''Buffy''

Write Off

Kennedy and Spike take wrong turns. But the writers, not the characters, are at fault in a lame, cliched episode, says Rachel Lovinger

Buffy the Vampire Slayer | WANNABES STARTING SOMETHING The potential Slayers strut their stuff
Image credit: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Michael Yarish
WANNABES STARTING SOMETHING The potential Slayers strut their stuff

Kennedy and Spike take wrong turns

What happened to the episode of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' that was supposed to air last night? And why did the network air instead what seems like a reel of test footage from a script brainstorming session? At least the title, ''Get It Done,'' is appropriate, since the script is like an item on the writers' unfinished ''To Do'' list. Here are a few production notes to give them some direction during their next trip to the editing room:

Anya and Spike These two always had an affinity as they followed similar trajectories from human to monster to declawed demon and back to human (sort of). Now they're both trying to adjust to a human phase that, for once, they chose for themselves. The mutual experience of this challenge, which they could never begin to explain to their peers, has great potential as a story line. But the ''Anya trying awkwardly to seduce Spike'' angle has to go.

Kennedy and Willow Kennedy could be a great supporting character, so it's a waste to squander her with clichéd plotlines that portray her as a tough drill sergeant or show her waxing enthusiastic about Willow's powers (despite not even believing in magic until very recently). Kennedy is too smart to ignore the cautious warnings of EVERYONE who has ever known Willow, and too strong to be so surprised when she's burned by the physics of spell-casting.

Spike and The Coat When The Coat first appeared on ''Buffy,'' often sharing screen time with bleach-blond vampire Spike, it had a strong physical presence that helped win it a position in the regular cast of players. Recently it was on hiatus, but The Coat was bound to return because of its pivotal role as Principal Wood's Confirmation That Spike Killed His Mother. However, was it really necessary to recharacterize The Coat as Spike's totem of power? It's sad when one of the most dramatic scenes in the episode is about putting on outerwear.

It's all about...aw, forget it. While Buffy's new friends in vision-quest land are busy putting another nail in the coffin of the show by demystifying the Slayer mythology, she's crossing her legs to ward off their attempt to subject her to the ''Evil Dead'' treatment. Creepy, yes, and bound to have unpleasant consequences. Even so, they're offering her the power that she needs to defeat The First, and she rejects it -- not on the grounds that the offer is a trick, but because the sacrifice is too much to ask. Wait a minute. Buffy has given up her life in lesser fights, but suddenly her humanity is more precious than the survival of the rest of non-evil existence? After the many times we've been subjected to variations on her ''It's all about Power'' speech, this sudden reversal of priorities seems like poorly thought out back-pedaling.

Giles M.I.A. If this had been a first-rate episode, Giles would have been around to inspire everyone to use better judgment and to stay in character. Wouldn't he want to be there to help explain operations to Principal Wood, or to open the ancient Slayer relics, or to take part in a magic ritual to learn about the origins of the Slayer and the means to fight The First? No one even bothered to explain why he isn't there.

Sure, too many reruns can be frustrating. But I'd be happy to watch ''Selfless'' or ''Him'' again while ''Buffy'''s writers take the time to finish their new episodes. As to whether we can expect a better script next week, well, the previews make it look as if Andrew's shooting part of it -- and that could only be an improvement.

Do you agree that ''Get It Done'' is one of the season's worst episodes?

Originally posted Feb 19, 2003