We all fear the diminishment or loss of our faculties, but Buffy, who relies on hers not only to carry out her responsibilities but also to keep her alive, must fear it most acutely. That's the basis for David Fury's story, which also tests the limits of Buffy's increasingly father-daughter relationship with Giles in some heart-wrenching scenes. To put it bluntly, Giles betrays Buffy in this episode, and seriously endangers the life of his charge in order to placate the Council.
There’s little logic in the premise for the test – what would happen if the slayer was killed? Would that mean that they weren't capable of doing the job? Little wonder that Giles has a change of heart about what he calls "an archaic exercise in cruelty" and decides to disobey the Council's orders, although it does raise the question as to why it took him so long! Surely this points to a character flaw in the watcher, not the slayer?
This story would have been far more interesting if Faith had been around to stir things up. After a couple of episodes without her – and with no adequate explanation for her absence (sorry, but "unannounced walkabout" just doesn’t cut it) – the series seems to be drifting rather aimlessly.