Jeff Jensen celebrates her return but hopes that several stagnant storylines will be energized soon
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Credit: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Richard Cartwright/UPN

Buffy’s back — with mixed results

At long last, the wait for a new episode of ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” ended on Jan. 8. (Damn all those holidays, playing unholy havoc with television, and all the other truly important things in life.) The morning after, however, I find myself unable to decide if ”Gone” was truly one of most consistently enjoyable outings of the season, or if my excitement over some fresh ”Buffy” had me in a gracious, forgiving mood.

To recap the plot: That troika of geeky evil launched the newest phase of their Sunnydale domination plan by building a ray gun that can turn people and things invisible. Using the weapon on Buffy wasn’t part of that plan, but bumbling fools that they are, they accidentally zap the Slayer, who went most of the hour heard but not seen. (Here’s hoping star Sarah Michelle Gellar made good use of her time off.)

Yet instead of being inconvenienced, Buffy found her predicament liberating, indulging in shenanigans ranging from tweaking the austere social services agent threatening to take Dawn away from her care (which reminds me: what’s the deal with Buffy’s father these days?) to indulging in shame-free sex with Spike.

The show seems hell-bent on pushing the limits of its sexual suggestiveness, like Spike thrusting his hand in Buffy’s pocket for his lighter, or the allusions to oral sex. (What kind research and preparation did James Masters have to do to make those faces, I wonder?) Buffy came to her senses after learning that prolonged transparency turns one to pudding, and with a little help from Willow (suffering from cold turkey jitters as she tries to kick her black magic habit), she became visible again and finally came face to face to face with the three geeks who’ve been pestering her all season.

”Gone” broke no new ground with its invitation-to-temptation approach to the whole invisibility sawhorse, but at least it fit for the character, illuminating Buffy’s desperate, shameful sexual addiction to Spike and her resistance to embrace the responsibilities of her life in the wake of her reluctant resurrection. And I enjoyed seeing Willow in Nancy Drew mode, making invaluable contributions as a crime-fighting Scooby with good old fashioned detective work.

Still, I’m growing a little weary of the girls’ mirroring addiction/rehab storylines (the Buffy arc seems especially padded; her Spike obssession is really is beginning to feel like a sop to fans who’ve clamored to see them together), and I really do hope that some surprises are in store there. And can we move the whole Xander/Anya wedding along, please? In summary: Glad to see Buffy back in action — but let’s get on with the show, already.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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