Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Gone   Rewatch 
February 3, 2016 9:51 PM - Season 6, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Buffy is so stressed dealing with Willow's sobriety, Dawn's resentment and a threatening social worker that when the Trio makes her invisible she's positively giddy with the freedom. Faced with the actual threat of disappearing forever, she is able to start to confront her reality.
posted by yellowbinder (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't love this episode, I have to admit, but that's mainly due to plotting issues. In particular, the whole social worker thing irritates me

1)I'm not convinced that Dawn getting away from this clearly dangerous family is exactly the worst thing in the world. I mean, she almost gets killed multiple times.
2)But, realistically, the idea that a 16 year old girl would be taken away from her sister by social services is pretty absurd. This is such a "TV" social services problem, I really enjoy the plot point in House where Cuddy wants to adopt and has a messy house, but the social services worker points out that they see much worse households in practice.

But let's ignore that particular irritation and just accept the episode as it is. It's no accident that the Buffy we get here is much closer to Buffy as she was in 2/3; wisecracking and quite fun. Being invisible allows Buffy to literally hide from all the problems which are associated as an adult, so she can revert to her childlike self. Of course, one of the tragedies of Buffy growing up in 5 was the loss of that whimsical nature. I think one of the great shames of the show is that Buffy is never able to find that again; while she will escape her depression before this series is out, seven will be challenging enough that the Buffy of old has gone.

The final fight at the arcade is kind of goofy, and I sort of like it even if it doesn't really work: a fight scene which we don't get to see, finally revealing that the new antagonists are three geeks from school (did Warren go to Sunnydale? Apparently so, as he is familiar with the other 2, but how did no-one recognise him in 5?). Buffy doesn't really take them seriously, which is fair enough, because the show isn't either. One of the nice things about the Trio as villains is that it really gives episodes time to breath. Unlike other villains who have a driving motivation which makes it feel odd when they vanish for a one off episode, the Trio are just three aimless nerds coming up with occasional schemes.

This episode also marks a step along a long journey for Buffy when she realises she does value life at least a little now. She doesn't want to be Gone, and that's got to mean something.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:11 AM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

In that House episode 1 what Cuddy considers a messy home? Puh-lease. Most parents I know WISH their house looked that good. OK the diaper in the bag wasn't good, but really. The rest of the house looks great. 2. The social worker also points out that Cuddy's concern is a good sign as well. That Cuddy is so emotionally invested in impressing the social worker shows how much she cares about keeping the baby.

I love the final arcade fight. It's just so silly.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2016

I enjoy this one. Buffy's giddiness does feel like a return to fun Buffy, but it also clearly feels a little uncomfortable long before Dawn freaks out on her.

I also love that we get Willow in investigation mode, it's been way too long. A bit hard to believe if she was allllmost willing to use magic to move a book she wouldn't do so to save her own life, but she does mention how she has no idea how she got through the day, so I'll buy it.

The arcade fight is goofy, but pretty fun. I was yelling at Willow as it took her 30 seconds to explain that Warren was about to kill Buffy. There's a whole technobabble back and forth before she finally just yells "He's gonna kill you." Thank goodness that ray takes so long to spin up.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:26 PM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

This one's funny to me, in that it's clearly a "bad" episode (most of the dialog feels like one of the worse Season 1 or early Season 2 episodes, for instance, and any lines spoken by any Invisible Character feel extremely canned in both delivery and sound-mixing, among myriad other problems) but it's also got a prime location in Season 6 where the kind of bright silliness that it's bringing to the table is so welcome that it makes its problems easy to ignore.

What separates this one from season 1, tonally, is of course that this season is still pushing the envelope in terms of how graphic network-tv-sex can be, and we get that to both dramatic and comic effect here. Which is itself wild (invisible Buffy = Spike ignoring consent in troubling ways; invisible Buffy = Yay fun sex with Spike!)

As for the Social Worker, the whole stuffy-social-worker-who-doesn't-understand / home-life-looks-way-worse-without-context thing is a well-worn trope, but what amuses me about it here is that the red flags are, in fact, worse than they appear to the mundane eye. Dawn's frequent tardiness and lateness to school is in fact due to Buffy being so checked-out these days, and delegating care of Dawn to everyone else around her (with the individual who paid her the most attention having recently vacated.) The "Magic Weed" isn't pot but it's something they're getting rid of because of the just-barely-in-recovery magic-addicted super-powerful witch still living in the house as Dawn's real primary caregiver at the moment, and whose carelessness just led to Dawn's arm being broken in a high-speed car wreck. And Spike is... well, Spike, and not just Buffy's shady boyfriend. This is actually a terrible environment for Dawn, at least right now, and Social Worker isn't getting the half of it. It's a place where everyone there likes Dawn, at least more than the audience ever did, but none of them are remotely equipped to be her guardians at this flashpoint.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:50 AM on October 3, 2021

Hey it's a year later. Some other things of note:

1. I really enjoy Willow's subplot here, doing the shoe-leather kind of investigating with no magic. That's a lot of fun and I wish we got more of it, not just here but in the next few episodes before "Seeing Red."

2. Today I Learned: This episode is the result of the wild amount of work SMG had to put into "Once More, With Feeling," where at least the choreographer (Alan Shankman) was a friend of hers who was brought on via her recommendation, but where she had to work like hell to keep herself from being overdubbed on the vocals, apparently. The whole ordeal was so exhausting that she needed an "off" episode, and this is how they managed it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:41 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

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