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18 June 2014
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Episode Guide
The Weight of the World


For an episode where the plot advances very little, The Weight of the World certainly treads water elegantly. The memory loss scene plays out like a delightful comedy sketch and six year old Buffy is suitably endearing, if very unlike the young girl seen in Killed by Death.

Other highpoints include the first real scenes to explore the whole Ben/Glory duality issue. It's a late chance for Charlie Weber to shine as Ben. Even if the hastily concluded Riley arc left little time for Ben's character development throughout the season, this at least gives us an opportunity to appreciate him more.

An unusually introspective episode from Doug Petrie, and a good example of the writer's increasing range.

Season five hits a dismal nadir with this dull piece of water-treading.

The viewer is treated to a brace of lacklustre mental battles - the character lost in their own mind (© Star Trek: The Next Generation, passim) and evil developing a conscience. Neither are done well.

Memory Buffy just comes across as self-indulgent and irritating. The hints at a deeper understanding of the psychology of despair suggest that the scriptwriter did a decent amount of research - and then ignored it. As for the ‘Glory goes gooey’ storyline - better, but in the end it all it did was show how thoroughly the whole Ben/Glory concept had been wasted.

The general conceit, that rather than Ben’s humanity bringing Glory to goodness, her power corrupts him, was a good one. Trouble is, we just don’t know Ben well enough to be shocked, so the drama evaporates pathetically.

The cast act their little hearts out, but the whole concept of the episode gives them nothing to work with. Weight of the World ends up just a sorry little hiatus before the main action of next week.

It's a brave show that takes a week off before the end. It's just so Buffy to spend the week in Buffy's head, rather than worrying about the end of the world.

Too much TV never really cares about how the main character feels, it just shows them getting on with saving the day. So it is good to have an episode dedicated to "What happens when it all gets too much for Buffy?"

Unfortunately, the answer is "not much". Whereas last season's Restless showed what interesting things can happen inside people's heads, this episode is oddly meandering - which can be no bad thing, and a daring stylistic move, but needs a pretty good payoff. Unfortunately, this all boils down to "Buffy once thought something not very nice". Oh.

Surprisingly, elements of the B-story are much better. Sure, the Ben and Dawn scenes are dappy (yes, he may have nice floppy hair, but I just can't understand his motivation for doing anything), but the episode is redeemed by the remarkable rapport between Dawn and Glory.

How cool is it that the two of them have a strangely friendly thing going on? It makes Glory even more threatening, and kinda cool. And, at this stage of the game, she needs all the help she can get.

Is quitting an inevitability? All through five seasons of Buffy there have been reminders that the Slayer’s path is short - the demons and vampires will get you in the end.

Buffy has had warnings that she’s getting past the recommended slay-by date - the first Slayer seemed pretty keen on her backing away in Intervention, and Spike told stories of the Boxer Rebellion Slayer welcoming death as it came.

Think of the effort of will it must take to keep being that hero - the inner strength to keep plugging away in the face of apocalypse, cyber-demon and mayor. It is a constant sacrifice - no nights out, no days off, just the weight of the world on your shoulders, and no-one seems to realise.

The Scoobies shouldn’t feel abandoned by Buffy - she’s been fighting hard for way too long. This is just a bit of down-time.

Oh - and has anyone else noticed how villains always say ‘It’s not me who’s crazy, it’s the rest of the world’. Yeah, right.

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