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Buffy 7.15: Get It Done

"It's about power."

Power has been the theme of Season 7. Buffy (or The-First-as-Buffy) uttered those words at the end of "Lessons," and they've echoed throughout recent episodes -- they've even been repeated once. "From beneath you, it devours" (or, "it eats you starting with your bottom") is much catchier and has been repeated more often, but while it ostensibly refers to the First, the power beneath us all, it could just as easily refer to the power within us all. Power devours. Power corrupts.

Buffy's been growing into her role as leader lately, and it hasn't been all smooth and happy; and while she's inspired the troops a great deal, there's been foreshadowing of a rift among the Scoobies ("Buffy won't choose you"). And she went all super-bitch for a moment there last night, lambasting Willow and Spike and the Potentials and even Anya and Xander a little bit. (And it was great to see Anya acknowledge that she hasn't done much this season but provide comic relief. Last week's "also, I have to pee" was priceless.)

But when it came down to it, Buffy refused power last night. I was surprised. I was thinking we were going to see her evolve into something either more or less than human. She was already partly there -- something has been up with her ever since we learned that her resurrected molecular chemistry was somehow fooling Spike's chip. She came back a bit darker, perhaps with a smidge of demon in her -- something was different, despite Tara's reassurances that she didn't come back wrong.

But she's still human. She's always mourned the normal life she couldn't have -- this goes as far back as her date with Owen in the first season's "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date." The Slayer can never live a normal human life, but last night she decided that she'll be damned if she's going to lose her humanity completely.

And yet there's another Slayer out there who wouldn't be so quick to turn down the gift of so much power...

Meanwhile, Willow and Spike both grew last night. Willow bit the bullet, made the portal, sucking the energy out of Kennedy in the process. Power is not what Kennedy thought it was. She thought it would be neat, fun, calling people "maggot," with no strings attached, just like Willow used to believe when she was a junior witch back at Sunnydale High. But power does have strings. Too much power makes you power's puppet.

Spike seemed to break out of his slump last night, too, and it was wonderful and fun to see him throw on the leather again and kick ass. (The "Matrix"-like music didn't hurt, either.) He's seemed defanged lately -- he's even looked different lately. Have they changed his makeup? He's looked like a junkie in rehab, worn out, tired, sad. And then last night -- he kicked the demon's ass. The bitch is back.

We'll see how Robin Wood reacts to this.

Strangely enough, my favorite characters lately have been the ones with the least overt power: Xander, Anya, and -- especially -- Andrew. The apron and baking gloves? A total scream. He is so gay. If the show continues in some form after this season, they'd better keep him. (And not just because of the surprisingly nice shot of his stomach last week as Dawn was pulling off the wires.)

Power is still dangerous. It almost corrupted Buffy. It's corrupted Willow before. Spike -- we'll see. And if power does corrupt -- then it all comes down to the ones without physical power: Ms. Dawn Almost-Potential Summers, Mr. Yellow Crayon, and Ms. Sarcastic Ex-Vengeance Demon.

Power comes in different forms. That vision of a million Turok-Hans at the end? I don't think physical power is going to be enough.

It's still going to be about power. Only a different kind.

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next: Buffy 7.16: Storyteller