So, did you guess the mystery Big Bad before Buffy named it? Did you recognise what Buffy was talking about when she did? This season's still displaying its wares confidently, but Buffy's terse conclusion may mystify those without an instant recall of season three's Amends. It certainly foxed some attentive friends of mine.
Meanwhile Quentin at the Watcher's Council, already in a tight spot, makes a similar deduction. Then, in a classic moment of rug-pulling, they're taken out of the picture. Permanently.
Drew Goddard's second script credit means another juicy layer of innuendo to relish. Interrogations and negotiations dominate here: Buffy with Spike, obviously. But also Andrew with the morphed 'Warren', Xander and Anya playing good cop/bad cop, etc. It's nippily directed, but until the closing revelations, rather too talky.
Buffy and Spike are outstanding together (again): she even declares her faith in Spike's redemption. Once again, a Goddard script means a scriptwriter responding to issues of pith and moment for its fanbase. This won't fulfil everyone's wish-list, but for me it's much better than last year's more arid emotional landscapes.
Whoever thought that "The other one" could be such a scene-stealer? With both his compadres dead (but still taunting him in the form of The First), Andrew swaggers through Sunnydale, vainly attempting to be as cool as Keanu in his shiny new coat. His evil posturing with Willow is an absolute comic delight, as is the Xander/Anya interrogation routine.
Elsewhere, Principal Wood got shifty with a shovel. What's all that about? DB Woodside's performance is really keeping me guessing this season – I think he’s an actor destined for big things, as his recent transfer to 24 seems to indicate.
Finally, it's sad to see the Watchers Council go out with a big bang. I fear a tea and tweed surplus will hit the British economy as a result.
Things are hotting up in the Buffy universe, with Spike strapped up, the geeks back in town (dead or alive), Giles getting the chop and the Watcher’s Council gathering to discuss the arrival of The First here on Earth. Exciting stuff, indeed!
Almost halfway through the final season and this is what we needed; the coming together of various plot strands into a story arc that actually looks like it will deliver without alienating the casual (unlike some cult shows I could mention, ahem Babylon 5).
But one question - after the poltergeist activity of Conversations with Dead People you would have thought the Buffy house would get a break from being torn apart. No chance, it seems. This raises the question, ‘How does Buffy ever get insurance?’ - or perhaps she uses her friendship with Xander to run up a huge repair bill? We should be told.
Putting the pieces together, the Scoobies realise that it can only mean one thing – The First is back. Boy are we in for one hell of a series finale – potentially.