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Anya and Spike get busy -- Xander gets angry

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Emma Caulfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Emma Caulfield: UPN 2001

Anya and Spike get busy — Xander gets angry

It’s been many weeks since a new episode of ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and I, for one, was grateful for the break.

My well-documented disappointment with this season’s mold-busting direction (character over plot, thematic Big Bads instead of literal Big Bads), coupled with the lethargic execution of this direction, had nearly exhausted all the stores of grace this series has earned with me after five years of exemplary service. But ”Buffy’s” return on April 30 was not unlike the episode’s Willow/Tara reunion: Time had healed many (if not all) wounds, and what has always been lovable again became easily apparent.

Which is not to say ”Entropy” was a great episode. But it was solid, and occasionally more than that, and offered hope for a provocative, even explosive conclusion to an otherwise thin, listless season.

What happened? Anya returned to Sunnydale after getting stranded at the altar by commitment-phobe boyfriend Xander. Anya, who has seemingly reclaimed her vengeance demon birthright during her time away, tried to trick Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies into wishing heinous forms of ill against her former fiancée, which she as a vengeance demon would be duty bound to perform.

Emma Caulfield’s rudely direct Anya has always been a source of comedy in this series, and much funny was generated by her vain attempts to get Dawn to wish for Xander’s penis to explode (”I don’t say that word,” responded a shellshocked Dawn), or to manipulate Willow and Tara into succumbing to a hatred of men that doesn’t exist for them (”What kind of lesbians are you?!” Anya cried as she stomped away).

Eventually, Anya’s thirst for jilted justice led to a night of shooting Jack Daniels with Spike, nursing a bitter, broken heart of his own after Buffy ended their secret love/lust affair. By this time, though, Anya had begun to realize that she must find a way to move on — which is exactly what Buffy told Spike that he needed to do earlier in the episode. One thing led to another, and the drunken demons were soon exorcising their despair on top of a table in the Magic Shop.

Thanks to the miracle of an ultra-convenient subplot — the discovery of secret surveillance cameras, planted by those Geeks of Doom Andrew, Warren and Jonathan — the Scoobies were able to watch the sadsack sex via streaming video. Overwhelmed by disgust and jealousy, Xander grabbed an axe and marched down to the Magic Shop, but was prevented from killing Spike by both Buffy and Anya.

The four-way confrontation between heartbroken lovers — in which Xander and Anya join Dawn in finally learning of the Buffy/Spike liaison — was easily one of the best scenes the series has produced all year. (Kudos to the actors, especially the eternally underrated and too-often underutilized Nicholas Brendon.)

”Entropy” gave us two major developments that seem to set the stage for the season’s dramatic denouement. The first is that the Geeks of Doom have begun the endgame portion of their mysterious master plan. To which I say: Yawn. (Did anyone else find that forced ”Raiders of the Lost Ark” joke/reference the height of lameness?) The second was that aforementioned Willow/Tara reunion, which culminated in an in-your-face girl-on-girl smooch. A moment of bliss for the two lovers, though something tells me they should enjoy it while it lasts.

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