to Amanda during their counselling session together.) The potentials were the in-crowd, like a group of cheerleaders who've been selected for some set of reasons that seem completely random and unfair to Dawn (and us.) They sit together on the sofa at the end of the episode, bathing in the glow of their specialness and babbling about how cool it is to be what they are, shutting Dawn (and us) out. The whole Slayer thing has been recast by this episode. It used to be that The Slayer was a sort of cool outsider - a weirdo, a geek, apart from the normal, "belonging" world (references were made to this to remind us; the whole neighbourhood knows Buffy is a little strange, but helpful in weird situations, the classic eccentric comicbook superhero.) Not any more. Now, the Slayers are a gang. You're nobody if you're not a would-be Slayer. Well, in this show, the in-crowd ain't the important part of the deal. The outsider is. Everyone thinks The Next Slayer is the thing to watch for, and they're wrong. This episode took us along with Dawn on a journey of realization. Until tonight, if you'd told me Dawn was simply going to turn out to be the next Slayer, it would have made me feel shut out from the show. She shows up, waits in the queue for two years and then inherits the spotlight, like the spoilt offspring of wealthy parents. Just random luck (that's how Slayers seem to be chosen, as far as we know.) Who gives a shit about her story? But that scene where Dawn listened to the others babbling about her in the next room was so affecting. Suddenly, it seems like that mean ol' bastard, life, has thrown her a line, something to cling to: membership. Followed by that line being snatched away again. But the Chosen Few are still right there, rubbing her face in it. And yet, during that short period of time, she realised she was cool. And, I think, far too cool to be a mere potential slayer. The potentials are like enthusiastic little would-be actress, going up for an audition. Trouble is, only one of them is going to be chosen. Then how old will the others be before it's their turn? Will they ever get chosen? Probably not. They're just going to fade away. Well, screw that, Dawny! Who needs it? The conversation at the end with Xander was touching, but it was more about Xander than Dawn. He made her feel better by pointing out how much less special he was. But the fact is, that house has several girls in it who are not actually *special* - in this show, special means different from everyone else, an outsider. That's Dawn. Three years ago, she wasn't even human. We really don't know what she is now. Also, she is very handy with a fire extinguisher. I now *really* want to know what happens next with her (like, I want to watch a series about it.) An hour ago, I didn't give a shit. That, to me, is a very a good achievement for an episode.

2003-01-23 14:02:04-08:00 - Potential (for a Spin-Off) - (wallyrosenberg@hotmail.com)


I think the aim of this episode was to transform the way we look at Dawn, and it succeeded brilliantly. The title referred to her, though not in the obvious way. In the space of this one episode, Dawn went from being a kind of whiney (but occasionally funny) non-essential character to being suddenly *the* main character, and in a way that blew the preconceptions of most fans out of the water. Buffy became a distant figure here, a part of the mythological background. She just paced backward and forward, as reliable and solid as a block of concrete (but very funny rambling to Amanda during their counselling session together.) The potentials were the in-crowd, like a group of cheerleaders who've been selected for some set of reasons that seem completely random and unfair to Dawn (and us.) They sit together on the sofa at the end of the episode, bathing in the glow of their specialness and babbling about how cool it is to be what they are, shutting Dawn (and us) out. The whole Slayer thing has been recast by this episode. It used to be that The Slayer was a sort of cool outsider - a weirdo, a geek, apart from the normal, "belonging" world (references were made to this to remind us; the whole neighbourhood knows Buffy is a little strange, but helpful in weird situations, the classic eccentric comicbook superhero.) Not any more. Now, the Slayers are a gang. You're nobody if you're not a would-be Slayer. Well, in this show, the in-crowd ain't the important part of the deal. The outsider is. Everyone thinks The Next Slayer is the thing to watch for, and they're wrong. This episode took us along with Dawn on a journey of realization. Until tonight, if you'd told me Dawn was simply going to turn out to be the next Slayer, it would have made me feel shut out from the show. She shows up, waits in the queue for two years and then inherits the spotlight, like the spoilt offspring of wealthy parents. Just random luck (that's how Slayers seem to be chosen, as far as we know.) Who gives a shit about her story? But that scene where Dawn listened to the others babbling about her in the next room was so affecting. Suddenly, it seems like that mean ol' bastard, life, has thrown her a line, something to cling to: membership. Followed by that line being snatched away again. But the Chosen Few are still right there, rubbing her face in it. And yet, during that short period of time, she realised she was cool. And, I think, far too cool to be a mere potential slayer. The potentials are like enthusiastic little would-be actress, going up for an audition. Trouble is, only one of them is going to be chosen. Then how old will the others be before it's their turn? Will they ever get chosen? Probably not. They're just going to fade away. Well, screw that, Dawny! Who needs it? The conversation at the end with Xander was touching, but it was more about Xander than Dawn. He made her feel better by pointing out how much less special he was. But the fact is, that house has several girls in it who are not actually *special* - in this show, special means different from everyone else, an outsider. That's Dawn. Three years ago, she wasn't even human. We really don't know what she is now. Also, she is very handy with a fire extinguisher. I now *really* want to know what happens next with her (like, I want to watch a series about it.) An hour ago, I didn't give a shit. That, to me, is a very a good achievement for an episode.