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18 June 2014
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Episode Guide
Normal Again


The lighting was good. I really liked the contrast between Sunnydale (burnt orange) and the Asylum (Cold blue). That was neat. So too was the way that Buffy's costume was similar in both worlds. That was competent.

The rest of the episode sucked. Ripping off a couple of ideas from episodes of Star Trek and DS9, then surrounding them with soapy dialogue and banal direction is never going to work. And should never happen in Buffy.

PS: Ann has pointed out that there are plates of food everywhere in Buffy but no one ever eats anything. This episode is particularly bad - Willow sits with uneaten biscuits, and then the entire gang sit around a pile of untouched muffins and empty coffee cups.

Normal Again suffers from a problem common to many a season six episode - a good premise (although one admittedly borrowed from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is ruined by a smothering of angst and melodrama.

Although the episode picks up from the events of last week, rather surprisingly Anya and Xander's non-wedding is largely ignored in favour of a plot featuring Buffy having visions of an alternate life in a mental institution. Which is real, which is fantasy? The elements are all there for a tense and scary episode, but unfortunately some flat direction and quite painful dialogue instil a sense of boredom. Luckily we have Tara to save the day.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has managed many groundbreaking things, but even it fumbles the "is this the real world?" story. Normal Again suffers from too-big-a-premise syndrome. The central conceit of the episode, Buffy doubting whether the Sunnydale she sees around her is real, is just too earth-shattering to be tidied away in one forty five minute story.

There are only two possible outcomes to the story. Either Buffy settles back into the series' reality, in which case the episode ends up disappointing by having no long term repercussions. Or Buffy decides to leave the world she knows for the 'normal world' alternative she is presented with, in which case the episode destroys six years worth of viewer investment. And its not the last episode of the series so its hardly likely that’s going to happen.

The tacked on final shot, where even the episode doesn't seem to know which way to jump, only emphasises the lack of possible conclusions. Of course, I could be completely wrong and future developments will bring things to a more satisfying close, but at the end of this episode I was left cold.

As a complete aside, it seems strange that Buffy never seems to lock her front door.

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