Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Potential   Rewatch 
April 20, 2016 8:25 PM - Season 7, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Training of the potential slayers continues, and the gang finds out there is another potential who's been in Sunnydale all along. Dawn begins to suspect the mysterious potential might be her.
posted by yellowbinder (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, again, I actually like this episode, but it frustrates me too. I like the idea of Dawn having to give up power, that's fine. But... why isn't Dawn training anyway? In the opening episode of this season, Buffy was getting Dawn to fight vampires. I appreciate she's not a potential, but seeing as it's utterly unclear what difference there is between potentials and mortals, and given that mortals can and do fight vampires, and Buffy calls on Dawn to fight vampires, why is she cut out? It's annoying, because it seems like the writers just completely change their mind here, Dawn was so much more involved early on, and even here is very likable, but her connection to Buffy almost entirely vanishes.

And, again, what this show really needed at this moment was pace. What if we just skipped the Killer in Me, and made the seal still be partially open, with all the consequences of that, with more ubers coming out, and everyone having to react. Then we could still close the seal and have a brief haitus for the end, but by having the First just disappear for a few episodes it just loses all the promise the show had been building up to.

-Oh, and everyone thinking Buffy would have to die for Dawn to be a slayer. They should all know that isn't true!
-"It's almost like this metaphor for womanhood isn't it."
-Dawn rushing out at night. Wally.
-Amanda suggests releasing a vampire on the marching band.
-I really don't know why Dawn thinks hunting a vampire on her own is a good idea.
-I do really like Xander's final speech.
-"Did you maybe say potential sailors? I do like the water."
-He's not evil, but when he gets close to it he picks up its flavour like a mushroom
-"The odds are against us". They are? Show don't tell!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:00 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Unpopular opinion time: I really dislike the underlying message of this episode, especially how it ties in with the themes of the season.

The Potential designation is a result of the Shadow Men (i.e. the patriarchy) chaining the First Slayer to a rock.

Dawn is a kid who is fluent in Turkish (and maybe multiple other languages as well, I just don't remember that well), knows her way around a sword, and was able to work magic well enough to bring ZombieJoyce back from the dead. When her mother-figure Tara is murdered, she tries to get Willow to stop her murder-spree, even though Willow is incredibly dangerous at that point. When she finds out what Spike tried to do to Buffy, she is able to intimidate William the Bloody with nothing more than words.

So for Dawn to be called "extraordinary" only for Knowing Her Place and graciously accepting the arbitrary distribution of power between Potentials and mortals that the Patriarchy made, really, really rubs me the wrong way. In any other season, it might not bug me so much, but in a season that started with "It's all about power" and ends with the theme of "sharing power", it really stands out to me how many people are left out of the power sharing. And how even Buffy, who is supposed to be the one who thinks for herself, accepts the Potential/Mortal distinction without thinking about where it came from or whether it should also be changed. It also reminds me of the way marginalized women are frequently ignored by more privileged women in the feminist movement, which would have been an interesting avenue for the show to explore, but alas, it didn't.
posted by creepygirl at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't take Xander's moment with Dawn to be paternalistic or patronizing at all (in fact it's one of my favorite moments of Season 7.) Xander has lived his life since he was Dawn's age as a non-superpowered, purely mortal Scooby. For all of his faults, he still goes out and gets it done because he's chosen it for himself, not been chosen by some mystical force. Recognizing that in Dawn (who is fantastic in this episode) and praising her for it is, to me, fully empowering. Like you say - Dawn is fluent in Turkish, can fight like a boss, is great at research, and is brave and self-sacrificing - things she seemingly has picked up from Giles, Buffy, Willow and Xander respectively. She doesn't need affirmation from being "chosen." She doesn't need to be a "potential." She chose it for herself. She is already realizing her own potential. That's how I take that moment.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:47 AM on November 21, 2020

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