Rachel Lovinger
April 30, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Slayer gets voted out of the gang!

Remember two weeks ago when we were wondering if Buffy was being the consummate leader, making decisions that were unpopular but necessary, or if she was being impulsive, reckless, and obstinate? Well the members of the extended Scooby Gang think they’ve figured it out. Shocking as it is that the crew would oust their long-time friend, it’s kind of understandable. In this week’s episode, ”Empty Places,” the Chosen One exhibits all of the behavior that has made her intolerable to nearly everyone in recent months.

She is almost inhumanly distant from her oldest and closest friends. Buffy can’t bear to stick around the hospital to comfort Xander and help him in his courageous attempt to distract himself with pirate jokes. She can’t even give her sister an update on their beloved friend’s condition. This isn’t to say she isn’t concerned. She just seems to think it’s a weakness to show it.

She doesn’t approve of the potentials doing anything unrelated to the impending ”war.” How dare they drink, dance, and have fun with Faith? This isn’t just, as Buffy accuses, a popularity contest. Without getting to know the girls, she has no idea what their real capabilities are. It seems as if she didn’t even notice that they managed to thwart a band of Hellmouth-influenced cops out for Faith’s blood.

She refuses to trust anyone but Spike. Buffy’s belief that no one else is watching her back is verging on paranoia. She questions Giles’ motives when he sends Spike and Andrew to follow up on a lead about the mysterious enemy, Caleb. She has no confidence in the potentials’ ability to learn from their mistakes. And she attacks Faith for suggesting that it’s at least as dangerous for Buffy to lead them into the lair of a powerful unknown foe as it is for Faith to take them to?The Bronze.

She demands that everyone follow her blindly into danger. In the past, people have sometimes second-guessed Buffy. (Remember the Freshman roommate? Or mom’s robot boyfriend, Ted?)  But for the most part they seem to accept that her Slayer instincts are right on target. Now that the fight seems so incredibly hopeless, she’s asking them to return to the no-win situation that cost Xander his eye and several other girls their lives. This isn’t the first time they’ve gone up against incredible odds. Even so, they don’t want to do it without evidence that there’s something to gain from such a risky tactic.

So what other options are there? In an emotionally accelerating confrontation between the Slayer and just about every living person that has ever supported her, Buffy becomes the Unchosen One. The turning point between questioning authority and outright mutiny hangs on Anya’s barbed observation that Buffy’s qualifications as leader are a result of a twist of fate, not hard work. The ex-demon dismantles Buffy’s season-long power trip when she says, ”That doesn’t make you better than us. It makes you luckier than us.”

Things go downhill from there. Even if being saddled with the Slayer’s burden is not what most people would consider ”lucky,” Buffy can’t lead if no one will follow. Ultimately, Dawn herself asks big sis to leave, and Buffy gives up the fight, tearfully abdicating her post. But wait a minute — this is Buffy, remember?  No matter how things look now, she’s gotta be back to make an important contribution in the end game, right?

Do you think the gang is making a mistake, or was it time to put the brakes on Buffy’s power trip?

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