In which Spike gets his mojo back, but Buffy really doesn't want hers topped up. I'm still slightly bemused as to how the Shadow Men begat the Watcher's Council, but the Slayer 'tool kit' was a nice touch.
Doug Petrie is developing into a fine director, even if his script for this episode isn't one of his best. The shadow theatre sequence was beautifully moody, and the the final shot an impressive flash of Lord of the Rings-ish apocalyptic indulgence - even more amazing considering Buffy's relatively tiny budget. This will, of course, mean a lot of dull sitting around in Buffy's living room in future episodes to offset the cost.
It's all about the money shot, this episode. For most of the programme, one thing happens after another, without much rhyme or reason but with lots of portentious music to try and underline how significant it all is. Then you get that huge Lord of the Rings moment right at the end.
Ten out of ten for mysticism - the First Slayer pops up with one of her enigmatic warnings, three wise men bother Buffy in a desert, and Spike gets his fangs back by putting his monocolour dreamcoat back on. Other episodes have trod this ground - Restless especially springs to mind - but they took you to a properly magical place. This was just a structureless heap of mumbo-jumbo. Without enough Andrew in it.
Come on Buffy! You've got more than enough going for you as it is. Don't steal Peter Jackson's clothes, he doesn't look at all good without them.
Another watch-and-wait kind of episode, but a pretty interesting one. Certainly, there's an innovative expansion here on the series' own origin myth. That's to say; where do Slayers come from? According to writer-director Doug Petrie's Get It Done, it began in Africa with three (wise?) Shadowmen, who chained a girl to a rock and infused her with demon energy. Claiming Buffy is the Hellmouth's last guardian, they try to re-enact this power transference with her. Mythology aside, the highlight here is the extreme visual style used when conjuring the portal - another re-enactment by Dawn and Xander, with a very creepy atmosphere.
Otherwise there's an air of business-as-usual: more non-speaking potentials arrive, they go through (increasingly militaristic) training, one semi-familiar potential dies, and Buffy gives an off-key pep talk / dressing-down. Structurally, the episode would have benefited from making Buffy's trip longer and its examination of female empowerment clearer. Still, the tension between Wood and a bemused, chip-free Spike is a side issue worth lingering on.