Sarah Michelle Gellar looked uncomfortable in farcical scenes with Spike, says Mike Flaherty

By Mike Flaherty
Updated April 27, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Randy Tepper /The WB

The cyber Buffy episode is a disappointment

It’s letdown time on ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Tuesday’s middling episode, ”Intervention” (which could have been titled ”How Buffy Got Her Groove Back”) found our heroine (Sarah Michelle Gellar), once again disillusioned with her stake driving mission. Buffy’s mentor, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), sent her into the desert to find her true calling — and to meet up with the rage filled first slayer, whom we first encountered in season four’s dream sequence finale.

The Ur-Slayer’s oracular message: 1) ”Love will bring you to your gift” and 2) ”Death is your gift.” In other words, Buffy, ”You might want to be a little more emotionally demonstrative with your friends and family, but you’re going to have to keep your day job.”

Meanwhile, Spike (James Marsters), the besotted vampire whose unrequited attraction to the Slayer has been one of this season’s most bizarro twists, threatened a local electronics genius into building an electronic Buffy doppelgänger. But as Spike got busy with his obsequious cyber squeeze, he was abducted and tortured by the villainous Glory (Clare Kramer) and went on to prove that he was willing to suffer in silence to protect Buffy.

The mistaken identity shenanigans and comic banter between Spike and RoboBuffy was a nifty angle, but one that must have played funnier on paper than it did on screen. The situation’s comic demands were a bit out of reach for Gellar, who displays no such difficulty in the show’s poignant dramatic moments. No wonder, then, that the episode’s coda — in which the real Buffy, masquerading as her bimbonic double, visited a decimated Spike and learned that his chivalrous self sacrifice bespeaks a true love for her — was by far the night’s strongest scene.

With a mere four episodes to go this season, it may be time to acknowledge that ”Buffy” is not likely to return to the heights achieved by ”The Body,” the profound February installment that centered around the death of the heroine’s mother, and more trenchantly, the nature of loss and grief.

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